Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 - A smaller world

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a smaller world.

My last minute email to a friend yields a warm thank you and bad news. Funny how I hesitated before sending the message. Now, I'm glad I did. If I hadn't written, I would never have known about the cancer. As a result, I feel more connected; the world feels smaller, more intimate.

Of course, the bad news catches me off-guard. Sadness mars this bright and beautiful spring day as I add another name to the list of people for whom I wear a yellow "livestrong" bracelet.

A mutual friend has Stage 4 lung cancer and is currently undergoing conventional treatment. Despite the grim prognosis, he remains in good spirits. He's a lifelong nonsmoker but then, about 10-15% of lung cancer patients make the same claim. Could it be the toxic Los Angeles smog in which we grew up, the flaky asbestos ceilings in our UCLA dorm rooms or secondhand smoke?

I've known this man since the first grade but lost track of him after college. When we graduated from high school, he gave me a bottle of my favorite Miss Dior cologne (was an expensive gift in those days). I wish I still had the bottle so I could hold it close to my heart. Would be like holding his hand while I pray.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, 30 April 2008 - Wild dandelions

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for wild dandelions. Their springtime invasion tells me that planting season is only a few weeks away.

About dandelions,
I think,

"What courage!
They grow here every year
knowing full well
that I will dig them up."
About me,

Dandelions think,

"Maybe this time, she will forget."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday, 29 April 2008 - My longtime friend, HP

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my longtime friend, HP, as he celebrates his birthday.

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
Elisabeth Foley

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard

We first met in the first grade which means our friendship spans 48+ years. He was the brother I never had and, I guess I was the sister he never had.

I think our friendship endures because we have profound respect and admiration for each other. In 48 years, I don't think we've ever argued or uttered a negative word about each other.

After attending elementary, junior high and high school together, we went to UCLA for our undergraduate degrees (his in history, mine in kinesiology) and postgraduate studies. We even lived in the same dorm.

My fondest memory?

During graduate school, HP stopped by during my office hours. Surprisingly, past events and old friends never crept into our conversation. Instead, we shared current challenges, future plans, hopes and dreams.

Yes, we had grown up. Together.

I knew then that, no matter how divergent our paths after we left UCLA, we would always be friends. For once, I was right.

Happy Birthday, HP!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday, 28 April 2008 - A place for everything

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a place for everything.

That is my goal for this week ...
to find a place for each item in my writing/sewing/knitting/beading/book making studio or get rid of it. I hope the charity shop has room for my excess supplies.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday, 27 April 2008 - A clean culvert

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a clean culvert.

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.
The activist is the man who cleans up the river.

Ross Perot

Our friend and neighbor, Ric, calls just before 1 PM. He tells S that a local Cub Scout troop is planning to pick up trash in the culvert at 1 PM and wants to know if I can join the effort. I agree to help. This unplanned project means that S, T and I must postpone our bouldering adventure by one hour. No one complains about the delay.

Only one Cub Scout, Brian, and his mother, Julie, show up at the culvert (the others are cleaning the park that lies south of the subdivision) so it's a good thing that Ric, Mark and I are available to assist. There's a lot of trash piled at the culvert's north end and scattered along the full length of the west bank. I collect the plastic bottles and aluminum cans for recycling. S arrives later with T and a shovel. He quickly breaks up and moves the pile of wet leaves that's blocking the main drainage area.

By 2 PM, the culvert is clean. Our ad hoc team disperses. Brian and Julie move to another location. Ric and Mark decide to clean up the "waterfall" area at the south end of the culvert. S, T and I go bouldering in Ute Valley Park.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday, 26 April 2008 - Seed planting time

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for seed planting time.

Think small. Planting tiny seeds in the small space given you can change the whole world or, at the very least, your view of it. ~Linus Mundy

I'm late. I should have started the tomatoes and peppers a few weeks ago. But, back then, I was unsure if I had the right attitude to grow vegetables this summer.

Today, I decided to try again. Not because I want to to change the whole world, but because I need to change my view of it.

