Sometimes It’s the Little Things

clas tub + candles

 Feels Like a Little Bit of Heaven

Fifty Things About Me That Are Totally Irrelevant:

  1. My middle name is Gayle. Just think about that for a minute . . . Lolita Gayle. Can you perceive any possible rhyme or reason why those two names might be linked together in any way? Me neither. It has always dumbfounded me as to why my parents chose this for my middle name, and I have always hated having Gayle as my middle name. It’s not the name that I hate, per se. It’s the name in conjunction with my first name. No poetry there. No melody. No logic. But what can you do? My cup of teadaughter hates her middle name also, and her father and I thought that it went very well with her first name, so I suppose that it’s just one of those parent things.
  2. Whenever I go to a bar, I order three things simultaneously: whatever liquor I’m drinking, for example Kahlua and cream, plus a glass of iced water, and a cup of hot tea. This is one of the reasons that I like to go to places where the wait staff knows me. They don’t look at me like I’m crazy when I place my order. Why do I do this? Why is my middle name Gayle? Exactly. Actually, I like to drink all three things at once. I pace myself by drinking water throughout the night, and I like my hot tea. I’m not a big drinker in the first place, so my combo works very well for me.
  3. I have only had short hair a few times in my life, and the times that I did have it, I hated it. I’m just not a short hair person. I feel like I look like a monkey when I have short hair. Of course when I was a child, my mother used to chop off my hair regularly. She would see a hairstyle that she thought was very chic, and then I would lose hair. I hated it when she would do that.womens-collage
  4. I have always been a flaming liberal, and females who say that they aren’t feminists don’t really understand the true definition of the word.
  5. I have two crooked toes. They were never broken, but the fourth toe on each foot is curved like a comma. It has never really bothered me unless someone asks me about it.
  6. Speaking of toes, I have Filipino toes, as in, I can pinch with my toes and pick up things with my toes. I know, also very strange, but trust me, this is not an unusual trait among Filipinos.
  7. Cats make me have asthma attacks, which is a shame since cats love me, and if I enter a house in which a cat resides, said cat will make a beeline for my face.
  8. My favorite thing to do when I go out is singing Karaoke. That’s because I’m a ham and a thwarted Broadway star. I had planned to run away to New York after high school, but it never happened.
  9. I’m a classically-trained pianist, but never felt that I was very good at it, even after 14 years of lessons.
  10. I have been a vegetarian a couple of times in my life, and there was no particular reason for it other than I got tired of eating red meat. I’ve never been a vegan and don’t even have the least idea as to how one does that.
  11. I love Beethoven as much as I love the Beatles, Frederic Chopin as much as I love Kenny Chesney, Stravinsky as much as I love Springsteen. My playlists usually cover about four genres of music.
  12. Cayman Islands beachMore than just about anything else, reading is my favorite way to pass the time. Reading on a tropical beach is even better. Reading a good mystery on a tropical beach with an umbrella drink is the best.
  13. My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love to decorate the house and to buy the perfect presents for the people in my life. No one else in my family gets as excited about Christmas, and that always makes me a bit melancholy.
  14. I make lots of lists—grocery lists, shopping lists, to do lists—and I lose them almost as soon as I make them, which kind of negates the whole purpose of lists.
  15. painted toenailsI always keep my toenails painted. When I went into labor with Alexis, I took the time to paint my toenails and mop the kitchen floor. One of the things I hated about having back surgery was my inability to paint my toenails for a while.
  16. I have worked as a writer, editor, marketing director, resume writer, newsroom supervisor, grants writer, proposal development specialist, graduate teaching assistant, university English instructor, membership coordinator, publications manager, 6th grade public school teacher, senior education specialist, and research and development assistant. The job that I hated the most was teaching 6th grade for Norfolk Public Schools. The job that I loved the most was teaching at a university. The environment that I enjoyed working in the most was at an arts museum. The environment that I enjoyed working in the least was for a non-profit help group.
