I finished John Kralik’s memoir, 365 Thank You’s, shortly before Valentine’s Day, that holiday extravaganza during which visions of treats and surprises burrow in the imagination of yours truly, a girl raised on fairy tales. Especially after reading about Kralik’s quest to recognize opportunities for gratitude and express appreciation, I made a conscious effort to temper wild fantasies of tickets to the south of France. In all honesty, it’s not hard to appreciate my life as-it-is and to rein in my wanderlust, but I do admit to a dream of returning to a favorite part of the world that is a perfect blend of the French aesthetic and sun-kissed Mediterranean lifestyle. But back to reality … On February 14th my own Mr. Wonderful brought home this bouquet — a bounty of brilliant color that just happens to match one of my father’s paintings that hangs in our living room!
A close-up of one area of the painting:
I have yet to start my own 365 Thank Yous project — it’s on The List — but in the meantime, I could not have been more tickled with my Valentine’s Day bouquet: I am grateful for a fresh look at dad’s painting, the brilliant happy colors of the flowers, and Mr. Wonderful’s deference to a romantic holiday.
Remember my grand-pup, Penny Lane? I call her the neighborhood Miss Marple. This is her favorite perch, where she stays on top of all of the comings and goings streetside. There is just something about the tilt of her head that feels regal, and that chubby paw pad — irresistible. I hadn’t been in the apartment five minutes before I pulled out my fancy new phone, aka point-n-shoot camera. Penny has that woeful, droopy-eyed look just like all basset hounds, but I promise you, she is an exuberant and joyful girl.
We were in the city to celebrate my son’s job promotion. Much to my maternal dismay five years ago, his life path did not stay on the course I’d always had in mind for him. He informed me that the only motivation he had to be in college was me. Not enough! Cajoling and reasoning were useless. So I wrung my hands, smiled, and encouraged him to follow his passion. He’s chosen to follow in the foodie footsteps of his father, a grandfather, and an uncle. He works hard but loves the business. Much to my amazement, after a thirteen-hour day on his feet, he prepares dinner at home! I feel my proud mama chest puffing right up as I type this.
By the way, he just finished reading the memoir manuscript. First family member to do so. My favorite text message from him said: “Enjoying your teenage exploits and adventures with a cocktail.” His close read gave me valuable feedback on voice and timeline. Talking books is something we’ve always enjoyed together. How fabulous to be discussing this one, not only as writer and reader, but mother and son. Wow! Celebration, indeed.
Our guest feels right at home.
We’ve had company this week: Penny Lane the basset hound, my very own grand-pup. Actually, she’s two, so she’s a tad beyond puppyhood. But still, it’s been like having a toddler again — whining when I’m out of sight, even for a minute; lots of messes to clean up; daily outings for fresh air and exercise; and a preference for sleeping with ‘the parents’ rather than on her own! Yes, Penny’s preferred nighttime location is under the covers and at our feet. Not wanting to disrupt her routine any more than necessary, we have accommodated this surprising habit. I confess: I’m looking forward to laundering and sun-drying the bed linens today. And taking down the doggie gates that have provided the two kitties, Jenna and Corabelle, a hound-free safe zone.
Long walks with Penny have afforded me some time to contemplate my next sewing and knitting projects. But first, some stash photos. Tomorrow. See you then!
It was a last-minute inspiration, but five days before Christmas I decided to make “His” & “Her” Dog-walking hats for my son and his girlfriend. After a conversation with someone in the locker room at the gym, I decided that a polar fleece lining would make the hats really cozy, for those 5:00 a.m. treks into the back yard with Penny Lane, their basset hound. This is Rachel’s hat, ready for a quick photo shoot before wrapping, well before midnight on Christmas Eve. Alex’s is of the same handspun, hand-dyed, fair trade Uraguayan yarn, but in a brown-to-black colorway. He whisked his out of here before I had a chance to document it. I modified the pattern a bit, but recommend this project for ease and speed.
My Uncle Milton (on the right) and his four-hand piano partner, John, tell us about the Mozart sonata they have been practicing in preparation for a Labor Day concert for their wives. Today I was fortunate enough to sit in on a dress rehearsal. What a treat!
The stars warm up and settle their nerves for the performance.
The sonata had three movements, each with its own distinctive mood. Nothing can compare to the power of live music. As the fellas entertained us with the fruits of their labors, I relaxed into my armchair and allowed my imagination to wander. The notes took me from thoughts about the genius of Mozart to my own humble creative expression, to the admirable vitality and acumen of my uncle. I traveled around the world in 30 minutes, I guess you might say.
I couldn’t help but notice that the flowers that we brought from Parlee Farms happen to match one of my father’s paintings. John’s shorts round out the red accent in triplicate.
An addendum to the inspirational afternoon: John is currently rehearsing for an opera performance, which involves not only singing but learning the Viennese Waltz, too. Wow!
Julia Cameron’s Artist Dates are prescribed as solo ventures, but I am inclined to soften the guidelines on occasion. Today was one of those exceptions.
If in the darkest hours, one can recognize gratitude, the whole world begins to look different.
Brushing and braiding my neice’s hair on Sunday afternoon was just what I needed. That and a little puppy therapy.
Heart-y chocolate chip pancakes for my sweetheart. I made my own “forms”
using strips of folded aluminum foil. If you want to see the how-to pics, just post
a comment and I’ll get back to you. I was particularly excited about setting up this little
photo shoot, as I received a macro lens from hubby this morning. Very exciting
to work in this new perspective.
We enjoyed herbal tea after lunch. The macro lens is getting a workout!
There’s nothing like fresh flowers to make me smile. And pink’s even better!
Can you see how much fun I’ve having with the new macro lens?!
This valentine arrived in a pink polka-dot envelope. Thank you, B!
And someday I’ll get around to making a pair of pj’s with this fun fabric.
Hope you had as pink and pretty and happy Valentine’s Day as I did.