I Smell Spring

When I was a little girl I loved the smell of dirt.  I still do.  Mom said when I was a toddler, I liked to eat dirt, too; she couldn’t keep me out of it.  Sometimes in the early spring, when the farmers are plowing the fields, I still think the earth smells like it would taste good, maybe it’s the minerals in the soil.  I love the different textures and smells the earth has to offer.

In the springtime, it was time to open up the pastures and let the cows out to graze.  All winter they were kept in a small fenced lot, or cooped up in the barn.  I thought Belle and Lightfoot and the yearlings looked forward to getting out in the fields as much as I did.  But, like almost everything else, there was work to be done first.

Dad hitched a little trailer to the back of the Ford tractor and loaded up  with wire, insulators, wire-stretchers, and all kinds of other tool, including a boxed meter that slung around his neck that could tell Dad whether there was a “ground” in the fence.  Then we drove around all the sections of the pastures and fixed the fence, opening each section to the cows as we got it all fixed up.   As soon as I was big enough to put the clutch in by myself, without standing up, I got to drive.

I loved the way the pasture smelled like black dirt and clover, just starting out fresh, bright green and close to the ground.  Before long it would be tall and in bloom; purple blossoms would dot the pasture.  I liked to pick the flowers apart and suck the nectar out, just like a bee.  So sweet.

In the spring, Belle’s and Lightfoot’s milk would taste sweeter and richer, not bland like it did in the winter when the cows were nearly dried-up and they ate mostly hay.  One time the cows got out of the fence and into a field full of wild onion.  Ooo-whee, that milk tasted like it came  straight out of the cow all curdled and sour, nobody wanted to drink it.  It the spring, the new calves were born and there would be enough milk for them and for us kids, with lots of thick yellow cream floating on top.

I drove the tractor from post to post, put-her in neutral, put the brake on,  and hopped off the back to help Dad, never off the front, that’s too dangerous.  Lots of times Dad gave the cousins a ride on the tractor, just for fun; he let them stand right up next to him on the little ledge over the axle.  But my cousin Gary had less common sense than me:  Dad was always asking me how I could be so smart at school and have no common sense at all.  Gary almost got himself killed, ’cause for some lamed-brained reason, he decided to jump up over the fender of the moving wheel and ride on it.  He said he thought it would be fun, like a Ferris wheel.  Dad came running up from the field, dragging Gary by the hand behind him, both of them looking like they were ready to throw-up.  Everyone knew something was wrong, ’cause Dad hardly ever ran; Mom said she never saw him move fast, even though she said he was a track star in high school.  I tried to imagine Dad even in high-school; nope, I couldn’t do it.  I think town kids had a hard time understanding the country, just like that story of the city mouse and the country mouse.

Dad showed me how to test the fence to see if there was a ground, if so, we traced back over the fence to find out where.  Sometimes there was a connector touching the post or  a crack in an insulator.  Sometimes it was an easy fix, and sometimes we had to replace a whole section of wire.  That’s where the wire stretchers came in: a bundle of pulleys, hooks, and rope, Dad fastened one end to the pole and threaded the wire through the other end, then  pulled the wire tighter than anyone could do just on her own.

It took a few weeks to check every part of the pasture; as each section got checked, the cows got a little further to roam, still, they always knew just when to come to the barn for milking, and if they forgot, we just yelled “Ka-Boss, Ka-Boss,” and Belle headed home, with everyone else in a straight line behind.  I never knew how they figured out Belle was the Boss-cow, but she knew and so did the rest of the herd.

At the top of a sandy hill in the second pasture, we had an apple tree.  Mom could see it from the porch, and every spring she looked out at that tree and said, “Someday, I’m going to have a house up there, and it will be tight and warm, with no drafts.  Wouldn’t that be the berries?”  I could almost see that house up there, still, we planted potatoes on the hill and the only things that had a home there was a family of  kildeer, the mother skittering along pretending like she had a broken wing, so we would stay away from the nest.  Dad said it was a good idea to let the kildeer think it fooled us, and just stay away from her nest.   Dad said sand is good soil to plant potatoes, then they can grow big and round, otherwise, they get all crooked and looking like an old man’s face, then they’re hard to clean and peel.  I saw some like that in the grocery store.

