Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday, 30 June 2006 - End of a chaotic day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the end of a chaotic day on the eve of the Tour de France.

Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things. ~William Golding

As cycling fans extraordinaire, my husband and I agonized over every bit of today's news regarding the doping scandal at the 2006 Tour de France. So, I'm relieved to see day's end. I'll go to bed thinking about tomorrow's prologue and wondering what might have been for the likes of Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday, 29 June 2006 - Another glorious sunset

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for another glorious sunset.

There will be times when you will be in the field without a camera. And, you will see the most glorious sunset or the most beautiful scene that you have ever witnessed. Don't be bitter because you can't record it. Sit down, drink it in, and enjoy it for what it is! ~DeGriff

Yesterday evening, I took this photo from the backyard. The clouds and light were amazing! I'm lucky that I had the camera in hand (I was photographing the backyard garden).

Although I witness similar sunsets each day, I never tire of the event. Day's end punctuated by the last rays of sunlight, backlit clouds and dark blue sky.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday, 28 June 2006 - Understanding neighbors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for understanding neighbors.

Our next door neighbors know what it's like to be under surveillance. Yes, that's T, peering through a perfectly placed knothole in the fence slat, watching H and E play catch. Who needs Big Brother when T is around?

The problem is that he spies on our neighbors whenever they enter their backyard. Their mere presence turns on T's personal canine television set. He immediately trots to the fence to watch his favorite show: the Farr Family Reality Show - live and ongoing, up close and personal.

The boys tell me that they don't mind T's spying (they think it's rather funny). Their parents don't mind either - I've heard them talk to him while they do yard work or relax on the patio.

I guess that I'm the one who's embarrassed. I respect their privacy as they do mine.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday, 27 June 2006 - A heart full of grace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a heart full of grace.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm trying to solve the "what am I going to do for the rest of my life" mystery and making no real progress. I just know that when I serve others, I get back more than I've given.

To serve selflessly. To give generously. To follow my passion. To walk the extra mile. To do what others won't or can't do.

Jesus simply taps me on the shoulder each day, saying "Tag, you're it." Then off I go on a day's journey. Nothing extraordinary or spectacular. Just doing what tugs on my heart. Just trying to store a few more treasures in Heaven.

With all due respect to Martin Luther King, Jr., I'm not sure that I can achieve greatness. I do know, however, that I have a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and a cup that continues to runneth over.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday, 26 June 2006 - 100 noxious weeds

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 100 noxious weeds, one pair of well-worn leather gardening gloves, two pairs of sharp weed clippers and a strong back.

The destroyer of weeds, thistles and thorns is a benefactor, whether he soweth grain or not. ~Robert Ingersoll, inscription to Volume I, Collected Works

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. ~Edmund Burke

This summer, I am "Queen Weed Whacker," benefactress of the open spaces near the neighborhood park. My daily routine includes cutting down 100 or so noxious weeds from the culvert, easement, alley and green space that lines the sidewalk.

Not glamorous or exciting. Definitely tedious and thankless work. But, if I don't do a little bit everyday, managing the weeds becomes an onerous task, especially after a rainy weekend. Besides, no one else wants to do the work. If it is to be, it's up to me.

I know that managing noxious weeds won't make me an impact player when it comes to global change. I would like to be but am not in the same league as Bill Gates and his well-funded foundation. He has the resources, connections and power to do incredible, life changing things for millions of people while I do not. Yet.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday, 25 June 2006 - Peaceful moments

On this warm summer morning, T relaxes in the shade.

The garden shows off its summer colors.

A typical Front Range landscape on a perfect summer morning: white clouds, the bluest sky, rolling foothills dressed in green, old cedar fence.

Two birds attend my outdoor church.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for peaceful moments in my own backyard.

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. ~Henry David Thoreau

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

Most summer mornings, I spend time in the backyard, fussing over my garden, inspecting the tomato plants, minding T as he navigates the landscape (please don't step on that baby shrub).

I love the quiet, the familiar sights and the unexpected delights.

