Here I am again! If I look different than I did, it’s because I’m riled. Old fashioned down-on-the farm, mean as a goat, strong as a bull R-I-L-E-D!

It’s pretty easy to see that I’m wearing my game face and that I’m in this competition to win. Seriously.

Here is something that I think will puzzle you; maybe even shock you. The other competitor is me!

That’s why am wearing this orange outfit—it gives me the prisoner look, feel, and mood that I had when I gave you my first two reports. I admitted then that I was quite dissatisfied. Now I am going to fix it.

The fixing that needs to take place is not about Gentle Jail but is about Maude Louise Heffe Smith. Maudie has a bad attitude. Not morally bad, but unrealistic. Dysfunctional, to be fancy. This magnifies little problems into big problems and even causes me to see problems where there are none. I was proud of my attitudes but it turns out they were gravel inside my shoes. Owee!

It started with a kerfuffle with an officious little gent, one Dr. Bradford Thorne, sort of a mystery man because no one seemed to know what he is a doctor of, or if he even is. Or was. This morning he introduced himself to me for the umpteenth time, his beady dark eyes just barely peering out from under bushy white eyebrows. All that hair and not a bit on his head! Are there bald gnomes?

He said, “You look a little morose, Miss Maudie. Let’s work on a jigsaw puzzle together.” Now, I’m not up to date on these things, but if that is a workable pick up line, then I’m Marilyn Monroe. I considered screaming “Rape!” just to see what would happen, but instead, because indeed I was morose, I replied in an icy Bette Davis voice, “Down boy. This cute puppy is going to her kennel.”

When I got to my room I laid down to fume it off. It didn’t work. Instead of release into the familiar territory of weeping self-pity I got riled. And of all persons to get riled at, it was me! Huh? I asked myself the silly question of what I did wrong and thought about that for a long time. I prayed about it. Then, God told me—no one else would have had the nerve—that what was wrong in my life was that I thought I could do no wrong. Arrogant; better than the rest.

That was a revelation! I hated the thought but I knew it was true. It “rang true,” with a sound that I knew was the real thing, like it or not. That I didn’t like it but couldn’t shake it off added confidence, and that it came suddenly during prayer didn’t hurt, either. Its implication was huge! In a word, change. Quit being the way I thought Dr. Thorne thought of himself. Et cetera.

Talk about not liking something! Walt Kelly, creator of the Pogo comic strip wrote in 1953 that, “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.” I had to apply that to me. I am faced with the task of changing habits that are I don’t know how old. Familiar habits. I am starting to work on it.

I’ve got my game face on.

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