Tag Archive | Wren


My aspiration when Wren arrived in spring was to have the two of them lying together in front of the fire by Christmas. Well, this morning almost, but not quite! It’s a big improvement over yesterday, though, when there was a fight over my lap in the same spot. I use the little stool to sit on to start and feed the fire, and Topaz used to let me pick her up, lay her on her back, and brush her at that time. Since Wren’s arrival she’s not allowed that until yesterday morning, and as she lolled there and Wren sniffed too close, she reached over her shoulder and smacked Wren on the head. Then there was a kerfuffle which involved hissing, growling, smacking, and lunging before my ‘stop it!s’ stopped it. Oh well. One day at a time.

It was a quiet day at Mirador, slushy outside, cozy inside. I meditated, napped, generally relaxed all day, allowing this body to take the day off from sitting at the computer, shoveling snow, doing much of anything. It was restful and restorative. This evening I had some options but chose to watch a couple of shows, drink a salty dog, and chat with Amy, then tuck into silence and reflection. I figure about half of the New Year’s Eves of my adult life I’ve partied like a drag queen, but the more recent eves I have simply tucked in to reflect on the previous year and contemplate my aspirations for the new one.

This year, I’ll deepen my mindfulness practice by remembering to ask the four questions: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is it helpful or healthy? Is it based in reality? I’ll focus on the value of Curiosity. If I’m curious, I’m not judging; if I’m curious, I’m not reacting. If I’m curious, my mind is open; if I’m curious, I’m learning. I’m curious where that will take me in the coming year. Wishing everyone a fulfilling and peaceful new year! Remember, it’s not what you get from the world but what you bring to the world that creates genuine happiness.

So Much

Most days I’m just grateful for so much. This morning, it was sunshine after a couple of grey days, and a brush long enough to reach the top of the solar panels after a five-inch snowfall overnight. How did I go thirty years before buying a telescoping brush at long last last winter? And grateful for the snowfall!

Grateful for a Bad Dog saying she was ‘going outside to play in the snow,’ which reminded me that I haven’t gone outside to play in the snow for a very long time. I’ve been forgetting to play! Though I’m sure she meant she was going outside to work in the snow on the ranch, I went just to play.

Wren had never made a snowman, as far as I know, so we had fun building one together. And by that I mean, I built the snowman, and every time she charged at the snow I was rolling, I threw a snowball for her to chase. Even though the snow was pretty wet, it didn’t hold together as I rolled, so after being bent over for twenty feet rolling the first ball, I decided to make a Wren-sized snowman.

I’m grateful she chose to eat the vegetables first, red cabbage lips and a carrot nose, so I could eat the M&Ms.

She hauls her carrot prize a few feet away to devour in peace.
Proud retriever of a snowball, the only thing I’ve thrown for her in six months that she reliably brings back!
And, practice makes perfect. I’ve solved the challenge of the sourdough loaf, I think, though I’ll have to wait til I cut it open in the morning to know for sure. The main difference is not trying to let it rise overnight as the instructions call for, but to mix the dough first thing in the morning, and bake in the evening. Altitude makes such a difference with baked goods, and I’m just figuring out how to compensate for significantly lower atmospheric pressure at 6800′ with bread. I’m grateful for finally beginning to understand the wisdom of opportunity inherent in failure: “If we can remember that life is a messy playground filled with opportunities to grow, cry, laugh, fail, succeed, love, lose, win, and learn, then we can more easily let go of our fears of imperfection and insecurities, and focus on simply doing our best…” (Daily guidance 12.29.22, Laura Bartels, Mindful Life Community)


Little Wren is grateful for her big new rug. I also like it a lot.

I’m grateful for warmth and safety as the atmospheric river makes its way over western Colorado. Grateful for the moisture that fell as rain since yesterday evening, for the fog that nourished all the growing things, and for the snow that finally started falling this evening. We’ve gotten around four inches so far and it’s pouring down, a gentler storm here so far than the terrible blizzard that’s been wreaking such havoc and tragedy in the east. I’m grateful to have sufficient food supplies for me and the pets to ride out a long spell, and plenty of wood stacked close to the house, and the mental and emotional wherewithal to not only survive but to thrive in a solo retreat over the new year’s weekend.

Coming back from the mailbox, where I found a bright surprise from an old friend. Grateful for a reliable car and a reliable friend...
… she said she thought of me when she saw these socks, and laughed out loud. So did I.
Tucked in out of the elements with nothing but gratitude for all the kindness that’s come our way this past year.

The Gift of Giving

No wonder the parrot was squawking! I’m grateful I was able to spend this delightful Christmas Day working on the puzzle and corresponding with loved ones.

It took about 30 minutes to open and appreciate the small pile of gifts under my tiny tree. I was grateful to receive these tokens of knowing and loving me from my dearest friends, thinking of each as I opened them, and feeling the meaning in each gift. This brief bright joy was the icing on the cake, after the joy I’ve cultivated these past weeks as I’ve baked goodies to deliver near and far to loved ones, holding them in my heart all along. I’m so grateful for the gift of giving. I’m also grateful for the little wiggly gift that keeps surprising me with her joyful presence every day.

