Tag Archive | Wren

Cozy Day

Outside and in, inside and out, we had a cozy day. Wren surprises me with her enthusiasm for snow. But she just came in after midnight whiz and won’t stop licking her paws: from a high of 34℉ this afternoon the temperature has plunged to 7 at the moment and I don’t think she’s ever been out in snow that cold. I might have to buy her some pink booties…

Lunch was total comfort food with this creamy chickpea-spinach pasta with rosemary. It was so good I ate it again for dinner. So simple, so delicious. I’m grateful for simply inhabiting this particular life at this moment. I appreciate how fortunate I am, among the 8 billion other humans, and I try to make each day meaningful by living in alignment with my values of gratitude, kindness, and being of benefit to at least one other person, human or otherwise.

Colors

I’ve never seen Wren sleep with her nose wrapped in her hands until yesterday, when she slept on her kitchen bed like this twice.
An altocumulus skyscape delighted me while I was hanging laundry.
Breakfast this morning: a fresh biscuit with butter and raspberry jam.

One of the mindfulness exercises I’ve learned is to pause a few times a day and notice something blue, red, green, yellow, and white in sequence; and taking the few seconds required to mentally note what I see. This exercise can help you become more mindful of your environment and ground you in the present moment. I live amidst a riot of color and texture inside my house, and most of the year outside as well, so the exercise is usually easy for me. Yesterday was a day full of color; oddly, a lot of red white and blue showed up in my pictures. Today was cloudy with a fresh light snow cover.

This made it difficult to search for my bifocals, which went missing sometime yesterday afternoon. I feel like I set them down somewhere precarious with a mental note to remember where; but I also recall putting them in a pocket at some point. They’re in no pockets I’ve checked so far, and nowhere else I’ve looked multiple times. After scouring the house last night and again this morning, I broke down and started looking outside, backtracking everywhere I walked in the yard yesterday: to the compost and laundry line, to the generator, to where I picked up the last hose and where I coiled and hung it, into Biko’s round pen since it was so balmy he got to spend a few hours outside yesterday. I swept the snow lightly with a broom the second time I retraced my steps. If the glasses were blue, red, green, yellow, or white they might have showed easily, but they’re not: they’re the color of snow–not white, which is an illusion of snow, but translucent. If they’re out there, they’ve disappeared, and there’s more snow coming tomorrow night. I’ll have a short window midday when some snow may have melted, and after that they’ll be buried for winter. But they’ll probably turn up inside eventually. The lid to the martini shaker rolled out this morning when I vacuumed under a cabinet where I’d already looked for it weeks ago. Now just waiting for the small kitchen tongs and the globe lights to reappear.

Creative Leftovers

Winner of the Fruitland Mesa All-Breed National Thanksgiving Day Dog Show! Best in a Pink Sweater!

I’m grateful, as you know, for leftovers. Lacking bread today, and craving a turkey sandwich with mayo and cranberry sauce, I improvised. So simple, so delicious!

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.

Another Disaster…

…Narrowly averted! Not life or death this time, but potentially even more uncomfortable. I’m grateful that Wren is such a well-behaved little dog. We went out for midnight whiz just now, and I was grateful to have a new headlamp with a super powerful beam, and grateful that she has a reflective collar for nighttime. I was playing with the headlamp settings and found to my delight that even on the red setting her collar glows–red! While we were in that stargazing mode, she uttered a long low growl, the first I’ve heard from her, and trotted a few steps toward the fence.

I whistled, and grateful that my lips weren’t too dry or cold, actually made a sound, which stopped her. At the same time, I switched the lamp to high beam to scan for trouble. My first thought, given all the recent visitations in the vicinity, was of course a mountain lion, which could have meant death for her.

She trotted another few steps and I whistled again, she paused, and I swung my head toward the gate in time to see a fat striped skunk waddling out through the gap. Whew! It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with a skunked dog. I’ve done it often enough, and have supplies handy just in case, but at bedtime on a cold winter night would be just about my last choice for that olfactory disaster to happen. Wren came on the next whistle, clearly also not interested in the consequences of a close encounter, and we strolled to the other side of the house, where she finished her business under a clear, quiet, starlit sky. I’m grateful for everything about that little adventure, and especially for the peaceful outcome.

Heat

Today started with me massively over-sleeping, and of course I’m grateful for the ability to oversleep when I know so many people who can’t sleep through the night. I’m grateful that my first zoom of the day friend was gracious and understanding when I was half an hour late. I’m grateful for ample firewood so I don’t feel the need to scrimp on a chilly grey morning, and Wren is grateful for a thick cotton rug on the hearth. Today is the first time she’s stretched out in front of the woodstove, and I’m grateful she’s comfortable to do so. I’m grateful for a quiet Saturday to rest, read, and catch up in the kitchen.

I’m grateful that my strategies for salvaging the two Datil pepper plants worked, and I was able to harvest enough ripe Datil peppers to make this delicious hot sauce recipe from Chili Pepper Madness, with homemade tomato sauce and paprika, honey, garlic powder, and apple cider vinegar. It was crazy to choose to grow Datil peppers–they’re a St. Augustine, FL, specialty, and I might have known they’d need far longer to mature than the growing season here. I may not try to grow them again for that reason, but I sure am glad I tried them this year. After simmering the ingredients for about 25 minutes, I blended them and got two squeeze bottles full of a fruity spicy sauce, with a touch of sweetness. I’m grateful for shedding the label I gave myself decades ago of ‘can’t handle the heat.’ I can handle a little bit more heat today than yesterday, and more yesterday than the week before. And it’s been fun and fascinating to grow all these different hot peppers this summer, and play with how to use or preserve them.

