Monday, August 29, 2016

Letting go while holding on tight

I found this in my Facebook memories this morning, as one of those back-to-school musings from years ago. They struck me again as words to remember, and rather than reshare there, I thought I'd memorialize it over here on the blog, with a note about how poignant these words are to me, still.

"Life seems to flood by, taking our loves quickly in its flow. In the growth of children, in the aging of beloved parents, time’s chart is magnified, shown in its particularity, focused, so that with each celebration of maturity there is also a pang of loss.

This is our human problem, one common to parents, sons and daughters, too--how to let go while holding tight, how to simultaneously cherish the closeness and intricacy of the bond while at the same time letting out the raveling string, the red yarn that ties our hearts."
-Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A salad to obsess over: Fresh corn salad

Given how long it's been since I posted a recipe, you must be thinking to yourself, this is a really special recipe. And you are right.

We have an amazing local chef in Walla Walla who makes a corn salad at his take-out joint (in a gas station, which is awesome), and I have enjoyed it a number of times. But me being me, I thought--actually for the first time, this summer--I should be able to make this at home, right?

And right I was. After a Google/Pinterest search or two, I found a great many recipes purporting to be "Mexican street corn salad," and narrowed my findings down by reading a few and deciding on one that seemed close to what I'd tasted in the past.

So I made it, and tweaked it, made it again, and kept tweaking. It has, over the course of many makings this summer, evolved to a place where it feels different enough from the original recipe(s) I spotted online, and also very, very good.

Fresh corn salad
6 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob
1/2 medium sweet (I like the Walla Walla, of course!) onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 Anaheim peppers, diced

Saute the first three ingredients over high heat, until the corn starts to blacken and scorch a bit (not unlike grilling or roasting). Add the peppers and saute for a few minutes more, until they wilt a bit. Take off the stove to cool.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cojita cheese, crumbled
Juice of three limes, squeezed
1 generous bunch of cilantro, chopped (at least 1/2 cup)
6 green onions, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl mix the mayonnaise, cheese, and lime juice, and stir until well blended. Add the cilantro, green onion and chili powder, and mix.

Once the corn mixture has cooled slightly, toss the dressing with the corn and stir well. Serve with extra cheese, and adapt at will. We have enjoyed this concoction in quesadillas and tacos, I've added tomatoes and avocados and really enjoyed it that way too. This is probably the most repeated recipe in our house this summer, which--knowing Seth's and my shared penchant for pesto--is saying something!

I highly recommend the fresh corn aspect of this salad. Many of the recipes I found called for frozen or canned, and I think that the fresh corn just makes it. I also tended to up the cilantro as I went along, and got no complaints from the guys! The one time they were less wild about it, I couldn't find cojita (not every town has the cheese selections of Walla Walla, let's just say, and on vacation I had to make do) and used parmesan. Just not the same. Go for the cojita.

I hope you make it and enjoy as much as we have this summer. I decided to blog the recipe so that Seth can access it from college this winter if he decides he can't do without a corn salad fix.

This recipe makes roughly eight cups. So divide that as best among your eaters. In our house it tends to go pretty quickly. :)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday night grateful list

Some weeks the grateful list pretty much writes itself. If I wasn't grateful, sitting at my current (and favorite) location with my favorite guys, you'd really have to wonder!

 Life is good. This is our view for the next week and then some (well, this view involves a walk, but you get my drift), and we are all just a little blissed out after what seems like a long summer of work without a break. No complaints, but certainly feeling at the moment like delayed gratification is a true thing; in this instance the pay-off was worth the wait.

Driving along today, I was sometimes alone, listening to podcasts (Alan and Seth driving together), and sometimes with Seth. (Seth will go straight on to PLU next week, hence the two vehicles.) When he drove, we listened to music and talked, and I read to him a bit from a Pema book I pulled off my shelf and brought along, last minute. Some good stuff--I always find her helpful--if a little dire feeling/sounding. Sometimes contemplating the state of the world isn't really what you need, especially heading out on vacation. It didn't quite have the pep of a good back-to-school conversation, so we let it go after a bit, and just talked. I am so grateful for my communicative kid, who likes to share what his latest passions are, and what interests him.

This week was back-to-school in our neck of the woods and I loved seeing all the first-day pictures of my friends and local acquaintances. It's such a ritual, and one that social media really caters to--one of the good sides of the sharing, in my opinion. I am grateful for our community, and for the people in it. Of course this funny popped up somewhere in social media over the course of the week. I chortled.

