Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Favorite Library Conversation of the Summer

I have to share this one because it made me laugh, more than once.  Even in the retelling I thought it was hilarious. 

I think this may well be my favorite library anecdote of the summer:

I was signing up a group of girls for our Summer reading program and they were kind of hovering around, watching the screen with me.    There is a line where we fill in random letters to verify it is not a bot signing up.  One of them read the following to her friends :

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

And then she asked quite earnestly, "Do you GET many aliens trying to sign up for this?"

What's not to love?

Friday, July 15, 2011

8 Hours in the Car with a Toddler: Endure or Enjoy?

We've all heard (or lived through) a few distressing travel stories: ears that wouldn't pop, kids who won't stop crying, sanity drizzling away faster than the miles gained.  So it wasn't without evidence that I felt a bit nervous about embarking on an 8 hour car ride with our two-year-old.  Could he make it?  Could we?

East to Nebraska

First stop: still in his pajamas

A stop at a museum lets us all stretch our legs

There are rules: you must take pictures
in front of large statues.

on the road again

letting the baby drive gave Bill and I a nice break

secret weapon brought out on the return trip
he's mesmerized

last of the secret weapons: needed for the final hour
coming home in Denver rush-hour traffic

hope he doesn't delete all my photos!

As it turned out, Landon was a little super-trooper, better than I had even hoped for.

We made it with flying colors.  And a one-pound pack of Red Twists.

A First Time For Everything

In the planning stages, a road trip to Nebraska didn't exactly sound like a huge bag of thrills to me.  Of course, I was looking forward to the time with family we would get to have, but other than that, I didn't have high expectations.  I completely underestimated (again) how fun it is to be with someone for whom most everything is new.  His first road trip.  His first time out of the state.    Here are a few of the things that were Landon's "firsts" on our first-ever, family road trip:

first time swinging in this kind of swing by himself

magical moments with the first fireflies

First movie in a theater: IMAX Tornado Alley

  • First time eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet
  • First time climbing out of a Pack and Play and opening a bedroom door (I wish I had a picture of the satisfied, mischievous expression he wore when he came into my bedroom and said, "hi," as if monkey antics of this scale were totally normal.)

first time to see a penny souvenir machine--
will he collect them with the same delight I do?

first time to see a wax person

first time on an escalator this big 

Being with Landon IS the adventure.  One that I never tire of--first time around, or two years in.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Double Rainbow

Summertime in our neighborhood is busy. People roam the streets much later, or sit out on decks or porches well past our bedtime.  Without many yards to speak of, the whole street becomes a kind of playground for children of various ages and sizes, some remarkably little to be riding around at dusk without helmets or regard for approaching cars in the street.  I drive slowly, cautiously in my neighborhood in the summer.

Summertime in our neighborhood is loud.  With all these people spending more time outside, we are more aware of their noise through our own open windows.  When I heard a croaky voice shouting across the neighborhood the other night, I wasn't surprised that I could hear every word.

Sometimes I'm annoyed that in this little pocket of humanity, we bump up so close to each other that nobody can have a party without all of us feeling like eavesdroppers.

But the other night, I was feeling more impish, so when the yelling began I ran up to my closet window and called out in reply to the invisible shouter, "What?!  What are you guys seeing?  What rainbow?  I don't see a rainbow!"

I grabbed our camera and went out to see what all the ruckus was about.
Two kids were on my grass, raptly looking at a double rainbow.
By the time I got my camera out, this was the best shot I could get:

"We almost saw where that one ended!"  they told me excitedly.
"Did you find the pot of gold at the end of it, then?" I asked.

I couldn't tell if they believed themselves or not.
But the moment felt friendly and fun and for once, I was glad I hadn't been such a party pooper.

Maybe double rainbows aren't such a bad reason to shout across the whole neighborhood, after all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Flight of the Imagination...or Squirrel

flitterbick: a mythical flying squirrel that moves so fast no one has ever seen it

Did you know that you have thus far missed a flitterbick sighting? I didn't, until three nights ago, when this was revealed as the definition of a Balderdash word. Presumably a real word, though I don't have a print dictionary  thick enough to confirm it.

