Picture Taking CRAZINESS

If you want to know if you’re old or young, just answer this pivotal question.  How many pictures did you take this year? I could guess your age with incredible accuracy if I only knew your picture-taking habits.

If you’re really really old, you took about five pictures this year.  One picture was taken of the family right after Easter dinner.  You also took a family picture after Christmas dinner.  You took a picture of your great-grandson on the day he was born and a rather fuzzy picture of the dead armadillo you saw on Hwy. 54.  But that’s about it.  In your estimation, birthday picture-taking is only for birthdays ending in “0.”  You have the keen understanding that a relative turning 78 will never be as impressive as the armadillo migrating to Tennessee.

If you’re kinda old, you took about ten pictures this year.  In addition to the ones above, you took an extra Christmas picture because Uncle Harold had his eyes closed in the first one and little Sally was picking her nose.  If you were really really old, you would have said, “Too bad, Uncle Harold and Sally.  We don’t wanna waste film.”  But you’re young enough to realize cameras don’t have film anymore.  So you gave Uncle Harold and Sally one more chance.  You took a picture of the azalea bushes next to the shed and two pictures of your grandkids marching in the Soybean Parade.  You took a picture of the barn cat because he’s 17 and you felt his days were numbered.  But that’s about it.

If you’re middle-aged, you took several hundred pictures this year.  You took the standard Easter and Christmas pictures.  But you also took pictures of the Christmas tree and the outside lights and little Sally dressed like a reindeer in the Christmas play.  In fact, you took lots of pictures of Sally dressed like a reindeer because she kept picking her nose. Truth is, you have a lot more picture-taking patience than old people.   You took tons of birthday pictures, even when relatives turned odd ages not ending in “0.”   You also took pictures at soccer tournaments, your friend’s 40th birthday party, and that horrid vacation in Biloxi when little Billy got food poisoning.

If you’re young, well, God bless you, friend.  You may need to go through a 12-step program for excessive picture taking.  Because of Facebook, I’m convinced the average teenage girl takes more pictures in a day than an adult takes in a year.  The day begins with the “I hate my new haircut” picture taken in the bathroom mirror at 7:00 am.  Then there’s the picture of a sausage biscuit on the way to school.  A picture of the dog in the backseat of the car eating the leftover sausage biscuit.  There are the 27 daily pictures of your bff (best friend forever).  Then there are the pictures of your running shoes, your school art project, your new bottle of hairspray, and the tacos you had for lunch which you deemed unacceptable. This is all before noon on an average Tuesday.

The moral to this story is clear.  Old people need to take more pictures.  Young people need to take fewer pictures.  And armadillos need to stay off the highway.

Side note:  Look at my blog….and guess my age.  🙂  Ancient.

Shiny New Toilets

Sometimes it’s Friday…and we just need to talk toilets. So I’m posting a column which first appeared in November of last year and motivated more feedback from readers than I could have ever imagined.

Shiny New Toilets

Some of you did a lot of shopping last weekend. You proudly stood in lines and fought the crowds. Not me. A new TV for less than $100? No thanks. A cell phone for half price? I’ll pass. A computer for less than $500? Let the other guys stand in line to buy it. You see, I didn’t need to shop on Black Friday because I was still basking in the glow of our most recent purchase. Two bright and shiny new toilets.

I never dreamed a new toilet could make me so very happy. So downright giddy. Are you unhappy today, friend? Is Christmas shopping making you blue? If so, please consider this heartfelt recommendation. Go buy a new toilet. Don’t walk, run. It can be life-changing. This is our story.

We bought our house almost nine years ago. It was lovely. It is lovely. Sure, the hall bathroom still has burgundy striped wallpaper from the 80’s. But for the most part, it is incredibly wonderful. I never gave much thought to the toilets. Years passed. The hall toilet started to leak and needed to be replaced. That’s when we realized both toilets were probably original to the house which would make them more than twenty years old.

So I went toilet shopping. That’s when I knew I was a real grown-up. Only grown-ups buy new tires for the car, eat spinach salad, spend vacation money fixing the roof, or buy brand-new toilets. After I bought the toilets, I should have just driven straight to the funeral home to buy pre-arranged funeral plans. That’s how grown-up I felt.

Most of you know that I’m quite a frugal gal. But when it comes to toilets, I don’t compromise. Oh no. Go high-end or go home; that’s what I always say. I chose two fancy high-end high-rise American-made toilets in a lovely bisque color. If you haven’t bought a new toilet since Nixon was president, you’ll find that toilet technology has really turned a corner.

The friendly salesman explained that I could flush an entire bucket of golf balls down this incredibly capable toilet. Every rational person begins to ask the pivotal question. How often will I need to flush golf balls down this new toilet? Does anybody need to flush a bucket of golf balls down a toilet? No. But, surprisingly, I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I could.

I never realized how uncomfortable and low to the ground our old toilets were until the new high-rise ones were installed. I felt like singing the old theme song from the “The Jeffersons” TV show, “We’re movin’ on up…”

One of the secrets to a successful life is learning to find joy in small things. Living in the country has taught me to stop and smell the roses. I stand in awe of the deer that grace our front yard almost every morning. I relish the beautiful changing seasons. Sometimes I think my rural life can’t get any sweeter. But last week it did. I now have the ability to flush a whole bucket of golf balls down the toilet. I just hope I’m too grown-up to try it.

Fame, Anyone?