I catch the wild bunny grazing on the sunny slope (don't eat my flowers) and watch butterflies dance upon the dianthus (darn it - wish I had the camera). I pull up weeds, water the thirstiest shrubs and remound mulch around the viburnum. I discover sprouting seeds, another ripe strawberry and mystery plants (I hope they're not weeds).

And, I pray.

Oh Lord.

I pray for
Blessings all around.

ood will.
Generous hearts.
Songs that touch my soul.
Birds, butterflies, earthworms.
Deer, rabbits, coyotes.

One best dog ever.
One wonderful husband.
And me.
One of Your faithful servants
Just doing the best I can with what I have.
I hope it's enough.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday, 24 June 2006 - "Free" tomatoes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for "free" tomatoes.

My tomatoes won't cost me $64.00 each (although they could have if I had bought a fancy tomato growing kit advertised in the gardening catalogs).

My tomatoes are growing on the six free plants I picked-up at the garden club picnic last week. With hot and dry days ahead of us, I'm sure we'll be eating fresh, home grown tomatoes in a few weeks.

If this year's crop is successful, I'll plant more berries and vegetables in next year's garden. Just think, fresh strawberries, raspberries, chili peppers (jalapenos and anaheims) and tomatoes (of course).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday, 23 June 2006 - Action

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for action.

I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.
~John Locke
Well done is better than well said. ~Benjamin Franklin
Between saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out. ~Italian Proverb

I no longer wait for the other person to do tasks that I am capable of doing. As a result, I feel better about me and my ability to transform my circle of influence. I am also "enlarging my territory" everyday (`a la Prayer of Jabez).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday, 22 June 2006 - Open spaces

Red Rock Canyon - duck family (note the tags on the adults)

Red Rock Canyon - looking east from one of the trails

Red Rock Canyon - the face that S and I climbed earlier this week (top-rope).

Red Rock Canyon - small lake

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for open spaces, preserved as city parks.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Two amazing parks reside within an easy 10-15 minute drive from our home: the venerable Garden of the Gods and the new Red Rock Canyon open space.

I don't agree with our city council on most issues (they are too developer-friendly). I do, however, give them credit for purchasing the Red Rock Canyon land in 2003 and turning it into a fabulous multi-purpose recreational site.

(Note: I took the photos yesterday during an early evening hike during which we celebrated the first day of summer.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday, 21 June 2006 - One more year with T

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for another year with T - our ninth. S and I adopted him (I mean he adopted us) on June 21, 1997.

To celebrate the occasion, we spent the evening at a local park where we hiked along a dirt trail (T's favorite outdoor activity since he gets to lead - the sniffs were also excellent). S and I also rock climbed while T watched the proceedings (see picture above).

T is and will forever be the best dog ever!

For this tremendous blessing, I am so grateful.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tuesday, 20 June 2006 - One more planting session

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one more planting session before summer officially arrives.

Whew! My planting days are just about over. On Sunday, I planted three 5-gallon sized shrubs - serviceberry, viburnum and buddleia (S dug the holes for me). This morning, ten plants joined the backyard garden - one goldenrod, two switchgrass, five day lilies and two raspberry bushes.

I still have a few more plants that need permanent homes. Hopefully, I'll determine their ideal locations by fall.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday, 19 June 2006 - Natural healing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for natural healing.

Earth cure me.
Earth receive my woe.
Rock strengthen me.
Rock receive my weakness.
Rain wash my sadness away.
Rain receive my doubt.
Sun make sweet my song.
Sun receive the anger from my heart.

~Nancy Wood

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday, 18 June 2006 - Important men

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the most important men in my life: my father, my husband, my canine sons, my teachers and mentors, my friends.

What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give.
~P.D. James, Time to Be in Earnest

You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's. He is more particular.... The father is always a Republican towards his son, and his mother's always a Democrat. ~Robert Frost

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday, 17 June 2006 - One happy strawberry

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one happy strawberry.

