Jan 13, 2012

No Leaves.

I have come to an interesting realization as I have been driving around Massachusetts this winter...are you ready for this? :) I have decided.....dramatic pause.....that I LOVE trees with no leaves. I know, I know it is possible I maybe broken :) A few days ago I wandered aimlessly into my backyard and decided to lay on the trampoline and as I looked up at all the naked trees I realized I love seeing their shape.....when they are covered with leaves you just don't know who they really are. I ran back inside to get my camera so I could take some pictures. I am not sure why their stark reality speaks to me lately. When I look at the mountain behind my house that is covered with trees all with no leaves I find myself adoring the gray color that stretches across the mountain.
I wonder if anyone has ever written poetry about naked winter trees? :) If I could through in some lines about the smell of pine and campfire I might be able to pull it off :)

Jan 11, 2012

Second Hand.

I have decided that I am going to try to make every other Wednesday , "Shop at the Salvation Army Store Day." Not just any Salvation Army store but the one in Hadley that is about 25 minutes from my house. Why specifically Wednesday? Because, silly goose, on Wednesday there are four colored tags that are all half price not just one colored tag like Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, oh no Wednesday is the day ...it is the thrift store on steroids day :) I only wish that I was the only one who knew about it :)

I grew up thrift storing. Anytime we needed anything the thrift stores were the first stop. I was never very good at it. My sisters always seem to find everything cool. We would all frantically search for the Esprit, the Asmile, the Jordache and the Gunne Sax brands so that we would have bragging rights :) When we all get together now we still go thrift storing except now we search for Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Adidas, The Gap and more. I have dabbled in thrift storing a little bit since I have been married and had kids but not to the point that I have had an actual day set aside for it. But it must once again be the season of my life for thrift storing and I think I may be addicted :)

The minute Natalie got on the school bus at 8:30 am I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. The drive to Hadley is one of  my favorites and oh so therapeutic. The sky was clear today, the sun was shining, it was perfect. When I got to the Salvation Army I felt that familiar anxious feeling in my stomach as I saw the very full parking lot and imagined all those people finding all MY glorious finds. The minute I walk in the thrift store I always get another wave of that anxious feeling as I find myself wanting to be in the housewares, the books, the kids clothes, and the skirts all at the same time and that is just not humanly possible. So today I decided to focus and start in the jeans. I own one pair of jeans. They are not very stylish and since I have recently lost weight I have been longing for some decent jeans but I hated to pay full price for them. There were racks and racks of them and I decided to look at every single pair while listening to the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's music playing throughout the store. I love listening to the little old people singing along to the tunes.I smile to myself at the quirky employees who follow me down the aisle fixing the shirts back on the hangers properly after I disturb them. After checking out every pair of jeans available I perused sweats, shirts, skirts, kids clothes, books, furniture and then back to shirts. I stared longingly at a bench that I knew would be perfect for my front porch but it was $56.00 and this girl is just not spending that for a bench even though I know that bench loved me with all its heart. In the book section I was ecstatic when I found a copy of The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes a children's book that I remember my mother reading to me when I was a kid. I have been trying to collect the books that I remember my mom reading to me when I was a kid so I was....oh yeah, I already told you that I was ecstatic. I also found two pair of jeans, three shirts, a Gap dress for Tatiana, a snowsuit, and three children's books all for $23.00.

I am not sure what has inspired the renewed interest in second hand things but I am having a ball. Saturday I stopped at two antique stores that I literally pass at least four times a day. I hated that I always wanted to stop and never had. I was rewarded for my time and I found two amazing baskets This one was three dollars and I love it. I brought it home and carefully washed it and wondered to myself what it's story was.
This basket told to me ever so politely that it really wanted to carry my stuff to church so since it could talk I immediately bought it for $5.00.

My eyes have been opened to all the many things I can do with what I find at the second hand store and all the money I can save... so that I can have more money to buy cans of spray paint for all my fabulous second hand finds :)

Jan 10, 2012

A Letter To Perspective.

Dear Mr. Perspective,

I realize that no one has verified what your gender actually is but I like to think of you as a guy so I chose to address you as Mister Perspective.... I hope that is okay :) I also took the liberty of running some background checks on you. I needed to know what you really mean now that I am 43 and realize you and I should have been better friends :) First I checked the dictionary and read a description of you. You are so lucky that people can do that to understand you. I wish my friends could go to dictionary.com and search my name and find a good description of what I mean. But anyhow I discovered that one way to describe you is that you can be a visible scene especially one that extends into the distance. Then I saw that you are also a way of regarding situations, facts, etc and judging their relative importance. Then I saw this and it really connected with me and I decided this would be my favorite way to describe you, "the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it." After I picked my favorite definition it was of utmost importance that I check out the other words that were synonymous with you....your friends can say a lot about you....and your friends/synonyms were proportion, viewpoint, landscape, attitude, prospect, overview and panorama. Your antonyms/opposites of you were not to be found apparently you are an analytical viewpoint and because of that you have no direct opposite...drat I really like to know the opposite :)

