Everybody Needs One

19 02 2020

I have an imaginary friend. 

I didn’t always have her, but she’s proving to be a valuable part of my life.  When something happens to annoy me, to hurt my feelings, or to make me want to break things, she helps me sort myself out. I imagine how I would encourage her to react to these uncomfortable situations.  I think about what I’d tell her to do. 

Surprisingly, my advice to this pretend friend is almost always that she should:

A. Not take it personally,

B. Consider the other’s situation – allow that they might be having a rough time,

C. Weigh the validity of the position, and

D. Assess the importance (honestly, it’s often very little) of the person who’s committed the offense.

It is probably even more surprising that my imaginary friend is never exhorted to respond hatefully, brood, or do something else self-destructive. 

We need to treat ourselves like our best friend. 

We need to salve our tender heart with gentle words.

We need to invoke reason.

We need to provide perspective.

We don’t know what makes others do mean, hurtful, or selfish things.  It’s not up to us to figure that out, nor is it our duty to take their troubles onto our shoulders. We should not add to their burden, either, so as we would advise our imaginary friend,  close the door, walk away, and rise above the commotion, comfortable in the support of our (imaginary and very real) friends.

Be kind. That’s always good advice.




In Order of Importance

12 02 2020

What interests you? What’s your aesthetic?

Does the latest Tim Apple gadget make you swoon?  Do you change your china to match the season? Are Louboutin stilettos worth every bone bruise and bunion to you?

Or are you more of the “it was good enough for my dad, so it’s good enough for me” types?  Do you like your ancient (2 year-old) cell phone? Is your idea of fancy dinner not eating directly from the stove?  Would you rather walk on snakes than walk in high heels?

In other words, are you functional or are you decorative?

Like most either/or propositions, we all fall somewhere along the continuum, of course, but the longer I’ve been here, the more I realize my guiding drive is to be comfortable, which puts me firmly on the functional side of center. 

Some people who know me – those who see me at the grocery store still wearing my gardening shoes or studio paint-stained jeans – would heartily agree that I am, indeed, NOT decorative.  Others  would argue that my house, filled with the beautiful bits of art and fine pieces of craft (much of it made by my friends) is evidence of a totally decorative spirit.  They would be wrong!

One thing I know is that the pretty things I choose to hang on my walls, set on my tables, or plant in my yard are FUNCTIONAL.

They make me happy.

What more important a function can something serve than that?

When someone asks you what good are the arts, think before you shrug. If music, dance, movies, paintings, or any other thing human-made simply to make life more interesting has brought joy to you, the answer is clear.  The arts make life better. They make us happy. I can support that!

Support those folks whose function is to delight, entertain, teach, amuse, or make you get up offa that thing and dance to you feel better.  As James Brown (also) said, I feel good!





Feb-rhub-ary

5 02 2020

If I had to catch the not-the-flu-dammit bug, I couldn’t have chosen a better month to do my time in the dazed and medicated zone.  While February will never be my favorite, I will admit , virus notwithstanding, there have been a few flashes that make me think February could be just a little bit Feb-ulous.

On Monday, we were tantalized with a beautiful, sunny, mid-sixties day. Even my glazed eyes and tissue-abraded nose enjoyed the feel of the sun on my face and appreciated the little promises of spring poking through the soil. 

Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’
Daffodils at attention

One good deed, Feb, but what’s next?

Yesterday, the weather was gray again, so I was cranky and pitiful.  I was especially annoyed with myself, when I received a package delivery notice, for not recalling what the heck I (must’ve in a fevered stupor) ordered from someplace called “Goldbelly.”  Whatever it was – and I could not imagine – it was delivered this afternoon.

To to my relief, I had not sleep-shopped. My dear friend from many states away, who I met at a trade show when we worked for competitor companies (that we both did not enjoy very much), and who is a thoughtful and generous person sent me a very special gift. 

A prescription I can follow!

Now, to appreciate the magnificence of this gift, let me tell you that Martha and I have had rare opportunities to see each other in the last several years, but she remembered my husband can’t stand the smell of rhubarb, so I don’t bake it. She remembered that it is a flavor that reminds me of my favorite aunt and happy childhood times with her. She knew I needed a boost to get through this, the longest shortest month of the year. She sent me a rhubarb pie!

Love wrapped in cardboard, bubblewrap, and pastry.

When someone says “It’s the thought that counts,” I am sure this is one of the finest examples of that sentiment ever!  Oh, the pie’s delicious, too!

