One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

04.13.2010 Taking It All In May 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — onefabulousthing @ 3:32 pm

Graciously accepting praise is not something that I have ever really mastered. I believe that I do good things sometimes, things that are worthy of gratitude or mention by someone else. I believe that I am competent in my job, that I have the best intentions, that I put effort into tasks that are given to me…yet when someone acknowledges this to me directly I am never sure of how to respond. What do I say? Where do I look? How big of a smile should I have? Is that smile giving off the modest, “aw shucks” vibe I am going for? Do I nod in agreement? What if I nod and smile too much? Then I start thinking, “Oh my god, stop smiling and nodding, you lunatic!“, and then I usually make some attention-deflecting, self-deprecating joke and the moment is lost.

I’m not sure what makes me react in that way. I do tend to be a pretty modest person, and I’m in a field where it’s pretty safe to say that I’m not in it for the glory. There may be something there about how I’ve internalized some message about how women should feel that way, but in any case it just feels so awkward. It’s a little ironic that my chosen profession is as a therapist, yet direct expressions of emotion of this type in my personal life instill such panic in me.

Along those lines, I also hate being sung to for my birthday in restaurants (or anywhere, really, now that I am an adult) and I cannot imagine the torture that someone singing a song to me or reading a poem aloud to me would be. I remember a few years back hearing about a contest on a local radio station for two people to do see Dave Matthews play acoustic cuts from an unreleased album in his hotel suite. I grabbed my phone and started dialing, then the reality of the situation sunk in: I would be sitting in front of Dave Matthews while he sang earnest songs about love and the state of the world and social justice. Where would I look? How big of a smile should I have? Do I nod along to the songs? What kind of behavior is appropriate in a situation like that? I hung up the phone.

Today though, at 31 years, 6 months, and 20 days, I think I finally got the hang of it. I was in a work meeting, and some people acknowledged the successes I have had handling a few issues over the past few months. I had been tasked with a lot of new responsibilities and managed not to screw up too badly was able to keep everything running smoothly despite some bumpy situations, and our staff morale has been really great under my leadership. I managed not to make any self-deprecating jokes, and I managed not to minimize my efforts. My smile was appropriately large, and I nodded once and simply said. “Thank you.” It felt really nice.

So, Fabulous Thing #103: Accepting praise where praise is due.

 

04.12.2010 Revolution May 4, 2010

Filed under: Food,Television — onefabulousthing @ 10:04 pm

Sometimes I am a little late to catching on to things, especially when it comes to new television shows, but thanks to the internet and a DVR I am able to keep myself reasonably informed of all things pop culture. I took a sick day today from work, due to a nasty flare up of what I think were allergies (aren’t you glad you asked?), and managed to sleep for about 4 hours of it. Under strict instructions from my husband to not fritter away the sick day with house work or projects, I took to the couch with my laptop and a cup of tea when I finally rolled out of bed.

I had heard about a new show via some Facebook status updates that sounded right up my alley, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I did not have very high hopes, since I have largely written off network television – especially network reality shows – due to repetitive content and ridiculous commercialism (Seriously, have you ever seen the awkward product placement moments they try to incorporate into The Biggest Loser? Extra Sugarfree Gum is not a suitable replacement for a sweet treat!), but since the full episodes are available on ABC.com and I didn’t have much else going on, I watched the first four episodes.

I will say that I was not sold on the whole (spoiler!) Local DJ as Antagonist angle, but otherwise I was really, really impressed with what he is trying to do and how he is trying to do it. I have read a lot of books on the politics of food, most notably Food Politics (natch) by Marion Nestle, that address the issue of poor nutrition in schools and the decline of the home-cooked meal, and they have influenced the priorities that I have in providing food for my own family. It was really encouraging to watch how Jamie approached different segments of a town’s population in his attempts to get his important message across, including education, skills training, and discussions about motivations for changing.

It was also really encouraging that there were not any moments that stood out in the show as someone trying to sell me something. When what you are pushing is fresh vegetables and whole food ingredients, it’s difficult to slap a proprietary label on that and put it on a shelf, and this show didn’t try to do that. I am eager to see where this movement goes next, and glad that there is something that people are talking about right now that doesn’t include ridiculous people behaving badly for attention, like politics.

