Monday, February 10, 2014

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

LUCY YODER HACKMAN was the winner of the diary/journal giveaway contest! Congratulations, Lucy!
Happy memory-keeping! A big THANK YOU to all of you who entered!
And another sincere thank you to each of you who read my blog. Seriously.   ~Rhonda

P. S.
If you didn't win one, go order one! :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Knowing What to Throw Away and Knowing What to Keep

The other day I stood outside my closet looking in and said to myself, "This is pathetic".  And it was. Our closet is the biggest one in the house. The other two are small. Very small. You would think having the biggest closet would be a tremendous blessing.

Actually it's just a tremendous job.

This is why: There is no room in anyone else's closet. This is the indisputable truth. So everything that has to go anywhere, of course, goes in ours.

 "Where should I put this, Mom?", they say. And I look at "this" thoughtfully, and say. "Put it in my closet, I guess."

They never ever argue with this answer. That is the one upside of this scenario. The natives are completely happy with everything going in my closet.

But the results, after multiple months of this, are not pretty.

So I stood there looking at all the Stuff and I said to myself,  "This is ridiculous. There is no way we need all this Stuff." I labeled trash bags. "Goodwill" "Give to somebody" "Pitch" And I started hauling stuff out of there.

In the process I pulled out a sizable container filled nearly to the brim with letters and diaries. The letters were the ones the Chief and I exchanged when we were dating. We lived hundreds of miles apart. Calling long distance was expensive. Cell phones and e-mail hadn't emerged on the landscape. These were the olden days. We were lucky we weren't confined to sending smoke signals.

And my diaries! Dear and blessed repository for the overflow of my teenage heart.
I pulled the container out and pushed it in a vacant spot on the floor beside the dresser. My closet called.

But the diaries called louder.

I opened one and started reading. Cobwebs draped so many of those memories. Some of them lay entirely dormant, and I strained to remember people and activities that at the time they were penned had needed no introduction or explanation. Other times, good old friends and old familiar places came back to life.

I read how Mother and I played tennis in the mornings before we each went to work, she, to teach school, me, to my job at a publishing company. She nearly always beat me despite being 44 years my senior. The skills she had developed as the tennis single's champion in college trounced any agility edge I may have had. What fun we had!

I read about Dixie who disappeared into thin air, and magically reappeared on Christmas eve.
About my sister Kristin, who has always been the more industrious of the two of us, making deals with me that in essence extracted more work out of me than I would have otherwise produced. She was good for me. She still is.
I read about the stream of friends who called, and dropped by. The girl-friend drama. The boys who figured in somehow.

And the one who hung the evening star in my sky and upon whom the sun rose and set. From one diary to the next, year after year, he was featured heavily, if not in reality, in my dreams.

Suddenly, I was 17 again. There was no closet.

The Chief came home and he started reading them. He has always, since his first night-long diary-reading marathon a few days before our wedding, been a great fan of me keeping a diary. He settled himself against the headboard of our bed and began reading, a perpetual smile in his eyes. "You were already nuts at 17." he said presently. And a little while later..."I am certainly glad I didn't meet you after you were already married."

He must not have gotten to the place where I had, after much anguish of heart, determined to be available as long as he was.

Not long hence, after spending the long New Year's Eve drinking Pepsi and playing Settlers of Catan, we welcomed the New Year with open arms and sanguine hopes. (We're giving it the benefit of every doubt.) And then, like a Normal Person, I went to bed. To sleep. The Chief went to bed too. But not to sleep. He sat against the head-board again and read diaries.  Every ninety seconds or so he would start to laugh, and read me excerpts. At one point his tone was laced with perplexity, "My name doesn't even show up in this one till about half-way through." He said.
"Well!" I replied. "You never made any moves." Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.
"If I had had any idea!" he said. "If you had given me the least glimmer of a smile, even once, I would've had something to go on."

"Do you realize it's quarter of two??" I asked from the recesses of my feather pillow. He laughed and kept reading.

