Sunday, November 30, 2008

Comparing Ourselves Online

First I had the girls in my Sunday school class tell what they're thankful for. Then I had them tell their greatest current frustration. Would it occur to them, I asked, to be thankful for the frustration they just listed, to see it as a window for God's grace to come in, to really believe that "when I am weak, then am I strong?"

"Sara" I'll call her, said her biggest frustration is how she compares herself to others and constantly comes up short. Somehow this segued into talking about doing this online. "Does anyone else deal with this?" wondered Sara, this whole thing of looking at others' lives on Facebook and Xanga and just comparing yourself to them, how you look, what you do, just your life? I tell you, sometimes it's so bad I can't let myself get on Facebook. Now am I just weird or do other people do this too?"

Yes, they do, it turned out, although to a lesser degree than Sara, or at least they admitted it to a lesser degree.

I was one of the admittees, but in an entirely different sense than Sara. I confessed that I when I'm on other moms' sites I'm always looking at the backgrounds of photos, not the actual subjects--look at those perfectly clean kitchen counters! Arrgghh, no jackets or grocery bags loose in that kitchen. And everything's decorated to the nines. How on earth does she do it? Etc. etc. Compare, despair.

And then of course there are all the cool young snarky clever articulate blogger moms that I seldom let myself read because we are all happier if I stay away.

"I'm so much cooler online" one of the girls murmured, quoting from a song.

So, what's with this? Do we go online to communicate and catch up, or to compare[mostly unfavorably], or to do a little plastic surgery on our own persona before we post it?

"Why can't we just be real?" wondered Sara.

Well, why not? There's the TMI* factor, first of all. Do you really want to know about my athlete's foot or perimenopause symptoms? Didn't think so. And the privacy factor--does Steven want it splashed all over the internet why he lost his electronic time for this week? I doubt it. And the propriety factor--no way can I name names or even hint about all the people who annoyed me this week and what I would have loved to say in return, or who confided what in me, and so on.

And yet.

If you compare your life to my online rendition of mine, and feel inferior or frustrated or discontent because of it [hahahahahahaha what a thought] is the fault mine or yours? And what should you do about it? What should I?

What would you tell Sara??

*added for KaraBeagle's info: TMI is Too Much Information

Quote of the Day:
One Sunday morning:
Jenny: Ben! That's Dad's shirt!
Me: It was Dad's shirt. But he refused to wear it because it doesn't have a pocket.
Ben: Dad's gonna have to have a pocket on his white robe that he wears in Heaven.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Sad Story

My grandpa, Adam Miller, was killed when I was a year old; I’ve always known that. [Or wait. Was it Becky that was just over a year old and I was 3 or 4 months? I need to ask Mom.] He was driving a team of horses and a grain wagon down the road not far from his home near Kalona, Iowa, when a young man came roaring up behind him, way too fast, and hit the back of the wagon. Grandpa was thrown out into the ditch and killed instantly.

And that’s about all I remembered. Mom would refer to this incident sometimes but I don’t remember her ever telling it in great detail.

But recently, in the odd way that stories sometimes have of bubbling to the surface after 40-some years, I’ve heard about this from two other perspectives. And found it very interesting, and very sad.

When we were in Iowa in September, Aunt Vina told Rebecca that now that she lives near Harrisonburg, Virginia, she needs to look up Allie.

Allie and her husband Glenn lived down a long lane back somewhere behind Aunt Vina’s and Uncle Mahlon’s houses, as I recall. Glenn passed away a few years ago, and now Allie lives in Virginia and Rebecca needs to look her up, said Vina.

So Rebecca did, and had a wonderful time talking with this very lively and interesting woman. Allie recalled an old photo of all the teachers in the Kalona area, and both she and my dad were on it. And then she told Rebecca how she had been the first on the scene when my grandpa was killed and of course had the task of calling for help, an interesting detail that I had never known and wouldn’t have thought to ask.

Aunt Vina called me this morning to ask about getting some books. She said she had just gotten a letter from Rebecca telling about her visit with Allie. “Rebecca told me about that,” I said, “and how Allie was the first one there when Grandpa was killed.”

Well. That got Vina started, and within five minutes I knew more about that accident than I had known all my life.

It was a load of soybeans that Grandpa was hauling, and it was around suppertime, so I assume he was headed home to eat. (The soybeans spilled all over the road, Vina said, making it as treacherous as ice, so they had to stop all the traffic until it was cleaned up.)

