Wednesday’s Word-Edition 64

June 29, 2011 | My Jottings

“God is not impressed with religious duty; he is more interested in our spiritual gratitude. The Lord is always looking for the heart that is effusive in expressing thanks for his great mercies.  Even Romans 1:21 warns that God gave sinful man over to his own wickedness because ‘he neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.’ ”


“Purpose today to pour out your gratitude to God for every small and great mercy.”

Joni Eareckson Tada

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June 28, 1981

June 28, 2011 | My Jottings

Very early in the morning on June 28, 1981, I was preparing to marry a man I’d spent time with only once.

He was 32 and I was 23. We met because of his Aunt Yvonne, who was my dear friend at Beale Air Force Base in northern California, when I was married to the man who would eventually leave me and our two daughters.

A couple of years later, I got to know Michael through the mail and daily phone calls. After our three-month, long-distance courtship, we were married in a small ceremony at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, in Los Osos, California. My daughters and I moved from Southern California to start a life with him in northeastern Minnesota, and I’ve felt at home here ever since.

You can see a picture of Michael and me on our wedding day by clicking here.

Here’s what I thought I knew about Michael on June 28, 1981:

He was handsome.
Hardworking.
A devoted Christian who really had a thing for Jesus.
Had nice muscles.
Had kind eyes.
He did not hide that he was crazy about me.

Here’s what I know without a doubt about him on June 28, 2011:

He is still handsome, in his grizzled sort of way.
He still has nice muscles.
His eyes are even more kind, and reflect the true kindness of his heart.
He still has a thing for Jesus, and nothing has dampened that fire. Not the sudden death of loved ones, not unanswered prayer, not the cruelty of Parkinson’s disease. Yes, Michael still has a thing for Jesus, and it is the foundation of our whole life.
His hard work has blessed our family time and time again over the years.
His smile still makes me smile.
He loved this song when he was younger, and still does very disturbing things when he hears it today.
He cries easily.
He is extremely generous.
He’s humble and doesn’t ever boast about himself or want to draw attention to himself.
When he cuts his fingernails he holds his hands up and smiles at me, because we know it’s “Blade Time.” We sit down on the couch and he scratches my legs, back and arms with his “blades,” while I moan and become semi-conscious.  :)
He loves birds and dogs, and it seems all birds and dogs love him back.
He has never touched another woman in 30 years.
He will never touch another woman as long as we both shall live.
He loves and respects old people.
He thinks everything I cook is delicious, even though that couldn’t possibly be true.
He believes his daughters are the five most stellar women in the world.
He chooses to think the best about every person.
Whenever his wife feels like she’s losing her grip, he steadies her.
He doesn’t care for poetry.
He experienced and survived things in war that would have ruined other men.
He can’t dance.
He doesn’t ever tell people what to do.
He knows and loves flowers, and enjoys receiving bouquets.
He loves a Culver’s Butterburger at least once a month.
He’s always willing to do something goofy, and can poke fun at himself.
He loves India and Israel, and has been to neither place.
Whenever we learn of a need, he’s quick to take my hand so we can pray together.
He always forgives, and quickly.
He never forgets the blessed forgiveness of Jesus.
He still sings and points at me when we hear this song.
In his heart, he still likes to build things.
He does not hide that he’s still crazy about me after thirty years (I will never get over this one.)

When I wished him a happy anniversary this morning and teased that he was married to an old bag, he smiled and hugged me and said, “I love everything about this old bag.”

And we laughed together.

After thirty difficult, wondrous, faithful, boring, exhilarating, surprising, predictable, blessed, miraculous years….we still laugh together.

Happy Anniversary Michael!

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Julie’s Cappuccino Cooler

June 24, 2011 | My Jottings

I’ve had some requests for my “recipe” for the made-up concoction that calls to me in my bed each morning. “Juuuu-lie…..ooohhhh JUUUU-lieeeee….time to get up….I’m waiting for you!”

