Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday, 30 September 2006 - One marvelous autumn day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one marvelous autumn day.

If any day is priceless, today is that day.

After I finished my marketing project late this morning, we loaded up the truck and headed to Red Rock Canyon for nearly 5 hours of climbing and a mile or so of hiking (for T's sake).

S lead the 100' climb, Pikes Peak, on the east climbing wall. When I reached the top, I looked west and could see the snow-capped summit of Pikes Peak peering over the quarry climbing wall (wish I had had my camera to photograph the stunning vista). S finished the climb five times while I managed four (quite a workout).

Anyway, my feet are very tired. Time to knit, sip a cold Marguerita and watch an old movie.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - Pikes Peak climb on east climbing wall

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday, 29 September 2006 - A great team

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a great team (and I'm not talking about sports).

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. ~Andrew Carnegie

My latest venture - directing the marketing efforts of a local start-up company - is challenging and exhilarating. My efforts are worth the headaches and long hours because I'm part of a great team.

You don't need a lot of people to launch a successful company if the people keep their egos in check, are passionate about the product and willing to go the extra mile repeatedly for each other and customers. Of course, we hope to makes lots of money and realize a few dreams along the way.

But, until the first sale is on the books and the money in the bank, I'm working hard and having loads of fun.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday, 28 September 2006 - Bread with peanut butter

(Note: Sorry for the late post ... I'm having tons of problems with the network.)

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a slice of homemade bread slathered with peanut butter.

I am frightfully busy with marketing projects and have forgotten to eat again. I glance at the clock. No time for a proper meal. Guess I'll have to settle for a snack.

I snoop around the refrigerator before deciding to eat an open face peanut butter sandwich. I carefully cut a thick slice of the French bread I made this morning. I toast it for a few minutes before covering the surface with a thick, gooey layer of chunky organic peanut butter.

Yummy. I really like the way the peanut butter melts into the hot toast. Very satisfying.

Well, now that I've eaten some carbs, fat and protein, it's onward and upward!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday, 27 September 2006 - Pain-free day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a pain-free day.

I am pushing sixty. That is enough exercise for me. ~Mark Twain

In the morning, I usually feel the aches and pains arising from years of athletic endeavors when I take my first steps of the day. Once my joints adjust to their weight bearing activities, however, I am fine and mobile.

This morning, as my feet hit the floor and I took my first steps, I experienced no pain in my ankles and knees. Not what I would have expected after rock climbing and hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

As I continue my middle age adventure, I'm hoping that my active lifestyle will serve me well. I plant to rock climb, hike and ride my bicycle well into my 80s and 90s.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday, 26 September 2006 - An afternoon outing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an afternoon outing.

The afternoon is too warm and lovely to waste sitting at our computers, so we decide to go Red Rock Canyon to rock climb and hike.

T is thrilled about the impromptu expedition to one of his favorite local haunts. He is, after all, the ultimate trail dog.

When we return home from our outing, he always reminds me that a bad day on the trail is better than a good day working at home. I heartily agree.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon: T amuses himself while S and I rock climb.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday, 25 September 2006 - Physical strength and quickness

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the physical strength and quickness required to rock climb.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? ~Satchel Paige

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. ~Victor Hugo

S, T and I slipped away for a few hours to rock climb in Red Rock Canyon. The weather was perfect and the rock in good shape.

Most people are surprised when I tell them I rock climb. My 52-year-old, 105-pound petite body belies my overall strength (I use to be a gym rat, lifting weights like a mad woman). This afternoon, I completed four strenuous climbs up a rather challenging route.

Yes, it's true. I'm not getting older - I'm getting stronger and better!

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: Red Rock Canyon - the quarry climbing wall

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday, 24 September 2006 - Green tomato recipes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for green tomato recipes.

I'm collecting them because I'm afraid the remaining fruit won't ripen on the vine. Luckily, I've found a variety of recipes that suit our diet. I guess that we're not the only family on the planet with an abundance of green tomatoes.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A snow-capped Pikes Peak rises above the duck pond in Red Rock Canyon. T and I hiked here this morning.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday, 23 September 2006 - First snowfall

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the first snowfall of the season.

When September arrives, I begin to anticipate (and worry about) the season's first snowfall. I prefer that it arrive in October after the flowers have faded and gone to seed. But, Mother Nature rarely listens to me.

So, I sighed with relief after yesterday's storm brought snow to our neighborhood but did not harm the garden. Looks like the cold front has moved out. Tomorrow's high is suppose to be in the 60s.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Snow falls during yesterday's storm.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday, 22 September 2006 - Closed doors, open windows

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for closed doors and open windows.

