Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday, 31 December 2006 - A new chapter

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new chapter.

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.

~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

In my personal Book of Life (number of chapters unknown), the new year always arrives quietly. No fireworks or champagne toasts (although I will sip a glass of homemade Irish cream) or masquerade parties. My life prefers to move forward by heartbeats and soul steps. At midnight, I shall turnover the last page of 2006 and gaze upon the first page of 2007.

I'm not sure what stories my life will inspire in the next 365 pages. I do know this: with my hopes, dreams and passions bursting at the seams, I plan to write a masterpiece.

Wishing you a joyous, prosperous and healthy 2007!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon ... a road less traveled that lead us to memorable climbing adventures in 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday, 30 December 2006 - Thoughtful neighbors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for thoughtful neighbors.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

When it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,"

When you have it with you.

~Proverbs 3:27-28 (NASB)

Our neighborhood is abuzz with activity as we dig out of the most recent snowstorm. Of note are M's efforts. He owns a snowblower and, as usual, is the first one out this morning. He clears the sidewalk from his house to ours. In the culdesac, he extends our driveways so my husband, S, and our neighbor, D, can safely back out to the plowed street. Our postal carrier can now reach the mailboxes without getting stuck in dense snowdrifts.

S shovels our walkway, porch and driveway while I take T for a walk. Our destination is the park. First, however, we must navigate deep snowdrifts and icy streets and sidewalks. The fierce north wind sweeps across the open space. Blowing snow dusts the rippled drifts like a fine mist that sprays a choppy ocean.

We finally reach the park entrance. The familiar sidewalk lies somewhere beneath the deep powder. I rely on T to find the path around the park. I grab onto my hat as we turn the corner and meet a high-spirited headwind. T revels in the snow and wind. I, however, am anxious to get home. I urge T to forget the sniffs (he reluctantly obeys) and keep walking. At the end of one lap, we head for home, carefully retracing our outbound steps.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Digging out

T and I stand in the sidewalk's deep trench.

Westside park bench near the children's playground

The windblown snow - sparse by the backstop,
much deeper in other parts of the park

Blodgett Peak rises above the neighborhood and park

The snow piles grow quickly beside our neighbors' driveways.

T tastes the backyard snow.

Looking towards the southwest corner of the backyard

Compost bins (not alien structures)

T decides to explore the northwest section of his yard.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday, 29 December 2006 - Roses in December

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for roses in December

God gave us memories
that we might have roses in December.

~J. M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

Memory is a complicated thing,
a relative to truth, but not its twin.

~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

It is so cold and windy outdoors that I can only imagine taking T for a walk around the park. I've done it so many times that my memory of the event surfaces effortlessly.

Donning my jacket and sunglasses (if it's cold, I'll also don hat and gloves). Putting the choke chain around T's neck. Clipping the lead to the chain. Checking my pocket for "poop" bags. Taking the house key off the hook. Asking T, "Are you ready to go?" and waiting for the tail wagging reply that always signals, "Yes! Let's go!" Opening the front door. Inhaling a deep breath of outdoor air. Closing the door behind us. Beginning our short but meaningful journey into familiar territory.

T, of course, wants to do the real thing. But, I'm chicken and wary of the bitter cold. T must do my bidding today. Unless, of course, his dad is willing to battle the blizzard and gives in.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T considers his options on this wintry day.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday, 28 December 2006 - Truth and those who will heed it

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the truth and those who will heed it.

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.

~Wallace Stevens

Perhaps the truth about the Iraqi war will penetrate the hearts of our so-called leaders if they stop what they're doing this very minute and go for a long walk in the woods during a blizzard. On second thought, given who they are and their unwillingness to accept the consequences of their actions, maybe not.

(Thank you, President Ford, for speaking your mind about the war. You helped heal our nation after Watergate and Vietnam. Who will step to the plate this time? May you rest in peace.)

