Friday, April 30, 2010

"Last night, I laid the penguin down..." [& other words of interest]

I got up this morning, proud possessor of my first pipe, purchased to keep my membership in the Brotherhood of the Briar [see blog at right] and perhaps to expand my horizons by learning the fine art of pipe-smoking. Ralph Walker, he-who-must-not-catch-on-fire, got it for me for a steal: $10. It's a good starter pipe and is just intriguing enough visually to please my eye.

It had been a lovely evening wandering through the hotel rooms of the Pipe Expo sellers, and I was treated to a ride home by Drs. Jerry Root and Chris Mitchell, two of the big-time theologians of Wheaton College. Gentlemen both and as genuine as you can get.

It'd also been a blustery night with small twigs and branches in evidence everywhere. I told Chris how much I appreciated his reference to wind and leaves as a hint of the 'deep magic' [or intangible joy] of our world in the documentary he was a part of: The Magic Never Ends: The Life of C. S. Lewis. He noted it was Spring, not Fall but I countered 'It is much the same. The leaves, the wind...' He kindly chose not to disagree.

I got in ravenous, and promptly made myself two eggs, two slices of bacon along with some leftover broiled salmon for a high-protein late night meal. Then I went to bed, my day full and very satisfactory!

Rising this morning, I was getting my coffee when my landlady - dear Nancy - said to me, "Last night, I laid the penguin down."

I stood there for a long second, trying to fathom what this statement meant.

I had just handled some of the most exotic pipes in the world, listened to Italian sellers in their hotel room, been intrigued with the various brands of tobacco and subtleties of flavor and heard a brief discourse between two fine Biblical scholars on the wise men of Persia perhaps being led to the Christ child by way of Daniel and his prophesying under King Nebuchadnezzar.

I turned to face my dear landlady that I care for. "Excuse me?"

"Last night I laid the penguin down. I thought you might want to know."

Now I had not considered laying a penguin down as something I needed to know, but certainly I did not wish to contradict her - especially before my first cup of coffee.

"Why would I want to know that?" I asked, trying to be as inquisitively humble as possible.

"Because you might see it laying down and not know why it was there!"

Well, that had some logic. Such an event could occur - if I knew what penguin I was looking for.

"Which penguin, Nancy?" I thought I should test these waters. You must understand, dealing with a stroke victim, no matter how recovered, and a woman, and a blonde at that with more energy for action than for pondering slowly, has its upsides and downsides. You MUST NOT act patronizingly, but patiently walk through the scenario as presented. I hoped, as I always do, to reconfigure the information into a more logical structure if I could get my hands on it. If.

"The one in the garden! I thought you might see it laying down and think the wind did it!"

I looked out the kitchen window. Sure enough, one of our bird displays was laying down, not in its normal position at all. Only one problem: it was not a penguin. It was a flamingo.

"You mean the flamingo?" I asked cautiously.

"Yes - the flamingo - I couldn't remember what it was called," she said sheepishly.

That was perfectly understandable. How many times do you say flamingo a day on average? I bet almost never. Especially in Chicagoland.

"So last night," I said slowly, "you laid the flamingo down."


"Because of the wind."


I sipped my coffee judiciously, weighing this new information. "That was good," I opined.

The overt seriousness I gave this penguin nee flamingo shown in my face and the cautious way in which I kept approaching it finally got to her.

She started to giggle. Since I had just placed her breakfast in front of her, this was a bad idea.

As she took a bite, I said "So - last night you laid the penguin down."

She stopped mid-bite, a grin going from ear to ear. "Stop! I'll mess up my makeup!"

I sipped my coffee. "I didn't know you laid so many penguins down while I was gone..."


I had mercy. I stopped.

But an hour later as I dropped her off at work, as per normal routine, I couldn't help but sing...

"Layyyy down Pen-guin - let me take you in my arms..." [sung to the tune of 'Lay Down Sally', of course]

Nancy grinned again as entered the back door to the building.

It is a beautiful day again today in Wheaton, in Chicagoland.

God is good to us all. Keep your humor and keep the faith.


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