Hand on the Plow

I feel we’re all struggling to find hope as the world slowly turns. I love Stuart’s story and advice, and think we also need to keep our hand on the plow.

Storyshucker

I watched the morning news but turned away when feelings of hopelessness washed over me as they reported infection rates and death tolls. Isolation is helping end this nightmare, they say, but for any one individual it can sometimes seem an exercise in futility. When a reporter stressed the importance of continuing our social distancing practices, an old memory crossed my mind:

“No.” Ms. Wade shook her head. “Here’s what you’re going to do.” She put her arm around my shoulder. “Keep your hand on the plow and hold on.”

I knew what she meant.

Having grown up around farming and plows I understood the metaphor, but until then I’d never heard anyone describe so succinctly a situation pertaining to myself. Don’t dismay, was her message. Simply continue doing what I’d been doing.

It was early 1980s and I was a twenty-year-old kid working a part-time retail job. Ms. Wade…

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Just Go to Bed

It’s time, once again, to discuss one of my favorite children’s picture books. For those who’ve been here before, you know I’ve covered King BidgoodTinTin, and Where the Sidewalk Ends already.

After putting four rambunctious children to bed -and again, then two once more, and now one I need to carry up because he fell asleep on the couch- I somehow felt inspired to talk about Just Go to Bed, by Mercer Mayer.

Some books hit the golden mark for me: perfect word flow, good illustrations, appeal to their audience, and great message. This picture book, published waaay back in 1983, is just such a one for me.

In fact, it’s another nostalgic work because I owned it as a child. I listened to it on audiocassette, with the *ding* to turn the page, and the occasional audio effects that went with each page’s pictures. Reading that same copy (sans cassette) as an adult, I find it even more appealing.

The book begins with Little Critter outside. He’s playing dress-up. “I’m a cowboy and I round up cows,” he says. A calm father, with the toy lasso round his person, says, “It’s time for the cowboy to come inside and get ready for bed.”

Each page spread shows yet another step and/or excuse Little Critter has to get through, with Dad’s help. Dad, meanwhile, is clearly getting less and less playful and patient.

Bed Bath
Kinder Books

By the end, we see poor Daddy in his chair with his newspaper, exasperatingly pointing and saying the book’s title, “Just go to bed!” Mom is opening the door to see what’s up, bearing a look of surprise but understanding -or, maybe I just project myself into her furry critter feet now that I have experience.

It’s a very simple book. I mean, it is a children’s picture book. In a few pages and with a few penciled cartoon expressions, Mayer gives us an entertaining story for both children and adults.

If you’ve ever had to wrestle a cowboy, general, race car driver, bandit, space cadet, zookeeper, and bunny through bedtime routines, this was written for you. And, it was written for your own little critter(s).

Now, I’ve got to pull one of my bunnies off the couch and hoist him up to bed. Good night.

Diet and Ex-orcism

Track

Within the past half-year, I have been participating in a cruel and unusual recreational activity known as exercise.

Don’t get me wrong; I love some exercise, like sprinting. I especially love the challenge of racing out of the blocks, elbow-to elbow with contenders, barreling toward a long row of impenetrable hurdles.

Those last few sentences should have been past tense. I haven’t had the physical ability to hurdle since creating human beings. Baby production takes your nutrients, smooth skin, ability to sit on a metal chair, and sprinting capabilities.

To be honest, I still have enough youth left in me to be able to sprint. That’s one reason why I’ve been participating in YouTube aerobic sessions and occasional gym visits: to be able to move.

Whenever I get impatient about being fit, I feel like I’m trying to drag a fat body (mine) with me around the track.

Not one to settle for one form of masochism, either, I’ve recently added dieting.

If bottom-shaping exercises online are led by twisted, pain-driven persons; and my adherence to such a thing is a form of crazy cultism; then voluntary sugar-starvation only cinches my questionable sanity.

Why? Why, universe? Why did I ever give up the wonderful delicacy that was sugar; most especially, chocolate?

I hate to say it, but it seems to be working. I’ve noticed a difference.

Cutting refined sugar and white bread out of my diet has been the most-effective weight loss I’ve ever done. Like, 2 lbs lost a week.

It definitely works better than my past plan: eat really healthy until around 3:00 p.m., then consume whatever’s edible until bedtime. (Coincidentally, 3:00 is the time my grown offspring return from free, educational, public babysitting.)

I may want to kill someone for a chocolate chip at the end of the first day or two, but it’s worth it to push through past that hurdle. I’m really only competing with myself.

And the end result? A winning figure.