Posts Tagged With: gifts

It’s Raining Twenties From Heaven

Pennies from Heaven?

Pennies from Heaven?

Thirteen years ago, this month, MSH had just landed a contract out-of-state at a facility that had something or other to do with the airplane industry. He’d had a ton of gigs that lasted various lengths of time and I seldom kept track of what exactly each involved. On the morning of September 11 he called me, told me to turn on the TV, and the world changed. A couple of weeks later he drove back home, his contract ended abruptly along with hundreds of other contractors and employees. A similar scene unfolded all over the country that fall and winter.

Months and months and months and months later, I forget now how long, no other contracts came available, no other work opened up. All our reserves siphoned away, all our options dried and cracked like a Phoenix river bed.

I took a sales position that brought in enough to cover a couple of the utilities. I took on other manual labor as well. MSH took what work he could get, but it utilized none of his decades of experience in the computer industry. Not a nice memory to look back on, I can assure you.

Surprisingly, a few bright spots shine through the dark, hopeless feeling of that time.

One ray of light in particular stays with me.

Occasionally, unpredictably, an envelope would show up taped to our door, a twenty-dollar bill tucked inside. No writing on the envelope. No clues whatsoever where it came from.

Twenties from Heaven

Twenties from Heaven

Twenty dollars bought a grocery cart full of fresh produce where I shopped. Gratefully that’s usually how we used that gift.

Tucked inside that envelope, along with the crisp or crinkled bill, a bit of hope and a sliver of love. I never had any way of thanking whoever thought to send such caring our way. The timing of it always caught me off guard, usually on a day of discouragement and exhaustion.

If I didn’t already believe in angels before those twenties started showing up on my door, I certainly became a believer afterwards.

Whoever sacrificed that amount for us and taped it to our door may not have had wings or known how to fly, but they most surely wore a halo shining with human kindness and glowing with sensitivity.

Almost every time I use a twenty-dollar bill all these years later, I’m reminded of those twenties that blessedly and magically came our way.

