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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sweet Redemption

            Today, I thought it would be fitting to give you a brief update and follow-up regarding a previous post of mine.  If you might recall, in the latter part of July, I had an unexpected garden disaster.  I could begin to explain, but instead I feel, like Inigo Montoya from 'The Princess Bride', "there is too much, so let me sum up.”

            For those of you who don’t remember or didn’t see that blog, you can find and read all about and enjoy it here:
            So in summary, we had returned home from vacation and noticed that a big rain and wind had completely knocked over our wonderfully growing corn.

            Well, being the stubborn old coot that I am, I wasn’t willing to give up on the corn so easily.  After looking over it sadly for a period of time, I decided to perform an intervention. With my son’s help, we watered the soil beneath the stalks to soften it up a bit, then pounded some stakes at the end of each row, between which we tied some strands of tightly pulled twine.
            We then gently and carefully lifted each stalk up to a more upright position and then wrapped another piece of twine around each stalk and tied it to the supporting twine along the side to help support and hold it up out of the dirt, and toward the light.  Then we had to step back, continue to water and monitor it, and hope that the corn would take root once again and be productive.

            Miraculously, with a little additional support, reintroduction to the proper soil, consistent watering and allowing it to be bathed in the warming and living light of the sun, it began to grow once again.

             Eventually, most, but not all, of the stalks stood tall and strong and tasseled-out with what appears to be a wonderfully good yield of ears of corn.

            Last night, some had ripened enough, that my wife picked and cooked some to go with our dinner, which also included peas and fresh red potatoes from the garden!  I couldn’t help but be grateful for the garden mercy we had been granted and the wonderful feast we were able to enjoy, and hope to continue to enjoy throughout the months ahead with continued fresh, canned and frozen vegetables that will come.

            Sadly, far too often in life, the gusting gales of trial knock us or those we love from their roots and leave us lying in despair.  But I am so grateful for the tender mercy and loving kindness of life’s Master Gardener!
            Our loving Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ will never give up on us!  We may suffer for a time until we are ready, under their gentle guidance, are able to be lifted back up by their power and guiding influence, held sure by the support  from family, friends and the principles of the gospel, and allowed to feel once again the light of The SON in our lives.
            I am thankful for the times the Lord has lovingly lifted me back up, and held me become productive once again.  And I am also grateful for those opportunities He has given me, to at times, be the supportive twine who is able to embrace and support those who may be struggling, until they once again have strength to stand on their own.
            May we all help lift, support, and strengthen each other, so that we can all rise together, to new heights of happiness, both here in this life, and in the eternities to come!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Middle-Aged Midnight Dance Party

Middle-Aged Midnight Dance Party
            People who have really known me over the years, could tell you that buried deep down underneath my logical and calm exterior is a person who loves to have a good time.  Now this statement requires a little clarification on what your definition of a “good time” is.  Actually, my split personality is more like a set of identical twins.  I’m just generally more of a reserved, conservative and guarded kind of guy.
            While I can and really do enjoy visiting with family and friends, playing games and laughing at a few harmless jokes, I can say that I’ve never tasted alcohol (except that time when I was about 4 years old and I took a swig of what I thought was a can of soda pop, but was actually a can of beer … YUCK!), I’ve never smoked, experimented with drugs or anything of the sort.  And as my wife can surely attest, I most certainly can’t dance.  It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be able to cut a little rug and glide around like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.  My fault is the genetics!  There’s just something in my Viking ancestry that is more about pillaging villages with brute force than gyrating in rhythm with a groovy tune.
            So imagine my utter surprise, when a few nights ago, completely unexpectedly and caught totally by surprise… I got involved in the most insane dance extravaganza of my life!  No… I’m not talking about the time at the family Christmas party when my wife challenged me to the video game, “Dance, Dance Revolution” - a challenge which I accepted and actually won!
  No, this was a completely different kind of competition altogether.
            It started as a completely normal day.  I went to work for a full and busy day after having just returned from a week-long vacation and handled the stress of getting back in the occupational saddle quite well.  While we had been gone for about 10 days on our vacation, my yard had somehow magically transformed itself from a modest assortment of grass, flowers and garden vegetables, into an overgrown jungle landscape straight of the movie Jumanji.
            Ditching my work attire, I started the otherwise normal evening by donning my yard work clothes and spent several hours mowing swathing and bailing the lawn, pulling weeds & picking slightly over-ripened raspberries.  Now while these activities did require plenty of bending, twisting, squatting and reaching movements, I don’t think any of them could have been classified as actual dancing, and there surely wasn’t any music playing in the background.
            Exhausted by the rigors of the day, I had planned for nothing more than to finish the day with a nice cool shower, a few moments of relaxation reading and then a good night’s sleep.  But oh, how mistaken and uninformed I was for the night’s unforeseen festivities!
            All had gone according to plan and the calm and reserved Eric was fully in control of the relaxation mode of the evening, but lurking somewhere off stage was my Dr. Jekyll’s Mr. Hyde, waiting to make his grand party entrance on Center Stage.
            So there I was, sound asleep and in the middle of a quite extraordinary dream at about 1:30 in the morning, with absolutely no plans for dancing whatsoever, when I was shocked out of my slumber by something deep down inside that simply wouldn’t be ignored…. My dancing, party legs decided it was time to put on a show.  If only I would have known I could have sold tickets ahead of time.
            My head snapped out of the subconscious realm and off of my pillow to the agony of my right groin and inner thigh locked in a full out, party-time, pedal-to-the-metal muscle cramp!  Now, in my younger athletic days I’ve experienced my fair share of muscle cramps in the calves, or hamstrings, but those are in places that can be more easily stretched and positioned to alleviate the pain.  But in the combination and location of muscle groups where I was having my problem, my Adductor Magnus had decided to paint the town with his buddies, Adductor Longus and Adductor Brevis,.

