Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Favorite Things - Part 1 of 2

For me, just the stringing together of those three words "my favorite things" brings to mind Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music"...who compiled a list that seemed totally random at the time...and now even more so. Whiskers on kittens? I mean...soft fur on kittens...yes. Whiskers? Really? Am I alone in this?

So, as a tribute to things that I am a big fan of...I'm going to list a few of my favorite things. Trust me...I have absolutely NO inclination to break forth in song, to put these in any logical order, or to try to defend myself. They just are what they are.

1. The beach.

I have been a fan of the beach for many, many years...which is a shame, really, since I have a fair complexion. And frankly, "fair" is an understatement. Oh...I can tan, all right. But lately I've come to realize that the tan is actually a complex network of freckles that band together to keep me from crisping up and becoming a victim of spontaneous combustion. Through the years I have endured water blisters, peeling, sunburn, and dry skin just to have that "healthy" glow. Now, at 46, everyone says "skin cancer" every time I consider going out to the beach to read a book under an umbrella and a bottle of SPF 85 is forced into my hand. Just so you know...SPF 85 does not have that great Hawaiian Tropic smell that the oil does...and is almost sticky. What's the fun in that? So, for me...the beach is now enjoyed either before or way after prime sunning hours...or some random time like October...or better yet...January. Not that I'm just raring to jump into a bathing suit at any point in time, either.

2. Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies.

As a Brownie Girl Scout in 1970, my mother was the cookie chairman. The protocol at the time was to receive a box of cookies that contained the five different types of cookies for sale, and then go door to door selling the cookies for fifty cents a box. There were no new offerings each year...just Thin Mints, Peanut Butter, Trefoils, Sandwich Cookies (chocolate and vanilla) and one other kind that I cannot remember now (and it wasn't the Peanut Butter Patties, either). So, being the competitive soul that I am...I went door to door with a piece of notebook paper and got preorders before preorders became known as preorders. I sold a ridiculous amount of cookies relatively speaking and managed to tick off most of the girls in my Jackson, Mississippi neighborhood. However, I became a huge fan of the Thin Mint...and even though the boxes contain 3,000 calories...I still buy at least one box every year. And eat every one of them.

3. Music.

I was introduced to music at a young age because everyone in the family was musical. I was in choir, singing groups in junior high and high school (and have a picture in the heinous harvest gold robe to prove it) and I've always been a fan of rock music. I morphed over to alternative as well in the 1990's.

The problem is...although I can sing on key...I have NO range whatsoever. Meaning...I cannot sing over multiple octaves like normal people can. I can go to a point, and then it turns into something only heard by dogs. I can lip sync with the best of them because I've had to in portions of almost all hymns in church. Well, BIG church. Contemporary praise songs are do-able because they only have something like six notes in them.

It also explains why I love rock don't need a huge range to sing along.

I sincerely appreciate musical talent in others. My uncle Harry, and nephew (William) can play the piano beautifully. I love groups like Collective Soul and Foo Fighters because of the versatility that these bands have. They have songs that just speak to me.

I've even played the violin and the clarinet in this lifetime. I would add piano to that...but Mrs. Metcalf pretty much slapped my wrists with a ruler enough in 4th grade that I lost all desire to even try to pick them up off the keyboard. I must have weird wrists...I couldn't shoot a basketball either. I've always wanted to play the guitar...but cannot seem to muster up the desire, courage, and time to do so simultaneously.

I love how music can transport you to wherever you were when it was played most often. How you can be uplifted or excited and change your mood entirely based on what you are hearing. I love to see raw talent combined with a spark of the divine morph into something that soothes, exhilarates, or teaches. I love how certain songs seem like they were written just for me. I also love to hear sweet voices of little people like my niece and nephew who sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while they were here. Teary? Absolutely.

4. Words.

I am a bonified word junkie. I love a witty twist of a phrase, a new way of saying something, or words that convey exactly what I am thinking...even if they are someone else's. I love song lyrics, poetry, and bible entries, stories, and written explanations. I figure that this is the gift that God has given me...the passion and a consuming attraction to the written word. I believe that this is a noble gift in that He apparently thought enough of written words to see that we have the Bible as a resource to track His thoughts, history, and deeds.

I love going back and seeing where I was at any given time through words I've written, and I am glad that there have been times that someone has been able to read something that has entered my brain and found its way back out to my fingers...and has found it worthy of comment. But even if I wrote into a vacuum...and I have for many years...I'd still write. And I'd still read what others have written. I even like audiobooks. If I lose my eyesight...or hearing...I am SO learning Braille.

5. The Bible.

Where else can you find a book that tracks the history of a group of people, notes their failings, tells a story of redemption, and gives hope? For those who have never actually read this book cover to cover, you will be shocked and awed by the level of soap-opera worthy storylines, total nut jobs, people who seem like modern day people that you actually know, and unexpected twists and turns. The names are a bit much sometimes...but if any of you have checked a roll at a local elementary school lately...they aren't far off.

I have found that it contains guidance to just about any problem or issue that I have. And while it encourages me toward duly notes that I am totally unequipped to take that path on my own. Although I spent many years believing that "church people" were perfect...and I knew that I wasn' was comforting to know that although being Christlike is the is the journey I take to get me there. I am not expected to be perfect...and it's a good thing, too...I am only charged with trusting God to teach me to be more like the One who is.

6. Photos.

Photographs have been a part of my existence since childhood. My grandmother photographed us in restaurants, at every family gathering, and at any point where we were dressed up and looked presentable. And today it is me who photographs in restaurants, at every family gathering, and whether we are presentable or not. In fact, my mother swears that the only picture that will survive for future generations is the one I took of her with no makeup (Christmas 2004) or in London in front of Westminster Abbey donning a Gilligan hat and multiple layers of clothing. Due to the sheer volume of photos I have taken...I highly doubt it.

I love photos in that they represent us at various stages of who we were along the way to becoming who we are. For many of us, we look back to a time that was happier, easier, and where we were thinner. For others of us, we look back and see someone that we wish had been wiser and made better decisions, was more confident, and had owned a hair straightener. (That would be me.)

I use photos to track the moments in time that deserve to be noted...trips, weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations, births, reunions, concerts, holidays, vacations, or the first day of school. And I also use them to see the moments that are the everyday, mundane moments that I want to hold on to...sleeping babies, splashing in the pool, pets curled up on a bed, friends at a barbecue, my yard from my back door, my son and his friends playing Guitar Hero, or my husband brushing my daughter's hair. Time marches on...but the photos are a marker of what was...and what was often very wonderful.

7. Gardenias.

My grandmother wore a perfume called "Jungle Gardenia" and her room was alive with the scent of these sensitive but beautiful white flowers. In every home that I have owned, I have also owned gardenia bushes. I currently have three...and all three now bloom twice a year every year. This is irregular, I know. They have been doing it since 2004 - the year my grandmother died. Once in May when they are supposed to...and once in August...the month of her birth. She died in late July just before her 98th birthday. As I was scrapbooking and crying on her birthday that year, I looked out the window and saw a gardenia bloom just outside my window. I felt immensely better just seeing this reminder of her so vividly and so poignantly.

This year, after visiting Gammy's sister and her family in Pennsylvania this past May, I came back to three completely and totally loaded bushes. The buds were not even on the bushes when we left. I believe that she was happy we made the trip.

(To be continued...)

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