Cee’s Share Your World 2016-Week 5

If you had a shelf for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronic devices and the things stored on them, people, or animals), what would you put on it?

For things that would fit on a shelf, they would be (1) a tiny cup and plate displayed on brown plastic stand, that my son gave me for Christmas when he was nine. Printed on the plate are the words, “I Love Mom,” words I desperately needed that particular Christmas; (2) the Christmas ornament pictured below. As a little girl, it was always my favorite and even though I’ve down-sized my Christmas trees in recent years, it still gets the front and center spot;

(3) as for the third item, there are so many items competing for this spot I don’t know which to pick: the little Bible my mother carried (with a single orchid on it) when she married my Dad, her long-sleeved, long-trained, satin wedding dress, (circa 1948), my great-grandmother’s wedding dress (circa 1901), that is actually two pieces, the skirt with a small, ruffled train, and the top with rows of small ruffles across the bodice, and raw silk cuffs, the tatted table cloth my great-grandmother made for me, my father’s christening gown (also made by my great-grandmother for my grandmother, then she used it for my father), some drawings I made years ago, some of my journals, some favorite books (some from my childhood, like “The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew”). . .like I said, too many to choose from.

 If you had a box labeled “happiness”, what would you put in it?

My grandchildren’s giggles.

What do you want more of in your life?

Time. I admit to being greedy about my life, and at my age, with more years behind me than ahead, I think it’s natural to realize you’re going to run out of life before you ever run out of things you want to do. For me, there are still books to be read (and some I periodically re-read), stories to write, places to see, things to do, and grandchildren to see into adulthood, and-hopefully-someday great-grandchildren. 

Daily Life List: What do you do on an average day? Make a list your usual daily activities.

Hit snooze for an extra five minutes. Open the blinds, which for me is a little like raising a theater  curtain on the new day. Next I start the coffee, then head for the bathroom. By the time I’ve showered, the coffee is ready. With a mug of coffee, I sit at my desk, open my laptop, and work for an hour on one of the stories I’m writing for my grandchildren, then check my email. Breakfast is next, but what happens after that depends on whether I have to go to work or have the day off, and if I have the day off, the rest of the day depends on the weather.

Cee’s Share Your World 2016-Week 4

Aaaggghhh! Just discovered I left last week’s Share Your World in the draft folder and it’s already time for next week’s. So, here’s the draft–it’ll have to do this time.

What one thing are you really glad you did yesterday?

Re-filled the windshield washer fluid in my car. While it did snow again last night, it had warmed up enough the previous couple days to start some melting, causing nightmarish, splash-back driving. Just one of those little car maintenance acts that is easy (for me) to forget, and then procrastinate once or twice after the warning light and bell begin signaling that the fluid level is getting low.

Are you generally focused on today or tomorrow?

Both?

Although I rarely make a conscious decision to deliberately appreciate the people, places, and things I encounter in my daily life, I am aware that I do because I enjoy them so much. For example, every time I drive somewhere, the beauty of the lake and trees, the splendor of the mountains, the vastness (and sometimes amazing colors) of the sky, never fail to impress me. I may not always be thinking poetically about them, but I always see them and seeing them makes me happy. I can be (and have been) in the middle of an intense conversation and for a split-second find myself thinking, “The frost on that tree is so pretty.” And, I think it is those moments, however brief, of recognizing something that we particularly enjoy about the world, that keep us engaged with life.

That said, with four grandchildren, I’m equally focused on the future–in particular, their future. 

Would you want to have a guardian angel/mentor? What would they tell you right now?

I’ve always sort of felt like I have at least one guardian angel, and maybe more. Apparently, I was pretty energetic and adventurous as a toddler/small child, resulting in some narrow escapes and  frequent comments like, “Her guardian angel was on the ball today!” or, “She sure keeps her guardian angel busy.”

As for what my guardian angel is telling me right now, she’s probably reminding me of things like be careful on the ice, don’t forget your gloves, the car is due for an oil change (I tend to procrastinate everything to do with the car), and don’t stay up so late.

Would you rather live in a cave house or a dome house made out of glass?

At last, an easy question: the house made of glass, although with a lot of window coverings to use as needed for privacy.

 

 

Cee’s Share Your World 2016-Week 3

was good 006What is your favorite piece of art? (it doesn’t have to be famous)

Since my walls are covered with photos of family, especially my grandchildren, I’d have to say they are my favorite works of art. I’m also very fond of the cards and drawings my grandchildren make for the ‘frig.