Just the same, for this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon (yesterday) - this morning, the blizzard arrived so my world is again buried under several inches of snow.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday, 27 December 2006 - Five things

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for these things:
  1. One last climbing adventure in 2006 (the weather service predicts snow and cold temperatures for the next week - I'll start lifting weights and hitting the heavy bag after my feet recover from today's climbs)
  2. A "back-to-normal" Post Office. No queue at the self-service kiosk so I finally shipped Christmas gifts to family members in California
  3. One organic turkey - the last one in the grocery store (last week's storm postponed nearly all deliveries to local markets so we didn't have a special Christmas meal - I'll cook the big bird tomorrow to make up for the leftovers)
  4. Christmas cards from my cousin, K, and friend, M - they never give up on me even though I don't always reciprocate.
  5. S's new Osprey Eclipse 42 backpack - this morning, we delayed leaving for Red Rock Canyon so he could make a final bid on Ebay (thank goodness he won). His new pack will complement the red Osprey Aura 35 that Santa brought me.
For these blessings, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - end of the 2006 climbing season (sigh, wipe away a tear) - S and T hike slowly towards the duck pond after our afternoon climbing adventure on The Whale.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tuesday, 26 December 2006 - Time

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for time. I don't need more of it; I need to use my daily allotment more wisely.

Time flies whether or not you're having fun.

For Christmas, I gave myself a bottle of TIME. It's not a celebrity-endorsed perfume or a vial of anti-aging miracle serum or a new vitamin pill.

It's simply a bottle with a label that reads:



Moments, seconds, minutes and hours


Use wisely.

Evaporates quickly.
Do not waste.

Do not take for granted.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, 25 December 2006 - Our Christmas hike

... And, so, the three travelers embarked on their annual Christmas hike.

Since we enjoyed a white Christmas at our home, we assumed that the rest of Colorado Springs did too. Wrong! The thoroughfares were dry and clear (unlike our neighborhood's snowpacked streets).

We hiked at T's favorite place, Red Rock Canyon. No rock climbing today (the sandstone walls were warm but damp; the ground was soggy) so T got to lead us on a 2.5 hour journey along real trails.

S and T rest a minute while while I take pics.

The frozen duck pond
I saw footprints on the surface -
human, canine and ????

I love these trees -
take their picture each time we visit the park

The Quarry Wall

T and I below the Quarry Wall
(we climb near the trees on the left)

The quarry

S and T at the base of the quarry

Above and below:
the back (west facing) side of the canyon wall

S and T at the top of the trail.
The snow capped mountain is Pikes Peak.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Monday, 25 December 2006 - Christmas

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Christmas as I celebrate Jesus - his birth, life and everlasting legacy.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

My heart warms as I enjoy many simple joys of the season. Things like snow laden pine and fir trees, hikes in Red Rock Canyon along muddy trails, snowmen that stand proudly in neighbors' yards, children's laughter while sledding in the park, mugs of hot spiced cider, homemade cookies, doggie kisses, listening to a favorite Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album, deep breaths of fresh air that relieve bouts of cabin fever, red kettles that remind me of my "wonderful life," a stirring rendition of the Hallelujah chorus, classic Christmas movies ...

From our home to yours ...
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All.
Merry Christmas!

For this blessing, I am eternally grateful.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday, 24 December 2006 - Snow!

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for snow!

An unexpected blizzard visited the neighborhood around 2 PM, bringing cold temperatures and blowing snow. By late evening, the storm departed, leaving in its wake, another inch of fresh powder. Oh joy! For the first time in many years, we're guaranteed a white Christmas.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

~Irving Berlin 1942

For this blessing, I am grateful.



Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday, 23 December 2006 - It's a Wonderful Life

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the movie, It's a Wonderful Life.

Life doesn't happen to you; it happens from you. ~Anonymous
I had such a wonderful life. I only wish I had realized it sooner. ~Colette

I watch this classic at least once during the holiday season (one year, to S's dismay, I watched it at least seven times). The story helps me regain my senses during my seasonal "wish I had more time and money" moments. In the end, just like George Bailey, I must appreciate who I am and what I have.

I haven't had a spectacular or extraordinary life - just wasn't meant to be, I guess. I have, however, experienced truly wonderful, wondrous moments that will last a lifetime. And, hopefully, I've touched someone's life in such a way that my mere existence made the difference.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday, 22 December 2006 - Longer days

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for longer days (although,for the next few weeks, the additional minutes of daylight will be imperceptible).

Into my heart's night
Along a narrow way
I groped; and lo! the light,
An infinite land of day.
~Rubaiyat of Rumi

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Sidewalk in front of the front yard garden. We continue to dig out from this week's storm.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday, 21 December 2006 - My book + special offer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful my book, a compilation of entries from the first year of this blog.

It's finally done - over 120 pages long - and ready to print and bind on-demand. I'm reserving the first set of copies for family and close friends. The next set, however, is for you, my readers - my holiday gift to you.

