Good Things

weekI won’t even attempt to put a timeframe on this post. I have not had a typical good things post in so long, I have forgotten how I had even had that habit. These are busy days, I know, but I can’t believe that they have been so busy that I can’t sit myself down and rattle off what has made me happy, impressed me, inspired me, or in some way or the other made me take positive notice. I need to do that. It revs my engine. It balances me. It makes me accountable. It makes me a better world citizen when I make myself be more aware of goodness.

So, I will do my best to bring the habit back into my life. Here, I give you a recap of some of the things that I have taken note of during the last several weeks. Maybe you have noticed some of these too!

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – We had our annual Poetry Night Book Club last night. This is the night we all bring a poem or two to read aloud and say why we like it. My choice this year may have been my easiest choice ever. A few weeks ago I read Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award Winning Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline’s book tells the story of her life – all in verse! She was born in Ohio in the 1960s, but did her growing up in South Carolina and Brooklyn. The pieces that she put together in this book weave a beautiful story of her family and the time during our country’s history when being a brown girl could sometimes be dangerous. The book is marketed as a young reader, but I think there is no age limit to love this book. Here is just a snippet.

sometimes,

no words are needed

Deep winter and the night air is cold. So still,

it feels like the world goes on forever in the darkness

until you look up and the earth stops

in a ceiling of stars. My head against

my grandfather’s arm.,

a blanket around us as we sit on the front porch swing.

Its whine like a song.

You don’t need words

on a night like this. Just the warmth

of your grandfather’s arm, Just the silent promise

that the world as we know it

will always be here.

bugNew Art

Dan and I went down to the Brookside Art Fair last weekend and I was taken by the art of Kreg Yingst, an artist from Florida. He does super cool block prints that are music themed. There were several that I could have been very happy with, but I decided on one with a vintage bug and Beatles lyrics. Everytime I walk past it hanging in our dining room it makes me smile!

Rotary073368_2219861926312520772_nWaldo-Brookside Rotary – For a few years, Dan has wanted to start a Rotary Club in our neighborhood. While he loves his current Rotary Club, he had the feeling that there was a niche for an evening club in our area where there lots of new businesses and active neighbors. It is now a real thing. Through his work and the support of the Plaza Rotary over fifty people have committed to being a charter member of the new club. I am one of them. I have already met some wonderful people – all with a commitment to make our city, nation, and world a better place. It is a great thing to be a part of from the very beginning, and I hope that Dan knows what a wonderful thing he was instrumental in bringing about! If you are in the area, we would love to join us at 5:30 at The Well in Waldo.

EdEThe 100 Day Project – There is an Internet challenge that started back at the beginning of April called the 100 Day Project. The goal is to pick something that you want to try to do for 100 days and go for it and document it. In my quest to be a little more creative, I decided to do this, but I had a little trouble coming up with what it was that my challenge could be. I kind of wanted to draw, and I came up with the best solution for someone who wants to draw but needs a lot of help with it. My project is #100Daysof EdEmberley. Since April 5, I have been drawing and posting an Ed Emberley inspired drawing on my Instagram feed. It has been fun, and there are so many creative things coming out of this challenge. I think I can make it until July 14!

zucchiniZucchini Noodle Maker – In our continuing quest to eat more Paleo, Dan and I happened onto a new gadget that has made our list of great things. This little device when scraped across a zucchini created noodley pieces of zucchini that can substitute for pasta when paired with things like shrimp scampi or beef stroganoff. I could eat them every day!

As I was going through my logbook pages for the last several weeks, there are a number of little things that bear mentioning since they too were great! Things such as: visiting Powell Gardens on a beautiful Saturday in Spring, cleaning out my utensil drawers, watching the Kentucky Derby with juleps and friends, Birdie snuggling on Dan, buying tickets for Pitchfork festival in Chicago and Jason Isbell at the Ryman Theater, Season 1 of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dan reading me Lake Isle of Innisfree in his William Butler Yeats voice, seeing the Drive By Truckers, peonies in bloom, them Royals!

