Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday, 31 August 2007 - Insight

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for insight.

While sorting through my writing files, I find this interesting observation that I wrote several months ago:

That's what I am.
The implications are interesting.

I don't know what I was thinking. Abandoned? ... by whom? ... by God?

After thinking about the notion of abandonment for a day or so, I now realize one very important thing: I am not abandoned. I am the one who abandons - an act which, indeed, has interesting implications.

Now I have one more thing to work on, one more issue to resolve. (sigh) Feels like that coveted PhD in life is still years away.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday, 30 August 2007 - Simple garments, gorgeous fabric

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for simple garments, gorgeous fabric.

As I inspect myriad bolts of lovely and expensive material at the fabric boutique, another customer asks me what I sew. I hesitate for a moment, trying to formulate a clever sartorial response.

Here is what I tell her: I make very simple garments from simply gorgeous fabric.

(Note that this statement mirrors my knitting philosophy - of using unique, handcrafted yarn to make very simple sweaters and accessories.)

My response reflects my reality. My petite figure won't tolerate fussy or complicated shapes and patterns. So, I choose classic but modern (sometimes trendy) lines, lengths, necklines, sleeves, drapes.

Note that simple does not mean easy. Any mistake like crooked top-stitching or a poorly sewn sleeve cap becomes a glaring error. Even a simple black top made from a luxury bamboo fiber knit fabric demands designer touches. Like perfect edge stitching and finished seams.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 - Places to go, people to see

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for places to go, people to see.

Most days I prefer my schedule's open-ended nature - something I rarely enjoyed during my corporate America years. At a moment's notice, S, T and I can decide to go climbing or bouldering. Drop everything, load the gear and go. We'll work on our projects tonight.

But, sometimes, aside from taking T on his daily walks, I like having places to go, people to see. Fortunately, I don't have far to go to keep in touch with the world.

A haircut appointment opens the door to travel on the city's east side including stops at the natural pet supply store, main library, quilting shop and natural meat market. Dropping off a donation at the charity shop located south of downtown means stops at the upscale fabric boutique, Hobby Lobby, a favorite nursery and the well-stocked herb shop. Our weekly trip to visit Tom in Denver includes window shopping at Park Meadows or a stroll around Cherry Creek.

Just enough external business to keep in touch, to remind me that my life's boundaries extend beyond our neighborhood.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 - Seam ripper

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my seam ripper.

With 40+ years of sewing experience on my resume, I should know better than to sew one more seam just before midnight - when I'm tired - especially when it's a critical one as in neckline. But, I do it anyway.

As one might expect, I make a stupid mistake - miscalculating the length of ribbing needed to finish the neckline. Not a fatal mistake but a goof that will be time consuming to fix. The adage, "measure twice, cut once" comes to mind.

Nearly an hour later, I finally finish ripping out the offending seam and top-stitching - would have taken longer if I hadn't used my trusty seam ripper.

I'm very annoyed with my novice-level error. Enough is enough.

I gather the garment parts, fold them neatly and set the bundle out of sight. I don't want to look at this project for a few days.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday, 27 August 2007 - Growing pains

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 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

Slowly but surely, my life stretches outward in new directions. I feel each tug - first this way, now that. I admit that my life was set in many ways. Habits and apathy guiding my actions. Shall I take the easy way out and refuse to rock the boat? Shall I pass on another voyage of self-discovery?

Now, instead of concrete foundations, my life requires flexibility, adaptability and comfortable hiking boots. It's time to give my adventurous spirit free reign to do it's thing.

All this in reaction to pain. Not from a physical ailment, mind you. But, still a pain deeply felt and experienced.

Pain that begins as a gut feeling, a hint that something is amiss. Pain that grows into a persistent worry that haunts my waking hours. Pain that keeps me up at night when sleep should be mandatory.

Think heartache and disappointment. Think regrets and lost dreams. Think bad decisions and burned bridges. Think fear that overrides faith.

A professor for whom I worked one summer called my malady, personal growth.

I call it growing pains - a sign that, at age 53, I am still learning to be human, still trying to find my way in the world.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, 26 August 2007 - Busy, satisfying Sunday

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a busy and satisfying Sunday.

