Friday, November 30, 2012

Days 29 & 30 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful for Fire

I'm writing this post while sitting next to a fire. Not a house fire--but a fire in the house.
I looooooves me some fire.

I grew up in a house with a wood burning fireplace. Our job was to keep that puppy burning as hot as possible to heat the entire house. It may sound like I lived in a one room cabin, but I actually lived in a lovely suburban home, but my dad was a furnace Nazi.

Furnace Nazi?
YES. Furnace Nazi: a person who would not turn up the heat until actual icicles formed on your nose and eyelashes indoors.

Fortunately, I grew up feeling free to turn up the furnace as high as I want.
Unfortunately for my family, that's a balmy 63 degrees during the Winter months.

For this reason, I love our wood buring stove. I know, I know, I'm totally contributing to climate change, pollution, obesity in whales, and the extinction of the dandelion. But there's nothing I love more than the crackle and pop of a freshly started fire.

When the fire is lit, we all come from the corners of the house and gather together--it's probably just so we can combine our body heat to stave off the frost bite, but there's nothing that brings us together faster than a fire.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful For Mountain Man, Even Though He Hates Soup

There is a serious division in the Square Toothed/Mountain Man household. It is a matter of the utmost importance and effects the fate of all mankind--at least in this house.

The subject of which I speak is soup.

My feelings for soup cannot be properly put into words. My adoration of the steaming, one-pot-wonder we call soup cannot be properly described.

Mountain Man feels quite differently.
He doesn't like soup.
This information came as a quite a surprise after fifteen years of marriage.

My response when he told me was something akin to, "You're dead to me."

More accommodating wives may have said, "Oh, no problem, we won't eat soup anymore."

Not me.

In fact, since he told me, we've eaten more soup than ever before.

Now, before you think this is some kind of passive-aggressive ploy on my part, let me assure you--it's not.
You see, if there's a character trait I possess in spades, it's determination. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have made a successful spy. I could have turned all the other spies to work for my government. I can be pretty convincing.

Just ask my childhood friend, Diane, who didn't think it would be a good idea to call up the boy she liked and ask him to the next school dance.
I talked her into it.
And now they're married...
...of course, a lot happened in between the dance and the wedding, but like any good friend, I take complete and total credit for it.

I just can't quite shake the idea that if I make a different soup every night and use my convincing charisma, that Mountain Man might look at me on evening and say, "WOW! I had NO idea soup was so amazing!!"

I mean, after all, it's soup.
Soup is versatile and can be served hot or cold, it can be made quickly or can sit around in a crock pot all day. It's cheap, easy and efficient. Soup can be made with just about anything and it goes great with my other favorite food: crackers.
Simply put: Soup is a wonder food.

So, who in their right mind doesn't like soup???

...Well... Mountain Man, I guess.

But the problem lies in the fact that I equate soup haters with clowns, Darth Vadar, stalkers and mimes. Oh, and zombies--don't forget the zombies.

So what to do when you find yourself married to the enemy?

I haven't quite figured that part out yet.
But there's one thing I know for sure: I'm grateful for Mountain Man. He eats every bowl of soup I give him.

It was potato tonight.  

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catching Up on Giving Thanks Because I Was Distracted By Pie

I've got to do a catch up. I vowed to do thirty days of giving thanks each day during November and of course (I was thankful in my heart) but...I was distracted by the pie.

There was an abundance of pie and an available fork, so I took it upon myself save the pie from lonliness, and friend, I succeeded.  

So, after some Pepto and a nap, here are days 21 through 27:

Wednesday, the 21st: We stuck it to the man, and all skipped school. I'm grateful for having a "Man" to stick it to, that my kids attend fabulous schools--even if we skip them from time to time.

Thursday, the 22nd: Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Although Black Friday bleed seems to be creeping in, it is still just a day of thanks...mostly. I'm grateful we have at least ONE day devoted to thankfulness.

Friday, the 23rd: Mountain Man and I ran to Portland for a quick jaunt to look at a potential future house. (It was love at first sight.) I'm grateful for shelter.

Saturday, the 24th: Home again, and after a lifetime of cars that break down everytime I attempted to start them, I'm grateful for a running and reliable vehicle.

Sunday, the 25th: Running water. It's always a bit squished trying to navigate four people in one bathroom before church on Sunday morning, but I am extremely grateful for running water in my home. This is a privilege a great majority of people do not get to enjoy on planet earth. I am humbled each time I turn on the tap and take a drink of clean water.

Monday, the 26th: We put up our Christmas tree and officially "began" the holiday season. As I pulled out each ornament, memories filled my mind. I'm grateful for memories, friendships, stories, time, friends and family. They make life worth living.

