End of the day goodness

End of the day goodness
Backyard travel

Sunday, December 28, 2014


2014 I finally started my blog.  A few weeks later, I read the blog is dead.  Gone the way of newspapers, all but the best shopping malls and jeans without at least some stretchy in them.  This made me laugh; I had started my blog in 2009, written one entry and then suffered from laziness and writer’s block for 4 years.  How typical that I would finally get into something once it is passé.  I have been enjoying my ghost blog regardless.  With no one reading I am free to be as over the top with sentiment, silliness and rants as I want.  It is the diary I always tried to keep but would loose 6 pages in.  I tend to start a lot of things and there are very few I actually stick with.  So sticking with this for a year is probably the first commitment I have ever kept to myself.  I am sure my poor OCD husband would be happier if I could keep the pantry or closet clean for a year.  In fact, I am not popular when discovered curled up writing while two days of dishes sit in the sink.  Thank goodness a New Year approaches, I have a plethora of goals from which to choose.

For this year however at least one goal was met and since my word for the year was create, hooray!  I created something.  Create was a very ambitious word for me.  I knew at the end of the year my mind would be more focused on the things I did not create.  And there are of course plenty.  I wanted to do more art.  I think I did one puny little picture all year.  I wanted to actually learn to sew and spend hours of quality time creating outfits and doll clothes for the girls.  I did not create one of these things and I continue to be scared to death of my sewing machine.  I wanted to cook exciting meals (I stuck with the basic 10 and ventured out only once to cook something in my tagine).   I had grand plans of sending out Christmas cards.  That plan has now turned into hopefully getting out happy New Year cards, which will turn into Valentine’s wishes of love to my friends.  I already have a cleaning coach and Personal Trainer.  I may need to have a seasonal person standing behind me poking me in the head with a ballpoint pen to get me to do cards.  I could go on and on listing everything I meant to create BUT, I have a lovely group of friends who would be saying, “Tisk, Tisk, stop that and focus on what you did create.”  And of course they are right. 

So, in January I wrote a short story that was fiction.  I had never done that before.  I didn’t think it was in me.  No, I did not do this on my own, I did it for a writing group I am in and it was great fun.  So this year thanks to the writing group I wrote a love story and a ghost story and did a few writing exercises.  I was completely surprised by the fact my middle age brain could go in a different creative direction.

Speaking of my brain, I also spent time this year trying to create some quiet there by meditating.  I am a horrible meditator.  I kept bombing at it.  I thought geeze, it is only 5 minutes a day Jeanette, you can do this.  Well apparently no, I cannot do 5 minutes.  Luckily when Melissa had our meditation group bump up to 20 minutes I learned that it actually takes my brain 5 minutes just to stop and get over itself.  The next 15 minutes are great so hooray!  I was finally able to create quiet. Sometimes.

I don’t know if it had to do with meditating or what but probably the best thing I created all year was a new since of happiness in my marriage.  This is one of those things that cannot be faked.  It has to come from some true place.   I am so thankful that my brain stopped picking at all the things it saw as being wrong in my marriage and started enjoying all the things that are right.  Part of the issue was not seeing myself as a frumpy old troll.  I got some high heels.  Really obnoxious over the top five or 6 inch heels that could result in a broken ankle, leg or hip if I walk on anything other than a very flat non slippery surface.  I don’t care.  I look fabulous standing in them, even if I am holding on to the wall for dear life.  I chemically altered my hair into submission and thanks to Melissa and Felicia, got my ass moving twice a week off the couch.  This was the year I realized I am as young as I will ever be so I need to enjoy it and stop feeding the idea that women in their forties are as alluring as spiders.

