How Do You Hug?

I’m still processing our trip to Southern California.  It was both a wedding celebration and a mini family reunion, including the colorful Croatian characters (she said fondly) who are our family-by-extension. 

There were hugs in abundance.

And I was always a bit off, don’t you know.  Out of sync. 

When I hug, I head straight for the shoulder.

But their first destination is the cheek, for the preliminary kiss just before the hug.

It made me think.

How many styles of hugs are there? (Caveat: I’m strictly talking about hugs between friends, not between lovers.)

•  The man hug – with the double triple pat on the back.

•  The handshake/hug which perhaps starts as a handshake and ends as a hug.

•  The bear hug.

•  The side hug.

•  The cheek kiss/hug.

•  The double cheek kiss/hug.  Vive la France!

•  The air kiss/hug.

•  The litle peck kiss/hug. 

Sooooo — how do you hug?

A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.
~ Bill Keane

Hugs are the universal medicine.

~ Author unknown

Funny story:  years ago, some friends were leaving on a trip and as Jan and I hugged each other, I–for some odd reason–got my wires crossed and kissed her.  On the eye.  Whatever sadness we had at parting evaporated into giggles.


Politics, Just This Once

I stumbled onto this quote last week from a man for whom I have little admiration.  I’m not making a specific application of the quote, but I couldn’t resist posting it.

“He knows nothing,
and he thinks he knows everything.
That points clearly to a political career.”

  ~  George Bernard Shaw

A Confession

I love to play with matches.

I love to:
    1.    light one match (preferably wooden “light anywhere”), and with that flame light a second match;    
    2.    blow the first one out (watch the smoke curlicue), light it with the second’s flame;
    3.   blow the second one out (fascinated by the smoke curlicue), light it with the first’s flame;
    4.   repeat 2. and 3. until the only place left to hold the match is the previously burned part.

The whole point about creating a lot a curlicue smoke is to cover, ahem, unpleasant odors. 

One day, years ago, our middle son casually announced at the dinner table that he discovered that Lysol is flammable.  On a visit to my sister’s house he was playing with matches, experimenting by extinguishing a match with Lysol.  To his surprise and delight, the flame flared.  He dropped the match in the toilet, filed the new fact about flammability in his head, and forgot it for a few months until it surfaced while we ate dinner.  My sister’s house never burned down. The mercy of the Lord never ceases…

After that revelation, we replaced all the matches in our bathrooms with air freshener.

Now that the same pyromaniac son has been gone from our home for five years, and we are looking for economy in every corner, the matches have re-appeared.  And I have re-discovered the simple (no longer) secret joy of playing with matches.   

The Narrative of Ephemera

Last weekend we had a last hurrah with our dear friends Jack and Lisa.  They moved to North Carolina last summer, but didn’t sell their house in the Northwest until recently.  They were back to pack; we went up to send them off. 

Lisa is a master of organization.  Normally, her refrigerator has charts, lists and menus on the sides which are beautiful in their order.  This trip I had to be content with reading all the notes to the movers and watching her execute her moving plan. 

The last battle to conquer was the garage.  One section had empty boxes which had been reserved for potential use, but not needed after all.  We got to work breaking them down for the recycle center. 

Now boxes are boxes, right?  Empty containers to be re-used.

Ah, my friend; so many boxes held a story in the empty spaces. 

Lisa held up a box that had my brother Danny’s return address.  She remembered what was sent in the box, a gift for the girls (obviously my sister-in-law Valeri was behind that). 

The one that delighted me was a box which had contained a case of baby formula.  The box had my name on the top right hand corner, with a notation “No Charge” on the side.  Fourteen years ago, Safeway had a drawing for a case of baby formula.  I phoned Lisa and asked which brand she preferred for her two  newly adopted daughters.  I entered the drawing and won! 

A bucket of matches from various restaurants (do they still give those away?) took us back to our college days.

Isn’t it amazing how a bit of cardboard glued together can evoke such memories? 

Do you save boxes? 

I used to love shoe boxes, but they’ve flimsified.

Boot boxes make great mailing containers at Christmas.

I love boxes.

I really like Lang note card boxes – strong and pretty for small gifts.

Paper boxes are wonderful: uniform, nice lids, great containers.

What are your favorite boxes to save?

Another Wonderful Opportunity

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want for good stuff to listen to.  There are sermons online (does anyone else like to listen to sermons in their free time?), Librivox for free audio books in the public domain, conference CDs, audio books from the library… 

But!  I discovered a new source and I am delighting in it!  I just drove three hours to pick up my friend at the airport and realized at the last minute that I didn’t have an audio book available.  In with my bills to pay was a handbill for Library2Go (an Oregon system) from our library’s circulation desk.  Library2Go uses the services of OverDrive.   I include this link because you may be able to find your library within the system.  Click on Find Free Downloads button and search for your library by country or by state. 

Without leaving your home, you can download professionally read audio books for a ten-day checkout period.  If a book isn’t available at the moment, you can place a hold on that book, and receive an email when it is available. 

I downloaded The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope, burned it to CDs and have been happily caught up in the drama of Lily Dale and Johnny Eames while driving, deep-cleaning my bedroom, making meals, etc.