So every morning I sit up in bed at an hour that is too indecent to mention here, and put on my Acorn slippers. Then I put on my glasses and head downstairs, leaving Michael, Edith and Mildred still snoozing in the dark.

If you ever wanted to make yourself a Cappuccino Cooler, here are a few things you might want to do.

1. Choose your cup. This is important. I like drinking from a cup that actually feels right in my hand and is interesting to look at. If you happen to have a lot of cups to choose from, you might go through a process of elimination like I do sometimes.

 

I stand back a few seconds and scan the shelves in our kitchen that hold our blue and white cup and mug collection. If you don’t have shelves that hold your cups, you could just open the kitchen cabinet or the dishwasher door, stand back, and do a quick scan of what you have available.

On any given morning I might ask myself, “Should I choose this cup today?”

“The one that Lorna brought back for me from Mexico? Hmmmm….or should I choose this cup?”

“The cup one of my daughters gave me over twenty years ago?”

“Or maybe today I’ll have my Cappuccino Cooler in this one…”

“Then again maybe not. It’s delicate and lovely, but would only hold 1/4 cup of my concoction and I think I’d like a full cup this morning.”

You get the picture — I’m having a conversation with myself and it’s a good way to start the day. But not as good a way to start the day as having a conversation with Jesus. I really recommend talking to Him before you talk to yourself. Not kidding.

I might look at this little cup and consider it momentarily — it’s one my friend Lorna brought back to me from her trip to Israel:

But it doesn’t hold much liquid either — this pretty cup would be better for an espresso. Then I might look at this one — it’s certainly big enough:

But I usually don’t drink out of this large mug. Carolyn made it for me in her high school ceramics class and I’ve always cherished it. But it’s not dishwasher safe so has only been rinsed now and then. There’s a fine, oily layer of dust in the bottom of this one so it doesn’t make the cut.

What about this one? It’s a relatively new gift from my friend Carole who lives in the Chicago area. She came to visit recently and gave me this as a hostess gift. I love it.

Yes, this is the one I chose this morning and have liked drinking from lately.

If you really wanted to have the ultimate Cappuccino Cooler drinking experience, try matching your cup to a beautifully decorated room in your home, like this one. Or you could redecorate your whole kitchen to match your favorite cup…I think my cup would go well here, don’t you? I believe with all my heart that if I were drinking my morning Cappuccino Coolers in either of those rooms, I would be a better, more genteel sort of woman. Refined, optimistic, and serene — those would be the words you would use to describe me.

But look at that hand. Does that look like the hand of a refined and genteel woman? No. The red and crepey skin betrays me! The blue and bulging veins tell my tales! Now everyone knows I’ve been breaking my back picking cotton doing paperwork and folding laundry and mismanaging Schnauzers. Well, fiddle-dee-dee, I guess I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Now, back to cappuccino creating. This next step you might want to skip, because it takes a little time.

2. Frost your cup. After choosing your cup, put it on top of some ice cubes in your freezer. (But don’t sit it on top of the cool pack from Walgreen’s that your husband uses on his newly replaced shoulder.)

After putting your beautiful cup in the freezer, you can attend to a few morning chores, like I do. I make hot coffee for others in the house, set up medications for those who take them, make lunches, see if any new words have been played in Words With Friends on my iPad, dial up insulin for those who need it, get things ready for the different breakfasts everyone has…that kind of thing.

If you don’t have all this to do when you get up in the morning, then don’t put your cup in the freezer before you make your Cappuccino Cooler. But if you do, it will be frosty and delicious and will seem like something special.

3. Gather your ingredients. There are only four! This is an easy recipe.

If you don’t like hazelnut flavored creamer what the heck is the matter with you you can use any flavor you like. My niece Savannah prefers this so when she visited us at Thanksgiving time, I made her a Cappuccino Cooler with vanilla creamer instead.