File these next couple of pictures under inspiration, for the days when I need something tangible to put my mind to. I think applique is probably my favorite needlecraft, and then I see some amazing embroidery, and I think, no, that too! This picture came across my Instagram feed and I just paused and ooohed and awwwwed for minute. I love this style, so much.

 And then calligraphy, which is always a source of inspiration for me. I follow many different types of letter artists on Instagram, and tuck away little quotes and words and tips about supplies and such for my off-work ponderings.

Things that have made me laugh recently:

Other things that are on my grateful list this week:

Cooler days, though I'm less fond of the shorter days. Where is my 5 a.m. light?!

Continued blessings from the garden, from okra and peppers, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, to cabbage and basil and more kale. We like our kale smoothies! And what we aren't growing can be so easily found at the many local farm stands. It's embarrassing, how overflowing with produce we are.

Good health, and good sleep.

Carpet cleaner. Seriously. What would we do about marks on the carpet (I'm looking at you, General) without carpet cleaner? I don't want to know.

Cheese. I read something today about the ills of the dairy industry. Well, I should say I started to read it and then I thought, why would I want to know this? And tucked it away for later. I am willing to give up a great many things in my life for the good of my body and the planet, but I am pretty sure cheese is not going to go bye-bye. Milk? You can take that, no problem. Certainly cottage cheese and even cream cheese. I could probably figure out a way to part with yogurt, even though I do have that in some form or other every day. But cheese? Yeah, no. Can't do it.

Inspirational people. I'm not really talking about the kinds of stories that are always so prevalent during the Olympics, people who have overcome huge obstacles to be there and compete. I'm talking about every day kinds of people who just are living their lives and influence others for good. I feel like I'm blessed to know quite a few people who fit this category, and am better for the interactions.

Inspirational words. I ran across this Rumi poem recently:
I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.
I prayed for guidance and learned to trust myself.
I prayed for happiness and realized I am not my ego.
I prayed for peace and learned to accept others unconditionally.
I prayed for abundance and realized my doubt kept it out.
I prayed for wealth and realized it is my health.
I prayed for a miracle and realized I am the miracle.
I prayed for a soul mate and realized I am the one.
I prayed for love and realized it is always knocking, but I have to allow it in.

I am grateful to, as Mary Oliver puts it so well, be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world. Always. Grateful.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you are. I know I will.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday night is good for grateful too

I do realize I missed Friday night. It was a long week, and it was filled with the usuals, but sliding in to Friday night I just wasn't in the mood to connect to my keyboard. Now, if I could figure out a way to telepathically share my gratitude, that'd be something.

But at the end of a lovely weekend, I can't help but share my gratefulness for so many things. As is usually true, there are so many more things to be grateful for than not.

I'm so grateful for my husband, who went above and beyond helping me out with some household items (doesn't that sound vague, and maybe like he ironed?) this weekend. His thoughtfulness is something I don't take for granted.

This weekend I got a bit of a cooking vibe on. I love everything about prepping food, and then the creation that follows, playing with flavors and variations on recipes. Being in the kitchen is one of my favorite places, and having lots of different dishes going on at one time makes me happy as can be. I also listened to Eric Ripert's 32 Yolks for a few hours, and reveled in his story, as sad at times that it was. There's such resonance in hearing someone talk about their formative experiences with food and having that, "me too!" feeling. I am so grateful for the plentiful produce in our area right now; there's so much that's ripe and fresh and being grown within 10 miles of here. Current obsession: corn salad. This corn salad. Life altering, I tell you.

Watched Pitch Perfect again this weekend (for the umpteenth time, I'm sure) and just have to say that even if I can't sing Like That, I sure do like music so very much. I am so grateful for people who can express themselves a musical gift, and that movie is so re-watchable to me just for the humor. Of course, the songs are pretty memorable too.

I was going to share a Pitch Perfect clip, and went to YouTube to find one that had all my favorite bits, and of course, because interwebs working the way they do, I am now sharing a clip of Anna Kendrick and Kristen Chenoweth singing "For Good," from Wicked. I know you get how that happened.