In the springtime everything was just a promise, that I trusted would be kept. I still do.   My daffodils and crocuses pushing their heads up through the black earth, still give me that same hopeful feeling; with a little work, just about anything is possible.  The smell of the damp earth makes me just want to take a big bite and savor all the goodness life has to offer.

Book Worm from the Word Go

When I was a little girl, I liked to read.  I read everything I could get my hands on, much of which I was ill-equipped to fully understand.  I read Huckleberry Finn in the second grade.  Now that’s a good story for a second-grader, but so much more when I read it when I got older.

When I first learned to read, I did not know my letters.  Sometimes, Mom asked me to spell the word I was trying to figure out;  she was always busy with something, like brushing Deanna’s hair or fixing supper or changing a diaper, so she couldn’t just come over and look at my book every time I got stuck.   I just recognized the words when I saw them, I didn’t know how to spell them to her.  Then Mom would click her tongue in the back of her throat and let out a big breath of air through her nose, like a quiet “humph”, I’m pretty sure she thought it was too quiet for me to hear.  She let go of whatever it was she was working on and looked at my page:  from then on I remembered the word.

When I read to myself, I could skip the correct pronunciation, but at school, Teacher corrected me.  One word I really struggled over was “determined.” When I had to read out-loud to Mrs. Weichts, I said, “detter-mined.”  Teacher tried to break it down into syllables on the blackboard, but I had it in my mind one way, and it just stuck there.  I was fine when I read it myself, ’cause I knew from what I was reading that “determined” meant the same thing as “pig-headed”; that’s what Mom sometimes said I was when I wanted to do something and she said “no” and I kept begging my case.

“Stop being so pig-headed,” she said to me.

Sometimes I wanted to say, “You’re pig-headed too, you won’t stop either.”  I just kept my mouth shut and only thought it, ’cause there would be big trouble if I said something like that to Mom.  For sure she would say she was going to beat me to a pulp, and she was good at sticking to what she said.  I never saw her beat anyone to a pulp, but I’m pretty sure she could have.  Once my friend, Diann asked me how I could keep from laughing when my Mom said stuff like that.  I told Diann it wasn’t all that funny when it’s actually happening, it was only funny when I told it to her.

Once I was reading an article in the Sunday Parade paper about unwed, teenage mothers.  The only person like that I knew about was the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Unless a girl was married, the only way she could get  a baby was if an angel asked her if she wanted one.  If she said yes, rays would stream down from heaven because a miracle was happening right there and then,  and the next thing you know,  she’d be expecting.  The Parade article said that there were more black girls having babies with no husbands, than white girls; I wondered what was so special about black girls that they got more miracles than white girls.

At school I read in the Weekly Reader about Sputnik,  and putting dogs and chimps and men into outer-space.  Because of the space program, we got to have Tang for breakfast.  Dad loved Tang; especially hot, like coffee.   I read about computers in the Weekly Reader, too:  my family would never get a computer, ’cause they were really expensive and they took up a whole room; we didn’t have any money or any room to spare.

Once a week during the school year, Teacher took me to the Book Mobile.  Mom took me during the summer.  I got to get 2 books − anything I wanted.  Mostly I read stories about animals like:  Black Beauty and Bambi, not the Walt Disney stories, the real stories, the ones that told how mean people can be to animals, mostly ’cause they’re just not thinking, not because they want to be mean.  I hoped more people read those books, then their eyes would be opened.  I read a whole bunch of stories about dogs;  dogs can see right through how a person seems on the outside and get right to the gentle part of almost anyone.  Sometimes that made me cry, ’cause almost always some grumpy person would get nice because of a good dog.  Bonita said she always got happier around our dog, Nikki, and Nikki sure loved Bonita more than anyone else in the family.

In the summer, Mom signed me up for the Weekly Reader Book Club.  Two books came every month.  One was a story about some person from the Olden Days, like Edison;  I found out some interesting stuff, like Edison got his ears pulled when he was trying to jump on a train, and after that he was deaf.  The other book was a “You Were There….”, like You Were There at the California Gold Rush; these were all about the Olden Days too, only about some real adventure with a made-up kid along, probably Weekly Reader thought that would make kids like the books.   I liked almost anything I read, anyway, and Mom didn’t care too much what I read, but one time I was reading a book from the Book Mobile, and she said I could read it, but I shouldn’t believe everything in it, ’cause it was just one man’s opinion, and a very scared man, at that, named Joe McCarthy.