Aunt Clara, Mahlon’s wife, was in the hospital very sick after a hysterectomy, so Art and Vina were going to go visit her. But you couldn’t take children into a hospital so Vina got the boys ready and was going to take them to Grandpa and Grandma’s.

But as she headed toward their house she saw a terrible commotion on the road up ahead. Then she saw Grandpa’s team of horses tied to the fence and sensed what was up. She walked over and found out what had happened and went to the house to tell her mom.

It was in October, and Grandma had just finished making supper, including a batch of late sweet corn from the garden. Vina told her what had happened and Grandma took off out the door and down the lane, [I can just see this] and Vina could hardly keep up.

At the scene, Grandma insisted that she wanted to see her husband, so they allowed her to. And I think what happened next is about the saddest part of this story: Grandma took off her apron and covered Grandpa with it.

Later, my two uncles went to visit the young driver. He was afraid they were going to sue him, but they assured him they only wanted him to mend his ways. I don’t know if he ever served prison time or not. Vina said for a long time afterward he avoided that road, going clear around through Wellman to get to Iowa City. But then one day he did go to Kalona, and he had an accident, and was killed.

A sad story, all around.

I'm so glad I had the chance to know my funny, feisty grandma. I wish I could have known my grandpa. I have a vague conception of a composite of my uncles, but nothing I can really visualize.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Here's my official annual heartfelt thanks to everyone who stops by the Shoe. Yes, every one of you, silent lurker, frequent commenter, or occasional visitor. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and your hearts are full of joy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The hardest thing about being a piano mom is not the money spent, the shuttling to lessons, the pushing to practice. It’s waiting for the next note. "Ho—ly. Ho—ly. Hooo…………." And I grit my teeth and wait, wooden spoon poised above pan—come on, come on, come on—and finally, if I’m lucky, he hits the "LY" dead on and I keep working and so does he. If not, I cringe at the discordant bang, one or two notches high or low, and the tension creeps up my neck as we have to go through the line all over again. And then finally we’re off to Lord. God. Al---- and we wait for the Might, spaghetti sauce dripping from spoon, and on it goes.

The one nice thing about this is that it tells me I'm not quite as unmusical as I thought. I'm sure they make a lot of mistakes that I never notice, but if they hit a real clunker, I can tell.

Quote of the Day:
"Oh, nice! We get to eat atomic element #6 tonight!"
--Ben, when Amy's brownies were a teeny bit overdone

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Ok, Facebook: still undecided, although putting off a decision is a decision in its own way. But 30 comments and counting--dear people, you don't know what you're putting me through. I am the worst sort of "people pleaser" and my opinion on something is usually what the last person I talked to thought, so this seesawing is making me queasy.

This was interesting, about Facebook Friends.

Meanwhile, I am trying to keep my kitchen from falling apart. First it was the stove. All summer, Steven and Amy, who cook in bare feet, kept complaining that the front/large burner shocked them. I was too distracted to deal with it, figuring they could always go put sandals on.

Then not long ago I had my big grape juice steamer kettle bubbling on the stove all day, which must have been the final straw because that evening I was trying to heat a pan of water on the same burner and it just wouldn't heat, so I lifted it off.

Oh my. There was a sudden terrible noise of zapping and hissing and popping, and flames shot 8 inches up, and sparks arced off the stove and all around Jenny and me, who stood there frozen in horror.

Finally things quieted down and I set the pan down and turned off the burner, and then Paul took things apart so it wouldn't do it again if someone accidentally turned it on.

Then last week I turned the fridge off and cleaned it out. And when I turned it back on again--nothing. Oh great. I pulled it out from the wall, banged around, rattled things, prayed. Still nothing. Then I reached inside and whacked the plastic box where the dial is, and with a happy hum the fridge started working again.

Then just a few days ago I was gone, giving a talk somewhere I think, and the others filled the dishwasher after supper, but it wouldn't start. They emptied it, and Paul tipped it over on its back, not noticing that he was dumping gallons of water on the floor, and discovered that a cord had come apart.

The kids mopped it up and yesterday he bought a new cord and now the dishwasher is going again, but I am feeling like all these appliances are going down the valley at the same time.