That does it for this one. I hope there are many good things ahead for everyone!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekThe weeks of 2014 are dwindling to nothing. There are many things that I promised myself that I would accomplish this year that I have not. There are some things that I pulled off this year that I am more than proud of. One thing that I have almost always stayed true to during this year is to pay attention to the good things that show up in bold or quiet ways during my days. Last week, I had more than my fair share so I have had to do some ranking to get it down to five to write about. I hope that anyone reading this finds goodness throughout your days.

In no particular order, here are some of my good things from last week:

  1. Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Homes tour – I kind of love to see how other people decorate for the holidays, so the idea of going into a stranger’s house to see what they have going on, always kind of appeals to me. Because this year, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority holiday home tour benefited Dan’s organization, it was a good opportunity to buy tickets and go look at some pretty houses. The four houses that were on the tour ranged from really nice to wowza. What was best about each home, however, was that each felt like a home. There were pictures of happy family members, personal touches to the decorating that spoke more to passion than designer labels (lots of KU love going on!), and you could envision families living and having fun in each. I wondered how Dan would react to the tour as it is not really his thing, but he caught the same thing I did. How can you not react positively to an event that raises money for good causes, is staffed by friendly and helpful volunteers, and you get to see some loveliness?goat
  2. The Goat – On Saturday we went out on a cold, gray day to get our Christmas tree. We typically go to Soil Service Garden Center where the friendly staff is ever present. Our tree criteria are pretty narrow since we have a small space, and I am picky about the kind of tree. We pretty much found our tree immediately, but I felt the need to scope out the whole area. It was in doing this that Dan laid eyes on the goat. It was standing out under a shelter among other metal animals and whatnots. As soon as Dan saw him, he was in love. He tried to talk himself out of it, but we both knew that goat was coming home with us. I am still not sure why, but goodness that goat is funny. He has been in our backyard, he then showed up in the house. He has been up in the chair looking out the window, and is now poised at our french doors guarding us from all. We think he name is Gus.
  3. Transition clinic – Over three years ago, I started working on a project where we wanted to find out what survivors of childhood cancer need as they become adults. What we thought we knew, and what we confirmed is that taking care of themselves is difficult when caregivers don’t necessarily know what the implications of your prior treatment is. Out of that little project has come friendships, publications, new colleagues, and finally, a clinic for survivors to transition into when they are ready to leave pediatrics. Last week, the newspaper did a great story on the new clinic and the work being done. While my part in this was miniscule, it made me so proud!

  4. adventAdvent Calendars – I don’t think I ever had an Advent Calendar growing up, but we had them for the kids as they were growing up. Once they went to college and settle away from home, I still tried to send them one each year. There is just something fun and exciting to opening up a surprise each day – even if it is just a new picture. This year when I ordered Advent Calendars for the kids, I ordered one for us. It makes me happy!
  5. Crossroads Academy Event – For the third year, we attended the Crossroads Academy Dream Big event. Crossroads is a wonderful charter school in the heart of downtown with a mission of bringing quality education to the urban center. To see the product of the work that the staff at the school  does, combined with the enthusiasm of the downtown core leaders, is darn exciting. Celebrating this while, at the same time, catching up with friends from many areas of my life, eating delicious plates from area chefs, and having a glass or two of wine, closed my work week on a very sweet note.

As I noted, there were many more things that stood out. Like Christmas stamps! Ali’s classroom’s Elf on the Shelf who the kids call Justin Bieber! Those lemon ricotta bars I made! So much!

Good Things Recently

journalI am not going to pretend that this will be a timestamped archive of a particular period of good thing tracking. When I look at my calendar and see that next week will end the month of October, I am busted! I have let another month get by without really getting my act together. Sure, I have excuses, but none of them really amount to anything insurmountable.

But, I have collected some items that I would like to take some minutes to write about and remember. They reflect some of the last few weeks good things. I hope that as the days have gotten shorter, the trees have taken on brilliant colors, and World Series fever has come to a city that wondered if it ever would again – your days and weeks have brought many of your own good things!

