Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 - Places of simplicity and peace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for places of simplicity and peace.

Dear God,
we give thanks for places of simplicity and peace.

Let us find such a place within ourselves.


Places of simplicity and peace.
I know where to find mine.
I admit, however, that it took me a long time to find it.

I pray that you know yours.
But, if you're still searching, I hope you find it soon.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday, 30 July 2007 - Prayer walking

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for prayer walking.

May my body
Be a prayer stick

For the world.

~Joan Halifax

My daily pilgrimage begins with a walk around the park with T. This morning, we leave the house around 7 AM. It's too late to escape the bright sunshine but early enough to miss the searing heat.

T is pleased with himself, striding confidently along the park's northern border with his chocolate Lab swagger. He abruptly stops here to sniff the wet grass, over there to mark the overgrown juniper bushes, by the trash can to check out out an empty Styrofoam food container.

As we near the children's playground and sandbox, I think about why I take these daily walks. Three reasons come to mind:
- To give T an outing and some exercise.
- To clear my head and prepare for the day.
- To pray.


Let those who approach me give me a wide berth so I can exercise my faith with my feet.
Let those who know me simply smile and wave when they pass T and me.
My neighbors know that I am on a mission as I circle the park,
Talking to God, prayer walking.

Let the birds offer their songs in glorious praise of this summer day.
Let the trees offer their comforting shade in gratitude for every blessing.
Let me walk purposefully and passionately with a warrior's feet along this familiar path.

I accept the fact that
A stranger might conclude that I am merely
One woman idling away the morning hour,
Walking her dog around the neighborhood park.
But, today, I see no strangers
And want no stranger's opinion.
God is with me
And I care only about
His opinion.

Oh God,
Let me be
A prayer stick
For the world.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday, 29 July 2007 - Risk taking

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my own brand of risk taking.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
~Pablo Picasso
To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
~Soren Kierkegaard
You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take. ~Wayne Gretzky

Is risk taking an innate or learned trait? The experts can't agree. So, maybe, like most traits, it's a little of both.

While growing up in Southern California, my wary parents repeatedly told me "no." So, ever the obedient child, I didn't. Still, my own brand of risk taking formed, thrived and prevailed, allowing me to surmount tough, mental boundaries set by more cautious adults.

So, here's to a more daring attitude, a strong faith that conquers fear, "needs improvement" ratings that push me to do better next time, and risky adventures that force me to step onto foreign territory and learn something new about myself.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday, 28 July 2007 - Soup

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for soup.

Worries go down better with soup
. ~Jewish Proverb

Some people will advise that it's way too hot for soup. Too hot to cook a potful from scratch, too hot to watch the soup simmer for a few hours and too hot to eat such a spicy dish.

On any given day, I might agree. But, not today. I have worries a-plenty and must learn to swallow hard each time adversity strikes.

Anyway, it's too late to turn back. I've already thawed the chicken and gathered the other ingredients. Tortilla soup it is. Complete with a generous dose of chili peppers and cayenne pepper.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday, 27 July 2007 - Solace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for solace that soothes troubled times.

What can I do when I feel the world's harsh breath and know

That if I stay too long in its path

My path shall be burned up also.

I must go back to the land again

And find the eagle at home with the rock.

I must climb to the mountaintop

And find the spot where the river begins.

I must lie quietly beside the earth

And find the warmth of its heart.

I must turn my vision to the sky

And find the purpose of clouds.

Then trouble seems far away

And the breath which consumes all beauty

Has passed right over me.

~ Nancy Wood

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday, 26 July 2007 - One hug

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one hug.

I had an eventful evening visiting Tom. I'm amazed at his progress - can see significant changes in his physical and mental abilities over the course of one day. His schedule is quite busy now, filled with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions and daily visits from friends, colleagues and family.

I want to share one excerpt from my report to my "team" about tonight's visit so you will understand why I titled this entry, one hug. (Note that as team members, we agreed to write and publish reports on a special website to keep each other apprised of Tom's activities and progress and our observations about his care):
"After I read a few pages of A Year in Provence (we're almost done with November), Tom signaled that he wanted to sit up. First, Lisa (his CNA sitter) had to rearrange the catheter and feeding tube and asked him to wait until she was ready. He obeyed. After he sat up, she helped him reach a stable position on the right side of bed. With his left hand, Tom motioned to me to sit next to him (he straightened the sheet and patted the bed). I sat down next to him. Then, he put his left arm around me and hugged me."
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday, 25 July 2007 - Toothpaste

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for toothpaste, especially Jason's Power Smile.

