You’ve got stupidity!

When I was in seventh grade, Mrs. Chiaventone’s second-hour honors English class met in a classroom that had big windows looking out onto the playground where the children in the adjacent elementary school played.

Second hour coincided with the elementary students’ morning recess. The school was not air-conditioned, so we had to keep the windows open during warm weather.
This combination of factors provided an endless source of entertainment (read: disruptions) for our class.

On one particularly memorable morning, a little boy stood right outside our window, loudly upbraiding a playmate: “You’ve got stupidity! Stupidity! YOU’VE GOT STUPIDITY!”

I have no idea what his companion had done to earn this diagnosis, but it became a running joke in our class. Every time someone forgot his homework, or missed a question on a test, or gave a lame oral report, or we were confronted with a situation that we just weren’t sure how to address, one or the other of us would announce: “YOU’VE GOT STUPIDITY!”

This would, of course, bring down the house. Especially when Chris Redfearn did it. I don’t know why it was funnier when Chris said it. It just was.

I mention this tonight because I can hear that little boy’s voice shouting in my thought.

I am supposed to be laying out a newsletter for a local nonprofit group. Someone asked me if I could throw something together on the fly. In the past two weeks, I have designed a 76-page magazine for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, which I followed up with a 12-page newsletter yesterday, and in between, two deadlines have come and gone at work, meaning I have laid out something like 18 pages at the office. Frankly, I’ve spent about as much quality time with inDesign as I care to. But I promised I would have this other newsletter done by Monday.

It’s not a big deal. It’s based on a very simple template. It’s only six pages. I have all the items I need, along with a list of everything I am supposed to have and where it’s all supposed to go. I am not responsible for writing, shooting, or editing anything. All I have to do is Photoshop some pictures into black and white, slap the stories and photos on the pages, and send a PDF to the editor. The whole thing probably won’t take an hour and a half. I’m just not in the mood to do it … and haven’t been all weekend.

So what am I doing tonight?

I’m looking up pictures of ’50s bombshell dresses to wear to the Will Rogers Banquet in June. I’m exchanging e-mails with a buddy of mine in California. I’m approving blog comments. I’m going back and rereading old blog entries from eight months ago. I’m thinking about changing my gerbil’s litter, because something in here smells weird, and I’m pretty sure it’s her. (Note how I am not actually changing her litter, which would represent a productive use of my time … just thinking about it.) And now I am blogging about something that happened during the Reagan administration.

In short, I am procrastinating in grand fashion. And I have been procrastinating for at least three times as long as it would have taken to simply lay out the newsletter.

You know why?

Because I’ve got STUPIDITY.


Earth Day

We celebrated Earth Day in the garden today. We moved the chicken tractor to the east side of the garden and took turns hoeing the west side so I could plant this year’s crops: lots of okra, two kinds of bush beans, Georgia collards, cucumbers, eggplant, asparagus beans, and the rest of the tomatoes. Ron dug postholes for the tomatoes and eggplant.

We found a lot of grubworms in the soil. I am not, as a general rule, terribly fond of grubs, but my appreciation for them is growing as I discover the joy they bring to my hens’ lives. Apparently chickens regard big, fat grubs with the same level of admiration and delight that humans reserve for filet mignon.

Ron found the biggest grub I’ve ever seen today while he was hoeing an area next to the garage. It had to be half an inch wide and at least three times that long. Solitaire — who has lost her youthful shyness and is turning out to be every bit as bossy and assertive as Pushy — grabbed it, but Elektra snatched it right out of her beak and took off with it. A spirited game of “Who’s Got the Worm?” ensued. I’m not sure who finally ate it, but I think Ron’s stock rose dramatically when he offered it to them.

I forgot to wear a hat while I was hoeing next to the beehive. One of the girls got a little too curious, managed to get tangled up in my hair, and stung me on the head before we could free her.

I felt terrible. A honeybee sting is unpleasant for the recipient, but it’s generally fatal to the one who administers it, and I could have protected my little girl from a frightening and ultimately lethal situation if I’d simply remembered to tie back my hair and put on a hat to keep her curiosity from getting her into trouble.

As I wrestled briefly with a sense of guilt (mixed with a tiny bit of fear — that sting hurt!) a line from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, came to thought:

All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible.

Ron removed the stinger for me and suggested I call a practitioner, as he was concerned that the sting’s location might produce a bad reaction.

I was tempted to shrug him off — I’ve never been allergic to honeybees, and I generally balk at calling a practitioner and disrupting whatever he or she happens to be doing on a beautiful Sunday afternoon — but Ron was concerned about my safety, and his concern seemed warranted as a strange sensation crept through my sinuses and into my ears, making my face tingle as if I’d just been given a shot of Novocain.

I called a great practitioner I’d known back in Illinois.

Her response was immediate: “God’s ideas can’t be in conflict with each other,” she said firmly. She reminded me that I couldn’t be punished for doing something good — and it was good for me to work in my garden.

The strange sensation in my sinuses left. I let fear creep back into thought briefly, and one side of my face promptly started to itch. Mrs. Eddy says to handle fear first, so I resisted the temptation to go inside and look in the mirror, opting instead to think about the story from the Bible in which Paul is bitten by a poisonous viper and simply shakes the animal off his hand, completely unharmed.

The itching stopped as quickly as it had started, and I had no further trouble as Ron and I dug and hoed and raked and planted.

I still have nine hot peppers to put in the ground, but it’s a bit early yet for them; I don’t usually plant peppers until May 1. As I was going through my seeds today, I found a bunch of flowers I’d forgotten about, too. I’ll have to figure out where I want to plant them. Hopefully some are shade-tolerant, as I need something pretty for my front flowerbeds.

I’ve got calluses on my palms and the faintest hint of a sunburn (which will soon deepen to a golden tan) on my shoulders. I’ve tucked collards and okra and beans and cucumbers into the soil to warm up and sprout. My hens are cooing contentedly to themselves, their bellies full of sourgrass and grubworms; my bees are foraging happily among the blackberry blossoms; and I’ve had yet another opportunity to experience healing.

It’s been a good day.

Hope you had a good day, too. If you haven’t yet, measure your ecological footprint, and then go do something nice for the environment.