Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday, 31 July 2006 - A lazy summer day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a lazy summer day.

The time will come when winter will ask you what you were doing all summer. ~Henry Clay

I know I will pay dearly for goofing off when I should be writing and working on other "A priority" projects. But, after enduring near 100 degree temperatures over the weekend, I just want to relax while the cooler weather rejuvenates my sunburned soul. I promise to make up my productivity deficit tomorrow.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: One ripe cherry tomato, up close and personal
(variety: Sugary)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday, 30 July 2006 - Smaller footprint

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a smaller footprint.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not every man's greed. - Mahatma Gandhi

I am imperfect when it comes to doing everything possible to conserve natural resources and improve the environment. But, I am trying to do better. Here's a summary of my latest efforts:

  1. On average, I drive less than 25 miles a week (roughly equivalent to using one gallon of gasoline). During the past two weeks, I drove a total of 23 miles.
  2. After washing a load of laundry in our water-efficient front loading machine, I air dry as many items as possible including jeans. I use the dryer only for towels, bedding and heavier cotton clothes like sweats and T-shirts. I also handwash my workout clothes after realizing that I can wash and rinse a dozen items using only one sinkful of water. I hang the wet items in the shower stall where they dry quickly.
  3. I spot-water the front yard xeric garden. I deep-water the backyard flower gardens once a month, spot-watering as needed during the intervening weeks.
  4. We continue to recycle, reuse and refuse.
  5. I buy locally grown food whenever possible.
  6. We take advantage of local hiking and climbing venues rather than driving into the high country for our weekend adventures.
  7. To landscape the southwest sector of the backyard, I planted dozens of native shrubs. Once they mature, they'll complement the native grass lawn we planted when we moved her nearly 20 years ago.
  8. I collect rainwater for the plants by setting out bins on the patio during the monsoon season.
  9. I cut down noxious weeds in the culvert and open space behind our house.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Young cherry tomatoes (variety: Sugary)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday, 29 July 2006 - Summer nights

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for summer nights.

Silently, one by one,
in the infinite meadows of heaven,

Blossomed the lovely stars,
the forget-me-nots of the angels.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline

Hot summer days melt slowly into warm evenings that eventually evaporate into cool nights. We stay up very late, waiting for the midnight breezes to displace the stuffy upstairs air. The house is ready with open windows and tied-back curtains. Only when a strong surge of cool air finally pushes aside the stifling afternoon air will we heave a welcome sigh of relief and go to bed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Echinacea

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday, 28 July 2006 - A little peace of mind

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a little peace of mind.

For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe. ~Author Unknown

I'm a natural worrier due to my my personality type, my upbringing or ?????

These days, I worry about many things - big and small. My big worries are no brainers: the Middle East conflict, the Iraq war, global warming, drought and famine in Africa. My little worries, though very personal, still weigh heavy on my shoulders. Most of them revolve around money (lack of).

Where do I go for some peace of mind? Not very far (although a trip to Paris would do wonders for my heart and soul).

I step outside and enter my garden where I pull weeds, trim shrubs and deadhead plants. I tend the growing tomato plants and water the thirsty raspberries. I take T for a long walk around the park and up the "big hill." I stop what I am doing, close my eyes and meditate for a few minutes. I read poetry. I write poems. I make a large pot of tortilla soup. I listen to a favorite CD. I knit a new scarf from very cool handspun yarn. I attempt to solve the most difficult Sudoku puzzles.

When all else fails, I do what I should have done in the first place: let go and let God.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday, 27 July 2006 - Bicycle dreams

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for bicycle dreams.

After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow. ~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance

I'll never be a great cyclist. On most days, I'm barely a competent one. But, at least, in my mind's eye, I can imagine what it feels like to fly up the steepest roads and swoop down the mountainside with a daredevil's courage.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) T poses near my 11 pots of "Love Lies Bleeding" (Amaranth)
(bottom) Yellow Pear tomato

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wednesday, 26 July 2006 - A good day after all

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good day after all.

We left the house by 10 AM, intending to rock climb in Red Rock Canyon before the heat of the day sapped our energy. Unbeknownst to us, it rained in the park last night, soaking the sandstone rock.

So, we headed south to Cheyenne Canyon where the rock is granite.

There, we discovered that the trails to S's favorite climbing areas had eroded during the recent monsoons. The trails were a bit iffy - lots of loose rocks and gravel. We hiked to one staging area, but, due to the erosion, S could not find an easy path to the tree (for top roping).

No rock climbing today.

