That doesn’t happen very often anymore, because our different schedules and activities taking us in different direction.
But on Saturday, we actually had time together in my Jeep.
As we buckled up and took off, the radio came on.
And no, for those who know, me the radio was not tuned to NPR, where my husband works.
Instead, it was tuned to a rock station out of Washington D.C.
Initially, no one complained, but then a song that my son doesn’t like came on.
“I wish,” he said, “there was a station that only played songs I like.”
“There’s Pandora,” I offered.
“That still plays songs I don’t like.” he responded.
I didn’t say anything else but simply smiled to myself thinking of how many more choices my children have than I did.
They have cable instead of a television that might pick up the major networks. They have computers and the internet and can listen to radio stations from all over the world instead of a transistor radio that primarily picks up AM radio stations. And they have phones that provide instant access to all their friends instead of on house phone with no answering machine.
My son’s complaint was ridiculous, but it was also a reminder of how dissatisfaction with the status quo continues to motivate people to be innovative and inventive.
And that always makes me smile.
Day 75: Improvements Day 74: Family Traditions
Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes Day 72: Live Music Day 71: Sleeping In Day 70: Grover Day 69: A Good Hair Day Day 68: A Sense of Community Day 67: Kindness Day 66: Living in a Place You Love Day 65: Gifts from the Heart Day 64: The Arrival of Fall Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird Day 62: Green Lights Day 61: My Canine Friends Day 60: Differences Day 59: A New Box of Crayons Day 58: Bookworms Day 57: Being Oblivious Day 56: Three-day Weekends Day 55: A Cat Purring Day 54: Being a Unique Individual Day 53: Children’s Artwork Day 52: Lefties Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer Day 50: Campfires Day 49: Childhood Crushes Day 48: The Words “Miss You” Day 47: Birthday Stories Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us Day 45: Play-Doh Day 44: First Day of School Pictures Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes Day 42: Appreciative Readers Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote Day 40: Being Silly Day 39: Being Happy Exactly Where You Are Day 38: Proud Grandparents Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Day 34: Accepting the Fog Day 33: I See the Moon Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap Day 31: Perspective Day 30: Unlikely Friendships Day 29: Good Samaritans Day 28: Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet? Day 27: Shadows Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads Day 25: When Harry Met Sally Day 24: Hibiscus Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck Day 22: The Wonderful World of Disney Day 21: Puppy love Day 20 Personal Theme Songs Day 19: Summer Clouds Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17: A Royal Birth Day 16: Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter Day 12: Round Bales of Hay Day 11: Water Fountains for Dogs Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day 7: Finding the missing sock Day 6: Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment Day 4: Jumping in Puddles Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street
I particularly loved visiting my Great Aunt Sylvia’s house in Beaverton, Michigan. I think that was primarily because it was so different from my own house and from that of my grandmother, her sister.
In other words, her house wasn’t in perfect order, and she had stuff. A lot of stuff.
I always wondered if that was a result of her dismissal of my grandmother’s need to abide by society’s expectations or if it was from having been married to my Uncle Joe, a World War I veteran and former mayor of the small town where she lived.
Although he passed away before I ever visited his house, Uncle Joe’s presence was everywhere.
His collector’s whisky decanters lined the entire parameter of the living room, and photos of his time as a grand master in the Masons were everywhere.
While I found those fascinating, what I absolutely loved about Aunt Sylvia’s house was the music. She had an organ that took center stage and lots and lots of sheet music.
Whenever I visited, I always asked if I could play the organ, and she always waved her hand in dismissal indicating that I didn’t even need to ask. And when I found music I liked, she simply told me to take it with me.
I still have that music, and recently my daughter and I sat at the piano playing and singing to songs in a magazine she gave me.
My daughter will never understand what that moment meant to me, but I’m sure Aunt Sylvia would understand.
And that will always make me smile.
Day 65: Gifts from the Heart
Day 64: The Arrival of Fall Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird Day 62: Green Lights Day 61: My Canine Friends Day 60: Differences Day 59: A New Box of Crayons Day 58: Bookworms Day 57: Being Oblivious Day 56: Three-day Weekends Day 55: A Cat Purring Day 54: Being a Unique Individual Day 53: Children’s Artwork Day 52: Lefties Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer Day 50: Campfires Day 49: Childhood Crushes Day 48: The Words “Miss You” Day 47: Birthday Stories Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us Day 45: Play-Doh Day 44: First Day of School Pictures Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes Day 42: Appreciative Readers Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote Day 40: Being Silly Day 39: Being Happy Exactly Where You Are Day 38: Proud Grandparents Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Day 34: Accepting the Fog Day 33: I See the Moon Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap Day 31: Perspective Day 30: Unlikely Friendships Day 29: Good Samaritans Day 28: Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet? Day 27: Shadows Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads Day 25: When Harry Met Sally Day 24: Hibiscus Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck Day 22: The Wonderful World of Disney Day 21: Puppy love Day 20 Personal Theme Songs Day 19: Summer Clouds Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17: A Royal Birth Day 16: Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter Day 12: Round Bales of Hay Day 11: Water Fountains for Dogs Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day 7: Finding the missing sock Day 6: Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment Day 4: Jumping in Puddles Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street
If someone were to ask me about my greatest asset or my greatest deficit, I’d give the same answer: my brain. It’s constantly engaged and always working overtime.
