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The magic of Christmas in the fading Canadian light. I’m finally warming up to the holidays. The Santa Hat has made its first appearance. MKL and I got to take a wonderful narrow gauge train ride through Santa’s Magic Forest with an adorable three-year old. Kelsea is home. We’re going to the Nutcracker on Friday. The girls are decorating the tree on Saturday. While other aspects of the world are spinning out of their orbits, I feel a modicum of peace.
Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens
The smiles the Santa Hat generates
Still basking in the glow of newlywed bliss – although it would be really nice if we lived together, but that will come. It’s been a time of many moods, getting ready to send Kelsea off to college. I bought her a one-way plane ticket, and that made me a little shocked. She cut off all her hair and she looks adorable. We know we have a limited number of trashy-tv-together nights, and it makes me a little weepy. So my blues have been coming and going like the tides, rising and falling. But my happiness at being Mrs. MKL and the wonderful memories of our wedding help keep the light in my heart. I had saved a “blue bomb” orchid blossom from a wedding I worked a year or more ago; it has sat on my bathroom shelf so I could describe it perfectly to the florist (shout out to Judy at Surf City Florist for an awesome job). I now wish I had saved a blossom from my own bouquet, but I’m so pleased that I was able to leave Kelsea’s with Lynn and mine with Janie to enjoy.
Quote of the day: “She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.” — Marissa Meyer
The man in mismatched socks in the bus station
Mothers who smile at their children (that happens less often than you might think)
My feisty friend at Half Girl Half Teacup has nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World award! It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the blog award circuit and I’m delighted, so stay tuned for my acceptance speech and nominations!
MKL and I got married on Saturday. Yes, we did. And it was absolutely perfect. There were so many highlights, I don’t even know how to share them with you, and I will share more pictures over the coming months, but here’s a start:
- Our open house the day before the wedding had the beach house bursting with friends (who are family), blood kin, and love. And the shark tacos were a hit.
- At the end of that party, the rainy skies cleared to a beautiful sunset and a wide calm beach, and we all migrated to the water’s edge to walk, talk, take pictures, and play ultimate.
- No one was eaten by sharks (the shark tacos made it the reverse) and the post-wedding day stingray stab on LJRH’s daughter was dramatic, but not debilitating, making for an excellent story for her to take back to Missouri.
- My loved ones made the house and the deck (E-bro’s, rented down the beach, with more room than mine) look spectacular, and perfect for an inside (rainy) or an outside (sunny) wedding. The sun cooperated and we were outside.
- An arc of rainbow appeared behind us as we were sitting together after the ceremony. God and my parents were smiling down on us.
- Painkillers – the drink of the Soggy Dollar Bar, courtesy of my much loved friends Dave and Amanda, who are my family met at that spot 11 years ago – flowed like the sea.
- The two small and gorgeous girls became fast and immediate friends. In fact, all the people, many of whom had never met, became friends.
- Beth K., the daughter of my late parents’ best friends, and a true and beautiful warrioress, joined us. We had never met before, and now I feel I have another sister.
- My three new stepsons, all of whom are treasures: one was the most perfect ceremony officiate ever, one steamed and bustled me and made sure I looked perfect, and one led the toasts that brought me to tears.
- My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful children opening their hearts and home to us.
- My sister and niece flying quickly and crazily in from Colorado to share the day and capture it in photographs.
- Having my uncle and aunt and darling cousin (now one of my best friends, after a gap in time of some 35 years) made me feel like my parents were there.
- Our across-the-street neighbor who lovingly provided a sandcastle cake, delicious crab dip, serving trays, a steamer, and her and her husband’s warmth, affection, and light to our special days.
- JJ, who continues to allow me to come “home” every year for a few brief weeks, to the house on Topsail Beach.
- My stepson T’s toast, which touched me deeper than my heart.
- Having the Swine Sisters – aka my two best girlfriends from when I was 17 – reunited again as if no time had passed.
- The girlie-hen-party that was a part of my getting dressed for the ceremony. I really feel like I have lots of sisters now.
- I sparkled. And I glowed. And my dress was awesome.
- Wearing my mother’s rhinestones that I used to play dress-up in, and carrying my father’s handkerchief.
- MKL’s shirt matching the sky, and being my “something blue”.
- Beautiful bouquets from Surf City Florist, and a lovely centerpiece created from grocery-store bought flowers. And my daughter’s swagging and shell-arranging skills were front and center.
- All the vows, including those read by the officiate, handwritten on the back of placemats from the Breezeway, our favorite beach restaurant. (I’ll share a photo later.)
- My most darling daughter, who not only wore a dress for the occasion, but looked gorgeous, and bailed me out when I pulled her aside just after the ceremony had started and told her I had forgotten MKL’s ring and she needed to drive like a bat out of hell to fetch it from our house. She did so successfully, saving the day, and allowing her to maintain her dignity by not bursting into tears during my vows (which she read the next day).
- Another wedding down the beach releasing Chinese lanterns after dark – it was if they were ours, but we didn’t have to go to the trouble. (Fire and I are often not a happy mix.)
