Haiku

October is mine

November is hers and for

one month we are twins.

Advertisements

Little Things

Sometimes, the old sayings seem new again.  The one I am thinking of now is “it’s the little things that count”.  This little saying never really meant much to me, but a thing happened today that caused me to give it a bit of thought.  Which means, of course, that you also can give it a thought.

Little things.  Things like finding a whisker that my cat shed (I collect them and have done since Sister Dear mentioned that she kept her cat’s whiskers and I loved the idea).  They can be found in places you might expect–the spot where she likes to nap, for instance–but occasionally, I come across one in a spot where I would not have thought she would have been.  That’s a little thing that counts.

It’s not just the good little things that count, though.  The bad little things also count, because they provide a wake-up or provoke a re-think.  You hear someone berating a small child, or see a dog being mishandled, and it makes you re-interpret the person and relationships and noticing the weak and the strong in people.  Those are little things that count.

It’s been a harsh winter for me, long periods of snow and cold that are not quite the norm around here, then rain, a bit of sun to bring an optimistic state of mind, but that doesn’t last. Today though, a little thing happened.  I was walking up my driveway and I saw crocus buds in the small garden.  That counts.  As does the smile that sprang to life when I saw them.

Let the little things count.

Happy?

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a book to read about happiness from the perspective of various dead (mostly) white (mostly) philosophers.  I finally have begun to give it a read–maybe a couple of pages at a time, but it is not a terrifically long book so I may finish it sometime.  One good result of this is that I think about being happy more than I have been doing over the last few years.  Today I had one of those inadvertent thoughts that come along occasionally and that thought led to the question of whether we just plain can decide to be happy.

I am actually not going to even attempt to answer that question–at least not until I have finished reading the book (if ever I do).  However, the inadvertent thought came about (I think) because of an encounter at my local this morning, so I am going to tell you about that encounter.

Walked in, was pleased (but wouldn’t say exceptionally happy) that there was no line and that my usual chair was available, and one of the people I say hello to was there.  All of that was quite nice, but the happy came next.  The barista was wearing a white collared shirt (more of this sartorial stuff, sorry) and had on a tie.  This was not a normal tie, if such exist.  It was an exceptional tie.  A rather large bow tie, it was.  But the really happy thing about the tie is that it was a striped bow tie, and it was a tie that just made my mouth turn up into a big smile (even though that makes all of the wrinkles show more than usual).  Without even thinking about it, I was happy.  But that wasn’t the end of the story.  I told him I really liked his tie.  He told me that his mother had given it to him a year or so ago, and that she had found it while on a vacation to Italy, wandering down a street filled with vendors.  He said she saw it and just had to buy it for him (now this is not a particularly young man about whom we are speaking–upper middle-aged married [I say because his hair is gray] with maybe grown kids).  I immediately had a mental picture of the sighting, the joy that she must have felt when she knew she had found the perfect gift for her son, and I can almost see his expression (and his kids’ expressions) when he saw what his mother was offering to him.  And, saw in the gift the person she knew him to be, and was apparently delighted by that sight, because he actually wears the tie even when his mother is not there to see.

So.  First, I was happied by the sight of the tie, and then I was happied by the intuition that this was one very happy family being represented by the barista, and finally, I was happied by the knowledge that I was happy at that moment and for a while after.

What do you do when get all that happied?  You come home and do your happy dance, sing your own secret happy song, and purr to the cat as you tiptoe through the tulips in your home.  I am not sure that I decided to be happy.  I know that I was happy, and that I am happy right now as I relate this story.  Picture me happy, and hopefully that picture will make you smile and be happy too.

The Week that Was

The really good thing is that the last week is now in the past.  Way too much going on, made more difficult because it just kept snowing and snowing and snowing (still is).  So as you know, my poor old car went to the hospital last Friday, and was ready to come home yesterday.  I had yet another dental appointment, so I decided to kill all kinds of birds with one stone (I really do hate that phrase, I should delete it, but oh well).  Take the bus to the dentist, then I’d be halfway to the car place, an easy bus ride further on.

All was well until I got to the dentist and reached for my wallet to pay my share of the bill.  No wallet.  Last seen when I pulled it out to get the change for the bus.  Oh my.  Dentist said OK, they would just send a statement.  But, no money no pick up car.  The good part was that the bank that lets me charge things on a card is right across the street from the dentist, so I tooled over there and got all that taken care of rather easily.  New card coming, no nasty activity, yada yada.  Nice bank.  Called the car doc and told him I would try again today (did–car is home, yay!).

Called the Transit Authority and told them what bus I had been on and where I caught it and all, and they said, call back tomorrow afternoon and we will check Lost and Found.  So I will do that, although I expect my poor old wallet was emptied of cash and tossed in a garbage can never to be seen.

Lovely internet!  Was able to cancel the other credit card and order up a new medical insurance card and also order a replacement driver license all online!  Super.  Now its just the muck work of replacing all of the other information and non-critical stuff that was in the wallet.

But here’s the thing:  what I miss most and what makes me cry about the whole stupid incident?  I had just registered a new Starbucks card that had a really cute kitty on it–I was lucky to have found it and it was the only one I have ever seen.  I had used it for less than a week.  And, of all things, that card is what keeps me awake at night and crying over my stupidity at having lost the wallet.  Probably because I don’t carry photos in the wallet, this irreplaceable card is what I miss.

Go figure.

 

UPDATE:  Just called Transit, and some wonderful wonderful person turned in my wallet!

