January 31, 2011

God and P Touch Labelers

What do you think about most?  Exercise?  Entertainment?  Your hobby? Drinking?  Drugs?  Sex?  Your loved ones?  Anxiety?  Fear?  Worry?  The future?  Your health?  The weather?  The unknown?  Traveling?  Illness?  Or that old standby, staying busy?
Sarah Young wrote:
Whatever you think about the most is your god.

A dear friend of mine sent me this passage over the weekend.  And I think there is great truth to these words. Both in LIFE and in life.  In my life this weekend, my god was in the garage.

I would have preferred god in the garden, but these balmy 70's in January don't fool me. So this past Saturday, when temperatures soared and the garden called, I ignored her.  Oh, I did a little obligatory leaf work and due diligent watering given the drought we're in.  But it was important not to be too premature about removing that leafy blanket or pruning the boxwood.  I've lived in Oklahoma for quite a while now, and I know that winter weather is a fickle, unreliable thing.  It can, and will, turn on me at any moment.

Soooooo, to distract me from the flower beds, but satisfy my craving for outside productivity, I decided to tackle the garage.  Besides, a clean and organized garage is a supportive backdrop to good and productive gardening. And I knew for sure I wouldn't want to tackle it come TRUE spring.

Now I could show you pictures of MY garage, resplendent in its tidiness, and purged of unnecessary and antiquated sports equipment, varnishes, and the occasional rusty tool. But still, it would be rather boring and not magazine quality.  So in the interest of full disclosure, I give you awe-inspiring images of my friend Mr. Sunshine's garage.

Note the expert use of his P Touch Labeler and the way he wields it to designate paint colors and their respective room locations. Then, gaze upon his impressive backup inventory of household necessities

his colorful and cheerful mop heads

Here's a picture of that semi-professional organizer at work on his masterpiece.

And here's me doing my best Vanna White showing off the incredibly-organized-and-well-stocked-as-well refrigerator.  Rumor has it he keeps his plumber, electrician and carpenter's favorite beer of choice on hand at all times.

No wonder he gets such good service.


January 27, 2011

INDIA, son and $4 cloth napkins

In the spirit of this beautiful Zen creature (aka, my elder son on his recent trip to India), let me ever so simply and meekly...

show you these few images of youthful


 unabashed joy

grand adventure

friendship, and yes,

a really great website to order fabulous, hand loomed, 100% cotton cloth napkins made by local weavers in Kerala, India.

These have apparently been featured in a number of places, both magazines and blogs. But they are new to me, and maybe you as well, my dears.  They are pastel prettiness perfection in my opinion, and I'm imagining all of the places and ways I could use them.  

Lining Easter baskets?  Check.  A set of green ones for a St. Patty's surprise for someone?  Check.  Pink ones for Valentine's Day?  Of course.  Wrapping some homemade shortbread for said Valentine's Day?  Check.  Dining in the garden?  Check.  Picknicking?  Why not.

Oh, and Karaweaves make great-looking towels and bathrobes as well.  All at a fantastic price.

There.  If you can't go to India, let me bring a little of India to you. :)

 Images from Karaweaves.com

January 26, 2011

Tete a tete Daffodils and Marcel the Shell

Can we get up yet?

No, Little Ones, it's not time to get up yet.  It's still early, and very cold outside.

But we want to get up!  The sun is shining, and that lady keeps coming out looking for us and wanting to play.

I know, My Darlings.  It is hard to be patient.  But it's not time to throw off the covers  and poke your little heads out.

But, but, Mumeeeeeee.  She keeps calling for us!  And it's warm out today.

Hush, my little Tete a Tete!  Be good and Mummy will put on your favorite movie.  Watch Marcel the Shell again.  It will be time to get up soon.  I promise.  Just tell the lady in the pajamas that she has to be patient too.  It will be time to play in the garden soon enough.  Besides, she has chores to do first.

Start it whenever you like, my darlings.

Okayyyy.   Move out of the way please.  And would you get us a drink of water?

January 20, 2011

Pink Memory

My Aunt Kitty died a few days ago.  My mother's only sibling.  A dear woman whose temperament and nature lived up to her sweet name.  She was Irish, in way that only a Fitzgerald who marries a Shanahan can be.  Mother to five wonderful children, lover of animals, an all-around blissful soul.

But often, the remains of a life get distilled into one iconic moment, one specific mental image forever filed in the memory bank of a person left behind. 