You know what I'm REALLY grateful for? That I don't have to watch ALL of the Olympics to know what's going on. Side note: I could not believe that when I turned on the telly this morning while I was in the kitchen that of all the things they *could* be broadcasting, they were showing golf. GOLF. On a Sunday morning? Could be any Sunday, any where. Baffles me. How about showing something uniquely Olympic? I was hoping for something other than golf, as you can probably tell. But, back to my gratitude--I love that clips of all the sports (and that awful green pool) are available any time I want, online.

Just a couple more weeks before Seth embarks on his sophomore year, and I am and always will be so grateful for this summer. Such a lovely time together, and we still have a week of holiday to look forward to. De-lightful.

A friend sent the picture below to me this week. I'm grateful to be known by my people.

I was so happy to get to see meteors this past week. The Perseids always make August a better month for me, and I have fond childhood memories of sleeping under the stars with my brother. I set my alarm for 4 a.m. Friday a.m., knowing that pre-dawn is always better than trying to battle the moon for good gazing. But something woke me at 1 a.m., so on my way to the bathroom (of course), I passed by our slider, and a meteor falling caught my eye. I thought, "wow, they really must be falling at a quick clip," so I took a few minutes and went out on the deck, thinking this was going to be quite a show. Not so much. Back to bed. At 4 a.m. I saw maybe three or so before saying skip it and returning to bed. Same drill Saturday morning. I think the rumors of "double the number this year" were greatly exaggerated, but maybe that was just our backyard.

As grateful as I am for autumn coming, I am already missing the super-long days. I know it's not possible to have them both--cooler days AND lots of sunshine--but a girl can wish, can't she?

I can't believe I'm this far down in my grateful list without having mentioned this auspicious date, which is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. On one hand, the notion of 50 years rather boggles the mind, but on the other, knowing how fast time goes by, it doesn't seem so long. Oh, who am I kidding? That's a massive amount of time, and truly an accomplishment. It's no small feat to give your children a stable and intact platform from which to launch into the world, and it's certainly something for which I am very grateful. Kudos and congratulations, Ma and Pa. Here's to at least 25 more!

All I can say in defense of sharing this photo is: anyone can share a wedding photo, or something posed. But how often do you see a picture that embodies who a couple is. This picture does that for me. I couldn't find a better one if I searched for days.

And in case you're in need of a little Monday cheer by the time you read this, I encourage you to make the photo below your new phone wallpaper. Have a great week!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday night grateful list

Seems like we were just here, right, counting our blessings? Certainly feels so, and not in a bad way, just in a zoom-zoom way. What is up with time? Feels like someone has their finger on the FF button on the VCR remote. Or, rather, the DVR remote. Silly old me.

Meanwhile, this renewed weekly pause in the speed continuum is a helpful thing. It brings me great joy to sit here as the sun starts heading down, earlier and earlier each night, and think about the things that went right this week, and even in the things that didn't, what there is to be grateful for.

Tomorrow is husband's birthday. Of course I'm grateful for that, for the day of his birth and all the twists and turns in his life that brought him to Walla Walla, and me to Walla Walla (much less twisty turny), and our eventual togethering. There's a great deal to be grateful for, right there. But I'm also grateful that not only is he a thoughtful partner, he's a loving step-dad. Doesn't get much better than that.

Today we took a little break from work and played together, did some errands and had a late lunch and generally took it a bit easier. Delightful and entirely too rare, which is probably why I felt extra-grateful for our time together.

Home tonight, and looking out across the third batch of alfalfa this summer. It pretty much grows right in front of your eyes, and it's not hard at all to be grateful for our green-and-gold setting. The wheat across the street was harvested this week, and the stark shadows brought about by the angles of the cutting are just fascinating to me. All across the landscape between here and the hills just out of town it is alternating green and gold and brown, the usual August patchwork.

This week I am grateful for chickens that produce eggs, even if they are wee and still somewhat infrequent.

I'm grateful that the skunk who visited twice last week did not return this week.

I'm grateful that I still believe there's a larger plan to the daily national nonsense that really feels crazymaking some days. Believing in a higher purpose helps calm me down--though I do at times have a hard time remembering that at 2:30 a.m. when I wake with a bunch of what-ifs and holy craps running through my head. Gotta remember to breathe. Critical, that breath.

I'm grateful for technology that allows me to step away from work but still keep tabs on stuff. Though, of course, I wonder if it wouldn't all just keep motoring along even if I didn't do the tab thing. But it's good to know it's there if I need it.

