Friday, February 27, 2009

Gracious : characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding

There's an early episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the one where Aunt Bea is out of town for an extended stay (can't remember why). Malcolm the Englishmen comes to help out and introduces the family to his more rigid, formal and refined lifestyle. Opie doesn't know what to make of all this, but for a while goes along. He even encourages his Pa Andy to dress up for supper as it's all a part of 'gracious living'. It's a hoot.

Graciousness. What does this look like, exactly?

When I think of gracious living I think of, er, I mean I don't think of Martha Stewart. Bleh. I don't think overachieving hyperactivity is gracious. Her lifestyle would exhaust me. I think it's more of an attitude, sort of Blanche DuBois-ish, minus her delusions and scars and sluttiness. Okay, maybe not her either.

I don't know what it is exactly except you know when you are in the presence of a truly gracious person. They make you feel valued, and somehow through their gentle manners, at peace.

From a place somewhere deep in my computer, and I'm sorry I don't remember the source, comes this:

10 Characteristics of a Gracious Person

1. A gracious person is slow to take credit and quick to lavish praise.
2. A gracious person never seeks to embarrass another. Humiliating another is not in this person's vocabulary. (They don't say something to humiliate another and then try to escape responsibility by saying, "I was only joking.")
3. A gracious person is always thanking others. Do you go through an entire day without thanking another?
4. A gracious person doesn't monopolize the conversation. Someone else has something to offer.
5. A gracious person doesn't play "one up-manship". (That's nothing you should have seen what I did.
6. A gracious person pays attention to people. Sometimes people come away from such conversations saying, "He made me feel like I was the most important person at that moment."
7. A gracious person desires to say what is appropriate. He doesn't just say what is on his mind or whatever he might be thinking. (There is no redeeming value in emptying one's mind of whatever fleeting thought has happened to land at the moment).
8. A gracious person looks out for the comfort of others. Would you like a glass of water? Can I get you a newspaper while I am out? What can I do for you?
9. A gracious person understands that he is not indispensable. You've seen this person, he desires constant attention. He has a way of constantly focusing most any conversation back on himself. There is a humility in realizing that you are dispensable.
10. A gracious person constantly points out the good that he sees. Maybe you are visiting a friend who lives in another place. Instead of pointing out the inadequacies of your friend's community, you are constantly finding things that are good. "This restaurant has outstanding peach pie! That was delicious." "I just love the way you have planted your garden. It is beautiful!" Gracious people look for the good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where does it hurt? There, and there and there?

I have watched the Baby Signing time DVD with Cate, oh, say, a gazillion times. I know it all by heart. So much so that when I was asked by the nurse yesterday what brought me in to see the Doctor I wanted to put my two pointer fingers together, twist them and point to my throat. And then I wanted to do the same thing with my head, and then to every other part of my body. Instead I mumbled something about a ‘killer sore throat’ and then finally dramatically exclaimed, “ I feel like death!” A line, of course, borrowed from Mary Eliot Musgrove in Persuasion.( I love our fam’s fondness for inserting book and movie dialogue as it relates to life’s little occasions.) Only I really did mean it. And still do, ‘cept the antibiotic is kicking in and I feel only slightly less than death now. Which is starting to cheer me.

I’ve just spent the past 3 days moaning and miserably reflecting on how good I had it when I had health and didn’t notice. Conclusion: My ordinary, day-in-day-out life, without the bacterial crud, is pretty good and gracious and gentle to me.

From “The Riddle of the Ordinary” by Cynthia Ozick:

The ordinary by making itself so noticeable ... has got itself in a bad fix with us: we hardly ever notice it. The ordinary, simply by being so ordinary, tends to make us ignorant and neglectful; when something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren't grabbed by the collar or struck [on the side of] the skull by a presence or event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.... And this is the deepest point concerning the ordinary; that is DOES deserve our gratitude ... the ordinary is above all what is expected. And what is expected is not often thought of as a gift.

No one enjoys a bad day or a bad cold, certainly not me, but sometimes it can serve to remind my take-for-granted heart, what a gift an ordinary, feel good day is.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

valentine nostalgia

Years ago, when the kids were still in elementary school, it used to be the thing to decorate a Valentine mailbox and bring it to school. Meghan reminded me of this a couple of Sundays ago. Remember that one year when we made a little stove? I loved that. I did remember. It's hard to explain what got into me this year, guess I wanted to recreate some memories. Whatever. Voila, a 2009 Valentine stove, a Treasure chest for Cate, and a Mailbox for Kenz. Ld and JLW were not the recipients of any mailbox creativity this year, as let's face it, they simply would not appreciate it. They snarfed down their valentine candy in nothing flat.

This is a side view. Note the felt egg in the frying pan. This is in tribute to Kody (who grew up on an egg farm:) and to Meghan, too. The egg is sunny side up, signifying her sunny nature. Deep, huh? I made the frying pan from a bouillion cube lid and some toothpicks (there is no deep meaning attached to that.) The oven door opens to hold some treats.

Opposite side view. A new dish rag. Because it's cute.

A treasure chest made out of a Saltine cracker box for my little baby friend, Cate. And a mailbox for Kenz. I cut up an old Victoria Secret bag to cover it with. I love, love mailboxes.

A sweet Valentine from Cate. An actual tracing from her hand. Precious.

Oh, and this baby Meghan commissioned me to make for her ward's Valentine's Dance. ld and I tried it out. You would never guess from his pained expression that he is quite the romantic suavo dude.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

a middle child has a birthday

It's not true what some social scientists say about the middle child. They are lost in the shuffle, unrecognized. Passed over. For this middle child, it's baloney. Although, okay, maybe a good case could be made after viewing the old movies posted on HB's blog. If Larry ever did strive for attention as evidenced by his attempts to scene steal, well, he outgrew it as an adult. Everyone in our fam recognizes his achievements, his good heart, his consistency, his steadiness, and his great example of so many things.

One thing special, and that continues to be, of the HMA and Ethel Rose family is that everyone was and is valued for their own unique self. Because of this I have never been anything but proud to be the sister of such a great brother and man. Happy Birthday, Larry Dee. Love you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

sister arnett and those who love her

Lexi did a great job speaking in Sacrament meeting yesterday. She will make a fine, fine missionary. So proud of her, 'cept now I have to find a new Hair Artist. Boo. Here are a few pics from the 'after Sacrament Meeting Brunch'. The Hendrix's, Arnett's and Lex's many friends (sorry no pics of them) were out in full force to show love and support.