Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekly Giggle: Imaginary Friend

I found this on Pinterest and it made me laugh out loud.

We're all crazy, aren't we?

For those of you who enjoy The Big Bang Theory, did you see the episode in which Sheldon's sister makes reference to his imaginary childhood friends? He corrects her, saying, "They weren't friends. They were colleagues."

I have plenty of real-life friends and thus no need for imaginary ones, but I sure could use some imaginary colleagues.

As a stay-at-home mom, I miss having colleagues, prairie-dogging in the cubicle maze, and the Friday morning discussions of the Thursday night episode of Friends. These days, my imaginary colleagues and I could have meetings about grocery shopping and round-table discussions of the best way to clean toilets or to get children and husbands to put their dirty clothes in the clothes baskets.

On second thought, perhaps not.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gratitude Journal #123

Today I am grateful for words. They let us say things like I love you, I care, I'm listening, and Pick your coat up off the floor.

Today, I am grateful for tissues.

Today, I am grateful for texting. It's yet another technology I've adopted after kicking and screaming, but it helps me stay connected to a few people. For that, I'm grateful.

Today, I am grateful for lunch dates with friends.

Today, I am grateful for sunshine.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things on Thursday: The Devil in the Tile

You know how sometimes hidden pictures jump out at you? Weird arrangements of raindrops on a car window form bunny ears that get swept away in the airstream. Jesus appears on your morning toast. A cloud looks like a turtle or elephant or an open book.

Well, here's what I see every morning in my shower.

It looks like a devil's face (well, half a devil's face, appearing from the left) painted by William Blake, don't you think? At first, I found this devil in my bathroom tile creepy, but then I remembered this pin from Pinterest:

Now, I see the devil's expression in a slightly different context. Yep. I'm freakin' him out.




Of course, it could be an expression of horror at seeing me naked, but I prefer not to think about that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lost in Transition

Transitions tend to throw even the most even-keeled people for loops. Sometimes, transitions take us to places we don't want to go, as with divorce. Other times, transitions take us to happy places. Think marriage and babies, graduations and new jobs. 

But even when the end goal of a transition is a happy place, the transition can feel awkward and uncomfortable. Remember the stress of planning your wedding? Remember the stress of pregnancy and childbirth?


Our move to a new house has been fraught with stress and anxiety and awkwardness, especially for me as the AR/obsessive-compulsive half of our marriage. I want order, and I want it now!

You can't always get what you want when you're lost in transition.

Most of our furniture has to stay at the old house so it's staged to look like a model home. Our new home, in the meantime, sends the inaccurate message that we are house-poor, as if we bought a big new house we can't afford to furnish.


This state of affairs also makes me hesitant to decorate. How can I hang things on the walls if I don't quite know precisely where the furniture will go? What if the curtains I buy don't really go with the furniture? Can I return them if they've hung on my walls for a few months? Fortunately, our new neighborhood is full of large lots and is sparsely populated, and living in a fish bowl doesn't feel quite as weird as it would have felt in our old house, crowded cheek-to-jowl with neighbors on all sides.

But it's still awkward.

Certain aspects of this new house, however, transcend its lack of furniture and the air mattresses that suck heat from our bodies and the wobbly patio table in our breakfast room and the boxes of books in the library we can't unpack because there are no shelves to put them on and the frantic way we search through unpacked boxes for that one roll of tape we suddenly need. In the chaos of slow transition, we're catching glimpses of a settled future.

First and foremost, the breakfast room. It juts out from the back of the house and has windows on three sides. When we first looked at the house back in October, I thought, "What a nice room." Now, sitting where I am typing at the breakfast room table, I have a 180-degree view of trees and a bit of the neighborhood. The yard hasn't received its final grade, and the bare dirt shows erosion rivulets carved by the rain and snow melt. The view is rather dismal, but I can see a future full of green grass, a patio with a fire pit, and leaves on all those bare trees. We already get flashes of color from the cardinals and blue birds, a promise of prettier things to come.

