Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dates, Bling and Buckets

Mr. B is feeling much stronger now, and was able to drive again for the first time on Friday morning. Feeling his oats, he decided we needed a date night and proposed that we head to the mall to catch "The Bucket List."

The movie's previews had looked hilarious. The movie reviews had allowed that while the story was a bit unbelievable, the actors Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson were a pleasure to behold being their usual selves.

Works for me. So off we went for a 5 o'clock showing.

If you haven't seen the movie, let me just say you would be wise to be sure you have a hankie handy, and be aware that the laughs are very much there, along with some great lines, but the overall effect of the movie is much more profound than perhaps one would expect.

For those who have missed it: The plot involves two older men who wind up as room mates in a cancer ward. Nicholson plays a multi millionaire single business man atheist, Freeman plays an auto mechanic Christian family man.

They connect during their treatments, and using Nicholson's wealth, set out to do all the things that they have wanted to do before they die, which looks like will happen in about six months.

The list is what gives the movie its title: The Bucket List.
Things you want to do before you kick the bucket.

The movie has loads of great discussion potential. B. and I had a lot to talk about after seeing it, and boy do I wish there could have been a group of us seeing it together.

If you have seen the movie maybe you would like to chat with me a little about it.
For example:

How did you feel about Freeman's wife's reaction to his heading out? Was she fair? Was she right? Was he right?
What was Nicholson's real motivation in inviting Freeman to the adventure?
Did you see any symbolism in the Nepal cloud scene?

Then there is a personal response to the movie. Freeman states that 94% of all people don't want to know when they will die. If you could know, would you want to know? Would that information change the way you live your life?

What do you have on your own personal "Bucket List"? Places you want to see, experiences you want to experience, achievements you want to achieve?

During one episode of the television series "Scrubs" a woman in her 60's declines treatment. The doctor tries to talk her into having a treatment by suggesting things that she hadn't done yet in her life. It turned out that she had lived a remarkably full life, and wanted to go out smoothly, without extra-ordinary measures. She counseled the troubled doctor to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and spread out on some grass in the park. She herself was prepared to die.

Apparently she was satisfied with her life and had no additional goals for it. I'd say that is pretty unusual, but it could happen.

It made me think that I want to fight to live my life fully now while I am healthy rather than fight to live my life fully later when it may already be to late.

After the movie was over we walked around the mall a bit. There was a new shop opened, a place called Amuse. I was indeed amused by all the glittery baubles available for little more than pocket change.

B. leg was starting to hurt about then, so he waited outside while I bought myself some jewelry.
It would have been more fun to pretend that he took me there to buy me jewels to match my beauty (clearly a few too many romance novels have been read in my past....) but I believe I am responsible for my own happiness, so I didn't wait for him to play Prince Charming, but handed over the check card myself.

Ah yes...a chocolate diamond ring, and a pink ring to go with my new rose pink pashmina.
At $5.95 per ring (complete with the split back to make them one size fits all just like rings used to be when we were kids) these babies truly did amuse me.
As I type this, I'm wearing brown pants, a heathered brown turtleneck and that brown ring at work.
Love the bling with an otherwise plain-ish outfit.
The pin matching bobby pin hair accessory was a hoot too.
The store said the rings were sterling silver.
Yeah right....who cares!
After that we grabbed so oriental chicken and noodles at the food court and headed home.
Laura pulled up right behind us in our driveway; she was finishing her second of three days of work.
I showed her my treasures.
She rolled her eyes.
"Looks just like a Texas woman thing. Big and gaudy."
I mentioned that we looked for one for her.
She told me thanks, but no thanks.
Usually I don't bother buying costume jewelry. (Said as though I usually only buy fine jewelry, sadly the truth is I usually don't buy much jewelry from either side of the aisle.) I have had four live wire grandmothers who loved costume jewelry and I can hardly find opportunity to wear what they left me as it is.
The pink pearl daisy pins in the picture above are from two different grandmothers: Bernie paternal grandmother Bessie and my paternal grandmother Fay. How random is that, that they who lived half a continent apart would own similar pins?