Maybe this is impetus for us to remodel the kitchen. I've been saving my article/speech/book money for five years for this very purpose, and I think I have enough, but to be honest I'm dreading the process, the mess, and most of all the DECISIONS. Oh how I wish I could set someone down and say, ok, counters around here, this price range, make a place where I can attach the Victorio strainer, light and airy, and make sure it looks like an old farmhouse kitchen. And then I would go off to visit my sisters and when I came back it would all be done. That's what I would like.

Quote of the Day:
"I know what, Mom. You need to write a really in-depth book about your family, and then as soon as you guys are dead, I'll publish it."
--Emily [this girl here, in the new dress she designed and made, with me hovering over her shoulder, but she did all the work herself]

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Matt was home today. "Mom," he said, "you need to get on Facebook," in exactly the same way that his cousin Byran used to say, "Aunt Dorcas, you need to have a blog," and look at how that took on a life of its own.

So, yeah, Facebook, something I lump into the same category as Ipods, YouTube, layering, lattes, text messaging, instant messaging, flattened hair, and snowboarding: something that young people are into that I avoid at all costs and take up, kicking and screaming, when I'm practically forced to and that I take forever to learn.

[although I do love lattes now, but no, I don't think you'll ever find me on a snowboard]

"Yeah, right, I need to get on Facebook," I said scoffingly.

Matt picked up my laptop and started tapping. I saw glimpses of 'notes on walls' and short updates and odd profile pictures. What a strange universe these young people inhabit.

Then I saw it: Arlene! "What? Arlene is on Facebook??" I shrieked.

"Yeah," Matt said, clicking on. Then he turned the computer toward me. There was a long list of his Facebook Friends.

Hmm-hmmm. College kid, cousins of cousins, another college kid, Hans Mast, Joe Kuepfer. "Teresa??" I shrieked again. "Teresa is on Facebook?? Teresa has four little kids!"

"Yeah," Matt said. I read on. More college kids, and then among the young people the names began jumping out at me: Tom and Jewel? Merry Yoder! Kay??? Merle Burkholder???!!! What on earth? John? Your uncle JOHN?? And then the one that sent me off the edge: Earl Kropf. Yes, that Earl Kropf, the most 60-something truck-driver-for-Smith-Seed big-n-burly good-Menno-stock guy around, the kind of guy you want to come along if you have a flat tire, but not the kind of guy you would ever expect to know his way around a computer, let alone Facebook.

Suddenly I had the feeling that I was out in the school playground la-di-da-ing around, picking dandelions, and everyone else in my class had not only heard the bell and gone inside from recess but left on the bus for a field trip to the Umpqua ice cream factory.

I thought about this. On the one hand, the last thing I need right now is something else to glue me to the computer. On the other hand, what if I'm the only one out there not on Facebook, and no one bothers with blogs or email anymore, and Facebook is where it's all happening and everyone else is there making friends with everyone else, and they don't even miss me???

Matt was getting ready to leave. "I expect to see a Friends invitation from you by the time I get home, Mom," he said as he went out the door.

Well, he didn't see an invitation, because I'm still waffling and wondering and debating. Surely I can survive without Facebook, but if Earl Kropf and Merle Burkholder and Arlene are In, then I must be the very last person left Out.

Quote of the Day:
"You know what, if you're fighting someone, the belly is always the perfect place to hit--it's soft on your hand and it hurts them really bad."
--a certain young girl whom I am trying to teach to be a lady while at the same time she has two big brothers who say things like, "Punch me as hard as you can to see if it hurts."

Friday, November 14, 2008


It all started, I think, when I was a child, with Ulf Oldenburg and his fiery eyes and vivid persecution stories. I would lie in bed cold with fear and horror, thinking of Christians "behind the Iron Curtain" being tortured in a hundred different ways, and imagine myself in similar suffering someday.

The weight of human suffering seems to be something that accumulates in my head. Happy stories can come and go, but terrible stuff sticks. Every time we drive to the Midwest I imagine those poor pioneers, especially the women, crossing Wyoming with their covered wagons and I just about can't stand it that here I am breezing along at 75 mph, in air conditioning yet.

When I drive to Emily's I imagine the wagon trains crossing the mountains and having to ditch their precious heirloom furniture, and at Tombstone Pass I always think of the teenaged boy who is buried there and what his parents must have suffered. [The wagon train had just climbed to the top of the pass and they were there resting I guess. They saw a deer, and this boy wanted to shoot it, so he reached into the wagon and pulled the gun toward himself, not knowing that something was caught on the trigger, and he shot and killed himself. His tombstone is there somewhere, hence the name of the pass.]