So, this afternoon, I carefully plant tiny heirloom tomato and pepper seeds in small peat planters. I place the 25 planters in a lidded tray that simulates a greenhouse. I set the box in the sunny west-facing kitchen window and begin the long wait.

Tomorrow, I'll plant basil, cilantro and chives seeds in pots and transplant pelargonium cuttings. If the cold winds subside, I'll sow coreopsis, daisy, poppy, butterfly weed and marigold seeds in the backyard garden. And, I must remember to study the bulb catalog - it's already time to pre-order my selections for this fall's planting.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday, 25 April 2008 - A gardening day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a gardening day.

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
~Author Unknown

Instead of climbing rocks and battering my hands, I worked in my front yard garden and dirtied my fingernails.

For two hours, I carefully trimmed and fed the perennials and raked the mulch.

Yes, even hardy xeriscapes need TLC in the spring, and I willingly take care of mine. My beloved garden is entering its fourth growing season. I hope its a glorious one.

(If you're interested in watching my garden grow, please visit my other blog, A Garden Grows in Colorado. I began posting entries last week. See the link at left under "Inspire Me")

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Daffodil bud

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday, 24 April 2008 - More signs of spring

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more signs of spring.

S, T and I boulder and hike in Ute Valley Park for the third consecutive day. While hiking, I notice that the landscape is in an identity crisis. When I survey the area, I might guess the season to be either late autumn, late winter or early spring. Brown, tan, beige and gray dominate the current palette - very bland and quite boring.

On closer inspection, however, I see multitudes of tiny green leaf buds on the scrub oak and deciduous trees. A very good sign.

In a few weeks, spring will burst forward in all her glory, erasing chilly memories of our exceptionally cold and long winter.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Mule deer graze in the meadow (Ute Valley Park)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 - My everyday miracle

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my everyday miracle.

The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The dream-come-true winds just aren't blowing my way these days. Still, the unsettling feeling that precedes major change haunts me. Until I know exactly what's going on, I'm embracing whatever good comes my way, seeking solace in my garden, writing poetry and rock climbing.

My everyday miracle? The fact that just being here for S and T is enough to get me through my darkest days.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Miniature daffodil (front yard garden)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday, 22 April 2008 - Planet Earth

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my home on Planet Earth.

Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find. ~Quoted in Time

Earth Day,
every day.

My home on Planet Earth extends beyond the 7,000 square foot lot on which our house sits.

It reaches westward to the neighborhood park, alley, greenbelt and National Forest.

It embraces places like Ute Valley Park and Red Rock Canyon where S, T and I rock climb, boulder and hike, the summits of 14,000-foot high mountains and hundreds of miles of wilderness trails.

It touches the roads I travel and stores where I shop. It includes office buildings, libraries, art museums, community gardens, gas stations, post offices and beauty salons.

And, it remembers the footprints I've left in scores of places outside of Colorado (like Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A few of the Ute Valley Park boulders

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday, 21 April 2008 - A chance to say good-bye

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a chance to say good-bye.

though love be a day and life be nothing, it shall not stop kissing.
~e.e. cummings

Earlier today, S spoke with George for a few minutes, probably for the last time. Tomorrow, he moves to the hospice facility. He needs more care than his wife or visiting nurses can provide.

Last fall, after learning about the cancer's return, George decided to skip traditional radiation and chemotherapy. Probably a wise decision since the cancer had already invaded major organs.

True to his nature, he really wanted to die at home. Gently. Peacefully. On a sunny winter or spring day. Now, he claims it doesn't matter. He doesn't need hope, only comfort and painkillers.

Whenever he talks to George, S conveys my heartfelt wishes. George usually responds by asking S to give me a hug, for him.

Today, George tells S that he wishes he had known both of us longer. We feel the same way about him.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday, 20 April 2008 - Climbing fun

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for climbing fun.

