Genuinely Generous Gestures

Wednesday, March 3, 2015
Today I am grateful for genuinely generous gestures. So many times we might think that in order to be generous, we must also be grandiose. Not so.

When we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, I had to learn some of the customs the hard way. My good friend, Tati, included me in a ladies-of-the-neighborhood-lunch. Turns out it was just a good excuse to gamble. Everyone, and there were upwards of 14 women there, threw cash in a pot (forty bucks-US) and at the end of lunch there was a drawing. It was like the best of BINGO without having to listen to some redneck garbling B-17 or O-68. The winner got the booty and then was expected to host the next luncheon. None of their husbands knew they were gambling, especially if they won. They might have been Indonesian. . .but they were no different than women anywhere.

I’m easily impressed with beautiful objects and forthcoming with compliments. The hostess had lovely things displayed in her house and I told her so. Next thing I knew, her treasured items were placed in my lap. It was nice to get a closer look. . .until I noticed Tati was enjoying the moment way more than she should have been. When it was time to leave (PS-I didn’t win the cash) I placed the items on the table, offered my thanks and started for the door. “No, Missus! You take! You take!” the hostess was rushing me with the stuff I had liked.

No wonder Tati was laughing. She knew. . . and she knew I didn’t know. Later she explained. “Indonesian people are very, very polite and generous. If someone compliments something of theirs it is the custom to give the person that item,” Tati said. “You liked many things!!” She was clearly enjoying this too much. “Okay,” I said, “But where does it end? With an empty house?” Tati laughed harder. “Oh no! You go back to neighbors and like it back! I’m sure the neighbor was hoping to come to your house and compliment your stuff, too!”

Sadly, Tati passed away many years ago, but I still have generous people, like that, in my life right now. The other day I posted a picture of my sewing project and one of them noticed the gold fish on the table. I confessed that I needed to use Goldie as a pin cushion because I didn’t have one. She felt sad that Goldie, who is a pass around pet that my husband and I hide on each other, was getting stabbed. So what shows up on my doorstep yesterday while I was gone? Yup! Two pincushions! Thank you very much!

Today I am grateful for genuinely generous gestures. The three “G’s”. Oh, and while I’m on a roll. . . I really “like” all y’alls money. My money isn’t nearly as colorful as yours. I might have to use my money to light candles or stuff a pillow, so if you pile a couple of wash baskets of YOUR money on my stoop I’ll try to make good use of it. Ha-ha! And don’t think you can come over later and “like” your money back. This is America!
pin cushions from Joy

pin cushion-Goldie

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Mending

Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Today I am grateful for mending. I usually do most of my mending by hand but since I have the sewing machine out I’m taking care of some simple seam repairs and mending. It’s way easier.

Do you mend? I used to even darn socks. Hardly anyone knows what that even is anymore. I’d shove a lightbulb in a sock and weave away at the gap. Not too much fun, but very rewarding. These days holy socks become dust cloths. No more darning.

When we had three boys at home, our oldest son’s mom called from out of state and asked what he was doing. “I’m sitting at the kitchen table with the other two guys learning how to mend my sweatshirt pouch.” She was confused. “With what?” she asked. “Geeze, Mom, needle and thread, what else? We have to be able to do these things!” It was a step-mom’s proud moment! I have no clue if he remembers this, but I do!

I swear I can mend anything. It’s a challenge. I’ve never lived in a toss-it-with-a-tear world. In my world you fix it until there isn’t enough left to hold thread, duct tape or staples. I once fixed a kids flip-flop at school with strong rubber bands. The repair got her home. . .and she showed up for a week with the same flip flops, eventually seeing me for some more rubber bands. I could build a house with duct tape. Staples were invented for bra straps, weren’t they? Bring it on. . .and I’ll fix it.

But today I am just grateful I can do some good old fashioned mending, with thread!
mending

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Portable Singer Sewing Machine

Monday, March 02, 2015
Today I am grateful for my portable Singer sewing machine. I hate sewing. . .but I’m glad I can sew. And I’m pretty good at it. But I still hate it. Does that make any sense at all? Well why should today be any different? This harks back to the “dress saga”, so buckle up.

I bought a purple dress to wear for my son’s wedding. It was okay, but hugged my least favorite, largest body part a bit much, leaving me feeling uncomfortable. . . unless I could find a pretty jacket to wear over it. Having no success finding one for months I then decided I needed a more formal dress, so I hung the purple into the back of my brain. The formal dress is the correct decision for the ceremony, but what am I going to do with this purple thing?

I know! I’ll make something to go over it and wear it for the rehearsal. I bought fabric, but I couldn’t find a pattern that even came close to what I wanted, so the fabric hung with the dress waiting, waiting, waiting. Then the other day we went to one of my favorite jumbo Women’s stores, Catherine’s and I found what I thought was the perfect light weight jacket. Snapping it up immediately I couldn’t wait to get it home and pair it with the dress. Oooppps! It’s really pretty, funky, tropical and “me”, but it doesn’t match the dress well enough to even convince me. Oh boy, here we go again! I don’t know about you, but I can’t take much more of this dress stuff! I gave the whole crap to my subconscious mind. It ain’t purdy in there. . .yet way more functional than my outside mind.

