Tag Archive | clouds

Contentment

I’m grateful to see Ice Canyon forming up, and to be able to walk there with my little dog. I’m grateful for the vast, tremendous sky and all that happens in it day to day, moment to moment. I’m grateful for my life just as it is on this day of giving thanks, for where I live and how, for teachers and students, for friends and community, for a sense, in this moment, of safety and ease. I’m grateful for knowing any of this can change in any moment, which inspires me to appreciate all of it every moment as much as possible.

I’m grateful for a tidy stack of wood in the shed, protected from the elements, and for the helpers who stacked it. I’m grateful for the simple meal I made for my Thanksgiving dinner, cheesy samosa puffs, and for the jar of last year’s salsa verde I pulled from the pantry to dip them in. It was a delicious early dinner.

I’m grateful for eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract, cream cheese and butter, and the knowledge to turn them into a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s not exactly like the Sarah Lee cakes I grew up with, but pretty good nonetheless! I did substitute cream cheese for some of the butter in the frosting because I could and plain butter cream is too–well, buttery–for my taste. I’m grateful that two dear neighbors wanted to share their Thanksgiving dinners with me, and that I was able to share this cake with them. And so glad that I’ll have plenty of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and more to enjoy for the next few days. I’m grateful for leftovers! I’m grateful for friends. I’m grateful for the leisure and opportunity to cultivate contentment in my life.

Looking Up in Wonder

As Wren and I were out on our afternoon walk, everything in front of us looking much the same as usual, the ground, sagebrush, trees, green mosses, and soft dry mud, I chanced to turn and look over my shoulder, and “ah, bright wings!” We followed the marvel through the woods until, as everything always does, it shifted, dispersed, dissipated. I’m so grateful for those moments when I am stopped in my tracks by looking up in wonder.

I’m grateful for the single Tabasco pepper I grew this summer, for its precious little hot peppers, and for it hanging on long enough after I potted it up and brought it inside to load up with ripe or ripening fruits. When I went to water it today I noticed an aphid infestation, and I’m grateful I had a plan for such an eventuality. Having observed in previous years that outside food plants brought in, peppers or herbs, often succumb to aphids, I was on the lookout, and had steeled myself for the necessary: I cut off all the peppers and put the plant and aphids outside to freeze gently to death; trying to control them has always failed and resulted in more houseplants becoming infested. I’m grateful I had “the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.”

Gravity

Wren got to meet our new chiropractor Dr. Leigh this morning, way too early. It was 25℉ when we had to get up and I didn’t make time for coffee before we left. But it was a lovely session for me providing much relief from sciatic discomfort, and Dr. Leigh delighted in her little assistant who followed her around until settling down on her bed when she was sure everything was in order. I’m grateful she gets to go with me. I’m also grateful for gravity. I mention it sometimes when I lead a meditation, suggesting we relax into the warm embrace of gravity or something similar. As I lay on the table with sacral blocks stabilizing my off-kilter pelvis and needles in my legs and hands, I was delighted to hear Dr. Leigh say as she encouraged me to relax, “We live on a planet with gravity, might as well make the most of it.”

I’ve been wanting to photograph this mural for months, maybe years. As I drove by one time I saw the young woman artist just finishing it up but I didn’t have time to stop. I don’t get out much anymore, and don’t make time to stop when I do, but this morning town was empty as I headed home, and more importantly the new coffee shop next door to this building was empty but open, so I turned around and parked along the curb, went in and ordered a delicious vanilla latté, and made the most of being parked beside the mural. I’m grateful to live in a valley that values art, and allows artists to paint the buildings. I hope this mural will be here for decades to come.

On the way out of town I was grateful to be stopped for road construction so that I could snap this extraordinary sky both west and east. The flagmen seemed oblivious to the splendor above them, and I hope that my getting out and looking up may have influenced them and the drivers stopped behind me to also look up and enjoy the celestial view. Though we are held to earth by gravity, the clouds are not, and only succumb to it when they are heavy with rain or snow. As I drove the twenty minutes home I watched these cloud from many angles as they slowly dissipated into nothingness just as I reached my driveway.

It was a busy afternoon and evening, and when all was done all I wanted to do was sit with a bowl of popcorn and watch some TV. But not just any popcorn. An epicurious recipe had popped into my inbox the other day which I was excited to try: Maple pecan popcorn. OMG. So… simple, so delicious! It really was simple, just time consuming, and I was grateful for a clip-on candy thermometer. Pop a bunch of corn. Chop and toast some pecans. Melt butter and bring to a boil with maple syrup (real maple syrup, of course) and a pinch of salt, and let it boil for a long time (at this altitude) until it reaches 287℉ (altitude correction for 300℉), then pour over and quickly stir with the popcorn/pecans, and spread into a baking pan until it cools. Break it up into bits and pieces and enjoy! I could hardly stop eating it, but it made a LOT, and I’m grateful it keeps for up to a week–if it lasts that long.

Cloud Watching

I enjoyed a conversation with a friend this afternoon as I lay back on the chaise on the patio, and this one little cloud caught my attention because it looked like–well, I won’t say so that you can use your own imagination, but it looked like something mythical to me. It had already lost its precision in the few seconds it took me to open the camera app and snap its picture (top). Then, in the span of just a few minutes it shapeshifted into something else, and then it began to dissipate, and then it was gone… I’m grateful for cloud watching, for having the leisure and presence of mind to do it from time to time, and for how it brings me so vividly in touch with impermanence: the changing nature of everything.

