Friday, December 31, 2010

Important People

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for important people.

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet, no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

As I peruse the list of "important" people who died this year, I realize that the media forgot some notable names. None are celebrities or athletes or billionaires. They are simply humans and canines who matter to people who matter to me:
  • My dad
  • My work colleague, Pete
  • Kathleen's mother
  • Cortney's grandmother
  • Judy's mother
  • Kelly's brother
  • Sage (Kathleen and Steve's beloved Australian Shepherd)
  • Greta (CS's beloved Weimaraner)
  • Ted Eastburn
The holidays just weren't the same without them. 

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Christmas.

 I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. 
~Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This Christmas Day, I pause to remember some of the good things in my life:
  • T is doing well.
  • S and I are healthy and able to climb several times a week.
  • I have a job, a wonderful manager and health insurance.
  • My cup runneth over a little bit which means I can give to others less fortunate than I. My cause in 2011 is hunger in our community. I wish I could give a lot more.
  • My sister, E, who, despite the distance between us, always remembers to include me in her life
  • Our "family" at the climbing gym - not just the owners but all the climbers we've met who care about us
  • Our Air Force Academy cadets who, as juniors and seniors, are now highly accomplished men in all areas of life.
Wishing everyone, everywhere a lovely holiday season. Merry Christmas!

For these blessings, I am very grateful.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, T

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for T as he celebrates his 14th birthday. He is still a svelte 72 pounds who enjoys his daily walks in the neighborhood, snowy days and lots of treats. Always the lover boy, T remains very popular with all humans and younger canine buddies.

T on his 14th birthday

I think that this Navajo chant is T's daily prayer because he lives each day with such delight:
May it be delightful my house;
From my head
may it be delightful;
To my feet
may it be delightful;
Where I lie
may it be delightful;
All above me
may it be delightful;
All around me may it be delightful.
~Navajo chant 
For this blessing, I am very, very grateful.


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Dear God:

Today, I am thankful.

Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.
~J. Robert Moskin

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Again, I find it very hard to embrace the holiday season with a joyful heart. It's been an exceedingly difficult year - too many personal losses and challenges. I'm surprised I made it this far without serious consequences. Fortunately, I have my health and, hopefully, enough time to finish my life's mission.

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving Day at home - the climbing gym was closed and it was far too cold to do anything outdoors except walk T around the park. At 11 AM, we listened to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant on the local public radio station, a Colorado Springs tradition. I cooked a simple meal while S watched football and T napped. The day was tinged with sadness - S and I know that T's remaining time with us is very short. I hope he makes it to his 14th birthday on December 18.

For my many blessings, I am grateful.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Snow, Final Harvest

Dear God:

Today I am thankful for our first snow and my garden's final harvest.

Winter arrived late yesterday afternoon. Finally, my colleagues and I sighed as we monitored the plunging temperature on Google weather. Yes, the nearly 80 degree F temperatures last weekend were divine but, alas, too good to be true. 28 degrees F. Now that's more like it.

And the snow. Swirling and whirling around people and cars and buildings and trees and scrub oak. Arriving  just as the rush hour traffic peaked. Hours later, the storm finished her work. Her gift: over three inches of fresh ice and snow covering everything.

This evening, I check the Swiss chard that has been feeding me since June. Sadly, I realize that the hardy plants will freeze tonight, that it is time for my garden's final harvest.

The ceremony is very quick. I carefully cut the remaining leaves with my favorite shears. Then, I wash and roughly chop the leaves before adding them to the homemade vegetable soup that simmers on the stove.

This year's vegetable garden was my best ever. The Colorado weather cooperated, I fertilized the plants monthly and, most importantly, I didn't have the time or energy to fuss over the tomatoes. As a result, we enjoyed a delicious and healthy bounty of fresh organic food: cherry tomatoes, monster zucchini, Japanese eggplant, Swiss chard, strawberries, raspberries, Goji berries, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers and herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, chives, tarragon, sage, mint, lovage and sorrel).

I think that Dad, an expert gardener in his own right, would have been proud of my results.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Visitors

Dear God:

Today I am thankful for Halloween visitors.

In case you're keeping track:
  • This year's count: 11 young trick-or-treaters, one parent dressed as Tom Brady (the New England Patriot's quarterback) and several other parents not in costume. I bought goodies for 20.
  • My manager and her husband had nearly 350 visitors at their home. They eventually ran out of candy.
  • Finally, my team at work won the first annual Halloween decorating contest. The company is buying us lunch at the restaurant of our choice.
(Sadly, unlike past years, T did not run to the door whenever the door bell rang. He got up only once, when across-the-street neighbors, Bryson and his dad, stopped by.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

The power of ten

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the power of ten.

