Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday, 31 October 2007 - Trick-or-treaters

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 25 brave and hardy trick-or-treaters.

The temperature had already dipped into the 30s when the first trick-or-treaters visited our house. S had just set out the jack-o-lantern (literally - a metal lantern with a smiling, pumpkin face, lit by a large candle).

During the ensuing 90 minutes, we greeted a diversity of characters including Spider Man (S misspoke and called him Batman), a perfectly-attired hippie, clowns, princesses, ghouls and several robots. Most wore heavy winter coats and offered to unzip their jackets to show-off their creative costumes. The high school boys we know came as themselves (very scary!). Even T got into the act, wearing his Tour de France yellow kerchief and barking loudly at each doorbell ring.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday, 30 October 2007 - A jazz band concert

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a jazz band concert.

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. ~Charlie Parker

We have a personal connection to one of our city's cultural treasures, the Coronado High School jazz band. Our next door neighbor and talented baritone saxophonist, Hayden, invites us to the concerts. In return, we always support his efforts to raise money to fund his musical endeavors.

Tonight's concert was fabulous despite the poor venue. The cafeteria was an unworthy substitute for the under-renovation auditorium. Still, the musicians treated us a 90 minute adventure in jazzland. Vibrant, exciting, emotional and soulful music with take-your-breath-away solos. Bravo!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday, 29 October 2007 - An intriguing challenge

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an intriguing challenge.

... focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. ~Greg Anderson

November is National Novel Writing Month. And, while I am not a novelist, I have accepted the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel during November.

I am unsure if I can write enough - nearly 1,700 words a day. Fortunately, I have a vague storyline in mind - probably something regarding the summer's "not Larry Bird" experience. I suppose that I'll write the novel like I compose poetry. Just begin writing and see what emerges. The goal, after all, is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Quantity, not quality wins the day.

Visit for more information and to sign-up.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday, 28 October 2007 - No shortcuts

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for no shortcuts.

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. ~Beverly Sills

My famous last words regarding rock climbing: There are no shortcuts to the top. Regardless of the route's ease or difficulty, I still need to make every move.

So, I climb deliberately, concentrating 100% on the problem in front of me. I aim for solid technique and good style. Maybe a touch of elegance when I execute a difficult move. And, no more complaints about high reaches and steps. The rock doesn't care that I'm petite and neither should I. After all, some of the best women climbers are my size.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, 26 October 2007 - One tough decision

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one tough decision.

Once in a young lifetime, one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold. ~Judith Olney

This afternoon, while grocery shopping, I realize that it's time to buy Halloween candy.

Yup. It's that time of the year. Time to decide what to give the trick-or-treaters. An agonizing decision, complicated by my inner-health nut's protests against the impending purchase of sugary food.

I walk up and down the "treats" aisle, overwhelmed by the vast selection. The shelves overflow with hundreds, maybe thousands of bags of sugary confections. I grab bag after bag and study the ingredients. I cringe each time I find the words, "partially hydrogenated oil," among a litany of artificial flavors, preservatives and other additives.

Choosing Halloween treats for other people's kids is a tough decision. Twenty minutes later, I am still undecided.

I finally settle on chocolate bars, the ones that normally cost 75 cents each. They are on sale, 10 for $3.00. Only 9 ingredients - 8 used to make the milk chocolate. I buy 40.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, 27 October 2007 - Fall landscape

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a very colorful fall landscape.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year, Nature is painting the region with more than her usual fall palette of rusts and golds. Random splashes of brilliant red, orange, coral and yellow embellish broad strokes of deep pine green and rich bark brown. All of this against a deep blue sky. Think Monet and Van Gogh. Impressionist painting at its best.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday, 25 October 2007 - Best climber

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the chance to be the best climber in the world.

The best climber in the world is the one who's having the most fun.
~Alex Lowe (1958-1999)

During autumn, the cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather forces S and I to revisit favorite climbs at Red Rock Canyon. That's what happened today. I don't mind. Each ascent is a unique event. I'll try a new move or climb off-route. S often sets strict rules about which holds he can use - usually avoiding bomber and "thank God" holds.

Occasionally, S will lead a route that's new for us. But only when conditions are perfect. We're hoping for perfect conditions soon. We still have to achieve one of our 2007 goals: climbing a route on the Wailing Wall.
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday, 24 October 2007 - Grace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for grace.

When I pray for faith, I receive gifts of grace.

Not just the awesome grace that intercedes during major crises. But the everyday variety that covers me, follows me during ordinary moments. Like while I sweep the floor or fold the laundry or chop onions.

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

~Denise Levertov

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday, 23 October 2007 - Creative cooking

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for creative cooking.

