The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

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thank goodness for The Book of Situations

I’ll admit it. I’ve been a little on edge lately. Sadly, that is not at all the same as being edgey. I hear that people who are sad to leave their cotton turtlenecks behind when spring rolls around don’t get to use that word.

I’ll also admit that as often as I talk about ‘grace under pressure’ and ‘charm in the line of fire’, I find myself faced with situations listed in The Book of Situations. So while that does excuse any attempt at said grace and charm, I am left exhausted, disheveled and, most of all, offended.  Note: The Book of Situations is a list of situations or circumstances in which one is excused from all rules of governance concerning lady-like or rational behavior. It exists only in my head and continues to grow.  

I’ll give you an example. This is one of the latest additions…added just yesterday…to The Book of Situations. I actually have a second one from yesterday. It has to do with someone 5’11” soaking in a bathtub built for someone 5’2” in a bathroom the size of a voting booth and joined by one of those tremendous flying beetles.  There is no grace and charm in that, I can tell you right now.

I digress.

Ben and I were in his new kayak enjoying a truly beautiful day at the lake. Emma was lounging on the dock, Darrell was doing something, I don’t know what.  The sun was shining, the sky was perfectly blue and there was just the slightest breeze. Caught up in the day and enjoying the one-on-one time with my soon to be 10-year old, we were slowly paddling along the docks. I said, “Hey! This is the dock where we could always see those little turtles last summer, remember?” Digging up memories. Good times. A little giggle. “Yeah. That was fun. We should try to catch one. We could take it home, feed it, let it get bigger and bring it back to the lake and let it go. I wonder if he would eat what I eat.” Another giggle. “I bet his friends wouldn’t recognize him.” Ben talks incessantly when he’s really happy and his talker was in high gear.

But something in the water under the dock caught our eye at the same moment. He stopped talking. He looked. I looked. It was a head. It was a snake! Not more than 10 feet away and he was lookin’ right at me.  

You’ve heard that in drastic situations, people exhibit the tendency for either fight or flight, right? Apparently, I opt for the literal flight. My arms went straight out and began to flap. Wildly, to hear Ben tell it. I have a vague recollection of trying to scoot the kayak away using the motion of my torso moving quickly to and fro, but if you don’t mind, I’ll leave that memory in the dark recesses. Very calmly, Ben said,”I think we’ll just take the long way back to our dock.” Huh? That doesn’t even make any sense. Just get me on dry land, was all I could think. As we…ok, so it was only Ben paddling…made our way back to our dock, something inside him broke. Normally, he can parallel park any sort of water vessel with no problem. It’s uncanny, really. But this time, he headed straight for the dock until the point of the kayak touched the wood. The edge of the dock was just out of arm’s reach. Since the dock is about 2 feet above water level and the kayak is pretty well at water level, I was eye to eye with dark, murky water and that is no man’s land.  “Ben! I can’t get out like this!” and the flapping started again. Perhaps I could just fly onto the dock?

Now, I need you to know something. I am not proud of what I said next. I just really hate snakes. I got a glimpse of the ever cool and collected Emma walking our way and something inside me broke. “HEEELP MEEEE!” I screamed. I could hear my own voice bounce across the water. And, what about my own son who was in the same boat??

I just hate ‘em. I swear, it seems like every snake I see in that dumb lake wins this battle. Even when he gets his head blown off, he wins. And, now, he’s probably on the bottom of that lake grinning because he’s famous. He’s in The Book of Situations and I couldn’t have acted worse if that kayak had been the Titanic.

clean up in produce

There are some things I do that are so engrained in my being that if I stopped to think about what I was doing, I’d probably mess it up. Like fixing my first cup of coffee in the mornings. Contrary to a sarcastic remark in a previous post about splashing a bit of whiskey in my morning joe, I actually take only creamer and honey. I can fix it just like I like it in about 6 seconds while I turn on the oven, kiss on 2 children and make funny morning greeting noises at the dog. I put on my watch in one fluid motion. I can brush my teeth and put on earrings at the same time. And, I can pull on a pair of hose in no time flat.

However.

There once was a 15 year old girl who was having dinner with her parents and 2 sisters. Out of town, thank the good Lord. It seems that this unassuming girl had an affinity for her very own hairdo and newly acquired blue eye shadow, so while she primped in the lady’s room at the restaurant, she failed to notice the hem of her very long and fashionable A-line skirt was caught in the waistband of her pantyhose. You might think she would have felt a breeze on her way back to the table. She did not. You also might think that her very own mother or at least one of her siblings might have mentioned something about this. They did not. Of course, it’s hard to talk about much of anything when you are laughing so hard that tears are rolling down your cheeks, making your mascara and nose run. Understandable.

Ironically, and as life often reminds us, history tends to repeat itself. Especially when we aren’t paying attention. That’s really all I’m going to say about the most recent event except to say that whomever reviews the security videos from the Publix produce section on last Thursday got more than a little glimpse.You’re welcome.   