So, Fabulous Thing #102: Worthy pursuit, worthwhile television.

 

04.11.2010 Life is Grand

Filed under: Family — onefabulousthing @ 9:09 pm

When I was first dating my husband, he told me one day that he had just gone to his grandmother’s house to get some pointers from her on his golf game. Apparently, she was the winner of some league championships back in her day at the local country club, explaining that she needed to do something with her time while her husband worked on his game. This made me think two things:

  1. What a sweet guy
  2. This woman sounds like someone I need to meet

I was right on both counts. You know how everyone seems to like to give new parents advice about getting babies on a schedule – no this way, not that way! –  and how you will spoil them if you pick them up too much, blah blah blah? Well, my husband’s grandmother told me this upon the birth of her first great-grandchild: “There is so much that is hard and cruel about life, you show that baby every kindness you can, don’t worry about what people tell you to do.” Amazing.

Over the past few years it has become a family tradition to spend the Sunday of the Masters golf tournament with my in-laws and my husband’s grandmother, and today we did exactly that. To be clear, out of respect for my husband’s grandmother’s wishes, we were not rooting for Tiger (“Shameful business!”). Since I am not a big enough golf fan to be riveted to the screen for every second of the round, I spent some of the afternoon sorting through clothes that had been handed down to my son from a co-worker of my mother-in-law, who is currently raising her great-grandson with her husband.

We have been the lucky recipients of approximately a ton of little boy clothes in beautiful condition from this woman over the past year, and we are so grateful for her thoughtfulness, and good taste in clothes. Grandparents are meant to spoil their grandkids, so when you have great-grandparents raising a child, you can only imagine how many adorable swim suits and sweater vests result from that situation.

So there I was this afternoon, surrounded by the generosity of a great-grandmother I had hardly met, with a stomach full of food provided by my son’s grandparents, watching my mother-in-law patiently walk my son around the neighborhood to see the big kids play basketball, and then all of us laughing as his great-grandmother taught him to play peek-a-boo by covering his eyes with his chubby little hands, and I could only think about how lucky this child is to know the love of so many generations.

So, Fabulous Thing #101: Love, passed down.

 

04.10.2010 Breakfast for Dinner

Filed under: Food — onefabulousthing @ 8:20 pm

Today was the 70th birthday celebration for a relative of my husband’s. I have been looking forward to this party for a few weeks, since the invitation came and we discovered that the party would be held at a local diner, with breakfast-for-dinner as the menu.

When I was a kid, Breakfast For Dinner was always such an unexpected treat, as good as when I would come home from school to find two sticks of butter softening in my mother’s old brown stoneware bowl, signaling that chocolate chip cookies were in my immediate future. There’s just something about eating pancakes and maple sausage for dinner that is just the right amount of subversive for a weeknight in childhood.

As an adult, Breakfast For Dinner is always marked with an exclamation point on our refrigerator whiteboard where our weekly menu plan is found. It deserves special punctuation. The Bisquick pancakes and Aunt Jemima (well, store-brand version of Aunt Jemima) syrup from my youth has been replaced with homemade blueberry pancakes, or french toast with sauteed apples or peaches served with real Rhode Island maple syrup, but the spirit is just the same as it was back then.

To serve breakfast for dinner as party food is pretty inspired. Sitting at the little tables in the train car diner, enjoying Eggs Benedict while my son ate his way through a pancake twice the size of his head, I told my husband that I wanted this type of celebration for my 70th birthday. Or, maybe my 32nd.

So, Fabulous Thing #100 (!): Breakfast! For! Dinner!

 

A Meta Moment April 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — onefabulousthing @ 9:11 pm

As I’m about to hit “Publish” on the 100th Fabulous Thing of 2010, I’m struggling a little bit. I’m not struggling to find a Fabulous Thing to write about each day, in fact sometimes I have more than one good contender. I am finding myself having a difficult time with what I’m not writing.

