Little Memories Everywhere

One of my friends in Pueblo died suddenly a few weeks ago. I got a message about it from another friend in town and then her daughter, who I also know. Her death was not COVID related, but apparently the escalation of a chronic condition that moved too fast to catch. And so she was gone. I sent the appropriate condolences and have messaged back and forth with her daughter and other friends, trying to offer comfort and advice on grieving (there is no real advice, you grieve how you grieve and it lasts as long as it lasts). But since we were also friends on Facebook, I now see her comments on past posts when my daily memories come up and here in my room there are always constant reminders of her.

I first met Karin right after I moved to Pueblo in 1993. At that time, aside from a few big-box stores, there wasn’t much shopping in town, and what there was was located in the “historic Union Avenue district.” Karin’s store was on D Street, off Union, a little emporium called Instant Karma. I loved it before I ever walked inside. It was a tiny space, then, filled with funky, hippie-type clothing, sarongs, bed spreads/throws, incense, crystals, Tarot cards, books, CDs and cassettes (definitely dating myself here!). Ms. Karin fit right in. She was a small woman herself, five foot nothing, a bit zaftig, and her persona definitely matched the store. She was a cross between Stevie Nicks (wardrobe), Barbra (hair and accent) and her own unique fabulousness. I never saw her once after that without receiving her standard hello of “Greetings!” She loved all dogs, her husband, Tom, with whom she shared a birthday, her two daughters, her sweet mother, Anita (who also became a friend), and above all, John Lennon.

Her store became my happy place. I found it when I was having a particularly hard time getting settled in a new place, something I had not experienced since I was a kid. Moving to Pueblo from Atlanta was definitely a culture shock, especially at that time. The town was still reeling from the near complete shutdown of the steel mill that had been the major source of income and employment for most of the population. Customer service was an unknown idea and women treated each other very differently than I was used to. I was absolutely to be regarded with suspicion since I wasn’t from there. Karin never treated me with anything but friendship and caring, even at our first meeting.

I bought my first goddess book at her store, Z. Budapest’s “The Goddess in the Office” and it really helped me deal with the passive aggressive treatment at my job. As I look around my room now, nearly 30 years on, I see a lightweight cotton paisley bed spread that I have used as a table cloth and now current serves as block for a gap under the French doors to the back porch. I see a short lightweight robe, black with yellow dragonflies, that I travel with when I need something to toss over my swimsuit on the way to the pool. I see a string of small, cheerful bells hanging from my curtain rod next to my window that I jingle every now and then because I love their airy sound. Karin had a similar string on her door to let her know when folks came int. I see right here on my desk, my favorite Tarot deck, Osho Zen, which has been a huge part of my life ever since she let me shuffle through the cards to see if I wanted it. I still buy the same brand of incense she used, Escential Essences, that’s the only brand that doesn’t send me into allergic fits. Every time I burn it, I think of Karin.

And then, there are the Buddhas. I can’t say I’m a full blown Buddhist, but Buddhist teachings and writings have influenced me greatly over the years. Letting go of attachment and expectations in my life has helped me in so many ways. I bought my first Buddha at Karin’s, after she expanded her store to a huge, open space on Union Avenue. He’s metal and heavy and has an odd little rattle, as if something was trapped inside during the making. He sits on the altar by my bed, a quiet reminder of time passing.

I also worked for Karin for a little while. She was going through some tough times with her younger daughter and needed to be away from the store for various things. I told her I could hold down the fort for a few hours a week if she needed me and I was glad she accepted. I enjoyed being the one behind the counter and providing the greetings when folks walked in. Sadly, as with many businesses, the 2008 mess hit Instant Karma as well and she had to close. It was a sad day for me and for many others, let me tell you. Several months later, Karin had a garage sale to try to recoup a bit on her inventory, and there I acquired my other Buddha, larger, black pumice stone, and so peaceful. He graced my little grotto in the apartment after I broke up with my last ex, and had a place of honor in my Denver room. Now, he sits on my small bookcase across the room from where I write this, yet another memory of a woman who touched so many people in her too-short life, who was loving and generous and joyful. Karin, my friend, you are missed, but I am so glad I knew you and that I have so many reminders of you all around. What a gift to the world you were!