  17. I have been to the following countries: England, Scotland, France, Germany, Morocco, the Philippines, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize, and Spain. The places that I have not yet been to that still want to see include Ireland, Wales, Greece, Costa Rica, Australia, China, and New Zealand.
  18. A job that I think I would have been good at? Being a crime analyst (in the lab, not in the field). I love solving mysteries, and it seems that analyzing evidence would be one of those jobs that would continue to evolve.
  19. The major that I seriously considered and actually regret not pursuing is marine biology. I considered pre-med, psychology, and anthropology. I ended up getting two of my degrees in English, but I have always been interested in life under the sea. I did take my LSAT’s because I was going to go to law school when we moved to northern Virginia, but then I got pregnant with Alexis and changed my mind. 
  20. Tartan 27 Sailboat
    Tartan 27 Sailboat
  21. I almost bought a 27-foot boat when I was in college that I wanted to live on. Do I regret not doing this one? Absolutely. How often are you that free in your life? No ties, no debts, the ability to make life-changing decisions. I was completely stupid for not following through on this one, and the only thing that held me back was fear.
  22. My best feature? My legs. My worst feature? Everything else.
  23. My favorite flower is lilac.
  24. My favorite scent is Calvin Klein’s Eternity.
  25. My favorite colors are black, red, and purple, in that order.
  26. I love black leather boots, my full-length black leather coat, and squooshy black leather hobo bags. My favorite leather designer is Kenneth Cole, and I don’t believe that you can ever have too many boots or purses.
  27. black bootsI love cashmere but cannot wear it because it gives me a rash.
  28. I love silk and wear it as often as possible.
  29. I love the smell of freshly cut roses, but hate the smell of rose-scented candles.
  30. My favorite jeans are Levi’s, and I cannot imagine ever paying $200 for a pair of jeans.
  31. My favorite jewelry, besides my wedding rings, are my crosses. I have a gold Claddagh cross, a gold crucifix, and three rosaries. I am not Catholic.
  32. I would have been a good lawyer because I like to win.
  33. Among the things that I like to collect are watches, especially ones with big faces and leather straps.
  34. My mom pierced my ears with a needle when I was 12.
  35. I have one tattoo on my back. I want to get at least two other tattoos.
  36. I am claustrophobic in crowded places: elevators, coliseums, rallies.
  37. I can curse without moving my lips.
  38. gem_aquamarineI spent several formidable years of my childhood in London, England. I went to a public school, and I had a very proper British accent. I haven’t been back to England since I was a child, and I would love to go back just to see how much it has changed.
  39. My birthstone is garnet, but my favorite stone is aquamarine.
  40. I am stupidly jealous, and more than once have made an idiot of myself because of it, but it stems from my insecurity.
  41. I believe that if you make a promise, you should keep it even if it’s to a small child. If you know that you aren’t going to keep the promise, don’t make it. Broken promises cause disillusionment.
  42. Keeping information from someone is the same thing as being dishonest. I know. This is probably a woman thing.
  43. I could go my entire life without watching the NFL and never miss it.
  44. I want to live in the mountains and by the sea.
  45. I love good coffee, Belgium chocolate, and angel hair pasta.
  46. I love fresh seafood, but refuse to eat lobster because I think that they should be allowed to live on the bottom of the ocean for as long as they can.cupid's bow lips
  47. I miss wearing suits and heels.
  48. I always have something on my lips, at least gloss, throughout the day.
  49. I would love to pursue another degree.
  50. Nothing is better for stress than a hot bath, lots of candles, a glass of wine, and someone washing your hair for you.
  51. This is the longest amount of time that I have spent thinking about just myself in forever, and I only did it because I couldn’t think of anything else to post.