Today (Tuesday) the 27th: I raked up the last leaves from our ginormous maple tree. I love that tree. It blesses us with shade in the Summer, beauty and blossoms in the Spring and my most favorite smell on earth.
For a few short weeks as the maple blossoms bloom in March, maple trees give off this smell that reminds me of Montreal. It's truly lovely, and I look forward to it each year. I'm grateful for the leaves this lovely living organism sheds so that we can work together as a family to rake them up and have a little fun in the process. It's been a pleasure and privilege living under it's grace.

What are you grateful for today? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 20 of Giving Thanks, or, The Fancy Hatted Baptist

Thanksgiving break is upon us, well, almost upon us--we are skipping school tomorrow because (to be honest) it's just dumb that my kids have to attend school for just a half day, so I'm protesting this stupidity by not sending them.

Take that, Man. (As in, THE Man.)

With Thanksgiving, comes family--the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the loving, the kind, the enjoyable-- and often, family are all of these adjectives rolled into one with a side dish of coo-coo-kachoo.

We haven't lived near family in a very long time and we stopped traveling on Thanksgiving quite a few years ago because we wanted to start our own tradition...annnnnnd...we're lazy. This was about the time that I also decided that Thanksgiving dinner only tasted good if my own mother made it, and to eat a Thanksgiving meal prepared by anyone else (including me) was just a waste of calories so we started eating Thai on that blessed day instead.

Over the years, this hasn't caused too much trouble. In fact, it saves a lot of time and hassle. The one draw back with not traveling on Thanksgiving is that we do miss our family. This year, however, our dear dear daughter (not by birth, but certainly in spirit), The Fancy Hatted Baptist, is coming home from college to spend the week with us and her other friends who live in town (...but mostly with us.)

And yes, I really do call her "The Fancy Hatted Baptist" because she is fancy, and frequently rocks a hat.
She is also a Baptist...but just in her heart.

Our "adopted" daughter's marvelous family moved to Missouri last year and  instead of making the trip from Utah to Missouri for the short holiday, she's headed our way instead.

We're looking forward to having her home and I'm so grateful for her and her darling parents who are sharing her with us this week!

It's a blessing to be with family.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Days 15 & 16, or, I Get Why Eve Ate the Apple

This afternoon, I came home to this:

Two delectable and delicious, caramel apples...

I promptly ate one...and I enjoyed every sugary-coated moment. 

I enjoyed it even more because it was from a friend.
Kindness rocks. Kindness rocks my heart and soul and brings me to tears quite often these days.
And when kindness comes knocking with caramel apples, it's doubly good. 

And it makes me think...
...I get why Eve caved. 

What are you grateful for today? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful for Uncertainty & Change

Uncertainty kinda sucks.

It's like standing on a precipice with the wind howling all around and nothing to hold onto.
To put it simply, it's terrifying.

On the other hand, this season of uncertainty has taught me an important lesson:
To enjoy the moment.

This season of uncertainty and change has gifted me with keener sight.
Not knowing how long we will be in this small town, I seem to be drinking in the the glorious golds, reds and oranges of the season. I find myself stopping several times a day to just breathe them in.

This season of uncertainty and change has gifted me with deeper appreciation for the man I've chosen to spend my life with with.
I knew he was cool before, but now? Now I stand in awe of his integrity, kindness, humor, and love a little more steadfastly. We are like two trees, standing side by side, our roots sunk deep into the soil of the life we've chosen together.

This season of uncertainty and change has granted me a season of rest. Our lives feel like they've taken a full stop--something I've been referring to as "Mid-Life Retirement". It's been two months of waking up to a husband that was kind of a ghost in our house, with all the hours he worked. This time together has changed the idea of what we want our family to look like. Our conversation is no longer, "What's your dream job?" but, "What's your dream life?"
I fully realize not everyone can ask themselves that question, and I have no idea why we are able to, but it's a gift.

Most importantly, this season of uncertainty and change has made me realize just how unique, magnificent, painful, beautiful and transitory life actually is.
LIVING is change. LIFE is uncertain.
Agnes de Mille said it best:
"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."
For me, life seems kind of dark right now, I just can't quite see the path even though I know it's there.
But I'm willing to leap... here we go.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12 of Giving Thanks, or, Spending Time With Straight Face

My daughter, Straight Face, is 14. Well...almost 14. (We've been instructed to "round up" since her half birthday in July.)

Due to the Veteran's Day holiday, Straight Face and I fled for the "big city" an hour away for some much needed girl time.

And this is what I learned (again) being with her:

She is hilarious.
She is kind.
She's as smart as all get out.
She works hard.
She is generous.
She's a million other facets of joy in human form.

I am grateful for this beautiful creature who gives love at every turn and is growing up right before my eyes.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Days 9, 10 & 11 of Thirty Days of Thanks, or, Snapshot Sunday

This has been a crazy busy week, and to be honest, I've been all riled up inside. There have been a couple of days of fist shaking at the sky. Whenever change rears it's head, I tend to shake my fists. I also frequently forget to breathe and yell at other drivers, even if they're not doing anything wrong.
This week has felt like a step back in our recent journey. Things just seem to be getting more confusing.

