Gifts from Far and Near

I’m grateful to Cousin Melinda for thinking of me as she traveled to the rose capital of France, and brought me back a jar of rose petal jam. It seemed the perfect complement to a lilac blossom scone, and so I took half an hour to make and eat an extremely special breakfast including a vanilla latté on this cold, damp morning. Every step of the way, I practiced gratitude for each element, each gift from far and near.

So simple, so delicious: making time to make breakfast special.

More gifts on this one precious day that will never come again, the first scarlet gilia blooming in the woods, along with other wildflowers. And then a short rest on a bench with a small dog looming over me…

… and time in the garden this evening with arugula, peas, onions, and scarlet salvia, appreciating fresh snowfall on the mountains, a cat in the lettuce, and a dinner harvest. I am truly grateful for the simple gifts of the simple life I’ve created, and for all the support from generations of known and unknown people who helped me make it.

Right Tool for the Job

Tomato last resort: I’ve surrendered to the late planting and cold spring. Time for extra effort. I saw this mini greenhouse hack on Instagram last night and knew it was the last chance for my seedlings. I’m grateful to have the right tools (almost) for the job: I haven’t been without a cordless drill in my adult life, I just lack the right bit for plastic but used a wood bit and barely cracked the box drilling vents. I’m grateful I had a spare craft storage box. This setup should bring them up to speed. We’ll know more later!

One thing I learned this week is that the seed-starting mix I used is crap. So though I was hoping to plant them directly, I also potted up the peppers this afternoon into a rich compost.


The days are more warm than cool, it hasn’t frozen at night for a few weeks, tomato seedlings are finally sprouting in their progressive incubators: Gardening feels real at last, and I’m grateful for that. It’s such a relief to see the growth of planted seeds after the extraordinarily long winter.

I’ve thinned the sprouts in half the cups to just one, and am bringing them out every day since it’s warm enough, and since I was weeks late planting the seeds, hoping they’ll grow fast enough to go in the ground in just a couple more weeks. We’ll know more later!

Meanwhile, those peas I took a chance on planting before a late snow are shooting up to the trellis with vigor. And the peach tree is full of delicate pink blossoms and perching hummingbirds. What a glorious view!


I’m grateful I got to spend a lot of time outside today, sitting quietly in the yarden, mowing grass and weeds, reading, watering, attending to the little vegetables, walking the little animals through the woods and admiring the little wildflowers. As I was pondering what specific gratitude to express about today, though, I took a long drink of cold tap water.

Everybody chokes on their own saliva once in a while, or has a sip of something go down the wrong pipe, but I’ve been aspirating a lot lately, as often as once a day sometimes, and that’s got me a little concerned. As I poured the water into my mouth tonight and swallowed gulp after gulp, I thought about my mother, and other people with multi-system atrophy diseases, and how one of the systems that goes is swallowing. They have to drink thickened liquids after awhile which is pretty awful–I tried my mother’s thickened water once. And so as that clear thin water went down my throat cleanly I felt keenly aware of my gratitude for swallowing a glassful effortlessly.

A delight to see snow still on the mountains this late in May

The Buddha

The wild plum in full bloom with snow on the mountains, a welcome juxtaposition not seen for years.
As Buddha teaches us the truth of impermanence, so does the garden. Tulip bloom is fleeting, and I savor it while it lasts.

I was grateful today to get a long talk with my cousin, who just returned from two weeks in Thailand. She noticed that the Thai people seemed invariably peaceful and kind, and mentioned that maybe it had something to do with the Buddha. I agreed that was a savvy surmise. I’m grateful that I was introduced to the Buddha, and to the idea of Buddha nature within all beings, more than forty years ago, even though it took another few decades before I really began to look into it, and even more years before I began to take Buddhist philosophy fully to heart. I’m grateful for all the wisdom and clarity that the Buddhist worldview has brought to my interdependent life.

I’m grateful for other Asian contributions to the world also, including Hoisin sauce and rice paper wrappers. Last night was my first foray into making crispy spring rolls. The first attempt at soaking the delicate wrappers was a colossal failure and wound up in the compost but I only lost one roll worth of filling. My second attempt yielded a reasonably successful ten rolls, which I opted to bake instead of fry. I enjoyed half of them for dinner, but they weren’t exactly crispy. To reheat the remainder for lunch today, I fried them, and they were much better. No recipe, I just looked up a few online and mixed up what I had, shredded cabbage, carrots and green onions, finely diced mushrooms, some mashed chickpeas, and some chopped bean noodles, with a splash of soy sauce, and rolled it up. Simple, once I got the hang of it, and delicious.

After the flamboyance of tulips, the first native phlox out in the woods proclaimed its understated elegance.
And at the end of a busy couple of days, Wren took a little stretch on my lap.

Spring Flowers

I’m grateful for spring flowers, in the garden and in the forest. Like clockwork, I heard the first hummingbird yesterday, only a day later than usual, and this afternoon saw the first paintbrush bloom which must have opened yesterday: the two events invariably synchronize.

I’m grateful for all the green resulting from the banner winter water… but only in the fields. This lush green carpet is entirely made of two noxious weeds: bur buttercup, the lighter green; and weedy alyssum. The alyssum is annoying when it goes to seed, while the bur buttercup is downright hostile. Soon Wren won’t be able to stand on it, when those precious tiny blossoms turn to hard round stickers.

In the meantime, we rested on a bench under the Ancient One, and then strolled home. I’m grateful for her happy ignorance; we both enjoyed the balm for the eyes when I could shelve my awareness of what this forest floor will become in the hot dry summer. At least some native grasses will have a good year.

And in the yard? Oh my. Again, it’s pretty now, but in a week or so I’ll be mowing daily until I get these weeds under control. So though I’m grateful for many things today, green is not one of them, not really. In fact, looking at these weeds makes a little sense out of the nightmare I woke from this morning, where I had spent hours crawling through one obstacle after another trying to find clear sky.

Topaz doesn’t give a damn. She’s just happy, and so am I, that we can go sit down by the pond again at last, and listen to the frogs.

I’m grateful for another day alive, and grateful I was patient with a handful of quotidian frustrations; grateful for a wonderful MIR meeting despite skippy internet and thankful for the warm support and acceptance of the group. And I was glad to wrap up the day with a delicious spontaneous ginger-ice cream sandwich to take the edge off the melancholy that has dogged me since that disconcerting dream, and hit hard this evening when I came across some photos of Stellar in his last spring.


Wren and I had quite an adventure today, and I’m glad we did because tomorrow it will probably be raining all day. And tomorrow is the day I’ve declared to be Wren’s Birthday! We don’t know exactly when she was born, but we do know she was born into her new life with me last year on April 25, and that she was allegedly two years old then. So tomorrow I’ll be grateful for one year with Wren…

Today, I’m grateful for many, many things, and perhaps chief among them is helping. After all the gratitudes of the day, late tonight I had the opportunity to help a friend in need, and that feels as good as or better than the big adventures and the sensory pleasures of the day.

We found a sad trail of beautiful feathers along the canyon rim, the drifted remains of a northern flicker. When I spotted the first feather I was delighted, a molted gift; finding the second feather I suspected foul play; at the third feather and beyond it was clear that the flicker had met its demise, and the only thing I can imagine spreading its feathers far and wide was a midair attack by a falcon or other raptor. All told we gathered a handful of feathers, and left a few below the rim.

find two feathers?
The sky was amazing, quite the shapeshifter…

And it was soothing to return home to the tamer pleasures of the yarden. I was also grateful to get my permanent crown, which happened to arrive at the dentist quickly and be ready to replace the broken temp, so Wren bravely stayed home alone while I dashed to town for the quick fix. I was grateful for the helping hands of the dentist and his kind and capable technician. I’ve chosen to spare you the sight of the crown in my mouth and trust you are grateful for that.

I am also grateful that I read about and ordered this nifty bug catcher-magnifier last week, so that when I went in to shower after the trip to town I was able to safely capture the scorpion who had crawled up the drain into the bathtub–and magnify her 5x–and then help her outside. This handy item is sold as a toy, but doubles as a humane tool to remove bugs from inappropriate places and return them to appropriate places, like, anywhere besides my bathtub. This is at least the fifth scorpion to climb into the bathtub this winter, which equals the total of all scorpions in the house in all the years I’ve lived here. A new normal?

