Saturday, December 31, 2005

Saturday, 31 December 2005 - A good 2005

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good 2005.

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now. ~Author Unknown

Here are some of the highlights of the year 2005:
  1. I began a new career as a self-employed consultant and actually made money.
  2. I completed one full year writing this grateful journal blog.
  3. I turned 51 years old in March while S turned 56 in October. T just turned 9 (in people years).
  4. I was able to wear my size 2 petite skinny jeans all year long.
  5. I cooked almost every meal I ate (I ate out for lunch less than 5 times; for dinner, zero times).
  6. I embarked on an aggressive internal cleansing program and can report excellent results.
  7. I found a wonderful person to cut and color my hair and began highlighting my hair again.
  8. I only missed one or two days walking with T due to intolerable weather.
  9. We finally bought a digital camera.
  10. We had to buy a new furnace and refrigerator so we bought the best ones we could afford.
  11. My xeriscape garden had a marvelous first year.
  12. We survived our coldest December ever including several sub-zero degree days.
  13. I decided that it's all right if we move to another city, state or country.
  14. I culled my wardrobe and gave away tons of "corporate" clothes to charity. Now I have to declutter the rest of the house and every corner of my life.
  15. I am very healthy, still not wealthy and definitely wiser for having lived another year.

For these many blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday, 30 December 2005 - The evening star

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the evening star.

I usually forget to look for it in the western sky as evening shadows sweep over the valley. But late this afternoon, I was cooking and just happened to glance out the kitchen window towards the foothills we call the Front Range. And, there it was - the evening star, hovering brightly just above the mountain silhouette - the celestial diamond upon which I learned to make a wish so many years ago.

Without hesitation, I whispered the famous mantra:

Star light,
Star bright,
First star I see tonight.
Wish I may.
Wish I might.
Make the wish I wish tonight.

(I won't tell you my wish because, if I do, it won't come true!)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - Hot popcorn

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn sprinkled with sunflower oil and seasoned salt. In winter, this is my favorite late afternoon snack. Since I rarely eat a meal after 6 PM, the popcorn satisfies me until bedtime.

For this yummy blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wednesday, 28 December 2005 - A thank you note

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a thank you note.

We gave money gifts to T's best buddies in the neighborhood. One young man, R, gave us a wonderful handwritten thank you note and some small gifts - treats for T and gourmet hot chocolate for S and me. I can see his mother's loving influence on his life. She's raising him to be a true gentleman with a gracious and humble heart.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tuesday, 27 December 2005 - The new puppy

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our neighbor's new Malamute puppy, Bode (named after downhill skier, Bode Miller).

Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend. ~Corey Ford

It's been years since we've seen a new puppy in our immediate neighborhood. So, on Christmas Day, we were pleased to see Bode, an 8-week old Malamute, walking with his parents (the young couple who live two doors north of us). He's a real poser - loved to walk around on the driveway and then sit purposefully, as if posing for a photograph.

I spoke to his dad this morning and learned that Bode is not doing very well with crate-training. He has a lot to learn if he is going to be happy with us, humans. I guess that T will have to teach Bode a thing or two about life with people.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday, 26 December 2005 - My future

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my future.

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?

~Dr. Seuss

She laughs as the merry-go-round spins under her father's power. I smile as I watch her enjoy the dizzying ride. T wants to say hello, but she's busy and we need to continue our walk around the park.

Suddenly, she notices T, points her finger at us and screams, "Puppy!" So, we stop our walk and stroll over to the little girl and her father. She pats T on his nose and giggles when he tries to kiss her.

She is a real sweetheart with curly blond hair and big blue eyes. Her dad tells me that she is 27 months old.

"A wonderful age," I remark, thinking of all the adventures that await two year-olds.

"She has her whole life ahead of her," I say to myself in a wistful and envious tone.

And, at age 51, so do I.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sunday, 25 December 2005 - Merry Christmas

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a Merry Christmas hike in the mountains.