It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity. ~Frederick Phillips

A week ago, I was worried because a few doors in our work lives are starting to close. We decided that I should secure a part-time job while S finds new clients.

What a difference a few days can make.

This week, several windows have suddenly opened for both of us. With very grateful hearts, we welcome the transition period and enthusiastically embrace our new opportunities.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: I bought this plant because I though it was a blue mist spirea - a very desirable xeric perennial. The plant is actually a variety of helianthus (sunflower). I was disappointed when yellow buds began forming on the very tall stems because I anticipated the spirea's dark blue blooms. Now, I am delighted by the enormous bouquet of yellow sunflowers that brighten my backyard garden.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday, 21 September 2006 - Giving peace a chance

Dear God:

Today, the UN-declared International Day of Peace, I am thankful for ways to give peace a chance.

Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.
Seymour Miller & Jill Jackson, 1955, "Let There Be Peace on Earth"

It'll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.
~Author unknown, cited in You Said a Mouthful, Ronald D. Fuchs (editor)

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. ~Robert Fulghum

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday, 20 September 2006 - My own troubles

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my own troubles.

Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three - all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. ~Edward Everett Hale

Two sad things happened today - a neighbor lost his job and a friend lost his father to colon cancer just two weeks after the initial diagnosis. I find myself in a familiar spot: upon learning of others' terrible misfortunes, I am truly thankful for my own challenges, disappointments, frustrations and uncertainties.

Tonight, I'm praying for extra helpings of faith and extra touches of grace in all of our lives - just in case.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: S sets up the top rope at Garden of the Gods.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday, 19 September 2006 - Patience

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for patience.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patience is the companion of wisdom.
~St. Augustine

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday, 18 September 2006 - Mistakes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for mistakes.

Mistakes are the portals of discovery.
~James Joyce

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~Scott Adams

Seeing is different than being told. ~Kenyan Proverb

Indeed, I am far from perfect. I've made my share of mistakes over the years. With each infraction, I vow to do better next time.

Through my mistakes, I learned hard lessons about accepting the consequences of my actions (or inaction). I learned first hand about the power of grace, faith and love and how to forgive others and myself (although I accomplish the latter with great difficulty).

I learned to recognize my limits while expanding the boundaries of my experience. I learned to laugh at myself and eat some crow. I also learned to acknowledge frailties and my own, very vulnerable humanity.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday, 17 September 2006 - Safe homecoming

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a safe homecoming.

Visits always give pleasure - if not the arrival, the departure. ~Portuguese Proverb

After spending 11 days in Sacramento helping his mother move, S came home safely early this afternoon. To celebrate his return, we enjoyed an hour hike along Scotsman Trail in Garden of the Gods.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: S and T walk ahead of me during our later afternoon hike in Garden of the Gods.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday, 16 September 2006 - The bluest sky

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for
the bluest sky.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To one who has been long
in city pent,

'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,
- to breathe a prayer

Full in the smile of
the blue firmament.

~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon looking west towards Pikes Peak

Friday, September 15, 2006

15 September 2006 - Half way through

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for making it half way through my 53rd year.

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
~Douglas MacArthur

On my "half-birthday," I attended a luncheon that launched Colorado Unity's Affirmative Action Awareness project in Southern Colorado. I met several impressive people including community activitists and educators. I am now considering volunteer opportunities that are very different from shelving library books or reading aloud to pre-schoolers.

My heart says to move forward on a new path while my bank account says find a real job. This time around, I know that I must follow my passion.

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Photo: Rocky Mountain Bee Plant with seed pods

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday, 14 September 2006 - Morning sunshine, afternoon storms

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for morning sunshine and afternoon storms.

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

I intended to write about the qualities of a perfect summer morning (which we enjoyed today). But, a sudden severe thunderstorm (complete with a lightening, torrential rain and intermittent hail) blasted through the foothills around 2:35 PM, changing my feelings about the day.

I tried to photograph the storm, but realized that it's very difficult to capture the full effects of inclement weather. Taking pictures of the storm's aftermath is easy. But, recording the storm, itself, is challenging.

Here are my questions: How do you photograph a storm? How do you capture the angry skies and bellicose storm clouds? How do you catch a bolt of lightening or portray a sense of danger? How do you record the booming thunder and pounding hail?
Maybe it's time to invest in a video camera. Just in case. For days like today.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Top: While I take photos of the Red Rock Canyon landscape, T signals that he's ready to resume our morning hike.

