Sunday, March 29, 2009

beauty in ordinary thin-gs

Just outside

my front door.


Fortunate, I am.

Timely gratefuls

126. Fewer work hours for the foreseeable future.

127. Two more days a week to work at home.

128. New friends.

129. Newish friends.

130. Old friends.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

like a box of chocolates

Maybe you'll get something with a caramel center, or maybe I'll get something wonderful disguised as a jelly filled.

Maybe I will learn to love jelly filled.

On this rare day that where I feel generous, maybe there is no one out there who wants have any of this. What I am often so unwilling to share.

Maybe it's all just a moldy truffle...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Maybe we'll just get fat sitting here together, pigging out on a deeply discounted box of leftover Valentine's heart shaped Bliss when we ought to have been doing something PRODUCTIVE.

My mom was the best gift giver I have ever met. She had a knack for knowing just what someone would love. She shopped bargains, she loved "Rummaging" with her best friend Dorothy, and she never missed an opportunity to give. My girls were still wearing things she had bought them four years after she died.

There was only one gift she asked for, and she asked for it every Christmas. She also got what she wanted every Christmas. A box of Brach's chocolate covered cherries. My dad brought them home and they were wrapped lovingly and put under the tree.

Every year.

Then I ate them.

I can't remember if my brother or sister snitched her candy, but I sure did. I would bite a small hole in the bottom, suck all the ooey-gooey-sugary-creamy stuff out, let the chocolate shell melt in my mouth, and then finish off the cherry from the middle with a smack and a farewell lick of the fingers.

Then I would have another, because the last one was so good. I left her the last five. Or two.

Or one.

Years ago, after Steve and I were married, my mom rode a Greyhound bus hundreds of miles to visit us. It was the only extended visit that I can remember in which my mom did not get worried about the weather or something equally as unpredictable and leave early. One day, we went to a Fine Chocolate Shop and splurged on some divine looking truffles.

We bit into them and they were moldy inside. Such disappointment and betrayal I felt.

And wow, it hits me again HARD how I wish she had not left this life so early. Ten years later and the tears pour without warning and my throat is strangled by it.

And I wonder, was the worry and the unknown and the sum total of the uncontrollables of her life - and the disappointment of the occasional moldy truffle - too overwhelming? Were there too many years of opening the box anticipating cherries but finding instead bits of leaked goo on brown ribbed paper?

Yep, just jelly filled today.

I detest jelly filled.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


A cardinal is calling just outside my front window. Another answers from further away.

Mo is on the phone with Grammy. I can only hear one side of that conversation.

Both conversations speak to me.

Mo is leaving in 10 days. She is going to England with her school's choirs. The trip was expensive, but we told her we would pay for half of it if she paid the other half. I don't think that was what she wanted to hear. Like most teenagers, she probably didn't fully register the reality of how much the trip would cost or consider who would be paying for it until we gave her the responsibility. We've known about the trip for nearly a year, and she's worked steadily (sometimes slowly) toward the goal since then. There were a few fund raisers, and she's been babysitting to earn the rest of it. She's nearly done paying us back.

She told Grammy just a couple of minutes ago that some kids' parents paid for the trip, but most of her friends have had to earn and contribute part of the money themselves. She said that it makes the trip more meaningful to her.

Music to my ears!

Yesterday Steve and I worked on our taxes. He had already entered some of the information in the program, but we had some paperwork to track down and deductions to add up. We went out for lunch afterward and used up a gift card that we'd had for months. We only had to pay a few dollars, so I left a big tip.

I just felt like I should leave a big tip, so I did. It was fun.

A few weeks ago I got an offer from CVS to get up to two $25 gift cards with new or transferred prescriptions to their pharmacy. I usually throw those offers away because we have a local pharmacy just a few blocks from here and it seems that it's not worth the hassle. This time, we decided to give it a try. Steve got two prescriptions transferred to CVS.

It was definitely a hassle.

We spent his hard earned $50 bucks, plus a few more after lunch yesterday.

I feel like we accomplished something special by ridding ourselves of three gift cards. We got full enough stomachs to skip dinner, we left a big tip, he has a new beard trimmer (his had broken), we have rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, I have new razors (for my occasional leg shaving), and a couple of other things I can't recall right now.

Mo babysat last night for a friend of ours. Our friend paid Mo much more than a babysitter could ever be worth, but she said the extra is spending money for Mo's trip. Mo was thrilled and gave her a big hug, which pleased her. Everybody is happy.

I wonder why I am not more generous. If leaving a big tip makes me happy, if a little something extra for a job well done means so much to the receiver and the giver, why do I forget this and have to relearn it?

And why did it just occur to me that we were most generous to our daughter when we required her to invest in the trip too?

How can you be generous today? A small gesture may result in a sweet song.

Here's a link to one of the performances. This one is at Gloucester Cathedral.