Happy Friday, friends! In case you’re wondering, yes, I have noticed that my blog is plain. Very plain. No pictures or cute characters winking or even pseudo-old pictures of my family or our cat or dogs or the fire in our fireplace. I really would like to eventually post a fireplace picture because that would give this blog a much more “Little House on the Prairie” feel. Developing a blog with a “Little House on the Prairie” feel would be a goal of mine, if I were in the market to add new goals. And I’m not.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fame lately and its fleeting nature. So I’m posting a column I wrote about a year ago after a family trip to Hollywood.

Hollywood Fame

School is now in session. But this week’s column isn’t about the benefits of studying English or science or math. Truthfully, I would never write a column about the benefits of studying math. I still remember Mama helping me with algebra problems in high school. She’d say with such enthusiasm, “Oh Lisa, these kinds of problems are so much fun!” I hate to break it to you, Mama. Those problems were never fun. Algebra and I never became good friends and so it is to this day.

This column isn’t even about the importance of diligence or obeying the teacher though both of those things are extremely important this time of year. This column is about a very important subject to most students. It’s about popularity. Fame. How does one get it? How does one keep it?

On our family trip to California this summer, we spent one day in Hollywood. One day was plenty because Hollywood is so…well, Hollywood-ish. We saw a movie in the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We walked on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where the rich and famous have trod. Our boys placed their hands in the handprints of their favorite movie stars and had their pictures taken. A good time was had by all. But our day in Hollywood didn’t make me long for fame and fortune. No. Quite the opposite.

Large crowds of people surrounded the sidewalk stars of the most recent Hollywood actors. You had to wait a while to get a close look at Johnny Depp’s star or Brad Pitt’s handprints. People were crowding around the handprints of the Harry Potter actors or the star bearing Drew Barrymore’s name.

But it didn’t take long to realize that fame with all of its promise is fleeting. Profoundly temporary. Here for a while, maybe even years, but not for forever. You can imagine my shock at hearing young people say things like, “Was Kenny Rogers a singer?” “Was Clark Gable an actor or a music person?” “I’ve never heard of Mac Davis.” It was a poignant moment in time. Just a few years ago people had crowded around those stars. They wanted to get their pictures made placing their hands into the handprints of those they deemed famous, popular, larger than life. But today? Today kids like mine walk right by having never heard of them.

So it is with Hollywood fame. And International business fame. And pro sports fame. And small town fame. And yes, even high school fame. Those who think they stand on the cusp of popularity and greatness need to be wary for history has taught us that they’ll not stand there for long. Today’s star will hardly be remembered tomorrow. Forgotten.

In Hollywood, I felt sad about the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame who are now being ignored. Names we no longer recognize. But there was a profound truth being illustrated as we walked down Hollywood Boulevard. A truth which has changed my life. If people love me today, I can’t be defined by that love. If they ignore me tomorrow, I can’t be defined by that either. Most likely my name will never be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But I can live with that. I am a child of the King and He never forgets His own.

Romance Vs. Pornography

There’s some confusion in America right now, especially among young women.  I’m not naïve enough to believe a lowly newspaper columnist can alleviate that confusion.  But I’m certainly willing to try.

Romance is not pornography and vice versa.  In case the current books or movies have affected your sensibility in this area, allow me to explain.  A man who attacks you on the first date is not a romantic.  And no, you shouldn’t go out with him again.  A man who wants what he wants and won’t take “no” for an answer is not a romantic.  At all.

I didn’t think I had to explain this to women.  But evidently I do.  Or someone does.  I’m disturbed that popular books and movies portray men acting like animals and women totally giving up on romance.  But if our culture does give up on romance, it won’t just devastate individuals.  It will devastate our culture.

Romance is an important slow-moving process by which desire grows.  Oh, the desire may be there from the beginning of a relationship.  Absolutely.  Romance is not the deadening of that sexual desire or the thwarting of natural attraction.  No.  Romance is the process by which all that desire begins an important journey.  A journey that combines natural desire with character, faithfulness, and trust.

See, here’s the deal.  If you want to experience all the joys of physical intimacy for years and years (and I highly recommend that), it’s best to start that process slowly and in the right order.  And yes, there’s an order.  A very distinct order.

It’s been said that the greatest compliment a man can give a woman is to ask the simple question, “Will you marry me?” Sadly, that question is asked less and less in our current culture.  It’s not difficult to figure out why.  Couples have chosen physical intimacy before commitment.  No strings attached.  That sounds great, if only it worked.  Statistics are clear.  It usually doesn’t.

Real romance doesn’t begin with sex.  Romance begins with conversation. Those conversations deepen your appreciation of the other person.  All of that conversation and closeness leads to even further desire and the process continues.

In fact, sometimes that heightened desire leads men and women to do the craziest most beautiful things.  I know a young man who once spent several hours hiking down a mountain during a week-long hunting trip to walk to a convenience store to call his girlfriend who lived in Texas.  This was long before cell phones.  Sadly, the woman who had captured his attention wasn’t home that night.  So he had to walk all the way up the mountain again.  But that’s okay.   She was impressed and appreciative of his romantic gesture.  A month later he asked her to marry him.  She never hesitated.  They got married four months later.

Though 25 years have passed, she’s still impressed with him. Impressed with his kindness and his faithfulness.  She stands in awe of his daily commitment to work and pay bills and labor alongside her to raise two teenage boys.  Some may think their lives are pretty boring.  But life is anything but boring at their house.  They’ve been blessed with a life-long love.  And that is romance at its very best.