Free for Imperfect Parents and Spouses.

Attention all imperfect parents and spouses! Don’t miss your chance to download my just-short-of-world-famous Ebook for FREE! Single Family Asylum is now free to download on several platforms below. Unfortunately, Amazon will not allow me to offer it for free, so you can get the book nearly anywhere except from Amazon. Amazon sucks.

If you find the stories entertaining, leave a review on whichever site you downloaded it from! If you hated the book . . . . ummm . . . just forget you read it.

Stories from the book have been featured here on my blog, as well as on many other sites such as Mamalode, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Sweatpants and Coffee, and Parent Co.

Get the book on your phone from either the iBook’s app for Apple, or from Google Play Books on Android by searching on the title. You can also download from these sites:

Nook/Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/single-family-asylum-jon-ziegler/1123454991?ean=2940155078418

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764903

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/single-family-asylum

For those of you who enjoyed the book so intensely that you feel compelled to pay something for it, instead of paying me, make a donation to Compassionate Life Foundation!

My wife recently took over as Executive Director of The Compassionate Life Foundation. CLF is a small non-profit that provides funding for the El Shaddai Orphanage and CLF Student Center in Swaziland, Africa. The CLF Directors and board members are 100% volunteer, so no one here in the U.S. is getting any part of donations received. We do pay some Swazi employees at the Orphanage and the care center, but their monthly income is less than most fast food workers make in a week. If you are like me, you have always wondered how much of your donated money actually makes it to the people you are trying to help. I can tell you first hand that other than money spent on office supplies and what is spent on fundraisers, all CLF donations go towards food, tuition, uniforms, maintenance on the orphanage and paying Swazi staff.

Interested? Go here: https://james127.org/

Domestic Inanimate Object Abuse.

I’m an abuser . . . . I have anger issues. I can’t stop the fury from welling up inside when I perceive that I’m being purposely messed with, and that’s when I lash out violently.

Who do I abuse?  . . . Oh, no no, I need to explain myself better. I don’t abuse people. I would never harm another sole, most especially the ones I love. It is things I am talking about . . . I abuse objects. Objects such as a lawn mower that won’t start.

For some reason, I imagine that the lawn mower has decided not to start simply to taunt me and make my life difficult. It laughs at my grunting and sweating as I repeatedly pull the chord for five solid minutes . . . . stopping only to swear and catch my breath. I mean, I know that the lawn mower doesn’t really have the ability to decide to make me angry or laugh at me . . . . At least when I actually stop and think about it.

But when objects like said lawn mower decide that they are indeed going to act unruly, I can tend to go into a rage, or become spiteful. I want to make the weed wacker feel regret for its disobedience so I punish it by beating it to death with a golf club. Sometimes I laugh and sing lawn mower beating songs while I pummel it into oblivion.

When I load the dish washer, there are always those one or two pans that won’t fit into the dishwasher and require that I wash them by hand. It makes me mad. I’m not sure if I’m mad at the pans for being too big, or at the dishwasher for being too small. In any case, it’s the pans that receive the punishment.

But unlike the lawn mower, I choose to punish the pans with mental cruelty by humiliating them. I let them sit on the counter naked and unwashed for days . . . . Even weeks. . . . . Stewing in their own filth . . . . A spectacle for all other items in the kitchen to see. Sometimes while I’m emptying the dishwasher, I parade the clean dishes slowly by the oversized large pans and let the clean dishes ridicule them to add to their shame.

The worst offender is the computer. I know it hates me and I hate it. It likes to pick a certain key on the keyboard and designate it the “erase the story you’ve been working on for two hours” key. And apparently it chooses a different key to perform that function every day, because I can’t for the life of me figure out what I touched to erase my story.

It likes to freeze up in the middle of my moments of feverish inspiration. It infuriates me. I bang on top of the tower. I violently run the mouse across the top of the computer desk. I attack the keyboard with all ten fingers typing rapidly and randomly.

The computer strikes back in its own time by remembering all the keys that I hit during my tantrum and executing them all simultaneously causing a huge computer mess.

