Southern Man is a member of a couple of consumer panel groups. They send him surveys; Southern Man dutifully fills them out and returns them. Sometimes these surveys contain a buck or two, or a sweepstakes entry, or something like that. Today's survey was about toilet paper.
Now, Southern Man has a fairly simple TP policy. About once a year, he buys a case of whatever's cheapest at the local warehouse club. He then distributes the rolls among the cabinets in Casa Southern Man's three bathrooms. Whenever a child yells "Dad, I'm out of toilet paper" he yells back "look in the cabinet!" Problem solved. The consumer panel will not be so easily satisfied. This survey was eighteen pages long. Eighteen pages. This survey had 164 numbered questions, most with multiple parts, and most requiring that Southern Man answer for each of twenty-eight named brands of toilet paper and / or the fifteen different types of locations at which toilet paper could be purchased. Southern Man didn't even know there were twenty-eight different brands of toilet paper. But now he does. Did you know that Charmin (you know, the stuff you aren't supposed to squeeze) has six distinct lines of toilet paper? The mind reels.Let Southern Man give some examples of what Charmin (we presume that Charmin and others commissioned this survey) wish to know about Southern Man's attitudes about toilet paper."This brand acts in my best interests."Well, Southern Man's interest is pretty much limited to one thing when it comes to toilet paper."This brand doesn't let me down."One hopes not. But you can always take twice as much and fold it over if it does."I like to seek out others who use this brand."One can only imagine how this could be accomplished. Well, you can. Southern Man would rather not.So Southern Man wasn't as dutiful as he usually is on this one. Vast swathes of the survey remained unmarked by Southern Man's pen. But he did answer many of the questions ("Do you enjoy taking chances by purchasing new products?") and will even mail it back in the handy postage-paid envelope provided for that purpose. And he kept the enclosed buck, glad to do his part to aid corporate America in their quest to provide superior toilet paper.
Every now and then Southern Man's former church has a "children's service" in which the aforementioned children play a major role in the worship service. Today was that day, so Southern Man slipped into a back pew to watch his precious eight-year-old daughter who had a speaking part (at a mike!) and also sang in the children's choir (which performed, among other songs, a charming take-off on the old Police hit Every Breath You Take) and played in the handbell choir. It was a nice service and she did very well. And then she dashed back to sit with Southern Man for the sermon, which was very sweet of her. And then Southern Man's ex invited him to lunch, so we and the two girls went to a local BBQ place and had a most pleasant meal together - the first since our separation nearly two years ago. Fifteen-year-old daughter is about to embark on a mission trip to Africa and much of the discussion was on what she should take and the issues of currency conversions and such.
And after that delicious BBQ dinner Southern Man went home and made the mistake of lying down in bed "for a few minutes" and just like that it was three hours later. Also very nice - Southern Man should nap more often. Then he went out to The Land and did a few things - not much - and came back home to piddle about some more. In short, a most relaxing and leisurely day. Every Sunday should be such a day of rest. Lord, thank You for giving us the seventh day to rest from our labors. Amen.
Oh brother, that was a short "vacation." Now Southern Man is back to work at both his home institution (a course in logic) and a local community college (first-semester college physics) for the eight-week summer term. And week after next is the first installment of a two-week (one in June, one in July) teacher workshop that Southern Man somehow got involved with. That means Southern Man has been in the office most of the day for the last few days making sure everything is ready to go. But most of the teaching is late afternoon and evening, so hopefully he will be able to spend some mornings out at The Land.And even though it's only the second day of the session Southern Man is going to torment both of his classes with quizzes. Southern Man loves to give quizzes. It encourages the students to get to class on time, forces them to review the previous day's material and actually do the reading for that evening, and gives them examples of the sorts of questions Southern Man likes to put on the exams. So off we go...
'Twas a nice relaxed Sunday morning as precious eight-going-on-nine-year-old daughter was fairly red from a long and fun day at the water park yesterday and precious fifteen-year-old daughter was perfectly content to sleep in, so instead of returning the girls to their mother in the morning as usual older daughter slept and younger daughter cuddled up with Southern Man for a morning of in-bed snacks and Noxema rubdowns and movies - all three Indiana Jones flicks. The earlier review of Indiana Jones IV was perhaps too harsh on Temple of Doom; it's better than I remembered it to be. We had a grand morning that went by all too quickly before their mother arrived to take them away. Then Southern Man put in a good afternoon and evening's work out at The Land before receiving a last-minute request to pick up his Dad at the train station downtown and take him home.
The quiet and solitude at The Land gives Southern Man plenty of time to reflect on his troubles and his blessings. The former, such as they are, are dealing with his troubled teen son, continued turmoil at work, and two vehicle payments after years of none at all. His blessings, on the other hand, are too many to count:
Southern Man sees a silver lining in every cloud. And he is blessed in so many other ways. He has three wonderful children and even though the girls live with their mom they're close at hand and Southern Man sees them far more often than the usual every other weekend. He's getting along fine with his ex. Both of his parents are living and in great health. His two siblings, who also live nearby, are doing well. He's slowly but surely making new friends and for the first time in a long time is having something of a social life. He's still able to sock away the legal maximum into his retirement account (and that's a powerful safety net there should he ever need it). With three teaching jobs this summer his income should exceed expenses by a wide margin and the somewhat depleted savings accounts should be restored by fall (and even three jobs isn't as bad as it sounds; it's Monday through Thursday, so three-day weekends all summer!) He's making slow but steady progress out at The Land. His post-divorce emotional health continues to improve. His spiritual life is as strong and as active as ever. Life is really, really good. Gracious Lord, thank you for the many ways in which You've blessed me and those around me. So often we dwell on our troubles and forget to count the riches with which You've endowed us. I pray, Oh Lord, that I will always be thankful for all that I have and be ever willing to share it with others as best as I can. Amen.
- Sure, dealing with the son is often hard, but Southern Man loves him so and he's such a cool young man in so many ways;
- Sure, there are lots of problems at work, but Southern Man is still gainfully employed and is fairly employable if things don't work out there;
- Sure, finances will be tighter with two vehicle payments and increased insurance, but there are two new vehicles in the driveway to play with and one of them gets 30 MPG.