Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Favorite Things 71-80

Wow.  71-80.  And I'm apparently just getting warmed up.  Or something like that.

I am beginning this post at 5:39 a.m. after waking up at 4:00 a.m. with a leg cramp.  Trust me when I tell you that "leg cramps" will never be listed among my favorites.  Nor will cleaning up "gifts" from Dixie and Rebel in the living room, dishcloths that have soured, opossums in my garage eating the cat's food, or spiders.  But they are a part of life. 

And life is really what I'm talking about in these lists anyway, right? 

71. Suduko

When I was a little girl, my grandmother got the TV Guide every week.  There was a crossword puzzle in them that I started doing somewhere along the way, and I enjoyed those weeks that I could actually finish the puzzle with no stray marks.  See, I do crossword puzzles in pen...because in my mind...there should be some penalty for putting yourself out there and being wrong.  It teaches you to be more careful about reading the clues and double checking yourself. 

Or it could be that I'm too lazy to get up and find a pencil.  Yeah.  Or that.

I also loved word search and for a while in my early banking career I did the jumble, cryptoquote and crossword puzzle most days.  This was because the bank actually ordered the newspaper and they were often just lying around begging to be utilized in some fashion. 

A few years ago, someone introduced me to Suduko and the many levels ranging from "easy" to "ridiculous" and I've found that I really like the ones between "medium" and "hard" but I will do an "easy" in a heartbeat.  It may surprise you to learn that Big Dave prefers the "ridiculous" level because he loves numbers.  Letters or anything that requires spelling...not so much.

My mother still doesn't really get the point of Suduko, but she is more of a trivia person anyway.  She is uber-competitive, though, and if you get her in a game of Trivial Pursuit...know that she goes into that expecting to win.  And she usually does.  Unless she has a run of science questions.

If she isn't pretty.

I think that the reason she runs from Suduko is that she doesn't get the point.  Or it may be that it involves numbers in patterns...which she finds icky.  She's a "letters" person not a "numbers" person.  I suppose I'm both.

You can purchase a Suduko book at the Dollar Tree and I'd advise that you do this and keep it with you for those times that you are stuck somewhere reading the three year old dog-eared copy of Good the doctor's office...or the bathroom. 

Well, hey, at least I'm honest.

72. Beautifully Wrapped Gifts

Most holidays that require that I get a gift from Big Dave...which would be my birthday or anniversary and occasionally Mothers' Day...I can assure you that it will come wrapped.  Unfortunately, what it is "wrapped" in is a WalMart bag most often...fresh from his 5:00 a.m. run that he makes because he has forgotten to purchase anything before that. 

I've received some mighty interesting things through the years...and about five years ago I finally just said..."You know...I think I'd like a rosebush for Mothers' Day..." or "Do you mind if we skip gifts this year?" because frankly, it probably isn't fair that I judge the effort put into the wrapping of the gift more than anything.  Because in my personal estimation, nothing says, "Oh, snap!  I forgot to buy her a birthday gift." more than a WalMart bag. 

Except possibly a towel. 

My friend, Cindy, has a relative that buys gifts and then "wraps" them in towels and blankets...and then whips them off at the last minute with a "Ta-da!"  No need to unwrap...the giver has managed that for you.  It's like one minute there's something covered in a towel and the next minute...well, there it is!

Hope you like it...because there is no time to pretend if you don't...or fuss with the wrapping paper so you don't have to make eye contact.

Frankly, I prefer the WalMart bag over that...but she says that he gives really good I may have to ponder this one awhile.

The birth of the gift bag was probably a good thing...because most men can navigate those pretty well.  And some of them are stunningly pretty with the fresh tissue paper all stuck in there and curling ribbon hanging from the handles.  Oh, that's not what you see?  Me either, most of the time.  If I do get a gift bag...I will also generally get recycled tissue paper as well.  To avoid this, I've started throwing tissue paper away and just keeping the bags only in a drawer.

Which means that I now have no tissue paper...and it is just bag and gift.  But I suppose it's my own fault, right?  I could have left that tissue paper that looked like a hamster had been marching through it for weeks in the bag.  Of course, I could have.

But honestly, nothing matches getting a gift that is too pretty to unwrap.  That is so obviously amazingly wrapped that you know you'll like what's inside.  People just don't take the time to wrap like this anymore...but when they takes my breath away. 