After a two-week hiatus (last, last week because of inclement weather; last week because of S's trip to San Jose), we spend the late morning and early afternoon climbing in Red Rock Canyon (was very hot - temps in the 90s). Then, all climbed out (i.e., hot and tired), we rush home to get ready to visit our friend, Tom, in Denver.

After a long but good visit with Tom, we begin the long drive home. It's just after sunset. Traffic is heavy leaving Denver but thins out considerably after Castle Rock. I'm relieved to see the Colorado Springs city limits sign on the west side of I25.

S pulls into the driveway at 8:30 PM. Home at last. I finish a few chores like watering the tomato and watermelon plants while S takes T for a quick spin around the park.

Just before 9 PM, S pops a large bowl of popcorn, I pour another glass of Kombucha tea (my own brew) and T settles down on his bed that lies in front of the sofa. All in preparation to watch one of our all-time favorite shows, Mystery! on PBS. An entertaining way to end a very busy, a very satisfying Sunday.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon

A beautiful summer day greets climbers,
mountain bikers and hikers

T, wearing his favorite Tour de France/maillot jaune-inspired yellow kerchief, relishes the shade. During the summer, we pick climbs that have some shade in the belayer's area so T has a cool resting place.

One of today's climb: a route on the Solar Slab
along the east-facing canyon wall.
The rock was very hot to the touch -
great for our feet (our shoes stuck beautifully to the rock)
but almost too hot for our unprotected hands.

An abundance of apples

A bounty of crabapples -
ready-to-eat snacks for the deer and squirrels

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday, 25 August 2007 - Armchair travels

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for armchair travels (when first-hand ones are impossible).

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~Lao Tzu
It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville

Travel to France is out of the question this year. Paris and Provence will have to wait until next year (I hope).

Reading aloud A Year in Provence to Tom rekindled my desire to live on French soil. Probably in Vence. Even S finds the idea appealing (he's Italian and has always wanted to climb and cycle in southern Italy). In the meantime it's back to the language tapes and armchair adventures with Rick Steves.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Vence

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, 24 August 2007 - Teenagers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for teenagers.

Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own. ~Logan Pearsall Smith

Hayden, Robert, Ryan, Ian, Everett, Jamell and their buddies ... teenagers in our immediate neighborhood who still treat S, T and I as friends and confidants. We try to stay involved in their busy lives, a goal that's much harder to achieve as they become more and more independent.

Still, each knows that we are here for them. A ride home. The spare key. Homework challenges. College questions. More life lessons. Whatever. Whenever.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, 23 August 2007 - Respite from summer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a short respite from summer.

I got an abrupt taste of autumn very early this morning when a blast of cold easterly air woke me up. I quickly closed the window before returning to bed where I immediately pulled the thin, handmade quilt high around my shoulders. Brrrrr. After several stifling 90+ degree days and warm, stuffy evenings, I wasn't prepared for the chill.

(sigh) I love the cooler weather but am worried about the watermelon and pepper plants. Will summer return long enough for the fruit to mature? Or, will I end up dumping more "might have been" plants on the compost pile?

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Fresh basil, ready for picking and pesto.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday 22 August 2007 - Mark O'Conner

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for violinist, Mark O'Conner. His signature American newgrass/bluegrass/acoustic music fills the studio as I work on my sewing projects. Right now, I'm listening to his enchanting Thirty-Year Retrospective CD.

Mr. O'Conner joins other virtuosos like Yo-Yo Ma, Keith Jarrett, Joshua Bell and Leo Kottke on my "all-time favorite musicians" list.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday, 21 August 2007 - Watermelon babies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for watermelon babies.

Yellow melon flowers
Crawl beneath the withered peach trees;

A date palm throws its heavy fronds of steel

Against the scoured metallic sky.

~John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950)

As I inspect the creeping watermelon vines, I find a few baby melons amid the hardy greenery and fragile, gold-hued blossoms. If I didn't know better, I might mistake the vines, blossoms and fruit for zucchini.

I'm quite relieved to see the fruit. Now, I must wait several weeks before I can reap what I have sown. I'm praying for a bountiful harvest - tomatoes, peppers, herbs, mint and watermelon.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday, 20 August 2007 - Glass-headed pins

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for glass-headed pins.