Currently this rooster is my favorite. I inherited it sans eye. I had to find a shop that sold Austrian rhinestones and replaced it myself. How fun, and how silly: An aqua colored rooster!
Every time I look at it I am amused.
And I wonder how practical Bessie ever came to possess it.

A green and purple key above and the purple bouquet below are both treasures from Fay.
It amuses me as well that none of the four grandmothers ever did anything remotely "grandmother-ish" for me.
No cookie baking, no lap sitting, no rocking or walking or any of that stuff.
They were way too busy living the own active lives.

Today I read Dawn's Friday post concerning a pin that she owns that belongs to an aunt.
It reminded me of how often it happens that when I wear one of my grandmother's pins, I get asked about the pin.
I usually wind up telling the person a little bit about the grandmother who owned the pin.
It occurred to me that the pins have probably generated more inquiry into the lives of my grandmothers than their memorial markers ever have.
Those somber polished bits that give a name, a birth date and a death date and a title do nothing to communicate personality the way that the pins do.
Isn't that funny. A bit of bling winds up being the symbols of four lives.
I wonder if any of them would ever have imagined such a thing.
I made a note to myself.
Buy more bling.
Live more bling.
Live a life that has sparkle.
Someday someone may ask someone about my ring from Amuse.
I hope when I and my ring are discussed, people will be inspired.
But I also hope that they will be amused.
And I hope that my "bucket list" accomplishments will be worthy of my time here on earth, and be as bold and sparkling as ever can be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Sussy/Sussie by any other name

I learned a new word at Bible study today.
Spelled either "Sussy" or "Sussie" the word means a small unexpected gift.
A sussy isn't the bouquet of flowers you might bring to a sick friend or a bottle of wine that you might bring a hostess.
It is something else entirely.

I have experienced sussy here in Houston and let me tell you, for the most part...I don't like 'em

It has worked like this: I meet someone at some event, and for some reason, the person is later invited to my home. Perhaps she is interested in seeing my hat collection, or she is just going to drop by to visit for a moment. No big deal. A casual "no need to change outfits" kind of event.

When I open the door, there stand my new aquaintance, with a cleverly wrapped gift, or a colorful gift bag in tow.
I wonder what is going on.
"Oh, I brought you a little something" my aquaintance will say, thrusting the gift into my hands.

I'm never sure whether I should open it on the spot, or wait until we are all settled before undoing the wrapping.
I've tried it both ways, and still am not sure what is correct.

The "sussy" may be a small figurerine. A couple of small soaps. A candle. A hankie. A tiny book. A book mark.

Now my friend Kate brought me a hankie once, but that was a hankie from Switzerland, and we both think hankies are just darn cute and useful to boot.
So I liked that sussy.

The others?

A rose pink candle really doesn't work with my kitchen colors or my taste in scents. A figurine doesn't figure into my decorating or dusting needs either. Soaps the size of walnuts that are just annoying as all get out rolling into the sink and useless for lathering up beside.

I have learned to gush my thanks and make a mental note to be sure to display this friendly token if I ever invite this person over again.
AND...realize I am now obligated to shop for some do-dad to present as a present the next time I need to be present at her house.

Time to shop, buy,'s going to be a minimum of $5 and 15 minutes of my life for a "this will do" trinket. And "this will do" will have to do because I have usually never been to the person's house before, and therefore have no idea what they might enjoy.

Meanwhile I also am now burdened with figuring out where to put this little item, either on display or in storage. Yipes.
I am told a "sussy" is a Southern thing, but I don't know that is a fact for sure.
Basically I feel like my time is being squandered.
(New frog scrubs. Posting just cuz they are major cute. I totally love Laura's professional wear. Scrubs are so comfy, yet I would feel like a fraud if I wore them as a non-medical professional. I'm thinking about why that is too...)

