Monday, July 16, 2012

Grumble, Bang, Brrrr, Smile

Sweeping the dust bunnies and pine needles out of the old indoor-outdoor carpet, I felt myself growing frustrated that we had rented a cabin for the 4th of July when we really didn't have the money.  The cabin assigned to us, I grumbled to myself, was filthy and old.  It was too close to dirt bikes, atv's and souped up pickups revving past on the main road.  The public access boat and fireworks launch area was only a stone's throw away from the kitchen and bedroom windows.  "Forget about sleep," I told myself, miffed.

Sneezing in clouds of broom dust, despite the deep aroma of the sun-warmed wood walls next to the fragrant towering pines outside, I barked at my husband as he unloaded the Suburban.  My son ran from room to room, claiming each one as he encountered it, thundering up and down the A-frame stairs and running through the dirt I was trying to isolate.  Cobwebs clung to the rafters, the mineral-stained toilet leaked and the kitchen faucet didn't turn off completely.  None of the beds in any of the rooms was big enough for my husband and me to sleep together, so we would each have our own rooms.  As if that wasn't enough, it was cold on a July day!

The camp manager is a personal friend of mine whom I have known since my middle childhood.  He generally wants the very best for me.  Looking around, however, I could see absolutely nothing redeemable about this place so close to the road when there were quieter cabins deeper in the woods.  He had teased me that my accommodations might be as rustic as those we have experienced together in the rural areas of Guatemala, but I took it in stride, knowing it couldn't be that bad.

It didn't help that my husband was brooding over something wrong with the Suburban's radiator and worrying that we wouldn't make the two hour trip home without a tow.  We were a pair, alright, while our son was giddy with adventure and begging to light fireworks a day early.

Eventually, the place was more presentable, our sleeping quarters established and our groceries cooling in the roaring refrigerator.  We closed it up and went down the road after our son on his bike to have a barbeque with my parents at their summer trailer.  They seemed heated up about how many burgers to fry and how quickly the meal should come together, too, so I was gladdened when I heard my son exclaiming over smoke bombs and noisemakers and the fun of lighting them himself (under his grandfather's supervision, of course).  After all, we purposefully came to visit from Sweden so we could enjoy celebrating our beloved country's independence day!

After dinner and more small fireworks, we threw the bike in the back of the rig and drove up the mountain maybe a mile to watch an early display of professional fireworks over the lake.  We had never viewed them from this vantage point, so we enjoyed the anticipation until the engine began to overheat again.  Fortunately, we were soon parked and forgetting all about our troubles as we watched the sparkling reds, whites and blues stringing through the sky, reflected in the water below.  To my great relief, the show only lasted about twenty minutes, that spot shared with only a few other people--just perfect for a tired, grumpy ol' gal.

Back at the cabin, we wriggled into our sleeping bags, mine a leftover from someones childhood and not wide enough to go completely around me, hoping for warmth and sleep, even as the sound of illegal fireworks felt like cannon balls coming through the slanted roof close over our beds. I shivered, cringed and jumped like a frightened dog for hours before I finally fell asleep.

Five hours later, in the alarming stillness of morning, I could sleep no more.  I slipped reluctantly out of bed and padded to the sliding glass windows, overlooking the main road and, in the distance, the lake.  There before my eyes the tall pines silhouetted against a deep pink sky.  The lake shimmered like roses and diamonds.

Then I knew exactly why my friend had put us in this cabin.  I felt a smile of gratefulness and a bit of shame.  Too bad it had taken me so long to find the gems among the seeming discomforts!  I watched the beauty fade into an indecipherable pinkish white before crawling back into my sleeping bag and falling soundly back to sleep.  When I awoke, my husband was already making a hearty breakfast and my son was reading comic books on the couch.

The 4th of July was going to be a good day, no matter what else happened, because God had shown me the veil of His Glory, the kindness of my friend, the goodness of my husband and the peacefulness of a reading boy on a couch.  Let the freedom of thankfulness, even in the midst of difficulty and discomfort, ring! 

That night before going to bed after a great day with family at my folks' place, the celebration of fireworks in the public access area across the road was loud enough to make the cabin feel like it was dancing on its joists and ready to split at the seems.  Before crawling into the sleeping bag, I rested my arms and head in the kitchen window and watched the people play, drawing the sparklers in the darkness, filling the air with light and sulfur.  Sometimes I plugged my ears.  But the view of the people's fireworks was terrific!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bemusement of the Day

Today I decided to get 50 Swedish kronor worth of change (mynt) for use in the parking meters around Malmo.  Sure, I could use SMS instead of change, but not all of the parking meters are so updated. 

I was rather amused when the cashier told me, "Be patient.  This could take some time."  I was bemused until I watched the process.

Apparently the old push-button-to-pop-out-cashier-drawer trick for getting change is defunct.  She had to slip my 50 kronor bill in an automatic bill-receiver, then punch a few buttons on the computer (forget cash register!), until a 10 kronor piece swirled out of the stainless steel apparatus.  Then, she had to put the 10 kronor back into the change sorter, punch a few more buttons, wave her hand over two little sensors so three 10 kronor pieces swirled into the tray.  What was worse was that I also wanted some 5 kronor pieces, which took on more of the same but with a lot more hand-waving magic over the sensors and a much longer wait for four pieces. 

It took 2 minutes to ring up and pay for the items I purchased.  It took about 10 minutes to get change. 

The man who wanted to buy a loaf of bread behind me was nearly beside himself with that feigned patience of Swedes. 

Won't be long, now, before everyone will fairly run to have those marks placed on their foreheads and hands.  It will be so much more CONVENIENT!