Since the last blog post, my life has been filled with a bunch of stuff, as well as stuffing that has come unstuffed…
We have been keeping our son’s dog Ace for the last couple of weeks. His schedule during basketball season is extremely busy, especially during this year of COVID. Games have been canceled and re-scheduled, thus changing plans for the Lumberjacks, coaches, fans, and Ace.
Planning for Ace’s visits is sort of like figuring out a custody agreement, but it’s much more complicated than every-other-weekend, or a week here, and a week there. I have a calendar where I keep track of Ace’s residence status, and for two weeks, or a fortnight, the Jacks have been almost exclusively on the road, which means Ace has been with us.
Ace is actually a pretty good dog. Very even-tempered, and he looks like he is always smiling, unless you “get a tone with him,” and then he behaves as if he has been beaten. A month or so ago, I had to scold him for his misbehavior, and he began limping. I thought he had something in his foot, or had injured himself. I immediately checked him out, and couldn’t find anything. I patted him on the head, and spoke to him in a sweet consoling tone and said, “Poor baby.” So….he continued to limp. Except sometimes he would forget and stop and re-start mid-stride in order to keep the “limping” thing looking real.
I noticed when I said, “You’re a good boy,” he would stop limping, but if I ever reprimanded him, he was suddenly overcome with the inability to walk limp-free. A whole case study could be done on the effects of positive and negative reinforcement, but I’ll save the taxpayers a bunch of money and give you my conclusion: We all do better when we are encouraged and supported. That being said, Ace has become an expert when it comes to manipulating us.
And he has played me like a fiddle more times than I care to admit. But he’s “a good boy” overall.
Until he’s not.
Last Wednesday night, just before the Jacks tipped off (they were in Abilene and we were watching on ESPN+), Ace got into some stuff he shouldn’t. In fact, it was actual stuffing. We have our couch and sofa covered in sheets (welcome to Redneck USA). I do this in order to keep the dog hair to a minimum, as well as to hopefully deter any chewing on the furniture. But you know what they say about “the best laid plans of mice and men”—–they haven’t met Ace.
In a matter of seconds, for some random and crazy reason, Ace grabbed one of the back cushions off the couch and in one fell swoop tore a hole in it. I walked into the room and noticed the cushion was on the floor, and then saw the stuffing. In my best Charley Owens imitation, (reporter for the Chicago Daily News), I muttered to myself, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
But it was. The cushion was torn beyond compare, and Ace knew he was once again in trouble. So he limped away from the scene of the crime, and hid under the table.
As much as I hate the sheets covering the furniture (and the fact that they weren’t a very good deterrent), I completely understand why both my Nana and Marie Barone (from “Everybody Loves Raymond) kept the plastic on their couches for all those years.
The next morning when I let Ace and Lorelai out in the backyard, they both immediately began sniffing wildly around the sliding glass patio door. I stepped out to investigate, and spotted a dead bird, which had obviously flown into the glass at a high rate of speed. I ran the dogs off from the area, and went inside to get a bunch of paper towels so I could pick up the bird and toss it over the fence.
Trying not to gag, I crossed this task off my list, and headed back inside. The next time I let the dogs out, I didn’t have to worry about them picking up the dead bird. I, however, should have worried about Ace “sniffing the bird out,” and smashing through the back gate to find it. I happened to look out just in time to see Ace frolicking around in our neighbor’s backyard. It was like he was in a dance competition. He was footloose and fancy free.
I screamed like a banshee for him to come back, and he just looked at me like I was insane. And he continued to frolic.
I found some shoes that I could run in, and ran out the front door (in my pajamas). This isn’t the first time the neighbors have been privy to such an unfortunate sight.
I continued to call Ace, and saw him rounding the corner on the other side of the neighbor’s yard. I began yelling, “You’re such a good boy!” and that did the trick. He came bouncing toward me and happily ran through the front door.
I sent Chris a text, describing Ace’s (mis)adventures, and he responded, “Ace is causing trouble this week. ” I simply typed back, “He’s just had a bad 15 minutes.”
And that started me to thinking. Isn’t that the way life is? We all have our bad moments, but they are just that. Moments. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life. It’s not what we’ve done, it’s what we do next.