True to my nature, I complain about my less-than-stellar climbing performances, forgetting that I'm 54 years old and have less than two years' experience. In response, Joe, our friend and owner of a local climbing gym, reminds me that the best climber is the person who is having the most fun.

So, with Joe's comment in mind, I have to admit that on any given afternoon, S and I are the best climbers in the world.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Saturday's adventure. I try to move on a challenging roof problem at the Ute Valley boulders. S is making progress; I am not. Today, we climbed in Red Rock Canyon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday, 19 April 2008 - April blooms

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for April blooms.

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
~William Shakespeare

For this blessing, I am grateful.


-Daffodils (my front yard garden)
-Pelargonia (in pots)
-Wild crocus (Ute Valley Park)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday, 18 April 2008 - A new camera

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new camera.

I've gone months without a digital camera ... bad news for someone who takes about 1,000 pics a month. My withdrawal pains intensify each day as I watch my garden awaken from its winter slumber.

So, on Wednesday, S, T and I headed to Shewmaker's, the locally-owned photography shop to buy a new camera.

Long story short, I expected to buy a Canon but, after nearly two hours of shopping, ended up buying the Olympus SP-570UZ (we love Olympus lenses - already own three nondigital Olympus cameras - 2 SLRs and 1 point and shoot).

Of course, the first photo I took is of T. In the backyard. In the snow.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008 - Food

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for food.

In my case, a little hunger is a good thing. Not that I need to lose weight or go on a diet. But even health nuts like me can afford to skip a few meals.

Why am I writing about hunger? Because I'm alarmed after reading that many people in my community need food. The food pantries, stretched to their limits in a stressed economy, confess their inability to provide even the most basic goods to hungry citizens. I'm most concerned about children and elderly people.

Today, while running errands, I notice food drive collection bins standing prominently in many store entrances. I write down the most requested items: peanut butter, tuna, pasta, beans, soup. I raid our pantry for suitable donations and add missing items to next week's grocery list. Finally, I mail a check to the local food bank.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 - A rest day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a rest day.

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

After three days of intense bouldering and rock climbing, S, T and I have earned a rest day. I'm not sore, just tired and bruised. We probably can't climb again until Saturday. Yes, you guessed it. Winter is visiting again.

Today's high will be at least 40 degrees lower than yesterday's toasty 76 degrees. And, here comes another snowstorm. A blizzard actually.

Beneath a thick layer of white frosting lie yesterday's daffodils and irises. In the neighborhood, flocked pine trees and shrubs rise above white gardens and iced lawns. A lovely winterscape. The white Christmas we never see. Except, it's April, not December.

Thankfully, the roads are merely wet. I hope they stay that way. Around 5 PM, S and T are taking me to Shewmaker's to buy a new digital camera (finally!).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday, 15 April 2008 - Two daffodils

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for two daffodils.

One month ago on my birthday, the daffodils began breaking though the semi-frozen winter ground. To my disappointment, no flowers followed. While waiting for daffodils, I've welcomed bouquets of lovely gold and purple petite irises.

Early this morning, T and I inspect the front yard garden. To my delight, I discover two yellow blooms enjoying the exceptionally warm temperatures and bright sunshine.

I smile.

Daffodils always make me smile.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday, 14 April 2008 - Six mule deer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for six mule deer.

I see them first. Six mule deer - 3 adults and 3 juveniles - grazing on the park's grassy field. I tell T to look. At first, he doesn't understand me. Then, he catches their scent and gazes at the small herd. The deer, cautiously eyeing T, migrate eastward towards the culvert. They bound effortlessly across the ditch before turning northward along the greenbelt. Finally, they cross the street and enter the "alley."

On our way home, I glance their way. They are still busy eating breakfast. The deer look up as we pass, making sure that T remains at a safe distance.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday, 13 April 2008 - More warm and sunny weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more warm and sunny weather.

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

In Colorado, winter lingers through March and April. Then, sometime in May, the night's low goes below freezing for the last time. On that day, I happily celebrate spring's official arrival with my gardening friends. In the meantime, S, T and I savor and exploit each warm and sunny March and April day, knowing that it could snow tomorrow.