But I have the last laugh. I grab the computers power chord and yank it from the socket with a loud, “HAAA”. I just know that this must cause the computer pain. Even my computer genius friend has told me that it’s not good for them to do that.

Maybe I need counseling. Maybe I need medication. At least I’m willing to admit that I’m partly responsible for this dysfunction. However, I’m expecting that all of the objects in this house will step up and admit to their contribution to the problem if we are to make any positive changes in our relationships.

Adjusting to My Life of Privilege.

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I could see it on some of the faces I met. It was that look of bewilderment or possibly even a mild disgust. The look conveyed an inability to understand my life of extravagance. It was a look that I knew all too well. . . . not from seeing it . . it was a look I had worn myself at times.

I’m not a rich person, not here in America. My income is well short of breaking into six digits. I’m like everyone else I know who looks at the Bill Gates of the world and can’t understand why anyone would need to accumulate that much wealth. I can reason that Bill Gates has earned his money and does, in fact, give away vast amounts of it. But despite my best efforts, I catch myself in moments of resentment over him having it. Sometimes I catch myself complaining that I don’t have enough. Now, as I stood in Swaziland, Africa, I found myself being viewed with that same look of not understanding my wealth . . . I had suddenly become Bill Gates.

I own seven pairs of shoes. There are two pairs of sneakers (One normal and one pair of Chuck Taylor’s), work boots, a pair of hiking boots, my funeral/wedding shiny shoes, my winter boots, and a pair of flip flops. I don’t think my shoe owning is excessive. By many people’s standards here in the US, my shoe collection is quite modest. Bill Gates probably owns a hundred pairs of shoes. Now I found myself standing before people who owned a single pair of shoes that left their toes visible through holes worn from years of use . . . or people who owned no shoes at all.

My house is small and crappy. We barely have places to keep all our stuff. Yet, when I compared my house to the one I was invited into in Manzini, my house seemed like a palace. I had running water in my house, and a flushing toilet, heat, air conditioning, kitchen appliances. I realized that I had been taking mundane things like carpet, socks, paper towel and my seven pairs of shoes for granted. Most people here have none of these luxuries.

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Houses here in Swaziland are simple concrete or block structures, often without windows . . . unless you are visiting a shanty town, and then they are made of garbage. Most don’t have running water, or electricity. Many don’t have a stove to cook on.

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As Americans, we’ve all said, or nodded in agreement, how fortunate we are to live where we live and have what we have. For me, I don’t think I really knew what that meant until I was in Africa. I was now looking at what these statements really mean, with my own eyes. I now had a new definition for the term “life of privilege”.

I’m not going to tell anyone they should change their opinions on the Bill Gates of the world. Like I’ve said, I’ve had those thoughts myself at times. What I am saying is that we should at least be consistent with our opinions of wealthy people. If you want to hold contempt for someone who owns a hundred pair of shoes instead of seven, please feel free, but don’t turn around and take offense to someone with no shoes finding the same lack of understanding for someone who owns seven pairs. If I’m going to suggest that there is something wrong with Mr. Gates net worth, I have to accept that through the eyes of others, there is something wrong with mine. I might not be a billionaire, but there are plenty of places in the world where I can go to be considered filthy rich.

 

. . . . .

Compassionate Life Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides funding for the El Shaddai Orphanage, and CLF student center in Swaziland.

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Dishes that are Full Bodied and Easy to Manage.

Out of dishwasher soap, and the store is a seven minute winter drive in a car that won’t even heat to above freezing in that amount of time . . . so don’t even give me the “just go buy more.”

My only option is trying to figure out the best alternative . . .

Gas? . . . No.

Bleach? . . . Maybe.

Shampoo? . . . It can’t be poison, or you wouldn’t scrub it into your brain coverings. It says it has vitamins . . . Vitamins are good. Plus, if it does the same thing to dishes as it does to hair, my dishes will be intensely moisturized and easier to manage.

Just have to be very careful on the amount used so I don’t repeat the “liquid hand-washing dish soap volcanic eruption of ’09”.

Pasta Hoarding.

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In our house, there is a delicate balance between not having enough pasta, and having way too much pasta.
 