I've determined that "gifts" is one of my love languages (along with "words of affirmation" - imagine that?) and it isn't so much the value of the gift...but the fact that someone thought enough of me to take the time to do something that they didn't have to do but wanted to do it anyway. 

My friend, Judy, is a master of this.  She'll put together a whole bag of little "happys" that she takes the time to tag individually with her thoughts on why that item is in the bag. I always enjoy the gifts...and the tags.

I hope that one day I will be able to master the art of wrapping the perfect gift, although my friend, Vicki, thinks that I do a good job of wrapping at Christmas.  She brings me her "special gift" to wrap each year...and I'm honored that she does.

73. Heath Bars

For years, I have avoided eating candy bars...because doing so just invites all kinds of scorn from those who are either health nuts or don't want to see a bad situation get worse.  But boy, do I love me some Heath bars!  Toffee is one of my mother's favorite growing up...these were one of the few candy bars she would allow herself from time to time.

Like daughter.

74. Highlands, N.C.

In 1989, my folks moved to Highlands so that Ralph could run the newspapers in Highlands, Cashiers, and Franklin.  On our first trip up to visit them - Labor Day 1989- I fell in love with the place immediately.  It is beautiful, and it is a really unique place...with minimal "chain stores" operating...and places to eat that we came to enjoy as we visited each year.  But what I really loved?

How about the 70 degree temperatures in September when it is about 110 and humid as all get out at the foot of the mountain.  Seriously...70 degrees.  That's what I'm talkin'.

I have a photo of me standing by the "Welcome to Highlands" sign during that first trip to Highlands.  I was pregnant with Jill and I looked really happy.  I really was happy.  Probably nauseous...but happy.  I really do miss those annual trips.  Not only because we had a good time, but because it just sounded so impressive.  Since we weren't big vacationers (still aren't after years of private school tuition and now college) was a great place to visit.

The folks have moved from North Carolina with Ralph's retirement...and I haven't been that way in years.  I honesty love having them closer to us, and we get to see them far more often than we used to. 

But it was a wonderful run. 

75. People Who Are Enthusiastic

Back in 2001, I took a Dale Carnegie class because my employer thought it would be a good idea.  Several of us were run through those classes, and it ended up being a really good experience.  In fact, I can still remember the first name of many of the people in the class...and I can't remember what I had for dinner last night.  I'm not exactly what that proves...but let's just assume that it means that the concepts taught in the class were actually spot-on.

The course basically is a series of speeches and memory tricks that helps you interact with others well and build confidence in public speaking.  The latter really wasn't my problem, because I'd been teaching banking classes for six years at this time, and standing up in front of a group of people who couldn't care less about what I had to say was really second nature to me by then. 

Each week, the person deemed to have done the best speech was given a pen.  Not one of those disposable numbers...but a real pen that you had to go to Office Depot and buy replacement cartridges for...and that it was worth keeping up with for the most part.  One week, I won a green pen that I still have...although it is not in the best of shape.  I refuse to part with it because of what it represents. 

And what is that, you ask?  That I was the best at something.  Even if it was for one night. 

The primary thing I learned out of Dale Carnegie was, "if you act enthusiastic, you can BE enthusiastic."  This was driven home by standing up and reciting this over and over enthusiastically.  Because Bill wasn't going to let it go until he thought we were enthusiastic enough.

So, yes, you can actually BE enthusiastic if you act enthusiastic.  ANYTHING to sit down and move on.  Seriously.

But the truth my life...I have found that those times that I was enthusiastic about something were the best of times.  The worst of times came when I had absolutely nothing to look forward to and no spark.  Just like enthusiasm builds on does the lack thereof.  So, as Dale (and Bill) said..."act enthusiastic...the BE will follow..."

I love enthusiastic people.  Folks that get all fired up about whatever it is they are doing.  There's a girl at one of the local Chick-fil-A stores here who is "all in" for Chick-fil-A.  She's so enthusiastic that I've sometimes wondered if she has a caffeine IV set up behind the grill or something.  But she never fails to make me smile...and I appreciate the fact that Chick-fil-A has such a cheerleader out there trying to take my order.

While I may think that they are insane or overserved...I like seeing the people at almost every SEC football game that paint their bodies the team color and splash a letter spelling out the team name on their chests.  It can be 40 degrees, and some frat boy is out there in crimson with an A in front of the camera. 

