Category Archives: make me smile

things I like…

At my daughter’s suggestion, reading one of her favorite book series (the Protector of the Small trilogy, my entree into Tamora Pierce’s oeuvre).  And then talking about the characters and the feminist themes at the dinner table.

It’s such a simple thing, but it’s been making me very happy lately to have my daughter share a bit of her literary world with me (that, and I love bouncing my writing ideas around with her–she’s one smart cookie!).


but happiness floats…

This poem expresses much of what I’ve been feeling lately–so much deep satisfaction with my life’s happenings.  Sometimes it feels almost wrong to be so pleased with things, to have so many elements fall into place.  But at the same time, I also believe in the line of this poem that “You are happy either way…”  Because I’ve nearly-always chosen happiness, despite the difficulties of my life circumstances.

Still sometimes I wonder if because I’ve had challenges in so many things for so long, what I will do if things are just good?  Will it cause my life to be boring and predictable?  Will I create small and unnecessary dramas because I don’t have big ones anymore?  Or will I start getting itchy for the open road and new possibilities (and dangers)?

Two nights ago (my first night sleeping on my own bed in our new house), I woke up realizing that I’d slept better than I had in years–deep, restful, peaceful sleep.  And now I’m looking forward to so many more nights of that ahead…and thinking that whatever the future might hold, for now I will just relax and see how things unfold from here…

So Much Happiness

by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…..

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

say yes…

Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.
– Eve Ensler (h/t Jen Gray)

Picture above taken in a German train station, after several hours of standing-room-only-jetlagged train riding.  Exhausting.  Worth it.

that things can happen…

“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.” – Karen Blixen Out of Africa, 1937

I’ve had the thought lately that I shouldn’t speak about how satisfied I am with my life right now, because that will somehow jinx the goodness of things.  But on the other hand, it seems a shame not to acknowledge beauty and joy when they occur, or to keep too great a worry of “what ifs” in my mind that I can’t appreciate the present state of things.

So I will just say it.  Things are really good.  Unimaginably good.  And it’s hard for me to think of a time that I’ve been any happier than I am right now.  When I sit on my back porch in the mornings and reflect about the various comings-and-goings of people and events at chez Remy, I often feel as though this is just a happy bubble of a dream that turned into a life much more interesting and enjoyable than any I’d ever imagined for myself.  It’s a strange feeling, indeed.  But also very very good.

Right now my mind’s awhirl with memories as I’m packing for our move to a house that’s a few blocks away from where we live now.  As I do so I’m shedding even more weight from the past (things not used in over a year are being given away), and being intentional about the kind of home that I want… Simple.  Comfortable.  Clean.  Bright.  Warm.  Organized. Artful.  Roomy.  At the beginning of 2012 I expressed a wish to find a home that was truly home, and I’ve found that now.  Do you remember what I said?:

my biggest goal of 2012 is to find a home–not a rented temporary space like where I now live, but a place where I walk in the door at night and know just where I am. Where the kitchen is familiar, where morning light comes in the front window, where there’s a garden of flowers and herbs. In my imagination my home has plaster walls and creaky wood floors and a porch with a wicker chair.

This new house has all of the above–rich wood floors throughout the downstairs, a broad front porch with a swing(!) and plenty of room for a wicker chair, a backyard landscaped with native plants, more types of lavender than I could keep track of, and an ample kitchen herb garden as well as several fruit trees. And of course it has some rosebushes, too.

Perhaps it feels a bit superficial to be so excited about our new house–because I know it won’t necessarily make me any happier than I am now.  But at the same time, it’s also satisfying to see the simple desires that I expressed so clearly just a few months ago coming to fruition.  Perhaps the last piece of my life that’s felt unsettled since the divorce was the finding of a home-place.  And this is it.  And I think it’s about time.

Life with the (digital) natives…

The other day Catgirl told me that there was a story in the newspaper about one of her school events.  She reported to me that this story was in the New York Times, which I just happen to subscribe to on the weekends.

Why do I describe to a newspaper, you ask?  Me, who is more cyborg-digital than just about anyone else on the planet?  Because there’s nothing else quite like reading the paper on weekend mornings over coffee.

So she grabbed the Times, excised it from its plastic wrapper and realized that she had no idea what to do with it.

Where is it?  She asked, holding the folded paper and gesturing to what seemed to be some kind of magical miniature kitten hiding within its folds.

I explained that she would most likely find a Table of Contents on the first or second page.  She kept turning the folded thing around in her hands trying to figure out where the ON button was located.

Her brother grabbed the paper from her hands and started gently unfolding it like origami, all the while explaining:

“My cultural knowledge tells me that one is supposed to grab the pages on each side and pull them open like this.”

And with that he succeeded in unlocking the mystery that is the newspaper, as a pile of advertising supplements fell at his feet.

