Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday, 30 November 2006 - Signs of normalcy

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for signs of normalcy.

Diet: The Thanksgiving turkey, side dishes and pumpkin pies are nearly gone. I'm letting S finish them off while I return to my sparer diet of salads, soups, oatmeal, juice, green tea and fresh fruit.

Exercise: With winter fast approaching, I can't count on rock climbing to help me maintain my climbing weight of 105 pounds. So, it's back to weights, medicine balls, boxing, Pilates, Callanetics, balance ball routines and snow shoveling. If the weather cooperates, we'll visit the high country to snowshoe and cross country ski.

If I can manage these two areas of my life, then the impending holiday stress won't upset my life too much. Plus, T won't let me get away with missing a walk or hike. For him, business-as-usual means two-a-days in the park!

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: Garden of the Gods (taken 10.27.06) - A favorite photo - I was fascinated by the way the tree and its shadow created an interesting and complex image against the rock formation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday, 29 November 2006 - A furnace working overtime

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a furnace that doesn't mind working overtime (although I dread this month's heating bill).

The weather report claims it's 14 degrees F outside, -8 degrees F with the wind chill. It's even colder in the foothills where we live because we're up another 500 feet in altitude.

T and I just retrieved the mail and experienced the cold and wind firsthand. We both survived the very bitter cold unscathed.

The low will certainly dip below zero. Before going to bed, we'll lower the thermostat from 63 to 60 degrees F. I must remember to drip the bathroom faucet tonight.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006 - Wanting what I've got

Dear God:

Today I am thankful for wanting what I've got.

I don't have digital.
I don't have diddly-squat.
It's not having what you want.
It's wanting what you've got.
~Sheryl Crow, "Soak Up the Sun"

In one of my favorite books, the author recounts a holiday shopping expedition to New York City. She's been living in a cottage in Nova Scotia for several months after a difficult divorce. While visiting family and friends for Christmas, she decides to do some last minute gift shopping. The glitz and glamour of Manhattan and 5th Avenue immediately sweep her off her feet as she begins shopping in earnest.

Suddenly, she's overwhelmed by the excess. While standing in the middle of a department store, she begins to suffocate as the piles of merchandise suddenly close in on her. Too much stuff. She panics and runs out of the store, gasping for breath and some sanity. She realizes that she prefers the sparse existence of her little cottage by the sea to the oceans of things that clutter the city stores, our homes and our lives.

Yesterday, I had a similar experience. After climbing in Red Rock Canyon, we rushed across town so S could keep his dental appointment. I didn't want to sit in the dentist's waiting room so S dropped me off at the local Ross discount store - an erstwhile favorite shopping haunt. Since I hadn't been to Ross in ages, I looked forward to browsing the aisles and aisles of clothing, shoes and household goods.

Yikes! An hour of my time wasted rummaging through so much stuff and junk. I didn't see anything I would give anyone for Christmas and nothing I would want to buy for myself or have someone give me. I used to breeze in and out of this store, buying this and that and the other thing that I probably did not need.

It's no longer just about the wasted money and time. It's all about "wanting what I've got."

It's also understanding what's really important in my life - what fills every minute with joy and purpose.

To my surprise, shopping no longer fits the bill.

I was relieved when S pulled up to the curb. I ran out of the store, gasping for breath and some sanity.

Yes, I want everything I've got - a husband who loves me, the best canine son ever, a small circle of close friends, excellent health, a roof over my head, enough money to pay our bills, a refrigerator and pantry filled with food, a closet filled with clothes and shoes I still wear, interesting work that tests my creativity, lots of challenging rock climbing adventures, my laptop computer, cable TV, a high-speed Internet connection, a set of Denise interchangeable knitting needles, and, of course, this blog.

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Photos: Snow!!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday, 28 November 2006 - One more November climbing adventure

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for
one more November climbing adventure.

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

It's a simply glorious morning. The kind of morning that tricks one into believing that the widely anticipated cold front won't arrive today after all.

Bright sunshine. Clear blue skies. Temperatures in the mid-40s. Southerly breezes with occasional gusts.

We rush to Red Rock Canyon for one more November climbing adventure. It's a good one, too. We bask in the autumn sun and climb on the Solar Slab to our hearts' content. By 1:45 PM, we're finally done - sore feet with endorphin-charged, tired bodies.

Excellent timing on our part! Just as S takes down the top rope and finishes his final descent, the cold front arrives. The temperature drops quickly - must be at least 10 degrees colder than it was a few minutes ago. And that's not factoring in the wind chill.

