1. The smell of a fresh cut pine tree: When I was vacuuming this morning, I realized that even though the 2006 Christmas tree is long gone, there was still a pile of fallen needles behind the table where it stood. I realize that by making this observation, then posting it on a blog that I am letting the world know my cleaning habits are subpar. Then again, the fact that I've only told three people about my blog and they love me despite the fact that I am house cleaning-challenged, I shouldn't have too much to worry about.
My point, however, is not my cleaning habits or lack thereof, it is that even though it's been over a month since the tree was put up, lit up, decorated and dismantled, the trail of needles still smelled fresh. How cool is that? There seems to be some kind of phenomenon that happens when the vacuum picks up the neeldes, then swirls them around in its vacuum vacuum that re-energizes the pine molecules and sends the scent of piney woods through the room. It's a wonderful smell and brings back memories of Christmases past or walking through a verdant smelling forest. On a dreary January day with no holidays in sight, it's kind of like making your own pot pourri without the pot!
Of course, this vacuum transformation of rug detritus to delightful smell also happens in reverse. Sometimes when one is vacuuming up a pile of dog hair the smell that comes floating out of the machine is that of a wet, stinky dog. This is when you know it's time to change the bag!
2. French socks: You know the T-shirts in every cheesy souvenir shop along the Atlantic coast, that say, "My Grandma (or mom, or dad or great Uncle Charlie) went to so and so and all I got was this T-shirt." I hate them. Not only is it a stupid saying (and I've got to wonder who would ever wear a shirt with it plastered on the front although obviously many people do?)it sounds downright ungrateful. It makes me want to smack the person wearing it, for whining instead of saying thank you. But then, if they are wearing the dang thing then maybe they are grateful and who am I to be smacking anybody?
My point, is this. My daughter went to France and brought me home some socks. She brought some other cool stuff too, like a medal from Mont St. Michel, some Parisian rocks, and a children's book about a "Proofting" (that's French for pooting) French elephant which I dearly love and deeply appreciate. But I am particularly enamored with the striped socks.
Like the nylon "Peds" I wore when I graduated from bobby socks and saddle shoes to Capezio flats before I was ready for a garter belt and real stockings, these socks are stretchy but don't go all the way up to your ankle, they stop just over your heel. The stripes are brown and turquoise and lime green and purple with a line of pale yellow thrown in the mix. Wendy has a fancy for the color brown. I hope I don't sound like a copy cat when I say the color is growing on me. Espicially when it's mixed up with bright colors like turquoise and purple.
I like wearing French socks. It makes me feel kind of ... well, French. When I wear my French socks I feel like saying things like "ooh la la" or "oui oui mademoiselle." I have a little lilt in my step - kind of like a walk with a French accent.
Let me suggest that when you go on vacation and want to take home a little gift or souvenir of the place you've been, you might want to consider a pair of socks. In my estimation they are a better example of a place than a bumper-sticker T-shirt. In fact, socks are "tre magnifique."
3. Slim Pens: On one of my last minute Christmas shopping trips I found myself in a craft store where something on every shelf cried out to my creative side which has been lying dormant for way too long. Being a woman on a mission and in a hurry, I resisted the urge to buy scrap book paper or beads for making jewelry. I walked right past the ceramic paints aisle and, even though I strolled down a rubber stamp strewn lane in complete amazement that there were so many stamps to be had, I basically picked out the picture frames I was looking for and checked out.
This is was apparently my downfall. When the clerk handed me my sales slip to sign she also offered me this fun little pen, which felt right at home in my hand. I readily admit that I am a pen freak. In my opinion, few pens measure up to the Extra Fine Sharpie standard, but I can usually be swayed by a pretty color.
This pen was slim and bright blue (sort of turquoisey) with a fine point. Who could ask for more? "What a cool pen," I remarked to the girl, risking a conversation that could hold up the line of weary shoppers behind me. "We have a bunch of them for sale, right behind that stack of journals," the clerk said with true salesmanship.
I finished my purchase, then walked right over to the pens. To my delight there was a whole box of these little gems. Made by Marvy, they are called Le Pen (ooh la la!). I bought three - one blue, one olive and one violet. I left happy. It's the little things in life that often bring the most pleasure.
4. Cat Puke: Usually cat puke is not a great subject. However, when I did my aforementioned Friday run through the house with the vaccuum cleaner, I came across this little dollop of dried throw-up. It reminded me of my mom's cat. It made me stop and think about the feral cat who shared our home for ten years.
True to her wild background, Baby was never a very friendly cat. Her instincts to growl and hiss and bite were not far removed from her saber tooth tiger ancestors. Even though Baby was a picky eater, when a can of Purina Oceanwhite Tuna was put in front of her she would guzzle it down then promptly throw it all up just like any true bulimic. When she didn't have food to throw up, Baby wasn't shy about hacking up a wet hair ball.
Baby was also not the least bit bothered by when or where she vomited. It was not unusual to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to the sound of gagging. More times than I can remember she would make her deposits in the middle of of Dad's bed, or on the stack of papers on anyone's desk. Cat puke, I discovered the hard way, blends quite nicely into the pattern on our couch; it's hard to find til you sit in it. Nice!
I can't honestly say I had warm feelings towards this cat. But once we discovered she had a growth in her stomach that made it just about impossible to keep anything down and that she wasn't throwing up just for the fun of watching me clean it up, it was easier to have some compassion for her. The only time I can remember holding her in my lap and petting her the way humans like to do to their pets, was after the vet had given her a merciful shot to end her vomitting forever. When he removed his stethoscope and gave me that silent nod that said more than words could say, I had to pray her next life would be throw-up free.
5. Saying goodnight: I was in a bit of a funk yesterday. It was kind of an anger hangover. While I'm easily ticked off by fast food lanes that are anything but fast and spending more time waiting to see a doctor than actually seeing him, or talking to a computerized telephone voice who is trying to sound all nice and courteous but is still a machine not a real person who can give you the information you want without a lot of questions, I like to think I have a fairly high anger tolerance - at least for the red hot anger that is more destructive to me than anything else.
I've spent years in therapy trying to reconcile my feelings. Trying to get to a place where I can live with my anger and not stuff it, because, as we all know anger turned inward is depression. It's not that I like to hurt myself, but when I feel really angry, it works for me to lasso the emotion and stuff it down in my gut somewhere behind my stomach and under my heart. (Okay, I know it doesn't really "work" but even after all this time, it's more comfortable to be depressed than angry.)
So I got mad, probably madder than I needed to be, but mad is mad and I haven't yet found the dimmer switch on my emotions. Then I had to live with it for a few hours, then I had to stuff it, then I had to deal with the pootiness of that. Thus the hangover.
I am sure I wasn't a peach to live with. I'm also sure we all need time and space to process our emotions. It's hard to do in community. After dinner I took myself a long hot shower - the Valhalla of depression therapies. In doing so, I missed the opportunity to say goodnight to my father.
The good news is that today is a new day. As I was serving Dad his morning prunes we smiled at each other. My smile was the sign we both needed to know I was feeling better. That's what is good about a smile, it can say, "goodnight, daddy, sleep well and good morning" all at the same time.