July 4th On The 7th

I know I’m a few days off – we had friends with us over the weekend, and I have yet to figure out how to secret myself away to write, while trying to maximize time with our guests. Sure, I could get up earlier still – but that’s when I catch up on reading your posts!

A weekend of weather so perfect that remaining inside would have been an insult to Mother Nature. The wind whispered its secrets through the trees, the sun stood front and center, daring a cloud to engage in a game of hide-and-seek. The clouds knew better than to try.

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We decided to watch the fireworks from a mountain overlook. Not exactly a novel idea – chairs were set up and ‘reserved’ before 9:00AM. Nonetheless, we had great seats. I brought my new (and first) camera – it’s point and shoot (because that’s pretty much the breadth of my talent). The pictures I took of the fireworks themselves are truly terrible, but I promised someone I would post at least one. Somehow the time between ‘point’ and ‘shoot’ is where I failed miserably.

I know...

I know…

My words won’t do them justice either. Our elevation was such that we were almost eye-to-eye with the fireworks. The whistle, the booms and cracks echoed in the air as thousands of stars exploded, raining down with sizzle and shine. Multi-colored or bright white mattered little; we were sitting in the sky watching magic happen all around us.

And it’s that ‘all around us’ that’s circling my thoughts this morning. To our right a group of young people were drinking a lot and talking too loud about tawdry topics that had Suz and I giggling – a lot. Behind us, people who were definitely AARP members (of greater seniority than yours truly) wore red, white and blue wigs and hats, neon necklaces and delight that a child couldn’t parallel. Children – yes, all over the place. Jumping, yelling, falling over each other and everyone else. Dads and moms, golf scores, shout-outs to kids; lovers young and old. Somehow it felt like we all huddled closer, as the temperature dropped and the winds made their presence felt. People in shorts, wrapped in blankets, waiting for wonder.

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And there was the greater wonder for me. People who didn’t know each other, acting as if they did. Friendship exchanged without names or judgment or pretense. Nothing mattered except being there for a shared purpose and an air of collective anticipation. That’s the 4th of July. The stars on the ground – recognizing that at the end of the day, we can share moments of tremendous delight and pride, decency despite differences that ultimately are not elevated to a level of such importance that they dwarf the heights of people enjoying being a part of something bigger than dissent. Lucky for you, I didn’t even try to take a picture of that.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Hi everyone,

It’s good to be back – though I was never really gone.  I tinkered a bit under the hood of the karma truck, checked all its levels and kicked the tires.  And since I know absolutely nothing about cars, I’m assuming we’re good to go..

Live and Learn (davidkanigan.com) gave me a figurative kick in the butt the other day with a post containing this cartoon from Calvin and Hobbes.

funny-calvin-life

I get it – there are some who feel it could always be better.  Life is acknowledged first and provided with a caveat after (‘everything’s ok – but…’).  But.  Dangerous word I think, and one I consciously seek to avoid in my thoughts and actions.  Of course things could be better, but how flippin’ self-indulgent to diminish the reality that in and of itself it’s pretty damn good.  This morning I listened to the unscripted conversation between the trees as the wind traveled through their leaves, watching how one would nod, and another shake its leafy head.  I am sitting outside as I write to you, looking for bears from my safe perch (haven’t seen any yet) and laughing to myself as I wonder just what I’d do if in fact I really did encounter one.  The Sirs and I have been exploring the road, the foliage, the wildflowers, before returning to our aerie for a nap (them) and a bunch of books (me).

Is it perfect?  Of course not.  I can provide you with an impressive list of things that are not okay.  I’m just not sure why I would want to do that.  There are people who spend an enormous amount of time considering what wrongs have been visited upon them by others, listing shortcomings and offenses with righteous indignation.  I’ve started to re-frame the thought – what kind of person am I to others?  Am I bringing a little bit to the table that is more about others than it is about me?  I’m trying.  Because if I intend to live a good life – and I am and I do – it’s less about the injustices or pain that I have known – and far far more about the good stuff that happens every time I step outside myself.

Thanks for waiting for me to get the truck in gear – we’re heading to points north, south, east and west – though which way first, I have no idea.  There’s no GPS in this thing.  Have a great day – see you soon.

Saturday Smiles

Remember that poem that began “Monday’s child is full of _____; Tuesday’s child is _____” ?  I forget which child is endowed with what characteristic.  I was a Saturday child, and regardless of what I am supposed to have, I do have smiles.  Earlier this week, Ray’s mom at justiceforraymond.wordpress.com accorded me the award for ‘Most Influential Blogger Of The Year’.  I appreciate her vote of confidence, especially given the substantive and important issues she raises on her blog.  By comparison, I am arguably the “Lightweight Blogger Of The Year” – seriously.  I don’t want to diminish my appreciation with self-deprecation, tempting though it is.  I do want to express my appreciation for her high praise.  And thank her doubly because the only requirements in accepting such an accolade is to share it with others.  Clearly this is an abbreviated list – and I tried to include a mix of old and new.  These are people who prompt me to think more, feel deeply and enhance my life.  Thank you again Ray’s mom – drumroll please (two fingers working in syncopation on a table works well too):