One of the things I really fought creating this year was a new GS troop.  I loved our troop last year in Richardson at the old school. Even though it was completely unfeasible to keep it up this year, I really wanted to.  Since I couldn’t, I pouted.  I just wanted to stick the girls in two existing troops.  For Lauren, this worked out fine.   For Helen, no luck; so in October I gave in and started a troop.  I have decided this is hard, stressful, a lot of work and it is usually one of the highlights of my week.  These girls are so delightful.  One week Julia walked up to me, “Ms. Jeanette, I have an idea about our meetings.  We can meet everyday of the week but Monday and Wednesday because I have other activities.”  She likes our meetings so much that she would meet 3 days a week.  At that moment I realized if I created nothing else all year long, creating joy would be enough.  Joy for these kids.  Joy for my kids, my parents, my husband, my friends, myself.  Creating joy and love.   And I usually do not create on my own.  My most creative moments are either with other people or because of other people.  It took me so long this year to get the most important aspects of my word that I am tempted to repeat it next year.  But another word has already tapped me on the ear.  What I have noticed is just because the year ends the word doesn’t.  I still find myself savoring, trying to be kind and wanting to grow.  Hopefully create will stick with me and flow a little easier if I continue to pay attention to it.  As for my dead blog, of course I will continue writing here.  For one I can't loose it like a journal and two, writing always trumps getting on the treadmill or cleaning the kitchen!                           

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Race

I love Indian food.  I do.  It ranks almost up there with Mexican food.  In fact, I have an Indian Bizaar rewards card on my key chain right along with Kroger and Tom Thumb.  So when John suggested Roti Grill for lunch, I was all on board.  This would be perfect and relaxing before tackling the American Girl store for the $30 Dalmatian puppy plus magnetic bone Helen has had on the top of her Christmas wish list since October.  I am a hideous procrastinator.  That is why 3 days before Christmas, I was sitting in a very, very long line with other procrastinators, inching my way towards the galleria.  But, unlike the other procrastinators, I had gone overboard with the coffee.  Then I had sausage and eggs.  Top that with Indian food and you have intestines that are set to rebel.  Let me tell you, when my intestines declare Viva Revolution! the vitamix has nothing on them.  They go from 0 to liquefy in about 60 seconds. 

I sit in the long line of cars weighing my options.  I can bail and try to make it North to my nice comfy bathroom.  The worst that can happen is I shit myself before I get there.  I can stay in line, park and try to make it to a restroom.  Again, the worst thing that can happen is a shit myself in the mall trying to get to a toilet.  I decide to stay in line.  What can I say, I had already been in this stupid line so long I felt compelled to chance an explosion of epic proportions.  It doesn’t help that there is an asshole who doesn’t follow the rule of every other car merging into one line as directed by the two police who have just positioned us to do this.  I was very tempted to leap from my car and explode right on her hood.   Once I am done cursing into my steering wheel about the spirit of Christmas rudeness I spend the next several minutes trying to focus on my breathing.  Okay, Jeanette, DO NOT listen to that gurgling noise, listen to your breath.   Focus on this moment that you are not shitting on yourself; focus on your sphincter muscle.  It is a strong and mighty sphincter.  It can hold off the revolt until a parking spot and lady’s room are found.  I am not sure if my Meditation coach would be pleased about this scene but when you are sweating in your car with men in red jumpsuits and santa hats directing you through a parking garage you will try anything.

Somehow the universe smiled on me.  I parked at level 2 right across from the walkway straight into Belk’s.  I have never been in a Belk’s before but I love them.  I love them so very much for putting a restroom to the right as you enter from the parking garage walkway.  Sweet merciful heavens there was only one other human in the restroom and they were at the end dealing with a kid.  I flew into the stall because the law of impending dookie had struck.  This is a scientifically proven phenomenon.   Once your body realizes you are within close proximity to a toilet, it forgets to man the fort, the flood is going to come so it is a race.  Thank God I won the race.  I am not proud to admit this but I flushed that toilet about 30 times.  Yes it is wasteful but it is the only protection other people have from the violent butt grenades erupting in the stall next to them.  No one wants to hear or smell that.  No one. 

20 minutes later I was able to slink out of the restroom alone.  I guess everyone in Dallas was in the parking lot or as I was about to discover, The American Girl store.  2014 taught me a very important lesson.  Three days before Christmas, no spicy food or coffee until after I have parked the car.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

No, it’s not the light, our tree is purple.

Christmas Trees are a very personal thing.  I have friends who pop up at the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving to be one of the first let into the tree farm to chop down their own tree.  I have other friends who are so allergic to pine that a real needle would never be allowed through the door.  My own family stopped allowing real trees when I was twelve.  My Dad decided burning the whole thing after Christmas in our double-sided fireplace was a good idea.  Did I mention we had a wood shingled roof?  Did I mention that sucker was dry as a bone?  Bright red pine needles were popping everywhere on the carpet with my Mom madly stomping them out.  Attached to every stomp was a four-letter word directed at my father.  The next day my Mom bought a $300 fake tree and that was the end of Dad’s fun with the fireplace.    I have another friend whose family always got a flocked tree.  My 7 year old self thought that was the ultimate.  A tree that looked covered in snow, right in the living room.   I even saw one of those crazy first generation silver white bottlebrush looking trees once in Bowie.  But just like Mr. Pine and his purple house, I had never seen a purple Christmas tree until we bought one.