Catgirl eventually found the Table of Contents and noticed that there were obituaries listed.  She seemed to find that fascinating, but still had no idea where she’d locate the article about high school students that she was seeking.  Within a few moments she gave up, leaving the newspaper in a folded heap on the dining room armoire (which, incidentally, holds a television set that we’ve never bothered to examine since moving into the house where we’re living this year).


He’s the man

Today GameBoy turns 18.  And…I think it might be time for a new moniker, he is no longer my Gameboy (although, of course, he will always be my boy).

My life changed forever on the morning he was born.  I learned then what it’s like to care more about another person’s life than about my own.  He was the greatest gift that I’d ever been given, and I still think he’s 100 percent totally and completely perfect, just because he is himself.
cowboy weejeeham!

In a few months he’ll be moving on to the next phase of his life (right now, it’s looking like Portland and Lewis&Clark College are on the horizon for him but that’s not yet fully decided).  I will surely be shedding many tears as I launch him from the nest this fall.  But…I also just can’t wait to see what he will become!

it's his birthday


smile, a triptych


I tried an experiment once

after too many days of Utah winter and indoors

with two toddlers.

I would see what my


would get me…

We went to the library for storytime, and there was an older man

a grandpa

leading some children’s music by playing the harmonica

he had a suitcase full of different harmonicas at his side

So I asked him some questions

about a good starter harmonica and about music

I pointed to several in his case and asked about them

he said he taught lessons

he gave me his card, and I


and kept asking questions

before long, he had pulled a new harmonica out of his bag

and had me playing a few notes on it,

learning to close the holes with my tongue to make different sounds

it felt strange to be talking with a stranger about where to put my tongue

but I was learning and

I kept asking questions and I


and after awhile he pulled a small box out of the bottom of his case.

It was about the size of a stick of trident gum, but thicker

and he told me that it was mine and I


and opened it and it was a small golden harmonica

on a gold necklace chain, which he said

I could now take with me anywhere

“I can’t accept that,” I said and


and he closed his hand around mine

and told me that he wanted me to have it

because my


had made him happy.



It’s time for my annual interview

with a church leader.

A man that I’ve never met before,

he ushers me into his office

closes the door behind him and I


as I shake his hand

and he pulls out the list of questions

he must ask to judge if I can

enter the temple, again.

I settle into my chair across the desk

from him and he steeples his fingers

and looks at me.

“Sister,” he says.

“I can tell from your beautiful


that you will answer all of these questions


I can just see these things sometimes.”

And I


again as he signs his name to the

small white card that certifies

I am worthy.



I went to the cantina at the invitation of

a friend-of-a-friend who knew I was just barely

divorced and wanting to ‘get out.’

That friend-of-a-friend bought me a drink

and then moved on

to the other side of the room.

And I sat there

at the bar alone, stirring my drink

and thinking.

A man approached and as we talked we

discovered we had more in common

than just our friend.  And I


as he told me how hard it is to meet

smart women, who know some things

about technology.  And then I

chewed on the corner of my lip

because I had never met a man in a bar before

and I hesitated

when he offered to buy me another

margarita as we

nibbled on nachos. I asked myself

what does it mean

that we’ve been talking for

two hours now?

And I wondered what should I do when he said

“Let’s get out of here,” while motioning to our

friend who had long since left

us in this corner.  So I


and we went

for a walk on the beach.

And in the dark as he ran his fingertips

from my ear down my neck, I asked

why he approached me

in that bar and and he said

he couldn’t help it,

because of my



random (happy) thoughts for a sunny Sunday afternoon

Some things that are making me smile today:

  • Ellycat napping in the warm laundry
  • Using the Matrix to book an upcoming flight to Europe (still can’t make up my mind whether to fly to Rome, Paris or Brussels, though)
  • Spending a few moments in a train station bright and early this morning.
  • A smooth brew from my new coffeemaker
  • The pleasure of reading a great novel, each paragraph a delight.
  • Huge fresh scallops lightly seared on each side on the grill, each one a mouthful of Cape Cod memories
  • Finishing up that one last dissertation chapter(!)
  • Fixing my son’s bike, and taking it for a spin (it’s been way too long since I’ve been on two wheels)
  • Getting Things Done (I do so love checking things off of my to-do list!)
  • This one will be hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t understand the mechanics of my right leg’s socket suspension: but today I got a new liner in the style that I used to wear–with one wide seal rather than a row of four small ones.  Putting it on was comfortable like slippers.  And then realizing that the other style was probably contributing to so much of my discomfort for the past few years, especially my inability to hold suction when riding a bicycle–it’s hard for me to explain how much small changes in my leg affect my level of comfort.  It’s sort of like the princess who couldn’t sleep well when there was a pea under her mattress–any little change in my leg makes everything else either more challenging or much less comfortable.  And given how reliant I am on my mobility, it’s quite satisfying to get a fix that makes things feel ‘right’ again.
  • Sunshine on the couch, sunshine on the porch, sunshine on my bare shoulders, sunshine so bright that it makes me eyes water.  🙂