Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday, 31 August 2006 - A new opportunity

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new opportunity.

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
~Milton Berle

I don't know if this is "the one" or if it's a stepping stone to something better. It doesn't really matter.

I'm already passionate about the product (a revolutionary piece of exercise equipment) and what it can do to improve a person's overall health and fitness. I'm ready to take my chances and go for it!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T inspects my 11 pots of "loves lies bleeding" Amaranthus.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday, 30 August 2006 - One very patient dog

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one very patient dog.

You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell.
~Emily Dickinson

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. ~Christopher Morley

While S and I rock climbed for about four hours yesterday, T lay or sat in the shady belayer's area, watching us. He waited so patiently, believing that, at the end of our climbing session, we would take him for a hike along a real trail.

And so we did.

After unloading the climbing gear in the truck, we granted T his wish - a hike along Ute Trail.

T was delighted that we kept our promise. He walked aggressively like a sled dog, pulling S up the hills while I lagged behind.

'Twas a very rewarding afternoon for our most wonderful canine son. Three deer bounding from the scrub oak, four horses and their riders on the trail, several rabbits in a thicket and whatever else tickles or entices a Labrador Retriever's nose.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday, 29 August 2006 - A farmer's faith

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a farmer's faith.

I'd rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.
~George Washington

I sigh heavily as I inspect my five cherry tomato plants for damage from the recent hail and rainstorms. Sadly, I find several broken branches still bearing yellow blossoms and scores of green fruit. What a pity.

During June, when temperatures soared towards 100 degrees F, I anticipated a bumper crop. But, July and August were unseasonably cool and wet so the fruit ripened ever so slowly. Now, with cool fall-like temperatures especially at night, I'm not sure the tomatoes will ripen on the vine.

I now realize that I could never be a serious farmer. I understand first hand how difficult it is to recover from a poor growing season. Furthermore, I'm not sure I have enough faith to let the weather determine my ability to earn a living. I wish I did. I think that growing food is a noble profession. In fact, based on my single stint as a tomato grower, growing food is an amazing spiritual journey.

I'm not giving up altogether. Next year, I plan to grow chili peppers, lettuce, herbs, assorted berries and, of course, more cherry tomatoes. One never knows when Mother Nature will decide to give our region an ideal growing season.

In the meantime, I'm trying to salvage this year's crop. Fried green cherry tomatoes, anyone?

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: One of my cherry tomato plants during happier times.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday, 28 August 2006 - A vision, a hope and a dream

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a vision, a hope and a dream.

I never tire of listening to the recording of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering this speech or reading the transcript.

(On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his now famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington, D.C. I was nine years old at the time.)

I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted,
every hill and mountain shall be made low,
and the crooked places will be made straight,
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair
a stone of hope.
With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation
into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning
My country, 'tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring.
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city,
we will be able to speed up the day when all of God's children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics,
will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
"Free at last! thank God almighty, we are free at last!"

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday, 27 August 2006 - Mother Teresa

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for
Mother Teresa (August 27, 1910 - September 5, 1997).

Make us worthy, Lord,
to serve others
throughout the world
who live and die
in poverty or hunger.

Give them, through our hands,
this day their daily bread,
and by our understanding love,
give peace and joy.

~Mother Teresa

I'm trying to do more than acknowledge Mother Teresa's life. I'm trying to convert her simple, earnest prayers into positive, personal actions.

No matter where I am or what I am doing, I know in my heart that I can always do more and give more. And, in doing so, my cup, just like hers, shall runneth over.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday, 26 August 2006 - A walk in the park

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a post-rainstorm walk in the park.

Any man that walks the mead
In bud, or blade,
or bloom, may find

A meaning suited to his mind.

~Alfred Tennyson

It's a cold and rainy day. Feels like November. The calendar says "August" and "summer," but the weather defies this logic. T, our chocolate Lab, is restless with cabin fever. As soon as the rain stops, I don a warm jacket and take him to the park.

My legs are a bit stiff so I stretch for a few minutes on the front porch before we leave our homestead. The damp, cool air invigorates me. I take another deep breath. Yes, it's good to be out and about.

The park's turf is green but soggy. Earthworms dot the sidewalk. I look for weeds near the park entrance - the invaders are easier to pull up from rain-softened earth.

One delightful surprise - a very large bird with a huge wingspan and long beak flies over the park before alighting on a nearby berm. It's not a goose, hawk or eagle. I think it's a crane, the first I've ever seen in our neighborhood.

