Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I must begin by saying that I have never liked Halloween. It is my mother's least favorite holiday and I presume her distaste for it wore off on me. I don't even really remember any specific costumes I wore as a child. The only strong memory of Halloween I have is an embarrassing one. How embarrassing? Let me just say, Halloween Parade, elementary school, blue dress, busted zipper. It's too horrible to relive in complete sentences. I have never liked Halloween, but that changed this year.

This year I was virtually introduced to a blogger who goes by the name of NieNie and is the biggest fan of Halloween I have ever encountered, virtually or otherwise. NieNie finds the magic in every moment and I have begun to do so as well. Right now she is in the hospital recovering from burns over 83% of her body and patiently waiting for skin grafts to help her body heal. So, I decided to give Halloween a second chance and do some celebrating for her. This year I put pumpkins on each of the three steps leading up to my front porch, made and hung black and orange paper chains with ghosties hanging from the links on my front porch, put gourds along the porch railing, and hung tri-colored corncobs on my front door (Mr. B&B helped with that). For the first time since I have lived on my own, I will be welcoming trick-or-treaters onto my front porch and greeting them in my self-made Boston Celtics Cheerleader costume. Yes, Halloween, I am all in.

I am even wearing my self-made Boston Celtics Cheerleader costume to the Boston Celtics Game this evening. Yes, 27 years old and going out in public in sparkly tights, a mini-skirt, a body hugging Celtics shirt, make-up on my face, and all kinds of green ribbons in my super-high ponytail. Maybe not ridiculously original, but it's a step in the right direction.

NieNie, thanks for inspiring me and helping me find and make fun and magic in the every day.

You can read some of NieNie's Halloween posts here, here, here, and here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Miraculous NieNie

Another article on Nie and Christian's progress, love story, and how their incredible family is coping and hoping can be read here.

This quote from the doctor brought happy, hopeful, grateful tears to my eyes:

He looks at his patient, blinking and laughing, and is astonished, still.
Stephanie's strong, slender body has defied the complications that are expected with burns this severe: organ failure, infections. More than half the people who are burned as badly as Stephanie die, Foster says.
"I kept waiting and waiting for her to get sick," he says. "It never happened.
"I've been around long enough to know that something special is going on. I don't know what it is," Foster says, "but it's something."

Miraculous NieNie. Please keep sending prayers and positivity to Stephanie, Christian, their family, and their friends. It seems to be working <3 There is no arguing with miracles.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

People, Places, and Things

People, places, and things evoke feelings. This is my latest poem, untitled as of yet:

The closet is a mishmash of jeans & suits and t-shirts.
Bookshelves boast Faulkner & Salinger & Updike.
Improper Bostonian, Newsweek, & The New Yorker
stake out territory on the coffee table.
Many layered.
A little messy.

The bed is made.
Wet towels dampen the black & white comforter.
Wrinkled clothes lay discarded in a heap.
Drawers are sorted.
Able to prioritize.
A little hurried.

The kitchen sparkles.
The fridge is full, but not to overflowing,
with leftovers of the homemade variety.
The dishwasher whirs.
A lone bowl on the counter, slick with milk,
indicates cereal for breakfast.

In all these rooms,
shades of humanity.
Photographs & Paintings,
Books & Journals,
Documenting Life.

I could live and love amongst these remnants.

I have struggled a lot with the last line. Originally I wrote, "I could live amongst these remnants and love this life." I then changed it to, "I could live here and love." Eventually I settled on "I could live and love amongst these remnants." Most interesting to me is how rearranging the same words or restructuring the same thoughts can change the meaning of the entire poem. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Images and Inspiration

My poetry class discussed Claudia Rankin's work on Tuesday. She strategically places photographs on the page with her poetry. As an in class exercise we were asked to study a photograph of legs from the knee down standing around in a circle and write a poem based on the image. This is what I was able to create in the five or ten minutes we were allowed:

The Immovable Feet
What are they waiting for?
Loafers, pumps & sneakers gathered around

What are they afraid of?
The unknown?
What they might step in?
We are all sullied.

What about the possibilities?
Awaken to them.
Start slowly toward them.
Tip toes lead to leaps and bounds.
Be not only a witness, but a participant,
Immovable Feet!