I’m not a list maker . . . Sort of a maverick when it comes to shopping. . . So at the grocery store, while staring at the rows of pasta, I try to remember if I was last angry because we didn’t have enough of the right kind of pasta, or angry because the supply of pasta was enough for the whole county.
 
When in doubt, buy pasta . . . Although it can lead to a cupboard that looks like this.

Same Old Blog with an Added Feature.

Fear not my friends. I shall continue to bring you all of the silly stories you have come to expect from this silly blog. But, I will be adding a new aspect to some of my posting . . . Let me explain.

My wife told me many years ago, when we first began dating, that she was going to be a doctor, and that she was going to go to Africa to help children.

After we were married, and then children arrived, this dream of hers seemed to slowly move into the background. Raising two daughters (and a childish husband) required all of her time for several years.

As our daughters grew more independent, Cynthia was able to battle her way through nursing school . . . Not quite a doctor, but certainly a step towards part of her plan. Still, Africa seemed to be nowhere on the horizon.

Fast forward a few more years, and an opportunity arose for her to go on a mission trip to Swaziland, Africa. I was delighted that her dream, although seemingly on a minor scale, would be realized. Little did I know, that mission trip was just the tip of the iceberg.

A while after returning from the mission trip, the directors of the Compassionate Life Foundation, through which she went on the trip, informed her that they intended to step down, and asked if she would take over as executive director.

*Jaw hits floor*

Cynthia accepted and, to make a long story short, is why I am now killing time in the Johannesburg Airport, waiting to board my flight back to the U.S.

It has been an incredible, frustrating, rewarding, awesome journey.

Compassionate Life is a small foundation that provides the primary funding for the El Shaddai Orphanage in Swaziland, and the CLF care center in the city of Manzini, Swaziland.

There is so much to say, too much for one post, but I will share a a bit of my first experience in Swaziland with you as I sit in the airport waiting to depart Africa.

Africa is amazing. It’s like a different planet when you have spent your whole life in U.S.

The trees are foreign. The animals are foreign. The social customs are foreign.

There is fear:

Will that bug bite me causing a prolonged and excruciating death?

Do Wildebeests eat humans? And do they have the ability to get through the locked car door from which I am viewing them?

Will I do something to offend the people I meet?

If I smile and nod at someone who said something I didn’t understand, will I end up married to one of their daughters? (There are no limits to the ridiculous levels fear can take you)

After spending ten days in Swaziland, I now have some of the answers to these questions.

Our first days were spent at the orphanage located up in the mountains. I don’t know how anyone could spend time there without falling in love with the children. Most have lost parents to AIDS, some were abandoned, and others have stories unknown to us. When you hear some of these horrific stories, and then see the smiling faces that are a result of living at the orphanage, it changes you.

They love to have their picture taken, and indicate so by yelling, “Shoot, shoot” (a picture). When you ask them their name, they like to give you the name of one of the other children . . . . A sport that they find hysterical, and makes it impossible to learn their already hard to pronounce names.

The second part of our time was spent in Manzini at a center (which makes you think of some large community center building, but is a small concrete structure smaller than most houses here in the states. This center provides tuition, food and tutoring for students in the local neighborhood, and for some of the top students, will also provide money for college or trade school.

Again, there is far too much to say in just one post. I could write an entire post alone on learning to drive on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, in the busy city of Manzini, where cars, people, cows and goats are going in every direction. I’m quite sure that the expletive took several years off of my life.

Or I could write an entire post on the Swazi people, who are quite peaceful, and mild mannered.

But I will just stop here with saying that it was the experience of a lifetime. And with Cynthia now acting as director of the foundation, this will likely be just the first visit of many.

Oh, I almost forgot,

The large, scary insect was a Dung Beetle, and quite harmless . . . Unless you are a hoarder of poop . . . In which case, you may suffer losses.

Wildebeests on the game preserve we were at seem rather uninterested in eating humans.

You can certainly offend people unintentionally, but I found most times, someone will politely let you know before you have gotten too far.

I am not aware of gaining any new wives during my visit.