Making Lists and Wondering… What the Hell

May 16

I’ve been making a lot of lists.  Movies to watch, tv shows to watch, dystopian books I’ve read, tasks to do, tasks done.  I’ve worked on budgets for us, for K’s parents, for the rentals.  I’ve walked the dogs with K, perused random things on the internet, and read too many news stories.  We’ve planted flowers after doing the whole social distance shopping thing to pick up the flowers.  I’m restless.  I know you are too.  We’ve watched the birds, purchased more than our share of oranges and jelly to feed the beautiful migratory Orioles, purchased bags of seed in that same social distancing way we shop for everything now.

Photo by TJ Parker

The girlie is standing on our deck right now shaking.  She’s staring at the back door and shaking.  K is making sausages for breakfast.  Riley is shaking.  It makes no sense.  I think she’s expecting disaster to strike.  For the smoke alarm to go off or some other big sound she knows she will hate.  It’s happened a couple of times before, the smoke alarm going off.  She knows this.  She does not trust sausage or the oven.  She is preemptively shaking.  I am too.

Aren’t we all?  What the hell is up?

I like to keep track of things.  I count.  I love when Goodreads tells me I’m “on track!” to complete my yearly reading challenge.  11 of 30 books read so far this year.  I just finished a good one last night.  I have a list at IMDb of movies that have yet to come out or have already come out that I want to see.  I have lists of movies I’ve seen.  I time the coffee when it’s steeping.  If I forget to put the timer on I count.  I’m slightly obsessive.  Who knew?  It doesn’t really surprise me, though I just noticed it recently.  

Things are quieter.  Not in my head, no, not there.  But quieter.  We were walking last night and actually commented on how it was so quiet.  Not as much car noise.  Not as many cars.  People were out walking as well, but in hushed tones. Crossing the street to keep the 6 feet rule intact.   I feel like we’re all hushed and waiting.  Sometimes holding our breath, hoping the big bad runs past us and doesn’t see us there, hiding behind that bush.  Everything is a movie scene in my mind.  

The weather is turning.  Finally getting warm.  It took long enough.  Of course we’re also in the middle of storm season so it’s warmer, but stormy a lot.  We’re taking advantage of some sun right now and enjoying our deck.  Dogs on dog beds or the chaise lounge.  They love it out here too.  We have a playset in our yard.  The grandkids have used it quite a bit over the years we’ve lived here.  We added an extra slide and a mini climbing wall.  Sebastian helped K build the climbing wall.  There are places for two swings.  One side has a swing on it and the other just has chains hanging down.  We had a baby swing there for years, but they are all too big for that now.  We took it down and gave it away meaning to get another swing seat for that side.  We haven’t done it yet.  We may never.  The grandkids haven’t been here in months now.  Not since before we left for the West Coast, before all of this really took off.  It makes me a little sad looking at those chains.  No seat.  Maybe no reason to put one on it.  We even started talking about taking down the entire thing.  We’re waiting.  Waiting to see what happens.

Maybe we’ll go for a ride today.  Get out and away from the house.  Go somewhere else to walk.  Look at other birds.  Stand in a different quiet place.

I’m struggling to have enthusiasm about much of anything lately.  It’s a problem.  I try to occupy my time, my thoughts, myself.  We buy plants, we shop online, I do the laundry and the dishes, K cooks, I have even cooked a little, K works, we watch TV and movies, we listen to music, we watch online streaming events, we make plans we hope we can keep, and we mourn the loss of activities we were going to do but that are now canceled.

We were going to camp in May and June.  Now we aren’t.  We were going to go to the pool with the kiddos a lot, we bought a pass, now we aren’t.  We were going to go to Ebertfest in April, we didn’t.  Dommy was going to go to Circus Camp at the end of June, he isn’t.  We were going to go to music in the park, we won’t.  We were going to enjoy the 4th of July parade and fireworks, we won’t.  

We’ve had quite a few mini disasters since returning home from the West Coast in March.  Our fridge went out and we had to have it replaced.  Our kitchen sink drain got plugged, some ancient, before we owned the house problem that reared its head and required a plummer, twice.  Our basement flooded because I didn’t put the washer drain plug back in properly and then ran a tub clean cycle, with bleach.  Many towels were used, fans were turned on, we took everything out under the stairs, the dehumidifier went into high alert.  One of the jugs of water we have in the basement for emergency supply leaked, after the flood was cleaned up mind you, separate incident, and got the stair carpet wet again.  We had to take all the stuff under the stairs from out again.  Fan plugged in and turning, again.  Drying things out.  At least the jug didn’t have as much water as the washer did when it leaked out.  A bit of a silver lining.  

A beetle just tried to commit suicide, accidental of course, in my cup of coffee.  It was wandering around the rim of it, then just plunged in.  I watched it struggle for a moment or two.  Flailing about, head under, legs going as fast as they could go, getting nowhere.  I took my cup and poured it into the grass to save the little thing.  It worked.  It started moving and I’m sure has wandered off by now.  I hope it’s learned its lesson.  Probably not.