Nie News

CJane has posted links to new news articles about Stephanie and Christian's progress and the Mindy Gledhill concert, the entire proceeds of which went directly to the Nielson's.

I have mentioned Threads of Love, an effort for the Nielson Family to which I donated. I am happy to report that more than enough fabric has been collected to complete quilts for the children and possibly Stephanie and Christian as well.

If you would like to contribute to the fundraising efforts and other efforts put forth on the Nielson's behalf, see the sidebar on CJane's blog and/or visit the Nie Recovery website.

Please continue to keep CJane, AliceKind, Lizzy Writes, Christian, Stephanie, the children, the Clark's, the Nielson's and all of their friends in your thoughts and prayers. So far, it seems to be working <3

Would you like flies with that?

We moved into our first-floor-of-a-1920's-two-family condo this past spring. By June, the top floor was purchased by a lovely couple who share similar values when it comes to community, house care, health, and the environment, among other things. By July, a composter moved into our backyard. The upstairs neighbors and I wasted no time in using the composter, but Mr.B&B has been slower to respond.

For months Mr.B&B has been reluctantly placing coffee grinds into the pre-composter container I placed on the window sill above the sink in the kitchen. Occasionally he inquires about its contents. "Hair? Dryer lint?" I patiently list off some of the items that are safe for composting and why. Last week things changed.

Last week was a big adjustment for me and Mr.B&B. In addition to class two nights a week, homework, housekeeping, and errands, I began my internship on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and my volunteer position at Perkins School for the Blind on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. This meant that the composting really piled up in our kitchen and Mr.B&B couldn't take it anymore. He asked to be introduced to the composter. I showed him how to line up the arrows to remove the cover. As the cover came off the flies emerged and Mr.B&B let out an "Ewwwwwwwwww!" I told him the flies are integral to composting and to please bear with me. After the cover was safely locked back onto the composter, I more fully explained the importance of the flying bugs, that the compost is their food and that they are needed to help break down the materials in the composter and turn them to nutrient rich soil. Innocently he asked, "Do the flies come with the composter kit?" I let out a giggle and told him that the flies are naturally drawn to the composter in their quest for food, but we can manage them by adding more leaves, mixing more thoroughly, etc. Now, when we sit down for a meal I let out a teasing, "Would you like flies with that?"

The flies got me thinking about bigger things:
All beings have the same basic needs (food, water, shelter).
With the desirable comes the not so desirable.
We should think about what we put out into the world because it attracts certain results (people, things, opportunities).
Balance is the key to a peaceful, fruitful life.

All these thoughts came rushing forth thanks to the innocent question, "Do the flies come with that?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WedNieNie'sDay - #3

This week I am grateful for:

1940's Furniture. With Grampy's passing this summer it came time for my father and his five siblings to clean out their parents' home. When asked to make up a list of items I might like to have it varied from animal shaped cups and cereal bowls with straws built in to the 1940's dining room set. I told my father I thought it important that he and his siblings have "first dibs" if you will and stressed that I was happy with my memories. I ended up with the dining room set. It is gorgeous in my 1920's house where it is bathed in the light of the stained glass window. The table is an oak "extension table" meaning that the extra leaf is stored under the table top. The legs of the chairs and the table are curved and the chairs have designed backs. The buffet has all kinds of drawers one of which is lined with velvet for silverware storage and it too has all kinds of curves and contours. The set also came with a corner cabinet which is with my parents for now because there is not one corner in our dining room that isn't a doorway or window. It makes me happy to look at the set and remember the past while dreaming of the future memories to be made sitting around it.

One view of the dining room (furniture is staging furniture, not ours)

Another view of the dining room (again, staging furniture, not ours)

Photography. My digital camera broke in January and I miss it terribly. It was under warranty and I sent it back, but have not received a check yet. This week I broke down and bought two throwaway 35mm cameras to photograph all the beauty of Autumn. What fun I had taking pictures of heart-shaped chrysanthemums, apple orchards, and the Topsfield Fair! How I wish I could share them with all of you... (sigh) I've really missed having photography as a creative outlet. Grateful for the reminder, for the act, and for the renewed motivation to bug the warranty people for a check so I can get back to doing something that brings me such joy.

