Coloring Outside The Lines

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I guess you could say the General and I went out on the town last night.  Anyway you factor it, we were coloring outside the lines.  I don’t know how many years the Pizza Cave has been open in Dripping Springs.  We’ve actually ordered pizza from there a couple of times when the grandkids have been here, but we’ve never actually gone there for dinner.

Friday evening, we decided to do it differently.  For one thing, there is not an overabundance of places to eat in Dripping Springs. “Same old, same old” is pretty much the venue of choice, but even that gets tiresome after awhile.  Around 5:30 Friday evening, I asked the General if she wanted to go out for dinner.  Her response was interesting.  She said, “I didn’t go to the grocery store.  We have nothing for dinner.” She added, “I’m not hungry.  Are you?  It is too early to eat.”

Did I mention I was puzzled by her atypical response? We are talking about “Mrs. Consistently Predictable”.  How could she have failed to keep the pantry and refrigerator filled with her carefully planned, next culinary delight? Sometimes she goes to way too much trouble.  I could be perfectly content with a grilled steak, asparagus and a salad.  Did I say I could be “perfectly content” or did I mean to infer I could be “more content? I’ll let you connect the dots in your head and figure out what I’m really attempting to communicate.  Something was out of order. 

Yet as I looked around the kitchen and dining area, she had made tremendous process on restoring order.  The day before, every “nook and cranny” of available space including open spaces had been filled with materials for Vacation Bible School.  The kitchen counter looked like a half price sale at the general store.  Stuff was stacked everywhere. 

I didn’t look closely, but I envisioned that many of the gadgets, giveaways, and “junk” ordered looked like the kind of stuff where the small print reads: “Made in China.”  For example, there were a host of “flashlights” to be used in examining rocks.  The cartridge inside the flashlight was equipped to hold three triple AAA batteries.  I figured from the design that the lights would be time limited before they’d break.  Surprise of surprise, I loaded the battery cartridge and handed it to the General.  She inserted it into the flashlight, tightened the cap and it works.  Turning the light downward, she said: “It gives off a blue light.  According to the directions the light should not be flashed in anyone’s eyes.”

Isn’t that like telling a kid, “Don’t think about an elephant?”  To even suggest the need to refrain from looking directly into the light will be the catalyst for that kind of exploration.  The easiest way to get me to do something is to suggest to me that I shouldn’t do it.  Of course, the General isn’t used to coloring outside the lines.  She always follows the directions. 

So were we going to “skip a meal” or go to dinner?  From the General’s response, I really didn’t know.  “I’m not hungry. Are you? It is too early to eat”, didn’t seem all that promising.  Consequently, I opted to refocus on the book I had been reading.

I did not go into the office on Friday.  For one thing, I had a late lunch scheduled with a colleague and board member at the Gruene River Grill in New Braunfels.  Why drive 50 miles north to turn around and drive 100 miles south?  It didn’t make any sense.  Consequently, I opted not to do it.  I spent a portion of the morning getting kicked off and on our computer network.  I followed that up with a conference call.  On the heels of the call, it was time to head for the noon meeting.

Let me say this out loud so I don’t forget it.  Friday was a very relaxing day!  The absence of needing to negotiate traffic from the edge of heaven to Round Rock gave me breathing room.  Next week, I may take my “gray haired aged demeanor” to the office and tell my boss that I’m a millennial and that I need to work from home. Honestly, it could add years to my life.

Around 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon I started reading “Soul Keeping” by John Ortberg.  It is a good read.  He suggests that religious people are normally inclined to believe their souls are devoted to God even when evidence suggests otherwise.  He then provided a laundry list of things to consider.  If anything on the laundry list were true, it might be the litmus test to look at one’s life more closely.

The first thing he listed didn’t represent a problem for me.  “I think about money a lot, as in getting more of it.  Sometimes I fantasize about winning the lottery or coming into a big inheritance.  I have a mental wish list of the things I’d like to buy if money were no object.”

Yet progressively, the list he identifies got increasingly more difficult for me.  How about: “I have missed family events in order to pursue my career.  I justify it by telling myself and my family that this is what it takes to provide for them.  I tell myself that if I keep working hard, I will reach a level where I will be able to relax a little and spend more time with the people I love.”

The red alert warning bells went off in my head when I read another characteristic on the following page.  It stated: “If you asked my family what was most important to me, they would likely refer to my job, my favorite hobby, making money…They would probably not say it was them.”  Ouch!  Ouch! Ouch!

Okay, so we did it differently last night.  After a really good pizza at The Pizza Cave around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., I asked the General if she wanted to walk down Mercer Street.  Did I mention that you see a lot more when you’re walking?  Dripping Springs has been transformed.  Most of the shops, including the coffee house, were closed.  However, the General said that on the 1st Thursdays of the month everything stays open late.  I suggested to her that she put it on our calendar.  I’d like to leisurely meander down the street and go through everything.  At face value, it is a good look.  How’s that for coloring outside the lines?

All My Best!

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Don

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