today – solc2018#27

Wedged between yesterday’s blustery clouds

and tomorrow’s torrential rains is

TODAY

Sunny, warm, spring-filled, breezy, satisfying today.

 

Thankfulness fills my heart for –

my husband’s quick return home from the ER

flexible schedules

healthy grandsons

our giggley granddaughter

being close to our children

a fun trip and safe return (for family)

a healing friend

plans for a kitchen remodel

unexpected home buying possibilities (for family)

chores accomplished

planned outings with friends

celebrating the hope of Easter this week

And I am so very thankful for today.

 

I am reminded of a song by Brad Paisley:

I don’t know about tomorrow
Right now the whole world feels right
And the memory of a day like today
Can get you through the rest of your life

exceptional service – solc2018#26

Recently I ordered something online, and then cancelled the order about 2 hours later.  I received this email reply:

Your order has been canceled, for the following reason:
* request from you
Your credit card charges (if any) have also been cancelled.

 

Hooray! I kept this email and I waited for my credit card bill to come, only to discover that the charge HAD gone through. So I sent the following email in reply to the one above:

Unfortunately, this charge, for a cancelled order, DID come through on our credit card bill.

In the meantime we have had a fraudulent charge and that credit card has been cancelled. We are waiting to receive another card. Please advise as to how we can have this amount returned.

 

I sent this email on a Sunday, because I had the time to do so, not expecting to hear anything right away (if at all). Imagine my surprise when I received this response within a few hours:

You are correct, and I apologize. The order was canceled immediately, so I’m not sure why the charge went through. In any case, please note the following:

* we have refunded the amount, Below is a summary:
Transaction ID: XXXX
Payment Method: XXXX
Amount: $XXXX
Customer Name: XXXX

HOWEVER, after reading your email more thoroughly, I realize that you might not be refunded for the charge since you canceled the card.

I will make our accounting department aware of this issue, and they can send a check to you. Is the address on the order the correct address to which the check should be submitted?  Please verify, and again I apologize for the initial error.

 

I was so impressed that I immediately answered:

Thank you so much for your prompt reply. This kind of customer service is rare these days. I will definitely remember this when placing future orders.

I am sorry about the card being cancelled making this difficult. Thank you for sending a check.

The correct address is…

 

And by this time I wasn’t surprised when I received another prompt response:

You’re very welcome! We’ve tried very hard to maintain superior customer service as we’ve grown. It’s nice to know it’s appreciated!  Hope to see an order from you in the future. We are here whenever you’re ready!

 

How could I not reply to my “new friend”?

I work with our local Library Foundation. Two years ago we ordered several frames from you for our first Student Art Show, featuring fourth grade art from each school in our two districts.  It has been quite a success! We love the frames and re-use them each year. But we are a growing area, and seem to add new schools every year. This year we had our third annual show, and needed more frames. There was some confusion as to who was to order them, and that’s why I had to cancel. I will be sure the “new” people have your contact information in the future.  I have attached a couple of pictures from the reception. The art is displayed in local libraries for the next year. Thanks again for your help! I appreciate it very much.

I certainly complain loudly enough when something doesn’t get handled efficiently, and I have even written about that a couple of occasions on this blog. SO it is only fair for me to say that if you ever need frames that open in the front, making it easy to replace artwork from time to time, you might want to remember this company:

dynamicframes.com

Facebook: dynamic frames @EZStoreFrames

IG:dynamic_frames

 

pixie dust – solc2018#25

Having a three year old granddaughter has brought me back to the Wonderful World of Disney.

We love to watch movies together – although too much screen time makes a grumpy girl. So we choose carefully.

Yes, she loves the Disney princesses. “Cinderelly” fascinates still.  She can sing “Arell’s” under-the-sea songs, word for word. And Pocahontas models what it takes to be a strong girl in a changing world (in both parts 1 and 2).

There are Disney princess puzzles, band-aids, and even a pillowcase as parts of her life!

Today’s animation of Frozen is so realistic, three-dimensional, and enthralling. Yet the original Snow White (Disney’s first feature length animated movie, which we watch on VHS in an old video player) still captures her imagination – and is often requested first.