The breakfast room isn't just nice, it's awesome!

My craft room is another transcendent feature of this house. I positioned my craft table under a window. Sitting there is a double pleasure, especially when the cardinals are flying about. I don't have everything arranged in the room yet because too much stuff is still at the old house, but at least it's workable now.  

The finished basement makes me happy, with its wet bar and sliding glass door. When we walk down the stairs, the first thing we see straight ahead is a huge sliding glass door and daylight. Basements can feel so claustrophobic and creepy, but not this one. Once it has furniture, it will be perfect.

 And there's the rub. Transition time lingers in this house, an awkward pause in the moving forward of life.

Part of George misses our old house. When he visits it to load up stuff to move, he feels a pang of regret for its loss, even though he wanted this move, at least initially, more than I did.

He asked me if I missed the old house, too. My answer, without hesitation and with extreme italics and all caps for emphasis, is NO! I never felt at home in the old house. It didn't fit me, and I knew it from the beginning. It was fine, but not mine. This ranch with the finished basement is home already, even without furniture and especially since the orange stucco disappeared. The cheep of the cardinal outside my breakfast room window as the sun rises before me feels right and good. The brightness of the stars when I walk Daisy before bed sends me into raptures of peace.

The transition will end at some point, and we will settle into a new normal. Grass will grow, windows will be dressed, our art will hang on the walls and in the niches, books will grace shelves, clothes will rest in dressers.

The lost order will be found, and home will be more--much more--than fine.

What awkward transitions have you experienced that, with patience and fortitude, took you to wonderful places? Please share!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gratitude Journal #122

Today, I am grateful that George had a good and safe trip to Saudi Arabia and that I have my personal chef back in residence.

Today, I am grateful for cold medicine.

Today, I am grateful George's jet lag caused him to awaken early so he heard my alarm clock when I did not.

Today, I am grateful for Sabbath rest, prayers, and nice people.

Today, I am grateful for space.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Stress

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once." Jennifer Yane

I completely relate. Several days attacked me at once, and for some reason my ability to cope just gave up and left me late yesterday afternoon. I want to thank my friends at Stephen Ministry for listening to me babble incoherently for a bit last night. That helped.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

While I think Marcus is a bit optimistic about our ability to control our thoughts so completely (especially when we moms are worried about our children!), I do take his point. A friend called Wednesday with another dollop of bad news in her life, a side-swipe of significance. I listened to her very understandable drama and saw how she was flailing in panic in a bit of rough surf, yet I could see that her situation--bad as it is--offers many opportunities to solve itself that she can't see because salt water is splashing in her eyes. She will find footing in the sand again and start bobbing comfortably in the waves.

And so will I.

Like many women (and some men), I'm a talker and need someone to listen when I am stressed out. Fortunately, I'm blessed with many friends and family who do listen. I also work out my stress by organizing the material aspects of my life...but with the new house situation, I have a bit too much to organize right now! I try to focus on one thing, finish that, move to the next. Lately, however, I've been a crow randomly flying from one shiny bit of chaos to another without much to show for my effort. Today's the day for mental readjustment, for breathing, for taking Marcus Aurelius' advice and revoking my estimate of the problem. I'm seizing today.

What do you do to stop panicking and start bobbing in the surf? How do you adjust your mental attitude to cope with the stresses of life when they hit you? Please share.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gratitude Journal #121

Today I am grateful for blue bird sightings in my back yard.

Today I am grateful for kind and well-mannered children who come for playdates.

Today I am grateful for Martin Luther King, Jr. and a life lived with purpose.

Today I am grateful for friends who help me in a pinch.

Today I am grateful for slightly warmer weather.

Today I am grateful for the end of the orange stucco. (Pictures when the sun comes back!)

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Email Hacked

My email got hacked. If you received a forwarded email from me with a link, please delete it immediately.