May 18… 

It stormed last night.  It’s always so beautiful after a storm.  Deep blue sky, calm, hardly any wind.  Clear clean air.  We had so much rain in the last 24 hours.  Our rain gauge is nearly full.  Crazy amounts of water.  So much so we had ponds form in places in our backyard.  The streets flooded around here, where they are prone to.  The occasional car going by splashing it’s way through.  We could hear it, nearby.  

When it rains like that we get a pond on our patio we have to squeegee.  It’s butted up against the house and pools near a basement window.  We’ve never had it actually get deep enough to pour in the window, but it gets at least 2-3 inches deep.  We had to squeegee yesterday. Weston also wouldn’t go out to pee.  We had to leash him and take him to the front of the house so he could pee under the eave on the house.  We did this twice, trying to take him out.  We also leashed him and tried to take him in the backyard.  He had none of it.  Though he did pee on the house that one time.  Fun times.  It gives us anxiety for him when he won’t go out.  We know he has to go, he won’t go, he’s restless.  It makes us restless.

Our driveway is so slippery where the sump pump releases it’s stream of water.  It travels down that side of the driveway toward the road.  Not ideal, but changing it would require a major job and a lot of money.  We’re just not up for that.  Maybe someday.  But man… K fell down last night (onto a knee) trying to take Weston out to pee.  Umbrella in one hand, Weston in the other.  Slippery driveway.  Recipe for disaster.  She is sore today.  I nearly fell down taking out the garbage and recycling bins last night as well.  I didn’t, but I twisted in a way that I shouldn’t have.  I’m sore today.

We got a call yesterday morning about 8:30 that Mary’s dog, Wicket, had gotten out of the yard and was missing. The gate had blown open in the storm.  We went over immediately and started looking.  I was cruising up and down the streets in the big white van.  I’m sure I looked creepy.  I kept rolling down the window asking people walking by if they’d seen a little white dog.  No one had.  One guy said to me, now I know why you’ve been slowly cruising around the neighborhood.  Mary had said to me, laughing, I didn’t look creepy at all driving around in the big white van.  She was right.  I looked creepy.  K was walking looking for him.  We did this for an hour or so.  Finally Mary got a call from a neighbor two blocks over saying they had him.  Had had him since 1:30AM.  He kept setting off their security lights. Poor guy.  It was raining.  He hates the rain.  They said when they opened their door to see what it was setting off their lights he just ran in their house.  He’s old, crotchety, and doesn’t really care, so in he went.  Mary’s phone had been acting up and the woman had called her more than once.  Finally she got through and Mary and K walked over to get him.  When he got back to Mary’s he just ran in the house like nothing had happened.  Dogs.  I want to be them.

And another thing… our Jeep is acting up.  We went for a social distance drive.  Just us, a couple of bags of popcorn, some water, some binoculars, my camera.  We drove to some county parks.  They were too crowded to get out and actually walk anywhere, which was a bummer.  But we got out of the house, enjoyed each other’s company.  Listened to some music.  All was well until we got back into town.  Suddenly the Jeep is going wacko.  A message came on saying I had to put it in gear (it was in drive), it started shifting gears on it’s own, the battery light came on, and then it died at a stop sign.  I managed to get it started and we managed to get home.  We’re taking it to Bloomington today, if we can make it, to get it checked over, repaired, and serviced.  Saturday, after this occurred we rode the scooter over to the warehouse and picked up the van, so we have transport.  K will follow me in the van to Bloomington.  I hope we make it.  

You know how I said things keep happening… I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating.  K said to me this morning that it would be nice to have a day where nothing happened.  I agree.  Today we attempt to drive 50 miles to Bloomington in a Jeep that doesn’t want to work.  We’re hoping to make it, to not have to call AAA.  This is where I would put a fingers crossed emoji.

I have to check my lists today… see what’s to be done.  I just cleaned the bathrooms, changed the laundry over, and started the dishwasher.  K is working, in a meeting right now.  I can hear it.  Sort of.  She has the door closed.

It’s quiet in here right now.  No sound but the ceiling fan and the sump pump going off just now.  Quiet.  No one out, no one walking by, no one driving by.  Just me in this chair, Weston asleep against my leg, the hushed sounds of K’s work meeting. 

Time to get up, brush my teeth, and put on some clean clothes.  If we have to call AAA I don’t want to frighten them.  

What the hell?

49 For 49

I turned 49 a few days ago.  No, I’m not really 50 something and just using 49 as my sticky-post age.  I’m 49.

I’m not fazed.  Not being fazed is a good thing.

I have never been a person who was affected by my age.  I turned 16, 21, 25, 30, 40, etc. with no real worry or fear about getting older.  Time is what it is.  It marches, so do we.  I feel like I’m becoming a better version of myself, and getting better all the time, as I’ve aged.  Wisdom, lessening insecurities, a strong and getting stronger I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-what-anyone-thinks attitude, and a more and more relaxed way of looking at the world.

I feel like I’m better at looking outside of myself, outside of my inner dialogue, to the world beyond.  I realize I’m a small drop in a very large bucket.  And what’s more, when I fall back to being too much in my head, too much about me, I can snap out of it pretty quickly by reminding myself there’s more to life, so much more, than me.  It’s my personal version of a mental slap upside my head.  It’s a wisdom thing.  Something I’ve gained with age.  A certain perspective.  I’m grateful for it.