Perfect weather - deep blue skies, light breezes and warm sunshine. The trail wears remnants of the recent storms - long stretches covered in wet snow. T is in his element - he loves trails and loves to lead us along them.

As I pause at the top of the steep rise, I'm reminded of Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." The pine trees and bare Aspen tree branches seem to sing to me: "but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." I hope it all means that 2006 will be an exceptionally good year.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

~Robert Frost

And, before I forget, Happy Birthday, Jesus. You are the reason for the season.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Saturday, 24 December 2005 - Quiet Christmas Eve

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a quiet Christmas Eve.

The turkey's in the oven and should be done within the hour. The homemade cranberry relish is cooling in the freezer while my special yam dish is resting on the stove.The gravy is thickening nicely while the Yukon gold potatoes are boiling away (will become mashed potatoes, shortly).

Some of my favorite movies are on Turner Classic Movies tonight. My husband has stocked the liquor cabinet. With all the hustle and bustle behind us, we're anticipating a quiet evening at home. I'm finally ready to celebrate Christmas and embrace the joys of the season.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Friday, 23 December 2005 - More time

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more time to finish our holiday shopping and baking and everything else related to the season.

Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear. ~Author Unknown
Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got.
~Art Buchwald

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thursday, 22 December 2005 - My guardian angel

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my guardian angel who, after watching over me for 51+ years, is undoubtedly overworked, underpaid and in dire need of some heavenly R & R.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wednesday, 21 December 2005 - My hair stylist

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the talented woman who cuts and colors my hair.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like. ~Author Unknown

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tuesday, 20 December 2005 - Mailing Christmas gifts

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the fact that I mailed Christmas gifts on time this year.

I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become... but there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress. ~May Sarton

Whew! For me, this feat is equivalent to winning an Olympic gold medal.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Monday, 19 December 2005 - God's grace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Your grace.

Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.
It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and
empty life.

It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us.
It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.
Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: "You are accepted."
~Paul Tillich

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday, 18 December 2005 - Happy Birthday, T

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our canine son, T, as we celebrate his ninth birthday.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

T's our high spirited, athletically gifted, very popular and ever so lovable Chocolate Labrador Retriever. He's the superstar that brings light and levity into our lives. He's my footwarmer on cold winter evenings, my alarm clock with a very cold nose, and my loyal walking partner.

"Yes, T," I say. "You deserve gourmet treats today!"

Happy, Happy Birthday, precious puppy.

For this "bundle of love" blessing, I am truly grateful.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday, 17 December 2005 - Real-life snow globe

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a real-life snow globe.

I peer outside to see how the storm is progressing. To my delight, the snowflakes are busy swirling and twirling and dancing around the house.

We live in a natural snow globe. Someone has shaken our world, and now, from within our little house, we're eyeing the resulting winter spectacle with child-like wonder.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday, 16 December 2005 - Those who serve us

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the people who serve my family and neighbors.

In this list, I'm including:
  • the mail carrier who delivers our mail and all of my online purchases
    with a smile
  • the UPS man who has a great sense of humor
  • the two men who pick up our trash and recycling each Monday afternoon
  • the person who delivers our newspaper every morning
  • the city workers who faithfully plow our neighborhood streets during and
    after snowstorms
  • the Parks & Rec employees who tend our park
  • the policemen who cruise our neighborhood and respond to our
  • the firemen who, hopefully, will never have to visit us
  • the bus drivers who take the children and teens to school in
    good and bad weather
  • the teachers in our school district who actually make a difference
    in their students' lives

For these varied blessings, I am grateful.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thursday, 15 December 2005 - The sound of music

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the sound of music.

Spirits rise when one hears familiar holiday tunes. My spirits soared at tonight's festive concert at the local middle school. The very talented 8th grade jazz band featuring three young men we know - Hayden, Ian and Tucker - played a lively, toe-tapping concert in the school auditorium. I am so pleased we attended.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday, 14 December 2005 - Perfect moments

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my husband, S, and the perfect moments we share.