Words, Words, Words about Grass

Our builder came to check some cabinet drawers that were rubbing, and when he opened one of the drawers, he found a baggie of Penzey's Turkish Oregano. It looks, apparently, like weed of another kind.
But today's words are about another kind of grass altogether, a metaphoric grass, courtesy of Pinterest.

How can you water your own grass to green it up? Something to think about.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eating Humble Pie with a Blue Bird on my Shoulder

On January 1, 2009, I wrote the following:

"Mom, from whom I inherited my Luddite tendencies, recently saw the electronic book at Barnes and Noble and is very excited about it. Huh? This is a woman who fears her computer (which my sister and I bullied her into buying) and is terrified that one wrong click will destroy the thing. But when the electronic books come down in price, she plans on buying one. She has lots of good reasons for this act of heresy, but honestly, I’m not sure what’s gotten into her.

"I see these electronic books as a sign of the coming apocalypse. Books are living things made of paper, glue, thread, boards, cloth, and ink. I love holding them, opening them, smelling them, creating them. I love surrounding myself with them. I love libraries. I love the sound of a new binding cracking and the soft, susurrous whisper of pages turning.

"Pixels and buttons do not give the same sensory satisfaction. They are cold and … electronic. The words on the screen have no permanence, no life. Even George is a tad uncertain about them—he has as many books as I do. I declare, with grave certainty and much kicking and screaming, that I will never, ever have an electronic book.

"I have to draw the line somewhere. Consider it drawn."




I guess it's time to get out my eraser...

'cause that line done been crossed!  
What, you might ask, made me skip merrily over that line? Because merrily I did skip, with a zippity doo-da, zippity aye, into Nook Tablet ownership.
First, the staging consultants who transformed our house into a model home for sale insisted that at least two-thirds of the books on our shelves be boxed up and moved out. Given that eight years ago, the nice military movers hauled 109 boxes of books into our house, and given that in the eight years since then, we added lots of books, this task was overwhelming. As we undertook the back-breaking effort, a little, tiny voice in my head said,
"A Nook doesn't weigh this much."
Second, I've been reading too much about the minimalist movement. While my closet is mostly minimalist, I'm nowhere near ditching all but a hundred items from my home, but I found myself questioning whether or not I really needed all of the hardcover Anne Perry Inspector Monk mysteries, four copies of Pride and Prejudice, and a pile of mass-market paperbacks that I'll never read again. Of course some books are far too precious to ever donate to the library, but still....

Third, you can get magazine subscriptions on the Nook. Magazines are fun to read, but they multiply like dust bunnies in my house, filling shelves, closet floors, and basement boxes with dead trees.

And they are heavy. Oh. My. God. They are heavy.
Fourth, the Nook Tablet is more than an ebook reader. I can get email on it. I can surf the internet. I can watch movies on long trips. I can buy apps for it that do things I don't even know about yet. Most importantly, I can get instant new-book gratification anywhere there's wi-fi, any time, day or night. If I finish reading a book at 1:00AM and want to find a new one, I can buy it from the comfort of my own bed.
Do I need all these things? That would be a big, fat No.
Are they handy and fun to have? Well, yes. Yes, they are.
Now that I've had my Nook for a few weeks, I can say that the sensory vacuum I feared is mostly true. The cover I bought makes my tablet feel sort of like a book, but the fake electronic page-turning sound doesn't come close to the susurrus whisper of paper sliding on paper. There's no smell I can detect, except that of the faux leather cover, which reminds me more of luggage than books.

Perhaps that's not such a badly scented metaphor, however, given that books take you places.

There is an advantage with pricing for older classics in electronic form. A few months ago, after reading the National Geographic article on the King James Version of the Bible, I reached for my copy, only to find that pieces were falling off of it. A trip to Barnes and Noble revealed that a new print copy would cost me more than $70. Since we were buying a new house and I already had about ten different Bibles on my shelves, that seemed excessive. The first book I loaded on my Nook was the KJV...for a mere $4.99. Bargain Bible prices are no reason to buy an electronic reader, but I'm happy that I got to read Luke 2 as it should be read on Christmas Day.

