Posts Tagged With: Gratitude

Winter Wonderland, Desert Style

Misty morning.

Misty morning.

Hey! It’s Gratituesday! Look at this!! Can you believe it?

Homegrown heaven!

Homegrown heaven!

Tomatoes!!! Yes! Fresh hanging on the vine tomatoes in February! Holy pico de gallo!

I’m so excited to see this. I tucked these babies in every night for over a week while we had freezing temperatures in January. I mean I literally tucked sheets around the plants to keep them warm and alive in the cold hours of the night. These are four-foot tall tomato plants too, so bedding them down took more than a few sheets and some perseverance.

Sunshine captured!

Sunshine captured!

Just a few steps to the south hang these beautiful shining orbs of sugary delight.

I squeezed a few for breakfast this morning. Oh my. Nothing else in the world smells like a freeze squeezed orange and nothing can imitate that liquid gold taste. I didn’t even need to add ice since it’d been a brisk night.

And then there’s walking at the Riparian. A hoodie is all that’s needed to keep warm enough  while walking at sunrise lately. A nice change from the twenties of a month ago and a vast distance from what I experience during the summer.

Puffy pearls.

Puffy pearls.

These puffy pearls captured a bit of sunlight as it passed by, the dew still clinging and cool. A mist hangs over the ponds until the sun peaks over the horizon chasing it away. Geese clamor and honk as they travel overhead. Such drama queens.

Winter mornings like this one, with homegrown tomatoes, oranges just plucked from the tree and scenic walking conditions count as just a few of many things that make living through a Phoenix blast furnace summer worthwhile.

It’s odd how that all works out. A sort of a balancing of the scale in terms of weather.

Do you suppose the scale balances in other ways as well? I like to think while going through tough times that seem relentless and unbearable, that life eventually balances out the scales. That joy, with a greater heft and depth than sorrow holds, brings things even. I could be wrong. But today, that feels true. I hope it is.

I’m feeling extra blessed by our mild winter gifts. What more could a person ask for?

Always making a ruckus!

Always making a ruckus! But hey, it’s a nice day anyway.

 

 

 

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ring Dings

It’s Gratituesday! When we first moved to Arizona we had very light, almost white carpet on the stairs just ten steps from the front door. The bedrooms and hallways also had the same impractical carpet. It was a no-brainer that we’d be one of those families. You know the ones. We became a family that didn’t wear shoes in the house. So right next to the front door a shoe pile grew.

I tried all sorts of ways to keep them organized and neat. Mostly, about once a week, everyone had to haul all their shoes to their bedroom closets and only leave one pair by the door.

Dirt Happens

The carpet still managed to get dirty.

The shoeless habit stuck with us. We’ve lived in four houses in eighteen years and shoes still come off and go on at the exit door. Not so much for the clean carpet, ours is dark beige now, but for the comfort and routine of it.

What does this have to do with gratitude today? I’m getting there.

Look closely at this photo of my wall by the front door.

photo 2-3 copy 18It just looks like a paint job needing repair I suppose. Or little pencil marks. We have dorky paint in this house. It was at one time a repossession by the bank and got a cheap paint job before we ended up living here.

This is the kind of paint that comes off if you take a damp sponge to it to wipe away fingerprints. Why do they even make that kind of paint?

Cheap Paint Happens

The only way to “clean” a wall in our house is to very carefully dab at a spot and hope the paint sticks. Otherwise there’s a can of touch-up paint I use sparingly to keep the fingerprints and such at bay.

But if you look at the wall photo I pointed out, those aren’t fingerprints. Nope. I’m not even sure what to call them. Dings? Nicks? Marks?

It took a bit of thinking but I figured out what they were and how they got there.

You see, every time MSH slips his feet into his shoes by the front door, he puts his left hand on the wall to steady himself. And often, if not always, his wedding band taps, dings, or touches the wall. Given the nature of the paint it invariably leaves a mark. There’s quite a collection of the dings in a small area.

Rather than painting over them in frustration, I’ve decided to leave them there for a while as a sweet reminder of MSH’s travels to and from our home.

