Archive for the ‘Bits and Pieces’ Category

Happiness, doubled by wonder. (On Gratitude)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ G.K. Chesterton

Let’s start this Thanksgiving off right, and begin the giant responsiblity of acknowledging what I’m thankful for this year (and in no particular order except stream of consciousness “must get this out before I forget what I’m writing about” order):

A generator. We put in a generator after the Great Construction Event of 2010, and have used it several time, most recently during the Halloween Blizzard. Recalling the days of my youth when we weren’t able to flush a toilet or take a shower when the electricity went out, I must say a generator makes things more than bearable. Open invitation for those of you who don’t have a generator: we’ve got flushing toilets, showers, and, importantly, an internet connection.

Control top anything. Now, of course you are thinking, “Huh? control top? I’d rather stab myself in the thigh than put on control top anything,” and I would actually agree with you, to a point. And yet, as we begin these days of end-of-year parties, recitals, and public appearances, I take moderate pleasure in knowing “it” is all tucked in and restrained. I’d be more grateful to lose “it,” but I don’t see that happening before, oh, Thursday, so when you marvel at my tight silhouette at the Thanksgiving table, you can just smile knowingly to yourself. I won’t mind.

My dogs. Oh, don’t get me wrong — they are incredibly annoying and under my feet all. the. time. Funnily enough, my exasperation doesn’t alter how intrinsically joyful they are. They’re thrilled to ride in the car to go pick up a child. They’re thrilled to come home after the picking up of the child. They’re enraptured by my cooking in the kitchen (to be fair, many are. It’s quite a sight.) They’re happy to go to bed, they’re happy to get up in the morning. They spend hours making nose prints on the windows, protecting their domain from wandering deer, blowing leaves, our famous Princeton black squirrels, and John the UPS guy. (Actually, they’re not so much protecting in the case of John, but more like waiting desperately for him, as he packs biscuits in among his boxes. He’s a welcome sight in these parts.)

Learning. I was going to write “education,” because I’ve been auditing a class at the University, but the truth is “learning” is more than “education,” and you can often have had a great education and learned not so much. I’m reminded all the time that learning is happening all over the place, in traditional and non-traditional venues. Some are lessons I wish we never had to learn: that a trusted coach can turn out to be an abuser of incredible proportions; that democracy can be threatened at a town hall meeting with a guy and a gun, that living beyond our means can threaten not only our way of life, but that of an entire community, state, nation; that in spite of miracles like penicillin, there remain many mysteries such as ALS and Alzheimer’s which rob us of those we love; that if you give the dog the most obnoxious squeak toy in the history of plush and rubber, it will become his favorite and scare the hell out of you when you step on it in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom.

All the lessons are not bad ones, though. In my little world, I’ve recently learned that while terminal illness sucks (sorry Mom, but that’s the word we must use), there is a huge gift in sitting in an overly warm living room, watching The View and chatting. A huge gift. Also? I’ve learned (again) that my children are more industrious than I witnessed them being, as evidenced by grade reports and eyewitness (teacher) accounts. I’ve learned (again, thanks Husband) that unexpected flower deliveries are the best kind, and that although you can’t ever go home (er, back to college) again, it’s nice to walk around and look at the undergrads and feel old….and then shrug it off and go to the movies and dinner. (And take cabs. We didn’t take a lot of cabs back then.)

Friends. I’m still laughing over an email exchange from a couple of weeks ago. College Roommate will be flying in for business in a week or so, and I’ll be meeting her in NYC for dinner and a sleepover at her hotel. (Yes, I’m not a huge fan of the Sleepover as a parent, but as a participant at a nice NYC hotel, I’m all in.) Turns out the hotel in question is the Algonquin, and so my response to the invitation was “of course I’m in, but only if we get to sit at a round table,” to which another college pal replied, “Relax, Dorothy, we’ll get you the right table.” Huzzah! (to quote my #2 child) that there are people in the world who get me and my humor. (Still laughing, Sheila. Thanks.) So as I prepare for my sleepover (I suspect there will be talk of getting older, stray hairs, and sagging body parts, so I’m packing my night cream, tweezers, and maybe some lycra), I’m grateful for my friends who are, for the most part, far from me physically but not so far psychically. This becomes even more important when I am reminded of #2 child and her recent school experiences with so-called “social aggression” (euphemism, anyone?). Friends matter. Good friends matter always and forever.

Keurig. I don’t have a problem, I can stop any time. I just believe that every day should start with two ginormous cups of coffee, which equate to 4 K-cups. (A problem would be if I were putting Bailey’s in it at 6:30, and I’m not.) I vaguely remember the day when I made a full pot of coffee, watched it burn all morning and then poured it down the sink. Ah, the quaint old days.

Those Who Are Handy, or Pretend to Be. Husband changed about 435 light bulbs on the weekend, moved the table extensions up from the basement for Thanksgiving, and recently handled such delightful homeowner tasks as restocking the firewood and acquiring 987 pounds of salt for the softener. Jobs that I didn’t have to do — yippee! I also look forward to the return of My Guys from the contractor that we used for the Great Construction Event of 2010.  I miss them a lot — particularly when Husband’s away and there are issues that require a ladder (like 435 dead light bulbs that I don’t want to change. We waited in the near darkness for Husband’s return). I’ve got a small, albeit temporary, project that will require My Guys in the next day or so.

Volunteers and the People Who Support Them. I’m in a position of some leadership on one Board Committee, and as a “regular” volunteer in some other places so I feel like I’ve seen a bit “behind the curtain.” Volunteering is hard, and supporting volunteers must be even harder at times. I’m grateful to both those who are boots on the ground AND those who make it possible for us to be boots on the ground — even when that ground is muddy or messy or when some of the boots say they’ll be on the ground but then don’t show, or when the boots start excusing themselves with the “too busy” stories. We’re all busy, but we get it done, and WE and the organizations we support are better for it.

My family. Last, as they say, but never least. We’re healthy (aside from weird rashes in arm pits [I call them “charm pits” because I enjoy eye rolling], and the various medical issues that arise at bed time [the “parade of maladies”]) and happy (but, yes, we’re often soooooo bored) and smart (mostly too smart for our own collective good, but that’s what happens when they learn to read). Husband and I still enjoy each other’s company after almost a decade and a half together, and our parents are well enough to do things like travel halfway around the world or get two knees replaced at one time. We are blessed.

And I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!



Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, but I learned to be a writer on an Apple IIc.

Photo credit: J Mayrand's Computer Museum

Today I have the option to write on my iPad, my iMac on my desktop, or my Mac Mini in my kitchen. I don’t write as much as I should or even want to, but it’s not for lack of options. Who knows what Steve Jobs would have come up with if he’d had another 25 years?

Thanks, Steve. I hope they’re running Macs in Heaven. Certainly the harps are now on iTunes.

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