Friday, May 30, 2014

Favorite Birthday Present

My favorite birthday present this year was one I'd mentioned to my mom when she asked for gift ideas earlier this spring--and then about which I'd promptly forgotten, apparently, because I was so tickled to open a little box and find this darling 3"-tall figurine inside.  It is one of the Willow Tree-brand sculptures by artist Susan Lordi.  
Once I got it home, I repainted it to look more like me and Stuffed, of course. ♥ 
I don't have many knick knacks, but the few I do have are keepers, and the mantel holds most of them.  The miniature Stuffed to the right of this new figure was also from--and painted by--Mom this year.  The one to the left of the new figure is a thrift shop salt shaker I repainted years ago.  
The new figurine is especially poignant this birthday because Stuffed, in the past few months, suddenly seems older.  Mike and I aren't sure of Stuffed's exact age:  He belonged to the friend of a friend before becoming Mike's former roommate's around 2002 and then later becoming Mike's in 2007 when the roommate moved into a new apartment that didn't allow pets--but he was already an adult cat when Mike first saw him twelve years ago.  Stuffed rarely jumps up onto his window perch anymore.  Instead he stands beside the bathroom radiator that used to serve as his springboard and meows until one of us comes to lift him up.  He sleeps more lately, although I never would have guessed that I'd be able to tell the difference and Mike doesn't notice this at all.  It is often an awkward claws-out-for-traction struggle for him to jump up on to the bed these days.  He seems as happy as ever and still plays with his toys and rolls around with his catnip, but I've sensed a difference these past few months, and my cuddles with this shy little soul have felt bittersweet lately.  
(His face!  )
What else is there to say except I love him and love this dear little sculpture, beautiful gifts both. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Inside and Outside

Temperatures reached 88°F here yesterday, and since I had started my walk too late in the afternoon, I managed just three miles in the blazing sun before feeling too sick and shivery to continue.  (I passed at least three women pushing babies in strollers and more than a few runners, though, so I have to wonder--as I always do when the tempeatures are this high--if I'm just not sturdy stock.  Babies!  Runners!  In what felt like 90+° heat!  Goodness.)  After returning here for a rest in the air conditioning with an iced tea, I felt good enough to head out for The Walk:  Part II , but by then, it was almost time for Mike to get home from work and I still had to run out for groceries for our supper, so three miles my tally remained.  The days have been glorious this past week, and the nights have been windy with rumbling thunder and lightning like flashbulbs that we see even with closed eyes while we try to fall asleep.  (I just remembered Eddie Rabbitt's 1980s hit "I Love a Rainy Night" and looked it up online only to learn that he died on my birthday back in 1998.  I don't remember hearing about that at all.  Cheers on yet another stormy night this week to Mr. Rabbitt.)  One of this week's walks included the seeking and finding of one of  the country's only remaining wood-bricked streets.  If one of the sweet old brick homes on this little cul-de-sac were available and I had the means to make it happen, I'd be packing moving boxes right now, let me tell you.  It's a charming spot in the city, and examining the wooden blocks that make up its street has been one of the quiet pleasures of this week.  

I have been deliberately and most-obviously cutting back on the time I spend online--you all are in my thoughts and prayers even if I'm not in your comment boxes and email inboxes lately  --and recalibrating how I spend my days so that there is a better balance of fresh air and miles walked and quiet time (reading, napping, writing, puttering around the apartment, etc.) and social time.  Both my personality and my paid work always find me somehow taking care of others, and I am feeling healthier and more content now that I've made taking care of myself more of a priority this spring.  Laundry-doing, email-and-comment-sending, and letter-writing have temporarily fallen by the wayside as I get into new routines and better habits in other areas.  As I've said before, this self-nurturing bit seems to be one of my most-revisited life lessons, and although it's now taken me almost my entire first forty years to figure it out, at least I'm figuring it out.  :)  I had the sweetest dream a few weeks ago that I decided to drive down to my grandparents' house for a surprise visit.  Grandma and I greeted and hugged each other so joyfully, it still makes me smile.  "Oh!  I should do this more often!"  I squealed when I realized how happy this impromptu visit was making us.  "I should have been doing this all along!"  While she and I were catching up with each other in the kitchen, I looked out the window and saw Papa building a giant bee box in their side yard.  (He was a beekeeper [in real life].)  That was really all there was to the dream, but the feeling of it and my gratitude for it have remained with me almost a month later,  both because it was a rare happy dream of my grandparents and because it gave me a taste of the peace and nurturing I've been cultivating here, one steamy mile and one steamy bowl of oatmeal at a time.  
 
 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

3 Good Meals and 8 Miles a Day: 37

Spring arrived with better health and a renewed commitment to it.  Two months later, I've lost eight pounds and have only forgotten my daily vitamin twice.  My breakfasts have become a routine of oatmeal, yogurt, and berries.  My tax refund bought me two new pairs of walking shoes, one for my "real" walks and one for my walks to/from work.  I have been keeping up with both my journal and my food/health diary.  (The food/health diary usually falls by the wayside.)  Heart-healthy raspberries, dark chocolate, oatmeal, and red grapes are now weekly purchases.  (I know red wine is good for the heart, but I've never liked the taste of alcohol, so I will stick with heart-friendly groceries instead.)  I realized the local marathon will fall exactly on my 40th birthday in May 2017--the city holds it on the first Sunday in May every year, and in 2017, that will be May 7th--and have decided to dedicate these last three years of my 30s to training for it:  I have enough time to get back into shape and to become a long-distance runner, and after having already suffered-though/completed two half marathons on no training, I have faith that with proper preparation, I can finish a full.  Walking in the meantime, then, and running again by year's end, I'm thinking.  More water and tea.  My beloved Diet Cherry Pepsi as a treat and not an almost-staple.  Talking things out with Mom and Aunt Laurie instead of keeping my thoughts bottled-up.  Making the time to write.  'Am now a third of the way through my first effort at a children's book.  Today's birthday cake was a single-serving dark chocolate one with cream cheese frosting and more dark chocolate chips, based loosely on this recipe.  (Mike enjoyed a slice of cheesecake and some cookie dough ice cream.)  Tonight was Taco Night.  It included an ice-cold  Diet Cherry Pepsi.  This past week has been filled with visits and messages from family and friends.  Life is quiet and sweet and good. 
When I made a second trip to the grocery store this afternoon to pick up my forgotten-this-morning birthday candles, the cashier ringing me up asked who was turning 73.  "It's 37," I said.  "They're for me."  The cashier and bagger both goggled at me and said in unison, "You're 37?!"  The cashier said I don't look it and that she'd have guessed  25.  THANK you!  The bagger said something like, "You wear it well."  And thank YOU, young man!  The cashier then started singing "Happy Birthday" to me, and she and Young Bagger Boy both wished me a happy birthday.  This was undoubtedly one of 2014's sweetest epsiodes.    A friend told me in 2003 that I look young but wouldn't appreciate it until I was 40, and today, at 37, I know that he was right.  As ever, aging fascinates and amuses me.  I feel quite blessed by the entire process. 
The green Holly Hobbie birthday tablecloth is actually a section of vintage fabric I'd set aside to finish the side of the wing chair with, and onto the chair it will soon go, but it only seemed fitting to use it first as a tablecloth today and infuse it with this happy time and all these sweet memories.  Oh, 37!  I am loving it so much already.