However, I'm still grateful for this beautiful time of year and the gifts of color and cold, and fire (in the fireplace) and friends.

Here's a few pictures of my gratitude:

What are you grateful for this beautiful Sunday evening?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days 7 & 8, or, Why I'm Grateful For My Feet

I missed yesterday of my Thirty Days of Giving Thanks--I was apart of a lovely event celebrating the grand opening of our new studio space with Carnegie Picture Lab. I've written about Carnegie here.

Anyway, over the last few days I've been busy with decorating, cleaning, greeting, and talking to people about teaching kids art and I've been on my feet a lot.

Tonight, they hurt.
However, it got me thinking about my feet. You know, I'm not very considerate of my feet. I hardly think about them at all. It's only when they hurt (which really isn't very often) and that's just really inconsiderate.
I'm mean, they're my feet.

So I've been thinking about these wonderful appendages today because they've been screaming at me to get off of them which got me thinking about why I'm grateful for them.

Here are the top seven reasons I'm grateful for my feet:

1. My feet take me from place to place--like from my bed to the refrigerator, then back again.

2. My feet are actually quite attractive. And I fully realize not everyone can say that. I think I could have had a successful career as a foot model. Of course, on some level I also believe that I could win Jeopardy even though I don't know that much trivia, but I'm sure that charisma alone could carry me through.
3. My feet are big. Not like Hobbit big, but just regular big. Sturdy. Steadfast. Solid. They keep me upright...most of the time.

4. My feet are strong. Or rather, my toes are. They can pick up pencils, Legos, un-shelled peas and even m&m's. (But just for the record, I don't eat anything I pick up with my feet...or anyone else's.)

5. My feet don't smell. At least I think they don't. They're kind of far away because I'm tall so I might just be making that one up.

6. My feet can walk, jump, bounce, kick and generally just take a beating. Of course, my legs can too so that's pretty cool but I'm trying to focus here, so you get the point. I'm especially grateful for this fact because when the zombie apocalypse finally begins, my feet will carry me far away from those freaks.

7. My feet don't really hurt that often. Maybe that's because I've been riding my pet reindeer around a lot in preparation for Christmas, or maybe it's because they're just good feet. Either way, I'm grateful for my feet, and my reindeer.

So, that's it. My feet rock and I'm grateful for them.

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 of Giving Thanks, or, How I Stayed Sane During Election Season

I have a secret.

This secret has saved my fragile sanity during this election season, and I am truly grateful for it.

I haven't heard or seen a single political ad.
Not a SINGLE one.


The secret to my inner peace and maintenance of my fragile sense of sanity?

I turned off the television...and the radio.
I didn't watch a single debate...well, not by choice anyway. My daughter had to watch one for school, so I yelled at the screen for about fifteen minutes and did a fair amount of eye rolling and then walked out of the room.

In walking away, I got my power back.

I am filled with gratitude for the process of election in this country. I'm grateful to be able to be apart of it, to vote, to make my voice count.

But mostly, I'm grateful for the written word, for print media, which can be read
...out loud...while doing an impression of Sean Connery.

See? Fragile sanity.

To my U.S. readers, Happy Election Day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5 of Giving Thanks, or, Treasure Each Other

Unemployment is TOTALLY agreeing with the Square Toothed/Mountain Man clan. Of course there's that pesky little detail of income, but because we haven't seen much of the big guy in five years, this time off feels like a sabbatical--or maybe just a really long vacation. Either way, there's a lot about having Mountain Man home all the time that I love.

Take this morning, we went for a run and as we were running in a nearby park, a woman I see almost everyday (but usually alone) stopped us. I don't even know her name, but we have a relationship nonetheless. We exchange a little "good day to you" every time we pass one another in the park.

Today, our exchange was completely different.

As we drew closer along the sidewalk, her face registered surprise at the tall man running next to me.
As we neared her we both stopped to say hello. Without preamble, she touched my arm and Mountain Man's chest and said, "Treasure each other. Treasure each other every, single day. My sweetheart is in a home suffering from Alzheimer's."
"Treasure each other," she said one last time and turned and walked away.

Mountain Man and I kind of stood there in solemn silence for a moment.

As we began walking, no longer running, we took one another's hands, treasuring the moment; treasuring each other.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4 of thanks, or, Why I Don't Punch Babies

Sometimes I ditch church.

Seriously. Sometimes I just can't sit there any longer and flee for the hills.

Sometimes I don't.

Sometimes the holy spirit moves in me while sitting in those cramped little hobbit pews and I'm all, "Praise the Lord!" at least in my mind--because Mormons (in general) worship kind of quietly.