Top of the Hill

Today I’m grateful for the view after a brisk walk to the top of the hill. It’s the first time I’ve had the breath, energy, and sufficient lack of pain to walk that far for a long time. Little Wren was thrilled, dashing up and back, hither and yon, inspiring me with her enthusiasm. I don’t remember the last time I walked the whole length of the driveway, but I think it was more than a year ago. It was a stark contrast to this day last year, and in the way of anniversaries I thought a lot about how that Friday unfolded. I’m grateful for the friends who carried me through that awful morning, that they are still alive and well and that we continue to support each other in the ups and downs of our lives. I’m grateful for Impermanence, for how loss and grief also dissipate over time as surely as any good thing; I’m grateful for the new little dog who’s been here just over six months, and how she continues to heal my heart, gradually stealing into the tender places that closed with Stellar’s death. I’m grateful for the slow, sometimes arduous process of healing my body, too.

“If Republicans Win, You Lose…”

I’m grateful for yet another day of beautiful, mild fall weather which Wren and I could spend outside puttering in the garden, tidying up the yarden, before another winter storm blows in overnight. Already clouds are massing above, obscuring the waxing moon; there’s moisture in the dark air. I’m grateful to have some of the firewood stacked dry under the shed roof,

I’m grateful that the green tomatoes I brought in weeks ago are ripening so well! I pulled them out of the brown bags to finish on the counter before turning them into sauce. After a hard day’s work inside and out, Wren is grateful to rest with me.

I’m grateful for the steady wisdom of Robert Hubbell weekdays in my inbox: for his optimism, criticism, research, references, compassion, and wisdom. I can’t recommend his newsletter highly enough for all Americans who believe in democracy, equality, and true freedom. I also admire and am inspired by and grateful for pastor John Pavlovitz who promotes true Christian values of kindness and inclusion. And I’m grateful for Jessica Craven, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, the J6 Committee, and so many other voices on the national stage speaking truth in the face of corruption and lies; and for the thousands of door-knocking, phone-calling, postcard-sending activists in my community and yours who are putting their precious time and energy into spreading the news that if Republicans win next week, we all lose. If you follow this blog and you are not an advertising troll, you probably care about many of the same things I do. Please trust me on this: it is imperative that every one of you votes. It’s going to be a close election, and there will be nasty fallout with Republicans across the board refusing to honor the results if they lose. We have every reason to be hopeful, as Hubbell says often, and no reason to be complacent.

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.

Courage

I hear the Cowardly Lion sputtering it. It takes courage to live this life, no matter what our challenges are. I’m grateful today for the courage to meet the challenges of my day, and for the lessons I learned about myself in doing so. They weren’t big, were basic first world challenges; challenges being relative, we all have some.

I had to drive 80 miles (in my car that I own though it’s 16 years old) after a snowy morning (an unexpected three inches) to see the dermatologist (which insurance pays for except a measly $2), and get a couple of centimeters frozen off my face as well as a biopsy sliced off the bridge of my nose which has precious little flesh to spare. I’m so grateful for the awareness to observe physical changes so I knew to go see the doctor, for his friendly efficiency (it took three times as long to numb my nose as it did to carve the biopsy), and for the financial assistance to get potential skin cancer identified and taken care of (thanks, Affordable Care Act); grateful for the long-lasting anesthetic he shot into my nose to get me that 80 miles back home painfree, and that I didn’t freak out driving home when I noticed that my nose was bleeding and in fact bled the whole way home. Even though I felt a little queasy after awhile.

I’m grateful for the gorgeous drive from here to there and back again, and grateful that I had other options though I decided to take little Wren with me. This was another act of courage, choosing to trust humanity not to mess with her while she waited in the car for me while I was under the knife (and freezer gun). I’m grateful for the opportunity to observe the extent of anxiety that rose in me because I know that she has separation anxiety when I leave her at home. How do I know? The way she greets me on my return panting like she’s run a marathon in summer and jumping to my shoulder. She was a perfect angel on the drive, waited quietly in the car (for all I know) and I know it wasn’t too hot today, and she slept the whole way home. Such a good little girl! She’s given plenty of gentle huggies since we got home, and is patiently waiting for bedtime.

“How are you?” asked the doctor when he entered the office. I’ve been seeing him a long time and he sort of knows me. “I’m anxious!” I replied a little too emphatically. As I told him about Wren in the car, I felt all these other anxieties bubbling up. “I’m anxious about a lot of other things, too!” I almost challenged him to ask, so I didn’t make him. “I’m anxious about politics,” I confessed, and about climate chaos, I thought, and in that moment I realized that I had channeled a lot of sublimated anxieties into the one I’d been focused on for days, What to do about Wren while I’m gone for four hours? I’ve been ignoring anxieties about the rabid right wing threat to democracy and the most basic rights of most Americans; I’ve been cultivating anxiety about Covid, long Covid, and living alone; and about this COPD diagnosis, and what the future will bring, and whether I’ll ever choose to spend time around people again. I could feel the seeds of agoraphobia taking root; I could feel empathy. I was able to recognize what was arising in me, and be with it with calm awareness even though it wasn’t comfortable, sit still for the procedures, and then follow the steps to get home to (relative) safety. My attachment to the outcome of this day was different than it would have been a dozen years ago. Instead of worrying about biopsy results, I only cared that I made it home safely with Wren, and once that happened I was able to relax again.

In mindfulness practice we consider relaxation to be a skill. It was only by pushing well beyond my comfort zone into overt psychological discomfort that I was able to recognize how far I’ve come in relaxing: It amazed me to realize that I used to spend much of every day enmeshed in this same level of anxiety that assailed me this afternoon. What a relief! It’s no longer a steady state for me, but only an occasional trait.