And, I love the photos my grandson takes. I’ve had several of them printed and framed. Three years ago, when he was seven, I gave him my old camera. He’s not only taken some great photos (at least in my opinion, and considering his age), but has taken exceptionally good care of that camera. (I’m including some of his first flower pix…I figure Cee will like them.) This past Christmas night, as I was tucking him into bed (my ‘job’ whenever I’m with the kids at bedtime) I learned that he was a bit disappointed this year because he had been hoping for a new camera. I gave the boys each an erector-like set to build robots (after 3+ years of Legos for Christmas and birthdays, I’m out of Lego ideas) and a telescope (hey, we live in the high Rockies where few things are as breathtaking as a night sky on a clear night). Aaaggghhh!! Grammy anguish here! If only I’d known he wanted a camera!  However, he has a birthday in a few weeks (on Valentine’s Day, to be exact), so he’ll soon be snapping away.

was good 043

What made you smile today?

A phone call and a long chat with a good friend.

Which place do you recommend as a Must-See? Please state which country, state or providence.

I love the Rocky Mountains. While I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer, and would probably spend half the year traveling if it were possible, Colorado or Wyoming are the only places I could call home.

As for special places in Colorado, my favorite, ‘must-see’ is Mesa Verde. Trying to imagine people living on those cliffs–raising children there–boggles my mind. Seeing how far up the cliff dwellings are from the canyon bottom, I can’t help but wonder how many people fell off. However,the cliff dwellings are not only historic, but beautiful, as is the entire canyon. I wish it was possible to stay in one of the dwellings for a few days, or at least overnight, just to experience sunrise, sunset, and a night sky from that unique perspective.

Complete this sentence: When I was younger I used to….  smoke. Between ages 18 and 50, I was a smoker. I quit from time to time, sometimes for just a few weeks, once for a couple of years. But, on my 50th birthday, I quit cold turkey. And, surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. I had four uncomfortable days, but the discomfort was more emotional than physical as I adjusted my daily routines to being cigarette-free. As for why it was so easy, I think I was just ready. For a year or so, I’d been scolding myself for “wasting” cigarettes by letting them burn up in the ashtray. I’d light a cigarette, set it in the ashtray, and then get distracted with something else and by the time I saw it again it was a little tube of ash. But, given my history of quitting and starting, I didn’t consider myself a non-smoker until I reached the three-year mark. I’ve now been a non-smoker for almost seventeen years.

Cee’s Share Your World 2016, Weeks 1 & 2

A while back I decided to write a special story for each of my grandchildren. For the past several weeks I’ve been struggling with the story for my youngest granddaughter, and it seems to have reached the point where the more I work on this story the worse it gets. Before I decide whether or not to give up on this story entirely and start over, I have decided to take a break from it for a few weeks. And, I’m not going to work on any of the other stories until I understand what has gone wrong with this one.

And, that’s why I’ve just this minute decided to complete “Cee’s Share Your World” weekly questionnaire every week this year. I want to make sure I keep writing regularly during this little hiatus, since I’m not going to have a writing project to work on for a month or so. Also, I think I’m ready for the challenge of posting something at least weekly. And, if I’m to have 52 posts by the end of 2016, it’s obvious that I must start by first getting caught up. So, I begin with 2016-Weeks 1 AND 2:

WEEK 1

As a child, who was your favorite relative? Hmmm. That’s a tough question. My sister and  brother, and my cousin Carla were my favorite playmates. My favorite adult relative was probably my maternal grandmother. She could be a little strict with us (I’m sure I got more than one swat on the behind or spent more than one eternity confined to a chair), and after every event that involved the consumption of large quantities of candy (especially Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s, and Easter) she would make us drink a bitter hot drink she called “sage tea”, so we wouldn’t get worms from all the sugar we’d eaten. I have a vivid memory of the three of us sitting on her back porch trying to choke down our ‘tea’.

So why was she my favorite? Because she kept a large book of Grimm’s fairy tales in her linen closet, and being asked to get that book for her was a thrill because it meant we were going to hear a story. I loved looking at the drawings, but mostly I loved listening to her read the stories as we sat on the floor around her upholstered rocking chair. My favorite stories were “Snow White and Rose Red”, and “Little One-Eye, Little Two-Eyes, and Little Three Eyes.” I haven’t thought about those stories in years and about the only thing I remember is that Little Two-Eyes was a kind of Cinderella, with her mother and sisters always being mean to her because with her two eyes she was nothing special; she was ordinary because she looked like everyone else.