- Seeing the Milky Way in the sky for the first time in years; it was here that my father first pointed it out and explained it to me.
- Remembering almost nothing about the ceremony but the look in MKL’s eyes, which as always looked sparkling like the sea, with a hint of aspen trees.
Quote of the day: “There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” — Homer
A couple more days by the sea
Long walks holding hands
The smell of sunscreen
Since I started the swimming pig ball rolling, I figured I’d just let it roll with some more shots of these cuties. My feet will be in the sand in about four days (North Carolina sand, not Bahamian sand) and I can’t wait. It has been over eight months since I’ve been on a beach (seeing one from an Oregon scenic overlook doesn’t quite count) and that’s way too long for me!
Quote of the day: “To the stars, on the wings of a pig.” — John Steinbeck
My orange shoes
That when I don’t burn things, I can make a darn good quick dinner
Dozing on the bus
On our last trip to Exuma, we crossed something off of my Bucket List – swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas. Our private captain took us to a Secret Pig Island (not the ones that most of the tour boats go to), and the little porkers swam right out to greet us, knowing that we’d have something fun for them to eat. It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience (though I said that about my first trip to the Caribbean as well, and look how that turned out), but I was soooo happy to pet and paddle and share some splash time with these beasties. And they seemed pretty darn happy too.
Quote of the day: “I really do believe that all of you are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you’re going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won’t be able to re-fold it no matter how smart you are.
So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can, pull over and have picnic with a pig. And if you can help it never fly as cargo.” — Jim Henson
Wedding dress shopping for Niece 1
Time with my sister
Finalizing my wedding hairstyle (courtesy of Niece 1)
Hawks on telephone poles
GPS assistance when needed
Today is my birthday, and as it winds down, I must say it’s been very nice. Quiet. Work (though it’s too slow right now for my taste). Lunch with MKL, and a beautiful card. A tour of the vaults in the Broker Restaurant in downtown Denver. A yummy cupcake and card from a lovely co-worker. Facebook greetings. A call from my daughter. And now I’m cuddled on the couch watching The House of Elliot. I realized yesterday that MKL makes me feel so special every day, and has helped me gain so much confidence in myself, that I don’t need my birthday to be a particularly special day. Every day feels special.
I’m glad I was born, and there were years when I couldn’t say that. I did indulge in a turn of the “Happy Birthday to Moo” spinning musical cow when I got home tonight. Because it is my birthday.
Quote of the day: “…we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand.” — Robert McCannon
The woman I passed who smelled like lily of the valley
Guiding a new town resident through the grocery store
That my parents had me
The occasional cupcake
A nice walk today
We sat on this porch in a pair of white wooden rocking chairs and listened to the wind in the sea oats and the waves lapping at the sand and said we could have been content there for hours.
Cape Lookout, North Carolina.
Quote: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.” — William Shakespeare
That MKL and I are now formally and officially engaged!
A day to relax
Patterns of sunshine
Once upon a time, a little girl lived with her brother, her mother, and her father in a happy brick house in a smallish sort of town. It never got too terribly cold in this smallish sort of town, but winter still did come, as winter does to every town, not matter how big or small.
The little girl’s father loved to walk. And the little girl loved her father very much. He worked a lot, and most days, no matter how hot or cold or wet or dry, her father would walk to work. He would make his way down the cement sidewalks from the happy brick house, around the dangerous yucca plant by the mailbox on the corner next to the old infirmary, and between the tall pillars in the stone wall that surrounded the university campus. Then he would walk briskly past the acres of green grass and majestic buildings with their white marble columns and tall casement windows, down the little hill, and beneath the dark underpass, where the trains ran clickity-clackity above his head. He kept going still, for miles, past the tangled thicket of woods, past tall, fragrant pine trees, and past wide meadows, until he reached his work. It seemed to the little girl that is was a very long way to walk, but she knew that walking made her father happy.
The little girl and her father used to take walks together on the weekends. She loved their walks, when it was just the two of them, and he would hold her small cold hand in his big warm one, and they would talk about everything. They walked in the spring, when she would see the leaves starting to emerge from their slumbers. They walked in the summer, when she would take her shoes off and feel the soft grass beneath her feet. They walked in the fall, when she would kick through ankle-deep piles of crunchy brown leaves. They walked in winter, when her mother would wrap her feet in plastic bags to keep them warm inside her tall red boots.
One day, the whole family decided to walk together. To decorate the happy brick house for Christmas, they were going to gather branches in the tangled thicket of woods that her father passed each day on his way to work. The little girl wasn’t very happy about taking this long walk, because it was very long, and that day it was VERY cold, so cold that there was even some snow on the ground. Her mother dressed her warmly, in her little red coat, and her white hat with the pom on the top and the black and orange pattern around it, with its matching mittens. The little girl loved her hat and mittens. She thought they were the prettiest things she’d ever seen (after the Easter bonnet and parasol purse her grandmother had given her), and since she knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her father’s hand the whole way (because her brother was there), she was happy to have them to help keep her warm. But she was still grumpy about the walk.