This morning I woke up knowing I would use the purchased jacket, which is a perfect style, to make a newspaper pattern and then put the pattern on the pretty purple material and sew the blasted jacket I had planned on in the first place. Isn’t the subconscious mind great? Being bi-globally-dis-functional-ultimately-brilliant never leaves me bored!

So today I bagged the Y and got my little paws busy making the pattern, cutting it out and sewing the thing. The bunches of slippery, slinky, beautiful fabric made me nuts! “Slip-Sliding Away”. Remember that old song? Oh. . .It’s all together already. I’m pretty fast, but also picky, which is probably why I hate sewing, so I’m going to do the edge by hand. You’ll get a picture of it later this week.

Although I have to get the instructions out every time so I can even thread it, I am grateful I have my portable Singer sewing machine tucked away, waiting, waiting, waiting. . .ready to go vroom and produce something spectacular!
CIMG4913

CIMG4911

CIMG4912

CIMG4914

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Comments

Sunday, March 01, 2015
Today I am grateful for your comments. Believe me, I do not have the expectation that any of you will “like” or “comment” on my daily missives, but I sure do get a kick out it when you do. What’s really funny, to me, if no to one else, is the little codes some of you use and the research others do to enhance. . .or negate my topic.

I’ve gotten messages from people whenever I post too late. “Where ARE you?” “Are you okay?” “How come you didn’t post today?” Well that goes both ways, friends. When one of you who usually comments or likes something every few days and then disappears for a long stretch, I wonder where you are, whether you are okay, and how come you aren’t commenting. We have a very co-dependent, possibly toxic, extremely enjoyable (for me anyway), highly evolved, more healthy than not, private and personal relationship. . .in front of the rest of the social network world.

There have been a few people who expressed concern that they were responding to my gratitude posts too much and felt they might have hijacked my piece a few times. To that I say, “Balderdash!” It’s a more polite form of what I’d really say. Bring it on. My ego can take it and so can my writing. Besides, not even I am totally in love with every word I type so why should anyone else be. I’m just happier writing them than not, so I’m going to continue. So there.

I find it touching when I can touch and be touched in return. . .emotionally! Get your head out of the gutter. . . I know you were there because I had to pull mine out when I wrote that, too. Connecting is great, but it’s a little bit scary, too. What if I decide to stop doing this because I need the time to pull things together for a book that I want to send out to agents? Am I so omnipotent that you will be crushed? Ha-ha. As if. What if you get sick of me and I get sent to the vast wasteland of “unfriends”? What if I piss you off so much that you refuse to buy afore mentioned book whenever it’s published? Am I so fragile that I will be crushed? Ha-ha. No-Yes-No-Yes. Pick one!

So today I am grateful for your comments. . .or not. . .suit yourself. I can handle it. . .but be warned, I might “private message” you if you suddenly disappear from print. And I’ll miss you. . .
crayola - John drawing

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Steel Cut Oatmeal Challenge

Saturday, February 28, 2015
Today I am grateful for the Steel Cut Oatmeal Challenge. My sister is now thinking, “What? Has she lost her mind? Mary HATES oatmeal!” Ha-ha-ha-ha. She’s right! As if adding “steel cut” to it could make it palatable. Look. . .I’m not a horse. It isn’t natural for me to like oats of any kind. They remind me of the granary on my grandpa’s farm and the black beetles who lived there and were big enough to put a saddle on. Ick.

I know many, many of you out there love your oatmeal. I further know that you would like everyone to love oatmeal as much as you do. I understand that oatmeal is very healthy and good for me. I don’t care. I’m never eating it again unless it’s baked into a yummy cookie or on an apple crisp! Never! Ever! Do not push it on me like a crack dealer on a street corner. No-means-no. I will however, try to shut up about it and not do “the face” whenever it is mentioned.

A lovely young woman who sits near me at Weight Watchers touts the virtues of the steel cut oats she eats every day. Whenever she mentions it one of my eyes shuts, my face twitches into a painful contortion, my throat catches and the hair on the back of my neck stands up. Charming. Okay, I’m dramatic. Deal with it.

A few weeks ago this woman said, “I’m going to bring you some steel cut oats because it’s way better than regular oatmeal. . .nutty and a nicer texture and really, really good.” I give her my best “are you crazy?” look, but she is not daunted. “If I bring you some will you at least try it?” She’s really nice, so I stupidly caved and said I would. . .for her! What an idiot I am. I figured she’d forget. No luck.

So last week she brought a veritable buffet of the stuff. There was a dry single serving in a baggie than needed cooking for twenty minutes, a package of something else and a small bowl of it already cooked. I stared at it all like it was poison and she was Cruella Deville. “Pick one. . .or all of them,” she said. Oh boy. I took the already cooked dish and popped the lid off to smell it. Yuckopukeybarf! I hate that smell! “I’ll take it cooked because no way am I having this smell in my house for twenty minutes.” Ha-ha. She reminded me to heat it in the microwave and put a little brown sugar and milk on it before eating. . .er. . . trying it. “You promised,” she said. I should learn to shut my big mouth! Now there’s a challenge!