I quit keeping a diary when the natives were young. It's hard, when you're a young mom, to retain enough internal resources till the end of the day to be able to commit the day's events to paper. At that stage of your life it's a supreme victory to have kept everyone clothed and fed, and reasonably happy. If you've done it, you understand. If you haven't, you never will entirely.

Life is crazy when the natives are little. Unpredictable. Fun. Unexpected. Disastrous. Hilarious. But crazy.

I would call my mother on any given day to tell her the latest thing, and she would laugh in the most rewarding fashion, and say, "RHON! You better be writing this stuff down!"

I should have. But I didn't. I wish I had. Because if it's not written down, you forget. You really do. Maybe not the big things. But a million priceless little things; they are lost forever.

Today communication opportunities explode on the horizon like fireworks against a night sky. Facebook. Twitter. Texting. E-mails...we type out the details of our lives and share them with the people we know, and many we don't. But in 25 years, where will they be? What will we have? In the end, they are as fleeting as smoke signals.

This year, I will keep a diary again. I will.  There is no point in mourning the lost years. They are gone. But I have this day. This year. These wonderfully everyday life experiences. This stuff, unlike most of the Stuff that accumulates in my closet, becomes dearer with the passing of time. These are the treasures of tomorrow.

And maybe....someday....they will wheel my chair adjacent to the Chief's and he will read to me again. About how on New Year's Eve, 2013, we played Settlers of Catan till midnight, and how he read to me from my diaries till nearly 2 AM while I tried in vain to sleep. And he will laugh. And I will too. And after awhile I will say, "Babe, do you realize it's 8 o'clock? It's way past time for your medication".

And he will laugh again. And keep reading.

                          *       *       *       *       *       *

My sister, Kristin, the industrious one, designed an extra nice journal. Actually, she designed a journal, a one-year diary and a three-year diary. Vision Publishers published them for her and they did a lovely job, as they do with everything. In addition to having beautiful hard covers, and an inspirational scripture verse at the bottom of each page, they have thoughtful features inside. There's an appendix in the back to record the page numbers of significant events so you can locate them quickly. There are also sections headed "Family, Home, Friends", "Church, School", "Work, Hobbies, Miscellaneous" where you can record special events themselves, both for ease of retrieval and so you can expand upon a noteworthy occasion without overwhelming the confines of your daily entry allowance.

The one-year diary provides you with one full page per day, and keeps a year's events neatly contained to one book.


The three-year diary gives you 1/3 of a page per day. This works well for persons who like to touch the highlights and enjoy quickly comparing what happened on this years's date with last year's.
 The journal is undivided by date, allowing you to write as much or as little per day as you please, or to skip days, if you tend toward writing only occasionally. Or if you prefer a book for recording your thoughts, more than life events, a journal is perfect.

I have the journal. I can seldom stuff one-day's-worth of life onto one page. And I skip days sometimes, even when I am keeping one regularly.

 I love my journal! It doesn't have a whole lot in it yet, but at the end of the year, it will be brimming with life and memories...for our own enjoyment, and for the enjoyment of our children, and maybe theirs'... if it doesn't get lost in someone's closet.

Don't you want one too?  Yes! I know you do! So enter to win a free one! My sister is giving away a diary or journal, to whomever wins this snazzy easy-to-enter contest! So enter! Just leave a comment below. Any comment! And if you would like one and don't win one, you can order one here.

 Keep one yourself. And maybe give one as a gift to a child or teen in your life. A diary is a safe place to unload your heart, hone writing skills, and record your life events, unlike some of the current options out there.
And it will become more valuable with time. I promise.             

This contest will end at noon on Monday, February 10, 2014 EST. If you wish to enter and have trouble doing so, e-mail me and I will gladly enter for you!                                          

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Once Upon a Christmas...

Christmas is coming. The next in a line of a thousand or two, each its own package of memories.  Here's one of mine from the Christmas of  '88...

I had a dog back then. Her name was Dixie. She was just a regular, medium-sized dog, but she was mine, and I loved her. She loved me too, if dogs can love.