I try not to take myself to seriously, also a wisdom with age thing.  It’s the last vestige of big things I’m trying to work on.  I think I just wrote that with a serious face.  Mental note to relax the face while writing.

So I’m better, like fine wine, aged cheese, a good bourbon.  A better and bettering version of myself.  Is bettering even a word?  I have no idea.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this.  My intention was to make a list of 49 things, of various types and intention, in honor of my 49th.  Instead I’ve seemed to wax on about how aged I am.

Let’s take a new tack.

I received a boat load of well wishes and birthday congrats and notes of love on Facebook.  I have an amazing group of people in my life, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and I’m ever so grateful for their presence, support, love, generosity of spirit, and humor.  It’s not so much that I have a quantity of people, I have quality people.  There’s a huge distinction in that.  They are quality people, and I’m beyond lucky to know them, to have them in my life.  I know this.  I’m blessed.

Which brings me back to the list.  The multitude of wishes made me grateful for the people in my life and that made me think of others things I’m grateful for.  I thought, at this juncture, it would be good to write some of those down, so the following is a list of things I’m grateful for.  It’s like a master list, though I know it will change, has changed, and morph over the years.  Some things though, remain constant.  I think it’s so important in life to look at what’s good, what’s working, what’s beautiful in our lives.  To actually take the time to acknowledge these things, stop in our crazy day, be still, and reflect on what’s good and important to us.  The people in my life would be number one.  So let’s start there.

1.  Family.  Born into a group of beautiful people, on both sides, was like winning the lottery.  There are people you choose in life, who I will get to in a moment, but the clan you enter the world belonging to can be a matter of luck.  My luck was good.  They are, to the last of them, quality, wonderful, and staggeringly spectacular.   I can’t even being to express the fortune I feel and how proud I am to belong to the lot of them.

2. Friends.  Or a better description might be to say they are the family I’ve chosen.  Throughout my life I seem to have chosen well.  I also find this lucky as I was not always my better self, yet somehow my center chose wisely, most of the time.  I’ve met and made friends with so many shining souls in my life I can’t even count them all.  As I sit here I see face after face run through my mind and I’m smiling.  Each and every one brought, and continues to bring, something singularly special to my life.  Such a unique, varied, luminous group of people.  I don’t know how I ended up with the pack of you, but I’m so so glad I did.  You are more than friends, you are truly family to me.

Brown Eyed Soul
Brown Eyed Soul (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

3. Pups. I’ve always been a dog person.  I love their pack mentality.  The group is better than the one.  I love their loyalty and sweetness and unconditional love.  I love how cuddly they are.  I realize not all dogs are like this, but in my experience, this is what I’ve found.  Our dogs, Weston and Riley, are the most wonderful of creatures.  Both quirky and slightly flawed and neurotic in their own little ways, they bring so much joy and love and happiness to our lives.  I can’t believe how much I love them, and how much love they give to us.  It’s miraculous, the love of our dogs for us.  It’s important to honor that, to cherish it, and to take up the responsibility that having them in our lives brings.

4. Wind in the trees.  This is a bit of a crazy one, or might seem crazy anyway, but its going to stay here none the less.  I love the sound of the wind in the trees.  It’s a reminder of the moving world.  The wind blows here, it’s blowing somewhere across the world.  It carries life and hazard and is alive in its own way.  It reminds me how gentle or ferocious life can be and that I should try to be gentler, quieter, softer in my approach.  It reminds me how small I am, how big the world is, and that there are people in other places lifting their faces to the wind, closing their eyes, and sighing, just like I do sometimes.

5. The grand boys.  I know they are people too, and yes they are included in what I wrote above, but they are worth their own category.  Every day it seems I learn something new from them, something new about them.  They have such zest, such emotion, such joy for life.  They are amazing little men and the fact that I get to be privy to their growth and exploration of the world is magical.  Seeing how they respond to things, how they are effected by their world, how they learn, it all stuns me.  I’m so grateful for the experience of knowing them and loving them and having them love me.

6. My honey.  Yes, she also deserves her own category.  I would’ve put her first, as she deserves to be first, and is, but no matter.  It doesn’t matter what number gets put next to her on any list, she’s my number one.  My center, my split apart, my soul mate.  Two people were never more suited for each other.  We are like a hand in a perfectly fit glove.  We mesh.  We work.  We somehow found each other.  It’s rare, to have this kind of relationship.  I know it is.  She knows it too.  I can be moody and difficult, we have our issues, like everyone does, but the difference is that we are always moving together in the same direction.  We find joy in each other, in our relationship.  We look at things the same way, with a sense of adventure and excitement.  She has more joy than anyone I’ve ever met.  I am amazed by her.

7.  The Scooter.  It’s fun.  It’s fast.  It’s zippy.  It’s freedom on two wheels.  Riding it gives me great joy.  What more is there to say?