Along with her, I have become taken with Moana. Have you seen it? The music is by Hamilton‘s creator (and it features the most realistic animated hair and water I have ever seen). It’s the story of a Pacific island girl who is destined for great things:

See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
No one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know
If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go

This weekend we have both been enchanted by the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Belle has long been her favorite, but even more so with this version. I didn’t think I could love it more, but I truly do.

The setting is a lavish, gilded French castle, perfectly designed, and yet not overwhelmingly garish, and the small town scenes reflect exactly how those places must have appeared. The animated characters – elaborate and romantic Lumiere, stodgy but finely detailed Cogsworth, light and airy Plumette, proper but sweet Mrs. Potts, and her charmingly friendly son Chip – all seem completely believably real. The additional parts of the plot tell the story in much more depth, and the newly created songs are hauntingly beautiful.

All those days in the sun
What I’d give to relive just one
Undo what’s done
And bring back the light

I highly recommend this masterpiece.

It is such a joy to view a movie that presents the happier side of life. There are always problems, but they always get solved. Today’s thinking veers away from setting higher standards, perhaps trying to prevent disappointment in not achieving them, but I believe high expectations are a good thing. And the beauty and joy of Disney’s worlds are delightful.

A little pixie dust goes a long way.

unexpected, scheduled visitor – solc2018#24

here you are again –

consistently regular,

but yet still unexpected

we’ve been lulled into thinking

that the recent change is complete

 

so you surprise us –

riding in on the wind and rain

bringing cold and snow as you come,

reminding us of your last name

 

tomorrow will be sparkling

like ice drops and diamonds

shimmering in the cold

 

and the purple-y pinkish mauve,

the magenta plum you are named for,

shows best and most strikingly

against a backdrop of evergreen

 

your stay is brief

but we will remember you

until you take us by surprise

again next year

 

redbud winter

 

the power of a book club discussion – solc2018#23

This week our book club met to discuss Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks. I didn’t finish the book before our evening together. I had been busy, and to be honest, the stories just didn’t pull me in. And then, most of them ended so abruptly, and I felt we were left hanging as we dove into another tale. I decided I’m just not a short story fan.    BUT     Our discussion leader started out by enthusiastically reminding us what a great actor Tom Hanks is, and then we tried to name all his movies (so many!). She shared a lot of information about his early life, and some of his ideas about writing. These are, as another member said, “boy stories,” things a guy would write about. It was all a game changer for me. Tonight I emailed our discussion leader:

 

You did such a good job with our book discussion Tuesday night. Thank you.

I just wanted you to know that I have finished the rest of the book, and after our discussion, it was a different book for me.

After book club, I quit reading each story looking for the plot and characters that I would have chosen for a story, and I started seeing what “Tom” intended for me to understand. This was his take on the lives of these people, and after thinking about his background and his contributions to our culture, the stories came alive.

I also thought about the research he must have put into some of the stories. Or maybe it’s just a natural part of his thinking, based on his travels and experiences, which far surpass my own. There were some fascinating facts included, as well as some powerful imaginative ideas.

His use of language is so … real!  His words and phrases drew me into the setting and the lives of the characters so quickly. I never once became bored or uninterested. The various formats he tried, with junket schedules, and scripts, and stream of consciousness, and unexpected twists – and ALWAYS a typewriter – kept things fresh and engaging. And somewhere in each, a good heart is revealed.

Now I am thinking I might go back and read the stories I read previously, now that I have new eyes.

Isn’t it great how a book club discussion can change our thinking! Thank you again!

remembrances – solc2018#22

Recently we have been saddened by the deaths of people who have touched our lives in many ways.

Their obituaries have touched me and I am recording parts of them here,  so I’ll know where to find these sweet words again.

I learned a long time ago, when a friend of my daughter lost her life in a car accident during her freshman year of college, that we who remain only have one chance to honor the lives of those we love when they leave this earth. This is so hard in the midst of a great loss, but the family of my daughter’s friend beautifully honored her brief but meaningful life and shared God’s hope and assurances with those who were left grieving.