4.  Begin with instant coffee. Next, spoon one teaspoon of instant coffee (Maxwell House is smoother tasting, Folger’s instant coffee has that bitter taste many coffee drinkers like) into your beautiful, carefully chosen cup:

5.  Add the chocolate. Put in a few squeezes of Hershey’s Chocolate syrup on top of the coffee granules:

6. Add the creamer. Then add a few splashes of hazelnut (or your favorite flavored) creamer. I would guesstimate that I pour in between 2-3 tablespoons into the coffee/chocolate mixture:

7. Stir. Now just stir this all together until you get a thick dark slurry.  My computer dictionary defines slurry in this way:

“A semi-liquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.”

Obviously this slurry is a step above that slurry. Here’s what ours looks like:

Just stir for several seconds until the instant coffee granules dissolve in the other ingredients.

8. Pour the milk. Pour it just to the top of the cup. I use 1% but if you wanted a dessert-like coffee drink you could use whole milk. Very rich and creamy….

9. Taste and adjust. Stir some more, and then take a taste-test:

If it’s not chocolatey enough for you, add another squeeze of Hershey’s syrup. If you want a stronger coffee flavor, add some more granules. Too strong? Add milk. Make it your own. Even though the recipe is called Julie’s Cappuccino Cooler, I’ll step aside and let you call it Belinda’s Cappuccino Cooler or Juan’s Cappuccino Cooler or Taneeka’s Cappuccino Cooler if you like. Whatever your name is, whatever you want to call this concoction, go right ahead and do it. I can share.

10.  Enjoy. Finally, stand in the middle of your kitchen in your Acorn slippers, lift the (hopefully frosty) cup to your lips, take a dainty sip and say, “Mmmmmm…”

Someday I hope to stop drinking my Cappuccino Coolers. They’re just too yummy. I think when a person reaches the age of 53, a gradual decrease in yumminess should be already occurring in their life.

Let me know if you try your own concoction…what flavor creamer did you use? Did you do everything I’ve instructed you to do? Did you chill your pretty cup? Did you stir well until a slurry was achieved? Did you stand and say “Mmmmm?” Did you drink it in the room in your house that matches your cup? I want to know.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful day!

For Sale: Our House

June 22, 2011 | My Jottings

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately. Like, “Should we really put our house up for sale?” and “Is there anyone out there who needs a six-bedroom house these days?” and “How in the world am I going to get 4500 square feet ready for a showing at the drop of a hat?” and “Where did I drop my hat?”

Other questions I’ve been asking are: “If we do sell our house, where will we move?” and “Why can’t I find any smaller houses that meet our criteria?” and “Who ate the miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups I hid in the door of the freezer behind the coffee beans?”

Lots and lots of questions are being asked. Sometimes I even ask myself questions out loud.

Questions like, “Should we leave American Siberia Minnesota altogether and move to a more temperate city like Asheville, North Carolina? Or Flagstaff, Arizona?” and “Should we have an open house when our home goes up for sale?” and “Where did I put that important contract that needs signing and returning in three days?”

Sometimes in the morning I ask myself questions like this: “Is it morning already?” and “Why do I feel like I’ve been beaten with a baseball bat during the night?”

So, yes, our house will go up for sale on July 11th, and this is your last chance to buy it before we sign a contract and realtors start showing people through.  :)

Do you or anyone you know need a large home in a quiet neighborhood, not far from the shores of Lake Superior? We have a unique and spacious home: six bedrooms, four baths, a formal living room, a den, laundry room on the main floor, huge eat-in kitchen (29 x 13), two fireplaces (one in the master bedroom), a dressing room off the master BR, a third floor guest suite, a bright office, basement, attached, heated double garage, a storage shed in the backyard, front porch with a swing, and a back deck overlooking a huge yard and private woods with a small creek. The house has almost new everything — new furnace, new carpet, new flooring, new air conditioning, new plaster and paint, and it’s amazingly economical to heat and cool for such a good-sized house. Click here and here and here and here to see a few photos.