Honestly, sometimes I’m glad when he leaves, but I’m also really glad that he always returns. When he’s traveled for work there were weeks and months when the departures happened often and arrivals were brief and coveted.

I see those marks as the adult version of sticky fingerprints, I suppose. Every once in a while things like that get cleaned up and taken care of. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the ring dings. I’ll count them as a blessing, since they’re really just evidence of MSH and the thirty plus years we’ve shared.

Strange, I know. But hey, paint is cheap.

Photo by Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil

Photo by Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An In-Law with a Dance in His Step

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for an extra father-in-law. Yes, you read that correctly.

MSH’s mom remarried about thirty years ago. Thing is she married a rancher. Everyone thought she was crazy heading off from a life in California to help raise the last half of a Wyoming cattleman’s children and run a household.

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

My kids always called him Grandpa. They didn’t care about family politics or the ins and outs and etiquette of widowers or divorced people. My kids only knew they felt loved from both of those people on the ranch, as well as the aunts and uncles and cousins they rubbed shoulders with. My son especially loved spending time up there. I suspect Grandma’s “good groceries” had something to do with it. I think getting the chance to ride motorcycles, drive trucks and tractors at a really early age, and generally spending the day outdoors and getting dirty kind of endeared him to Grandpa.

Grandpa showed equal attention to all the children and grandchildren and made no distinction whatsoever between his or hers especially when it came to grandkids. He capacity to love seems infinite.

I still remember him holding each of my girls on his knee and telling them stories and nursery rhymes. His favorite one he recently recited to a great-granddaughter. You have to read it closely or you’ll miss the subtle nuances.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard

to get her poor daughter a dress.

When she got there, the cupboard was bare,

and so was her daughter, I guess.

He has the most innocent and yet mischievous twinkle in his eye when he ends that rhyme.

What a marvelous sense of humor! I suppose you have to have a capacity for laughter if you live the life of a rancher. The whimsical humor of weather, insects, and markets could leave a person in a sour state of mind more often than not. He’s got the sweetest disposition you could imagine.

He loves to dance and can hardly sit still if a good dance tune starts playing. I’m pretty sure that’s how he charmed my mother-in-law into marrying him.

By Cgoodwin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cgoodwin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

His family, one of the first homesteaders in the valley they live in, raised eggs when he was a boy, dairy cows when he got older. He moved on to beef cattle after the dairy cows nearly wore him out. He’s seen his share of setbacks, heavy sorrows, challenges, health problems and heartaches. And yet, at eighty-one he gets restless in the winter without enough work outdoors to keep him busy.

Once spring starts thinking about appearing and the calving starts, he’s an energized, sunup to way past sundown ball of energy. I think he can outwork an eighteen year old.

I’ve never met a friendlier person either. When they visit us here, I swear he sees more people he knows than I do. He says he’s never met a stranger because he always introduces himself and gets to know a person right off. He has a kind heart to go with that friendlier demeanor, too.

Oh, my! Saints have nothing on him for the patience he has. But if you do something mean-hearted or downright wrong you’d better be prepared for an argument you won’t win. Rancher’s aren’t people to mess with.

In all his spare winter time he used to coach wrestling at the local high school as a volunteer. He changed lots of lives for the better that way. You could ask almost anyone who’s known him what a good man he is and what a difference he’s made in their community. They’ll back me up.

Grandpa might be short in stature, but he’s got the character of a giant. He’s one of the most valiant men I’ve ever known. What an honor and a blessing to know him and to count myself as family with him.

Thank you, Gary! You’re a bright spot of sunshine in the world!