Eating Well

I’m trying hard to eat better these days, incorporating more vegetables and fewer sweets. I’m halfway there! Lots more greens have made their way into my diet, but I still bake too much and am addicted to dark chocolate M&Ms. I saw the idea for a ‘Spring Roll Bowl’ the other day, and so whipped one up for lunch. The idea is simple: throw everything you’d want in a spring roll together in a wok and then put it in a bowl.

I started by coating firm tofu cubes in cornstarch and browning them, then added a shallot and Chimayo pepper from the freezer. After a couple minutes I tossed in celery, garlic, and shredded cabbage, along with a splash of the Pad Thai sauce mentioned yesterday. After that was cooked down a bit I added carrots and radish.

I topped the bowl with bean sprouts and peanuts for extra crunch. So simple, so delicious!

Wren got a little antsy while I was eating lunch and had a romp with her pony.

Later we spent some time outside where the yellow tulips are bringing joy to all.

Awhile after that it was nap time. And now it’s bedtime. I’m grateful for waking up alive, spring flowers, and eating well. I’m also grateful for sharing cake and dog stories in a quick visit from Marla. Our conversation turned to housecleaning or lack thereof, and we both raved about the same New Yorker article by Ann Patchett, about preparing for our eventual demise by clearing clutter. We had both listened to it, and I recommend that option to anyone who has started thinking about dealing with all their stuff…

Spring at Last

The flowering jasmine is flowering its fragrant white star blooms. I bought this online a couple of years ago after a friend and teacher in Australia mentioned that the jasmine HEDGE in her yard was blooming. I’d always wanted a bonsai jasmine, so I got this one to honor her. The lovely jade tiger is an ancestral memento.
…and the way she watches me…
And I’m grateful that she doesn’t always watch me, but lives her own adventuresome life as well. Today we walked to the canyon rim for the first time. It made me feel silly: I missed yesterday’s Wordle, which is rare for me, and it was LEDGE. Duh. Ice Canyon is melting…

I’m grateful for Spring at Last! Suddenly, after the long wait, just as in This is Happiness, precipitation ceased and sun emerged just in time for Easter. Today was beautiful from start to finish, and we spent as much time outside as possible. I hooked up a couple of hoses for the first time since November to rinse off some stuff. Wren made the most of the snowmelt by rolling in every possible blend of dirt, and wasn’t happy when I lifted her onto the table to document it.

“Can you plant garlic in spring?” I was asked a month ago. Yes, you can! Though I don’t know how well it will bulb, it has certainly sprouted well.
I’m grateful for a smoothie outside in the late afternoon under the apricot tree on Easter Sunday. The smoothie includes half a frozen banana, some pineapple chunks, soy milk, protein powder, flax meal, frozen blueberries, fresh ginger, coconut cream, lemon juice, a large kale leaf, and a little water. And maybe something else, I don’t remember. And the straw is washable and reusable silicone. There was no bunny, but Wren did her best to impersonate one.

Local Seeds

The first mini irises have been up for a few days. I’m so grateful to see them!
I’m always grateful for a simple cheese sandwich.
…and always grateful for a little hug.

I made it to town finally to buy peas. I’m grateful that our local store, the Hitching Post, carries local seeds from the fabulous High Desert Seed & Gardens. “We’re done with Burpee,” said Sherri, “they don’t care where you live.”

High Desert seeds are tested and grown for high altitude and dry conditions right down the highway in Paonia now, after starting a few years ago outside Montrose. During a mild break in a day of chaotic skies, I got the pea trellis assembled and a whole package of Magnolia Blossom snap peas planted, just in time for more moisture to soak them into their bed.

And after a cold and busy day, a bowl of warming cod with butternut squash sauce was the perfect comfort food. Mine doesn’t look like the recipe, because I started with puréed squash and the fish fell apart, but it was so simple, so delicious.