YayA Little Road Trip to Celebrate a New Job

Dan has a new job helping a wonderful agency bring in dollars. The mission is one that means a great deal to him, and it means some very positive lifestyle changes that we are both incredibly happy about. To celebrate, we went to destination location, Bentonville, Arkansas! Seriously, it was a fantastic weekend road trip that we have wanted to do for a while. The attraction is an amazing art museum that is courtesy of one of the WalMart heirs. I am not a WalMart fan, but I am sure a fan of Crystal Bridges. This lovely glass structure sits amongst trees and water and nature trails. The galleries are full of an amazing collection of American art beautifully curated. The big draw for us was the special exhibit that is there through January – State of the Art. The concept is a team from the museum visited 1000 working artist studios across the country and picked 100 of them to include in the exhibit. The variety of media blew me away. There were interactive displays, videos, collages, toys, photographs, paintings …. It was visual fun, and a very great way to spend a morning. After the museum trip (which is free, by the way), we drove to Fayetteville to pursue my passion of visiting independent book stores. Nightbird is a charmer right in the downtown area. The little trip had multiple highlights. Being in Fayetteville on college football day meant we got to see grown men walking around with razorback hogs on top of their heads. Sitting next to our hotel was a Waffle House. Dan had his first and second experience at this iconic joint. We had some good food and bought some beers that we can’t find here. Yay Roadtrips!

Jean Got Her Ring – One morning there was a text message from Sam that the rings they had ordered were in and he was going to surprise Jean at work. The next thing, there was a picture of a hand with a beautiful ring. It was sweet to see the outpouring of likes and offers of congratulations when the engagement status got put up on their Facebooks. The happiness of good news spreading is a nice thing about social media.

jeab

Royals – To be still writing about the Royals is something! This team has not only boosted the happiness level of this city, but they have charmed the socks off of countless the world over. There are good stories every day about something this team has done, or that others have done that make this more than just a baseball story. As I have already confessed, I am not a terribly active baseball fan, but right now I can name a good portion of the roster and I am even contemplating purchasing my first Royals t-shirt.

royals

Wordless! performance by Art Spiegelman + Phillip Johnston – I remember seeing the book, Maus for the first time and needing to buy it immediately. It was something so new, and I loved it. In it, Art Spiegelman told an amazing story via a comic book format. It had humor, but it also had tragedy and wickedness and sorrow. It became one of my favorite books ever, and it made me a fan of what was to become a whole new genre of literature. I saw on a blog that Speigelman was touring with a jazz ensemble and delivering a lecture about the advent of wordless books. Delightedly, I read that Kansas City was on the tour. I bought tickets and Dan and I went to the performance at the incredible Kauffman Center. It was fantastic, and the way that the images that Spiegelman highlighted were so well supplemented by the jazz of the Phillip Johnston group was crazy great!

I think I will just stop there, even though I have several more items that I have noted in my journal. Suffice it to say that I am feeling pretty lucky these days.

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week seems like a blur of many things, but here are some things that made me happy during it.

cook

Cook for Courage Event for Child Protection CenterThe Child Protection Center is a nonprofit agency where children who are suspected of having been abused can go to for an age-appropriate, safe, forensics interview. The work they do is pretty amazing, and, unfortunately, the need is large. Last year, they served over 750 children! For the first time, the agency put on a major event to raise funds for the center. Cook for Courage brought together six area chefs – each of them had to do their take on ribs and a side dish. A beautiful evening, held on a bridge!, where we got to eat delicious concoctions, while donating to a good cause, all adds up to a very good thing!

Dinner at EBTEBT is a restaurant that has been serving meals in Kansas City in the same place for many, many years. We had never been there, but we had in our minds that it might be the kind of place that could have molded jello on the menu. We put our preconceptions aside and made our way to EBT for dinner last week. Dan writes about the experience really well on his blog, but I have to include it on mine too. It was really a wonderful experience and the food was fantastic! The trendy and “Latest and greatest” is not always better. EBT exuded classic!

 

salad

From my garden – Hmmm. Lots of food centered things this week! Oh well, sometimes that is just the way it goes. On Friday, I made a salad for dinner. I grilled some chicken and I tossed it with lettuce, radishes, onions, avacado and cheese. What made me really happy about this, was that the lettuce and the radishes came from my garden! They were pretty and fresh, and it was delicious!

phantomThe Phantom TollboothDan and I got to go hear Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer talk several months ago. It felt like such an amazing gift to hear two giants in the world of children’s literature talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth. The guilty part of it, however, is that I really don’t think that I ever read The Phantom Tollbooth. I thought maybe I did, but reading it last week, I could not remember that I had. Oh man! It is such a wonderful book and there were many, many memorable moments and lines. Because it was the 50th anniversary edition, the book included essays by a  number of writers and others saying what the book meant to them. Pure pleasure!

