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33-Head Cows

“33 head cows! NO THANK YOU!” exclaimed my son, on our trip to Bear’s Mill, Ohio.  I laughed and laughed at how literal kids are, though to be fair he had never heard cattle auction terminology. Even if he had, surrounded by creaky wooden beams and the antique farm equipment tucked away in the shadows, I suppose anything, even a 33-headed cow, seemed possible at the moment.

This simple misunderstanding reminded me of a story a friend told me of his childhood. He had gone to a pharmacy with his mother, and as he was waiting for her to finish, he saw a Selsun Blue shampoo sample box on the counter that said “take one.” Following directions, he took the (empty!) display and kept it. This story tickled me – why on earth would he need an empty display box? Why would he think they were giving them out? It doesn’t matter. He did as the box demanded.  Continue reading “33-Head Cows”

Yay! You’re Still Insane!

So, after 27 years together, my husband Derrick and I are pretty much settled. All the passionate arguments, all the differences of opinion and drama evaporated long ago. Today, we’re raising a child together and are mostly entertained by his shenanigans. It’s a solid place to be, and I’m grateful for it. Once in a while, though, the fiction reader in me gets worried that we’re just coasting through this life, set in our roles and not thinking big enough for the short time we have on this planet.

This year, that worldview has been challenged by a reality TV show called “The Curse of Oak Island.” Having happily watched the same shows together for years, this one has shaken us up. If you haven’t seen the show, here are three descriptions of it, (in the interest of fairness:)

Network (History Channel) description: Oak Island is a tree-covered island on the south shore of Nova Scotia that has intrigued treasure hunters for more than 200 years. It is believed that the island is hiding one of the greatest treasures of all time, but no one has been able to find it. Enter Rick and Marty Lagina, brothers from Michigan who have bought the rights to much of the land to try to solve the mystery. The two use modern technology and good old American know-how to look for the treasure. But it won’t be easy as the search is expensive and dangerous — several people have died trying to strike it rich on Oak Island, inspiring the titular curse. The Laginas hope to avoid the curse long enough to find the treasure before they run out of money… or worse.

My husband (Derrick’s) description: So these rich businessmen from Traverse City own most of Oak Island, and they’ve found all these crazy pieces of evidence that there’s treasure there, like pieces of a shipwreck in an inland swamp, and Templar symbols buried 200 feet underground, and a very old map overlay of the island showing a hatch that really existed when they looked for it, and it’s AMAZING. Who knows? With the Templar involvement, maybe the HOLY GRAIL is buried there!

My description: This is a show about a group of guys that don’t even NEED treasure, because they’re millionaires, ruining an island by digging huge holes all over it. The equipment they use is so enormous, that even if they WERE to find the Holy Grail, they would surely flatten it to the size of a gum wrapper with their aggressive techniques. Each enormous, pointless hole they dig costs roughly two million dollars, which could feed a number of people I don’t even want to contemplate.

Arguments over this show typically go like this:

Me: Why? Why are they wasting so much money ruining this island? Two million dollars to dig a hole? They don’t even NEED treasure!

Derrick: Ok, pretend you have millions of dollars. What are you going to do? NOT DIG HOLES?!!

Me: (Speechless staring, contemplation of men having alien DNA…)

Here’s the thing. Our arguments on this show are a complete role reversal. In 27 years of togetherness, I would say that I am the one who tends toward magical thinking, with Derrick being the person who keeps us all alive. I recall such an incident a few years ago. I was standing just inside the garage door, about ten feet away from a squirrel who was walking up our driveway in an oddly fearless manner. When the squirrel was almost within jumping distance of my face, Derrick closed the garage door, forever separating me from the squirrel who was almost certainly not rabid, just intent on bringing me a message from Hogwarts or Neverland or Narnia. Who knows what adventures we missed out on that day?

Like I said, Derrick keeps us alive. Derrick keeps us from eating peanut butter toast three times a day. Derrick is reasonable, and logical, and is forever pulling That-Thing-You-Forgot out of his pocket because he knew you would forget it. Once, in high school, while parked at the baseball diamond at night, a policeman approached our car window and asked what we were doing. My future husband said we were looking at stars with a telescope for a science class. The policeman smirked and asked to see the telescope. Derrick pulled A REAL TELESCOPE OUT OF THE BACKSEAT, resulting in the policeman wishing us nerds a good night and leaving. My point is, this guy is logical, rational, and more prepared than anybody I’ve ever met.