Maybe that just fits the flitterbick: as difficult to find in reputable print as it is in its mythical world.

At any rate, I like this new word and its quirky definition.  I'm going to pretend that the flitterbicks only come out whenever there is a double rainbow.
Very elusive.  Very fast.

If you're ever doing time-lapse video of a double rainbow and catch a smudge of one when you slow the film down, be sure to let me know.

I've been longing to catch sight of a flitterbick for ever so long.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 Little Reasons I Love my Husband in a Big Way

When I got married, I was not so head-over-heels in love with Bill that I couldn't imagine my life without him.  Maybe I have an excellent imagination, maybe having lived without him for more than 30 years gave me enough material to work with.

I knew that I loved Bill and wanted to make a life with him.  I knew that the journey would be entirely and irrevocably set on a specific course from that day forward.  I knew that by choosing him, I was "unchoosing" every other possible person and path.  I was taking this path, with this man.

So it has surprised me, that three years later, a more sentimental, romantic side of my personality has emerged.

Now, when I look at Bill, I cannot imagine my life without him.  Because "my life" has become "our life" and if he isn't in it, then the magnitude of that goes beyond my own reasonably good imagination.

And it is a a dozen--a hundred--a thousand little things that I love about him and our lives together that I never could have detailed before we got married.  Sure, I love the big things, too, but everyone who knows him well can see those things.

This is my list of seemingly small things that I love about Bill Brown.
Seemingly small, taking up much room in my heart.
I could write many, many things, but 10 seems to be the listy norm:

  1. I mislaid my car keys.  Again.  The search escalated from frustrating to frantic.  I called Bill.  Any ideas?  I'm already late.  He had a spare buried in his sock drawer.  I love Bill for having contingency plans.  Vicariously, I feel smarter and better prepared--because he is.
  2. Bill brought me a small stuffed rat that, when pushed, does a funny rendition of, "I like you.  I la-la-la-la-like you.  (Random person from YouTube recorded it)  It seemed a strange gift to me.  As it turns out, he bought it on "Market Day" from a student.  I love that, when presented with options to "purchase" something from the kids, he is always thinking of me.  These gifts that seem a mismatch to his age and income level are endearing because they remind me that Bill was once a young boy, perhaps shyly offering the best Market Day find to a girl.  We're not kids anymore, but I love that I'm his girl.
  3. Bill kills all the spiders in the house.  Soundly.  Thoroughly.  Unflinchingly.  He has no strange hang-ups (like I do) with them.  This practical matter takes on heroic proportions in my mind.  To have someone vanquish my irrational fears on my behalf...this I love.
  4. One Christmas long ago, I received a poinsettia.  It didn't live through January.  Bill and I were given a poinsettia, too.  Come Easter, I could only marvel that it shared display space with the Easter Lily.  Bill keeps plants alive.  Plants breathe air into our home.  Bill's skills are like a breath of fresh air to me, one I didn't know I was waiting to take.
  5. One day, I picked up a pair of Bill's shoes to put away.  It was a startling discovery to realize that it was the first (and perhaps only) time I had ever done so.  The man simply does not have the habit of leaving his shoes about.  Is this normal?!  My own experience of shoes around the house is a long and storied saga; Bill would have no such dramatic tales to tell.  I don't know how his shoes find their way to the closet all the time; they are like mysterious creatures that can return to their birthplace year after year by instinct.  Some women love their man's mysterious ways.  So do I.  I love the way he mysteriously manages to minimize hassle in my life.
  6.  Bill loves to read.  Deep, thoughtful books that are often just "too much" for me to rally interest in.  Long words with longer sentences. Complex, it seems, for complexity's sake.  And he loves being a reader of such books.  What I find endearing is the numerous nights I discover him fast asleep with some such intellectual book propped up on his chest.  Oh, my sweet, hopeful, studious husband.  Even the best of us can't always stay awake for our best intentions.
  7. Bill is a good cook.  An improvisational cook who can make meals without recipes, using only the ingredients we have in the house (and not fancy, overpriced, one-recipe kinds of obscurities).  His repertoire of food is not huge, but it works.  And nothing tastes better than food prepared for you.  Who knew that I would love a fried egg sandwich from his hands more than grilled chicken from mine?
  8. He is the cook who will make me chocolate chip pancakes (which I adore), and then be sure to save the very last pancake for me.  Because everyone knows that is where all the chips will be.  And he knows that I adore a little pancake with my chips.  And he likes making me happy.  Indulging me with these little treats.  The chip-iest one....always for me.
  9. Okay, this next one is huge.  You'll see why in a second.  I almost don't want to share it because it will reveal an area in which I'm spoiled, and so while it makes Bill so lovable, my insecure side wonders if it will make me look like a diva.  But this is truth, so I must say: I love how in the two years of Landon's life I have never, not once, had to be the one to deal with the diaper genie.  Not replacing the garbage liner inside, not removing the full and disgusting bag for trash day.  Not one time.  Who could dream that this act of service would make me love him so?  But it does.  I'm wildly grateful, and whenever I see a blue sausage bag of all things stinky lined up, ready to go out, I cannot help but love him.  In that very moment, I love him more. Again.  Anew.
  10. I know that Bill really knows me.  And I hate that.  And I love that.  I love him for extending grace to the worst parts of me; I love him for acknowledging the best.  We do our best, and sometimes, in fact, our best just isn't good enough.  I love that he can accept this truth, and still say, "You're my Jode," at the end of a terrible day. (Admittedly, these last two were not "little reasons," but I wanted them on the list anyway!)