On a MUCH lighter note, I'm catching up on Jasper Fforde's recent addition to the Thursday Next books, which always make me laugh.

So the apocalypse is at hand: Susan has a Nook, a mouthful of humble pie, and a brand new monkey on her back.

But I prefer to think of it as a blue bird on my shoulder.
Zippity doo-da, zippity aye.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekly Giggle of Goldens

George found this fabulously true picture on Pinterest last night. Daisy's mother Mango had this exact advice, and Daisy has taken it very, very seriously.

I wonder how much money veterinarians make each year because of this canine sock fetish.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gratitude Journal #120

Today, I am grateful for my Stephen Ministry friends and my former next-door-neighbor who gave us house-warming gifts. No one in the new neighborhood has stopped by to welcome us, although everyone seems quick to return waves in passing. I assume it's the cold weather and long drive-way, but perhaps it's the orange stucco.

Today, I am grateful for paint, which will take care of the orange stucco in the next few days.

Today, I am grateful for hospice and for all those who comfort the grieving. George's extended family in Colorado lost 38-year-old Patrick Haikal to cancer this weekend.

Today, I am grateful for windows and doors.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Words of the Year

If you're new to the Word of the Year concept and want more information, please read this post and this post. Then come back to here and join the fun for 2012!

I've been ruminating on a word for 2012, and I've found it, thanks to my friend Betsy.

My word for 2011 was Learn. Since it's impossible for me not to learn, I feel quite successful and hope the rest of you who chose words last year feel successful, too. Remember, it doesn't matter if you did a lot with your word or just a little. If your word made you act or feel or think at all, you succeeded. There are no grades here, no pass/fail, as with more typical New Year's resolutions.

Words of the Year inspire.

If you want to be inspired by a word this year, choose carefully and post it in the comments here. There's no deadline, and I'll remind you periodically to choose a word and to put it into action. How you act is entirely up to you and your word. With Learn, I read and researched topics that interested me, listened to NPR, and subscribed to some new magazines...all things I would have done anyway, but my word made me more conscious of how much I learn and how good it makes me feel.

This year, my word is Gratitude.  Like Learn, Gratitude is a natural choice for me. I spend a lot of my time in prayer expressing gratitude to God and a lot of time writing about gratitude for this blog. In the past few weeks, I've bumped into discussions of gratitude with freakish frequency, and this morning I opened an email from my friend Betsy with a link to this video, and suddenly, I had my word for 2012.

I will be inspired by Gratitude.

What word will inspire you this year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gratitude Journal #119

Today, I am grateful for closing on the new house last Thursday (a day late, but done!).

Today, I am grateful for sleep. We've been crashing into bed each night shamefully early. Even on New Year's Eve.

Today, I am grateful for delivery and moving people. We've had the nicest men deliver our fridge, new furniture, and some of our stuff from the old house. When our old house sells, we'll be able to get the rest of our furniture and REALLY get settled!

Today, I am grateful for dollies (AKA hand-trucks). With the aide of the dolly I bought last week and frozen rather than muddy ground, George and I were able to get the ping pong table into the basement yesterday. George assembled the table, with a little help from me and Nick, and we're now able to paddle the ball back and forth. Daisy likes to catch stray balls, which makes for quite the work-out to save her from choking on the durn things.

Today, I am grateful for the memories the word "dolly" brings up. My grandfather was known as Dolly. He was rather small, but strong and extraordinarily useful. He also loved me far more than I deserved, and I thought about that while moving the ping pong table.

Today, I am grateful for a new year, a clean slate, and freedom from the rush our lives became in the past two months. A slower pace, greater peace, getting back to some sort of routine. What a blessing.

What are you grateful for today?