2397017863_b3d3da1b98_b8. A good book.  I’m in a reading phase now.  I seem to, over the course of my life, go in and out of reading phases.  I’ve always loved it, but sometimes I go off reading.  I have no idea why.  The times when I’m in a reading phase definitely are better times.  I am more relaxed, more at peace, more in touch with things outside myself.  It’s a good advertisement, in my life anyway, for me trying to stay in a reading phase.  New worlds are always waiting inside the pages of a good book.

9. My kindle, and other electronic devices.  Is this cheating to bring up the Kindle right after the above number 8?  Nah….  I’m a geek.  I love all things techy.  I love new technology, what it can do, the places it can take me.  I have always loved these things.  I have no idea why.  I don’t really want to know how they work, I just want to figure out their functions and then use them.  Whatever thing; phone, laptop, Kindle, iPod, GPS in the Jeep, new app, etc., I happen to be using at the time.  Fabulous.

10. The dictionary.  The vehicle of its delivery has changed, moving to an online or let’s make that plural as in multiple online dictionaries, but I love them all the same.  Words, meanings of words, other words to use in place of words I think I’ve over used, and on and on.  The dictionary and/or a good thesaurus, are wonders of the world.  I adore them.

11. Chocolate.  In all its forms, covered over the top of things or standing alone on its own, I love me some good chocolate.

10469198_10152595625135802_7636557574230510828_n12.  The ocean.  Doesn’t really matter which one, though I’m sort of partial to the Pacific as it’s the one I grew up with.  The power, the endless depth, the mysteries living there.  Again, it’s one of those things that makes me feel small in a big world.  As you can probably tell by now I love that feeling.  It helps to put things in perspective.  I like most forms of natural water; rivers, oceans, big lakes, streams.  Even rain.  Rain is amazing.  I think my Oregon is showing through.

13. Ceiling fans.  Crazy as this may seem.  I love our ceiling fan in our bedroom.  I don’t know if I could sleep without it.  It’s the simple pleasures in life.  Besides which, in Scappoose we actually named our ceiling fan The Super-Sky-Diving-Fan-Blade-Lady.  Yes, if you looked at it just right, like shapes in clouds, you could see her.

14. Filtered sunlight.  I’m looking out into the backyard now.  It’s now (a few days have gone by since I started this list) the first day of Autumn (which happens to be my favorite of the seasons) and it’s gorgeous outside.  The light is coming down in streaks through the trees and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Stunning.  Gorgeous. Amazing.

15. Weston’s snoring sound.  I know I already talked about the dogs, but seriously, his snore rocks.  He’s a small dog, but can snore with the best of them.  I love that sound.

16. Finding a new band/music and music in general.  I’m an explorer by nature.  This applies to music as well.  I’m constantly looking for new music.  Finding a new group/artist is an amazing thing.  It lifts my soul.  Just as listening to an old standard lifts my soul.  Some people aren’t music people, they could care less.  I don’t understand those people.  I’m moved, shaped, enlightened, lifted, seared to the core, and effected greatly by the music in my life.

17. Birkenstocks.  We are a Birkenstock household.  There are so many different kinds of Birkenstocks in our house it’s sort of ridiculous, but they are here for a reason.  They are comfortable.  The most comfortable shoe ever.  My feet sing while wearing them.

Portland Rose Garden
Portland Rose Garden

18. Walkabouts.  I love a good stroll.  Going places my feet can take me, anywhere I happen to be, is a great thing.  My Mom and I just did a 13 plus mile stroll in Chicago recently.  We hadn’t planned on walking that far, we just did.  The weather was wonderful, the company stellar, and the sights beautiful.  Walking is an experiment in living the slow life.  It allows you to drink it what’s around you, be more effected by it, be IN it.  I recommend it highly.

19. iPhone camera.  I’m a fan.  Being somewhat of a photographer (I’ve gotten paid to do it occasionally) I have a lot of equipment.  Recently, however, I’ve been using my iPhone camera more and more.  I’ve done this for a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t have to carry around a ton of stuff, my phone is always in my pocket anyway, and two, not carrying around all that stuff and attending to it, and then using it, I feel like I’m more in the moment.  I’m still taking loads of photos, but I seem to be more present in situations just using my phone as opposed to big cameras.  And to top it off, the iPhone camera is pretty darn good for a phone camera.  I like it.  I like it a lot.

20. Eggs on toast.  We just spent many days in our travel trailer.  An egg on toast was a go to breakfast for us during that time.  One egg, one piece of toast.  Simple, and warm, and tasty.  I enjoyed it.  I just thought of it this morning, so guess what we had for breakfast today?

21. Autumn.  I mentioned fall in an earlier item.  It’s my favorite and deserves its own slot.  I love the changing of the leaves, I love the new crispness in the air, I love how we clean up the yard and put stuff away and everything starts to get still, quiet.  Strangely I love having to put on my long pants and sweatshirts for the first time in months.  I love the holidays during fall and how here in Illinois the trees start to bare themselves as the leaves start to fall.  It’s a time of change and quieting and relief from the heat.

22. Old fashioned chocolate sodas.  To be honest I just discovered these this last week.  I liked it so much I’m including it here.  Yum.

23. Travel.  As I said earlier, I’m an explorer by nature.  New places, new things, new experiences are like mana of the gods to me.  I drink them in.  Travel, by its nature, feeds that need in me to explore.  New sights, sounds, people met, and areas to explore feed my soul.  I’m a bit of a nomad and travel, of any kind and distance, fills that part of me.