T splashes in a puddle and pulls me towards a tall pine tree - must be a good sniff somewhere. I pick up a few pieces of trash and snip one more thistle plant. As the wind picks up ever so slightly, I shiver and tell T it's time to go home. For once, he agrees.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Bee plant with seed pods (backyard garden)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday, 25 August 2006 - Reconnection to the past

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a reconnection to the past.

Ah, how good it feels! The hand of an old friend. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Unexpectedly, one of my best high school girl friends contacted me by email. We lost touch after our freshman year of college (she attended Redlands while I went to UCLA) - no email existed in the early 1970s.
It was nice to hear from LZ after nearly 35 years.

Reconnecting with her doesn't change my current life. But, it enlarges my territory (a la Prayer of Jabez) and resurrects many rarely visited memories. I seldom think about high school except when I share my good and bad experiences with the neighborhood kids. But, it's good to know that people who were so important to me then are doing well now.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday, 24 August 2006 - Four cadets

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for four cadets.

We are often so caught up
in our destination,

that we forget to appreciate the journey,
especially the goodness of the people
we meet along the way.
Appreciation is a wonderful feeling.
Don't overlook it.
~Author Unknown

I am quite impressed with the group of four Air Force Academy cadets who are climbing next to us in Garden of the Gods. They are polite, courteous and friendly towards us - one 40-something and two 50-something adults who are old enough to be their parents or (yikes) grandparents. T, our chocolate Lab, also appreciates the extra attention and pats on the head.

My husband asks if they're planning to attend flight school after graduation. The two upper classmen say yes. My heart skips a beat. If the Iraqi war continues for a few more years, at least one of them may see combat duty.

So, on this late summer afternoon in Colorado Springs, I'm glad they were able to leave the rigors of Academy life and join us for a few hours of climbing.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: While we climb, T pursues one of his favorite activities - chewing on a stick.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday, 23 August 2006 - Gestures of kindness

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for gestures of kindness that flow from me and to me every day.

Three things in humanlife are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind. ~Henry James

In April 1978, I began my business career. I went straight from graduate school at UCLA to the personnel department of a major California bank. Somewhere along the way, I had already learned an important lesson: be kind to everyone from the mailroom clerk to the president.

I had the privilege to work with people from both extremes of the organization chart and everywhere in between. I treated my colleagues with respect and kindness no matter the situation. My reward: several promotions and honors.

When I left the bank about 18 months later, my department gave me a going away party that included a cake and other refreshments. I still remember how my eyes filled with tears when I read the writing on the cake. Not "Good luck" or "Good-bye" but "We love you, D______!"

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T guards our gear while we rock climb.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tuesday, 22 August 2006 - Very flexible schedule

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a very flexible schedule.

Heaven help me if I ever secure an 8-to-5 job again. I don't know if I will ever be able to adapt to a time-based routine. But, for the right price, anything is possible.

This summer, I usually get up when I'm done sleeping, work and write during my most productive hours, eat when I'm hungry and go to bed when I'm tired. We also exploit opportunities to pursue outdoor activities like cycling, hiking and climbing.

This afternoon, the weather held. So, S, T and I dashed out of the house after S finished a conference call and headed to the Garden of the Gods. We climbed until sunset, around 8 PM.

One day, this luxury may end. But, for right now, I'm enjoying my freedom.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Today's climbing route in Garden of the Gods

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, 21 August 2006 - A new water heater

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new water heater.

After a week of "camping" in our home, we now have hot water. This morning, the contractor installed our new 40 gallon water heater with a 12-year warranty.

I took the water heater's picture because I wanted to record the event. It's rather homely - the exterior design probably hasn't changed much in 50 years. When we ordered it, I asked about the available colors since our washer and dryer are black. I had to settle for generic utilitarian white with blue trim. No wonder people hide their water heaters in basements or closets.

Oh well. As long as it works, I'm happy.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday, 20 August 2006 - Homemade bread

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our new breadmaking machine.

Give us this day our daily bread. ~Matthew 6:11

This summer, we've been eating a lot of bread. A slice goes well with a large green salad (to sop up the last of the balsamic vinegar dressing) or a bowl of tortilla soup (to sop up the hot, peppery broth). I like to buy the "good" stuff - good, but expensive.

I've tried to make yeast bread, but to no avail. After hearing positive testimonies from friends who use breadmakers, I finally bought a used one on eBay. It arrived yesterday.

I immediately unpacked it, read the instruction manual, researched high altitude adjustments (we live at 6,800 feet) selected the French bread recipe and made a loaf.

