Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cleaning For A Cause

Don’t let the title fool you!  The kind of cleaning I am talking about does not benefit any of the myriad of organizations that help others; the kind of cleaning I am talking about is for me and those entering my home!

While I am not wild about cleaning any more than the average woman, the thought of having people over spurs an onslaught of cleaning frenzy.  The regular stuff - toilets and sinks scrubbed, floors swept and mopped, carpets vacuumed and so on and so forth - is just not enough!  I put on my “guests eyes” and tackle each room or area from that perspective. 

It is not enough to dust the living room; I must now vacuum the couches, wash the throw pillows and balance the art work.  Yes, having friends over means more than just everyday cleaning and planning the menu, it means updating the look of a room.

Now I don’t think my friends will think less of me if my house is not spotless.  Goodness, if my friends expected that I would always just go to their homes!  It’s just that I am inspired to look at things differently, to look at things with “guest eyes.”  I don’t look at clutter in my friends homes, nor am I checking the corners for cobwebs; I am there to enjoy my time with them.  That said, I want to enjoy my time with friends at my house too and I can be more relaxed if I know I went the extra mile.  Just don’t put your white gloves on before you come over!

That new photo frame my daughter got me?  Time to choose a picture, get it printed and slap it in!  (Thankfully, she was way ahead of me and I came home to find it done!  She rocks!)

It is time also to hang the new clock.  The mirror that I love (apparently I am the only one that loves it!) comes down and up goes to new clock.  Sounds simple, right?  Yeah, I thought so too!  Nope, the hanger the mirror was on is not right for the clock.  I am thinking ‘just pull out the heavy duty nail that makes the clock hang as if it were about to leap off the wall and replace it with a smaller nail, screw, whatever’.  Nope again.  The heavy duty nail is in a stud and the stud is holding on to that nail for dear life.  Dang!  Ok, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  (Whoever came up with that saying?  Just too horrible to let the thought linger in my mind!)  A couple of well placed whacks from the hammer and the mirror hanger is now ready for the clock.  And a bit of energy has been expelled…phew!  Well, the living room is ready and I am happy!  Onto the kitchen! 

The day after the gathering I am basking in the look of my “new” living room.  I like the look!  I should have friends over more often!

The Hopeful Romantic

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Way I See The World

Driving to work yesterday, I was happy.  It wasn’t cloudy or humid, the sun was shining and, well, I was alive!  I think it is pretty simple to find things to be happy about. 

It must have rained not long before I left for work because the sidewalks were the kind of damp clean that holds the promise of a new day.  Nice little rain, not too much to hamper traffic on my drive and it didn’t seem to cause a rise in the humidity.  There was just a bit of movement to the air and I thought, “Yup, this is a good start to the day!”

I walked in the office where I work and greeting my co-workers I commented on how the world was all shiny and new with the recent rain.  Someone added to the end of my assessment of the morning, “and you have your rose colored glasses on!”  I heartily agreed! 

I see things for the good, not the bad.  I trust people until they give me a reason not to.  Was I born to privilege and have not had a day of want in my life?  Nope.  Have I been hurt?  Yes, of course!  But, I have been hurt no more than those who don’t trust and are missing the beauty in the little things that make up our world.

I have been called na├»ve, foolish and overly optimistic.  It is alright with me!  I like me and I like my world!

When I was a young woman, 20 or so, the man I was dating summed it up for me.  In a moment of frustration he told me that I was worse than a hopeless romantic.  He proclaimed me a “hope-full” romantic.  I remember being rather insulted then, but the title kept playing in my brain.  I began to embrace the idea that I didn’t need rose colored glasses; my own eyes were rosy enough! 

You may have read I am a lover of words, so I was curious enough to see if there was such a thing as a hopeful romantic, besides me, that is!  It seems there are enough of us around that the term has been defined.  A hopeful romantic is not necessarily someone who is a schmaltzy gushingly sop who cannot see the bad things in the world.  A hopeful romantic is someone who sees the possibility of good and of good things happening.

So join me, won’t you?  Know that there are bad things, but look for the good, because the good is there, you just have to adjust your lenses!

The Hopeful Romantic

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Learning To Be Gracious

As a young woman I was not always so willing to accept good things. 

Compliments paid me were brushed aside.  I thought I was unworthy.  I thought people were just being polite.  “Just” being polite?!  Where were my manners?  Why was I so jaded to think people would say something untrue?

