As you may know, I wrote a song called “Bad & Better Angels.” In that spirit, I have some “bad & better” news. You may also remember (and have certainly seen) my beloved Orvis hat recently repaired with a little upholstery thread. The bad news, as I found out the other day when a stray mesquite branch snatched it off of my head while cutting the lawn (if you want to call it that — this is TX, after all), is that what I thought was a failure in the stitching is actually the poly straw becoming brittle after years of UV exposure. So the thread is willing but the weave is weak. Bummer. This hat was also discontinued a year or two ago. MAJOR bummer.

So I set out to see if I could find a used one. To my surprise, a quick internet search revealed a link to the Orvis site in the results. I clicked skeptically as I know sites are often behind in pulling down discontinued items. But to my surprise, yet again, the site indicated my size was in stock. No other sizes, mind you, just mine. So I added it to the cart, half expecting an error to post. When none occurred, I hastily entered my payment information and placed the order. Then I waited…for the email telling me that there was a mistake and that the hat that had been discontinued 2 years ago was, of course, out of stock. Instead, I got a shipment notification. Could it be?!?

A few days later, a properly sized and shaped box arrived on the front porch and as I drug the tip of my knife down the tape across the top, heart racing a little, it gave way to reveal a quite perfectly identical replacement. I still couldn’t believe it. That same day, I navigated back to the Orvis site to order a backup. Nope. Out of stock. I got THE last one. As you can see from the pic, the new one reminded me what color my original lid once was before hours of shielding my face and noggin from the blistering sun. I’ll say I’m already putting it to good use traipsing around Hill Country and wading every blue line on the map.

As for the original? I’ll be ordering a proper hat hanger so it can serve out its retirement on the wall of my office as a lovely reminder of the veritable slew of adventures we have shared across this beautiful country. Here’s to myriad more! ????

This is one of my favorite hats. Okay, maybe my favoritest (yes, I know that isn’t a word). ???? Anyhow, I think I’ve had it about 8 or 9 years now. I think of it the way most people think of a ball cap. It’s made of poly straw and has a chin strap, so it’s tough, shades well, stays put, is impervious to rain, and a quick dunk in the drink turns it into a personal-sized evaporative cooler. It’s just a good all-rounder, and in warmer weather, I pretty much live in it. In fact, I’m wearing in right now.

I pulled this little honey off my head about a week ago and noticed what looked like some loose thread. Closer inspection revealed that the thread at the back of the crown dent had pulled through the straw weave and was on it’s way to a gaping hole. I could already stick my finger clean through. Now otherwise, although becoming quite faded with a little less “spring” in the brim than it used to have, it’s still a perfectly serviceable hat. So I procured some upholstery thread and a curved mattress needle and went to work. Not pretty, but serviceable. I suppose I’m learning to embrace the spirit of the Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Come to think of it, maybe I’ll use golden thread next time

Tensions at the feeders have been running high the last few days. There are hundreds of birds and only 2 seed feeders and a suet cake. I looked out yesterday and it had come to blows on the ground under the feeder as they went for the few seeds that fell. It was like a perpetual hockey face off out there. So in addition to filling the hoppers each morning, I’ve taken to scattering a healthy scoop on the ground as well.

Things have gotten much more civil with more to go around.Hmmmm. More to go around would seem to contribute to more civility. Something well worth pondering, I’d say.

Sitting in the glow of our sweet little Fraser Fir, replete with old-fashioned-as-God-intended incandescent bulbs and little red bows. Early in their life as husband and wife, my parents found themselves short on Christmas decorations as well as funds to purchase them. So mom tied some red and white gingham bows to make the tree more festive. I came along around the same time, and those bows stuck around for several years into my childhood…long enough that I remember them. So a few years ago when D and I were having our first holiday together and found ourselves a little short on ornaments, bows were just the ticket. I love how they seem both humble and cheerful. So they’ve stuck around too.

Oh, and that book on the couch was a gift to 5-year-old me…we won’t talk about how many years ago that was, only that it was my favorite Christmas story other than THE Christmas Story as a child. We read it so much that I’m surprised it has held together. There’s a random stamp imprint on the inside cover…the kind used to on the back of checks when endorsing them for business deposit…that my sister stamped in there when she had her librarian phase and all of the books in the house became available to “check out.” I was pretty upset about it at the time. Now, facing our first Christmas without her, I’d be happy to let her stamp all over every book I own if it meant having her here.

That guitar is one I bought years ago at a charity auction that was donated by a woman who picked it up while on a trip to Costa Rica in the 70s. The barbed wire treble clef on the wall was a Christmas gift I gave to D when she was my dearest friend and musical compadre…long before it occurred to me that she was my very favorite person.

The “polar fleece” snowflake PJ pants are one of a 3-for-30 sale nearly 20 years ago now…it’s amazing how long plastic clothing can hold up. And the hat? That’s the first of what would become “a few” Stetson Stratoliners to nest on my noggin. It’s standing in as a lamp shade presently. I was in my small town hat shop and asked to try it on. That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship…or obsession…whichever you prefer.

Things don’t matter much…unless they are connected to memories that are part of who you have become and are becoming. Then they transcend the life of things and become sacraments of a sort.

I have a box of ornaments from my childhood that has followed me through this life. I’ve been without it the last few years and was getting used to the idea that I might never again have the experience of walking through the often happy, sometimes bittersweet memories they represent. But a few months ago, they found their way back to me once again. I’m very grateful for my little box of old friends…especially the ones that remind me of my sister, Lori, who left us this past July. Anyone else get the irony of this Christmas ornament made at Vacation Bible School? ????????