Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lessons From the Kid--Karate Kid, that is...

Ridiculously, every Wednesday, my kids get out of school one hour early so teachers can sneak off to the local pub, prepare lessons, pick up their dry cleaning, scrape gum off of desks...or do whatever those magnificent teachers do on Wednesday afternoons with an extra hour. 

Anyway, Wednesdays leave the Square Toothed children with a WHOLE extra hour of doing something fun.  Today, as it is still winter here in the Northwest, it was snowing.  As the fluffy white stuff coated rooftops and newly budding trees, we decided to use our extra hour to watch "The Karate Kid."  Not only did we enjoy this relaxing time together, but learned some valuable lessons via le Kah-rah-tay Kid.

Lesson One:  Patience is a Virtue.   Ever streamed a movie from Netflix?  It's like watching mission control come in on the Space Shuttle orbiting above the earth.  I've had more luck time traveling to when the movie was showing in theaters in 1984.

Lesson Two: 1984 Ralph Macchio isn't such a babe anymore.  I was 10 when "Karate Kid" came out, and Ralph Macchio was my first big screen crush and babe-licious.  Posters from Bop! magazine plastered the walls of my room.  Ralph, aka Daniel-san, was every 80's girl's dream.  Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of Mr. Macchio these days...I wonder if this Square Toothed Girl would still find the Karate Kid poster worthy...and, would Mountain Man mind?

Lesson Three:  All good things come from Waxing On and Waxing Off.  Need to thwart a mugger? "WAX ON!"  Stubborn soap scum?  "WAX OFF!"  Can't get rid of annoying family?  "WAX ON!"  Need to clean up after you've given them a broken nose by waxing on?  "WAX OFF!"

Lesson Four:  Mr. Miyagi really IS all that.  Not only could Mr. Miyagi fix old cars, build awesome fences, and could take on twenty smart-aleck kids in the dim light of an alley, he was wise to boot.  Here are a few Miyagi-isms worth remembering:

Miyagi: What matter?
Daniel: I'm just scared. The tournament and everything.
Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?
*        *        *
Daniel: I don't know if I know enough karate.
Miyagi: Feeling correct.
Daniel: You sure know how to make a guy feel confident.
Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.
*        *        *
Miyagi: [repeated line to Daniel] Look eye!, always look eye!
*        *        *

I sat enraptured with the once golden Karate Kid, while my kids made fun of Daniel-san's girlfriend's hair. 
"Hey! We all had hair like that in the 80's, resepect your elders!!" I said.
"Just sayin' Mom...that hair is UG-LY.  But that Miyagi guy is cool."


What was your favorite 80's movie?  First movie crush? 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I'm a bookaholic...

So I have a little secret:  I'm a book-a-holic.  Not only do I use my library card to the max each month, but I also buy books, read them, then either keep and loan them to others, or just send them out in the universe for some one else to enjoy.

The picture to the right are the books I purchased this weekend.

Don't be alarmed, it's not like the total cost will effect my kid's college savings or anything--it was the American Association of University Women's annual book sale this weekend.  Books were abundant and cheap, a lethal combination for any book-a-holic.  Not only were there a lot of great books, but all the money I spent funds college scholarships for women and girls.  Come on, it's just a crime not to buy.

I guess it all started when I was eight.  In the summer time, I used to ride my bike downtown to my dad's office and ask him for some money to go buy a book at the local bookstore across the street from his office.  I probably did this 3 times a week, every summer for my entire childhood, so you can only imagine the amount of money the dear man spent on my book habit--a habit that eventually led me to a degree in English Literature.  A degree that affords not only the right to snobbishly critique any book, at any time, but qualifies one to collect books without consideration for shelf space--ever.

There was something in the smell of the bookstore when walking in off the street on a hot summer's day.  The paper and glue scent would mesmerize my childhood self the instant the door closed behind me.  I remember standing there, still hot from the outside, taking in the light, the colors and the shapes of rows and rows of books, lined up like friends, just waiting to be met.

Book stores and libraries effect me the same way to this very day.  The anticipation of a new book in hand; precious time carved out of a busy day to read; the resulting mini-depression that accompanies finishing a really good book; and finally, the journey beginning again with a new book in hand.

That is bliss.