I was talking to L'il Sis about this aunt, reflecting on the past, coming to terms with the new family void.  The grace of a life beautifully lived.  I asked L'il Sis what she remembered about our Aunt Kitty, and without hesitation, she said,

"Pink fingernails.  Pale pink fingernails.  When I was six or seven, she painted my fingernails.  A pale ballerina pink.  I had her undivided  attention, and I was in heaven.  I always think of those pink fingernails when I think of her.  I'll never forget it."

The kaleidoscope of a person's life distilled into one frame: pale pink fingernails.

L'il Sis shared this story with our precious nieces who were incredulous that at  the advanced age of seven she had never had a manicure, much less a manicure by an adult.  L'il Sis explained that as one of ten children, we  (a) were not used to getting manicures OR pedicures for that matter, and   (b) were not used to getting undivided attention from an adult... undivided adult attention being a rare commodity for a child in a large family. 

Hence the invaluable gift of both ballerina pink nail polish AND being made to feel important and cherished as a six year old in a big family. (Not having been so indulged at six years old,  I had to rely on a self-administered manicure via a carnation pink crayon from my crayola box.  Just one more time when this middle child had to fend for herself.  I suffered so, and continue to suffer still.)

A couple of years ago a neighbor friend of mine interrupted me as I was working in my front yard.  She excitedly told me that spring had officially started that very morning.  I asked her why, thinking she would invoke images of robins and calendars and shorter nights.  But no.  She told me that spring had officially arrived because she saw me on my hands and knees looking at the first tips of my tulips emerging from the dirt.  Surely, she told me, a change of season was imminent. 

This from a woman well-loved in my neighborhood, especially by children, for her over-the-top celebration of the Fourth of July and Halloween.   Something she said she wanted to be remembered for when she was dead and gone.  Her legacy.  Her own self-made distillation.

I try to remember this when I am compelled to get snitty about neighbors' dogs peeing on my green lawn, or the postman walking through my flower beds.  I don't want to be remembered as the Mrs. Wilson of Crown Heights.

Better to be remembered as a harbinger of spring....or the bestower of pale pink fingernails.

January 12, 2011

Mulliens and Other Unexpected Delights

Sometimes the world has a capacity for delight that just amazes me.  Take this mullien here. It just decided to show up one day. Maybe from a seed I had stowed away (okay, stole and stowed away) in a jacket pocket while on a visit to New Mexico, or maybe from the bottom of a visitor's boot.  I don't know.  But it decided to take root and surprise me and delight me, very unexpectedly.

On Monday, I had jury duty. Not something one would expect to be fodder for unexpected delight.  But it was, and I'll share it with you (because, as you know, I am such a giver.)

After the lunch break, but before the long, yawning, wait-to-be-called afternoon had begun, the clerk decided to help interrupt the monotony by offering a set of dominoes for the entertainment of whomever might be interested.  I was decidedly not, both because I had a good book to read, and because I don't play dominoes.  Not because I wouldn't have liked to, but because I don't know how.  A small technicality.

Anyway, four people did proceed to the front to play.  And as I saw these four people: a multi-tatooed/multi-pierced/with-a-baseball-cap-on-backwards, twenty-something young man, and two sixty something women (one black and one white), and a trim gray-haired gentleman (who looked like he might be an insurance adjuster or work at Tinker Air Force Base)

having SO much fun, and laughing so enthusiastically, and enjoying each others' company so much, well,

I just thought, where else would these four people ever have met to play dominoes and have so much fun?


And I was absolutely and unexpectedly delighted and I laughed right along with them.

The End.

January 11, 2011

Sweet Peas and Terms of Endearment

Someone remarked the other day on my profligate use of  various terms of endearment.  (Well, maybe they didn't use the word 'profligate',  but I got their meaning.)  "Dear", "My Darlings", "Babe", "Honey bunch", "Sweets",  "Sweet Pea".  If I feel genuine affection for you, you are likely to be addressed by one of these monikers and their use usually implies varying degrees of intimacy and tenderness I feel for and towards you.

But the comment did get me thinking about the why behind it, and the pop psychology explanation for what to some may seem like mere affectation.  I came up with a couple of possible explanations.

In the early 90's, a dear, dear friend of mine died at the very young age of 51. I was 32 at the time. She and I were very close, sometimes talking multiple times a day, and each conversation began with the words "Hey, Sunshine, watcha doin'?"  I can hear her say these words as I type. My eyes tear up at the thought.  I savor those words.  The sound of them.   The memory of them.
The love behind them.

I now have a friend who has become MY 'Sunshine'. I call her at work, and I say "Hey, Sunshine, watcha doin'?"   And each time I hear myself say those words I think of my friend, now gone, and in some small way, I feel that with those spoken words I honor both friends, the missing and the present.  And it make me feel loved and loving.