I'm grateful for sharing. In these days of constant social sharing, I suppose that might seem like an odd thing to be grateful for, but I have to tell you: I have the BEST friends. I don't have friends who argue and post weird and wild controversial things (most days). I have friends who post encouraging words, thoughtful words, inspiring words. I am so blessed. (I did do a wee bit 'o paring down of friends recently, and a smidge of hiding too, so it's not that the "other" kind aren't out there, I just choose carefully the energy I'm going to expose myself to.

To make a long (see paragraph above) story short, one of my aunts shared a lovely excerpt from a Madelaine L'Engle book recently that I loved. It's a quote from the author Ellis Peters, I guess, and goes something like, "He prayed as he breathed, forming no words and making no specific requests, only holding in his heart, like broken birds in cupped hands, all those people who were in stress or grief." Isn't that a comforting and uplifting thought, that you could live your life in such a prayerful way as to hold in your hands the stress and grief for others? And that someone might do that for you?

I'm so grateful for rest, for the 24 hours ahead of me and the peace and quiet it will bring. Well, other than the birthday celebration. Rest, make cake, more rest, wrap presents, eat cake, more rest, opening presents, more cake. Sounds like a winning combination to me!

Always, I'm grateful for color. This week--or was it last? I think it might have been last week--a dear friend gave me 100 Pantone postcards. My heart fairly leaped with possibilities--a beautiful box filled with 100 beautiful cards surely must exist for a beautiful cause. What words will be written on those cards? I've been pondering, of course. Surely they must be words of thanks. Yay for dear friends and yay for 100 postcards of color. And not just any color. Pantone color.

I'm grateful for health. I don't take that for granted, especially on weeks when the sleep is a little shy. I know what lack of sleep does to the immune system, and I don't like it, not one little bit. Which also makes me grateful for sleep, and for the righteous sleep I know I will have tonight!

Wishing you a righteous sleep, whenever you read this. And a peaceful and joyous weekend.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Grateful list: Sabbath addendum

I have come to spend too much time in contracts, apparently. I couldn't decide for a minute whether adding to my grateful list is an addendum or an amendment. Oh dear. Of course, it's an addendum--I'm not changing anything I said yesterday, just adding to it.

Things I forgot to mention:

I'm grateful for people who don't take the easy way out. Don't get me wrong, sometimes easy is the best choice. But often, it's not and people turn away. When I see coworkers or friends or family taking the path of least resistance, I am inspired and grateful.

I'm very grateful for health. I certainly don't take it for granted, though I've not been the best at taking care of myself lately. But I pay attention to my immunity and try for good sleep, and if anything feels too far off kilter, I make adjustments.

I'm grateful for a semi-thick skin. There's probably a more gracious way to say that, but I don't tend to take a lot of things personally. As soon as I say that, something will transpire that cuts me to the quick, I'm sure. But in general, most days, I'm able to see that people act because of their own inner workings, not because of something I've done. Which is not to say I can't be offended--hardly.

Figs! I'm always grateful when fig season rolls around, and this year I've already gotten a half-dozen off one of my trees. The other two are in full leaf and have grown SO much, but no fruit. Curious. Grateful for the few, and also so glad that local grocers have gotten the fig memo too. Nothing beats homegrown, but I'll take supplemental figs any day.

I'm grateful that my kid shares his world with me. We've watched a number of videos by a guy he likes who creates video essays around gaming, web culture, and social politics, and I find them very interesting. Not something I would naturally seek out, even though I probably should--the way gamers see the world and consume content is going to become more and more mainstream as they grow up and get jobs and influence culture.

I'm grateful that my husband shares his world with me too. Saturdays are our catch up time, for conversation outside of work, to talk about what we're reading, watching, and thinking about. In between naps, I love our conversations.

And these two. Grateful for them too. They read the blog last night and were gravely disappointed that Tess was the only one who made it in with a picture. They have been petitioning me all day. Ha. No. But I do love these sweeties, and they are a big part of my relaxation on the weekend.

I'm grateful that there's air conditioning in my world right now. I'm someone who usually has a cardigan along for layering, and that's still the case, even when it's 100 degrees. And I do love the heat. But wow, it's warm out there right now. Savoring a cool inside, and ice cream doesn't hurt, either.

