Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday, 01 November 2009 - Eight trick-or-treaters.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for eight trick-or-treaters.

Last night, the number of costumed visitors to our house didn't reach double digits. We expected crowds between 7 and 8 PM. None appeared. Just after 9 PM, I blew out the candle in the pumpkin lantern and turned off the front porch light.

Despite S's generosity, (he gave out handfuls of miniature Hershey's candy bars), we have three unopened bags plus what's left in the bowl (lots, last time I looked).

How disappointing. I know that some of our neighbors went over-the-top decorating their porches and yards with scary and gruesome props. I wonder how many children actually made the rounds. Even T seemed disappointed that none of his human buddies rang the doorbell - most of them are now in high school and went to parties.

Still, eight trick-or-treaters made their way to our house. Each proudly wore a carefully thought-out costume and shouted "Trick or Treat" when S and T opened the door. S complimented each Storm Trooper, ghoul and princess on his or her costume. And, each child politely said "thank you." Halloween, after all, is about them, not us.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009 - The end of the month

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the end of the month.

It's been one of those months - the ones that try one's patience and test one's endurance. S had three surgeries, winter storms ruined too many commutes to the office, the Swine Flu epidemic kept me at home on weekends (my apologies to the local shops I regularly frequent), my dad had neurosurgery, Halloween arrived with a vengeance at work, I received a Jury Duty summons ... Yes, just another October of record.

I don't want to repeat my October experience. I want to accomplish something of note. That's why I'm starting November with two important personal goals.
  1. I will participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and write a 50,000 word manuscript (this means almost no TV watching - sorry Project Runway). 
  2. I will be back in the climbing gym at least 3 times a week.
There. Let the new month begin.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009 - Cool weather greens

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for cool weather greens.

My vegetable garden still feeds me. The cool weather-loving chard, kale and beet greens continue to thrive. Tonight I added a small harvest to my tofu-Japanese eggplant-Anaheim chili stir fry with a very spicy black bean/red chili sauce. I served the dish over a mound of quinoa. Very yummy.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009 - A novel in waiting

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a novel in waiting.

I am thinking about whether or not I will participate in November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

After "winning" in 2007, I skipped the event last year. Now, as November 1 quickly approaches, I am uncertain about my participation.

50,000 words. All written in one month. Conceive a novel then give the story life in 30 days. Can I do it again?

Somewhere in my imagination, a novel waits. It's storyline is clear and compelling, it's characters insightful and memorable. Perhaps this year, I will find it.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009 - A community of rock climbers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a community of rock climbers.

The 2009 Reel Rock Film Tour came to town tonight, a big deal for the Colorado Springs climbing community. This year, the tour featured previews of two episodes of First Ascent: The Series, from National Geographic/Sender Films and the highly-anticipated, just released DVD, Progressions, from Big Up Productions. In Progressions, my climbing hero, American Chris Sharma, finally redpoints his Clark Mountain project, Jumbo Love (5.15b).

S and I attended with one of our Air Force Academy cadets. After Lacrosse practice, he rushed over to our house where we had pizza and orange juice waiting for him. We left on time and arrived at Colorado College's Armstrong Hall with time to spare (I'm a stickler for promptness).

As the crowd settled down, I looked around me, observing only a handful of baby boomers. No matter. For some reason, I didn't feel out of place sitting among a few hundred college kids. I actually felt that I belonged in the audience. After all, I am a rock climber and I support climbing events. And, despite my age, I laughed, groaned, cringed and applauded with everyone else as each film's story unfolded.

Many years ago, a man asked me to name the tribes to which I belonged. Only 30-something, I didn't really understand what he meant. I could only think of three "tribes": my birth family, my work colleagues and my neighbors.

Today - 20 years later - if he asked me the same question, I would answer with ease. I belong to many tribes - each one embracing an essential aspect of my identity. Of these, I am most proud of my affiliation with the tribe of writers and, of course, the tribe of rock climbers.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - A simple prayer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a simple prayer.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyous ones.
And for all your love's sake.

~Saint Augustine of Hippo

The prayer is a gift
from someone I do not know.
She whispers it in my ear.
but loud enough
that my heart can hear each word
above the drip, drip, drip
of my tears.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - Anonymity

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for anonymity.

For 364 out of 365 days of the year, I'm relieved that I've attained non-celebrity status in the world. I am no one to nearly every person now living. And, I like that. For the remaining 24 hours - divvied up over the course of the year - I crave just a teeny bit of notoriety. Maybe someone will notice me - just for a few minutes.

