Last Week’s Good Things

Feb15Pickles! I need to get this blog post done before the name becomes obsolete! Just to put you in the right place, the last week that I am talking about is the week of February 15. I know! That seems like longer ago than a week to me too! Maybe it is the waning days of winter that seem to adjust the speed of time or something. Anyway, before it expires, here are a few of the good things that brightened my last week.

BirdieBirdie Arrives – Okay. I am going to cheat here a little bit. On February 20 a little girl arrived into this world who was anticipated to be adored to such a level that she would likely always have a sunshine aura around her. Birdie has a mom and dad who have waited so patiently for her and who will probably be some of the best parents a girl could have. She has grandmas and a grandpa who will be there for her always. She has aunts and an uncle ready to embrace her as a new part of their lives, and that just can’t help but make them better. She has cousins who will be friends and playmates. She has extended family that are all so excited to meet her and fall for her too. And she has people like Dan and me who, though we share no blood, we feel as much a part of her family as genetic boundaries allow. The cheating part of this is that even though Birdie arrived last week, I did not meet her until this week. And she is perfect, and she is loved well.

JasonAnother Gushy Review of Jason Isbell – On Tuesday we went to see Jason Isbell and his band play at the Uptown Theater. This was #6 Jason Isbell show for us. I would say it was probably the best yet. His band is so good, he was so engaged and seemed to be having so much fun. There was something else about seeing him this time. This is weird coming from someone who has never met the guy, but I felt so proud of him. When we first saw him in 2009 he was a different man from the one he is today. You see it in pictures from the time – talent out the wazoo, but hazy from drinking. On Tuesday, along with all of the fabulous musical moments, was his presence as a healthy and happy man. It has been his journey, but as a person who loves the music he makes and the persona that he shares with the world through social media, I feel like I have had some read into where he is now. He and the band encored with the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking which was rocking good fun. After that, this part of his tour ended and he went home to be with his wife. A couple days later on Instagram he posted a picture of his hand on Amanda’s slightly rounded tummy. Happy and healthy.

A Saturday Walk – The weather has been super weird. One minute they say it will snow, but then it doesn’t. Last Thursday, I heard nothing about snow, but I left work (minus my boots) in a real dilly of a snowstorm that kept me crawling through the downtown streets, but as soon as I got a couple miles south the sun was shining and the inches of snow on my car looked very out of place. Weird. Last Saturday was supposed to be weathery, but it turned out to be beautiful. Dan and I are still working hard on getting our steps in, so we used the opportunity to take a walk to Waldo Pizza for lunch. We were extraordinarily good and had salad bar and no pizza. We rewarded our goodness by chasing our salad with one of the best deals in beer flights (and a great selection) in the city.

raylan-boydFinal Season of Justified Started – Raylan Givens is a bad ass, and Boyd Crowder is too. I will be sad when this program ends. In the meantime, I will savor every moment of this show and be so happy every time there is a scene where Raylan and Boyd talk to each other. It is tv brilliance.

Movie Night – We have not been very good with keeping our monthly movie date with our friends. This month, however, we got it done. It’s a good way to end the day to leave work and sit down with people that you want to catch up with and fill in the gaps since the last time you did that. We did that and then we went to see American Sniper (not a huge fan, but, oh, that Bradley Cooper!) and then we went and had some more catchup over a nightcap.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week as March rolls in!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekAfter the tumultuousness and eventfulness of June, July gave some weeks to regroup and begin to get back into normal. By the last week of July, I was definitely feeling that I had regained a little of the structure that had been lost. I am not completely there yet. There are things – like going to the gym – that still haven’t made their way back into my schedule. They will. And looking back at last week, I can already see some  old faithfuls returning on my list of good things. Here are five of the ones that I made note of:

