Thursday, February 4, 2016

My daughter told me to do it...the real reason I blog

I started writing this blog for no other reason than my daughter said I should.  She is a wise and insightful woman whose advice I generally try and follow.  Unless she is advising me to "for heaven's sake stay in one place for more than 2 years", in which case I blithely ignore her. I had just opened my Etsy store, for which she designed the logo, the background and the business cards, and she said "You should write a blog". Hmmm, I thought. What would I blog about? "Duh, Mom, it should be about your jewelry", she said. The Duh was really just implied, not stated out loud, but I often hear it in my head when she answers questions from me. She said I (and by that she meant her amazingly talented and helpful hubby) could set it up, link it to my store and even have it hosted on said hubby's server.  I spared a moment to marvel at the fact that I have a son in law who has his own server, admitting that I don't really know what that means, then said OK, I'll write a blog.  It started out to be about jewelry but I realized that while I love making jewelry, there really isn't very much I have to say about it. Then it moved into crafting in general, but I still struggled with content that wasn't brain numbingly boring. Not to mention that there are some truly interesting and instructional blogs that describe the creative crafting process much better than I ever could.  I am more a 'throw things together and hope it turns out right' kind of gal, than a 'take a picture of each step then describe what you are doing' person. Although I have to admit I would definitely watch a video done by someone who does hit or miss crafts. Especially if there was alcohol involved, and why wouldn't there be? Sort of Drunk History meets Martha Stewart.

Then one day, it struck me. This was my blog, right?  So why couldn't I write about anything I wanted?  Why couldn't I write about drinking wine or eating chocolate or vacuuming my carpet? The answer was yes, I could. Of course, I was perfectly aware that my pool of readers was no doubt minuscule to begin with (if they existed at all), and that by writing an essay blog rather than a chatty crafty one I was skewing that minuscule bunch down to the microscopic realm.  But, hey, it's my blog, right?  And so it began.  Over the years I have written about whatever struck my fancy, whether that be my dog, my shoes, my friends, travels, relatives, surroundings, and yes, even about drinking wine and eating chocolate.  I have yet to write about vacuuming, but did write one about socks, so there's that.

You want to hear a secret? I love writing this blog. It's not great literature or terribly important or sometimes even very good.  But it's mine and I find I really like getting stuff down on paper (Ha!). Every time I finish an entry and click the publish button I am ridiculously proud that something I wrote appears online.  When I look at the stats and see that someone in Australia or Connecticut or Alaska read something I wrote, I am astonished and humbled and silly happy.

Truth be told, even if nobody but me ever reads another word I write, I would still write that word. And I would still be silly happy that I did.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Just say Thank You

By the time you reach adulthood, I would think that you would have acquired some basic pleasantries that can be, if not used everyday, at least trotted out for special occasions.  Things like "no, I wasn't watching that show, go ahead and change the channel" or "I love that color on you" or "that's ok, you can have the last bite of cheesecake". At a minimum you should know how to respond appropriately when someone gives you a gift.  If you love it, it's easy to say "Best Gift Ever!!!"  But even if you momentarily go blind opening that horrid puce sweater/socks/afghan set Aunt Ethel back in Baltimore knitted you, how difficult is it to say "Thank you for thinking of me. It was very thoughtful". It's called The Receiving of Gifts Etiquette, and frankly, some people suck at it.

I read a book this summer that I really, really enjoyed and immediately bought several copies to give as Christmas gifts to friends/family members who are always on the lookout for a good read.  Imagine my surprise, then, when one person (let's call her my boss) emailed me to say that judging from the cover the book doesn't appear to be anything she would like, and oh, by the way, if I ever send her a book again, would I send it to her electronically as she likes to read on her Kindle.