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Not Working

Today marks ten months since I quit my last job as a medical transcriptionist and eight months since I have been in Texas with friend A. Thanks to her generosity, I have managed to eke out my extremely meagre savings this long without having to seriously look for another job. And a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I will soon be able to draw survivor’s benefits on my late husband’s social security, so it may be that I won’t actually have to look for a job any time soon. To say that I was surprised and stunned at this news is the understatement of the decade. Once again, my dead spouse is treating me better than any of the living.

I love not working. I have not had this amount of time off from a job since I started working for pay at age fifteen. I only took one month off after I had a baby and one month when I moved across the country from Atlanta to Pueblo, and only that long because it took a while to find a job. I’ve basically been employed for nearly 50 years, so it’s safe to say I don’t even know what it’s like to not work as an adult.

This is not to say I don’t stay busy. One of the reasons I came here was to help A out around the house, etc. I wrote about my sweeping duties and these have expanded over my time here. I do pretty much one hundred percent of the cooking and grocery shopping. The teenager can put frozen things in the oven and heat stuff in the microwave, but that’s as far as her cooking skills go. I showed her how to use my rice cooker and that made her really happy and now she even cleans it after she uses it. We take small miracles where we can find them. So, I sweep and cook and shop and keep things organized. I check mail for A’s brother, who lives behind us in a small house A had built on the property for her daughter years ago when she first bought the place. He suffered multiple strokes in February when we were having terrible weather and spent nearly sixty days in hospital and rehab facilities. For a while, I was making and taking him lunch three or four days a week and adding him into our dinner portions as well. Then he decided he needed to go to an actual rehab hospital for several weeks and he made great progress with them. Since he got back, he can move around more, and do is own cooking. But I am here if he needs help and he doesn’t hesitate to call.

These are all things that A would have had to manage while doing the full time job of teaching. So, I definitely don’t feel like I’m freeloading or being a burden. I’m also happy to run errands into town like picking up prescriptions or mailing things or whatever else needs to be done. Why wouldn’t I? I know what it’s like to work full time and never be able to go to the post office or a particular place because you’re headed to work before they open and not off till after they close. I’m happy to do these things for A because she’s my friend and because I can.

I thought for a while about trying to find some kind of job on line part time but as things piled up here and more things happened regarding brother, etc., I realized that adding an actual job into the mix of the things I was already taking care of was not something I wanted to do. I realized I like getting up when I want to. I like taking an hour or more to have coffee in the morning. I like jumping into the pool when it’s not thundering and lightening outside (we have had Noah levels of rain this spring!). I like working on my quilts and having dedicated space to do so. I like taking a nap if I feel like it. I get lots done every day, but every day I get to decide when and how I get it done. *I* get to decide. And if I don’t get to something on my list, no one yells at me. No one accuses me of lying about having computer problems or other situations. I get to do the work I do on my terms and my friend is happy with it. I can be her sounding board and her shoulder to cry on and vice versa. I have mowed part of the property once on the big zero-turn mower, and I will probably do more of that, but with all the rain it’s been hard to find a dry time to mow and I need A to be here at least a couple more times before I try it completely on my own. But I will conquer it!

I’m also learning pool maintenance. A’s cousin wanted to do something nice for her, so she paid to have the pool serviced and a new sand filter put in. Again, A was at work when the job was done, so the guy showed me how to do it (I made videos!) and I have been taking the water samples in every week, adding the chemicals, clearing the filter as needed, etc. Add one more skill set to the list.

So here I am. Apparently on my way to retirement in spite of myself and extremely grateful for everything that fell into place to allow me to do it. And now, the coffee is done and the sweeping beckons. See you soon!

#BuckFifty – Day 19 – Friends

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Growing up, I never had any friends.  We moved around a lot until I was in high school, so I went to different schools, lived in different states, and any time I got to the point of making a friend, off we went.  I was too young to be at a pen-pal stage and in those ancient days before e-mail and instant communication, those tenuous ties of early friendship were gone with the Mayflower moving van.  I did have my one dear friend that I met when we were both babies, and we wrote letters here and there, and occasionally her family would visit, but it wasn’t the same as an every day BFF that everyone else seemed to have.

