Random Thursday: Happy Edition

1. A few weeks back, the Wonder Hub and I were driving down some picturesque Colorado backroad, talking about Someday. We don’t know when he will retire from the Air Force, and we don’t know exactly where we would like spend our post-AF years, but we sure like to dream about it. We were doing just that as we rounded a bend in the road and a red barn came into sight. It was trim and bright and pretty as a picture. It made my heart do a little dance.

Me: You know what makes me happy? Red barns.
Him: We’ll get two.

2. I went outside to feed, water, and deadhead plants yesterday morning. I had just spent an hour in the backyard, and I was on a roll. As I settled in on the front porch, I heard a misplaced yet oh-so familiar tinkling sound. I got up, head tilted, and hopped off the porch. Brain going Mach 2, I rounded the shrubs and laid eyes on this:

 

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I can’t be certain, but my best guess is that she’d been out there for two hours, basking in the sunshine and surveying her kingdom. A little girl was riding back and forth, back and forth on a too-big bike while singing a sweet little made-up song, and I’m so happy my girl was there to keep an eye on her.

(I’m also happy that a deer didn’t happen by.)

3. I got up early this morning, slammed a cup of joe, laced up my sneakers, and took my car in for routine maintenance. Then I ran home. Three miles. Uphill. From elevation 5,946 to elevation 6,260. (translation: no oxygen)

So why on earth would this make me happy?
Welllll, let me count the ways:

1. I was happy because it was 65 and not 90 degrees.
2. I was happy because I had sneaked out of the house and could run without waiting around for sniffing and peeing and rabbit-stalking.
3. I was happy because I was DONE.

4. Lists. Somewhere in the recesses of my skittery brain, I remembered writing about lists. I did a search and, among five posts about lists, found this:

Random….Uh, What Day Is It?

Reading it made me happy. Reading the comments made me even happier.

5. When I started thinking about lists, back before I hopped down the list-post bunny trail, this was why.

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This week’s list. On Thursday.

Happy!

(Sure, there are things not listed, and sure, there are things that will be added, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we?)

6. Lip balm makes me happy. I’ve never been much of a lipstick girl. I’m not opposed to color, but something about the texture of lipstick makes me feel hemmed in. Buttoned up. It’s too much responsibility. Or something.

Lip balm, on the other hand. It wouldn’t take much to tip me over into the category of lip balm hoarder. Lip Balm addict. My favorite of all time is Origins Lip Tint in Organic Plum, which the organic jerks have quit making. In my hunt to replace it, I have tried all of the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm flavors/colors. I have a Sonia Kashuk lip balm (I can’t tell you the color without reading glasses, and I can tell you that ain’t gonna happen), and a Neutrogena lip balm in Sunny Berry. My color-free favorites include good ‘ol Chapstick, Peppermint Chapstick, a couple from Goat’s Milk Stuff, and a newly purchased and perfectly lovely tube of Portland Bee Balm (also in peppermint).

I may or may not be wearing one or several of them right. now. And you know what? I’m happy!

7. I got a StitchFix package in the mail today. Do you know this StitchFix? It’s pretty fun, and I think I’ve kept one of five items in each of the four packages they’ve sent. Today, the hands-down winner was a geometric print maxi dress in bright, summery colors. I liked it so much that I put it on to run errands with the Monkey. I felt sassy, and for once in my yoga-pant life, put together. A good outfit, it just does something for a girl. It changes the attitude. It lifts the spirits. It causes one to stroll into Starbucks with her head held high (instead of skulking through the drive-through in shaded glasses and a ballcap), smile beamingly at the barista, and turn to graciously accept the compliment of a perfect stranger…

who actually stopped by to let you know the price tags were still attached and hanging there for all to see.

Happy? Good. I aim to please!

 

 

 

It’s a Pterodactyl! No, Wait! It’s a Cow! (Photos Included)

Once upon a time, there was this girl woman. She was a disorganized, procrastinating, train-wreck of a human being, but otherwise generally likable (unless you didn’t like her). She loved coffee, and tortilla chips with salsa, and fitting into her jeans (although at the time of our story, she did not fit into her jeans). She liked telling stories, but doubted her ability to do it well. Sometimes this doubt kept her from telling stories. Sometimes she bucked up and did it anyway.

Our story really begins with the day she did that. The bucking-up. On that day she bucked up and wrote down this little story.

That was the 18th of June, which just so happens to be two weeks ago today.

The story included this photo:

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And that, my friends, was how it all began.

