two dumb things done

I’m sure there are more others could kindly point out, but two stand out from recent history.

The first came after gladly consuming leftovers from a Mexican restaurant Dy added to my lunch, including part of a roasted jalapeño I sliced barehanded. A little later, while consulting with a teammate, I noticed a speck of matter in my left eye’s tear duct and lightly disposed of it.

“Hello!” said my left eye, reacting to the jalapeño residue on my finger. After a trip to the bathroom, much water and soap, and tears through tight squints, both eyes recovered nicely and I returned to my work area to explain my sudden dash down the hall.

If the stinging heat is caused by oxalic acid, it’s also used as a wood bleach, marble polish and rust stain remover – came up in my recent search for deck stain solutions. It reportedly forms needle-like crystals in water, so some sort of cream or doughy bread might have brought faster relief before making matters worse. A few years ago, Dy suffered for hours after cutting up a jalapeño; now she holds any such pepper with her hand inside a baggie.

The second? As A.J. and I scouted the berry patches at Elver Park yesterday morning, my left foot found a rut in a gravel section of trail I wasn’t watching. I collapsed on a twisted ankle, giving A.J. a bit of a scare, but he calmly helped me back up and down the trail to the van. (Good thing we’d driven over with cans to get mulch from the other end of the parking lot, but even if we’d biked it wouldn’t have been too difficult to find someone with a phone.) Skipping the mulch to make the short drive home, I was glad it wasn’t my right ankle, which I injured similarly late in high school.

Tee and Dy joined us for the trip to prompt care, where the care really was prompt. We had our books along in case it wasn’t; Tee read us most of “Cow Dung Custard” from Unreal!, and Dy read their lunch book, The Wednesday Wars. The RN, x-ray technician and doctor were efficient and engaging. A.J. got to “help” wrap the temporary splint, motivated by a “10% discount.” (Arey was painting faces with friends across town.)

Turns out the three outer ankle ligaments were kind enough not to tear in the twist, but they did break a bit of the small bone to which they attach on the lower end. If I take proper care of it and healing is granted, this misstep shouldn’t threaten our planned travels later in the summer. In the meantime, it’s quite the nuisance and frequent pain. Determined not to complain – j


spoonerism mania = moonerism spania (and gracious suffering)

Our lives recently seem to have been punctuated by trips to visit family members – well, ailing or worse. Back to that in a moment.

Besides reading our own books and reading one of them aloud, one of the ways we occasionally entertain ourselves is with spoonerisms. I’ve accumulated a small collection from other sources, but sometimes the homegrown variety are the funniest. (We’re still trying to remember Dy’s most recent contribution to the art.) On a van ride earlier this year, we spent over an hour sampling spoonerized fairy tales. A fellow staff member, Mark S., picked up a couple of these while hosting a foreign worker years ago, and shared with our kids – among many others, with similar uproarious results – about the time “Rindercella slopped her dripper.”

Were it not for another family medical crisis unfolding in Florida, along with other factors, at least one of us would be on the road as planned in Indiana this weekend. What was to be a celebration of God’s ongoing work among the colleges and universities there was appropriately postponed as one of the honorees approached death quite painfully. Yesterday her obituary appeared (as I was attempting to write my own as an exercise following chapter 1 of Waters from a Deep Well). It tells just a little of JoAnn’s amazing life and influence, and only hints at the excruciating end. Only a believer in the resurrection guaranteed by Jesus’ own resurrection could be both honest about the pain and solidly hopeful of the ultimate cure. That cure comes (at the latest) with the repacement and restoration of our planet (at least), and our re-creator will not lose us between now and then. Christ-following martyrs most pointedly share such confidence, openly and graciously affirming that “Jesus is Lord” in the face of Roman imperialism gone mad – and many other wanna-be-gods since. You can meet more of them in Jerry Sitser’s latest book.

Meanwhile, it looks like the situation in Florida is headed toward court, against our better judgement. [As usual, the most interesting comments are probably best left offline in my journal.] Suffice it to say: My Florida brother-in-law has survived heart surgery with complications on June 3rd – against all odds – but with few signs since of consciousness and additional difficulties. His wife, my sister, after enduring with us repeated loss recently, would stave off another, whatever the expressed wishes of the other sufferer. On such issues, we “deg to biffer” (to quote Dy out of context). We continue to ask for a miraculous recovery for one or both. Knowing such boons are an overflow of the next age overlapping with this one for a while yet…

Did I mention Dy and I yesterday passed the 21-year mark of marriage? It’s true, and good. – j

Satisfaction, contentment, BBQ, Tee pix and rehab

Several guys at the office are reading The Contented Soul and discussing it over weekly lunches. Monday’s discussion of the difference between satisfaction and soul contentment led me to an experiment this week. I knew it was culminating last night at supper.

When the rest of the family left Tuesday for a two-day visit four hours south, I thought I might try to be content with the food available in the house. The breakfast foods, yogurts and leftovers were fairly satisfying, but didn’t keep me from suggesting dinner to a workmate. I got a raincheck, worked late both evenings, and avoided any spending. The quiet hours of reading took me into the wee hours, and offered a different kind of nourishment.

Everyone’s return on Thursday was followed by a supper of instant macaroni and cheese – filling, but not the baked kind A.J. and I (at least) prefer. The leftovers were delivered to me in time for lunch Friday; I’d somehow managed to forget them at home.

Last night’s dinner was delayed by my late arrival from work and the further wait for the charcoal to be ready. But was it worth it! The grilled ribs with (for most of us) Sweet Baby Ray’s bar-b-que sauce were (for me, at least) a perfect complement to Aunt Dana’s spicy preserved asparagus and slices of French bread topped with the same aunt’s strawberry jam. “Wow,” I kept saying frequently throughout the meal. A.J. got to gnaw several bones Florida Gramma would have enjoyed. We ate almost half the jar of jam, and the asparagus was finished, mostly by me.

The delicious combination was matched plentiful quantity; we usually treat meat more as a condiment than the main dish. The whole shared experience more than made up for the previous days’ slim fare and balanced the solitude. The past day had also seen Dy and I move from opposition on an important decision-making process toward collaboration, which has continued today. A measure of contentment was restored along with the physical and relational satisfaction.

Okay, enough analysis for now. Tee’s visit with the DJs at a local radio station almost two weeks ago is now visible at (or for mobile devices). The promised CD of her on-the-air chats arrived this week, and I’ve been commissioned to make at least one copy.

Meanwhile, my Mom has completed her first week of rehab from gall bladder surgery. After the previous posting, she went into the hospital and surgery soon followed, placing a drain when removal proved too risky. Not having a cell phone, we kept up by public phones and at friends we visited on the way home from Cedar. (We got to see more of Sleeping Bear Dunes [] this time too.) Your prayers will be appreciated for her fuller recovery and for safe and sustainable arrangements once she’s home. I’m looking forward to being some on-site help when visiting later this month.

Hoping you’re finding contentment with the best – j