Some people call me a "freestyle" cook because I rarely use a recipe. Instead, I take a look at my available ingredients. Then, I use them to create an interesting dish or meal. Definitely ad hoc. Unfortunately, I'm unable to replicate the dishes S really likes or give others the recipe. How do you quantify a little bit of this or a generous spoonful of that? (sigh) I am simply following Bobby Flay's advice: learn to create and refine each dish by taste.

And, when I cook, one thing leads to another.

For example, today, the three avocados are finally ripe. So, I need to make guacamole and something to accompany the guacamole since we don't eat chips. How about enchiladas using Mexican cheese, ground buffalo and tofu? And, since the oven is already on, I might as well make crispy oven baked potatoes using organic Yukon Golds and roasted organic chicken thighs. That ought to feed S for a few days! No dessert baking this time around (even though I'm tempted to make brownies). I'm trying to eliminate sugar from my diet.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, 22 October 2007 - Honey crisp apples

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for honey crisp apples from Paonia. They're my favorite eating apples. Unfortunately, honey crisps are also a short-season variety. Locally, demand exceeds supply. If I'm lucky, I'll find a boxful at the natural food co-op and buy them all.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, 21 October 2007 - First snow

Dear God:

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

The snow doesn't give a soft damn whom it touches. ~e. e. cummings

The North Wind delivered the wetter, heavier variety that my gardens favor. At least 6 inches when we measure the accumulation near the patio.

T is having a blast. Football in mouth, he races at full speed around the backyard. For S and me, today will be a stay-at-home day. Perfect for watching football and baseball (S) and for sewing (me). We'll dig-out tomorrow morning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday, 20 October 2007 - Monarch butterflies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the Monarch butterflies that visit my garden during their fall migration to Mexico.

Late this morning, as S finishes loading our packs and climbing gear into the truck, I inspect the front yard garden. The large helianthus that sits along the north border catches my eye. I notice many orange-hued "things" on the shrub. Upon closer inspection, I realize that the orange "things" are Monarch butterflies, clinging to the long, lacy branches. I assume they are resting and feeding.

I inch closer to the shrub - just want to talk to the Monarchs for a few minutes. Someone must warn them not to linger in the neighborhood. A major snowstorm is heading our way. They really should consider leaving before nightfall.

It's late afternoon when S, T and I return home from our climbing adventure. I feel really good. The near 80 degree temperatures, low humidity and autumn breezes contributed to Red Rock Canyon's excellent climbing conditions. While unloading my pack, I glance at the helianthus. About a dozen Monarchs still decorate the shrub. I hope they move southward before the cold front invades the region.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday, 19 October 2007 - Contradictions and riddles

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for contradictions and riddles. This poem states several. Somehow, they all make sense to me.

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

~Juan Ramon Jimenez (Translated by Robert Bly)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday, 18 October 2007 - Self-discovery lessons

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for self-discovery lessons - the necessary but difficult ones.

There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. ~Pearl Bailey

It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy. ~Lucille Ball

I am doing what Pearl Baily describes: swallowing a knowledge of myself, then tasting the resulting bitterness and sweetness. Then, I repeat the process until the proverbial light bulb turns on. Oh, how I like epiphanies.

I am also doing what Lucille Ball suggests: learning to recognize what makes me happy. Easier said than done. My list is still very short.

I do this work not in the spirit of self-improvement - I've abandoned fluffier pursuits for hard core introspection. And, I do this work because, if I don't, I'm afraid that my life will unravel beyond repair.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday, 17 October 2007 - Daily walks

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for daily walks.

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. ~Wallace Stevens

By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear. ~George Herbert

I like taking T on his daily walks. Just the two of us. Early morning, if possible. Usually around the park. But, occasionally up the big hill or along the dirt trail.

I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, prayers and dreams. Every now and then, our short journey reveals the first line of a poem or an essay's subject. And, on those rare days when serendipity reigns, I'll return home, my pockets heavy with treasure: a sliver of peace, a handful of hope, a full measure of truth.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - One good decision

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one good decision.

After a morning of appointments and errands, I arrive home just in time to convince S that we should go climbing. The day is warm - probably in the 60s - and dry with occasional breezes. Plus, the weather forecast calls for lower temperatures and stormier weather for the rest of the week. If we don't take advantage of today's favorable conditions, Saturday will probably be our next opportunity to climb.

So, within the hour, S, T and I head for Red Rock Canyon. There, we enjoy a satisfying afternoon climbing the Solar Slab.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday, 15 October 2007 - Autumn nights

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for autumn nights.

Would it not take one
Who slept alone to know it?

Who could have told you

That the nights in autumn

Are indeed extremely long?

~Takashina Kishi

The neighboring county to the west reports its first snow of the season. I'm sure that we'll see ours any day now.