Still Life: New Year morning at my local

It snowed overnight and is snowing again now, after a low fog.

There are three people at the “gamer” table (named because they talk a lot about creating online games).  Two are fairly old, one reading the newspaper and the other fiddling with her phone.  The younger, who has a marvelous smile, is engrossed in his laptop.

A silver-haired woman sits alone, smiling at her i-Pad.

The Marine veteran (according to his hat) and his wife are reading at a table for four. He is perusing the newspaper.  She sits across the table from him with her feet on the opposite chair, shoes off, reading a novel.

A family (father and three daughters), dressed for church, sit in the comfy chairs by the window.  They are talking, mentioning that they went to the 8:30 am service but found it had been canceled in favor of a 10 am start time.  They do not seem unhappy about that as they enjoy each other’s company while sipping hot drinks.

An older couple sit together, but each is working on their own phone, and they are not conversing together.

There are two old men, sitting separately, one at a table and the other in a comfy chair near the family of would-be church-goers.  The man’s table is covered with already-read newspaper and he sits with earphones on while working his laptop.  The comfy guy is wearing sweats and slippers and has settled in with a novel to read.

There are two baristas on the other side of a wall.  One is a young married man, and the other is a big man with lots of tattoos.  They work well together and seem happy to be there, serving folks as they come and go (mostly young men dressed in what appear to be pajamas and slippers).

 

Anytime

I always thought that “anytime” actually meant “any time”, but I learned today that I have been wrong.  My auto repair place has what are called “pit stops” that are similar (I think) to the pit stops in NASCAR races, where tires and fluids are replaced (quite quickly) so that the car can continue to go around in circles (ovals?).  These pit stops at my auto shop are free and they top off liquids such as oil and send you on your way.  I received a notice that pit stops are on again and an invitation to “come any time”.  So I did.

It turns out that any time is any time except the time that I arrived–mechanics’ lunch hour.  I was told that there was no one available who could perform the service because all mechanics are required to take lunch from 12 to 1.  I said “it says come any time”.  The reply, naturally, was, well, not really.  I left, and I do intend to go back tomorrow to get my fluids topped off.  This is because we are expecting really really bad weather and I opened the car lid yesterday and checked the oil and some oil is required.  I will arrive tomorrow at any time other than lunch time.  We shall see if there are other times that are not considered any time.  I hope not.

It did occur to me that there were actually a number of people at the dealership during the lunch hour, including the manager of the service department with whom I had my conversation.  I am somewhat shocked that, apparently, none of these people knew how to check the oil and add a bit if necessary.  I admit to having lost rather a lot of confidence in the place. However, pit stops are free and I am a sucker for getting something free.  My bad.

But, I do wish that any time actually meant any time.  I may have to revisit all my thinking about the nature of time.  Which now I think about it would be rather an enjoyable revisitation.

 

Graping

T’is the grape season, or at least I think it might be.  In any case.  When we moved into this house, there were grape vines out by the garage, and we saw no reason to take them out, so every year we have these concord grapes.  I was told they get nicely sweet after the first cold frosty night so I always waited until after the first chill to harvest my grapes.  We never really had very many, perhaps because I generally forgot to water the vines, or picked the grapes a bit too late or too early.  Who knew?

This year, I watered the heck out of the grapes, and for whatever other reason, this was my most bountiful harvest ever.  So, what to do?  Over the years I have tried making grape butter (not too bad), grape jam (actually turned out to be syrup), and other such.  But I had found a new grape jam recipe, so after harvesting all these wonderfully sweet grapes (even though no frost yet), I set to work.

First, you have to skin them.  That took about three hours standing up–enough for one day, I decided.  Next day, I got out my canning gadgets (I make a pretty good peach butter, if I do say so), and began.  Cook the pulp until the seeds let loose, then press through a sieve (or use my handy-dandy presser).  Meantime, cook the skins until tender. Good grief, two pans cooking at once–out of my league.  But OK.  Then put the skins in the pot with the pressed seedless pulp, add sugar, and cook until thickened, stirring “frequently”.  The test for done jam is freeze a spoon, then dip it in the pot and stick it in the freezer for three minutes, and if the jam does not run after that, it’s done.  So, OK. Off we go.  Cooking, stirring, testing.  One cookbook (the really old one) says it is best to cook fast rather than slow, but another newer recipe says cook for a couple of hours.  Hah, I like the fast cook thing, so that’s what I did, meaning the heat under the pot was fairly high.  Cook, stir, test.  Oh yeah, getting there!  Got the last test out of the freezer and it needed just a couple more minutes.  And the doorbell rang.

You know the result, don’t you?  Got rid of the young men with books, ran back to stir and smelled the burn.  No need to test, no need to stir.  Up until then, this was my very best jam ever.  So what to do?  Don’t stir, and hope the burn stays at the bottom.  OK, poured the upper portions into my boiled jars, sealed them, and boiled them again for the required minutes.  Everything popped beautifully.  I scraped the burnt jam out of the bottom of the pan, little tears of despair falling quietly into the pot.

Anyway.  I tried a taste test on some whipped cream biscuits I had made for the purpose (never had those?, oh are you missing something!).  Not so bad.  A very slight tinge of scorch, but considering the time I put into the project, eat-able.  So, look out–my freezer contains several jars of slightly scorched grape jam that I am willing to part with for the right price.

Moral of the story?  Never answer the doorbell while cooking your grape jam (or pudding, for that matter, although that is another story altogether).