Thankful Tuesday - easy bake oven edition

We're celebrating Thankful Tuesday at Micha's today. Here's my list:

~ A week by the sea with my One True Love. We celebrated our 2nd Anniversary by getting the heck out of Fake New Jersey, and, well, heading for The Shore, I guess. (But we didn't run into Snookie and her pals, so we're safe, I guess. )

Anyway, it was fantastic. Cool and sunny with almost the right amount of wind. (We couldn't get our kite to take off.) Perfect days staring at the waves. Perfect nights falling asleep to the sound of them. We stayed in hotels and camped. My Sweetie's first time car camping in a state park campground. (He's more hardcore than me. He usually cold camps in the actual wilderness.) To thank him for his visit, "the Pacific ocean punched him in the face." Hard! A couple guys on the beach saw it and got ready to rescue him if a rip current pulled him out/under. But my man got up again, laughing.

~ Two years with my partner in crime-fighting! He's so great. And sexy. And fun. And awesome. Yay! Seriously, though. He is a gift from God. I still pinch myself to believe that I get to spend my life with this man. I came back from our first date with what I call, "Disney Princess La-La Head". Completely dazzled. And I still am. <3<3xoxo!!!

~ A new system for lunches. The switch to Paleo has been awesome but rough. It's a more expensive way to eat. And it requires more planning, prep, and cooking. You can't just throw a sandwich together or grab a bowl of cereal. And our old plan of eating leftovers for lunch wasn't working. If we saved food for lunches, my man didn't get enough dinner. So now, Sunday is food prep day. We plan the menu, buy the groceries, and while we make dinner that night, we also make a big pot of soup, and grill meat and chop salad toppings. Then for lunches we have soup and salad all week. And I don't have to scrip and trim and scramble to figure out lunches. It's only been two days, but its much better already.

~ The sympathy we've gotten from our friends and family about our tree being chopped down
. We are so sad about this unnecessary loss. One friend (with a degree in sustainable construction) explained all the technical reasons why it was a bad idea to chop down an old shade tree in a suburban neighborhood in our area. And then he called the owner of the house a jerkface. (Yeah! *Fist pump*) I know, I know Jesus loves the little jerkfaces of the world. But we're still sad (and mad), right now. And its nice to see frownies when I post pictures on Facebook. Our people get us.

~ And we don't have a TV, and our Internet is hopelessly slow, so I've not seen a second of coverage. Well, except for this video, of course. How awesome are they? BUT, I feel like I have because of Jen Hatmaker's live Tweeting of the Olympics. It's even better than when she live-tweeted her kid's middle school dance. Hilarious!

~ And for good measure: cool breezes at night... a barbecue, so we don't have to cook inside the Easy Bake Oven that is our house... iced tea on a hot afternoon... hummingbirds that still frequent our hydrangeas... a coffee date planned with a friend this week... a man who is more patient with computers than I... lists crossed off, and piles sorted through, and rhythms, and a return to our little household liturgies of daily life (prayers, shirts, swords, read-alouds...) - these make me feel peaceful and centered...  Amen.


thursdaybook - peek-a-boo sun edition

For today I am,

Seeing... The sun attempting to peek through grey clouds... dried grass and a pink butterfly bush past its prime... hydrangea bushes sporting a hodge podge of lush and fried blossoms (the weird weather this year confuses the poor things)... a freshly opened rose on the bush next to the fence... 

Hearing... The clink of forks on plates and the licking of fingers (we're eating at our desks this morning)... squirrel chatter, bird chirps, and distant freeway noises... palm fronds scraping the side of the Pepto Bismol pink garage as the wind kicks up... the whisper of that wind through the doomed tree's troublesome branches - it sounds like the sea...

Tasting... Eggs scrambled with chopped kale and salsa... fruit and yogurt smoothie... black tea.... I've been missing bread this week. I dreamt of piles of toast last night, and all week I've longed for sandwiches and tortilla chips and tacos. Last night we had the Paleo version of sandwiches, and it was good, but just not the same.

Working... Oh, that. Hmmmm... Mostly house work and office work and soul work this week. My resume is trapped on my old, dead laptop. We've planned a rescue attempt, but it has to wait a couple weeks. We're out of printer ink anyway, and we're going on vacation next week, so the job search will star in earnest upon our return. Meanwhile I'm in the garage sorting through boxes. We are in purge and organize mode these days.

Reading... I'm a day late to the library, so I'll have fees to pay and I don't have anything new to share. I finished the Widow Clicquot (ok, mostly I enjoyed learning about how wine is made), and Madame X (much better, poor Amelie - the Kim Kardashian of her day), and the Guernsey book (love!). MM and I also finally finished Harry Carr (what a delightful writer! I want to tour California now, and definitely want to find more of his writing) and our interminable Anne run. There are three more books in the series, but I don't own them, and we're a bit worn out. We'll get to them later. Now's the time for new things. Here's the current stack:

Bookbag - The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
Nightstand - Birthright: The True Story That Inspired Kidnapped by.... someone. Don't have the book handy, and can't remember
With MM
  - Changes that Heal by Henry Cloud
  - Hearing God by Dallas Willard
  - Pascale's Nose by... another someone. Same comment as above.