Maybe it’s understood that the bright points of every one of my days are balanced out by some darker things, but I have been feeling a little caught up in recent weeks with the weight of those darker things, and how strange and incomplete it feels to be writing about flowers and clean houses when there are harder things happening.

Then I go back to the idea that this is exactly the point of having this blog, and of trying to tease out the points of light from among the darkness…

So here is my disclaimer, that will hopefully allow me to continue to transfer the pieces of things that I think about and write every day onto this space without all of the hemming and hawing: I am acknowledging that the posts I make here are only part of the picture, and in no way negate the other very real and true things that also occupy the span of a day. But they do make those things a little easier to confront.

Onward.

 

04.09.2010 Flower Power April 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — onefabulousthing @ 9:55 pm

As part of the Apartment Therapy 8 Week Cure, I am tasked with purchasing fresh flowers for my home each week. For the past few weeks I have not bought any flowers myself, since for various reasons my loving husband has bought some for me.

I went grocery shopping tonight after work, and decided that it was time for a new bouquet. I can’t remember the last time I bought flowers for no particular reason, but I found that I really liked the whole process. I selected a bouquet that included some lime green pom-pom looking flowers along with some white lily-type things and some other white flowers that have many blossoms clustered on each stem. (hey, a botanist I am not – I just like what I like). I got to put them in one of those special cones that attach to the side of the cart and enjoy them while I shopped. When I checked out, they were wrapped in paper and carefully laid on top of the rest of my packages.

Before unloading the rest of my groceries from the cart, I rested my bouquet on the baby’s car seat. The humid, rainy night made their scent carry throughout the car as I drove home. During my drive, I noticed that my route was brightened by the brazenly blooming forsythia bushes that were suddenly announcing their presence to the world. In my neighborhood, the dogwoods and azaleas were starting their annual show.

This is such an obvious statement, but flowers are gorgeous. The act of choosing, buying, and arranging flowers for display in my house made me so conscious of the blooms that are happening everywhere. Even through the rain, it made me want to invite everyone I know who lives in different climates to come to my street to see how beautiful it all is right now, bursting into life in full color. Then, I wanted to invite them all to my house to admire the lovely bouquet I have on display.

So, Fabulous Thing #99: The Cure for what ails you.

 

04.08.2010 From Seed to Plant to…? April 17, 2010

Filed under: Garden — onefabulousthing @ 9:16 pm

Today, a few of my seeds started sprouting. It looks like a 5th grade science fair project on my front windowsill, with all of these cups that have seeds and dirt in them in different stages of growth. The cucumbers were first, a variety called (appropriately enough) Early Russian. In addition to the Early Russian cucumbers, I have in the works:

  • Suyo Long Cucumbers
  • Reverend Morrow’s Long Keeper Tomatoes
  • Southern Night Tomatoes
  • Green Grape Tomatoes
  • Roma Rio Grande Tomatoes
  • Yellow of Parma Onions
  • Serrano Tampequino Hot Peppers
  • Quadrato Asti Rosso Peppers
  • Purple Beauty Peppers
  • Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant
  • Thai White Ribbed Eggplant

And those are just the ones that needed to be started indoors this early. Ask me how many times we ate eggplant last year. Probably not even one plant’s worth, I would guess. But if all goes well, we’ll be up to our ears in vegetable matter this summer, which is a prospect that is both thrilling and overwhelming at the same time.

One quality that has rubbed off on me from my husband is the inability to see food go to waste. Before meeting him, there would be times when things like whole packages of chicken and untouched heads of lettuce were tossed out because I hadn’t gotten to them before they went bad. I have slowly adopted new habits (meal-planning, frequent use of the freezer) that have helped address this, and I now try to be more flexible with my 30-days-between-eating-something-and-having-it-again rule. I guess you could say I have become a little more adult in my approach to food.

Watching these small seeds send tentative shoots out into the world, I can’t imagine ever letting the fruits of their labors go to waste, so I guess I better start collecting eggplant recipes and figuring out creative ways to use purple peppers. In the meantime, I will just try to enjoy the simple magic of a seed, plus a little sunlight and water, becoming something much more complex (and delicious).

So, Fabulous Thing #98: Maybe I don’t have a black thumb after all.