Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Days of Thanks

It occurred to me that it's not just Thanksgiving that I love... I love November. I love October, because then it's almost November. And I love December, because I've been so happy and hopeful since October.

And now that I've settled all of that, I am declaring that these are Days of Thanks. I want to make observations of beauty and blessings, and opportunities to do good, and celebrate, and purposefully act on my best intentions... everything with gratitude in mind. I could state, for the record, that my life is not without headaches (migraines, actually), chores, frustrations, grief, and hangnails, but I am in a mood to be effusive and optimistic, to declare what I am For, what I love, the ideas I support, the plans I dream of. I admire people that are "fans" of something, that can declare their love or affection or crush, because it's so pure and unapologetic, so daring to be for something, not cynical and mocking. Optimists and fans are brave... I am in awe of their open nature, their willingness to share their truths.

Today I woke up thinking about Alicia Paulson's Inspiration for her Advent Calendar. It's a post of her pure delight, in love with beauty, and an unabashed tribute to favorite things, which Alicia always conveys in her photography, creations, and reflections. Even though I worry that I am too gushing and effusive, I went back to her post and left a comment. Why not? How she sees the world, and the light in which she shares what inspires her, always leaves me feeling a bit awestruck, refreshed, admiring, happy... and that's worth a great deal, I'm for it!

Trick or Treat! Our Halloween was somewhat unconventional, and really quite fun. We coordinated a visit with Max, at school. His last class of the day was over at 6, and he lead us to the place where he regularly gets his dinner. So, six of us went through the cafeteria, all on Max's dining card, then we walked around, visited the arcade. It was a small sampling of campus life! Very small... no homework, no 7 roommates, no abstract algebra!

We got home in time for Maria to enjoy a very small outing to trick-or-treat... 2 stops did the trick, thanks to Janice and Anne. Maria got a huge haul of peanut butter cups, and then at school she did some swapping, and at last, she got an Almond Joy!

I love words.

Eunice. I love her. My Mom and I share text messages, support, little kindnesses and remembrances, and I managed to express an idea about time, how much has passed, yet how it feels like her passing is so recent. Maybe it's because she was such a blessing, so timeless in her life, and influence, and we are ever mindful of her love and of loving her. It is a paradox... a year is too long to be without her, yet it as though no time has passed, and she is still near. Something like that. She is a vivid memory, and was so lively... Yeah, no. I cannot make sense of it.

The watercoloring class field trip happened. The Zoo. It's nearly impossible to not enjoy the Zoo, so even though I was intimidated by "quick-sketching," in public, it was a good day. Giraffes are weird. Flamingos are also weird. And Koalas, are just squinty-eyed fluff forms. And drawing quick impressions of moving, fluffy, strange, and majestical beasts is really hard. But I think mixed in with my discomfort is another feeling... accomplishment? Daring? Trying isn't easy, but it's more interesting than only observing, never stepping out. It's good to be for something, even if I do it poorly. And after the Zoo, Alex, Bambi, and I visited University Heights, and saw one of Alex's job sites, ate lunch, walked around. It was a good day.

November and skies. After about the 5th sky picture I posted to Instagram, I was reminded of last November. It seems there is something about the light and atmosphere in November, because last year I took all kinds of Look at this gorgeous sky photographs, and it's happening, again. Currently it's all about sunrises. I love sunrises in November.

Then Cairo wanders in and surveys the morning, before plopping down on my feet, or stomach. He times it, gets cozy and adorable, about five minutes before I should be getting out of bed.

Ok. Now for some serious effusive gushing! It only took me 25 years, but I "discovered" an independent bookstore: Mysterious Galaxy. The mystery is how did we not know about this place sooner? It's in our old neighborhood. (Ok, granted, we've got a lot of "old neighborhoods" in our housing history, but still!)

The thing with "discoveries" is they usually happen thanks to good tips, and a bit of luck. My good tip and luck came from Susie Ghahremani. After meeting Susie at Maker Faire I learned she was going to have a book signing, but on a date I couldn't make, so I asked about future events and she shared that she would be signing her book, Balance the Birds, at a bookstore in Clairemont.

Clairemont. Our old Clairemont? Yeah! And it's a really great store, and the book signing was great, too. For one thing, Susie was on a panel with other writers and artists, and they were talking about illustrated children's books, and publishing, and that was very interesting. Maria and I love meeting artists, writers, makers, engineers, designers, bakers, farmers, thinkers. So, not only did we discover a really nice independent bookstore, we were introduced to some really nice authors and an artist. Maria found all the books of a favorite author, Megan Whalen Turner; seeing a favorite book, outside of your home, is like running into a dear friend. You just want to hug them! I could hug Susie for the way she signed my copy of her charming book... just look at that darling Chica and her wee chickie! Hmmm... yes. Yes, I did buy myself a children's illustrated book, for me. And I want another... Stack The Cats? Yes, please.

When I got home, I scooped Mako up and gave her a hug, for Susie.

Not Game of Thrones, but adventurous and compelling enough for reading aloud. Since forever, Maria's brothers have previewed material, books, games, movies, and then shared any they deem worthy, suitable. If there are questionable subjects they edit, or censor, or hit pause and give her some backstory, references, context. And she's sharing, too. High school... I have to remind myself that subject matters are getting pretty "mature." Hearing them read, knowing they are saving up episodes of a program, or have an article bookmarked for the next time they are together is part of everyday, and I cherish it.

This is perfect. It's just the oddest way of life kind of circling back on itself. In high school my very best friend, the one I knew since grade school, wore mismatched socks. Jill was a free-thinker, but I think in most respects she was relatively moderate and conventional. Except for her socks. And I don't know why, in the 80s, in the era of punk and rap, mismatched socks was out there! She didn't flaunt it. She didn't have piercings or pink hair, but those socks. I couldn't do it. I was odd, not typical, not popular, nor preppie, too poor to be stylish, and too resistant to be trendy, I wore second-hand out of need, then to be counter-culture, but I never had the moxie to deliberately mismatch my socks. Sometimes I'd see her one yellow ankle sock, one blue ankle sock in her pair of white tennis shoes, and I'd shake my head, smile, and think, Now, this is weird. Jill has forever made special impressions on me, that's something I love about her. And somehow, this darling Jillism has returned to my life: Maria wears mismatched socks. She doesn't flaunt it. She's not punk, nor trendy. She's just weird, I guess. I love it.

I don't suppose any of us has had an easy week. Thank goodness we've made some strides for good and the election is behind us. We will stay our course, stay informed, but I think a politics breather is in order... can we do that, for a moment? And this week has brought us to our first year without Eunice. Without Mister Washburn Foo, too, as it happens. But two of my favorite roses bloomed, and I have no good explanation for why that matters, or could help, but it does. I can look at them, and start to cry, but also feel as though there is some kind of heavenly intervention or gesture of love coming my way, and I hold on to that, give it meaning, find some solace.

Perhaps that's all we ever do to comfort and console ourselves... notice beauty, give it meaning, and take solace in the best moments, the gestures of love that come our way.