Fall Fun. On Saturday afternoon my newly-arrived-home-from-Cali husband and I met our friends Tanya and Greg at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA for an afternoon of apple picking. We wandered the orchards admiring the cloud-free blue sky, breathing in the fresh air, and picking apples. We picked up cider and cider donuts and candy apples at the store. My favorite part of the orchard experience? Climbing the wooden ladders that looked like they were straight out of Anne of Green Gables. Remember when Anne brought the head of the school she was teaching at home for the summer and they picked apples? Just like that, but I wasn't wearing an apron over my dress.

On Monday Mr. B&B took me to the Topsfield Fair. We visited the animals, saw the fruit and vegetable exhibits and the flower exhibit, and walked around the carnival rides part of it. We ate sweet potato fries and drank fresh squeezed lemonade. Just glorious! It was nice to walk around holding hands and laughing and talking after so many days of him being away on business. Fairs are also always a great opportunity to get back in touch with the inner child. Yippee!

Patient Husband. Our Fall Fun was not without frustration. Frustration = Traffic. Going apple picking meant waiting in a one mile long line of traffic for one hour. Going to the fair meant waiting in a forty-five minute line of traffic once we got off the highway. Mr. B&B was driving, both times. He did not make a peep, not one complaint slipped from his lips. He just rolled down the windows, opened the sunroof, and talked baseball, basketball, politics, and recollected Fall memories of yore. Watching him and his chosen reactions is such a lesson for me and deepens my appreciation and love for him. Mr. B&B, as Carly Simon sings "Baby, baby, darlin', You're the Best" <3

Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon on YouTube

Long Weekend. This long weekend was especially sweet because it coincided with my husband returning from his business trip. Having three days to acclimate to each other and sleep in and be spontaneous was luxurious. Grateful for that quality time for that length of time anytime but especially upon Mr. B&B's return.

Ingenuity. Since I am a student and am only nannying a few times a month, it is important to me to help save money where we can. One of the things I do is try to find creative uses for items we already have around the house OR identify a want one or both of us has and see how I can meet and satisfy that want using things we already have. My latest want is Fall and Halloween decorations for the house and front porch. I have old spice jars, cloth, felt, thread and construction paper. I am thinking black and orange paper chains with paper ghosts and/or paper spiders and/or paper pumpkins hanging from them by thread, a cloth and felt leaf wreath for the door, and perhaps paper flowers in spice jars on the three steps leading up to our front porch. Ingenuity, what a gift!

Gift of Giving. My internship at Teen Voices begins next week and I can not wait to give my time and attention to the young women I'll be working with. I sent fabric to Threads of Love for the Nielson's. I also interviewed at Perkins School for the Blind yesterday and will begin working with them once my Cori form passes. Every day I am able to give my time and attention and thoughts and prayers to people I love. In giving whatever I have to give I feel I also get so much back. I feel better physically and mentally, my outlook is brighter, my satisfaction in using my gifts is so great... I just think that giving is one of the greatest gifts, it is free, and we all have something to give.

Friendly Neighbors. When we moved in to our condo this past spring, Mr. B&B and I were not sure who would end up living in the condo above us. We imagined all kinds of scenarios, but we always wished and hoped for good, friendly, reasonable people who, at the very least, we could work with to care for the house, and, at the very best, would become dear friends. Angela and Lyle are certainly a wish come true. At least once a month we meet for a movie and/or a "condo association meeting" and we always have fun. We even swap yummy baked goods frequently. When it comes to the house, we hear each other out, take every opinion into consideration and come to a decision or compromise together. If you are reading #10 Residents, so glad you are our neighbors and are quickly becoming our friends!

Mr. Rogers "Won't You Be My Neighbor" on YouTube

Prayers and positivity to Nie and Christian & family.

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite <3

Sunday, October 12, 2008

James Tate

James Tate is a poet we studied in my poetry class last week. As an exercise, we used Tate's The Wrong Way Home as inspiration for a five minute writing exercise.

The fruits of my five minute labor:

All morning a kite flew toward the sun.
It tried to forget the stillness waiting below,
the basements and backseats in which it was stuck
passing time 'til others brought it to life,
whooping & hollering, unraveling its lines
running and whooping & hollering 'til the
wind ran out of their sails,
the kite barely hovering above the land
it would inevitably be dragged across,
The kite was a frame of idealized images
that fade
with time,
a frame of reference
set free
to burn.