My husband is a human pincushion. ~Author Unknown

This one's for S and T who tolerate my sewing binges and don't complain about the pins lying on the carpet after I've cut out the pattern.

A few years ago, I began using long quilting pins with bright yellow glass heads so we could find stray pins more easily. I think it's working (knock on wood, fingers crossed).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, 19 August 2007 - Stashes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my pattern and fabric stashes.

Sewing mends the soul. ~Author Unknown

I love sewing and have plenty of material witnesses.
~Author Unknown

I'm a material girl - want to see my fabric collection?
~Author Unknown

I am in a serious sewing mood. I'm not going to make anything fancy or complex like a jacket or coat. I reserve those projects for cooler months. I want new tops to wear with the perfectly fitting jeans I bought on eBay (yes, I found a pair). Plus, a skirt or two. And, tops to wear while climbing.

Instead of heading to the fabric store, I enter my studio and confront two growing stashes: first, patterns, then, fabric.

I collect clothes patterns. I continually study the catalogs and add to my wish list. I buy many patterns when local fabric stores run $1.00 sales ($3.99 for Vogue patterns). I purchase independent designer or coveted out-of-print patterns online.

This morning, I select an easy-to-sew knit top with 3/4-length raglan sleeves, a trendy twist top (very popular right now), and a crossover top. I choose a skirt pattern with an interesting yoke treatment and flared hemline. I'm tempted to make a dress, but decide that I don't want to spend time fitting the bodice.

I'm very picky about the fabrics I buy. Right now, my stash contains yards and yards of knit or stretch fabrics made from sustainable or eco-friendly fibers like organic cotton, bamboo fiber, hemp, linen, tencel, rayon and wool. Lots of black, some white, a few prints.

I select two knits: an organic cotton/lycra (white) and a textured bamboo/lycra (black), both bought online. I also find two tie-dyed cottons from a local (and expensive) fabric boutique, perfect for the skirts (both pieces were heavily discounted remnants).

Now, the fun part begins.

** Alter and layout the patterns.
** Cut and mark the fabric.
** Sew the garments.
** Try on and tweak the fit.
** Finish the seams.
** Hem.
** Wear my newest creations.
** Look and feel like a million bucks.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, 18 August 2007 - Forgiveness, again

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for forgiveness, again.

All that we ought to have thought and have not thought,
All that we ought to have said, and have not said,
All that we ought to have done, and have not done;
All that we ought not to have thought,

and yet have thought,

All that we ought not to have spoken,

and yet have spoken,

All that we ought not to have done,

and yet have done;

For thoughts, words and works,

pray we, O God, for forgiveness.

~ Persian prayer

What a difference a week of intense rehab and therapy makes.

This afternoon, S and I
visit Tom for a few hours. I am amazed at how young he looks. His face, unwrinkled, skin taut and smooth. His eyes, even his right, lazy one - clear and bluer than ever.

His attention still shifts between downloading a vast storage of memories (all related to his practice) and paying attention to "in the moment" events (e.g., the attendant making his bed). We catch glimpses of the "old" Tom - the way he sits with his left leg bent, left ankle resting on right knee; how he gestures while speaking; the tilt of his head when he wants to tell me something important; his impatience when things aren't happening quickly enough.

The prayer cited above is for Tom's team of friends, the nine of us who have the family's permission to visit him. None of us are practicing medical professionals (although B is a retired dentist).

We're making our share of mistakes as we attempt to communicate with him, calm his emotions and assuage his frustrations. We don't always say the right thing or act perfectly, but we all love and care deeply for Tom.

I think he knows this and, in his own way, has already forgiven our trespasses.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday, 17 August 2007 - Wounds and scars

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for wounds and scars.

In some ways we are each of us defined by our scars ...
They are the outward evidence of the life we have lived thus far ...

A sort of road map, markers of the past, of who we are and where we have been ...

They are the lasting reminders that all of life is a process -
first you are whole,
then you are wounded,

and finally you are scarred.