Roll out the welcome mat for fall weather. To those of us who barely tolerate hot summer weather, autumn offers gifts of nippy but energizing temperatures and chilly winds. S, of course, could live in summer's heat year round.

Even though I wear a heavy fleece jacket indoors, I feel cold all day. My blood hasn't had the chance to thicken and my fat reserves are low. I am quite thin right now. Even my skinniest winter jeans are loose in the waist and legs. Must be our frequent climbing adventures and my strict diet.

As the temperatures drop, we'll climb less and hike more. But, as long as it's sunny and at least 45 degrees, S and I can and will climb in Red Rock Canyon. We hike in any weather, mainly for T's sake. He relishes the nippy temperatures and scent-filled trails. This morning, the kitchen floor sweeping yielded less dog hair than usual. Finally! T is shedding less - but still shedding.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday, 14 October 2007 - Baseball

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for baseball.

Baseball? It's just a game - as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It's a sport, business - and sometimes even religion. ~Ernie Harwell

The season starts too early and finishes too late and there are too many games in between. ~Bill Veeck

Baseball is drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast.

~Joe Garagiola

Yes, sports fans. I'm thinking about baseball because it's finally World Series time. The drama has intensified because our home team, the Colorado Rockies, is vying for the National League Championship for the first time in franchise history. Many people think the Rockies have what it takes to win the World Series. We'll see.

Ever since the last baseball strike, I've been a fair weather fan. Still, S, T and I have our baseball traditions. At the beginning of the season, we celebrate the game by watching the movie, Field of Dreams. Although we rarely catch a regular season game on television, we follow post-season play closely. And, we always watch the World Series, even when, heaven forbid, I don't like either team.

This year, we hope to be cheering for our team. In the meantime, I'm praying for good weather (nothing worse than playing baseball in freezing temperatures). Go Rockies!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday, 13 October 2007 - Roasted chili peppers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for roasted chili peppers.

If soup isn't hot enough to make a grown man wince, it's undrinkable.
~Grey Livingston

I love the very distinct, smoky aroma of roasting chili peppers. The fact that I am personally roasting "hot" Mariachi peppers straight from my garden enhances the experience.

What's next for the roasted chilis? They'll be the "secret" ingredient in my homemade black bean soup and spicy corn bread.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday, 12 October 2007 - A special homecoming

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a special homecoming.

Home is the ultimate value that humans venerate.
~Ray Leopold (from Ken Burns' The War)

Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms.
~William J. Bennett

Our friend, Tom, returns to Colorado Springs today for the first time since his June 16 cycling accident. For right now, he will stay in his own house with one of his younger brothers as his caretaker. After living in a very structured environment for the past few months, the change of venue and new routine may overwhelm him. His family has asked us to wait a few days before visiting Tom. He needs time to acclimate to his "new" surroundings and to feel, once again, at home.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - A taste of sacredness

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a taste of sacredness.

Some nights, stay up till dawn,
as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way
of a well, then lifted out into light.

Something opens our wings. Something
makes boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us.
We taste only sacredness.

~ Rumi (Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - Sowing and reaping

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sowing and reaping.

You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who cannot repay you. ~Ruth Smeltzer

Opportunities arise daily where I can be the difference for someone else. I know that when I help someone, my own needs are often met thereafter.

In my haste and selfishness, I don't always respond accordingly. Whatever I do, the lesson of sowing and reaping repeats.

A need arises. Someone needs help. I feel God's hand tapping on my shoulder and hear His firm directive, "Tag, you're it!" Now, it's my turn to do the right thing (or not).

Do unto others ...

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday, 09 October 2007 - Happy Birthday, S!

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my husband, S, as he celebrates his birthday.

We don't make a big deal out of our birthdays. I'm beginning to think that we should, given what's happening to our friends' health and lives. I don't know if we shall see our next birthdays.

What things do I love about my husband? These immediately come to mind.
  • His wittiness and incomparable sense of humor.
  • His nonjudgmental attitude.
  • His ability to watch a football game without choosing sides.
  • His patience.
  • His generosity when it comes to helping young people in our neighborhood.
  • That he truly loves me unconditionally.
  • That he is a great dad to T.
  • That he's glad and proud that I am his climbing partner.
  • That he never complains when I buy another sewing pattern, more fabric or more plants.
  • That he willingly provides the heavy labor when I need help in the garden or around the house.
  • That he always eats whatever I cook or bake with great relish (even my more "creative" concoctions).
For this blessing, I am very grateful.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday, 08 October 2007 - Dancers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for dancers.

Dancers are the athletes of God. ~Albert Einstein

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.
~George Balanchine

I was saddened when my very talented niece hung up her dancing shoes when she entered high school. For some reason, I liked telling my friends that she was a dancer. Every family needs one. She was ours.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday, 07 October 2007 - One person

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one person.

