Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring, I think

Spring in our part of the world is my absolute favorite time of the year. The freesias are in full blast bloom, even dying off in the sunniest part of the yard. The first roses are blooming, and the others are full of buds. The unending shades of green are everywhere....even the enormous sycamore in the front parkway has signs of green. The odd part is the weather flips from a lovely 70 degrees, up to near 90 and Santa-Ana-windy, and now it's dropping to the low 60's this week with a cold storm on the way. I've been gardening like crazy, loving being outside -- even dragged out the watercolors the other day, just to sit in the sun and look at the amazing shades of light around me. And the daylilies...their yellow sunshine is so lovely.

I've missed my gratitude journaling the last month. The perfectionist in me doesn't want to admit that I might have to post on a Tuesday. ;-)

holy experience

  • the daylilies around the drive-through ATM; sometimes I snap a photo out the window of the car to try to capture them. They fascinate me.
  • the freesias that return every spring with their amazing scent as I walk by
  • a five-day weekend, with time to rest
  • a breakfast-and-bookstore date with my husband on Saturday
  • dinner tonight with an old friend - it's lovely to have friends who knew you 20 years ago
  • Amazon's used books
  • my new Earthboxes; what an brilliant invention
  • watercolors and my favorite W&N Series 7 brush
  • Peace roses, usually the first to bloom
  • MLS soccer season has started, and college basketball is almost over! (yes I'm thankful for that)
  • all three daughters have had a growing/testing/stretching time lately and I am so proud of all of them
  • E's new apartment
  • H's maturity, hard work and faith while figuring out her next year of school
  • M's missions trip to Mexico and her hard work for her upcoming trip to Africa
  • long chats with my mom and step-mom
  • a weekend away with my husband, planned around his love of trains, that was a good getaway for both of us
  • God's timing; His care is impeccable

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love looks different

We walked into Ralphs the other day, into a blast of red heart balloons, bouquets of roses and gift plants -- red, red, red. At church yesterday, at least half the women were wearing red, some of them very, very red. I appreciated the concept and the celebration - Happy Valentine's Day to the world!!

But sometimes love looks different. This year, it was quiet. Understated. And much appreciated.

holy experience

  • daughters wanting to return home for a day or a weekend
  • daughters bringing friends and boyfriends home with them
  • a feast of a dinner Saturday night, shared with family
  • a husband who spent Valentine's Day afternoon under the kitchen sink, clearing a nasty clog in the drain pipe and replacing an old piece of pipe.
  • the same man's creativity in using a car jack to wrench the pipe out
  • tools
  • take-out Valentine's dinner, ordered on-line (they must have designed that just for me)
  • a text message from an absent child, wish me a happy V-day
  • sunflowers
  • 80-degree days with birds singing and pansies blooming
  • my temporary handicapped-parking pass
  • Friday morning coffee with friends
  • a goodbye visit at the office from our middle child, who didn't want to go back to college without a last hug

Monday, February 8, 2010

Something to write home about

I don't have much to say. So there.

holy experience

  • Eucalypus trees in silhouette; always one of my favorite things
  • farmers' markets
  • football & knitting with friends
  • catch-up talk with daughters and friends
  • new makeup
  • aisle seats
  • my Dymo LabelWriter
  • Berry-flavored sparkling water
  • a new blank book
  • an old, well-thumbed and read, book
  • Google ;-)
  • walking in winter sun

Monday, February 1, 2010

Still so very thankful

I don't update this often, mostly because I write it as an exercise for myself and I'm not sure anyone else has ever read it. ;-) But I find that perfectionistic part of me really doesn't want to post something publicly unless I am sure it is wonderful, witty, or at least entertaining. And usually what I want to say isn't.

I am thinking regularly about all the little gifts in my life, the ones that I want to record here, and the meaning of the "1000 Gifts" Gratitude Community. Sometimes I smile at a small gift, thanking God for showing me the squirrel running up the orange tree or my husband pointing to the small bird singing loudly to the world. Sometimes I bluster my way through my day, not paying attention to anything but my to-do list and the rumble in my head. I hope to change the ratio of those days.

holy experience

  • the icemaker we waited many years to plumb and the sound of the cubes plunking out at all hours
  • text messages, especially from the girls
  • soup
  • audiobooks
  • a friend who says "yippee-do" in gladness to be together
  • an office with a window
  • the new-to-us cherry cabinet that a friend wanted us to have
  • built-in nightlights
  • the little bird who sings in the front yard
  • hot water
  • my new clunky shoes that are so so good for my feet
  • friends who are glad to see me even when I am at my crankiest
  • my husband cleaning the litter box without being asked or reminded

Monday, January 18, 2010

Practicing Gratitude

I've been thinking about gratitude a lot this last week. Although I am hugely aware and thankful for the "big" things -- healthy husband and children, comfortable home, etc. -- I've been thinking about the small things that make up my days. A lot of them are annoying if I let them be, and I often do. But posting a list gives pause. A good thing.