Like any book-a-holic, I married a book-a-holic, and we proudly produced two darling children who are book-a-holics in their own right.  We are four addicts living in a very old house, surrounded by Goethe, Chaucer, Mrs. Woolf,  J.K. Rowling, and countless others.  

"Time to put your book away!" can be heard every evening, sometimes late into the night.
This phrase is always followed by, "Just one more chapter!"
 I, myself, just said this last night to a very tired Mountain Man, who, like all people living with a book-a-holic, simply pulled an extra pillow over his head knowing that "one more chapter" is really code for "I'll be up all night finishing this book, so quit bugging me."

No self respecting book-a-holic would ever say to another, "Turn out that light, now!"
Blasphemy such as that would never pass my lips.

And so our addiction continues.

Are you a book-a-holic?  
What is your favorite genre?  Who is your favorite author?

Monday, February 14, 2011

O My Valentine

This week, my daughter and I were headed somewhere in the car--I can't remember where--when she asked me about how Mountain Man and I met.  It's been 16-some-odd years since we first laid eyes on each other and called it good.  I told her that ours was one of the great loves stories in all history.

That probably seems pretty outrageous, comparing it to the likes of Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde and Bo and Hope (of Days of Our Lives fame), but how can one qualify a great love affair anyway?   Only through our perceptions (which is reality) and therefore, I give myself permission to say that ours is one of the greats.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing it to yours, or yours, because, well, I didn't marry you, and I hope that you think that your love affair is one of the greats too.  I am merely speaking of my own little life and the great big LOVE that holds the whole thing together:  Mountain Man.

Mountain Man's name is Shiloh.  When I first met Shiloh he was on the cusp of adulthood--and so was I.  Like any marriage, we have felt the pains of growing together.  But I am convinced, to this day more than ever, that I have married one of the greatest men on planet earth.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I taught an early morning religion class to teenagers five days a week.  We lived in Montana at the time, and for some strange reason I got it into my head that before this class began, I would hit the gym.  The only problem was that in order to work out, shower and travel to the class, I had to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning.  (I know--what was I thinking?)  But I did this everyday for a school year, for multiple years in a row.  And every morning, Shiloh would get up to start my car--at 3 a.m. in the frosty mountain air of Montana, just so I could, (his words), "Be warm and loved."

This glimpse into Shiloh's character is just a tip of the ice burg. Shiloh is wise. But he doesn't throw his wisdom around like confetti--he offers it up only when asked for.  Shiloh listens.  He is the best listener to a wife like me who needs to talk through every side ways glance and snowflake.  Shiloh is kind--and not that fake kind where you know a person goes home and is awful behind closed doors, but truly down to his bones kind.  Shiloh embodies the words integrity, hard work, and love; and well, is just good.

I love Shiloh.  And don't you worry, he doesn't have to read this blog to know it.  He knows it already.  He is the steady in the storm, the keeper of the gate, and the very breathe to my life.  We think of our friendship and love like this:

"You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,

Even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."
                                                         Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet 

*        *        *  

I wish us all more love, more hope, more friendship, and more kindness this Valentine's Day.
I wish you all a great love affair.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Living On the Corner of Busy & Busy

So, the Square Toothed/Mountain Man Clan  live at the corner of a busy intersection in Crazy Town, USA.     A year ago, we began a painting project that took about 40 million years to complete and involved a smattering of four letter words from time to time.  Words like, "Ouch!" "Du-Uh!" "Aack!" and the like.  However, the end result gave us the exterior we always wanted and taught us the pros and cons of corner living.

For instance,

Pro: Need attention?  No problem, simply perch yourself precariously on a ladder twenty feet from the ground.  Add sun in your eyes, a full gallon of paint and an ample behind, and you've got yourself an attention billboard.  You'll never feel so poplar.

Con:  The expectation of Validation.  When I am out in my yard, or on my ladder, for that matter, people driving by become slaves for validation.  Who doesn't want to be recognized?  And since half of the town drives by on any given day, that is a lot of validation to be handing out whenever I'm outside.  The difficult thing to explain to friends driving by is that, not only do I have no idea what kind of car you drive, but you are driving by at 30 mph, waving like a madman honking all the while... and well, under those circumstances, I think I'd rather pretend not to know you.