movie

  1. Begin Again – We had begun a movie night date with friends at the beginning of the year, but it took a couple month hiatus. Last week, we got it back into the schedule. We started our night with cocktails and Chinese food in a restaurant that could have been taken out of Lost in Translation. Our movie choice was Begin Again with Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo. It was – like its creator’s predeseccor, Once – a sweet film about connections and choices and music. There is nothing bad about sitting in a theater with people you like, enjoying a movie with loaded listenable tunes.HPIM0800
  2. Yssel getting married – Dan has been in Rotary for a number of years. I have written before about what a great organization Rotary is, and what wonderful work they do. Beside that, we have reaped Rotary benefit by getting to host international visitors who come to the Midwest to learn about many different things. A few years ago, we hosted Yssel, from South Africa. He was the first guy we would host, so I wasn’t sure how that would go. Turns out, it went great! We had so much fun with him, and over the course of a few days, we became solid friends. This past weekend, Yssel got married and pictures of him and his bride greeted us on Facebook. Life gives you lots of opportunities. Getting to know someone from another country is a pretty great thing! There should be more of that going on.marigold
  3. Giant Marigolds and Zinnias – My favorite flower, I think, is the marigold. It is strong and colorful and I marigold smell is an all time favorite scent. This year, I planted marigolds and zinnias in my raised bed. I planted them from seed, and I expected they were just your standard variety. The plants that are filling my bed are monstrous. Most of them are taller than me. I am short, but that does not mean that a marigold should tower over me. It is pretty stunning sight, and every time I walk out my back door and see them, it is a super good things!
  4. Pasta with Beans and Rosemary – On my day off last week, I wanted to cook something different. Even though it was a beautiful day, I wanted to do a pasta – but not something too heavy. The recipe was from Smitten Kitchen – one of my favorite sites. It worked for me, but I can’t see how one could go wrong with al dente pasta – a light veggie sauce with tasty beans and a rosemary, garlic oil sauce.
  5. Working on my book – Also to celebrate getting back to normal, I returned to my desk to work on my book on my day off! The section that I am working on is pretty amazing. It really reflects how people can put their mind to something and make it work. It was so nice to be back with the story.

I hope your week was a good one, and the days ahead are even better!!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekThis was a week that began with snow on Monday and ended with shorts on Saturday. How confusing! I think that we are reaching the point where I can actually put away my winter clothes. That is a very good thing in itself, but here are a few others that were memorable during the week:

1. Accomplishments at work – Sometimes there are projects that you work on that you just get done solo. Other times, there are projects that require the input of lots of different people contributing lots of different pieces. Everyone has an important part, but, unfortunately, everyone doesn’t always understand how important their part is. This week I had a multi-part project that required input from a number of different people. I needed letters formatted, numbers calculated, careers summarized… It all came together and I was proud to be a part of it! And in the end, I got to celebrate over some very nice tequila.

God loves

2. JD McPherson at Knuckleheads – I had heard of JD McPherson, but had not really paid too much attention to him. A few of my friends, however, think that he is pretty awesome and had gotten tickets to go see him at Knuckleheads on Tuesday night. Since it was doable on our part, Dan and I went too. He is a very delightful performer, and the fact that lots of his family and friends were there was pretty great.  JD has kind of a blues, rockabilly style that is catchy and fun. What is most noticeable, however, is how much fun this guy has performing. Watching him from my seat, he had neon over him proclaiming “God loves you when you dance.” It seemed to fit very well for a midweek night in a roadhouse in the middle of America.

buda3. Grand Budapest Hotel – I have written before about how good friends and we have committed to a movie a month date. This week, when given the choices, I pounced on going to the Grand Budapest Hotel. Well, it turns out that our friends had already seen it, but were wanting/willing to see it again. Swoon. I fell in movie love. Not only is the movie as beautiful as I expected, but it is also super funny. What got me most, however, was how extremely kind this movie is. The sense of the movie is being a friend/confidant/mentor to others and seeing that relationship through. It is lovely.green

4. Green Flag – Saturday proved to be a great day in Kansas City. Dan and I worked in the yard and got things looking better. We planted some seeds, mowed some grass, and pulled some weeds. At the end of the day, Dan made the decision to fly the green flag. The green flag is our designated symbol that our patio is open for business and if anyone wants to stop by for beer, wine, soda, chat – we are ready. As it turned out, no one showed up. That left Dan and me. We sat outside playing music on our Iphones and trying to guess the artist. It was so fun!  Next time the green flag is out, come and join in!