Michael and I have found two houses we really like. They are ranch-style homes (a style I grew up in and never thought I’d live in again) with nice yards in quiet neighborhoods. One of the houses we keep driving by has a triple garage, which scores multiple man-points with the man who has a snowmobile, a four-wheeler, a riding lawn-mower, a fishing boat, and enough ladders and tools to subsidize a medium-sized construction company. This particular house has a lovely wooded back yard. The siding is a respectable shade of taupe. I look forward to seeing the inside to see if it’s something that would suit our needs. The only problem about this house is…it’s not for sale.

The other house we really like isn’t far from the first one, but it only has a double garage, which could be a drawback in Michael’s estimation, but I think I might be able to convince him to sell off some of his stuff someday. Not the boat or the four-wheeler or the snowmobile but maybe the riding lawn mower and some of the housebuilding paraphernalia. This other ranch-style house is set on a corner lot and is very private because the yard is full of tall trees. The siding is a lovely shade of green and the location is perfect. I very much anticipate seeing the inside of this house too. But we stumbled upon yet another snag: this house isn’t for sale either.

But why should that stop us? I have decided to write a short letter to the residents of each house and tell them how much we’ve admired their homes, and if they’ve ever thought about selling, perhaps now is the right time. Who knows? It can’t hurt to try.

In the meantime, it has been raining steady and hard for what seems like weeks now. Birdinal Creek in our back yard is up three feet. The wind has been ferocious and there are branches down in our yard, beach closings in our city (because even Lake Superior has swimming beaches), and power outages here and there. A fence post in our front yard has blown down too. I have grudgingly turned on the furnace for a little while each morning these past few days, but having to heat your house in June just seems wrong!

I don’t mind a gray, rainy day. Rainy days and Mondays don’t always get me down. Other things get me down, like Parkinson’s Disease in the man I love, and too much weight on aging knees, and a complete loss of culinary inspiration while still having to feed the multitudes. And the thought of moving is a bit of a downer. And the thought of not moving is a bit of a downer. So would you like to come over and have coffee and a chat since I’m such bright and cheery company?  :)

Today will be a day filled with Foster paperwork (and I publicly thank the Lord for nudging me toward the lost contract — I’m always so grateful that while He’s making sure the billions of galaxies are spinning correctly in space, He doesn’t mind if His inept daughter asks Him to locate some papers in the office), errands, laundry folding, and perhaps a game or two of Words With Friends. Yes, I have a new iPad 2 and I enjoy playing the Scrabble-like game with a few folks I know. I have yet to win one game, but I play for the thrill of it, not to win. I would rather make the word gestate for 9 points than the word ax on a triple word spot for 33. But maybe that’s just because I keep losing. :) Yesterday as I played with my friend Kay, I thought I saw a theme unfolding. What would you think of if these words were slowly being played out on your Scrabble board?

Boaters
Catty
Antsy
Ewe
Pig
Pug
Guinea
Meek
Tern
Son
Scatty
View
Spied
Diva

Kay thought of Noah and the ark!

Once upon a time, things on the earth were not going well. People were not living the way God had showed them to live, and there was so much violence and debauchery God decided to start over with one godly family. Noah was a meek man, and God spoke to him and told him that he and his family would soon be boaters. Noah did not have one son, but three. Soon they worked to load the huge ark with every kind of animal. Up the plank walked a ewe, a pig, a guinea hen, a catty feline and a tern. They were also allowed to bring their mates, because for many, many days and nights, there would be nothing much to do and they would all get antsy. With all those animals, it didn’t take long for the inside of the ark to become very scatty. Noah and his wife and their sons and families went up on the deck after the rain stopped to see if any land was visible yet. What a view they spied! Nothing but water everywhere, covering even the highest mountain peaks. It was at this time during the cruise that the pug started behaving badly and getting her flat nose out of joint. She developed a reputation on the ark as a doggy diva. After many months the water finally receded and everyone was able to get off the ark. How happy everyone was, until the violence and debauchery began again.