Anyway, back to sussy.
Today in our Bible Study group we talked about selfishness and how if we think about others instead of ourselves we are closer to being like Jesus.
That we need to give to others of our time and resources.
I totally agree.
I also know that what I might consider to be "giving of my time and resources" might well be considered a burden to you.
Personally I feel like sometimes "gifts" are secretly power plays.
Example: If I come to your house, and after a few minutes of chat, how would you feel if I ask where the furniture polish is, because I just want to "help" you with your cleaning.
Would you sort of wonder if I was judging your cleaning skills?

Of if you had a brand new small binder for your class notes, and I gave you a larger sized one as a "gift" to use instead?
Would you be happy, and switch out your binder that matches mine, or would you be annoyed because you had shopped long and hard to find a binder that fit perfectly into your purse: you didn't want to switch, yet didn't want to offend me either?

The class discussion got pretty lively.
Interesting, all the ladies owned up to the fact that they NEVER want someone to empty their dishwashers for them (I would never be able to find my stuff again! was the general thought) and that towel folding help is a touchy subject.
Everyone seems to have a way that towels needed to be folded for their happiness.

I joked an older woman who was being defensive about NOT being defensive when offered deeds and gifts and services.
I asked her if she would be offened if I was sipping a cup of tea with her and then asked where her vacuum was, as I wanted to vacuum her house.
She said "Oh that would be great! Help yourself! Come on over!"

Easy going is she!
Me? If I was healthy and someone I barely knew pulled that stunt, I would be really disturbed.
If a good friend did that, I would ask her if my house really looked that dirty.
I don't think in either case I would view it as neutral or as a selfless gift.

Our group did agree that the book "The Five Languages of Love" nicely addresses this issue.
Understanding if the person best feels loved by sharing time, doing services, giving affirmation, presents or touch really matters if your "selflessness" is going to work.

My love language is the gift of time. As in spend time with me, don't bring me clutter.
I also feel love when I am affirmed.

A stranger who wants to touch me, or "do" something for me makes me nervous.
I wonder what do they really want?
I wonder what they expect in return.

I really don't get a gift out of the blue from a stranger for no reason at all.
Sussy frankly spooks me.

I think it is interesting that the Bible study group thought being "unselfish" meant mostly giving things (feed the hungry and clothe the naked, or if you want it to be a more interesting experience, go forth and feed the naked and clothe the hungry...) and doing service (offer to give rides, clean up after an event) yet sharing time and affirming is in very short supply.

Southern churches tend to hug a lot so if your love language is touch, head on down here, you will fit right in.

Anyway, those are my random thought about sussy.
As I mentioned before, my love language is the gift of time, and being affirmed.
Since you've read this far, I want to thank you so much for your sussy to me: You have given me your time by reading this, and I consider that to be a precious and delightful gift. I find that to be very affirming as well.

A boat-tailed grackle photographed against a cold gray sky yesterday.
No particular connection to this post...I just thought I would share.
Consider it a sussy if you want to.
I won't mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One thing leads to another

Ever notice that if you tidy up one area, then you are motivated to tidy up another area?
That's pretty much what my world has been about lately.
Closet after closet is being taken apart, contents pared down, and then the whole deal reassembled.

(Major THANK YOU to LauraRN who went out and bought shelving for the attic so our luggage could be easily stored and identified PLUS she organized the guest room and my hat room closet ALL BY HERSELF while B. and I were out and about on Sunday. Yeah LAURA!)

All this cleaning out is fine except then ya gotta get rid of the stuff you want to get rid of.
And suddenly new storage containers make sense...and maybe there are some good books out there on the subject of organization and wardrobe planning.
Errand must be run.
Time just flies.
I don't know how it happens, but I am glad for the energy and inspiration to accomplish all this during these last few grey days.

