Gratitude is the sign of noble souls ~ Aesop

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving ~ Kahlil Gabran

Joy delights in joy ~ William Shakespeare

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Watermelon Girl

This morning Jane was decked out in a watermelon print dress complete with matching hat and sunglasses. She capped the look with curled hair and pink low cut chuck taylors. It brings me joy to see her unique since of fashion and style, a trait she shares with her mom. For someone whose always worried about what others are thinking, I feel grateful to have them reminding me what it looks like to be confident and comfortable with yourself.

The cherry on bottom

I love cherries. Always have. One of my very first memories is of the cherry tree outside my window when I was just a toddler. Those perfect shiny red spheres that grow in pairs, held together like a pair of shoes but with stems instead of laces. I'm not picky -- bing, maraschino, dried, black -- I will devour them all. My favorite special occasion drink growing up was a Shirley Temple with FOUR cherries...I was always very specific with the waiters, it had to be four. And then there was the year I gave up cherries for Lent, and it felt like the longest forty days of my young life. So when Easter morning came around that year and I found an entire jar of maraschino cherries tucked inside my Easter basket, you can imagine what I did -- I ate the ENTIRE jar. Including the juice. In hind sight, I would definitely NOT recommend doing that.
I was thinking about the expression "Life is a bowl of cherries" this morning as I was eating my bland sugarless oatmeal. I allowed myself a few dried cherries sprinkled in and each time I found one, it was like discovering a tasty treasure. And I thought that maybe a more accurate quote might be "Life is a bowl of oatmeal...with cherries!" Because alot of this life is a mushy mess, but if you keep looking for the cherries (joy) sprinkled around, it can make getting through it a much more pleasant experience. So people can have their whipped cream with the cherry on top -- I find much greater satisfaction in the cherry I discover at the bottom of a bowl of oatmeal:)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today my joy comes from...

My parents flying into LAX. It may be cold and threatening to rain, but nothing will dampen our spring break!

Pink french tulips that have a subtle but sublime fragrance, spilling out of a robin's egg blue vase.

Homemade banana bread with extra banana. Mmmm...

Cole saying I look pretty when I have total "bed head". He's only half-serious, but it's still nice to hear :)

The quiet on Bedford St. There is often a cacophony of noises -- cars, neighbors, radios -- but right now it's strangely, blissfully quiet as I have my morning coffee

An article I read in "O" magazine that brought tears to my eyes, about a father and his teenage daughter who, upon seeing a homeless man, decided to 'downsize' their lives. The family sold their house for a smaller one; traded their cars in; and realized they could live on less. It was so inspiring. What could we all use less of, to create more joy?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Ode to My Nose

Sure, there were times when I rued your sensitivity. Or the phase I went through where I thought your nostrils were too round and your tip too short. I have battled you so much over the years, and yes, we've quarrelled this week -- what, with your become so puffed up and swelled over nothing. I think you're a bit of a drama queen...a little pollen shouldn't be such a big deal, you know. But I forgive you because, when you want to be, you can be a wonderful friend. Like today when we sampled the new lavender bushes upstairs and when we gobbled up the jasmine vines down the street. And when we found the Scentimental (obvious name, but still lovely) roses at the store I felt like we'd really hit the jackpot. And it's so much more fun breathing through you than through my mouth, she complains that it's not really her job, but you never make it seem like a chore. No, breathing with you is a joy, and I will never take it for granted. So thank you for a good day, my proboscis pal:)

Random bits of joy

I'm thankful for a church I feel at home in and that it is welcoming and loving so I don't have to be worried or embarrassed when I bring my friends. I'm thankful for little kids in patent leather Mary Jane's waving palm fronds high in the air and for Bonnie at the prayer rail remembering to bring Kleenex. I'm thankful for Dustin and Carol and our meaningful time together...that we take time to stop and listen and just be together. And I'm thankful for Snoopy and his happy dance...I'd like to think if my spirit could dance, that's exactly what it would look like, feet flying, ears flopping, mouth curled into a sublime grin.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Summery Saturday

I'm grateful for unpredictable weather.

