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:
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  • 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. 
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    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. 
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    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.

Lessons in Love

tristan-and-isolde-by-todd-peterson-at-fine-art-america 

Tristan and Isolde by Todd Peterson at Fine Art America

 Pourquoi faut-il de cette façon? (Why must it be this way?)

I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. After I picked up Brett from school, we went to Target to pick up a few things, including Valentine’s Day cards. Brett commented that he didn’t really like Valentine’s Day because it reminded him of how lonely he was.

That made me pause. I told him that when I was an undergrad, I always felt lonely on Valentine’s Day because although I was dating, there was no one special in my life. It was at that moment that I realized that Valentine’s Day is a complete non-holiday, perpetuated by the greeting card industry for couples, married and otherwise.

I know. I know. Valentine’s Day does have its roots dating back to the Roman Empire when the feast of Lupercalia occurred on the Ides of February, or February 15. Lupercalia was an ancient fertility ritual that was held around the time that birds began to mate. The festival was held in honor of the god Pan. Gifts were exchanged and couples would be paired. Our celebration today hearkens back more to the pagan holiday as we still celebrate with signs of Cupid or Eros as the symbol of the day.

According to the Christian legend, there was a Saint Valentine who went against the order of Emperor Claudius Gothicus and married young men to help to keep them from going to war. Valentine himself was sent to jail, and there he supposedly composed the first valentine to the jailer’s daughter.

Whatever it’s origins, the day has been totally exploited by greeting cards, pink teddy bears, and red hearts. Those of us who happen to be paired with someone feel an incredible sense of obligation to buy the perfect card and with it, the perfect gift to reflect our love. Those of us without a special someone are left feeling as if our lives are bereft of love and that no one will ever love us because no one gave us a gaudy pink teddy bear or mushy card that expressed his or her undying love.

I used to wait for my flowers or chocolate or both on Valentine’s day, measuring my love’s love for me by what I received on this day. Until the day of my epiphany. Truly. I mean, why is this day any different from any other?

The price of a dozen roses jumps $10 on this day, and falls back to normal just one day later. Isn’t that exploitative? Will that dozen roses prove that Corey loves me?

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Gustave Klimt's "The Kiss" close-up

Corey and I say “I love you” to each other several times each day. Whenever we end a telephone conversation, we say it. If one of us is leaving the house, we say it. Before we close our eyes at night, we say it. And it isn’t just perfunctory; we mean it. Okay, sometimes it’s perfunctory. But when we sense that we are saying it just to say it, we back up, take a look at ourselves, and then say it as if we mean it with all of our hearts.

I don’t need roses for that. I don’t need a card for that. I love the cards that he chooses for me. As I have said, he always chooses well. But too many couples go way overboard for this holiday: diamonds, roses, chocolates, everything. What do they do the rest of the year? Do they say they love each other to each other and really mean it? Do they take care of one another without a second thought? Do they make each other feel loved through their actions and their words?

Roses are beautiful flowers, but they are not everlasting. Chocolate is wonderful; you know how I feel about chocolate, but once you eat it, it’s gone. Diamonds are spectacular, but I once knew a man who gave his wife a diamond anniversary ring and then left her two months later. These things are symbols.

I would rather have something that I know to be real and true every day than something that is just a symbol for a few days. I told Corey how I was feeling about this the other day, and he was completely shocked because I have always been such a romantic. The truth is that I am still a die-hard romantic, but I don’t want my romance dictated to me by a greeting card industry. Perhaps I am too cynical for my own good.

But when my son made that statement, it took me back to those years when I sat around feeling sorry for myself because no one was delivering flowers to me at work and how unloved I felt. And from that feeling I extended my sense of being unloved to my sense of self-worth. If I wasn’t worth loving, then perhaps I wasn’t worth anything at all. This is how the young mind works. It’s not logical, but these leaps in logic are not far-fetched for someone who already feels like an outsider.

And I know that I was not alone in feeling like that, and I am certain that people of all ages feel this way when Valentine’s Day rolls around and no cards are appearing on their desks or flowers are arriving at their doors. It shouldn’t be this way. We shouldn’t be consumed by the hype, but unfortunately we are.

That’s why I asked Corey, and he agreed, that we are going to boycott Valentine’s Day gift-giving from now on. We can still exchange cards, but the hunt for the perfect gift to show our love to one another seems superfluous and non-essential.

Some of the best presents Corey has ever given me were for no reason at all: a card put in my carryall for me to find later in the day, freshly-cut gardenias, planting a new mock orange beneath the bedroom window so that the smell will drift into the window, surprising me with tickets to see my favorite comedian. Unexpected tokens of affection. No prescribed holidays.

And so, the joint boycott of Valentine’s Day. We will continue to live our life together just fine without red teddy bears or sparkling glitter or overpriced roses, and I believe that regardless of what the commercials would have you believe, we will be just fine.

More later. Peace.

Life in Pink

New Year’s Eve Makes Me Melanchology

La Vie en Rose (or Life in Pink)

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose

When you kiss me heaven sighs
And tho I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose

When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom

And when you speak . . . angels sing from above
Everyday words seem . . . to turn into love songs

Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose

Words/Translation by Louis Armstrong

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It is worth noting that the translation of the original lyrics by Edith Piaf from 1946 are much longer than Armstrong’s and the lyrics adapted for usage in other movies and plays, such as Sabrina, Prêt-à-Porter, Modigliani, Lord of War, and WALL=E.

 

La Vie En Rose

Those eyes that makes kisses with mine
A laugh that loses itself on his mouth
Here is the untouched up picture
Of the man who belongs to me

When he takes me in his arms,
He talks to me very softly
I see La Vie en Rosepink-long-stem-roses1

He says to me words of love
These words everyday
And this does something to me

He entered in my heart
A part of happiness
Of which I know the cause

It’s him for me. Me for him
In this life
He told me that, he swore it for life

And ever since I noticed that
I felt
My heart beating

Nights of love to no longer finishing
A great happiness takes its place
Sorrowful problems, phases,
Happy, happy until death

When he takes me in his arms,
He talks to me very softly
I see La Vie en Rose

He says to me words of love
These words everyday
And this does something to me

He entered in my heart
A part of happiness
Of which I know the cause

It’s you for me, me for you

In this life
He said that to me, swore it for life

And ever since I noticed that
I felt
My heart beating

Lyrics by Edith Piaf, 1946

New Year’s Eve Wishes

new-years-eve-big-benWhatever you do to ring in the New Year, please do it safely and wisely. Remember, if you get behind the wheel impaired, you are not only taking risks with your life, but also with the lives of your passengers, and with countless of strangers. The life you take may not be yours, but the life you ruin may be your own. Nothing is worth that. Most bars will call cabs for you, and most taxi services around the country will take impaired drivers home for free on New Year’s eve.

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No one wans to be on the road with a drunk or drugged driver. Stay home, or if you do go out, leave your car keys at home and plan to take a taxi home. Or have a designated driver who drinks only water and soda all night. Or stay at a hotel where you are going to the party. Or take the trolley. You have plenty of options, and no reason to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle drunk or impaired.

Please, stay safe so that you can come back in 2009. May your angel be with you tonight. Peace.