I know it's a small, maybe trivial thing, like soap, shampoo or dental floss. But, today, toothpaste is an important commodity.

This morning, I squeezed the very last bit from the tube. This afternoon, I looked high and low for the spare tube that was suppose to but did not exist. So, I reluctantly brushed my teeth with baking soda, an inexpensive substitute that works but tastes terrible.

And, yes. A few minutes ago I wrote "toothpaste" at the top of my shopping list.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, 24 July 2007 - This and that

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for this and that ...

Second, third and fourth chances
Returning finches
Paul Simon
Minor decisions
Good mulch
Eco-friendly clothing
Prill water
Digital cameras
Italian-made anything
Basil seedlings
Yo Yo Ma
BBC America
Matching thread
Quiet mornings
Roads less traveled
Recycling bins
Kombucha tea
Busy days
Doggie kisses
Doggie smiles
Homegrown cherry tomatoes
Vogue sewing patterns
Antiques Roadshow
Arthur (as in the children's book and television show)
Thomas Jefferson
All things French
Hiking trails
Canvas shopping bags
Fresh mint leaves
Scarpa climbing shoes
Keith Jarrett

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday, 23 July 2007 - Answered prayers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for answered prayers.

I am pleased to report that our friend, Tom, is now conscious, alert and communicative. It's been over five weeks since he had the freak bicycling accident and incurred a severe head injury.

A few of his closest friends (mainly Bruce, S and I) have visited him almost daily since the June 16 accident. We've watched him awaken very slowly from the deep coma, open his eyes and begin to move his left limbs, then his right.

I read aloud to him during most of our visits - nearly finished A Year in Provence (Toujours Provence was on deck, just in case). And, we witnessed the dramatic improvements in Tom's mental and physical abilities that occurred over the past few days, culminating in tonight's very lively visit.

Now, his brothers plan to move him to a local facility that specializes in head injury rehabilitation. There, Tom will continue to work on regaining a sense of normalcy and the self-sufficiency he covets.

S, T and I will stand by him every step of the way, whether in person or in prayer.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday, 22 July 2007 - Journeys and adventures

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for journeys and adventures - all sorts and sizes.

I am always on some sort of personal journey or adventure. I continually embark on new ones, navigate older ones through the arduous middle miles where perseverance pays off and occasionally finish important ones of indeterminant age - some decades old, some only a few hours in the making.

I like, no, love David Whyte's poem, "The Journey." Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled," Psalm 91 and this poem comprise my current mantra for journeys and adventures.

Have you already read it and fallen in love with it, too? If so, I consider you a kindred spirit.

If not, I cite it here so you can read, absorb and ponder Whyte's simple words and profound message. Read them at your own pace. I recommend slowly (i.e., a poet's and philosopher's speed). Then, make them your own.

The Journey
By David Whyte
from The House of Belonging, copyright 1997

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday, 21 July 2007 - Entertaining weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for entertaining weather.

The sudden, early evening deluge will probably ruin tomorrow's rock climbing adventure. I lament the disruption of our plans as we witness the slow-moving storm's power from Tom's hospital room on the eleventh floor (we call it the penthouse).

The room's picture window faces west, offering a sweeping, panoramic view of Pikes Peak and Front Range, the perfect outdoor theater for summer's dramatic weather shifts. Tonight's main event includes fabulous lightening bolts, deafening thunder, ominous looking clouds and torrential rain.

I don't know what we'll do tomorrow to get our climbing fix. Right now, however, we are the lucky occupants of front row seats for one of the best shows in town.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, 20 July 2007 - Joy of reading

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the joy of reading.

Oh for a book and a shady nook . . . ~John Wilson

Books fall open ... you fall in. ~message on Mary Englebreit greeting card

The incessant hype surrounding Harry Potter's final tale and hordes of children anxiously waiting to read the book reminds me of my own entrance into the world of reading.

I mastered the concept of reading before I started kindergarten. The year was 1959 or 1960, the pre-PBS/Sesame Street days when shows like Romper Room and Sheriff John regularly entertained preschoolers.

I don't recall how I learned to read - probably picked up the skill by listening to my mother tutor my older sister. All I know is that one day I couldn't read, the next, I could.

And, that, my friends, has made all the difference!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday, 19 July 2007 - One empty nest

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one empty nest.

Sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning, the fledglings left the nest. Their Finch parents, not Larry and Mr. not Larry, also left. Didn't leave a note. Didn't say good-bye. Still, it's not like we didn't expect the sudden exodus.

I lift the Christmas wreath from the hook on the front door, noting a messy layer of dried bird droppings where the nest rested against the red paint. I carefully wash the door, taking extra precautions not to chip the paint. I brush more droppings from the well-shaped nest that sits inside the wreath. Then, I sweep the porch and welcome mat. Finally, I rehang the wreath and step back to eye its position. I want to make sure it's hanging straight.

Things, after all, must be perfect if we expect to attract new Finch tenants next spring.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday, 18 July 2007 - Commitment

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for commitment.

Once started, follow through. ~Greeting card message

Sometimes, my commitment is strong. As in family, friends, neighbors, marriage, prayer, health, exercise, gardening, rock climbing, work, writing, learning, faith, recycling, mulching, composting, bargain hunting, voting, conserving water/energy. As in visiting Tom while he's still hospitalized and vowing to continue to help him no matter where his journey takes him.

Sometimes, my commitment waivers. As in job hunting, house decluttering, church going, weed pulling, eating only organically grown fruits and vegetables, skipping dessert, sending holiday cards, reading the Bible, walking/biking instead of driving, sticking to a budget, watching less television, keeping a journal.

And, sometimes, my commitment doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. As in not finishing a sewing or knitting project (the ones that began as good ideas but don't fit or look quite right), not finishing a library book that lost me at chapter one, not making the bed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday, 17 July 2007 - Sunshine and good shade

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sunshine and good shade.

To the best of our knowledge, our Sun is the only star proven to grow vegetables. ~Philip Scherrer

There is nothing more agreeable in a garden than good shade, and without it, a garden is nothing. ~Betty Langley

The front yard garden is a lesson in moderation. It faces east and gets its daily dose of summer sun during the morning and early afternoon. Then, as the afternoon shadows grow, good shade falls quietly over the perennials, offering welcome relief from the scorching, often unbearable heat.

The back yard garden is a lesson in extremes. It bakes all day under full-strength sunshine. The exceptions: the north garden and strip of land along the fence - two areas where good shade reigns for a few hours.

The high maintenance vegetable and berry plants love the sun. I pamper them, ensuring they get a generous daily ration of water and a monthly feeding of Super Thrive and organic fertilizer.

The shrubs and perennials are doing all right, but not as spectacularly as last year. July has been quite hot and dry so periodic deep watering is a must. Mr. Sun is merciless - doesn't care if his relentless solar power singes the Viburnum's leaves or fries basil seedlings.

Still no yellow roses on the Father Hugo rose bush (darn it!). The dianthus did poorly this year - not enough rain. The Shasta daisies wilt so quickly despite my watering. Only a few bee plants returned this year. I hope the Italian herbs and chocolate mint plants survive the summer. Oh, what I would give for a few more hours of good shade.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday, 16 July 2007 - Validation

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for validation as a poet.

I think of myself as a poet and writer. I even identify myself as a poet and writer. But, what others' think, well, I don't always know. Although I write poetry primarily for myself, I admit that others' opinions can make or break my day. That's why I participate in local poetry readings and self-publish short anthologies for Christmas gifts. I've heard that when I read them aloud, my poems have the power to heal and to soften hardened hearts.

A few months ago, I entered three poems in the Artella Poetic Idol Competition. Artella (www.artella.com) is an online arts community that's a bit wild for my taste but a fun place to visit. I rarely enter writing contests but couldn't resist this one. As usual, I sent in my entry without any expectations of placing or winning.

So, I was quite surprised when I received an email this afternoon informing me that I was among the 12 finalists. My poem, French Trilogy (Haiku), inspired by my 2001 trip to France with my sister and her family, impressed someone! (Note: Haiku is a Japanese poetry form in which each line has a set number of syllables. I write 5-7-5 Haiku). My husband remarked that the honor is unexpected but not a surprise given my long writing history.

Now the voting begins. I'm not begging anyone except family members to vote for my poem. But, if you read this message and want to vote, please go to the link cited below. You will need to register at the site and vote by July 31 - one vote per person.

Congratulations! Your poem, “French Trilogy (Haiku)”, was selected by our judges to be one of 12 finalist poems in the Poetic Idol Competition.

The 12 poems are now displayed in The Artella Café and the Artella Community will be voting to determine the winners.

