I completely accidentally discovered something new on my iPhone Photos app. Lots of other people knew this, I’m sure, but I stumbled upon the ability to isolate a subject from the background. It took about fifteen minutes to pin it down after I accidentally pushed on an image and saw Wren get outlined in light… I’m grateful for these serendipitous discoveries!
I’m grateful to own a piano. It was one of the last gifts my father gave me before he lost his mind. He told me to find the piano I wanted and he’d pay for it. I understood that he didn’t mean a Yamaha baby grand, and I shopped for a used upright, which I found in Grand Junction from a private seller.
I played assiduously for a few years after I bought it, and then it’s been in fits and starts. I hadn’t played for years when I tickled the ivories a few weeks ago, and decided it was time to pay the piper. Look at all those apothegms! Of course it needed tuning, so I called The Man.
A visit from the piano tuner of choice on the Western Slope is always fun. Despite my covid precautions I didn’t ask him to mask. I had opened both doors and several windows. “I’ve had all my shots,” he said, “here’s my tag.” I wanted to see his face, so I masked instead.
He grumbled and groaned when I asked if I could film him, but really he was flattered. I promised I wouldn’t put it all over the internet so I’ve limited myself to one still photo. If you recognize him, don’t tell him!
He appreciates my sense of humor and has great laugh lines. Each request I made of him he upped the price, but not really. Like Dr. Vincent he threatens to retire, but after two hand surgeries in recent years he’s good to go for another decade.
When he’s here, I wish I were my piano. I’m grateful for his skill and his way of being. Wren only barked a little, and he did exactly the right thing: ignored her until she was comfortable with his presence. I’m grateful for my piano and the joy its tuning brings me. It’s my aspiration to start playing regularly again.
I’m grateful that despite the feeling that spring would never come, it did! The little red tulips are starting to open, the first dandelions are blooming, and the air was almost balmy today as I worked outside tidying the patio for outdoor living again.
One project I’ve been contemplating was moving the phoebe platform and clearing off the old nests. I was so happy to see a phoebe fluttering around and checking it out a couple of weeks ago, and sad that no one moved in. I’m grateful I can still climb a ladder and wield a screw gun; even though I pre-drilled into the joists I still couldn’t get a couple of the screws all the way in, but it’s solid enough to hold a nest.
Here’s the side of the old nest that they used for three years, building it up each time. They like a particular kind of niche for their nest, where it’s protected above and on the sides, to prevent jays or magpies from getting to their chicks, which I think happened one time. I hope that moving the platform over so there is one wide and protected ledge will encourage them to try again. Meanwhile, someone else used their old tall nest for storage and maybe warmth over winter…
As usual, I was grateful for so many things today. I was grateful to spend a quiet morning outside, and then to come inside for a belly laugh and long-distance exercise session with my cousin. I was grateful for a cheese sandwich for lunch and for all the elements of it that came from across the hemisphere to coalesce in my little house in this moment in a delicious blend of homemade sourdough, mayonnaise, Havarti cheese, wild-caught Alaskan smoked salmon, organic romaine, and avocados from Mexico, seasoned with Penzeys Sandwich Sprinkle and who knows where all those spices came from.
I’m grateful for this beautiful handmade red wineglass I used to save for special occasions–until I realized that every evening I’m alive and cooking is a special occasion. Like so many things in my house, this glass holds not only what it’s designed for but the story of its provenance and some meaningful connection: in this case with the dear friend who gave it to me for my fiftieth birthday, at a party that’s a story in itself. Each moment interconnects with every other.
I’m grateful for a healthy dinner of kale and walnut pasta, with garlic, mushrooms, fresh lemon juice, and grated parmesan, seasoned with salt, pepper, and Penzeys Revolution blend. I’m grateful for Penzeys’ integrity and activism as well as their spice blends, which is one reason I mention them so often. They just concluded a 50% off sale on all spices starting with B and C, as well as $1 ‘Fox Point not Fox News’ special, in acknowledgement of the misogynistic work environment at a certain cable network. It takes real … nerve for a retail business to be as politically upfront as Penzeys.
I’m grateful for all the elements of my meals today, and for all the people and energy and resources it took to get the ingredients from the far-flung corners of the globe to the shelves of my refrigerator and pantry, from the unknown walnut and lemon growers to the Italian pasta makers to my patient personal shopper who works for cookies. I’m grateful for the friends I see in person and those I see online and those I haven’t met yet, as well as those I mostly see in the tangible recollections that populate my home.
I’m grateful for daffodils, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll see any this year. Foliage is up for daffodils and tulips, but with the last two nights in the teens it all looks a bit wilty. Only one patch of tulips managed to bloom before these hard freezes, and a few clusters of the little yellow and white ground tulips. Fortunately, only a few intrepid apricot blossoms have opened so far on a tree loaded with them, which bodes well for fruit–fingers crossed! I used the last of the 2021 apricots from the freezer a month ago.