It’s probably the reason I worry, get anxious and have trouble sleeping.
It’s also the reason I’m always making lists in my head. I’m not talking about shopping lists or “to do” lists. I’m talking about random lists about anything and everything: eight things I can talk about with a stranger; 12 exercises to do while driving a car (facial exercises count); and 365 reasons to smile.
I started that last list after my experience during November when I joined others in writing daily about something for which I was grateful. That forced me to think of all the good things in my life rather than all my worries. But then, when November ended, so did my daily dose of thankfulness.
That’s when I started my list of 365 reasons to smile.
Today, I’ve decided to start sharing that list.
I know this is just a random day in July instead of January 1 or any other date that marks a significant beginning, but I don’t care.
Being able to write what I want when I want is certainly a reason to smile, but it’s not the my “Day One” reason.
That reason is the Martians on Sesame Street.
As a young child, my parents always limited my television, so watching Sesame Street was a treat. I didn’t realize it was supposed to be educational, I just thought it was fun. And one particular sketch stuck in my mind for years. Even in high school, my friends and I would reenact the scene from Sesame Street when the Martians try to talk to a telephone. We’d move our mouths down and over in a ridiculous parody. And it made me smile.
It still does.
No matter how many times I’ve watched that sketch, it always makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile too:
For a few weeks during summer months when my children and I don’t have to be ready at 7:00 AM, I can pedal into the dawn on country roads.
Sometimes, the fog still clings to the fields, and I can almost see the ghosts of Civil War soldiers who once walked the land.
Usually, the deer and rabbits momentarily stop nibbling the leaves and grass to watch me pedal by.
And, during those early morning hours, the songs of the birds can be enjoyed without the roar of traffic and other human noises to dull them.
The sunrise tells me that the beauty of nature is evidence that humankind will never master the paintbrush like God can.
The sunrise whispers the importance of taking time to enjoy the moment instead of constantly anticipating the moments that are yet to come.
The sunrise reminds me that it is simply a reflection of life – constantly changing with time and the vantage point from which we observe it.
The sunrise says that it will never fail me. Even if I can’t see it through the clouds of a dark, gray day, it is still there holding the same promise that it does on a bright, sunny day.
And the sunrise shouts that it will always be a wonderful gift to be treasured.
School may be out for the summer, but the wise sunrise is ensuring the lessons haven’t stopped.
If you’ve never lived in West Virginia, all the drama surrounding Buckwild has probably either escaped you and/or seemed relatively unimportant. But here in the Mountain State, there is a great deal of concern about how the show will perpetuate negative stereotypes about those of us who live here.
When the first promos began airing last month, there were newspaper articles, editorials and online petitions criticizing Buckwild. Even our junior U.S. Senator and former Governor, Joe Manchin, wrote a letter to MTV asking that the show not be aired. Many argued that his subsequent appearances on national news and talk shows simply provided unpaid advertising.
To me, the show just looks stupid. I never watched Jersey Shore, and I have no plans to watch Buckwild. And yes, I even signed one of the online petitions asking that it not to be aired. But my reasons have nothing to do with how people might perceive West Virginians. There will always be those who believe stereotypes regardless of what they watch, hear or read.
To me, the show is actually more of a reflection on the entire nation than it is of West Virginia anyway. And while I deplore the concept of encouraging young people to do really stupid (and yes, mostly scripted) things for others’ entertainment, what I deplore even more is that there is obviously a large market for such shows. And yes, I know there are many who will tune it to watch Buckwild out of initial curiosity, but that’s not my issue. My issue is with people who watch this type of show for entertainment and for more people to ridicule. This includes television viewers such as the guy who was having his hair cut during my last hair appointment.
Until a few years ago, I never understood why any man would go to a beauty shop, but that was before I discovered the salon where I now go.
