Tuesday, September 8, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

(Salzburg, Austria: The garden from The Sound of Music. Greg & I with castle behind us. The entry to the mountain top castle restaurant where the following story unfolded.)

Two years ago, Greg and I were sitting in a restaurant at the top of a castle in Austria, overlooking Maria Von Trapp's beloved and breathtaking alps. We'd just walked through the famous garden where the children and Julie Andrew's "Maria" had played and sang, "Do, Re, Me" in their clothes made from discarded draperies. (Maria must have had a tad of the creative spirit of Scarlet O'Hara, at least for transforming curtains into clothing, beneath her nun's habit.)

To our left, around a table, sat a happy, noisy family with foreign faces and foreign accents. (I would later find out they were Iranians living in L A on their first trip to Austria.) The mama of the group surveyed the beauty around us and as if unable to contain her joy, burst forth singing "My Favorite Things" -- but she kept stumbling as she struggled to remember all the verses. What was I to do, but join in and help her? After all, I have had every word to every song from The Sound of Music memorized since I was in second grade.

She beamed and encouraged and, in short, this is how I found myself in the most interesting impromptu performance of my life : singing a spunky duet about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens with a Middle Eastern stranger, in a crowded restaurant atop a castle in Austria. Her husband, equally gung-ho, took out his video to record the moment. (I am assuming to save & send in to Europe's "Funniest Home Videos.") As I and my dark-eyed-red-lipsticked-bejeweled singing partner finished up with a rousing, "And then I don't feeeeel.. so bad!" Greg just smiled serenely, as if to say, "This is my beloved wife, with whom, at least, I will never be bored."

That's a pretty elaborate introduction to the topic of this post, which would be, "What are a few of your favorite things?" Which led me to think of the little items or rituals that contribute to the overall joy in my life.

Here's a few things that sprung to mind :

1. Bigelow Lemon Body Cream. It makes me so happy I buy it in 32 ounce jars and smear it on both morning and night. It is the closest one can come to bathing in lemon meringue pie, twice daily. I'm equally enamored of their lemon lip balms.

2. An ear, nose & throat doc recommended that I try something called a sinus rinse by Neil Med. Just google it, at it is not pleasant to describe the process by which one uses this product, but it has added significantly to my quality of life in dry Colorado. Like warm, comforting sea water to dry Sahara sinuses.

3. Starbucks Rooibos Vanilla Tea Latte. It's the most comforting warm drink this side of hot apple cider with heavy cream.

4. Lara Bars. My friend Sue introduced me to them. They typically only have 3 ingredients: dates, nuts and another natural flavoring. It was love at first bite.

5. My supplements, whose praises have been extolled in detail in another post, because they contribute to the happy chemicals in my head.

6. Library Day -- I adore library day, and the vision of a big stack of books on my bedside table awaiting exploring.

7. My Porch Swing -- I once wrote a book called A View from the Porch Swing. What's not to love about what is basically a rocking cradle for grownups? Set in my backyard garden, with a canopy, pillows and a nice cup o' tea nearby .. is heaven.

8. Kashi Waffles smeared with butter & Nutella. It's health food meets decadence. And probably describes my approach to food. I'm happy to go healthy if it tastes good, or if, at the very least you can smear it in chocolate until it tastes good.

9. Herbal Mint bubble bath. I adore my baths, take at least 2 -3 a day. This is also where Greg and I hold our "Bathtub Board Meetings" when we want to relax and talk. You would not believe how many creative titles and problems we've solved under the influence of hot water and bubbles.

10. My favorite ritual of all: Every morning for the last 5 years, when I come down the stairs, there is a smiling man waiting to greet me, hug me and welcome me to the day. As I start down the first few steps, I hear him say, "Do I hear my little mouse?" and then I squeak something out because I am mostly unable to talk before caffiene. Then he gazes at me, no matter how morning-disheveled I am, as if I were Audrey Hepburn descending the stairs in her evening gown from My Fair Lady. Next, he holds me close as both of us bask in the gratitude that we get to live to be married to each other for one more precious day. It is the closest thing I can imagine could happen on earth to being wrapped in the love of God.

Kids, too, have their love of little things and routines. Greg and I love that our grandsons have their favorite things to play with at our house. Nate and Georgie and Titus know where all the good stuff is... from Poppy's magic magnetic rocks (in the living room table drawer) to puzzles to the basket of books and Disney videos, to 3 kinds of blocks, to the farm house & animals, and the big bucket of sports balls outside. Their playtime at Poppy and Nonnie's house is not complete until they've made their rounds to each of their favorite things. Most of the toys, books, etc. were picked up for a song at garage sales. But oh, the joy we've squeezed out of those fifty cent puzzles and 75 cent Disney videos.

There's an old poem with the line: "I come in the little things, saith the Lord" -- and isn't it true that it is the little things, for the most part, strung together like memory pearls, that bring us the greatest joy? Rituals of married love (good morning kisses, spooning at night); rocking a baby to sleep in the porch swing; a good cup of tea, a stack of books, a hot bubble bath or a nice citrus scented lotion.

Or.... raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Or.... singing about them with a dark-eyed stranger at the top of an Austrian alp.

And what, I wonder, are a few of your favorite things?

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