Since I may not get daffodils in the yard, and the Bad Dogs have surplus eggs this time of year, I tried out this Daffodil Cake recipe from Epicurious today. One dozen egg whites and six yolks get whipped in separate bowls. Flour is folded into the whites, and then a third of that batter is mixed with the yolks to make two batters, which are then layered in the pan.
I did almost everything right, except I think I mixed too much white into the yellow (above), which made the yellow batter perfectly fluffy but didn’t leave me enough white for three good layers, so the top (which became the bottom) was skimpy.
But I was pretty pleased with the final product! I returned half the cake to the Bad Dog Ranch, where a slice of it was enjoyed the way the recipe suggested: with whipped cream and fruit. I chose to eat my slice plain today, but tomorrow’s will be topped with vanilla ice cream. Not simple, but delicious.
What to do now with six egg yolks? … oh I know! Boiled custard. Perfect nutrition for the weekend, since the temporary crown my tooth got on Tuesday cracked in half today while I was eating a burrito. Oh well!
I stumbled upon the GLAAD Media Awards show this evening on Hulu. I’d heard of GLAAD but not seen the award show nor known the extent of the work they do. The show was a celebration of acceptance and love, courage and resilience, and queer joy. I was delighted to have seen a few of the many films and shows nominated, and interested to see the breadth of media recognized including graphic novels and video games. I immediately looked up the full list of nominees so I can check out those available on the platforms I stream and broaden my entertainment palette. I’m grateful for GLAAD and for LGBTQ+ people I’ve known and loved, and lost, in my life.
Or I could have titled this ‘Reading’ again. Or ‘Bibliofillies.’ Our book club celebrated its 18th anniversary this month with one of the best books we’ve ever read. Everyone gave it two thumbs up, and some of us included more fingers and toes. I personally gave it five thumbs up, who’s to say how many I get to give? I mean, if I can give zero fucks about something like … well, then surely I can give more thumbs up than are apparent, right?
This book is hands down one of the best reads I’ve experienced in my short life. And that’s what it’s about, life. Just the depth and breadth of “the ordinary orbit of one life,” which “at the time you’re living it you can sometimes think your life is nothing much…”
“Story was the stuff of life, and to realize you were inside one allowed you to sometimes surrender to the plot, to bear a little easier the griefs and sufferings and to enjoy more fully the twists that came along the way.” This gorgeous Irish novel is about living each day with awareness and gratitude, kindness and compassion, and I felt honored that some of my fellow Fillies thought of me and the mindfulness that I preach as they were reading it. When we can step back and observe the reality of our unique and precious life as it unfolds, one breath, one detail at a time, we can more deeply appreciate each moment.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone. Please do yourself a favor, if you love to read, and get it now. Those Fillies who listen to books claim that it’s about if not the best narration they’ve ever listened to, and I don’t doubt them. I was glad I could hear the Irish brogue in my head, and several-many times I read a passage aloud to Wren, in my own poor imitation of the lyrical accent.
Speaking of lyrical, I found myself with a spare half hour this morning, and cracked open my piano for the first time in a year. Not only am I grateful for being able to read words, and for everyone who contributed to this skill, but I’m grateful for the ability to read music, and to Mrs. Tankel for teaching me that skill starting when I was in the first grade through high school.
I haven’t played much since the kittens came, and that’s amazingly coming up on eight years; I haven’t played at all since Covid, because the piano is a tiny bit out of tune, and, well, I just didn’t call the tuner. Until this afternoon: and he has put me in his rotation and will be here sometime this month. I’m grateful for John Blackburn, the hottest piano tuner on the western slope and maybe anywhere, and for Neighbor Robert, who tuned me into him. I’m also grateful to Robert for one day dropping the line, “…and of course you have Hanon,” to which I responded with an eloquent “huh?” And he gave me the Virtuoso Pianist exercise book that might have made all the difference when I was learning piano as a child. It’s a joy to play.
Wren isn’t too sure about piano, since today was the first time she heard it, but she was game, and stuck her nose in the way between my hands for a few exercises, but left as I began to play a Schubert waltz. She was long gone before I tried to sing along with ‘King of the Road,’ but that’s okay. I don’t need her with me every single moment. I’m so grateful that I have a piano, and to the Colonel for giving it as his last gift to me, and that I knew when I closed it the last time that I would get back to it eventually.
And I’m grateful, as always, for the inestimable cheese sandwich. And really, in the course of a day, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what I’m grateful for: so much!
Things did not go as I expected them to tonight. I heard there are massive solar winds that could be affecting digital things this weekend so maybe that’s what happened.
For the past 13 weeks I’ve planned my weekend entertainment around a new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15. I briefly resented having to pay an extra $25 for it on Amazon Prime, but I’ve done the same for a couple of other seasons so I followed the same advice as I did before: If it gives you pleasure just go ahead and pay for it, you get to watch as often you want. I rarely watch a Drag Race episode more than once recently, because there are so many new ones available between the US and international shows.