The End (thank God.)

I’m hoping that if our house sells, and if we find just the right smaller place for our needs, somehow beyond all hope and imagination, the back yard of our new home will look something like this:

If it doesn’t, I will manage.

That’s it for now. A friend just arrived to borrow some ladders from Michael’s extensive collection. If I’m lucky maybe he’ll take them home and forget to return them.

I’m hoping you all have a blessed week!

What a difference 77 days make

June 17, 2011 | My Jottings

Have you heard that old song called “What a Difference a Day Makes” sung by Dinah Washington? Yes? No? In case you don’t think you’ve heard it, click here and you’ll realize that you really have heard it before. Somewhere you’ve heard it. In an elevator or in possibly your grandmother’s kitchen. Here are some of the lyrics:

What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain

Remember now? I thought so.

Well, today’s post was almost titled “What a difference a day makes” but then it would have been lying. And I try not to lie to my readers. So when you see the photos below you’ll understand why I had no business calling this post “What a difference a day makes,” because the change from photo 1 to photo 2 happened in 77 days, not in one day. When you have your own blog you can write what you want (at least in this country, thank God), and I got a hankering to call this post “What a difference 77 days make.”

Now sing it with me a little bit, in a moody and smoky voice like Dinah’s: What a difference seventy-seven days make….two and a half little months…brought the sun and the flowers…where there used to be rain. Very nice!

Anyway, the day before yesterday we had a soft, steady rain, and in the morning we woke to a bit of fog that obscured the tops of the trees. Looking at the lushness of the garden at the base of our big maple tree, I remembered that not too long ago I took a couple of pictures of the same view as the winter was waning and snow was beginning to melt.

This photo was taken on March 31, 2011. You can barely make out the 8-shaped garden under the maple. (Click to enlarge if you like):

 

This photo of the same view was taken on the morning of June 16th, 2011:

 

What a difference 77 days make.

Now, aside from occasional mental meanderings into odd and unexpected places, I also like to think on how what can be observed in the physical world might be corresponding with what God is doing in the spiritual realm.

When I looked at these two photos the first thought that came to my mind was, “Lord, my life is the first photo! I’m so fruitless and dreary and dormant and blah!” And when I looked at the second photo I thought, “Lord, you can do anything. You can bring life and growth and fruitfulness again.” Then I thought, “Wait, maybe there has never been much life and growth and fruitfulness in the first place…” Then I thought, “No, that must be a lie. I will reject that and assume it’s a lie meant to discourage.” (Aren’t you glad you don’t live in the tennis court that is my mind?)

And even as I sit typing this, I look at the green, blooming lushness of our front garden and I ask the Lord, “Jesus, will you bring life and growth and fruitfulness to my life again? Even if it takes more than 77 days?”

I don’t know where many of you are in your lives right now. But if you’re anything like me, you might be feeling as though you’ve seen more vibrant, vigorous times. I understand. And I don’t think we’re the only ones. Take another look at the two photos above. Which one resembles your life the most? For those of us who might choose the first photo, I believe that God can do the same with a life that He can do with my yard.

Methodist minister Virgil Kraft said, “Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”

I used to have a drab and dirty yard. I now have a lush, full-blown spring in my yard.

I’m praying for a lush, full-blown spring in my heart. And in yours.

Lilacs Make Me Smile-ack

June 16, 2011 | My Jottings

Our lilacs are in full bloom now, and Sara cut some last night and brought them in so their scent can fill the house. I can’t actually smell their scent filling the house — I can smell them when I put my nose right into the blooms — but I think it’s quite a romantic thought to have the scent of lilacs filling your house, don’t you?