 

~~~~~

“If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.” ~ Will Rogers 

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Excessive Blushing and Twirling and Other Book Club Oddities

It’s Gratituesday! My book club drives me crazy. But in a good way. So, yup, today I’m thankful for book club.

Why, you ask. Why would your book club drive you crazy? And if so why do you continue to attend?

One of my all time favorites.

One of my all time favorites.

For seven years now we’ve read and discussed a handful of books. Eighty-four at most, since we read an average of twelve books a year. We’ve read fiction and non-fiction, memoir, self-help, religious, parenting, classics, recent releases, young adult, and yes, admittedly, even some romances.

My favorite meeting of the year happens in January when we pick our upcoming reads. It’s a process that’s evolved. Some books make repeat appearances until the proponent wears us down and we give in and read the thing. Others get voted off the island for reasons as odd as “it’s too long,” to “we’ve already read one like that.”

Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t always read every book on the list for the year. And even more surprising, if I haven’t finished reading the book by time we actually discuss it, I most likely won’t finish reading it. (I also hardly read any of 2014’s books, but then I didn’t read as much as I usually do either.)

Shhhh…I think the book part of book club is somewhat secondary.

The snacks definitely add to the experience and can make or break a book club night. (Just kidding, but it’s a nice addition.) One person does a full-on dinner for us, themed around the book we’re discussing. Impressive, don’t you think? I’m happy if chips and salsa or any kind of chocolate makes an appearance.

I think the people come in as the best part of book club.

Our group has morphed over the years. I’m not sure how many originals still attend. I miss some who’ve moved away or moved on. I didn’t like my bestie Kathy much when I first got to know her through book club because, frankly, I was jealous that she read more books than I managed to. What a prolific reader. Every new person who attends adds a twist to the group that shapes discussions and makes a difference.

There’s been young mothers, grandmothers, single women, a male or two, empty nesters, stay at home moms, people who work full-time, people who work from home and occasional visitors we hardly know a thing about. We’ve invited spouses to a few discussions and teens to a couple as well.

Photo By Tom Murphy VII (Own work)

Photo By Tom Murphy VII (Own work)

It’s fascinating to watch all these diverse personalities interact. Some haven’t read the book at all and are simply relieved at the chance to interact with live adults. Others have a definite agenda they want to discuss. Serious readers come and go, not really thrilled with our eclectic choices and off topic discussions, I suspect. Others seem intent on self-improvement. Some try to get a sentence or two in and get drowned out by louder voices. I might go one month and say almost nothing, just observing mostly. And then another month I might be the one solitary voice of dissent in a room of twirling blushing romance novel swooners. (I’ll never live that one down.)

I’d like to think I could have a one on one discussion about almost anything with any one of these book club members. It’d be easiest if we discussed books and reading. But surely there’s other possible connections that go deeper than the written word.

I’ve participated in a few after-discussions that turned out way better than the actual meeting. Smaller groups naturally have an intimacy and openness about them that invite more listening and less jockeying.

There’s definitely some holding back on strong opinions and some reservations about real open discussions. And there’s some unfiltered stuff that just spills out all over the place. It can get messy in a room filled with women.

Willi Heidelbach [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html),], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Willi Heidelbach [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html),]

I wonder at times what would happen if some of us stepped back and listened more and talked less. I wonder how safe each member feels sharing anything close to the bone. Maybe it’s happened a bit. Some of us joke around as a defense mechanism sometimes, I suppose. Some of us don’t say what’s really on our minds. Some try to and get glossed over. It’s group dynamics at work. Maybe we need to read a book about that topic.

I adore the different people there. I see my much younger self in a couple of them. I see qualities to admire and emulate in every single person in the group. I try to set aside my uppity English major self and just be a normal human who can and does enjoy variety.

This year’s book selections include three self-help/inspirational books, one memoir, one regency romance, (cough) four based on true events, and three fictional books. Should be interesting!

It’s good for me to throw in some different flavors I wouldn’t necessarily choose on my own. Book club makes me a more well-rounded person.

And once, it made me dizzier. Or ditzy. But that’s another story.

