I’m grateful for Puzzle Season. I claim a pass to start early. I’m grateful for cultivating the skill of relaxation, and for this gorgeous, bright Liberty puzzle, “A Company of Macaws.”
I feel like a new mother. I spend an hour lying on the floor with him, soothing him to sleep, and then I roll over, get up, and go in the kitchen to do dishes, or wrap another set of pills for him, or take my own night pills, and I turn around and he’s there behind me, panting, hungry, wanting, needing. His appetite is insatiable these days. His energy is greater than mine. His confusion is increasing. His mobility looks good when people come around, and they say He’s doing great! But they see him at his best, alert with steroids, and the excitement of their attention. When it’s just the two of us, he stumbles a lot more; when we walk through the woods, his back legs frequently tangle and stretch out behind him, and he hops on his front legs for a few steps, dragging his back legs on the tops of his feet.
He remains the most beautiful creature I have ever known, and I’m grateful for all that he has taught me and continues to teach me about unconditional love. At the same time that I’m exhausted, that it’s a kind of torture to watch his up and down decline, I’m grateful for each day that he wakes alert and eager for a walk, that his eyes follow me around the house, that I get to spend time in the evening lying beside him massaging his muscles, holding his pressure points, feeling his pulses, hearing his breath, looking into those trusting brown eyes, loving this soul that has never let me down.
Though I have whinged a bit recently about the extra work entailed in caring for his infirmities, I’m grateful each day for the accommodations and adaptations I’m able to make, in order to make his last days more comfortable, and to be more at ease with him, and a little less precious about meself. I’m grateful for stretching my capacities for acceptance and compassion. I’m grateful for this ongoing surrender in service to another sentient being, a being as worthy of my regard as any other.
I’m also grateful today for wrapping up the canning season with the last batch of salsa, at last! Grateful, too, that a few tomatoes remain ripe and ready for sandwiches and cooking, and a few more green tomatoes ripen in a basket and on hanging vines, to carry me another month or so with fresh fruits. I’m grateful for a bountiful harvest this year that will provide nutritious homegrown food through winter, as well as a few gifts for friends and family. I’m grateful to live in this little mud hut in the woods, with a good dog, a sweet cat, a quiet tortoise, a garden, friends, and solitude. Above all I give thanks.
I might as easily have chosen to highlight my gratitude for the Bibiliofillies, but I am grateful today for letting go. I’m grateful for the capacity to quit reading a book, or watching a show, or otherwise removing my attention from one thing and turning it to another. This is the very essence of mindfulness, the ability and willingness to choose where we place our attention.
Tonight, the Bibliofillies met on zoom to discuss our month’s selection, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, by George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo, which we read awhile ago. The latter was a work of fiction; tonight’s subject, an academic analysis of numerous classic Russian short stories, and the arts of writing, and of reading. (I can’t tell you how many stories, because I didn’t get past the first chapter.) A few fillies loved it; some were almost neutral; the rest of us, well, to say we despised it would be an exaggeration, but needless to say the various opinions made for lively discussion. This is why I’m grateful, at least once a month, for the Bibiliofillies.
I bristled at the author’s (a middle-aged white man) initial assumption that he knew what I was thinking. From there it went downhill. Though I did find some redeeming features in what I read, I did not want to keep reading, one of Saunders’ essential criteria for a successful short story. My perspective aside, (for what does it matter anyway?), having this safe place to express it, laugh about it, adapt it, is… priceless.
It’s essential to adapting to be able to let go. There is so much to let go of every single day. I’m grateful that I can let go of attachment to ‘my’ point of view more and more often these days.
Life is so much easier now that I’m simply letting things be as they are, instead of trying to control them. I also used to bristle when people told me, “You think too much!” Turns out they were right, but for the wrong reasons. And if I didn’t hang onto an emotion, I couldn’t consider that it mattered. Letting go was never easy for me. So I clung to, among other things, my own judgements, expectations, mistakes; I harbored grudges, fed them with repetition. Michael was right: I did have a ‘victim mentality.’
Death is certain, time of death uncertain.
