Feb 06 2011

Sunday’s Simple Pleasures

I’m Jewish, so writing about simple pleasures on Sunday hasn’t even a thimbleful of religiousness, although there’s a slight tap on one’s shoulder when small things loom large.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning I did what I always do. I slid my feet into my raggedy slippers that are overdue for a tumble in the washer and dryer. My thought was simply: OH MY GOD I LOVE THESE SLIPPERS.  It wasn’t really that dramatic, but there is nothing in this world like slippers with memory foam.  Truly. Squashed, foot-dirty, matted slippers with memory foam.  If only people remembered your shape and size and what makes you most comfy the way these ratty slipper do.  These slippers conform without reserve, not that people should conform, but there’s something to the consistency and constant comfort.  I think babies’ heads fit on their mothers shoulders the same way — but this is about slippers, not shoulders.  So, simple pleasure numero uno for Sunday is my old pair of slippers with memory foam.  I may even get myself a brand new pair, but I’m not getting rid of these until the next pair proves itself worthy of my adoration.

Simple pleasure number two is the programmable Mr. Coffee. Let’s forget I didn’t set the timer correctly last night and it made the coffee at midnight rendering it cold at 6:30 am.  There was still coffee and the microwave heated it up just fine.  I grunt and stumble toward the kitchen every morning with two dogs in between my feet. I let them both out and back in. I feed one while the other circles.  I let the fed one out because she’s greedy, and feed the other one who doesn’t eat unless you (meaning I) sit with her.  Then I let the other one in, they hound me for an after-breakkie treat and go about their business of napping. So, it’s nice to pour coffee, not try to count scoops of Folgers (I am not a coffee snob) before I have really even opened my eyes or become coherent.

Are these things in my life luxurious? No. They just make the morning a little nicer.

I’m not one for a gratefulness journal and this isn’t the intent here. I gag when people are grateful for flowers and sunshine and sunsets the way I gag when online dating profiles say someone likes walks on the beach.  Who the hell doesn’t like all those things? (Me, I don’t like sand, but I get the idea isn’t really the beach.)  We’re all glad there are sunny days and springtime.  I love flowers in my garden, in pots on my patio and in vases in my living room.  But it’s the things that are particular to our own set of circumstances and our personal psyches that need attention.  I’m grateful for good health and that I have amazing kids who actually like me most of the time and who have thus far turned out way better than average. But that’s a capital DUH in the thankful column.  I’m also thankful for the guy who plowed my driveway after the blizzard, and maybe that is a luxury, but that’s not what I mean.  Those thankfuls are givens, at least for me. You get a tight grip on being grateful when you raise two kids on your own.  No sob story, no tiny violins.  It’s the truth.  It’s cliche (and I don’t like cliches) but it’s the little things that count.  They add up to scratch the tiny itches in life that you could ignore if you had to, but it’s nice when you don’t have to.  Could I live without slippers with memory foam? I did for probably 45 years.  Frankly, I didn’t even wear slippers until about 2 years ago.  Not sure why.  I was a barefoot, shoes-in-the-house kind of gal, and now I am always wearing slippers.  New trick? Not really.  Let’s call it a late life Dearfoam revelation.  I could also aptly make coffee in the morning.  And sometimes I do.  But I always prefer to not.  And having a few ways to allow myself to enjoy the morning (which I already love) a little more, is a good thing.  Realizing it is an even better thing. Although I’m not sure that’s always so simple.

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Sep 24 2009

Signs of a new idea

If someone asks me how I came up with a particular idea, I can usually say that I took something real and turned it inside out and upside, shook it, lopped of one side and there it was. An idea for a story.

But what about those ideas that seem to come from no where? They still come from somewhere. They originate within us and are there, original in some respects. (I say in some respects because we know there are really only variations on a finite number of themes, but the combinations and idiosyncrasies are endless).

I was thinking about this today – and luckily today – I also had a bout with ‘shiny new idea syndrome.’ I decided that before I forgot I would track where the inkling came from…it’s initial evolution…because I knew I would forget. I always do. It really doesn’t matter where the idea came from, it’s inconsequential. I just want to remember how it happened. The pages that follow the idea may eventually bear no resemblance to what they are today. Today was the burst – and I allowed it to carry me through most of the morning before I tucked it away.

1. Got email from local police station (I’m signed up for those) reminding citizens of my small town that unless you have a “no solicitors invited” sign or sticker on your front door or window, approved solicitors can indeed come to your door. Which sucks. But whatever.

2. I started thinking how I needed one of those signs.

3. Then I started thinking about the worst possible person who could come to try to sell you something.

4. I didn’t think about police revealing a tragedy – I don’t usually go there – I thought about just a regular person showing up at your door, uninvited, and your whole life changing.