It all started the year we realized we would be spending Christmas in London.  We had packed up the kids and 6 suitcases on the first day of September and thought we would be home by Thanksgiving.  But, as luck would have it, John’s contract was extended through January, then February, and then March.  You get the picture.  This meant we would be spending Christmas in our cozy flat on Monk Street.  Christmas in London is pretty amazing.  It really looks like those little villages people put on their mantles but of course a lot bigger.  Our flat on the other hand was looking rather pitiful in the Christmas cheer department.  What we really needed was a tree.  But, we had no car and the idea of sweet-talking a cab driver into letting us haul a tree on or in his cab was about as likely as asking for a ride to the moon.  Option B was the Tube.   Instead of irritating one cab driver we could go for half of central London.  We had practically given up when John called me one evening on his way home from the office.  This was unusual because his commute was about a four block walk.  I picked up the phone.  “What are you doing?” John asked.  “OH, you know, usual evening stuff, I am giving the kids a bath.”  “Well,” he says, “get them out, get them dressed, and meet me downstairs at the weird store with faucets and guitars.  I may have found us a tree.”

The building we were in had a very handy little grocery store if you walked to the right and if you walked to the left there was a strange place that had really beautiful bathroom faucets and electric guitars in every wild color you could imagine.  Apparently during the Christmas season they added trees in every wild color you could imagine.  Now came the hard part, which wild color to choose.  They had black, orange, salmon, purple, red and yellow.  I think we might have asked about green to which the arty Asian woman who ran the store gave us a look like we were going for boloney over pate.  Right away we ruled out the black.  I have heard these look very chic all done up but we are not chic people.  The orange might be fun in Florida, the salmon was actually kind of sickly, the yellow was very…..yellow and the red simply did not have two little chubby fingers from two little girls pointing at it madly.  The purple one did.  It was settled.  For the low low price of 20 pounds, we had just purchased a purple tree.  We had to go to the warehouse to get it.  Apparently the warehouse was more like a storage room and no more than 20 feet from the front door of our building.  It came packaged in a box that was easier to manage than a day’s worth of groceries.    

It is amazing how a small purple tree with lights, chopsticks and toys on it can transform a room into Christmas.  And what an amazing Christmas it was.  We walked to Trafalgar Square and listened to carolers under the giant Norwegian Spruce.  We took the kids to see the Pantomime The Snowman.    We rode rides and bought paper stars at the Hyde Park Christmas Market.  We ate Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant with crowns on our heads and I tried real Christmas pudding (once was enough).  We sat in our flat on Christmas day, by the tree watching the children play and looking out of our wall of windows at the city.  It was a Christmas to remember always. 

Months later, when it was time to leave London for good, our little purple tree put us over on the items we could bring back on the plane.  It was going to cost us a lot more than the 20 pounds we paid for it so we had to leave it behind.  Fortunately, by that time we had really good friends who kept our tree until John was able to retrieve it. 

Since that year, the purple tree has been part of our Christmas.  It is a reminder of a very special year but more than that; it is a reminder that every year is as special as you make it.  We have kept the tradition of hanging crazy things on the tree, just like the year we were short on real ornaments.  This year we have a page filled with stickers from Lauren’s school achievements, three circles of cheerios representing solids, liquids and gas from Helen’s science class.  There is a pair of Elvis glasses and normally, underneath one naughty cat who thinks that this purple tree is perfect camouflage.  Sorry Mr. Farkus, had you been able to stick your paw in and vote, I am sure you would have gone with the orange. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thank you Mr. Church. I still believe in Santa

There are certain stories and poems that I cannot read to my children without crying a little; the Velveteen Rabbit, You are my I love you, The Little Match Girl.  I get it, sweet sentiments go directly to my tear ducts.   But, I have been trying to figure out why The “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter does it to me.   I think I will make it through.  I make myself all stoic and like a tear bomb, BOOM!  Every time I get to the “Ah, Virginia, in all the world there is nothing else real and abiding”, the bomb releases itself.

