The Shortage

After hearing the words for so long,
I had started to believe them.

It was a problem that no one had thought to plan ahead for. But, oh, how I wish they had!

The problem began at the bank. Actually, they wouldn’t want me to tell you that. Being a private financial institution—and, they would point out, one that treats their customers much better than a bank usually does—they were, technically speaking, a credit union. That is what we ought to be calling them.

So, instead of beginning with, “The problem began at the bank,” I ought to be telling you, “The problem began at the credit union.” But, that’s not right, either. The real problem did not begin at the credit union. It was only revealed there.

Once it had been revealed, the bank people—I meant to tell you, the credit union people—did all they could to ameliorate the problem. That, after all, is what credit union people do, which—they would be quick to point out to you—is one of the vital differences between banks and credit unions.

But despite all their efforts and good intentions, the problem could not be fixed. And, without regular internet service and extra cash, I was not going to be able to fix the problem myself, either. I was running out of time, and I knew that much immediately.

No, the problem had begun several years earlier with a song. It was a song we heard only during cold weather, and, although it was kind of cute, at first I paid little attention to it.

Then I heard my daughter singing it, something about the perfect gift. To be specific, the perfect Christmas gift. To a background of lively music, a girl starts trying to wheedle her parents into giving her the “perfect” gift, a gift that starts out being expensive, and ends up being endlessly inconvenient. At least, to the parents. To the girl, in theory, it becomes a source of endless delight.

Well, if life were a cartoon—or if we were still all living in the Garden of Eden—then this idea might have had possibilities. If only! But, after hearing the song sung at all hours of the day and night, first of all on the radio, then directly from the lips of my own daughter, it was beginning to sound plausible.

In the real world, hippopotamuses—or, should I say, “hippopotami”?—are messy and temperamental. Besides this, when I stop to think of their vet bills and the simply enormous cost of Purina Hippo Chow, not to mention, regular hippo haircuts and mani-pedis, I shudder.

However, the bank—oops, credit union—already had a cute solution to my problem. For only five dollars, I could buy the cutest little plush hippo anyone has ever seen. I didn’t even realize I needed one, until I was standing in line, and there it was, smiling at me, hinting that for the right price, it could come home with me. Of course, I had to have it.

Snatching it up, I announced to Arwyn, one of the tellers, that I was going to buy it. Right after I had made my deposit.

My daughter, Lacey, who likes bossing people, immediately piped up with, “Mom, that’s five dollars! You can’t afford that! Why do we need a hippo?

I already had my comeback: “We need it for Lizzie. For Christmas. You know how many years she’s been singing about a hippopotamus for Christmas. This would be the perfect gift.”

Lacey was not impressed. “Mo—ooo—om!” she groaned. “Lizzie doesn’t want a hippopotamus for Christmas! No one does!”

“That will be five dollars,” Arwyn reminded me. I happily handed it over. The hippo was now legally mine.

Lacey was talking louder now. “Lizzie really doesn’t want a hippo for Christmas!”

“It will be cute. She’s going to love it!”

Before we could leave the bank—er, credit union—I had a few more transactions to make. As we went down my list, Lacey began to pet the hippo. “What are you doing?” I demanded.

She sighed. “That’s an awful nice hippo, Mom!”

Time for a change of plan. Over the years, Lacey and Lizzie, daughters number three and number one, although eight years apart, were so much alike in looks and temperament that my husband and I had started referring to them as “the twins”. Wouldn’t it be fun to buy them the same cute little gift for Christmas?

“Do you have any more of these?” I asked Arwyn. “Looks like I’m going to need two.”

“Let me make a call,” she replied. “We don’t have any more right here. But our other branch might still have some.”

While Arwyn was making her telephone call, Lacey had some business of her own to discuss: “Lizzie doesn’t really want a hippo for Christmas, Mom! And she doesn’t need one, either. She’s getting married. There’s other stuff she needs and wants. You really ought to sell that one back to the bank!” This would have been a great time to remind her that we were at a credit union, and had been going to one for most of her life. But there was no time for that.

Arwyn returned, shaking her head. “The other branch doesn’t have any hippos, either. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.”

I told her not to worry about it. As everyone knows, hippo shortages in America are usually quickly forgotten. Nothing to write home about, as my husband, Sergei, would tell you.

But this one was. As we were walking out to the car, Lacey sighed once more. “That’s an awful nice hippo, Mom!”

Had I made a mistake? Maybe I should be putting the hippo away for Lacey, instead of Lizzie.

At home, I stashed the hippo and tried to forget it during the flurries of last-minute wedding preparations.