5. Then I thought about how cool it would be if we could wear ‘no solicitors invited’ on our person and keep unwanted, toxic people out of our lives.

6. Then I went back to having someone show up at your door – with one of those enormous checks. Or a free puppy. Or maybe a family secret.  Or anything that you know nothing about.  I bet one of those signs couldn’t keep them away.

And then, thanks to my local police department – and something that had been knocking around in my head for ages with no where to go  – I wrote this very rough first draft that has nothing to do with police or solicitors…although I did work in the sign.  The subtext and details are yet to be discovered – it was stream of consciousness in action.

* * *

Daisy stood at the door. It was freezing outside, probably way below zero. She didn’t lick her dry lips, afraid they’d freeze together and she wouldn’t be able to talk. Before she knocked, the door clicked and opened about eight inches. She saw a sweaty woman in a pink T-shirt and fitted black shorts. They must have the heat at 80 in there.

“I’m here to see Elliot Handle,” Daisy said.

“He’s at work. What can I do for you, um, who are you?” The petite, brown bobbed woman opened the wooden door wide but stood behind the glass storm door holding the handle. Daisy didn’t know if she was unlocking it or holding it shut.

“I’m his daughter,” Daisy said. No need beating around the bush.

“Very funny, young lady, I’m his wife and we don’t have a daughter.”

“You may not, but he does.” The woman smiled with a closed mouth, looked at the floor and stepped back, pushing the door closed. Daisy held up a hand to stop her and talked fast. “I’m Daisy Cooper .” She paused. “Tammy is my mother.”

The woman stopped. Her eyes shot up and she stared at Daisy.

“How do you know about Tammy?” The woman turned and looked behind her before wrapping her arms around herself and faced Daisy again.

“She’s my mother.” Was this woman deaf ?

“Elliot hasn’t seen Tammy in…”

“About 22 years.”

“Right. And they didn’t have any children.”

“None that he knew about, that’s true. Look, can I come in? It’s fucking cold out here.”

“Watch your language, young lady. It’s a gorgeous, sunny, forty degree day. We’re lucky to get those here in the middle of January.” Incredulous, Daisy stuck her ungloved hands into the pockets of her obviously-not-meant-for-Michigan-in-winter fleece jacket.

“I have proof,” she said again.

“Yes, right, you said that, but if you don’t go away I’m going to call the police.” The woman tapped the “No Solicitors Invited” sign on the sidelight. “This means you can’t come to my door unless I ask you to.”

“I’m not trying to sell you something, lady. I’m your husband’s daughter.”

“Like I said, miss, Elliot never had a daughter.”

“Well he does now.”

* * *

Can you trace back to the initial signs of one of your new ideas?  Do tell!

Sep 13 2009

Where is this and what’s inside?

Think about it.  Be creative.  Yes, I know it’s Sunday morning.  Think of it as exercise.

You tell me, and then I’ll tell you.

Sep 11 2009

A new September 11th, an old post

The phone rang.

It was Heather. Before she spoke, or perhaps while she was speaking, my thoughts shot back to a place I once called home. Only two train stops before the PATH leading right into Manhattan — over the river but truly a New York suburb, as are so many of the towns dotting the exits of the Garden State Parkway above Exit 9.

She still lived in this cozy bedroom community where my ex and I started our married life. It was the place we’d moved from seven years before and had never again visited. Although Heather and I were fast friends since the time our babies, born only one-day apart, were eight weeks old, we rarely spoke after my family moved from the area. Actually I think when she called that day we probably hadn’t spoken in two or three years.

“Do you remember Doug Cherry?” she asked.

It wasn’t really a question.

Of course I did. He played golf with my ex. Their little girl was one year younger than my son. Our dogs romped playfully together in the park on Sunday mornings. Doug’s wife and I were friends through a mutual friend. We all spent time together doing the suburban new-parent, dog-owner things. Whether someone was climbing up a playground or corporate ladder, it didn’t matter, we jelled.

Doug and his wife gave us our first gift when we moved into our new home – a charming 75 year old Cape-Cod with colonial blue shutters, meticulously placed on a heavily taxed 50×50 lot. They showed up at the door with a wrapped package — a set of four wine glasses. We were so touched. It was such a grown up thing, to receive wine glasses from friends, we thought. We would have them over for dinner, we agreed. And we did.

And when we were ready to embark on a cross-country move, they bid us fond farewell with a barbeque send off in their backyard amidst mutual friends. It was a lovely good-bye from friends we intended to keep. As we all know, intentions are only as good as the actions used to back them up.