Amazing how much can be accomplished in five minutes. Let me know what you might accomplish in five minutes! So much possibility...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meme Express - Love Calls

Me - A Glimpse at my Inner Child

Whom do you love?
My Husband, Myself, our cat, our many friends and their children, Mom, Dad, Brother Timothy, Sisters Elizabeth and Sarah and their spouses, 2 nieces Lily and Marielle, 5 nephews Jake and Cary and Jackson and Noah and Aaron, my grandparents (all 6 of them), my too numerous to mention by name aunts and uncles and cousins, my in-laws, my parents' dog Crocket, my in-laws' cat Callie, all my "friends" in the blogger world who brighten every day, the family I babysit for.

My Husband Practicing Future Fathering Skills on our Friends' Baby

When did you last say so?
I am saying so now. I say so as often as possible, but I also believe it is important to show your love through your actions as well.

Read lyrics and see YouTube video of More Than Words by Extreme here.

Mom, Dad, Me, and Timothy

Is today the day to call someone you love? Every day is a day to call someone you love. I have really been missing my sister Sarah and her family though. Today is Sarah's day for a phone call or email.

Grampy and...


Grandma and Poppa

Grandpa and...


What is the best way to affirm the ones you love? Listen attentively to what they have to say. Give them your time and undivided attention whether through getting together, talking on the phone, sending a letter or email, or any other means.

In-Laws. Father, Husband, Sister, Mother, Brother.

How has someone best expressed heartfelt love to you? Not in one grand gesture, but in a zillion little ways all the time.

Friends. Tanya and Greg...

Tim, Irma, Brian, Nicole...

Erin and Andy.

Looking for writing prompts? Visit Meme Express.

Crocket the pampered plot hound from Texas when she first arrived and...

more recently. She writes her own column for My Backyard Newspaper here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

WedNieNie'sDay - #2

This week I am grateful for:

A Good Cry. I had one on Monday night. Crying so hard I was shaking. Crying so loud the cat hid under the bed. Crying so long I gave myself a headache. When it was over, the headache subsided and I felt so good. I am a woman of words, but sometimes a good cry can be even more expressive.

Billy Elliot. I watched this movie from beginning to end for the first time this week. It is about a boy who is taking boxing lessons at his father's request, but he really loves to dance. It is a story about family, staying true to yourself, listening to your heart, and following your dreams and seeing them to fruition no matter what. Positive and inspirational without being hokey. Also, wonderful to watch a movie about a boy's coming of age because they seem so few and far between.

Internship Training. I can not say enough about this. Training was 5-9 on Friday and 9-5 on Saturday. I met the women of Teen Voices Magazine, the other Editorial Mentors, and heard the stories of teen girls who have participated in the program. It was uplifting and educational and has me all fired up for the experience. I want to do all I can to live up to this enormous responsibility and to open myself up to whatever the experience brings. It was a long evening and Saturday of training, but I loved and am grateful for every minute.

Volunteer Opportunity. Over the summer I applied to volunteer at Perkins School for the Blind. Today I heard from them and next week I go in for an interview. The minimum commitment is two hours a week for six months. I hope to be offered the opportunity to give of myself and to use the gifts I have been given. At the very least, I am grateful for the opportunity to interview.

Kid-isms. I put on my "nanny hat" twice this week and the kids are just so insightful and honest and funny. The oldest will be five in November (Didn't you just love being five!?!?) and his awareness of things is really beginning to broaden which means one never knows what he is going to say. He is the ring bearer in a wedding this coming weekend and told me all about how he is going to carry the pillow with the rings on it down the aisle and then he is going to eat chicken and shake his bum all night long in his shiny dancing shoes. Cracks me up! The youngest is 17 months and her personality is really emerging. She giggles at everything and, because her vocabulary is still limited, her body does a lot of the talking. When she is impatient she screws up her face and stomps her feet. When she wants to be upside down or see something that is behind her she arches her back and hangs her head behind her. She knows how to say "all done", but sometimes she will just put her hand in front of her face or wave her hands in front of the object and shake her head no. So ingenious and so funny.

Frozen Berries. Three words: yummy, yummy, yummy. Some how berries manage to taste better frozen. Maybe it is because we have to slow down and bite carefully or suck on it for a long time and that heightens our sense of taste. Anyway, I can't get enough.