So, unless you plan to pick up where I left off and head down Aisle 2 with your underwear showing, don’t assume you always know what you are doing. Be willing to learn, look for ways to practice what you think you already know and accept constructive criticism with the intention to improve. This shows you are open-minded and are able to consider the big picture. 

Or, you can just breeze down by paper goods and hope for the best.

excuse me, ma'am. you have a shotgun shell on your wall.

Around the turn of the new year, I sat in on a Twitter chat hosted by the editor of The Daily Basics. She is so very bright and comes up with the greatest topics to mull over. On that day, she posed this question: What are your decorating goals for the year?

Admittedly, I wasn’t so turned on…at first. Decorating goals for the year? That’s my sister Nan’s department. She’s the decorating guru.  But, the more I thought about what I really want my house to be like has more to do with the feel than the look.

My response to the question at hand was this: This year, I want to decorate with things that are meaningful to my family…reminders of happy days, achievements, people we care about. Hopefully, people who come visit us will feel the love jumping off the walls (although I could see where one might confuse the love with the deer), relax and enjoy being in our home. But there is also this: when you surround yourself with objects that promote and inspire your very own goodness, you’ll have more goodness to share. This makes it good all the way around.

So, I just finished my first little decorating project – and I mean little. A few Saturdays ago, we visited my parents in South Georgia. It was a crisp and beautiful Saturday, so we decided to shoot skeet. Emma, Ben, Darrell, my Dad and I shot and laughed and teased each other and then we did it all again on Sunday. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time (bruised shoulder and cheek aside). When we finished, I gathered up all the spent shotgun shells and brought them home. I dumped the shells in a shadow box, framed a few of my favorite pics from the day and voila!

 

 

Just for the record, those elk antlers do not hold a special place in my heart.

excuse me, ma’am. you have a shotgun shell on your wall.

Around the turn of the new year, I sat in on a Twitter chat hosted by the editor of The Daily Basics. She is so very bright and comes up with the greatest topics to mull over. On that day, she posed this question: What are your decorating goals for the year?

Admittedly, I wasn’t so turned on…at first. Decorating goals for the year? That’s my sister Nan’s department. She’s the decorating guru.  But, the more I thought about what I really want my house to be like has more to do with the feel than the look.

My response to the question at hand was this: This year, I want to decorate with things that are meaningful to my family…reminders of happy days, achievements, people we care about. Hopefully, people who come visit us will feel the love jumping off the walls (although I could see where one might confuse the love with the deer), relax and enjoy being in our home. But there is also this: when you surround yourself with objects that promote and inspire your very own goodness, you’ll have more goodness to share. This makes it good all the way around.

So, I just finished my first little decorating project – and I mean little. A few Saturdays ago, we visited my parents in South Georgia. It was a crisp and beautiful Saturday, so we decided to shoot skeet. Emma, Ben, Darrell, my Dad and I shot and laughed and teased each other and then we did it all again on Sunday. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time (bruised shoulder and cheek aside). When we finished, I gathered up all the spent shotgun shells and brought them home. I dumped the shells in a shadow box, framed a few of my favorite pics from the day and voila!

 

 

Just for the record, those elk antlers do not hold a special place in my heart.

buzzword: civility

‘Civility’ is quite the buzzword these days.

Yesterday, the University of Arizona announced the creation of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  With former Presidents Bush and Clinton serving as co-chairs, this new organization is generally geared toward political impoliteness. Oprah, apparently, is preparing to air an entire show on civility. The Today Show, just a few months ago, aired segments on civility that spanned 3 days. Yesterday, I posted a piece on a friend’s blog about childrens’ manners because she had reached her boiling point over the incivility at her child’s Atlanta school.

And all this? It’s just information. Information we ALL already know. America is rude. Our children are rude. It raises our stress level. And it’s bad for our health and it’s bad for our future. I’ll bet very few of you who follow this blog have learned anything you didn’t know before. We all KNOW how to be civil.

But, KNOWING is a far cry from DOING. And, talking about it is a far cry from promoting it, pushing it. You see, ‘promote’ is a verb. That’s an action word.

I wish Oprah would call up Nike and tell them she needs to borrow ‘Just Do It’ so she can work the Oprah-effect on this problem. I don’t know exactly how she gets people to take action on what she says, but I hope whatever segment she is working on has a lot of verbs in it.

Wonder if she’s thought of that….

Another surprise, another lesson

We had the nicest surprise on Saturday afternoon. Friends we had not seen in years pulled up in the driveway! The Hubs and I were thrilled to see their smiling faces! I could not believe my eyes!   And, in hindsight, I could not believe I hugged and talked and laughed like my hair wasn’t wet and getting frizzier by the minute.

Unlike June Cleaver, my house and I are not often company-ready. Company-willing? Yes! I love drop-in company and spur of the moment get-togethers. But my lipstick is usually in the last place I look and my hairdo is usually leftover from yesterday unless I have a reason to fire up the flatiron. Our friends were quick to apologize for not calling first and I was quick to apologize for the Flashdance hair, so we spent a fair amount of time going around in that circle.