Dear Heavenly One,
Help me accept Love as it is given
even though it may not come
in the package
I requested.
~Judy Ford

We were married 19 years ago in our home in Austin, TX - two imperfect people with high hopes for a more perfect life, together. Although our marriage has its daily ups and downs and chronic ailments, we do share many perfect moments. I think that is the most one can expect from this life.

For these very special blessings, I am grateful.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tuesday, 13 December 2005 - A year of gratitude

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a year of gratitude.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

I began this blog/journal one year ago today. During my one year sojourn, I've written daily about something for which I am thankful. On some days, I was inspired and wrote essays. On others, one or two lines were all I could muster. On most, I found a sense of peace and quiet in my miniscule corner of the vast World Wide Web. I'm not complaining, just stating a fact. At least I can now claim a spot on the Internet. At least I can look back and see from where I came.

The past year has been a time of self-discovery and confirmation. Here are a few of the things I've learned and confirmed:

  • My physical world is actually quite small, centering almost exclusively around our home and neighborhood. The ordinary comings and goings of everyday life enthrall and inspire me.
  • In real life, I rarely venture beyond the city limits. In my imagination, however, I'm a world traveler.
  • Colorado's quirky and unpredictable weather is an important aspect of my life. It influences my wardrobe du jour, my exercise and diet regimen, and my ever changing mood.
  • I pray for others and continually hope that others are praying for me.
  • I hate clutter. Yet, decluttering my life is an ongoing and annoying challenge.
  • I still prefer to give rather than receive.
  • I adore all things French.
  • Serendipity is one of my favorite words.
  • Lance Armstrong is one of my heros.
  • Robert Frost's famous poem, The Road Less Traveled, is one of my all-time favorites because it describes how I've chosen to live my life.
  • My true passions are writing, reading, gardening, cooking, knitting, teaching and shopping.
  • I am a Sudoku puzzle addict and am directly responsible for my neighbor's addiction.
  • I work best with music playing softly in the background.
  • Even though I don't work outside the home, I still prefer to wear and carry designer labels - all items bought at deeply discounted prices, of course.
  • I love to walk with our chocolate Lab, T, along the trail (now under development) and around our beloved park. T faithfully takes me out at least twice a day, regardless of the weather.
  • I'm a lover of words and a collector of quotations.
  • If I am to become fluent in French, I need to be more disciplined with my studies.
  • I am getting closer to earning a PhD in life.
  • At age 51, I have probably lived half my life (unless I live to 104).
  • I still get depressed, especially around the holidays.
  • My blessings are many.
  • My cup runneth over daily with God's grace.
  • I have so much for which to be grateful.

I don't know where I will go from here. I enjoy writing in this journal and will continue to do so. But, I am also eager to complete other writing projects.

A year ago, the door to my future stood before me, closed and locked. Today, it's unlocked and wide open. The possibilities for my writing and my life abound. It's mine, all mine, and I claim it for myself and for God.

As I count my many blessings, I have only to look around me - to my husband, S, our canine son, T, and my dear friends and neighbors - for a generous and healthy dose of love, hope and inspiration.

If you've accompanied me for all or part of my journey, thank you. We are, after all, in this together.

For these many blessings, I am very grateful.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday, 12 December 2005 - First Christmas card

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our first Christmas card of the season.

Most years, it comes from my girl friend, Kim - a super organized person who usually posts her cards right after Thanksgiving. This year, Jeri, our college professor friend who now lives and works in Ohio, beat everyone. I feel a little better about the holidays now that someone has broken the ice. My heart is now open for business!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunday, 11 December 2005 - Season of hope

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for this season of hope.

Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light. ~Jean Giraudoux

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saturday, 10 December 2005 - Online shopping

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for online shopping.

I prefer the quiet of a Saturday evening at home, far away from the mad rush of holiday shoppers and impatient drivers. I prefer to deal with a virtual shopping cart rather than a tired and sometimes rude salesperson who can't wait until his/her next break. Yes, I'm buying nearly all my gifts online this year. Give me Ebay and and Etsy and all the other e-stores that sell the things I want to buy at prices I am willing to pay. Plus, no sales tax and, many times, free shipping.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday, 9 December 2005 - Pop-up books, popcorn and poppies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for pop-up books (I prefer complex ones like One Red Dot), hot buttered popcorn and red poppies that thrive in my summer garden.