If you would like a signed copy, send me your mailing information and email address to: I will mail the book to both domestic and foreign addresses. If you live outside the US, please make sure your mailing information is complete. I will contact you individually if I have questions.

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Photo: A self-portrait of sorts. I am taking a picture of the snow-caked screen - a more interesting photo than the ordinary pics I took of the snow drifts.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday, 20 December 2006 - A busy indoor day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a busy indoor day.

Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." ~Robert Byrne

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.
~Anne Bradstreet

The highly anticipated blizzard from the northwest arrived early this morning, bringing gale force winds and snow, lots of blowing snow. Everything closed down - the interstate from Denver to New Mexico, major east-west and north-south thoroughfares, stores and shopping malls, businesses, schools - you get the picture.

I didn't have the courage to take T for a walk, so he stayed inside most of the day. I was glad to be busy - editing a series of technical product sheets for a client, designing our holiday cards (yes, I am late again), and printing more copies of my book (I'm giving it to family and close friends for Christmas).

At this late hour, the storm continues. I'm weary of listening to the north wind's howl. Will it ever end? We're unhappily housebound and suffering from cabin fever.

Yes, I still have lots to do before I'm finished with my holiday preparations. My top priority: wrap and mail presents to family members in California.

Still, I'd rather be rock climbing.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon (12.14.06)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday, 19 December 2006 - T's simple life

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for T's simple life. It reminds me of how complex mine is (mostly by my own design).

I am always amazed at how little T needs to stay happy and healthy.

Safe, dry shelter; clean water; nutritious food; treats (generously given); his own toys; human companionship; daily walks or hikes; getting to go on our climbing adventures; a large fenced yard (so he can run at full speed); attention (especially when he wants to go outdoors or come back in); lots of hugs, kisses and belly rubs; a warm bed and blanket; rides in Mr. Truck to wherever S and I are going; and an annual visit to the veterinarian (whom we affectionately call, "The Veg").

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T and his Lambie-doodle friends (Big Lambie-doodle was a birthday gift)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, 18 December 2006 - Happy Birthday T!

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one exceptional chocolate Labrador retriever.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear T,
Happy Birthday to you.

T was born 10 years ago on a ranch on the eastern Colorado plains. He entered our lives six months later.

Life with T is never dull. He is the quintessential entertainer and an extraordinary canine athlete. As his "mother," I still rue the fact that he never graduated from college. I am proud, however, that he did attend my alma mater, UCLA, for one year - he played football his freshman year before turning pro (just kidding - I know he's a dog).

Anyway, today is T's very special day. Just like we do the other 364 days of the year, S and I are celebrating T and how he fills our lives with immeasurable joy.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday, 17 December 2006 - Cold weather remedies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for cold weather remedies.

I don't mind the cold weather. I just mind the fact that it prevents me from spending a lot of time outdoors. The wind chill compounds the problem. A sunny 25 degree F morning is quite comfortable. Add the wind and the air is suddenly a frosty 15 degrees F - almost too cold for T's morning walk around the park.

When we return from a brief outing, the house is suddenly quite warm (even though the thermostat is set at 60 degrees F). Without thinking, I quickly peel off a layer or two of clothes. Then the chill sets in and I regain my sanity - I need to wear a heavier jacket after all. It's also time for something hot to drink - will it be green tea or chai tea this morning? Unfortunately, it's way too early for a hot toddy or Irish coffee.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday, 16 December 2006 - Good weather

Red Rock Canyon
Late autumn landscape - a favorite tree and view

T waits patiently while I take pics.

Looking towards The Whale (west climbing wall)

East canyon wall - I like the muted colors
(blue sky, green trees, gray bushes, red earth)

Today's 5.10a climb

Caught in the act!
Just in case you're wondering what
T does while we're climbing.
He chews sticks and scrub oak branches.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a few hours of good weather.

We can't believe our good luck! Here we are, in the middle of December, and it's just warm enough for a climbing adventure. We managed several ascents even though the cold front arrived early. The north wind was very chilly - to stay warm, I ended up wearing four layers of high-tech clothing.
The next winter storm is on its way. I'm still dreaming of a white Christmas this year.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday, 15 December 2006 - BioBags

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for BioBags.

I read that due to a depleted global oil supply, people of the future will mine landfills for plastic. What a "strange" industry - reclaiming petroleum from discarded plastic.

We are trying to conserve as much as possible. Our efforts include reducing (and eventually eliminating) our use of plastic bags. I already use cloth grocery bags. Next on the list - trash and doggie poop bags.