We had such a nice visit that I decided right then and there that we should all back off. Yep, that’s right. Back off the rigidity of looking for the perfect moment to make that phone call to the friend of a friend who lost a loved one. Back off looking for that perfect recipe for that delicious pie your mom once made to take to your neighbor. Back off the hesitation to tell your boss congratulations (yes, your boss!) on a job well done because you don’t think you will say it well.  

You may have heard me say this but having nice manners isn’t about following a bunch of rules. However, you should know the rules well enough so that you can show some grace and charm.

Just pull up in someone’s driveway and say Hello. You won’t believe what fun it will be.

now i know

It’s has been 8 days since I posted last. Would you like to know the moment that spurred this break in silence? That one realization that made me say to myself, Self, you have to share this with the world! It’s too important to child-rearers across the globe. Specifically, mothers of boys… I have unraveled the mystery. It’s that simple. I have found the answer.

Nearly 10 years ago, we had this little boy.

And, he’s ALL boy. 

 Cute, right? He looks just like his Daddy. But, lately, there has been something a little unnerving going on.

As a matter of fact, little dog standing underneath the table, I am talking about you.

 

Uh-huh. That’s what I thought.

THIS is what I had been trying to figure out…the smell! I could NOT figure out why this overly cute little boy most often smelled like a dog. But, now I know. And, now you know. Simply put, little boys do things to make themselves smell like they do.

And, from the looks of things, at least one person in this equation is perfectly fine with the way things are. You might call this ‘quiet resignation’. I do not call it that.

Even little cuties can’t go around smelling bad. It’s just not appealing.

So, mystery unraveled. Showers are important. Even for kids.

friday nonsense

1. It’s Friday. That, right there, is something to make you smile. Unless you are a Tuesday kind of person. I’m not, so TGIF.

2. Every night this week, I have cooked dinner in the crockpot. I used Southern Living recipes and they have all been really good. Maybe I’ll turn those 3 recipes into a post for you. Imagine…only 3 ingredients in the crockpot and it’s ready by 7 pm.

3. I have discovered the salads in the bag at Publix. It’s more than just lettuce…it’s a Theme Salad. I made up that name. Nuts, dried fruit and dressing. Ok, I’ll do a post with these food prep tidbits. Crockpot AND a Theme Salad? Oh yeah.

4. I also discovered Angry Birds this week. Well, last weekend, actually. I now have an extension cord from the nearest outlet to my side of the bed so I don’t have to worry about my phone battery dying while I’m playing. Drives me crazy yet I can’t stop.

5. I cut my finger yesterday and almost fainted. I was home alone so I had to cowgirl up.  After school, I showed the cut to Emma and Ben. Ben almost fainted. His face was that same color on the day Emma got her ears pierced. I knew we shouldn’t have taken him. He had to cowgirl up that day because it was NOT his day and I was taking pictures of Emma. He can be such a girl.

6. (To redeem Ben…) He pulled his own tooth at school and plopped it in my lap in a Ziploc bag. It’s not like it was a toe or something, but it was kinda creepy to me.

7. Going to have lunch with my grandmother tomorrow. She turned 95 last week. Really looking forward to it – she is so witty and has the best laugh. There will be something fried, something stewed, something soaked in mayonnaise and somebody cute to eat it with. That’s how she says a quick blessing when she’s eating with friends: “Thank you, Lord, for this lunch and somebody cute to eat it with.” I went home with a friend from college whose dad said the blessing by looking up at the ceiling and saying “Preesh’ate it. Ahmen.”  I use that one when I go through the drive-thru.

8. I started to end this list on #7, but I recently met a lady who has to do things in even numbers. I guess I can see the appeal, but I’m really fine with 1’s, 3’s, 5’s, 7’s.  Wonder if that applies when she’s eating. Does she eat 2 of everything? Now, THAT’S something I could get behind.

Hope you have a great weekend! Stay civil!

Little Darth Vader

By far, my favorite Superbowl commercial. (click on the play arrow, then the Watch on YouTube link)

By far, my least favorite Superbowl moment: the halftime show. I did like the lights (along with every other 6 year old). And, on the radio, I do like some of those songs. In a live performance? Not so much. I think it would be terrible to be a performer and only be able to deliver the goods in a controlled environment. For us Everyday Joe’s, that would be like carrying on a heck of a conversation (with yourself) in the shower, but clamming up when faced with real people. It takes some serious preparation to take your shower performance on the road. Ahem, Christina Aguilera and the national anthem.

Little Darth Varder knows things just don’t happen because you want them to. He had to try and fail several times before he saw some results. That’s just the way it is. Figure it out. Practice it. Do it. Repeat.

If I put on one of those black costumes, will some good-looking daddy press a button and make something good happen?? Course not, but I’ll just leave you with that visual. Me in the black costume or the good-looking daddy. You can choose.

a (funny) sign of the times

My friend, Lisa, sent this to me. If memory serves (and it rarely does), her friend found it in a restaurant in Atlanta.

Hilarious!

I’ll admit it. My favorite one is “No Jackassery”. I have used it and I’m certain there will be cause to use it again.

Which one is your favorite?

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