Categories: Books, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pay Attention to the Signs: or My Grand Grand Adventure

Grand doesn't begin to describe it.

Grand doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s Gratituesday! I found out that you CAN go home again, after a fashion, and I’m thankful for that.

At thirteen years old I experienced the grandeur that is Grand Canyon. At the time I had two less siblings than I do now. So Mom and Dad only had five of us to keep track of. It’s a good thing back then that my Momfear genes hadn’t kicked in gear yet or I’d have been a total wreck.

We visited the North Rim, the less traveled and higher side. Ponderosa Pines line the roads all the way in to the edge. I love, love, loved my experiences there. Sunrise and sunset at the canyon invites heavenly choirs and every other supernal hyperbole one can imagine.

And then I never went back.

Why? Fear of heights kicked in for one thing. And living on the other side of the country presented obstacles for a while. But for the past eighteen years, living a mere three or four-hour drive away, I had no good excuse. Except I didn’t think I could survive having my children standing on a precipice with a mile drop off. Nope. I’m pretty sure I’d have died of a heart attack or anxiety attack or both.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

During Dad and Mom’s visit here in November they decided they wanted to take me to the Grand Canyon. “Of course!” I said. “What am I thinking? I must be nuts!” I thought to myself. I can’t say no to my parents. (Oddly, it wasn’t a problem when I was a kid.)

I found it a bit ironic that the first time I visited the Grand Canyon and the only other time I visited a few decades later involved my parents taking me there. I am a grownup, after all.

I didn’t feel so very grownup next to the edge of that massive, gaping fissure in the earth. Even with fences and railings my legs turned to jelly and my stomach did this rollercoaster thingy. That’s a perfectly legitimate guttural response to danger.

Do you see this sign?

Important sign.

Important sign.

Here, look closer!

Important sign.

Very Important sign.

Yes. This sign. It’s in multiple languages! For good reason! This is an important sign. (Oddly it’s only about twelve inches wide and sits low to the ground. You’d think it’d be the size of a billboard with flashing lights at eye level. Government operating at it’s best there, folks.)

And yet millions of visitors go hang out on the edge every single year. Why? Because this place defies AMAZING! And logic seems to vacate brains in the face of such wonders.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

A couple of people there had brought their dogs on a leash, and the dogs, bless their little palpitating hearts, did not want to go anywhere near the edge of the canyon. Smart animals!

One of my coping mechanisms of dealing with the terror I felt involved noticing the people around me. I can’t tell you how many different languages I heard spoken. And this wasn’t even during tourist season. We’re talking a Monday in November! And still the place teamed with humans from all over the planet. This made me feel really silly for not taking advantage of this stunning world wonder in my backyard. People fly from Tibet and Russia and Argentina and literally everywhere across the globe to my little desert state to visit this hole in the ground.

Layers and colors galore.

Layers and colors galore.

It’s a bit more than a hole. It’s epic. It’s Grand. It’s stunning.

The Grand Canyon defies description. I know people have tried. I’ve read some of the attempts. The place boggles my brain. How did something like this come to be? Was it really some gradual etching away by a tiny river? I have a hard time believing that. Seems like some massive flood of an interior sea had to have carved out such intensity. Or perhaps a cataclysmic earthquake pulling and pushing from the very center of the earth birthed such a wonder and then, rain and wind and erosion worked its slow magic on the fissure.

Crayola has nothing on the color spectrum that Grand Canyon provides. Every hue of red, orange, tan, green, gray, brown, gold, black, white and yes, even blue and purple began its life there. I could spend a week or more in that place and not get saturated with all it offers in color, sight, sound and smell.

Look close and you can see the virga.

Look close and you can see the virga.

While we were there a thin veil of clouds hovered at eye level between the south side, where we were, and the north side. The cloud released raindrops that evaporated before falling very far. Meteorologists call that virga, I call it art. An hour later the temperatures had dropped enough that the virga turned to tiny pellets of snow dusting the heads of visitors while the sun shone bright through the thin clouds. It felt like a moment of magic.

That's MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

That’s MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

Then, breaking the spell, MSH wandered out past the danger sign on to a ledge with a few other foolish souls. I told him I’d kill him if he fell. He had previously been saying how jealous he was of the birds who could fly out over the edge, swooping around, riding the columns of air. So I was more than your average nervous at this point. I couldn’t breathe while he stood out there, no fence to stop him or others from oopsing off the edge.