When I start to think that the world holds little of goodness in it, or I get discouraged by life in general, I simply remember back to those envelopes on my door and feel grateful for good people, the real gifts from heaven.

~~~

This song kept rolling through my head as I wrote today… Might have something to do with the record rainfall we’ve had today in the Phoenix area. Or it could have been a message I needed to hear. I’ve included the original version by Bing Crosby as well as a cover by more recent artists.

I’m wondering if it needs to make a comeback.

Enjoy.

Or if you prefer a more current rendition here’s the Paul Anka and Michael Buble cover of Pennies from Heaven.

(Here’s the lyrics.) 

A long time ago
A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That’s what storms were made for
And you shouldn’t be afraid for

Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don’t you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You’ll find yor fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don’t run under a tree.
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me

~Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke

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Categories: Hope, Mondaze | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Sibling Rivalry? Never…

Dear J, J, L and L,

Do you remember how I’d always answer when you asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day?

“Peace on earth, good will toward siblings.”

You all hated that answer. Or at least, you’d groan and say,” MoooOOOoooooooommmmmmm” in a whine of exasperation. I don’t blame you. It’s nearly impossible to run to Target or JC Penney and buy a cute box of good will. Even Wal-Mart, surprisingly, doesn’t carry either generic good or ill will in a bag. And wrapping up peace has so far proven unmanageable to even the biggest big wigs in the world.

It wasn’t that you guys never got along. (That was a double negative, which in math means a positive, right?) Let me rephrase that.

Ummm.

Okay, try this.

You guys didn’t fight constantly. I’ve seen worse. Much worse. And you didn’t come close to some the shtuff I’ve witnessed in other families.

Well, except for the Palestine and Israel years but we’re going to ignore that for the moment. Of course there was the infamous Scrabble incident but I blame myself for that one, in that I responded disproportionately to the constant volley of incoming fire between said “countries” during the game.

“I think this clearly shows that we spend far too much on fancy charts and graphs.” ~ attribution ??

“I think this clearly shows that we spend far too much on fancy charts and graphs.” ~ attribution ??

From what I’ve heard and seen, our family did pretty dang good on the siblings cooperating and getting along well ‘scale of warfare and petty grievances.’

I can tell you’re thinking, “has Mom really lost her mind now?” And you’d be partly correct, but I blame your dad for that more than you four. What you’re seeing and experiencing here is selective memory, and the fog that distance and time provides.

I’m not pretending there weren’t some all out brawls between you, because we all know there were some intense moments, days and weeks, yeah, and months and years. And yet, look at you now. You still speak to each other, you stay in touch, there’s no lasting damage to anyone’s psyche. We can get together as a whole family and there isn’t any major drama. How many families do YOU know that can say that?

I feel pretty dang lucky that it all turned out okay. And that it was more good than bad on the grand scale of things as far as sibling rivalry, conflict and combat goes.

You spent endless hours yelling “Marco” and “Polo” without any bloodshed or maimings. (Whining, yes. Cheating, probably.) Constructing hundreds of blanket forts without any broken bones, stitches, clawing or biting seems noteworthy. We even camped together without accidentally on purpose losing anybody. (We won’t bring up losing J at the gas station that one time, that was entirely my fault, nothing to do with sibling rivalry.)

Hot Wheels. Only the beginning of many thrills to follow.

Hot Wheels. Only the beginning of many thrills to follow.

J and J, you were each others best buddies for the longest time. I considered that the biggest benefit of your birth dates occurring only sixteen months apart. You worked together so well in so many ways. The most infamous example being when one of you, sleepless and bored during nap time, broke several slats off the end of the crib so the other one could crawl out and play trampoline on the bed with you. Evil genius right there, and great teamwork.

One of my most cherished pictures is big bro J with little sis J riding on the back of the Hot Wheel. You two were, even then, extreme thrill junkies zipping and zooming around like speed demons. Happiness personified!

Look how sweet and adorable! Amazing!

Look how sweet and adorable! Amazing!

And then Big L, you had this amazing gift of tongues when it came to Little L’s mangled language those first few years. What would I have done if you weren’t so in tune with what she said in body language and in words? What a great sister you were providing translations so that she and I weren’t so confused and frustrated in the communications department.

And then, few years later, as you patiently, every night for months, read Harry Potter out loud, until little L decided she couldn’t wait until bedtime and started reading alone as if it were oxygen.

What great siblings you all were and still are to each other. Pretty impressive!

I look back on those years and feel, relief, yes, but mostly JOY for the gift you gave me of motherhood. You continue to present me with delightful surprises and elation beyond anything you could buy at a store.

YOU four are my Mother’s Day gifts. Nothing can top that.

Thank you!

All my love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Favorite Thing of the Month

Cleaning up after making bread the other day, I pulled out my cleaning spray for a final once over of the counters. As I spritzed and wiped I felt a sense of satisfaction at a task already tidied. I also felt, oddly, that all was right with the world. Funny how such basic chores as mixing, kneading, cleaning and straightening, can instill a sense of wellness.

Part of the cleanup process I’ve adopted recently involves a gift I received from a friend at Christmas. Every year, instead of delivering dozens of plates of home-baked goodies to her friends, she gifts a favorite find from the past year. Once it was a wonderful spice she had discovered, another time a cool grout cleaning tool. This year it was a cleaning product she adored.

I was a bit taken aback by the scent it claimed to carry.

Radish.

Yes, radish.