She mostly lay on the side porch, which was right outside the screen door off the dining room. When I sat at the top of the porch steps she would sit beside me. I would put my arm around her and we would survey the back yard. We went on long walks together. When I took care of customers at the feed store in the barn she would run out ahead, and pester the cat. But mostly she lay on the porch, like a dog should do. She was a good, good dog.

One morning in December she disappeared. She was just gone.
 She was not a wandering sort of dog. We lived down a long lane. There were no close neighbors. We were mystified.

We checked the road in front our house in case she had been hit.
 We checked the interstate beyond that ran parallel with our road. No Dixie.
We checked the traps that Mr. Charles had set at various places along the creek.
Jeff and I went to the SPCA and examined the long lines of barking dogs in hard, cold cubicles. There were dogs of every description there. Every description except Dixie's. I gave her's to the lady at the desk and she said they would keep their eyes open for her and call me if she came in.
I knew no other options. The only thing we could figure, as unlikely as it seemed, was that maybe a feed customer had stolen her. But we had no way of knowing. And who would want someone elses' hybrid dog?

I was heart broken. She had become a habit with me. Now when I stepped out onto the porch to scratch her behind the ears, she wasn't there. I took my walks alone. I cried myself to sleep at night. Tears pooled in my eyes throughout the day. I worried about her. I hoped she was being taken care of....if she was anywhere at all.

The days passed, as days mercifully do...Christmas was approaching. The warmth of Christmas activities crowded out the sadness.  On Christmas eve I fixed supper for us all, and we ate by candle light for fun. After supper my brothers and I  betook ourselves upstairs to our rooms to wrap gifts.  I opened my present from the Chief, who was then just the Chief-in-waiting....there was joy in life after all. There was.

Across the hall my brothers were having a robust round of craziness that spilled out onto the balcony outside my bedroom window, when suddenly Jeff came back in and hollered, "Dixie's out in the yard!"

I could not believe my ears. Dixie! I flew down the stairs and out the door and there she was! My dog! Coming across the lawn! She was limping and tired as if she had walked a long, long way, and she seemed a little scared and insecure, but otherwise she was fine. Oh, dear Dixie! She was back! It was more joy than I knew how to hold. More than I had dared to hope for. We gave her an enthusiastic welcome home party, and tended her every perceivable need, and then we left her to the silent night, to cuddle up on her porch in peace.
And I went and cuddled up in my bed.

And heaven and nature sang.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Vow is, After All, a Vow

I have been thinking of something now for several months, and it may not be profound, but not every thought-line has to be, I think, to be worthy of itself, and I think I am going to drum it out, in what will likely be a trailing, meandering tune...

It was birthed in this fashion:

I was sitting next to The Chief  in church one Sunday morning. One of the littler natives was leafing through his Bible in search of some scrap of paper to draw on. He found a piece that was blank on one side and looked up for permission to use it. The Chief shook his head faintly but intensely. My eyes fell to the piece of paper he held, and my heart leaped a little, as it always does when I run across it.

I knew what it said. I had printed the words myself and given them to him to memorize decades before. He memorized them well, and quoted them to me one summer morning while I listened with all my trusting, believing heart. This is what they said:

"I Kent Lamar Strite, in the presence of God and these witnesses, take you, Rhonda Jean Hobbs, to be my wedded wife.
I will love and cherish you, provide and care for you in health and sickness, in prosperity and adversity.
I will exercise patience, kindness and forbearance toward you, and live with you in peace as becometh a faithful Christian husband.
Forsaking all others, I will keep myself only unto you as long as we both shall live." 

He has kept that piece of paper in his Bible ever since.

At home, after that incident at church I thought to myself how exceeding glad I am that I never have to worry about him leaving me. The culture in which we both grew up firmly embraces the belief that divorce is wrong, and if you vow to keep yourself only unto somebody, you are in it for forever. Till you die. Or the other dies. Period.

Vows are for the keeping. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay. The Bible says that.