This special feeling towards fruit, its glory and abundance, is I would say universal… We respond to strawberry fields or cherry orchards with a delight that a cabbage patch or even an elegant vegetable garden cannot provoke. ~Jane Grigson

Unbeknownst to me, this strawberry plant accompanied the brunnera that Elsie gave me a few weeks ago. This morning, I noticed the plant and discovered the single berry.

Lucky me - I've found a place in the garden to grow strawberries next year.

(The picture shows the strawberry plant on the left, the brunnera on the right.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday, 16 June 2006 - Rain (at last)

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for rain - lots of it at last. We're all smiling - gardeners, plants, grass, trees, birds, butterflies, weeds ...

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
~Langston Hughes

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday, 15 June 2006 - Setting a good example

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for opportunities to set a good example.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
~Albert Schweitzer

I know that someone is always watching me and noting my behavior in both good and bad situations. Often, that someone is a young person seeking an adult role model. I don't want to disappoint them. But even more, I don't want to disappoint myself.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wednesday, 14 June 2006 - Six tomato plants

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for six tomato plants.

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard

Last night, at the garden club picnic, the plants leftover from last month's event were on sale at below cost. So, I bought two more large serviceberry shrubs and over a dozen assorted plants to fill-in the backyard garden.

As we left the park, one member urged me to take some of the free raspberry bushes and tomato plants. So I did. I'm excited about the raspberry plants but wary of the tomatoes. Growing veggies is not my real passion, but I'm going to give it a try.

This morning, I transplanted the tomatoes into larger pots and tied them to stakes. I'm watering them carefully and praying that the dreaded hookworms stay away.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuesday, 13 June 2006 - One hot dog

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one very hot dog.

The very hot (and unusually muggy) afternoons force T into the house. The photo shows him lounging with a few of his favorite friends including (right to left): Mr. Green Ball, Mr. Tennis Ball, LambieDoodle, beef rib bones, Mr. Pheasant, Mr. Chicken #1 and Mr. Tiny Basketball.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday, 12 June 2006 - A writer's struggles

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a writer's struggles.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
~Samuel Johnson

Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.
~William Zinsser

When I'm wearing my writer's hat, I embrace all the struggles of my craft. On a good day, I'll produce five or six well-written paragraphs for "the book" or one finished poem. Most days, I end up with pages of "stuff" - sentence and paragraph fragments that, hopefully, will soon inspire a best-selling book.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sunday, 11 June 2006 - Improvised bird bath

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an improvised bird bath.

My gardening friends and I fear that the birds are going thirsty during the chronic drought. So, we all agreed to add bird baths to our gardens.

I don't own a pretty bird bath - one with a graceful pedestal and smooth basin. This time, function wins over form. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.

I set two of these "bins" in the backyard garden and filled them with clean water. Thank goodness the finches and sparrows don't mind the industrial look.

This morning, I caught several enjoying a lively water fight in the "bird bath" pictured above. Naturally, I didn't have the camera handy so you'll have the imagine the fun.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday, 10 June 2006 - An extra helping of faith

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an extra helping of faith.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Follow your passion, and success will follow you. ~Arthur Buddhold

I took an inventory that claims to measure the three P's of one's professional life: passion, purpose and profit. To no one's surprise, I scored 100% on passion. So, I'm stepping out on faith to do work that involves the things about which I'm most passionate - even if I don't get paid.

They say that if you do what you love, the money will follow. I'm not a betting person, but I have faith that this adage will come true for me.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday, 09 June 2006 - Dirty fingernails

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for dirty fingernails, a sweaty brow and an expanding garden. (The photos show my garden's progress as of 05 June 2006.)

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday, 08 June 2006 - Butterflies in the garden

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for butterflies in the garden.

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly!
Indeed I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"

I believe that every garden has a purpose. I intend for my gardens to be havens and playgrounds for butterflies.

The unexpected word-of-mouth advertising is paying off royally (thanks to T, the finches and other gracious fauna). Daily, dozens of butterflies visit my gardens while I am watching (and I'm sure that scores more visit while I am otherwise occupied indoors).

Yes, I'm spying on them. And, yes, I'm eavesdropping on their musings.