It was so simple. To the pan, add the four ingredients in this order: purified water, sea salt, organic flour, yeast. Insert the pan into the machine. Program the instructions: French bread, regular yeast, 1.5 pound loaf, medium crust. Then, hit the start button. That's it!

Our reward: hot, perfectly baked crusty bread in under 4 hours.

Incidentally, T, our chocolate Lab, loves bread. While the machine worked, he "guarded" it by sleeping on the kitchen floor near the counter. He does the same thing when I roast meat in the oven. Silly boy!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Potentilla (coral) and Feverfew (white) from the front yard garden

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday, 19 August 2006 - A small-scale garden

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a small-scale garden.

I don't have lofty gardening goals - I just want my gardens to reflect my creativity and personality.

So, the man who plans to plant at least one of the over 2,500 plants suitable for Zone 5 amused my green thumb and tickled my practical nature. (By the way, I also live in Zone 5.)

This evening, while tending my gardens, I started counting the different plants that grace the landscape. I gave up after a few minutes - the stubborn chickweed patch near the front porch distracted me. My rough estimate: around 50 different plants. This number reflects the fact that I favor plants that survive our quirky Colorado weather and arid climate.

Anyway, I applaud the man's ambition. If he has the time, space and money to manage an incredibly diverse garden, more power to him.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Two views of my backyard garden

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday, 18 August 2006 - A perfect afternoon

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a perfect afternoon.

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Henry James

With rain and thunder storms moving into the region, we decided that this afternoon would be our last chance to rock climb for several days. So, we gathered our gear and left the house at 1:30 PM.

Good decision.

We drove to a top rope area in Garden of the Gods - about 15 minutes away. After setting up the rope, we climbed to our hearts' content for nearly 3 hours. I actually did 4 climbs of over 60 feet - my best day of climbing this summer.

S always does well. The routes are often challenging for me but easy for him. So, he sets rules that increase the difficulty. For example, on one climb, he decided not to use any of the large hand holds. On another one, he "chimneyed" the entire route.

T, who was happy just to be with us, slept in the shade near the belayer's spot. He knew that we would take him for a hike afterwards (which we did just as the storms moved in).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Batchelor's Buttons

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday, 17 August 2006 - Growing pains

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the growing pains.

Pain is the great teacher. I woke before dawn with this thought. Joy, happiness, are what we take and do not question. They are beyond question, maybe. A matter of being. But pain forces us to think, and to make connections, to sort out what is what, to discover what has been happening to cause it. And, curiously enough, pain draws us to other human beings in a significant way, whereas joy or happiness to some extent, isolates.
~May Sarton

I can handle my physical pains.

An ice pack here.
A warm compress there.
A shoulder massage.
Soak my feet.

My emotional pains, however, demand special care. Healing the heart and soul requires time and patience. Plus, you have to want to do it.

I must peel away the fragile layers of hurt before I reach the solid core of my issues. Then, I must have the courage to confront, to understand, to forgive, to cry, to forget, to let go, to move on.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T guards my water collection bins.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday, 16 August 2006 - Frugal ways

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for frugal ways.

Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of character. ~S.W. Straus

I recently read an article that discussed frugality. The author lamented the fact that we often mistake frugality for cheapness. He gave this example to explain the difference.

When given exactly $10 for lunch, a cheap person will select the $8.99 meal and leave the $1.01 balance to cover tax and tip. A frugal person will select the $6.99 meal because she wants to leave the server a decent tip.

I often tell people that I'm "cheap" because of I always look for a good bargain, no matter the item under consideration. I now realize, that I am really a frugal person.

When I wrote my life's mission, "being generous with my time, talents and wealth" was a key tenet. I hope my actions reflect a giving heart.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Strawberry plant

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday, 15 August 2006 - Deadlines

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for deadlines.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~Diana Scharf Hunt

A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all. ~Rita Mae Brown

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. ~Douglas Adams

As a writer and editor, my paid work is deadline driven - a factor that appeals to my personality type and work style. To avoid last minute panic, I usually plan and pace each project .

Still, as the deadline looms, I'm working furiously to ensure I've executed every detail perfectly. Is each "i" dotted and each "t" crossed? Is the table centered on the page? Did I run spell check after the last revision?

I must confess that some of my best work arises from last minute inspirations and revisions. As always, I am working against a deadline.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: More tomatoes are finally ripening.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday, 14 August 2006 - An August storm

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an August storm.