 My life with Bill does not follow a movie script.  He does not complete me.  He did not have me at hello.  But he gives me countless completely good reasons to love him. And he'll have me, God willing, all the way up to "Good-bye for now,  Love."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Facade, Only Liner Notes

I read an online writer remark the other day that he hates bloggers who write "with the facade of having it all together."

And yet, we all know that nobody has it all together.

So if someone wants to gather up and post a few sparkly parts of their day among the otherwise chaotic, confusing, and disappointing jumble of messy parts, I say, bravo.  Way not to wallow; way to focus on the things that make you smile.  (Maybe Martha Stewart would have blogged about how to make small spaces feel cozy instead of claustrophobic.)

Conversely, if someone wants to push back the curtain on the parts we often leave unexamined and unsaid, if someone braves the criticism and misunderstanding and says, this is backstage and sometimes we're frantic back here, I say, bravo.  It takes humble courage to put your truth on the table and not mind that some people might deem it too raw for their taste.

It sounds so trite, you wouldn't think it was true, but it is: you can't please everyone.

So I'll write with glittering happiness so sharp it hurts one day, and equally painful frustration, misgiving and discouragement  the next, and hope I will simply be seen as real.

Don't we all swing between our best and worst selves on a regular basis?  Yes, I get that if we start swinging too fast, too extremely, if our pendulum goes wildly out of control, we have diagnosable problems with medical names.  Yes,  I get that.

A wild pendulum is one thing.

But tame it just a bit, and doesn't it become a metronome?

Could these contrasts be the things that help us keep pace?

Would my song fade out listlessly without the metronome of my contradictions pushing the music forward?

Keep playing.
Play through the hard parts; tick.
Play through the easy parts; tick.
Play when you're bored; tick.
Play when you're passionate;tick

Let the contrasts keep you on pace,
Let your own contradictions steady you

joy and grief
order and chaos
generosity and selfishness
confidence and cowardice
peace and perplexity
trust and fear
near and far

The song goes on.

We write these blogs; they are just a few notes in the margin of the sheet music. Liner notes for the cd case.

You catch me on one tick: life is grand
The metronome moves: life is horrible
Next stanza: I am a loving, vibrant woman
Please leave me alone

If the contrasts serve as a metronome and somehow help me keep pace, I guess the more important question is:
Whose music am I playing?