Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's All in the Smile

Yesterday I spent a little over two hours in the dentist’s chair having a new crown made. My dentist is wonderful! He has a great computer program that will design a crown, and then he can insert it - all in one visit. I can watch as he refines it on the computer and then observe as the machine mills the brand new porcelain crown. This is my fourth one that he has done this way, but the first one that can actually be seen when I smile.

This particular tooth is an upper first bicuspid. It shows when I smile. For those who aren’t familiar with dental terms, it’s the one right behind the cuspid, which is the tooth that is sometimes known as the vampire tooth. It had a huge amalgam (mercury) filling in it and a yellow spot caused by a high fever that I had as a child when the tooth was budding. Over the years the entire tooth had turned a gray color, caused from the huge filling. I now have a beautiful translucent new tooth which matches those in front of it in color, and one that I don’t have to worry about any longer in fear that it might break if I should bite into something sticky or hard.

All of this reminded me of one of my mother’s friends, a lovely southern lady who took a liking to me when I was an adolescent. She had a lovely rosy complexion and a sunshiny smile. Her name was Martha, and I admired her more than any woman over 50 that I knew at that time in my life. I remember as a 13-year-old complimenting Martha on her beautiful skin. I was plagued by teen-age pimples, and had red spots on my face most of the time. She looked at me and said, “Jennie, you have a beautiful smile. If you take care of it, that is what people will see when they look at you.” At my first chance, I ran to a mirror and smiled at myself, affirming from my reflection that, indeed, I did have a nice smile. After that day, I vowed to take better care of my teeth, while also striving to improve my complexion to look more like Martha’s.

Three years ago I was standing in a convention hall in Toronto waiting for a friend to join me to go out to tour the town while at a conference. Not realizing that I was smiling at the time, I was people watching while waiting for my friend to arrive. I was interrupted from my musings when a man approached me and said, “I am sorry to interrupt you, but I noticed your smile, and had to stop to tell you that you have the most beautiful one I have ever seen.” Thinking that he was trying to pick me up, I thanked him bluntly, not wanting to engage in a conversation. He then said, “It’s not often that I see someone smiling the way you are. I hope you have a wonderful day.” And he was gone -not a pick-up at all.

As soon as I got home from the dentist’s office yesterday, I headed for the bathroom to look at my new tooth and smile at myself in the mirror. Yes, it is a huge improvement, not only aesthetically, but from a functional perspective. I may be the only one who notices it as a change from what was in my mouth a day ago, but to me it is something of note. I no longer focus on a discolored bicuspid, but can now see my smile as the one that Martha and the gentleman in Toronto saw. A smile is very important. It is through our smiles that we welcome people, invite them into our lives, and make them feel comfortable with us. Smiling will also lift our spirits when we are sad, even when it is difficult to do so.

I hope that I will always have a smile on my face!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's Just TOO COLD!!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written in my blog. It’s not that I haven’t been writing - I’ve been working on my novel. With all of these bone chilling wintry days we’ve been having, it’s been a good time for me to put my nose to the grindstone and immerse my thoughts into the story I am creating. I’m not finished with it yet, but I realized yesterday after sitting at the computer for almost six hours straight, it was time to come up for air and return to the real world. So, here I am, back into my Collection of Days, still at my computer, but pressing my brain into another direction for a little while.

It’s cold, cold, cold in Georgia! We have a dusting of snow on the ground that’s here for the second day without having melted. Very strange for this part of the country. In a perfect Georgia world, it would have all melted away yesterday with the sunshine that we had, and we’d be looking at a cool, but sunny day. But we are experiencing a most unusual deep-freeze here in the south, and the temperature never went above freezing all day. We’re looking at another frigid day today.

I am not a dressing -in-layers kind of girl, so this does not please me one bit. I’m just a big cold weather sissy. After struggling with at least a dozen layers of clothing yesterday afternoon, I ventured outside with Diamond to go for a walk. I felt like the Michelin man, and waddled my way down the steps into the blustery deep-freeze. At first, the only part of my body that could feel the fresh air was my face, and it told me immediately that I should go back indoors. I ignored the messages my cheeks and nose were sending me and pressed on, knowing that Diamond loves her daily walks.

So far, so good. We made it to the end of our dirt road and onto the pavement, hitting a big patch of black ice. With a quick detour onto the crunchy shoulder, we maneuvered past this hazard, avoiding an unwanted ice-skating adventure. Remembering the December I was in Chicago helping Wade after he had surgery, I thought about how cold I was there. This was eerily familiar. But this isn’t Chicago, this is Georgia! It’s not supposed to be this cold here.

As we walked, I was staying very warm from my neck to my thighs, but the rest of me was feeling the pain. My fingers and toes were cold and beginning to ache, even with warm gloves and hands in pockets. The feet were a different story. My walking shoes won’t hold more than one pair of socks and still lace up. I tried jogging, hoping to send some warm blood down in that direction. Didn’t work. By the time Diamond and I reached the beaver pond a half-mile from the house, I knew it was time to turn around and cut our walk a couple of miles short.

Finally back into my warm home, I peeled off all but the last layer of clothing and left them in a pile in my closet. Freed from captivity of too much on my body, I went into the kitchen, turned the heat on underneath the kettle, and prepared a huge mug of hot tea. Warming my hands on the sides of the mug, and with my feet cozily tucked into my fuzzy slippers, I dreamed of springtime.

It can’t be too far away, can it?