I think some of what I love about Tim Tebow is his enthusiasm.  Likewise for anybody that I used to call on when I was in lending who just couldn't wait to show me the latest product or tell me about the plans that they had for the future.  Churches that set up ministries to meet people where they are and kids coming home from mission trips all happy that they could help in some small way and grateful for everything that we take for granted here in the United States.

I love seeing a bride's eyes when she talks about her upcoming wedding or a mother-to-be who is so ready to meet her little one that she is counting the days.  Find a kid who has just graduated from high school and ask them about going off to college in the Fall...or someone with a new puppy.

But if none of those things apply to you...just act like it!  Borrow someone else's joy!  Find one thing to get fired up about be it a rainbow, a day off, or the fact that we have freedom of worship in this country.  At least in our churches.  Maybe your political candidate is worthy of enthusiasm, or perhaps your child is reaching for the stars in one way or another.

Everyone loves enthusiastic people...except those who are either in direct opposition (Occupy Wall Street's enthusiasm can totally bite me) or when that enthusiasm is so over the top that everyone just wonders silently..."What is he ON?"  But honestly, I can tolerate even the annoying enthusiastic brethren I come across just because I'm such a fan of enthusiasm.

So, find what makes your heart sing and share it with the world.  In the'll inspire, expand, and amaze others around you.  Myself included.

And just in case you are wondering why I know that I took the Dale Carnegie Course in 2001?  That was because an enthusiastic member of our class, Bruce, bought us all frames for our certificates.  I hung it in my office for several years.  I still run into him occasionally around town...and he is still amazed that I remember his name.  Yep, that Dale Carnegie stuff works.

76. Scrapbooking

I have been a scrapbooker since 1-18-1996.  I know that some of you are wondering how I know that...but my friend, Peggy, who was the consultant for that party gave me an invitation that she sent out and I kept it for years before relegating it to a box somewhere.  I started doing family albums, and through the years I have done roughly thirty albums. 

Just so you know, that equates to about 2,700 scrapbook pages.  That's a lot in that it takes close to half an hour to do each one.

Digital cameras have introduced the concept of digital scrapbooks...and a lot of my friends have converted to this having tired of lugging around boxes of paper, stickers, and everything else to various crops.  For those of you who know not what a "crop" is primarily a place where you go to be with other scrapbookers and attempt to gather ideas while you work on your scrapbook.  What actually happens at the crop varies from scrapbooker to scrapbooker in terms of productivity...but most would agree that this time is...for lack of a better term...therapy.

By the way, I don't know any of these people.  Thank you, Google images.  But you get the point.

77. Fox News

I remember growing up and going on these long car trips during the summers we spent with my father and stepmother.  This was in the days before FM radio (some of you are going...say who?) and we'd drive through various states listening to music on the radio while I sat perched looking over the back front seats totally unbelted.   Which now that I think about it...was really stupid because he almost always got a speeding ticket.  It was like the various law enforcement folks had a description of his car and would just radio on ahead that he was passing through.  Could have been his beard...or some huge conspiracy...but it was probably because he

At every hour on the hour, he would stop and hush us so that the could listen to the news.  I would want to use that opportunity to change stations and find something tolerable...but was the news.  This was also the man who read the paper every morning before he'd have a conversation with you, and who made me watch the Watergate Hearings the summer that I was twelve (not that there was any option since they were on all three networks) because I might learn something practical about how the political system worked by listening to how it didn't.  What I actually learned is that PBS wasn't carrying the hearings, and I watched a lot of Sesame Street, Zoom, and Lilias, Yoga, and You.  Oh, and every word to Elton John's Greatest Hits. 

I think he intended that whole "learn something" business to translate to..."never vote Republican."  In fact, he refused to eat at McDonald's when we were traveling because McDonald's gave money to the Republican Party.  Or something like that.  I grew up thinking that Republicans were awful creatures that messed up network TV for an entire summer. 

Until I heard Ronald Reagan speak.

Call me a rebel, but at 16, I went to work at McDonald's, and I own stock in my self-directed IRA guessed it...McDonald's...among other holdings.  And to the great dismay of the majority of my family...I'm a conservative...which means that I'm going to vote Republican most of the time.  In fact, I can flat guarantee that I will for the foreseeable future thanks to President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and (thankfully ex) Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  But enough about all that.