 

The end of my notebook – Last year I started keeping a different kind of journal than I ever have. I had found this great (de)composition book at a college bookstore. Using some ideas from Austin Kleon, I did a page-a-week format. There isn’t really a format, but it could include me trying a different kind of handwriting, drawing, lists, notes, to dos, good things to remember, ephemera pasted or taped in – really anything. I have loved keeping this up. It makes me happy just looking at it or opening up to any page. Unlike journals I have kept in the past, this doesn’t hold troubles, it holds happy things. This past week finished off (de)composition book #1. Book #2 is ready for action. I am ready for weeks ahead with much to be happy about.

Ready for a new week? Let’s go!

Last Week’s Good Things

Mar9

There was one day last week that I had gotten home late and I put a Lean Cuisine in the microwave for my dinner. Dan called me right when I was about to start eating. He was in Florida and had just had dinner along the ocean. As I talked to him, I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing. That wasn’t cool, but, despite that unfortunate scenario, the week did hold some very good things.

Sharon Jones, Superstar – Saturday night we went into Lawrence for dinner and a concert. It was the first time I have been in Liberty Hall right along Mass Street in downtown Lawrence. It is a gem! The opening act, Valerie June, was really wonderful. So much so that J & M made plans to go to Springfield on Monday to see her again. And then there was Sharon Jones. This woman is a few months from finishing her treatment for pancreatic cancer and she has the almost bald head to show it. That woman put on one of the most amazing shows with more energy than I have mustered in several days combined. I can’t even choose what was my favorite, but this performance that I recorded on my phone (note: I am not good at this and I am short) is stellar. “Get Up and Get Out” refers typically to dude troubles. Saturday night she turned it around and it was cancer she was addressing herself to. Woman is amazing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5NQR_v4Y8

Seven Habits – There is a group of us at work reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.Each month we do a chapter. Last week it was Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind. Stephen Covey, the book’s author describes how by being in control of our own mission, we can basically be a better person. He describes how when people let other people or things control them, they are in a tenuous position. However, if one is centered on principles, there is always guidance. This book was written more than twenty years ago and it is just timeless in its advice. It is a pleasure to visit this again and try to do more of the things I should have done other times I read it.

The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People

Nighthawk article in the New Yorker – I have a habit of not reading The New Yorker intact. Every so often, I go through our piles and I pull out articles I want to read. I then staple those into articles and put them into yet, another pile. They are there to grab. Last week I picked up an article from 2012. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it, but it really was a treat to read. The essay was in the food issue amidst a variety of great food writing. Tony Earley was the writer – someone I knew from a book he read called Jim the Boy. The article describes  the writer going to college as a guy who never had to take care of himself. During an evolutionary journey, he learns to cook some basic things and to understand the satisfaction of that. There was one passage that I loved: “Belatedly, I understood that the sustenance contained in food you cook for yourself is almost biological, and that sometimes, what makes a fried-bologna-and-onion sandwich so delicious has nothing to do with the bologna or the onion.” That is the pleasure of cooking.

Family texting – With Dan out of town and Ali on vacation, there was a lot of mobile device communication going on. Every now and then, there would be a text chain that involved the whole family. Our chatter may not always be the most appropriate, but it almost always makes me laugh and appreciative of my luck to be part of this group.

Things that happened at work – I don’t talk about work too much on my blog, but good things do add up and I want to recognize them. Here were a few from this week! Some of my co-workers joined me in a volunteering for a new event that is happening. I walked down the hallway in the hospital, and there was a little guy in a helmet running in circles and chortling as if he was doing the most fun thing in the world. It was joyous to watch. “Good mornings” and “good nights” as people walk by my door or make an effort to pop their head in. Someone bringing good soap in. Being brought into discussions because they want my opinion. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that means the most.

I hope anyone who reads this takes the time to find their own good things! They are out there!