I have referred here, in these posts, to my mothers, plural. My first mother died when she was 36; I was five at the time, with six brothers and sisters.  While my father eventually remarried, and my brothers and sisters and I got a second mother, we still experienced, and continue to experience, a certain, probably inevitable, motherless-ness. A phenomenon that will no doubt stay with us until we too have passed by.

Consequently, I think I had a hunger for that kind of loving language growing up...from friends' parents, aunts and uncles, the occasional stranger (usually women). The words filled a void and comforted me. And I liked that feeling.

Another beloved friend of mine, who also experiences this sense of chronic motherless-ness, rivals even my own use of affectionate names (though hers are far more creative and whimsical...). In this way, with these terms of endearment, I mother her; she mothers me. And I like that feeling, and so does she.

So, if I address you as "my darlings" or some such flowery, centuries-ago language, please know that it is with great fondness and affection and, at least, perceived intimacy that I use the words. Because it comforts me and I like that feeling.  And I hope you do to.

(This also reminds me that I had intended to plant some sweet pea last fall, but sadly, I didn't.  In the South, it's much better to plant in the fall than the traditional St. Patrick's Day sowing.  Bubba at Southern Living tells me he thinks the early blooming varieties work best in the South, to beat our heat, and I concur heartily.  Find heirloom variety sweet peas seeds at Cherry Girl.com.   To read up on growing Sweet Peas in the South,  I highly recommend the blog  Austin Wildflowers and its detailed information on the topic.

Maybe I'll just go ahead and plant them this spring anyway.  Some gardening risks are worth taking.)

January 8, 2011

Coneheads in January

Coneheads in January...for your viewing pleasure

January 7, 2011

You Have A Flower Delivery

They're here, our flowers from Sunflowerguy, remember?  They were waiting for me yesterday (as promised) on the front porch in this perky box.  Sending Sunshine, absolutely.

The world is always a little brighter with fresh flowers.

And I appreciated the explicit instructions on opening the box, where to open and NOT open (very helpful).

And they were lovely, crisp and fragrant, just as described on the website:

A rustic yet elegant collection of red poms and pepperberry, this free-flowing arrangement has charm and cheer in equal measure.
  • Contains: 3 Stems - Hypericum, 2 Stems - Pepper Berries, 4 Stems - Pom Pom (Red), 3 Stems - Protea
  • Arrives in our unique gift box - just unzip, water, lift and smile!
All sunflowerguy.com bouquets come with our "Smile Guarantee" - 8 Days of Smiles or Your Money Back! We guarantee that your flowers will last at least 8 days or your money back. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the freshness of your flowers, please call or email us and we will gladly replace the bouquet or refund your money.

The color palette was perfect, just what I'd anticipated.  Perfect in my kitchen, no?  They came with an equally nice enclosure,

and a unique packing system that did keep them hydrated and fresh...really fresh I might add.

Now one of the selling points is that they come turn-key.  In other words, vase, composition, everything....ready to place and enjoy, without having to arrange them, locate a vase, etc. etc. etc.  For most recipients that would be a good thing.

But, to me, (and this is no reflection on the flowers, or their quality, or their selection)

these kind of bouquets have a certain unavoidably, well,

constipated quality about them.  Terse, uptight, they just don't sing, if you know what I mean.

So while they are perfectly fine just as they are (for those who are not as obsessed with cut flower arrangements as I)

I would tweak, yes, tweak,  them a bit.

I'd add something delicate to play off the sturdiness of the fabulous Protea and berries, (like nandina foliage, turned purple by the winter sun and cold) and something gray (such as clipped Blue Atlas Cedar).  Oh, and when you unleash the beauty of the flowers from their cramped state, you will find their quality to be exceptional and the amount and size of the stems very generous.

So after adding some things from your own garden, you take something happy and lovely to

something much more


Oh, and I put them in a considerably larger, heavy glass vase

and let them spread their wings, cascade over the sides, insinuate themselves into the delicate nandina    and just loosen up a bit, you know?  When allowed the space, the berries really shine and along with the Protea, stand out so much more dramatically (if I do say so myself.)

Consequently, the beautiful blossoms you received via overnight flower delivery from Sunflowerguy.com

will really sing when you bring them inside and give them some ruby red apples as companions.

This is about as close as I can get to sharing them with you without sending you an overnight flower delivery of your very own from the Sunflowerguy himself.

I do hope you enjoy them.