The place is more entertaining than anything on television because the people, the conversations and the emotions are genuine. I never complain that my appointments usually last more than two hours, because that time is more compelling than any reality show, particularly those featuring half-dressed young women and cocky young men whose vocabulary is rooted in George Carlin’s monologue about seven dirty words. And, when I think about it, I don’t recall hearing much, if any, cussing in the beauty salon.
Instead, I hear and participate in conversations about real people and real struggles that somehow turn into laughter and hope. The conversations range from cancer, to drug addiction to cross-country motorcycle rides. Everyone in town seems to know the owner and her husband, so there is a constant stream of local characters who come through her doors with their own dramas and issues. Discussions can turn from politics to childhood memories in a matter of seconds. And all of this occurs to some music soundtrack that almost always becomes part of the conversation.
The owner, and my stylist, strives to play just the right music, but she also always has technological difficulties. During my last appointment, she finally gave up when her latest gadget stopped working, and she was forced to turn on the radio to a classic rock station. Of course, the music brought back more memories and more stories.
And then, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blinded by the Light” came on, and we all sang along. Sort of. The lyrics have always been unclear, so we all sang a different variations of “revved up like a deuce another runner in the night.” Some bordered on completely inappropriate. In order to resolve the debate, I took out my phone to search for accurate lyrics.
By the time I’d found them, the conversation had already moved on to Buckwild, and everyone was expressing an opinion. That’s when the clean-cut gentleman who had been sitting quietly while his hair was being trimmed said, “I think it looks entertaining, and I’m looking forward to watching it.”
For the first time, the shop went quiet except for Led Zeppelin playing in the background. Everything just seemed to stop. And then, just as quickly, the conversation resumed. Only no one said anything about Buckwild, instead the owner started telling a story about the recent Eddie Money concert.
No one acknowledged the man’s comment, and I don’t know whether he was oblivious to the slight or if he even cared. What I do know that everyone else’s reaction spoke volumes. And I don’t think the silence was so much an indictment on his opinion as it reflected a deep sadness that someone, surrounded by real characters, real conversation and an ongoing celebration of the reality of day-to-day life, would admit he wanted to simply observe the exact opposite.
Hours later, when I was thinking about the incident, I realized how we often lose sight of all that is meaningful around us because the media is trying to sell us a completely different definition of what makes life interesting.
I’m just glad there are people who still don’t buy that, and instead enjoy the simple pleasures of going a bit crazy, or buck wild, in a beauty salon.
I can be pretty slow at times, especially when I ride my bike. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As the only person actually peddling on a road where others are simply pushing a gas pedal, I notice a lot.
For the past couple years, I’ve been regularly riding on a country road that gives me a great deal to think about:
A plowed cornfield with only one stalk left standing;
And a gate that, for all I can tell, is completely ineffective.
The gate crosses a gravel road that runs between two fields. Until this week, green stalks of corn filled one of the fields, while the other had no discernible crop. This week, both were plowed. So the road now runs, and eventually dead ends, between two muddy, empty fields.
Other than providing farm workers easy access to the fields, the road doesn’t serve much purpose. It certainly doesn’t lead anywhere interesting or provide enough privacy to be a lovers’ lane. Because of that, the importance of a locked gate with a fading private property sign eludes me. Since there is no fence on either side, the gate isn’t really preventing anyone from simply driving around it.
After passing the gate day after day, I finally took a picture and posted it on Facebook with a question about its purpose. I got a variety of responses ranging from people who took the question seriously to those who didn’t.
The general consensus was that there had probably been fences around the fields at some point. When they were torn down, the gate stayed to mark private property.
While this concept still puzzles me, it also reminds me of human behavior in general: we often tear down fences but leave gates standing.
We say we believe in equal rights and demonstrate this by tearing down barriers for others. Yet we still leave up gates to protect what we believe we earned or deserve and fear others may access or take away. Sometimes these gates are words. Sometimes they are the policies we support. And sometimes they are even religious beliefs.
But whatever the reason, the gates are there. And, just liked the locked gate I pass every day on my bike, they provide a false sense of security for some and serve as a challenge for others.
At times, I know I’ve protected my own gates. But the rebel in me also spends a lot of time thinking about how to get around gates. And I admit, there have been many times when riding my bike on the country road, I’ve been tempted to ride around the gate. The silliest thing is I would have no desire to ride on the gravel road if the gate weren’t there. I certainly don’t want to cause any problems or do any damage.
But then, I don’t think people who are seeking greater opportunities have any desire to trample on the achievements of others. They just know the possibilities would be endless if they weren’t constantly slowed down by so many locked gates.