Getting me a bit sidetracked, Dad took up a conversation with a small group who spoke something Spanish sounding. Nope, he doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to communicate nonetheless. One of them pointed to herself and said, “Machu Pichu.” We understood that to mean she’s from Peru! Dad also overheard someone talking in a Russian dialect and yes, he does know a little Russian, so he chatted briefly with them. Boy were they surprised that an American could do that!

Finally after what felt like hours, MSH wandered back from the edge of death-by-falling-four-thousand-feet and I could start breathing again. He joked that it wasn’t the fall that kills you, but the landing that does you in. Not funny in the least.

Elk are big animals.

Elk are big animals.

We almost literally ran into a herd of elk. I, of course, jumped out of the car and ran across the road to take a closer picture. Those critters stand really, really tall, and foolish me stood only ten feet away. I’m sure they had a conversation among themselves that involved the words, stupid, human, squash and extinct. But I don’t speak Elk so I didn’t worry too much. I did get some great photos of these magnificent creatures.

In my younger years a part of me wanted to hike the canyon to give me a different perspective. I had set what seemed like a reasonable goal date, which has sadly come and gone. Part of me knew I was crazy and being unrealistic. Part of me still wants the experience. Visiting there renewed that desire.

I plan on going back again soon and staying longer, exploring more. Wouldn’t a Colorado River trip give The Canyon a whole different feel? Sounds fun to me. No potential falls involved.

Thank you Dad and Mom for helping me experience the Grand Canyon, both times. I loved sharing something so spectacular with two of my favorite people!

 

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 ~~~~~

“The glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.” ~ John Wesley Powell

 

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Sound of Heavenly Peace

holly ivyHave you ever wished you could talk with someone who has died? How do you picture something like that coming about? An ethereal mist with somewhat human form? A tangible person appearing from nowhere? Simply hearing a voice? How about just a feeling?

A couple of times my friend Kathy has “spoken” to me, but only in a kind of “I know what she’d say in this situation if she were here” sort of way. Like the first time I got a diet Cherry Coke from Sonic without her in the seat beside me. The thought came to me that she’d say, “Girl! Open the sunroof, crank the tunes and enjoy that diet Coke!”

Nah, I didn’t hear her voice at all. Just the memory of her in my head.

Then there’s the times I’ve had a conversation and said something really negative or pessimistic. “Kathy would get after me for saying that,” I think to myself.

By Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Still, not what I’ve wanted, or hoped for or thought I needed. I’m pretty sure she said all she needed to say to me while she still lived and breathed. But this month I’m finding myself reliving and reviewing last December, since it was Kathy’s last month of this life. I can’t not do that.

So what does all that have to do with my Gratituesday today?

Kathy finally spoke to me, indirectly, but as directly as she could. Consider this quote before you read on: “If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.” ~Mark Helprin

Kathy’s husband woke in the middle of the night a month or so ago with the thought that “Kami needs to go to this Christmas concert I’m singing in.” He tried to ignore the thought and go back to sleep, but the it persisted. So he messaged me and then, a few weeks later, gifted me these tickets.

Saturday night MSH and I attended the concert. I tried not to have high expectations. It’s just a big two hundred and fifty member choir and an orchestra. Nothing professional. And I didn’t want to be disappointed by, I don’t know, Kathy not walking across the stage and waving hello to me or some such ridiculous incarnation like that.

And yet, life can surprise you.

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The title of the concert? “Heavenly Peace.”

From the first note my heart opened up and tears dripped from my eyes like a faucet left on. Why? Because the music communicated peace right to the middle of me. I felt cradled and comforted by the harmonies. Oddly, the lyrics didn’t matter as much as the warmth that radiated through sound waves swirling around me.

Songs of delight and child-like frivolity also danced across my heart. A sweet preschool choir communicated the innocence and excitement of the holidays. A tonal poem of one word repeated drew a colored sound picture so exquisite.

By nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