Brrrrrr. It is really, really cold. We quickly pack the rope and gear. After S and I don our warmest jackets, we begin the hike to the parking area. Only T doesn't seem to mind the half-mile-plus jog into the arctic headwind.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon - our final November climbing adventure - ideal conditions prevail as we hike to the Solar Slab.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday, 27 November 2006 - A fair warning

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a fair warning: wintry weather ahead.

While a major winter storm from the Northwest advances towards the Rocky Mountain region, I am preparing mentally for the change in weather. Yesterday's ideal 50-something daytime high will soon plummet to the frigid teens (with single digit temperatures at night).

I shouldn't complain. We are, after all, less than a month from the official start of winter. What else should I expect from Mother Nature and her menopausal mood swings?

For the next several days, I'll reluctantly say good-bye to pleasant temperatures, rock climbing adventures and open doors and windows. Then, I'll force myself to say hello to bitter cold, snow and indoor workouts.

We'll try to keep the house thermostat at 63 degrees during the day, 60 degrees at night.

"Put on a heavier jacket," I'll urge S when he wants to turn up the heat. I will be wearing three or four layers of clothing myself.

I don't know where I stored the space heater that warms my feet as I work in my chilly studio/office - will check the basement tomorrow morning.

T won't mind the cooler weather as long as he gets to stay inside the house (spoiled fellow!). His energy level usually rises as the temperature drops. I'm planning to take him on extra long hikes so he'll get enough exercise (remind me to wear heavy gloves, a warm hat and insulated boots).

Winter. Winter. Winter.

I guess it's time to begin dreaming of a white Christmas.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - Leafless aspen trees decorate the meadow that lies above the east climbing wall

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday, 26 November 2006 - A simple walk in the park

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a simple walk in the park.

S and I are too tired from yesterday's rock climbing efforts. So, we decide to hike around Red Rock Canyon. Nothing strenuous. Just enough of an outing to get some exercise and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The hike will also give T an excellent opportunity to sniff and trailblaze to his heart's content.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon

S pauses while T investigates a good sniff.

T and I head up the trail.

Garden of the Gods and its fascinating rock formations loom to the north.

View of Pikes Peak

A climber ascends a route on Coyote Wall

S and T head down the trail towards the main canyon.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday, 25 November 2006 - Fast recovery times

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for fast recovery times - we've climbed 6 days out of the last 10. When you're 50-something, the bruised knees and sore muscles don't recover overnight.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon - we enjoyed a fabulous day climbing on the Whale (bottom photo, wall on the left) - S completed his first 5.10c climb (I didn't try this one - will give it a go next time)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday, 24 November 2006 - Black Friday

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a non-shopping day (Black Friday).

I didn't have time to shop anyway - on or off-line. Since we went to Tom's for Thanksgiving dinner, I cooked our own feast today.

The menu: 25.5 pound organic turkey (T guarded the oven for the duration), bread dressing (this year I added buffalo Italian sausage and dried cranberries), yams with rum and maple syrup, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with a shot of whiskey, steamed green beans, gravy and pumpkin pie. The wine - an Australian shiraz.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday, 23 November 2006 - Thanksgiving

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a simply glorious Thanksgiving Day!

S, T and I spent the morning rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon. Then we raced home to get ready to join a small group of cycling friends for a delicious potluck turkey dinner and football (I made the cranberry sauce and sweet potato/yam side dish).

Yes, I complain about this and that and wish we had a larger bank account. But, after considering other alternatives, I am satisfied that, in my very small corner of the earth, I continue to live a rich and interesting life.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday, 22 November 2006 - Caution

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for extra caution when driving.

Someone ran a red light in front of us this evening - a very blatant act of wreckless driving. My husband is a cautious driver and, fortunately, hesitated a few seconds before entering the intersection to make a left hand turn. Those few seconds probably saved our lives.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday, 21 November 2006 - Success

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my first successful 5.10 climb ever! I liked the climb so much, I did it twice.

I can do all things through Christ

who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

For He shall give His angels
charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall
bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot
against a stone.
Psalm 91:11-12 (NKJV)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - a beautiful fall day - warm and clear - perfect for rock climbing

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday, 20 November 2006 - Yarn stash

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my yarn stash.

I'm behind in my knitting due to too many distractions and my goal of cutting down on the time I spend watching television. It's a little late to order new yarn, even though I'm tempted by a silk yarn listed on So, I'm very thankful for my large stash of yarn - skeins and skeins of handspun/handdyed treasures just begging to be knit into a one-of-a-kind scarf.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday, 19 November 2006 - Sharing our passion

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a chance to share our passion.

S, T and I periodically join Dr. Warwick in his continuing effort to get young people interested in climbing. This time, we belayed and coached a group of kids at Kindergarten Rock. We knew Matt and Ashley from a previous outing - were happy to see them again and note their progress.

