Edition 30 – Wednesday Whimsy

January 13, 2010 | My Jottings

Clutter is an obstacle. It impedes your ability to find things, use things, appreciate things and to leverage the space and materials you have to build a fruitful, rewarding life.

Peter Walsh

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Permanent rebellion

January 11, 2010 | My Jottings

A couple of months ago one of my little granddaughters got her hands on some scissors and cut her own hair. It was not a happy occasion. Her parents had decided to let her hair (and bangs) grow out, and it was getting past that awkward stage when the bangs were too long to be worn on the forehead but too short to do anything with. Her hair had started to grow long and was looking so pretty. Then one day she chopped away at it, and her mama had to try to salvage what she had done, and bangs had to be cut once again.

That brought back to me a hair memory from my youth. When I was growing up my mom had a thing about long, stringy hair. And bangs. She disliked both. If my hair grew to shoulder length and fell down in my face for an instant, she’d say “Get that hair out of your face.” My mom was a very loving person and she didn’t say it unkindly, but I grew up in the sixties, and long hair stood for something back then. And what it stood for wasn’t something my conservative parents wanted their youngest child to be associated with in any way, shape or form.

My mom also had a thing about permanents. She thought they were adorable, especially on little girls. I didn’t really agree with her, but when you’re five years old you’re still forming your own opinions and ways in which to express them, so I never said, “Mom, can we talk? I don’t really want you to give me a Toni Home Permanent Wave. I want to grow my hair long and have pigtails and braids, okay?” I probably should have taken that route. Instead of obedience and/or diplomacy, I whined and pouted, and then took matters into my own hands.

My first permanent was when I was five years old, in preparation for a big event — my kindergarten school picture. My mom’s good friend Mabel, who was also her hairdresser (we didn’t call people stylists back then), put a tight, smelly permanent in my shoulder-length hair, and my mom thought it looked pretty darn cute. I must have thought it looked pretty darn awful. We have no pictures of me with that first perm, because that very night when my mother went to work (she was a professional organist) and my oldest brother Larry was babysitting me, I quietly slunk to my room, took my little turquoise blunt-end scissors and hacked all those curls off.

The next morning when I appeared in the kitchen for my Cheerios and milk, my mother was stupefied by the sight of my mangy look and was understandably quite upset. I remember a lot of muttering on her part, a scolding from my father, a sharply wielded hair brush as Mom tried to make my hair look presentable, and my loud sniveling crying.

1962 - Kindergarten

Here’s the Kodak memorial to the rebellion against my first perm at age five.

I actually think my kindergarten hairstyle pretty much resembles the one I have now, except I don’t wear plastic barrettes anymore and I actually pay someone money to give me the moth-eaten look.

1962 was also the year I had my tonsils and adenoids out and began a years-long trend of what my parents called “talking through my nose.” Because of the complications of the surgery, I also had the added problem of liquids sometimes running out of my nose as I drank them. Yes, I was a child of many unique talents.

Anyway, back to the subject of hair. By the time I was in junior high school I put my inner foot firmly down about short hair and perms. I decided to let my hair grow fairly long and I kept it that way, or at least past my shoulders, until I was in my thirties.

When this kindergarten photo fell out of a memento folder I was going through last week, I sat down and studied it for a few minutes, and so many memories came flooding back.

Warm and golden Southern California days, a little red bicycle with training wheels, my teacher Mrs. Staton playing the piano and singing “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” playing “store” with neighborhood friends, brothers ten and fifteen years older than I, learning to swim at The Covina Plunge, our epileptic, rock-fetching dog named Dutchess, playing hopscotch almost every day, our behemoth Buick station wagon with California license plates JDT 043, my father coaching high school basketball and watching Perry Mason, my mother playing the Hammond B-3 organ and ironing shirts, my stoic grandparents Bud and Oma and our Sunday visits to their house.

Now I’m a grandparent myself and I have kindergarten photos of my own dear grandchildren in my office, bedroom and wallet. I show them to anyone who’s polite enough to act interested in seeing them. How do I say that time flies without sounding trite and clichéd? I don’t know, but I’ll try anyway. Time zooms, it rockets, and I’ve gone from being a vulnerable, trusting, slightly moth-eaten and headstrong five year-old to being a vulnerable, trusting, slightly moth-eaten and headstrong fifty-two year-old. In what seems like about seventeen days.

I guess I’m steeping myself in nostalgia lately. I sort of like the sound of that phrase – nostalgia steeping. This morning one of my friends asked me what I had planned today and I gave her the list. I should have answered her, “I’ll probably do a little paperwork, some housecleaning, some grocery shopping, and quite a bit of nostalgia steeping.”

2010 – The Year of the Love Letter

January 8, 2010 | My Jottings

Have you ever eaten at a little dive of a Chinese restaurant and seen those paper place-mats that tell you what animal’s year it is? I don’t know if you’d call it the Chinese horoscope or what, but 2010 is the year of the tiger. Somehow I don’t think 2010 is going to be the best year for a certain Tiger, but for Chinese people this is the year of the tiger, and you’ll have to ask a Chinese person exactly what that portends. The year I was born was the year of the rooster. The year my husband was born was the year of the ox. The Ox and the Rooster: A Portrait of a Marriage…hmmmm…I think I could write a story about that one.

