Archive for January, 2010

Dream, Dream, Dream
January 28, 2010

So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.  John Bunyan (“Pilgrim’s Progress” 1678) 

Lately I’ve been having the most epic dreams that go on and on, seemingly for hours. I wonder, do the winter months cause deeper slumber? Consider the concept of hibernation! Is it because of the later sunrise? Is it perhaps the chilly temperature in the bedroom that makes me want to snuggle into a cocoon? Our bedroom is probably the coldest room in our house in the winter; it’s in the northwest corner, which may explain it. 

Here’s an example of a recent dream. This one was so vivid and colorful, I actually wrote it down first thing the next morning: 

I dreamed that I was in the grocery store right around the corner (ok, it was Kroger) with Shannon and my mother in law. The lights were turned off as we checked out, so it was dark. The checker rang up all our items up together, and my mother in law wouldn’t let me pay my share. Then she drove away, while I in the back seat,  fell asleep.  

When I awoke, we were lost somewhere out in the country, and my mother in law had managed to drive through a fence into a pasture. We walked down a road along with other people; I recall seeing coins strewn on the pathway, with lots of silver dollars and quarters, and we helped ourselves.  

We came upon a saloon sort of place and used the bathroom, which was very elaborate, however the faucets in the sink spewed water out onto the floor instead of down the drain.  

At some point, Joel and our nephew, Cooper made an appearance; they had found some tadpoles, and Joel was showing him how they were turning into frogs.  

We also ran into some friends from church there at the saloon, Susan and her daughter Rachel. Susan was telling me about how she was moving from one apartment to another. 

 Somehow we must have gotten the car running again (maybe Joel had come to rescue us?), and drove down what we thought was Westheimer, but it wasn’t. We found ourselves again lost in a neat suburban planned community and drove around until we came to the swimming club, which was FILLED with kids and had multi- levels of pools. It was hard picking our way (on foot again) through all the kids, who were  swarming all over.  

Upon leaving (back in the car), we could see the Houston skyline off in the distance (it was the southern view as if coming north on  I-45 from Galveston), so we  headed in that direction, trying to find our way to the freeway.  

We came upon an enormous abandoned cathedral across the street from a Gaudi-esque midrise apartment building (I swear it was the Casa Mila in Barcelona!), which was in sad repair in my dream. There was a pitiful looking hound dog asleep under the front step.  

The roads consisted of rutted dirt, and then… all of a sudden, there was the on-ramp to the freeway towards home! 

The End 

When I awoke, I discovered that at some point during the night I had actually removed the pillowslip from my pillow in my sleep and thrown it on the floor (Bailey was curled up on it). You could tell I had been tossing about in my sleep, and my hair… boy, did it look funny that morning! 

So what does all this mean? I am fascinated with dream psychology and at one point actually studied the symbolism of dreams. This one was obviously a journey sort of dream. Here’s my take: 

I love my mother in law; she is a most generous and dear person. But sometimes she drives me crazy (note: this is not atypical, but in the big scheme of things, we have a very warm relationship). I’m not sure what the darkness in the grocery store meant, but perhaps it symbolizes the residual effects of Ike, after which I spent months helping her pack up her stuff and move. 

When you see money on the ground, pick it up! A penny saved is a penny earned. Saloons are sometimes places to find good people, although sometimes their rest rooms leave much to be desired. 

The tadpole reference came directly from the comic strip “Baby Blues”, in which the family is currently having adventures with tadpoles, which, as of today, are swimming in the toilet. 

The rest is a little harder to analyze, but I think it reflects my disapproval of the current trend to operate sports leagues on Sunday mornings and afternoons in lieu of church activities, which has really decimated youth attendance at Sunday morning services and also Sunday afternoon choirs and fellowship.  

Let sleeping dogs lie. And finally, all roads lead back to Houston! 

So there you have it. The esteemed pop psychologist, pewperson, has thus analyzed her own dream. Should you have such a dream that you would like to have interpreted, well…   “The Doctor is In” and you know what to do!

Note: pewperson will return on Feb. 12; lots of exciting things going on! Will report, never fear.


I Can’t Believe I Just Said That
January 21, 2010


Mix a little foolishness in with your prudence: it’s good to be silly at the right moment. Horace (65-8 BC)

 (The following is a lesson for non-English speakers to learn the difference between quaint American idioms, what they mean and how not to mix them up) 

What do “a chip off the old shoulder”, “biting the ranch” and “giving him a piece of my ear” all have in common? Why, these mixed up idioms all actually came out of my mouth once upon a time! 

To have a “chip on your shoulder” means that you are harboring a grudge about some perceived slight. But “a chip off the old block” means you that you are just like one of your parents. I, of course, mixed them up when referring to the latter situation, saying that Shannon was a “chip off the old shoulder,” meaning that she is like me in some respects, but happily, not in the “mixing her idioms” category. 

To “bite the dust” and “to buy the ranch” both mean the same thing: to die. Or croak, pass away, however you choose to refer to dying. But then there’s pewperson who spoke of an appliance that “bit the ranch.” The worst part is that I didn’t even realize I’d said it wrong. Some people who live in my house find this terribly amusing! 

To “give him a piece of your mind” means that you really let him have it in a very forthright (i.e. angry) manner. To “bend his ear” means that you talked a long, long time about something, not necessarily in an angry manner (this sometimes happens whilst drinking too much). Of course, I, while referring to an earlier disagreement with a person (who shall remain nameless), said, “I really gave him a piece of my ear!” And I wasn’t even drinking! 

