I 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!
Brown 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.
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.
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!
Waldo-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.
The 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!
Zucchini 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 was birthday week. I am still a person who likes the idea of birthday celebrations, so I enjoyed the special things that came my way as part of that. Here are some of the good things that happened during birthday fest week.
Resolution making – I always give myself until my birthday to put together resolutions. I got help this year from a posting that went up on Brain Pickings at the beginning of the year that offered guidance on resolutions. In fact, I kind of lifted my resolutions directly from it. Thanks to Popforms and their Spark Notebook plan, I also worked on a theme for a year. My resolutions are rather broad and my theme is a good daily guide. For my new year, I resolve to walk and be more present, make my life wide, keep a diary, cultivate true friendship, and define myself. My theme is to create myself daily. Every day is a new adventure, and my theme is a good reminder.
Baby Shower Book Club – I have written about our book club before, but last week was a first for our group. We had a book club baby shower! Everyone brought a favorite read aloud as a gift for Jim and Micaela. As they opened each gift, the giver explained why they made the choice. It was so much fun to see some old favorites and also to be introduced to some new ones. Dan picked Redwall which is a great adventure book that Dan read to the kids. I picked the My Father’s Dragon Series. This series is one of my all time favorites that I read to the kids. If you haven’t read these books, I would highly recommend them. They recount the adventures of Elmer Elevator and a baby dragon that he runs away to rescue. It is all very fantastical and fun.
New Bumper Sticker – I have had my cute little beetle for about eight years now, and it still makes me smile. Shortly after we bought it, we were in Arkansas and I bought a bumper sticker. It was Bob Marley with the quotation “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” While I still love that sentiment, Bob had gotten pretty faded over the years. As part of my birthday fest, Dan took me to the fun It’s A Beautiful Day shop and I picked out a new sticker. On Saturday, I washed that dirty car and put on its new message. It is a quotation from the Dalai Lama – “Choose to be optimistic … it feels better.”
Birthday celebration – The messages on Facebook, calls from the kids, a birthday card with sweet messages from my work team, tulips left on my porch all went into making my day a very nice one. Aside from from very pretty cologne, Dan also got me the world best ice scraper. I am very excited about that as I have never been happy with any ice scraper. If it pans out, it will probably show up as its own “good thing.” We also had a great dinner at the new JJs, where a Restaurant Week deal got me Mushroom toast, Chicken Marsala, and Chocolate Mousse for $33. I started my new year well.
How About Never, Is Never Good for You? – I got this book for Christmas and got it finished last week. If you like New Yorker cartoons, this book is a must read. Bob Mankoff, who is the cartoon editor there, is a funny guy, and this book is a charming journey through the history of New Yorker cartoon, and how and why cartoons get selected.
That was my week. I hope that your week was also filled with good things.
Last week seems like a blur of many things, but here are some things that made me happy during it.
Cook for Courage Event for Child Protection Center – The 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 EBT – EBT 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!
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!
The Phantom Tollbooth – Dan 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!
The intensity of life continues, so it is more than great to think back on a few of last week’s good things.
Mother’s Day – When I was pregnant with Sam, Dan got me a cute Mother’s Day card with a scribbles all over it – aka baby signature. That was 29 mother’s days ago. This year, our two babies are miles away, but on Mother’s Day morning I got calls from both of them. The sounds of their voices is more than good. Having that start to my day, and then just spending a relaxing day around the house with Dan seemed like a good celebration. I do have a funny Mother’s Day bit to share. Needing something new for cleaning purposes, I ordered a small Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner from Amazon. Apparently, I forgot to tell Dan. Coupled with this, the kids both told us that they had gone in together to buy us a combined Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift that would be arriving sometime. Coupled with this, next month, both kids will be home with their respective mates. Soooo …. yesterday, Dan came home from work and opened up the package that arrived – the Dirt Devil. He put 2 and 2 together and couldn’t believe those kids had the nerve of sending us a cleaning machine! When he called me to voice his incredulousness, I set him straight and family peace was restored.
First peonies – Two weeks ago it was hummingbirds, last week it was peonies. We have the gift of having several very old peony bushes in our backyard. When they finally bloom, they are magnificent. The color; the scent – the best!
Work Retreat – Since I started working at the hospital fourteen years ago, my department has grown and grown. We tend to have a retreat every three years, and it is during those that the extent of the growth can really be visualized. We gathered for our retreat last week at an incredibly beautiful historic Kansas City location. We spent the day hearing about the accomplishments and visions of each of the different areas of our Division, as well as of the hospital. We got to know each other better over some free time activities and lunch. The day ended with us taping a piece of paper on our back and writing good things on each other’s. The scene of one hundred people, kind of Conga lining as they wrote on each other’s paper, brought smiles.
Jack is Back – Raspy voiced, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer is back for a new season of “24.” This show with its absurd, but compelling action is fun television.
The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie – I am trying to catch up on my New York Times reading and not being incredibly successful. However, last week I got through a Sunday Magazine that was a few weeks old. First of all, every week that publication puts out beautifully written, long pieces of journalism! That is a good thing in itself. The article that really got to me last week was an April 13 article by John Jeremiah Sullivan. The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie delves into finding the two women who recorded a rare but revered blues record in the early 1930s. The best thing about this piece is the trail that the author takes to investigate it and write it. It is really wonderful and the Times website supplements what was published with additional audio and visual. It is good history writing.
