Now brewing: Spanking the Keurig

I asked the pastor’s wife to repeat herself to be sure I had heard correctly. “I was just saying that this morning I spanked the Keurig. I mean I really spanked it. Right over there.” She nodded toward the kitchen sink. “Spanked the mess right out of that thing.”

Coffe makerJust when you think you’ve heard it all, you discover the pastor’s wife is smacking the coffee maker.

Another woman, a woman active in women’s ministries, spoke up and said, “Everyone’s doing it. It’s all over the internet.”

There was a time when church ladies would have said, “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.” Alas, these are the times we live in.

I thought a Keurig was simply a pricey single-serve coffee maker that could brew coffee, tea, cider or hot chocolate from a little pod in under a minute. I had no idea these elite machines required spanking, but they do. The ladies were right, “Spanking the Keurig” is one of the hottest trends in coffee. That said, I wouldn’t advise walking into a Starbucks and asking the barista if she has done any spanking lately.

Keurigs, though wildly popular, have been plagued by recalls, faulty parts and machines that one day simply gurgle and stop brewing a full cup. And now, someone, somewhere, madder than all get out that an expensive coffee maker stopped working, utilized good ol’ American know-how and whacked the machine a good one, only to discover it returned to full power.

This desire to whack something back into working order is common to many of us. Who hasn’t watched the evening news, wishing you could reach through the screen and gently whack a few folks up alongside the head to see if they might not return to full power. But this technique is for coffee makers, not humans. Although I will say I have seen this technique also used on vending machines and CD players with remarkable results.

Message boards are filled with Keurig spanking dos and don’ts—advice on how hard to spank, when to spank and how many times to spank. It’s like reading parenting manuals from the 1950s.

All advise unplugging the coffee maker before turning it upside down before administering the spanking. This is excellent advice if you want to avoid filling out insurance claims stating that your bodily injuries, and the fire in your kitchen, were the result of spanking the coffee maker.

Many message board posters contend that several firm spanks are required, while one poster claimed 16 slaps were necessary. No doubt the suggested number of spanks bears a corollary to the level of caffeine deprivation of the one administering the spanking.

Caffeine or no caffeine, the idea of smacking a machine of any kind back into working order is extremely appealing.

Our coffee maker works fine. My question is, will a spanking work on a weed eater?

Hardware mystery down the drain

The entire family was here recently, 14 in all including six crumb-crunchers under the age of 5. We had a joint birthday party for two of the grands with pink princess cupcakes and chocolate train cupcakes.

Drain plug imageThe day after everyone cleared out, I noticed that the drain stopper was missing from the downstairs bathroom sink. Yes, I could look straight down that pipe into a dark abyss to nowhere. I was certain I hadn’t been able to see down the drain the day before.

The last thing you want to do is accuse your own flesh and blood of stripping hardware from your bathroom, but a drain stopper doesn’t just wash itself down the drain.

Being a matter of a delicate nature, I sent out a carefully worded email saying what a wonderful time we had and asking if anyone had inadvertently tucked a drain stopper in a purse, pocket or suitcase. I even attached a picture of a drain stopper (a round silver disc with a 6-inch plastic prong protruding from beneath) in case there was any doubt as to what the missing part looked like.

Our son responded that he thought his 10-month-old may have eaten it. He said he’d let us know if they found it in the next day or two.

One of our sons-in-law said he ate it to prove his manhood after being ridiculed for eating one of the pink princess cupcakes.

Our youngest daughter responded that she thought she saw it in her husband’s lunchbox that morning, but she could be wrong.

Our oldest daughter replied that she had suspected her sister’s husband all along. He replied that he had been framed.

Our oldest daughter then shook down one of her twins with the following exchange:

Mommy: “Do you know where Grandma’s drain stopper is?”

Three-year-old: “Yah! Let me show you.” (Heads to the bathroom.)

Mommy: “No, not ours, where is Grandma’s? Did you take it?”

Three-year-old: (Hands on chin, lots of gestures.) “I think she took it.” (Points to 18-month-old baby sister). “She’s a naughty kid.”

Naturally, the 18-month-old defended herself saying, “bububbubnananabub lalala!”

The next day an email arrived from our daughter-in-law. “Guess what I found in my laundry this morning? I thought the dryer was loud last night.”

Our perp was short, but adept at lugging a step stool. He has a known history of building and disassembling, is mechanically inclined, determined and just turned 3.

He’d been my primary person of interest all along. Someone suggested we put one of those forward facing video cameras on him for a day just to see what he does in the course of 24 hours.

It’s always good to know a child’s interests and talents. We have a valve that occasionally drips under the kitchen sink. I may have him take a look at it the next time he’s here. And I’ll pat him down before he leaves.

Easter is the ultimate spring cleaning

We have a near obsession with clean, myself included.

I love clean windows, but they rarely are.

I enjoy a clean kitchen, but it’s a continual battle.