These are three things that make me smile. I need to think about them today because my soul is dark and my heart heavy. I don't think I could smile even if you offered me a million dollars.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thursday, 8 December 2005 - Warmth

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the sun's warmth.

After surviving single digit and below zero temperatures, we awaken to a warmer morning. By the time T and I head for the park for our walk, the temperature is in the teens. I'm amazed at how comfortable 15 degrees can feel.

The middle schoolers at the bus stop are dressed in long sleeved T-shirts and jeans. Their winter coats lie on the curb, piled haphazardly next to their backpacks. I smile and wave to the boys we know. They grin and wave back. They yell to T - "hey T-dog" and "hey Big T." T wags his tail, eating up the unexpected attention. He's the neighborhood's canine celebrity.

We reach the park. The sun shines brightly. I'm almost too warm in my winter garb.

Ahhhh. How wonderful the sun's heat feels on my face. A hint of summer in December.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wednesday, 7 December 2005 - Cold days, warm hearts

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for cold days, warm hearts.

O, wind,
If Winter comes,
can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb

Every mile is two in winter. ~George Herbert

T and I leave the house for a quick spin around the park. The sunny skies deceive us. As soon as I step outside, the bitter cold air quickly fills my lungs and chills my face. Breathing is a bit of a chore. I feel icy prickles forming as the moisture from the exhaled air immediately freezes around my nostrils. It is cold - really, really cold this morning.

We manage just one lap around the park. T doesn't seem to mind the weather. He prances by my side, excited and elated by the fresh powder and brisk temperatures. We end up jogging. Although the increased activity increases my heart rate, I'm also breathing more deeply - probably not a good thing for my lungs since I'm not used to exercising in arctic air. Before heading for home, we greet the boys who've arrived with their sleds. No school today. Time for some winter recreation.

T and I visit the park once more in the afternoon, just in time to catch the final rays of sunshine. We feel the temperature plummet as shadows lengthen across the valley. One lap is enough. We hurry home, being extra careful not to step on the icy patches decorating the sidewalk and street.

Hot peppermint tea and freshly made turkey and wild rice soup await me. All T expects is a treat from the gourmet goodie bag. He's happy just to be with us, safe and sound on the coldest day of the year.

(I just checked the weather report. Looks like we endured a day of record-setting cold. The official high: 1 degree F. Our adventure isn't over just yet. The weatherman predicts double digit below zero temperatures tonight.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tuesday, 6 December 2005 - Shelter from storm

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for shelter from the storm.

Brrrr. The calendar says otherwise, but winter is definitely here.

Tonight and tomorrow will be the coldest we've endured in Colorado since moving here in 1987. A massive arctic storm system has settled in and refuses to budge an inch.

The weather service predicts Wednesday's high to be in single digits (barely) and low to be well below zero. I'm sure we'll leave the house only to retrieve the newspapers and mail.

Thank goodness we both work from home and have a well-stocked freezer and pantry. Our new furnace is getting quite a work out. I wouldn't be surprised if schools and businesses close tomorrow.

This morning, T and I walked in the park. Conditions weren't too bad - yet. However, the temperature has been dropping steadily. Right now, with wind chill, it's double digits below zero.

The time - 4 PM. The storm's momenturm is building. Flying snow. The dreaded North Wind. Bitter cold temperatures. Brooding clouds. I'm happy to be indoors.

For this blessing, I am grateful.



December 06, 2005: IT WILL GET WORSE - Meteorologist says cold, snow will hit area just in time for rush hour


The Polar Express is chugging into town.

A powerful storm is expected to arrive this afternoon, delivering at least half a foot of snow and frigid temperatures.

“The west side (of Colorado Springs) will get hit the hardest. Up to 8 inches won’t be out of the question,” said Kathy Torgerson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

The storm is expected around rush hour, Torgerson said.