Finding Lost Things

I’m grateful we got to start out the day with a nice walk to the canyon, greeting our old tree friends, and taking stock of more erosion deeper into the woods.
Most of our trails to the rim experienced some transformation, this one with a new rill snaking quite a long way down the center.

What happens when I get a burst of inspiration to tidy up or reorganize is that I always lose something. Awhile ago I did a kitchen project in which I bought a few new shelf and drawer accessories, and really got the pantry and cabinets in order. Not long after that I was searching for the J&M granulated garlic refill that my neighbors produce for their marvelous garlic grinder. I was sure that I had a packet somewhere, but scoured my spice racks and drawers and couldn’t find it. Some weeks after that, I was searching for the Chaat Masala that my cousin had sent me last winter, and I knew that I had done something sensible with it when I reorganized, but it had vanished. It was reminiscent of Breadgate, but I didn’t get quite so attached to finding it. And a week after that–this morning–I opened a little flat drawer in a lower cabinet looking for something else, and voila! There were the missing spices. I had quite logically put the flat spice bags in there instead of trying to cram them into the racks with the bottles and boxes. I’m grateful for finding lost things, and for being able to laugh about it.

In other food news, all the string beans are tapering off production, while the paprika peppers continue to ripen. Lunch was a simple BLT wrap. Wren and Biko each got a green bean, but Biko turned up his beak and Wren ate them both.

And I’m grateful that we got to end this precious day that will never come again with a stroll to the west fence, and view this surprising cloud configuration.

Right Livelihood

I’m grateful for another relaxing day, and for being able to start it with a lovely latté.
I’m grateful for the ancient junipers and the clouds above…
…and for the little dog on the ground below.

How am I different from that girl who first walked these woods thirty years ago when I discovered the leading edge of peace? I don’t feel so different. I feel the same, but more subdued, less eager. I feel well within the bounds of peace now, though not yet at the center. How is the land different? How are these woods different? More limbs down, more trees down, more down trees decomposing. Far fewer birds, and bugs. The mosses still green, cactus still spiny. Three paths diverged in the woods and I, I chose to stay in shade. Sun climbing as morning rain dissipates. The scant scent of damp sage, juniper oils rising, soft wet dirt underfoot. I’m grateful for taking time to wander aimlessly until I find myself among unfamiliar trees; and the for finding my way home. This seems as fruitful a way as any to spend an hour this late August day.

I’m grateful for the copious eggplant harvest I’m getting from three little bushes. I sliced yesterday’s four, each about six inches long, into three-eighth inch thick slices, salted them for about an hour, patted dry, breaded, and baked them.

The recipe uses only melted butter instead of egg to dip them in before dredging in a breadcrumb/spice/parmesan mix, then calls for baking rather than frying. It was so simple! As they baked, I made a quick sauce with canned tomatoes from last year, red onion from yesterday, a tiny purple pepper, and fresh basil and oregano. I mix and matched a couple of eggplant parmesan recipes, and essentially made up my own.

Once the sauce was reduced and the eggplant disks baked, I layered them with fresh mozzarella and sauce, topped with parmesan and leftover breadcrumbs, and baked. It was perfect! And I cut it up into portions and froze every bit of it, only tasting the pan scrapings. There are so many eggplants ripening that I’ll make another panful in a couple of weeks and eat at least some of it right away. My strategy is to load up the freezer with plenty of ready to heat meals for when the garden is spent, so I can enjoy and be grateful for summer’s flavors all winter long.

Tonight I whipped up this simple olive oil poundcake, but can’t touch it for another half hour until it’s cooled enough to tip out of the pan. I’ve not seen this trick before: after spraying the pan, dusting it with sugar instead of flour.

I’m grateful for all the conditions, choices, and help along the way that have led me to a path of Right Livelihood. I’m grateful for the teachers, mentors, and students that have helped me to be able to make my living teaching meditation and mindfulness. I’m grateful for the practices that bring peace and contentment to my life in these troubled times. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share these skills with others as we navigate the accelerating personal, local, and global challenges of the Anthropocene; and grateful to be offering a four-part online course in Meditation Basics starting this Thursday. Email me if you’d like to participate, at dukkaqueen@skybeam.com, with ‘meditation’ in the subject line.

The Sky Above

I love waking up each morning with an imp in my bed.
I’m grateful for the infinitely variable sky above.
I got a little bit done in the kitchen today, notably roasting and freezing a pound of beans, using this Penzeys recipe. So simple. Didn’t actually taste them, since they came out of the oven right after I finished lunch and some coffee ice cream. But I froze them in three bags for quick dinners down the line, and I’m sure they’ll be delicious.
I’m grateful to have some time each afternoon to work on the Drapery Project. Today I got the vines and forest floor drafted and pinned. Tomorrow I hope to get all these elements appliquéd, and begin design of some floral elements.

Atmosphere

Last night’s beans for lunch, sautéed in oil and butter with a few good shakes of some Penzey’s spices. So simple, so delicious!
Yesterday’s cucumbers transformed into bread and butter pickles…
…and the leftover pickling syrup poured over lettuce, feta, red onions, and cashews for dinner salad.
Amazing clouds at sunset in all directions: North…
… South…
…and West…

I’m grateful for another full day of mindfulness, considering my values and trying to put them into action. One of my deepest values is gratitude, of course; another is savoring wholesome food and making the most of the gifts I’m given; yet another is witnessing the beauty of this fragile planet. I’m grateful for its atmosphere, what I can experience of it anyway: the clouds above, aridity and humidity, heat and cool as they fluctuate with day and night; and each breath inhaling air here as pure as anywhere. I’m grateful for a friend to spend these precious days with, and the atmosphere of playful joy she brings to everything we do.