This Week, A Couple of Little Things

Let the headlines wait
Armies hesitate.
I can deal with fate
But not the little things.

Armageddon may
Arrive anyday.
I can’t get away
From the little things.

Danny Elfman

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Some weeks, there’s a theme, a big, rich, under-girding message that defines everything that happens. Some weeks, there’s not; there are just strands of little things—little things that may or may not add up to some sort of revelation.

This was a week of little things.

Such as:

  • One day this week, I came home from work and found not a hint of junk mail and nary a bill. Instead, three—THREE!—handwritten letters waited for me on the dining room table.
One day’s unexpected treat…

One was a beautiful Easter card from Larry, a beautiful friend. Flowers shout on the card’s cover, and they look just like the kinds of flowers Larry grows in his abundant garden. And inside was a long, detailed, catching up kind of note.

One was a lovely but somber note from Robin, the obligatory after-funeral note. We can’t wait to see Robin in person, but the little note channeled her quiet artistry. It was a handwritten connection.

And the last came in a wonderful small envelope addressed simply to “Aunt Pam.” (How nice to live in a small enough city that the mail carrier doesn’t even question that.)

Three little notes; three links to three special people.

  • One morning I went to butter toast, and I discovered only the tiniest dollop of butter left on the dish.
Who DOES this? Who leaves only this much butter on the dish????

“HUH!” I humphed. “What kind of person leaves a tiny shard of butter on the dish and doesn’t put a new stick in the other butter dish!”

The I discovered there was no more butter in the upstairs fridge, and I humphed some more.

“You’d think SOMEONE could march down the stairs and get a NEW package of butter. But noooooooooooooooo…”

And I harrumphed my way to the basement. I got the butter out of the fridge and put it on the stairs, and while I was there, I took some chicken from the chest freezer for dinner. Also, I realized the sheets were waiting to be washed, so I set them up and turned the washer on. Three of my shirts were hanging where some nice person hung them, plucked warm from the dryer and nestled neatly, wrinkle-free, onto white hangers.

“HUH,” I thought. “What kind of person takes the time to hang my tops up so nicely?”

The washer chugged.

I took all three blouses upstairs with me, along with the butter and the chicken, and I realized that I’m not quite the martyr I thought I was.

And the little trip downstairs added 150 steps to my FitBit’s daily count.

  • One afternoon, I drove Jim down to get his second vaccine. I went in with him to register, but he didn’t want my company for the shot itself. I took my book to the socially distanced waiting chairs and read.

Jim came back very quickly.

“That guy gave a GREAT shot,” he said. “I barely felt it.”

We sat for the requisite 15 minutes, then went home, Jim cheerfully  choosing music to serenade the ride. I encouraged Jim to take some preventive Tylenol, and that night I watched him for signs of reaction.

Mark and I both felt kind of washed out in our vaccine aftermaths; I was headachey and had the chills. Mark was really tired, and, of course, our arms were sore.

Jim sailed through. One day he said, thoughtfully, “I think my arm’s a little sore,” and he took his Tylenol, but other than that, he felt just fine. He trooped along happily when I dragged him our for an afternoon walk the next day.

And, hey: in two weeks, we’ll all have that essential immunity. We’re already thinking about maybe going out to eat in celebration.

We won’t go hog wild, of course, but the rigid walls have just become a little more giving.

  • One night this week, I went to a virtual book club hosted by a magazine in Buffalo, New York. A panel of three young book lovers discussed their take on Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, by Sonali Dey. A vibrant group of readers commented contiguously on the chat.

Dey’s book is a romance with roots in Austen’s classic work; there are names that echo Austen. There is pride on one side and prejudice on the other, and those warring qualities tumble boulders into the paths of two people who really should be in each other’s arms.

They butt heads instead, until the thaw happens, and the growth happens, and then, of course, the right thing happens. And that is very satisfying.

Early on in the hour or so of the book club meeting, I realized that I was Grandma in a group of much younger participants, but it was a joy and a pleasure to soak up the reactions of a different generation of avid readers.

And today I opened my email and discovered I’d been randomly picked as a prize-winner; sometime in the next couple of weeks or so the book club will send me a package with a mug and a tote and a candle. What a cool surprise.

So even email offered good mail this week.

  • This afternoon, our little writers’ group met, and we celebrated Larisa’s signed contract for her first book. Wendy has a book coming out, too, and they talked about the process and the aftermath. Wendy told Larisa about the fun of going to book fairs and signing copies for interested readers, and there was energy and joy in that meeting.

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This week brought the birthday of one special friend, and the anniversary of another special friend’s death. It was a week of warm weather and long stretching walks; the week started out with a few shy daffodils daring, and ended with a riot of daffs all over the lawn.

The forsythia are out, too, some bushes chaotic, some bushes manicured, but all shouting yellow in the spring warmth. Trees are budding. Irises push up in the corners of the yard.

This week, we tried a couple of new recipes and revisited some old ones, and one night, we heated pre-packaged frozen meals for dinner, and we liked them, very much. I clipped out two new recipes to try on Easter—white cheddar scalloped potatoes and miniature cheesecakes in muffin papers. I ordered our groceries, and, though we were sad when the spiral ham was unavailable, we are easily reconciled to steaks instead of ham for Easter dinner.

Jim was really excited about the Snyder cut this week, and we divided it into portions and watched it together. Because Jim had read all about it, because he has been waiting for the Snyder cut for years, he narrated the film for us, and we appreciated what we watched that much more. And it was nice that, mostly, anyway, the good guys won.

Last night, the predicted heavy winds came through, starting in the wee dark hours. When I got up for a sleepy creep to the bathroom, I heard wind like I had never heard it before: it roared.

But our little house wasn’t buffeted at all; it bore the storm, calm and steady. I crept back to bed and slept that special sleep—the kind I sleep when all around is wild weather, but I feel safe and snug.

This morning, I had the chance to talk for a goodly time with an old friend, and for the first time in over a year, we said things like, “Maybe we can meet for lunch in May…”

It was a busy week at work, busy with good things, and a busy week at home, with good things too.

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I look back at the little things this week churned up, and I don’t know that there’s a theme; there is sadness mingled with happy surprises and relief and enjoyment…just a bunch of little things, all mixed up together.

Maybe, even, a bunch of little blessings. And really, I realize, that’s all the theme I need.