Pro:  No need for directions.  Living on a busy residential corner means everyone in town knows where we live.  I simply say, "The olive green house on the corner of ______ &_______."  People are like, "Oh!  I know that house!  Are you the one on the ladder all the time???"  Seriously, it's awesome, in my neighborhood I'm like Norm on Cheers...everyone knows my name...or at least, where I live.

Con:  I work from home.  When not writing Diary of a Square Toothed Girl, like all bloggers, I am writing a book, and when I'm not slaving away on that, I run an interior design firm out of my home.  Needless to say, working from home requires balance.  There are interruptions that people who work in offices never have to contend with--things like: neighbors dropping by, non work related phone calls,  laundry just screaming to be put in the dryer, and well, Facebook.  Now the Facebook thing is more my own problem, but still, there's no boss here but me to get on my case about it...maybe I should hire someone...

Pro: Police Stops.  At least once a week, usually on the weekend, a police stop can be witnessed on our corner.  We've seen disturbances where drivers have stopped to yell at one another, fender benders, drunk drivers,you name it, we've probably been sitting in our bay window watching it.  In fact, one winter, on the icy roads, there were so many crashes at our intersection that the 3rd time I called
9-1-1, the operator said, "Hi Lisa, got another one?"

Con: Bad Music.  For some reason, stop signs bring out the loudest and the worst music in passing cars.  Bass pumping, polka blaring, nasty, awful, loud and annoying music can be heard during the morning and evening rushes.  Why can't someone who listens to Vivaldi loudly drive by???

Pro:  Meeting New People.  In my life, outside my home, I masquerade as an extrovert.  In reality, I am an introvert--I think of myself as someone who loves people, but equally likes to be alone and protects my personal time with the dedication of a prison guard.  If I don't do it, no one will.  I am also a person who likes the outdoors and working in the yard.  This is a problem living on the corner.  Yard time (in my mind) is personal time, but to people passing by, this is an invitation to stop to chat. And they don't even have to be people I know.  I like to meet new people, so I stop to chat, but I also like to work and get my work finished, so I've perfected a little trick to cut myself off from the masses--and I'm not going to reveal it here, just in case you are driving by...waving.

All in all, living on the corner is a great blessing.  I'm not sandwiched in between two loud neighbors.  I meet new people all the time.  I see friends driving by daily, who kindly wave and share their love of horn honking.  I never need to be worried about being robbed because what kind of idiot tries to steal from a house where all the cops are driving by?

Living on the corner is a joy.  I always feel like I am being watched out for, and in some way, taken care of simply by people paying attention.  Just this morning, I'd dropped off the kids at school and was sitting in my toasty warm car--reticent to return to my cold house.  I had put my head over the steering wheel to gather my thoughts for the day and to offer a little prayer.  Just then a man walked by with his dog, who saw me and thought something might be wrong.  He knocked on my window and asked, "Are you o.k?"

What kindness!

"Just one of those days--I need all the help I can get today!" I said.

"O.k. then,"  he said, "Just checking in on you."

What more can one human ask for, than a fellow human's mindful kindness?
I might have met him on a quiet street, but today, he was walking past my corner.

Yep, corner living rocks.    

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amazing Grace

I have been quiet for a while.  My life has been calling, and you know how it is, blogging is the first thing that falls to the wayside--well, that and laundry, but that's another story.

Anyway, I've been thinking about grace.  Not necessarily God's Grace--although that's related, but the part of that Grace we extend to ourselves and others.  Old Mister Webster defines grace as, "unconstrained and undeserved divine favor or goodwill."

Lately, I've been the recipient of some pretty amazing grace.  No, God hasn't knocked on the door in the last month offering to make the path smooth, but there have been some amazing people who have the stamp of the divine so deeply written on their souls that there is no doubt in my mind that Love works in and through them.  These friends pour out "unconstrained and undeserved goodwill" upon me with the ease and beauty of true artists.

And they are artists.  Artists of extravagant love.  They have done for me what I could not do for myself.

To these dear, dear friends, I say, Thank you.  You have given me a gift I cannot ever hope to return or pay back; you've given the gift of time.  With unselfishness, you've extended grace to me, all the while reflecting the Divine in your loving kindness.

And that's pretty amazing.