Yesterday, we went down the coast to Manhattan beach. It's been unseasonably warm, even at the ocean it was at least 80 degrees. We read at a little grassy park overlooking the beach, and then walked the Strand and marveled at every shape, size and color of dogs and people out and about -- biking, rollerblading, beach volleyballing, surfing, swimming, eating ice cream, snapping pictures. It really felt like July in the middle of March. We had a happy hour beer at an Irish bar, and then treated ourselves to a do-it-yourself-fro-yo. I got Red Velvet, mmm. Is anything better?!

Then we walked on the pier and saw a school of dolphins waving hello. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon, and I'm getting excited for sundresses and picnics and the Hollywood Bowl and Shakespeare in the park, and all things summer! Although I don't want it to come TOO that day happens to coincide with me getting one year older :( :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

For Dad

Thanks for the was a nice reminder that writing doesn't have to be such a serious business:)

There once was a mischievous rabbit
who with joy stole farm goods out of habit
but McGregor colored his egg
so the blame he could peg
on poor Peter when he tried to nab it!

An Easter Limerick

Ok, so I love haikus too; but may I suggest, with no disrespect to the Haiku Master, AndyMc, that since it is still the month of the Irish, and Easter is only a week away, an Easter limerick (and yes, there is a connection to Ireland - Limerick county in N Munster, southwestern Ireland) with a joy theme might be in order:
There once was a bunny named Peter,
Who every time he hopped bumped his kiester.
But when he started carrying eggs
It shifted his weight to his legs,
And so out of joy he now shares them at Easter!

LOL ;-D...I crack myself up! Have a Gr8 Day, and remember, any response limerick must have "Easter" an "joy" in it.

Pretty prism

Today I delighted my very own Pollyanna moment. As I was walking into the master bathroom to fetch yet another roll of toilet paper to blow my nose, I was feeling about as grumpy as a wet hen -- when I looked down at a little piece of art, a small unassuming cross that I had placed on the edge of the bathtub. I noticed a perfect beam of sunlight streaming through the window nearby, and so I moved the pale green crystal an inch until it was in the light -- and suddenly a dozen tiny rainbows exploded into the room. I caught my breath at the beauty, my ordinary bathroom momentarily transformed into something glorious -- feeling a bit like Indiana Jones must've felt when the staff of Ra hit the light. Or like the grumpy old man in Pollyanna who turned into a little kid when Pollyanna showed him how an ordinary lampshade could be his own personal prism maker. And just like those old lampshades, it made me smile that my little cross was only a few inches away from becoming something truly spectacular...all it needed was a little shove into the light. It made me think about untapped potential and about the importance of putting yourself out there if you really want to shine. And it made me thankful for all those wonderful people along the way who have given me little shoves in the right direction when I needed some help finding the light.
But mostly it was just really pretty, and that was nice:)

Friday, March 26, 2010


Today I was sitting next to a grey Quest on the outside of a left double turn lane. It's one of those turns where the preferred position is usually the outside lane where I was because after you make the turn it has quick access to the interstate if you turn right or easier access to Paul's Fruit Market (where I was headed) or Thornton's gas station after the underpass if you go straight. Sure enough, after the turn, the woman in the SUV began speeding up and inching over into my lane. I slowed down to let her in, but as my disapproving look started to turn into a bad word, I noticed her license plate; to my amazement, it read BE JOY. After hesitatingly deciding that BE JOY probably didn't stand for Betty Ellen Joy, I became intrigued by the concept of "being joy." I mean, did she just not have enough room on the plate to say BE JOYFUL, or did she really mean "be joy," as in "YOU be joy"? That's kind of a hard concept to get your head around - not to include your heart...or your spirit. Maybe this works: BE JOY...TO SOMEONE ELSE! slowing down and letting someone else over without getting indignant about it, because maybe that's the thing that gives her joy. Guess I'll have to work on that concept.