We pride ourselves in our staunchness in this regard and look with dismay at the havoc and heartache that the breaking of marriage vows has wrought in our splintered society. We do not go there. We wouldn't even consider it. Vows are vows.

The marriage relationship is a type of Christ and His beloved Bride, the Church, after all. We know our Groom will never abandon His Bride. If we abandon ours, we tamper with that beautiful type.

I was thinking of this as I sorted laundry into piles then, on Monday morning, as there is nothing about doing laundry that would lay claim to any particular mental exertion, and I thought how occasionally we hear protests from people who point out how this belief  at times results in couples being stuck in cold, sad, relationships, just because they vowed to stay together forever, and believe they must keep their vows.

But the fact of the matter is, if we believe in vow keeping as we say we do, we will never be there. Because we vowed more than just to be faithful to each other forever. A lot more.

We also vowed to be patient and kind and forbearing. We vowed to cherish. In health and sickness. In prosperity and adversity.

He promised to provide and care for me. I promised to honor and obey him.

We promised to live with each other in peace.

And peace, though we may be told otherwise on the political front now and then, is not simply the absence of war. It is not a stoic tolerating of one another in taut silence. Peace in a relationship is a palpable warmth and benevolence that underlies our every interaction...even arguments. It's true! You can argue in perfect peace if love and respect and fondness make up the underpinnings of your mutual regard!

I recall after our wedding that The Chief's Aunt Miriam waylaid me and said how much she enjoyed watching my face while he said his vows to me. "I especially liked how you broke into a smile when he said he would live with you in peace." she said.

I still smile to think of it.

I have broken my vows more than once. And he has too. Not because we didn't mean it when we vowed it, but because we are humans...and sometimes the other person is just plain maddening!!


Alright, that's no excuse. And our failures fracture the type of Christ and His bride, the Church, just as surely as divorce does, to anyone who chances to observe it. Our spouse, first and foremost, and our children, and everyone else who senses that we are not exactly as enamored with one another as we once were.

That's why "I'm sorry's" were invented. And repentance.

I am truly grateful and humbled at how The Chief has taken seriously the entirety of his vows... patience and forgiveness, and cherishing, and forbearance, and providing...all of it.

Soon after we were engaged, we were sitting around the table with some of my siblings and my beloved and caring sister said to him, "I might as well tell you right now, Kent...she's sick all the time!"

He did not bat an eyelash, literally or figuratively, either at the time or in the subsequent years.
Better love hath no man than this, than a man who loves a wife who's "sick all the time."

The Chief makes it look easy. I love him for that. I love him for a million things. And when I realize I am not loving him as I ought, I say I'm sorry. He does the same. And we start over,  he and I.

That's the natural and delightful culmination of mutual devotion to the vows we made.

It IS very sad to see the societal landscape littered with the fragments of broken marriage vows, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that those fragments result only from divorcing and remarrying. They also result from impatience and anger. From snide remarks and disrespect and the silent treatment. From presuming on the other. From not pulling our share of the work load....

So let's be friends with the spouses we have chosen. Let's be kind. Let's deluge our marriages with the best of our energies. And whenever necessary, let's forgive.

For Jesus' sake. For our own sakes. For the sake of  the society at which we are wont to sadly shake our heads.

Because vows are, after all, vows.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Psychonatomy of a Hospital Gown

I’ve been sick.

Being sick gives you opportunity to ponder things you might not otherwise ponder properly.  It gives you valuable perspective concerning the things that matter and the things that don’t.

Things like the incredible value of family and friends, the fragility of life, how entirely optional you are to the world, the abundant mercy of God.  And hospital gowns.

Yes, hospital gowns.

The hospital gown was created primarily as a psychological weapon. 

There are multiple clues that would indicate this.

Half the population would be loath to be clad in a gown of any kind, even alone inside a room with no windows and no doors.  But they make everybody wear one in a room where a rotation of complete strangers of every gender pops in at irregular, unannounced points of time,  all day and all night. That is one valuable clue.