I'm grateful that the political conventions are over. I will be glad when November has come and gone too, and I'm sure the next few months are going to be filled with some degree of unease, but the specific circus that surround the RNC and DNC are so completely not my cup of tea.

Last, the sunsets. These are on my list a lot in the summer, and now that harvest has started (well, it's been going on for some time, but I came home to it happening across the street last night), the sunsets are extra rosy with dust. Love them. So grateful for these wide open spaces I call home.

OK, now I feel like my gratitude is complete. Last night's offerings were just too short. Thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday night grateful list

This grateful list began on a massage table.

That could be the start and end of the list tonight, couldn't it? I had the good fortune of having my window of availability match up with my preferred massage therapist's same window, which frankly, rarely happens. Mostly because I don't get around to even checking to see if there's a possibility. But this week there was and I did and it was divine.

So I laid there and for the first half I did really well. I reveled and relaxed and even snoozed a little. Then, like a nasty germ, a work-related thought entered my brain. Nasty only in that it didn't belong in this quiet space. I did my best to banish it, but ugh. Didn't ever quite accomplish the same bliss in the second half as had been achieved in the first. Still, glad to have had that mostly-peaceful interlude to start the weekend off.

It's officially summer here, so that means that the complaints about the heat have begun. My favorite is, "Satan called, he wants his weather back." I will probably say that enough to drive my family and coworkers crazy for the next six weeks, or however long this bout of hellfire lasts.

This week I am thankful for many things, including but not limited to:

Cooler evenings. Still love my evening wander in the yard, putting up chickens and dogs, and watering this and that to get ready for another blazing day tomorrow. Some night I'd love to sleep outside, but the skunk that's been stalking our chickens makes me think otherwise. Don't need to snuggle with that in the night.
The power of story. While I was mowing the other evening, I just felt in the mood to relisten to an old favorite of mine, "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," by Ann Patchett. That lady can tell a story. I love this essay more than most, and every time I hear it--probably about once a year, I'd say--a new phrase stands out to me and I love it all over again. The story itself resonates in so many ways for me, but her style is also a big draw. At the recent recommendation of a friend I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert talking with Krista Tippets on her podcast, On Being, and Elizabeth referenced a story about Ann Patchett. I think that must have been what drew me back to *this* story, for a relisten. And another fabulous point--it is almost exactly the length of a lawn mow for me, from pulling the mower out to putting it back.

Our pups. I do adore all our pups, but this one sat still for a photo, so sweet Tess gets the feature. I love our furry buddies so much, and are so glad for their presence in our lives.

Animals that produce something of value. While that might seem like a jab at the pups, it's really not. I'm just tickled pink that the new chickens have started producing. They are a funny bunch, for sure; it's so interesting getting to know chicken personalities. And I can't wait to omelet it up tomorrow morning!

Friendship. Always thankful for friends, near and far. I know that I have more than my share of blooming flowers in my friendship garden, corny as that may sound.

The plethora of summer produce that is available. Currently enjoying tomatoes and basil with abandon, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, kale and okra. Next up, eggplants and more summer squash! Apricots are done, but here comes the plums! And can't forget the watermelon. I don't think a day has gone by without watermelon for some weeks. (I blame Seth. He's influential in the watermelon purchases.)

Seth. Of course. While I have this sneaking feeling I'm going to miss him more this fall that last, I am still so happy that he's on a path that he chose, and he is loving it.

Husband. Also of course, and then some. Thankful for his thoughtfulness, and his humor. Also, that he knows Walton's episodes well enough to tell me what's coming next. How awesome is that? I love it.

Sweet, sweet sleep. I've been doing mostly better in that arena, and of course, the minute I say that I'll have one of those lovely insomnia nights. Here's hoping not. I can usually count on Friday night being one of the good ones. Restful, with the promise of sleeping in and having a peaceful following day.

Wishing you a peaceful, grateful weekend.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday night grateful list

Summer has arrived! I know, I know, technically summer has been around for a month already, but in my world, summer equals warmth, which we haven't really been wallowing in yet this year. Finally, the warmth feels like it's building; nothing too drastic yet, but slowly, every day a bit warmer. It's delightful, even though it has now caused the rest of the apricots to plunk down to the ground at a rate I can't quite keep up with, no matter how many I give away.

Last night I was doing my nightly rounds while texting with a friend about our mutual need to ignore the current news, puttering with the dogs and chickens, checking the yard, and before I knew it, the sun had gone down. I hadn't really paid attention to the sunset--I was on the other side of the house, I think, when it really went down--and it was super dusky, warm and quiet. It was just so delightful to stand there and feel the night roll in. I stood there, in the middle of the back yard, and thought about the stuff that really matters, to me, and how I need to spend more time reflecting on those things, rather than letting my life get eaten up with less important matters. After a few minutes, it occurred to me that there should be a moon, shouldn't there? Where was it? Then I started thinking about the Pale Blue Dot video and pulled up YouTube up on my phone. I mean, I'm waiting for the moon, so why not go look at a space video with Carl Sagan's voice? I found the one below, which I don't think I've watched before; or if I have, it's been awhile. It's a longer version than just the main quote that gets shared a lot. It always resonates, but last night it super-resonated, what with all the weighty stuff of the world currently.

When the video was over I looked at the horizon and saw the glow. The moon! It was coming! Finally. I texted Seth to come and watch it, and he sweetly obliged his mom and came and watched, chatting as the glow-dial turned all the way up until the moon peeked over the Blues. I couldn't help take a couple of pictures, to try and capture this lovely night. (Of course they don't even remotely do it justice.)

I haven't told one of the stories that brought me back to Friday nights and my list, but I've meant to. There were a few of these interactions over my inactive year (or two) that reminded me of why I'd started doing it, and the value of not just being grateful, but of the act of noting gratitude as a ritual. I was at the spring musical at the local high school--something I did only once in Seth's whole high school experience, so not really my natural habitat. But friends had raved about The Little Mermaid, so I corralled another mom of a recent grad into going with me. We sat in the back (we're similar that way, I knew I was asking a like-minded date!), and beside two sisters and a mom I know. Lovely ladies, you know who you are, and your words of encouragement about missing the devotional feel of this Friday night ritual meant more than you probably realize. Thank you.

Week before last was a rough one, locally, as many lost a dear person, and the gathering that followed the loss brought my dear friend Kate to town. Of course that means gathering, and eating, and laughing and crying and sharing. Of course. Thank you, friends, for the time and space to be together. And thanks for giving me an opportunity to crack open a much-loved but not-enough-used cookbook, and bake up a delightful cake. I will need to make this again, definitely.

This week, I am grateful for:
Hugs from Seth. Those hugs are awesome.

Apricots. Even though I sometimes curse how full the tree has been this year, I am so grateful for the bounty. And basil. And the tomatoes that are coming on, and kale, and zucchini and even the precious few okra we've had so far.

Our pups. Such sweet loves. They know exactly what we're up to in the mornings. They know when I'm getting ready to go, and they come upstairs to get more loving from husband before I put them outside. And of course, General *must* bark when I kiss husband goodbye. He just cannot deal with that affection. He is a funny buddy.

Our view. Being able to watch the sunrise and moonrise from the yard is not something I take for granted. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I'm rather captivated by my surroundings, and find the view very tolerable, indeed. I am stopped short by this landscape, almost daily. :)

Water. Not to be taken for granted, at all, in this world with limited resources. To be able to water my garden and bathe and drink and all the things we *do* take for granted.

Friendship. From my best-husband-friend to my girlfriends old and new, I am blessed beyond what I deserve.

The instant gratification of purchasing an airline ticket on a day when I needed something to look forward to.

The ability, and desire, to be real with people. When I observe un/non-realness (or as a normal person would write = inauthentic), the first thing I think is, why? The world is so much better when people are really who they are. And as I type that, I can think of a few exceptions. (Heh.) Maybe it would be better to say, "In general, it is better when people are really who they are."

Laughter. Always a plus, in any day.

Doesn't it feel like week before last, it was ALL Pokemon? And this week? Crickets.

Last, a few words to remember:
"Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to notice what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me." -Kenneth L. Holmes


Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday night grateful list

I should have two weeks worth of gratitude saved up, shouldn't I? Well, as a matter of fact, I do. (I know, you're shocked.) Truth is, with all the nuttiness near and far, I am increasingly grateful on a daily basis for the peace of my surroundings, the love in my home, and the ability to find joy in the smallest of moments.