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

The calendar says summer but it looks like a dreary day in late fall. Gray skies, fog and a heaviness in the air. The temperature hovers in the 60s. I sit in my studio, working on the computer, awaiting the inevitable storm.

Firecracker-loud thunder follows a sudden flash of lightening. Then rain. Torrents of rain.

The moisture soon sates the earth's thirst, soaking the garden. Run-off pours down the driveway and into the street gutter. The bins I use to collect rain water have nearly an inch of water.

One hour later, the rain abates. The clouds part for just a few minutes, revealing a sliver of blue. Then, the opening closes. Once again, clouds and fog engulf the sky.

I decide to tend the garden before the rain returns. The weeds pull up easily from the damp earth. The plants look refreshed and lovely. The richly hued flowers "pop" against the deep green foilage. I hope the tomato plants, their branches laden with ripening fruit, survive the deluge.

I notice that the sun has begun to set over the mountains. Time for T's evening walk. If we leave now and walk quickly, we can get in at least two laps around the park before the rain resumes.

After sleeping most of the afternoon, T is more than ready for some physical exercise. And, after my afternoon of writing and thinking, so am I.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday, 13 August 2006 - Hot water

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for hot water.

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean. ~GK Chesterton

We lost another household companion today. Our water heater died last night. It lived with us for nearly 20 years - pretty good for a home appliance with an average lifespan of 12 years. But, until the new one is installed later this week, we're living without hot water.

Hot water: an important commodity that makes my life easier. Too bad I take it for granted.

We're managing when it comes to activities like teeth brushing and face washing. I heat up a small pot of water so I can wash the dishes. Doing laundry is business as usual since the front loading washing machine heats the water as needed.

But a cold shower .... brrrrrrr. S plans to shower at the gym. I'll grin and bear it at home by pretending I'm camping!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday, 12 August 2006 - One good climb

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one good climb.

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

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.
~Roger Miller

With severe storms heading our way, S, T and I raced out the front door this morning to go climbing at Red Rock Canyon. Fortunately, we each managed just one good climb before the thunder, lightening and rain moved in. Oh well. One climb is always better than none at all.

S and I scrambled to take down the rope and pack our gear before the deluge hit. We jogged back, trying to dodge the rain drops - was hard to do while carrying packs and equipment.

Soaking wet, we arrived at the parking lot and climbed into the truck for a soggy drive home. Only T didn't seem to mind the adventure. He shook off the rain, climbed into the truck, found his spot, curled up and fell fast asleep.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - the duck family eats a late breakfast near the pond while storm clouds gather overhead.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday, 11 August 2006 - Hope in a squash plant

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for hope in a squash plant.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
~Anne Lamott

so much depends


one squash plant
bathed in morning

growing beside the cement

(with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday, 10 August 2006 - Safety

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for safety.

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
~William Shakespeare

For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.
~Eleanor Everet

In spite of everything that's happening in the world, I feel quite safe. I am not stupid or naive about this issue. S and I have been victims of crimes that required police reports and investigations. Fortunately, no one was ever hurt and the damaged property, salvageable. Each incident, however, quickly reminded us that our seemingly quiet, middle-class neighborhood is not immune to violent crimes.

From 1997-2000, I traveled extensively on business. During one period, I flew to Atlanta every other week. One very hot Sunday afternoon, our departure was delayed because the plane was overweight.

As we sat onboard awaiting news about the flight's status, a young boy sitting directly behind me began to complain about the delay. His mother tried to calm him.

"We should be grateful for safety," she remarked.

Then she asked the question of the day, "Are you grateful for safety?"

Her son, now on the verge of throwing a tantrum, replied with a defiant "No!"

I, on the other hand, had never considered the question. I stopped reading just long enough to whisper, "Yes. I am grateful for safety."

Our flight soon departed for Atlanta without further incident.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: This morning, T patrols the backyard fence while I tend my gardens.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday, 09 August 2006 - A few good friends

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a few good friends.

A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably. ~William Penn

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can live for two months on a good compliment. ~Mark Twain

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. ~Herman Melville

I live a rather sheltered existence, occasionally venturing beyond the neighborhood and rarely breaching the city borders. Much of this is due to the rising gas prices - it no longer pays to go places just to go. I'm also in a reclusive phase - all I want to do is stay home, think and write. I'm tired of being the person who does all the reaching out. Right now, I just want to be left alone.

That's where my very few but very close friends come in. I don't have to go far for my "therapy" sessions since these people are my neighbors.