Consequently, when I got to high school and started to make some friends around the 9th grade, they were always precious to me.  I developed a close group during those years, though, sadly, we lost touch after we scattered to head off to college.  I have reconnected with a few on the Facebook, and that has been good.

In college, I made another group of friends, women who have loved and supported me and each other for nearly 45 years now.  They are my rocks, my stability and my inspirations.  I know there is nothing that happens to me that I can’t ask them for help, advice or even just a little humor to toss into the mix.  I can’t imagine my life without any of them.

And then there are the friends you make along the way.  Like J.  I first met J when she and her company were clients of mine in the executive recruiting business (aka “headhunters”).  We talked professionally on the phone and had a very good working relationship.  It developed to a point that I sent her my resume for a potential job at hers. In those days, you still put “hobbies” and things like that on your resume.  I put down that I liked Star Trek and wrote and edited fanzines.  A few days later, I got a call from J.  After we had the usual chat, she lowered her voice and nearly whispered into the phone, “Are you a STAR TREK fan?”  A friendship was born.  We agreed to meet for the first time to continue our out of work conversation.  We connected in the Five Points MARTA station in downtown Atlanta and I don’t even remember what we did, drinks or lunch or whatever, but the connection was made.  After that we met for lunch, often at The Magnolia Room in Rich’s Department Store (now defunct), then an Atlanta mainstay.  We talked about everything.  Sometimes, I brought my daughter along.

When I left my first, abusive husband, I literally had to leave under cover of darkness and take only a few things in my car.  A couple of months later, the papers were signed, my new ex had left the state to go back to Kentucky, where he was from, and I had agreed to let my daughter go with him for a couple of months, so that I could have a little breathing space.  Then, I had to tackle the task of having to pack up the house we were living in and move out.  I was moving in with my parents, so I had to either pack efficiently, give stuff away or leave it behind.

J offered to come help me pack.  A relatively small thing, but at that point in my life, it was huge.  I was paralyzed with all the emotion of having to go back into that house.  I knew I had done absolutely the right thing in getting away from an abuser, but still I felt like an utter failure.  I was up in the air about my job, my kid, my whole life.  J helped settle me down.  We spent a day wrapping things in newspaper, and putting them in boxes.  We talked about this and that–I have no recollection of what.  Somehow, with her help, I got through it, got everything out the house, got settled with my parents, and a few weeks later, got my daughter back home unscathed.  I am honestly not sure I would have been able to do that without her helping me for a few hours that day.

That’s what friendship is.  That’s what you do.  You just be there.  You don’t have to fix things, you don’t have to be Superwoman.  Just be present.

J and I are still friends, even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  We share things on Facebook, keep up that way, like so many people.  I hope in the next couple of years, I can travel back to Atlanta and we can meet again to reconnect in person.  I hope maybe one day I can talk her into visiting Denver.  But if not, again, she will always be my friend.

Up & Down

School starts next week. I’m looking forward to it, even though it’s been a really nice summer. Both of us have pretty much gone with the flow. I let him sleep mostly as long and as much as he wanted, unless we had something to do. I’ve tried to sleep more myself, and you all know that’s a struggle. I finally just broke down and put up blackout curtains last week, which work pretty well, except I bought curtains that were too short (they cover the window fine, but they really need to go all the way to the floor) and I should have bought tab-top panels so I could fit them around the sides of the existing blind rod. So, I’ll get another set shortly and the experiment will continue. I used the existing set of holes for the curtain rod, because I don’t have a drill and I didn’t want to put more holes in the apartment wall. It works. The room is a lot darker…I tossed up one of my sarongs on top to block that light and I can push open the curtains in the middle to get some daylight when I’m not working or sleeping. It’s fine. But for once, I’m not writing about my sleep problems.

Last fall, when the marijuana fiasco happened, we called social services and opened a voluntary case with them. Truthfully, they haven’t done a whole lot…the caseworker makes a home visit and he did help get me some furniture when we moved, and helped with paying for E’s football camp this summer. I can’t complain. Then, several weeks, ago my caseworker told me that if I was “certified” and got custody of E, I could receive what they call “kinship” assistance, which can be a substantial sum, as they pay the relatives as if they were foster parents. Yes, foster parents get paid to take care of children that aren’t theirs but relatives who step up don’t get anything.

Anyway, I thought, well, great. I had been playing with the idea of getting custody anyway because right now I just have a power of attorney, which works all right, but I’d like to get him a passport, and travel, and I’m not sure how well that would work in that situation. So I said, okay, let’s go forward. So I had to meet with the kinship person, who it turns out I knew from my days as a paralegal. We had a nice meeting but at the end, she asked me about a case number or something and I said, well there’s no case number because none of this went through the courts. E. has a court case, but the DSS never had custody of him as an abandoned child or whatever. Ooops, grind that bus to a halt. Nope. No DSS case, no help. Well, she did help me get a small amount of help with TANF for him only, and trust me, I am grateful for that…every little bit helps. But nothing else.

So, I tell my other caseworker and he’s apologetic, etc,. and then says, well we need to have this Family Engagement Meeting which we never did and maybe we can work it out there. So, I said fine. That was yesterday. And the caseworker and his supervisor was there, but the kinship worker wasn’t, so they brought in this other guy and I was pretty specific about saying, this was a VOLUNTARY case and there was no case in the court, and he said, oh, we’ll get you certified and get you a provider number or whatever and yes, you can get assistance. So we left quite hopeful.

So, TODAY, you guessed it. Other guy calls back and says, I need more details, and I tell him, I TOLD you and everyone yesterday there is no case in court that DSS initiated. This was voluntary and the court was never involved. Oh, well, then we can’t help you. And I confess I got a little “verbal” with him and he was like, well this isn’t a business, we don’t just pay you to take care of kids. And I said, It’s not that…I didn’t ASK about this assistance. I was TOLD about it out of the blue and now I feel like I have really been jerked around and had my hopes up for thinking maybe I could pay some bills and save some money for E for when he graduates, etc. And THEN, he asks me if I would consider being a foster parent. I was like HELL no, are you crazy?

So, after that, I called the kinship worker back, who I really do like and who has been the most clear about everything and she was really upset about everything that had gone down. She told me that pretty much the only way I might get anything was just to say I was done taking care of E. and just turn him over to DSS, and then THEY would have to start all those processes. Well, I don’t want to do that. I don’t even want to joke about it. So we ended the conversation and I was not in a very good place.

Because I had got my hopes up. I don’t get my hopes up too much anymore. Right now, and for the next three years, I’m just looking at doing the best I can to get through getting E to 18 and having some decent skills to take care of himself. I try not to focus on the fact that right now all he wants to do is sleep, eat chips and play Madden Mobile on his phone. I understand that he’s 15. But soon that will be 16, then 17, then…..

Then I remembered that I’ve been listening to my Abraham CDs in the car recently. I realized I had to let go of all this crap about the DSS money. All this is is circumstances. I realized I have to quit looking at the circumstances that are right in front of me, because that turns me right upstream. Nothing I want is upstream. I don’t have the upper body strength to paddle upstream for more than a short period of time. So, I started thinking about what we already have. I started being grateful for the help I’ve already gotten. I started realizing that we’ve gotten 4 new accounts on my jobs recently and there’s going to be extra work, so I can make that up. I realized that October is a month in which I get three paychecks, so that extra will go back into my savings. I started realizing that some hypothetical sum of money that isn’t going to show up won’t change anything in this now. I started realizing that I’ve always taken care of things that popped up in my life and I’ll keep on doing it now. I printed out a calendar for next week and I’m going to start using it to schedule my time once E starts to school. Summer is over and now it’s time to get back in the groove. It’s not going to be all about the rat race, either, but if I can put something down on paper, it feels more real, so I can schedule sleep time, exercise time, extra work time, etc. I can see it. I can follow it. Otherwise, I get here and find myself lost in Sherlock or Game of Thrones. Not that I can’t do that, too, but right now, these other actions are calling me as well. I’ve enjoyed the pool here at the flat, but that’s closing on Labor Day and it’s time to get back to real swimming and start planning another swim.

So, fine DSS, you go your way and I’ll go mine. I’m still headed downstream and everything I want is there and nothing is in the place where I worry about getting money that would likely have more strings than I want attached to it any way. I’ll just do it myself, thank you.

Ten-Thing Monday

1. I am incredibly grateful to have found a most marvelous book called “Seven Sacred Pauses.” The wisdom it contains is beyond measure.