5.  No Nighttime tv – Dan and I gave up watching mindless tv for Lent. This is not necessarily a religious thing, but it is meaningful. How much time do I spend looking at someone chopping food, or telling jokes, or solving a crime… that could be better spent doing something that means more to me. The end of our pledge is here. What happens now?

Happy new week to all of you. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope that all of you have lots of good things in your new week!!

Last Week’s Good Things

Jan18It was birthday week, so, of course, there were good things!

Somewhere in this house I have a great picture of me as a kid on my birthday. I can't find it. Here, I think it is Christmas, but I am at least opening presents!

Somewhere in this house I have a great picture of me as a kid on my birthday. I can’t find it. Here, I think it is Christmas, but I am at least opening presents!

  1. Birthdayfest – It is hard not to like birthdays when you’re me. From the Sunday before to the Sunday after, it was the celebration of Birthdayfest. During that timespan, Dan made me some great dinners: grilled steak, lobster rolls, Pasta Amatriciana. I got some sweet cards from friends and co-workers. Facebook filled up with greetings. The actual day of my birthday, I spent the day organizing and putting together my year’s resolutions. Both kids called and chatted. I got to meet Barb for a beer, followed by an amazing dinner at Novel. It is true that the birthday buildup is different as you get older. There are days that I think that the years go by too quickly and I want them to slow down. When I look at the number of years tick up, it is weird. But regret is useless, and I do my best not to do that. I enjoyed my Birthdayfest greatly and I thank everyone who helped make it a special one.

2.  George Saunders – On a number of “Best of” lists for 2013 was the short story collection Tenth of December by George Saunders. I had not read it, but when I found out that he was coming to town for a reading, I wanted to go. That was because of the widely circulated graduation speech that he did at Syracuse University for the class of 2013. It is a beautiful piece about personal failures of kindness. Everyone should read it. I will help you by linking to it right here. Anyway – I got tickets for us to go see him read. In the meantime, I read the collection of stories. They are kind of dark and a little odd. Some I had to read over to figure out what he was talking about. I liked them, but it was not what I expected. Tuesday night, in a pretty full big venue, he read a section of one of the stories. When I read it, it wasn’t very funny. When he read it, it was. When he finished reading, he answered questions for about 45 minutes. He was so kind. He was so engaged with everyone who talked to him. When he talked about his wife and his daughters, the words that he chose kind of melted my heart. Afterwards, we got in line to get our book signed. When it was our turn, he stood up, shook our hands, thanked us for coming – by name (it was written on a sticky on the book), and signed our book as shown below. I am charmed. george saunders

3.  Reading Reptile – This is another book thing. On Saturday we were going to a birthday party for a baby friend and we wanted to get a present. I knew just what we should get. She was turning one and I wanted to get her the same poetry collection that we had for Sam and Ali. Running into a local shop that is devoted to children’s books is a pretty awesome thing. That is what we have with Kansas City’s Reading Reptile.  Amidst the displays of handmade art projects and eye catching wonder, I was able to go directly to the book that I wanted and make my purchase. At the counter, it was lovingly gift wrapped in a roadmap of Europe. I admit that I do not go to Reading Reptile as often as I should – although I am kind of out of the kid’s book world, they still sell some specially selected adult selections. Maybe this year I will do better. It is an awesomely good thing!

4.  Mignon Faget, again – I wrote before about the wonderful customer service from Mignon Faget when a beautiful glass pitcher that Ali got us for Christmas weirdly shattered. When I let them know, they apologized and sent me a replacement. When I received that, I opened it up, only to find it also shattered. I wasn’t sure if I should, but I did let them know. I was assured that I definitely should have reported it, and they were sorry for the inconvenience that this had all caused me. Third time is the charm. Last week, I got a beautiful pitcher and a sweet note. That is customer service!

pitcherand note

5.  Movie Night – Good friends moved back into town during 2013, but we have not done well as far as getting together and seeing them. When we had dinner at the end of the year, we decided we just needed to set a date. We now have a recurring calendar event to go see a movie together once a month. This new tradition started this week. On Thursday, we met for dinner and then we went to go see Nebraska. I really can’t put into words what fun it was to have a pre-movie chat with people that mean so much to me followed up by a really great movie – and knowing that I get to do this every month! Yep – that is a most good thing! nebraska

Here is to another week of good, better, best things for all of us. To those of you who read, I wish you a wonderful rest of your week. Tell me something good if you care to!