Last Week’s Good Things

Peach

1.  Jeff Tweedy Solo Show at the Uptown – In 2002, when he was in high school, Sam asked me if I would go to a concert with him. For some reason, I thought that the band that we were going to go see was Weezer (of The Sweater Song fame). I was wrong. It was another W band — Wilco. It was a small venue. We were right up front/ Sam even got the set list at the end of the show. Since that night, I adore Wilco, and I always think that Jeff Tweedy is one of the most romantic, swoon-worthy song writers around. I have gone to a couple more Wilco concerts since then, and they never disappoint. Last week we got to see Jeff Tweedy play the first show of his solo tour. He came out on the stage in the beautiful Uptown Theater and played guitars and sang songs for close to two hours. His conversation ran from putting a loud mouth person in the front in his place, to admitting that he probably was going to suck, but he was going to play anyway. I loved it all!

Marquis

2.  Good Citizen – Before the concert, I had stuck my license and a credit card in my pocket so I didn’t have to carry a purse. At some point – probably when I pulled out my credit card to buy something – I lost my license. I realized it soon after I got home.  I hoped that there might be a chance that it would come back to me. The concert was on Tuesday, and I told myself that if I didn’t have it back by Friday, I would go to the license bureau and get a replacement. Friday’s mail did not yield my hope, so I went to the license bureau and got myself a duplicate. Saturday, my old license returned to me. It came in a plain envelope – no note – no return address. Rather than worrying about the trouble a lost identification can cause, I got to be thankful for a kind person who took the time to return my license and piece of mind.

3.  Crossroads Academy Dreaming Big in Downtown Kansas City Event – On Thursday night, we got to attend the second annual event celebrating the work that is being done at Crossroads Academy. It was an evening of seeing some dear friends, eating great food from many Kansas City restaurants, and hearing about the work being done at this young charter school. I wrote about this same event last year. Again this year, it warmed  my heart to be in a room filled with so many good people doing good things. Bringing education to children in the heart of downtown is exciting. Having community members supportive and enthused about it is the best.

4.  Patrick is Back! – Just about every Sunday, Dan and I go to 75th Street Brewery for lunch. We have done it for many years, and during those years, we have seen favorite servers come and go. There have been some great ones and some memorable ones. The most memorable was several years ago when the kid who was waiting on us didn’t quite seem to have his dots all in order. When we asked what the special was, he couldn’t come up with what its name, but he drew us a picture of it. It was brilliant. For the past few years, we typically see Patrick the bartender on Sundays. Patrick greets us by our names when he sees us. He is friendly and attentive. It’s because of someone like Patrick that we return each week. It’s comfortable. In October, Patrick hurt his leg at work. He had been gone since then.Sunday we walked in and heard the familiar “Hi Dan! Hi Robin!” Patrick is back and that is a good thing!ibuprofen

5.  Ibuprofen – Every now and then, my back gives me trouble. I had my first go with it in college when I ended up out of commission for several days. I had one bout of it once when we were visiting New Orleans. That time, I would inexplicably fall down. It was around Mardi Gras time, so a person falling down was not all that uncommon. This week’s back pain is not that bad. I have managed to stay vertical when I wished to. It is, however, enough to make me know that it’s a problem. I have been pretty religiously pumping the ibuprofen and that certainly helps so much. Isn’t it great that things like ibuprofen are around? Aspirin wasn’t around for pain relief until the late 1800s. Ibuprofen came around late in the twentieth century. Going into a store, you can pick up a bottle of pain reliever for a reasonable amount of money and it usually goes a long way in making one feel better.

I almost picked the Hungarian Goulash that I made as my fifth good thing. I had to, however, give props to Ibuprofen!

Last Week’s Good Things

Nov 11

We are moving into the final weeks of the year. The temperatures we had to start the week made me realize that, but this weekend has been warm and pretty pleasant. More than a few good things happened this week as the days started to warm. Here are a few.

