Ordinary

Most of my days are very ordinary. No real excitement. No thrilling adventures. Like today. I got up and went to work. Did tree stuff. Came home and ate some boring air fried chicken fingers with Ranch dressing. Crispy Crinkle fries on the side, baked in the oven. Finished it off with a pickled peach and the last few swigs of sweet tea.

That’s it. That was my day.

Except for now.

I’m sitting on the front porch with Max writing this nonsense to you, my faithful and very tolerant reader. And I have decided to write to you about the dreary details of my life. God forgive me.

First of all, there’s my diet. When I went to see the doctor the other day for my let’s-see-if-you’re-still-alive checkup, the nice nurse asked me to step up on the scales and read off the number. The digital display kept rolling up until it settled out at just over 175. That wouldn’t be bad at all if I had any muscle on me. But for a guy who’s been thin as a stick his whole life and who weighed slightly more than a cat when he got married, this is not good.

I thought about lying. But being the God-fearing man I am, and related to George Washington, I told the truth. And to be honest, I’ve been watching that number go up little by little every time I’ve been to see the doc over the last 10 years. I have vowed to cut back on greasy foods, sweet foods, fatty foods and bad foods. But you already know what I had for supper tonight.

To make matters worse, there’s a prominent mid-drift bubble in my profile. I’m up two inches on the size of my pants. And my granddaughter keeps asking me when the baby is due. I’m going to need a piece of cake tonight while I sort through this and figure out what my next move should be.

Then, there is laundry. I told you not too long ago about the washing machine going out on me. Within 24 hours of getting that repaired, my dryer went on the blink. More accurately, it died. That was three weeks ago.

I solved the problem by gathering up a few random sticks of wood from my shop along with screws and a 20 ft. section of nylon cord. I went out on the back porch which, though covered, is open to the late afternoon sun. I didn’t measure anything. I didn’t cut anything. I just picked a spot, held an 8 ft. board vertical and screwed it to the porch railing. Two screws at the bottom and two at the top of the railing. Moved down about 16 feet and repeated. Between the two “poles” I tied up the cord and propped it up in the middle with another shorter board. Instant clothesline.

I have quietly complained for years that the denim from which jeans are made of is not the same quality of the jeans of my youth. Modern jean material is soft and pliable. It feels thinner. Used to, when I was a kid, my jeans were so stiff that you could stand them up in the corner of the bedroom. Jeans these days are limp.

What I discovered is that the material is not at fault. The softness is the work of the modern dryer. I washed my jeans and hung them out on my clothesline. They baked in the afternoon sun. It worked beautifully. When I went to gather up my clothes, the jeans were stiff as a board. I thought to myself that this is what real jeans were like back when mama hung everything out on the line.

The dryer got fixed today. After multiple failed attempts at coordinating with the repair folks, I now have my dryer back in operation. I haven’t taken down the clothesline yet. It’s so ugly yet so useful. Beth would have a fit if she saw this thing. No doubt she would say, “Okay John (a reference to my dad and his country ways), that thing has to come down.” I think I’ll keep it for a while longer.

Not everything in my life is boring. Last night, a buddy of mine, who is temporarily wifeless, decided that two old guys with nothing much going on should get together. We grilled a few burgers. Then we sat out on this very porch and played music together until the daylight was gone and the mosquitoes had sucked us dry. We took turns at conjuring up the songs of our past. A few Beatles tunes. A little Elton John. A little honky-tonk that made my foot tap. Even a few Motown numbers. Willie Nelson. George Strait and Alan Jackson.

I’m not saying we were any good. Some of the songs we remembered all the way through. Some we only got bits and pieces. We laughed that we were about 65% right on about 50% of the songs. Not all the lyrics were right, for sure. If we didn’t know them, we made up our own. And we were amplified, too. You play loud enough, and it covers up your mistakes. I’m pretty sure the neighbors were glad when we stopped and went inside for cake.

Of course, it would be a mistake not to mention that yesterday was Mother’s Day. My girls shared a few of their favorite pictures of their mom when they were young. Laura sent some flowers that Marshall and I took to the cemetery. It’s still strange to think of her as gone. But overall, it was a very good day with a lot to celebrate for us. Thanks for thinking of us. More than a few of you checked in on us, on me, and I am deeply grateful to you for your kind thoughts.

This ordinary day is coming to an end. It’s dark enough now that I can hardly see the keyboard to typpe uut he rist ob thes sillee stoory. In fact, I just moved inside where there is light. Max is laid out. He’s been howling at the woods this whole time.

When I think about it, I’ll take all the ordinary days I can get. I’ve had my share of non-ordinary days just like you have. There’s something appealing to me about the normal ebb and flow of life. I like a simple piece of chicken for supper. Not every meal has to be fine cuisine. I like to hear a good concert like I did last Friday evening, but I like sitting on the front porch making music even better, even if it’s not perfect. Lunch with my family. A conversation with my neighbor. Even a good day at work.

I’ll take all of the ordinary stuff and as much of it as I can get. It keeps me grounded. It reminds me of who I am and of all the things in life for which I am grateful.

Like a dryer that works.

Sorry to cut this wonderful time together short, but I’ve got a load that just finished up the spin cycle.

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