I’m grateful to know why I have a tummy ache and am so tired I can’t stay up as late as usual: sugar sugar sugar. I wasn’t the only one baking, and the past couple weeks have been overloaded with sweet treats from hither and yon. Who needs a cookie exchange?! I’ve tried to keep up but I throw in the tea towel. Next week is gonna be self-care week in all the healthy ways I’ve been letting slide.

Peppermint Bark

I’m grateful for the Bad Dogs, for so many reasons, including the right candy canes.
A layer of melted bittersweet chocolate on the bottom then chilled, with a silky chocolate ganache layered on next. That took an hour to set, before melted white chocolate could be spread over the top.

This triple chocolate peppermint bark took awhile to get to, and all afternoon yesterday to make, but it is worth it! First there was the abominable cherry candy cane challenge, but I gave those away to the substitute UPS driver who got stuck in my driveway. Once I had the right candy canes, there was promised biscotti to bake and ship, and of course some other things to do like work, vacuum, feed myself and the animals, and so on. One lesson in perspective that I’m beginning to absorb is the shift from “I have to…” to “I get to…” do whatever it may be, like laundry, dishes, meetings. What a life full of opportunities I enjoy! That there are dishes to wash, and a sink and hot water and soap; that I own a vacuum cleaner and power it with the sun; that I’ve never known a day of involuntary hunger in my life. I’m grateful for all these things I get to do. And I’m grateful for the right candy canes, and the time in an afternoon to smash them up.

I tried the old-fashioned way first in a mortar and pestle, but it was long hard work without much satisfaction…

So I took the big pieces that wouldn’t break up and put them in my little garlic grinder; after pausing a few times to shake and dislodge stuck pieces, they finally started to break up. As always, I’m grateful for the right tool for the job–or even one that comes close.

Finally, everything was in place, though the candy cane chips didn’t want to stay there. Somebody was busy cleaning the floor as they fell off the counter. I’m grateful that I could share this candy with some friends to brighten this overcast Christmas Eve day.

I’m grateful for a pretty good loaf of bread, and to give it to friends, but it wasn’t perfect, so I’m grateful I have enough flour and time to try again tomorrow.

And finally, I’m grateful that I finally found the Paradise Tanager just before closing down the puzzle for the night. It’s coming together beautifully, and I might just get it finished tomorrow. I’m grateful for puzzle fans near and far who have shared their enthusiasm for Liberty puzzles, and look forward to writing more about this one tomorrow.

My Vegetarian Cousin

I tell her often enough, but I’m going public tonight: I am so grateful for my cousin Melinda. There’s so much I could say about why, but for now, let it be enough that she is unknowingly influencing me to eat more and better vegetarian meals. I haven’t eaten much meat for more than thirty years: that which I do eat I usually know who raised and/or killed it. This is a foundation of ethicarian cuisine, to eat local animals that have been humanely raised or to eat wild animals that have been skillfully hunted. But I’m losing my taste for what little meat I do eat, as evidenced in my sudden, radically unexpected aversion to bacon. Melinda’s been a vegetarian for a long time. I’m grateful for her sharing vegetarian recipes and websites when I inquire after she mentions some delicious meal she’s made. Last week she shared this recipe for lasagna rolls. So simple, so delicious!

I added some fresh minced oregano and rosemary from the sunroom, to brighten up the frozen spinach and homemade marinara.
It was a tough call, to title this My Vegetarian Cousin or Good Neighbors. Wren met Jake for the first time today. He could not help himself. He was halfway across the 40-acre field before I noticed him, and he froze, watching us walk up the driveway. He’s a good dog, and he knew he shouldn’t keep coming. But I encouraged him: ‘Good boy, Jake, c’mon!He trotted halfway again, and Wren got excited. He finally succumbed to temptation, and she ran under the fence to meet him. It was adorable. They ran a little, sniffed a little, and then she got over-excited and fell into her wheezing so I picked her up. He’s such a good neighbor. He walked with us a few steps, then trotted up the driveway and cut back across the field.
And finally, another teaser for the Birds of the Tropics post, coming soon. This puzzle is SO much fun!


Wren doing Arts & Crafts at doggie daycare yesterday. I’m grateful today that we both got to rest at home. I napped in the morning, I napped in the afternoon, I showered and rinsed my achy nose; I read, ate, read, talked with people; I rested all day and now it’s time for bed. I actively appreciated so much of what I did and didn’t do today. Namaste.


I’m grateful today for MOHS surgery, and for Dr. Weber at Mountain West Dermatology who has performed several of these procedures to remove skin cancer from my face and head. Too much sun when I was a child and even our parents were ignorant of the consequences. I’ve lost count of how many MOHS’s I’ve had in the past 25 year. I’m grateful that my terror level has dropped from 10+ before the first one to <1 for this latest iteration. For one thing, Dr. Weber’s precision cuts on me have all resulted in minimal to invisible scarring, and he’s just a super nice guy. Everyone at the office is kind and compassionate.