There's less going on now, bookwise. I think MM and I are going to strip down our read-alouds to one fiction and one non-fiction at a time, so that we don't have too much happening at once.

Learning... Uh... Well I'm reading about philosophy and historical people, so I suppose I'm learning things that way.

Creating... Today feels taken up with errands and such, so I'm not sure I'll create much. I think I may crochet while I watch a show tonight. I found a bunch of granny squares in the garage that I'll attach together to make a baby blanket or something. The fast track to a finished object! And write. It feels like a day to write.

Dreaming... Of work clothes. That's something I miss about working. I love office clothes. Shoes and slacks and tweed skirts and cardigans - the whole bit. When I drive MM to work on the days I have the car, I always check out the clothes of the women walking to their offices. I miss that. I miss getting dressed up and walking into my office holding my coffee and my briefcase. I also miss meetings. I'm an introvert, but for some reason, I really like work meetings. I know. Weird.

Pondering... This is a season of intense growth and healing. Purge and organize seems to be the theme for my inner life as well as my pink garage. Unpacking boxes, blowing the dust off, examining, evaluating - do I need this? does it add to my happiness? detract? what do I think of it? what do I feel about it? should I save this, or let it go? Lots to think about as I evaluate 40 years of experiences, ideas, and relationships.

Thankful for... Warm tea... the new rose... MM working at home today... ocean weather... candles... shrinking piles... crossed off lists... the peek-a-boo sun... a day to write.


Thankful Tuesday - crepe myrtle edition

It's Thankful Tuesday over at Micha's. And today, I'm thankful for:

~ The wind kicked up yesterday and blew the ocean weather to us. After 100+ days that soak into our non-air conditioned stucco house, effectively turning it into a Pepto Bismol pink cement oven, it's nice to see gray skies and feel cool breezes. The wind blows the branches of our doomed tree so fiercely that it sounds like ocean waves. We aren't that far from the sea, but it's nice that it saved us the trip.

~ A good visit with Book Girl that included wine tasting at the fair. I sampled my first primativo, which I learned later is a fancy schmancy zinfandel. Yum. Fruity and spicy and full. Should be. The one I tasted was a prizewinner and $50 a bottle. (Remember, we are in a Two Buck Chuck season.) We also saw baby pigs (soooo cute!) and baby goats (even cuter!) and watched the sheep judging and checked out various diaramas and displays. No midway action this time, as my body is still healing from all its aches and pains. (I am a huge fan of the Zipper. Woooo!) And we didn't make it into the exhibition hall housing my friend's blue ribbon beer. Next time. All in all, it was a great visit. We need more of these.

~ MM and I spontaneously added The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to our read-alouds. We finished Sunday night. Late. So wonderful! We loved it. Funny. Poignant. A beautiful tribute to the power of art and the goodness (and evil) humans are capable of. So well written too! We love all the characters, but I think Isola is our favorite. I would hug her so hard if I met her in real life. In the words of Kathleen Kelly, "Read it. I know you'll love it."

~ My sweetie has taken to quietly slipping out of bed in the morning, making coffee, and bringing me a cup in bed. There is something so tender about that to me. Mornings are rough for me. Always have been. And as I transition back to work, they will be busier than they are now, the rush and swirl of getting two of us out the door with all our things and lunches and remember the dry cleaning and the stuff for the post office and...  To be awakened by the smell of coffee and the gorgeous smile of my best friend and one true love makes it all better. He is so kind to me. (And he makes really good coffee.)

~ The Mystery Garden delivers again. We have this small tree in the back yard that didn't look like much, but hey, whatever; it's there. The other day I happened to look up and see, at the very tippy-top, pink. It's a crepe myrtle! Of all things. It's just now blossoming out, so we'll see how colorful it gets. It made my day to see that. I walked beneath an archway of crepe myrtle as my wedding aisle, so I have a fondness for that plant now.

~ I'm also thankful for:
paid off medical bills (again!)
our new guest/yoga/dance/uno/TV room
a man who likes to philosophize with me about everything
the stash of candles from our wedding that I just found in the garage
fresh basil
clean laundry
my summer jewelry
clearing out and breathing in 


of champagne, Uno, and tulip trees

It has begun. I am begining to get crazy Andy Rooney eyebrows in earnest now. For a few years I've had one rogue eyebrow hair over my right eye. No biggie. I can smooth, clip, or tweeze as needed. But now? That eyebrow has at least three Andy Rooney hairs and my left eyebrow has a couple hairs that are starting to mutate. It is only a matter of time before I have to shave them off and start painting fake eyebrows on. Or get tattoos?