When I think of you Mr. Perspective I think of  how often in my past I should have asked myself, "Does this really matter?" I feel like if someone has perspective they are able to face life and sort things easily into...things that matter versus things that don't. You and I both know that I have never been so good at that. Remember high school? And that thing called grades? If one has perspective they see what good grades will bring them in the future. I only saw my immediate relationships/friendships when I looked at the view not my grades and college and self confidence :) What about all those times when I spent money on something I thought I needed right now and if I had only had perspective how rich I would be :) There are so many times along the way that one needs to stop and use perspective. To get perspective the experts say you have to:

 Take a weekend away.
The word on the street is that if you do this it will renew you and give you some clarity....I would love to be given some clarity :) So Mr. Perspective where shall we go on our weekend away? I am thinking Maine :)

 Schedule thinking time.
I wish I would have understood about 24 years ago the importance of thinking time. A time to ask myself if I feel unhappy about anything. A time to wonder what is going well and what isn't.

 Write in a journal.
What? Yeah you read that right. I was a great journal writer eons ago except for one small detail I mostly wrote surface things....too afraid that someone would read what I really thought or what I was really going through. Silly me. Yes, I know better now but that does not help the years I lost with perspective. Journal writing is apparently an amazing way to get perspective. Just think Mr Perspective if I could have been honest in my journal you and I could have had so many fond memories. You could have given me so much :)

Be brave.
Yeah this one is brutal. It involves things like facing relationships that are hard. It could mean admitting something. It's standing up for yourself and even possibly turning down other people's requests. It definitely involves the H word...honesty.

So Mr. Perspective I am so glad that now I understand and now when my silly old mind tries to get me away from you I can grab it by the throat and glare at it and say "Will this really matter in a day? A month? A year?" I am ever so sorry that I continually threw you under the bus Mr Perspective. I did not understand how if I had you I could have made better choices...yeah, way better choices. So basically I just need you to be my best friend and stop giving away perspective to everyone else...okay? :)

Jan 6, 2012

Both Kinds Of Signs.

This morning I happened to be browsing through pictures from the summer and found a couple pictures of signs and I wanted to share them with you. I love signs. I love information and signs always give you information. I am always looking for signs :)  The more I go to New York City the more I discover things. The first couple of times we went to the city we were focused on going to the main tourist places like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and such but as we have now been to all of those places I find myself noticing more obscure things like signs on buildings and street signs. I love to take the time to stop and read them.
This sign was on a building across the street from Grand Central Station. I had heard Nathan Hale's last words (which are on the bottom of this sign) so many times but it all of a sudden they became real to me as I was standing near the spot realizing what they really meant. It was morning and the sun was peeking just around Grand Central Station and my sister and Gail and I almost walked right past this sign. But I am so glad we noticed it and stopped and read it.

The second sign I have a picture of is from my long awaited excursion to the Brooklyn Bridge. I had spent the summer finishing the book by McCullough about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a fascinating book that made the Roebeling's my heroes. Here is the sign.....oh drat you can not see it very well let me tell you what it says:  "The builders of the bridge dedicated to the memory of Emily Warren Roebling 1843-1903 Whose faith and courage helped her stricken husband CCL.Washington A. Roebling C.E 1837-1926 complete the construction of this bridge from the plans of his father John A Roebling C.E 1806-1869 Who gave his life to the bridge "Back of every great work we can find the self sacrificing devotion of a woman" When Washington Roebeling became so sick from the bends his wife helped carry on the work on the bridge and wrote out his notes for him among many other things. I can not do her justice in this blog that is supposed to be about signs but I stood there on the mighty Brooklyn Bridge reading this sign and thought about Emily and what an amazing woman she was and how great it was that the bridge was dedicated to her.

This last sign was just begging me to take it's picture :) New Yorkers do love to honk their horns :)

What about the other kind of signs? Yeah, you know the kind of signs you watch for and that often confirm something to you :) Today I had to drive to New Hampshire for an appointment and as I was coming home I was driving on the Massachusetts Pike heading west into the setting sun and the most amazing sunset burst across the sky...all shades of orange and pink brilliantly streaking across the sky and tinting the clouds. It honestly took my breath away. My mind had been mulling over all I had discussed in my appointment and the gorgeous sunset seemed to be just for me...a sign that someone was aware of me. yeah, I do love signs.