Great news! The Weather Service forecasts three days of gorgeous weather beginning today. What a relief after last week's cold, wind and snow.

Since I returned to rock climbing in July 2006, S and I have never climbed or bouldered three days in a row. Here's our chance to try.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday, 12 April 2008 - Puppies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for puppies.

Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
~Ben Williams

Our neighbor, Ric, stops by. I haven't seen him since he started his new job. He's with Audrey, a well behaved 4-year old, 112 pound Mastiff.

But, who is this other dog?

Ric introduces Buck, a 4-month old Mastiff puppy who is also Audrey's nephew.

I am smitten by this adorable youngster.

Yes, there's something marvelous about puppies, and Buck exudes oodles of "it" - 45 pounds to be exact. Good thing T is not the jealous type.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday, 11 April 2008 - New trees

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for new trees.

He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.

~Lucy Larcom

Something is going on in the park, but it is so cold, snowy and windy that I'm unwilling to go outside to investigate. Instead, I watch from my studio window and try to make sense of the commotion.

Okay. Now, I get it.

Trees. The City Forestry Department is planting trees, replacing the dozen we lost last year to drought or vandalism.

Sadly, trees don't thrive in our park. I asked a Forest Ranger about this problem. He shook his head as he named the familiar culprits: deep rock layers that impede root growth, ongoing drought and wind. Vandalism is a new issue for our neighborhood. I hope last summer's incidents don't recur this year.


This afternoon, T and I visit the park. Despite the bitter cold wind, we pause by each newly planted tree, acknowledging its arrival. As T sniffs the layer of fresh pine mulch, I welcome the tree to the park and tell it how glad we are to see it. Then, I ask for Divine help to ensure the tree's survival. Finally, I promise to remember it in my prayers.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday, 10 April 2008 - Soul food

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a bowl of hot soup and a slice of bread, soul food for a snowy spring day.

In this plate of food, I see the entire Universe supporting my existence.
~Zen mealtime blessing

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday, 09 April 2008 - April showers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for April showers.

Though April showers
My come your way,

They bring the flowers

That bloom in May.

~Al Jolson

I was hoping for a gardening day. Not to plant, but to inspect, trim and hoe. I'm disappointed as I watch storm clouds invade the region just as the morning fog lifts. No bright sunshine today. No gentle April breezes. No opportunity to work or play outdoors.

It feels like rain.

You know the feeling.

My joints and muscles, still tired from yesterday's bouldering session, ache in response to pressure system shifts. Then, heaviness and lethargy set in. I don't feel like doing anything.

Storm clouds answer
Thunder's rumble.
Yes, it's time.



Gratefully accepts
each gift.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday, 08 April 2008 - A mug of hot tea

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a mug of hot tea.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~Thich Nat Hahn

I rarely drink coffee - can live for months without consuming a single drop. Instead, I drink hot tea, several mugs every day. Here is a list of my current favorites:

~ Morning and afternoon: Green tea (loose leaf), Earl Grey or chai (made with soy milk).
~ Night: Mint (usually peppermint) or ginger (made by simmering slices of fresh ginger root and lemon in water).
~ Stash Tea's Licorice Spice - reserved for special occasions.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday, 07 April 2008 - Basketball champions

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for basketball champions.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
~Michael Jordan

So, while my UCLA Bruins did not make the final pairing in the NCAA Tournament, two very worthy teams did. C'est la vie (for Bruin fans). There's always next season.

For Memphis, victory rested on free throws and precise clock management during the final minute. Sadly, the Tigers failed to execute - just one more successful free throw or a quick foul in the backcourt during the final seconds of regulation play might have cinched the win. Instead, Kansas grabbed the rebound after the missed free throw, took the ball down court, and hit a 3-pointer to tie the score. Then, during overtime, with momentum clearly on their side, the reinvigorated Jayhawks rallied and ultimately prevailed.