In the second place, the hospital gown in no way resembles any other sort of gown you may ever encounter.

It is a colorless, shapeless,  thinnish piece of cotton with strings attached at strategic intervals. You would never mistake it for a garment under normal circumstances.  A tent fly, maybe, but not a garment. This is another valuable clue.

 In spite of this, they are very cheerful when they talk to you about getting into it, and they want you in it as soon as possible.

I had no more been wheeled into a little room, when a little lady came in with a stack of stuff and a hospital gown.

“It opens in the back.” She said, helpfully.  “I’ll get you a bag to put your clothes in.” and disappeared.

The Chief settled into a chair, and I sat down on the edge of the bed.

The lady reappeared, “Oh!“ she said, “you haven’t changed yet!”
“ I thought you were getting me a bag for my clothes” I said.
“Oh yes!  I forgot” she disappeared again, and returned directly with a bag.

They want you in the hospital gown.

She disappeared again.
This hospital gown had three strings, two at the top and one roughly halfway down.  The two at the top tied to each other and I did so.
 This left the mysterious third string. “What am I supposed to do with this one?” I asked the Chief.
“I think you’re supposed to hold it.” he said.

 He packed my precious clothes carefully into the bag and packed them neatly away with my dignity onto the shelf of the microscopic closet.

I got into bed and pulled the covers up. They had me where they wanted me.

The Chief had to go. He had already devoted the lion’s share of his day to chauffeuring me hither and thither and sitting with me through tests and examinations. He had put his work on hold to make it happen, and I was set for the duration.  The door closed behind him and I was alone.

But only for a minute.  In his wake there appeared a perky blonde nurse with a handful of vials and a needle.  I lay there meekly.  

You see, this is the strategy.  A person walks into the hospital. They are somebody. They may be the manager at the local Ford dealership, a stubborn old farmer with a well-run farm, an adored wife with alert, clean children who never pick their noses, the baddest  Crypt on the street….but in a hospital gown  that opens in the back, and a string you’re not sure what to do with and your back against the bed, you are a harmless nobody.

It’s genius on their part, really.

She pulled out my arm and started looking at it. She tapped it. She stroked it.  She snapped it with her forefinger here and there. “You have no veins.” She said.

Everyone to this point in my life had always told me I had great veins. “Oh! You have great veins!” they would say, and poke a needle in and blood would gush in enthusiastically. Whatever else I might not have had, I had good veins.

 Now I had no veins.  I had to admit, I couldn’t see much in the way of veins myself. She took a long, long time looking for a vein, first on one arm and then the other.  She finally decided where she was going to put her needle.  She pushed it tentatively in. Nothing happened. No blood appeared.  She pushed it in a little further. Nothing.  She moved it to the left, and wormed it around

She talked the whole time, cheerfully, but she was nervous.  “Your vein just wants to roll.” She said. She called for back-up. Now I had a team. The new nurse seemed quite experienced. She had that air about her. But she couldn’t find a vein either. They abandoned their first attempt. I forget how many times they poked me but they finally got blood in the back of my left hand.

They drew blood and got the IV thingie started, and then they went out.

And I lay there happy as a lamb.  Actually, I just wanted to sleep.  So I pulled up my covers and drifted off.  In they came again with an IV pole;  they picked up my hand. The IV thingie had come out of my hand.
They had to start over. I didn’t even care.  I hate IV thingies in the back of my hand.  Anywhere but there.

This is how you are in a hospital gown.

A nurse came in, and started hanging bags from the IV pole. “Do you want pain medicine?”, she asked. She mentioned some heavy-duty pain killer I could have dripping in my veins if I wished.

“No.” I said. I’m alright.

She laughed. “I knew you wouldn’t take any.” She said.  It doesn’t take long at all to figure out who’ll have to have pain medicine and who won’t.  I knew when we were trying to put in your IV which kind you were.”

She said it fondly. They might have had me where they wanted me, but I was getting them where I wanted them too. On my side.