The very next day, this happened:

She shared the happy news on Facebook. There was much joy and great celebration!

The next day, the girl woman continued her habit of opening the door, slipping out, and snapping a quick shot before rushing behind the safety of the door, all the while thinking of Audrey Hepburn.

Leaning against the closed door, she looked at the photo. Something strange had happened in the night.

The happy little nest had become a den of iniquity. Or a science fiction movie set. Facebook was abuzz, trying to figure out the mystery. Was it a pterodactyl egg? Was it a cow egg? Was someone messing with her mind?? The girl woman and her Facebook people held their collective breath and waited for the next day’s photo.

What would happen? Would the day bring a purple egg? A striped egg? A velociraptor egg?

Facebook was enthralled. Was this a genetic mutation or a mutant takeover? So great was the excitement (notably, the majority of the excitement came from a safe distance), that our intrepid photographer braved snapping a midday picture.

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The pterodactyl egg had moved! But eggs can’t move! This was looking more and more like a science fiction movie set, or possibly a cruel joke. Despite her growing apprehension, our heroine steeled herself and set up camp on the curb. She needed to know who or what exactly was the mother of the mismatched eggs.

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She was a shady character, to be sure. What kind of bird can outmaneuver the skills of so fine a photographer? Without real answers, our brave heroine was left with no choice but to…leave town. All week long, from the safety of the west coast, she wondered about that speckled egg. Google had been uncharacteristically unhelpful, unable to pinpoint even an approximation of the gestation period for a pterodactyl egg. She hadn’t the slightest clue what she was up against here. Should she have warned her neighbors? Called the National Guard?

She held her breath.

And got a pedicure.

And ate her body weight in freshly picked raspberries.

And bungee jumped

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And when she got home, instead of Jurassic Park, she found this:

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The pterodactyl egg had grown! But eggs don’t grow! (Um, eggs don’t grow, right?) This could not be her husband messing with her (as she had suspected all along). This was downright freaky.

The next morning, she found this:

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At which point someone on Facebook suggested that the pterodactyl egg might actually be the egg of a cowbird (for real, there are cowbirds). The thread disintegrated from there. There was “brood parasitism” and Decepticons(!) and the not-so veiled suggestion that Herr Speckled Egg be voted off the island.

It was all just too much for our tender-hearted heroine to take in. Because she simply could not imagine tossing that poor, innocent egg from the nest, she decided to do nothing under the guise of waiting for her husband to take care of it.

By the time he came home she had forgotten all about it and she served him his gourmet, three-course dinner, rubbed his feet, and fetched his slippers and pipe, the situation had changed drastically, and changed for the worse.

It was, to be frank, the worst case scenario (well, barring the National Guard scenario, of course)…

 

 

20140701_201500If our kind, brave, tender-hearted heroine couldn’t bear to do away with an egg, how on earth could she see to offing a beady-eyed, open-beaked, silent-screeching, decidedly-non-pterodactyl BIRD???

She did what anyone would do. She took the matter to her Facebook people. Her Facebook people could solve any problem! Except..

They couldn’t tell what the picture was showing. They wanted her to go BACK OUT THERE. Without the slightest bit of concern for her safety, they went so far as to REQUEST A LIVE-FEED VIDEO.

Absurd.

Being of saintly character, she went out and took a video (which you can view on Facebook), but the creepy sweet little bird had exhausted itself, what with all the silent screeching, and was still largely undecipherable. She spelled it out.

IT’S THE PTERODACTYL!

Thus ensued a 50 comment, exceedingly entertaining thread, at some indeterminate point during which our heroine’s fine husband finished his pipe, tucked his newspaper under his arm, and took care of the problem.

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THE END.

(Well, until another egg hatches.)

 

 

 

Any Given Story (A Lesson on Perspective)

I was out and about today, doing fun things like emissions testing, and filling tanks with gas. I was thinking about posting something on Facebook. Something like..

<happy font> Just filled the tank on the Wonder Hub’s birthday present! Best wife EVAH! </happy font>

when the yahoo (say it like this: yay-hoo) in front of me came to a complete.freaking.stop in the dead-center of a traffic circle, very nearly causing a multi-vehicle chain-reaction of disaster which would have significantly impacted the celebration of my beloved’s birth.

My brain instantly wrote another Facebook post (and then edited it for profanity).

<pissy font> AMERICANS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR TRAFFIC CIRCLES! </pissy font>

My brain went on to tell Facebook (because, you know, Facebook cares) about the time, less than one month after our return to America from Germany (where drivers are actually taught how to navigate a traffic circle), we were clobbered by an indignant late-model dude in his late-model Cadillac. A man who, despite having exited into our vehicle from the inside lane, went on to SUE US (unsuccessfully. HA.).

