I’m grateful for where I live, and for neighbors who share certain values that reflect an understanding of our interdependence. We don’t agree on everything, and some of us barely agree on anything, but we do share a love of the land on which we live, and a willingness to help each other out when what we can offer is needed. Big thanks to neighbor Joe for all the plowing he’s done this winter, and for pulling my car out of the snowbank with his tractor this afternoon.
It’s possible that there is someone in the neighborhood who didn’t look outside this evening and marvel at the truly astonishing colors that permeated everything from sky to snow to winter junipers. But it’s not likely. One of the values we share is a reverence for the beauty of the place we live.
I’m grateful today for the impromptu party that happened in my driveway this afternoon when the Bad Dogs stopped by with a delivery from the Asian Market and the Liquor Barn in Grand Junction, at the same time the Honey Badger dropped off this takeout meal from Best Slope Culinary that dear Mary had picked up in town. It takes a village! Once again and as always, I feel so grateful for this kind community.
Chef Brant’s Baharat (7 Spiced) Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas, Hot Honey and Yogurt was almost too spicy for me, but delicious for an early supper. The garlic hummus and soft bread was a great snack after a meeting, and I split the Blue Sky lemon tart for a dessert after each mini-meal. There’s enough leftover for some of each tomorrow. This chef grew up in the neighborhood, went out into the world for awhile and acquired mad culinary skills, and returned to the valley a few years ago, where he’s since made a fine name for himself. If you live around here or are passing through, take advantage of his changing weekly menu, and occasional popup restaurant.
It’s a little embarrassing for me to admit how dependent I’ve become on the internet. It’s been off and on here for two days, and Rise Broadband reports that they know there’s a problem and expect it will be resolved by Monday at six pm. Another two days! Oh well. First world problems. I’m grateful for the internet and for how it allows me to connect with you, with the drag queens of the world, weather forecasts, and so much more, including the platforms I’m using these days for work. If I have to spend some hours without it now and then I suppose I have enough to keep me occupied!
I admit it would be easier to go without internet if it weren’t deep winter. In summer, I could at least bundle up and sit outside under the stars if I can’t watch Drag Race or Modern Family. It’s just too cold now. Lows overnight in the single to minus digits, and highs during the day often not breaking freezing. So even during the day, if I can’t work online, I can’t spend much time outside. The tiny dog loves the snow but too much time in it gives her a reverse-sneeze seizure and she runs to me to pick her up, then shivers mightily until I bring her inside. A sweater isn’t much help in the teens, or in snow deeper than herself, and booties are out of the question. I’m grateful I have a little treadmill inside where I can walk up my heart rate and exercise my lungs.
I’m grateful for the moisture the snow is bringing to our ground and to the mountains where we keep our water until we need it in summer. I’m grateful for the mild does who hang out during the day. Grateful for my solid little house, and for the garden in winter.
Sometimes I’m even grateful for the ‘memories’ that pop up in Photos unbidden. When I opened the program this evening this image from 2018 showed up, with Stellar and Raven on a trail up above Lost Lake that autumn. I love how the yellow aspen leaves ornament the deep evergreen boughs and the path, the bright white of the aspen trunks, and the cherished images of my dear departed catahoulas. I imagine that trail is under six or eight feet of snow at the moment. I’m grateful for perspective.
I woke to this mystery: Where are the mountains? Obscured by clouds. Just as my core values, my solid foundation, can sometimes be obscured by clouds of emotions, ruminations, or fears. But it’s good to know they are still there, to be revealed again when the clouds lift.
I also woke to this lovely little puzzle which I assembled on my desk yesterday while listening to a number of talks online. Monet’s Sailboat at Le Petit-Gennevilliers, a simple 9×12 Liberty with only 272 pieces. It was an easy, meditative thing to do with my eyes and hands as I deepened my understanding of trauma, and how mindfulness, sleep, family systems, and evolution among other things, relate to it. This puzzle seemed to be about 40% whimsy pieces, a high ratio, and they were so delightful.