Holocaust stories give me nightmares, especially since we visited Majdanek in Poland and saw the gas chambers and thousands of shoes. I see trains go by here and I think of all those people shuttled off in freight cars to die.

I would not make a good counselor because I would get emotionally involved in everyone's abuse stories, and when I hear of a case like this, of a little Afghan girl having to support her family, I can't stand it because there's nothing I can DO. And of course then there are chilling stories of injustice in Yemen from my sister and sad stories of sickness and death from our friends in Kenya.

Then there are orphans and wars and the persecuted church of course, and obviously I could go on and on because human suffering doesn't seem to exhaust itself and with the vast supply of information at my fingertips there's a constant stream of suffering-stories to add to the pile in my obsessive mind.

The Bible tells us to remember the poor, to be compassionate, to remember those in bonds as though bound with them. But how do you keep it from getting overwhelming. I wonder, how much would I have known about if I had been, say, Dorcas in the book of Acts. Probably not much besides what went on in the neighborhood, and that was within her power to do something about, so she sewed coats and garments for the widows and orphans.

Hmmmm. A lesson there, perhaps.

Quote of the Day: [which has nothing to do with suffering]
"I try to get a bunch of different kinds of ramen noodles so I get a balanced diet."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Avast There, Ye Lubbers!

To my favorite Fierce Pirate:
You were very frightening, bursting into the office like that, brandishing that cruel glinting saber. And you fought bravely despite that gruesome wound on your arm that bled profusely as the battle raged.

However: even Fierce Pirates should keep a few things in mind. Such as: red finger paint is a brilliant idea, but if you get it out you should put it back on the shelf again, the lid closed, and you should not leave it on the upstairs hallway floor, open, because the next morning your big sister, who is a beautiful and comely lass but half-blind without her contacts, will come stumbling out of her cabin and kick it over, and you and your aged mother will spend way too much of your Sunday morning, in the pre-Sunday-school rush, grimly spraying and scrubbing the hall carpet.

But I must say that even then you were a brave and remorseful pirate, down on your knees, honorable to the last, your bloodstained fingers rubbing gallantly until the carpet would yield no more of its crimson bounty.

Quote of the Day:
"Surrender, or die!"
--Jenny the very Fierce Pirate

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tribute to Arlene

When someone I know dies, I think of how I appreciated them but never told them I did.

I don't know why it's hard to tell people what you appreciate about them. I mean, don't we all love it when someone does it to us, before we're dead?

So my friend Arlene came waaaayyy too close to the Valley of the Shadow this last week, with a tubal pregnancy that was treated this way but should have been treated that way, and thankfully she was persistent about something not being right, and it turned out that by the mercy of God she was trickling blood internally instead of gushing. And then there were further complications and now she is out of the darkest part of the forest with a (God-willing) clear path back home.

And if we had lost her I would for the rest of my life have wondered why I never told her how I appreciated her. So here goes:

You have this amazing gift of being REAL, and of making me feel ok. You will tell how you obsess about getting rid of your chickens, or drown in guilt about (virtually) nothing, and I just feel this vast sense of relief that someone else obsesses and feels guilty and is like me. You are a news junkie who can discuss current events with me, and you understood what motivated us to go to Kenya and adopt a child. And when I called you and told you tearfully and guiltily that I didn't like my adopted child that day, you said, "Good grief, I'm ready to rent out all of mine for the day too." You make me laugh until I cry. You say nice things about your husband. And mine, for that matter. And probably the best gift of all is that you speak TRUTH into my life. This matters, that does not, you tell me, and then I know exactly what I ought to do. You clarify the nebulous stuff and refuse to ever indulge in the safety of vague generalities. You are a wonderful friend and I appreciate you and I am so utterly thankful that your life was spared.

Quote of the Day:
"But is it right to get rid of them just because we're sick of them?"
--Arlene, obsessing about her chickens

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Just stuff

I am not going to say what I think of the election results because I do not discuss politics in public.

However, I am happy for the people of Kenya. In the Kisumu area, where we lived for over 3 months, I am told that everyone is celebrating wildly. Obama's dad was from the Luo tribe, so of course all the Luos are especially elated. People's lives are so grindingly hard there, and they look at America as next to heaven, ("Take me to Amedica with you," the orphan boys used to say. "I want to be fat! And I want to drive a cah!") and to have one of their own, so to speak, be President of the USA must make them feel like maybe there's hope after all, at least for their children if not for them.