Redwoods
Redwoods

24. Our new travel trailer.  Related, obviously, to the previous item, our travel trailer rocks.  We just got it this summer and ended up spending, so far, nearly 50 nights traveling around and sleeping in it.  I never got tired of it.  It’s small, but feels big for its size.  I think, honestly, I could actually live in it.  That won’t happen, as having a home base is necessary for my honey, and probably for me as well, but I think I could.  It’s perfect for the two of us and our two fur heads.  It symbolizes adventure and fun and exploration.  I’m ready to take it out again.

25. Tasty vittles.  Along with new places to see, I love finding new foods I like.  As well, truth be told, as eating standard favorites of mine.  A good meal shared with good people and maybe a nice glass of Barbera d’Alba.  Yum.

26. Quiet time.  I’m a person who enjoys solitude and silence.  In fact I don’t just enjoy it, I need it.  Sitting alone in a space reading, watching tv, drinking coffee, looking around, or just sitting and thinking, is necessary for me.  I call it my recharge time.  It’s important for me.  And consequently it’s important for those around me.  I’m a better me when I get time to myself once in a while.  If I don’t I begin to feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and a tad crazy pants.  Plus, I just plain enjoy it.

27. The blogs.  Creative outlets, period the end.  I love writing, I love taking photos, and I love having a place to put that out into the world.  Read or not read (though I prefer read) I so enjoy the constant platforms for creativity.

28. Speaking of photography.  Photography.  I see the world a certain way.  I see it in detail.  The whole is beautiful, but the real secret beauty lives in the details.  A leaf, an arm, a man smoking a cigar, shadows and light.  I have always seen this way, though I think using a camera so much has heightened this sense of mine.  When I capture what I’ve just seen with my eyes in a photograph it’s an incredible feeling.

29. Words.  Written by others, written by myself, lyrics, stanzas, dialogue, conversation, puns, silly phrases, novels, poems, short stories, witty commercials, plays, dictionaries, etc.  No matter the vehicle, words mean a lot to me.  I’m grateful for their breadth and depth and expanse.  I’m grateful to be able to convey and to have things conveyed to me.  I’m grateful for the expression of others and my ability to express.  They are the bread and fruit of life.

30.  A good hug.  My brother, Kev, is a fantastic hugger.  He’s known for it actually.  I think his hugs will go down in song and story.  He hugs with the all of himself.  It engulfs and warms and conveys so much.  There’s nothing like a good hug.  We are a hugging family.  We are people who hug.  There’s a reason for that.

Peace
Peace

31. Experience.  Vague, yes, but not really meant to be.  I love new experiences with the people in my life.  Fishing on Stan’s boat, disc golf with the Gal Up group, crab feast with the POD, fantasy football, going out for a bite to eat, bike rides, walks, dinners at the houses of great friends, train rides, laughing and laughing, seeing a film, reading a book, walking on a beach, kayaking, exploring cool buildings, seeing great art, and on and on and on.  The experiences we have are everything.  What we own, nothing. The time we spend with the people we love, doing things we love, that’s where the heart and soul of living is.

32. Bike rides.  I have always loved the feeling of being on a bike.  It’s always meant freedom and fun to me.  When I was a kid a whole gang of us would ride around together, exploring the neighborhood.  I bought my first bike, a sweet little green 10 speed, when I was in junior high.  I’d had bikes before, but that was the first one I paid for by myself.  I saved the money.  It was so cool.  I rode that bike for years actually.  I think it’s even the one I took to college with me.  It was, during school days, my main mode of transport.  Somehow I let that bike go and didn’t have another one for a long time.  In recent years I’ve gotten back into it, not as a major cyclist or anything, just as a day rider, and have loved every moment I’m in the seat.  It’s liberating, invigorating, and free.  Last year I got a new, slightly better bike, and it’s been heaven.  Stepping out to the garage and just hoping on the bike and going out for a spin, so much fun.  SO much fun.  Makes me feel the same way I did when I was a kid.

33. Life.  I’m grateful for it.  Four years ago first my honey and then I had brushes with death.  Both sicknesses, both life threatening, both terrifying.  We each pulled through with flying colors, but at times, for each of us, it was touch and go.  I’m grateful we are both here and loving, laughing, experiencing, exploring, and trying to drink in every bit of life.  I’m so very grateful.

34. Not taking things for granted.  I don’t.  I feel an expanding sense of gratitude all the time.  I know my life is good, and I don’t take that for granted.  I’m glad I don’t.  I’m lucky to know not to.  I’ve always been this way, but as I get older, and as I’ve experienced more in life, I feel this even more.  I wish I could gift it to everyone, this feeling of being so thankful for what I have, and so in tune with that feeling.  It changes everything, or can anyway.  I know people who struggle with life, always feeling they are owed, or due something, or that they have been robbed of something.  I feel so sad for them.  Honestly sad.  Our lives are a matter of perspective.  “Coffey looks and he sees hate and fear, you have to look with better eyes than that”.  It’s my favorite line from the move The Abyss.  It says everything there is to say.  We all have to look with our best eyes.  I’m not preaching here, OK, maybe I am just a little, I’m just trying to say that I’m grateful that I don’t take things for granted and I wish everyone could feel what that feels like.

