Friday, December 31, 2010

Scenes and Sentiments from the Holidays

I'm happy that the holidays are almost done. I adore my family - especially loved having my youngins at home, sleeping on sofas, asking me if I can read over their applications for next year's job, laughing, laughing, laughing at how snippy we can sometimes be with each other. Then there was Christmas Eve at Tom and Kelly's new home - the inauguration of their dream - they were the most wonderful hosts and the house just rocks for a party! There will be more. But, my introverted Self began to throw a little tantrum on Saturday last - "I need to be alone," it said. I need my reflection, purging, quiet time at the end and beginning of years.

So, as I look back on 2010 - there is much I want to forget. And much that has changed me. And much gratitude for my clients and my work this year - which saved me on more than one occasion. And much to look forward to. For happy, healthy children. For love and work.

As Freud said, "Love and work. Work and love. That's all there is." That's what I'm thinking about as the year draws to a close. Both mean the world to me.

What are you thinking about???

Happy New Year, friends. Cheers.

Holly, Izzy and me - cookin' with gas! (Actually with a Wolf - at my brother's)

Christmas Eve Dinner - tenderloin with blue cheese, potatoes gratin with gruyere, curried orange-glazed carrots, broccoli with pine nuts and lemon. lucky are we?

Decanter Lee gave me for Christmas - to improve my vino experience. Like I need that :-)

Grilled cheese Izzy spontaneously made for lunch today for a group of 7 friends, Lee, and me. That girl can cook!

The Greek salad that accompanied the grilled cheese.

Lee making my Christmas card (but I didn't know that at the time.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Zan with his 6th grade class in Houston, Texas

My son, Alexander (aka Zan,) is home for the holidays. I have not had a day, an evening, an hour alone with him for over 1 1/2 years. Maybe longer. So long, I have blocked it from memory. So, this is bliss.

Zan is now 24, living in Houston, Texas teaching 6th grade math to under-served Mexican immigrant children in a public school with Teach for America. He has a Business, Economics, and Public Policy degree from George Washington University in D.C. I thought the kid was headed for corporate law and he ends up caring about 13-year old Mexican immigrants and now is applying at schools in NYC and D.C. (He can't take owning a car, which is required in Houston) to teach more under-served kids. (I think "under-served" is the new way to say "under-privileged.")

It makes me want to weep. I appreciate him so much for his compassionate choice. But, then, he's always been the sweetest kid.

He comes home on Sunday night - hangs out here with me eating chili that isn't even that good- and he's not feeling great - fighting a bug - he gets up on Monday morning to work with me ALL DAY installing a client's home. He is schlepping boxes, putting together furniture, breaking down cardboard boxes, running errands, and generally doing whatever I ask. No complaints.

"I'm so happy I get to pay you instead of someone else," I say.

"You don't have to pay me, Mom."

"Yes, I do. You'll earn it." He did.

Later that night, bone tired from the day and still fighting the flu, we sat together on the sofa in the library / tv room of our apartment - just Zan and me. (Lee was in Boulder this week visiting his family.) He said, "Mom, this is a really comfortable apartment."

Could you have paid me a better compliment? Making a home for the people we love is the point of my work. If they love it, feel at home, feel easy, we've done our job.

And to be appreciated on top of that .... is "golden," as Zan would say. "Golden."

Zan and I have a mutual appreciation society. And nothing could make me happier.

Happy Holidays - and keep looking for those things to appreciate in the people around you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Keeping it Simple by Accident

Really, it's not on purpose that it is simple. It's that I have way too much on my TO DO list this week. I got the last "Natural Balsam" at Bachman's - poor straggly thing, but it was 40% off and I could see it needed adopting. Then, I bought new strings of Christmas lights at Target because I couldn't bear to dig through my storage room knee deep in Izzy's boxes to find the torn grocery bag of lights, untangle them and then realize that I am missing that one link - the single light bulb - so none of them work. I am not putting decorations on this year.

I had planned to buy brown kraft paper to wrap my gifts, but they were out of it at Target and the next thing I saw was plain white in the wedding gift wrap section and that seemed okay, so I bought it. It took me about 2 seconds to make that decision.

Now that my little Charlie Brown tree is standing proudly in the corner of our room, scalloped with lights, and I see the plain white paper packages without even so much as raffia tying it up, which I thought I would need, but don't....this makes me happy. Very happy to be simple and without so much as trying.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

City of Minneapolis really sucks at snow removal

Okay - yesterday was bliss - today it is not so fun. We just discovered a ticket on our car - like I wanted to leave it parked on the wrong side of the street? Would they have preferred I leave it in the middle where it was originally stuck for an hour?

I am not talking about a minor amount of snow on Russell avenue south. My brother came by today to pick something up and GOT STUCK for 45 minutes in a 4-wheel drive SUV! Sadly, I have a Mazda hatchback. I am not match for a 17" snow.

The "F-bomb" is flyin'.

But, really, how is it that Edina can plow it's streets (as I said a bikini wax) and Minneapolis can not? How can NYC remove snow so heroically and Minneapolis can not? How, really? If it was the first time, I'd go easy. But I know how bad it was last year with the ruts - my friend plummeted into a parked car because of them. This is just embarrassing. So don't tell me mr mayor it was the quantity of snow. We suck at snow removal. Period.

Even the mayor said there was amnesty this first day or so. Guess the asshole who gave me a ticket hadn't heard that. So now, I have a ticket and cannot get out without hiring it done. Which is all fine - I had planned to do that tomorrow morning. Couldn't they just have given us one more day of vacation from reality? I'm not impressed and I'm a good Democrat.


Lee just told transmission is gone and I have to replace it because of the fricking snow I got stuck in yesterday.

Now, I need to find a way to relax before I blow a gasket like I blew out my transmission. I said, "How can you and I have had such a great day and now I am so crabby about this?"