I love clean sheets and fresh towels, especially if someone else ran them through the washer and dryer.

My bent toward clean was groomed by parents who were children of the Depression. “Being poor is no excuse for being dirty. Soap is cheap.”

Our regard for clean even permeates our language: a clean sweep, a fresh start, clean as a whistle.

As much as we like clean, it never seems to last. The sink is full of pots and pans again, the laundry has piled up and I’m tempted to write “Wash Me” in the dirt on my own car. Once again, the mess triumphs.

When we don’t have the energy, inclination or resources to address the mess, we work to conceal it. We close the door, pile the clutter higher or toss something in the back of a closet, telling ourselves we’ll get to it later. And it builds and builds and builds.

Our interpersonal messes are capable of fueling palpable anxiety, anger, depression and worse. These are the messes beyond the power of a closet organization system or household cleaners. Lady Macbeth, complicit in murder, famously rubbed her hand, crying, “Out damned spot. Out I say.” Not even a Magic Eraser could touch that.

Messes are the nagging reminders that we fall short, that we could have done better. Messes are the embarrassing signposts that we’re not as great as others think we are— we’re not even half as good as we think we are.

My mess affects your mess, your mess affects mine, and it seems the very Earth we live on demands that we address the issue of the mess. The snow melts, the ground thaws, the trees bud, that first nice Saturday arrives and we’re flocking to the hardware stores, tackling that home fix-it project or looking over the violas and pansies. We need a touch of fresh.

Spring explodes with the promise of fresh. For Christians, this is especially true. Spring arrives with Holy Week in tow, commemorating the triumphant entry of Christ, his betrayal, death and resurrection. In mess terminology, the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday was the ultimate trash day.

At the foot of that cross lay our every mess. It was a virtual dumping ground of self-centeredness, secret sins, devious desires, brutal ambition, violence, lies, haughtiness, quiet callousness and outright hatred. He bore the penalty of our mess as though it were his own.

This Easter, Christians worldwide will celebrate that Christ paid the price for our garbage and rose victorious over sin and death. We celebrate an undeserved cleaning of the deepest dirt and grime completely washed away. Our mess has been replaced by God’s offer of all things new: new hearts, new lives, new beginnings.

Easter morning? Hope beyond the mess, the ultimate clean sweep.

The parade you don’t want to miss

It was a last-minute deal. I left dirty dishes in the sink, grabbed two flags from the garage and met the husband mid-town. I parked my car at a Chili’s (thanks Chili’s), hopped in his car and we zipped to the airport.

ParadeAll week long an Indianapolis radio station had been inviting the public to greet World War II veterans returning from an Honor Flight to visit their memorial in Washington, D.C.

By the time we arrived a good-size crowd had gathered, lining ropes marking off a pathway from B Concourse into the main terminal. A bagpipe ensemble milled about and 20-somethings in vintage 1940s clothing lingered by the escalator.

There were families with kids, grandkids and great-grandkids holding signs that said, “Welcome Back, Raymond” and “We’re proud of you Pa.”

As the crowd grew, so did the wait. The elderly took refuge in chairs; children plopped on the ground. A volunteer occasionally strolled by with updates. “They’ve landed.” “They’re taking bathroom breaks.” “Be patient; they’re older than you are.”

Finally, the bagpipes sounded, the drums echoed and the parade into the terminal began.

Each veteran was accompanied by a family member holding a large poster with the veteran’s name, rank, duty and theater of service beneath a huge picture of the soldier in uniform years ago. The photographs were of young men fresh-faced, clean-scrubbed, thick hair, wry smiles, still in their late teens.

They’d sure been lookers in their time.

“How much for that movie star poster of you as a soldier, sir?”

“It’d be pretty expensive. Don’t think you could afford it!”

Each of the male vets had a set of red lip prints on their cheek. It must have been some welcome as they deplaned.

Fathers hoisted little ones to their shoulders for a better view. “Look!” a dad shouted to his kids. “That soldier was a Flying Tiger.”

There was a Tuskegee Airman, a veteran from the Battle of the Bulge, a veteran who had fought in the Philippines, a woman who served in the European theater, a man who survived D-Day and a man who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Many of them are in their 90s now, a number of them in wheelchairs; yet many still have the handshake. It was my father’s handshake, the grip that threatened to crush every bone in your hand, a reminder that he was strong and that he had served.

A friend says every time someone dies, they take an entire library with them. A great library of history was passing before us, page after page, face after face, ordinary men and women who forged history.

“I can’t believe this,” the veterans said, one after another, eyes glistening. When the last vet passed by, we left the parade route thinking we had been at the mid-way point. We’d actually been close to the front. People had lined the pathway 10 and 15-deep through the airport terminal, past the food vendors, beyond the information desk, the ticket counters and all the way to the main doors. Thousands found a way to pay tribute to American greatness.

If there’s an Honor Flight returning near you, go to the airport. As Will Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.”