Friday, May 22, 2009

Ya Gotta Smile!

Today I found myself smiling as I drove south on Wiesbrook Road on my way to work. Several times a week when I make this drive I see a stunning red cardinal fly across the road at about the same spot every time--just north of Atten Park. I don't know if it's always the same cardinal, but it makes me smile every time.

It got me thinking today how many little serendipities in life always make me smile when I experience them. So on this beautiful spring day, I offer you Kate's Official List of Smile Inducers. You may want to add your own!

Cars driving by with a dog's head poking out one of the open windows. Once I even saw a huge dog sitting in a car with its head popping through the open sun roof! Now that's livin'!

Young dads walking with their toddlers--especially if they are holding hands!

Any music with really awesome percussion!

Driving on Schaffner Road in the summer--the trees make me feel like I'm engulfed in a green tunnel.

Driving on Schaffner Road in the fall, when those same trees are are stunning shades of gold, brown, red, and yellow.

Na-na-na-na-na-na! The nasty-sounding guitar chords that start the song "Bad to the Bone," by George Thorogood.

Anytime I walk through the door and my 60-lb., yellow, badly-in-need-of-grooming labradoodle--Bonnie--bounds toward me to greet me.

My husband's laugh.

Flashes of distant lightning and rumbles of far-off thunder.

Swirling autumn leaves.

The first few measures of the ultimate party song--"Love Shack," by the B52s.

Walking up the ramp into the interior of any professional baseball park, seeing the emerald green of the playing field unfold before me, and getting swept up in the excitement of the crowd.

The first night the Christmas tree is up and decorated each year.

The smell of birthday cake candles right after they are blown out.

Any time I see my daughter dance. Never stop dancing somehow, Honey!

When Bonnie wants something (usually to go outside and...well, you know), she whines in a way that almost sounds like human speech. Cracks me up!

Taking a nap on a warm, sunny summer Sunday afternoon with the bedroom window open and the distinctive sound of a pulsating sprinkler outside.

My son loves to have his shaved head rubbed. So he sits next to me, takes my hand, places it on his head, and begins to move his head around to give me the hint!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, Sweet Mysteries of Life

There are some things I just don’t want to know.

I like surprises and a little mystery in life. Inevitably, around the end of November each year, people start giving me hints about birthday and Christmas gifts. “Got your birthday gift today…it’s something you’d never expect!” Don’t tell me! Don’t hint about its size, shape, color, or the feeling I’ll get when I open it! Don’t even tell me I’ll "absolutely love it." First of all, I hope you wouldn’t get me a gift I’d absolutely hate! But such comments only get my thoughts going…Did I mention something in particular I wanted? Did his tone of voice imply it is an object or an event? What did that raised eyebrow mean? When the gift is revealed, the experience of surprise is so diminished for me even if I’ve only considered for a second that it might be the thing it turns out to be. Don’t even tell me you got me a gift! I don’t want to know until I know! And then I really want to know!

There are people who like to know how things work. They are the ones who took a toaster apart at the age of five to see why bread goes in cold and white and comes out warm and brown. My husband is one of those people, and I love that about him. But it’s not a trait I have—nor do I want it. For me, ignorance is sometimes bliss, sometimes wonder, sometimes goose bumps, sometimes tears welling up in my eyes…and I don’t want it explained. I just want to enjoy it.

It stormed in Wheaton yesterday. You could sense it coming by the look of the sky, the ominous air pressure, the damp smell of the wind…and the green. Have you ever noticed that right before and after a storm the trees and grass look vibrantly green? Green is my favorite color, so I really love when this happens. It’s like that moment when Dorothy steps from the black-and-white tornado-wrecked house into Technicolor Oz. It’s electric, making the little hairs on my arms stand up. It makes me feel exalted and humbled at the same time. It actually gives me a deep sense of joy.

I mentioned this to someone once. Big mistake. “Well, you know there’s a reason for that…” I wanted to put my hands over my ears and yell “La-la-la-la!” so I couldn’t hear the scientific explanation, but I didn’t want to appear rude in the face of his obvious desire to be helpful and informative. So I forced myself to only look like I was listening…something about ionized particles…blah, blah, blah. I narrowly escaped the mystery being blown forever.

Before I leave this realm, I want to see the Northern Lights. Please do not send me a blog comment or an email explaining why these scarves of color and light silently and gently roll over the sky. I don’t want to know. Let me just enjoy it!