Lots of fish and other sea creatures, and lots of seagulls, feathers, clouds, and sailboats. This one practically fell together despite the tricky colors, whose grays and blues were reflected not only in the water here, but also in the sky today as I disassembled the puzzle.
The mountains did reappear briefly between snow squalls this afternoon. By bedtime almost a foot of soft, light snow has fallen. I’m grateful for this abundant replenishment for our mountain aquifer, and for the moisture that will melt into my own little garden. Just yesterday I noticed the first tiny threads of crocus leaves peeking up from the soil. I’m grateful for making friends with impermanence, knowing that in another day the sun will shine again on our valley, that this much-needed snow will nurture wildflowers, wildlife, crops, and our own bodies as winter thaws into spring, spring into summer.
It’s February! Time for the raptors’ return! Last week I spotted three redtail hawks on power poles on the drive home from town. A couple days later I walked the campground loop at the state park, and we saw a rough-legged hawk, above. In a cottonwood by a ranch house on the road home a bald eagle perched. As I pulled into the driveway a redtail circled over the house. The first true harbinger of spring, the retails’ return. Also, even though it snowed today, yesterday’s high temperature was 57℉. I’ve pulled the first seed packets that need to be planted indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost. Spring is coming!
I’m also grateful for those brain docs who offered a free brain-health cooking series. Yesterday I learned to make a tofu scramble that tastes almost like scrambled eggs, along with sweet potato hash (steaming is the secret to cooking them through!), and simple sautéed greens which I seasoned only with a squeeze of rangpur lime. Thanks, Kathy!
Things I’m grateful for today: waking up alive; a beneficial acupuncture treatment; seeing a Basque shepherd on the highway with dogs, and a flock of sheep coming onto the road from a field, with more shepherds and dogs; the redtails’ return signaled by several on power poles along the highway; a cozy fire and a hot shower; a delicious sandwich for lunch; a peaceful meditation this afternoon; zoom tea with Kathleen; a single Manhattan with the drag queens raising love on ‘We’re Here’ in Temecula, CA; an early night to bed; and many other simple moments of breath and awareness. I’m also grateful for the friends and teachers who have helped me come to this place in this tenuous life where anything can happen at any time, and for the conditions of relative comfort and ease that characterize my days despite chronic pain and global grief, and for joy in the sight of a mountain bluebird’s flight across the road, and the flicker who lives in the eaves.
I’m grateful for so much today, starting with the middle of last night. Just before I crawled into my cozy bed, for which I am always ever so grateful, I stepped outside on the deck with binoculars to see if I could see comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). I don’t even need to know what that name means, except that I do know it was discovered less than a year ago as it approaches Earth for the first time in roughly 50,000 years. How exciting is that? I’m grateful for things we never knew.
Once I finally figured out where the Little Dipper is, which I never bothered to learn, it was easy to find the comet, and a thrill to observe it even though it was just a bright smudge in the dark sky through my birding binoculars. It will be another few days before it reaches its perigee, but it might be visible to the naked eye tonight in a dark enough sky. Last night, at 12℉ with a faint cloud cover, I didn’t stay out long. Talk about perspective though! I love the cosmos for putting me in my place.
I am little ashamed of myself that I boycotted the sciences in college because of judging the credit system to be unfair. It seemed wrong that should get three credits for three one-hour classes in English, and three credits for three one-hour classes PLUS a four-hour lab once a week in most of the sciences. I was also attached to what I knew, and I resisted the idea that in science, what we know changes constantly. I wanted to learn something and have that be that. That ridiculous bias faded through the years of simply living and recognizing the impermanence of everything, and now I kinda wish I had studied science more intensely. However, it’s been my hobby for decades, and one delight has been the night sky. For the requisite science course, I took Astronomy/Cosmology, which did not have a lab requirement, with a fabulous professor named Hans von Baeyer. I had a massive crush on him, and loved that he sent us out overnight to keep a star and planet log. I went with my new boyfriend and it’s one of the happiest memories of my college life, dozing and waking in our sleeping bags through the night to keep my log. I’m a fool for physicists still. Not the boyfriend, he was a sports writer who enjoyed a long career in that pursuit; I mean my crush on Hans and a couple of other physicists through the years.
