Practicing Gratitude

November, the month of practicing gratitude, and blogging here. I almost forgot until checking gmail before shutting the computer down before bed and seeing the date remembered.

#1 Grateful for a beautiful Autumn so far.
Crisp days with lots of sunshine. This week temperatures dropped into the low 20s F before dawn to sprinkle frost on all exposed surfaces. The catalpa tree in front of our house held its leaves until the second morning in a row of 24F temps. To see a tree almost completely shed all of its leaves in the span of a few hours is to watch leaves plummeting, raining to the ground. One day. Yesterday Ed climbed onto the roof to sweep them off then we raked the leaves onto a large tarp and scattering them over the garden area out back. As we raked our little dog jumped and scurried through the leaves that were almost as deep as he is tall. His first experience with fallen leaves! I’d pick him up and gently throw him into a deep pile where he sank out of sight then exploded through the very dry leaves and charge back to me. “Again!” his body shouted.

#2 Grateful for pets! We got Pippin when he was 12 weeks old having spoken for a pup from the parents almost a year earlier. He’s chi/mini-pin, he’s more min-pin in attitude, appearance and the way he loves to jump and stand on his hind legs.
One Saturday morning in August Ed went to coffee at a friends. When he returned he was carrying Mack, the Siamese, informing me that he was now ours. The owners wanted to do some road tripping and needed to rehome him. Pippin and Mack celebrate their 7 month birthday today. Well, Pippin does. He truly was born on April fools day. We considered naming him Jester… We’re not sure the exact day that Mack was born, only how many weeks he was when he came to us which put him about the same day as the dog. They have endless fun together.

Our older cat, Ebo, was NOT thrilled to have either invade its space but he puts up with the youngsters tolerably well.
#3 A quiet evening, a snug warm house, and the time to contemplate the day and practice gratitude.
I will always love quiet solitude after a busy day! Ed enjoys reading awhile when he first goes to bed. I begin the day with prayer and scripture and in the evening I like to review the day, make a list for tomorrow then sit in quietness with God. Often I spin or knit as I think and pray then read a few more verses to have in my mind for mulling over as I fall to sleep.

I am grateful for all my blessings!

Accomplished

Three must-do items were checked off today. Such sweet, sweet relief!

I’ve been very grateful for songs such as “Find Me” (see 11/27 post) and “Love Lifted Me” (an old hymn) running through my head during this rather taxing week. I had a hard time focusing my thoughts to stay on track, especially when I worked on the article with the deadline of Dec 1st, and innumerable interruptions kept happening, including some big ones out of my control.

I started working on the article in September gathering information with the goal of having it written by Nov 1st. To my dismay I kept falling down fascinating rabbit holes. Ed would firmly pull me back to solid ground saying, “Keep it simple!” I got too simple. There weren’t enough woods. There were too many words, too random, too much over-thinking, too complex, too redundant.

Last night Ed read my final draft and declared it perfect. I went to bed with new sentence structures and order to make it more cohesive. Ignoring all emails this morning I settled in working on the article. Adding the ideas I’d thought of last night took the article 200 words past the limit thus began another paring process. Just before noon it was saved as a .pdf and sent off to the publisher along with some supporting pictures. Huzzah! What a tremendous relief to have that monkey off my back before it turned into an Orangutan.

#1 Absolutely must-finish and email article. Check!

#2 Eye exams for Ed and I. Check! It’d been three years since our last vision check-up and we both felt that we were way overdue but time slipped by. Yesterday when it crossed my mind I immediately picked up the phone and made back to back appointments for us. After hanging up I remembered that a DMV office was right around the corner from the optometrist’s office.

#3 Driver’s License Renewed. Check!

For a person who has the tendency to procrastinate going to a doctor/dentist or the DMV it feels super to have accomplished seeing the dentist, optometrist, AND getting the license renewed almost a full month before it expired – all this week.

Remember the picture posted 11/23 of the row of ferns in a stone wall by a dry creek bed? This is what it looks like after several days of rain! The fish ladder is flowing with abundant water again!
Grateful for
  – tasks accomplished
– the love of writing
– perseverance even though I longed to take a day off
– visible signs of hope, of life! The reminder that even when the creek, and life! seems dry beyond hope the waters will flow again.
– Abundant, living waters!

Red Surprises

This morning we decided to walk the main road leading out of town. It’d been a long time since I’d gone that way but it didn’t take long to remember why I’d stopped walking that road: traffic. It used to be that I could walk that route in the morning and only encounter a car or two the entire distance. In the past few years traffic has increased tremendously in this out of the way area.

I did enjoy getting reacquainted, on foot, with the so familiar sights that we normally speed past in the car. There was a time when this road was the final part of the loop I walked almost daily. Perhaps someday I’ll manage my time better and get back into shape to walk that 4.5 mile loop with its two significant hills.

Looking down an alley I spied an espaliered apple tree. Ever since seeing the espaliered trees at Mt Vernon I’ve wanted to try growing / training one. Training a tree this way takes a great deal of understanding and patience. Sort of how a parent should raise children: learn the strengths and direction each child is naturally inclined towards then gently, yet firmly, and patiently train them so they can reach their best potential, a life of productivity that brings joy and satisfaction.
The man makes excellent use of his tiny lot in growing food! See the red peppers still producing?
The drops of rain dripping off the apple almost made me want to take a bite.
By the time we reached the top of the hill out of town we were tired of the noise and needing constantly step back from the road as trucks and cars whizzed past so we headed home.