We have been so blessed with the pace of this summer, heat-wise. We popped back up into the 90s one day this week, but other than that, it's been 70s and 80s. This has really helped the apricots not ripen at the speed they usually do, which has also been helpful since I have not been especially motivated to pick them. I can only eat so many, we have proven that we're not big jammy people, and I've already inflicted them on friends and co-workers. But I think this weekend, jam will be made, and more will be picked, and eaten, and baked. I do so love their color and flavor. A true sign of summer, to me.

Also a sign of summer in this valley are the sunsets. Pretty much every evening is beautiful. Even if the day is nothing special and even blah and cloudy, something happens about a half hour before sunset, and the light filters across the valley. I haven't tired of it in all the years I've lived here, and being out of town a bit the past decade, with more unobstructed views, my appreciation has only grown. I am often struck by sunrises as well, being a morning person, but there is truly something special about a Walla Walla sunset.

Still loving having the boy home. Thankfully, haven't quite started the countdown to the college return (well, the parents haven't, but the boy probably has), and having our little family routines and chats brings me great joy. Husband and I talk all the time about the process of tossing youngsters out of the nest (well, our youngster in particular) and this sweet little comic resonated with me. I think a great deal about what it was like for me to leave home at various stages: boarding school, college, Australia for a bit of school and then a bit of work, then more college. It feels more complicated for Seth and his generation. I don't know if it actually *is* or whether it's just the press around millennials and the challenges of employment and how many end up back home with the 'rents.
It can be easy to fall into thinking how the world is more complicated, with various and frequent violent actions taking place near and far. Seems out of whack, unreal. I think, has it always been like this? And of course will see opinions posted, "No! It's worse than ever!" and two seconds later, "Things are really much better than ever before in human history." Sure. Whatever. I'll just keep telling the people I love that I love them, and not take a single day for granted.

This week I am most grateful for:
My mix of introversion and extroversion. I like people well enough, but boy howdy I like my quiet time too. I'm glad to (mostly) get a good balance, even if it means some weekends I don't leave the house for 48 hours. 

Singing. Singing is awesome, even if one is not especially gifted with the voice. It is lovely to hear coworkers pipe up with songs at various times throughout the day too. But, it sure would be nice if a few of them were old enough to know who Rick Astley is, is all I have to say about that. Sheesh. 

This song got shared a bunch this week, and I loved it. I have always appreciated this song--I think I went so far as to make a mix tape (well, CD, but you know what I mean) a few years back of various artists covering it. Rufus' version has very much popularized the song for the less-Leonard-Cohen crowd, and the addition of the choir is quite powerful.

Memories. I had an old friend from my Australia school days reach out on Facebook recently, and it compelled me to dig up some old pictures and relive some pretty fun times down under. Hard to believe how long ago that was, and some things are fuzzy while other memories are pretty clear.

Greenery. I found a baby tears plant recently, and have loved seeing it flourish. Totally takes me back to my childhood, when I usually had a baby tears plant around. Very sweet and green.

Words. This piece, "Thirty Things I've Learned," popped up as something I'd shared on Facebook a couple of years back, and I re-read it. Good stuff. Probably need to schedule an annual reading of it. Also popping back into my feed lately have been Pema words, which always always always resonate.

Patience is not learned in safety. It is not learned when everything is harmonious and going well. When everything is smooth sailing, who needs patience? If you stay in your room with the door locked and the curtains drawn, everything may seem harmonious, but the minute anything doesn’t go your way, you blow up. There is no cultivation of patience when your pattern is to just try to seek harmony and smooth everything out. Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than trying to seek harmony. -Pema Chodron

Love that woman. Should probably schedule an annual reading of that nugget, too.

Do you remember what we did before emjois? I don't. It's very strange, that we all end sentences with smiles and winks and hearts and little slices of cake. Oh I know, YOU probably don't. But I do, and it's weird. I would never have thought that I'd be searching on my phone for a little celebratory emoji to wish a friend a happy birthday with. Go figure.

All that is to say, if I could put a little emoji here for you, I would. Oh wait, I can.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday night grateful list

There is simply nothing quite like the Friday night that precedes a long weekend. I'm practically giddy with the idea of that mythical extra day between Sunday and Monday being a reality. Short week next week? Don't mind if I do.

