Staged Reality

I’ve not gotten caught up in these so-called reality shows. Not the housewives ones, nor Duck Dynasty, nor Millionaire Matchmaker– none. I nearly got sucked in though on a channel that I occasionally watch. I say occasionally because in winter I seem to gravitate way too much to television and am trying to break that habit.

I like Food Network. I like “Chopped” and sometimes “Cupcake Wars”, sometimes but not very often “Sweet Genius” or “Restaurant Impossible”. But those programs where they claim they have hidden cameras all over restaurants, in their kitchens, bars, and dining areas– I don’t know about those. They have a guy who hosts this program, having the restaurant owner with him in the control room where they have all these monitors. The owner has supposedly suspected one or some of his employees of stealing, abusing other coworkers or diners or something that would be a firable offense. Sometimes these are actually believable, but then the offender/s are brought in to the control room and wonder what all those monitors are. I can’t help but question whether these are actors portraying actual incidents. Or even made-up ones. They don’t appear truly surprised, or humbled, or inflamed, or indignant, or appalled, unless people are so callused that even their truth seems fake. No, they appear to have been rehearsed through this. I mean, can this actually happen to someone who does steal or abuse a customer or coworker? Without the impending lawsuit people seem to be able to get away with these days for pain and suffering regardless of the blatant fact that they caused the pain and suffering by their own actions?? Nobody seems to want to be responsible for something s/he did or said to intentionally hurt or deceive someone else. It’s always someone else’s fault. They got caught! Plain and simple. But on so many levels even networks are exploiting people’s devious stupidity. They cash in on stuff they tell us happened, but did it really? I know it could, but really, who wins in this one? I’ve never seen a disclaimer stating the participants are actors, but maybe there is one. The credits roll so fast who can read them? 

Maybe this blog isn’t so much about false reality as it is about our pathetic so-called justice system. There is no justice in the law. Winners are those who can argue a legal point better than somebody else, sometimes regardless of whether it has any moral or ethical bearing at all.

Most of the time it doesn’t even give the appearance of justice. Reality as I understand it is raw, vulnerable, risk-taking, bald-faced authenticity. Something a person can not hide behind because it is all s/he is.

And we, in our inerrant (?) hope in humanity, want to believe.

Waiting for the snow

Not very often but enough to make it magical there is a prediction for snow here. It’s never very much, only a few inches, but it has that transformative ability to change the landscape just briefly into something extraordinary.

The prediction has been talked about over the past several days, so I went for a walk hoping to distract myself. I remember when I was little and though I was the only real daydreamer in my classes there were certain days during winter when every child’s eyes were trained outside those classroom windows almost willing the snow to fall. Whether there had been a prediction or not did not matter. We could feel it, smell it, even the air looked different. Then later, after our exasperated teacher had called us to task we would glance back out those windows to see snow falling so hard you couldn’t see past it.

So as I walked I looked hard against tree lines and sides of hills, even creating an illusory appearance of snowflakes. The frozen air grated against my cheeks, rubbing them a rosy red. I looked up at the slate-grey where even the sun appeared an imposter of itself through the ice-crystalled clouds.

It’s always a surprise here, to see snow.

Memory rambling

Just as I woke this morning a thought for a new post came to me because of a Beth Moore book I am reading. Even before my morning stretch and prayer for God to grant me wisdom sufficient for today, which I always (try to) do. Then my beautiful rescue Lily put her head under my hand for an ear scratch and to let me know she wanted to go for her pre-dawn walk. So I got up, dressed, brushed my teeth, the whole drill, bundled to face the 17-degree air chill and we set off. Our walk was longer this morning, so quiet, nothing but the shadowy crescent moon and stars and I think it is Venus now in the eastern sky. Anyway, we came back in, I fed Lily, fed the birds and in the process scared off the deer that routinely eat the birdseed during winter which I don’t mind because they can’t find much else this time of year. I checked on Murphy, my other little rescue still bundled up in the bed, then made my own breakfast.

So all of this is to say that when I sat down and actually remembered I had something to write about, I forgot it.