Not wanting to waste an outing, we opted for a leisurely hike with T along a popular trail. Lucky for T, the creek that ran beside the trail was clean and deep. He frequently cooled paws in the cold, cold water.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) The view from my perch as I wait for S to set up the top rope.
(bottom) T cools down in the creek that runs along the hiking trail.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tuesday, 25 July 2006 - A new inner adventure

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new inner adventure.

When the student is ready, the master appears. ~Buddhist Proverb

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose. ~Richard Grant

All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
~James Thurber

I've embarked on a new inner adventure: exploring the meaning of work in my life. I have a wise companion who will help me navigate my journey. A career coach recommended that I study David Whyte's book, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimmage of Identity.

I'm not sure what I will discover about myself and the world during this sojourn. I do know that I need to redefine "work" as it fits into my life so I can plan my next venture.

Hopefully, I will find a practical outlet for my creative energies and talents.
Hopefully, I will make money.
Hopefully, I will wake up one morning, exclaiming, "This is the work I was born to do."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) Red Valerian
(bottom) Coreopsis

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, 24 July 2006 - Ripening tomatoes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for ripening tomatoes.

One very ripe and sweet tomato comprised my first harvest. It was worth the wait. 'Twas incredibly sweet and, well, tomato-ey.

My taste buds reminded me why we should grow our own fruits and vegetables. I'm already planning next year's vegetable and berry garden.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) T guards my tomato plants.
(bottom) We picked this vine-ripened tomato and ate it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday, 23 July 2006 - An American in Paris

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an American in Paris.

I am an American who loves Paris (anything French, for that matter), cycling and le Tour de France. My heart soared this morning as Floyd Landis stepped onto the podium to claim le maillot jaune.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T celebrates Floyd's victory by wearing his canine version of le maillot jaune.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday, 22 July 2006 - Insect repellent

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for insect repellent.

Never say, "oops." Always say, "Ah, interesting." ~Author Unknown

Unfortunately, we forgot to take a bottle of repellent with us for use during our early evening hike in Red Rock Canyon (cooler temperatures for us but prime time for the mosquitos). I also forgot to bring my lightweight cotton jacket with the high collar. My mistakes since I'm the one who's sensitive to bug bites.

Consequently, tonight, I'm nursing very tender mosquito bites on my neck, right shoulder, left hand and left forearm.

(sigh) Another well-learned but painful lesson.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(Photo: another magnificent Red Rock Canyon sunset)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday, 21 July 2006 - One lost sweet tooth

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one lost sweet tooth.

Sometime during the past few months, I lost a lifelong companion - my sweet tooth.

I don't know the exact time or day. I simply realized that my daily sugar cravings had disappeared.

What a relief!

No more binges on anything sweet.
No more candy stashes.
No more dessert fasts.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(Photos: Ripening tomatoes)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, 20 July 2006 - More life lessons

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more life lessons.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
~T.S. Eliot

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.
~William James

Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.
~Author Unknown

I will always remember the 2006 Tour de France for the following reasons: Stages 16 and 17, the Alps, Floyd Landis, unforgettable lessons in humility, courage, determination and perseverance.

My own clock is ticking down. I still have so much to learn about what it means to be human. That PhD in Life is so close yet so far away (pardon the cliche'). But, at age 52, I'm in too deep. There's no turning back.

Thanks, Floyd. I hope you're wearing le maillot jaune on Sunday.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday, 19 July 2006 - Happy Birthday, Dad

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my dad, who is celebrating his 81st birthday.

We turn not older with years, but newer every day. ~Emily Dickinson

In a dream you are never eighty. ~Anne Sexton

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(Photo: a beautifully colored prairie coneflower stands in the backyard wildflower garden)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tuesday, 18 July 2006 - Thriving tomato plants

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for thriving tomato plants.

My six "free" tomato plants are doing very well, thank you very much.

Yes, they occupy a prime space in the backyard where they get optimal sun and heat.
Yes, I pamper them.
Yes, I give them filtered Prill water.
Yes, I carried them to shelter during yesterday's hailstorm.
Yes, I mist their leaves with a special solution.
Yes, I photograph them daily.
Yes, I can't wait for them to ripen.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday, 17 July 2006 - Comfortable in my own skin

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for that I am finally comfortable in my own skin.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955

Once upon a time, I would not leave the house without make-up, a perfect hairdo and a perfect outfit - even if I was just doing a bit of gardening or shoveling the snow. I was afraid a "significant someone" would catch me the act of being me.

Now that I am fifty-something, I no longer care about the frills. I don't wear makeup unless I'm away from neighborhood (I do, however, l obsess about my skin care regimen). I don't need to wear a designer outfit when I walk T in the park or tend my garden (although I still wear clothes that fit well).