People say, "What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?" They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes. ~Dorothy Day

I just finished my application for a position with a politically-oriented organization. Despite my progressive beliefs and actions, I'm sure I won't get the job. This time, I'm probably not radical enough. Still, I welcomed the opportunity to explore my political motives and their origins.

If you asked me twenty years ago for my basic political philosophy, I doubt that I could articulate it. Now, years later, I've finally figured it out.

Here is the single belief that underlies my thinking and actions: One person can make a difference. My inspiration: an all-time favorite book, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono (which I read in both English and French, listen to on CD and watch an animated adaptation on DVD).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday, 06 October 2007 - Colorado's fall colors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Colorado's fall colors.

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
~Elizabeth Lawrence

As we hike through Red Rock Canyon towards our climbing destination, we marvel at the intense rusts, reds and golds that now replace the summer greens we're accustomed to seeing. We walk slowly towards our climbing destination, lost in thought. Even T's mood is subdued. Mine is wistful and a bit sad. I still don't know if this will be our last Colorado autumn.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday, 05 October 2007 - Quiet memories

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for quiet memories as I remember my niece, Elizabeth, 1990-1993.

The leaves of memory
seemed to make

A mournful rustling in the dark.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I study each picture in the small stack of photographs that chronicle Elizabeth's short life. My mother had the foresight to capture the moments and share them with me. In a few days, I plan to send them to her parents. Not because I don't want them. I just don't need them to help me remember. My heart will never let her go.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, 04 October 2007 - Favor in unexpected places

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for favor in unexpected places.

One of my favorite prayers focuses on "walking in favor" - a good thing to do while I travel the life and career transition road. The prayer instills these blessings: favor with bureaucrats and authorities, favor in the marketplace, favor as I come in and go out, favor in unexpected places.

If I had to choose only one of these blessings, it would be the last one: favor in unexpected places.


Oh, Lord, surprise me with Your grace.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, 03 October 2007 - Small Feng Shui steps

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for small Feng Shui steps.

I read an interesting article the other day. A Feng Shui expert discussed ways to get rid of the clutter I accumulated during summer. Suggestions included recycling magazines, changing light bulbs to CFLs, considering a new set of sheets. She also suggested that I move 9 (or any denomination of 9) objects in my home. Apparently, the number 9 represents maximum power in Feng Shui. Then, she instructed me to mix orange essence with spring water and salt, and spray it around the house to balance the energy.

Yes! I can do this. A few small steps to a quasi-Feng Shui-friendly home.

I've recycled the magazines, catalogs and other printed material. I've changed nearly all of the incandescent light bulbs to CFLs. I'm not sure about the new set of sheets - our favorite flannels are still in good shape. I will, however, follow her advice and consider a new set.

As for rearranging nine items in my home. I changed the action to discarding things in sets of nine. I count aloud as I gather the items: 1, 2, 3, 4 .... 9! Then, out they go - either thrown away or dropped in the to-be-donated/recycled box. I smile at this small accomplishment. The room feels different already. Must be that powerful Feng Shui energy filling the clutterless space.

[In case you're wondering, I have not yet sprayed the house with the orange essence concoction. I wonder if the potion will still work if I substitute lavender oil?]

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday, 02 October 2007 - Guardian angels

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for guardian angels.

The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us. ~Jean Paul Richter

We trust in plumed procession
For such the angels go -

Rank after Rank, with even feet -

And uniforms of Snow.

~Emily Dickinson

My guardian angels have been exceptionally busy this year, keeping my signature roller coaster ride life in check. I know they're hoping for a more peaceful season as winter approaches. At least we won't be climbing as frequently. When the rock is cold, we favor warmer days and familiar routes. Still, as the holidays loom, I can feel the blues begin to color my disposition. I know I will need angelic prayers to lift my spirits.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday, 01 October 2007 - Food

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for food.

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. ~Indira Gandhi

Recently, the local FreeCycle message board to which I subscribe, has seen an increase in food requests. I'm concerned. People need food. Usually for their children. Nothing fancy or expensive. Cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter - whatever one can spare. Have already visited area food banks. Just need enough to get through the next week or two. Until the paycheck arrives. Until the crisis is over.

I write to one person, asking what I can do to help. She explains her current hardships. She tells me that some people responded with mean-spirited lectures and name-calling. One well-meaning person actually gave her an assortment of opened cereal boxes, the contents contaminated by mouse droppings. I tell her that, in the United States, it takes courage to ask for help (we have a "thing" about pride and self-sufficiency). I also promise to do what I can to help her family.

Unfortunately, I do not have Bill Gates' checkbook. Fortunately, I have his heart for giving. I simply apply the Golden Rule. I just wish I could do more.

In our rich, overweight and wasteful country, how can we allow people to go hungry?

For this blessing, I am grateful.