Rulin’s Update

woody1November 1, 2013. Two months left in the year – sixty-one days. The good(?) thing about having a blog is that it can hold the writer accountable. In January, I posted my “rulin’s” for the year, just as Woody Guthrie once did. We are getting close to a point where a pass/fail can be declared, but two months offers opportunity to at least pay attention to some of these things and perhaps sprint towards success. So today, I am looking back at my intentions, recognizing those successes, and looking forward to what I might be able to salvage.

Here were my 33 optimistic rulin’s followed by where I stand with each:

1. Finish writing my book. This is going to be the year.

Oh, what a sweet, optimistic thing I was back in January! Nope, not going to happen. But, I am really pleased with some of the progress that I made, advice I have been given, and even some new connections that I have made. I am hopeful that I am on a roll and that I will use my wonderful pool of advocates to maintain the push on me to get this done.

2.  I am going to drink more water. There, I said it.

I kind of think that I have done pretty well on this. I bought a new water bottle for work that I drain once a day. If not always successful, I am certainly more consistent.

3. My gym membership will be used more. I actually had some great momentum going at one time last year. I need to figure out how to gain that back.

Bad news on this one. I had the classic great run at the beginning of the year, but I have petered out terribly. Good news, I found my way back to the gym this week.

4. I will watch less television. Dan and I discussed last night that we would do at least one night a week television free.

We have not had a regular television free night, but it does happen. What I will say on this is that I have refused to pick up new television shows this year. I have my shows that get recorded and that we stay current on. What I tend to do, however, is turn on the television at night, just because. I am pretty sure that I can do better at this!

5. I am going to learn how to dance – my Christmas present from Dan.

We did this! We took our dance lessons and had fun doing it. Dancing – with any kind of expertise – takes practice. We have not done a good job at that, but there are still sixty-one days to make that better! 

6. I am going to fit into some of those clothes that I refuse to move out of my closet.

There are still sixty-one days to make this better…

7. I am going to spend time each morning at work, planning my day.

notebooks

When I do this, I am so grateful. I have tried different versions of planning tools this year. I found these wonderful composition books that I keep as a runner. One is for work, and one is for outside work. My work book has a weekly to-do list that I add to during the week and then transfer undone things to the new week. This has worked pretty well, as has using Wunderlist for master list keeping. I can definitely step up my game on this, but I judge this a partial success.

8. I am going to clean my office at work and keep it organized and inviting.

officeAgain, partial success. It looks like 2014 will see the opportunity to finally move out of our temporary trailer home and into a real building with most of the rest of our department. I am so eager for that to happen. In the meantime, my office continues to be a pretty nice location. I have a great view of the city skyline and I have embellished by walls with fun and colorful posters. Most recently, I strung ribbon near the ceiling and hung pretty postcards from the ribbon using fancy paperclips. Just walking into my office and seeing some of those images makes for a better experience. I am kind of psyched to decorate a new place!

9. I am going to re-up my Mug Club membership because going to lunch at 75th Street every Sunday with Dan is one of the things that makes me happiest.

mug

Perhaps the easiest thing on my list. Done.

10. I am going to learn how to draw Ali’s dog Banjo better so I can write stories about her.

I’ve worked on this, but I need to get back at it. I haven’t nailed her cuteness yet.

11. I am going to send fan mail (real postage stamped mail) once a week to someone I admire. I did this a couple years ago where I sent notes to authors of books I read. It was heartwarming how many wrote back and told me how much my note meant.

DSCF7127DSCF7129

I am doing this somewhat. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden got mail from Missouri, as did some authors. This is fun and I want to do better on. And I have some great postcards!