I don't know why I was so worried about my appearance when I was younger. In my "natural glory," strangers still stop to say hello, neighbors still want to know how we are doing and I still work out, hike and rock climb with the guys. I also I spend less time in front of a mirror and more time living.

(Photo - taken during yesterday's hike in Red Rock Canyon. I wanted to capture the sun's last rays as it set over the mountains and the incredible cloud formations. I especially like the patch of blue sky in the photo's upper left hand corner.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday, 16 July 2006 - Contemplation

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for contemplation.

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~Lorraine Hansberry in A Raisin in the Sun

Late this morning, this bird sat on the fence while I tended the garden. I thought she was hurt because she didn't fly away when I neared her roost and her tail and wing feathers were askew.

I guess she really wasn't paying attention to me after all. She was just sitting awhile as birds will do, thinking avian thoughts and dreaming avian dreams.

She finally took off after T, our chocolate Lab, joined me in the yard, resuming her adventure under clear blue skies and a blazing sun.

My lesson: Take time during the day to sit and think. Extend periods of meditation and prayer. The quiet exercise will help refresh my mind and rest my body.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday, 15 July 2006 - A rest day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a rest day.

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. ~Ovid

We rock climbed last night (my body is so tired from the exertion - it's the good kind of tired, however). Early this morning, I tended my gardens before spending over two hours clipping noxious weeds in the culvert.

Whew! It's time to watch the replay of the Tour de France stage, a nap and a glass of ice cold lemonade (not necessarily in that order).

Note: This morning, S took the picture of T and me in front of my xeric garden. I've created a photojournal of my garden's progress this year at

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday, 14 July 2006 - Improvement

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for improvement.

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday. ~Author Unknown

Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~Japanese Proverb

We spent the evening rock climbing at our favorite Red Rock Canyon venue. I tried twice, but couldn't finish the top-roped climb my husband set-up. I did, however, climb higher the second time and completed moves that I never saw the first time.

The important thing is that I'm improving with each outing.

And, because I am a competitive person who thrives on challenge, I'm very determined to finish this climb next time.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday, 13 July 2006 - A cool evening breeze

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a cool evening breeze.

Summer returned with a vengeance this afternoon. Thank goodness the evening cools down dramatically after the sun sets over the mountains. (Photo - T lounges on the cool cement patio during the heat of the day.)

Tonight, as we watched the replay of today's Tour de France mountain stage for the fifth time, I completed the Sudoku and crossword puzzles, sipped a refreshing whisky sour and soaked up the cool Rocky Mountain air.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wednesday, 12 July 2006 - Chores

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for chores.

On days like today when my mind is muddled, I do chores. My xeric garden is not maintenance-free so I pull weeds, deadhead plants, feed the tomatoes and gather seeds.

My house is messy so I straighten up the "public" areas and wash three loads of laundry. I sweep the kitchen floor, bundle the newspapers for recycling and water the indoor plants.

Not the most productive day when it comes to writing but a busy and satisfying one nonetheless.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday,11 July 2006 - Life without a lawn

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for life without a lawn.

A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule. ~Michael Pollan, Second Nature, 1991

I am not a lover of lawns. Rather would I see daisies in their thousands, ground ivy, hawkweed, and even the hated plantain with tall stems, and dandelions with splendid flowers and fairy down, than the too-well-tended lawn. ~W.H. Hudson, The Book of a Naturalist, 1919

My gardening exploits have rewarded my husband sweetly - no lawns to mow! My front yard boasts a thriving xeric garden. I'm landscaping the back yard with native shrubs and xeric plants. If we need to trim the native grass, I use clippers or the edger. Happily, my husband hasn't complained once this summer about the lack of mowing opportunities.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday, 10 July 2006 - A few hours of sunshine

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a few hours of sunshine (finally!).

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown

There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind. ~Annie Dillard

I am depressed, suffering from an unwelcome bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) triggered by over a week of cloudy skies, rain and cool temperatures. Staring out the back door during last night's thunderstorm, T again asked me, "When did we move to Oregon?" What we all need is a large dose of strong sunshine.

Lucky me! This morning's weather is sunny and bright. I leap out of bed just after sunrise, alert and full of energy. After walking T in the park, I linger in my gardens, doing this and that - anything to prolong my outdoor visit so I can soak up those warm and wonderful rays.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sunday, 09 July 2006 - A sea of daisies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a sea of daisies.

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~ Claude Monet

A flower touches everyone's heart. ~ Georgia O'Keefe

Although the cool and rainy weather has thwarted our plans to rock climb at least two times a week, it has transformed the backyard garden dramatically. The daisies, in particular, just love the extra moisture. And I love daisies because they make me smile.