But for all my giddiness, this was a pretty good week. One of the teams I work with set some records in the workplace (boo-ya!) and beat some deadlines--one quite resoundingly. That felt good. And in general, there's a summer happiness in the air. Seth is enjoying his work at Walmart, cashiering it up at all hours of the day and night--he had one shift end at 11 p.m. this week, and another start at 7 a.m. (though luckily not the morning after the 11 p.m.!). I bet you can't guess which one he liked better. Heh.

I spent a couple of summer evenings in the yard this week and fell back in love--not just with the peacefulness of the setting, but the work itself, and how good it feels to be out there with my hands in the dirt. There is a special magic to those end-of-day hours in our valley, where the light hits everything just so, and it's not so hot you can't breathe. Though, honestly, I'm not sure we've gotten over 100 yet--I should say yet again, we did have that odd first weekend in June hot spell. I can do 85, 90, even 95, quite easily. But working outside in 100 degree weather takes a particular grit that I'm not currently embodying.

One of the things that has always made yard time go more quickly for me is when I have a book dialed up on my iPhone and I am interested in knowing what's going to happen next. Right now I have Eligible playing, and it's a rather delightful listen. It's a "modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice" and is every bit as filled with the witticisms and annoyances (Mrs. Bennett, anyone?) as the original. I have also recently listened to Anna Quindlen's Miller's Valley, as well as My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, Happily Ali After by Ali Wentworth, and Padma Lakshmi's Love, Loss and What We Ate. 

My biggest misstep there (in terms of what's good to listen to rather than read) was the Ruth Reichl. I didn't really read much about the book other than to know it was her telling of the year after Gourmet shuttered, and I knew she'd had a rough go of it. But I just skimmed past the whole "136 recipes that saved my life," and listening to someone read recipe ingredients doesn't really do much for me--except put me to sleep. So in a way, it's been a good book to fall back to sleep to on those nights I wake up with to-do lists bouncing around my head.

The Ali Wentworth I got because I just love Ali Wentworth. I do that with celebrities and their books, it's one of my People-magazine-reading personality shortcomings. I most enjoyed Ali when she had a web series called Head Case that was only 12 minutes per episode. I found it hilarious. Anyway, the book is fine, and mildly funny. Also not bad for falling asleep to. That's my bar--can I work in the yard to it? If not, how about fall asleep to it?

This week, as always, I am ever so grateful for friends. Had the joy of meeting up with this dear one tonight and getting our toes painted. As is Sara's effervescent way, she made friends with a pup in the salon who was dressed (yes, that's a dress--and a bonnet) up and smelling fine. And by fine, I mean hair products. Who knew? My poor pups are lucky to get brushed. Product? That's for poodle pups, apparently. But catching up with Sara, sharing stories and laughing--that's always a good time. And, because she won't tell you this, I have to: she's a good wife. I know few women who are as supportive of their husbands as she is. 

This week I am grateful for color. Oh, color. You knew that would come galloping back to the grateful list sooner rather than later, right? See this project below? Swoon, baby. Swoon. I must make this. Now. Going yarn shopping. This. Weekend. As I say when I wear that scarf, or those gloves, or these shoes: how can you have a bad day around color like that? (Seth said something to me recently about my favorite color being rainbow, and at first for some reason I objected. He just looked at me, like, "Really, Mom?" I just saw this post as I was looking back for links, and laughed. He's right.)

I am grateful for the berries. Always with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries. If there's a "berries" on the end of it, I'm all in.

The apricots are ripe. I'm grateful to have an apricot tree.

I'm grateful for shows like Orange is the New Black, even though they make me sad.

I'm grateful for my thoughtful husband.

And so grateful for my sunshine boy. I will say this every Friday night this summer, I bet: having him home is a gift. Now, when he woke me with a mini-crisis at midnight Wednesday night, did I feel that gift in my heart? No, I did not. But come Thursday morning, well, maybe Thursday afternoon, the gift was back.

Picked another fig (teeny tiny, miniature--but oh the flavor!) off the one fig tree that HAS figs. Grateful to be actually growing figs!

I'm grateful for laughter. I do love a good laugh.

I'm grateful for sleep, which has been better of late. (Well, except for that one night where I ate a bunch of watermelon before bed. Skip that night. OTHER than that night.)

I'm grateful for my pups. Such love.

I'll end as I began, with gratitude for this weekend. I have big plans to do nothing part of the time, and something the rest. It's a little more formed than that in my brain--but not much! Looking forward to seeing what joys the weekend holds, and wishing you the same joy.

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