I’m so grateful that I’m learning to let go, of everything. Emotions can actually flow through, and that doesn’t make them less real or less valid. The faster I let go, the faster I learn the lesson. The lesson I learned this month was that I don’t have to finish reading every book, or watching every episode of every season of a show, or a movie to the end. I don’t always need to know what happens next: as in a bad dream, I can take my attention by the hand and walk away. I can choose where to spend my precious attention. I don’t know how much I have left. I’m grateful for letting go of things that don’t nurture me.
The morning started well when I got a shot I’ve been hoping for for a long long time: two hummingbirds midair. It was with my camera-phone instead of my husband camera, so it’s not a great image, but certainly captures the drama of their territorial nature as they protect their food source. I’m grateful for a telephone that can live in my pocket and capture a photo like this! Unheard of even a decade ago, much less when I was first meeting the big wide world forty and fifty years ago. I’m grateful that I get to spend an hour in the morning before the workday begins, out in the garden with growing, living things.
Then it was time to cook Boyz Lunch. With the rattlesnake pole beans simmering in oil, ginger, parsley, black mustard seeds, and the first paprika pepper harvested…
…and mashed potatoes and sliced tomatoes from the garden, we feasted! I’m grateful for all the food enjoyed today, by me and others I provide for, and for the opportunity to prepare a feast for my friends; for the hard work in the garden paying off, and for the joy that cooking brings me.
I’m grateful for little Biko, who is just about 22 years old, in the prime of his life, and always eager for something green; and grateful to offer John the joy of feeding him lettuce from the garden.
I’m grateful for this lettuce-leaf basil, that grows so prolifically in a pot, with leaves so huge they really could be used as lettuce, as Amy pointed out, and will no doubt show up on my next BLT instead of lettuce. Maybe tomorrow.
And then it was time for Zoom Cooking with Amy. We started by making the pasta dough, and then the no-cook sauce, and while those were resting we enjoyed martinis together. Then we rolled and shaped the strozzapreti, and assembled our meals.
And then we tossed the cooked pasta with the tomato-basil-garlic sauce, sprinkled with parmesan, and sat down to enjoy our dinner together. I am always and forever grateful for zoom cooking with Amy.
This morning I picked another pound or so of rattlesnake pole beans, and dug up one of five Yukon gold plants. I planted five each of three varieties, and have now harvested one plant of each to see how they did… and of course to enjoy the subterranean fruits of our labors. On the menu for Boyz Lunch today was green bean-potato casserole.
Also on the menu, mustard chicken, browned in bacon fat (from making the casserole topping: bacon, and crumbled Ritz crackers), then skillet roasted in sauce of mustard, white wine, soy sauce, tabasco, and garden garlic and herbs: ripened fennel flowers and basil, plus a teaspoon of herbes de Provence.
The boys said it was definitely Top Five. I love that they say “Top Five” about eighty percent of the meals I make for them. I’m grateful for their appreciation, and grateful I get to host Boyz Lunch live, at least until it gets too cold to eat outside.
I’m really grateful that my hand gets to be out of the brace sometimes, and for OT’s TLC. I can cook again! I still have to be very careful and gentle with it, and it aches and tires easily. OT says it will be a few more months before it’s back to a hundred percent, and I’ve got a handful of therapy exercises to do with each hand, probably forever going forward, to mitigate the underlying arthritis.
The lettuce leaf basil is going bonkers. I’m grateful for the adventure of watching these magnificent plants grow from fragile, minute seedlings, and for the joy of harvesting and eating or preserving the robust leaves. I’m exploring various ways to save this basil, having dried some, made and frozen pesto, and today, freezing the chopped leaves. The four basil bushes continue to splurge outward, promising more and more.
I’m grateful to own a food processor, in which I roughly chopped the basil, then drizzled in just enough olive oil to coat it. Then, into an ice tray by the tablespoon, and into the deep freeze. Tomorrow I’ll pop them out and put them in a freezer container for easy access once the fresh basil is gone.
I’m grateful for prolific basil and green beans, and for potatoes even though they’re all pretty small: live and learn, next year even lighter soil, but hey, this is my best potato crop ever, so far. I’m grateful for the garden, the fence that keeps out the deer, the people who built the fence; grateful for the kitchen and all its implements, for solar power and batteries to store it to keep the fridge and freezer running and power the food processor and this computer and everything else in the house, and grateful for the support of a kind and capable solar technician. I’m grateful for every day that I wake up alive and get to harvest in the garden and cook in the kitchen.