2. I am so grateful that it’s October, my favorite month. I love the bluest skies of the year, the suddenly shifting winds, the clouds that hold every nuance of grey, silver and pewter. I love the leaves that gild the trees, and I love watching them fly off ahead of the gusts. I love the angle of the light, the warmth of autumn afternoons, and the kiss of twilight’s cool breezes on my cheek.

3. I am definitely grateful that my grandson has no aspiratons to be a singer. (He’s wailing his head off to some song on YouTube with his headphones on as I write this. Simon Cowell would have a field day.)

4. I am grateful that the last contacts and conversations I had with the boys’ dad (more on that later) were upbeat and encouraging.

5. I’m grateful I got to see my other grandson this week, even though the circumstances were much too sad.

6. I’m grateful that my big pot of beef barley soup turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.

7. I am grateful to listen to the wind rushing around the house tonight, but glad I don’t have to be out in it.

8. I am grateful that E has made some good friends at school through playing football and that I’m getting to know them and their families.

9. I’m grateful that it’s now Monday morning, and I only have one more day/night to work.

10. I am grateful for the rocking chair in my meditation room and the funky 1950’s floor lamp I inherited that works so perfectly next to it.

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The Days When It’s Hard To Be Grateful

I was wondering what I would be able to do for Ten-Thing Monday today, because, honestly, I am not feeling terribly grateful right now. No time to go into great depths, but let’s just say three deaths in less than a month are a little hard to deal with. It can stop now, please and thank you.  Then, just now, as I opened my FB page for a quick glance, I found the most beautiful thing. I’m going to print it out and keep it close:

O You whose face is a thousand colors….look upon us in this twilight hour and color our faces with the radiance of your love. As the light of the sun fades away, light the lamps of our hearts that we may see one another more clearly. Let the incense of our gratitude rise as our hearts become full of music and song. May the work that we bring with us into this house fall away from our minds as we enter the mystical grace of the evening hour. Amen.

For these words and thoughts, I am extremely grateful.

Ten-Thing Monday

1. Yoga. I forget how much I enjoy yoga when I don’t do it for a while. This weekend, I did one of my favorite routines which includes balance, stretching and strength poses. I felt my heart open a little bit while I was practicing. It was a good thing.

2. Lakes and rivers. Runyon Lake (named for Damon Runyon, who was from Pueblo) is just a few minutes from my house. I’ve started going there to walk. I park in a little lot off a busy street and walk across the Arkansas River to get to the path around the lake. For part of the time, the river is on one side of me, and the lake on the other. It’s a wonderful walkway between two very different bodies of water, both calming and invigorating.

3. Huge cottonwood trees. At one spot on the walk around the lake, there’s a particularly huge mother cottonwood tree. I hug her every time. The energy is amazing.

4. Trains. The train tracks also run by the lake and across the river. When I lived in Denver, there was a small lake/reservoir near the house where I rented a room. I walked around there nearly every day and there were train tracks just by there, too. If I timed it just right, in the evening I was close enough to wave to the engineer as the train went by. I’ve always loved trains. Not in the model rail-road type of way, although that’s cool, but in the passenger kind of way. I love that method of travel. The first trip I ever took solo anywhere was on a train from Atlanta to Greensboro, NC to visit my aunt and uncle. I was in the tenth grade, and while I was there, we all watched Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. Definitely an historic trip.

5. Love and Logic. It’s a parenting tool and technique and it’s what’s allowing me to write this blog post this morning instead of nagging a teenager out of bed. I need to get better at practicing it.

6. My new car. I’m really enjoying having my own wheels again. Simplifying doesn’t always mean getting rid of everything.

7. Cooler, darker mornings. It’s harder to wake up, but the sounds and sights of sunrise are delicious. When the time changes in Novemer, I’ll be grateful for that, too.

8. Friends. I’m going to catch up with one this morning after I drop the teen at school.

9. Tomatoes. And by that I mean the three absolutely perfectly gorgeous orange tomatoes that a friend sent home with G from the farm last night. I see sandwiches in my future. Plus the little pot tomaotes I’ve been picking here all summer.

10. Being able to function on not much sleep. Some folks can’t do it. Fortunately, I can. Otherwise, heaven knows what would happen.

