My Favorite Things

Unlike Oprah, I will NOT be handing out any items to you at the end of this post…no new cars, no Ralph Lauren V-Ceck Sweaters, and no Tory Burch Michelle Totes for you. Sorry about that! I was just in the mood to relax and think about something simple – things that make me happy. My favorite things. In no particular order.

  1. The smell walking in my door the day my house has been professionally cleaned…smelling the piney/lemony scents of a clean house. This happened to me today – so that is probably what made me starting thinking of this list. WORTH EVERY PENNY.
  2. Walking on the beach when the tide is going out, and finding whole sand dollars bleaching in the sun.
  3. When my iPod plays the perfect song for my mood. Last month, I got in my car to drive to the airport to fly to Chicago for the Notre Dame/Miami game. My iPod was on shuffle, and the first song to play was the Notre Dame Victory March (out of 700 songs). Perfection!
  4. White Christmas lights. One day I am going to have an outdoor patio with a pergola covered in white lights, and will host outdoor dinner parties for my fabulous friends.
  5. The combination of mountains and the shore. Like the view on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. Kaui – seeing waterfalls coming down the mountains while sitting on the sandy beach. Two of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can’t wait to go to Alaska one day!
  6. Reading a book that I can’t put down. The kind that makes me stay up way too late, or stay in bed way too long trying to finish it. The kind where the character stays with me forever, like Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My most recent favorite – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with Charlie – one of the wisest, most sincere, most vulnerable teenagers I have ever encountered in literature. How did I miss this book that was written in 1999? Now securely in my top 5 favorites of all time.
  7. Yellow flowers. I buy fresh cut flowers every week – almost always yellow…roses, gerbera daisies or sunflowers.
  8. Greeting cards.

    One of my greeting cards…featuring another of my favorite things – red wine

  9. Photographs of my friends, family, and places I have been. I have framed photographs all OVER my house. I print my pictures and keep photo albums since I had my first 35 mm camera at age 15.
  10. Sunday night TV lineup…Once Upon a Time, Revenge, The Good Wife and Homeland – so many dramas, so little time!
  11. Our annual Cookie Exchange with the girls – the social event of the season is coming up! I have been sharing my pizzelles and rum balls for 8 years with these ladies…and I always bring the requested pigs in a blanket to help us soak up the wine. Only a few weeks away!
  12. Spending time with my nieces and nephews, and watching them grow into themselves…Joseph who created a few surprise Pandora stations for me this week, including Judas Priest and Van Halen (he’s only 13)…my sister’s influence of course…Jana who em ceed all night during our Guesstures game last Friday as if we were an actual reality TV show, Dillon who declared during the Notre Dame/USC game last weekend that he wanted to go to Notre Dame (he’s only seven), Bridget, who seems so quiet and unassuming and then can pull a sudden diva move that no one expects, and then Trevor, my 2 year old nephew, aka Tazmanian Devil or Bam Bam…strong, fearless, and hopefully indestructible!
  13. Those perfect scenes in romantic movies: Lloyd Dobbler standing outside Diane Court’s window with his boombox blasting “In Your Eyes” (and remember – Lloyd also sent Diane a greeting card), Noah and Allie paddling their canoe in the Lowcountry creeks surrounded by swans, and Maria and Captain Von Trapp singing “Something Good” to each other and kissing for the first time in the gazebo…and Captain Von Trapp also plays a guitar…hmmm.
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Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

A few minutes ago, I cut my finger changing my air filter. Apparently my new house has some very unusually sized air vent…so I had to “cram” it in for lack of a better word. Ouch. A few days ago, I hung some pictures in my new house…and yes, if you were to look behind the pictures you would find multiple nail holes. I don’t use a level – I barely use measuring tape – no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read previous blogs. The day before that, I spent too much time trying to hook up my new XBox 360 – and I still can’t get the audio to work. Last week, I spent 2 days without cable and internet – because after unplugging the system to place into my new armoire, I hooked it back up incorrectly. A month ago, I backed my car into my garage door, knocking it off its rails, and thus trapped my car inside. I had to call a repairmen, who luckily came within 2 hours, so I could escape and drive to Charlotte to start my much needed Napa vacation.

I could go on. That was only one month of my life. If you have read my previous blogs, you already know that I have never changed a flat tire, nor have I ever used a lawn mower. I say it’s good to know my limitations – and safety should always come first.