More later on a different subject. Promise. Peace.

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Expanded Grace in Small Things

wind_chimes1

Wind chimes in the Garden

“Train yourself to listen to that small voice that tells us what’s important and what’s not.” ~  Sue Grafton

” . . . to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly . . .” ~ William Henry Channing

I’ve been pondering the small things in my life that bring me joy. This is not exactly a Grace in Small Things, but more of a contemplation of  several little things in my life and why they bring me such pleasure.

Here goes:
cuisinart-coffee-on-demand

  • I love my Cuisinart Coffee On Demand coffee maker. It’s the model that holds the coffee in an internal bucket and dispenses it from a spout. The coffee stays fresh and hot for two hours. The flavor doesn’t get that aged taste because the coffee is protected from the air. Granted, this is the most that I’ve ever spent on a coffee maker. My last one was a GE that I had for years and years. But I waited for just the right model and just the right sale price. It has been worth every penny.
  • My huge, flat computer screen is twice the size of the old behemoth of a screen that I had on my old computer. This size allows me to work without my glasses, which I find keeps my eyes from getting as tired as they used to when I was working on the computer. The resolution is incredible, and I can adjust the brightness to accommodate my headaches.
  • Media player is a wonderful thing to have on a computer when you also have Bose computer speakers. Again, I never invested in good speakers for my computer, just the $15-20 sets that you can pick up at Kmart. The difference in sound quality is incredible. I have compiled six different play lists for my computer. The most extensive one will play for 12 hours. I created a sleep list that I like to turn on with the volume fairly low after a stressful day and let play into the night. I used to fall asleep to music all of the time with my old clock/radio. I would hit the play button, and the radio would stay on for an hour. I would usually have it tuned to the local classical station. But this way, I have a nice mellow mix with a wide range of styles, everything from some tracks from the movie The Piano, to some  Beth Orton to Van Morrison to Vanessa-Mae, a violinist that Corey introduced to me. 
  • I love my little workspace in the corner of the bedroom. Granted, it’s a small space, but it’s mine. Corey calls it my “office.” It will be nice once we finish the house renovations as we hope to have a small room for office space, but for now, I enjoy my little corner of the world. Whenever I’m on the computer, Shakes comes and settles at my feet and goes to sleep. 
  • We have wind chimes scattered around the house. I really enjoy it when there is a soft breeze, and all of the chimes are moving. They all have different tones, and it’s so interesting to hear the combination of sounds and textures: shells, bamboo, hollow metal tubes, copper. It’s my natural symphony. 
  • tiger-swallowtail-on-lantana
    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  • In the late spring, our butterfly garden begins to bloom. We have lantana, rose of sharon, roses, mock orange, heather, rosemary, Hawaiian white ginger, several colors of bearded irises, and a few other plants. I wish that I had the variety of butterflies that Janson Jones has posted on his site, but I am content to watch the monarchs, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, buckeyes, and hummingbird moths. We also get big fat bumblebees. Between the amazing color of the different flowers and herbs and the array of hues of the visiting winged creatures, the garden is one of the best things about spring and summer. 
  • We have a 16-foot round, four-foot deep, above-ground poolin our backyard. Because our house is on a corner lot, we have a large front yard and a smaller backyard. The pool takes up a lot of room, but it’s worth it. In the summer, there is nothing that I like better than floating in the pool while reading a book, that is until the dogs jump in. Both Shakes and Tillie love to play ball in the pool. Next year we hope to get an elliptical-shaped pool, which will fit in the available space better and still leave some room. The other good thing about an elongated pool is that I can swim short laps and get some exercise. As it is now, I have some foam weights designed for resistance water exercises. 
  • Speaking of dogs, one of the best things we ever did was to adopt Tillie from a shelter. She is an absolute sweetheart, as most Labradors are, but she is such a daddy’s girl. I suppose that’s because Corey picks her up like a small lap dog. Tillie loves to give hugs, and she has finally realized that she is bigger than the Jack Russells. She no longer lets them intimidate her. In fact, sometimes she bullies them by not letting them on the bed, which really bothers them. But one of the sweetest sights I know is when Tillie is sleeping right next to Corey in the bed. She actually puts her head on his shoulder or drapes a paw across him. She does the same to me when I’m the only one in the bed, but between the two of us, she definitely loves Corey more, which is fine because I’ve been able to prove to him that Labradors are the best dogs in the world. 
  • My new red wallet was a great find. Even though I mourned the loss/theft of my black Kenneth Cole wallet, I believe that this new wallet has filled that void quite nicely. I did order a Kenneth Cole black wallet on line that appeared to be exactly like my old one, but when it arrived, it was different, and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. I plan to send it to Mari as I know that she loves Kenneth Cole leather as much as I do. That being said, my new wallet has just the right amount of pockets and holds all of my miscellaneous items without being overstuffed. It’s also the perfect shade of red, and nothing beats a good red, except black, of course. 
  • sony-cybershot-dsc-h2
    Sony Cybershot DSC-H2
  • I finally got the Sony Cybershot (DSC-H2) digital camera that I had been wanting before we went on our cruise last year. Now that I have time, I’m starting to shoot more pictures, which is something that I have always enjoyed. It has so many different settings and a 12x optical zoom so that quality of the shots that I am taking is incredible. The only thing that I need to do now is go through all of the pictures that I have taken, clean up the ones that I want to print in Photoshop, and then save them on a disk so that I can get prints. We don’t have a photo printer, but the cost of single prints at Costco is so reasonable, I think that it might be a better value than having to buy cartridges for yet another printer. 
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    California Cara Oranges
  • Part of my nighttime ritual is to have a cup of hot peppermint tea around 11 p.m. The peppermint is very relaxing, and it helps with my finicky stomach. It also doesn’t hurt that Corey fixes the tea and brings it to me. He likes to pamper those he loves; that’s one of my favorite things about him as I have never had the pleasure of being pampered. 
  • Right now, I am on a binge for juicy oranges. I must be deficient in Vitamin C because I have been craving oranges like mad. Corey has been buying cases of big California Cara oranges that are incredibly juicy and delicious. I’ve been eating two a day. So good. 
  • And finally, I’ll close with my appreciation for broadband Internet access, which enables such quick searching capabilities as well as speeding up blog surfing. Corey set up an in-home network for all of the computers. I don’t know how I ever lived with dial-up.