I continued my pissy internal Facebook rant about idiot drivers and idiots in general until I pulled into the driveway at home.

As I wandered up the front walk, my brain switched gears (squirrel, anyone?). Oohhh! I remembered the picture I had taken this morning!

<happy font> Look at what I found next to the front door! </happy font>

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Is there anything more hopeful than teeny, tiny eggs in a freshly made nest? The joy! The wonder!

All of a sudden, the mommy (daddy?) bird flew from the alcove, zipped around my head in an angry rush, and made me scream like a wee little girl.

(I hate screaming like a wee little girl.)

<hyperbole font> STUPID, STUPID, GEOGRAPHY-CHALLENGED BIRD JUST MADE ME PEE MY PANTS! WHO BUILDS A NEST RIGHT NEXT TO SOMEONE’S FRONT DOOR! </hyperbole font>

 

The lesson?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

My Bedside Table (Seven!)

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It’s a short stack this time around, but I’m actively reading each of these wonderful books.

(Note: I usually edit out that blue desk lamp. I didn’t this time around because I decided it is a mark of honor. When we retire from the military, I will get a beautiful bedside lamp–maybe even one that doesn’t sear the Wonder Hub’s eyeballs–but until then, this is the only thing that survives our moves.)

So without further ado (Such a great word, ado. Let’s all work together to bring this back to the modern lexicon, okay? Okay.), from the top down…

Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. I received this as a going-away gift from a sweet friend in Virginia. It is a book of short, daily messages, written in the first person voice of none other than the Son of God. To you. Each day’s note includes the scripture references upon which it is based, and the tone is so tender, so personal, and so spot on that it frequently brings me to tears.

Today is February 14, Valentine’s Day. Being me, I read the note dated Feb. 15. Here it is: photo

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. The Wonder Hub gave me this book for Christmas. I first read about this, the latest of Gladwell’s books, in The Costco Connection, one of my favorite monthly book mags. Next, I noticed that Relevant magazine had an interview with Gladwell entitled, “How I Rediscovered Faith.” You know me, and even if I hadn’t already been an avid Gladwell fan, I would have grabbed this book. It’s been a fascinating read, as Gladwell lays out an intriguing argument for questioning our assumptions about from where power and strength truly come. Parents and teachers of kids with dyslexia will want to read this, as well as those of us who are preparing children for college. Fascinating.

Left to Tell, by Immacullée Ilibagiza. Someone dear to my heart sent this for my birthday. I’ve only recently dug into the meat of the story, although I read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s foreword immediately after opening the package. I have to be honest and tell you that it left a sour taste in my mouth. I know I’m writing about the book here, and not Dr. Dyer’s foreword, but I hope you’ll permit me just a few lines to explain why I do not agree with his view of the universe.

1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3

2. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:6-9 (emphasis mine)

So. I put the book down after reading the foreword, in part because it credited Ms. Ilibagiza’s “Inner Beingness” for the impossible details of her survival, rather than giving credit to the Lover of her soul (Isaiah 25:4, Psalm 62: 1-2, 1-8). Another, larger reason for setting this book aside was simply this: it’s a book about the survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust. There is no way around heartache here. And friends? I’m staring at a plate full of heartache just now. I didn’t think I could swallow Ms. Ilibagiza’s in addition to my own.

I have started the story. It’s written with a sweet innocence I would imagine was Ms. Ilibagiza’s birthright, long before the onset of the genocide that killed her entire family. I will finish it. I will.

This Star Won’t Go Out, by Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl.

Gosh, people. I saw this at Costco one morning while I was wandering around bored out of my mind. The tire dudes (seriously, dudes) were putting much-needed snow tires on the Wonder Hub’s vehicle. I was not in need of one hundred rolls of toilet paper, or an all-beef hotdog. It was too early for the sample stations and the place was eerily quiet. Generally, I can spend a good half hour picking idyllically through the books before choosing one to take home with me. On this day, it took seconds. Being a John Green fan (that is, a lover of YA fiction who is taking in and expelling oxygen), I knew of Esther Earl, to whom he dedicated The Fault in Our Stars, but I did not know of this book. THIS book.

Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking? Do you know (as I did) that Esther is dead? Are you wondering why I might have trouble reading one book because of its proximity to heartache, but not another? I’ve given it a fair amount of thought myself, and I believe it is this: if this were a book about a girl with cancer, written by her parents, siblings, and friends, I would pass it right over. Ack. My heart couldn’t handle it. This, though. This is Esther’s words, Esther’s life (as well as the words of people who were touched by Esther). Esther was a writer. Posthumously, her words are reaching people, changing lives. What more could any writer ask for? What writer could pass that over?

Not this one.

That’s it, friends. Go forth and read!

Late Friday Post During NaBloPoMo

Last month, Jeni and I did an Instagram contest wherein we had to post a picture every day (according to that day’s theme) during the month of October. It happened once or twice (or every blessed day) that Jeni was put in the position of sending me a reminder text message. Had it not been for Jeni’s reminder text messages, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have completed the challenge. It’s proof of what I’ve always said– I need a handler.

For the record: I’m still miffed that neither of us won the boots. We rocked that contest.

This month, while I’m attempting to rock National Blog Posting Month, I have no handler.

Hence the 11:59pm posts.

In other news, the Wonder Hub pretty much covered the whole of my Birthday Month tonight by buying me a new car.

(Note to Mel: something must be terribly wrong with the USPS, because I have yet to receive your daily Birthday Month gifts!)

In other, other news, the Wonder Hub and I were cracking each other up at CarMax tonight, yawning our brains out at 9:30pm on a Friday night. We’re cool like that. The poor Monkey was with us, looking for something with which to poke out his eye. I texted the big boys the following picture, with the subtitle:

“Say goodbye to Bertha!”

Bertha has been a good girl. We have created so many memories with her. She pulled a pop-up camped all across the universe during the month-long trip we took when we moved from Las Vegas to Prattville, Alabama. The boys (all of them!) drove her on the beach when we stayed at the Outer Banks. She delivered Moose to college.

Come to think of it, Jeni was in Bertha when she got wedged under a low ceiling in a DC parking garage, a little situation I did not share with the Wonder Hub. Until Monday, of course, when he reads this post during his commute to the Pentagon. It won’t matter by then, though, because we bought a new car tonight.

THANKS FOR THE NEW CAR, HONEY!!!!!!

So back to the text I sent Moose and Bubba. I received the following replies:

“What!!!!!!”
“Awww!”

They take after their father, the both of them. They are men of few words.

(Here’s hoping that trend continues…)

The Finder

I call him The Divestor; the man who, left unattended, would get rid of every single thing we own. He’s got another title, and I ask that you use it correctly, curtsy, and show the proper amount of awe when you see him. He is
The Finder

I email him at least once a day to ask where something is. He always knows. Sometimes we play the Finder Game, where I ask him to tell me the locations of random and sundry items. I swear he’s batting 1000. I could say, Where is the last little incense cone for the Nightwatchman smoker we bought in Rothenburg? and he would respond with something like, I think it’s in the bottom of the green storage tub in the basement. Not the one on the shelf, but the one in the back corner, under the such-and-such. It’s wrapped in gold paper and is next to those stupid pine cones you won’t let me throw away.

So today he’s in sunny Miami, doing his work-thing (whatever exactly that is), and I can’t find my blasted, &%$#@! military ID anywhere. ANYWHERE. I’m supposed to be part of a breast study/trial thing today, and I need it to get onto the base. I tell you, it’s not ANYWHERE, and I am so frustrated that I think I’m going to cry. Instead, I email him. Thank you, God, for the military-issue Blackberry. He replies back with a couple of places that I have already turned upside down, working on the faint memory of having it with me last week when I took Bubba to the doc for his knee. After three or four of his suggestions, I’m ready to give up. I am so mad at myself and my stupid ineptitude that I want to scream. He calls. Did you take it to the promotion party Friday night? I remember you didn’t want to carry a purse. I start getting excited. I wore, I wore, I say, walking toward the closet. He responds, uncomfortable boots. I keep walking, excitement in my voice, I wore, I wore, Debbie’s coat! and I reach into the pocket and VOILA! pull out my stupid ID.

He IS the GOODS. The GOODS, I tell you. The Goods.

Photo Phriday: Around The House

We finally had our sick tree removed. We’ve been treating it and treating it in the hope it could be healed, but alas, this was not to be. I wish I had had the sense to videotape the tree as it fell, it was fairly breathtaking, what with Moose’s work truck (which couldn’t be moved, as the keys were with Moose in Richmond) on the one side and the neighbor’s tree across the street, both of them just begging to be smashed. The newly-barren landscape out front will take some getting used to. From now until fall, the Wonder Hub and I will be petitioning one another in regard to what to plant next. I’m thinking Japanese Maple in the main part of the yard. He’s thinking Tree With No Leaves (to rake)..