Of course, T received lots of attention and affection from the young climbers. We rewarded his very good behavior with a 3-mile apres-climbing hike.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Garden of the Gods

(top) Noon - Today's climb - note the brilliant blue sky.

(bottom) 3:30 PM - view from the trail as we took T on his apres-climbing hike.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday, 18 November 2006 - The Salvation Army

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for The Salvation Army.

While running errands, I notice that the Salvation Army bellringers and red kettles are already stationed at popular shopping venues. They remind me that others desperately need help with the basics of life, and that I am a very fortunate person.

This year, I won't walk the other way when I see a bellringer. True, I don't have a wad of cash in my pocket. Still, I promise to give something each time I pass a red kettle.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - T and I pause on the trail while S takes our picture. Despite the cool weather, we managed to climb for a few hours this afternoon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday, 17 November 2006 - One mom, back at home

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful that my mother is home from the hospital and on her way to a complete recovery.

For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday, 16 November 2006 - A break in the cold weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a break in the cold weather.

The National Weather Service forecast a high of 59 degrees. We have our doubts. The morning is cold and frosty. A thick mass of clouds blocks the sun. We anxiously await the arrival of some sunshine and warm air.

Around noon, a warm Chinook wind picks up, sweeping the low pressure system out of the area. Guess it's a good climbing day after all.

We reach Red Rock Canyon around 1 PM - better late than never. We hike to the our favorite canyon wall, the Whale. S leads a 5.7 (we warm up on this climb) before leading the neighboring 5.8. We both climb well and enjoy the strenuous workout. Next time, we'll try the 5.9.

Three hours later, S takes down the rope. We pack our gear and hike out of the canyon just as the winds begin to gust. The temperature must have dropped at least 10 degrees (not including the wind chill). I'm glad I brought a warm hat and gloves.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - S (with our climbing gear and rope in his backpack) and T pause on the trail that leads to our favorite climbing wall.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday, 15 November 2006 - A bowl of oatmeal

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a bowl of oatmeal for dinner.

Hunger is the best sauce in the world. ~Cervantes

This month, we are eating down the freezer and pantry - something we do periodically to avoid wasting food.

I've also been cooking every day for nearly three years (ever since S lost his last corporate America job). I like to cook and don't mind the task. Just not today.

Unfortunately, we have no leftovers. My husband ate the last bit of yesterday's stir fry for lunch. I ate the last slice of homemade bread for my lunch - toasted and spread with chunky peanut butter and raspberry jam. I shared the crust with T.

Darn it. Now, I don't have anything to eat for dinner.

I rummage through the refrigerator and notice the bags of sliced almonds and dried cranberries. I also check to see if we have any oatmeal in the pantry. Yes!

So, my dinner is a big bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal topped with almonds, dried cranberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. Perfect for a nippy November evening!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday, 14 November 2006 - One more day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for

one more day.

In a dream you are never eighty.

~Anne Sexton

Damn it!

My parents weren't suppose
to grow older - ever.
They were suppose
to stay sixty-ish - forever.

Now my dear 80-something mother is hospitalized, possibly suffering from a stroke-like condition called Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA.

Look out. Here they come. My emotions cascading to earth.



In my dreams, my parents are never 80.

They are young.

So am I.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Zinnia from the backyard garden (October 16, 2006)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday, 13 November 2006 - High tech fabrics

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for high tech fabrics.

Prior to living in Colorado, I wore clothes made primarily from natural, organic fibers - cotton, linen, silk, wool. I also made most of my clothes so I had complete control over my fabric choices.

Now, we deal with wildly unpredictable weather regardless of the season. And, our love of outdoor activities means we're dealing with the elements year round. My sports wardrobe now includes tops, bottoms, socks and jackets made from high tech fabrics.

On the coldest and wettest days, I'm wearing Capilene, WindPro Polarfleece and Gore-Tex. On the hottest days, I'm wearing Coolmax, Supplex and Drylete. My hiking boots keep my feet dry with their Gore-Tex lining. And, on in-between days, I prefer to wear clothes made from fabrics blended with a little Lycra (for better fit and comfort).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday, 12 November 2006 - The best climbing partner

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the best climbing partner - my husband, S.

As a writer, I know the value of an effective editor/coach.

As a rock climber, I know the value of a great partner/coach who refuses to give up on me (even when I want to abort the climb).

When I complain that I'm scared, he simply replies, "That's good."

When I exclaim, "I'm really, really scared!" he calmly instructs me to take a deep breath before resuming the climb.

When I protest that a move is too hard, he encourages me to try anyway. (I usually succeed.)