So I lay there for a couple days, biding my time.  As near as I could see there was no reason at all for me to be in that hospital gown.  None.  My own clothes and dignity were still deposited neatly on that closet shelf.  I wanted them back.

One morning, I pushed the button to call the nurse.  “May I help you?” her voice crackled from the nurse’s station.

“May I get into my own clothes when I get out of the shower?” I asked. 

“Sure!” she answered brightly.

I was inordinately happy. I was my own person again.

I stayed in my own clothes for the duration.  The Chief brought more clothes from home, and bought me clothes when they pumped me so full of fluid that my own no longer fit.
But at least it wasn’t a hospital gown!

Once again, being sick provides you with valuable perspective concerning the things that matter and the things that don’t. If you have your clothes, you have what matters.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Which Bag are You Toting?

Have you ever thought of what a mixed bag Life is? And how the mental list you keep closest track of, dictates whether the bag you tote feels perky and light, like your favorite purse at the outset of a shoe-shopping expedition, or more like a tramp's satchel, saturated by rain, and emitting odors which cannot be uttered?

If you haven't, you should. Because it's an interesting thought. And interesting thoughts are not as plentiful as they should be.

Take any given day. Anybody's.  Add it all up... and there is probably a pretty equal amount of good and bad....some days equaller than others.

Today, for example. (I'll take mine because I don't know about your's.)
But I was pondering what an excellent, excellent day it was, when the pain from My Tooth interrupted my train of thought.

This interruption inspired the thoughts I am getting ready to think, and some I have already thought, the sum of which will make up this blog, which will, I hope, be short. Because it is late. And last night was later.

Here is a list of bad things...

~ I could hardly wake up this morning. I could not sleep last night till the wee hours and felt like a wrung-out dishrag when it was time to get up.

~ There was mold on the skim of coffee in the coffee pot. This signifies a number of very bad things. You are smart enough to figure them out.

~ I was in no shape to deal with mold. I had instant, instead. It wasn't very good. I fixed another for the Chief. It was worse.

~ I left my Bible and quarterly at church. I forgot it again, when we were there this afternoon.

~ We went to sing for a man who was on his death-bed, or death couch, in this case. We sang a song we had sung at Mother's funeral. I cried the whole way through in front of complete strangers. I had no tissues, so I had to whisk "it" away as best I could. I wiped "it" on the belt of Becky's dress. Gross.

~ The Tooth.
    If you ever had A Tooth you know what I mean. It will either have to stay or go. Either option is awful.      
~ I lost the game of Settlers of Catan. Again.

~ The tea in our fridge tastes like furniture polish.

~ I started washing dishes this evening, and stopped partway through. The gray water is still in the sink. I hate this, but not enough to get up and finish them. The character flaws this illustrates are not pretty.

Where do I stop? I could keep going for some time...but let's not.

Here is the list of good things...

~ I found hairballs to match Becky's dress this morning without having to look much or untangle anything from anything else.

~ I got to teach my Sunday School Littles and they were all so much fun, and they actually helped sing this morning instead of just looking at me.

~ I remembered to take my little notebook to church to take notes. This is the ultimate virtue, to take notes during the sermon, but I never, ever remember to take paper. Ever. This morning I did.

~ The sermon was really, really good! And thanks to the note-taking, I still remember what it was about.

~ We had a carry-in dinner at church. There was lots of great meat, fresh garden things, and dessert. Everything I had was prime.

~ It was fun sitting and connecting with the dear church ladies.

~ I remembered to take everything to church I wished to take and give them to the people I needed to give them to. (This is huge.)

~ The Chief and his boys tonight, in animated conversation about mutual interests. It's a beautiful thing.

~ Becky had no idea I wiped that stuff on her belt. She thought I was just putting my arm around her, maybe. She put her arm around me, too.

I had planned to compile an exhaustive list on both accounts but I am realizing about now that this will get ridiculously long, barring a change of plans, so I will stop...

A facebook friend of mine posted this today:
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." ~A. Nin.
This is extra true. And it largely dictates the quality of your life.