"Time for a bit of refreshment," they murmur while alighting on the catmint.

"Time to sit atop this phlox while we catch our breath," they whisper as the morning breeze fans their wings.

"Time to plan our day's journey," they admit as the hot sun peeks over the fence.

"Oh my! Time's awasting! We must go as we have countless things to do and so many places to visit today. Hurry, hurry, hurry!" they exclaim as the clock strikes 7AM.

(sigh) It's time for me to get on with my day, too.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wednesday, 07 June 2006 - One small miracle

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one small miracle.

To preserve a man alive in the midst of so many chances and hostilities, is as great a miracle as to create him. ~Jeremy Taylor

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Almost everything in life is easier to get into than out of. ~Agnes' Law

Just over two years ago, S lost his job - our primary source of income. The loss sent us reeling into the unknown. What would we do? How would we pay our bills and save for retirement?

The miracle is this - we made it through with a bit extra to spare.


By Your divine grace and mercy.
Through my faith.
With the generosity of friends and family.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tuesday, 06 June 06 - Lost baggage

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for lost baggage.

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all of your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fear. ~Cesare Pavese

I'm also taking off my pride, strong will and critical nature.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Monday, 5 June 2006 - Random act of kindness for the environment

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a random act of kindness for the environment.

They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I've concluded weeds must have brains. ~Dianne Benson, Dirt, 1994

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878

My latest environmental crusade involves controlling the noxious plants that grow near the park along the drainage ditch and in the adjacent open spaces. So, with the blessing of our city's Parks and Rec Department, I spent Saturday and Sunday mornings clipping prickly Canadian thistles and pulling stubborn Russian knapweed.

It wasn't my favorite way to spend the best (and coolest) hours of the morning (sorry about missing church yesterday morning - got carried away with the task at hand). This is one instance where the results are more important than the process. In other words, I love the noxious plant-free ditch but don't enjoy the weeding task.

Note: my daily regimen of weightlifting and hundreds of abdominal crunches has paid off! My lower back and shoulders didn't bother me at all although my right hip tightened up a bit (will need to see the chiropractor about that issue).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday, 04 June 2006 - New gate

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new gate.

My husband, S, rebuilt the section of fence felled by the bear. Although I usually prefer privacy, I do miss the interim chicken wire fence - it gave me a window to the neighborhood and our neighbors a window to our backyard.

The new fence is just doing its job - keeping others out while keeping us in.

Reminds me of the message in Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall. Seems like a good time to reread this poem very slowly so I can thoroughly absorb and savor the meaning of each line.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.
The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'
I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday, 03 June 2006 - One floppy hat

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one floppy hat.

My hairdresser wasn't pleased to learn that I don't wear a hat when I'm gardening, walking T or hiking. She explained (again) that the UV rays fade the rich dark browns and brilliant reds and purples she uses to paint my hair. Why bother (and why spend all that money) if I don't take care of my hair?

So, my newest habit is wearing a hat whenever I'm outdoors for more than a few minutes. My favorite is the floppy and floatable Tilley I bought when we first moved to Colorado.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday, 02 June 2006 - Peaceful mornings

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for peaceful mornings, busy (and productive) afternoons and relaxing evenings.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday, 01 June 2006 - One blooming lupine

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one blooming lupine.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

I started this lupine plant from seed last summer, sowing it in the northeast corner of the garden next to the miniature barberry bush and catmint patch. The seed was not rare or special - just your ordinary Martha Stewart-KMart variety that I bought at a 40% discount. So, I was quite delighted to see the multicolored blooms emerge from a single plant.

... a touch of natural beauty that brightens the landscape and forces our grumpiest neighbor to smile.
... a welcome conversation starter that invites comments from neighbors and passers-by.

"What is that lovely plant?"
"Where did you get it?"
"Is it easy to grow?"
"I can't believe you started it with seed!"
"How fortunate the deer and rabbits hate lupine."

(In April, I planted more lupine seeds in the front yard garden. I hope they all grow into showstoppers.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.