~excerpts from Afflicted Artist Book

I am surprised by my reaction as I read these words. They arouse a mix of raw emotions, unleash a surge of tears, revive that empty feeling in my gut. I thought my deepest wounds had healed, but now I know that they are still with me, embedded firmly in assorted scars. I can't explain it. Perhaps, in a desperate attempt to let go, I forgot to let God.

So, I'm preparing for a new journey - to write about my wholeness, my wounds and my scars. I've been thinking about this topic for quite a while. Even have a title for the book. Just didn't have the courage to begin writing.

It won't be an easy write or read. Still, I feel that I have a story worth telling. I know that I'll sustain new wounds and scars along the way. But, that's part of the creative process - a writer's proof that she's written from her heart. The important thing is that at journey's end, I shall be healed.

First, I am Whole.
Then, I am Wounded.
Finally, I am Scarred.
Now, I am Healed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, 16 August 2007 - Another timely prayer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for another timely prayer.

Just give me this:
A rinsing out, a cleansing free

Of all my smaller strivings
So I can be the class act God intended,

True to my purpose,

All my energy aligned behind my deepest intention.

And just this:
A quieting down,
A clearing away of internal ruckus,
So I can hear the huge stillness in my heart
And feel
How I pulse with all creation,
Part and parcel of Your great singing ocean.

And this too:
A willingness to notice and forgive the myriad times
I fall short,
Forgetting who I am,
What I really belong to.

So I can start over,

Fresh and clean,

Like sweet sheets billowing in the summer sun,

My heart pierced with gratitude.

~Belleruth Naparstek

from Prayers for Healing: 365 Blessings, Poems & Meditations from Around the World,
Edited by Maggie Oman, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA: 1997.

This prayer is for my friend and neighbor, Ric, whose brother died a few days ago from kidney failure. The brother was only 59 but had been in poor health for many years. Ric's sister was ready to donate a kidney, but the brother was too ill for surgery. Dialysis, his only option, was not the one he wanted. Ric thinks his brother just gave up.

This prayer is for my sister, E, whose life has been an ongoing roller coaster ride since December. She deserves a break and a healthy serving of grace.

This prayer is for my friend, Tom. He's a few steps into his journey of a thousand miles, recovering from a traumatic brain injury. He's nearly done with his first week of intensive rehab/therapy at Craig Hospital. We have high hopes that, in time, he'll reclaim his independence.

And, this prayer is for me. For obvious reasons.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday, 15 August 2007 - Advice from a tree

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for advice from a tree.

* Stand tall and proud
* Sink your roots into the earth
* Go out on a limb
* Drink plenty of water
* Remember your roots
* Enjoy the view

~ Advertisement:
Advice from a Tree

I promise to heed the tree's advice, especially the last item. When I climb, I am usually relieved to reach the anchors and anxious to begin my descent. I forget to enjoy the view "from the top" which is usually a magnificent panorama of the canyon, west side and beyond.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday, 14 August 2007 - Jeans that fit perfectly, perfect red shoes.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for jeans that fit perfectly and perfect red shoes.

Souls wouldn't wear suits and ties, they'd wear blue jeans and sit cross-legged with a glass of red wine. ~Carrie Latet

My wardrobe needs two things: jeans that fit perfectly and perfect red shoes.

About the jeans. My closet already contains an assortment. Banana Republic. Gap. J Crew. Most with bootcut legs. Nearly all with lycra for stretch and comfort. A few pairs of dressier trousers. All blue. And, sadly, all too big for my rock climbing-honed figure. So, I'm hunting for jeans that fit perfectly. Wish me luck. For many women, finding jeans that fit is a pipe dream. (sigh) I might end up sewing my own.

About the red shoes. I've been looking for a pair for at least a year. I don't know the exact style but I'm positive that I will recognize the perfect pair when I see it. I want the shoes because I'm thinking about Paris and France. You know the saying: Happiness is walking in Paris wearing very special shoes.

My very special shoes will be red ones. Simply and elegantly styled. Probably with a low or kitten heel. Comfortable for walking. Definitely Italian made.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday, 13 August 2007 - Bicycle as metaphor

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the bicycle as metaphor for life's journey.

Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things.
~William Golding

I hope that, as he regains his physical and mental abilities, Tom will get back on his bicycle (we noted the stationary models in the PT room at the hospital).

According to S, Tom was a very strong rider - more like a Jan Ulrich diesel engine than a Lance Armstrong who dances on the pedals. S and Tom's other riding buddies are ready ... they're just waiting for Tom to say, "let's go!"

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday, 12 August 2007 - An hour of solitude

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an hour of solitude to end a busy day.

Language ... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

We returned from Denver about an hour ago. We had an excellent but emotionally exhausting visit with Tom at Craig Hospital. S and T just left the house for a late evening walk. I stayed home, claiming fatigue.

Maybe a walk would have been good for me.

Oh well. I'll exercise later.

Right now, however, I need to recharge my batteries in my usual way - in solitude.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday, 11 August 2007 - Perfect practice

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for perfect practice.

When we climb easier routes or boulder, S makes me practice various techniques repeatedly so I'm not afraid to use them when I tackle difficult problems.

Today's 5.10+ climbs in Red Rock Canyon pushed my repertoire to its limits. My success depended on using advanced techniques or linking a series of tricky moves. Thanks to hours of practice, I moved along the steep, thin routes without second guessing the rock, sequence of moves or my abilities.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday, 10 August 2007 - Right place, right time

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for "right place at the right time" opportunities.

I never ask God to give me anything;
I only ask him to put me where things are.

~Mexican Proverb

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday, 09 August 2007 - An unexpected compliment

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an unexpected compliment.

We pray for the power to be gentle;
the strength to be forgiving;

the patience to be understanding;

and the endurance to accept the consequences

of holding to what we believe to be right.

~Adapted prayer from Week of Prayer for World Peace, 1978

A former colleague from a now-defunct biotechnology startup company sent me this prayer. He hoped it would help me survive my current challenges. He also stated that I should do well with the fourth request, remembering the long, hard battles we fought together.

A meaningful prayer. An unexpected compliment.

Just the boost I need today and will need for many tomorrows

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday, 08 August 2007 - A poetry kind of day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a poetry kind of day.

I've written some poetry I don't understand myself.

~Carl Sandburg


A do-whatever-it-takes attitude.
"Too much passion,"
a manager once scolded.
I wonder if our customers
thought the same of me.


I awaken to a breezy morning.
Clear skies grace the heavens.
Dry, northerly winds comb the garden.
Flowers dance, performing airy swirls and twirls.
Birds perform their arias from shady perches.
The temperature rises quickly.

After five stormy days,
Summer is ready to resume its visit.


"Stay awhile,"
I urge the hummingbird
As she darts around the garden,
Blossom to blossom,
Seeking nectar.
"Not today," she replies
In a faint but harried voice.

The rapid beating of wings,
A moment's pause in mid-air,
And she's gone.


For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Orange sungold cherry tomatoes - our current favorite variety

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday, 07 August 2007 - Matters of opinion

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for matters of opinion.

[Background: I belong to a Yahoo! group that promotes "compacting" - a movement where, in an attempt to reduce senseless consumerism, people consciously choose not to buy anything unless it's used (exempt items include food and medicine). Anyway, it's an interesting group, and I've learned a lot about how to rectify my wasteful ways.]

Everything is relative ... as in "one man's treasure is another man's trash."

On June 2, a compactor asked everyone for garden reports. Compactors love home-grown food.

I initially thought, "Great. It's the beginning of June. We're all beginning the great gardening challenge of 2007 together."

I felt pretty good about my garden, having just planted the young tomato and pepper plants and watermelon seedlings (in Colorado, experienced gardeners don't plant until after May 15 - the last day, theoretically, that we will have a hard frost.) Yes, my garden was definitely a "treasure" in the making.

Then, I read this post.
Re: garden report

This week I've eaten artichokes, raspberries, snap peas and snow peas, strawberries, mint, lemon verbena, kale, collards, broccoli, and garlic from the garden. I harvested my first potatoes yesterday, as well as a green tomato that broke off while I was putting a cage around one plant.

In the past week, the tomato plants have turned into monsters ... The tomatoes I planted in mid-February are dense thickets, though still under 4 ft. high.