Chrysanthemums. Fall is here! Mums produce so many flowers and they come in so many colors. Luscious! Up close there are so many tiny petals making up each blossom. Miraculous! At my local farm they also come in hanging baskets. Opulent! Mr. BrainyandBeautiful (Mr.B&B) is on a business trip, but when he returns I think a trip to the farm for mums and other fall fun is in order.

Business Trips. I am always sad to see Mr.B&B head off to intriguing destinations all over the country, but I am grateful for these trips as well. I am grateful that his employer trusts him and values him highly enough to send him off to get more training and to represent them and to return to teach others what he has learned. I am all for him taking every opportunity he is afforded. He is so supportive of me and when I have to opportunity to give that support back I do.

Why else am I grateful for business trips? On the selfish side, I must admit, every once in awhile it is nice to clean as I wish and keep it that way, have full control of the t.v. remote, and put toasted bread with peanut butter and sliced apples on a plate and call it dinner.

This week Mr. B&B is somewhere in California. So, Californian readers, if you see a tall guy with startling green eyes wearing a Boston Celtics hat wandering your city, say hello and give him a hug from Mrs. B&B and let him know he is missed.

North End, Boston. I love all of Boston, but I find this part of the city particularly magical. On Saturday Mr. B&B and I treated ourselves to a stroll through this Italian neighborhood. There is always great people watching and Mr. B&B is always thrilled when the occasional Ferrari or Porsche passes by. Open air dining, amazing aromas, gardens on terraces, musicians walking the streets playing accordions, watching cobblers fix shoes through the windows, Italian groceries, are just some of what contributes to the magic. My favorite restaurant is La Famiglia Giorgios. Saturday we ate at Bella Vista on Hanover Street which came in a close second. It was a wonderful break in our very busy schedules during which we enjoyed great conversation and uninterrupted hand holding in an always magical place.

As far as NieNie and Christian, CJane reports that they continue to improve. Slow and steady wins the race. Please continue to think of and pray for them.

Prayers and positivity to Nie and Christian & family.

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite <3

Argyle tights across a crowded bus

She is obvious on the busy bus
All red hair on green dress
All argyle tights and ballet flats with bows on the toes
She crosses her legs at the ankle
Plugs into her iPod
Lolls her head back against the window
Closes her eyes
Effectively shutting out the world

She is striking in her simplicity
Strategically placed bobby pins
Hold pin straight hair
Off her face
Exposing a clear complexion
Contrary to her freckled hands

She has forgotten to zip the satchel on her lap
Brown leather on tan linen
Lays open its bruised purple lining
Threatening to explode
all the secrets
stored inside

She hears the announcement
“Kimble Road”
uttered by the impersonal electronic lady
and rises up
Her green dress falling to her knees
Her red hair filling the hood
lying lazily against her back

In profile
She is fragile
Soft of face
Slight of frame
Slim freckled fingers worrying silver necklace
As she slips safely through the crowd
Sliding out the doors
Into wide open spaces

Friday, October 3, 2008

Answering the Call

My doorbell rang this morning and I almost didn't answer it. I was plotting points on a nautical map for math class. The cat was rubbing against my arms looking for attention and food. The washing machine was playing it's song to let me know it was time to hang out the clothes. Plus, I was wearing my short workout shorts and tank top and my hair was piled on top of my head and I hadn't showered and I probably had dragon breath. Oh, and periodically, at least 3 days a week, my doorbell rings, I rush to the door, and no one is there. Against all odds, I put down my pencil, returned the cat to the floor for the umpteenth time, and answered the call of the doorbell.

To my great surprise, someone was actually there, two someones to be precise. Diane, a lovely, stout, well-dressed woman and her companion, a tall, trim, man in a tan linen suit holding a clipboard who I believe goes by John. I knew instantly that they were Jehovah's Witnesses. My first Jehovah's witnesses at my own house and me in my short shorts wielding dragon breath! Maybe I should have answered the call of the washing machine instead of the doorbell.