Well, I am learning.  Now when someone says something nice to me, I say “Thank you.”
It does not always come easy, but the older I get the easier it is to love myself, faults included.

After landing a job I really, really wanted many years ago, a friend told me I got the job because I had made a good impression on the wife of the department head.  I really didn’t know the department heads wife, but I had sat next to her at a community ballet.  We had shared the talk of strangers with a common interest and I never saw again her after that night. 

I remember how I fought against the idea that I had got that job on anything less than my abilities.  I didn’t like being told that knowing someone had gotten me that job.  Being “nice” was not how people got jobs, they got them because of resumes and skill sets.  Right? Right?

Again, I am learning.  Now I can look back on that moment and value myself for the impression I made on the department heads wife and do less devaluing of myself for the notion that the job was handed to me.  The job was not handed to me because good impressions aside I had to have the skills to perform the job.  A job is not always about how able you are.  Doing well at your job is also about how you get along with others and what they think of you.  So even though that was many years ago and many states away I offer thanks for the opinion of the department heads wife.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The "new" slaw

I was back at the grocery store.  Yes “back”.  This morning I had mentally made of list of what I wanted to get done with my day after I got off work.  (Off work early, such bliss!)

Just as I was finishing up my work day (did I say I got off early?!) my younger daughter texted me.  Did I want to do lunch?  It was nice enough out to grill, she said.  Yes, of course!  I would never pass up the opportunity to hang out with either of my daughters and cooking was something we do together often.

So, she met me at my office and we drove to the grocery store for meat and veggies for the grill.  Thin sliced steak, zucchini, mushrooms (portabella!) and peaches for dessert.  We had just tried grilling peaches the week before and decided they were as good as cobbler without all the flour and prep.  I also picked out some broccoli slaw.  I always loved my mother’s coleslaw, especially when she added peanut butter.  She didn’t add it to the dressing; it was lovely little compact islands of smooth peanut butter to contrast with the tang of the dressing.  My mother passed on her less-than-sweet tooth to me.  Tangy, check.  Sour, yes ma’am.  Spicy, heck yeah!  Thanks Mama!

Once at home, we went right to work prepping the food for the grill.  Standard short time marinade for the steak – salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, but this time with a healthy squirt of rooster sauce.  My youngest is not afraid of heat, hence this fiery addition.

She got the grill going with a little help from the dog.  He knows all the places that might yield him a tasty morsel or two and he loves the grill!  Oh, and corn on the cob, almost forgot.  While she tended the grill I gathered what I needed for the slaw.  Slaw, green onions, mayonnaise, fresh lime for the juice and shredded apple.  Wait, we are NOT out of apples, are we?  No apples on the counter. : ( Dang, I guess they are gone.  I stick my head in the fridge but am uninspired as to an apple substitute.  Returning to the counter I spy the box of oranges my husband bought for his lunches. 

No great fan of oranges, they don’t occur to me often.  I love zest – orange, lemon, lime, even grapefruit, but the flesh of oranges can be so unpredictable.  I have been disappointed more than once to cut into an orange only to find it was a bit too ripe for my likes.  I will stick with tangelos and their lovely tart sweetness, thank you.

So, I look at the box of oranges and thought. Hmm…  I was not immediately convinced that oranges would be a good addition to the slaw, but without apples or anything else that spoke to me I grabbed an orange.  I cut the peel off in the fashion of one or more of the Food Network chefs (love that station!) and cut the orange into tiny pieces.  I put just a cup or so of the broccoli slaw in a bowl, chop the green onions very finely, whip up some dressing of mayo and fresh lime juice and plopped the orange into the bowl.  Still remembering the many times of being fooled by the smell of an orange that was not reflected in the taste I took a small bite.  Wow and yum! 

We enjoyed all the grilled goodies, minus the peaches.  No room left in our tummies.  The “new” slaw was a hit.  Anything that gets more veggies on my plate in a tempting fashion is alright with me.  Another recipe for my file!

Anyway, like I said, I was back at the grocery store.  That list I had made mentally earlier in the day?  It was tucked away when I was at the store earlier and I wasn’t thinking about the potato salad I had committed to for tomorrow.  So during my second trip in one day I was thinking about people I know that detest grocery shopping.  I can’t say it is at the top of my list, but I do find a quiet solace in walking the isles imagining meals I want to make.  And, if I forget an item again, who knows?  Another new recipe?  It’s possible, always possible.