most-influential-blogs-of-2012 (1)

davidkanigan.com (Lead.Learn.Live)

abundelic.wordpress.com

misifusa.wordpress.com

letlifeinpractices.com

keiththegreen.wordpress.com (A Western Buddhist’s Travels)

sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com

positiveboomer.net

theothersideofugly.com

thepersecutionofmildreddunlap.wordpress.com

ivonprefontaine.com (Teacher As Transformer)

jmgoyder.com

angelinem.wordpress.com

almostspring.com

drbillwooten.com

anyshinything.com

Now – I’ve got more, but I realize that this list is getting quite attenuated.  To those I adore and didn’t mention this time around – trust me, the year is young.  To me, each person I follow is The Most Influential Blogger Of The Year.

Very Sweet And Low In Calorie

It’s been a cocooning kind of week.  I’ve only taken the karma truck out to visit friends, read their posts and marvel at their talents.  I was beginning to worry a bit that I had run out of gas (so to speak), but realized that isn’t the case.  Sometimes you just have to idle for a little bit. Perhaps not the most intriguing scene to set, but the most transparent.

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So it came as a complete, out-of-the-blue surprise when I received the Super Sweet Blogging Award from Vicky, the author of the absolutely gorgeous ‘This Abundantly Delicious Life’ (abundelic.wordpress.com).  Vicky’s blog successfully meets her intention – she has created a space of gratitude and appreciation.  Her delight with all that surrounds her and her awareness of so much within her, brings me back all the time.  Thank you so much for including me in your thoughts Vicky – I am in rarefied company!

Though I am not known for my ability to follow directions, I will do so now.  The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you. Check.

2. Answer the questions.  Next paragraph

3. Pay it forward to a baker’s dozen and notify them. The paragraph after the next one.

Questions

1.  Cookies or cake?

Yes.

2.  Chocolate or vanilla

Chocolate.  Unless I’m having a soft-serve ice cream cone, in which case I have to have a combination of the two.

3.  What is your favorite sweet treat, cheesecake or frozen yogurt?

I thought frozen  yogurt was just good for you – it’s a treat?  Sigh…

4.  When do you crave sweet things most?

Late afternoon.  When others are pouring a glass of wine, I am looking for M&Ms.

5.  If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

I did actually..My dad called me ‘cookie’.  It was easier to say than ‘linzer tart’ or ‘apple turnover’ (the two forbidden treats that we would always get when sent to the bakery to pick up some seedless rye bread).

My baker’s dozen – as you know, I struggle with this, for there are so many bloggers I admire (and Vicky already named quite a few of them!)

makebelieveboutique.com

renardmoreau.wordpress.com

jmgoyder.com

thejolynproject.com

russtowne.com

drbillwooten.com

thehandwrittenlife.wordpress.com

universalmusings.com

almostspring.com

ivonprefontaine.com

life-with-the-topdown.com

throughmylens365.wordpress.com

gotoppm.com

 

Wait – there’s more!!  There really are more – there’s so much talent out there.  It is humbling to part of this community.  Thank you Vicky – your timing was truly karmic.

 

Home Ec.

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel”

Good advice, though I can’t sew.  I can’t even loosely baste a seam.  I failed sewing in the seventh grade, for the teacher didn’t consider it fashion forward to have the armhole of my jumper positioned at the hip.  I didn’t do much better at home economics (yes, they had courses such as this – let’s save the shock and awe for another day, shall we?), though I excelled at pudding.  And passing notes.

Which retrospectively suggests that I had my priorities straight even then – as long as you had good people around you, everything else would follow.  Take care of the ones you love.  Pass the notes, hold the secret, righteously defend (“Mimi would be an exemplary student if she were a bit less social”).  Ah well.  It is with this limited skill set that I have built my house.  Ultimately I bought the drapes and learned how to cook.  And though no one would mistake me for Martha Stewart, I’d say this is a pretty awesome home.  People curl up when they get here, they nestle in.  Shoes come off, defenses are shed, talk is uncensored, silence is religious.  There is nothing more transcendent than this.

Our Thanksgiving plans got derailed by my little surgery a few days back and we’re staying here instead of heading up to New Jersey.  The kids will be with their in-laws.  And as much as I will miss the noise, the laughter, the hugs – I am fortunate enough to have all this love around me every day.  The air is filled with “I love you’s”,  each room holds secrets told in whispers that repeat as favorite lyrics co-written once upon a time, and there is comfort in the sighs of the couch as I settle in to listen to the stories of home.  When I feel the sun on my back and I find magic in this very moment, I know that my bounty is as massive as my gratitude.

So as many of you head points north, east, west or south – travel safe.  Eat a lot, laugh more, grab a nap.  Take a walk, give out hugs.  Share your love.   Enfold these moments in your heart, for they will become the most gorgeous aspects of your home.  They become the most treasured parts of you.