My mom taught with and was friends with a woman once, Gloria, who was a Jehovah's Witness. Diane instantly reminded me of Gloria. I knew I would hear Diane out. After quick introductions, Diane said a little bit about how, with the impending elections and all, people seem to think that the government can solve all our problems and she asked if I thought so. I told her that I think that if people work together and each of us does our part we can solve problems. She looked at me quizzically for a few moments while John stood behind her appraising me and making notes on his clipboard. Their reactions gave me the sense that my answer was unique and unexpected and "off script". Diane handed me two publications and told me she believes that I might find some answers in them. She asked if I have a bible and if I read it. I replied in the positive which brought a smile to her face. I had pleased her. Then she told me she hoped I would read the publications she provided and reference my bible so that next time she stops by we can have a chat about them. I told her thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day.

I closed and locked the door before turning around to find the cat peering out of the hall closet as if to be sure the coast was clear before pitterpattering out to continue rubbing against me. The cat and Diane are all the same, posturing for my attention to enable themselves to work their powers of persuasion on me. Part of me admires that strength in belief and the courage to speak ones truth unapologetically and unrelentingly especially knowing that those you speak to often listen reluctantly. I walked to the kitchen and cracked open a can of Tuna for the cat while she sat regally by flicking her tail and preening as I prepared the reward for all her posturing.

As I returned to plotting points on the nautical map, my thoughts turned to Diane. Had I rewarded her in our exchange? Though I had listened to her kindly and politely and accepted the materials she offered, I did so knowing that I have no intention of becoming a Jehovah's Witness. Though the frequency with which I attend church has fluctuated greatly over the years, though I don't necessarily agree with every stance my church takes, I am confirmed in my faith and do my best to live my life in keeping with it's teachings. From my limited understanding of the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, in listening to Diane and accepting what she offered I was rewarding her in that she was able to spread the word of Jehovah which is what Jehovah's Witnesses feel they have been called to do. So, by speaking with me she was able to strengthen her relationship with Jehovah and that was her reward.

What was my reward in answering the call of the doorbell? A reminder that I do believe in my faith and can not ever imagine turning my back on it. A reminder that God is always there, I just need to answer his call. Hmmm, maybe he is the one ringing my doorbell at least three times a week when I answer it and find no one is there... Oh, and a reminder that even if I don't plan on leaving the house I should shower and brush my teeth before 11:00 in the morning because though one can plot out points on the map for their day one never knows what surprises may arise as they set out on their course.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WedNieNie'sDay - #1

When I was writing a Grateful post in the spirit of Nie every night it was easy to make a quick list. Now that my NieNie post comes once a week, the list would be far too long. So, the format needs to change. I am giving it a try this week (bolding the general followed by enumerations), but if you have any ideas as to how I might best format my WedNieNie'sDay posts, please make a comment and I'll take your ideas into consideration.

This week I am Grateful for:

Being Busy.
This week has been a whirlwind of classes, homework, housework, nannying, and visiting with friends and family. Some view being busy as a burden, just an endless parade of places to be and things to do so one can cross those items off the "To Do" List. In one word, drudgery, I guess. I am learning to view being busy as something to be grateful for. In the past I have become crazed when busy because I was saying yes to just about everything and everyone, somehow finding a way to fit everyone in, meet the needs of everyone. Recently I have realized that in meeting the needs of others I was neglecting myself and that by taking on so much I was not able to fully enjoy, or give my all, to any of the activities or people I was spending time with. My "New Busy" is a good busy because it is more balanced and everything I am doing and everyone I am spending time with brings me joy and contributes to my personal growth, makes me a better person so that I can go out and further spread that joy and have more of myself to give.

Classes. Going to class is like an instant recharge for me. No matter how my day has gone or what is on my mind, when I get to class my energy is high and my brain is fully engaged. I get excited and I voice my ideas and talk with my hands (I am Italian) and I am continually pleasantly surprised by my capacity to learn and to expand. I am also fascinated by my professors and classmates and what they have to say. So, to be in a space where I can learn and grow with and thanks to fascinating people is a gift.

Homework. If my high school self could hear me now she would think I was a freak. "Grateful for homework?" I can almost hear her say as she wrinkles her nose in disbelief. Yes, high school self, I am grateful for homework. I love looking up math terms and realizing how much a part of EVERYTHING math really is. I love reading packets of poetry and then, of my own accord, looking up the poet's biographical information just because. I love staring at a blank page, emptying my mind, and watching my hand move rapidly across the paper as the words flow and a poem is born. Yes, high school self, I really am grateful for homework.