Who would have thought something like this could bring such delight into my day?

Who would have thought something like this could bring such delight into my day?

I had the same reaction as you. Seriously? I didn’t even think radishes had a smell, only a biting crunch and tang. I tucked the bottle under my sink, and honestly, kind of forgot about it. It wasn’t until sometime in February, while cleaning under the kitchen sink that I thought of that gift. What an ingrate I was.

I looked at it and wondered what some cleaning company thought radish smelled like. So I turned the knob on the sprayer and pulled the trigger, letting a fine mist of the stuff settle into my sink.

Not bad. Not necessarily radishy, but still a nice, clean scent. I left the bottle on the counter and finished organizing under the sink. That task out of the way I moved on to the rest of the kitchen.

I spritzed the countertops and wiped them clean. Then I moved on to the table.

Nice.

I liked the clean smell. And, bonus! It cleaned really well!

Anything smelled better than bleach or orange oil or ammonia or lemon. I sound kind of snooty don’t I?

Don’t get me wrong. I used to love the smell of bleach after a good cleaning of the bathroom, or a thorough scrubbing of the kitchen sink.

I loved it until it became a paying job.

Yup. I cleaned houses for a living a decade or so ago. I cleaned vacant model homes and I cleaned regular lived-in houses. Both required hard work that took its toll on me. Grateful for the work and the fairly decent pay, I kept at it for several years.

I fell into bed most nights thoroughly spent and certain I had earned every penny. Unfortunately, the smell of bleach haunted my dreams, as did the scent of orange oil and lemon oil, ammonia  and dust.

After several years I eased myself out of that profession and into real estate appraisal, which I thought would pay off big time. Can you say “housing bubble?” The joke was on me.

Sigh.

Looks like I just made a short story very long. I only meant to explain why I love my new radish scented cleaner.

It smells clean, not soapy, not bleachy, not orangey, not lemony.  Now when I clean, I only smell happy memories of my own tidy home, not hundreds of other homes.

For that I thank my sweet friend, Susan.

As my bottle ran low I asked for her secret supplier of this decadent cleaner. She told me it was on sale that week at, of all places, Target! And that it also comes in basil scent. I’m easily amused and just as easily satisfied with simple pleasures. I guess that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

Categories: Fun, Gratitude | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rocking Things Up Around Here

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“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” This one let me know that sitting quietly for long period of time was perfectly okay.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

(If you’re new to my blog, or don’t follow regularly, this all makes more sense if you know that my best friend passed away at the beginning of January.)

A multilayered message.

A multilayered message.

Have you ever felt like you stumbled on to a treasure hunt? I have, just recently in fact. I’ve been finding these gems around my yard this past month.

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Whoever did this for me is amazing!

And by gems I mean rocks.

Not just any rocks though.

These rocks ROCK!

These rocks speak to me.

Okay, I admit, that wasn’t very descriptive. So I’ve included photos.

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Beautiful, yes?

Someone, with an artistic flair and a bunch of love, painted words on rocks and tucked them in little hidden spots around my yard and garden. I’ve found one in every flower bed, another under the bird bath, another on my porch swing and yet another tucked in a ceramic pot filled with flowers.

Each one appeared on a day that I needed that message or idea.

Each seemed infused with care and compassion.

I’d call that magical, or serendipitous, or simply really nifty.

I’m not sure if I’ve stumbled on them all yet, either. So I find myself noticing things more as I pull some weeds, tuck in some seeds, water plants, or clear some frost damaged leaves. Whether I find more or not doesn’t matter, for what I find as I pay better attention to yard tasks is a kind of mindfulness that I need right now.

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Psalm 46:10

Rushing through tasks isn’t in my nature lately.

I’m trying to give all I can to the moment I’m in. Less multitasking and more one thing at a time. Enjoying now.

It’s a new idea for me.

From words that directly let me know something, to words with layers of meaning. From the simple to the profound. Anyway you read them they speak of love.

The combined rock messages have helped me see things in a new light and reminded me of things I needed reminding of.

So, THANK YOU, rock painting person. Your kindness is noted, appreciated, cherished and smiled at often. YOU ROCK!!

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You’ve succeeded in making me feel loved! Thank you!

Categories: Gardening, good ideas, Gratitude, Love | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Up in the Air

English: Flag of the United States on the .

It’s Gratituesday!  Today I am feeling an excitement I can’t quite name.  There’s an exhilaration and vibrancy in the air.  Can you feel it too?  Or is it simply me?

This is like that churning sensation, antsy feet, jumping about while waiting in line for a roller coaster you’ve never ridden feeling.  An electrical charge seems to pulse all around you. Something like that zings through the air today.

A job interview after ages of waiting, stomach flipping with nervous energy, feels this way. Today my stomach is an Olympic gymnast and I am mid-flight in a backflip waiting to stick the landing, arms held aloft and confident.

The first day back at school after summer break, new kids, new teacher, new hopes, a thrill of the unknown, the possibilities hovering on the edge. I look over the precipice with wonder today.

A box wrapped in shiny foil paper, bound with a glittering ribbon, knotted with a flourish and a bow, awaits opening.  Soon now, very soon, the gift will be unwrapped and we will all see what’s inside.

I am grateful for the anticipation of the gift, the possibilities of a new school year, the promise in a job interview, the potential energy of a carnival ride.

I am grateful for this singular day of each voice joining in the song of America. I sit on the edge of my seat, listening, waiting, wondering.

Categories: Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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