Treasuring My Family

Today’s WP Photo Challenge asks you to post a photo that symbolizes something that is a particular treasure to you, not necessarily diamonds or gold, but a thing dear to your heart.

The "Stroh-gersons, both our families celebrating Christmas and the wedding together.

The “Stroh-gersons, both our families celebrating Christmas and the wedding together.

My treasure is my family, both old and new.

I had a very small family growing up. My Dad, my Mom and my sister, our grandparents, maybe a random but beloved cousin here and there. A particularly lovely Aunt comes to mind. Overall, a pretty small group.

My husband has a very large family.

When I married him two years ago, I acquired a most awesome Mom and Dad-in-Law, three Sister’s in Law, 11 nieces and nephews, 2 grandnieces and 1 grandnephew. Plus a fabulous cousin to add to the mix.

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The most wonderful thing is everyone not only gets along, but genuinely likes each other. We’ve had some amazing family vacations and I’m coming to cherish each of them as I would my own family.

It’s a treasure that was also a gift – I am grateful for all of them.

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Every day I write the book

I just realized that I unwittingly (a somewhat normal condition) swiped my theme of “Odd Things to be Grateful For” from the lovely Nerd in the Brain’s “Oddly Specific Gratitude” Blog Hop.

My humble apologies, Nerd in the Brain – it’s just a really awesome idea and it somehow burrowed into my subconscious to fit the trend my writing was following. If you don’t mind, please, I’d like to keep it, since I fully believe that showing gratitude opens the door for more wonderful things to come into your life.

An excellent reminder of things I am thankful for can be found in our “KAVID, The Year in Pictures” photo books. (KAVID being my husband David’s and my “Celebrity Couple Nickname” in the tradition of Brangelina, TomCat and Bennifer- although hopefully without the accompanying ick factor.)

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Each year, as a gift to David, I put together a Snapfish book composed of sequential pictures and memories from the previous Christmas all the way to Thanksgiving (which is about the time I have to order the book to get it in time to put under this year’s tree.)

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I try to dedicate at least a page to every major occasion, vacation, special dinner or party we share with family and friends.

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When I’ve had a particularly unfriendly day or am just a little down in the dumps, I like to browse through them, savoring memories of wonderful times and remembering how blessed I am to have these people in my life.

So today, I’d like to be notably grateful to have these journals of so much love and happiness.

And to be thankful that every day, in words, actions and interactions, we continue to write the book.

Countdown of Odd Gratitudes Continues…

7 Days of Odd Grats.

Sounds like Russell Crow’s band, 30 Odd Feet of Grunts.

Today I am oddly grateful (or is it grateful for the oddity?) that I finally finished painting my bathroom.

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I started in August.

It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. I had a day off and my bathroom walls were looking a little bleh. Time for a fresh look! It’s a bathroom, it’s small, how difficult could painting it actually be?

Of course, I didn’t really take into account all the weird little half walls, the sporadic decorative tile or the glass block, all of which required miles of taping off and tiny brushwork. By the way, tiny brushwork and I don’t run with the same crowd.

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I also cleverly chose a dark metallic to cover my (formerly ivory) walls. Extra coats! Extra work! Fun times!

I limped along for a couple of months doing a miniscule patch here and there (over the mirror! around the showerhead!) all the while my bathroom a nightmare of rollers, brushes, tape and half-usable countertop.

My bête noire turned out to be the giant window with it’s complicated window blind casing that I had to claw out of the wall in order to paint the inside. There I was, like a goldfish in the bowl for all the passing world to see as I stood inside the sill painting around the edges.

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But I can most thankfully report that today I packed away the brushes, stripped off the last bit of tape and hauled away the empty paint cans. Mission accomplished!

Now I just have to clean and put everything back.

That much more to be grateful for in the future.

Thanksgiving 2014: Countdown of Odd Gratitudes

I’ve spent the last two days being grateful for unusual (read: weird) things (turkey and dressing, clothing racks) so I think I’ve stumbled into a trend that I will ride until the holiday.

Today’s oddity I’m grateful for: my alligator butler, Jeeves.

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We first met Jeeves (or his prototype, who we now call Jeeves, Sr.) at a beach house we rented in Rosemary Beach, Florida two years ago. I fell immediately, head-over-heels in love with the little bronze fella and launched a relentless campaign for a Jeeves of our own. I found his maker on-line (Frontgate) and immediately began staging pictures of Jeeves “being helpful around the house” to assist in the case I was presenting my husband to justify spending hard-earned money on a prefabricated metal reptile.

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Whose life wouldn’t be improved with a little assistance from a medium-sized fake lizard with a perky bow tie bearing an ever-so-helpful tray?

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I was so wildly successful in my proposal (or so annoying my husband just gave in) that soon a little Jeeves came to live with us.

We have whole-heartedly incorporated him into our lives and actually dress him up for holidays.

Sure and begorrah, that's me lucky lizard!

Sure and begorrah, that’s me lucky lizard!