Housework. "HOUSEWORK?" I can hear the collective blogger world exclaim. Well, yes. Why? Well, because in a time of economic uncertainty I have a house to care for. As foreclosures abound and banks collapse and the governmental bodies struggle to agree on a solution, I have a house to care for.

Visiting Pre-School
. There has been a change in my nannying schedule which means I will be taking one of my charges to and picking him up from pre-school starting this coming Monday. So, this past Friday I got to go visit pre-school to meet the teachers and learn the dropoff-pickup routine. Visiting pre-school brought back such wonderful memories of my days with Ms. Lois and ... I want to say Ms. Jan(?).

A Girls Night.
On Friday I went out for dinner and a movie with my friends Tanya and Nicole. It was nice to slow down, have intelligent conversation mixed with a little teasing and goofing around, see a movie that the men in our lives would never agree to go see, and then go home to find the man I love waiting to greet me affectionately.

Grammy's 87th Birthday Party. Grammy has Alzheimer's disease, but she is still alive and aware and sometimes willing and able to speak. We have a very large family and everyone wanted a chance to sit with and talk to Grammy. I spent my few minutes holding her hand, telling her how beautiful she looked, letting her know how happy I was to be celebrating her on her birthday, and kissing her cheek which is still so soft and smooth. My father, her son, was sitting on her other side and she gazed lovingly at him the whole time we were sitting with her. I talked to her anyway believing that though she was not looking at me the words were sinking in somehow. I'm grateful for the moments I was able to share with her and hope that I will be blessed with a long life like her and surrounded by family no matter the state of my health as I age.

Sangria at the Sports Bar.
I am a teetotaler when it comes to alcohol, but every once in awhile, once or twice a year, I have been known to allow myself one glass of Sangria. Sangria is citrus'y', fruit juice'y', and refreshing. I first had it at a Girl's Night my friend Jennie hosted. We squeezed the lemons and limes, sliced the fruit, poured in the wine and chilled it. She has since moved away and, sadly, we have lost touch, but when I sip Sangria once or twice a year I think of her. The sports bar my husband and his buddies go to is owned by a Portuguese man named Tony. I found this out on Sunday while we were sitting around the bar watching football. Portuguese Tony makes a mean Sangria. So good that maybe I will make it a point to visit again a year from now.

Catalogs arriving in the mail.
When my husband and I bought our condo (bottom floor of a two-family turned condo) this past spring the catalogs came rolling in. I have spent the past few months calling the numbers on the backs of the catalogs to take us off the mailing lists. The environmentalist in me is soothed by the knowledge that she is doing her small part to save trees. I have a confession to make Environmentalist-Part-of-Me, the Dreamer-who-loves-the-little-things-in-life part of me can't seem to cancel the Anthropologie catalog or the Crate and Barrel catalog. The pictures are so pretty and the things in the pictures are so pretty and it is so nice to get mail that does not remind me that I am an adult with responsibilities and bills to pay. I love sitting down with my two catalogs and cutting out my favorite things, the things that make me most happy, that inspire me so I can put them in my Things That Make Me Happy binder or tack them to my inspiration board. Simple Pleasures.

CJane, Lizzy Writes, and AliceKind.
NieNie's sister and Christian's sisters' blogs never fail to inspire me. Their courage, strength, faith, love, sense of family, and way they live their lives in general never fail to amaze me. Thank you, Ladies, for the example you set and for being so open with the blogging community about such personal events going on in your life and your feelings surrounding those events. I, a complete stranger, am more grateful to you than you will ever know.

Threads of Love. Candice found me through CJane and commented on my blog to let me know about this project she is doing for NieNie, Christian, and their children. A beautiful act of love. I am heading to my favorite fabric store when I go into Boston on Friday and sending a package to Candice over the weekend. Candice, thank you for further confirmation that there is so much good in people.

Fall. Foliage, cool air, warm sun, enormous moon, pumpkins, gourds, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, hayrides, apple picking, cozy sweaters, knee-high boots, scarves, apple cider are all part of Fall in New England. When seasons change I feel closer to, more in tune with the earth, more aware of and grateful for its bounty.

I could go on and on. I have so much to be grateful for.

Prayers and positivity to Nie and Christian & family.

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite <3