Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday, 30 June 2008 - One healthy canine

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one healthy canine.

This afternoon, T aced his annual checkup, extending his streak to 11 straight years.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday, 29 June 2008 - Clotheslines

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for clotheslines.

I remember the ubiquitous outdoor clothesline. On the day we moved into the West Covina house, my older sister and I giggled and laughed as we swung merrily around the poles. The year, 1957. I was nearly 3.5 years old.

Of course, drying clothes outside was a risky business. From late fall through early spring, rain, fog and cold postponed many laundry days. On blustery days when the hot Santa Ana winds swept through the Los Angeles basin, my mother worried about sheets and towels and diapers flying off the line and sailing into a neighbor's yard.

By the mid-1960s, our clothesline gave way to a gas dryer. My dad, proud to own a modern convenience, dug up the poles for good. During subsequent summers, the clothesline's erstwhile home housed an above ground swimming pool, and much later, a vegetable garden.

This morning, I study an article that discusses a consumer movement seeking new favor for the lowly clothesline. These days, I'm interested in anything that will reduce my reliance on electricity. Most US suburbs ban clotheslines, calling them eyesores that reduce property values. I would like to have one in my backyard. Solar energy is free for the taking when it comes to drying clothes.

Until I can live in a place that accepts clotheslines, I do what I can to reduce dryer usage. I take many of my clothes straight from the washing machine and hang them on a rack. I use the dryer frugally, drying heavy items like towels and t-shirts until they're barely damp. Then, I'll hang them on a rack where they'll finish drying - shouldn't take long in Colorado's low humidity.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday, 28 June 2008 - Local eats

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for local eats.

I like the idea of a locavore challenge. This summer, the Peak to Plains Alliance is signing up people at various farmers markets.

From July through September, participants pledge to eat only food produced within 300 miles of Colorado Springs for one, two or three meals a day. In September, they'll "celebrate" by eating 100% locally grown food for one full week.

I'm positive that I won't be able to complete the most difficult level. But, I can probably follow the rules for one of my two daily meals. I'm thinking lunch, not breakfast.

I already buy locally-produced food whenever possible. I have readily available sources for Colorado flour, eggs, milk, honey, cheese and butter but not olive oil, sugar, oatmeal or almonds.

The local meat market sells Colorado-raised meat and poultry products. Too bad salmon is not a locally grown fish. I wonder if I could still eat tofu. The one I buy is made in Colorado but the soybeans may be grown elsewhere.

Fresh produce is another concern. Until summer fruits and vegetables invade the markets, I'm stuck with lots of out-of-state produce. If my plants have a good summer, I'll have tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and herbs including basil, tarragon, sage and mint. Plus, I can shop the farmers markets and ask generous neighbors for surplus zucchini.

Yes, I think I can manage to eat locally for one meal a day.

I probably won't sign up formally. I will vow, however, to make an honest effort to eat by the locavore rules and see how well I do.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: mirabilis multiflora (desert four o'clock) leaves and ladybug

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday, 27 June 2008 - The hardware store

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the hardware store.

One of my childhood memories involves my dad's weekly visits to the local hardware store. He went every weekend unless he was deep sea fishing. I'm sure that the store clerks knew him very well, probably greeting him by first name.

"Good morning, A. Can I help you find something?"

"No thanks. I'm just browsing."

I imagine my dad walking slowly down the merchandise-packed aisles, glancing left then right at the cluttered displays and overflowing bins. He stops when he discovers something new or spies a coveted item. He removes the item from the hook or pulls it out of a wire basket, examines it carefully and reads the packaging before returning it to its proper spot. If he's really interested, he discusses the item's use and characteristics with a store clerk.

My dad didn't buy much unless he had a specific gardening or home improvement project in mind. Usually, he returned home, small paper bag in hand. My sisters and I would eagerly open the sack and gaze upon his prized finds - special seeds, assorted nails or odd sized nuts and bolts.

I accompanied my dad to the hardware store only once, probably after I begged him to take me (or maybe my mom asked him to take one of us with him). During that lone visit, I found hardware, gardening supplies and paint boring. I never asked to join him again.

Ironically, nowadays, when I run my own weekly errands, I routinely visit the library, natural food store, sewing and craft store, nursery and neighborhood Ace hardware store.

At Ace, I head straight to the gardening section to look at seeds, plants, fertilizer and soil or the kitchenware department to study the wall of cooking tools and gadgets.

When I enter the store, a cheerful clerk politely asks if I need help. Unless I have a specific project or item in mind, I echo my dad.

"No thanks. I'm just browsing."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday, 26 June 2008 - ShedFest

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the final weeks of ShedFest.

Festival season is here, offering a full calendar of events that celebrate all things summer. Roses. Jazz. Beer. Watermelon.

At our house, we celebrate ShedFest, an annual event that begins in late spring and continues through early summer. ShedFest involves two characters: T, the canine superstar who sports a short but extremely dense chocolate Labrador Retriever coat and me, the unpopular groomer.

The 15-20 minute "show" takes place at least once a day on the patio. Here's what happens when the curtain rises.

First, I lure T outside (this is easy since he follows me everywhere). But, as soon as he sees the wire brush in my hand, he hesitates. He knows he's trapped. Although T dislikes the brushing routine, he loves getting my full attention and doesn't try to escape.

I hold T's collar lightly with my left hand. Then, with brush in right hand, I gently stroke his torso and limbs, moving with and against the "nap." I concentrate on "deshedding" the densest areas like his hip and neck regions.

During early performances, I pause once or twice to remove a thick mat of taupe-colored fluff from the bristles. During later performances, I must clean the brush 3-4 times.

After 15-20 minutes, T starts squirming, his way of telling me that he is running out of patience and my cue to end the performance.

After one final all-body brushing to smooth his coat, I release his collar and set him free. He immediately shakes off and retreats to the house. There, I confront him and tell him how handsome he looks. He sits calmly, patiently awaiting the usual but highly coveted rewards: a delicious treat and a big hug. The final curtain falls.

Show over, T decides to nap in a sunny spot in the backyard while I begin my next task.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) April: T models his dense winter coat.
(bottom) June: T shows off his shiny coat and sleek summer physique.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday, 25 June 2008 - My class of 2008

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my class of 2008.

None of my neighbors needed one more tomato or pepper plant, so this morning, I plant the remaining starters in pots. I call the assortment my class of 2008.

Now I must wait to see how well they do. Despite my carefully tending, I'm afraid that our quirky summer weather may jeopardize the harvest.

Indeed, as harvests go, anything is possible - feast or famine, with the latter the more likely outcome. Good thing our meals don't depend on my garden.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday, 24 June 2008 - Gardening friends

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for gardening friends.

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.
~Vita Sackville (1892-1962)

This quote perfectly describes nearly all of my gardening friends (I, however, need to work on optimism).

At tonight's potluck picnic, nearly 40 of us gather in the downtown demonstration garden to celebrate the success of the May plant sale.

After eating dinner, we sit under the trees, forming small, intimate groups. Conversations focus on common topics: complaints about the weather and lack of rain, updates on plants and gardens, anecdotes and lessons from work and life in general.

We remember. We catch up. We promise to keep in touch.

Gardeners. We are an eclectic group, as diverse and extraordinary as the plants we favor and the gardens we tend.

In early spring, the gardening society asks members to volunteer to open their gardens for public tours. Several people always step up to the plate. But not me.

I love my garden but it's no showplace.

My garden is happily ordinary as it celebrates the casual beauty of tried-and-true xeric plants. It's also a never ending project, a living work of art subject, of course, to the artist's frequent whims and wishes. When in peak summer bloom, however, it paints a picture as lovely as a Monet landscape.

So, I'm puzzled when P asks me why I'm not hosting a tour this summer. She knows better than anyone that a gardener is never satisfied with his/her garden's appearance.

I recite my usual excuse:

"My garden is still a work-in-progress. I still need to landscape the south side of the house and do this to the backyard and that to the front yard which means there is no way I can get it ready for public viewing."

I pause, awaiting P's reaction. She nods in agreement. She seems a bit preoccupied. Perhaps she is recalling all the tasks on her gardening to-do list.

Then, just to end all speculation, I say the three fateful words, "Maybe next year."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Every morning, this glaucium grandiflorum greets me with a fresh bouquet of glossy, poppy-like blossoms. Gardeners often call it the "horned poppy" because of the seed pod's unique shape.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday, 23 June 2008 - A few of my favorite chocolate things

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a few of my favorite chocolate things.

In my garden:

- berlandiera lyrata or chocolate flower (place nose near bloom, take deep breath and enjoy the heavenly chocolate scent; mornings are best). Although xeric and deer resistant, this plant did not survive in the front yard garden. So, last year, I bought a few at the annual plant sale and planted them in the backyard. I was thrilled when a few blooms appeared. In 2008, the plants are back for a welcomed encore.

- mentha piperata chocolate mint (subtle chocolate scent and flavor). Only one plant survived the bitter cold winter. It's growing and spreading like typical mint plants. I hope to harvest leaves in a few weeks.

In my stash:

- Chocolove Extra Strong bar

A few years ago, during her annual holiday sojourn to the United States, my older sister told me that she and a girl friend were planning to taste an assortment of chocolate bars. Their quest: to find the best one in their world. Aware of my sister's flair for drama, I felt that her project had Food Network spotlight written all over it. I don't know if she and her friend ever completed the quest. If they did, she didn't share the results (and I never asked). I kept thinking about all those calories!

If my sister had asked for my pick, I would have nominated my favorite Chocolove bar, Extra Strong with 77% cocoa (African and South American cocoa beans). Very dark, rich and satisfying. One square a day keeps the chocolate blues away.

In my recipe box:

- Rich chocolate brownies with toasted walnuts using a Cook's Illustrated recipe.

At lower elevations, my traditional brownie recipe never disappointed. At 6,800 feet, it flopped repeatedly no matter how carefully I tweaked the amounts of sugar, flour, eggs and leavening or altered my mixing technique. Other "tried and true" recipes also failed miserably.

One fateful day, a Cook's Illustrated sampler arrived in the mail. The editors invited me to try the world's best brownie recipe. So, still skeptical, I did. To my surprise, the recipe worked beautifully, ending an embarrassing 20-year streak of lousy homemade brownies.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday, 22 June 2008 - Bees in the garden

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for bees in the garden.

M, our Air Force Academy cadet friend, just back from his out-of-state internship, tours the backyard garden. He remarks about how much has changed during his three-week absence. The new plantings: tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. The new blooms that splatter bright colors throughout the yard.

Mostly, he's impressed by all the bees. He is very concerned about the reports of declining bee populations.

I tell M my bee story. Well, not mine, but Barbara Kingsolver's. The one she relates in The Poisonwood Bible. How the stubborn missionary plants his garden in the Congo, applying cultivation principles that worked perfectly in the United States. He ignores any gardening advice from the locals. The plants grow and blossom but no vegetables appear. He's puzzled by this unexpected result. In time, he realizes the problem: no bees in the Congo. No bees means no pollination and no vegetables. The next year, he painstakingly pollinates the plants by hand.

So, in my Colorado garden, bees are a welcomed sight. And, I'm experiencing no shortage year. All shapes and sizes - from tiny sweat bees to familiar honey bees to super-sized "big buzzies" - visit daily for a nectar feast.

Fortunately, no bee has ever attacked or stung me while I weed, water or plant. Guess they know better than to assault the hand that feeds them.

During the day, I often stop along the narrow garden path and listen. Above the breeze's soft whisper and the finches' sporadic chirps, I hear a constant low buzzing sound. I smile. The bees are here in force, diligently conducting their daily business in my garden.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: This sedum's bright yellow flowers are bee magnets.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday, 21 June 2008 - 11 years and counting

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 11 years and counting with T.

Talk about life changing events.

T adopted us (or, depending on your view, we adopted him) on June 21, 1997.

S and I drove over 100 miles to Limon, CO, to pick him up. 'Twas love at first sight when we caught our first glimpse of our best-buddy-to-be, a handsome, 50 pound Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy walking around the parking lot with the breeder's young son.

T has been the light of our lives ever since. 11 years and counting of love, laughter and joy, not to mention thousands of laps around the neighborhood park and treats by the handful.

I guess that's what happens when the best dog ever is a member of your family.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday, 20 June 2008 - Summer, officially

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for summer, officially.

Summer Wind
exhales across the valley,
Her suffocating heat
as annoying as
North Wind's
bitter chill in winter.

Unloved and
Summer Wind

stirs up dust
licks sidewalks dry,
sucks moisture from

every living thing.

This morning, spring ended its 2008 story and summer began its annual odyssey.

Although today is the summer solstice, my gardens look as though the hot, dry season has been in full swing for at least a month.

Several summer blooming plants, confused by the lack of spring snows and rains, began flowering in late May. So far, June reminds me of July, complete with afternoon thunderstorms and showers.

In Colorado Springs, we no longer enjoy four distinct seasons. Rather, we have two: bitter cold with occasional snow followed by hot and dry with occasional rain.

The traditional transitional seasons, fall and spring, make rare appearances in October/November or March/April, respectively. On those beautiful days marked by sunshine, azure skies and hope for better things to come, I feel like singing.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Sulphur flower

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday, 19 June 2008 - More rain, no hail

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more rain, no hail.

The rain startles me. I notice the sudden darkness, a warning of sorts. But, thunder and lightening usually herald late afternoon/early evening storms.

Not today. I cringe as I hear loud, violent plops and splats. Enormous drops of water hit the roof, the earth, the patio and every single plant in my garden.

I'm lucky, this time. No hail although "slush balls" fall for a few minutes. I cover the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers with large plastic pots, just in case.

Everything is soaking wet.


Just before 10 PM, a second storm hits. Lightening, rolling thunder, pelting rain. Again, no hail, but the mere threat of hard ice balls of any size hitting my garden and shredding my plants unnerves me.

At least I can skip this week's watering.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: As the first storm ends, clouds amass south of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday, 18 June 2008 - One more tree

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one more tree.

While tidying my gardening "stuff," I find a plastic bag containing one bare root tree.

Now I remember

A gardening organization sent it to me last fall in a vain attempt to entice me to join the group. After receiving the "gift," I decided not to plant the tree right away (or maybe, I decided not to plant it at all) and placed the package in the garage.

I don't know anything about the tree, its species or common name. I don't know if it will thrive or survive in Colorado (zone 5).

I open the package and discover that the roots are moist and the trunk flexible. It's June, nearly summer, but the tree is still dormant.

I decide to try to revive it. After soaking the roots for about 30 minutes in a SuperThrive bath, I carefully plant the tree in a large planter filled with potting soil.

Now the waiting begins. If all goes well, I should see leaf buds within a few weeks. If not, I'll plant another tomato plant in the pot.

I'm hoping and praying for the former result. A gardener can always find room in the yard for one more tree.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday, 17 June 2008 - A rainy day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a rainy day.

Don't empty the water jar until the rain falls. -Philippine proverb

Water is the formless potential out of which creation emerged ... It is by turns the elixir of life or the renewing rain or the devastating flood.
~Scott Russell Sanders, Writing from the Center

I think we're in for a long, dry summer. Probably drought conditions.

While the swollen Mississippi River breaks through levees in Illinois, I'm praying for a little rain for my garden in Colorado. To survive the hot season, even the most xeric plants need occasional sips of water.

Yesterday's misty weather helped, but its benefit will be short lived without subsequent soakings. I'm planning to add mulch to the garden - a few more inches of bark around each plant should help preserve precious moisture and reduce water usage.

In the meantime, T promises to do his "rain sleep."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday, 16 June 2008 - One moment

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one moment.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
~1 Corinthians 15:51 NKJV

In a moment.
In the twinkling of an eye.
We shall be changed.

Prophetic words. Especially for S's friend, Tom.

Exactly one year ago, a traumatic brain injury forever changed his life. One immutable moment, a freak accident revisited and analyzed again and again.

My lessons.

- Not to take for granted that my life will extend into the next moment.

I repeatedly tell T that I will take him for a walk in a moment. I say that I will start dinner or water the plants, in a moment. For now, I'm able to keep my "in a moment" promises. One day, the streak will end.

In a single moment, I shall be changed.

- Not to discount or ignore what can transpire in the twinkling of an eye.

Recent events tell the story. An earthquake. A broken levee. A heart attack.

Life changing events occur one eye blink to the next. Always, when I'm not paying attention. Tragedy forces us to account for our most cherished possessions. Not cars or houses or clothes. But the sacred breath of life, family, friends, pets, a dream, a hope, a future.

In the twinkling of an eye, I shall be changed.

- To accept the certainty of change, the moment to moment alterations of air, water, earth and spirit. The stars subtlety shift their celestial positions night after night, the plants grow by mere millimeters, the hourglass drops a few more sand grains on the pile, proof that I am running out of time.

In a moment.
In the twinkling of an eye.
I shall be changed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday, 15 June 2008 - Father's Day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my dad, on Father's Day.

It is impossible to please all the world and one's father. ~Jean de la Fontaine

You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's. He's more particular. ~Robert Frost

If my dad was proud of his five daughters, he never admitted it. Not to our faces, anyway. Rather, he remained an aloof figure, haunted by his own demons and history. He rarely shared thoughts or feelings or advice, demanding a quiet, almost silent household after a long day at work. And, we complied. The giggles stopped, the teasing ceased, the loud voices reduced to whispers the moment he walked through the front door.

I think my dad needed a safe place, a refuge from a world that insulted him early in his life before placing a large, bitter chip on his shoulder. So, at home in his house, we tiptoed from room to room, spoke in hushed tones, being extra careful not to disturb his two or three hours of peace and quiet.

So, on this Father's Day, I wish my dad a lovely day filled with the quiet, solitary activities he prefers. Like tending potted plants in his patio garden or tying the most challenging fly fishing flies at his beloved workbench or reading a book while reclining in his favorite chair.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday, 14 June 2008 - Osmosis

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for osmosis.

On this and other unseasonably warm late spring evenings, I fully understand and appreciate the principle of osmosis.

At day's end, the stuffy, inside air retains the heat while the outside air grows cool and refreshing. Dinner's aromas linger within the structure despite the open windows while fresh breezes sweep the front and backyard gardens.

After sundown, I imagine the steady exchange of air across the back door threshold that separates the outdoors from the in - cool atoms in, hot ones out - until the ambient temperature achieves a tolerable, even pleasant level. Cool enough for sleeping, reading or watching television; warm enough to ensure that the newly-planted tomatoes and peppers will survive yet another night.

Etymology: New Latin, short for endosmosis
1. movement of a solvent through a semipermeable membrane (as of a living cell) into a solution of higher solute concentration that tends to equalize the concentrations of solute on the two sides of the membrane
2. a process of absorption or diffusion suggestive of the flow of osmotic action; especially : a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation (learned a number of languages by osmosis ~ Roger Kimball)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday, 13 June 2008 - Tim Russert, 1950-2008

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Tim Russert, 1950-2008.

I am saddened by Tim Russert's death. He was only 58 years old. Same age as S. Four years older than me. Too young by my standards.

I'm somewhat amused by headlines that proclaim the untimeliness of his passing. Untimely as in unexpected. As if we should know death's schedule like a bus or train timetable. If we know the end is coming today, in a few hours, in the next minute, then is the event deemed timely, expected, logical, sans surprise?

Perhaps Mr. Russert's death, however sad and tragic and alarming, is on schedule, "on the dot" as prescribed by the Book of Time that dictates all Universal events. The irony of it all. Despite his unequaled passion, boundless energy and voracious appetite for all things political, his lifeline ended abruptly, a few months shy of the historic 2008 Presidential election. For whatever reason.

A significant voice, a gifted journalist, an astute interviewer, silenced.

And we shall miss him. Like an old friend whose presence we've always taken for granted. Whose absence has left a gaping hole in the American political landscape.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday, 12 June 2008 - A global prayer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a global prayer.

The "experts" exhort me to think globally, live/shop/act locally and follow the golden rule. I believe we should also pray globally.

It's really easy - seven words to be exact, as written boldly on a bumper sticker:
"God bless the whole world ... no exceptions!"
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday, 11 June 2008 - Goji berry blossoms

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for goji berry blossoms.

Another garden first.

To my utter delight, I discovered a few purple blossoms on one of my six goji berry bushes. The bush is one of the original three I planted three years ago (I planted the others 2 years ago).

I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch, especially given my poor track record growing any berry variety. Still, I'm hopeful that I'll see a few fresh goji berries this year. Maybe I'll enjoy eating a few - if the birds don't beat me to them.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday, 10 June 2008 - A single rose

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a single rose.

I love roses in the garden. Think heirloom and modern varieties, pure eye candy in deep or pastel shades of pink, coral, red and yellow. Think fragrant blooms, the ones on which I rest my nose before inhaling deeply, capturing the heady perfume in memory.

So, when I chose plants for the backyard garden, I considered roses. Then, I spoke to other gardeners about growing roses along the Rocky Mountain foothills. After hearing too many "horror" stories, I stepped back, reconsidered my selections and and put roses on the "no" list.

In spring 2005, while studying the latest High Country Gardens catalog, I found a shrub rose whose low to moderate water needs made it suitable for my xeric garden.

I bought one and planted it in the north backyard garden, the dry side that gets full sun. The shrub thrived, surviving the seasons without complaint.

But, to my disappointment, it did not bloom. Until this month when I discovered a single yellow flower.

Now, this rose doesn't resemble the lovely ones that graced my father's garden. But, it's perfect for mine.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: rosa hugonis (AKA Father Hugo's rose, Golden Rose of China), registered/introduced in 1899

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday, 09 May 2008 - Silence

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for silence.

The best answer to anger is silence. ~Author Unknown
There are times when silence has the loudest voice. ~Leroy Brownlow

Silence ... as in holding one's tongue or keeping one's mouth shut.

Often, silence is the best response when someone vents his/her anger. I know the person is not directing the spite directly at me, although it feels that way.

At tonight's Democratic Party meeting, several Hillary Clinton supporters voiced their intense displeasure over the media's misogynist comments during the recent Democratic primary season. Then, they openly accused the Obama campaign of complicity.

Their deep-seated bitterness and anger shocked me.

We, Obama supporters, kept our cool. When asked to respond, our spokesperson spoke calmly, agreeing that misogyny is an issue that the Party needs to address. He did not counter-punch, although we were all thinking about the racist comments aired in public.

Like our candidate, we controlled our emotions. Calm under fire, standing tall above the fray.

Yes we can. Yes we can.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday, 08 June 2008 - One photogenic canine

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one photogenic canine.

This afternoon, after planting the eggplant and peppers I bought yesterday, I photographed the backyard garden.

T was annoyed that I was taking so many plant pictures. So, after he reminded me that he was also in the yard, I asked him to sit so I could take his picture.

Ever the posing puppy, he readily sat in front of the edible garden and assumed his familiar "take my picture" posture. Quintessential T.

The result: definitely one of my all-time favorite portraits of the best dog ever.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday, 07 June 2008 - A little bit of luck

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a little bit of luck.

I did all right at this morning's members-only plant sale. Recall that I'm sticking with tried and true plants this year which means I won't even look at an exotic perennial, no matter how glorious the foliage or bloom.

I arrived early and was pleased with the diverse selection (all leftover plants from the May sale). My favorite finds: eggplant (Japanese and Italian), habanero peppers, bronze fennel (a perennial herb), Reiter's creeping thyme (to replace the "ugly" Kmart thyme patches in the front yard), and more brunnera.

When I spied the "tomato, pepper and eggplant" lady (aka Shirley) standing by herself near the cashier, I pounced on the opportunity to share my tomato-growing woes and solicit her advice. She listened patiently and suggested remedies for my age-old problems - I'm sure she's heard it all before. Best of all, she mercifully relieved some of my anxiety when she mentioned her own unexpected meager harvests and ongoing tomato growing pains. Even the experts struggle at times.

I'm beginning to believe that, when it comes to growing a bountiful edible garden, luck plays a larger role than I initially imagined. So much for experience, logic and data. I'm praying that the fates favor my garden this year.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday, 06 June 2008 - Knowing the basics

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for knowing the basics.

Like other sports, rock climbing has basic moves and skills that, once mastered, lead to competency (something that is very important to me). That's why I usually don't like an audience when I boulder.