Big Dave and I watch Fox News...not because we're mindless gelatin filled skulls...but because we finally found a news channel that presented a story and let you make up your mind how you feel about it.  Does it lean to the right?  Possibly.  But at least it puts both sides out there...good, bad, or indifferent.  This is most assuredly not the case with most of the other networks. 

But then again...that's just my opinion.  You are entitled to yours.  And yes, Lisa, I still think you hang the moon even though we pull different levers.  You are in good company with the majority of my family.

Except for Big Dave and my kids.  God bless 'em. 

78. Violets

I may have lost some of you on that last one...but if so...ah...what can I tell you?  How about that I'm pretty crazy about violets.  I don't care what color they are...I just adore them!

A few years ago while scrapbooking in the community room of a local grocery store, I ventured out for some reason (probably a snack) and found a cart full of violets that were being clearanced out.  (Is "clearanced" a word?  If not...let's pretend it is, shall we?)  I bought all of them...and gave them to various members of our scrapbooking group because I already own at least a dozen violets of my own because I cannot seem to pass them by if I see them on sale somewhere.  Like ever.

Good thing it isn't kittens that I'm just compelled to have to take home, isn't it?  Especially since I'm allergic to cats.

Anyway, the ladies of the group have managed to provide excellent homes for those sad little violets...and every so often I'll get an e-mail, text, or photo of my "grand-violets."  Which totally rocks. 

Several years ago (and I'm going to say about 14 or so because Jill was about eight at the time)...she and I joined the Montgomery Area Violet Society.  All of this because I wanted to learn how to care for violets. I ended up with 45 different ones at one time, but I never could master rooting them or growing a new one from a leaf.  You can do that, you know. 

"You" is the operative term here.  Because I can't do it.  Which, I suppose, is why it is a good thing that I'm into rescuing violets instead of propegating them.  I think I'm doing enough if I keep them alive and get them to a good home.

I love violets because my grandmother always loved them and had them in her home.  She'd excitedly show me the blooms if one happened to be showing off while I was visiting.  Hers never seemed orderly (the way I was taught to do them in the Montgomery Area Violet Society) but they seemed happy enough. 

And there's nothing wrong with that. 

79. My Birthday

I don't care what anyone says about not liking their is just supposed to be a special day.  I know that I've always enjoyed mine...and have been most appreciative of other people who have made a production (be it mini or epic) out of it each year.  Oh, and why not?

Beats the alternative.

80. Publix

I realize that I'm probably more exuberant about the whole grocery store experience than the average bear, but Publix is really more than a grocery store to me.  It is a place where I feel like they want my business.  Well, except, perhaps, for the girl with the braids in the deli (who is still employed there because I just saw her yesterday) who thought I was trying to get free food by complaining to the manager.

I didn't ask for free food.  I just asked the manager to please have the rotisserie chicken that was being advertised actually available for purchase.  After the second time I went by at 5:30 and saw no chicken there...I thought...hmmm...maybe management needs to get on this.  So I did what every good customer would do...I very politely mentioned this to the manager. 

He thought giving me a free chicken would make up for my inconvenience.  And it did.

Except that the very next day...same thing.  I went back and mentioned it again.  The girl with the braids was talking to another customer talking about people trying to get free food by complaining.

Excuse me?

Anyway, I went right back there and told on her.  She said she wasn't talking about me but she totally was.  The second time I was with the manager was to find out when the chicken would be ready...NOT to get another free chicken.  Hey, even I have my standards.

We're fine, now, though.  I don't buy from the deli if she's working...and she doesn't roll her eyes when I pass.  At least I haven't caught her yet.

Other than that...every experience I have had at Publix has been good.  I love the lady who does the cooking demonstrations and the guy in the seafood department always speaks.  I am in there so dang much that most of the cashiers and bagboys know my face and one of them hadn't seen me in awhile and actually hugged me in the produce department a few weeks ago.

I'm not kidding.

Anyway, I like that you can buy one of something instead of being stuck with two on the "buy one get one free deals" (like Winn Dixie does) and that most of the time what I need is actually in the store.  They are a little bit more proud of their meat than I would like for them to be, but when I buy is good.  The deli tastes like something from a restaurant and not like it came from a grocery store deli (also like Winn Dixie). 

So, carry on, Publix, and keep on doing what you're doing.  Personally, I think that you totally rock.

I still have some more lists...and I'll probably take a vacation tomorrow because I have something else that I want to write.  Thanks, as always, for reading!

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