Which is the pointless aim of all this rambling. I sound like I do sometimes when my son calls, only I don’t think I will have much to say to him for a while because I am angry with him. His birthday was Friday. He doesn’t need anything, whenever I ask what he wants he says “nothing”, which is true because like most people these days if he wants something he goes out and gets it. So I sent a dumb I-hope-you-think-this-is-funny present. When I called to wish him happy birthday (which I won’t do again because I woke him and his girlfriend and I hate when I do that. Ick.) he claimed he did not receive it, which would be the very first time something I sent him was not received. So I checked the tracking number. Delivered. Do I believe him? Or do I paranoically decide he hates these stupid things and just threw it away? Couldn’t he at least have opened it before so he could pretend he thought it was funny? If in fact my premise is correct and he did toss the thing.

I think I am obsessing about this too much and need to detach. This book I am reading on overcoming insecurity… maybe I better read it again.

Triple Negative Reversal

My friend about whom I wrote several months ago with triple negative breast cancer… she started to respond to her chemo in late October, her oncologist said her tumors were shrinking. We rejoiced with her, as hopeful as she that one day we would again see her walk into our church giving God (and His guidance to good doctors and treatments and nursing) all glory.

Just before Christmas suddenly my friend could not walk. No motor ability in her legs. So she went to hospital in an ambulance. Another scan. More tumors, brain tumors. So the day after Christmas she underwent aggressive radiation treatments. Hope again. More prayers. Then just a week ago an email asking more prayer as they deliberated over seeking hospice.

Now, as at the beginning, requests for meals only this time it is not the beginning. It is waiting for the angel of the Lord, the angel of death, an angel of any kind to bring my friend her final comfort, the comfort only one who has gone through unimaginable pain in treatments, upheld astronomic hope of life restored, and felt cataclysmic defeat, resignation, that all her efforts, all the efforts of those who love her and her family and prayed and hoped and believed, were for nothing? NO. Through all this, though we may be losing someone of great value to us, He has been with her, with us through all of this, and will be with us still. Why didn’t He save her? Why didn’t the ghastly invasive and thoroughly unkind chemicals kill the bad cells? I don’t know. Nobody knows. The cancer was too aggressive, too insidious. The treatments did not start soon enough. A cell mutated, morphed into something evasive of the worst of the chemical poisons ravaging my dear friend’s body and grew despite them. And a million more answers.

A family will be without a wife, a mother, a grandmother. But her life was not for nothing. She lived it, she loved it and those she bore, or knew and loved, loved her . And her God, in Whom she has undying faith, loves her and will be with her as He has always been, every step of her coming Home.



These happen a lot, don’t they? A person changes their mind, fortunes are won or lost, ships change course mid-stream, a dog running flat-out suddenly veers backward as the scent takes a sharp turn and one country in the entire world, and those it influenced over the centuries places steering wheels in cars opposite what most people consider the norm. Except our postal carriers.

The summer of 1970 my family visited my mother’s aunt in Jamaica for two weeks. They were no longer a British protectorate but their cars were still (maybe are today even) having the steering wheels on the right side, which to us is the wrong side. My dad rented a little Ford Cortina. Driving this car was a remarkable feat and one that gave my brother and me many opportunities of hilarious laughing fits. Dad would be beetling down a hill precariously toward a one-lane bridge, on the right side of the road, which was wrong. Just as swiftly another car crested their hill toward the same bridge. Dad jerked the little car to the left, downshifting or so he thought but he wasn’t because the gear shift and turn indicator were reversed on the steering column, so he was really telling the horrified on-coming driver he was moving back into their lane. My brother and I nearly split our sides cramping with laughter. Mom sat diplomatically quiet in the front passenger seat white knuckling the dashboard. Furious that we thought his taking our lives in his hands so casually was funny Dad flung a powerful arm over the seat at us hoping to connect in a warning blow but invariably missed. This caused more hilarity but fortunately by the time we got to wherever it was that we were going Dad was so relieved that we were all in one piece he forgot how mad he was.

There are some things children never remind their parents of, and we never did.