Burn's Supper (Scottish Holiday on the birthday of poet Robert Burns)

Burn’s Supper (Scottish Holiday on the birthday of poet Robert Burns)

Baby New Years. (except that when I posted this picture on Facebook, everyone thought David and I were announcing that we were having a child.)

Baby New Years. (except that when I posted this picture on Facebook, everyone thought David and I were announcing that we were having a child.)

He’s wildly handy for al fresco suppers.

Jeeves, Sommelier

Jeeves, Sommelier

We often have him greet party guests at the door with a selection of libations.

"Drinks, anyone?"

“Drinks, anyone?”

So today, I am grateful for my wonderful alligator butler.

And my even more awesome husband for bringing him into our lives.

(By the way, Jeeves has his own Facebook page and would like to be your friend.)

Some Assembly Required

My closet is an enormous mess.

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Technically, it’s a walk-in closet, but more realistically, it’s a walk-on closet.

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In a desperate measure to achieve some kind of order out of the overwhelming chaos, I purchased a garment rack, to give myself a little more space to hang things.

I should have taken all the loose rattling noises from the box as a sign.

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There were 5 gazillion pieces to it. Holy crap.

After a moment of panic, I sat down with a large glass of wine the directions and the diagram and figured out which pieces were parts. About a bottle two and a half Downtown Abbey episodes on Amazon later, I emerged victorious.

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Voila! The finished rack! Most importantly, there were no unidentified pieces left over when I was done.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am most grateful for my successful foray into storage engineering. Now, for another glass of wine a little inspiration to get started organizing all this clutter!

A Prelude to Thanksgiving

Today was the day my co-worker, C and I have been waiting for all year.

We received the invitation last Friday and we’ve been planning and strategizing ever since, determined to make this one the best ever.

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Today was our company’s annual Thanksgiving Luncheon.

Each year, on the Wednesday the week before Thanksgiving, they throw out an enormous spread for all 500 employees. Turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, a selection of salads, bread and rolls. A huge dessert display with pies, cakes and cookies, coffee, tea and all kinds of beverages.

::sigh::

Of course, it’s all you can eat and Thanksgiving food (turkey, dressing and gravy) is my absolute favorite food of all, so I can put away my share.

It’s kinda shameful, but C and I train for this, eating small meals for several days in advance. We even forgo breakfast in anticipation.

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And each year, we try a little of everything and each year we end up stuffed to the gills, waddling back to the office and laying our heads on the desk feeling like beached whales.

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I’m full, but grateful.

Not only am I happy for such a lovely meal, but I’m happy to have a job (many don’t) and mostly, I’m happy to have such a great team to work with. C is awesome and makes my job bearable. My boss is not only fair, but funny and cool and he always has my back. The other managers in my department are supportive and help me do my job. That’s important.

It’s also important to be grateful, and I am. So an early Thanksgiving, in many ways.

Lost in Translation

When I was in 9th grade, I loved nothing more than to write stories.  My best friend Laura and I amused ourselves during class by making up tall tales; each of us scribbling a few sentences (or adding an illustration) and passing to the other to continue.

Daily, we composed vast oeuvres in our spiral notebooks.

From these charettes sprang notable tomes, such as the “Further Adventures of Little White Duck,” and the never-to-be-forgotten “Continuing Saga of Corky’s Junebug.”  (This was an actual bug, by the way, and not a euphemism.)

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Our anecdotes took on an international twist when we acquired a new friend, Ursula*, who transferred to our school mid-term from Frankfurt.  She was delighted to teach us her language, and we enthusiastically began to compose our yarns in our fledgling German (along with a little help from a German-American dictionary.) We were perhaps a little more exuberant than structurally correct, but our Duck (die kleine weiße Ente) and Junebug (der Käfer von Corky) novellas flourished in their new language.

Until one fateful day in Biology class.

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I should preface this by telling you that we didn’t care much for Biology.  It was smelly and difficult and rumors of impending frog dissection were being spread by malicious upperclassmen.

The teacher, Mr. Green,* was terse and unsmiling.  Completely unable to make a connection with him or the subject, I poured myself into expanding my body of work.

Laura’s and my latest essay, Das Hässliche Kleine Mann (the Ugly Little Man) based on our somewhat subjective evaluation of Mr. Green,* was promising to be a masterpiece.

At some point, caught up in the story, I forgot to check before I passed, and openly handed my notebook across the aisle to Laura’s desk for her to add the next lines.

A shadow fell over us.

The notebook was snatched from my hand.

“Miss Ferguson.  Miss Roberts*.”

Caught.

“Ah, an essay in German!” Mr. Green* sounded almost jubilant. “How wonderful!  Did you know I minored in German in college?”

Scheiße.

We were dead.

Mr. Green* continued that he’d be quite happy to grade our little essay for grammar and vocabulary, right then and there, in lieu of a Biology quiz.

fail

By paying attention in class and actually doing the assignments, I eventually recovered from the debilitating grade.

It put quite a damper, however, on my burgeoning career as a novelist.

(*All names have been changed to protect me from retaliation.)