Farmer's Markets

Yesterday we went to our local farmer's market. It's nestled in between a strip mall and a busy boulevard, not the most picturesque place for a market BUT, once I'm there surrounded by the bursting colors and smells and flavors of the season, I feel transported. Maybe not to Tuscany or Provence (wouldn't it be a delight to wander THOSE markets), but it's wonderful just the same that the farmers drive in from Oxnard and the mountains with their delicious treasures.

I bought some strawberries that are as big as apricots and as red as lipstick; I splurged on some orange and yellow tulips that practically sing "spring is here!"; we got some artichokes and potatoes and avocados; sampled blood oranges and other exotic fruits. The smells of roasting meats and peanuts are overpowering, and made us drool (even though we're mostly avoiding meat these days, it's hard to resist the primal urge to dive into a dripping piece of succulent flesh!).

I love seeing the colorful produce and people, and would have stayed longer had my $20 not disappeared all too soon. But I look forward to next week when I can get more fresh goodies... maybe I'll bring my Mom when she's here, she loves the California markets too :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Tonight I am so very thankful for this blog as I'm sick again with dumb allergies and feeling sorry for myself in bed while my hubby is doing a night shoot. I read your wonderful entries and I feel even cozier than when I wear my over-sized brown fluffy robe that makes me look like a teddy bear and that Erin would like to shoot dead (poor thing has to see me in it every morning when we skype...and sometimes the afternoon...okay, fine, so I've worn it all day before, sue me, it's comfy.) The point is, you guys make me feel even more wrapped up and warm and like everything's gonna be fine than that robe and a bowl of matzo ball soup and an episode of Ellen combined:) Thank you for being voyagers on this journey with me, I am moved beyond words with gratitude that I have been blessed with all of you in my life. And yes, that goes for all of you readers out there too, even if you haven't had the chance to comment, it's wonderful just to know that you're out there caring enough to check in from time to time.

Working in MS

This morning it was raining, and by this afternoon the sun was out, the skies clear and the air balmy and warm. I am having a splendid week on the Gulf Coast helping with Katrina Relief. We have been tiling floors all week, and I have learned a lot, and am totally exhausted, but it's such a lovely break from all the mental exhaustion I usually deal with, that the tired, achy muscles and dry hands (from all the washing up and the mortar you use under the tile) feel really good. I am grateful that I am healthy enough to participate in this way, and for all the staff here who contribute to making this a wonderful experience. Who make it even possible for me to be here by providing a place to sleep, 3 fabulous meals a day (and I have been eating like the proverbial horse!) and construction supervisors to teach us skills and help us find ways to be truly useful. I am grateful for the kind hospitality of the family whose home we are working on; the lady of the house cooked us two amazing home cooked lunches at the beginning of the week. We all felt so guilty, we kind of begged off the last two days -- we didn't want her to feel she had to make us lunch! -- but I so appreciate the effort she went to to thank us for being here. We are surrounded by young people -- college kids and Americorps volunteers, some brought in by Habitat, some here for Lutheran and Episcopal Services in MS -- and I am so grateful for their enthusiasm and caring, that they are spending their spring break building houses! I think it bodes very well for our future. And finally, today, I am grateful for this little opportunity to share with you all what I'm up to, to touch base with home when I am far away. See you Sunday, Kara!

Family Dinners

I'm grateful that far, far away in lala land, I'm just a 25 minute drive from my little brother (and my lovely kindred spirit sister), and that we can walk the dogs (my boyfriend Alfie loooves me!!) and chat about our days and eat homemade dinners (and M&M's) and watch bad reality tv and, well...just be a normal family....even as Ryan tells us about his not-so-normal day hanging out with Courtney Cox and William Shatner :)