Olfactory Gratefuls

121. Bonfire lingering in El's hair.

122. Whiffs of Tide with Bounce while folding.

123. Soil warming.

124. Shampoo of the week in Mo's hair.

125. French fries.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Barbie's evil deed revisited

Barbie is 50 years old today.

When Barbie was 40, she and Ken lived with the four of us in Married Student Housing. El and Mo let her out of the box occasionally. Hindsight tells me that maybe she was suffering some sort of mid-life crisis. 40 can do that to a girl.

We're not sure where she's holed up now. She skipped town shortly after paparazzi, er, Steve caught her in the act and took this picture of her.

Here's hoping that Barbie finds herself in a better place as she celebrates this milestone.

Someone please tell me that 50 will be better than 40 was.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

'Life is Messy - Clean it Up' Gratefuls

116. The hawk on the back fence. Getting a good picture of the hawk. Thinking about the big picture when I noticed the bloody talon print on the fence and the feathers left behind by the hawk.

117. Seeing clean carpet and smelling clean carpet.

118. Open windows on warm days.

119. A new furniture arrangement.

120. The unfamiliar yet pleasant arrangement of our bodies that happens when hugging my husband while I'm standing on the stairs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Product X

Yes, well if you know me at all, you know that occasionally I take a side trip to Slightly Inappropriate. I really try to be classy. I do. There is this naughty side of me though, that screams out for attention now and then.

“Look at meeeee! Oh, no. I shouldn’t have said that. Don’t look at meeeee!”

Usually this happens in conversations that I later regret. Like the time way back in my jewelry store days that I said a bad word to a customer. I insulted her fiancée. I regret that. I should not have said it, even though it was brilliant.

So instead of having to regret this later, let’s blame this ride on the full moon and the fact that I procrastinated getting a hair appointment and am now living under a gray skunk stripe. And maybe we can throw a little blame at ‘the curse’. It can’t be my fault that we’re headed down this road.

The exit door is right up there to the right; feel free to get off the bus. If you are a man, you may be better off playing some air guitar over there by the bench and we’ll stop back later to pick up where we left off. We can pretend this never happened.

Oh yeah, a word to my daughters: I love you dearly. It’s my duty and honor to embarrass you to the point that you want to crawl under a rock.

No regrets. Now, let’s go shopping.

My mom wrote in a small, tight script. Her grocery lists looked a lot like this:






Apparently, no self respecting woman in the 70’s or 80’s would ever write the words ‘Toilet Paper’ or ‘Tampons’ on their shopping list.

I’m not sure where the ‘X’ came from… ‘X’ marks the spot, er, period?
Could it have been some kind of private joke for her?
Was it simply shorthand?
Was the word tampon really that taboo?

I never asked why she started it, so I’ll never know. I do remember teasing her because she wouldn’t write ‘Tampons’ on her list, so she quit writing ‘X’ and started writing ‘Tampons’. It made me a bit sad though, and I felt sort of bad for the ‘X’. I’m sentimental like that.

I never used to write grocery lists. I kept a running list in my brain and usually did pretty well. I am older now, and my brain does not retain the way it used to. I need lists. I find that the small daily calendars (I buy one every year after Christmas for half price) work really well for keeping lists. Last year it was the German Phrase-A-Day calendar. It was fun, but I did not retain a single German phrase. This year is Schott’s Miscellany. I like it better. I have learned many useless facts and they also provide many useless lists. I find pleasure in writing my lists on the backside of other lists. It seems right, fitting, and orderly.

Unlike my mom, I don’t usually write in cursive. I write in messy mixture. The contents of my lists are quite similar to my mom’s lists though. I still buy milk, eggs, and bread. Toilet paper is still TP, and yes, it is still a necessary. However, tampons are no longer ‘Tampons’, or ‘X’ for that matter. Somewhere along the way, I told the girls that my mom used to put ‘X’ on the grocery lists instead of ‘Tampons’. They thought it was funny, so I started doing it too. One day, one of them whispered in my ear (her dad was there, you never say these things in front of your dad),

“I need some Product X.”

That made me giggle some. I put it on the list.

It’s my hope that centuries from now some archaeologist will cry, “Eureka! I’ve discovered the secret!” because they read this after years of wondering what that mysterious ‘Product X’ on the back of Schott’s Miscellany, February 4th, 2009 could possibly be. Oh, and those lists from 30 years deeper and and a few hundred miles west? There’s your answer. You’re welcome. This is your very own 21st Century Rosetta Stone.

Now, could someone please explain air guitar? It’s so embarrassing.


I wrote this a month ago. Since then, I have decided that I don’t care if you don’t like it or get offended, I got my hair cut and colored so I no longer look like a brown haired Pepe Le Pew, and the conveyor belt has made another round. Today I bought Product X and it wasn’t even on the list.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Early morning visitor