The final number, though, gave new meaning to the word breathtaking. Bagpipes and dancers, chimes, singers in the balconies, singers overflowing the stage, every single participant pouring their everything in to each note! I literally had to catch my breath multiple times to keep my emotions in check. The sheer joy of the Christmas season with generosity and fun, lights and song, focus and tradition, shot through my heart like lasers swooshing about the room. I felt lifted and renewed and saturated with incredible hope.

I felt Kathy communicating, “Feel that? That’s how I feel now! I feel relief and joy and freedom and incomprehensible love.”

I’m thankful today for music’s power to transcend ordinary communication. I’m grateful for musical artists who give with such abandon to their craft. I’m indebted to people who pay attention and respond promptly to nudges and thoughts and then follow through with generosity and love. I thank Kathy for getting through to me and showering down blessings from heaven. I’m overwhelmed with the joy of this Christmas season.

Thank you to any and all who had a part in this singularly magnificent Christmas gift.

musical notes

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Zoned Out But Still Laughing

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for sleep when it comes easily. Last night it played hide and seek all over the house and I didn’t find it until two hours before the alarm went off.

As a result my thinking cells called in a vacation day. An unfortunate outcome since I needed to use those particular neurons for a little while at least.

When all else fails, turn to humor. At least that what I tell myself, often. So, I found some funny quotes about gratitude and decided to share. (I used my new Photofy app. Fun huh? Easy even for the sleep-deprived to use.)

 

Pretty self explanatory.

Pretty self explanatory.

*****

I love Will Rogers folksy humor and insight.

I love Will Rogers folksy humor and insight.

***

Sometimes you have to lie to yourself to keep on keeping on...

Sometimes you have to lie to yourself to keep on keeping on…

 

That’s all my brain cells let me do today. Here’s hoping you’re finding plenty to keep you laughing and grateful. Here’s hoping I can sleep tonight.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Attempting to Let Go of the Scrappy Turkey

I’d like to introduce you to our turkey, born almost twenty years ago in Oklahoma. He’s looking worn around the edges and the middle. As you can see, he’s experienced better days.

Scrappy Turkey's seen better days.

Scrappy Turkey’s seen better days.

Born into an impoverished life, this turkey brightened one or two Thanksgivings in spite of his motley appearance and bedraggled state.

This multi-kid-crafted guy sat on the kitchen table for the month of November, or part of the month if I remembered too late. Scraps of paper and a pencil or pen sat nearby for scribbling down a daily something each of us in the family felt grateful for. Inconsistent at best, we all threw in a few thoughts during the month. Running up to the actual day of thanks we might’ve thrown in a few extra to make up for what we didn’t contribute during the busy month preceding.

Then sometime during the day, that fourth Thursday in November, we’d reach in to the turkey’s cavernous gallon sized innards and pull out those scraps of paper. And someone would read what our family felt counted as blessings, gratitudes, good things. We’d have a few brief moments of thoughtful gratitude or laughter and then get on to the pie or leftovers.

Some of the actual scraps of paper with blessings written down.

Some of the actual scraps of paper with blessings written down.

Some of those scraps I’ve saved all these years in the cardboard box labeled Thanksgiving decor. Every year when I pull out that box and set out my little scarecrows, faux fall leaves, and wicker pumpkins, I think about finally setting this poor old turkey free. But I can’t make myself do it. Sure, he’s too scraggly and chintzy to set out as a decoration, so he stays in the box. He long ago exceeded his usefulness and cuteness. But memories hover in and on and around the fowl little guy. How do I let him go?

Maybe this can count as a memorial of that brief span that our homemade turkey spent time on the table reminding us of the blessed life we lived. Especially since that life, at times, seemed held together by paper bits and cardboard tubes and empty milk cartons. Sometimes life still feels that way, taped and glued together, barely holding on, scrunched and crumpled and not so magnificent as in other, better days.

How do you let go of symbols? At what point can you say goodbye and let that be good enough?You’d think it’d be easy to toss this barely recognizable turkey. But nope. Can’t quite do it.

Maybe it just isn’t time to say adieu. Not yet. Not this year. Maybe next November.

I’ll try to remember to set him out on the kitchen table next year, albeit rougher and scrunchier. And then, I’ll set some scraps of paper nearby and a pencil. I’ll toss in my gratitude, and ask MSH to do the same, and visitors, too. And then, after reading all those scraps on Thanksgiving day, maybe then, I can let him go.

We’ll see.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Vortex, S’mortex

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful to live in the desert.

I don’t often feel terribly thankful for that. Brutal best describes summers here, and sometimes Spring and Autumn, as well.