When I got up this morning and saw the lilacs in the bathroom, kitchen and living room, I smiled. Then I thought I’d write a poem about how lilacs profoundly affect my everyday life.

Up on the mantel, lilacs really add some style-ack
All over the house, lilacs really make me smile-ack
I wouldn’t mind, if the lilacs were in pile-acks
To smell that purple scent, I might even walk a mile-ack

And if you’re worried about the costa
Try decorating with a bit of hosta

Then you can sit on your couch and look at the lilacs and hosta for a little while-ack.

(Please! Hold your applause….)

Fresh cut lilacs and maple leaves, placed in a test tube that’s wired to a poor little green bird’s neck in our downstairs bathroom

 

Lilacs and white Bleeding Hearts (I guess they bled to death) on our kitchen window sill

 

Lilacs and two of three hosta leaves in little beakers on our mantel

 

Do you ever bring fresh flowers or greenery into your house? What kind? Where do you put them? What are your favorite living things to decorate with?

Sara obviously likes to decorate with flowers since she’s a florist, and I truly appreciate that.

I, on the other hand, usually decorate with living Schnauzers. Nicely placed, they can add dimension and personality to any room.

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 63

June 15, 2011 | My Jottings

“Rock bottom isn’t where you fail, it’s where God recreates you.”

Matthew Barnett

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June’s Winner

June 14, 2011 | My Jottings

My Australian friend Ganeida has won this month’s giveaway, a wonderful Radio Theatre production of The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family during World War II.

Michael and I have listened to this set twice now, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Ganeida, if you’ll e-mail me your mailing address, I’ll make sure your package is on the next boat to your island! Thank you also to Carey, Jessica and Sharon for your comments.  :)

Pointless Recall

June 9, 2011 | My Jottings

My friend Carey and I were chatting recently about the pummeling a menopausal woman’s memory takes. My other friend Sue calls these frustrating mid-life memory lapses “Senior Moments.”  I live by the written word now that I’m old approaching my autumn years…by God’s written Word, by the written words on my calendar, and by the words on my Day Planner. Because if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done.

My mother used to tell me I had a photographic memory, and I’m finding lately that her words are absolutely true: I can look at an old photo and recall things about the people, time and location that are a little freaky. But if you ask me if I made a deposit yesterday or when Michael’s next Physical Therapy appointment is, I may not be able to tell you unless I look at my notes.

As we move at a snail’s pace toward listing our house for sale, I’m going through things when I have extra time. I found this old class picture in a bin of photos. It’s from my sixth grade class at Workman Avenue Elementary School in Southern California. Miss Nancy Curry was our teacher and I just loved her. She was encouraging and strict and had a good sense of humor and pronounced the South American country VEN-zoo-AY-la instead of VEN-ez-WAY-la. Isn’t it fascinating the details that our memories bring back to us to savor?

Below is the photo (click to enlarge), and the names of my classmates and what I could remember about them:

Back row from left:

Mark Sartain (quiet and tall but could be goofy), Anthony LoPiccolo (tall and side kick of Kevin O, my first crush), Bill Butler (great athlete even in primary grades), Sheryl Reagan (taller than I, flustered, kind), Bernice Something (was there for one year – moved frequently, had a southern drawl), Moi (this was the only year I wasn’t the tallest girl in the class), Denise Bailes (never stood for the pledge of allegiance because she was a Jehovah’s Witness), David Uphill (smart and a bit nerdy).

Second row from top, from left:

Irwin Fast (Jewish, attended Hebrew school, asked lots of girls to go steady), Armando Galindo, (nice, made a diorama of a volcano with cotton for the puff of smoke) Barbara Benuska (reed-thin, had adult like cursive handwriting I coveted), Can’t Remember, Suzanne Dunnicliff (a friendly girl who lived one street over from me), Gary White (class clown with a unique and contagious quack-like laugh), Laurie Keene (gracious and poised for her age, swift runner), Elaine Rampley (outspoken, friendly and practical).