All the instructions for voting are at http://www.artellawordsandart.com/poetry-vote.html

Voting closes on July 31.

Feel free to invite others to vote, but keep in mind that only one vote is allowed per person. Artella reserves the right to disqualify votes if we find that any individual has voted more than one time.

The results will be announced after July 31. Once again, congratulations for your stellar poem. And thank you for participating in the Poetic Idol Competition!

And, before I forget, here's the poem:
French Trilogy (Haiku)

Their gold crowns wilting
sunflowers answer summer's
last call for prayer.

Monet's garden is
not my garden's twin. Oh well.
The weeds still love me.

In Paris, I kissed
the soft summer sky. Now I
know what blue tastes like.
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday, 15 July 2007 - Thriving Finch babies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a nest of thriving Finch babies.

not Larry's sons and daughters continue to thrive. When we peer through the front door peephole, we see either not Larry or Mr. not Larry guarding the nest - the other is out foraging for food to feed the very hungry youngsters.

S and I are already preparing for the day the fledglings leave the nest. On that day or perhaps the next, I'll take down the wreath and clean up the bird droppings that stain it and the door. I'll also remove S's "Bird" and "not Larry" sticky notes that decorate the door's interior side.

Things won't be the same for a week or so. I'll catch myself peering through the peephole at nothing, forgetting that the Finch family has left for the season. Still, it will be nice (and convenient) to regain the use of the front door.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday, 14 July 2007 - patternreview.com

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for patternreview.com.

She who dies with the most patterns, wins.

I discovered the website, patternreview.com, last year. I don't know how I've managed to select patterns without it.

What a fabulous and practical idea! People sew clothes, accessories and home decorating items. Then, they share their experience sewing the specific pattern. Often, they include photos of the finished garment.

Now, before I buy a pattern, I check patternreview.com site for any feedback. Most times, no one my size (petite and athletically slim) has made the garment. Still, any information on ease of sewing, fit accuracy or ???? comes in handy. Sometimes, no one has reviewed the pattern (guess it's my turn to expand the knowledge base).

One key lesson: I've expanded my criteria for buying clothing patterns. In the past, I refused to buy a pattern - especially a suit or set of coordinates - if I didn't like all the pieces. Now, I will buy a multi-item pattern just because I like the skirt or the top or the jacket. My favorite reviewers do this all the time - "hate the jacket but adore the skirt" - and brag about their stash of well-loved and oft-used patterns.

Well, that's it for now. I've caught the sewing bug again and must return to the project du jour.

(sigh) So many patterns, so much fabric ... so little time to sew.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday, 13 July 2007 - The times, they are a-changing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the times - they are a-changing.

Just as we outgrow a pair of trousers, we outgrow acquaintances, libraries, principles, etc., at times before they're worn out and times - and this is the worst of all - before we have new ones. ~G.C. Lichtenberg

Change is inevitable, happens all the time, doesn't discriminate. Sometimes I get to choose; most times I don't. I usually adapt, allowing the newness to blend seamlessly into the old and familiar. The change might rock my world or simply give it a subtle makeover - I never know until it happens, until I evaluate it, until I embrace it.

Lately, I've been extra cautious while navigating the corner where today meets tomorrow. Rumor has it that Mr. Major Change is traveling to Colorado Springs, presumably to visit me. I could bump into him any day now.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T and I play in the backyard garden. I made the "twist" top recently. The pattern is Simplicity 4076. I love the style and am making several for my rock climbing wardrobe.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday, 12 July 2007 - Time's healing hand

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for time's healing hand.

Old Time, that greatest and longest established spinner of all!.... his factory is a secret place, his work is noiseless, and his hands are mutes. ~Charles Dickens

As he slowly recovers from a severe head injury, I wonder if Tom is aware of time.

The seconds tick by in their measured pace, quickly adding up to minutes and hours, gradually building a calendar of days and weeks. In a few days, the doctor will note one month in Tom's medical record.

Tom's mind, the doctors say, now hovers just below consciousness. No longer in a deep coma but not quite awake either. A very good sign. Progress. But, I'm thinking: Twilight Zone? Oz? Never, Neverland? Wonderland? Hundred Acre Wood?

I am still impatient, disappointed that it is taking so long. Too many questions, too few answers. That is my heart speaking. My mind reminds me that an injured brain takes time, lots of time to heal. Funny how logic doesn't make much sense right now.

I wonder if Tom will remember all of this, any of this, none of this.