The red holly berries on the loaded tree caught my attention; my stopping to take a picture caught the Hereford cow’s attention.
The road leading into town, to home.
Grateful for
the unexpected sight of the espalier tree with ripe red apples
– the lifting of the fog and rain
– bright joyfulness of holly berries during the season when colors are fading and muted
– the article that is basically finished!

Black Friday contemplation

I was saddened, and appalled, to see on the news people pushing, shoving and fighting over merchandise. Who does this? Even more importantly why does anyone allow themselves to get into a rolling in the isle, hang on for dear life, tug-of-war for a mass produced item? Seriously. Two women going at it over some sort of cooking pot in a very crowded store.

It seems strange that anyone would want to venture out to shop on Black Friday, especially at a box store. Yes, there are tremendous bargains to be had but at what price?

We used to cringe when shopping at markets with a relative who took great pride in talking the maker down in price. To her it was all about saving herself as much as she possibly could. We’d watch the face of the maker caught in the conflict of needing to make money yet needing to make a decent earning for their materials, time and skills.

I did buy two gifts online today, full price, directly from the maker. I hadn’t intended to buy anything today but when I saw them I immediately knew two people who will love the items. The maker is very skilled and I wanted to show support for her.

Christmas is still just over 4 weeks away. We can each make an effort to honor others in our interactions with them, whether buying directly from a maker or grower, in line at a the busy checkout counter, or driving through congested streets. We can chose to smile and a give bit of space so others don’t feel crowded or threatened. A kind word, a simple smile can make a difference to a person’s day. Let’s resolve to be thoughtful, courteous people extending grace.Grateful for
  – the good rain that lasted much of the day.
– the ability to stay home all day
– a long conversation with a friend of the heart
– the a long practice of keeping Christmas gift buying simple and within means.

Thanksgiving Day

I’m very thankful that Ed prefers simple meals! He groans when there are more than four different items, not including pickles and olives, to eat in one sitting. (A sushi meal is an exception.)

Instead of turkey, Ed opted to Traeger (grill) a leg of lamb. Cut potatoes were roasted and asparagus rounded out the meal with pumpkin pie served a couple hours later. An easy meal to fix, serve and clean up.

With the need to get spindles into the webstore the majority of the day was spent taking spindle pictures, editing and uploading them to the website to be ready to appear tomorrow and Saturday mornings about 9:30.

The sky was overcast and a raw wind was blowing during the morning walk. It’s rained off and on today which is great for snow in the mountains and the water levels.  It was sobering to see the creek as low as it is. Usually by this time in November it’s quite high with water flowing briskly through the concrete swimming / wading area / top of the fish ladder, which right now is    completely dry. The current water level is more like late summer. We need the rain.The future on the wings of a leaf.

Grateful for
   – the simple bounties of life
– a warm house protecting us from the elements
– good food
– grace

Unexpected

I have an article deadline just over a week away. When I submitted the proposal I was anticipating a relatively straightforward article.

Until, Ed suggested a certain reference book for more in-depth understanding.  It came and I plunged down a rabbit hole.

Ideas and concepts swirled in my mind but with only vague understanding I turned to an engineer friend to help me get a better grasp on what I was learning. I read, thought, and made observations all the while sinking deeper and deeper, floundering, becoming stuck.

Ed advised me to forego the scientific angle, to keep it simple, stick with what we know.

Today just as I’d begun assembling ingredients to make a pumpkin pie, with the goal of tackling the article this afternoon, Ed came home bearing a huge bag filled with a dozen turkey necks, hearts, livers, gizzards, tails all needing immediate attention. The Wednesday dinner crew were making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to serve tonight but they didn’t have the time or space to deal with the cast off parts and were going to throw them away.

The afternoon went sideways from there; I never did work on the article, or accomplish some of the other must-do work tasks. Picking the meat from the roasted neck bones I was reminded of helping my mom remove the meat for the rich gravy she’d make with the long-simmered parts. Enjoying the broth in gravy, the rest in soups made from broth that will be frozen into cubes tomorrow, be well worth the effort and time it took today.

From fretting about the change in schedule to gratitude for the unexpected bounty.

Tomorrow it will be just Ed and I, and that’s okay. We’d invited several people to share our meal with but they had other plans. Our daughter and husband were able to take several days off from work so they could spend time with our son. Without the need to prepare for friends or family we’ll have a quiet day and I’ll perhaps wrangle that article into submission!
One of the Wednesday helpers walked into the kitchen wearing a scarf that immediately grabbed Ed’s attention with its bold colors. He told her he liked it.

Next thing he knew, she was wrapping it around his neck telling him he could have it! She’d knit the wool scarf and fingerless mitts. Ed rarely wears scarves or mitts but I have the feeling this set will be well loved.
Grateful for
   – unexpected bounty, unexpected gifts!
– a calm, quiet day tomorrow

May you each have a day of contentment and thankfulness.