The day after the wedding, when family was still in town, some of us went downtown together for some walking and window shopping. I wondered if my hippo might have a companion at one of the stores.

Before I realized what was happening, I found myself in pet store, automatically squeezing a large hippo with a squeaky center. “That’s a dog toy,” my Aunt Kara reminded me. “That hippo might send the wrong message to Lizzie.”

Putting down the hippo, I left the store, thinking she might be right. But where else was I going to find a suitable hippo?

Turns out, nowhere. Like their living counterparts, the plush hippos residing in my city had become secretive and elusive. After searching high and low, I realized that a companion hippo for the one I had already bought was nowhere to be found.

Before I knew where the time had gone, it was time to start wrapping the gifts. One day, Lizzie came over and volunteered to help me. At the last minute, considering how much Lacey had seemed to enjoy and covet the hippo, I decided to give it to her instead of Lizzie. And, since she was there and ready to help, I asked Lizzie to wrap it.

As she was putting the last of the tape on the package, she looked at me and sighed, “That’s an awful nice hippo, Mom!”

Gwennon
December 2011

Advertisements
Posted in Fun, one of my short stories | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Taste of The Caterpillar

When all was said and done, my dog was not very happy. In fact, using the universal dog-sign-language signal built from barred teeth combined with eyes opened as wide as they can go, he let me know just how far from happy he had actually drifted. And I knew exactly how he felt.

Ten minutes earlier, my kind-hearted husband had agreed to give me the treat I had been asking for: a special massage. As we each found a good stopping place in our routine cleaning jobs, he settled into a straight chair in our room, making room for me in front of him on the floor.

Sensing good things might also be headed his own way, our dog “Roosevelt” ambled into the room, making himself at home right in front of me, then rolled over, hinting not terribly subtly that if I was going to be getting good treatment, why shouldn’t I go ahead and share the wealth by giving him what he always wanted: a massage of his own. Within moments, I found my hands massaging and caressing our now-happy canine as I enjoyed my own massage.

My husband said, “That is one happy dog!” To signal his agreement, the dog wriggled a little, indicating that I was free to continue massaging his back for as long as I wanted to contin—make that, until the dog decided he was tired of it, possibly another twenty long minutes down the road.

So, there I sat, not only enjoying a lovely massage of my own, but giving an equally-appreciated massage to the friend in front of me. But this was not the first time something like this had happened. While I was relaxing more and more, smiles filled both my face, and the face of the dog until I was suddenly transported back through time over 30 years before.

Those were the days when the summer dream of almost every single one of my friends in the church youth group centered around our yearly trip to camp, off in the piney woods, where the air was fresh, Triple X root beer (our official camp drink) was still sold in the canteen, and where all the cool kids from church would be thrown together for a series of exciting, enlightening adventures for a whole week at a time. We enjoyed such activities as swimming, horse-back riding, various craft projects, and multiple classes per day of good, solid Bible teaching.

All of these were, of course, wonderful, and even today I remember some of the lessons we learned back then. But, good as these activities were, they were not my favorite reason for going to camp. My top favorite reason for wanting to go to camp was the many beautiful songs we would be cycling through several times a day. Coming from a stellar acapella tradition—it was about the closest thing to heaven I could ever imagine then or since—our campground of choice kept us singing God’s praises all day long in a group of about 150 singers, most of whom had grown up singing in church three or more times per week, and a few of whom were even better trained. I don’t remember a single bad singer ever ruining the four- and sometimes five-or-six-part harmonies and interlocking melodies that echoed constantly through the camp. Now praising God is good for its own sake. But praising God beautifully in a group that beautified both the praises and the process? That was exquisite. I think the only worship that can top those camp singings will be the worship that the redeemed will offer God after we have gotten to heaven.

My second favorite camp activity was “THE CATERPILLAR”, so called because of its appearance. To form the caterpillar, several cabins of campers (as I recall, either all girls, or all boys) would form a circle, placing their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. At the leaders’ signal, this group would slowly ease down into a sitting position, settling each individual onto the lap of the person behind him. Then the fun would begin: we would each massage the back of the person in front of us. After about five minutes of this feel-good-business, we would stand slowly, each person would turn around, we would resume sitting, then we would end up massaging the back of the person who had earlier been behind us. I was always a little sorry when the caterpillar broke up for other activities.

Spoiler alert: in the real world, this massage technique works well only for either the very young, or the still-athletic, but could prove disastrous for the older, out-of-shape set.