35. Connection.  I feel a deep sense of connection.  Not just to my family and friends, but to the world at large.  I feel a spiritual connection to all living things, and therefore a responsibility to them.  I’m grateful for this feeling.  It brings a depth to my life, helping me to center myself at times, to know my place.  Again, I’m but a drop in the bucket and this larger living world is a huge place filled with wonders.

South Dakota
South Dakota

36. Silliness.  I was going to write a good laugh here, but changed my mind and wrote silliness instead.  There’s nothing like being silly, being a dork, being unafraid to be ridiculous and not care what anyone thinks.  I’m a total dork.  I admit it.  I embrace it.  I say and do things that get me strange looks at times.  I’m OK with that.  I’m grateful for the quirk in myself, for the quirk in my friends, for the dorkiness of my family, for the natural pratfalls and schtick, and playfulness in myself and the people I love.   Everyone should be willing to dance in the rain and do silly stuff just to make the people you love laugh.  At least, that’s what I think.  Last night I was talking in the most ridiculous southern accent just to make my honey laugh.  She did.  It was awesome.

37. Film.  I adore a good movie.  I cry, learn, expand, dream, breathe, laugh, and find so much beauty in movies.  I always have.  It’s the stories, the hope, the despair, the human commonality, the connection with places and people who I feel I know.  Near or far, made in the US or not, these stories grow a world view, empower change, enlighten, and sometimes offer an escape and relief from my daily life.  I value them, their contribution, their art.  I value their expression and message, even if I don’t always agree with it.  Movies enrich my life in a myriad of ways.

38. The Library.  I’ve always been a fan of libraries.  When I was younger I used to hang out in them a bit to do homework, people watch, enjoy a quiet place.  I never took full advantage of one and I’m not sure I even had a library card (other than in college) anywhere I’ve lived, until now.  When we moved to C-U we, naturally because it’s why we moved here, started hanging out a lot with our first grandson.  The library in our town has a great children’s area and a couple of times we found ourselves there with him exploring the kids area, playing with the train, running up and down the little stairs.  I decided to look around a bit and discovered they had a lot to offer and set about getting a library card.  I’m so glad I did.  Books, movies, music, magazines, and so much are now at my fingertips.  I created a hold list and add stuff to it all the time.  It’s so much fun.  In a time in our lives when we are trying to live smaller, use less, and have less, the library provides a great way for me to still enjoy all those things I love without having to pay out tons of money, or find tons of space in the house.  Plus, again, it’s so much fun.

39. The Y.  We also joined the Y when we moved here.  We’d never been members of a gym together.  Not really.  Well, OK, we joined another gym the first year we were here, but it was small and in a mall.  Neither of those things were necessarily bad, but it was limited.  Then the new Y opened up and we went in to check it out.  Great facility.  Pools, weight rooms, indoor track, rock climbing wall, great locker room facilities, and a great play space for the grand boys.  We were hooked and signed up.  We go through spurts when using it, like most people with gym memberships, but the diverse class offerings (we’re going to try yoga next week), combined with the facilities themselves and the incredibly nice staff make it a total winner.  We absolutely love it, and I’m particularly fond of it now as I’m back in a swimming mode and love being in the water.

40. Our meat man.  I get a lot of joy out of this one.  When we moved to Illinois from Oregon I did a lot of research on sustainable food sources, organic availability, grocery stores and what they offered, etc.  Coming from the Portland area we were used to having locally sourced meat and other foods available to us all the time.  What I found in my search here was that we could join a meat club.  Yay.  Seriously, it’s the coolest thing.  We buy our meat directly from a farmer.  We can visit the farm, though we haven’t, if we want to.  We know his practices, like him and the other people who work the truck when we do our monthly pick up, and totally dig on the superior quality of the meat we are now eating.  It tastes better than anything we’ve ever purchased, anywhere.  It rocks, and we love that we get the majority of our meat this way.  We get an email every month, we use and order form and email back what we want, we show up at the pick up spot and pick it up.  It rocks.

1393417878_f1c0d17f07_o41. Quirky art.  My honey and I are fans of art.  All kinds actually.  We’ve purchased sculptures and paintings and photography and funky lamps and stain glass pieces.  We’ve even made some of our own, of various kinds.  It’s a great thing to go to some art fair and find something we both love.  It’s a rule, we don’t buy anything unless we agree on it, which actually isn’t that tough since our tastes are similar.  I love the pieces we’ve purchased and so does she.  We haven’t regretted a single one and the whole of them makes our house uniquely ours.  It’s funky, it’s fun, it’s joyous.  And I’m grateful for the funky beautiful things we’ve managed to collect.  They represent us well.

42. Coffee.  I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me earlier in this list, but no matter.  I love a great cup of joe.  Love it. We buy our beans from a local roasting company and every morning we grind them fresh and make two french presses full of gorgeous, beautiful, sweet-smelling coffee.  There’s nothing like that first cup of the day, except for maybe the third cup… or the second.  We’re also fans of going out to a local spot (no Starbucks for us anymore), and enjoying a nice cup of drip coffee.  A good cup of coffee can be heaven in a cup.