I still like to read just about anything and I’m still learning a lot about people and the world by reading. I don’t always like what I read, but I try to hang in there until I finish, giving the author the benefit of the doubt and hearing him or her through to the last word.  I learn a lot from listening to what other people got out of the book, too; much of the time, my eyes get opened to a whole new appreciation of  book.

Fighting the Weasel Monster

When I was a little girl, I lived in a big house full of mysteries.  The windows had shutters operated by ropes inside the house, except paint made the ropes stick and there was one window which had closed shutters that never opened.  I could only see the shuttered window from the outside, so sometimes on rainy days, I searched the inside, looking for the secret window.  The basement floor was dirt, and sometimes animals like moles would make their way into the house.  Once a skunk got in there and got scared, and woke us all up in the middle of the night to a dreadful smell.   There always seemed to be places to explore and mysteries to contemplate in that house.

The bottom corner of each bedroom door had a half-circle of wood missing. Maybe  a hungry wood-eating monster took a bite out of each door.  Mom said squirrels lived in the house before we moved there because  the house was empty for a while.   I tried hard to imagine that house empty, no one there at all, and it seemed impossible, my house was a house that needed noise.   I never saw a squirrel anywhere in our yard, or the neighbors’ yard.  The only place I ever saw squirrels was in town, so I was suspicious of Mom’s explanation.  Maybe she told me a white lie, ’cause she knew I thought there might be monsters in my closet, the mind-reading kind that knew that I knew it’s in there.

Mom told me if I didn’t keep my room clean, rats would live there and bite my toes or my nose at night.  I never saw a rat anywhere near the house;  once in a blue moon I did see a rat in the barn, then Dad put poison out, mixed with peanut butter, and the rats were gone in not time flat.  Well, I did find some baby rats in a barrel once; they were so cute, Bonita and I took them to the house to show Mom.  I never saw her scream like that before, well maybe that time I took her a big long worm that I found in the garden and she jumped and screamed and said “Get that snake out of this house!”  I was such a little girl then, that I hardly remember it, except that she danced around about the big worm I found, the rest she told me later.  Still when I went to bed at night  I was a little bit afraid of the idea of rats crawling around on me at night, so just in case,  I kept my toes under the covers, and only one nostril sticking out so I could breathe.  I still was careful how much  I cleaned my room, ’cause that monster could be in the closet during the day, too, and I didn’t want to run into him; he was a whole lot scarier than a rat, ’cause I was pretty sure, the monster was bigger than me, monsters usually are big.

Sometimes I found secret hiding places in the loose floor boards.  Bonita and I liked to hide things we didn’t want the little kids to find out about, like my Presto Paints, and jacks and our B·Bs for our guns; we got B·B guns for Christmas one year, that was “the berries”, until Bonita shot a bird and tried to give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; she was so sad when the bird died.

Once an animal got in the house somehow, and Mom covered up all the cold-air registers with boards and told us not to touch them.  She kept it a secret that something sneaked in, probably through the basement, and was roaming around in the vents,until later after the big battle was over.   She kept it a secret that she put traps in the registers, too, probably ’cause Bonita would get upset and cry if she knew Mom was trying to kill something.  Bonita would probably want to make a pet out of whatever was in there.

One day, Mom grabbed my cat, Davie, and threw her in the register with whatever That Thing was.  The cats belonged in the barn, and Mom was always giving ’em the boot if they tried to get in the house.  No one even bothered to name most of the cats, they were just there to work.  Davie was my cat, so lots of times she came up by the house to see me.  Dad said cats make bad pets, but Davie was good to talk to and never complained when I hugged her; her fur was so soft and she smelled like a soft blanket, just off the clothesline; sometimes she even licked me with her sandpaper tongue.  That tickled.

