A Couple of My Favorite Things that I Need like I Need Another Hole in the Head

by julie swanson


The hydrangeas behind our house are going crazy right now. One of them is sprouting blooms of many different colors–blue, lavender, pink, everything in between, all on the same bush… The color pictured here is amazing, kind of a light periwinkle. I love color, bright colors, pastel colors, blues, greens; it’s the first thing I consider when I shop for clothes or plant something or decorate or buy or make anything at all. Such a simple thing, what color a thing is, but I keep looking at this periwinkle and thinking how amazing it is and how happy it makes me just to look at it. Had to share.

Since my frog salt-and-pepper shakers just happen to show in this picture (frogs are another one of my favorite things, ever since I was a little kid), I will share the story of them as well.

I first saw these at the Monticello. My brother and his family were visiting and wanted to go see Monticello (which is another of my favorite things! I could never get tired of going there. Each docent tells you another fascinating detail about the life of Thomas Jefferson), so I went with them. While waiting for the time of our tour, we walked through the gift shop. I saw these frogs and picked them up and stood there deliberating about whether or not to buy them, but then I heard the voice of my dad in my head, and it said, “You need those salt and pepper shakers like you need another hole in your head!” And so I was like, Yeah, you’re right, Dad, what a waste of money, what a foolish idea, I don’t really need another set of salt and pepper shakers. And I put them down.

That Dad voice in my head can be a real party pooper. He has a bunch of sayings, very practical, grounding ones.

Well, skip ahead a year and Steve and I are on vacation, and I am in another gift shop, and I see the same frog salt and pepper shakers. I pick them up again and I hear my dad again, “You need those like you need another…” Only this time, I talked back to him–in my head of course. I said, “You’re right, Dad, I don’t need them. But I want them, and I am going to buy them.” And I did.

They might just be stupid salt and pepper shakers, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them, if only because they’re a symbol of my victory over that voice in my head that’s all too often kept me from doing things. Isn’t it OK to do things sometimes just because we want to, to buy a little thing we like but don’t really need? Once in a while it feels good to treat yourself to something just because it’s beautiful or fun or it makes you happy to look at it because it reminds you of someone or something.

Every spring I put lime around our hydrangeas to give them a slightly pink tint that turn them from the bright blue they would naturally be in our soil to the lilac/lavendar/periwinkle I like. Despite having done so, two of our bushes look like this one, still mostly blue but more pastel and a teensy bit more lavender than the vivid (almost dark compared to these) royal I see everywhere driving around.

This is the hydrangea of many colors. I put lime on all our hydrangeas this spring to give them the tinge of pink that makes them a lilac/lavender/periwinkle rather than just the bright blue that's normal for ours, but two bushes down from this one...

This is the hydrangea of many colors, just two bushes down, which seems wonderfully confused by the lime …or whatever it is that’s made it this way, when every other year all its blooms were the same color.