And then there's the whole fact that Steven was also a Luo who came from an area not too far from the Obamas, so they're probably related, don't you think? See, I am just as tribal as a Luo.

And I am also secretly relieved that Sarah Palin can quit traveling and go home and be more of a mom and run Alaska instead of being VP.

= + = + = +

I am really bad for talking first and thinking later. Today is my fine son Steven's 14th birthday. He wants a slingshot. So I went to the bow-and-gun store [since I'm over here in Redmond this week] and asked if they have a slingshot. "I assume you have garden pests," said the nice man. "No, I have a son with a birthday," I said, and two hours later I finally figured out why he looked a little stunned.

{Paul, maybe you can make sure Steven doesn't read this til after he gets his gifts}

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The last few days I've been teaching Emily how to sew a dress, and today she modelled it for the first time, a simple black dress with pink polka dots that makes her look like Jackie Kennedy.

Emily is a person who can wear stuff that the rest of us could never get by with. She's all about drama, as we know, and there's something about the tall, thin, dark hair, large blue eyes combination that means she can wear a mid-length black coat with embossed roses, long skirt, tall boots, and one black glove and one pink one, and look polished and classy, where if I would try to wear the same thing I'd look like I raided the Salvation Army discard pile.

"Trying," baileyandme says she used to call it, when people would try to pull off a look unsuccessfully, in her case, specifically, a mom trying to dress like a younger person. "Vit un kan net" {wants to and can't} a commenter said she called it. Well, Emily wants to and can. IMHO. I think the ever-so-savvy youth girls would back me up here.

Which leads me to my next point. She has a knack for taking a cough drop tin and turning it into a cute handbag, or designing clever vests and dresses, and I think she should start some sort of internet boutique, now that she is actually learning to sew and we have not shed each other's blood in the process. {Don't ask how close we got} And maybe she could actually make a few dollars at this, since she really really wants to be self-supporting.

If anyone out there has any words of wisdom about any of this--web design, possible products, business plans, quality control, accounting, etc--or if you are bouncing up and down in your seat saying yes! I want a little purse made of a cough drop tin with glued-on Sunday comics and a beaded handle! please comment or send a private message.

And don't give me any woeful tidings about starting a business with the economy going to pot because people are still spending millions on cute sweaters and such for their dogs, and on lattes.

# # # # #

Some people really really irritate me. Especially guys who talk too much. Oh mei zeit, I just want to dig fingernails in something and pull hard. Yesterday I was here at the library and there were three teenagers in the teen section, next to the computer kiosks, and this one was SO LOUD and WOULD NOT QUIT. And he had fat cheeks which did not gain him any clemency in my book. Here's maybe 5% of what he had to say:

Quote of the Day:

"You know what's really crazy? I laughed when I broke my arm, I smashed my hand on a piano and I laughed, I get a needle in my hand and I'm like AAAAAHHHHHH!. . . . And one time there's like this bucket, and like no one tells me there's a yellow jacket nest in there, and I stick my hand in and EEEUUUWWWWAAAA and my arm gets like swollen huge. . .So I was in church one time and it was like dead silent and I moved my back and it was like KKKKRRRHHKKKKK!
--(and there was a girl who giggled appreciatively through all of this. Unbelievable)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Emz and Election Coverage

I'm back with Emily this week. People have been asking how she's doing and I hesitate to say anything positive because a) I've hoped and then been disappointed so many times and b) a lot of people have no concept of the long continuum from sick to well and so if I say "about the same" they think it's terrible and if I say "a little better" they assume she's well and will go get a fulltime job tomorrow.

But. Two weeks ago, we would walk to the library and she would tell me to slow down. Now she marches along and I tell her to slow down.

And. She wants to sew, so I gave her my old sewing machine and bought her an iron and ironing board.

Happy news, yes, and progress, but she is not well yet.

Today I went hunting for election news both on the radio and here on the internet at the library and, can it be believed, there are no exit polls being reported, no guesses, no preliminary numbers. Can it be hoped that the media actually learned from the 2000 debacle? (Sorry, I don't remember what it was like in '04). Anyway, I like it when the media get something right and do the right thing even if might hurt them a bit.