On choosing the life that is right for you, my grandma once told me “nice is good, but sometimes nice is boring.” She was, of course, completely right. And I am guilty in my magical-thinking, fiction-reading way of assuming that our lives are boring if we’re not always reaching, always exploring, always challenging ourselves.

Though “Oak Island” truly does drive me crazy, and I think these guys are certifiable, I have to say I am grateful to them. They’ve shown me that no matter what our lives look like now, we still have the necessary ingredients to live spontaneously. I am capable of being slightly rational at times, if Derrick wants to take a break and be the one who starts suggesting things like sleeping on the trampoline under the stars, or driving through the mountains in winter to adopt a dog. Best of all, I’ve learned my uber-responsible husband still has it in him to believe in treasure and magic. I had thought both things lost to us as we settled in, and I’m glad to find them buried, just where we never expected.

Kindergartner Does the Unthinkable

Earlier this week, my husband Derrick was lucky enough to witness an act of such genius and bravery that he was still laughing when he walked in the door after his drive home. And as soon as he was out with the story, I completely got why. While (sadly) we don’t remember every glorious, freewheeling moment of our childhood, anyone who remembers even a speck of it will understand the courage involved in such an act. Continue reading “Kindergartner Does the Unthinkable”

Teachers are Everywhere – or – What I Learned from a Fart.

It started off as a fairly normal day (“normal” meaning the expansive gray area between getting out the door on time and put-your-pants-on-we-don’t-have-time-for-kung-fu.) Continue reading “Teachers are Everywhere – or – What I Learned from a Fart.”

The Church of Peanut Butter Toast

Everyone who’s decided to apply for the minimum 21-year, 24/7 shift of circus work known as Parenting knows that the main job is to keep the little human you’ve been gifted with physically intact. If you can steer them toward being a positive force in the world rather than the next serial killer, bonus. What I did not anticipate when I entered this arena was the amount of angst I would also have over my little human’s spiritual development. Continue reading “The Church of Peanut Butter Toast”

Know What’s Missing? Sharks.

“You know what would make Synchronized Swimming better?” said my husband from his Olympic-Watching Place on the couch. “Sharks,” he went on. “I mean, these people have been doing the same thing for years. Let’s challenge them a little.” Continue reading “Know What’s Missing? Sharks.”

That Roller Coaster Looks Great on You!

Let me first start with an apology. I saw a photograph so wondrous and funny that I very nearly broke a personal commandment to bring it to you. But “Thou Shalt Not Post Photos of Other People’s Children on Social Media Without Knowing They’re Cool With It” won out. So you’ll just have to use your imagination as I describe the picture that made a $9.00 4×6 seem perfectly reasonable. Continue reading “That Roller Coaster Looks Great on You!”

New Plan: Just Have as Much Fun as You Can, and Try Not to Throw Up on Yourself.

As school supplies start showing their brightly packaged, horrible selves in stores everywhere, we will soon be forced to acknowledge that summer is coming to an end. It’s time to plan the annual trip my son Jonah and I take to a water/amusement park before school starts, and it brings to mind an eye-opening conversation I had with one of his buddies last year. He was telling me how he’d been to the same park, and wasn’t it fun? Then, in the serious way of kids, this little gem: Continue reading “New Plan: Just Have as Much Fun as You Can, and Try Not to Throw Up on Yourself.”

If Your Wedding Vows Don’t Include a Plan for Demonic Possession, I’m Sorry, They’re Just Not Complete.

So, after 25 years together, 11 of those married, I’m fairly sure my husband and I are prepared to handle anything. We’ve been through some pretty hard stuff together – the loss of a parent, a leap-of-faith move from Chicago on a one-job income, a close call with pneumonia… We know each other pretty well and can handle most things life throws at us.

Or so I thought, until the other night, when a sudden, gaping hole in our readiness presented itself. Continue reading “If Your Wedding Vows Don’t Include a Plan for Demonic Possession, I’m Sorry, They’re Just Not Complete.”

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