They walked and walked and the little girl was so cold, and exceedingly grumpy because no one would carry her. After what seemed like weeks, they reached the tangled thicket. The whole family tromped across the snow to enter the woods, and began to collect branches and boughs and sprigs in bags to adorn the house. The little girl’s mittens kept getting stuck on the branches, so she took them off and tucked them in her coat pocket. It got colder and colder, and then dusk started to settle into the shadows of the trees and the family started for home. But when they had left the thicket, and the little girl went to put her mittens on…. one of them was gone. She began to cry. She begged her parents to go back and look for it, but to no avail. They promised her a new pair of mittens, but she was inconsolable. She knew that mitten would be cold and lost and lonely and would never know why it had been abandoned. She wept as if her heart would break, and would not be comforted. Not even when her Mother told her that it had probably become a nest to keep some baby animal warm.
Years passed, and the little girl grew and grew, as all little girls will, until she was a young woman. She had never forgotten her lost mitten, and, as a rational person, she found this odd. She knew that she had lost many things over the years. Why had the loss of one small mitten been so profound?
At 17, she found herself walking back to that same thicket, which was much less dense and tangled than it had been so many years ago, to look for the mitten. She knew it was beyond fanciful, but she felt she could not leave the now not-quite-so-smallish town without looking for it one last time.
Of course, she didn’t find the mitten.
More years passed, and the woman, who was not quite so young anymore, had moved thousands of miles away from the town, that was now an actually-pretty-big-town. She herself had a little girl, and the little girl, probably because she was so close to the ground, had a wonderful talent for finding small and beautiful things whenever they went anywhere. She would find coins and marbles and jewelry and all sorts of treasures.
She made the woman remember the mitten.
One day, when the dog ate one of her little girl’s favorite little winter gloves (which were black with bright orange and red flames) and she could not be consoled, the woman went to shop after shop until she found another pair that was exactly the same. She knew just how her little girl felt.
Even more years passed, as years do, and the woman’s little girl became a young woman herself, so the woman went to work in the big city. Because of her daughter, the woman still kept an eye out for treasures that others had lost, and whenever she found something, like a hat, or a nice pen, or a handkerchief, she would put it somewhere up off the ground, near the place she found it, in case the person who lost it came back looking for it. She never knew if they did, but she hoped. She hoped that they did, and that they would be happy when they found it again.
The woman still loved to walk, just like her father had. One day, the woman was walking briskly down the street in the big city, for it was a cold winter day. She was going to meet her fiancé for lunch, and she was very happy because she had been able to stop to pet a pug named Duke, and she was wearing her favorite sparkly earrings, which were old and unique, and which swayed and played softly about her ear lobes and made her feel pretty. When she got to the restaurant, she hugged her beloved, and took off her hat and realized…. one of her lovely, sparkly earrings was gone.
The woman was sad. She knew it was silly to be sad. She had reached an age where she knew that things were just things, and that everything goes the way of all flesh, and you can’t take it with you, and numerous other platitudes that people tell themselves to make themselves feel better when they lose something they were fond of.
She knew in her heart that she was still just a little girl who had lost her mitten.
She kissed her fiancé goodbye and walked back down the busy street, back the way she had come, back to work, with her eyes on the ground, looking for a small sparkly earring among the shiny patches of ice on the sidewalk. She knew the chances of ever seeing it again were so slim that they were nearly invisible. She crossed where the buses ran, looking for a telltale sign of crushed crystal and gold. She passed the planter where she had stopped to pet Duke the Pug. And out of the corner of her eye, on the corner of the last planter in the row, someone had carefully set a sparkly dangly earring, just so, so that in case the person who had lost it came looking, they would be sure to see it, if they had faith, and if they noticed.
The woman knew that there was another kindred soul in the big city who understood about lost things.
And for the rest of the day, the woman (and the little girl inside her) smiled with her eyes and her mouth and her heart.
It has been a lovely birthday…iTunes card… key fob from a grand old hotel on St. Thomas… “Green Slime” movie poster… perfect cards… a “hold” on a Maine Coon senior cat at the Humane Society… great lunch (and I am anticipating a great dinner)… and some other mysteriousness in the living room as we speak, courtesy of MKL. My Kelsea wrote me the best letter ever, and left me a rose, chocolate, and two bottles of San Pellegrino in the middle of the living room floor, where I couldnt’ miss them. It is a happy day.
Quote of the Day: “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.” — Robert Frost.
(My Kelsea is a diplomat. I am, perpetually and thankfully, the same age in her birthday greetings. And MKL has not once made a reference to my actual age – nor will he. I know him.)
Loving family and friends
The thoughtfulness of others
How thankful I am for my own parents for giving me life – I miss them.
Balloons make me smile. It’s been a hard few days, but we must never forget to smile.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Quote of the day: “Thereare only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
A clean house (thanks to my neice)
My Pusser’s cup
Falling leaves on a beautiful day