Quote of the Day:
"That wind is brutal."
--a nice guy on the sidewalk, just to my left, on my way to the library. Unfortunately I didn't notice him until he spoke, because I was adjusting my scarf because of the brutal wind, and so I jumped and screamed, and he chuckled. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Slow to Speak

My father-in-law, who passed away in 2004, had two brothers, and those three men, for all their many differences, had this in common: they are/were very deliberate, slow talkers. Those of us with quicker minds can think whole sentences, paragraphs, sometimes even complete to-do lists between one of their words and the next.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as they very much weigh each word carefully before it ever sees the light of day. Wilton was probably the most profound of the three, saying no to a Sunday dinner invite with, "I...believe...we’ll... decline... the... invitation," and, when I talked about how hard it is to write, he pontificated confidently, to my great irritation, "Weeellll,... that...would... be... because... of... the... discipline... involved," and when Rosie and Phil were having one of their famous arguments: "I... believe... you... two... enjoy... a.. bit... of... attention... where... your... differences... are... concerned."

The other day a certain Smucker uncle called me. "Now... regarding... the... number... of... that... field..., I... put... a... deal... in... the... warehouse... office... with... it... on. ...Now... it’s... about... five... years... old. . ."

Meanwhile, my mind was galloping along with, "Oh mercy me, field numbers?? I wish he would have called Paul about this because I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about and I know I’ll get it wrong if I try to pass it along and Paul will have all these questions for me that I won’t be able to answer and I don’t know beans about field numbers and I can just imagine what kind of paper that is if it’s five years old and it’ll probably just blend right in with all those old papers on Paul’s desk . . ."

So I wedged my shoulder in, between one word and the next, and suggested he call Paul’s cell phone. No, it’s fine, I said, no, it won’t disrupt school.

Uncle made sure he had the number and then finished the call like he always does: "And. . .I... thank... you. . ."

We would all get in less trouble if we talked that slow.

Quote of the Day:
"I haven't really followed the race between McCain and oh, what's his name, that Irish guy. . . ."
--my brother Fred, who has his own brand of humor and who actually knows more about the presidential race than I do

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Great Talent

"Brent chose you specifically for the job," said my friend Rita. "You were the best," said a couple of others.

Perhaps if I were a better person, or something, I would be chosen for my great beauty and applauded for my great musical talent, or something.

But such is not the case.

Last night the church youth and their sponsors put on a lovely haystack dinner for all the parents and siblings of the youth kids. After the dinner, we were told, there would be games. So we tried to guess song titles from short phrases from stanza 2, and the little kids tried to find balloons while blindfolded.

And then about six of us were asked to go to the church library and wait, and we would be called in one by one. I was one of the victims. We stood around the library and talked about what dreadful fate might await us, and threatened to all jump out the window and disappear.

After a long wait, Brent came in the door. "Dorcas, you're first," he said. Oh great. I followed him to the fellowship hall. On this side was everyone, watching and smiling expectantly. On the other side was a long line of tables, covered in the tablecloths from supper, with six large paper sacks turned upside down, all in a row.

"Ok, now we're going to time you," Brent told me. "You need to lift up each sack and name the object underneath, as fast as you can."

First sack, a couple of leaves. Second, the names escaped me, and then I remembered: knife, fork, spoon. Third, ketchup. So far, so good. Fourth--and my insides turned to slush and an unholy scream ripped out of my throat as there was a head, yelling at me. Oh people, I cannot tell you how frightening it was. It took me a minute to collect myself and then with wobbling legs and pounding heart I tottered to the chairs and collapsed gratefully while the crowd shrieked with laughter.

It turned out that Travis was actually kneeling on the floor between two tables, and the tablecloths had been artfully arranged, etc etc. The other victims' reactions ranged from a startled shriek (Phebe) to no reaction at all (Michael, who saw that there was a gap between tables and figured it out.) Last of all came Edna, who knew all along what was going on, and who lifted Travis's bag and slapped a pan of whipped cream on his head.

So, yes. I was chosen because Brent and Rita knew for sure that I would scream. And I was complimented for screaming the loudest.


Quote of the Day:
"You were funny, Mom."
--Ben and Jenny
(now that I've calmed down, I can see that it probably was funny)

2nd QOTD:
"I would have put one of the pastahs undah theah."
--Jenny's friend Janane, who has trouble with R's and who has always been half scared of Paul