Nevertheless, right here in my own home, on a very small scale, my family had managed to replicate it. For exactly ten minutes. Inevitably, this was interrupted by the timer I had set earlier, since I had promised my husband, “If you can give me special treatment for just ten minutes, I promise, I’ll be happy with that.”

Having made no such promise of his own, though, and understanding that the sounding of the timer heralded some sort of change, the dog just stared at me and sighed, while my husband moved off to return to his work. Not that this mattered to the dog. All things being equal, if I ended the dog’s massage now, it wouldn’t be fair. He was right. To be fair, I gave him a few extra seconds of massage time so that his own massage could last as long as mine had before I finally quit and told him to try to be happy with what I had been able to give him.

But the dog and I are already making plans for a new caterpillar experience tomorrow. We just haven’t told my husband yet.

One of many Christmas gifts received by Gwennon
December 3, 2017

Posted in Favorite, Fun, one of my short stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Was That?

I could hardly believe it. The dream, which seemed more like a movie I ended up starring in, was so real that I remembered the better part of it as soon as I jolted awake: the sights, the sounds, the intense emotions. Remembering a class our church had given in recent years on the interpretation of dreams, I wondered if God was trying to tell me something.

Having lost several older relatives who were key players in my life, I have been surprised to see them frequently in my dreams, especially in the last couple of years, in which I keep returning in my mind to my childhood home hundreds of miles away, and occasionally other familiar places. In this particular dream, I was seated at a very small dining table in an unfamiliar, small-but-cozy kitchen across from a favorite uncle who, over the years, served as both my personal and marriage counselor. We had paused momentarily in conversation, I think to drink our tea—or was it hot cocoa?—when THE THING suddenly appeared.

Now might be a good time to tell you that basically I am not a very brave person. Especially faced with unexpected intruders. And more especially when said intruders are part of the animal kingdom. On a day that I will always remember, but that I hope and pray my neighbors have already forgotten, I shrieked at high volume as I grabbed a large, wiggling centipede with my handy weed-pulling pliers, held it stiffly at arm’s length, marched it onto the driveway, and ineffectively began an enthusiastic campaign of stomping nonstop on it with shoes that weren’t hard enough to crush its very well-built exoskeleton.

The long and short is that although I wanted to kill the creature, I lacked the tools to do so.

So, I did the next best thing: I yelled at it. “YOU DON’T BELONG IN MY HOUSE, AND I JUST HATE YOU!!! DON’T EVER COME BACK AGAIN, OR, BELIEVE ME, I WILL KILL YOU. I WILL KILL YOU ALL THE WAY DEAD, DO YOU HEAR ME, YOU STUPID CENTIPEDE? I WILL TURN YOU INTO BUG PARTS! PARTS THAT WILL NEVER BE REASSEMBLED. I MEAN IT!!!!!”

Then I did what any self-respecting homemaker standing out in the cold, wearing very flimsy shoes would have done: I turned around, walked back into my house, and pretended that the whole thing never happened.

It should not surprise anyone, then, when I tell you that as soon as I saw an uninvited intruder scurrying about the little floor of this little dream-kitchen, I started screaming, emitting a long, continuous wail of high-volume noise that seemed to have no end in sight. Right in front of my uncle, who, strangely enough, kept both his chair, and his mug.

At first, I thought THE THING I briefly glimpsed racing along the perimeter of the kitchen floor might have been a mouse. But when it came back into view, I realized that it was too big for a mouse. Anyway, as soon as I started screaming, the creature did, too, sort of in a mirror-image of my own non-stop shriek.  It seemed genuinely scared to hear me scream and to see me follow it all around the floorboards with my eyes.

At this point, parts of the dream became a little fuzzy. I must have started chasing THE THING, which, with each of us still screaming, I recognized as a very large rat, almost the size of a six-month-old cat, and every bit as muscular. My uncle must have started fading a bit into the background, along with everything else, as I tried to decide on the best way to chase THE THING out of the conveniently-placed outside kitchen door.

Somehow, and I wish I could remember just how I did it (I don’t remember a broom or anything), I started moving THE THING toward the door, keeping my eyes on it, while just wishing to get rid of it.

During this time, I’m not sure what happened to the screaming as all my attention was focused on the appearance of THE still-fast-moving THING. Somehow, instead of looking like a hefty rat, it started looking more like one of the wild rabbits we see in our front yard. Still, being uninvited, it needed to be expelled.

We may have both still been screaming at each other as I opened the door, and THE THING rushed outside. I slammed the door and just stared through the window at it. The not-a-mouse, no-longer-either-a-rat-or-rabbit, stared back at me. I remember feeling that my uncle must have come to stand beside me to look through the door’s window. Together, we gazed out at what ended up being the cutest, most adorable-looking, placid-eyed, completely calm, little deer fawn you can imagine, with a beam of sunlight shining directly onto its little camouflaged flank.