Grandma’s house and the way she lived was also fun. She never learned to drive, so we walked to the grocery store pulling a little cart. She had a garden every summer, and she grew morning glories around the house. We were always allowed to pick strawberries and wash them off with the garden hose, and I loved watching the morning glories close up at nightfall. In the middle of a small patch of lawn in the backyard she also had a little peach tree that never grew any peaches. In fact, I don’t think it ever grew at all, but she never gave up on it. In the basement she had two or three heavy crocks full of homemade pickles, and things like pickled watermelon rind. And, in her laundry room she had a wringer washing machine. We were always eager to help with the laundry–what kid wouldn’t love cranking a big handle and watching the water squish out of the clothes?

Looking back, I guess today we would call her a ‘high energy’ grandma. And, she was very much her own person. She practiced a fundamentalist religion and lived according to the values she believed in–she simply didn’t care what anyone else said. Even when I was very young, I remember somehow understanding her attitude that it was her life and she was going to live it her way. But, mostly I remember her as always busy–cooking, baking, cleaning, canning, doing laundry, sewing and mending, gardening–but never too busy to talk to us, or read a story.
If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be? I would be a flowering tree, probably an orange tree, wallowing in the wonderful fragrance of thousands of white star-shaped blossoms, then showing off dozens–maybe hundreds–of sweet oranges.

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?
First, this is the sort of question that makes me want to quibble: if I’m awake before dawn then, obviously, I’m also awake before noon. That said, I prefer get up early, although I don’t like getting up in the dark; I like getting up with the sun, not before it.
Would you like to sleep in a human size nest in a tree or be snuggled in a burrowed spot underground? This question is easy: I need a view, so I would take the human size nest in a tree. The first thing I do every morning is open the blinds; I need to see the world outside and the weather. While I like to sleep snuggled and cozy, I think an underground burrow would feel suffocating, not cozy.

WEEK 2

Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets? Yes, I believe there is other life out there. I would be more shocked to discover that we were the only life in an infinite universe than to learn of life on another planet or to encounter an ET. One of the great things about living high in the mountains, away from the city lights, are the night skies. Just seeing the wide swath of stars that comprise the Milky Way makes it impossible to imagine that we’re alone. And, if we’re all the life there is in all this, I can’t imagine anything feeling lonelier.
How many places have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities. I’ve lived in eleven cities, all but two of them in Colorado. But, while I was growing up, we averaged at least one move a year, and sometimes more. To the best of my recollection, by the time I was 18 I’d had 15 different addresses. This doesn’t include my great-grandmother’s house and the cabin in Wyoming where I spent every summer beginning when I was six or seven (maybe younger) through age 18. It’s no wonder Nanny’s house and the cabin hold such significance for me now, as they were the only real “homes” (places that were always there) I had as a child. And this nomadic childhood seems to have set the stage for the ensuing years, as (again, to the best of my recollection) I’ve added another 29 addresses since age 19.  I’d like to think my current address will be my last, because I love the deck and my view, but the condo is so small most of my things have been in storage for almost three years. I do think that living without having every single thing I own around me has been good as it’s given me a better perspective on what I really value, so paring my possessions to a manageable size no longer looms as the daunting (and somewhat scary–what if I get rid of something then later discover I want it back?) task it once did.
If you given $22 million tax free dollars (any currency), what is the first thing you would do? First thing? See a reputable lawyer and financial planner to assure my ongoing financial security and that of my family. Since the first thing I would do is more utilitarian than interesting, I’ll note the second, third, and fourth things: 2nd, a month at a spa; 3rd determine a location in Colorado or Wyoming to serve as my ‘home-base’ and buy a small house there, and then 4th, travel.  (Question: Why $22 million?)
The Never List: What are things you’ve never done? Or things you know you never will do?
Things I’ve never done: Jump from a plane, go into space, scuba dive, snorkel, been outside the U.S., had a passport, seen the Grand Canyon, been in a movie, played professional sports, been a corporate CEO, learned to ice skate, driven a boat or a motorcycle, gone camping alone, looked for buried treasure, been an economist, driven from ‘sea to shining sea’, written a romance, studied photography, acted in a Shakespearean play, worn a ball gown, been to the top of the Empire State Building, slept in a hammock, been a financial planner, designed a house, repaired a car engine, washed windows on a skyscraper, ridden a jet ski, walked through a cemetery at night, baked a souffle, driven a race car…the list of things I’ve never done is endless.

At my age, one of the things I do believe is, “Never say never.” When thinking of things I know I’ll never do, I was going to say, “Be 16 again,” but if reincarnation is real, then maybe I will be 16 again. Never say never.

