Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good Riddance Day

On the Today show this morning, I learned that yesterday was the third annual Good Riddance Day, organized by the Times Square Alliance in New York City. From 12 to 1 p.m. a large industrial shredder was set up and more than 200 New Yorkers and tourists participated, according to www.nypost.com. A dumpster and a sledgehammer were also provided for unshreddable items.

What a great idea! Take your bad memories, your troubles and difficulties, the sadnesses and frustrations of 2009 and just…annihilate them.

But what about those of us who don’t live in New York? (For that matter, what about those of us who heard about Good Riddance Day the day AFTER it occurred?) Have your own Good Riddance Day right where you live. If there’s something from 2009 you’d like to put behind you, find a picture of it or write it down and SHRED it. Or tear it into itty bitty pieces by hand. Or burn it (safely, of course).

Sometimes it’s good to have a ceremony to rid ourselves of unwanted baggage. Sometimes we can’t move forward because our past mistakes, or the wrongs done to us, are clinging to our ankles like lead weights. Sometimes we need to do a little personal shredding in order to move on with life.

I plan to make a little visit to my shredder tonight. How about you?




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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry and Bright


Help me
The family is here visiting. My mother-in-law is in the kitchen making pecan pie and I’m about to run out to the store to pick up last minute items.


My people are crazy
This morning instead of cranberry orange scone with my coffee, I enjoyed homemade almond biscotti, brought to us by my visiting sister- and brother-in-law. It’s beautifully sunny and not too hot—a perfect day!


Do I LOOK like a reindeer?!?
Wishing you a perfect Christmas, whatever that may mean for you.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet Escapes

Some women are addicted to Facebook or online shopping…or reading blogs (ahem). Thanks to the magic of the internet, here are three of my favorite ways to brighten a boring day with a little G-rated online escapism.

When I was looking for my horse a few years ago, I had a list of Web sites I trolled daily looking for an appropriate mount. I spent hours on Horsequest.com and Dreamhorse.com, where I ultimately found Tank. My guilty little secret (don’t tell Tank) is that I still periodically peruse horse classified ad Web sites. I don’t need or want another horse, but I still like to look.


Dreamhorse Tank

'Round about August (and sometimes December when it’s still 85 degrees and humid), I fantasize about moving. But where? Twenty-acre horse farm in NC? Ocean view home on the Olympic peninsula? Colorado mountain home? Thanks to real estate Web sites like washingtonwaterfronts.com, I can see pictures of beautiful homes and dream.

And speaking of dreaming, did you know that you can rent a historic cottage in the Cotswolds from the National Trust in England? You can also rent an apartment in New York City through Craigslist or a timeshare week someplace exotic through redweek.com. Vacation rental Web sites have given me many a happy hour of harmless fantasizing.


Craigslist rental, NYC

So now you know what I’m doing (sometimes) when I should be checking my e-mail or folding the laundry or…. Just hang on a minute while I check out this villa for rent on the Amalfi coast…

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Friday, December 18, 2009

I Hear It's Winter Somewhere



Sometimes it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s 85 degrees and humid—it's felt more like June than December this past week. (Bah, humbug!) But this morning when I went out to walk the dog, it was raining. Behind this rain, they say, is a cold front, my two favorite weather words here in Florida. Much better than “hurricane watch,” for sure.

In the meantime, I use my snowman mug (snow woman, really) for my morning coffee, and decorate my house with little things that remind me that it is, somewhere, winter. Sure, I’m grateful that I don’t have to shovel snow, or de-ice my car. But right about now I’m real tired of wearing shorts and sweating every time I set foot outside my house. I’m ready for some winter weather, for a chance to wear jeans and my one jacket comfortably. To make soup for dinner and have a fire in the fireplace—all the cozy, autumn/winter things that mark the changing of the seasons.

Embracing the transitions of life—whether it’s something as simple as the changing seasons, or something more weighty, like a new job or a new relationship—can be one of life’s simple pleasures. Take things slowly. Enjoy the moment. Watch life unfold in all its mystery and beauty. I’m as guilty as anyone of rushing through my life without noticing what’s happening. And I'm also not a big fan of change!  In the coming year, I’m going to make an effort to stop that—to enjoy my life and its transitions and changes, even when we move back from winter to summer, when my son grows ever taller and my parents grow older. Each stage has its own value. It’s up to me to find it.





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Monday, December 14, 2009

More Book Talk

Time for more book discussion! After the Publishers Weekly flap, I revisited the list of books I read this year. Most of them weren’t published in 2009, though they were written by women. I’m not a book reviewer; I read for my own enjoyment and enlightenment. If you’re a reader too, what follows is a list of a few of the books I read this year that I found the most interesting/inspirational/enjoyable, etc. You might like them too.

This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be. Kristin Maschka tackles the issues that surround combining parenting (not just mothering) and work. I’ve read quite a few books on this subject, and this one summed up the issues involved very well, and offers suggestions for how mothers and fathers can make things better.

What the Dead Know. Laura Lippman’s stand-alone suspense novel kept me turning pages all the way to the end.

The Wishing Year. Noelle Oxenhandler chronicles a year of determining whether or not wishing has any real power, as she wishes for a man, a house of her own, and spiritual healing.

A Broom of One’s Own. Nancy Peacock’s delightful essays about her experiences as a writer/house cleaner. This is how some writers who aren’t Dan Brown get by.

War Within and Without. I’ve read all of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s collections of diaries and letters, and feel a great affinity for her. The struggles she had combining motherhood, marriage to a famous (and rather demanding) husband and her own creative work speak to all women who want to be there for their families, but also use their creative talents.

Anne of Green Gables books—by L.M. Montgomery. They were written for children, but they are comfort reading for me when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed.