Sure, it’s the thought that counts.




Assume THIS Position

29 01 2020

Before we even get started, yes, I know about the “if you assume” maxim and I know that there are naughty insinuations regarding the phrase “assume the position.”  Okay now, moving forward . . .

I challenge you to assume this position: no matter what you’re dealing with, you are in a better position than everyone else you encounter.

Of course, it’s a ridiculous suggestion.

Of course, I expect us all to do it anyway.

Why?

Because it will make us kinder and that is an absolutely good thing.

Outward appearances are often deceiving, so let’s just put them aside and try really hard to recall that everyone has bad days.  Everyone has heartache, everyone has illness, everyone  has problems – just like you and I do.  While we are working on giving other adults some slack, let’s make doubly sure we practice this for kids.  No child wants to be perceived as bothersome, let alone dirty or disgusting, so just don’t go there. Don’t blame others for conditions you don’t know how have befallen them. Seriously, I am talking to me – and you – here and we need to do better.

Assume the position:  although my burdens may be heavy, I have no idea of the weight on the shoulders of others I meet.  I will give them the kindness and tenderness that would be helpful for me to receive.

I believe this will lighten all our loads.

Because I always feel better when I see pretty plants, this is callicarpa ‘Early Amethyst’, reminding me of beauty lingering and beauty promised.




The Power of Pie

22 01 2020

We are a family of pie bakers.  We can make cakes.  We’ve been known to do a cookie or two.  We are, however, really good pie bakers.  That’s simply because we really like pie!

Apple Cinnamon Pie baked in a Kurt Brantner Pottery handcrafted plate.

One of the things about being a good pie baker – my mom’s the BEST – is that you can get wrapped up in baking pies for people who love your pies and forget to bake them for people who love you.  We can get so busy doing nice things for friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other folks in our social circle that we fail to remember just how much our closest family deserves to be celebrated, too.

So, go ahead.  Bake a pie for someone who is so close to you that you might take them (just a little bit) for granted. They will be delighted to know that you did it just for them.  It will make their day and it’s easy as pie.

Here’s a delicious recipe for you to chase away the January blues.  It’s really simple and tastes like summer.

Open Face Peach Pie

unbaked 9” pie shell

1 ½ lb peaches, peeled and sliced (Hope you froze some last August! Store-bought will do.)

2 eggs

1 c sugar                                                              

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2T unsalted butter                                          

2 T flour

Heat oven to 350º.  Arrange peach slices in pie crust.  Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over the peaches.  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until just set.  Cool completely.





Coming Attractions

15 01 2020

What a glorious few days of warmth and sunshine we’ve enjoyed in the middle of January. We’ll see much more cold and snow and winter in all her gory – er glory – I know, but the lovely little break in the bluster has been a tonic for my cranky soul. 

Happily, I recognized this meteorological gift and didn’t waste (more than) a minute fretting about how long it would last.  I just went outside, let the sun touch my wrinkly old face, inspected my sleeping flower beds, and went for a drive to get a cone of my favorite ice cream. Happy Day!

I want to carry this feeling with me when other small/temporary good things cross my path.  I hope others will, too.  Instead of complaining about how too many people are doing too little about too many problems, I am going to concentrate on appreciating the little things people ARE doing to make positive differences for others.  A little is better than none. When there are many littles, that can really add up to something way better than none.

I’ve heard that what you put out in the world is what comes back to you, so I will do my little bits of good whenever and wherever and however I can. Better days are coming . . . but today was pretty darn good.





Breakdown

8 01 2020

This afternoon, I broke a serving bowl.  It was just an everyday utilitarian bowl, but as I watched it fall and shatter into a ten-foot blast radius of thousands of little glass stars, it felt like a tragedy, an outward and visible manifestation of just how completely messed up things are in my life.

Seriously?  What a drama queen moment!

I just had a crappy day – a very privileged, first-world-comfortable kind of crappy day.

I lost no friends. 

I broke no bone.

I lost no money.

I hurt no one. 

I simply felt blue. I let a trivial little speck of melancholia take over far too much real estate in my mind.

We all have those days, when our wildly histrionic inner child comes barreling to the surface, refuses to eat her vegetables, and scribbles on the walls. I’m glad to say that the common sense part of me has sent the miscreant part of me to her room, where she can sleep it off – hopefully for a nice l-o-n-g  winter’s nap.

Even with “bad hair,” my Japanese maple is beautiful. There’s a lesson here.