12. I will do what I can to make the possibility of us opening a brewpub one day a reality.

While I haven’t done a whole lot on this front, there have been some great conversations about this and potential for exciting things to be happening in the coming year.

13. I will be a better leader and employee by being more positive and creative.

One thing that I have tried to be this year is a transparent leader. I share what I know almost always. I am honest in my conversations and try to acknowledge when I am wrong and when I just don’t know the answer. I try to laugh and project a positive attitude. I am partnering with a co-worker in initiating some personal development activities for our co-workers. One of them is to show a couple TED talks over the noon hour. We had our first one recently and it went well. This week we start our SEVEN HABITS IN EIGHT MONTHS discussion group. I think that I have done okay on #13.

14. I want to video chat more with Sam and Ali.

We haven’t done this a lot, but we have done it more than we had. I like it very much!

15. Books – love them. I don’t really have to put it on my list because I will always read them, but I do want to read more! Good lord, there are so many wonderful books. Just yesterday, I got one in the mail that I had to order because Sam wrote me an email about how good it is.

My list will probably be shorter than last year, but I have had some winners this year. That book that Sam recommended was John Greene’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS which is a beautiful book about two adolescents falling in love while dealing with their own mortality. I just finished BILLY LYNN’s LONG HALFTIME WALK about Iraqi soldiers being “honored” at a Dallas Cowboys game. Excellent. 

16. Magazine – love them too! I have not done a good job keeping up with the wonderful print magazines that come into our house each month. I will do better.

Still trying

17. Computer – love my computer too, but I spend too much time with it and not enough time with rulin #15 and #16.

Have not done well at this at all. Sixty-one days to do better!

18. Last year I bought the Hugh Acheson cook book and that became my adventure cook book for the year. I didn’t do great with it, but I did okay. I got Girl and Her Pig for  Christmas this year. That’s my rulin there.

Miserable failure on this. I have not cooked anything from this delightful book. This will happen.

19. The Italy documentation will be completed. I haven’t updated on this, I know, but I will. I am actually doing okay, but I need it on the list to keep me moving.

italy album

While I am not finished, the beautiful album that we brought back is complete, other than some captions. It makes me so happy when I pick it up and move through the page. I have to decide what to do with the left-over photos and other momentos that we brought back. I thought at one time to do an album just of the meals we ate. That may still be an option. Just writing this makes me want to gather everything and look at it. Oh Italy – what a dream come true!

20. Be a better gardener. I planted basil last summer and did not make a single jar of pesto. I think one thing that I need to do is figure out a good watering system.

Not for lack of trying, I had a horrible year for basil. I planted it three times and only towards the end of summer did I really have any plants. I think it may have been a soil issue. The marigold seeds that I thought I planted turned out to be pot marigolds that were very different from my beloved marigolds. They were pretty, but not what I want. Successes were lettuce that was used in salads, lemongrass that was delicious in a few meals, and I have a great stand of chives.

21. Keep a journal better.

Oct20

Those fun composition books have really worked here. I keep a weekly running page that I have been photographing and using as the header for my “Good Things” post. I also have been writing pretty regularly in my 5-year daily diary.

22. Do the crossword puzzle every day. It keeps your brain fresh!

Not too bad here. One of the things that I do at work is copy off the daily NYT crossword and put it in the kitchen for people to fill in while they are heating up their lunch. I keep a copy for myself. I don’t always get to it, but pretty often.

23. See my friends more, and be better about setting up times.

I will never be perfect at this, but I think I have done okay here. Always can do better.

24. More movies. This is one of those things that I really do think that if I put it down, it will make me go see more movies than if I didn’t.

Sixty-one days to see some of those movies that I really want to see. I need to prepare for Oscar!

25. More live music. Ditto rulin #24

2013-04-03 21.12.25

Not great, but not horrible here. We saw some great shows this year. Sallie Ford playing with Thao and the Get Down Stay Downs was super fun. Jim and Micaela getting in the photobooth with Sallie continues to make me laugh. I got to see my man, Jason Isbell and the super delightful, They Might be Giants. We went to hear wonderful Bob Walkenhorst a couple times (should go more), and music at BB’s Lawnside. Already have tickets to see solo Jeff Tweedy next month.