Die for You. Lisa Unger is a new author for me, and I loved this novel. I’m now reading Beautiful Lies.

Excuses Begone! Not Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s best book, in my opinion, but one I needed to read. I’m a champion excuse maker.

Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher. Hello, “Scanner” personality! This book put a name to how I act, and showed me some ways to direct myself so that I accomplish more and don’t get so frustrated and scattered.

I love to read, and this list could easily be 30 books long, but I took pity on you. I’d love to hear about your favorite books of the year. Please share! And happy reading!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sniffle...Cough...



Here in the Land of Good Timing, our son has seen fit to share his cold with me and I am trying NOT to share it with my husband. This is, of course, the very BEST time of year to be sick, what with the decorating and baking and shopping and wrapping that should be taking place. Never you mind. It will all get done eventually, hopefully without a festive Kleenex bow incorporated into someone’s gift wrapping. I can write Christmas cards and admire the tree from my spot in the recliner, with the dog on my lap and the tissues handy. The pine-scented candles glow on the mantel, my attempt to replace that fresh tree smell. (We haven’t had a “real” tree since the year the cat knocked ours over on the new carpet.) I can be grateful that I don’t have to shovel snow in the morning, though I do wish it would be cool enough to wear jeans without sweating. (Ahh…December in Florida.)

Holiday cheer to you all. (And if you get a Christmas card from us, wash your hands after opening. I’m just saying.)


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Monday, December 7, 2009

I'd Like to Thank...


My friend Laure from the Painted Thoughts blog (http://paintedthoughtsblog.blogspot.com/) was kind enough to pass on to me the “Over the Top” award pictured above. (Thanks, Laure!) The rules are: Pass this award on to five people, and answer a list of questions in ONE word. (One? Really? OK, I’ll try…)

So here we go:
1. Where is your cell phone? Purse.
2. Your hair? Troublesome.
3. Your mother? Loving.
4. Your father? Feisty.
5. Your favorite food? Dessert.
6. Your dream last night? Don’t remember.
7. Your favorite drink? Coffee.
8. Your dream/goal? Illustrated journaling.
9. What room are you in? Family room.
10. Your hobby? Horseback riding.
11. Your fear? Economic collapse.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Elsewhere.
13. Where were you last night? Home.
14. Something that you aren’t? Bored.
15. Muffins? Sure!
16. Wish list item? Travel.
17. Where did you grow up? California.
18. Last thing you did? Emailed.
19. What are you wearing? Cotton (you said one word!)
20. Your TV? Sharp.
21. Your Pets? Wonderful.
22. Friends? Necessary.
23. Your life? Full.
24. Your mood? Mellow.
25. Missing Someone? Several.
26. Vehicle? Green.
27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes.
28. Your favorite store? Bookstore.
29. Your favorite colour? Purple.
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today.
31. Last time you cried? Tuesday.
32. Your best friend? Kerri.
33. One place that I go to over and over? Library.
34. Facebook? No.
35. Favorite place to eat? Seasons 52.

I'm new to blogging, and I don't really "know" many bloggers yet, but the blogs below are ones I enjoy visiting, and you might also:

1. Kelly Riccetti at Red and the Peanut (http://redandthepeanut.blogspot.com/)--a lovely blog about birds.

2. Elizabeth Patch’s More to Love Sketchbook blog (http://moretolovesketchbook.blogspot.com/). Her blog focuses on positive self-image, and her charming illustrations complement her writing.

3. Alicia Paulson’s blog, Posie Gets Cozy (http://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/). Cozy is the perfect description.

4. “The Expatresse” writes about life in Moscow in “The Beet Goes On” (http://thebeetgoeson.blogspot.com/), a blog I discovered through SheWrites.com.

5. Crazyauntpurl.com—This blog’s combination of humor and introspection blow me away. And the cute kitty photos don’t hurt.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Pleasure of a Poem

Poetry. Do you like it? I do. I wish I could say I have a deep understanding of all poetry, but I admit I like poems that are readily understandable, that resonate with me emotionally. I find that to understand even a simple poem, you have to slow down. Read each word and savor it, turning it over in your mind like you’d roll a smooth stone in your hand. Poetry enriches language, helps reader and writer forge an emotional connection, even if only for a moment.

I can’t remember how I discovered American Life in Poetry http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/, but it’s one way I add beauty and pleasure to my daily life. Every week, ALP emails subscribers a poem. Each poem has a short introduction by wonderful (and understandable) poet Ted Kooser, who was American Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006. Check it out—it’s a good way to dip your toes into the ocean of poetry out there. (Subscribing is free.)

Here is a recent poem I enjoyed, and Mr. Kooser’s introduction (quoted with permission):

American Life in Poetry: Column 244

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Love predated the invention of language, but love poetry got its start as soon as we had words through which to express our feelings. Here’s a lovely example of a contemporary poem of love and longing by George Bilgere, who lives in Ohio.

Night Flight

I am doing laps at night, alone
In the indoor pool. Outside
It is snowing, but I am warm
And weightless, suspended and out
Of time like a fly in amber.

She is thousands of miles
From here, and miles above me,
Ghosting the stratosphere,
Heading from New York to London.
Though it is late, even
At that height, I know her light
Is on, her window a square
Of gold as she reads mysteries
Above the Atlantic. I watch

The line of black tile on the pool’s
Floor, leading me down the lane.
If she looks down by moonlight,
Under a clear sky, she will see
Black water. She will see me
Swimming distantly, moving far
From shore, suspended with her
In flight through the wide gulf
As we swim toward land together.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by George Bilgere, whose most recent book of poems is Haywire, Utah State University Press, 2006. Reprinted by permission of George Bilgere. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.