A comedy of errors

So as I was sliding backwards down the hill in my backyard yesterday in my Pathfinder with my neighbor's trailer attached to it, I was grateful for a couple of things:
- the post on the jet ski ramp that kept the trailer from going swimming
- the bag of gravel we just happened to have that I was able to spread beneath my spinning tires once I had come to a stop and was trying to gain some traction
- the unbelievable will that enabled me to single-handedly drag the trailer out of the riprap and into a "normal" looking position that wouldn't panic my husband when he got home
- the years of training in the field that allowed me to never once loose my cool in the 2 hours it took me to finally get the car out of its impossible position and back safe and sound in my driveway.
- no one (i.e. me) got hurt and nothing (i.e. car or trailer) ended up in the lake
- the fact that no one was there to see me make the series of mistakes that led to this moment :)

Needless to say, I will leave the off-roading to my hubby from now on...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The photo on my desk

a line of angels
hands pressed together, praying
but mostly laughing

stand by the villa
smiles caught like butterflies
happy reminder

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seventh grade is for suckers

Tonight I'm thankful I saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid for two reasons: it made me laugh and it made me realize how freaking glad I am that I'm not in middle school anymore!!!

An Ode to Dreams

I'm grateful for my dreams each night.
Some people don't remember theirs;
it's as if they blinked out and then blinked back in,
a computer turning off and then on.
But I live an entire life between 12 and 8.
It's exhausting, it's exhilarating
Often scary and sometimes silly
It makes it very hard to wake up;
leaving another world isn't easy,
Even if it's a world I would rather not see again.

I remember my dreams like memories.
Sometimes, I even quote things from them, forgetting it didn't really happen.
But it did, to me.
It's weird, but these private escapes have always delighted me...
I marvel at how the brain can generate these images, create new characters;
Give me powers or make me powerless.
I've read that dreams are only a few seconds long, even when they feel longer.
I've read that they are just a jumble of thoughts and feelings that represent
Your inner psyche.
But that doesn't explain why I met a talking monkey last night.
And why I'm a bit sad I might not meet her again.

Top Ten Things That Made Me Smile Today

1. A beanie baby stuffed turtle waving at me from the back window of the car I was stuck behind in traffic.
2. Getting off on the wrong floor for my doctor's appointment and then having a ninety year old lady make fun of me when I got back on the elevator.
3. Alfie's play bark "Aroo-roo-roooo!"
4. Taking the leaf off a lavender bush on my walk, rubbing it between my fingers, and pretending like I was in Provence for a few moments.
5. Watching Betty White on Ellen.
6. Rewinding the DVR and watching her again.
7. Taco Tuesday on Monday!
8. A hot pink sunset straight out of an awesome 80's movie like Cocktail or Top Gun -- if only there had been a sax playing in the distance...
9. A bum wearing a t-shirt on the side of the road that said "That's Mister Bum to you!"
10. My hubby's blog:)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lost and Found

Lost: My marbles
Found: What really matters

I'm grateful for a best friend wife who knows how to put it all into perspective. Perspective is a beautiful thing to have...

Towering wildflowers

This weekend, I labored away in the yard, raking and tidying in preparation for spring. The weeds have started to come back to life amongst the still-dormant blades of grass. After all the raking and before the lawn was mowed, I did something I haven't done in years: I laid on the grass.
It sounds simple enough; something that people probably do across the globe every day without thought. But as I laid on my side and stared at the lawn from a totally new perspective, a funny thing happened.
The weeds began to look beautiful. Each stalk was capped by a tiny white flower, and from my point of view, they were beautiful, towering wildflowers among the grassy forest. I put out my hand and grazed the tops of them, feeling their feathery softness against my palm. I breathed in the earthy, grassy scent and languished in the feel of the cool ground beneath me. In that moment in time, every blade, every flower, every leaf, every stalk seemed a perfect miracle. Normally the blight of the lawn, the weeds were beautiful, exquisitely formed, perfectly designed.
Soon, the dogs became antsy, and Kirk needed to mow the lawn, and I needed to start dinner, and the moment was over. But what a gift, to have a space of time to revel in the beauty of God's creation. It is a gift for which I am very grateful indeed.