This morning, for one full hour, I read aloud poems from a favorite anthology. Tom is restless, his left hand paws at the book cover. Perhaps he doesn't like poetry as much as I.

I turn the page and find Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." I love this poem. I'm sure Tom knows it well. Like the rest of us, he probably memorized it in high school.

I recite the first twelve lines slowly and precisely. Then, I arrive at the prophetic last stanza. I pause briefly, just long enough for my heart and emotions to adjust their posture. I suddenly need a boost of courage to continue. My usually strong and even voice cracks and my eyes tear as I read:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wednesday, 11 July 2007 - Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007)

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007).

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. ~Isaac Newton

I always liked Lady Bird Johnson. She is one of the Giants upon whose shoulders I stand.

As a teenager, I sought strong female role models. She inspired me with her fierce independence and environmental activism.

Ultimately, Lady Bird's life set an important example for me. Her actions encouraged me to live purposefully; to find a cause about which I'm passionate, then let my heart go.

Although S and I lived in Austin during the 1980s, we never met her. I will however, think of Lady Bird Johnson whenever I recall our annual springtime jaunts through her beloved Hill Country to see the Texas bluebonnets.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday, 10 July 2007 - Ellen Barkin's haircut

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Ellen Barkin's haircut.

Confession. I am a horrible hair snob. Regardless of how I'm feeling or how much money I have, I must have a stylish haircut. Fortunately, my current stylist, Dakota, has a flair for giving women of all ages trendy and sophisticated cuts. Although I am 50-something, I always leave the salon happily sporting a very contemporary (rather than matronly) look.

Now about Ellen Barkin. I immediately fell in love with the very chic, short bob that she wears in the movie, Ocean's Thirteen. It's actually a variation of my current haircut.

"Yes, it's possible," I muse. "I'll never look like her, but I can have her haircut."

So, this morning, Ms. Barkin's photo in hand, I went to my 10:15 haircut appointment with great expectations.

Fortunately, Dakota also loved the style and adapted it to suit me.

. I now wear one of my best ever haircuts.

Thank you, Dakota. Thank you, Ellen Barkin.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday, 09 July 2007 - Air conditioning

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for air conditioning.

I drove the Camry for nearly a year and a half without air conditioning. I can survive the three cooler seasons comfortably without it. Summer, however, is another story.

With daily visits to the hospital to see Tom, our combined weekly driving miles have increased significantly. The recent heat waves, however, have kept the 1994, air condition-less Camry at home and the 2003 truck on the road. So, this afternoon, we bit the proverbial bullet and recharged the AC. Just in time for Tuesday's cold front!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday, 08 July 2007 - Baby Finches

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a nest of baby Finches.

We've wondered why we haven't seen not Larry sitting on her nest. Recall that not Larry Bird (named by S) is the mother Finch who's nesting in the Christmas wreath that hangs on our front door. We have an excellent view of the nest when we peer through the door's peephole. It's almost as good as a National Geographic critter cam.

So, I slowly opened the front door to take a cursory look into the nest. I was thrilled to find probably 4-5 baby Finches - tiny, covered in down, sleeping soundly.

I carefully shut the door before reporting the happy news to S and T. High fives all around.

not Larry
and her husband, not not Larry, have done their jobs hatching the eggs. Now comes the hard part - feeding those very hungry mouths for a few more weeks.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday, 07 July 2007 - A Year in Provence

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Peter Mayle's book, A Year in Provence.

This is the book I am reading to Tom when we visit him in the hospital. It's an easy yet entertaining read - I even remember how to pronounce most of the French names and words.

I first read the book and its equally popular sequel several years ago. Now, I am enjoying Mayle's exploits and storytelling again, with twice the pleasure - once for Tom (who appears to enjoy my reading) and once for me (now that I've rediscovered the joy of reading out loud).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday, 06 July 2007 - Solace found in tiny garden miracles

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for solace found in tiny garden miracles.

I know that I cannot choose miracles. Miracles choose me. They simply happen.

Right now, I have a certain miracle in mind - one regarding our friend, Tom, who remains in a coma. That is the miracle I'm waiting for, looking for, hoping for.

In the meantime, I'm finding solace in the tiny miracles unfolding in my garden. Today, I notice:

- Several hardy day lilies blooming despite my negligence. Last year, our neighbor, Dan, donated over a dozen to my garden after thinning his overgrown beds. I planted the lilies wherever I had space and left them alone. My guilt got the best of me a few weeks ago when I noticed their droopy leaves. I began watering them regularly.

