ozWe are headed to New York next week to be balloon handlers for the Wizard of Oz balloon, and I couldn’t be more excited, which is funny considering that when I was a kid, and the Wizard of Oz played just once a year on one of the three channels available at the time, I would watch all the way up until the Tin Man finished his song and dance in the apple orchard before packing up my pillow and heading off to bed.  I hated the scene where the witch appears in a puff of red smoke on top of the cabin, so year after year, whether all the kids in the neighborhood were at my house, or I was at theirs, the Tin Man would toot his hat, and I would immediately vanish into whatever room I could find to escape what came next.

I am not sure how old I was when I managed to make it all the way through the movie, but now I have a shelf lined with vintage Wizard of Oz books, I can recite the dialogue and the songs verbatim, and a few years ago, when I first moved to North Carolina, I went to the Autumn at Oz festival in Banner Elk as the very first event I ever attended in the state.  deniseatozI felt like a four year old kid when I got my ticket to this year’s parade in the mail; I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, and I am pretty sure I won’t sleep the whole night before the parade.  I also plan to push my luck by ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and visit Santa at Macy’s to fulfill a lifelong dream.  I’m only slightly embarrassed that I am 54 years old and still want to sit on Santa’s lap, but since Miracle on 34th Street is my all time favorite movie, I am going to suck it up and go for it.

On the subject of Serendipity, there are two stories I want to tell.  The first, is that when we were on the road a few weeks back, we stopped at a Walmart in Palmyra, Pennsylvania to get some food and supplies before checking into our hotel for the night.  We put everything in the back of the truck, and I made a loop with the shopping cart and the trash before climbing into the cab.  We arrived at our hotel eight miles later, but when I went to check in, I discovered that my wallet was missing.  I’d put it on the bumper of the truck, and had completely forgotten about it after dumping the cart and the trash.  We’d been on back roads, in a construction area, and on the interstate going 75 miles an hour.  I knew the chances of finding it were miniscule, but we called the Walmart to ask if the wallet had been turned in, then immediately retraced our steps. By the time we’d made it back to the interstate, I was on the phone cancelling all my credit and debit cards.  I spent a sleepless night worrying about identity theft, since there were business cards with my name and phone number on them,  ID cards, and other bits and pieces of information about my life.

The next morning my cell phone rang.  It was the general manager at the Pilot station across the street from the hotel telling me she had my wallet. We hadn’t stopped at the Pilot station, just stopped in front of it, and how on earth the wallet chose that moment to fall off the bumper is beyond me.  I immediately got dressed and ran across the street to collect it.  The only thing missing was $11.00 in cash, and considering that I would have given a substantially larger reward to get it back, I felt I came out even in the end…..

20131118_131824The next story involves Michael’s new RV business, which has exploded this fall.  We have been working out of a Geo Tracker, or a Ford F150 4×4, which was like working out of a giant Rubics Cube.  You had to move the bucket of caulk to get to the toolbox, and put the moving blankets and the plastic tarp on the front seat to get to the gas sniffer.  He started looking for a Dodge Sprinter, but they are too expensive for us to afford right now.  Last week we were on our way to an RV job, when a Sprinter passed us with an For Sale sign on the side. It was the right length and the right height, but we were going the opposite direction and couldn’t chase it down.  When we finished the RV job, we headed to our next appointment, but instead of taking the freeway, Michael decided to take surface streets, and there the Sprinter was, parked right beside the road.  We stopped to look it over just as the man who owned it showed up.  We took it for a test drive, and when we got back, asked him how much he wanted for it.  Even though the price was reasonable, it was still way beyond our means. I found myself saying, silently “Okay God, now what? How are you gonna pull this one off?”  The man then volunteered that what he really wanted was a Ford F150 4×4 truck.  We traded vehicles this past Monday, and its already proven to be worth the exchange.

Finally, I want to talk about the Happiness Project.  Gretchen Rubin wrote a book on the year long project she undertook to see if it was possible to train herself to be happier.  A person’s ability to be happy is largely dictated by genetics, but Rubin decided to see if happiness can be achieved through practice until it become a habit, so I have decided to embark on a similar project.  After all, life is short, and I want to spend as much of the rest of it as I can being happy. So expect to hear some about this in the future, because I will need your input on what makes YOU happy.

So…what DOES make you happy?  I would love to know…..