Feeling grateful for mild warmth, not blasting heat or mean cold.

Feeling grateful!

But today, while most of the country dug out, or slid around or hunkered down in the onslaught of another polar vortex, we desert rats enjoyed eighty degrees. The windows stayed open all day, a breeze tickled the wind chimes, I watered my garden, walked the grand dog after dark without a sweater on and generally enjoyed perfectly pleasant weather.

I don’t say that to brag or to make others feel jealous. I really, truly do feel thankful that I don’t have to endure the meanness of temperatures in the teens. I couldn’t feel more happy that I’m not digging out a car from a snowdrift, or attempting to navigate roads covered in ice and snow.

Photo By Sage Ross (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Sage Ross  [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I spent a few decades in weather like that and it got old. Sometimes I fantasize about living somewhere with four distinct seasons. And then I visit somewhere that leaves me shivering regardless of how many layers I put on and the fantasy goes away for a while.

The icy chill that runs down my spine as I watch the news and weather reports about the rest of the country reminds me how thin my blood runs now that I’ve lived in the desert nearly twenty years. Once I liked the idea of shoveling for the exercise, or building snowmen, or the muffled sounds when snow falls. Now it simply makes me wince.

I planted radish, carrot and lettuce seeds on Saturday. Tiny green fruits grace the four-foot tall tomato plant in my garden. Jalapeno and green peppers ripen for salsa making. The oranges are just now turning from green to orange. And the flowers, oh my,  seem to double in size and amount almost every day.

A day like today serves as compensation and grand prize for enduring the onslaught of summer’s temper tantrum.  A few months of perfection with a few days of chilly and a Phoenix winter sounds just fine to me. Thank you, Typhoon Nuri, or God, or Mother Nature or all three! I appreciate the sweetness of the desert today.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Really Gratituesday Every Day

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

It’s Gratituesday! I wrote this a while ago hoping to sneak in a quick write before a certain one-year old woke up from a late nap and before a three-year old moved on to a noisier, less productive project. Turns out I abandoned this and just today, a month later I picked it up again. Now it’s nearly November, but I still feel thankful for a Summer enjoyed.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

Favorites

Looking back over the summer in my Gratitude App, it turns out I’m often grateful for those two little people. Also turns out I’m frequently thankful for a favorite six-month old and a favorite thirteen-year old, too.

Walks

And walks. I took a bunch of those this summer, in spite of the heat. And because of the heat I went early enough that I ended up grateful for sunrises nearly every day. Pretty much any activity that took me outside made my gratitude list, family reunion, camping, time on a porch swing, swimming, picnics, outdoor dining, gardening, yard work.

That's a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

That’s a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

Rain, Oh My

The rain made itself known more than a few times and I’m always grateful for that, even when it comes four inches at a time. But then, my house didn’t get flooded like others in nearby towns did.

Sleep

Not the least bit surprising, sleep came in as a big winner in the frequently appearing in my gratitude list contest. Probably number one if I took the time to actually count. Right after food, bread and chocolate.

Work, the Volunteer Variety

The surprise that showed up often as something that adds light to my life falls in the volunteer work category. You’d think that wouldn’t get mentioned, but I always find myself helped more by helping someone than any amount of help I’ve given.

Quaking Aspen. I like to think of it as a family tree.

Quaking Aspen. A family tree.

Family

Time with family topped the summer gratitude list. Extended family, my kids and their spouses, my four favorites, their pets and of course, MSH.

What didn’t land on the lists very often? Things.

Things.

Should I be more grateful for STUFF? I don’t know. Probably, yes.

I don’t often list as Gratitudes all the luxuries I live with like a washer, dryer, electricity, a home, a safe neighborhood, a working air-conditioned vehicle, a soft bed, plenty of food, clean and copious amounts of drinking water. Do I take them for granted? I hope not. Maybe I view them as background to what seems really important like people or experiences. Maybe I should verbalize some gratitude for those as well.

Proof

Surely I basked in a summer of blessings. I’m glad I kept track of those daily joys. Otherwise, I might have looked back over what looks from this distance, like merely another hot summer endured. Instead I have months worth of happy thoughts and proof that life smiled on me.

And I smiled back.

Condensed sunshine.

Condensed sunshine.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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