TIME OUT WITH LOIS: Things to put on today along with our shoes

I wore my barn shoes to town. Yes I did. Really, my barn shoes! Which meant at a business appointment, intensive shopping at the grocery store, and lunch out, I was wearing my barn shoes!

Lois Olmstead


Maybe an explanation of “barn shoes” is in order. Many of you who read this are urbanites, city dwellers, so to speak. The name barn shoes is from my childhood on the ranch. Growing up we had two pairs of shoes — our “good” shoes and our barn shoes.

We did chores, played and ran through the creek in our barn shoes.  Woe be us, if we did any of that in our good shoes. I was notorious for forgetting. My mom would be pleased to know the lesson stuck. I now know the difference between good shoes and barn shoes.

Anyone living in the early days of Colstrip would appreciate barn shoes there. We were there before streets. The mud was gumbo. An oft-told family story is of Ross out in the middle of our yard that wasn’t a yard yet screaming for help. He, in his little yellow boots, was stuck in the mud. He could not move. His mommy-me laid boards out to him for the rescue!

You all have a pair of barn shoes. You use them for gardening, fishing or slopping around. And like mine, they are not fit for town. So you will appreciate that when I walked in my back door and looked at my feet, I sat down on the bench by the door and bawled. Yup I did.

Because I knew if He-Who-Took-Long-Steps was still here, he would have said, “Were you planning on wearing those shoes with that outfit?” Never in derision or mocking me. In love and kindness with a grin on his face, because he knew my brain. It was the same when we were doing errands in town. I would be driving merrily along, my mind on who knows what (and they think cell phones are a hazard?). He-Who would say “Weren’t we going to the bank?”

“Oh yeah we were, we are.” I’d laugh, making a U-turn to get to where we planned to go.

All of that brings me to the need to apologize to some of my friends, and some of you I haven’t met personally and to all who live alone. What a learning experience the last 532 days have been since He-Who went to heaven. The length of time does not make it easier.

After 56 years of marriage I got used to asking. “Does this look OK together?” or “Is my hair right in back?” Fastening a necklace or a bracelet with pesky hook only took me one failed attempt and I’d ask for his help.

I mentioned this to my Bible study ladies. Jean said, “I changed all mine to those little magnet catches.” And the subject brought up other tough stuff. “Like cutting your toe nails,” Doris said, “when you need help.”

Not sure if it is appropriate for a public conversation, but oh, how I miss getting my back scratched. Thankfully, I found the little hay rake gadgets that you can stretch out and reach that itchy place. There are so many more everyday life things that have shown me that living alone is not easy. Our conversations are what I miss most. Once again I am reminded of that old adage from my Native Cheyenne  friends about “try walking in another brave’s moccasins before judging him.” Words for all of us and in lots of stuff besides living alone!

Therefore, our Bible verse this week can be 1 Peter 3:8: “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” (NASB version) 

And let’s all put on compassion and “kindness with humor” along with our shoes today. God bless you friends.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Olmstead is an inspirational speaker and author who lives in the Shields Valley. Email her at loiso@wispwest.net or visit www.timeoutwithlois.com.