One of these days, I know that I will have my proverbial day in the sun. And, my writing will be the reason for my good fortune.

Over the past few months, I've been working on ideas for new writing projects. Very exciting stuff. I guess I'm fortunate that demands on my creativity are at an all time low at work. I'm free to devote my time, imagination and energy to writing my own stories.

But then again, does anybody care?

Oh, yeah. I forgot. You do.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday, 07 June 2009 - Dirty fingernails

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for dirty fingernails.

Dirty fingernails are proof that I worked in the garden for hours, planting nearly all the "treasures" I bought yesterday, weeding and mulching. They're also proof that I prepared meals for a week: homemade pasta sauce with garden fresh herbs for two pounds of linguine, two baking-sheet sized loaves of "perfect" focaccio (I've finally perfected my recipe and technique), two fresh fruit tarts a la Barefoot Contessa (pluot and apple/pear) and Greek coleslaw (my own recipe).

For this blessing, I am grateful .


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturday, 06 June 2009 - One more plant sale

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one more plant sale.

I visited the Horticultural Art Society's members only plant sale where plants leftover from the May sale are sold at cost plus sales tax. Since my gardens are already crowded, I planned to buy only a few plants - probably more edibles and herbs; maybe one large shrub.

Well, I walked away with over 3 dozen plants, nearly all tried and true favorites. The new inventory includes: Japanese greens, beets, chives, chard, chocolate mint, spearmint, red and yellow sun roses, chocolate flower, Munstead lavender, red Valerian, Reiters thyme ... and one large viburnum.

Sorry, checking account. I just couldn't resist.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday, 05 June 2009 - The sound of silence

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the sound of silence.

Honk if you hate noise pollution.

~Author Unknown, as seen on a bumper sticker

On my first day in my new office, I had trouble adjusting to the very quiet, very professional environment.

The warehouse from where I came was a very noisy place - forklifts beeping, conveyor belts humming, boxes/pallets thumping and bumping, people shouting. Noise was evidence that people were working.

On Monday, the silence was almost unnerving. Until I got used to it. Took a few hours, but I managed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday, 04 June 2009 - All creatures great and small

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for all creatures great and small.

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.
~Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander
For this blessing, I am grateful.


(top) During the winter, this hungry young buck visited my garden.
(bottom) T poses at the edge of the garden (late winter).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wednesday, 03 June 2009 - Rites of spring

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for rites of spring.

First the early season bulbs pose glamorously above the dreary brown mulch. Miniature iris, sunny daffodils, wild crocus smile despite the late snows and icy winds.

Then, the greens emerge - verdant shrubs, lawns, trees, fields, meadows and foothills show off their favorite shades.

Finally, other flowers step on center stage. Soloists and ensembles, alike. Each blossom ready to dance gracefully with the slightest breeze. They soothe my winter-weary soul with their quiet beauty.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Daffodils, front yard (May 10, 2009)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday, 02 June 2009 - All the gardening help I need

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for all the gardening help I need.

Whoever makes a garden
Has never worked alone;

The rain has always found it,

The sun has always known,

The wind has blown across it

And helped to scatter seeds -

Whoever makes a garden

Has all the help he needs.

~Douglas Malloch

This spring, May showers brought May flowers. Now, June continues the wet and soppy and dreary trend - weather not necessarily favored by people but quite pleasant for my edible and perennial gardens. Perhaps this will be a banner year for the vegetables, herbs, shrubs and flowers.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday, 01 June 2009 - A new job

Note: After several months of excuses, a prolonged bout of writer's block and feelings that I didn't have anything worth saying, I've decided to resume this blog. I welcome new and old readers alike.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful a new job and its many challenges, adventures and rewards.

(Long story short, just after last Thanksgiving Day, I began working as a seasonal warehouse employee for a catalog company. To my surprise, in January, the company hired me as a regular associate with full benefits. A few weeks ago, a position opened up in the Merchandising Department. I submitted my resume on May 18 and interviewed the next morning. On Friday, May 22, I learned two things: that I got the promotion and that I was "Employee of the Month" for April. People who know me well were not surprised by my excitement about the former and embarrassment by the latter.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday, 23 January 2009 - Kind words, compliments

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for kind words and compliments.

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese proverb

I can live for two months on a good compliment. ~Mark Twain

The business slowdown means that my team takes Thursday off. This morning, as we began another workday, I learned that Wednesday was both a hiring and firing day. Given the extremely tight job market, I feel sad for those who are gone and thankful that I'm still working.

Kind words: I'm surprised when employees on other teams congratulate me on my hiring. At work, I'm congenial but task-oriented. I tend to keep to myself, guarding my privacy.

Compliment: One person told me that the fact that the company hired me restored his faith in the hiring process.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday, 21 January 2009 - Work

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for work.

To labor is to pray. ~Motto of the Benedictines

Things are looking up.

This afternoon, my work life shifted direction. After signing a single document, my status changed from seasonal to regular, benefit-eligible employee.

Now, my job is not a highly paid, responsibility-rich management position like the ones listed on my resume. But, that's okay. I'm still exploring the meaning of work. What better place to continue my exploration than near the bottom of the corporate food chain? From here, I have no place to move but up.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 - President Barack Obama

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for President Barack Obama.

The wonder is that, as we walk it, the path becomes clear. We have only to trust it into action, then truth reveals itself, shining all the brighter for the darkness of our time.
~Joanna Macy

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. ~President Barack Obama, inauguration speech, 20 January 2009

... let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
~President Barack Obama, inauguration speech, 20 January 2009

Inauguration Day 2009.

I never thought today would arrive. But, here it is, in all its glory.

In Colorado Springs, we're enjoying an extraordinarily beautiful winter day. The bluest skies, springlike temperatures hovering in the low 60s, the slightest breeze. Too bad I have to go to work.

Fortunately, someone brought in a television. I see that the inauguration festivities are well under way.

Just after 10 AM MST, I pause at the television and watch Barack Obama take the oath of office. His voice is clear and steady. And confident, strong.

He finishes, to the utter delight of the massive crowd gathered in the National Mall. I turn to a colleague and give her the thumbs-up sign. She smiles and returns the sign.

It's time to celebrate - really celebrate - this historic event. Finally. We worked so hard to make it this far.

But, the inauguration is just the starting point of another journey. Tomorrow, our work rebuilding America begins anew.

And, yes. I am still fired up ... ready to go!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, 19 January 2009 - Encouraging and inspiring words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for encouraging and inspiring words from Martin Luther King, Jr.

On October 26, 1967, six months before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. The topic: developing a blueprint for one's life. Here is my favorite excerpt from his remarks:
And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don't just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn't do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday, 10 January 2009 - Knitting goals

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for knitting goals.

In 2008, I didn't knit anything worth mentioning, not even a chic scarf. I'm rather embarrassed by this result given my love of hand-knit garments and accessories.

This year, I plan to do better. I write this as I inventory my large yarn stash and put dozens of great patterns in queue.

So, here are my knitting goals:

~ to learn how to knit short rows (I found a ballet slipper pattern that uses short rows) and complex cables (I have a trendy sweater pattern with an interesting cable pattern)
~ to improve my garment finishing and assembly techniques (I really need help setting in sleeves)
~ to shop my stash before buying new yarn or patterns
~ to make at least one great looking winter sweater

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday, 09 January 2009 - Caution

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for caution.

Better a thousand times careful than once dead. ~Proverb

The winter storm appeared from out of nowhere. Early morning was mild, clear and bright. With each passing hour, however, the temperature fell a few more degrees, the skies darkened one more shade of gray. Then, with one mighty blast of northerly wind, in came the blizzard.

After work, I rush to my car as wet snow pummels the area. I still have two errands to run before going home: trips to the bank and post office. The wind is so strong, the snow flies by in a horizontal path. As usual, I err on the side of caution, and go the speed limit. I don't care if others speed by me. I just want to get home safely.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday, 08 January 2009 - Protection

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for protection.

For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.

In their hands they shall bear you up,

Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91: 11-12 (NKJV)

I am a Psalm 91 fan, reciting it daily as a prayer for me, S, T, my family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, acquaintances - anyone whose life I've touched. These days, uncertainty reigns and I can't take my personal well-being for granted.

Prayer helps, especially since life is taking so many of us on unpredictable roller coaster rides. I'm not scared, just extra careful and hopeful.

Daily, I ask for an extra layer of protection, just in case I fall awkwardly while climbing or stumble unexpectedly while trying to make a living.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday, 07 January 2009 - A clear head

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a clear head.

My bout with the common cold, my first this century, is finally over. What a relief to breathe easily, lose that annoying, hacking cough and sleep soundly at night. I very rarely use OTC or prescription medications, preferring natural or homeopathic remedies. This time, however, I had to take a few to get me through work.