Sometimes I text my friends.
Sometimes I listen.
Sometimes I zone out and forget what the speaker just said and look over at Mountain Man who has faithfully set aside one hour a week (at church) for his Sunday nap and I think, "Rest on, Mountain Man. Rest on."

Other times, I look at his head nodding in his fitful sacrament meeting nappage and I flick the tip of his nose to get him to wake up.

Never once do I leave him alone.

Other times, I feel this overwhelming love for everyone in that place...and just to be perfectly honest...sometimes I could punch the nearest baby.

...O.k., I'd never REALLY punch a baby.

The point is, I'm trying to figure "it" all out.
"It" being spirituality, religion, tradition, culture, joy, peace, love get the idea.

I'm not there yet...and I may never be.
But I will cast my net as wide and as far as possible and gather in as much light and truth as I can. From the cathedral at Chartres, to the Mountains of Montana, from Jesus to Buddah and everything in between, there's a lot of joy, beauty and truth to behold.

So today, I'm grateful for the joy in Jesus. I'm grateful for the life of the person we call Buddah. I'm grateful for the words of the Koran and the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te-Ching and every holy book.
I'm grateful for the questions, and the answers, and especially for that quiet and still voice that whispers, "Calm down ladyface, don't punch that baby."

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day 3

Day three of my Thirty Days of Thanks dawned earlier than usual in the Square Toothed/Mountain Man Clan. So early, in fact, that at 9 a.m., we found ourselves eagerly greeting out first house looker of the day.

Selling a house is kind of a big pain, but having your house for sale also has some unexpected benefits.
Some of them are:

Clean house. Cinnamon Pine Cones. Autumn Colors.

Clean house. I'm a pretty tidy housekeeper, borderline neurotic some would say, so having to keep things picked up for potential buyers hasn't been that bad. This morning was especially stellar. Everyone was dressed and things were clean by 9 a.m.

Cinnamon Pine Cones. Every time (and I mean EVERY TIME) I walk into my house I say, "This house smells weird." I have no idea if it really smells weird or not, since I can't smell what our house smells like--what's up with that, by the way? Why don't our noses register what our own living spaces smell like? I'm always worried that it smells like mold, or stinky feet, or Ben-Gay. (What? My knee hurts sometimes.)

Anyway, today, there is no weird smell because Mountain Man came home with cinnamon pine cones...No more Ben-Gay.

Autumn Colors. O.k., the autumn colors don't have much to do with selling a house, but they were the frosting on the day. Take a look:

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Two

So the problem with Thirty Days of Thanks is that it's probably going to get old reading it everyday for a month. Fortunately, most of my friends of Facebook have gummed up the news feed with irate political posts, or pictures of cats doing household chores, so I don't feel so bad about gumming up the news feed with a little gratitude.

Day two of gratitude:

Sunshine. It was 65 and sunny today in Smallville. I took full advantage and I was able to take a few moments on a morning walk and breathe in the sunshine. Leaves were falling. There was a squirrel. It didn't bite my face off. All was right with the world.

Straight Face Wears Doc Martens. You know those really trendy new moms who dress their babies in, well... whatever-the-heck-is-trendy-right-now-and-outrageously-expensive? When Straight Face was a teeny-tiny, I always wanted to put her in a pair of baby Doc Martens, but I could never justify spending that much on a pair of shoes she would outgrow in 3.5 seconds. So I've been waiting for fourteen years for my "baby" to fit into a pair of Docs that I wouldn't cringe at purchasing.
Today, she wore mine to school. Not only was she ever-so-stylish, but they were free!

Silence. Sometimes the only way to prioritize is to find your own silence. Today was that day for me.

What are you grateful for today? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks

Here's the deal: I am an UNDERACHIEVER...and I'm totally o.k. with it. This month is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I was going to get involved, and then I looked at the house I have to pack up and the imminent zombie attack that's about to break out and I was all, "Nahhhhhh."

Instead, I'm committing myself to something a lot easier, because...have I mentioned that I'm an underachiever? This month will be my Thirty Days of Thanks, because if there's one thing I know, it's this: If you think your life sucks, or if you having some struggles, show some gratitude and go help an old lady cross the street or something. You'll feel a lot better about your lot in life, and nine times out of ten, the old lady will give you one of those fruity hard candies that  old ladies like to carry around in their purses.

Without further ado, day one of Thirty Days of Thanks:

Sneaky Hugs. On my morning walk that I ran smack dab into my son outside of his school. I sneaked in a big hug before his friends came around the corner.
Double Rainbow and a knock at the door. A dear friend was driving by and stopped to knock on the door and made sure that I saw the double rainbow in the sky.
Bully at school. A bully at school said something mean to one of the other children, and it made me feel not quite as guilty about writing that "frank, open, and honest" email to his dad last week.

What are you thankful for today?