He responded, "Hey, I'd rather that you and I have a great day - and a car problem...than no car problems with you and I having a terrible day."

Okay. Feel better.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From Bliss Out to Bliss-ard!

The nice people who helped us dig out.

A scene in Edina this morning after shopping at Lunds.

Wowser. Blizzard of the century - so far. And who is the party planner with such a feel for timing? It starts on a Friday night and lasts a full 24 hours through a Saturday. Who really has to do anything on a Saturday? I mean really? The only thing I could think of I said to Lee, "I"m glad I'm not going into labor today."

So it was another great Saturday - I couldn't get out of my new J.Crew pj's - shown here. Thank god the hubby likes them. They seem anything but sexy to me - but he thinks they are cute, I guess. Whew. (BTW - this is not me - :-)

So, the fire inside and the blizzard outside were mesmerizing. I did find the energy to whip up 3 pillows for my brother (Kelly) and his partner (Tom's) new place. So I got to cross one thing off my OCD list of things I have to do this weekend. They are really great, btw - of antique Indonesian fabrics from INDIGO in the Minneapolis warehouse district. Here's a shot from their website. Just yummy accessories. Tom and i went shopping there yesterday. You have to use your very best Sherlock Holmes eye or it all looks the same, but if you shift your focus to just what you might need, it pops out at you. In the end, we kept every single thing we found and we felt as if we had gone on a little archeological dig.

Indigo - downtown warehouse district in Minneapolis - great accessories!

After the morning cappucino by the fire, Lee had the idea we should go out and play in the snow. He actually used that word "play". (We are 57 and 59.) We thought we might walk to Lunds since driving looked moderately treacherous. Hey, we've spent our time in NY. We know that "hunting and gathering" scene. So, off we went - trudging through 18" deep snow. I insisted on a stop - 1/2 way - at Dunn Bros coffee to re-assess the sanity of this trek. We were only 1/4 of the way of the whole trip and not feeling particularly Will Stieger-ish at the time. Maybe if we had had our sled and dog with us. Maybe if we even had better boots. So we walked back, got into our car and headed out to Lunds. It was not a pretty site -swerving back and forth in the ruts, praying for green lights - all in Minneapolis - then...we had a startling experience!

Edina rocks at plowing streets. The difference once you crossed France Avenue was so staggering. It was like they had bikini-waxed their streets while Minneapolis's roads were piled with snow. What is that? And the plows in Edina - they were, like, major machismo. Get out of their way. But, you kind of did because you felt so grateful anyone was actually making your life easier. On our way home we crossed France back into the no-man's land of Minneapolis and, the minute we turned onto our street, became boldly stuck in the snow that had accumulated for the past 15 hours and not been touched. For 45 minutes, we pushed, we ground the gears, we burned rubber, we froze, we sweated, we swore, and we got a great workout. Eventually, a darling, vibrant, young couple came by and offered to help push as Lee backed the car into the nearest parking spot - 3/4 of a block from our home. There was no getting down the street and trudged home, fingers numb, hair frozen looking like Medusa's.

But, what the heck - we got a nice tenderloin, gin, some chocolate and we are stocked with coffee and milk. All good here. Fires all day. And all I've done is veg out on the sofa. Lee, too. He didn't write a sentence today. We cuddled under the down comforter, walked to the window to exclaim something dim-witted about the storm and put on another log. The BLISS-ARD of 2010.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bliss Out

"I am reminded of Jung's words to the effect that if you feel yourself falling, then the only safety lies in deliberately jumping."

Helen Luke, Dark Wood to White Rose, speaking of Dante's entrance to Hell in Divine Comedy

This has really been one of those days that just shoots me right off my bliss-meter. It included sleeping until I woke up without an alarm, cappucino, a great shower with desperately needed hair removal, Santa Maria Novella body oils, a 30-minute conference call with a new client that resulted in great decision-making, a perfectly reconciled bank account, breakfast out with my husband at Edina Grill in the snowy landscape- jam-packed with cute stocking-capped men and plenty of blonde, down-wrapped women, a little nap, a little love, reading about Dante's Divine Comedy from a Jungian perspective around a blazing fire, dinner of salmon and spinach. I swear...I feel like I am at a spa.

We are reading a book by Helen Luke (1904- 1995) a marvelous Jungian analyst and mentor to Lee, she is an inspiration to me - a woman who found a new path in the middle of life and was a prolific writer and analyst into old age. (In fact, many of her writings are about aging.) The book is a Jungian interpretation of Dante's Divine Comedy. Well, I've never read Divine Comedy, but here's the kicker:

On Thursday, I was at H & B Gallery, a very nice antique store in South Minneapolis - it is always hit or miss, but I often find a few hits - just great accessories and smaller furnishings for my clients. On this particular trip, I had lots of "hits." One thing I did not buy, but rather wanted and took a photo of was a three-volume set of Dante's Commedia Divina. Here it is:

I passed because of the price. I thought it was very cool; both Lee and I love books and I was interested, but wanted to sleep on it. Then, the next day, I mentioned it to Lee. He said, "Wow. Well, I have to tell you about a book I bought for us to read together. I bought Helen Luke's book on Divine Comedy - Dark Wood to White Rose." It arrived that day.

"Well, that seems pretty synchronistic, don't you think? I almost bought Divine Comedy today and you bought a book about it yesterday for us? What is that about?" I'm going back tomorrow to buy it.

We don't have an answer to this but the whole thing has that lovely serendipity about it, a rolling around in rose petals kind of magic. The book is amazing, btw. Amazing in a "wow - turn down the corner of the page" kind of way. We're still digesting,but I start the post with one of the quotes.

Hope on this snowy wintry weekend you have some moments of bliss too - what are yours????