I put that dish in the fridge and tried to ignore it for days, hoping it would eventually mold, or morph into a cookie. No luck. Finally, when I could put it off no more, I stuck it in the microwave, sprinkled it with brown sugar and poured on some milk. When it was ready to go, I circled it like a golden retriever trying to find the perfect place to poop. Then I sat, spoon in hand, trying not to smell it as I went in for the kill. “Find a spot where the sugar is heaviest,” I said out loud to no one. In I go. One spoonful was all I promised. A taste. I shoved it in my mouth and started to work it, wondering if it would actually go down the gullet. It did, but not without a shudder that measured on the Richter scale.

Sorry folks, you might love it, but I just can’t! Hey, I get points because I didn’t kick grass on it like the above mentioned dog would have. When I was garbage disposing the rest of it, I tried to analyze what it is that I can’t stand about it. The smell, texture, taste! Yup, that about sums it up. The texture resembles the hard, sinewy gristle that your teeth bounce off of in a cheap hamburger and you have to find a way to spit it in your napkin without anyone noticing. Yuckopukeybarf!

Even after I thought I swallowed it all, those little rubbery beads of something were reappearing in my gums, refusing to be chewed. I looked like Mr. Ed when he was all lip-curly and hollering at Wilbur about something. I am grateful I took the steel cut oats challenge, but now I’m all done. Never again! Ever! Mr. Ed can have my portion! I’d rather munch on the beetles in the granary bin, with or without their saddles!

oatmeal challenge- spoon in bowl

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Wisdom

Friday, February 27, 2015
Today I am grateful for wisdom. I took one of those ridiculous Facebook quizzes that asks a bunch of inane questions so you can find out what your name should be, what career you should have, or how rich you should be. I should be a very successful writer, with truck-loads of cash and be named Irene. I kind of like the name Irene. You can do a lot with that name. My favorite is, “I couldn’t open the gate so I-rened on the fence.” Ha-ha! It never gets old for me. Ha-ha some more! I write every day, so that is true. Still waiting on the cash. Good night, Irene!

One of the question in one of the quizzes was do you feel you get wiser as you age? Hmm. I really had to think about that one. I’ve aged so I’m a good person to ask. Yes, I’m wiser in some ways. Not so much in others. It got me to thinking about whether I felt my parents or grandparents were wise.

My grandparents were simple farmers and I think they started out pretty wise. My parents lived through The Great Depression, so that gave them a wisdom they didn’t even want. My baby boomer generation endured Vietnam and a billion senseless wars since. Does that make us wise or clueless? Now there’s a poser.

Am I wise? Wiser than I was, that’s for sure. I should be wise enough to not waste time on stupid quizzes. Maybe I’m wise because I did waste the time because I feel so much wiser now. As a younger person I worried constantly about absolutely everything. A friend once told me that if I didn’t have something to worry about I would create something because that was where my comfort zone was. Worry! I don’t do that anymore. Ever. Gave it up like meat in Lent. And I lost about 200 pounds of anxiety when I did. All of that worry didn’t change a thing and it was exhausting. That’s wisdom, I guess. It’s nice to know you can still get a clue. . . even if you’re still confused. That’s wisdom, too, I guess. Or insanity. You judge, because I am now too wise to judge anyone or anything anymore in anyway.

Am I wiser? Maybe I am. As I age I know with certainty what is really important and it doesn’t have anything to do with how much I weigh, or how tall I am, or how smart I am, or how much money I have or don’t have, or how much I can travel, or how much I love being at home, or how much I love being out. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t need a silly Facebook quiz to tell me all of that.

If wisdom comes with age. . .and leads to contentment, not complacence. . .and a peaceful, oddly happy feeling, then I am wise beyond my years. . .and greatest expectations. I hope you feel that way, too. Let’s be wise together!
Wisdom

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Squirrel Cirque du Soleil

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Today I am grateful for Squirrel Cirque du Soleil. On my patio. Every morning.

I thought we had one tenacious squirrel who can balance on a pinhead trying to reach the bird feeder and shimmies up the stucco wall like a runaway spider. Not true. Four. Count them, four huge, bushy-tailed clowns all scrambling for the crumbs that one of them dumps to the ground. The contortion’s they go through on the shepherds crook trying to reach the suet is acrobatic. Today I saw one throwing a piece of something at the other guy. Throwing it, like a ball. . .beaning him right upside his head. Or was he trying to kill him? I’m not sure.

When their bellies are full they play like kittens, rolling over each other in the snow and running in circles. They bounce off the grill, the step, the walls and push each other into the holly bush, scattering snow and bird seed like confetti. It’s a party on the patio.

Cut me a break, wouldja? We don’t have indoor pets right now. This is the best I can do for I’m-all-done-with-winter fun. I know. I gotta get a life. But until I do I’m grateful for the Squirrel Cirque du Soleil on my patio!
squirrel with soccer ball

Squirrel

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