A minimum of 6 inches of snow is expected in El Paso County, and several inches more in Teller.

Conditions will deteriorate as the night wears on, and tonight’s low temperature is expected to be 3 below zero.

Wednesday won’t warm up much; a high temperature of 6 is expected, with a low of 10 below zero. Thursday will be drier and slightly warmer in Colorado Springs, with temperatures in the upper 20s and lower 30s, and Friday should be warmer still, with highs around 45, according to the weather service.

If today is supposed to deliver the wallop, Monday provided a taste of what was to come. In Colorado Springs, winds held steady at 24 mph, gusting up to 33 mph — mild compared with the hurricane-force winds that lashed other Front Range cities.

A wind gust in Golden reached 98 mph, a speed found in Category 2 hurricanes. An 88-mph gust was reported outside Boulder.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway shortened its runs Monday after wind gusts reached an estimated 60 mph to 70 mph along the track that climbs to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak.

“The snow was swirling all over the place,” said Penelope Walker, an assistant manager. “It can make it dangerous to take the train.”

At least 10 tractor-trailers were blown over between Fort Collins and Cheyenne, Wyo., according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. One rig was knocked over on Interstate 25 in Pueblo and one at a busy highway interchange in suburban Denver. No injuries were immediately reported.

Several vehicles, including a semitrailer, crashed on I-25 near the Briargate Parkway exit around 1 p.m. No one was seriously injured, but traffic slowed through the area for several hours.

Many commuters found Colorado Springs streets icepacked, and city officials said crews worked feverishly to clear streets in the north half of the city where conditions were the worst.

“Right now, the northwest and northeast are our two main areas of concern,” said Peg Richardson of the city’s streets division.

The city had 53 workers driving dump trucks and responding to residents’ calls, including employees who ordinarily cover the south half of the city. They focused on clearing main arterial and collector streets, especially those on school routes.

Resident Angela Stellabotte wasn’t happy with the city service.

“I think they forgot about Springs Ranch Elementary School,” said Stellabotte, whose car slid down the hill into an intersection as she tried to take her daughter to school.

“It was horrible. How I didn’t get hit, I have no idea,” she said.

Richardson said crews spent the day concentrating on school routes, but didn’t reach that area until about 5 p.m. She said they intended to return to the school later Monday evening. In addition, she said, crews would start at 3 a.m. today on clearing all the school routes again.

The city only clears residential streets by request. Anyone who wishes to place a service request should call 385-5934. One question is whether their efforts will make much of a difference before today’s storm, which will dump snow on top of hardened ice.

Many prepared for the weather. The Air Force Academy on Monday canceled its annual Pearl Harbor Survivors Ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The Salvation Army’s New Hope Center has opened to take in anyone who needs refuge, as it does whenever temperatures drop to freezing, director Gene Morris said.

Pet owners are advised to bring their dogs and cats inside unless they have an insulated, fully enclosed shelter, said Ann Hagerty of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Unless a dog is of a breed meant to be in an arctic climate, it should be inside, she said.

Reporter Brian Newsome and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday, 5 December 2005 - The chance to do better

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the chance to do better.

Every December, my friend, the social activist, sends me Gandhi's list of Seven Deadly Social Sins:

1. politics without principle
2. wealth without work
3. commerce without morality
4. pleasure without conscience
5. education without character
6. science without humanity
7. worship without sacrifice

She also sends her report card for our nation regarding the state of our "social sins." Sadly, we're not doing very well according to her analysis.

She is also a supreme optimist and example-setter. Her final statement encourages me to contribute to our nation's social health and legacy by changing how I live. After all, she writes, Gandhi also urged us to be the change we want to see in the world.

I vow to do better.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday, 4 December 2005 - Sisters

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my four biological sisters and my girl friends - near and far - who are just like sisters.

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child. ~Barbara Alpert

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Saturday, 3 December 2005 - Snow's peace and calm

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the snow's peace and calm.