The bush beans are coming up, and this weekend I need to plant more pole beans, sunflowers, squash, cucumbers, basil, and maybe even a crop of summer peas.

I cut back the comfrey stems that had bloomed, and used them to mulch some older strawberry plants. I was surprised to find 30 blooming stems on my biggest comfrey plant. Toward the end of the day, I always see hummingbirds visiting the comfrey flowers.
Show-off! She must live in Southern California or a southern state.

I went outside and surveyed my humble garden, embarrassed by the lack thereof. I had serious concerns that we would enjoy even a little harvest this year. I'm sure that, upon seeing my long face, Thoreau would have asked me where I had lost my "faith in a seed."

Days passed. I watered and fed the plants, still muttering under my breath about the other garden. But, as soon as the first tomato blossoms appeared, I forgot about her garden and concentrated on mine. Gardening, after all, is not a competition.

I think that Colorado's gardening challenges will always frustrate me. The clay soil. The short growing season. The intense sunshine and heat. The high altitude. The August monsoons. The pesky deer.

It's been over twenty years since I planted my first garden. In many respects, I am just a novice. Everyday, as I work in my garden, the age-old lessons continue: learn to persevere and translate failure into experience.

As for planting tomatoes in February? I still think it's unfair.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Mariachi peppers

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday, 06 August 2007 - Diplomacy

Dear God:

Today, as I contemplate the bombings of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945), I am thankful for our leaders who favor diplomacy over war. And, yes, I am biased.

[My father's ancestors lived in Kaita, 4th district, a Japanese village located approximately 7 kilometers south of Hiroshima. His great-grandfather left Japan and settled in Hawaii in 1856. My dad was born in Los Angeles in 1925.]

War does not determine who is right - only who is left. ~Bertrand Russell

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. ~Albert Einstein

The bomb that fell on Hiroshima fell on America too. It fell on no city, no munition plants, no docks. It erased no church, vaporized no public buildings, reduced no man to his atomic elements. But it fell, it fell. ~Hermann Hagedorn, The Bomb That Fell on America

Hiroshima, August 06, 2007

Following are some facts about the bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, bringing World War Two to an end.


* At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay dropped a 10,000-pound uranium 235 bomb on Hiroshima, instantly killing about 78,000 people. By the end of 1945, the number of dead had reached about 140,000 out of an estimated population of 350,000.

* The bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy," exploded about 600 metres above the centre of the city, setting off a surge of heat reaching 4,000 degrees Celsius across a radius of about 4.5 km.


* Three days later, at 11:02 am on August 9, 1945, the United States dropped a 10,000-pound plutonium-239 bomb, nicknamed "Fat Man", on Nagasaki. Continued...

* It exploded about 500 metres above the ground, instantly killing about 27,000 of the city's estimated population of around 200,000. By the end of 1945, the number of dead due to acute radiation exposure reached about 70,000.


* Japan has so far recognised the total number of victims who died of radiation illness and injuries in Hiroshima as 253,008 and in Nagasaki as 143,124.

* Apart from this, last year the city of Hiroshima added for the first time the words "Many Unknown" to the ledger of the victims' names placed in a container at the cenotaph of the Peace Memorial Park.

Sources: Reuters; Radiation Effects Research Foundation (

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday, 05 August 2007 - Forgotten blessings

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for forgotten blessings.

We just returned from visiting Tom. This is his last night at the local hospital so the visit was quite emotional. Tomorrow morning, he transfers to the rehab facility.

I admit that I am physically tired and emotionally drained. Not just about Tom. Several woe-is-me challenges continue to stalk me. So, instead of writing something original, I am sharing this well-known prayer. It reopened my heart to a bounty of forgotten blessings.

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

~Prayer of an unknown Confederate soldier

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday, 04 August 2007 - Rain

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for rain.

The good news.
The afternoon thundershowers sate my thirsty gardens, relieving me of my daily watering chores.
"After all," T asks, "how will enough water get into all those watermelons unless we get more rain?"
The storm's amazing theatrics create the day's best entertainment.
We "ooh" and "aah" as the storm unleashes its full power.
This is our 21st Colorado summer.
By listening to S and me, you might conclude that we're newcomers.
"Wow! Did you see that lightening bolt?"