So that’s my list of small things, some smaller than others, but all significant in their individual ways. As I’ve mentioned before, it has taken a while to adjust to the major life change of being on full-time disability. But one of the best things about being home all of the time now is that I have more time to stop and smell the roses, literally!

Remember:

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~ Antonio Smith

More later. Peace.

If you are interested in surfing blogs and increasing your own blog’s exposure at the same time, be sure to visit Conron.us at www.condron.us.

American Pastime: Thrift Stores

When the Economy is Bad: Thrift Stores Do Well

Such A Deal, I’m Telling You

Well, we were in a thrift store when the wallet fiasco happened, not to dwell on a painful subject, and I had planned to blog on the phenomenon of thrift stores that evening, but just couldn’t, so I decided to broach the topic tonight. I’m not sure if thrift stores are mostly an American cultural pastime, but I do know that my German relatives claim not to be aware of any such stores where they live. Maybe my Australian friends can clarify this for me . . .

I remember when I was in college eons ago, I loved thrift stores for funky hats and jackets, and then when I taught college later, my office mate and I used tskinny-tieo scour thrift stores for men’s jackets and coats because I loved to teach in jeans and men’s jackets and wear white shirts and my father’s old ties from the fifties. I wasn’t going for affectation. It was just my look, a look that I had first adopted in college, continued with at the newspaper, and carried over into teaching. I loved my father’s old skinny ties; in fact I still have them and still wear them on occasion.

A New Generation of Thrift Store Buyers

I kept a few of the jackets and one favorite wool top coat, and it turns out to be propitious that I did. My youngest, Brett, has now adopted his own style, and it is very reminiscent of my thrift store days. My sister-in-law has been taking her daughters to thrift stores for a while, so they are already addicted, but I have a feeling that I have a new convert with Brett.

I swear that I never told him before he began to move into this new style what I used to wear, and I don’t think that any pictures exist of me in these clothes because I rarely let my own picture be taken (it’s just a thing with me; I don’t like to see my own image in print, but I love to shoot my own film). But about three months ago, he started asking if there were any suit jackets around that he could have to wear, or any old suits. I found one of his father’s old suits still in the closet from when he was much younger and thinner, and Brett immediately grabbed it and wore it to school the next day. Very posh, indeed.