The Shasta (white) daisies are among my garden's pioneers. The wildflower mix I sowed when I began the garden 19 years ago contained their hardy seeds. I also started the Gloriosa (yellow) daisies from seed about five years ago. Mine are an heirloom variety from Seeds of Change.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday, 08 July 2006 - Night out with the guys

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a night out with the guys.

S's cycling buddy, TL, invited a few of his friends (including us) to his lovely home for a potluck dinner, excellent wine and a movie. As usual, I was the only woman there which means the topics of conversation had to extend beyond motorcycles, bicycles and cars. We actually discussed politics (including our favorite BBC America show, The Thick of It), opera, the Tour de France (naturally), summer travel plans (R is leaving for the Grand Canyon very early tomorrow morning), gardening challenges and our wacky weather.

I worried about the movie we'd watch since the guys prefer heavy duty action films that fully exploit the capabilities of TL's 52-inch HDTV and stereo system. I was relieved when the film du jour was the Oscar-nominated Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday, 07 July 2006 - An evening out

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an evening out.

When S and I had well-paying jobs, we never thought twice about eating out two or three times a week at trendy restaurants. Now that he's self-employed and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my life, we haven't had an evening out since he lost his last corporate America job in May 2004.

So, after aborting our rock climbing session due to the rain, we ended up at a local Greek restaurant. There, we enjoyed drinks, shots of ouzo (one each) and assorted appetizers (mezedes). Yasas!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday, 06 July 2006 - One very healthy canine son

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one very healthy canine son.

In moments of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag. ~W. H. Auden

T passed his annual physical with flying colors. The only issue is his thyroid - somewhat sluggish (not unusual for a 9.5 year-old dog).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wednesday, 05 July 2006 - Steps in the right direction

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for steps in the right direction.

A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. ~Jean de La Fontaine

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
~Lillian Smith

To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday. ~John Burroughs

T and I start our walk the same way each morning. We step quickly across the path I built earlier this spring from ten mustard-yellow pavers made from recycled tires - my own yellow brick road of sorts.

This short path takes us into the neighborhood - the immediate world that lives beyond the front door. Then, at journey's end, it leads us home again.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tuesday, 04 July 2006 - Simple personal freedoms

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for simple personal freedoms like walking T around the neighborhood park or along the hiking trails without fear for our safety, choosing whether or not to eat a vegetarian diet, reading a radical book or viewing a controversial film, expressing my opinions aloud or in writing, attending the church of my choice and surfing the Internet at will.

I also have hope for the future, big dreams, people who care about me and a country - right or wrong - that regards me as valuable every April 15.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

Happy Birthday to our amazing, unpredictable and extraordinary United States of America.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday, 03 July 2006 - A good kind of tired

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good kind of tired.

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. ~Plato

The bad kind of tired results from tension, anxiety, overwork and sleeplessness. The good kind of tired results from an excellent workout.

Today, we attempted two climbs in Red Rock Canyon. It was my fourth climbing session this summer and my best so far. To my surprise, I was able to complete both climbs (with a little help from my partners).

Right now, my feet are very tired, my triceps sore and my right knee slightly bruised. But I feel really, really good.

I think I'll fix myself a cold fruity drink, do the daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles, knit a few more rows of the "sweater from hell" and watch the replay of Stage 2 of the Tour de France.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday, 02 July 2006 - A peaceful hike

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a peaceful hike down a familiar trail.

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
~John Muir, 1913

We missed our opportunity to rock climb yesterday. The France-Brazil World Cup game and a slow moving thunderstorm got in the way.

We went to Red Rock Canyon anyway so T could have an official outing. The trail was dry, the air temperature perfect.

I'm usually the family photographer which means I am rarely in the photos. During this hike, S managed the camera and snapped a few pics of T and me as we hiked along a familiar trail and posed as the sun set over Pikes Peak.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saturday, 01 July 2006 - le Tour de France

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for le Tour de France.

My love affair with the Tour started when, as a seventh grader, began studying the French language. That affair intensified when I married S, a cyclist and cycling fan.

In spite of the controversies, scandals and unpredictable events, I still consider the Tour to be the premier sporting event of the year.

T will wear a canine version of le maillot jaune (yellow jersey) all month long. S and I will watch the race live each morning on OLN (we'll watch the rebroadcasts throughout the afternoon and evening as time permits). And, we'll cheer our favorite cyclists as they ascend the steepest mountains in the Pyrenees and Alps.

It's going to be an awesome month.

For this blessing, I am grateful.