Third row from top, from left:

Robert Eskew (quiet, nice and had a slight lisp), Jimmy Lange (sanguine and often smiling), Leslie Cortellessa (had incredible handwriting and was one of the faster runners), Kristi Hathaway (was a good friend, we went to Sunday School together, bowled together, and she was an amazing swimmer), Lisa Something, Jeannie Wren (had a pool, was giggly and friendly), Scott Molina (wiry and small, he died in a car accident a few years later).

Front row, from left:

Doug Kerner (the shortest boy in the class, friendly and made people laugh), Glenn Mills (one of the bad boys), Carl Rowe (had a pool, was athletic and always smiling), Laura Kopaz (shy and very kind), Ricky Bowe (sophisticated for his age, the subject of many girls’ attentions), Peggy Donohue (shy and very sweet), Can’t Remember, Miss Nancy Curry (one of my favorite teachers at Workman Elementary).

I wonder where some of these people are now. Maybe Google will lead them here and they’ll be able to say hello.

It’s strange how the memory lets the current whereabouts of important documents and the dates of important anniversaries fall through the holes in the mind’s sieve, but never lets go of details like Barbara Benuska’s uniform handwriting, Gary White’s laugh, and the way Miss Curry said Venezuela.

Do you remember odd (and seemingly pointless) details too?

If you do, will you share a few here?

One person will be randomly chosen from those who leave comments, and will receive a brand new Radio Theatre production of The Hiding Place, a magnificently dramatized version of one of my favorite books. To hear a very short audio clip, click here.

Comments will be taken until Tuesday morning (June 14th) at 10:00 a.m., and the winner will be announced later that day! If you’ve won something here before, that’s okay…go ahead and try again!

Happy, quirky memories to you…

Okay, so my hair is orange.

June 4, 2011 | My Jottings

I have been a medium ash blonde most of my life. If you had asked me to define that term when I was young I couldn’t have done it. But now I can proudly say that I’m able to explain this to anyone who asks, even though no one does:  ash blondes have cooler blonde shades to their hair, often with a grayish cast to it, hence the word ash. Someone can be a very light ash blonde, like many Scandinavians are naturally. And someone can be a dark ash blonde, which is what my hair grew to be after I started having children in 1977. I have no idea how the uterus signals the hair follicles on the head to start producing darker hair once a child has been born, but it does, take my word for it. This covert utero/follicular communication has taken place in many women I know who’ve had children, and most don’t appreciate it. If we wanted our hair to get darker, we would dye it darker.

After a few years of having dark ash blonde (aka light brown) hair, two of the first friends I made when I moved to Minnesota, Kathy Harju and Connie Lippitt, talked me into having my hair frosted. In fact, they were willing to do it for me. Frosting consists of putting a plastic cap with tiny holes all over it, securely on your head, pulling tiny strands of hair through said holes with a toothpick-sized metal crochet hook, smearing hair bleach all over those pulled-through strands, and then washing it all out when the desired result is achieved. One of the benefits of frosting one’s hair is that only some of your hair becomes damaged and crispy, rather than all of it when one uses an at-home system from a bottle. I was surprisingly pleased with the result of having my hair first lightly frosted in 1983, and kept having it done every six months for years. It made my hair look closer to the shade it had been before my uterus started blabbing to my scalp.

But apparently in the new millennium, frosted hair became passé. Warmer, golden blonde hair became the trend, not the cooler, grayer, ash blonde. My three grown daughters would occasionally diplomatically drop hints about how it was time for me to come into the 21st century and stop frosting my hair, and that I should have my stylist put some warm tones in the highlights the next time I had it done, etc. They said that when my hair was frosted, it looked light blondish gray, not light grayish blonde.

I’m 53 years old and had grown a small streak of real, silvery gray in the front of my hair, and I kind of liked it. I didn’t like it enough to let my whole head look like that, but I didn’t mind a little silver at my temples when the months between visits to the salon went by.

