One of the simply nice joys of a Saturday morning is the opportunity to sleep in a bit. Now, it can be thwarted by a number of forces, from whining cat alarms, set to get up at the “normal time” Monday through Friday, and that simply go off on the other two days as well. Lots of whining, some howling, pushing up against an exposed hand, all for the purpose of making sure that the human stays the course, and is able and ready to attend to the needs of the four-leggers in the house. You know, for animals that end up sleeping -- in the sun, if they can, for close to 22 hours or more a day, you would think that perhaps that hour or so in the morning could be skipped over, and they could just sleep like the rest of us hopeful humans.
Of course, there is a greater force that has the power to shake a sleeping body to an awake state. She is a sweet, wonderful woman, but her understanding of “sleeping in” means that she doesn’t get up until perhaps 5:15, while the rest of the world, including her husband, is sleeping soundly. Now, I think she actually tries to be quiet, but it is amazing how loud “quiet” can be. I mean, is there a need to unload the dishwasher at 6am? Or a host of other “sorry – I tried to be quiet” things, which are the equivalent of running a jackhammer in the middle of the living room…
So, I got up – on a Saturday – at about 5:30, which is earlier than I get up during the week. Please remember that I am retired, and that means no 8am meetings or those kinds of things. Well, as I said, I got up, got a nice drink of cool water, and then I felt the somnabulic pull of the bed sucking me back into it. I decided I would just lie down for a few minutes more, and continue to wake up slowly.
I slept until 7:45. It was a delicious, dream-filled, refreshing sleep. I awoke to a beautiful bright sunny Saturday, coming after a week of cold, windy, dark and cloudy days. It indeed was a wonderful gift.
As I sat at the diningroom table, enjoying my cup of coffee, Cheri was moving around like a female version of The Flash, and I realized that, of course, this being Saturday, she was soon off to have coffee with her sister. Her big concern, however, was that the car told her yesterday that the battery inside her fob, to get into the car and start the car, was desperately low and probably wouldn’t survive the day. Now, I’m no greenhorn when it comes to battery replacement, and I remarkably had an actual replacement battery in our battery drawer. I even managed to remember to take off the little plastic sticker on the backside of the battery so it would actually make contact this time (you can guess the backstory of past attempts). Anyway, fully powered, Cheri was off on her way. As she was going out the door, she remarked, “Today we have to buy new pillows…” and she was gone.
I nearly dropped my coffee. Pillows have a strange history in our home. When I was growing up, I had a pillow, of course. It was a great pillow, just the perfect balance between fluff and firm. I’m not sure what it was made of, but it sure seemed made to last. When I say I had it, I’d have to go back to perhaps 3rd grade or earlier. I used it all through high school, and then took it with me to college, and then to four years of seminary, and then on to married life for perhaps another 20 years or so. You see, no one told me there were federal regulations about the length of a pillow’s life. So what if I only had it for 35 years? And never washing it. I know, I know – ick. But I did change the pillow case often, and even changed the zip-up pillow cover on a fairly regular (in terms of years) basis. Apparently, however, the experts (who are probably the same company that makes its money selling pillows) say it should be changed every six months to two years. Really? They are related to the folks who say you need to replace your toothbrush every six to eight weeks. Really?
Well, back to the pillows. I do have to admit, since I finally gave away my cherished pillow, that I have never found a good replacement. It seems I either find a pillow so full and fluffy that my neck creates a 90 degree angle to my body, or it has so little fluff that I’d be better off using a small cinder block to prop my head up. We have ordered pillows, gone to the store and bought them – we have gone to the luxury pillow places, and the cheap, buy-a pillow-for $9.99 kind of store. I would expect right now in our house, we have no truly functional, make me happy pillows anywhere.
So Cheri was right. It’s spring, after all, and the sun is shining, and it very well could be the best day to buy some new pillows. Even as I write this, however, I suffer a shuddering chill down my back. You see, I am a buyer. If I have something I need to get, the best course is to go in one store, find the item, and buy it, and be done. I’m actually pretty proud of our son Aaron, who has received the buying gene. His personal best was when he needed a pair of tennis shoes. We went in one shoe store. He took three steps in, saw the shoe he liked, and they had the size, and we bought it and left. The entire event took about four minutes. Brought a tear to my eye.
One of the compatibility tests that unfortunately no one runs for a couple prior to marriage is to ask the single question: Are you a buyer, or a shopper? Most men, as I have said before, make it about 20 minutes before crushing boredom sets in. However, most women, like my bride, have a different approach. Let’s take pillows, for instance – I can predict that we will go into the store that sells a variety of pillows, and we will find ones that seem to be a great, reasonable match, at a good price, and just as I am about to seal the deal with, “Great! Let’s buy a few of them!” – the response is, “Well, maybe we should look around a bit more…” by looking around, it doesn’t mean at that store at some other pillows – it means looking around at MANY other stores, in case somewhere a more perfect pillow may be found – kind of like searching for that perfect rose as you stand in field of 10,000 roses all around you.
Because Cheri is a shopper. Don’t even ask about women’s shoes. Her favorite phrase is, “We should see what else there is…” which means leaving a store full of –say, pillows – empty handed, getting back in the car, leaving the parking lot, driving two blocks, parking the car, going into another store, looking at the pillows, leaving that store, and repeating perhaps another four or five times. The final injury comes when she will say, “You know, that first store we were in had some nice pillows – maybe we should look at them again…” Across America, you will find, on a beautiful Saturday, husbands with their heads hanging down, walking a few steps behind their wives, only hoping that the shopping sometime will turn to buying, and they will be freed to go home, and sit quietly with the tv on, and put an end to that excursion.
But I love her, and she is worth far more than any pillow, or pillows, so what she needs to do, we will do, because I love her, and sometimes I even get to sleep in a bit on a weekend morning…
Word for the day: scupper. Pronounced SKUP-ur, like supper with a hard “c”. What’s unusual about today’s word is that we will look at it as a verb and not a noun. Exciting, yes? First, the noun. A “scupper” comes from the Old French word meaning, “to spit out.” A scupper on a ship is actually an opening in the side of the ship at the level of the deck floor which allows any water that splashed on to the deck to flow out and back to the sea. Also, on a rooftop patio, it’s a hole in the half-wall at the floor level to do the same thing.
HOWEVER – “to scupper,” the verb means, “to deliberately sink,” or “to defeat, to ambush or to thwart.” The best I can figure out how the noun works as a verb is to think of a naval battle, when a cannon ball from one ship creates a pretty sizeable “scupper” in the other ship’s hull, so that instead of water flowing out, it flows in – rapidly – and sinks the ship. It is also used today to describe any effort to keep something from happening, either by ambush or sabotage. Political plans can be scuppered by the opposing party. My plan to just go buy a pillow is already scuppered, as a hole is blown right in the middle of my strategy…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.