Cloudy with a chance of Growth

I'm thankful for the beautiful reminder I had today of a powerful experience I had years ago when I was on an island north of Vancouver as a camp leader. All of these kids were looking to me for guidance, but I had never felt so in a fog, so unsure of my faith, so alone. I couldn't feel God or see God and I was starting to think maybe he wasn't there at all. When we arrived on the island, there was a great mountain near by, rising out of the sea like a bear -- it was majestic to behold. But the next morning, a thick marine layer of clouds had settle down all around our tiny island, and there was not even a hint of a mountain there. It had completely disappeared from sight. But had it actually disappeared? Of course not. I suddenly felt like a baby trying to comprehend peek-a-boo -- it's there, oh no it's gone, he's there, oh no he's gone! But now that I am grown, I understand permanence. I know that just because someone is hidden behind their hands, it doesn't mean they aren't there. And just because the mountain is obscured by fog, it doesn't make it any less majestic. And I realized while I was up there, that I would see the mountain again, and that the clouds in my life would clear and I would get a glimpse of grace once more.
I listened to a sermon from All Saints today online and something the priest Gabri said helped me to remember this moment and how precious it was to me. He said to remember when you are in the thick soup of the cloud that throughout all of scripture "The cloud always, always represents God's presence, not his absence" and that "the cloud disorients us at first...but then it reorients us, and when the fog clears, everything changes."
It sucks sometimes that the greatest growth and understanding come out of dark foggy times...but it makes it that much sweeter when the sun shines again. And it always does. At least that's what little orphan Annie says:)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Friends

I am thankful for the books I love to read over and over again, they encourage me, comfort me, and are always there when I need them. I am currently reading a copy of The Secret Garden with my name printed in careful cursive and dated 1984 by my own hand...and I find it every bit as lovely to read as the first time I read it after buying it at the school book fair. Actually, more, because now I have my own secret garden to read it in:)

Hope in the Ruins

I am grateful to the people who had the foresight to preserve The Mission in San Juan Capistrano, because it is truly one of my favorite places in the world. The ruins of an old Spanish cathedral built in 1776 -- the year our country was born! -- it is a site to behold with its massive bells and columns and the soaring domed knave still standing at the head of the beautiful broken old building. I find it even more beautiful that the old mission provides shelter and a safe haven to the thousands of swallows who make a pilgrimage from Argentina every year to build their homes for the summer (instead of nests, the build mud enclaves called, no kidding, condos.) But what made me most grateful today as I toured the gardens and made my way to the tiny prayer chapel that still stands in the back, is that this year, I got to bring my husband to share it with me.

You see, the first time I found myself in San Juan Capistrano was in October of 2007 -- I was attending a retreat that was a few miles north, but they ran out of room on the grounds of the retreat center, so I stayed in a motel off the highway. And while it was noisy and the room smelled like diesel -- it turned out to be a wonderful twist of fate.
I went to this particular retreat because I was feeling lost in my life...I felt like I should be happy, but things just felt off, I felt lonely and anxious and afraid a lot of the time -- too much of the time. So I went in the hopes that some peace and quiet away from LA would help me to get some perspective, to gain some guidance and wisdom. Anyway, one morning, I skipped going to the retreat and instead went for a walk. I walked out of the hotel and just wandered until I saw a very curious and old looking domed structure that seemed to be pretty close...So keeping my eyes on it, I walked and took turns that brought me closer until I was there -- at The Mission. I couldn't believe such a place existed in California -- to me history here only went as far back as the Hollywoodland sign. But this place was more like something you'd see in Europe -- it was breathtaking, so I went inside and found that there were not only ruins there, but an ancient old chapel and to the side, a prayer room filled with kneeling people. At the front of the room there was a large book where people could go and write down their prayers.

I sat in that room for a long time, watching the people as they approached the book, feeling such an intimacy that the strangers turned into people I couldn't help but love -- love them for their courageous act of going forward and putting themselves out there, exposing their deepest hopes and pains, even their tears, on paper. It was truly inspiring -- so after shaking off an irrational embarrassment (what if someone I knew came inside and saw me? what if people knew I was weak and frightened and sad?) I went up and poured out my deepest prayers. I won't go into the specifics, but I laid them all out there...