A lot of my little things are worldly and trifling. It's okay, I can still be thankful for them.

holy experience

  • ginger
  • unpacking the Christmas candle I have had for over 30 years, and sniffing the aroma that takes me back to those days
  • a rainy holiday and no need to go out
  • a precious visit with all three daughters
  • M's animated description of her new semester's classes
  • H taking my hand when we were walking together the other day
  • E's hard work to create a family dinner party under fairly stressful conditions; she succeeded amazingly well
  • almond butter
  • Trader Joe's
  • museums (yes, really)
  • electricity
  • our daughters' friends - they have good judgment

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Garden, January version

Back in October, I decided to plant an Early Girl tomato rooted cutting in my version of a sub-irrigated-planter. Our weather is generally mild until January, and this year has been especially so. The summer's tomatoes in the ground never really died off, so I've left them in the ground and just pruned off some dead stuff now and then. I've had a bumper crop of tomato leaves and blossoms, but only Early Girl has set fruit. (too bad you can't eat tomato leaves.) The plants have full south exposure and are up against the house where they are kept pretty warm. The photo above is after I brought in the ripe ones.

Well, we've had fresh tomatoes since October. The cutting in the SIP has produced very well, but the original Early Girl has also kept producing fruit. Not a bumper crop, and they aren't the best tasting, but they sure beat grocery store tomatoes any day.
Our first storm of 2010 has rolled in, so our highs are going down to 60 or so and we're getting much-needed rain. Meanwhile, we're having sliced tomatoes for dinner.

While cleaning up the tomatoes today, I snapped this shot of our orange tree. The branches are burdened with oranges - if only they were sweet. A wedge or two is delicious in water, and I'm looking to make some marmalade soon. At this rate, I'll be drinking orange water until next year's crop comes in.

We are blessed with abundance.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Year of Gratitude

I am fairly contemplative, but rarely set New Year's resolutions. I usually arrive at the New Year out of breath and ready to sleep for 36 hours straight after the December rush. The kids are home, we are spending time with friends and family, and suddenly, it's January 4. Oh well.

But I would like to start this year with a concentration on Gratitude -- marking and developing a constant awareness of God's blessings and gifts and grace. So I'm joining the Gratitude Community, and will work on listing here my 1000 Gifts.

holy experience

Here goes, in random-thoughts order .... it's so hard to put aside the need to be perfect even in this.

  • a loving husband who keeps me honest with myself
  • the chance to raise three daughters who are so amazing
  • the thousands of photographs of those girls that I'm sorting through and scanning
  • sunshine in January
  • a bit of land to grow things
  • picking tomatoes and oranges in January
  • lovely yarn
  • one foot surgery behind me, one to go
  • medical insurance
  • handmade socks
  • my new lavender candle
  • a husband who will always get the cricket/spider/lizard/whatever out of the house
  • a "Eugene de Beauharnais" rose that blooms nine months of the year and smells like I hope heaven smells
  • daughters who invite me to watch movies and knit with them
  • clean sheets
  • a freezer in the garage, filled with food
  • coffee
  • good black tea
  • coffee heath-bar crunch ice cream (the best of the best)
  • a Mac, any Mac, but the MacBook Pro is really a joy to use
  • Photoshop
  • my camera
  • canning
  • my shower, which is everything I ever wanted in a shower
  • forgiveness
there! that's a start.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Soup

A blessed New Year! This soup nourished us today, and kept the tradition going. The photo is blurry but will have to do. S asked me to please remember how I made it so I can make it exactly the same again. (How can you possibly make soup exactly the same again?)

New Year’s Soup

By a Californian of Southern Descent

1 lb black-eyed peas

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 hot chiles, minced

(or 2 tbsp chile-garlic paste)

1 bell pepper, minced

1 tbsp “better than bouillon” chicken base

1-2 cups chopped ham

handful swiss chard leaves, chopped

(or substitute fresh spinach)

Rinse and clean black-eyed peas. Put in large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil one minute, remove from heat and let rest one hour. Meanwhile, chop vegetables. Saute onion, garlic, chiles and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft. Drain peas and return to pot with sautéed vegetables, chopped ham and chicken base. Simmer until peas are soft. (I cook in pressure cooker for five minutes under full pressure, letting pressure drop naturally. This usually cooks the peas sufficiently.) Add chopped swiss chard and simmer until of desired consistency.

This delicious soup will use up the rest of the Christmas ham, while providing you with your traditional New Year’s black-eyed peas and greens.

Serve with cornbread and a bottle of Tabasco sauce. Can be served over a mound of rice for a version of "Hoppin' John." Feel very lucky, healthy and ready for a new year.