The winter storm arrived very early this morning. I never heard its footsteps. I never felt its icy breath as it descended upon our valley. I was sleeping, perhaps dreaming while it moved into our realm. As quiet as Carl Sandburg's fog. On little cat paws.

It's nearly 4 PM. Time for our afternoon walk. The three of us trudge through a good six inches of powder, on our way to the park. T, our chocolate Lab, leads the way. He is a creature of winter (December 18 is his birthday). With his short but very dense coat, he endures winter's bitterest cold and wettest snow without complaint.

Because it's snowing, I pull my jacket's hood carefully over my head and secure it under my chin with the velcro fastener. My husband, S, wears a winter hat with ear flaps. Years ago, we named the hat ,"dog ears," after our first dog, Y. It's cold but not windy. I prefer zero degrees and no wind to zero degrees with the wind chill - both represent totally different experiences and comfort levels.

We are the first ones to navigate the park's circumference in quite a while. But we don't mind. T is an expert trailblazer and confidently leads us along the familiar path. We manage three laps or about one mile. The outside world is colored in gray tones - dreary silhouettes against a pure white backdrop.

T loves to romp in the open field so we run with him for a few minutes. Because the pristine whiteness extends in all directions, I lose my bearings, my sense of place, for just a moment. Now I know how it feels to be lost in the desert - sand everywhere and no point of reference to indicate distance or direction.

We laugh as T entertains us with his crazy snow dances. He loves winter, the cold weather and the sense of peace and calm that comes with each snowstorm. So do I.

S remarks that if the snow continues to fall through the night, we'll go snowshoeing tomorrow. Oh, happy day.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday, 02 December 2005: Gift of giving

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the gift of giving.

For it is in giving that we receive. ~St. Francis of Assisi

I have to go to the mall today. I've been to the mall fewer than five times this year and dreaded each visit. But, I have no choice. I "adopted" a senior citizen for the holidays and she wants sweats for Christmas. So, off I go to see what the department stores have in stock.

As I approach the mall entrance from the covered parking area, I say hello to the person manning the Salvation Army kettle. He's ringing his bell loudly and greeting the shoppers entering and exiting - no one, I see, is contributing. So, I stop and write a check and drop it in the kettle. The man is elated and thanks me. I wish him a Merry Christmas and quickly enter the mall to begin my shopping adventure.

A couple of hours later, I exit, packages in hand. I say good-bye to the Salvation Army guy and head for my car.

Whew! I had a very good day shopping. I found the sweats at JC Penney. I bought three tops and two bottoms and stayed within my $50 budget thanks to 50% savings and bonus coupons. I also bought a new Oster blender/food processor to replace our 20-year-old blender that died during the summer. It was deeply discounted, of course. And, since I shopped during off-peak hours, I had time to look at this and that and really enjoy the holiday frills without being jostled by the crowds.

Not every shopping expedition ends this successfully. I think my good luck began when I dropped the check in the Salvation Army kettle. You know what they say: What goes around, comes around. What you give comes back 100-fold. The more you give, the more you get.

I want to be living proof of all the above.

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Thursday, 1 December 2005 - Quiet December afternoon

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a quiet December afternoon.

On this cold and windy day, I glance out the window and study the leafless trees and bushes that decorate the foothills behind our home. A barren, cold world. Even the blue sky is tinged in ice.

Cold air leaks into my studio. Yes, our house needs new windows - an expensive but necessary expense. Maybe next year, we say. After we've paid for the new furnace and new refrigerator. Or after a long-awaited trip to Paris and beyond, I say, dreaming of warmer climes.

I grab the wool afghan and slip it over my legs. There, all better for now. Sips of hot apple cider taste wonderful between irregularly timed stints typing on my laptop computer. I am busy writing. Maybe a poem or two. Possibly a paragraph for the book. Perhaps an entry for this blog. In the background, Gary Lamb's CD, Angel - my favorite - fills the air with lovely piano and violin duets. Soulful music for a quiet and sheltered day. I feel like crying.

For this blessing, I am grateful.