Saturday, January 29, 2011

1000 gifts: cat on your lap edition

I'm loving my calendar this year - challenged myself to fill up every day in January with something fun or interesting that I discovered (like books, movies, quotes, things I'd like to buy on ebay, ha ha) or anything else praise-worthy. I tell you, God loves to rise to a challenge like this: on some days He gives me so much I can hardly fit it in the small spaces (even using short keywords).

169. Lap cats.
I was just complaining recently how our cat, Cleo, has turned out to be a bit of disappointment. I picked her out of the animal shelter litters specifically because she has the loudest purr - and I never hear her purr anymore. She's three years old now but still hasn't coddled up to us (though I can't blame her with four hyper kids running around and my husband who loves to tease her). But she must have overhead me, becaue just last night she hopped up on my lap while I was reading and stayed curled up for at least two hours, even through several interruptions. Dare I hope? I finally have a lap cat again?

Photo cred
170. Uzbekistan plates.
I fell in love with this gorgeous plate (from Uzbekistan! didn't know they were so famous for their ceramic designs! - see gift #189 for more details) and tried to find something similar on E-bay. Didn't find anything there but then found another website selling Uzbek pottery. Found a similar plate for $20.00 - so excited until I checked the shipping - $50.00 more. Oh well, it still looks amazing on my blog.

171. Reclining chairs in motels
Last week I got to travel up to Casper to teach a new two-day Introduction to GIS class to twelve students. I ended up working until 2 am getting the materials ready and my learning objectives and demos, but fortunately I had thought to bring along my new iHome so I could listen to my favorite tunes while working, and also fortunately the motel had a recliner chair - I've never seen a recliner in a motel room before but what a great idea. (It makes working with a laptop so much more comfy!) Also fortunately the class went off really well; with brand new last-minute materials this was a huge relief.

172. Surprise lunches
B. also got sent up to Casper for the day for his job. We were able to have lunch together - a nice surprise.

173. Pink snow.
Driving back from Casper to Laramie, I encountered one of those scary ground blizzards, the kind where the snow blows across the road in sheets so that you can barely see the road ahead of you - and yet the sky is clear above you! For a while it was scary driving. But also beautiful driving, because while the ground had turned pure white, right above it I was treated to a beautiful sunset. The combination resulted in moments of translucent pink snow, almost like a pink fog.

174. Not being afraid to be your real self.
Finished reading Wings, by Aprilynne Pike, so good I couldn't put it down and (shame on me!) actually skipped work on Friday to finish it! (After having already put in 40 hours of work for that class though, I don't think it was unreasonable to take the day off.) It's a young adult "fairy tale" but the fairies are not what you would expect. But what I really loved about it were the three high school teenagers - they weren't afraid to be themselves, which is such a rarity with all the peer pressure in high school. It inspired to post on my writing blog about the spirit of not being afraid to tell the world "this is who I am, this is what I'm passionate about." Here's another great motivational writing post that was a gift this past week: Certainty and Uncertainty

175. Kids making up stories.
Four-year old Serious picked up one of Dreamer's bear books and started "reading it." So cute to listen to her make up the story.

176. Homestretches.
On Saturday I had a great day writing - wrote over 3200 words and am now at 58,200+ words on my historical fantasy novel, heading into the homestretch.

177. The King's Speech
Nicole and I watched the movie "The King's Speech" - can easily see why it has twelve Academy nominations. It was such a richly layered movie too - about much more than overcoming speech imediments. It's about trusting your voice, what you have to say, overcoming prejudice (and the worst sort, the kind that comes from dysfunctional families) and about breaking down class barriers, too. Loved it - especially the pre-coronation scene in Westminster Abbey - that scene is priceless! As is the King's first war-time speech.

178. Grandma's apple dumplings
Sunday night, Mom made us Grandma's apple dumplings as a "going away" gift (she and Dad getting ready to leave for South Carolina).

179. Clementine oranges.
A semi-truck overturned on the interstate and as a result Laramie was deluged with boxes of free Clementine oranges. We got two boxes, and the kids went crazy over them, eating them like candy! They are the most wonderful little fruits - easy to peel and super sweet and it's wonderful to see kids love fruit so much.

180. High lux lamps.
I haven't used my SunBox lamp (high lux lamp designed to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder) in several years; after I had the twins, I didn't experience any SAD for several years. But then it caught up with me and I had a run with depression last March through May. So to try to prevent it this year, I set up the lamp on my work desk. I forgot how good it feels to get that healthy light on a regular basis. So glad it still works after sitting unused for almost 5 years.