Today, I toted the fun purse. Not on purpose, it's just the one I discovered I had. But, tomorrow when I blear my way to the kitchen and see the hag reflected in that gray water, the one who stayed up past midnight typing with her fore-fingers, I can pretty much tell you which bag will be slung over her shoulder.
And I can tell you something else. It is possible for her to switch out bags, if she discovers she grabbed the tramp's satchel.

When you start talking about yourself in second person, it's time to call it a day.

Good night, all.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Portrait of a Knight in Armor.

~*~Tomorrow, the Chief and I will have been married 23 years. He loves when I post blog entries. This post is dedicated to him. He has put more happy in my ever after than my best dreams ever conjured.~*~

I had put in a long day.
That's my excuse. I need one, and that's the best I can do.

But the Chief and I were in our bedroom, doing what we normally do when he gets home from work. Debriefing, you could call it... He tells me what he learned that day and what all his day consisted of, and I tell him what I learned, and what I did.

It's how we merge when we've been navigating separate highways.

His day is usually more interesting than mine. And he's better at telling it, and I love a good story, so this is probably my favorite part of the day, followed closely by the part of the day where the coffee maker just quit dripping enough that I can pour myself a cup of coffee before another drip drips, and the part of the day where I am pulling back the sheets at night and getting ready to slide between them.

(Diagram that sentence.)

Anyway, I was telling him about my day. He had already told me about his, and I was suddenly frozen by a thought.

"Honey..." I said. And I could not help it, tears just bled through my eyes like water seeping through a basement wall, brimming at the threshold, but not overflowing. "There is a huge spider on the wall behind the freezer. It's the biggest spider I ever saw."

"Bigger than that other biggest spider?" he asked.

"Well, almost as big." I said. "Maybe not quite as big around, but his legs are thicker and furrier, and his body is bigger. He is just gigantic."

"I see." he said soberly.

"Well... I can't go out to my shed now." The Chief was not grasping the magnitude of this. "And I have all these blueberries sitting in boxes that I need to put in the freezer. And I need to go through my freezer and organize it before there's room to put them, because the freezer's smack full."

The enormity of the situation was dawning on me even as I spoke.

I had handled the situation stoically at the time. I had opened my shed door. Taken one step in. Seen the spider. Taken one step out. Shut the shed door.

I didn't so much as shudder till I got back to the wig-wam. That's the truth.

At the wig-wam I had pondered phobias. "They can't rule you if you don't let them." I thought to myself. "I will not think about it. That's all." And I didn't much. In spite of all the blueberries stacked there, needing to be put in the freezer.

But that was half a day ago. I had been strong too long, and felt powerless to even resist. I started to cry. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder, I think. Definitely a disorder of some variety.

"There are probably gobs of them!" I continued, "I saw the skeleton of another huge one hanging out there a long time ago. They're probably out there multiplying and multiplying."

The Chief regarded me thoughtfully. "Sooo...Do I need to get one of those foggers?" he asked.

"Yes!" I hadn't been able to think of a single solution the entire time I hadn't been thinking about it!

The only thing I could think of was that it was going to be impossible to kill him, because, of course, he wasn't going to be sitting there at the same place on the wall  behind the freezer waiting patiently for the Chief to get there to kill him. These are not the kinds of spiders who build webs and stay in them. These are the ambushing kind.

He would just be out there. Forever. Him and his descendants. The Spiders of Gath. And I could no more  go out to my shed without facing the giants. I had hardly considered that there might be a solution!

Hope shown through my tears.  

"Yes!! A heavy duty fogger!" I said.
And then I had to cry some more, out of sheer relief...and to wash all the emotion out in order to get back to normal. You know.

The Chief regarded me some more, smiling a little. A gentle, amused smile.

And then he put back his head and laughed. And roared. He held his stomach and leaned back and just died laughing. He staggered a little...and laughed some more. He may have cried some tears of his own variety.

I knew it would come to that. At some point it would come to that. Because I know him. And he knows me. And that's just how it is.