 ~ ~ ~

We're getting good at Saturdays. MM declared that one weekend last month, and he's right. And not just Saturdays, but playing together any time. We have so much fun together. And it doesn't have to be going out - although we enjoy that. Here are some recent fun things:

 - We'll haul out Baby Laptop to the garage and turn on Oldies (50s and 60s doo-wop or R&B) or Worldbeat (heavily emphasizing French Jazz and Argentinian Tango*). Then we do projects. MM might do some leather crafting or woodworking or sword maintenance. I might paint or sort through the boxes of stuff we're trying to get rid of. Its a mellow, puttery sort of day, but we love it. We take little dance breaks or sing to each other. We eat snacks and drink sparkly cucumber water. It feels old-timey and festive.

 - I've been teaching MM how to play games like Yahtzee and Uno. He's helping me with my checkers game, and when we have the energy, he's teaching me to play chess. (I am a full-contact, freakout chess player. Very stressful.) Sometimes we just spend an evening playing games** with each other, and it makes an average Tuesday feel festive. Game Night for two! We just realized that neither of us has ever played Parcheesi, so I think that will be our next game purchase. That or Bananagrams. Oooh, or Dutch Blitz. Anyway. Games.

  - We'll ride our bikes to Starbucks, walk to the park, or drive to our local winery, and plop ourselves down under a tree with stacks of books and spend an afternoon not reading. Half the time we're sipping iced tea or wine*** and start chatting and never get to our books. Or the pattern of sunlight filtered through leaves**** is too beautiful to waste.

  - We've gone out kayaking around the lake, walking around the park, Agua Polloing around the pond, biking around the neighborhood, and driving through the wetlands by moonlight. These aren't grand adventures, but they feel so fun to us. Its like having the boy you like ask you to "ride bikes." Woohooo!

Anyway. We're thankful that we enjoy each other and like to share things together. A friend of mine told me that her husband was especially thrilled that being married was like having a friend sleep over every night. I feel that way too. It feels like a lifetime of slumber parties.

 ~ ~ ~

* We're taking Tango Lessons. $5 for an hourlong class with a fabulous instructor. One gentleman at class told MM, "I've been taking lessons and dancing in this city for years, and he is the best male dancer in this area. If someone from Argentina gives a workshop, you should go, but other than that, this guy is the best." We haven't much to compare him to, but we think he's fantastic. Learned more in one lesson than we had in four weeks of our previous class. After the class, we can pay another $5 to practice with the other students. They are all better than us, so everyone in class helps us learn. Fun!

 ~ ~ ~

** Last night we played Uno in our former Junk Room. We finally - thanks to a tip from my amazing Mother-in-Law - got cheap shelves so we can put things away. Hallelujah! We bought three 5 shelf bookcases and some storage baskets. Now we have homes for books, decore, childrens toys. And because all that got sorted out, we can put the giant pallet of toilet paper in the hall closet instead of in that room. It's not finished yet, but oh - so awesome! Hung drapes yesterday and will do the mirror tonight. The library/tango/yoga/tv/guest room is open for business! Just in time because Book Girl is coming this week!

 ~ ~ ~

*** OK. So. I finished my biography of the Widow Clicquot. It wasn't the best written book, but I learned a lot. And its whet my appetite for France. I'm creating a list of books, movies, music, etc. to start experiencing. And we're getting ready to compile our list of Things to See and Do in France. Well, this Saturday we were all dressed up from a birthday date with MM's sister, and decided on the spur of the moment to go get a glass of champagne while we were still in our fancy clothes. When we saw the menu, the first champagne listed was Veuve Clicquot. :) MM insisted that we use some of our Anniversary money to buy the whole bottle.

It was the best champagne we've ever tasted. I geeked out about the Widow to the waitress, rattling off statistics and trivia as she opened and poured. And I snuck the little cork cage with Mme Clicquot's portrait into my purse as a momento. It may sound lame to people who buy this champagne all the time. But for us it was a big deal (we're in a Two Buck Chuck stage right now). And it was just a fun thing to find THIS champagne after reading the book. Serendipity! And my man got to treat me to a luxury, which makes him happy. A delicious, sparkly afternoon. :)

 ~ ~ ~

**** Our landlord is going to chop down the giant, beautiful tulip tree in the front yard, because she's tired of having it trimmed every two years. This tree provides our only protection from the hot sun. We are sad to loose the beauty of the tree as well. We're the only people on our street who regularly use our front porch. Without the tree, we can't sit out there. Major bummer.

When we found out we told the property managers that we would move if we lost the tree because it would be too hot to stay. The owner countered, saying she will install central heat and air, which, ok, is fine, except for none of the doors and windows seal, so it will be pretty useless. And expensive for us to run. Lame lame lame. Surely maintaining your heritage tree is less expensive than removing it and installing central heat and air?

 ~ ~ ~

Well. I've got work to do. House work. Office work. Creative work. Annnnd work, work. My sabbatical is coming to an end, and its time to start the ol' job search. This week my goals are to update my resume, clean out the cobwebs from my LinkedIn account, and start some preliminary searches.

I'm so thankful to have had this time off. I did a lot of soul work during this time, and I am so much healthier than when I started. I feel restored and ready to go back. Peaceful. Hopeful. My mind is ready to engage and my creative juices are flowing once again. Thankful, thankful, thankful!