43. Our DVR.  This one is a tad shallow, but who cares.  These are the things I’m grateful for and the DVR, and services like Netflix, are on the list.  I love not having to watch commercials.  I love being able to watch what we want when we want to.  I love the ease of it all.  I love the technology of it all.  We watch only what we want, when we want to, and barely know anything else is on.  Lovely.

44. The Up Center.  Moving to a new place is tough.  Especially when you love where you already live, have a fantastic group of friends, and aren’t over the moon with where you are going.  Our transition, those first couple of months, was tough.  We cried, we had regrets, we asked ourselves what the hell were we thinking and why did we do it?  Of course, we did it for the grand son (there was only the one at the time, not the two and the baby girl on the way we have now) and he was totally worth it.  It’s just that we had a big big life in Oregon and at first our move here was difficult.  But, we found a little place called the Up Center, went to a group or two, met some people, and started making friends.  All the friends we have here we met through that organization.  It’s because of that I’m so grateful for it.  We have a stellar group of friends here.  A truly amazing group.  A group we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

45. Big Boy Shorts/Pants.  I’m a huge fan of cargo shorts.  My honey and I call these our big boy shorts. We also have big boy pants.  Nothing says convenience more than shorts equipped with pockets.  Keys, phone, wallet, etc.  They all fit.  No purse, no backpack, no anything else to carry.  It’s perfect.  They are perfect.  I really dig them.  Grateful for the ease of wearing them.

46. Our bird feeders.  I’ve never really been into birds.  I mean, they can be lovely and all, but I wasn’t ever a bird watcher or anything.  Then we moved to Illinois and my honey wanted bird feeders.  She is a bird lover.  We tried a few configurations including sitting them up on things or putting them on hooks.  We have a lot of trees which means we have a lot of squirrels.  Finally it occurred to us that we needed something taller.  A long story short, we actually sunk posts in with hooks on each side.  We stained them, put copper tops on them, and used nice wrought iron hooks.  They’re great.  And we get loads of birds.  So many types it’s amazing.  I’m a bird person now.

47. Our down comforters.  We have both a summer and a winter comforter, they’re both down.  There’s something extra snuggly about getting into bed with either of these on.  They make our life so much more comfortable.  They’re awesome.

1557202_10152252227945802_1261058153_o48. Grateful.  I’m grateful for being grateful.  I often feel a wave of gratefulness wash over me.  Not sure where it comes from all the time, but it happens.  I’m grateful for this feeling.  For knowing there’s so much to be grateful for.

49. A positive attitude.  It’s fitting that I should save this for last.  It’s important to me, and a big part of who I am.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am afraid sometimes, really afraid.  I worry.  I get really angry sometimes.  I’m moody.  I’m not always the person who says let’s hold hands and all sing kumbaya.  But for the most part, most of the time, I’m pretty upbeat.  I tend to look on the bright side.  I think it’s a mixture of hope and what I believe to be true all rolled together.  I’m genuinely hopeful, most of the time.  I also genuinely believe in the overwhelming good of most people.  I know there are evil souls out there doing bad things, but I truly believe that for the most part people are good, are trying to do what they think is best, are sincere and giving and gracious and kind.  I believe that.  I’m glad I do.  I believe that things can work out.  They don’t always, but they can.  I’ve always been this way.  Maybe that’s why the teachers at my high school gave me a president’s award my senior year for having the best attitude.  I believe we should smile at each other, with our eyes, and say thank you, and that we should be friendly, we should be nice.  A positive attitude gives you a lot in return as well.  In my opinion it just doesn’t project out toward the world, it gives you a better view of it.

So there it is.  My list of 49 things I’m grateful for as I start this year of my life.  50 is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year, leading up to that milestone, brings to my life.  It’s exciting.

On Shuffle

I was perusing Facebook earlier today and noticed one of my many cousins posted a meme relating to iTunes on shuffle.  It went something like, open iTunes, put your songs on shuffle, and post the first 10 that play.  I enjoyed looking at her playlist so I thought, hey, I’m going to do that as well and see what pops up on mine.

Before I post my list you should probably know that I’m a bit of a music nut.  A collector and a connoisseur of fine sounds.  I’ve loved music since before I could walk and have had many musical influences in my life.  Those influences have insured that my tastes are broad, far-reaching, and eclectic.  There are nearly 20,000 songs in my iTunes Match and a whole passel of vinyl in storage.  I can’t regularly tap into the vinyl, sadly, but I can access all those lovely sounds in iTunes.  It’s an amazing thing, to have most of your music collection available with the tap of a key or the click of a mouse.  Heaven, for music lovers.

OK, so without further ado…  my list.  I should say there are a few more than 10 here because once I got going I kept wanting to know what would come up next.  I stopped when we had to go out and run a few errands.  While in the car we listened to music, loud.  We usually do.  Here’s the list, in order.

The Airborne Toxic Event – Half of Something Else                                                                                       Headphones on stack of CDs

Marvin Gaye – Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing

K.D. Lang – Nowhere to Stand

Marc Broussard – S.O.S.