Middle: The mid-afternoon storm fills the rain collection bins and floods the patio.
Bottom: Looking west - view over the back fence

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wednesday, 13 September 2006 - Rest day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a rest day.

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

My alarm clock goes off. It's 6:30 AM, early for me these days. I stretch for a minute before tumbling out of bed.

I glance over at T. He's sleeping very soundly (he usually gets up with me). I sense that he is still recovering from yesterday's hike. No Red Rock Canyon this morning. Today will be a much deserved rest day.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: One tired fellow: T basks in the sun while I tend the garden.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday, 12 September 2006 - The last days of summer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the last days of summer.

In summer, the song sings itself.
~William Carlos Williams

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy. ~Anton Chekhov

This morning, while T and I hike in Red Rock Canyon for the fourth day in a row, we pause near the duck pond so I can take a few pictures. My eyes move skyward just as a flock of eight geese fly over the west climbing wall. Heading south for the winter, I presume.

Yes, the weather has been autumnal for a few weeks. But, I'm in denial. After all, we didn't have a real summer this year.

Summer did visit in June for a few weeks, bringing near 100 degree temperatures. But, July and August turned cool and rainy (great for the gardens but tragic for the tomatoes).

Now, September is here with her warm mornings, stormy afternoons and cool nights.

We continue to walk along the base of the quarry climbing wall. I delight in the wildflowers, blue sky and cool breezes. T relishes hiking along a real trail.

Our travels rarely take us far from home. Yet, on this idyllic morning with the sun's warmth on my face, my trusted canine companion by my side and hope in my heart, I am light years away.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - our chosen path along the quarry climbing wall

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday, 11 September 2006 - Remembrances

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for remembrances.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. ~William Shakespeare

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Five years since that day.
I think I’ve
Sung every song,
Prayed every prayer,
Asked every question,
Studied every photograph,
Cried every tear,
And read every story.
Will my grieving heart finally mend and
My wounded soul find peace?

I’m going to give myself
Another chance because
This morning feels different.
This morning feels eccentric.
This morning feels extraordinary.

Miracle of miracles.

I manage a faint smile
As the summer sun
Warms my face
On September 11.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Snow-capped Pikes Peak - view from Red Rock Canyon during our morning hike

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday, 10 September 2006 - Walt Whitman's rules

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Walt Whitman's rules.

Recently, I rediscovered the following quote from Walt Whitman. It was part of an obituary for a well-known community activist who died after a long battle with cancer.

I first studied these words during my freshman year at UCLA. An idealistic college student, I internalized many of Whitman's wise and soulful "rules." Now, nearly 34 years later, his recipe for a good life still inspires me.

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
~Walt Whitman, 1855, preface to Leaves of Grass

Incidentally, Leaves of Grass is one of my very favorite poems.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon, taken during this morning's hike

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday, 09 September 2006 - Morning hike

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a morning hike with T in Red Rock Canyon (S is out of town so he missed out on the perfect weather).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - quarry climbing wall

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday, 08 September 2006 - Removable tape

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for removable tape.

I am using the Lutterloh system to create custom patterns for my new wardrobe (I will sew the items using "green" and "sustainable" fabrics).

The pattern making process is simple but tedious. Thank goodness for removable Scotch tape. My efforts would fail without this modern marvel.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday, 07 September 2006 - DIY projects

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for easy DIY projects.

I like DIY projects that I can complete successfully in a day or two. This week, I am regrouting the ceramic tiles that line the shower stall walls.

After carefully cleaning the tiles to remove soap scum, I applied a thin bead of ready-to-use tile grouting to the grooves. I used my finger to smooth the grouting, let it dry, and wiped the excess from the tiles with a damp cloth.

Voila! The 20-year-old walls look brand new.

My next project: installing a new kitchen floor. I plan to use ceramic or vinyl tiles that will help modernize the space.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Coreopsis buds (I like the way the outer petals resemble satin)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

06 September 2006 - Green lights

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for green lights.

If God had really intended men to fly, he'd make it easier to get to the airport.
~George Winters

We're running behind schedule because our morning meeting ran late. We bid our colleagues adieu and race to the airport.

Freeway traffic is light this morning so we make good time for this part of the trip. Once we hit the busier surface streets, however, we'll encounter delays. I pray that the traffic lights at the busiest intersections favor us today.

We're very lucky. Only one red light (actually, it was yellow and my husband opted to stop) between the freeway and the airport drop-off zone.