I’m grateful that Wren had a rather uneventful vet visit today, with good heart and lung sounds, and the sad news that she is a little too chunky for her health. This did not come as a surprise, and it’s going to be hard to cut back on her treats, but she needs to lose a couple of pounds. She didn’t get even a tiny taste of the Sonic shake despite her best efforts at persuasion. She also has a little freckle on her belly that has been growing since I noticed it a few months ago. Dr. Emily measured it at 1.5 mm and told me to come back in six months or if it reaches 3 mm, whichever comes soonest. She mentioned the risks that come with anesthesia and didn’t want to do an unnecessary biopsy. So we wait and see, and hopefully it stops growing and is just a freckle.
You saw this picture Wednesday night. This driveway is drifted a foot deep in places, after a two-inch snow accompanied by strong winds for hours. Because of its south-north orientation, and prevailing west winds, with no windbreak to the west, only a forty-acre field, it’s a perfect equation for drifts. I’m grateful for the opportunity to observe and learn first-hand about the powerful phenomenon of drifting snow. It’s amazing how wind packs and sculpts this delicate substance. I understand better than some when I hear weather reports about blizzards closing highways, or other snow drama. I’m even more grateful for the kindness of neighbors, and the first-hand experience of interdependence.
I couldn’t have lived here thirty years without the support, friendship, and cooperation of neighbors. Thirty years! I can’t believe it. This summer it will be thirty years at the end of this driveway. I’m grateful I’ve learned to open my heart and my mind, to communicate with and accept differences, and to focus on the shared values of the people I live among. One of those values is perseverance, demonstrated above by the truck tracks (subsequently drifted again in the west track along the fenceline) left by my courageous friends on Wednesday morning determined to get food to me. Food that I didn’t really need and I’m so glad they didn’t get stuck delivering a luxury.
Another value is cooperation, demonstrated below by the plow and tractor tracks made today by a neighbor whom I asked for help. We’re not close, but I’m grateful that he’s often willing to help when needed; as I know he’s grateful for access across my north forty, and its occasional use for his horses. I’ll bake some bread to show my appreciation. I’m grateful for the ideal of good neighbors, and for being surrounded by so many of them. I’m even more grateful that some of them are my dearest friends.
I was so grateful when I first learned that relaxation is a skill that we need to practice. I’m grateful to have various means available to facilitate my relaxation practice, including a gentle chiropractor with a magic touch.
I’m grateful I could come home and relax with a quick pizza, small homemade crust from the freezer and some random toppings. I cooked down a dollop of plain sauce with a mix of dried herbs and garlic slices, sliced some red onion, martini olives, and the last of the summer’s spicy dill pickles, and topped with shredded mozzarella. Baked to perfection! After lunch I enjoyed a nearly perfect homemade creme brûlée, relaxing with a sense of great satisfaction that I finally ticked that recipe off my bucket list.
I spent a little time relaxing outside with the cameraphone, finally managing to get the moon halfway decently with iPhone alone. I’ve figured out the technique, and identified a challenge with rural living. I’m supposed to focus the camera first on a streetlamp, that’s what the tutorial said. My patio light isn’t bright enough or far enough away to lock the exposure and focus accurately to capture the moon when the lens is turned on it. There was a light cloud cover, which helped; the other night it was so bright the camera captured only a blinding white circle. I’m grateful I get to relax both outside and inside my house.
I’m always grateful to live with good neighbors, human and other people. This handsome mule deer buck is quite at home in my yard, quite likely having grown up here over the years. He’s hanging out with a herd of does and their fawns from this year, and at least once a day they meander through the yarden, browsing and grazing. I watched him rip up some of this broom to his left, then chew on the piece he’d torn off. I’m grateful to him for doing some of my spring pruning early. Then he moved on to check out the ephedra, and the grass under the apricot tree. Topaz, Wren and I watched him and his family from the sunroom windows.