T, however, thinks in canine terms when it comes to teams. He thought that Tigers always caught Jayhawks. He's usually right. Just not this time.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday, 06 April 2008 - A Sunday climbing adventure

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a Sunday climbing adventure.

Our very good friend, Mark, joins us at Red Rock Canyon for a Sunday climbing adventure. We've missed his company. He's been so busy that he hasn't climbed for several weeks ago. Actually, he last climbed right here, with us.

Mark, an experienced and elegant climber, jokes that S and I will out-climb him because he is so out of shape. I disagree. We're tired (but not sore) from yesterday's intense bouldering session - that should level the playing field.

In my opinion, Mark always climbs well. He ascends the rock with ease and grace, rarely making an awkward or bad move. To mitigate his poorer fitness, he simply completes fewer routes. Anyway, we're not competing against each other. We're here to climb for climbing's sake.

By the way, high-spirited T can't wait to begin the hike. His excitement surges as he watches a group of six horseback riders head up the main trail to the canyon. The horses leave, for his examination, a bounty of fresh road apple souvenirs. We call T's reaction, "horse-rage" (a state similar to his "bambi-rage," "squirrel-rage" and "bunny-rage" - you get the picture). Good thing he's on a leash or tether at all times.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday, 05 April 2008 - A short nap

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a short nap.

S and I finish bouldering (i.e., we're so tired that we can't make another move on the rocks). I lie, exhausted, on the bouldering pad, sun on my face, wind swirling gently over me. In a few moments, I travel from wide awake reality to a transcendental state in the realm of dreams and meditation.

Bliss. Peace. Relaxation.

I would love to lie here for the next hour. An impossibility, of course. T, curious about what I am doing, plants his cold nose on my cheek, breaking the spell. Startled, I awake.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday, 04 April 2008 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as I privately commemorate the 40th anniversary of his assassination.

This afternoon, I remember him through his words, including these:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is: "What are you doing for others?"

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

The time is always right to do what is right.

I have a dream ...
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday, 3 April 2008 - Poets and poetry

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for poets and poetry. April is National Poetry Month.

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. ~Robert Frost
I've written some poetry I don't understand myself. ~Carl Sandburg
Poetry is life distilled. ~Gwendolyn Brooks
A poem begins with a lump in the throat. ~Robert Frost

A friend asks me what it's like to be a poet. I tell her that I see the world through poetry, finding poems in everything. I often think in poems, record ideas in poems, capture memories in poems. A poet. It's who I am. I didn't choose poetry; poetry chose me. Over 45 years ago.

As a poet during National Poetry Month, I will write new verses and share my work with local audiences. I will also read favorites ... Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, ee cummings ... hoping to improve my own writing by spending time with the grand masters.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wednesday, 02 April 2008 - April surprises

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for April surprises.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise. ~Alice Walker

The month of April matches March's quirkiness when it comes to weather. In fact, in Colorado, March and April are often the snowiest months of the year. I recall one particularly memorable storm - April 24, 1999. We took days to dig out. T was still a puppy.

They say that, in spring, opportunities sprout like new grass. It's not a promise, but a hope. I'm expectant but cautious, praying for only what I truly deserve. Funny how people expect less for themselves than for others. Guess we don't want to appear selfish or self-serving or arrogant or pretentious. So, I claim very little for myself while wishing for others generous shares of whatever it is that makes a good life.

I've also heard that April is a good month to try new things, to invite serendipity to lunch, to rekindle passion in everyday events, to finish writing my novel and to persuade surprise to dance my way - often. Looks like I'll be busier than I anticipated.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday, 01 April 2008 - A fool-free evening

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a fool-free evening.

The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected. ~Will Rogers

I forgot that today is April Fool's Day. Darn it! I usually fast news and politics on April 1.

I admit that I've already spent too much time catching up on Barack Obama's latest exploits on the 2008 Presidential campaign trail and complaining about Hillary Clinton. But, I'm finished now. I promise.

For this blessing, I am grateful.