The tree dudes hauled off the upper, leafy portions of the old girl, but left the trunk for a teenager to deal with. Bubba negotiated a $10/hour rate for splitting and stacking. Here is what he accomplished in three hours. Admittedly, one of those hours was remedying an, “Axe in the Stump” version of “The Sword in the Stone,” which happened, unfortunately, on his very first swing. When I asked him if he would be billing for that lost hour, he happily replied, “You betcha,” and kept right on swinging.

(Also, can you find The Door in this photo? Can you tell what it has become?)

Remaining wood after three hours chopping.

Chopper, who approved the use of this photo.

Molly’s filthy, stinking leash, made filthy and stinking by her Supreme and Wonderful Romp through the Forest while Chasing a Deer.

Grrrr.

WE RECYCLE…and drink a TON of milk.

My lovely mother-in-law has taught me to use unlikely containers for annuals. Here we have (unnamed) flowers in a plastic wash bucket, Coleus in a blue enamel pot, and Basil in an old watering can.

Here is the dawg, post Supreme Romp and Very Necessary Bath, napping with her Duck.

This is the cart that sits in front of my kitchen window. Its contents describe my life. Counter-clockwise from center: CookWise cookbook sent to me by my awesome aunt, with bookmark stuck longingly in the section on baking and pastries (even though it’s too hot to bake); Sunglasses–once lost, now found; The last of the summer’s hydrangeas; Indoor/Outdoor thermometer, which currently reads: 76.7/86.7; Stan the Ficus, planted in a pot I bought in Poland; Broken Stoneware, which cracked under the pressure of the boys’ Enchilada Casserole.

And last but not least: a close-up of the summer’s last hydrangeas.

Happy Phriday, my friends!

To Colorado Springs With Love

It was a hot summer afternoon, not unlike today. The year was 2001. The skies were that impossible Colorado blue, and the sun was piercingly bright. I packed a picnic lunch for five and climbed into the passenger seat of a Jeep of the darkest green. It was topless (I was not), and we quickly shifted children so that each had a seat belt: eldest boy (age 7) proudly up front, me in the middle back and flanked by more happy boys (ages 5 and 3). My heart bounced and twirled and shimmied within me, as it always does at the promise of adventure.

Little did it know.

We took off toward Garden of the Gods, sun on our shoulders and wind in our hair. I watched as the driver accepted a worn cassette tape from his co-pilot, slipped it into the deck and cranked up the volume. I hardly had time to wonder before the first notes of “Let the Good Times Roll” lifted to the sky. The baby and I laughed into the wind as the driver and older boys sang, and sang, and sang.

They sang straight through “Let the Good Times Roll,” and on into “Lollipop” without pause. They belted out “Get a Job,” and “Yakety Yak,” striving for every note and reciting each word by heart.

When we entered the Garden of the Gods, I drew my breath sharply in the awe that always accompanies seeing the great red sandstone formations rise abruptly against the backdrop of a snow-topped, tree-wrapped Pikes Peak.

As we wound our way through the park in search of the perfect picnicking spot, the album’s title track began to play. I closed my eyes and listened to a strong, deep voice mesh with younger, higher voices as together they joined that of B. E. King, each one singing his heart out..

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me, yeah

Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

They sang ’til the very last note, clearly relishing what my heart understood to be the strongest of bonds, forged over time and sweetly tended. In the brief silence that followed, in the single moment that preceded children tumbling out of the vehicle like so many wild animals, I realized there was something else my heart understood.

I was in love.

Photo credit: Skrypczak, Witold

 

Ten Years

Ten years…where have they gone? I swear this was yesterday. I can feel the desert sun on my neck as I strive, with inadequate words, to tell first Moose, and then Bubba, that I have taken them, too, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in (hormonal teenage) sickness and in health. I gave them each a hammered silver heart, a silly little thing meant to represent my own heart, made bigger by the addition of this great love, made bigger by their presence in my life.

When the Wonder Hub did the same for a four-year-old Monkey, I thought my newly enlarged heart might burst. That the child whose birth had taught me selfless love could be taken into the heart of a man like this, and that we might form a family that would laugh and grow and learn (and struggle and fight and weep) together, was almost more than I could comprehend.

Today, ten years later, it is still almost more than I can comprehend. This is a (ridiculously imperfect) family, brought together by love and sustained by the very grace of God. It is to Him I give thanks, both for the last ten years, and for all the years to come.