How wonderful that God doesn’t keep a scorecard of all our mistakes. Nothing we do will ever be worthy of what Jesus did for us. But no matter how badly we mess up, we are covered in Grace. Just as Ace was covered with stuffing, evidence of his misdeed, we are covered in forgiveness.
I love when I’m reminded of such a simple truth that is also a powerful lesson. And it’s even better when it is taught to me by a dog.
Life is much better when you stop taking yourself so seriously. I’ve been guilty of that, of late. Maybe not so much taking myself seriously, but being so serious about life and all the things that are going on in our country. The thing is, I can’t control most of that “stuff.” I have to learn to walk away from the negativity, the strife, and the chaos. I have to learn to give all that up, and in the midst of the craziness, find the little things that matter. You know, when you think about it, life is pretty simple. We should be kind. Do our best. Forgive others. Control the things we can, and give everything else to God. And we should seek joy. If we can do those things, we’ll all rest easier.
I’m happy to report that my sleep deprivation has subsided. All in all, I’m sleeping better and more soundly. And I’m finding humor and much needed comic relief in my dreams…
The other day, I started to ask my husband a question, but felt the need to preface it with this comment:
“What I’m about to say might seem weird, and a little unsettling, but promise me that no matter what I say, you won’t think I’m crazy.”
This cryptic intro was a indeed baffling, and his look of bewilderment was to be expected.
I continued down the road to catch the crazy train when I asked:
“Have I ever clogged for you?”
My feelings weren’t hurt when he began to howl with laughter.
I continued with the utmost confidence and said, “I’m serious. I’m not sure if I can actually clog, or if I only clog in my dreams. Have I ever shown you this step before?”
And then I demonstrated my rendition of the clogging move that I was most certain I could do. But in the midst of my jig, with my arms wildly flailing and my house-shoes flying off my feet, I realized I definitely have never clogged a day in real life and my talent must only exist in my dreams. Literally.
What in the world? How could I possibly think I was a clogger by day, when I am simply a dreaming clogger by night?
As if I hadn’t been humiliated enough, I continued with this clogging confession:
“I’ve had several dreams about clogging over the past few weeks. And I’m pretty good. I think I even dreamed that I showed you my clogging moves, and that’s why I had to ask if you had actually ever witnessed this gift.”
I added more, “Last night I dreamed that I was in a deli, and was waiting in line to select some sandwich meat and cheese. We were all distanced six feet apart, and wearing masks. I asked the person next to me if they would like to watch me clog, and they eagerly responded. (I’m sure for comic relief purposes, and not so much to see my clogging skills). I proceeded to do my clog routine, and I was really good. Pretty soon, the deli owner had everyone form a circle, and asked me to get in the center and do my thing. It ended with spirited applause, and other customers asking if I would teach them. But then I woke up, when I heard you get out of bed.”
And he said the only thing that could be said at this point, “I’m sorry if I ruined your dream of being a clogger.”
This whole dream-clogging thing has had me laughing hysterically at myself. In fact, I think it’s one of the funniest things ever. I actually believed I could clog in real life, so much so that I demonstrated it to my husband! And I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about any of it, until I realized, I’m no clogger.
You might be wondering where this crazy whim came from—–the Geico commercial with the couple who loves their new apartment, except there is “a little clogging problem.” I laugh out loud every single time I see the commercial. Every. Single. Time.
The lessons I’ve learned this week are many.
- Always laugh at yourself–you’ll never ceased to be amused.
- Don’t take life, or yourself too seriously.
- We all have some bad moments.
- Bad days don’t equal bad lives.
- It’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you do next.
- We are covered in GRACE.
- Whatever you do, be passionate about it (even if it’s in your dreams)
- Cushions can be replaced (and my new one has been ordered)
- Enjoy the simple things in life
You know, this being a clogger in my dreams has opened up a whole new world for me. Maybe I should actually learn how to clog. I could be the “clogging blogger.” I could even start my own YouTube channel and show videos of me “clogging while blogging.” And then I could add the “dogging.” I’m sure Lorelai and Ace would love to be a part of the videos. And I could buy them matching outfits, and we could be known as “Dogs that clog while I blog…”
Or maybe not.
I’ll show myself out.
Have a great week, and remember to Clog like no one’s watching…