That's Davie when she was a kitten

Oh my goodness, after Mom threw Davie in the register and Davie got a hold of That Thing, you should have seen the fur fly.   Davie let out a Screeeeech that ‘could wake the dead’, as Mom always said whenever one of us screamed, but Davie was way louder than any kid could even think about, even if it was a screeching contest and the prize was a family sized Hershey bar.  I just saw a ball of fur whirling around in the register, like an angry Tasmanian Devil:  growling and hissing and screeching.  Now that was scary.

Then out came Davie all delicate-stepping, just like it was all in a days work for a barn cat.  She walked over by the door, licked one paw, and looked up at me as if to say, “I don’t think I belong in here,” and I let her out, ’cause I didn’t think she belonged in there either.  We sat outside on the picnic table for a good long time, me just petting Davie, and she just purring and acting like nothing out of the ordinary happened.

It turned out That Thing was a weasel in that cold air register.  My Davie was one mighty barn cat to fight and win a battle with a weasel.  Everyone knows you don’t mess with a weasel.

Most monsters are less like the one in my closet and more like That Thing, the weasel.  I prefer collaboration over fighting any day,  but sometimes it seems like I’m just thrown into the fray, with what seems like no warning at all.  The best I can do is just hold on and keep fighting.  With strength, skill, and a little faith, l get through the battle.  I’m just happy that once the fur has settled,  there is someone nearby who will help me mend my wounds and tell me the battle was worth the effort

Midnight Rides, Trees, and Abou

When I was a little girl, I memorized all kinds of things:  Catechism, addition tables, spelling words, times tables, all the State’s capitols, and poetry.  I loved poetry especially the kind that tells a story that made my heart happy:  Like The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or Trees by Joyce Kilmer “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree..”  Now that said a lot for climbing a tree, hanging in a crook and just smelling all those green leaves and maybe finding a robin nest with little baby birds, just a cheep-cheeping away stretching their mouths up wide, waiting for a chewed up worm from their mama.  It made me want to forget all about memorizing stuff.

Every week, I had a new poem to memorize.  Once my class had a choice, The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendall Holmes, or Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  I chose the poem about Paul Revere ’cause it sounded like a song and it had an exciting story.  Most everyone else chose The Chambered Nautilus because it was shorter.  I thought, who wants to spend time memorizing a poem about some giant sea-snail and how hard it is to carry around that shell all day.”  It was bad enough listening to everyone recite the darned thing.  My friend Georgie said I was showing off, picking such a long poem, but I thought it was easier to remember because I could see old Paul waiting there my the window to see how many lanterns went up, all anxious and ready; jumping on his horse like the Swamp Fox from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and riding off like a mad man in the middle of the night to save his country.

My favorite poem was about a guy who spoke up when he should have felt bad about himself and keeping quiet.  I felt proud of Abou, and maybe if he didn’t live in the far off  Olden Days,  we could have been friends.

When it was time for me to recite, I said in a big voice,  “Abou Ben Adhem, by James Henry Leigh Hunt” , that’s the way we had to memorize, so we remembered who wrote the poem too, cause that’s pretty important, Teacher told us; then I took a deep breath and recited:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest. “

Any time I woke up in the middle of the night, I kept an eye out for an angel.  I thought I saw one once, kneeling by Deanna, and it scared me.  Mom said it wasn’t an angel ’cause if it was, I wouldn’t be scared; she said I must have dreamed it.  She was probably right because there was no peaceful light like lilies blooming and no book of gold.

Even though I memorized that poem years ago, I’d still be proud to be someone like Abou, and that poem still makes my heart feel happy.

New Shoes and Possibilities

When I was a little girl, I got my shoes at Baldy’s Shoe Store.  Mom loaded us all up in the car, and we went into town — once in the Summer for Keds tennis shoes, or “sneakers” as Dad called them, and once in the Fall for school shoes:  That’s all we needed, just two pairs.

When the door to the Shoe Store opened, a little bell rang and Baldy came out from the back room where he kept millions of shoes.

“There you are.”  he said, just like he’d been watching for us in that back room.  Mom lined us up in the Baldy’s leather chairs and he measured us all one-by-one, then brought the shoes out for us to try on.  I loved the smell of leather and shoe polish;  it was the smell of possibilities, something new happening, something good:  just like the crocuses coming up in the Spring, then you knew Summer would come,  or the leaves falling before Winter and Christmas.