            The problem was, these party animals had forgotten about my lack-of-dance genetics and instead were locked in what might as well have been a Viking warrior battle-to-the-death!
            Groaning in utter agony, I couldn’t help but wake up my wife to join the party with me.  I struggled to get up out of bed so I could somehow try to move and stretch things out as the microscopic Nordic warriors in my muscle fibers engaged in an epic tug of war that would have left Thor and Odin jealous with envy.
            Struggling to roll over into a sitting position at the edge of the bed to try and stand up, I made the mistake of waking up my left leg in order to lift it off the mattress.  Realizing that their distant cousins on the right leg were having all the fun and, of course, not wanting to be left out, my left groin muscles joined the party in attempt to outperform the competition.  This was no friendly game of Dance, Dance Revolution, but a wicked, twisting game of Dance, Dance, You-Gonna-Suffer!
            Sitting on the edge of the bed, I realized how difficult a simple act like standing is when you have a Viking battle dance going in your crotch.  I guess I’ve never been fully dead before, but I think I now at least have a little bit of insight as to what a muscle might feel like if it were still alive, but in a state of Rigor Mortis.
            On the verge of tears (and hopefully not saying any choice words that I can’t remember) I grunted unintelligible commands to my poor wife who was attempting to decipher my monosyllabic grunts and groans in order to try and help me.  With what seemed like super-human effort and some assistance, I was finally able to rise into a twisted, deformed crouch that could hardly be classified above Neanderthal posturing.  It was as if every fiber of my inner legs had somehow shrunk into a writhing, knotted mass of fury.
            If only a video camera was rolling, some wild music blasting off-rhythm beats, and a spinning disco ball sparkling off the ceiling I could have put on a clinic on how a dance party would look in Hell.
            For what seemed like an Eternity of dancing in Dante’s Disco for the Damned (but what was probably only about 1-2 minutes) I staggered around in lurching zombie moves that would have easily cast me a role in Michael Jackson’s famous “Thriller” video or in the finale of “The Walking Dead”.  If matters couldn’t get any worse, my bladder decided that with all the excitement going on, it might as well make its entrance to party known.  I mean, my bladder being as logical as I am, it figured as long as I was up, I might as well relieve myself.  Being in muscle cramps and unable to sit down or fully stand upright to aim adds some challenges to that routine… just in case you were wondering.
             If I would have been lined up side by side in a dance competition with Kevin James from the movie "Hitch", Will Smith would have slapped me on the face a lot harder.
            Finally, my party legs seemed to realize whose body it was they were attached to, and that they had absolutely no chance of synchronizing their efforts into an effective audition for “Dancing with the Stars”, and decided to shut down the juke box and allow Eric’s reserved and logic legs to come back into control.
            My wife offered her support and slumbered back off to bed, as I carefully stepped with calculated movements about the floor for about 15 minutes on fully guarded, DEFCON 1, maximum alert status just in case the dance party was called back to order.
            A few Ibuprophen, a banana, a large glass of water and about 30 minutes later, I decided the festivities had officially been cancelled and it was safe to go back to bed.  As my middle aged body and mind gradually and guardedly drifted back to sleep, I came to the conclusion that the next time I come back from an extended vacation, I might consider hiring someone else’s party legs to come take care of my yard!
            But Hey, maybe with enough practice, even a rugged, middle-aged Viking like me can learn how to bust a few moves eventually!