S has plenty of time to check-in and undergo the security inspections.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A garnet-hued Coreopsis begins to bloom in my backyard garden

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday, 05 September 2006 - Photographs

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for photographs.

The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.
~Author Unknown

There are no rules for good photographs; there are only good photographs.
~Ansel Adams

Now that we own a digital camera, I can shoot photos to my heart's content. That translates to hundreds of pictures a week. This summer's digital archive already contains thousands of photos - mostly of my gardens.

Why the prolific output? I've learned over the years that the best (and sometimes only) way to get one good photograph is to take lots and lots of pictures.

My husband recently suggested that I join "photographer's anonymous." He doesn't understand that by taking so many pictures of our summer days, I am preparing for winter. During winter's coldest and bleakest days, leafing through my summer photo album will assuage my yearnings for a landscape awash in color and light.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Monday, 04 September 2006 - Work

Dear God:

Today, Labor Day 2006, I am thankful for my work.

work \werk\ n: an opportunity for discovering and shaping; the place where self meets the world
~David Whyte

It's not much. A few hours of writing and editing a day. But, I am glad for the work. The money helps pay some of the bills while I work on my creative projects.

My quest to understand the nature of work and how it fits in my life continues as I study and ponder the messages in David Whyte's Crossing the Unknown Sea.

As with everything else in my life, my questions are many - the answers, complex - my destination, unknown - the journey, very long.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Love-Lies-Bleeding Amaranthus

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday, 03 September 2006 - Small houses

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for small houses.

I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.

~Abraham Cowley,

The Garden
, 1666

Once upon a time, I wanted an enormous house with all the trimmings. Imagine: all that space filled with so many things.

After living in various spaces, I know my limitations when it comes to housekeeping. I no longer crave the things that fill a house. Fine furniture, collectibles and window treatments are not priorities. Highly functional spaces and large gardens are important.

That's why I am smitten with the "small" or "wee" house movement.

I would love to own a wooded piece of land - maybe five acres. On it, I would build three or four small buildings. One, the largest, would be the main house with kitchen and living quarters - 500-700 square feet. Another, would be my husband's office - 100 square feet. The third would be my studio - 100 square feet. The fourth (optional) would be the greenhouse - 75 square feet.

By choosing a small house, I could have the elegance I prefer but on a much smaller scale. I would incorporate the high quality materials that make larger homes cost prohibitive. For example, instead of 150 square feet of antique Italian tile for the kitchen floor, I would need only 30 for my much smaller, 5x6 foot galley. Other considerations: recycled materials, solar energy, composting toilet, patios, decks and large gardens.

I am launching this dream today. Our current home, about 2,200 square feet including the basement, is full of stuff.
Our future small house of under 1,000 feet can only contain the essentials. By the end of the year, I intend to downsize by 50 percent. Wish me luck!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Daisy with grasshopper (my backyard wildflower garden)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday, 2 September 2006 - Recycled wool sweaters

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for recycled wool sweaters.

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce

It's a cool (almost cold) day - soggy and very gloomy. I am think that winter will arrive early this year.

Oh dear.

I better start knitting the winter sweaters I originally planned to make during the summer.

Today is a good day to disassemble the wool sweaters I bought at the local thrift shop's half-price sale last April. I think I bought both for about $7.00.

Right now, I am deconstructing two very bulky pullovers: a J. Crew man's XL in a deep olive green and a Willi Smith woman's M in a luscious golden wheat. The wool from both sweaters is in very good condition so I will be able to reuse nearly all of it to create new items for my wardrobe.

Next comes the hardest part of the project - matching the yarn's weight and yardage to a stylish sweater pattern that will fit my petite figure.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday, 01 September 2006 - Seam ripper

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my seam ripper.

I've begun sewing again - want to replace many pieces in my current wardrobe with items made from "green" fabrics like bamboo, hemp, organic wool and organic cotton. The fastest way to do this is for me to buy the fabric online, fit the patterns (I'm using the Lutterloh patternmaking system) and sew the various pieces myself on my 20-year-old Viking sewing machine and serger.

For the past decade, I've stocked my wardrobe with consignment store or eBay finds bearing designer labels. I've made home decorating items like curtains and quilts but few clothes. No wonder my sewing skills are a bit rusty.

I've been ripping out more seams than I used to when I sewed all the time. Although I hate to make mistakes (ripping out stitching is tedious and bothersome), at least my trusty seam ripper makes the task easier.

For this blessing, I am grateful.