Baldy said that me and my sisters had the narrowest feet he ever saw.  He grabbed my big toe and gave it a little pull.  “Eenie, meenie, minee, moe.  Catch a kitten by the toe,”  he said, then ran his thumb down the bottom of my foot sending a delicious chill all over me.  “You grew a whole size since the last time I saw you.” I sat up a little taller and the leather chair squeeked beneath me.

Baldy always had a new joke for me, like “What’s black and white and red all over?”  He was so smart and pretty darned funny, too; those two things hardly ever go together,  if you ask me.  Mom and Dad thought I was smart and funny, like the time I saw a Volkswagon beetle and I said, “Step on it Dad, it’s a bug.”  Those two laughed ’till I thought they’d pee their pants.  I wasn’t even trying to be funny.

After I had my new shoes on, Baldy said.  “Let’s see you run now.”  and I’d run the whole length of the store.  “Never seen such fast shoes.” and he held his chin between his first finger and his thumb and shook his head, like he was considering all the kids he’d ever seen run in his shoes.  After everyone had shoes, Mom took us to Ben Franklin’s for a piece of chocolate with peanuts in it.  The lady in Ben Franklin’s had chocolates in a glass case, which she weighed up according to how much Mom said, no wrappers or labels.  It was super-good chocolate, better than Snickers or Hershey’s.

I never had hand-me-down shoes, Mom said people must have their own shoes.  Baldy measured my feet and brought out the shoes for me to try on, then Mom  let me choose between two or three thick pairs, that were all about the same, maybe one cordovan, one black, and one brown.  My friend Connie had saddle shoes, but I dragged my feet too much and scuffed around more than anyone Mom had ever seen before, so those were out of the question for me.  Deanna had saddle shoes.

I had to stay with tie-shoes, ’cause my feet just flopped right out of loafers; Baldy said my feet were made for tie-shoes; he made it sound like I was lucky.  I wished I could have penny loafers.   Deanna’s friend Cletta’s big sister, who was in high school had penny loafers and she put dimes in the little slot where the penny’s supposed to go.  I think she was showing off, letting everyone know she could just waste dimes like that.  Dad gave me dimes for any “A” on my report card; I had a whole bunch saved up in a band-aid tin in my bedroom.

My Keds had two holes in each shoe before the end of summer, one by the pinky-toe and one by the big toe.  It was no big deal, because everybody had holes in their Keds.  Once I wore a hole in the bottom of my school shoes.  Dad told me that happened to people all the time in the Depression, they had to put a piece of cardboard in there to protect their feet.  Mom said we couldn’t afford to buy new shoes every day, so I cut out some cardboard, just like people did in the Olden Days, when Dad was young.    I used the bottom of my Big Red Tablet, ’cause it was pretty easy to cut that in the shape of my shoe.  I saw no difference at all until it rained, then my sock got wet and  dirty, like I was walking in the mud with no shoe on at all.  It was  ’cause I went outside without my boots on, I should have remembered that.  It must have been a hard life in the Olden Days.

When Mom saw that sock, all wet and dirty, I thought she was going to have a conniption fit like on the Honeymooners.  But she didn’t.  She just let out her breath slow and long, shook her head and let her shoulders drop about down to her knees.  That could mean just about anything from “I can’t believe the things you think up,” to “you’re in trouble now.”  but for sure it didn’t mean “good job.”

I got to see Baldy again for a new pair of shoes.  Mom said I had to have real leather this time, even if it was more expensive.  I never had another hole in the bottom of my shoe, ever again.

It’s funny how much we think we need, when two pair of shoes would do us just fine.  Well, maybe one pair of black, one brown, one pair of cordovan, one for dress-up, one for everyday, one pair of boots, one pair of wedge sandals, flip-flops for the beach, flip-flops I can wear with a dress….    Yeh, I probably do have more than I really need.  Still, Oh the possibilities!

Color in Shades of Grey

When I was a little girl, we had a great big piece of furniture that sat in the center of one wall with the davenport, rocking chair, and Dad’s big recliner facing it: the black and white TV set. I had nothing but B&W TV until I was grown and had children, it was probably somewhere around the time I needed to replace mine and B&Ws were no longer made.

My sister, Deanna could see in color on our TV screen.