I hope that your week brings you many good things!
It was 80 degrees in Kansas City on Saturday. It was a day that I should have had the top down on my car, mowed the grass, planted something, had a drink on the patio, or washed my car. I didn’t do any of those things, but here are some other good things that happened during the week.
1. Union College wins the Division I Hockey Championship – Little Union College in Schenectady, NY is where both Dan and I went to school. It is an idyllic little liberal arts school in the middle of a very working class town. It is known much more for academics than sports. But this week, the Union College Dutchmen (yep, you read that right), plowed past Boston College and the University of Minnesota to be the victor of the Frozen Four. Saturday night, we had friends over and watched the game over cocktails and locally made kielbasa. That’s the way it should be done.
2. Flowering Kansas City – I always think that there is one week in Kansas City that outshines all others as far as showing off its beautiful nature. Maybe there will be better, but it is going to be hard to beat last week for the best. Magnolias, Bradford Pear, Forsythia, Redbuds, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths! Even the dandelions looked bright and cheery. Well done nature!
3. Pattie Mansur wins a school board seat! – I met Pattie when her daughter became a member of my Girl Scout troop. It was such a gift to me to become acquainted with such a caring and fun family. There are always people in your life that you know you can count on. That is the Mansur family. Even though Girl Scout days are long past, I still run into Pattie occasionally. We always eagerly catch up. When she announced that she was running for school board, I was so excited for our city. This week, voters came out and elected a wonderful advocate for all of the children of our city.
4. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst – I love to read and I love pretty books. When those two elements are combined, it is more than delightful. This week I finished reading S.. I can’t really adequately describe what an amazing book this is. There is marginalia of several different colors snaking its way around most every page of the book. Tucked inside you will find mass cards, napkins with maps, letters, code solvers … You just don’t know what is next. I must say that I enjoyed the experience of reading the book more than the book itself, but that is not really fair. I know he is J.J. Abrams, but the fact that publishers still gave the okay for this makes me optimistic about the future of book books.
5. 10,000th Blog View – Early this week, someone clicked on my blog for the 10,000th time. That is pretty cool to me. It is not the sign of a hugely successful blog, but it is a sign that many of you read what I write and choose to come back. There are weeks that I don’t feel like posting this or anything. I usually convince myself that my being there is both good for me, and for the people who might read it and recognize good things that they otherwise may not have. Thanks for being part of my second 10,000!
Have a good week and be aware of the good things!
This was the week that Dan and I listened to Pharrell Williams quite a bit. That means that the song Happy was often in our ears. That wasn’t the only good thing this week. Here are a few more:
1. Larry Tye talking about Superman at the Library – The Kansas City Library has an amazing schedule of speakers during any month. I can remember so many good authors and talks that I have gone to over the years. Last week, I left work and headed to the beautiful downtown library to hear a talk about Superman. Before the talk, I got to roam through the current exhibit focused upon how American comic books took on the Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust. After that, I got my complementary glass of wine, and plate of snacks, and sat down to hear a very engaging Mr. Tye talk about the genesis of Superman. That was not a bad way to end a day!
2. The Etsy Gift – Dan had been telling me that he had bought me a gift on Etsy, but he wasn’t quite sure if I was deserving of it. This made me pretty sure that this was going to be something greatly amusing. I was not, however, prepared for the awesomeness of what it was. For the past few years, we have been talking about starting a brewpub called Goats & Rabbits. The Goats and the Rabbits were the two political factions in old time Kansas City politics. Over the past several months, the conversation about starting the restaurant has become much more serious as Sam and Jean are making plans to come to Kansas City. It is really getting exciting. And on opening day of that restaurant that will be made, I will be wearing this:
3. Setting the Table for Company – After we came home from our trip to Italy, Dan and I both agreed that we should be more conscious about how we eat. One of the things that we talked about was sitting at the table for meals. As the kids left, it became more routine to sit in the living room and eat. We have gotten somewhat better at that, but there is still work to do. What is great about Dan and me sitting at the table is the same thing that becomes even better when the number of people at the table expands. I love setting the table for a meal. I like figuring out what dishes will be needed. I like setting down the plates, silverware and glasses. I like putting together a centerpiece and ironing the tablecloth and napkins. Saturday night we hosted our dinner club, so I got to get my table-setting jones met. Prettiness ensued.
4. Good books – I finished two different, but both great books this week. Sam recommended Mission Street Food, particularly for the philosophy that they take regarding business philanthropy. The book is an autobiography of their restaurants that started from a food truck night in San Francisco and grew to have a massive cult following. The other book was the novel, Salvage The Bones by Jesslyn Ward. This is the story of a family in Louisiana dealing with alcoholism, poverty, teenage pregnancy, and cruelty – as Hurricane Katrina is coming in. This was my gym book and as my treadmill time ended on Friday, I had about a chapter left. I reset the time and went to the end. It is quite stunning story telling. She manages to get such sweetness in the midst of some really pretty horrible scenes. It was definitely worth extra time on the treadmill.
5. Good Moods – There are just those days when there is nothing special, but it just feels great to be who you are; where you are. I had one of those days on Friday. I should have been feeling a little badly because I didn’t get any book work done, but I didn’t. I just reveled in the moments of the day. I read, exercised, made lists, grocery shopped, organized … Nothing special, but very special.
I hope all of us have some great mood days ahead of us!
It was birthday week, so, of course, there were good things!
- 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.
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!
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!
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!