Then I woke up.

The painted white walls of the kitchen were still vivid in my mind, as well as the pristine red and white, flower-and-heart-checked vinyl table cloth that covered the square kitchen table.

At the first opportunity, I shared the dream with my husband, who seemed as mystified about it as I was.

His lack of easy answers was not enough to stop me from talking about this very strange dream for several more minutes. In the course of that time, I came to a question: what if THE THING was something that I had previously recognized as dangerous, but that I had somehow coddled until it had almost become a pet? Then, once it noticed I wanted to get rid of it, it panicked, not wanting to be expelled from my life?

From these questions, my mind instantly leaped to the subject of complaining, a fault I would like you to believe that I am not as guilty of practicing as I actually am. We have had a number of sermons, lessons, and talks about gratitude lately, and I am thinking that perhaps THE THING may have represented the twin spirits of complaining and ingratitude. That’s the best that I can come up with.

However, if any of my readers have other ideas, I am certainly open to suggestion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

You Can Be Sexually Immoral and Get Into Heaven?!

This is such a rampant problem today, and this author writes about it with both power and compassion. I hope you will appreciate it as much as I did.

Stay Bold

Alright, Millennials…Here we go. The audience I am targeting in this particular blog are the young couples who are not married and claim to be followers of Jesus. This may be a powerful reminder to stay accountable and be an awesome example to other christian couples or this may open your eyes to a new way of thinking.

Revelation 22:15

But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

1 Corinthians 6:18 

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Still there? cool.

Since the times are getting worse and the window to make an impact on this world is getting shorter (just like jean shorts and crop tops), let’s put down the beer bottles, shot glasses, contouring kits, condoms, cosmopolitans, and cell…

View original post 2,014 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Hidden Hatred.

I wish I could have read something like this 40 years ago when my self-righteousness really started taking root. It has been only in recent years when I have started to understand that only through God’s kindness can anyone be moved from wherever they are at the moment.

THE MIRIFIC.


You say love the sinner; hate the sin.

But I say love the sinner, and hate your own sin before you go around hating everyone else’s sin.



I am always astonished by the amount of hate I hold within myself.

It’s true. There’s always a person to glare at, a rock to throw, or a victim to spit my venom at.

And I know I’m not the only one.

I’m beginning to see a dangerous trend in the Christian subculture. I see hate being accepted within communities, as long as the group of believers collectively justify their hatred.

What I mean is this…
Have you seen how people treat the president?
Have you witnessed how people treat those they oppose on the political spectrum?
Have you recognized the disgust that is held toward the poor, helpless, and homeless?
Have you encountered the micro-aggressions passed off as jokes?
Have you glanced…

View original post 1,063 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Genesis: Paradise Lost, the Movie

This is something worth investigating, and I so hope you will. One of the two statements my husband has made over and over through the years is this: “We serve a God who can afford to be investigated.” I really believe that anything less would not be worthy of our adoration and following.
Please be sure to thank the author for making this post available.

Bible-Science Guy

(2 Minute Read)

“There are only two possibilities: we just happened, or somebody made us.”
– Astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner

“They hijacked science and they convinced the whole world that science is only possible within an atheistic worldview.”
– Historian Dr. Terry Mortenson

“How can you not believe that somebody designed all this?”
– Astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner

“The Law of Biogenesis says that all life comes from pre-existing life. And yet evolution says that life can come from non-life. But we see no examples of that today.”
– Science Educator Dr. Charles Jackson

“Evolution is not scientific fact. Millions of years is not scientific fact. Evolution and millions of years is the greatest myth ever forced on the minds of men. The reason everybody believes it is because they’ve been brainwashed.”
– Historian Dr. Terry Mortenson

These are quotes from a new documentary movie Genesis: Paradise Lost from

View original post 688 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY – Nov. 22th

This is something we too often forget. I hope you find this article as helpful as I did. Please be sure to thank the author for writing it.

A DEVOTED LIFE

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Psalm 33:4

It seems like most people have a very similar tendency.  If we are shown an image enough times we begin to accept it as real even when we know it is a caricature. Caricatures are used all the time to help communicate a point. I have seen characteristics exaggerated to highlight what can be overlooked. I have also seen caricatures used to simplify that which is hard to fathom.  The problem is when the caricature becomes so engrained that we begin to believe the distortion.

Most of us are familiar with maps of the United States…

View original post 439 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment