A Few Things I Like

About once every 365 days, I arrive early somewhere.

I like being early, which is surprising, since I’ve been told that I will likely be late to my own funeral. I’ve come to believe, however, that I am an early person trapped in a late person’s life. When I’m early to things, I walk slowly and smile at people. This morning, twenty minutes early to preschool, I could sit and talk with the other early moms and grandmas. One lady was doing calf-stretches in the parking lot, because that feels good in the morning if you have time for it, and I joined her. Early people have time to be friendly, and it makes the world seem calmer and more congenial when you’re on time.

Contrast with my late days, which are ninety-nine percent of the time, and I’m speeding around corners, cussing at old people, plowing into the parking lot with the other eternally late moms. We share a look, from behind our windshields that says, “Don’t we suck?” And that’s on a good late day. Sometimes the look just says, “Move it, Lady.”

Being late suits me when I’m not in the mood to socialize, which, often I’m not. But it raises anxiety levels, puts me on the defense with other authority figures in my life–police men, teachers who have to wait on me, the whole congregation at church that tries politely not to notice when the eight of us come tip-toeing into that back pews, fighting in a stage whisper.

Gah! I’m so irritating, sometimes I can hardly stand it.



But back to things I like: Rit Dye.

I have terrible allergies this time of year, compounded by the fact that I want to break out my sweaters and wear them after they’ve been stuffed in my closet, collecting dust for a year. I would get a sweater out to wear and spend the rest of the day blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, and finally, I decided, enough! I will wash the sweaters.

So I did a big load of woolens in the washing machine, and I felt like it was enough work to lay things flat to dry so I didn’t bother to separate my lights and darks. Even as I threw them in the wash, I was thinking–this will not go well, your whites will no longer be whites–but I didn’t care for some reason.

Sure enough, one of my favorite white sweaters came out of the wash with an ombre merlot tinge. Then I was sorry, because this is a sweater that I’ve had for over twenty years, and it’s been a favorite for just as long. Here’s me and my sweater in 1995:

And I’m sorry, I couldn’t find a picture of me wearing it in the last five years, because it seems I’ve just been hanging onto it for sentimental reasons.

So, I decided it was time for the sweater to go. No need to hang onto a ruined sweater I never wear, and I was just about to put it in the bag, when I thought of Rit.

I used a Rit color remover, made a sweater soup in my stock pot on the stove, soaked it in hot water for about ten minutes, and voilà:

Good for many more years of useless storage and dust collection. It even got out a decades old coffee stain.


 We have a new Rural King in town, which is great, because it means I can get my Anderson Peanut Butter Pretzels for $3.99. 


Tastes great with an M&M.

At Big Lots, they’re five dollars, and at Wal-mart, a whopping $10.97. One more reason it pays to shop around. And if you must go to Wal-mart, go ahead and haggle. They have to price match.

If you like peanut butter, these things are absolutely addictive. And speaking of peanut butter, did you know it makes an excellent cure for hiccups?  When water doesn’t work, and “scaring” them away proves to be a farce, sometimes all I have to do is open the jar and breathe in the peanut air, and the hiccups disappear.



I appreciated Simcha’s article at the Register awhile ago on Fear-Based Schooling:


“If you want to home school because you think you can do it well and your children will benefit from it, then by all means, home school, and God bless you.

If you have to home school even if you don’t want to, because you have researched the alternatives and they are all terrible, then God bless you even more.

If you are going to home school because you have been stewing in a steady stream of sensational horror stories about schools halfway across the country, and are making your decision based on terror and disgust and disdain, then please think again. Good decisions are not born of terror and disgust and disdain.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/fear-based-schooling#ixzz2jDW5mjwu


I admire the home schoolers I know–some of my favorite people in the world home school– and I sometimes wish that I had strong philosophical reasons to home school. I appreciate other people’s strong philosophical reasons, I just don’t hold them myself.

I home schooled for a year to help a child who was struggling. And I home schooled for another year because I was afraid to expose my kids to all the worldliness in public middle school. There was talk of a “Pregnant Sixth Grader,” always casually mentioned in conversations with other home school moms as a reminder of how terrible our local schools are. I even used the pregnant sixth grader excuse several times myself as a one-phrase rejoinder to any questions about my decision to home school for a time. “Pregnant sixth grader, enough said.”

When I realized that home schooling was not a long-term solution for us, I started talking to parents of kids in the public school, and I kept waiting for someone to start crying and talk about all the terrible ways their children had been peer educated and reprogrammed by the state, but it just didn’t happen. The parents were level headed. The kids were doing well. For the most part, parents were clear-eyed about the issues their kids were facing, and they were just as concerned about protecting their kids as I am. It turns out that many families in the public school love Jesus, and look for ways to create a Christian culture with their kids and their friends.

And The Pregnant Sixth Grader? She’s like the Yeti. I’ve never spotted her, and neither have my kids.

The thing that never occurred to me is that for there to be a pregnant sixth grader, a crime must have taken place. It’s not something people would just tolerate (“Oh, here’s our annual twelve-year-old mother-to-be! Back to school and ready to learn when she’s not busy corrupting and tainting the entire school system!”). I’m not saying it’s never happened, nor that it could not happen in the future–but if a school system is failing, it’s not because of her.

So, in short, I agree with this statement completely:

“Maybe you will discover that the public schools in your area are an answer to the prayer you were too proud, for many years, to even pray:  please help me.  Please help me take care of my children.  There is no shame in needing help.  There is shame in scaring people away from looking for help when they  need it.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/fear-based-schooling#ixzz2jDbEMQQk



My husband had a birthday recently, and I’m terrible at gift giving, as he will gladly attest. I’m more attuned to bargains than I am to pleasing other people, which is a character flaw of which I am not proud. But I decided this year to make up for the many years of stupid presents I’ve bought, or often not bought, for my husband throughout our marriage–the Pearl Jam CD, the nose-hair trimmer, and all the years I’ve said “Hey, why don’t you just pick something out and say it’s from me.”

This year, I bought him a Costco Sheepskin rug.

This thing is so unnecessary, so ridiculously superfluous, you could only get one for yourself by passing it off as a gift for someone else.

You want to sit here, don’t you?

Well, I do, anyway…

It’s my new best friend–and oodles less expensive than the buffalo hide. I’m so glad I bought it for him.


Linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for Five Favorites.  You should too.


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About Elizabeth Duffy