The words written and spoken about these friends who recently passed have touched me in different ways, but above all, they have honored the essence of these dear souls, and reminded us of the impact of their lives, and the radiance they leave behind.

One was the head of the high school where I graduated: a woman I never met, but wished I had known:

Let us ensure, together, that her legacy lives on in whatever form that might be: the words we choose, the love we share, the acts we do, the attitudes we hold, and the dreams we pursue. Most importantly, let us honor Stephanie by how we make each other feel. May we all take an ounce of her love and spread it to others, so that her contagious spirit continues to impact the world. 

Another was a friend from church, a man who lost his first wife to cancer, met his second wife at a cancer support group, and then succumbed to the disease himself:

Maya Angelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  That was John’s motto, and he lived his life that way. He always made you feel good. He always made you feel special. He always made you feel important.  John was truly one of the good guys: thoughtful, generous, respectful, loyal, honorable, loving and kind. John loved abundantly. He lived honorably. He cared completely, and he will always be missed.

The third was the wife of the headmaster at our children’s high school. She was also a friend of mine and a kind, caring soul:

She was a writer of life, the family genealogist, a backyard bird watcher and a lifter of souls with her frequent smiles and encouraging words. Ann’s greatest accomplishment will be revealed in the memorials of loving acts carried out by those who were blessed by knowing her. We will be more determined to live counter to our narcissistic and image-conscious culture. We will find more joy in the simple things of life: the relationships with family and friends, the laughter of a grandchild, the quiet of a morning and the song of a sparrow. We will be humbled by our imperfections yet live in the freedom of grace. We will love and will not judge. We will live with more empathy for others and the pain they are carrying. This is how Ann lived and by God’s grace how we should all carry on.

Stephanie, John, and Ann: In honor of your lives that touched so many others, and your actions that made this world a much better place, I thank God for allowing each of you to be a part of my life.

shade, hue, tint – solc2018#21

Colors are popping up everywhere these days, erasing the monochrome grays, browns, and whites of winter.

Joy!

Color lightens the soul. The presence of a favorite shade in a room or a well-loved tint in our clothing can “color” our attitudes.

In Tom Hanks’ short story collection, Uncommon Type, he tells of a man who travels back in time and notices the bright clothing colors on all types of people, not the “black over black” of today. Although I would have imagined clothes more black and white back then than now, I can relate.

Years ago I went to a state accountancy dinner with my husband. I tried to choose the most conservative outfit I had in my elementary school educator closet, but when I arrived it was easy to pick out the teacher in the crowd. The small amount of turquoise on my dress was like a flashing light in a room full of only slightly different “black over black” suits.

When I was leading fourth grade classes years ago, we had a reading challenge this time of year.  Each book that a student finished was listed by the reader on an Ellison Press diecut of a book, in Roy G. Biv shades that were arranged in a rainbow arc on the back wall of the classroom.

Our goal was to reach the pot of gold at the end. Once arrived, I told my class that the real reward was the words, phrases, stories, chapters, and books they had devoured – but they also received a gold-wrapped chocolate coin, too.

When I was in college, Color Me Beautiful was embedded in the fashion mindset of the time. My “autumn” mother finally understood why she didn’t look good in navy. My roommate’s muted “summer” wardrobe suited her perfectly, but was not my style.

I was a “spring,” and I loved wearing bright colors. Variations of nature’s blue, green and yellow, with touches of coral, remain my favorites to this day.

We are embarking on a remodeling journey that involves expanding and updating our kitchen, a bath, and the laundry. And we are repainting the interior of our whole house. As much as I love color, I am not good at choosing the right hue.

Fortunately my daughter is a master at this. Her willingness to help us has been priceless.

Still, colors can fool you. My daughter knows this, too. A small sample color chip does not tell the whole story. So, following her advice, we have painted several samples on the walls, in opposite corners of the rooms, which we examine at various times of day and in different lights.

We have painted over some of our early choices, and taken some we thought were good for one room off that list and painted it on the walls of an adjoining room. It is a process.

But we are getting nearer to finding the perfect shades, hues, and tints for our home.

Meanwhile I search the skies for the rainbow after the rain, or for the sunbeam after the storm, that brightens those spring colors that are arriving daily outside.