A nice note and Saturday Shopping Challenge

Halfway through the week and I have no idea what happened to the first half. I amaze myself with how I manage to stay busy doing a whole lot of, ahh, nothing. Messing around. Putzing. It’s sort of embarrassing when Rich comes home from another day of writing a book and activating the entire NCAA Division II and asks, “Hi! what did you do today?”

Take today. I got up, watered and pruned the tomatoes, started the laundry, went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, took the car to the emissions control check station, went over to The Knitting Workshop for the first day of their summer sale (keep working, Rich), went to the grocery store, spelled three elementary school level words for online Scrabble games, watered the passageway and courtyard, made a Cobb salad for a dozen people, cleaned up the kitchen, talked briefly to Bud on the phone, lined a felt project and now it’s 345pm. In an hour and a half I’ll head down to Millennium Park for dinner and a concert. Where Rich will meet me and say, “Hi sweetie. What did you do today?” Nothin’ much.

(chopped stuff, not to be confused with culinary talent. Real recipe on Saturday.)

Mondays are good because, by the time I’ve talked to 400 people and wrestled snakes and marched back and forth across the zoo eight times I’m exhausted but at least I DID something. Yesterday, Tuesday, I did a lot of feltwork and, amaturish though it may be, I’m almost ready to start up my Etsy store, where I’ll make even less money than my musician son. I also went to the gym and that counts for something.

There was a time when I was a highly productive person, in a helping profession. By the time I finished 8 appointments at 630 or 7pm, I had clearly done something with the day. I did that for 32 years; in addition to that I sold Buster Brown shoes, cashiered in a grocery store, took electrocardiograms, worked in a florist shop, went to university for 7 years, got an undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees, taught in a law school, taught in a medical school, studied with Barry Brazelton and Selma Fraiberg, got railroaded onto Court TV and CBS This Morning, and so forth and so on.

Now I mess around with wool and see how many tomatoes I can grow on 5 square feet of cement. It’s not that I’m feeling sorry for myself- in fact, when I’m not wracked with guilt over the level of sloth around here, I’m luckier than you, because you’re still working and I’m not. I’m volunteering with animals and homeless children and pulling yarn balls out of McCloud’s gullet. And over compensating in the kitchen, which is, frankly, a lot of fun.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. I got this piece of e-mail a couple days ago. You have no idea, not a notion, of how wonderful this made me feel. (Obviously, I changed the names.)

Hello Vicki
This is Donna Cantor, up in Alpena, Michigan. Many years ago, twelve? thirteen?, I used to bring my sweet niece Cara to see you for therapy sessions. She was the shaken baby.

I happened across your blog and have been quietly “e-stalking” you for a couple weeks. I’ve been trying to compose something clever and informative but as you can see, I’ve given that up and will just do what I really want to do — and that is to say hi, hope you are well, and thank you for being one of those “angels disguised as a regular person” that we were so fortunate to meet.

Cara is now 16 and will graduate high school next year. She is well, she is beautiful, and she is still my joy. Thank you for the part you played that helped get her here.

You may not even remember us – and that is OK – but please know, you made a positive impact on someone’s life and I’ve thought of you fondly over the years. In case you do remember Cara, I’ve attached a picture from last fall.

Take care,

Although there are days when I can’t remember my phone number, I remember Cara clearly. The first time I saw her, half her head was shaved because she was recovering from brain surgery after being shaken so hard it knocked her gray matter loose. Her mother and aunt made a three hour drive each way to bring her for therapy sessions and over the course of a couple years we sat on the floor with the Fisher Price doll house and tried to sort out how something like that could happen to her, at the hands of someone who was supposed to help raise her with love and patience. Cara, incidentally, was just about the sweetest, cutest, smartest little smidge I’d ever met- not a toddler who would fray anyone’s nerves. Anyway, her mother and aunt and Cara, herself, did most all the work in salvaging that situation and it just makes me hummmmm this single happy note to hear that she is thriving and about to graduate.

My work was a lot like that. People would thank me, as though I helped them, but mostly I just sort of cleared a path so they could make their own way. That was on a good day. Many days I only helped people shove the clutter around enough so they could imagine a path. And, as often as not, I just nodded and commiserated with the mess of real life. I often felt very connected to the people I saw. I really really liked my people and I miss them still. A few read this blog. One comments and it always makes me smile because it’s someone who became a friend. I don’t know if she knows how much I admire her efforts on a day-to-day basis with really challenging work scenarios, twins, finances and so forth. Like lots of women she struggles some with weight and depression but here’s the thing: to combat those stresses, she started playing league soccer a lot and very competitively, even though she was completely drained at the end of each day. How cool is that? And she has a good sense of humor.

A few times- maybe a dozen? I had a major impact on people’s lives. As in, I kept them alive long enough to get a grip or I intervened on their behalf in a life changing way. That’s not so much- some good teachers I know talk about similar experiences. But it was enough to feel like I made a difference and had a purpose.

No need to leave reassuring comments. I’ve found the new meaning of life in letting inner city children pet snakes.



Here’s your reminder in case you want to take part in the challenge I suggested about 10 days ago. You need to see what you can buy for 20.00 that, loosely speaking, provides for your family in a changing economy. Ideally, it would be fun to see what sorts of locally grown food you all can get at your nearest farm market. Big Dave wants it to include sales on chips and hotdogs. Maybe Bonnie will tell us more about her CSA cooperative. Really, try to go to the farm market. Post a photo and a list of your purchases and maybe a menu idea or two-hey! feel free to share a recipe!- send me a note or comment and I’ll post a link. That’s for this Saturday but, as the Queen of Procrastination, I’ll post links on Saturday AND Sunday. Off you go, to market, to market to buy a fat pig…

21 responses to “A nice note and Saturday Shopping Challenge

  1. My summer is feeling much the way you describe yours. My husband asks me what I have planned or what I got done. I look at him blankly. Well, I drove the kids hither and yon. I cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen. I did some laundry. I wrote (but not enough). Isn’t that enough? Sigh.
    Great letter about Cara. Teachers have stuff like that happen too. I’m only 3 years into it so I’ve only had a tiny taste of it.