Courtney Barnett – It is true that almost every new music love of mine is introduced to me via NPR. I can’t think that is a bad thing. What’s the matter with letting the experts cull from so much new music, those bands and performers that pass their muster? It happened again this week that a single song played on the All Songs Considered podcast made me go home and and purchase an album. This week it was Austrailian singer, Courtney Barnett. Her music came up because she played the CMJ Music Festival back in October in NYC and everyone on the panel declared love. The song that they played was Avant Gardener, and I have literally had this song in my head since. It has droney guitars, lyrics that pull you into the story and make your own visuals, and a lazy delivery that reminds me sometimes of Lucinda Williams. Other songs on the album also build stories with humor and darkness – oftentimes both in the same song. She has some great syncopation and word choice. The double EP is titled A Sea of Split Peas. It made my week better!

I get adrenalin

Straight to the heart

I feel like Uma Thurman

Post-overdosing kick start

Reminds me of the time

When i was really sick and i

Had too much psuedoefedryn and i

Couldn’t sleep at night

DSCF7681

Conversations – Friday was a really good day. I got to spend the day working on a chapter and made good progress on it. Late in the afternoon, I walked up to Bier Station and met Barb for a beer and some talk. When I left, the sun had set and the almost full moon really lit up the sky. After a very cold start of the week, it felt great strolling home on that warm, beautiful evening. When Dan got home, I made a Friday evening cocktail and we sat around talking a little before I made dinner. After finishing, we stayed at the table awhile – just chatting about people and things that were on our mind this week. Days can become so scheduled and full. Stresses can cloud the positive things that are out there. I loved the solitary time I had that day to focus on my writing, but then having time together with favorite people made a really good day, better.

 Sherwood Center – The movement of stuff in the world is extraordinary. I don’t think that a week goes by that at least one new non-perishable item doesn’t make its way into our house. Sometimes you need to purge, if only to make way for what you know will be coming – more stuff. In the past, we did try the garage sale route to perhaps get back some of the dollars sunk into the things that we no longer wanted. However, the time and effort to get 25 cents for some old t-shirts and books, no longer appeals to me. That is why I love the agencies that come around periodically and take away boxes and bags of our unwanted things. The Sherwood Center is my go to service. They come when they are supposed to and they leave a receipt so I can take the donation off on our taxes. The best!

 

gilbert

Remembering the Sabres of the 70s – On Facebook a few days ago, the Buffalo Sabres posted a picture of #11, Gilbert Perreault wishing him a happy 63rd birthday. The photo posted (above) was from his glory days with the Sabres when he, Rene Robert, and Richard Martin skated together on the team. They were known as the French Connection and they made me into a hockey fan. One of the saddest days of my childhood that I remember (this makes me realize how good my childhood was) was when I won tickets to a Sabres game by guessing the correct score of the game in the weekly contest published in the Buffalo News. The day we were supposed to go to the game, there was a big snowstorm and my parents wouldn’t drive the 50 miles into Buffalo. I cried a lot. A few weeks later, my uncle got me tickets and took me to see my hockey heros. Seeing that picture this week brought back good memories!

holiday hero

The Holiday Hero Campaign and the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Board – Doing good is easier for some than others. People with a lot of money can choose to distribute it to those projects that are important to them. That is relatively easy. But when people donate their time and their extended resources to support a project, it takes more effort. This week, the wonderful board of the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center hosted an event to kickoff the annual Holiday Hero Campaign. This campaign brings in dollars to the Cancer Center. The funds then support programming and research. Each year, a “hero” family is chosen. This year’s is one of the Spanish speaking families who have benefited from the Spanish Language cancer clinic now offered at the hospital. The event was so nice. There were board members, hospital staff, friends and family of everyone, and, of course, the Hero family. Through an interpreter, the father explained what thanks they had for the care their whole family got during their daughter’s treatment. Kicking off the holiday season amongst such good people was a good thing.

Last Week’s Good Things

Nov3November arrived in a beautiful fashion here in Kansas City. The fall colors are at their finest. The air is crisp. While there is some melancholy to see the door of warm weather close, these final days of the year will surely have many good things.