- The Shasta daisies, blooming in the north garden against the house - their home for nearly 20 years. These daisies comprise the centerpiece of my original garden. In the old days, I simply scattered wildflower seeds on the dirt, watered daily and watched for signs of life. Whatever managed to grow, created the garden. Now, the Shasta daisies and other flowering perennials return year after year.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday, 05 July 2007 - Nearly 73 pounds of pure love

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for nearly 73 pounds of pure love.

This afternoon, T visited the "veg" for his annual checkup ("veg" is our code for veterinarian; pronounced with a soft "g" as in vegetarian). Since we regard the visit as a father-son affair, I stayed at home.

S reports that T is in excellent health and, to our surprise, lost weight, tipping the scale at 72.8 pounds (down from last year's still trim 77 pounds). Must be the frequent hikes through Red Rock Canyon, staying busy for 4-5 hours while we rock climb and his daily ration of cooked oatmeal, flax oil and diatomaceous earth (food grade).

Dr. S gave him three shots including one that desensitizes dogs to rattlesnake venom. As a result of the injections in his hips, T is moving slower than usual. I decide to skip our evening walk in the park. Anyway, I'm also tired after visiting Tom in the hospital for a few hours.

T's very clingy this evening, staying within petting range. For whatever reason, he needs reassurance that everything will soon return to normal; that the checkup wasn't punishment; that he's still our pride and joy.

Silly boy!

Of course we love you! Always have. Always will.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wednesday, 04 July 2007 - Birthright

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful that I was born an American. I pray that our country will soon have compassionate and visionary leaders who work diligently to preserve rather than usurp our innate rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. ~Edward R. Murrow

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday, 03 July 2007 - Toughness

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for toughness.

tough: (tŭf) adj. 1. Able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking; strong and resilient

Be tough in the way a blade of grass is: rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what is around it. ~Natalie Goldberg

I am trying to be tough. Not the macho, intimidating John Wayne brand of toughness.

My toughness is the inside type. Internal fortitude. Strong mindedness. Iron will. Don't let anyone see your tears strength. (I've cried so many, does it matter?)

I pray that I have what it takes to endure the crisis du jour. This summer, I must be tough for me, for my husband, for my sister, for our friend, Tom (still in a coma), for my garden, for the local park, for our struggling neighbors. And, yes, at times, I must even be tough for T.

Indeed, let me not forget: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday, 02 July 2007 - One hand squeeze

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one hand squeeze.

Most days, a hand squeeze is not a rare or special action. But, today, it was both because it was Tom's left hand squeezing mine - over and over again.

S and I visited our friend, Tom, late in the afternoon. He's still in the hospital's critical care ward. Our visits have a new goal: to stimulate his mind and memory. Consequently, each visit will now last at least an hour, preferably two.

Today, I read aloud from Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and chatted away about cycling, the Tour de France, Wimbledon, gardening, the weather and whatever else crossed my mind. (I'm surprisingly good at small talk when I need to be.)

The nurse believes that Tom is on the verge of emerging from the coma. So do I.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday, 01 July 2007 - A plant's forgiveness and resilience

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a plant's forgiveness and resilience.

I'm a novice fruit and vegetable gardener, preferring to raise xeric perennials and shrubs that, once established, require little day-to-day care. My greatest fear - that I will over water and overfeed the plants.

Like most beginners, I resort to trial and error methods: Give it a try and see if it works. If it does, good. If not, try something else.

Fortunately, the plants are forgiving and resilient, tolerating my errors while rewarding my on-target efforts.

On very hot, dry days, the tomatoes, watermelons and raspberries demand lots of water so I soak their roots twice - early morning and dusk (just as the sun drops behind the mountains). The hardier peppers actually like the heat and drought so I water them less often (although I can't bring myself to wait until the leaves droop before giving them a drink).

I play it by ear with the five remaining goji berry bushes - one is well established, three are trying to grow and one is in recovery. They like a little moisture when it's hot but not when the temperature drops below 80 degrees F.

The strawberry plants live in the damp/dry shade portion of the north garden - they've blossomed like crazy. This morning, I discovered one very red berry. Since I don't know much about this plant (was a "bonus" that accompanied a brunnera), I'm not sure it's edible.

I'm hoping for a good harvest this year - if not in tomatoes, watermelons and berries, then in knowledge.

For this blessing, I am grateful.