Jan 2, 2012

Seed Catalogs

I must confess that I have an addiction to seed catalogs. I love them with all my might. Three of them came this week and when they come I am so happy. I carry them with me everywhere I go. The more glossy the catalog, the bigger and more colorful the pictures, the worse it is. I read every description. I take a pen and circle everything I love.  Just like Natalie circles everything in the American Girl catalogs that come for her. Tonight as I was poring over the Burpee Seed catalog I found myself smiling as I realized, yet again, that I am all talk and no action. I make lists of what I am going to buy in these catalogs.....detailed perfectly neat lists. But I never, ever...gasp.....actually buy from them. I was wondering about this fact tonight as I was imagining what it must be like to get seeds in the mail. And right then and there I forced myself to figure out why I never purchase form them and the reason is... that I like to nickel and dime myself. Even though I may end up spending exactly the same amount of money in the end I can not bear spending that big amount up front. And that is the only thing that keeps me from ordering from these catalogs. I live in fear every year that the companies will take me off their mailing lists not knowing that just because I do not order from them does not mean I do not NEED them in my mailbox :)

I stare at each picture of each vegetable, annual, perennial, and fruit in these catalogs. I read about what they need to be happy. I imagine them in my garden looking exactly like their picture in the catalog...of course :) I wonder about all the varieties and how they all came to be...what really are the differences? Burpless cucumbers or not? Determinate tomatoes or not? Hybrid or heirloom? So many words for the girl who wants to garden perfectly and yet understands that it is not possible....too many factors to long for perfection :)

I have many garden plans this year. I am going to expand the raspberries. Figure out why the blueberries are unhappy. Fight the bunny rabbits. Move the achillea and split it. Find some free bricks and carefully line 9 beds in my garden. Put up a fence. Plant loads of flowers. And attempt the cold frame venture yet again :)

So I am off to make another list of the things I need from the Burpee catalog and maybe this year since I have a free shipping coupon on page 20 that is good until the 15th of February I may get up my courage to actually order form the catalog and then I could write a fabulous post on how it feels to get a box of seeds and potato tubers in the mail. And then when people are standing around talking and asking other people about receiving seeds and tubers in the mail I can participate in the conversation :)

Jan 1, 2012

Moving On :)

New Years Eve. This year was oh so quiet. Not really my style but necessary. I was in my cozy flannel pajamas and my white hat ( yes, I wear it in the house since the thermostat is set at 62). I was with Tatiana and Natalie. No yummy food just some fruit snacks....they were Motts not Welchs so don't feel bad for me :) We watched Coldplay play their hearts out in Austin, Texas....and I resolved to own every CD they have ever made....actually I may own them all? Seriously, their music truly speaks to me. And apparently Coldplay speaks to Natalie too because she wanted to know when we could go see them in person :)

At 11:30 we watched Dick Clark's New York City thingy. I resolved to be there next year. That looks just too fun to pass up. And I live close enough to be there so there is no excuse to not be there. I just need to find a crowd loving friend who would do anything for me to come along. So please sign up :)

Last year at this time I was in Northampton, Massachusetts watching their cute little ball drop from their hotel in town. There was a crowd with a college feel to it since The University of Massachusetts and Smit College are near by. We stood in the middle of the closed off street, it was oh so cold, the ball dropped so fast I missed it, and I remember a wave of lonely coming over me as midnight came...weird huh? I had a few of my kids with me and some friends. I do love to get out on New Year's Eve.

In Indiana we had some friends who had a fun New Years Eve party that we attended every year we lived there. Lots of families, games, tons of construction paper confetti, the ball drop on the TV, tons of food...truly epic and memorable.

My earliest memory of New Years Eve is a party at my friend Evelyn's house in California when I was twelve or thirteen. It was a bunch of my church friends. There were a lot of firsts for little old Jennifer that night. And yes, my mom will probably read this but it was the night of my first kiss and also the first time I had ever acquainted myself with the game Spin The Bottle....it is important to remember the first time you learned of this game :) My friends frantically hid that bottle in a pillowcase when their mom came upstairs to check on the party and I ended up getting hit in the head with that pillowcase, pillow, and bottle later on in the party during the pillow fight part of the party :) 

I also vaguely remember a New Years Eve when I was at an enormous dance somewhere in Western Washington State. I remember vividly...definitely not vaguely... what I wore that night because it was the first time I had shoes that actually went with an outfit. The shoes were red, the dress was black with red flowers, and I had red belt that matched the shoes. I also remember standing there awkwardly with a boy from my ward at church when midnight came and everyone else was kissing and we were best friends without benefits :)

Tatiana had that realization come to her this year that not everyone celebrates New Year's eve at the same time. So we talked about time zones and how we celebrate the New Year first on the east coast and how grandma and grandpa in Oregon are the last ones on mainland United States to celebrate New Years Eve.

2011 taught me way too much about the words longing, perspective, pain, understanding, confidence, determination, honesty, and suppressing. Because of 2011 for the rest of my life I will wonder about everyone else's secret pain they carry. I wonder what 2012 will do to top the growth and refinement that adorable 2011 taught me :) Bless it's heart :)