What anxiety I did have about it revolved around the weather–would it be snowing? would my car get out my driveway? –and around little Wren, who’s not been separated from me for more than four hours since she arrived six months ago. I’m so grateful for friends and community who rallied around, one prepared to blade the driveway if needed (it wasn’t); GB and the Super eager to drive me up to GJ and run some errands of their own while I waited in limbo between cuts; and Rocky’s mom eager to babysit Wren for the day. Beyond that, lots of love and encouragement sent my way before, during and after, including a baked goody at my doorstep. Who could ask for more? Oh, and there was that one Ativan I popped right before setting off this morning, that helped lower the anxiety immensely.

The first cut was done by about 10:30 am, but the tissue has to go off to pathology to determine if they got clean margins. They did! First cut! But it took three hours to find that out, and then the time-consuming plastics-style suturing, and layers of bandaging. When it was all done it was way past lunchtime, so the Super asked what I wanted, and steered us to the best chocolate milkshake, which I enjoyed with a side of cheddar poppers and fry sauce. They each ordered their faves, and we sat in the Sonic corral and enjoyed our meals. I’m so grateful for friends who aren’t old enough to be my parents, but are old enough to care for me like a little sister. There was something so nostalgic about him asking what I wanted to eat, then making it happen. I felt so very cared for. My heart runneth over for them, and for everyone who contributed to making what could have been a grueling day into a joyful day: including my own mindfulness practice.

I’m grateful to be all tucked in at home before dark with a cozy fire going. Little Wren seemed to have a fun day at doggie-day-care with her buddy Rocky and the camp counselor. She was too excited to see me to tell me all the details of everything they did, but I know there were some naps, some treats, some snow-watching. I look forward to hearing a full report from the counselor tomorrow. I’m grateful for a safe and happy place to be able to leave her should I need to in the future, a place where she’ll be loved and pampered, and won’t come back to me with some new neurosis. Such a feeling of peace, contentment, gratitude, and love will carry me off to a deep sleep tonight.


Pet Peeve of the day. I asked my Personal Shopper for candy canes last week, and he dutifully brought them. It took me until today, when I contemplated starting the peppermint chocolate bark project, to notice that they are CHERRY flavored candy canes. Have you ever heard of such an abomination?

Wren has made her rug choice. After two days of pondering and observing the swatches in various lights and various positions on the floor, I have to concur. I wasn’t planning on a wool rug, I really thought I’d choose cotton. But I’m grateful that I opened my mind beyond my preconceptions and tried a couple of wool swatches. I ruled out some based on their uniform lightness–in this house, a bright light rug will only show dirt and stains more readily. I keep a reasonably clean house, but it’s not an HGTV or Architectural Digest quality clean where a white rug would work. Between pet hairs, mud seasons, and who knows what else might happen, I need a mottled rug, so I’m glad that Wren chose the one she did. Of the three wool swatches I checked out, this was the middle in terms of foot comfort, but first in color and camouflage. I ordered a 5’x8′ rug and a natural rubber pad to hold it in place.

I’m also grateful for opening my mind to fermentation. There was a time when I thought it was beyond my capabilities, something best left to professionals. Pickling and making hot sauce over the past few years has given me some confidence in the process and the safety of the finished product; enough to try sauerkraut for the first time. And since my Personal Shopper (grateful!) brought me a gigantic red cabbage larger than my head (the average adult human head weighs around eight pounds), and I don’t want to waste food, I chose to pickle a big portion of it to preserve it through the winter. It will last up to six months in the refrigerator, though it’s recommended to eat it within three months. I was delighted (and grateful) to see a recipe call for juniper berries, since there’s an abundance right outside the door. Wren and I walked up to the driveway in the misty dark night and picked a handful; and I had caraway seeds in the spice rack. This half-gallon of sauerkraut came together quickly and easily. Three days in the pantry and five days in the fridge til I can taste it. And there’s still half a cabbage left! Coleslaw here I come.


I’m grateful for finding a few boards of heartwood, aka pitch pine, fatwood, or lightern, among the firewood. This dense, resinous wood doesn’t split easily, but even a small chip can start a fire instantly.

I’m grateful to have found Hook & Loom rugs a couple of years ago when I was looking for a new, environmentally friendly kitchen rug. I bought a couple of small throw rugs then, too. I’m grateful to have remembered Hook & Loom when I started shopping for a new living room rug last month. I ordered some swatches to better determine what I want for the new, streamlined aesthetic now that I don’t need all my beautiful maple flooring covered with rugs to protect my dear departed old Stellar dog from slipping and sliding. After a day with them on the floor, I’ve only eliminated two options, but here they are all together. Three are wool, one is organic cotton, and the rest are recycled cotton. Wren can’t decide her preference either, though she has certainly enjoyed skidding around on all of them. We’ll decide by the end of the week.

I’m grateful for sweet potatoes, and for a snow-day lunch today of a baked sweet potato and a bowl of garden beans. I finally shelled the rattlesnake pole beans last week, and only got a small bowl full, so I soaked them overnight, sautéed a small garden onion, and tossed in some Scotch bonnet pepper flakes from last year, and a healthy shake of Penzeys Arizona seasoning, for a hearty bowl of beans to accompany the buttery tuber. So simple, so delicious!