On any given evening, I may be next door (house to the north), talking to B about my challenges, dreams, roadblocks and progress on various writing projects. He is an interesting, smart and creative person - probably one of the top five people I know. We also share similar political views (a bonus). If I need a word of encouragement, I turn to him.

You may also find me across the street visiting K. We can talk for hours about our gardens (hers inspired mine), plants, knitting and whatever else crosses our minds. She is a talented cyclist and gifted artist whose inner beauty matches her loveliness. If I need a compliment or two, I turn to K.

If I'm next door (house to the south), it means D and I are chatting about family life, her two teenaged boys and life's unending challenges. She is down to earth, sensible and the best cookie baker in the universe (she always gives us a plateful when she bakes her out-of-this-world chocolate chip cookies). We share a love of sewing and reading and are addicted to word puzzles and Sudoku. If I need a hug and sisterly pat on the back, I turn to D.

I pray that I my value to their lives matches or exceeds theirs to mine. We are, after all, in this together.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Photo: Gaillardia daisies bloom in the backyard

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday, 08 August 2006 - A passionate groundskeeper

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a passionate groundskeeper.

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~John Muir

I am heartbroken. Last night, a group of "fools" vandalized our park, seriously damaging several trees. I filed a police report and notified the Parks Department. I also surveyed the damage with our park's head groundskeeper.

This young man (he's probably in his late 20s or early 30s) was deeply saddened by the destruction. I could see the hurt in his eyes as we discussed recent acts of vandalism.

As he spoke, I detected a very caring and passionate heart for his "charges" - several parks and street medians in our sector of the city. My neighborhood is very fortunate to have him working on our behalf.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday, 07 August 2006 - Online newspapers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for online newspapers.

Newspapers: dead trees with information smeared on them.
~Horizon, "Electronic Frontier"

What's black and white and read all over?
~ a childhood riddle

I am a newspaper addict. I've read hard copy dailies for about 45 years. My "addiction" began in the second grade when I eagerly followed my favorite baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and discovered the comics page.

But, times have changed and so have my priorities. The environment is my hot button.

I am finally sick and tired of recycling newsprint and stacks of magazines. I am ready to go paperless.

Our goal: no subscriptions to hard copy newspapers and magazines by year end. Instead, we'll rely on the online editions for news and other information.

This morning, I cancelled subscriptions to four newspapers - three daily and one weekly. We're converting two dailies to online subscriptions. We're letting the other two run out which means we'll receive the weekly and Sunday paper for about six more weeks. We won't renew current magazine subscriptions or sign up for new ones.

I'm also removing my name from catalogue mailing lists (except for High Country Gardens) - a real sacrifice since I love to "window shop." Our budget no longer tolerates my former indulgences, so why risk the temptation? I can always access online stores or Ebay if I need to buy something.

So, wish me well as I become a paperless person. The trees and environment will definitely benefit from this change. And, I guess I will be spending even more time at the computer.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Echinacea

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday, 06 August 2006 - Creative therapy

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for creative therapy.

During difficult times, we all do different things to help us heal. I found that in my own life, during my darkest, worst days, my therapy was to bake. ~ Ellen Rose

The cloudy sky enhances my depressed mood. I don't know what's wrong. Lots of little things, I suppose.

Personal issues like:
  • Missing my daily dose of sunshine and our weekly rock climbing sessions in Red Rock Canyon (the sandstone walls are too damp to climb).
  • Growing concerns that the tomatoes won't ripen for lack of heat and sunshine - I see lots of green fruit and only a few red or yellow ones.
  • A potential financial challenge looming on the horizon (I'm praying for supernatural intervention in the matter).
  • A growing emptiness inside from my lack of meaningful, paying work.
  • A chronic case of writer's block that is jeopardizing my writing projects.
  • My intense frustration arising from the Floyd Landis-Tour de France-positive drug test affair.
You get the picture.

In my darkest, worst moments, I first cry an ocean of tears before vowing to be more optimistic. Then, to raise my spirit and hopes, I seek creative therapy.

I won't bake cookies or munch on chocolate (couldn't manage all those calories). But, I will take T for a long walk, start a new knitting project, plant a few new perennials in the garden and cook a large pot of soup.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Gaillardia daisies thrive in the backyard garden

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday, 05 August 2006 - A writer's progress

Dear God:

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

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window. ~Burton Rascoe

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

To the outsider, I've done nothing constructive today. Couldn't even write 1,000 words. But, my inner writer knows I made progress on my various projects.