I'm well now - feeling 100% of my old self - and determined to stay healthy the rest of the year.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday, 06 January 2009 - Favor

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for favor.

I pray daily for favor in all areas of my life. My fortunes often improve in tiny but significant ways. These days, I appreciate all the help that comes my way.

Case in point. My current job is a seasonal one so I expect to be let go any day now. I don't earn a high wage, but I enjoy the work and like my managers and colleagues. On several occasions, I've been granted small doses of favor.

For example, on New Year's Eve, I was the only seasonal employee asked to stay and work after lunch. This afternoon, four more seasonal employees on my team were terminated. Only three of us remain.

Yes, I shall live to work another day.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday, 05 January 2009 - A winter gift

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a winter gift.

'Tis not the season
the leaf whose
fragile body’s broken veins
disintegrate in
gusts of winds while
winter blows a frosty coat that
caps the barren land.
~Lucille Younger

I didn't ask for more wintry weather, preferring mild, dry days that invite rock climbing adventures. Mother Nature, however, sent me a generous helping of winter. She thought it a gift - the swirling, drifting snow; the bitter cold North wind; the frosty air; the single digit temperature.

I deemed it punishment. That is, until my trip home from work.

After turning left into the neighborhood, I observed several middle school boys having a ball playing in their well-constructed snow fort (I smiled and waved - to my surprise, they smiled and waved back). Then, further up the street, I spied a petite snowman with a bright orange plastic jack-o-lantern head (very, very funny).

Now I get it. No snow means no snow fort, no snowman.

To every thing, there is a season
And a time to every purpose under heaven ...

Ecclesiastes 3

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday, 04 January 2009 - A snowy Sunday

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a snowy Sunday.


Nearly a foot of pure white powder sits quietly on the landscape with more falling every second.

It's been a while since I've experienced so much snow at home. I'm awed and filled with wonder. When I went to bed last night, a mere dusting decorated the yard.

I think of Robert Frost's famous poem ...

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

T, thrilled to play with his snow buddies, escapes the house and dives joyfully into the icy froth. He dances and prances in the powder, showing off his best Labrador retriever snow moves.

Then, reality sets in. I begin thinking about the snow's inconvenience. In particular, the work required to clear the driveway and sidewalks later today. I also anticipate the drive to work early tomorrow morning. After all these years living in Colorado, I still hate driving on icy and snow-packed roads. I guess I will always be a Southern California girl.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saturday, 03 January 2009 - NFL play-offs

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the NFL play-offs - finally!

Since my all-time favorite team, the Oakland Raiders, did not make the NFL playoffs - again - I'm supporting the Indianapolis Colts - again. So, if Peyton Manning and team don't win today, the NFL season is over for me.

Now, that doesn't mean I won't follow the other play-off games or the Super Bowl. S and T will most definitely watch the games regardless of the teams (S watches football for football's sake). It does mean, however, that I will do so without my signature passion and love-hate picks (as in, I hate the Denver Broncos and I love the Colts).

So, here's to the NFL and the guts and glory of football.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday, 02 January 2009 - Clean toys

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for clean toys.

A new year's ritual.
Giving T's toys a bath.
Not his choice, of course.
T prefers that his treasures carry a certain Labrador retriever scent.
I'm the picky one. I'm the Mom, after all.

T's toys form one large pile on the carpet. Here's a quick inventory:

1 - large Lambie-doodle
1 - small Lambie-doodle
1 - Snoopy toy
1 - rope with Christmas colors
2 - chickens
1 - pheasant
1 - duck
1 - canvas football
1 - furry football
1 - loopy furry toy
1 - fur covered tennis ball with squirrel-like tail
1 - gorilla (one oversized tennis ball covered in black fur)

I think that's about it for this load. I also add T's padded fleece bed and favorite blanket.

About 90 minutes later, I remove the toys from the dryer and present them to T. He's not happy, warily sniffing the clean items, giving me his "what have you done to my things" look.

By the end of the day, things will be back to normal. T will have reclaimed his toys and forgiven me for my dastardly mother deed.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Thursday, 01 January 2009 - A new year

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new year.


A good year for everyone, I hope.

At least, let it be a fortunate one.

For each adventure, an easier, routine day.
For each difficult climb, a higher step up and longer reach.
For each challenge, a respite.
For each lost opportunity, a new dream.
For each cloudy day, a sun drenched morning.
For each impossibility, a miracle.

Yes I can.

For this blessing, I am truly grateful.