Unreliable Witness

“Tell me, Ms Bruce, where were you between the hours of 6am and 3pm on the day of February 11, 2019?”

“Certainly. I was upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the backyard, and down the street.”

“Are you trying to be funny, Ms Bruce?”

“No, sir. I’m just answering your question.”

For most people, “I stayed home” is a gross inaggeration of their activities. We do things we don’t even think of as “things.” In jotting down everything I did today up until 3pm, I forgot “made and ate lunch,” “made myself a coffee,” “lay down for a short nap,” and “read two pages of To the Lighthouse,” but still had 27 items on my list.

But wait, there’s more! Lots of activities contain numerous sub-activities. “Did two loads of laundry,” big whoop. But laundry entails sorting dirty clothes, choosing optimal machine settings, listening for the machine to finish, removing the lint, folding the clean clothes, and putting them away. It may entail climbing stairs. It may entail using clothespins on an outdoor laundry line or an indoor drying rack. “Making coffee” includes grinding it, putting the used grounds in the compost bucket, and washing the pot. “Napping” includes reading To the Lighthouse as an alt-med sleeping agent.

Then there are while-I’m-at-it tasks. While I’m watering the houseplants, lemme just remove these dead ivy leaves. While I’m making a smoothie for my lupper, lemme just give the dogs a spoonful each of the yogurt. While I’m getting my clean mug out of the dishwasher, lemme just put away the rest of the dishes.

And no day is complete without a yikes chore or two. Yikes, that leftover redcurrant juice has been waiting in the fridge for a week! Lemme just make some jam. Yikes, Cuca’s litterbox needs topping up! Lemme just go do that. Yikes, this salted fatback in the deep-freeze is a year old! Out you go.

So please, Mr Mason, no matter how interesting the crime, please don’t call me as a witness.

The scene of the grime.
Photo taken by me on my iNonPhone.

From the Outside In

It started as a Spirograph design, changing pen colours as I went around the circuit on a piece of white paper.

That was a few days ago. Yesterday, I called myself “a total loser” while speaking to a good friend of mine, and my friend later sent me a message I need to remember:

“You are one of God’s beloved so therefore you cannot be a loser in anybody’s eyes, including your own. Just rejoice in the fact you are in God’s favour. HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!

I know the message is true — we are all God’s beloved — but like most people, when it comes to applying this message to myself, I can’t quite believe it.

After lunch today, still feeling blue, I set a Christian Hits station burbling in the background and pulled out my Spirograph set. Saw the drawing from the other day, and started colouring it from the outside in.

It wasn’t until I’d reached the centre, hours later, and filled it with my favourite colour, that I realized I’d been creating a picture of my own eye.

I cut carefully around the little artwork’s edges and glued it to a piece of cardstock. It looks left, towards the message my friend sent. Both are taped to the drawer face of a little desktop cubby my father built decades ago.

Writing Run-down

Dear Tucker,

You asked why I’ve started a blog, and I waxed incoherent. That’s the crux of it: I can’t marshal my thoughts fast enough while talking. Writing became my major means of expression starting when I was 12.

At 57, I do still try to converse. And fail. And when I fail, that’s when I look back at my writings and think, Wow, this is pretty sucky too. 

And so, with the caveat that I’m feeling blue today, here is a rundown of my five latest blog posts. You won’t read them, but nothing impedes me from pretending you will.

1. “A Quarter-millennium of Yum” : In this entry, my writing sucks — wrote too fast. Head down to the paragraph with the drop-cap A for the 1766 description of chowder.

2. “Rock Bottom” : Only marginally sucky writing. If you want to read the comments, just click below the yellow tags at the foot of the post, then hit the back button afterwards (but since you won’t visit the blog, let alone read the comments, please save yourself some time now by not reading this sentence I’ve just written).

3. “The Break” : About 600 words, should be edited for length, maybe drop half of them and then reduce it by a further 300 words.

4. “The Colourful Concertina” : My favourite, and it’ll be yours too, because it’s only 14 words long including title and tags.

5. “A Shelter for Theo” : a pun-laced story about my outdoor thermometer and the housing I built for it. My very least-sucky writing.

Amazing! Am starting to feel better, just by having written to you. Wonder if St Francis ever said, “Where there are blues, let me sow self-deprecating humour”?

Looking forward to our next kaffeeklatsch.

– Janet.

My Card

Dear Tucker,

Did it! Made my own wallet card. Just for me. To remind myself, when necessary, that I’m not a total waste of the planet’s atmosphere. The pompous attitude of the green letters of my name disturbed me a little, so I added the more modest blue letters inside them; now the green ones look like balloons.

As you were saying yesterday, our pets make us laugh because they remind us of ourselves but in an uninhibited, kooky kind of way. Well, so do toddlers. So am using “toddler of God” to describe my faith life. In contrast, the expression “child of God” to me smacks of a veneer of fictitious purity and goodness and obedience we glue onto our children, and even our adult selves — yuck. I’m a toddler, I do my own thing, squawking when I hurt and running headlong into places I shouldn’t, and God laughs indulgently at my silliness. None of us can live up to the expectations of other humans, but God always says we’ll do.

The fridge magnet next to the card was given me by my sweetie. The fine print in the corner reads, “Write your story / sing your songs / speak truth into the hard spots.” I know the first line of that advice depends on the third line. Unfortunately, although my Fear Sharks are fine with me singing, they’ve done a swell job of six-fathoming all that story material that you’ve guessed is in me somewhere. Where is it? Maybe it’s what’s stuffing those green balloon letters on my card. Now there’s a conundrum: how can I insert a butterfly to draw out some of that material, without exploding the balloon?

Golly, this is decent stuff. If I get up the nerve to start a new blog, this may well be my first entry. As always, Tucker, thanks for listening.

– Janet.