Some of the things I’ve listed I would still like to do (among many others), some I would never consider doing (among many others), and a few hadn’t even occurred to me until just now. I’ll let the reader figure out which is which.

Whew! I made it.

The holidays are over and 2016 has begun. I can relax.

I love the holidays. I love everything about them: the Christmas music, the decorations, the lights, the cookies, the shopping, the gift wrapping, the Christmas dinner, even the corny Christmas movies on TV–I love it all. I don’t even mind shoveling snow at Christmas. As part of the holiday ambience, snow works.

And, this year we had the perfect “Hallmark” Christmas, lightly snowing off and on all day, and a lacy, fat-flake snow just as we sat down to dinner. Bing Crosby couldn’t have dreamed anything better. 115But, (you knew there was a “but” coming), two months of Christmas is too much. Maybe it’s my age, but with each year going by faster than the year before, it feels like I’ve just packed up the decorations and wrapping paper when it’s time to get them out again. With the retail marketing, television holiday programming, municipal decorating, etc. beginning the day after Halloween, Christmas doesn’t come once a year anymore, but every ten months.

These days the need to cram as much fun and meaning and profit as possible into the holidays frequently leaves me emotionally breathless. Again, maybe it’s my age, but this two-month long feeding frenzy of merriment, poignancy, and advertising is exhausting.

Making matters (and, I suppose, my cynicism) worse, I live in a major ski resort town where the stores and streets wear their holiday lighting throughout the ski season (and some stores keep their holidays lights on year-round), so my holiday season lasts about five months. The lights and decorations that once made the world feel wondrous, even magical, are now just an ordinary part of downtown for about half the year.

The startling beauty of Christmas lights and displays suddenly lighting up dark December nights for two or three weeks, illuminating a path to the new year, is a thing of the past. Today, the abundance and variety of modern holiday lighting competing for our attention creates visual clutter instead of magic. Sometimes, I like to imagine what downtown would look like with just the one massive tree in the center of town lit up, an evergreen or holly wreath (maybe with a red bow) on every door, and a single candle in every window. Just imagining it feels peaceful.

But, in spite of the time crunch, the impossible traffic and parking, a sudden and painful dental issue (an abscessed tooth Christmas week) and my cynicism, I made it. I had a wonderful Christmas, thoroughly enjoying my family, especially my grandchildren. The shopping got done, the packages wrapped and unwrapped, I sang along with all my favorite Christmas tunes, and dined on a lovely prime rib Christmas dinner. Now the leftovers are gone, and the decorations and wrapping paper are put away, and I’m happily settled in a new year.

 

 

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Anything Painted

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On a fall road trip, I spent a couple traveling through Wyoming. In a little (as in very little) town call Centennial, these jack-o-lanterns were on the porch outside a delightful western restaurant (

On a fall road trip, I spent a couple days traveling through Wyoming. In a little (as in very little) town call Centennial, these jack-o-lanterns were on the porch outside a delightful western restaurant (“The Post Restaurant & Saloon”) where I had dinner the night I arrived and breakfast the next morning. (I stayed at The Old Corral Hotel and Steakhouse–charming, cozy, and very cowboy lodging. I’m looking forward to spending more time there!)

Share Your World – 2015, Week #32

Cee’s Question: Are you a collector of anything?

Books. Books, especially old books, have been my thing for as long as I can remember. There was a time when I couldn’t bear to part with any book I’d read, or bought–whether from a bookstore or a garage sale–with the intention of reading, someday. 

However, since books require bookcases, or at least some floor space, a few years ago I did start winnowing my collection, beginning with old college textbooks and paperback fiction. And no, I didn’t toss them in the trash or recycle them, since another thing I can’t bear is to see a book destroyed. Instead, I donated them to local thrift shops, used book stores, hospitals, etc.

I also set a few rules: no more bookcases, use the library for books I want to read but may not want to keep (mostly popular fiction), use the Kindle program on my laptop for reference books, and no more hardcover books. (This last one has been the hardest to keep because when a new book comes out that I’ve been anticipating, I hate waiting a year for the paperback version.)

My abiding weakness remains old books, and I blame my maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmother for this, as they each gave me a very old book when I was a child. My maternal grandmother gave me a collection of children’s poetry published in 1898 (I think–sudden senior moment), and my paternal great-grandmother gave me a collection of poetry and prose for the young, published in 1894. I still have both books. When I was in elementary school, my grandmother’s book was my favorite. The Village Blacksmith, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and The Wreck of the Hesperus remain some of my favorite poems, but it was the Robert Louis Stevenson poems that I loved best as a child–I read My Shadow so many times I memorized it, and to this day can still recite it.