The bad news.
Our rock climbing adventures become more sporadic during the monsoon season.
Red Rock Canyon with its sandstone walls is out of the question. The Wailing Wall must wait for us a while longer.
In our search for dry, climbable rocks, we visit the local bouldering area. I practice new moves and traversals.
In a pinch, we watch climbing DVDs for mental practice and to stoke our 5.10+ dreams.
On belay.
-- Belay's on.
-- Climb on.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday, 03 August 2007 - Holding on

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the will to hold on and the willingness to lend a hand.

Hold on to what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth

Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself

Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here

Hold on to life
Even if it is easier to let go

Hold on to my hand
Even if I have gone away from you.

~Pueblo blessing

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday, 02 August 2007 - Signs of a good harvest

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for signs of a good harvest.

Here it is, the middle of summer. Hot, dry days. An occasional thunderstorm and rain shower. Sunshine prevails.

Good news! Despite my preoccupation with Tom's recovery, job hunting and climbing, my garden is thriving.

I will never forget the dismal harvest of 2006 - seven plants loaded with cherry tomatoes that never ripened. In September, I finally relinquished my dream of bowlfuls of sweet fruit - enough to share with my neighbors - and a reputation for growing excellent tomatoes. Instead, I picked cupfuls of marble-sized green fruit, chopped them with my favorite knife, and added them to the day's soup or stew.

So, I am rightfully wary about making predictions about this year's potential bounty. Still, I think that I will do all right and redeem myself.

In case you're wondering, here's an inventory of what's growing:

** Cherry tomatoes, 3 plants, 2 varieties (orange sungold and sugary); fruit just beginning to ripen, weather's been perfect - wish I had grown more plants.
** Watermelon, 8 plants, 2 varieties; dozens of blossoms emerging along the vines (yikes! that's a lot of watermelon); looks like, we'll be serving homegrown watermelon at our neighborhood's end-of-summer/back-to-school picnic.
** Peppers, 2 plants, 2 varieties (1 mariachi - hot, 1 red knight -mild); lots of blossoms, fruit just beginning to appear, will plant more next year if this year's crop is tasty, like the fact that the plants are small and low maintenance.
** Herbs: basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon; ready to use, we eat homemade pesto spread on homemade bread - could eat this everyday.
** Mint: 5 flavors (chocolate, grapefruit, orange, Kentucky peppermint, mint julep); have used the leaves all summer in tea and ice water, made a minty syrup for mint juleps, S wants me make him a mojito.

No berries this year. The six goji berry plants need more time to mature. The raspberries - well, I don't know what's wrong with them.

Probably nothing.

Maybe next year.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Orange sungold cherry tomatoes

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wednesday, 01 August 2007 - Great friends, perfect weather, excellent climbing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for great friends, perfect weather, excellent climbing.

We finally connect with our friends, Mark and Chris, for an after-work climbing adventure in Red Rock Canyon. We've tried to meet all summer, but work, other commitments and inclement weather have gotten in the way.

We rendezvous at the Solar Slab just before 6 PM. S had already lead the easy but smeary 5.6 route and top-roped it for Mark and Chris (Chris, Mark's girlfriend, is a beginner while Mark, an experienced climber, is out of shape). S then leads two harder, adjacent routes for us to climb (a 5.8 that we've climbed before and a 5.10a that S on-sites and I red-point).

And what about T? Well, he has the best time of all.

T relishes the hike into the canyon along the groomed trail, sniffing the overgrown shrubs and frequently checking his "pee-mail." While we climb, he chews scrub oak branches or lies quietly behind the belayer, intently watching the climber.

He knows, of course, that his good behavior will not go unrewarded.

Here's the routine:
At the end of each climb, T waits for the climber to step onto solid ground. At that moment, T rushes forward to greet the climber. He waits patiently while S and I discuss the route and sip water from our canteens. We turn to him and say "good dog" several times. Finally, T gets his highly-anticipated reward: a handful of dog treats that he immediately devours. Then, he settles down and waits for the climbing-treat cycle to complete its course once more.

For this blessing, I am grateful.