My goal is to downsize by about a fourth, with maybe even a third of our stuff going bye bye.
We'll see how it goes, but the wardrobe is definitely on track.

Bernie *finally* downloaded his camera chip.
I thought this picture is perfect for my current endeavors.

Maybe if I will just stay aware of my surroundings this massive clean out won't be needed again in the future.
(You can stop laughing that will ever happen in real life.)

When you are up to your a** in alligators, it's hard to remember the reason you were there was to drain the swamp.
Staying focused as I chuck stuff is a challenge.

Bernie got the best alligator picture from our swamp tour.
Isn't that the cutest little girl gator you've ever seen?

Two anoles blending into their environment.
Bet their space never needs to be straightened up.
Bet they don't even have closets.

Just keep swimming, I tell myself. I will be done with all this eventually.

Chocolate craving update: I went back to Macy's and while I was there I decided to actually try on the pendant.
Ohhh, it looked so pretty in my hand.
And so blah on my body.
NO bling, just a kind of washed out two white dashes on a diamond shape design.
I'm over it.
(Hmm....womder what I will start craving next. Madison Ave. is chuckling even as I type.)
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Craving chocolate

I am craving chocolate.

All it took was one luscious full page glossy ad and POW! I wanted chocolate in a way I had never wanted chocolate before.
It was so innocent. I was just flipping through the pages of a freebie fashion magazine when I saw the newest kind of chocolate.

One look and I was hooked.

That was in December. Since then I have thought a lot about this new chocolate. I've visited stores with samples, and
researched on the web. Apparently my craving is the result of successful advertising.

Yes, chocolate diamonds are the newest thing in jewelry world. It seems that certain diamond mines have been producing deep brown diamonds lately. For years brownish colored diamonds were considered "low colored" and not particularly desirable.

But hey! There is a mine producing diamonds....and after all, a brown diamond is still a diamond, right? can women be enticed to want to buy brown diamonds?

One jeweler had an idea: Market them as Chocolate diamonds

Women love chocolate, right? And women love

Put them together and you've got an unbeatable match: Chocolate diamonds!

(or Cognac diamonds if the stone is a little lighter, and Champagne diamonds if they are lighter still...)

Wow. Oh wow. Sign me up right now. Call me a sucker, but I just love the way the white diamonds look against the brown diamonds.
Very sophisticated, yet casual.

(The first piece above piece is calling my name from Macy's. It is a LeVian design, the company that dreamed up this whole chocolate diamond thing in the first place. I am doing deep breathing to resist dropping a money amount that includes a comma for this bit of bling....)

Naturally, it is always possible to find something for a little less. Like this pendant, at about a third of the price of the first one.
I, of course, like the first one best.

In December only one jewelry store was carrying chocolate diamonds. Now even QVC has "chocolate diamonique" jewelry. All the bling without the sting. Stingless to both the check book and human toil and soil damage. "Cultured" diamonds are what those CZ and diamoniques are being called these day of "Save the Planet" going green in all things.

I remember not too long ago when pink diamonds were SO in. Remember J. Lo and Ben Affleck's misbegotten engagement? Next thing you knew everywhere you looked there were pink CZs.

And then there were all those yellow diamonds out there for awhile. "Canary" diamonds was what the fashion magazines called them. I never could imagine them on me or anyone else that I knew. I never did see a yellow "cultured" diamond though.

Koby Bryant bought his wife a honking lavender diamond after he was indiscreet, although he admitted to nothing at the time.

So various colored diamonds have had their various days.

And now it is time for

Doesn't this just suck?
Now I have to resist chocolate to eat, because of too many calories, and real chocolate diamonds as well.

(Chocolate heart diamond above from here.)

PS: Now there is also "chocolate gold" in addition to white, yellow and rose gold. Interesting, no?

PSS: Don't you think chocolate diamonds are similar to smoky topaz, which just happens to be Mr. B's birthstone?

And since my birthstone is diamond....

I'm just thinking out loud here....hint hint....