Snow Shoveling and Hot Fudge Sundaes

I grew up in Sunbury, PA back in the mid sixties early seventies. Just like most kinds, I often did odd jobs to raise a few dollars. I received an allowance, but I wanted to earn more. It is for this reason that I started a paper route. It went well until someone started stealing my customers’ payments from under their front porch rugs. I never did find out who it was. It cut in to my profits enough that I quit the route.

I often shoveled sidewalks in the winter to earn money. It was a lot of fun. I would get bundled up and head out. I had a lot of repeat customers, and usually benefited from word of mouth. I took an ice chopper with me and did a very thorough job. Typically, I earned five dollars per sidewalk. Sometimes I would shovel up to six sidewalks before I quit. It all depended on how frozen I was.

On one occasion I shoveled sidewalks with my brother. When we got done we headed down to Market Street to J.J. Newberry’s. They had a luncheonette which served ice cream. I ordered a hot fudge sundae and my brother ordered a banana split. Strange, you might say. It was winter, blizzard conditions outside, and we were sitting at the counter at Newberry’s eating ice cream. Mom thought we were crazy, but we didn’t mind the cold at all. Well, that is not until we went back outside in clothes wet from snow and sweating from the activity. The damp cold would go right through us. We would walk home after ice cream and change into dry clothes and drink hot chocolate.

My brother and I had a soft spot for animals growing up. We joined the Junior A.S.P.C.A. We would go around the neighborhood looking for animals in distress. We also cleaned up roadkill and gave the critters a proper burial. Dad made us a small placard painted white with strips of red reflector tape. I hooked a wagon to my bicycle and headed out. We called our service the Animal Rescue Squad. When we found a dead animal, we’d stop and put our placard out. I’d put on a pair of gardening gloves and pick up the critter, placing it in the wagon.

We were in the middle of a rescue operation one day near the veterinary office in our block when we saw an elderly lady wandering around calling for her cat. It had jumped from her arms on her way in to the veterinarian. We immediately jumped into action, helping her look for the cat. We found it after twenty minutes and brought it back to her. She was overjoyed. She opened her purse and got out her wallet, offering us a reward. We turned it down, saying we only wanted to help out of our love for animals. She asked for our mailing address so she could send us a thank you card. Five days later we received an envelope with a card in it. Inside was a check for fifty dollars!

Guess what we did to celebrate? Yep. We went to Newberry’s and had ice cream. Our rescue squad adventures were never meant to be a way to earn money. It just worked out in this instance. We wrote a letter to the Junior A.S.P.C.A. describing our rescue of the lady’s cat, and they published a notice in the monthly newsletter. We were beaming with pride. Our rescue efforts had taken on a new meaning. Not only did we remove dead animals from the streets in our neighborhood, we also helped people look for lost pets. To this day, I have a place in my heart for animals.

Dealing With Stuff

I haven’t quite been myself lately. I laugh, but not from the gut. I cry, but not so much that I get lost in it and can’t stop. Eating, now that’s been out of control. I recently lost thirty pounds in six months. Well, seventeen of them came back over the past ninety days. I tend to eat when sad or under stress. A few nights I was binge eating. Everything in sight. Slim Jims, cookies, fudge, Pop Tarts, cheese, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Washed it all down with a soda. Just junk eating.

I am dealing with a lot of stuff. You know, the kind of stuff that makes you ruminate. In fact, ruminating is what made me think of starting this blog. I tend to think a lot. I mean, a lot. I talk about what I’m going to do, make TO DO lists, get my planner out, consult my friends to see where I can rustle up some help. Two heads are always better than one. But some of the stuff I’m dealing with is just between me and God. I can’t even mention it here, because it’s too sensitive. It’s tough stuff, though. Trust me on that. Some of the stuff I’m dealing with brings up other stuff. Sort of like collateral stuff. Just more stuff to worry about. My pastor tells me to turn my stuff over to God. Lighten my burden. Let Him help me. I usually do that. For a moment. Then I find myself taking back my stuff. Like only I can give it the attention it deserves. Silly, though. Because whenever I am jammed up about my stuff, I don’t have time for little things like remembering to pay my car insurance. Or gassing up the car.

Stuff can be very demanding. It wants you to pay strict attention to it. Like it’s saying to me, “So what are you going to do about this?” My typical smart-mouthed answer is, “Nothing right now, so leave me alone.” But man is this stuff ever persistent. And some stuff is just right there in your face. Like this new stuff where I can’t seem to type. I used to be good at it. Fifty-five words a minute with minimal mistakes. Now I am constantly backing up and fixing things. This post is taking me twice as long as it should because of idiotic typos. Missing letters. Wrong letters, Fingers in the wrong position on the keyboard. Slashes instead of periods. Semi-colons instead of the letter l. It’s starting to annoy me.

So stuff can really tend to get in the way. It can become all-consuming. It has the potential to totally throw us off our game. And of course, I worry constantly about looking like an idiot, so I am even more careful when dealing with stuff. I thought at first that being more diligent would help, but it doesn’t. I think the only thing I can to is to slow down and think carefully about every decision, every keystroke, every chess move, every word that comes out of my mouth. Eventually, this stuff will stop happening, and I can get back to being perfect again. Right?