I am celebrating 10.10.10 with:

10 thoughts
  1. It's already late Sunday afternoon - where did my weekend go?
  2. Fall has finally arrived in Colorado Springs - the chill in the air says it all.
  3. I am still harvesting jalapeno and cayenne peppers from what was my best vegetable garden to date.
  4. T is sleeping, dreaming of the best days, the best moments of his life (I wonder if he will make it through the winter). 
  5. I miss my dad who died nearly 5 months ago. I think he would have loved my gardens this year.
  6. A colleague died last weekend from cancer (very sad for all of us at the office - you could have heard a pin drop when the email arrived in our mailboxes). 
  7. This morning, I baked rich and buttery cranberry scones for breakfast and focaccio with fresh rosemary (to accompany the pork shoulder roast that cooked all night in the crock pot).
  8. I need to assemble my cool weather wardrobe - time again for cozy sweaters, hand knit scarves, cashmere gloves and my favorite boots.
  9. I wish I could live parts of my life over because I would do many things differently.
  10. I'm glad that I'm a rock climber - rock climbing is much easier on the knees than my first love, long distance running.
10 dollars

My budget when I shop at the thrift store is $10.00. I usually visit on Saturdays when most items are half-price. My rule is that I only buy clothes from well-known brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Gap, Patagonia, North Face and Prana. I'm lucky that I wear small sizes - the "small" racks are rarely picked over. Yesterday, for $9.10 (tax included), I bought a lovely pale blue rayon blend cardigan (Ann Taylor, needs new buttons) and two pairs of black slacks in stretch fabrics (Ann Taylor and Talbots - modern, low waist fit, no alterations needed). My favorite finds in the past year include a Lands End coat for $7.50, a new pair of Prana climbing pants for $5.00, and the complete collection of Robert Frost poems for $1.50. 

10 more minutes

This is what I ask for all day long - just 10 more minutes, please. Today, I am giving myself 10 more minutes. For all the times I needed them but was denied or couldn't find the extra time. 

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Dad: July 19, 1925 - May 15, 2010

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my dad.

My dad died this afternoon. He was 84 years old.

I last saw him in March when the family gathered in Manhattan Beach to celebrate his and Mom's 60th wedding anniversary. It was his most ardent desire to live to see March 18, 2010.

I don't know what else to write so I'll share the poem I wrote for him for Father's Day 2002.

I Am My Father's Daughter
For Dad on Father's Day 2002

My father is in me.
You see it, don't you?
The raw elements of
Strength, courage and purpose.
The black and white
Of right and wrong.
The "never say can't" attitude.

I wear them like skin,
Breathe them like air,
Drink them like water.
I cannot shake them off,
Or shed them,
Or wish them away.

His gifts to me
Are not seasonal or
Ruled by the tides.
See how he and I
Think the same way,
Act the same way,
Dream the same way.

All that I do
He does with me.
He is my watchman,
My protector,
Peering over my shoulder,
Stirring my conscience,
Knocking on my heart.

As I travel here and there
And accomplish this and that,
Others watch me.
They nod their heads and whisper,
"She is just like her dad."

They think I don't hear them,
But, I do.
And I smile.
For above all things,
I am my father's daughter.

For this blessing, I am eternally grateful.

I love you, Dad.


Photo: Daffodils in the front yard garden. Here is a quintet - five lovely sunny yellow blooms representing five grieving daughters.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, 17 March 2010 - Last days of winter

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the last days of winter.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

Daily, my gardens remind me that it's time to prepare the plots for a new growing season. I vow to begin the chores only if the sun is shining and it's warm enough to break a sweat. And I don't mean a few hours of glorious weather on a Saturday morning followed by several days of freezing temperatures and wet snow.

I really want a lovely spring this year, maybe even an extraordinary one. Not for me, but for T and for my dad. I fear that Spring 2010 may be their last.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, 16 March 2010 - Confessions

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for confessions.

No more excuses coming from my tiny corner of the world. I no longer offer excuses for anything, only confessions ... as in:

I confess that:
  • I let life get in the way of my writing.
  • I let work get in the way of my writing.
  • I let doubt and fear get in the way of my writing.
  • I let writer's block get in the way of my writing.
  • I let television get in the way of my writing.
Please forgive me. I know what I have done, and I was wrong. I'm ready to wipe the slate clean and begin anew.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, March 15, 2010

15 March 2010 - Birthday Number 56

Dear God:

Today I am thankful for one more year - number 56 to be exact.

My birthday.
Not a cause for jubilant celebration.
Rather, a time for quiet and intense reflection.
Past, present, future.
All three have great and grave importance when you're 50-something.

I dream, ponder and philosophize.
I learn, create and change.
I act, decide and progress.
I share, mentor and collaborate.
I work hard at building a small legacy of good works. 

Be generous to a fault.
Follow the Golden Rule.
Be kind.

I know that I am well past the half-way point of my life, unless, of course, I live past the ripe old age of 112.

I'm not planning anything special. I have to work today. My colleagues who know about my birthday will whisper their good wishes. They know my preference for privacy.

No gifts, please. I think I already have most of the things on my wish list:
  • A husband and (canine) son who love me
  • Respect and love from my beloved niece and nephew
  • A sister who is also my best friend (too bad she lives in California)
  • An extended Colorado Springs family that includes kind and generous neighbors
  • Membership at the new climbing gym (S and I know the owners)
  • Hours to spend writing and reading (Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are on this year's list)
  • Longer days so I can take T for a walk when I come home from work
  • Visits from our Air Force cadet "sons" - they're juniors this year
  • Gardens and landscapes that crave my attention
  • Delicious cooking adventures that involve my favorite Le Creuset cookware 
Happy Birthday to me. I think this is the year I will finish writing my book.

For this blessing, I am grateful.