“He was in Tower Two,” Heather said.

I’m not sure what else she said.

Not only did I picture their little family’s picket fence corner lot home, but familiar streets lined with funeral processions. In my mind’s eye I saw abandoned cars in the train station parking lot. And in addition I now saw a face – and heard a voice – that had been part of my life. I pictured the family that I continued to know through Christmas cards without their staunch and smiling provider. I pictured a happy, lively woman my age as a beleaguered, grieving widow who now had three small children, eight and younger.

“Almost every child at school has lost someone,” Heather added.

I was glad I didn’t live there anymore.

I never heard from Heather again – nor did I ever try to contact her. If I did, I don’t remember.

What I do remember is that even amidst the isolation I felt during this time, I was glad I had something to hold onto. I had a tangible personal tribute that had been left in my charge. It was something to touch, and use, to honor the memory of someone who walked not only through my life but was had actually been a part of it for a short time.

I had the wine glasses.

And I still do.  Well, I have two of the four wine glasses, as that’s the way things go with divorce.

Every Jewish holiday, and every Thanksgiving, when I pull out the linens and china, the silver and crystal, I set one special glass carefully at the head of the table just for me. I feel honored to have a piece of Doug in my family. I remember his kind and friendly and gracious personality when I see and use these goblets that are destined to remain the family heirlooms they have become. Before our meal I remind my children where the glasses came from. I tell a story of a short but delightful friendship to whomever graces our table.

And then I say, L’Chaim.  To life.

*Republished again with permission of the author.  Me.

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Jun 15 2009

How did the settlers do it?

We lost power today for a few hours.

I sat still.

I read a book.

I scribbled notes on paper by hand.

I did not open the refrigerator or the laptop.

I plugged a phone into the wall.

I opened the garage door manually.


I’m exhausted.

Posted under Pondering | 4 Comments »
May 25 2009

A public service announcement

It’s Monday.

That’s right, wipe the sleep out of your eyes and fire up the grill.  It’s what I like to call Second Sunday – it looks like Sunday, it feels like Sunday but it’s not.  This means, of course, that tomorrow is not Monday and that for the rest of the week I will be unsure of what day it is.  That goes perfectly with the fact that I with friends and family scattered all over the country that I rarely am sure what time it is.

Although right now it is time for coffee.

Will you make time to write on this Memorial Day holiday?  With one barbeque on the docket  I’m going to try to carve out a two-hour window later this morning.

Thanks to our soldiers and veterans, I can do I want to do, today and every day.

May 24 2009

Just doing my part

I’m flying a small flag in honor of our veterans, pulling out the white shoes, throwing chicken on the grill, eating hot dogs and watching the town parade wind its way down Main Street.

And, in true American spirit I am taking part in the most time-honored, patriotic tradition of all in honor of Memorial Day.

I’m buying mattress on sale.

Posted under Pondering | 4 Comments »
May 22 2009

It’s not a hammock in Mexico, but…

…it’s home.

I often complain about living in this tiny suburb where there’s no single parents, no good shopping and no sushi on Sundays, but now that Spring has finally sprung it reminds me of what I do like about living here.

The trees are tall and the lawns are lush.  My light green thumb provides me with a very nice container garden.  Not to mention I have figured out how to see my laptop monitor while sitting at the table under the umbrella.  Who knew the back yard was perfect for editing?

So if you’re looking for me, that’s where I’ll be.  Editing in the back yard.  That is, until I can make it to Mexico.

Posted under Pondering | 6 Comments »
May 18 2009

What do you pack?

I was away from home for part of the weekend — something I don’t get to do very often.  In my overnight bag I packed one book and my book light, two pairs of shoes (in addition to the ones on my feet), three outfits just in case, four necklaces, five pairs of earrings, my cell phone, my laptop and chargers for each.  I had my camera,  all my make-up, deodorant, perfume, my brushes, hair products and my flat iron.   I had credit cards and cash and both pairs of my glasses and their cases.  But late Saturday night I realized I’d forgotten my tooth brush and toothpaste.    (Luckily I was able to snag ‘em in the health club’s locker room.)

What’s your must-have when you go away, even if it’s just for one night?

Posted under Pondering | 16 Comments »
Apr 30 2009

April showers

In case you’re wondering, it’s still raining.  It has been raining since last week and I do not live in Seattle or the rain forest where this is expected.  I’m also not in the desert where this would be coveted.

But, since today is the last day of April, and since April showers bring May flowers, I’m assuming this is it. No more rain after today except for the occasional glorious thunder storm or sun shower.

Delusion suits me, no?

Posted under Pondering | 9 Comments »