I am sitting here – chagrined at my ineptitude when it comes to fixing anything mechanical or electrical. It is just not in my skill set – or “wheelhouse” as too many people say. It’s like my brain freezes, and reading any directions seem like I am trying to translate some foreign language. You can not imagine how proud I was when I assembled a desk for my living room last year…maybe one of the drawers doesn’t open without a firm tug – but hey, it is functional and looks great in my living room!

Did I miss my calling as a 50’s housewife?? Would I have been happier staying at home, cooking, cleaning, raising children and making things for my house while my husband took worked and took care of all that stuff? I love listening to Paula Cole’s song Where Have All the Cowboys Gone…I always seem to sing it to myself in these situations when I could use a partner to take care of something. Like fixing my freaking toilet.

But then the fantasy always falls apart when it gets to that line – “I will wash the dishes while you go have a beer…” Uh – nope. How about you clean up since I cooked, while I go have wine with the girls??

I do have skills. I can sew curtains and pillow covers – and even designed some without using patterns. I have made my own soap, candles, and designed jewelry for many years. I can cook some really fantastic Italian food. Last week, I had 8 friends over to show them how to make Magnolia leave wreaths for the holidays (doesn’t it look nice on my front door?)

My handmade magnolia wreath

AND I fed them homemade chili – on a work day. I can decorate – and I can throw a pretty good dinner party. I am having 12 family members over tonight as a matter of fact.

I’ll admit, part of me likes that fantasy of the Marlboro man in the song – someone strong take care of me. But that is all it is – a fantasy…for a short song or a 2 hour movie.

I think that the answer is really that I have strengths and weaknesses in different parts of my brain. If I liked research (I don’t), I would spend hours on the internet trying to figure this out. Rather – I sat down with my thoughts and my computer to think about what this means to me as a single woman, trying not to burn down her new house.

So – I have a list of things that I am going to ask my brother in law to help with when he arrives in a few hours for his Thanksgiving holiday – I hope he’s ready! These include – figuring out with the HECK is wrong with the audio on my XBox. Changing my gas tank on my grill (I don’t think ANYONE wants me messing with propane). Minor toilet repair. Moving a couch.

Once he leaves, I’ll start a new list…I believe I will have a partner at some point to help me with it…and in the meantime – heads up – because I am not shy asking for help.

Once

This weekend, I saw the Broadway rendition of one of my favorite movies of all time, Once. Once is a story about a plucky, passionate young woman who feels it is her destiny to inspire a handsome street musician to get “unstuck”… to not give up on his music, and to take risks with love. She is only passing through his life – for one short week – yet they both are changed forever because of the gifts they share with each other. In my heart, I feel that the end of the show/movie is not really the end of their story…The hopeful romantic in me thinks that they reunite at the right time in their lives..but we will never really know unless someone writes an unlikely sequel to their story.

In any case – thinking about their love story made me start thinking about the men who have come into and out of my own life – and what I take away from each of these experiences. Too often, I look back at my past and think about the mistakes I made, and the troubles that I faced in my relationships. As a result, I keep adding to my list of non-negotiables and lessons learned, and I don’t focus enough on the positives – the good things that I take with me from each relationship.

In Once, “Guy” is inspired by “Girl” who helps him to realize that he deserves to pursue his love of music and that he should deal with his unresolved past love so that he can move forward in his life. For “Girl”, because of “Guy” she remembers what it is like to feel loved. As I thought about the musical and about its parallels to my life, I started reflecting on my past relationships. I dusted off my journal, and spent a few hours writing and remembering. I have had an experience as short as Guy and Girl in Once, and others that are many years long – and some in between. I won’t share too many details in my blog. If these men from my past happen to read this, I hope they know who they are without my using their names or sharing too much with the world.

So I am unsure of what to publish in my blog about this – besides to say that the simple exercise of reflecting about this has been cathartic and inspiring. I have a lot of gifts that I have gathered over the years. Like “Girl”, because of my past experiences, I know what it feels like to be loved, and I know what is possible. I know how to appreciate lightness and laughter. I also appreciate the deeper, darker layers that we all have. And I know how to be my authentic self.

These are gifts I treasure. And…again like “Girl”, I have learned that I am also a sucker for a good looking man who can play a guitar ☺.