Brisk

As summers go in Pueblo, this one was relatively mild. We had only a few days of near 100-degree weather, and one of those was this month, breaking a 90-year record. Yesterday, a cold front blew down from the north and right now it’s 43 degrees, after a high yesterday in the 80s. Welcome to Colorado weather.

After I did all my morning errands, getting the boy up, in the shower, fed and to school, stopped at social services to make sure his Medicaid got re-certified, and getting home, I decided to walk around the park. I’m much more likely to go outside to exercise when it’s chilly than when it’s hot. The overnight clouds that brought rain here and a little snow to the higher elevations were trying to blow out in a hurry. The neighborhood was quiet. People had either already left for work or weren’t up yet. The park is still summer green.  As I walked down the dead end that leads to the far corner, I noticed a large blue dragonfly on the street. Thinking it was frozen, I bent to touch it. It moved sluggishly, water droplets clinging to the gauzy wings. Not frozen yet, but I doubt it will survive the day.

I don’t know why I love this time of year so much. Things are fading and dying. The colors are dusty, having lost the brilliance of summer. To me, it’s beautiful. The quality of light on a fall afternoon is more striking than at any other time of year. The days are getting shorter, even though we still have two weeks till the Equinox. There is just something about the energy of this season change that calls to me in a deep, visceral way. If it were possible, I think I would live in autumn all the time.

The other day, I burned a significant number of items from a certain point in my past. A couple of weeks before that, I tossed a big box of video tapes from the same time. Fall is a good time to clear out. A lot of people think of spring cleaning, but for me, fall is more symbolic for that. Maybe it’s because school starts in the fall, and that always signifies a new year, a fresh start, hope and enthusiasm. I haven’t had much enthusiasm lately. I’ve been far from my peak in many ways for a long time. I’m not sure why. There are a lot of external reaons, but I’ve had external chaos in my life before and managed to go on and be fine because internally, I had a deep sense of joy and connection to the natural world. This seems to have vanished. I still enjoy being outside in Nature. I know I need to do more of it, but I make excuses not to, just like I make excuses not to blog or write or exercise.

G of course is worried. For the first time in ever, she is at me to go to the doctor. I suppose I should go, get some labs, have them tell me I’m too fat, and get it over with. There may be a physical/physiological/hormonal component to all this. I’m willing to entertain that. I also know part of it is my job/work schedule. For example, today is Friday. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and if I don’t go soon and take a nap, I wil be up for nearly 24 hours before I can get any significant sleep. I understand that’s not great, but there’s not much I can do about it. Just like my body loves this time of year, it also loves to be up in the morning and even when I do my best to keep a regular sleep schedule and practice all the sleep hygiene in the world, I can’t get this body to sleep more than three or four hours at a time during the day. I try. Heaven knows I try. But you can’t force yourself to be sleepy or go to sleep no mater how many deep breaths you take or sheep you count.

Sometimes, things shift. I had something like this happen a few years ago then the above items I recently released were more important to me. I remember I was in my office at work and I heard a whispered voice. It distinctly said, “Your time with this is done.” And so it was. All the feelings, magic, attachment, wonder that I had previously felt regarding those things was over in nearly an instant. It’s taken me this long to admit it and let go of them. At the time, I wrote the following poem. I think it’s even more relevant now:

Summer’s End

Lammas blood flows
Slow and thick;
Now the zenith’s reached,
And sun has peaked.
Beneath the sanguine season’s breeze
A hint of winter rustles
Its chilly notice.

My heart has shifted;
The summer king falls silent within.
Whispered messages are stilled
In anticipation of a colder clime.
Where shall my soul anchor
During this time of approaching squalls?
I call and no one answers,
Or, perhaps, I can no longer hear.

First leaves fall crisply to the ground,
Drifting upon autumn’s freshening breath.
In this early glimpse
Of this year’s death, I wake.
Where have I been?
Adrift in Spirit’s vessel,
Alight with Heaven’s fire.

But now the wind has changed
And sent me back to know,
Sometimes when prayers are answered,
The answer’s clearly no.

 

The weather is brisk today. Perhaps, one day, I will feel brisk again, too.

