Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pet Peeves & Thankfulness

If your weeks are anything like mine, they're chock full o'nuts--and I am not referring to coffee here.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Whether we're talking about flakey people sleeping where they shouldn't (not talking homeless people here, but they might count, too), making noises best avoided in polite company, missing promised appointments, not responding to important messages, swerving directly in front of speeding fire trucks, or the occasional simple dimwit thrown in for good measure, no balanced list of pet peeves is restricted to people.  Take our cat, for instance.  

Being an inside cat, Buttercup's most sacred goal is ESCAPE.  She especially loves it when door to door salespeople come knocking early on Saturdays.  Once she bolts outside, she most often stops in the center of the front lawn and awaits her master's grumbling arrival to airlift her back to the comfortable confines of the indoors--and her kitty toys.  Believe it, or not, there are times when this behavior can present troublesome and inconvenient scenarios.  Sadly, it's difficult (but not altogether impossible) to place a cat on a proper timeout.  Anyway, this is how my cat often finds herself on the pet peeve list. 

The past week has been unusually full of an exciting number of pet peeves, and, sadly, I really can't elaborate here on most of them.  Don't worry, though, because the worst offenders will most likely find themselves in my writing at some future point.  In one form or another, the people who annoy me the most will live on to annoy my protagonists, too.  After all, I want to be fair and balanced about this whole thing called fiction.  Usually, though, I prefer my characters' more colorful solutions to my own non-solutions--i.e. keeping my mouth shut (for the most part anyway).

After a week of challenging people and situations all trying my patience in unique and unpleasant ways, it was nice to spend some quiet time in a park-like setting this weekend as I reflected on the past week's activities.  While things can be difficult, what I'm really struck by is the power of thankfulness.  I'm thankful, for instance, for God's blessings which include a wonderful family and a stable job or two. A strange little dream I had the other night also serves to illustrate another item for which I am thankful.

The dream went along these lines.  I was visiting a new church with someone.  Before taking my seat, I was handed a bowl of extremely fancy and assorted candies.  Coming into the church, I was struck with the movie theater feel of it.  The music was blaring and some kind of a video number was playing on the front screen.  I looked over at my "friend" (actually, no idea who it was) and asked him whether he really could worship there.  He pulled out his bulletin and pointed to the bottom where it read "Fried Chicken Social." Nodding, he observed, "Yes, that's what it's all about, my friend.  That's what it's all about."

So this dream reminds me in a lighthearted way of how good it is to be done with the church-shopping we did as Protestants for about one and a half decades of our marriage.  In short, it's good to be home.  Besides the spiritual meaning of home, there's also the physical place to consider.  In case you might have missed it, I am a very picky guy.  We've lived in humid Kansas and roasting Texas, as well as northern California and northwest Washington State before arriving in Salem, Oregon.  We're happy to have stayed put now in Oregon since 1996.  It's great to finally live in such a wonderful place--an hour, or so, from the mountains or high desert to the east and an hour from the beautiful Pacific Ocean to the west.  The lush green Willamette Valley of western Oregon is hard to beat, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to raise our family in a place we all enjoy so much.    

So, that's my prescription for battling pet peeves: thankfulness.  After all, it's hard to be simultaneously cynical or critical and thankful!

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