181. Kids telling Bible stories
One of Dreamer's requirements for her Sparkies club was to tell her family a story about a Bible character. She told B. and I a very accurate version of Paul's conversion. She loves telling Bible stories, and I love to hear her tell them.

182. "See you in my dreams".
B. and I have been into submarine movies lately. He found a cheap DVD of "Hunt for Red October", and we both loved seeing that again so much, that I hunted down a used copy of "Crimson Tide" with one of my favorite actors, Denzel Washington. It was even better than I had remembered. And there's this great line: as Denzel says goodbye to his family before boarding the sub, he tells his wife, "See you in my dreams." The next morning, when B. kissed me goodbye before heading off to work, he added "see you in my dreams."

183. Someone else brushing your hair.The twins took turns brushing my hair while I read to them at bed time. Getting your hair brushed is one of the most luxurious feelings, almost as good as a massage.

184. Neighbors visiting.
Wednesday morning I hosted our women's Bible study at my house. One of my neighbors - I didn't even know she went to our church (one of the disadvantages of our church growing in numbers) - asked if she could come and of course I was thrilled that she came!

Photo credit
185. Train stations.
Wednesday afternoon I drove my parents to Denver, to the train station downtown. Dad does not like to fly anymore, so they are taking Amtrak to Savannah, a two day, three night trip via Chicago and D.C. Mom was so excited! We all took a train trip across Canada when I was a little girl (too young for me to remember, unfortunately) but my parents have great memories of it. I have to admit I was a bit envious. After we checked their baggage in, we headed across the street from the train station to an Italian restaurant and had a toast to their trip. I only wish we'd had some extra time to walk around downtown Denver a bit more. I love downtown with all the shops, the beautiful buildings and the little squares.

186. Scripture memory challenges.
Continuing to get great things about of Beth Moore's Breaking Free workbook. Also, I have now memorized my first two sets of verses for Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge.

187. Beth Moore-isms
Speaking of Beth Moore, she comes up with the funniest sayings on her blog. Last week it was "I dare say that we may be a tad cheesy in Siestaville but we try to keep our Velveeta loaded with jalapenos" and this week she quipped "most of my revivals come from survivals".

188. Ribbons on violins.
Blaze has renewed excitement about her violin lessons - the students now get to add brightly colored ribbons to their violins whenever they "pass" a song (play the song and its variations correctly). She got her first ribbon and is practicing "Boil Them Cabbage" and "Twinkle Little Star" like crazy to get her next ribbons.

Photo credit
189. Blue ceramic tiled buildings
During the semester, our department hosts a speaker series along with the Geography department. Some of the talks can be very dry research-related stuff, but yesterday's talk was fascinating! It was about the drying up of the Aral Sea in Uzebekistan. It's been a huge environmental and health disaster, but there are some hopeful signs of recovery. What I really loved was the background about Uzbekistan, a country I've never paid any attention to before. Who knew? - a fascinating country along the ancient silk road. The city of Samarkand (reminds me of another great book I read recently, The Amulet of Samarkand) is in this country and it is the home of the great conqueror Timur (also known as Tamerlane, relative of Ghengis Khan. There is a spooky rumor about Stalin and Timur's grave that's worth googling). Very famous for its blue ceramics in architecture and pottery, couldn't resist sharing another beautiful photo. (I am such a geography geek!)

190. Mark Twain on ambitions.
Another great quote discovered: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions...the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Mark Twain

Lest anyone think that my life is all sunsets and happy moments (especially pertaining to this interesting article about Facebook, churches, and the problem of always presenting a happy face to the world), I must add a few more things that I have a hard time qualifying as gifts: my husband worked over 87 hours last week. We are thankful for his new job and finally some steady income, but whoa! I am failing at my simple goal to lose 5 lbs in January. And much, much more serious: cancer continues to haunt us, not with anyone close, but my cousin just found out her dad has terminal cancer. She writes on Facebook "this is the hardest thing I've ever been through."


  1. Love that blue plate and your list of blessings. A friend and I often played the thanksgiving game. We'd list all of the things we were grateful for, whoever had the longest list won.

  2. I like the blue plate, too. And I really like the gratitude list.

    Glad you may have a lap cat again. I have a half-lap dog - and she makes me smile.
    Smiles to you, tomorrow. ..Marsha