Anyway, before I get to the tremendously tragic point of this post, I just want to say that I’m pretty sure most of you know what I’m talking about when I say ash blonde versus golden blonde, but just in case you’re one of my Taiwanese or Estonian readers (yes), here’s the difference between the two:

Ash blonde hair

Golden blonde hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yesterday I went for my three times a year visit to the salon. I told my lovely and experienced stylist Bobbie that my three daughters had reached a consensus, and they had agreed not to do an intervention on me if I would try some warmer highlights in my hair. That last sentence is only partly false. Evidently at one time my daughters actually talked amongst themselves about staging a hair intervention on me! Can you believe that? The mother who labored and birthed them in pain and travail with no pain medication whatsoever, the one who nursed each of them almost until they went to kindergarten, and now they’re conspiring against my frosted hair! These are nervy girls, I’ll tell you.

The strange thing is, I think Bobbie agreed with my daughters. She smiled and nodded and acted like she really approved, and proceeded to pile up strips of foil, brought out some bowls and brushes and began mixing colors. No more cap and crochet hook for me.

Two hours later I drove home with a very short cut (I’ll save the reason I keep opting for short hair for another post) and what I thought was now stylish, more in vogue, golden blonde hair.

Imagine my stupefaction when I turned on the downstairs bathroom light to peer in the mirror and found that my hair was now orange. Not orangey red like Anne Shirley of Prince Edward Island. But a light, bright-ish orange.

The first thing I thought of was this:

As I looked in the mirror I called out to Michael, “My hair is orange. It looks like the color of a fox.” He came in to look and I asked him, “Don’t you think my hair is the color of a fox?” Michael inspected carefully and then answered, “A little.”

I then texted this message to all three of my daughters at once:

“My hair is orange.”

Sara texted back, “Oh dear! I’m on my way home.” No doubt she was preparing how to best encourage me how to have it fixed, trying to think of the words to reassure me that it didn’t look that bad, etc.

Sharon texted back her sympathy and asked if I was certain it was orange. Yes, I said. It’s orange.

Like the skin of an apricot:

Like a tangerine. Like an Orange Julius. Like a chewable Vitamin C.

Like the color of a Creamsicle.

Sharon texted back that she was positive it wasn’t like that, that the solution to my problem was finding better lighting.

I was undeterred. I texted my children and told them their mother now had hair the color of a tiger:

(And the expression on my face wasn’t too far off from this either.)

So I took a photo of my hair with my cell phone and sent it on, and was assured by my daughters that there was nothing wrong with my hair color, the problem was with my eyes. Carolyn came over yesterday and said she didn’t think my hair was orange but that she did think I was a bit crazy. The girls think my hair is now “warm, bright, golden blonde,” but when I look in the mirror I still see orange. Pink and orange, as a matter of fact. Skin that’s porcine pink and hair that’s light orange. And they clash.

So today I clicked the button on the Photobooth application on my iMac so you could see my new tigerish look:

Tell me you don’t see the pink and the orange.

The good thing is that my hair grows quite fast, and I really am fine with waiting for it to grow out. I have too many other things going on in my life to actually worry about it.

Years ago when I was a younger wife and mother I started to grow a small horn out of the top of my head. You think I jest? I do not. After the “subcutaneous horn” started peeking through my hair I had it surgically removed, and during the following months about a third of my hair fell out and never made a return appearance. Someday I’ll do a post about the family jokes that were spoken over someone in the house sprouting a horn — I’ve often wondered if this phenomenon explained a lot of things, but I’ll share about that another day.  :)

Anyway, I’ve learned to flex, adjust, and be matter-of-fact about my hair. It used to be long and lustrous. Then it used to be ash blonde and shoulder length. Then it used to be frosted.

Now it’s very short. And is a foxtailish, apricoty, tigerish orange.

Grrrrrr,

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