Sometimes it’s good to take stock of the tings in life that make your heart sing. Whether it’s because we need reminders of the little things that make life worthwhile on the bad days, or because our hearts are soaring for other reasons – say beautiful spring weather – such an inventory is, as Martha would say, a good thing.
Here, in no particular order, is a partial list of some of life’s small but finer things that make me glad to be alive.
Butter – put it on almost anything – from potatoes and muffins to vegetables to pasta – and you’ve instantly improved it. And with medical studies saying butter’s animal ft is healthier than margarine’s hydrogenated fat, I see no reason to keep that pale imitation of one of life’s blessings in my house.
Add to that the fact that butter is a key ingredient for so many delicious foods, and that the result is so improved when you use it instead of that ghastly margarine when baking or cooking, and you’ll understand why I buy butter when it’s on sale and freeze it for later use.
Bruce Springsteen – sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I married a man who has no appreciation for New Jersey’s most famous son, but I did. I just have to hear the live version of “Hungry Heart,” which sounds exactly like the rendition the audience and the Boss gave at a Cleveland concert I attended in my college days in the 1980s, to be instantly transported to my youth, free of post-pregnancy stretch marks and mortgages. And while I listen to the song’s lyrics about the impossibility of avoiding commitment, I am also reminded that I wouldn’t go back to my salad days, even if I could.
John Irving’s books – although his work (like everyone’s, I suppose) ranges widely in quality, two of his books are on my all-time favorites list: “A Prayer for Owen Meany” and “Cider House Rules.” I can’t explain why my favorite book ever (so far), “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” moved me so much, but if you haven’t read it yet, take my advice: It’s a short book and extremely well worth your time.
I read “Cider House Rules” while in the hospital after giving birth to my son. My husband happened to bring it, know how much I loved “Own Meany.” An obstetrician who came to check on me while I was reading the book stated unequivocally that it should be required reading for every OB/GYN resident. I think he was right.
Convertibles – even though I currently drive that ultimate Mom-mobile, a minivan, I love convertibles, which also happen to be not high on my husband’s favorite-things list. Until auto designers take my son’s advice and make convertible minivans, or until I have enough money burning a hole in my pocket so that I can afford a used Miata for my second car, I’ll just have to live in the past.
I used to own a Rabbit convertible – a sweet black VW that I loved, even though the convertible weather window in Ohio is depressingly small, and even though more than once I had to pull over to the side of the road to manually close the top when the midwest weather decided to surprise me with a sudden rain shower. I drove the car – the last model year before VW christened it the Cabriolet – until it died, and then sold it to a friend whose heart was made glad by anything Volkswagen made, and who used it – pardon me while I tear up – for parts.
John and I spent a long weekend in Los Angeles last August and rented a Mitsubishi Spyder convertible while there, and I think that trip might have convinced him of ragtops’ inherent desirability. Driving through Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains with the top down was an eye-opening experience for him.
Now if I could just convince him that he’s wrong about Bruce Springsteen …