I realize that everyone's tastes are different and not everyone will appreciate what I have chosen for them. I am ok with that because the reverse is also true.  I have gotten things I have truly wondered what on earth the giver had in mind when he/she bought it, or how many times has this been re-gifted to end up with my name on it, or where am I going to stash this until Aunt Ethel visits. But for all the sometimes weird/ugly/unwanted gifts I have gotten, I can't imagine any response other than "Thank you, this is very thoughtful". Because I am an adult with adult words and adult sensitivities. For all my faults, and I am sure they are legion, I truly cannot conceive of telling someone I don't think I will like this gift, next time try to do better.  How about next time I don't give you a gift at all, how does that work for you? 

But of course I will because of the whole being an adult thing. Whether it be the candle my boss gave me this year that looks exactly like the one she gave me last year, or something I gave my mom 2 years ago that she had forgotten came from me and has now wrapped and given back to me (yes, she really does that), I will say "Thank you, this is very thoughtful".

Growing up is easy, sometimes being an adult is tough.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Embrace the silly

When I was growing up in Southern California, one of the highlights of the Christmas season was driving around looking at the Christmas lights.  Despite pleas by my brother and me for twinkling, chasing or blinking lights on our own house, my dad stood firm and hung just a discreet single line of colored lights around the roofline. No lawn display, no waving Santas, just that one single strand of lights.  So every year sometime in the week before Christmas we would pile into the station wagon and drive to what my brother and I called Rich Town (turns out it was just North Downey) to see what people with too much money and not enough sense (my mother's words) had done that year. My favorite was Chaney Lane, a magical place (to my young eyes) where neighbors combined to create multi-yard displays.  One year there was a Santa wearing an Hawaiian lei and sunglasses, one arm waving over his head, one hand on the tow line of the next door neighbor's ski boat. Another year Santa drove a sleigh with reindeer stretching over at least 3 yards, all decorated with artificial snow and huge dark green pine trees cheerfully adorned with lights and sparkly ornaments. I repeated the Christmas Light's Drive with my own children, oohing and aahing at the colorful displays that certain neighborhoods in Missoula, MT created. Although not nearly as elaborate as those remembered from my childhood, to my children the lights were just as magical as I had found them. But children grow up, don't they? A pre-Christmas Eve drive to see lights with your mom isn't nearly as much fun at 14 as it had been at 7, so I found myself making the drive less and less frequently until finally I stopped altogether.  I still loved the lights, but they were mostly seen accidentally while driving downtown, barely remarked on and sometimes completely ignored.

Last week, while driving home from my mom's house after dark, I turned a corner and was suddenly struck dumb by the most amazingly decorated lawn I have ever seen in person. No, I am not talking about the elaborate and insane light displays of recent years where your house flashes in time to blaring music and the pounding in your neighbor's heads, nor the meticulously planned and well executed displays of long ago Chaney Lane, but instead a crazy mishmash of lights, inflatable characters and lawn ornaments.  There were reindeer in groups and by themselves, snowmen of various sizes, meandering rows of illuminated candy canes, a gingerbread house, Santa's workshop, an inflatable nativity complete with life sized wisemen and a camel, and at least 4 Santas, one of them sitting with Mrs Claus in a porch swing. There was a huge green decorated tree, a dozen white flocked ones and a wagon loaded with presents. And the lights...Oh! the lights! They spelled out Joy and Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and Season's Greetings. They lit the paths and the bushes and the trees and dripped from the roofline. I sat in my car at the corner spellbound as I gazed at the wonderfulness before me. It was the silliest, most gloriously perfect holiday yard I have ever seen and I laughed out loud at the sheer joy of the moment.  I looked around at the surrounding houses I had already driven past and they, too, were decked out in lights and trees and Costco inflatables...and I had totally missed them!

So thank you, people I will never know in the neighborhood just north of my mom, for putting together such a tremendously joyous, incredibly vigorous and utterly delirious display of Good Cheer!  I salute you and the no doubt hours and hours it took to hang and arrange and maintain the displays. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me remember that at this time of year, and indeed throughout our lives, we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and embrace the silly.