Well, the package from arrived today containing a year's supply of BioBags. The bags are made from corn and disintegrate within 30-60 days of exposure to moisture and heat. I bought 500 poop bags (for T's use) and 60 bags for our weekly trash.

P.S. We tried out the poop bags at the Air Force Academy visitor center (we were shopping for a gift for my nephew) - they worked fine. And T is pleased to join us in our environment-friendly actions.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon (12.14.06) - I inadvertently dropped T's lead while taking some pics. He was so good - didn't run away. Here he is, walking back to me. Good dog!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday, 14 December 2006 -

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my wonderful husband, S, on our wedding anniversary. Imagine that! 20 years of marriage!

We spent the afternoon doing what we enjoy best: climbing in Red Rock Canyon. Then we dined on pizza and microbrews at Old Chicago.

For this blessing, I am very thankful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon landscapes

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday, 13 December 2006 - Year Two

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the completion of year two of this blog. In particular, I am thankful for you - the people who, by reading this journal, have joined me on my journey.

A journal.

Daily kept.

Sometimes boring.
Sometimes daring.

Mostly business as usual.
Ordinary days.
Special hours.
Extraordinary moments.

An exposed life.
A burdened heart.
A bit of humor to lighten the mood.
A road less traveled.
A reunion with old friends and memories.
A journey begun, stopped and restarted.

Stars still shine brightly each night.
The sun always rises in the east.
The sky is the bluest I've ever seen.
Winds of profound change sweep through the valley
Purging the Earth of dying promises,
Clearing a path for my next moment,
For the surprise of my being,
For something new, something unusual.

I am here.
I am listening.
I am waiting.

Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be not the slave of your own past - plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

For this blessing, I am truly grateful.

Photo: T and me - Red Rock Canyon

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday, 12 December 2006 - Cold, wet nose

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one cold, wet nose and a plethora of doggie kisses.

T is in a "clingy" mood today. He wants to play tug-of-war with his rope toy and fetch with Lambie Doodle. And, he keeps nudging my leg with his cold wet nose. His doggie kisses leave their marks on my clean black sweatpants. See the dried patches of doggie drool!

I'm busy with my projects and can't afford to respond to every interruption. So, to calm him down, I give T extra treats, a reassuring hug and several human kisses (just in case the other two remedies don't work).

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: Red Rock Canyon - T likes to watch people and dogs hike along the trail below the climbing area.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday, 11 December 2006 - Pine trees

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for pine trees.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

~John Muir

The best part of happiness is the pines.
~Terri Guillemets

What do I miss most when I survey the early winter landscape? The color green.

Thus, I am very fond of the pine trees that grow in our front yard, the neighborhood park and our favorite climbing venue, Red Rock Canyon.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon - lone pine trees stand tall on the Quarry Wall where we climbed yesterday (top) and the east canyon wall (bottom)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday, 10 December 2006 - Ability to adapt

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the ability to adapt.

Chris Sharma, the world's best climber, once remarked that the rock doesn't adapt to us; we must adapt to the rock. Victor Frankl also wrote, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." Very sage advice.

I don't blame the rock when a climb is difficult. I know when I've been pushed to my limits. Sometimes, however, I just wish I were taller. Because I am short, a moderate climb becomes more difficult when the next move is just out of reach (this happens all the time). So, I follow Chris Sharma's advice. I am constantly adapting to the rock - finding intermediate hand or footholds (or both) so I can follow the intended route.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: Red Rock Canyon - T grazes on the scrub oak bushes while we climb on the Quarry Wall.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday, 09 December 2006 - More outdoor adventures

T and I walk carefully along the soggy, muddy trail
during today's hike in Red Rock Canyon.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more outdoor adventures.

A leisurely hike in Red Rock Canyon along muddy, snow patched trails - just what the doctor ordered for our "active" rest day. S scouted our next climbs - probably the ones on the Quarry Wall that we have not yet attempted. If the weather holds, we'll be back on the rock wall tomorrow morning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon

Above and below:
S unsuccessfully tries to coax T to drink more water.

S surveys the Wailing Wall -
aptly named because all of the climbs
are difficult - 5.10 or higher.

Tree trio with red rock and blue sky

The afternoon sun illuminates
the Quarry Wall.

I really liked this tree - was impressed
by its graceful, erect stance.

S and T: dwarfed by the southern end
of the east canyon wall.