Anyway, a few months ago I started getting these regular feelings, or nudges, or subtle promptings, or whatever one would call them, about writing letters to the wonderful people in my life. I’ve written lots of letters over my half a century, so this wouldn’t be something new, but the nudges, those inward-elbow-in-the-ribs sort of feelings I was getting, have been really strong. So I’m going to act on this.

For me, 2010 is going to be The Year of the Love Letter. I am going to write a love letter to every person in my life who is supposed to get a love letter from me. I don’t know yet who all the recipients will be, but of course there are some obvious people who are at the top of the list. I have a husband, I have some children, I have some grandchildren – I think they should go on the list, don’t you?

Other than the fact that I have an intense desire to write love letters to those I love, I don’t know what this is all about. Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind that perhaps the woman born in the year of the rooster feels impressed to make 2010 the year of the love letter because perhaps it will soon be the year of the earthworm. But that could also just be my melancholy nature taking hold. It does that a lot, and I try to pay no attention to it.

At any rate, I feel a certain kind of anticipatory joy about sitting down every couple of weeks or so and taking pen and paper in hand (no e-mail for these love letters!) to write to whomever I’m supposed to write to. I could cry just thinking about it.

I have no idea who I’ll write to first. I have no idea what I will say (other than “I love you so much”), but it has been a long time since I’ve felt so certain about something.

What about you? Do you feel like you’re supposed to focus on something or accomplish something in 2010? Will it be the year of the beginning of the college degree? The year of the 10 pounds lost? The year of the needed vacation? The year of the big move? The year of forgiveness? The year of being fully present where you are? The year of cleaning your house? The year of not washing your hands 20 times a day? The year of actually trusting God? The year of not going to McDonald’s? The year of being a good listener? The year of speaking up? The year of finding out about Jesus? The year of saying no to high heels? The year of not squeezing your zits? The year of speaking blessings instead of cursings? The year of more consistent quiet times? The year of walking? The year of learning how to play the Irish Tin Whistle? The year of organizing your office? The year of honoring a promise? The year of flossing your teeth more? The year of driving the speed limit? The year of drinking less coffee? The year of laughter? The year of reading through the Bible? The year of getting to know your neighbors? The year of paying down your debt? The year of buying a properly-fitting bra? The year of saying you’re sorry? The year you jump for joy?

What do you hope 2010 will mean for you?

January’s winners!

January 5, 2010 | My Jottings

Thank you to the readers who left comments about books that had touched their lives in some way. Some titles I haven’t read and would like to – I think Ben Hur goes on my list today.  🙂

I used Random.org to find who the four winners would be, and since only six left comments, your odds were pretty good.

Here are the winners of January’s giveaway:

Rob F.
Ronda B.
Savannah S.
Deb A.

I will either mail or deliver a new copy of Safely Home to each of you very soon! I hope to hear what you think of the book after you’ve read it.

Thank you for entering and visiting the blog!

Happy reading,

January giveaway

January 1, 2010 | My Jottings

Happy New Year! May 2010 be a year of peace and joy for you.

I’m going to give away an unforgettable book to four fortunate blog readers this week.

My dear friend Carey recently told me about this book by Randy Alcorn. She said she sobbed her way through it, and that it was one of the most life-changing books she’d ever read. And Carey is a prolific reader, so to me that said a lot.

Of course I had to read it. I downloaded it on my Kindle right away, and can’t remember when I’ve been so moved. Not necessarily because it was so exquisitely written, but because of the way the main character Li Quan lived his life.

I have four brand new copies of Safely Home, and will send them out to the four winners who will be chosen by random.org.

All you have to do is leave a comment and share what book has made a difference in your life, and why? I’m not necessarily saying that the book you name has to be profound in a spiritual sort of way, although that would be a good title to list too.

Maybe a particular book changed the way you look at something or someone? Maybe a book answered a question for you? Was there a book that made you laugh like no other? Or did a story give you needed hope during a hard time? Or perhaps a book just helped you escape, de-stress and relax for a while. Was there a book that set the course of your life on a certain path? Do you have a favorite children’s book that you keep going back to? What book have you read more than three times? What book, like Safely Home for Carey, made you sob all the way through? I would love to know! And I’ll bet a few other blog readers would like to know too.

I could answer each one of these questions easily myself, but I would like to read what you have to say. If you have been a reader of this blog and have never left a comment, now’s your time! It’s easy to do, and as I’ve mentioned before, you can be kept anonymous if you prefer. Your e-mail address, your name, all can be kept private – just mention that to me when you leave your comments.

I was so touched by this book that Michael asked me to read it out loud to him. We’re taking it slow, a chapter or two at a time, with a hot cup of tea and a box of Kleenex nearby as we go.

Comments will be taken until Tuesday, January 5th, and the four winners will be announced on Wednesday the 6th!