So I bit the proverbial bullet and paid for Season 15 and have been enjoying settling in at the end of a work week on Saturday nights to relax and watch just one hour of consummate drag, practicing open mind-open heart all the while, expanding my horizons…
I tuned in tonight and it wasn’t there. I called Amazon support. They said it was ‘not yet available,’ with no date scheduled. I was incredulous. How could they not give me something I paid for? I thanked Lula for her time and good work, hung up, and pursued another option. Jumping through a few hoops I was able to watch the episode for free on MTV, with ads. So I extended my practice to watching what a large chunk of the populace digests every day but is alien to me by choice–the commercials made me so sad. What a world!
Before all the Amazon-MTV first world drama, I had tried to simply stream the PBS special celebrating Joni Mitchell’s finally getting the Gershwin Prize in a special concert filmed at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The space was filled with music world glitterati, DC nobility, and a few startling political faces–what right do these people have to honor Joni Mitchell?! They deny basic human dignity to millions of Americans by promulgating cruel, narrow-minded, hypocritical legislation, and then think they deserve to be here? Who let them in?
My judgments ran rampant but under control for the first hour or so, generally eclipsed by the joy and beautiful music abundantly on display. No ads to make me sad, and Annie Lennox, Brandi Carlisle, Angelique Kidjo, James Taylor, Graham Nash and more to lift my spirits and celebrate an icon, a time, a world view suffused with love. But I gasped and grasped the remote to turn it off when that traitorous liar Kevin McCarthy was introduced to bestow the award on Mitchell. I wouldn’t watch it, couldn’t watch it, it was just too much to dignify that figurehead who represents the antithesis of all that Joni’s career has stood for. How could anyone there have applauded him?
Thus began the Amazon-MTV-Roku-iPhone-Bluetooth technodrama that unfolded over the next half hour before I finally got to stream three-quarters of the Drag Race episode. Some pearls of wisdom adorned the usual glam, glitter, and gossip, as when Sasha Colby said, “Just be a joy to be around, leave your ego at the door…” Suddenly the streaming froze–the solar winds won–after five techno challenges in a row I threw in the towel and turned off the outside world and went inside myself.
Here, I find Wayne Shorter crooning his saxophone, and images from the amazing early spring day I just lived through. Some I caught on my camera phone, and some live only in memory: a spotted towhee pecking through leaves under the lilacs, sandhill cranes calling overhead as I split kindling on a cloudless afternoon, mindful conversation with friends…
I’m grateful I spotted this harbinger of Spring, the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. I texted the picture to a butterfly expert friend in Toronto who ID’d it and said, “They overwinter as adults in cracks and crevices and pop out when its warm enough. A favourite of mine. Don’t get to see one very often.” Me neither! This is my first. Very exciting! Highlight of the day! A little tattered… they only live 6-10 days in this adult form, and typically inhabit wet woodlands, moist marshes and pastures. One point for wet weather. And then, day softened into evening inside the kaleidoscope… I’m grateful for perspective.
I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. With temperatures above 50℉ the past two days, it was time to get into the garden. I needed some of the wire cages to protect the tulips poking up through mud, before the does destroyed them. The cages were stored in the back shed, so I had to brave a snow field to get to them.
The first few steps were easy: snow crusty enough to hold my weight. Then I punched through. Little Wren danced around on top of the crust the whole time. So did Topaz. It was a long way to the shed and it was rough on my knees and my back. I found a shorter way out, after dropping the cages over the back fence where I could get to them easily from outside. Then I crawled over the crust for twenty feet til I got up next to the raised beds, where reflected heat had melted a narrow path. It was fun, crawling over the snow, and doubled as icing on my knees.
A rude awakening from a leisurely Saturday morning latté, when Wren looked at the door funny and I decided to bring in some firewood. The mudroom wall was melting all the way down. I tried to absorb the leak with some brown paper which lasted a short minute before it got pushed away. Scrambling around I dressed to climb the ladder again.
After whacking away some more glacial ice, this time wearing insulated leather gloves so I could scoop it out of the gutter without frostbite, I revealed a piece of flashing extending from the main roof to the mudroom roof, designed to prevent this kind of problem, I assume. But with more than a foot of exposed seam between that flashing and the first gutter the design failed in this long, cold, grey winter when deep snow finally came. I’m grateful for junk lying around! The kind of thing rural people keep because you just never know when it might come in handy. This piece of broken drain was quite handy because I left it lying where it broke off, so in case I needed I’d know right where it was. I jammed it up to the flashing and wedged it under the gutter, and have stopped the leak for now.
This would have still been melting the wall if it weren’t dripping off the edge of the roof. Fingers crossed this fix holds until it warms up enough for Wilson to flip the whole pile off. He came by today to shovel the paths, and scolded me. “You shouldn’t be climbing up here and doing this,” he said. And then he scolded another friend for climbing out on her roof to mess with ice dams without her phone. “I always have my phone on me,” I reassured him, and he said “I feel better about that.” I was grateful that he cared enough to scold me.
At last the arduous outdoor work was done, and I settled into the recliner for a short rest, where I took the time to enjoy this lovely little vignette in front of me. Now I see the cobwebs on the chili lights. Oh well! A task for another day. Not everybody wakes up alive every day. I’m grateful I did, and that I made it safely through another one.