Then I remembered my old sports jackets from the thrift store. He took those, too. I remembered the coat. That was a big hit. Corey had a couple of sports coats that he no longer wore. Those went into the collection. Then the search for hats began. He wanted a fedora. I didn’t even know that he knew what a fedora was. And a beret. Could I get him a beret?

basque-beret5
Genuine Basque Beret

So, I decided that since we were tight on money this year, I would take him on his own search to one of the bigger thrift stores, and we would look for a few of the items that he still wanted. In one store, we found a Kenneth Cole solid black jacket for $3.49. Sold. We also found a genuine Basque wool beret for $5.49. Sold. A vintage 50’s tie reminiscent of my Dad’s old ties for $1.99. Sold.

Went to another store and looked around. Absolutely nothing in that one. It used to be a good store, but it has gone down hill since the last time I was in there. I decided to go into one other store that was nearby that I don’t really like because it’s usually pretty dirty, but I didn’t want to pass it up on the off-chance that it might hold something. We went in and within two minutes Brett found a long, off-black trench coat. I found a herringbone overcoat very similar to one that my Dad used to own, and we found another beret, this one a black knit one. I spent less than $15.

All of his finds will have to be cleaned, but for less than $26, I found him a trench coats, an overcoat, a black jacket, a tie, and two berets. I gave him the knit beret now, and he has already washed it and started wearing it. I have to say that with his long, straight hair, he looks really good in berets. That was one kind of hat that I could never pull off. I used to wear page boy caps and fedoras. I have found a fedora for him for Christmas. I hope that it fits. It’s not an old one. I do have an old one that I bought in an antique shop in Cape Cod; it’s a Stetson, but it’s too small for Brett.

I find his whole enthrallment with old clothes and hats very nostalgic. He still wants some boots, preferably some combat boots. Corey has a pair that are practically brand new from his last stint in the Coast Guard reserves. The bad news is that they are somewhere in the black hole that is our garage at the moment. I have told Brett that if he can find them, he can have them. I have told Corey that we might have a better chance if we go to a surplus store after Christmas and buy a pair.

Newer Stores, Better Stock

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Old Record & Book Room in Thrift Store USA

I miss the days when Mari and I used to go Thrift Store mining. It was always a hunt for buried treasure, and we never knew what we would be coming home with because we never really had an idea as to what we were searching for. Brett and I didn’t make it to the store that used to be Mari’s favorite, which is in Virginia Beach. I’m not even sure if that one is still there. That’s where I found the over coat that I gave him.

The big store where we found Brett’s first big haul is really quite a nice store. They have the usual things: old dishes and glasses, out- of-date cameras, baking ware, purses, lots of out of date clothes for women, etc. But they also have some really nice things that you wouldn’t normally find in a thrift store: vintage furniture such as settees with carved wood backs in wonderful shape, drop leaf dining room tables, marble top side boards, Depression and Carnival Glass (which they are smart enough to keep in the display case and which is how I mislaid my wallet), old 45’s and LP’s, hobnail milk glass, and even an antique pedal organ. The prices on the nicer items are about what you would see in an antique store, and apparently, you can negotiate with the owners on the vintage/antique furniture and pricier items, which I’ve never heard of in a thrift store before.

cream-settee
Type of Settee I'd Love to Have in My Living Room

If my house were finished, as in all of the renovations complete, I saw a lovely, very comfortable vintage couch that I would love to put in the living room, which we are going to use as a sitting room with just a sound system after the garage is converted to a den. The den will house the big screen television and the DVDs and the gaming systems, which means the boys and their friends will be living out there, and I can reclaim my living room as a reading room, which means that it wouldn’t be insane to have a lovely sofa for sitting and reading on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Ah dreams . . . they are wonderful things to hold onto, aren’t they?

One of these days, when life returns to normal . . . more later. Peace.