26. Keep up with my Newbery Challenge.

This is my gym reading. When gyming goes by the wayside, so does Newbery. Two months to pick it up.

27. Pick two music albums each month that I really get to know.

I would say that I have done okay on this. I have tried to highlight some albums on my blog that I do get to know. One of the things that I have done lately is to email the artists to tell them that I have done that. It has been sweet to see how many email me back to thank me and tell me that they like my blog.

28. Make a photo album of 100 pictures from 2012, and put the 100 photos from 2011 that I ordered last year into an album.

2012 album

Success. Again, I need to add some words.

29. Take more pictures.

Success

30. Figure out how to start an Etsy shop. We have some ideas that we have been kicking around and doing some stuff on. Time to get real.

I bought a book about how to do it. Hmm. Probably there is more to it. 🙂

31. Get the attic organized. I made such progress when we got to fill the dumpster, time to make it right.

There are sixty-one days in which I can make good on this.

32. Bring my guitar out of hiding and play it again.

It is out of hiding and I pick it up every now and then. I think I need to restart lessons. That can be a whole new rulin in 2014.

33. Keep Deliberate Obfuscation active and fun for me.

This has definitely been a success. It is weird how fulfilling it is to check my stats and see that people are actually reading. 

 

The 304 days that happened before today have been almost all good for me. I have high hopes for the remaining days of this year, and I am already getting excited about some rulins for 2014. Who else is doing some reflecting as we hit this countdown of the last days of this year?

Last Week’s Good Things

IMG519Early this past week, the temperature outside hovered around 80 and there was a moment that I considered switching on the air conditioner. Between Wednesday and Thursday, something unnatural happened to drop temperatures more than 30 degrees and to make snow fall from the sky. Despite that nonsense, there were things that made last week good. Here are some of them:

  1. Lunch with Steve – I met Steve a few years ago when I started working on the book that I am writing. It turns out that Steve had made contact with Marcia’s family around the same time that I did. He wanted to ask some questions for research that he was doing about blood banks. The timing of our inquiries was strange in itself, but, perhaps the strangest thing is that Steve lives less than a mile away from me. Two people, working on two different projects but involving some things in common, making contact with a person in California around the same time – and we live within blocks of each other! I still marvel at that, and I am so thankful that we have gotten to know each other and share what we are doing. Friday at lunch we talked about one of my chapters, and just about stuff in general. He has let me borrow some of his old books on transfusions and I have loved going through them and both picking out the things that are useful to my work, but also enjoying some of the oddities of medical history in them. Like this:

sheep

Yes, that is a woman cuddled up to a sheep as she is connected to it to receive its blood. It turns out that those kinds of transfusions weren’t very useful. Lunch with my friend Steve, talking and reading about transfusion … definitely a good thing!

2. The griddle – To celebrate Cinco de Mayo at work, we had Quesadilla Day. We can do that because we have a wonderful griddle that comes out on such occasions. One of my co-workers rescued the griddle before it became a part of a cleaning out donation at her house. She wondered if we might be able to use it in our office, and I firmly gave it a thumbs up! The griddle has been used on Ultimate Grilled Cheese day, Reuben Day, Pancake Day, and now Quesadilla Day.

3. Mint julep in silver cups – I have always wanted to have pretty silver mint julep cups. Last year, I found some on line at a reasonable price. By the time I got them, however, our mint supply was in bad shape. Since then, they have sitting on the shelf, waiting. Over the last few weeks, the mint is returning in force, and the running of the Kentucky Derby made for a great opportunity to initiate the cups. Getting the cups down, however, I found that the pretty shiny silver was now tarnished. The homemade method cleaning method that I found that worked like a charm was toothpaste. A little toothpaste and elbow grease cleaned beauties up. With mint, bourbon, sugar, the cups, a muddler, and the nifty ice crusher that Dan found on ebay, we toasted Orb and the other horses that ran a muddy but exciting race on Derby Day.photo

IMG_20130504_2038334.  My job review – I had my job review this past week. It went well, and I had the satisfaction that those who took the time to comment on my performance think that I get my job done well. What really meant more to me, I think, was the number of people who commented that I treat people well, that I am kind, and that I always make time for others. I do try to always be kind, and I do try to be there for others. I think that it makes a difference in how I feel about the job that I am doing, and it was nice to see that others appreciate it.