One well-written sentence. A few interesting ideas for a story. Three lines of a poem.

I feel like I've just finished running a grueling marathon, such were my writing struggles today. Despite my severe case of writer's block, I am happy to report that I am at least one step ahead of where I was this morning.

(whew!) I'm done for the day. Time for T's walk in the park.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday, 04 August 2006 - Summer eye candy

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for summer eye candy.

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower. ~Rabindrath Tagore

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday, 03 August 2006 - Memories of a childhood friend

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for memories of a childhood friend.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened

~T.S. Eliot

I am feeling blue today.

No, it's not the cooler, drearier weather that followed Sunday's stifling hot 100 degrees. It's a soulful, heartfelt blue.

You see, yesterday, I learned that a childhood friend is dead.

Here's how I made the discovery.

My older sister sent me the link to a web page where a fellow high school alumnus has created an "in memoriam" page for deceased alumni. I quickly scanned the names, listed by year of graduation. I recognized a few upper classmen. Then, I arrived at my graduation year. My heart skipped a beat when I saw MH's name.

I knew MH for most of my childhood. In the fifth and sixth grades, we were close buddies. During the summer, he invited his friends (me included) to swim in his family's built-in pool. We rode our bicycles together to summer school.

He was a Tom Sawyer-type character who often shared his "guy" exploits with me. I think he told me stories just to see my naive, girlish reactions. Like my surprised look when he told me he gave "ex lax" to young Halloween trick-or-treaters. Or my grimace when he told me about torturing snails with salt.

I did not keep in touch with him following high school graduation - no Internet or email existed in the 1970s. I simply wished him and my other friends well in their future plans. I left home, went to college, pursued a career, married and, lived my life away from my California roots. Since I did not attend any class reunion, our paths never crossed again.

All I have is a scrapbook of memories - pages of fading fragments of my life that come alive only when I face my own mortality.

I miss you, MH. May you rest in peace.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) Red Valerian
(middle) Delphinium (rescued from the front yard garden after a deer munched on the leaves)
(bottom) Orange Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wednesday, 02 August 2006 - A tomato memory

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a tomato memory.

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind. ~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth. ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

As I tend the backyard garden, my hand brushes against one of my six thriving tomato plants. My nose crinkles as I detect the plant's very distinct, pungent odor. Without warning, this memory returns.

Childhood. Probably 45 years ago. Southern California. Our vegetable garden. Hot summer days. Dad asks my sisters and me to pluck the incredibly ugly and destructive horn worms from the tomato plants.

I hate to touch or handle any creepy crawly thing. But, I am an obedient child who enjoys challenges and success. I approach this assignment as though I were fighting a war. Which means, in spite of the intense mid-day heat, I wear combat gear that ensures the worms will never, ever touch my bare skin.

My outfit includes pants, a long-sleeved shirt and boots. For additional protection, I wear Dad's heavy gardening gloves (much too large for my little hands) and a hat. In my left hand, I carry a paper sack in which to deposit the worms that I capture with my right gloved hand.

My younger sisters watch as I go into battle a scared little girl and emerge a victorious horn worm plucker.

Now I know why I haven't grown tomatoes in my garden until this year. I was afraid of those horrid horn worms (which, incidentally, have not yet appeared in my Colorado garden).

Funny. I don't remember eating the tomatoes.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A cluster of ripening Yellow Pear tomatoes

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tuesday, 01 August 2006 - Prayers for Barbaro

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for prayers for Barbaro.

I bless the hoss from hoof to head -
From head to hoof, and tale to mane! -
I bless the hoss, as I have said,
From head to hoof, and back again!
~James Whitcomb Riley

I believe in the positive power of prayer and will pray for anything that tugs at my heart. I pray for T, our chocolate Lab, all the time since he is, after all, my canine son.

I was heartsick after Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, hurt his leg in a freak accident at the Preakness. I wanted this champion equine athlete to survive his life-threatening ordeal. So, for the first time in my life, I prayed for a horse.

Oh mighty Lord, Creator of Miracles, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your personal oversight of Barbaro's complete recovery ... Thank you for sending your strongest and most dedicated angels to watch over those who tend his injury - the surgeons, veterinarians, nurses, trainers, therapists, groomers ... Thank you, Lord, for your eternal faithfulness and fathomless love for all creatures that inhabit the earth ... Amen.

I just read that that Barbaro is holding his own but not yet out of danger. His recovery continues and so do my prayers.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Blue flax (Linum lewisii)