Pros:  Large selection of books and videos, professionally done.  I love Librivox, the free-ness of it, and have my favorite readers, KayRay being one; however, some readers are more difficult to listen to and detract from the text.  Convenient to browse and download.  No books to return to library.

Cons:  Not all titles on the site are immediately available.  Like books in the library, if someone else in your library system has checked it out, you must wait in line.  Sadly, OverDrive does not support iPod/Mac users.  Ten days is ample for small books, but a squeeze for longer books.  (Small House took 20 CDs, but I could have listened straight from my computer.)  The tracks are long tracks, divided by chapters, usually about 20 minutes. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity that is probably available to most of you.

~   ~   ~

I have a deep-cleaning question for you. 

What do you intend to do with obsolete media

I’m speaking, of course, of VHS videos and cassette tapes.   I (uh) am (er) thinking of (clearing throat) pitching, as in throwing away, all the boxes of tapes I have.  (gasp)  A shelf in our closet is occupied with boxes of cassettes: sermons, conferences, homeschooling.  Stuff we listened to once or twice, appreciated it, but doubt we will go back to again.  The medium does make a difference.  All the minimum, we will cull our collection.  Perhaps offer it tapes for free at a garage sale. 

What about you?  What will you do?

The Price of a Haircut

I have a confession to make.  I get expensive haircuts.  It kills me to admit it, Miss Frugality who refills water bottles, grinds her own wheat, wraps presents from wallpaper sample books, and washes generic Ziplock bags for reuse.  But there it is. 

For twelve years I paid eight dollars ($5 for husband and sons) for a good haircut from a stylist who loved our family and never raised her rates for us.  It was a sad day when she moved away.  When money was tight, I bought a razor and learned how to give the guys haircuts.  My husband was the first to escape that tyranny; one son still insists I cut his hair. 

I’ve done the beauty college ($ 9), the no-appointment, leave with a wet head, walk-in shops ($12), the blue-haired, weekly wash-and-set shop for grandmas ($16), and eventually went to a good stylist who waxed eyebrows for free with her $22 haircut.  Then I was given a gift certificate to the most expensive, la-di-dah shop in town.  It was The Best Cut I’ve ever had.  I went back, on my own volition, naively assuming it wouldn’t be too much more than the $22 range. Soo-prahse, soo-prahse!  $35.   Prices have increased, and I now pay $42 for a cut and style.  Never In My Days, would I have believed that I would pay that much for A Haircut. 

My only consolation is that the cut is good for five to six months.  And it is still the best cut I’ve ever had for my thick, curly mop.

I live in the country.  I know prices can be higher in the city. 

How much do you pay for your haircut? 

Small Talk

I’m tired of making calls.  I’ve run out of small talk and I’m overflowing with coffee and cakes.  My stop today was with an extravagant hypochondriac, who took me on a tour of her liver, her pancreas and her upper intestinal tract.  I was spared her bowels, thanks be to God, but we left her bladder reluctantly as time was running out, and we still had to cover her allergies.  At least I wasn’t forced to contribute to the conversation.

        ~ Elizabeth Shannon in Up In the Park,
            The Diary of the Wife of the American Ambassador to Ireland

Keep my mind free from the recital of enless details; give me wings to get to the point.  Seal my lips on my aches and pains.  They are increasing, and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.  I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

       ~ 17th Century Nun’s Prayer, unknown source

A Few of My Favorite Sounds

~ a crackling fire

~  the smooth series of shutter clicks on a good camera

~  the steady scratch of pencil on paper, evidence of a mind at work

~ wooden wind chimes

~ the small sounds of fine china at a table scene in a British movie

~  the expectant cacophony of an orchestra tuning

~  the plunk of wooden chess pieces on a wooden chess board

~  the pop of a canning jar full of peaches (salsa, applesauce, grape juice) sealing as it cools

~  the click of the master bedroom door shutting

~  a baby’s burp after ten minutes of back-patting

~ a baby’s first cry

I couldn’t sleep at some point last night and decided to make of list of my favorite everyday sounds (outside the realm of musical sounds). 

Here’s the difference gender makes.
My husband’s list:

~ water running in a creek or river

~ the fllllttt of an arrow zinging in the air

~  elks bugling

~ ducks quacking

~ a quiet wife (just kidding!)

What about you?  What are your favorite sounds?

Thy Bountiful Care

our front yard with the street at top

Our drive to church is through rugged country.  The road cinches around the side of a mountain like a too small belt on a too big man. The deep canyon falls off to the right.  Curt cranes his head, looking for elk, eagles, what have you; I am the self-appointed scanner of the road who tries through telepathy and jerking hand signals to keep the car between the dotted yellow line on the left and the solid white line on the right.  I need to carry a little notebook to mark down all the sights that grace our eyes. Perhaps, cough cough, if we started earlier , we could take some pictures.  From my memory of last week:

Elk up to their thighs in deep snow, foraging for food, 5 – 10
Bald eagles, perhaps 8
Hawks, too many to count, mostly red-tail
Wild turkeys, in small clutches and a large group of ~70
Wild geese by the hundreds in lower fields, pecking at the grain
Deer, too many to count
Cows, too many to count
Horses, dozens
Great blue heron, 2
Mallards swimming in the river
LBJs – my husband’s ornithology teacher’s designation for common birds: little brown jobs

the lower left corner is the road

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air; it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain;
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.