Dear God,

Thank you for this beautiful summer-fall day, On a Friday. When no one needs anything (that I can’t put off until Monday), and the black-eyed susans are still blooming.

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Thank you for the Knock Out® Rose that finally decided to be a knock-out. (And bless dear Sondra who gave it to us, who’s now looking down on it with you.)

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Thank you for reblooming orchids. And, you know, for actually making this one rebloom.

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Ummmm, thank you for the groundhog that ate through our shed floor so we pretty much HAVE to do something about it? (Better yet, thank you for helping us get a new shed floor, which we really need.)

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(On a related note, thank you for helping us cram everything that was in the shed into the garage.)

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Thank you for the Pirates being in first place. (I know, can you believe it?)

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Thank you for letting us get 3 offers on the house just a day after we listed it. And thanks especially for my sister, who worked like a dog for weeks and weeks to get it ready to list.

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(And thank you for helping me not to cry every time I think about the house being sold.)

Thank you for Emily. And poems. And chalkboard paint.

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Thank you for art. And artistic friends. And sunrooms.

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Thank you for today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And even the day after that (even though it will be Monday).

Amen.

All that we behold is full of blessings.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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…and don’t call me Shirley

Yesterday was a good day — I found the barely opened bottle of cuticle remover I’ve been searching for for weeks. (I also found an inch of cat hair and dust behind my computer monitor, but that’s beside the point.) Yes, folks, this passes for a big event. I’ve only ever had 2 professional manicures in my life, and both times the manicurist exclaimed, “Wow, you have a lot of cuticles.” (They grow, the nails don’t.)

This reminds me of one of my most memorable “grooming events” — in college, at a fine Oakland hair salon (I don’t think we called them that in those days. It was probably the “beauty parlor” — oh how hopeful). I was going for the then-quite-popular Linda Evans look — the infamous ’80s Dynasty bob. (I even brought a picture.) As the hairdresser pulled and stretched and wound my stick-straight hair around a giant round brush (and practically out of my head), wielding her blow dryer like a sword, she uttered an exasperated, “Your hair has zip in the way of body.”

Beautiful. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted that over the years.

But please, in my defense, those were the days before “product” was a given. I distinctly remember being at my student/workstudy/office/part-time college job (around the same time as the zip incident) and dishing with the other women about this new invention called “mousse” that one of them had bought at a swanky Shadyside salon. Yes, ladies, the days of Dippity-do were finally over — unfortunately not soon enough to avoid all those pitiful bad-hair school pictures from junior high on up.

Oh, the quest for curly hair (aka Shirley hair — as in Temple of course). As a child (up until 5th grade), I had long hair to my waist that my mother braided EVERY DAY, causing me to cry EVERY DAY because of the knots she’d comb out. On “special” occasions, she would put it up in rags. Yes, rags. Torn strips of old sheets that you wound around sections of twisted hair to create ringlets. Try sleeping on twisted up rags all night… (Not to be outdone, my one sister slept on bristly curlers every night of her life for 10 years or so, with a hair dryer on her head. Noise and discomfort. It’s a wonder she can still hear.)

And then there was the time my older sisters, to make me “beautiful” for my oldest sister’s high school graduation (I think it was hers — I would have been about 4), set my hair in hot rollers. Then they couldn’t get them out. I remember being in the back seat of the car on the way to the ceremony and them trying to work those hopelessly tangled rollers out of my hair. (If you’ve ever seen the “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Debra gets a curling iron stuck in her hair while getting ready for an event, it was a lot like that, times 3 or 4.)

Those were the days.

These days, I have lots of expensive “product” on my sink and, lo and behold, a fresh bottle of cuticle remover at the ready. I’m good to go. My oldest sister (whose graduation prompted the hot roller incident) actually told me a couple weeks ago when she was visiting, “Your hair looks better.”

I chose to take it as a compliment.

How can I control my life when I can’t control my hair?
                                                  ~ Author Unknown

Falling for it

Mike and I had the opportunity to visit Fallingwater this past weekend — an outing with Mike’s boss and wife. The timing was bad — so much work to do at my mom’s. But we had committed weeks ago, so off we went. I hadn’t been there in 20 years, and remember being so-so about it last time — those low ceilings? orange furniture? tiny bedrooms? It was okaaaay, but…

Twenty years of maturity and home ownership and design savvy later, I found it absolutely enchanting. As our guide said, “It’s a house you want to live in, but please refrain from living in it during the tour.” He was right. I had to restrain myself from plopping on the bed or the sofa to absorb the beauty of it. The drippy rain, the rushing water, the gorgeous hillside of blue forget-me-nots, the flowering trees. Those magnificent open corner windows, the built-ins everywhere, the charming bathrooms with their cork floors and walls, the boulder hearth — about as far from a McMansion as you could get, and thousands of times more desirable.

I remember very little about my last visit. This time, I wanted to hear everything the guide had to say, and asked a lot of questions myself. As a chatchke person, I loved the objets and art, noting a signed Picasso in the guest house. Genuine? I also admired the beauty of the new Visitor Center and the efficiency of the tours, with strategically placed umbrellas and really knowledgeable guides. Of course, being there with two architects, you get other insights as well. (For once, though, they found very little to be critical of.) 😉

The outing was for The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy annual members meeting, and included a lovely outdoor lunch, the Fallingwater tour, and hikes of the grounds if you wished. At the actual meeting, various Conservancy staff talked about their areas and showed slides of their work — very interesting, particularly the value of the 800 miles of creek fencing installed to keep cattle (and their bodily outputs) out of the water, the lands the Conservancy has acquired, and the urban beautification projects.

The “Barn” where the meeting was held (at Bear Run Nature Reserve) was really wonderful — a mix of natural and contemporary materials, including straw bale walls. Just walking from the Visitor Center to the house was a treat — nothing better than a walk along a wooded path, smelling the pines and seeing all the ferns and trillium and moss and quiet natural beauty.

Oh the joy of a relaxing and wonderful day — so very needed in the midst of my lately very complicated life and so inspirational. Maybe we can make that little cabin in the Smokies a reality someday (even though we’ll never be able to retire or afford long-term health care).

Oh well, reality is calling, but fantasy makes it so much easier to bear.

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. 
                      ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted, 14 August 1966