  2. I was going to be snide about “I’m luckier than you, because you’re still working and I’m not.” but then you included that nice note about Cara and I just didn’t have it in me to snark anymore. I’d think it would be a really good feeling to help people that directly, even if it’s helping them help themselves.

    As for the $20, do they sell shoes at the farmers’ market? I need some flip-flops.

  3. I’m off to write a sweet thank you note to some caring professionals who helped me along the way. Good for you! Good for Cara and her aunt and Mom! Good for us all.

  4. What a lovely letter from Cara’s aunt. I feel the same way about the therapist who helped our family through a rough patch more than 10 years ago. I think about her all the time.

    As far as work/leisure goes, I feel that I have the best of both worlds. An intense job 10 months out of the year, and just when I feel I can’t take another day, it’s summer vacation time! And then the reverse process.

    I’m all set for Shopping Saturday.

  5. After reading here for 2-3-4 years (however long it has been) I think I can safely say that you have done SO much good in the world that you don’t need to worry about feeling unproductive in this phase of your life. You are anything but – it is just a different kind of productivity.

    I am going out of town, or I’d do your challenge happily!

  6. Fascinating.
    All those accomplishments … feeling very slacker after reading that.

    I can’t shop this Saturday as I hope to be at sea.

  7. Ooops. I went shopping before I read your post today, and spent €90, which, at the current exchange rate, is $a lot. I’m still not sure how that happened, even after looking over the receipt.

    I’ll try again next week.

  8. I just heard last night that my twin brother (a very fine social worker) reconnected with his therapist whom he hadn’t spoken to in over 20 years. It made me want to call my former therapist too. Cheers to those who counsel about clearing the clutter to imagine a path.

    I’m going to have to investigate your $20 challenge. Now that I’m on dsl again, I can search and play to my heart’s content.

  9. In the meantime, aren’t Bell and Lily such sweethearts? And Bailey, but you weren’t mentioning skinks. Do you get Meatball, too?

  10. Lisa- I just stopped by and saw your beautiful desert flowers. Simply stunning.

    Wren- Try Masts for some Merrills- more than 20.00 but the only flip flops you can wear to a fancy dinner with happy feet. Ya- It was nice work, thanks.

    Cathy- You put such a great spin on this. Wondering who I shall write a thank you note to today?

    Mary- I’m going to test drive your market bag for Saturday shopping and then mail it off too you. 🙂

    Kenju- actually, the summer florist job was one of my all time favorites. Coming by to see where you are going.

    FC- Well, happy boating. You have to shop for that, don’t you? 🙂 I’ll be by shortly.

    Alala- it would be interesting to see what you can get that is equivalent-or not- in Germany, so do take the challenge.

    Robin- You’re back! I’m coming over! Take the shopping challenge at a market new to you?

    Victoria- ha,ha! Welcome! Lily is my favorite, Bailey and Bongo need their nails trimmed but Chris the rat snake! That is who I was wrestling for campers on Monday- hungry and looking for a dark pocket the whole time. For some reason, I always think I would like to see Meatball and Hoover together- they both strike me as such odd fellows.

  11. I’m going to resist here, because you wouldn’t like what my Spiritual Director hatted self would say.

    Lovely letter.

  12. The letter is wonderful; I love getting them too and keep them forever. (to look at on those rough days when I feel like I’m not doing anything right!) I dread my husband asking me what I’ve done these days when he gets home from work. Umm…I cleaned out a cupboard in the bathroom. I read. I mixed up Crystal Light. His eyes glaze over. I may be going to our local Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning. However, I’m much more likely to buy candles there than food. Oops. My bad, as the kids would say.

  13. Hey Vicki, thanks for the visit! I did post a photo of today’s harvest. I have to admit, I am enjoying NOT growing for market and growing just for us. My stress level is sooo much lower.

    Beautiful letter and what a gift.

    I’m going to have to catch up on this felt work project of yours.

  14. Oops, I typed in my blog site info wrong and clicking on AC up above goes no where.

    Try this one.

  15. I’ve been to Mast’s (they’re practically around the corner). I want them to adopt me. They have such cool shoes I’m almost consoled for not being able to wear the stilettos I love any more.

    I don’t think I’d find locally made flip flops, but you never know. But it’s a moot point. This morning I’m off to the vet for my shots. 🙂

  16. My post is up, Vicki. This was great fun – and good eating!

  17. You live each day to the fullest!!

    We missed today’s market; Does trapping Dungeness crab from our boat count for anything?

    Pass the Aria Cuvee, please.

    SelmaFraiberg is one of my heroines, you know. The Magic Years – sigh!

  18. You CANNOT get a fat pig for $20 or even for 20 bucks. And then you gotta think of the cost of the banana tree leaves (or coconut) and the barbecue briquets and the matches, and you’re way over 20 simoleons. But I love everything about you, so I’m gonna let it drop. OXOXOXO

  19. I saw your challenge a bit too late, but we were too busy anyway getting ready for a camping trip tomorrow. Dexter-Pinckney road? It’d cost $20 in gas to get there and back. Can’t I just shop at the local dollar store instead? I can walk there.

  20. Tahnks for posting

  21. […]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

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