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First: tough decisions. They’re all so beautiful – tiny bottles of color begging you to indulge in a little vanity.

Second: beginning. The coolness of the paint when the brush touches your fingernails for the first time, like a tiny thrill of happiness.

Third: the process. Applying coat after coat of the gorgeous color with a steady (or not so steady) hand.

Fourth: the result. Your fingers accentuated by sparks of color as you type, or cook, or vacuum, against the dull background of the world.

Whoever invited nail polish = thank you. Sometimes it’s just what girls need to relax.

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I was tired. I was grumpy. I was locked out of my house.

We were told a locksmith could come but, due to the late hour, would take half an hour.

I sat. I paced. I stood. I tried to call some stray cats over to me, with no success. I sat some more. I sighed. I glared at my husband.

Half an hour passed and no locksmith. I was still sitting on the front steps to our apartment, trying to make myself comfortable on the stone slabs, and thanking God that at least the weather was perfect in case we needed to sleep outside.

A security guard approached me, carrying something. I looked at him. He extended his gift. “Egyptian tea,” he said.

And I smiled, really smiled. “Shoukran,” I said. Thank you. 

I took a sip of the dark, delicious blessing and thanked God for small mercies like hot tea and kind people.

Today I…

flew 11,000 miles to a country I’d never been to before

watched three new movies on a personal TV screen 39,000 feet in the air

took a picture of myself using my laptop

e-mailed said picture to my sleeping family half-way around the world

converted foreign currency into money I could understand

watched international news channels in three airports to keep me informed and

wrote a blog post in said airport while  waiting for my next flight.

 

We use it everyday: light-bulbs, laptops, cell-phones, televisions and ATMs, but I think we forget how easy it makes our lives.

We leaned against the rusty, red gate at the bottom of the yard, holding hands. The air was heavy and gnats followed us in sporadic clouds of itchy brown and black.

There was an old, brown and white dog sleeping in the shade of a tree near us, too old to stir when we called. The only sound I could hear was a tractor, somewhere, working.

I closed my eyes and took a breath. The grass beyond the gate was freshly cut and smelled like children playing and dogs barking.

It has never been hard for me to appreciate small things, but that did not make my weekend at my grandparents’ any less magical. I relished the opportunity to rediscover the beauty in small frogs, fresh raspberries, rock collections and cut grass.

I went camping with my in-laws this weekend.

After choosing our tent site the first thing we did was place ten lawn chairs around the fire-pit – ten chairs of various colors, sizes and cup-holding capabilities. Pink, gold, striped, grey, red, blue, puppy-dog.

Six hours later we were holding them like shields above our heads against the torrential downpour as we ran from our tents to safety in the office building. Once there, a little wet but mostly grumpy, we set up the chairs again to wait out the storm.

The next day after a strenuous five hours of canoeing we took naps in them, some people collapsed in one chair, others draped across two or three.

We ate hamburgers in them, applied bug spray in them, watched the stars in them, roasted marshmallows in them and relished the time we were spending together as a family.

As we loaded them into the car to leave I realized how important the lawn chairs had been to our family camping experience. And nobody thanked them.

It’s a habit. You peruse the clearance shelf on the slight chance that you will find something almost witty enough to give as a gift or almost interesting enough to keep in your bathroom for those…  private moments.  And then you see it.

Your heart beats a little bit faster until you force yourself to breathe normally before reaching for it. No reason to get your hopes up, after all.

Could it really be…?
It is.
It is exactly what you have been looking for. And it’s a dollar.

Sure it’s got a few nicks on the dust-jacket, along with an ugly orange price-tag sticker that looks like it could never be completely removed, but it is yours. You take the liberty of envisioning it sitting on your shelf at home.

You find yourself holding it a little closer to your chest than necessary.  At the cash register you breathe a small sigh of relief as the woman bags your item. She compliments you on your choice, maybe passes along a review she’d heard from a fellow reader.

You smile and take the bag from her. If she only knew…

A miracle. A result of passion. A beginning.

12 days old, passed from one delighted woman to the next to be praised and cooed at.

12 days old. Brand new. He slept through the attention, never opening his eyes or mouth except when he periodically stretched his curved form.

It was easy to imagine him wrapped in the dark cocoon of his mother’s warmth; his limbs had yet to straighten and he slept as undisturbed as he had been for nine months prior.

Someone suggested to my mother-in-law that I should hold him – to give me ideas for my own marriage, now safely past the one-year milestone. I joked that my husband and I are not ready for parenthood, but I could not keep myself from touching him.

Once, twice, three times. His balled fist, tiny toenails and soft hair. I was sure my usually gentle hands would harm him.

I never held him. Three touches were enough to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Flawless. Gentle. Helpless. Gorgeous.

A miracle.