I am so grateful for the sense of taste I get to experience in this life; so thankful I haven’t lost it to Covid or any other condition. Grateful for the bright, sweet taste of the first fresh strawberry from the baskets hanging under the deck.
Grateful for the refreshing, tangy, green flavors of yesterday’s Miradorjito: half gin gimlet (with fresh lime juice), half bubble water; ice cold, garnished with a lime wedge and Thai basil, on a hot evening in the garden. Grateful for the deep, warm taste of last night’s perfectly baked Teddy Roosevelt’s clove cake.
Grateful for the scintillating blend of flavors in today’s Boyz Lunch, beef tinaktak. I’m grateful for the experience and ingredients to improvise: I had thawed beef, and leftover coconut milk, so I looked up recipes with those, and chose from among the options that popped up this traditional dish from Guam. Grateful to have the world’s gustatory cornucopia at my fingertips! I didn’t have cherry tomatoes, but wanted to use up a small package of frozen German stripeds from a couple summers ago; no water chestnuts in the pantry, no surprise, so I sliced fresh garden radishes for similar crunch; no fresh donne’sali peppers but a couple of tiny sparkly dried red peppers; and finally, when I opened the jar of coconut milk it was rancid! So I dug out emergency powdered coconut from the back of the fridge and zapped it in the blender with water to toss in at the end. The result, a richly layered flavor feast with salt (tamari), fat (coconut), acid (lemon), heat (peppers), umami (ground beef), and several interlocking vegetables, over plain basmati rice. Though not particularly photogenic in this incarnation, it was all about taste; so grateful for this extraordinary sensory adaptation to explore and interpret the world.
And also, this evening, grateful for a soothing, cooling drizzle outside, clouds sliding past the waxing moon.
I’m grateful for another Boyz Lunch today, outside on the patio, hummingbirds flitting through, Stellar lying next to John, John’s hand on his head; grateful for these and other friends who accept me just the way I am, and through the years have supported me in my ongoing exploration of how that is, as it changes (like everything does, always, ineluctably); grateful for people who have loved me through my many incarnations in this lifetime; grateful for a safe habitat in which to spread my wings.
Oh, and watch for a bunch of canaries in the Pioneer Days Parade on Saturday! I’m grateful for Ellie, Mary, Suki, Brad, Danielle, Kim, Ana, Kathy, and everyone else who has chipped in energy, time, money, and creativity to create and support the countywide, non-partisan Canary Committee in their efforts to bring attention to the extraordinary drought affecting our particular habitat in Western Colorado, and the dire need to conserve water.
I’m grateful to finally harvest enough lettuce from my garden to feed friends, for Gosar’s sausages (available at Farm Runners), for Cousin Bill’s reminder of how delicious roasted cauliflower is, for Penzey’s Justice that Amy introduced me to, and for the ease of a salad made with canned beans: so simple, so delicious! I’m grateful for another day alive in this body aware of all the sensory pleasures life offers, and for learning the mindfulness skills that enable me to experience each day with gratitude and meaning.
Boyz Lunch today was fried Sesame Tofu with Coconut-Lime Dressing and Spinach, a light fare on the first really hot day of summer.
I’m grateful that the juniper titmice have fledged, and that I was able to get a sort-of shot of the nest hole, after my mind played tricks on me this morning and I thought maybe they’d left behind a chick. So strong was the story I made up from my illusory senses that it took several close perusals of this image and some others to set my mind at ease, and now it seems so obvious. Ah, how we manage to delude ourselves.
Today I’m grateful to be alive, to have friends, to be part of a wonderful, interesting community. In fact, several of them, one in physical space and a couple in virtual space. Also, I’m grateful to live in the multi-species community that is my yarden, cultivating constant connection with Nature. At lunch today on the patio we were all enjoying the phoebes, and observed the chicks’ milestone of venturing beyond the nest onto the joist. THEN, we were astonished to realize that there are actually five chicks!