As a teen, I preferred my great-grandmother’s book. The writings were darker, and definitely more adult, (it’s amazing what people once considered appropriate for young adults) and included some intense reading like bits of Greek mythology (Charon and the River Styx), Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, and Julius Caesar, and excerpts from works like Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Boccaccio’s The Decameron. However, my favorite thing about the book were the pages of quotes interspersed throughout, and arranged alphabetically according to the subject of the quote. So, beginning with A, that page had quotes about Anger, Ambition, Avarice, etc. A quote on Character from the C page remains one of my favorites: “You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” (James A. Froude)

And, now that I think about it, I do have one other collection: quotes. I’ve been collecting quotes since high school, first in spiral notebooks, dairies, and journals, and now in Word files where I can keep them by the hundreds, organized by subject and/or author, of course. I think I can blame–or credit–my great-grandmother for this, also.

Cee’s Question: What’s your biggest fear or phobia?

Having nothing to read? (Okay, just joking. But, I do dread long waits with nothing to read, no way to write, no camera, or no needlework to keep me entertained. I do like some television, but only when I have other choices; when it’s the only option for diversion, it makes me restless.)

I don’t think I have any real, clinical phobias, as in an irrational fear that results in panic attacks or extreme measures to avoid the cause of the fear.  Like most people, I have a rational, healthy fear of (meaning respect for) most dangerous animals, meaning anything with fangs and/or big teeth, and/or claws, that can move faster than I can. While I have no doubt that an encounter with a rat, snake, bear, mountain lion, alligator, shark, etc. would be terrifying, I’ve never avoided places or activities where they might be. I continue to live in bear, mountain lion, and moose country; I’ve camped and hiked in the forest and gone swimming in the ocean.

As a child I was afraid of being in the middle of large crowds, and of being suspended in the air (the Ferris wheel wasn’t my favorite ride, although I didn’t fear heights and loved being in an airplane). I’m still a little uncomfortable in big crowds, but completely overcame my fear of being suspended when I decided to learn to ski.

I guess my biggest fear now is feeling alone and helpless, like being lost and injured, or in an unexpectedly dangerous situation, like a car accident, or earthquake. And, I don’t even want to think about this anymore.

Cee’s Question: Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational books?

As can be guessed from my answer to the first question, I read everything, and have no particular preference. It might be easier to identify the books I generally don’t prefer: celebrity biographies and celebrity memoirs/autobiographies; formula romance, endless series, regardless of the genre (they remind me of soap operas), and auto repair manuals.

Cee’s Question: Complete this sentence: If I Must Be Reincarnated, In the Next Life I Want to Be . . .

A dancer and singer. Actually, I wanted to be a dancer and singer in this life, but it wasn’t meant to be this time around (no money for dance lessons when I was young and I can’t carry a tune), so I’m hoping for better luck next time.

Cee’s Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for car mechanics, and that the repair my car required was at least quick, if not cheap. (And, from the week before, I’m very grateful for my son, for once again coming to my rescue when my car broke down.) I’m also grateful for the afternoon at the pool with my grandsons. As for this week, what I was looking forward to most has already started–two days off, together. And, I’m looking forward to continued beautiful mornings, and having coffee on the deck, and breathtaking sunsets while I have a glass of wine . . . on the deck.

Want Work You Love? Show Up.

Some days we get lucky, and the words we need to hear–or read–just seem to appear. One of the blogs I follow re-blogged this, and there it was in my email this morning. (Thanks, Indira!) I’m saving these words for my kids and grand-kids, and as happy reminder to live deliberately, with purpose . . . and on purpose.

Truth and Cake

Purpose

Every now and then, I wake up feeling angsty. Jealousy pokes at me with its thorny little hands. It’s so rare these days but once upon a time it was the norm: that wash of fear and lack of graciousness. I used to stuff it away and ignore it. Nowadays, I celebrate it and lean right on in. I get nice and close so that I can hear what it’s whispering. Wanna know what it tells me?

It says, “This isn’t about anyone else. It’s all you, baby. In this tiny moment, you have forgotten your purpose.”

It’s my uncomfortable, handsy alert system. It’s there to remind me who I am and why I’m here. It urges me to show up.

“Purpose” used to sound like such a grand term to me–intangible and fluffy. I tried to reroute it. I took the practical approach. “If I can figure out…

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