I'm not that good - yet - and usually require several attempts just to stand on the rock. Fortunately, S doesn't mind my steep learning curve. He always makes sure I learn the basics of a given climb. And, sometimes, the first move is the hardest one.

This afternoon, while trying a V2 (5.11+) problem, a group of younger guys joins us along a shady rock wall in Ute Valley Park. I've tried this overhung problem during previous sessions. I can make the right hand moves to a key hold but have not yet made the left hand throw to the top or placed my feet properly below the overhang. At least I can get on the rock easily and make the initial moves smoothly.

Long story short, I reach the top rim of the climb (hands only) for the very first time (must be the adrenaline rush of performing in front of an unexpected audience). Not bad for a 54-year-old woman.

I still have to finish the climb - a difficult top-out over an overhung rim (yikes!). I'll try again next time.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday, 05 June 2008 - A false weather alarm

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a false weather alarm.


Not a rumbling, rolling thunder but two loud, violent crashes.

Strange timing, too. Not late afternoon when we expect such storms. But 6:30 in the morning.

Imagine that. A 6:30 AM thunderstorm.

I have a 1:30 PM appointment across town and dislike driving in heavy downpours. I hope the deluge waits until I return home.


Fortunately, the predicted torrential rains and hail never arrive. I don't think my garden can withstand a rain and hail onslaught - not this early in the growing season. I'm satisfied with the brief rain shower - just enough moisture to soak the mulch.

Now I have to worry about the nighttime temperature.

The weather service predicts the low 40s in the city and about 10 degrees cooler in the foothills where we live. I fear a hard freeze.

So, just after sunset, I carefully drape the tomatoes, peppers and other "fragile" plants with old flannel sheets and pillow cases ... just in case.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Dark storm clouds gather early this morning.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wednesday, 04 June 2008 - A photographer's luck

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a photographer's luck.

This morning, a rare event occurs. Luck, light and loveliness simultaneously favor me as I photograph the garden.

These delicate, soft-edged columbines remind me of heirloom roses, the ones that grace vintage chintz pillows and curtains.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Columbine

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday, 03 June 2008 - One journey's end

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one journey's end, another journey's beginning.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning ... We mean to hold our own.
~Sir Winston Churchill, November 10, 1942

Tonight, one journey ends - that of securing Senator Barack Obama's nomination as the Democratic Party Presidential candidate.

And, a new journey begins, that of electing Senator Obama to the Presidency of the United States.

Despite the excruciatingly long primary season and way too many Hillary headaches, I am still fired up and ready to go. Yes we can!
This party - the party of Jefferson and Jackson; of Roosevelt and Kennedy -- has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we led, not by polls, but by principle; not by calculation, but by conviction; when we summoned the entire nation to a common purpose -- a higher purpose. And I run for the Presidency of the United States of America because that's the party America needs us to be right now.

... That's why I'm asking you to stand with me, that's why I'm asking you to caucus for me, that's why I am asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept. In this election -- in this moment -- let us reach for what we know is possible.

~Senator Barack Obama, November 2007
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday, 02 June 2008 - Planting weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for planting weather.

I check Google's 10-day weather forecast and am pleased to see that warm daytime and nighttime temperatures should prevail for the foreseeable future.

I decide to risk everything (including my gardening reputation) and transplant two tomato (1 fantastic, 1 brandywine) and four pepper plants (3 jalapeno, 1 mariachi) directly in the garden. I improvise raised beds, hoping that the nutrient rich potting soil will increase yields.

I'll plant the remaining vegetables - more peppers, sun gold cherry tomatoes, baby romaine lettuce - in pots or the old galvanized steel tub (S promises to drill drainage holes in the warped bottom). I started these plants from seed so they're not yet ready for transplantation. Maybe in a few weeks.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Pepper plants

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday, 01 June 2008 - One happy plant

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one happy plant.

Last summer, I planted one glaucium grandiflorum in the backyard garden. It didn't bloom.

This year, after our bitter cold winter, it is flourishing.

At the recent plant sale, a master gardener told me that this plant, if happy, will delight the world with many gorgeous, poppy-like blooms. I proudly admitted that I have one very happy plant sporting a score or more of buds.

This morning, I noticed the first bloom. And, yes, it's gorgeous.

For this blessing, I am grateful.