Ten Thing Monday

Well, last Monday slipped by nearly unnoticed, and to be honest that was a good thing. In fact, I could just tuck all of last week away in a nice, bright envelope and shoot it out into orbit for all the good it did me. But wait. Maybe it did do some good after all. Sometimes blessings come from the oddest places. Thus, without further ado, my ten things for today:

1. I am grateful for other people’s families and their multitudes of examples.

2. I am grateful for friends who are willing to meet for coffee.

3. I am grateful for those unexpected blessings that sometimes come from people I barely knew.

4. I am grateful for having the wherewithal to buy a new (to me) car.

5. I am grateful for this home that we have created and continue to create so strongly.

6. I am grateful for books that show up in my life at the exact moment I need them the most.

7. I am grateful to have a partner who really does want to listen to me, even when talking out loud is the most difficult thing I could ever do.

8. I am grateful for the positive growth and changes I am seeing in my grandson.

9. I am grateful to experience the joy of high school sports from an entirely different perspective.

10. I am grateful that the wheel is turning, that the Equinox is coming, and that fall is already hinting in cool breezes and dusty, fading flowers. I love the fading of the glory just as much as I do the brilliant colors of high summer.

What were your ten things today?

Ten Thing Monday

I know I’m late, but it’s still Monday, at least where I sit.

1. The turning of the wheel. I pulled up the squash and cucumber plants this weekend. The days are getting shorter. It’s darker in the morning when I go to bed, making it easier for me to sleep. The other day it was downright cool when I went outside at 5 am. I’m thankful for the reminder that nothing, good or bad, stays around forever.

2. Chopped. I know it sounds weird to be grateful for a TV show, but I am grateful to this one. Every time I watch it, I am challenged in so many ways about how I think about cooking. I’ve learned so much about creativity and thinking outside the box and how to use ingredients that I might never have considered in ways I certainly never would have imagined. Chopped has added a huge chunk to my culinary knowledge.

3. Skittles. It’s been almost exactly two years since this fiesty little creature came into our lives. Before her, it had been a good 30 years since I was really attached to a dog. G is her “person” but since she’s been gone so much lately, she’s turned a little bit more toward me. I just adore her personality and her huge heart and spirit. She always seems to know when I need a bit of cheering up and comes to sit it my feet with her little head cocked over as if to say, “What can be wrong, I’M here!”

4. Homegrown tomates. What else needs to be said?

5. Swimming at the college. I am deeply grateful to have a really nice pool to swim in at the local college. I am so thankful they do a punch card program that doesn’t expire until you actually use all the punches. I’m thrilled that the college is starting a swim team (this is the first year) and that I get to swim with the big girls and boys. Slowly, of course, but I’m in the water with them. I’m so excited about having swim meets to maybe go to later in this year. It will be a whole new experience for me.

6. Time outdoors. I don’t do enough of it.

7. Learning to let go. A few weeks ago I unfriended someone on FB for the first time. I was sad that I felt that strongly that I had to do it, but afterward I felt such relief. It’s not that I don’t want this person for a friend in real life, but IRL, I don’t see or hear from them very often because they live on the other side of the country. Their beliefs are SO opposite of anything I do or think on a daily basis, that I just couldn’t have that energy on my wall. The best part is, I don’t feel guilty, just relieved.

8. Central air conditioning at home. We finally had it put in this year, early in the season while it was still cool. I wasn’t too sure of it then, but since the summer has kicked up, boy, I am not sure how we managed without it before. What a blessing.

9. My coworkers. I don’t talk about them a lot because I don’t see them, but I do work with a great group of women (and the occasional man) and they help make the tediousness of the work bearable. You have to be pretty darn smart to be a GOOD medical transcriptionist/editor and a good sense of humor also helps when you work at home alone on weird schedules that on one else would understand. Since they probably won’t read this, I’ll have to figure out some ways to let them know my feelings. Hmmm. Planning…

10. School starts in a week!!!! E will be a freshman. He’s going to learn a lot and have a lot of what he thinks is “knowledge” knocked right out of him. I’ll be practicing a little Abraham hard these next few weeks and months and just see the kind of man I know he can be and not the bratty, infinitely annoying butthead teenager he is most of the time now. And I can put paid to one of the busiest summers of my life. For that, I am truly grateful!