And, when I finally succeed, he graciously downplays his role, explaining that I (not he) made the moves.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Castlewood Canyon - my husband, S, glances at me from the top of the climb we tackled yesterday. He's taking down the top rope.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday, 11 November 2006 - Veteran's Day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our nation's war veterans - for their dedication, sacrifice and valor. Freedom isn't free.

Valor is stability,

not of legs and arms,
but of courage and the soul.
~Michel de Montaigne

When our perils are past,
shall our gratitude sleep?
~George Canning

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Photo: Castlewood Canyon - looking south from my perch at the base of the rock wall we climbed this afternoon

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday, 10 November 2006 - The Sartorialist

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for The Sartorialist.

Although I love fashion and shopping, my budget doesn't allow any indulgences - including magazines. So, I was elated to find this website.

I check it daily, even before I open my main emailbox. Can't wait to see what fashion photographer, Scott Schuman, has in store for us today. The photos are marvelous and the narratives, thoughtful and insightful. The site satisfies my fashionista cravings. It also saves me the time I would have wasted leafing through a current edition of Vogue or InStyle one more time.

Thank you, Sartorialist.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday, 09 November 2006 - True charity

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for true charity.

Charity sees the need not the cause.

~German Proverb

Do not withhold good from those
to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor,
"Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it" -
when you have it with you.
~Proverbs 3:27-28

When a someone needs help, I try to give from my heart. However, my mind has been known to question the cause.

So, I am deeply humbled by truly charitable people and organizations that see the need and not the cause.
Note that I did not include the church as a truly charitable entity. I know too many people who have sought help from a church (including the mega ones) only to be judged and shamed by their requests.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - duck pond, blue skies and snowcapped Pikes Peak

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday, 08 November 2006 - A new day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new day.

Americans spoke loudly and clearly during yesterday's midterm election. As a longtime Democrat (who often sits on the sidelines in very conservative, very Republican Colorado Springs), I'm pleased to see more blue than red on our nation's the political landscape. And, I'm elated to see a woman politician in a very powerful position (I'm with you, Nancy Pelosi).

Is this a new day dawning in America? I hope so.

I won't forget, however, that ultimately, actions speak louder than words. And, the proof is always in the pudding.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - sunshine and blue skies reign - a perfect day to rock climb

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tuesday, 07 November 2006 - The right to vote

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the right to vote and opportunities to exercise that right.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday, 06 November 2006 - Final day of campaigning

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the final day of campaigning for the 2006 midterm election - too much mudslinging - enough is enough!

Let us all resolve:
First to attain the grace of silence;
Second to deem all fault-finding that does no good a sin...
Third to practice the grace and virtue of praise.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday, 05 November 2006 - The right decision

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the right decision.

Choices are the hinges of destiny. ~Edwin Markham

Life is the sum of all your choices. ~Albert Camus

I am currently wrestling with a life-changing decision. The struggle to do the best thing is so difficult. Hopefully, in the light of day, my new path will be clearly marked, and I'll be ready to move on.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday, 04 November 2006 - Sore feet

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sore feet - evidence that, on this chilly afternoon, I climbed hard and long in Red Rock Canyon.

For this blessing, I am thankful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday, 03 November 2006 - Suspense

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for suspense, the kind I experience with a really good "whodunit" novel, movie or espisode of the PBS show, Mystery!. My husband, on the other hand, likes to second guess Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple (occasionally ruining the ending for me).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Caught in the act! T drinks melted snow from one of my water collection bins.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday, 02 November 2006 - A nut brown ale, please

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a glass of beer (as long as it's a nut brown ale because I don't like "hoppy" brews - can't stand the bitter aftertaste).

Draft beer, not people. ~Author Unknown

First, let me set the record straight. I am not a beer-lover even though I'm a member of Old Chicago's Hall of Foam (I managed to finish one World Beer Tour soon after we moved to Colorado). My husband, S, is the real deal - an authentic beer connoisseur (he finished three Tours and, once upon a time, actually brewed his own beer).

When I drink, I prefer red wine (usually a Shiraz or Merlot), homemade Irish cream liquor (my own recipe), or margaritas made with premium tequila (again, my own recipe).

But, when we're socializing with our cycling and climbing buddies, microbrews are the beverages du jour. Plus, beer tastes great with homemade pizza, grilled brats, buffalo burgers, sushi and football.

One nut brown ale, please.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday, 01 November 2006 - The right words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the right words.

Words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It's evening and I am still searching for the right words. You know the ones.

The words that will state my intentions - perfectly.
The words that will describe how I feel - exactly.
The words that will express my opinion - precisely.

The words that will launch a new poem, one well-written sentence or the next great American novel.

The words that are dancing on the tip of my tongue and teasing the tips of my fingers.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Garden of the Gods - Montezuma's Tower (part of the Three Graces)