He done me right

The universe gave me flowers yesterday. I was on my way to square dancing class, and there is a flower store near the bus stop. The person throwing out the day’s floral arrangements was handing them to strangers in the street, and placing others on the ledges of trash cans so they would be found. I got three yellow roses with red edges and a bright lily the color of bananas. A coffee shop provided a cup of water so that my impromptu bouquet wouldn’t die before I got home.

These little kindnesses can make such a difference. I was in a good mood already, but flowers always make me feel extra-special. I didn’t get a chance to talk to the worker who did that. He was already locked in his shop, closing up for the day. I would have liked to tell him I appreciated his thoughtfulness.

It’s easy to notice the lack of courtesy in society—it’s all around us, and an impolite moment can really sting. I’ve been noticing the opposite—the guy who put out flowers in the street is part of a large coalition of nice people, and I think they deserve some attention, too. People bring snacks to my dance class, so we’ll have something to nibble on during breaks, and everyone goes out of their way to bring things to accommodate the special dietary needs of a few of our members. Some of the bus drivers will stop and wait for a moment if they see a person running to catch the bus, and if someone is struggling to carry something aboard I always see hands reaching down to help.

Nice people are everywhere, and I’m thankful for them. We all remember to complain when something has gone wrong, but I try to remember to give out compliments when something has gone right. No one likes to receive only negative feedback, and I believe that when we share our positive feedback it reinforces pleasant behavior. I also don’t think that niceness always has to be its own reward, especially when I can be one of the agents of karma and hand out some goodness to the great people I meet every day. They deserve it, and the more I notice them, the more the negative people fade into the background. I think I’ll keep them there.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

94. What went right today? Thank the people responsible and perhaps even give them a little treat.

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I’ll take the express

Tonight I’m off to square dancing class. I’ll have some down time before I get there, because I’m riding the bus. I got rid of my car once I moved to Seattle because we are such a transit-friendly city, and I rarely miss it. These enforced breaks between activities allow me to read, to ponder, to work on my writing. Sometimes I just watch the pigeons and people around me. I remain productive, even when that productivity is limited to regaining my energy. It’s all good. 

I’m prepared for this time. I’ve got bubbles in my purse, and I pick the size of my bags based on whether or not they’ll fit a paperback novel. I’m currently reading a private eye mystery. I’ve also got paper and a pen. Who knows what I’ll need to write down—I might overhear an interesting conversation or get an idea for this blog. I might meet someone on the bus. It’s happened before. 

I love the bus because I get time to explore neighborhoods I don’t otherwise venture into. My square dance class is in Green Lake. It’s very pretty up there, with lots of cute little shops near the lake itself. The lake reminds me of many I met during my time in Minnesota. It’s fairly small—about three miles circumference—and often ringed with bikers, skaters and pedestrians. I get a warm feeling just looking at it. 

If I was driving I would most likely pick the shortest route and arrive just before my activity started. I’d plan to investigate the neighborhood on some other day. That day might come, and it might not. The bus forces me to slow down, to become a tourist in my own town. There are a lot of pretty churches up there, and I enjoy looking at the flowers which are just coming out into the front yards. I saw a forsythia in blossom, and I knew it was spring. 

I’m looking forward to my walk in Green Lake today. It’ll be a good warm-up for the dancing and I think I’ll go down a different street than last time. What will I find? Where it will lead me? I aim to find out. 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

71.  Explore an unfamiliar neighborhood. Peruse its shops, look at its architecture. Did you find something intriguing?

Something in the air

Today is all about fabulous. The world is bright and shiny, and the sun is peeking its little yellow head over Seattle’s cloudy sky. Square dancing was amazing! I had so much fun learning the steps and trying to get things right with the other dancers. We giggled when we messed up. Someone would grab the wrong hand and all of a sudden the pattern would break and people would try to scramble back to home base as a person was left out of the circle. When we got a complicated step right we all high-fived. It was glorious, geeky fun. Golly Gee Whiz Girl rides again. Yee haw! I love that woman.

I was telling my friend about it this morning on the bus, and I got chatting with a cute stranger. Sparks flew, but—not awake—we forgot to exchange phone numbers. I will be searching the bus for my missed opportunity. She says she lives in my neighborhood. Perhaps we’ll meet on the street? I think the universe will give us a second chance. I’ll be ready. 

Seattle is full of these fun surprises. I walked out during lunch and another cute stranger handed me daffodils. The Pike Place Market is celebrating spring by giving us all flowers. Yay daffodils! Yay spring! Today it’s flowers, Tuesday it was hugs. I was walking home from the bus and a trio of strangers blocked my path. They weren’t begging for cigarettes or money. They wanted to know the tune to an Abba song. They couldn’t remember the melody, and they’d asked everyone who came by. It was driving them nuts. I became their hero, because I was able to sing a few choruses of Fernando. Hugs all around, and they offered to buy me a drink. My couch was more appealing than the liquor, but the hugs were marvelous. 

Tonight I’m revisiting the Romans at the art museum. My friend wants to go, and I can get him in for free. He’s buying me dinner at the Polynesian restaurant nearby. I haven’t had Polynesian for years. It should be fun. Seattle is a smorgasbord, and the little treats keep coming. Have I mentioned lately how much I love her? I kneel at Seattle’s feet with daffodils, and I know she loves me back. Life is sweet. 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

58. Interact with your environment, and keep track of all the fun little experiences you have in one day. Do you love your town? Why or why not?

By any other name

Flowers work in mysterious ways. I have more of an aesthetic mindset than a scientific one, so many of their basic ways are hidden from me. Beyond that, I find unusual connections to flowers. Last spring I was admiring a bright yellow flower that seemed to be everywhere in Seattle. Being new to the area, I did not know what it was, but it cheered me up every time I saw it. No one seemed able to identify it, until I stopped in a hardware store for some paint. There was the unknown bud, sitting in a pot with a helpful little plastic name tag speared into the dirt. The perky little flower was St. John’s Wort. I’d heard of it, because it’s a natural remedy for depression. Sure worked for me—I just had to look at it to start smiling. 

I had another such occurrence this week.  I mentioned to you all a flowering tree in my neighborhood with huge pink blossoms the size of carnations. It is so pretty as to look unreal, and the profusion of flowers on the tree would seem so great as to topple the sturdiest trunk. I’ve been admiring it for a few weeks now, but nobody seemed to know what it was, until I checked with a gardening friend. I double-checked his guess with a Google image Search. Sure enough, the tree is a camellia, and once again it’s a plant that I already knew about. Camellia sinensis is the tree whose leaves produce my favorite beverage—tea. It comforts at the sip and again by the very sight of it.

I would never have discovered these fun connections if I hadn’t sought out the names of these flowers. As a writer, I think it’s important to be able to properly identify the universe around you. It’s only polite to use something’s name when you mention it, and a name will trigger a memory in someone who has met that thing before. I was thrilled when I went to Mexico and saw my first bougainvillea, because Raymond Chandler mentions it all the time, and now I picture this flower in all its glory in the gritty streets besides Phillip Marlowe. It makes a nice contrast. I’m asking for introductions in all the best flower beds in town. I think Lily’s coming over for Easter. I can’t wait.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

56. Is there some tree or flower in your neighborhood that you’ve always admired? Find out its name.