Along with seeing some very cute costumed children (and animals) this week, here were five of the good things of note as October moved out and November rolled in.  lobsterroll

  1. Lobster Rolls – Our local grocery store declared October to be Lobster Fest month. All month long, lobster tails sold at bargain prices. Inspired by this celebratory occasion,  Dan tried his hand at creating a lobster roll early in the month. As the end of the month came, we had not one, but two lobster rolls this week. He nailed them. For me, the secret of the lobster roll is simplicity. The steamed tail meat is combined with a little mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. That is it. The receptacle is a hot dog roll: buttered and toasted. Accompaniment: potato chips. This is a decadent delight! Oh Lobster Fest month, I will miss thee!  freedom
  2. Cindy’s Upcoming Journey – My friend Cindy grew up in Iowa. She now lives in Southern Missouri. She likes to garden and she adores her beautiful grand-daughter. She knows that she is lucky. Next week, Cindy will travel halfway across the world to help raise awareness about those who do not share her good fortune. The Freedom to Walk website states that “By definition, trafficking involves some element of force, fraud, or coercion. Because of the illicit nature of this crime, estimates of trafficked persons worldwide are difficult to verify, but they range from a few hundred thousand to more than 30 million. Individuals are trafficked for work across industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, garment production, mining, and domestic work.” Cindy is participating in the DREAM Project Foundation’s walk to stop human trafficking. The walk will last for fifteen days and cover 220 miles across the country of Thailand. Along the way, she will reflect her commitment to make the world better. On Friday, Cindy’s daughter and son-in-law held a gathering so we could wish Cindy well and learn more about her journey. I am so inspired by what she is doing. If you are interested in learning more, or contributing to the cause, you can click here.
  3. Fall leaves out doorWet leaves – Early this week we had several rainy days. The rain and the accompanying wind created a layer of wet leaves across most surfaces. Like temporary tattoos, the leaves stuck to cars creating pretty designs. The road, as I set out to drive to work, looked like it had a multi-colored carpet. While I love the sound of shuffling through dry leaves on an autumn day, this week really made me appreciate the beauty of the sticky wet autumn leaf.
  4. Will Sheff’s article about the death of Lou Reed – There were many tributes to Lou Reed this month. The poet singer meant much to many. When I was once asked what my movie theme song would be (i.e. if someone made a movie of your life and the final scene is you walking along the beach, what song should be playing? ), my choice was Perfect Day. I love that song so much! Will Sheff leads the bank Okkervil River – another favorite of mine. Will wrote a tribute to Lou Reed for the website, Gawker. Will has an unconventional voice, that I like, but which has its critics. He looked to Reed as an inspiration, and, it turned out, Reed really liked Sheff’s music and invited him to open one of his concerts. After the concert, Will went into the inner sanctum to meet Lou. Sheff writes, “When my turn came to talk with Lou, he gave me a soft handshake that he held for an uncomfortably long time. Eventually I had to extricate my hand from his. He told me, “You are a great rock singer. You’ve got a great rock voice. You can sing anything.” Everything in my life changed when Lou Reed, my musical hero, said that to me. Everything I’ve had the guts to do as an artist since 2007 came out of that moment. I am a different artist now. It was one of the kindest and most perfect three sentences anyone could have uttered, and coming from Lou Reed its effect was profound. I transformed into something else once he spoke those words to me.” It’s a beautiful piece about listening to and loving music.       billy lynn
  5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – I finished Ben Fountain’s great novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk this week. I read somewhere that this book might be this generation’s Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse 5. I can see that. Fountain’s novel describes an extraordinary day in the life of Billy Lynn. Because of war heroism, Billy and his unit are on a hero tour in the US. They are trotted out and interviewed and feted. It is all pretty surreal for the eighteen year old soldier who is still processing and  mentally trying to heal. The last day of the tour brings them to a Dallas Cowboys game where they are the guests of honor. At first, the owners gush over them, the crowd cheers them, they get close to cheerleaders and Beyonce. In the end, things fall apart in many ways. It is a thoughtful read that I would very much recommend.

Another good thing from this week was October was the third month in a row that the number of visitors to my blog and visits to my blog increased from the month before. I am so thankful for each of you who reads and when you pass it along to someone else, I am really touched. I will never attract the thousands that many blogs do, but knowing that there are readers enjoying what I get down, is pretty great! Thanks everyone! What about you? What was a good thing for you this week?

Last Week’s Good Things

I didn’t write a “Good Things” post last week. It was not because there were no good things on which to report. I was out of town at a conference all last weekend, which in itself was a very good thing. There is something about getting away with a group of similarly minded people with a common purpose that can be so inspiring. To add to it, I was with a workmate who I usually don’t spend time with, so it gave great time to reconnect and get to know her better. So that is my excuse.