These misspoken phrases just seem come naturally to me, and my family threatens to collect all of my funny malapropisms to publish. They enjoy ratting me out whenever I goof up, and frankly, I’ve gotten to the point where I can laugh along with them, rather than feeling put upon. 

Interestingly enough, I don’t think of myself as a naturally funny person; rather I am the sort who has a snappy comeback about 15 minutes later. Yet here I make my family (and others) laugh with my spontaneous crossed brain connections! Maybe God gave me this special talent to make up for my lack of intentional humor? 

Whatever the case may be, I’m always heartened when others admit the same propensity to err. My friend Polly says she always mixes up the term, “six of one, half a dozen of the other” (meaning they’re the same thing, but just described differently). Polly’s version is “six and a half of one, a dozen of the other,” which of course totally makes no sense at all, but it makes me laugh out loud! 

I know she’s really dreaming about buying some Moeller’s petit fours, and her brain is just distracted. If she heads in this direction right about now, she may just make it there by the skin of her nose!! 

Wait. I mean teeth.

A Whole New World
January 15, 2010

And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

-Katherine Lee Bates (America the Beautiful 1893) 

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, Joel and I brought home a few new paintings and other folk art pieces to freshen things up around the house. It’s a fact that if one never re-arranges one’s art collection, one finally stops looking at it. 

First we decided on the best spots to hang the new pieces. Then we had to figure out new spots for the old pieces, and before long, we had done some major art re-arranging! Doing so utterly transformed a few key areas, and as a result, I have happily become re-acquainted with several pieces that I’d quit looking at years ago. 

As I was reflecting on this exercise, I realized that I also stop noticing people after awhile. I am thinking about all the people I encounter who take care of ordinary, everyday tasks, and who are often taken for granted by me because they just quietly do what they are supposed to be doing. It may be a public servant, a store employee, a waiter, a teacher, a church volunteer or a friend. How long has it been since I stopped to notice them, really look them in the eye, engage them in conversation and acknowledge their contributions? 

Shannon is most blessed to work for a boss who is very affirming of her daily contributions, which is huge as far as her attitude towards her job is. When you know that someone is depending on you and appreciates you, it just makes you want to work all the harder. 

As a writer, I often wonder if anyone ever reads my work. I’m always happily surprised when someone says they enjoy reading my pieces, and just like in Shannon’s situation, it inspires me to continue to do my best. 

Just for fun, let’s make a point to be kind and grateful to the people whose lives intersect with ours, whether they work in a restaurant, at school, in a place of business, on a garbage truck or in a dentist office. Tell someone who volunteers as a coach or troop leader or usher at church… “thank you! I appreciate you. You do great work. I don’t know what we’d do without you!” 

If everyone would do this for one day, or better yet, one week, imagine the effect it would have! Just as my home has been brightened up by an art make-over, perhaps so shall our communities be brightened by an attitude make-over. May it usher in a new revolution of kindness, generosity and brotherhood. 

Starting NOW.

The Coming Ice Age
January 8, 2010

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.  

Robert Frost (1923) 

Global warming notwithstanding, it’s pretty darn cold here in Houston tonight (Thursday, January 7). Funny how we southerners vividly recall particular winter weather experiences, because they are so few and far between. You can scroll down a few weeks ago to my December 4 post (“Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful”) and read how all of Houston was atwitter about the earliest snowfall ever recorded here (not that it ever snows very much in Houston anyway)! My point is that we will always remember that day, because it was so unusual. 

As is the current bitterly cold snap, which will plunge the temperature down into the ’20’s for possibly up to four nights in a row. If daytime temperatures rise above freezing, it won’t be by much. The buzz all week has been about how to protect your pipes/pets/plants; we’ve all been just waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

This morning, the temperature was in the ’40’s. Happily, the rain has ended, so the threat of an ice storm (I recall that last one in 1996!) is not in the picture. But a bitterly cold wind has blown in from the north all day, and the temperature just keeps dropping. 

A few days ago. I put all the potted plants in the garage, where they are now warmed by overhead lights, my faithful Donnie Ray and the hot water heater. Still, if the temperature goes below 20•, they may not be very safe in there. I also turned on the heater in the garage apartment in an effort to keep the pipes from freezing; who knows what tomorrow will bring? 

What I am now grieving for is my garden. There is no way to cover all the plants, and so I have made the hard decision to not cover any. Many had already been nipped during that December cold snap, and now I am wondering how many will survive at all. All I can do is wait until spring, cut everything back and then see what comes up. In the meantime, I’m hoping that Southern Living won’t be coming by to take photos anytime soon! 

Pollyanna that I am, I tell myself that in some ways, this will be a positive development. It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a hard freeze, so many of my plants have multiplied and overgrown their boundaries, so much so that I’ve had to whack them back; Joel says that all the plants scream when they see me coming with my loppers! Carol Scissorhands is my alter ego. 

I’ve now reached a point where I realize that life just goes on. We’ve lived through weather extremes such as this before, and we will endure. Whatever plants do survive this cold snap will be on my list of winners, and whatever is lost will be replaced by something new and hardy; my spring gardening chores may be very interesting this year! 

As for all the birds, creatures and humans who are not in a safe, warm place throughout this frigid weekend, I also grieve. I am thinking that there will be some who will not survive, simply because we are not accustomed to such temperatures down here in the coastal south. 

There is something to be said about hibernating, and I think I will do so tomorrow. Forget about getting up, running with the dog, going out and about. I think I shall just curl up under the covers and call Fifi for room service. 

Oh wait. Fifi is me! Guess I’ll have to put on my best Eskimo outfit and hope for some of that global warming stuff. Count on a gardening report next spring about what survived the Houston Ice Ages…