Oh, Christmas Tree, updated

So I have since learned that there are many uses for Christmas trees once they are restored to their natural, unadorned state. They are used in lakes, ponds and streams as havens and habitat for fish and aquatic life; they are collected and shredded for mulch which is then recycled into nourishment for public and private land; one person told of using them as fodder for his goatherd; a local tiger sanctuary in NC collects them for toys the tigers love to play with; and yet another neighbor showed how her children stand the tree in their backyard after Christmas and re-decorate it with pine cones rolled in suet or peanut butter, then rolled in birdseed and watch the birds enjoy their treats through the winter.

I guess my concern was more toward the attitude with which we so casually cast off this thing of beauty that we admired for so short a time. I guess it’s all a part of moving forward, forgetting that which is behind.

But could we not cast off the things of our past a little more gently, if not find a way to keep them in some fashion still useful? We are all a part of where we have been, aren’t we?

Oh, Christmas tree

On a short walk this morning with both my dogs (Murphy, my little elderly gentleman usually is not up to walks but maybe the colder weather helped), I saw more of those beautiful frasier, balsam, douglas and noble firs heaped at the side of the road. It’s like a death, really.

Imagine. Thanksgiving feasting. Advent begins, More and more cars on the road with trees tied to the roof, happy celebrants taking their choice selections home to adorn them in regal splendor!

The days, maybe weeks of anticipation for those days when our homes are transformed into sparkling, shining, aromatic and glimmering havens of beauty. Where all of us, families and single people alike are filled with thoughts of parties, friendships, warmth, and sugar plums. We practically float through our days, gliding joyfully with carolling and laughter to that wonderfully awaited day where we awaken with our loved ones and open gifts, some surprising, others hoped for, all is bright and cheery. We savor each moment of this day, appreciating what we have and those with whom we can share. We listen more closely, speak more gently and kindly. This day has a loveliness, a beauty all its own and something we really ought to be aware of with the gift of each day.

And the day after this wonderful day of jewelled moments the trees lose their luster. The gleaming ornaments, tinsel, icicles, strings of shiny beads, shimmering stars all carefully put away. And the tree,

That tree we so looked forward to finding as we strolled through aromatic evergreen, wintry lots, gazing upon rows and rows of needle-branched trees.

Now lies cast aside ignominiously by the side of the road.

Without a second thought.


I am speaking of the humbling side of being grateful. Not so much where I feel so good after a great meal, or time with friends, or that it snowed instead of rained– those are more things that make me happy. I guess it’s easy to blur the lines between real gratitude and being happy. Gratitude can make me happy, being happy can also make me grateful, but I think genuine gratitude is more than that.

These past few weeks I have sought out people who, however long or short ago, have done things that some people might overlook. A passing comment at a point of dispiritedness, an invitation when I felt most alone, or even way back in junior high when I was having a particularly rough time with parents, friends and just general growing up. A classmate’s mom took note of this and, with my mother’s permission, asked if I would like to walk with her in a nearby park, to see whether I would like to talk about things. At first I was pretty confused. This happened at a time when my own parents clearly (and probably deservedly) wanted to disown me. So why was this woman, someone else’s mom for that matter, showing me kindness? It wasn’t until later that I understood. Because no one else was. She did this as a reflection of true grace– something I did nothing to deserve certainly not in light of the trouble I’d gotten into –in herself. Before that time I don’t think I’d ever experienced such kindness. Oh, my grandmother had come to my defense a couple of times when I was little because she wanted to dote on me which is what grandparents do, but this was a lady unrelated to me who saw how alone I was and wanted to reach out to me. So I found my classmate and extended my thanks to her, through him.

Then there was a friend, more the mom of a friend of my son’s, who included me even when it was awkward to include a single mom. She saw me as a person, not just for the baggage I lugged around, the stigmas, the hardships, but beyond all that to who I was as a person. To these people I had dimension in and of myself, not for all that I was dealing with or had happen to me, but for me.

What I hope beyond all these specific memories is that I can recall the others. I am sure there have been many and I don’t want to leave one unacknowledged. How many times where people have dropped little sparkling gems into the waters that immerse my life and I hope someday to thank all of them. Sometimes it may not possible, but in my heart I will if not in some tangible form.