As for this week, these were some of the good things that happened to me:peonies

  1. Blooming Peonies – In October we will have lived in our house for 25 years. When we first moved in, there was a bizarre cat run in the back yard. This was because there were more than a couple cats that lived in the house of the previous owner (realistically, there may have been 3-4, but in my mind, cats were everywhere when we were looking at the house). Anyway, once we moved in, we took the cat run down almost immediately. The old lady who lived next door told us that there had been peonies planted along the back of the house that had been there for years (she also mentioned that she had dug some up). That next spring, shoots started popping out of the ground. Within days they were pretty tall, and within a week or two they had huge ball-like buds that ended up blooming into the most fragrant and beautiful pink and red peonies that I have ever seen. I don’t know when they were planted, but I know that for twenty-four years now, they have meant a great deal to me.
  2. Fist pumping runners – It has been a pretty lovely week in Kansas City this week. I think that spring/summer is here. Twice this week while driving, I have seen guys out running, and pumping their fist in the air.  They look so seriously happy. That made me happy too.  penfriends
  3. Remembering Pen Pals – I read an article this week about pen pals. It recounted that during the 1964-65 World’s Fair held in New York City, Parker Pen Company had a pavilion among the other industrial presenters. The theme of that world’s fair was “Peace through Understanding.” Parker attached “… Through Writing” to the theme. To demonstrate this, Parker had in its pavilion a computer that would take a form filled out by a visitor,  and match that visitor with a pen friend from somewhere in the world. During the fair, the computer matched its one millionth Penfriend. Not only did I love this article, but it made me remember my own pen pals. I had a few, but probably the one that I kept in touch with longest was a girl from England whose name was Jane. I remember that she sent me a postcard of Piccadilly Circus and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Unfortunately, I lost touch with Jane somewhere in my adolescence, but it was such a fun experience – to get a letter in the mail from a place so far away from a girl who was kind of like me! (As a small world kind of thing for me now, the Parker Pen Pavilion was moved to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri after the fair and became part of the Lodge of the Four Seasons).
  4. Ronald McDonald House – This week, some work friends and I went over to our local Ronald McDonald House at the end of the day and we cooked dinner. Using ingredients that had been donated by our group, we made spaghetti and meatballs, tossed salad, garlic bread, and cakes for the 25 families staying there. Each of them had children ill in the hospital and home was too far away to travel to and fro from. After a couple hours of cooking, we left the building with wonderful smells. I think that each of us took with us a feeling of luck that we had an opportunity to bring a warm good meal to some families who certainly deserve it.
  5. Learning a new game – Last night, after dinner with friends, we got down to our usual business — playing a game. Our game of choice, however, was something new. We played a card game called Euchre. Euchre involves only some cards in the deck, partnering with another player, trumps, and guessing how many tricks you may be able to take. I made some bonehead errors – mostly which involved me bettering my partner (not a good strategy) – but it was a fun time and I kind of think that I could get better at it.

Happy Girls

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There was a good post on The New Yorker’s Culture Desk blog about Anne Hathaway. Writer Sasha Weiss discussed the hostility that often gets pointed at girls, young women and women who appear too happy, too confident, too girly. Weiss writes that Hathaway “represents the archetype of the happy girl, which is one that many people resist.”

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Not to say that there is much that would make you think of me when you think of Anne Hathaway, but I get classified in that “happy girl” camp. A few weeks ago I was in line waiting to board a Southwest flight. I saw an acquaintance approaching me in the serpentine queue. I called her name and she looked over and we started chatting a little. She said she had seen me, but then thought it wasn’t me because I wasn’t smiling. That kind of cracked me up. Getting on a plane for a quick business trip by myself may be one of the times when I am not confronting the world with my smile. However, I bet as soon as I got to the person at the gate, I gave them a smile and thanked them for being so kind as to scan my piece of paper and let me on the plane. Why not?  I like smiling – just like Buddy the Elf.

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To be serious, though, the vitriole against Anne Hathaway seems like such a waste. She’s a talented actress. She does good work when she is not acting. If people want to write about the really horrible people of this world, there are plenty out there.