“I wonder why Loretta Young is wearing a red hat with that outfit.” she said. I looked up from You Were there on the Santa Fe Trail and squinted at the shades-of-grey picture.

“How do you know that’s red?” I asked her.

“It’s gotta be red. See, her coat is Navy Blue.” she rolled her eyes at me like she had the patience of Job. Loretta Young’s coat looked black to me, I went back to my book. Well, I had to admit, I could see a lot of color in my book, and that was all black and white, too, so maybe Deanna had the same skill, only with the TV.

When color TV first came out, the NBC peacock was at full-screen size and a deep bass voice declared: Brought to you in Living Color, and the peacock’s tail rippled in a wave of different shades of grey, still the show was in black and white. I suppose this got a lot of people buying color TV sets, but not my Mom and Dad, they had better things to spend money on, like shoes for everybody.

Dad’s friend-from-work invited the whole family over to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in Living Color; then I got to see what the NBC’s peacock’s tail looked like. Deanna said she couldn’t see any difference; that’s when I knew for sure that she could see shows on our B&W TV in color; she had some kind of super power that I only had when I was reading a book. I could see a whole rainbow on that color TV set, it was neat-o, keen-o.

I was a little comme-ci-comme-ςa about Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. First off, I wished he would stop talking so much about that big park he was building out in California, going on and on about how parents were gonna love it as much as the kids. I was never going there, it was hard enough going all the way up to Brimley State Park and waiting for the ferry to take us across the lake. California was half-way around the world. Secondly, I never knew what program Walt Disney was going to put on that week. Me and Bonita loved Davey Crockett and Swamp Fox, and the funny stories made up by some guy about what baby foxes or bears were thinking about when they were out rambling around in the woods. I hated Donald Duck and his whole family; I couldn’t stand all that slobbering they did when they talked. The worst was the witch in the mirror, the one from Sleeping Beauty; she was so scary, that I still don’t want to see her and I’m plenty old enough not to be afraid anymore.

Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work made a whole bunch of what Mom called finger foods to eat and gave us pop to drink while we watched TV. I only got to eat popcorn in the frunch-room when I was at home, so all the little sandwiches and chocolate no-bake cookies made me a little nervous. I only got to have pop if special company was coming over and never in the frunch-room. I must be special company to Mr. and Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work; I was on my best behavior, so as not to make them think otherwise. Those sandwiches smelled so delicious, then I got another look, no wonder they smelled so good: ham and little meatballs, and teensy-tiny weenies on toothpicks. It was Friday.

Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work noticed I wasn’t eating anything, and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, ’cause I could see she was really proud of all those finger foods, and she probably worked so hard making them, so I just stayed quiet. That’s when Mom stepped in.

“Why aren’t you eating anything? What’s wrong?” I didn’t want to tell her, ’cause it’s only a sin if you know it’s a sin and do it anyway, and Mom had one of those little weenies half gone on the toothpick she was holding; if she forgot, it wasn’t a sin. But then again, lying is a sin, too, so I had to tell the truth.

“It’s Friday.”

Mom put her little weenie back on her paper plate and got up close in my face. I wondered what was coming next, ’cause I could see, she was thinking about just what to say, so I could understand quick and not ask any questions, ’cause I was always asking follow-up questions, just ’cause I wanted to understand stuff, still it made her mad sometimes, and I was thinking this was one of those times it would make her mad, and she didn’t like getting mad in front of non-family people, so she might just use her whisper-firm voice that would let me know she was mad without any yelling.

“Sometimes it’s more important to be polite.” she said. I must have looked doubtful, ’cause then she said, “Go ahead, it’s okay, you can trust me. Besides, the 10 Commandments include obeying your mother.” She gave a smile, that was only half there, the kind that I knew would be all the way on her face once I did what she wanted. And she popped the other half of her little wienie right in her mouth like she was proving a point. From then on I had a new rule to think about: It’s more important to spare someone’s feeling than to obey Church Law, but God’s Law is different. God’s Law is where the important stuff is.

There sure are a lot of rules in life, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them all. To tell the truth, sometimes I think 10 is enough, and when it comes down to it, maybe if we just focus on the two most important one:  Love God and Love your Neighbor, everything else will fall into place.