Gordon Lightfoot – Canadian Railroad Trilogy

The Rolling Stones – Let’s Spend the Night Together

Def Leppard – Love Bites

Zac Brown Band – No Hurry

Jonatha Brooke & The Story – When Two And Two Are Five

Ben Harper – When It’s Good

Great Northern – Houses

Billie Holiday – Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)

Collective Soul – After All

Dixie Chicks – Cold Day in July

Melissa Etheridge – My Lover

Josh Groban – Vincent

Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine

Philippe Entremont: Vienna Chamber Orchestra – Mozart: Symphony #29

 

 

Have a Drink With….

A friend posed this question to me today…

If you could have a drink with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one.  I thought, I mused, I considered.. and realized I couldn’t do it.  OK, if I HAD to I’d say e.e. cummings.  Not a surprise to those who know me.  But really I’d have a list.  Let’s say the top 5 dead persons I’d like to chat over a beverage with would be… today at least, because you know it would change daily, or even hourly as you thought of new people… but right now, today, my list would be (oh, and this excludes family, which obviously there are some I would want to see and talk to):

1. e.e. cummings

2. Salvador Dali

3. Katherine Hepburn

4. Goethe

5. George Eliot

Top 5 Living Persons

1. Maya Angelou

2. Gloria Steinem

3. Jodi Foster

4. John Berendt

5. Stephen Hawking

Who are yours?  Who would you, as my friend’s friend, who posed this question to her originally, said… who would you have a banquet with?  Because it’s just too tough to narrow it down to one.

100 Favorite Places – Revisited

I decided, since returning from our recent trip, that I needed to update my favorite places list as I now have some new favorite places. I will say, once again, that these are listed in no particular order. I put the new locales in the same spot as the places they replaced. Whoa… places they replaced… deep. They are also in bold. Anyway… check out the new list.

100 Favorite Places – so far

from June 12, 2006

 

In no particular order….

01. Las Vegas – Nevada
02. Portland – Oregon
03. Bandon – Oregon
04. Polihale Beach – Kauai
05. Camp Sherman – Oregon
06. Key West – Florida
07. Munich – Germany
08. Grand Canyon – Arizona
09. Hana Highway – Maui
10. Antigua
11. Yellowstone Park – Wyoming
12. Bryce Canyon – Arizona
13. San Juan Islands – Washington
14. Missoula – Montana
15. Keystone – South Dakota
16. Salzburg – Austria
17. Cham – Germany
18. Ashland – Oregon
19. Eureka – California
20. Canyonlands – Utah
21. Boise – Idaho
22. Berchtesgaden – Germany
23. Seattle – Washington
24. Zion National Park – Utah
25. The Lakes District – England
26. Sisters- Oregon
27. Arches National Park – Utah
28. Leavenworth – Washington
29. Bellingham – Washington
30. Washinton D.C.
31. Helena – Montana
32. Cannon Beach – Oregon
33. Jacksonville – Oregon
34. Oklahoma City – Oklahoma
35. Mangum – Oklahoma
36. Mt. Rushmore – South Dakota
37. Des Moines – Iowa
38. St. Louis – Missouri
39. San Diego – California
40. Eureka – California
41. Redwood Forest – California
42. Lancaster – England
43. Monterey – California
44. Tampa Bay – Florida
45. Miami Beach – Florida
46. Sedona – Arizona
47. San Juan – Puerto Rico
48. Bend – Oregon
49. John Day Fossil Beds – Oregon
50. Anacortes – Washington
51. Mt. Vernon – Washington
52. Burlington – Washington
53. Vancouver – British Columbia
54. Lewistown – Montana
55. Lake Powell – Arizona
56. St. George – Utah
57. Carmel – California
58. Crater Lake – Oregon
59. Morecambe – England
60. Wasserspiel – Austria
61. Wurtzburg – Germany
62. Cologne – Germany
63. Reno – Nevada
64. Netherlands
65. Denver – Colorado
66. St. Paul – Minnesota
67. Madison – Wisconsin
68. The Dells – Wisconsin
69. Wall Drug – South Dakota
70. Marble Mount – Washington
71. Olympia – Washington
72. Devil’s Tower – Wyoming
73. Eugene – Oregon
74. Kirkby/Lonsdale – England
75. Yahats – Oregon
76. Magen’s Bay Beach – St. Thomas
77. Honolulu – Hawaii
78. Lahaina – Maui
79. Waikiki – Hawaii
80. Long Key – Florida
81. Orient Beach – St. Maarten
82. Hilo – Hawaii
83. Florence – Oregon
84. Coeur d’Alene Lake – Idaho
85. Corvallis – Oregon
86. Crater Lake – Oregon
87. North Shore – Oahu
88. Diamond Head – Oahu
89. Nassau – Bahamas
90. Gainesville – Florida
91. St. Petersburg – Florida
92. Barcelona – Spain
93. MacLeay – Oregon
94. Manchester – England
95. Newport – Oregon
96. Brookings – Oregon
97. Redmond – Oregon
98. Astoria – Oregon
99. Timberline Lodge – Oregon
100. La Conner – Washington