The first time I ever had the letter read to me I was four.  My Aunt and uncle gave me this beautiful Christmas book and my Mom read it to me every year.  I loved it as a child.  It was proof, it made sense, of course Santa exists how could he not?  Even at the bitter age of 9 or 10 when I confronted my Mom first about the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy and finally the biggie, this letter comforted me because I understood then it was the spirit of giving that lives in the embodiment of Santa.  So the letter stayed true.  It still made sense to my 10 year old heart.

The book stayed with me, packed away in a box of things I could never let go of, even through college years, 1st jobs, marriage, and finally when I found out I was going to be a Mom myself.  By this time it was buried in a mountain of newer memories so I went franticly through the attic looking for it.  In the 30 years since I had read the book, life had happened.  I had discovered the world is not such a joyous giving place.  People blow up other people on purpose.  People shoot up schools.  People often spread fear and hatred.  Cynicism had entered my brain.  I plucked the dusty book from the box and went off to read its contents to my babies.

There is no better feeling then sharing the things you really love with your children, even when they are still to young to realize it.   I opened the book and slipped into the blissful state of overlapping childhoods.   The illustrations are old school, intricate etchings of fairies and elves with a few full color photos that pop in the perfect Technicolor way.  I read Twas’ the Night Before Christmas as if recorded years earlier from the sound of my own Mother’s voice.

I turn the page and start into the story about a young girl who wrote to the New York Sun to find out if Santa really existed.   I start to read Francis P. Church’s letter but I realize, something has shifted.  I am no longer reading this from a child’s perspective.  I am reading it as an adult.   For the first time ever, I am reading it from the perspective of the writer; a writer who had been a war correspondent during the Civil War.  Francis P. Church lived through one of the worst times in our nation’s history and he saw it first hand on the battlefields.  I can imagine nothing worse.

For the first time ever I feel every word of this letter.  This letter reassures a little girl that Santa exists and it reassures 1897 New York that hope exists.  I cry because in 2014 I am assured hope exists.  The world is full of a lot of bad stuff but it is filled with good to.  As long as we see the good, as long as we share love and kindness and generosity, Santa, will always be real.   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy!

At last night's GS meeting, the girls all at different times got very excited thinking next week we were going caroling door to door.  It is actually the week after but it made me realize that they are really looking forward to that activity.  As the leader I am always trying to come up with activities they will like and it is hard not to get sucked into the bigger is better mode.  The caroling thing I threw into our Holiday meeting because the girls in this troop are all hams and I thought it might be a good way honestly to have them use some of their never ending supply of energy.  I did not realize how excited this would make them.  I think it is because it is one of the core old joys.

I have realized that as modern and connected as we are to our computers and phones and the virtual world, there are certain intrinsic joys that were here at the start and will be here 500 years from now when technology has leaped in directions even Ray Bradbury could not anticipate.  Singing and sharing that joy with other people I think has been around forever.  Even the word carol means dance or song of praise and joy.  Apparently people use to carol year round in celebration of each season and this has gone on for 1000's of years.  I figured someone thought it up in the Victorian age, apparently that was just when it was given manners.  We certainly would not be popular with my neighbors if we showed up half naked dancing around a torch with earthly drums doing an ancient style interpretive dance to The Little Drummer Boy.

Still, these core old joys survive, even watered down to appeal to modern day humanity.  The stories that were once told around a fire now jump at us through the big screen, often right next to or over the fireplace.   Man's best friend is still here, even if he smells better and has a nicer bed then most of our great great grandparents slept on.  In the summertime the smell of someone cooking on the grill will get my saliva glands going even if I just stuffed myself with at one of the 42 restaurants on the other side of 75.  There is something about food cooked on a grill that screams to my inner barbarian.  It really is hard to beat gnawing on a good rib.  Facebook brings images of new babies and I look at my computer and feel that core joy for every one.  I read all the new Moms experiencing that first child love and wonder and I know my Mom felt it.  My Grandmother felt it.  My Great Grandmother felt it.  They could not share it with as many people as we do now, but that feeling has always been there.

Life changes.  We get more information and distractions but when I think of all the things that really seem to bring happiness and joy, they haven't really changed. Fa la la la la, la la la la!!!!!