220px-Bernie_film_poster5.  Bernie – Dan and I watched Bernie last night. I have heard good things about this movie for awhile now, so I had it in my Netflix queue. This is based on a true incident that was reported in the pages of Texas Monthly by writer Skip Hollandsworth. Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, the assistant funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas. He is pretty much adored by everyone because of his kindness and helpful disposition. In the story, Bernie befriends the town’s wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine), who is universally disliked because she is plain mean. As their relationship goes on, it becomes more and more emotionally draining to Bernie who must always be at her beck and call. One day, he snaps and he shoots her with the armadillo gun. Matthew McConeaughey is the town district attorney who has to prosecute a man that the town, for the most part, sympathizes with and understands why he would have shot her. It is crazy entertaining and makes me love Jack Black even more than I did before.

Last Week’s Good Things

This week, more than most, it was important to pay attention to the good things that slid into my days. My list is actually longer than the five (plus one bonus) that I put down here. The truth, truly is that if you keep your eyes open for good, you will find it.Scanned Image 131020000

  1. I was going through a box of papers (because I am one to have many boxes of papers), and I came across this picture of Sam and Ali that I drew several years ago. It doesn’t look a whole lot like them, but it captures pieces of them that make it highly recognizable. That is me peeking out of the window.
  2. Believe it or not, one of my good things was the customer rep guy I talked to at T-Mobile. Dan has been traveling quite a bit this month, and he texted me that he was about to run out of minutes on his cell phone. I called up the 800 number and talked to a very nice man. He looked at our account and laughed with me as I pointed out that we are probably T-mobile’s longest served customer (11 years!). He then proceeded to give me some bonus minutes and thanked me for calling and being so nice.
  3. I work at a children’s hospital. My job focuses on clinical research for children with cancer and other blood diseases. This week, our Grand Rounds’ speaker talked about the progress that has been made in treating children with cancer. A major factor of that progress is that those who treat children with cancer decided many years ago that the only way that they would find answers was if everyone cooperated, treated children the same ways, and combined results to determine what works best. The cooperative clinical trial movement in children’s cancer research became the model for all research. It is why the percentage of children surviving a cancer diagnosis is so high. After the talk, I suggested to one of our doctors that we send out a note to our surgeons and pathologists who help us so much in making our clinical studies so successful. He told me that it was a good idea, but I should go ahead and send it. I sent it out under the names of our research team. The number of doctors who took the time to say thank you for the nice email and express their own pleasure in being part of the solution warmed my heart.Gatsby1
  4. I finished reading The Great Gatsby this week for about the third time. The copy that I read was the one that Dan had for one of his college English classes. Some of his annotations in the book charmed me or made me giggle. Then, the New York Times had an end piece in the magazine where they showed covers of Gatsby over time. Loved that!gatsby3
  5. Dan and I had the best day on Saturday! He had been gone all week, so I wanted to spend the day doing stuff together. I went out for a walk, came home, and then we hit the road. We got an early lunch, followed by going to the theater to watch 42 – which  we both very much liked. After the movie, we walked around Barnes and Noble for about an hour. I realized that it had been a long time since I had just done some bookstore browsing. Of course I found some bargains. From there, we did Dan’s birthday shopping, went to a favorite liquor store emporium, bought some steaks to grill out, Dan experimented with a new cocktail that was successful, ate dinner, and, finally, ended the day by watching stored up DVR’d sitcoms. Winner.
  6. Bonus one: I wrote quite some time ago about going to hear Jules Feiffer and Norton Juster talk. That was wonderful. This week, I found out that there is a documentary coming out about the creation of The Phantom Tollbooth. Lordy me, I can’t wait.phantom

Happy Girls

anne

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.”

img004

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.

smiling

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.