I returned this year, like the sparrows, to the place where I had once found shelter from a storm. And this time, just three years later, I walked into that little chapel, and went up to the book to write a new prayer -- Thank you. Because in putting myself out there, I let go of fear and grasped onto hope. In looking down at my own writing and seeing the true desires of my heart, I somehow opened myself up to the possibility of them, and that day I truly began to believe the scripture that says "with God all things are possible..."

Friday, March 19, 2010

In praise of the mini-vacation

I am thankful that today was a day of active rest. I worked very hard at doing nothing at all, and I must say, I think I excel in it:) A weekend on a weekday. Staying up late to watch a movie and knowing I don't have to wake up reminds me of those two rare and glorious words I would pray for growing up "Snow Day!" Yep, today felt like a snow day right in the middle of sunny California. And I loved it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ice water on St. Paddy's

Last night, after a haggard 12-hour day at work, I was thankful to conclude St. Paddy's day with my dad, my best friend, and my youngest brother-in-law at the local Irish Pub (Beef O'Brady's -- does that count?) Even though I was feeling too sickly for a Guinness, I endured the insults from our waiter for drinking a tall frosty mug of ice water and realized good company can be as good for the soul on green day as good brew. Well, close anyway;)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Going Green

I found an unexpected joy in the color green today. I loved seeing all the kids on the playground we drove past this afternoon in their varying shades of green clothing, lime stripes and jade plaids hoping not to be pinched. I would go overboard in elementary school on St. Patrick's Day, there would be no risk of the dreaded pinch for me: green socks, underwear with flowers with little green leaves, green shirt under a green sweater and on top of it all, a shamrock sticker over my heart...if they had had green nail polish back then like Lindsay wore today, and if I could've actually worn it out the door without my mom noticing, I would've totally rocked that look too:)
I had beautiful green peas with dinner tonight, not the canned mushy pea-green color, but a brilliant kelly green that seemed to be like spring wrapped in a convenient bite-sized morsel. I saw a battalion of bunnies hopping across a verdant lawn -- Easter bunnies in training, I suppose. Some of them hid beneath dark and shiny evergreen bushes, others froze in the middle of the grass like furry little lawn ornaments and I laughed. There was even a blazing shock of fluorescent green over the ocean tonight, just as the sun was extinguished for the night, and I caught myself gasping at the rare beauty of it.
So often in LA I miss the green of my childhood home of Kentucky, the peaceful pastures and abundant trees, and perhaps that is why the color feels like home to me...or perhaps it is because somewhere deep inside, my soul longs for the rolling green hills of my ancestral home. Whatever the reason I gravitate towards it, I am always grateful for a glimpse of green...and I got plenty of them today:)

Luck O The Irish

Today, as everyone wears green and toasts their Guinnesses, I'm extra grateful for my Irish heritage. All 50% of it :) I even have green nailpolish on to prove my pride!

And I feel very thankful that I've been able to travel to the 'homeland' twice so far in my lifetime. Hard to believe it's been almost 2 years since my family drove through those green hills. Ahhh, to be back. Someday...

I hope everyone finds their rainbow with a pot o' gold.

Kindred Spirit

I'm grateful for the perfect gift showing up on my doorstep today out of the blue for no reason at all other than the heartwarming thoughtfulness of a friend...thanks Linds:)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Old Friends

Today, in between worrying about meetings and paying bills and Global warming, I had lunch with an old friend. And when I say old, I mean she's 85.

Frances is my former neighbor and we've stayed in touch the past 2+ years since I moved from Santa Monica. When we lived in adjacent studio apts, we would often watch movies together or have a cup of tea, or I would help her with her TV, or she would share the letter she was writing to the President (she does this often). One day, we discovered that we had the same special birthday, the Summer Solstice, June 21. I knew we were forever kindred spirits. We've had 2 birthday brunches since that discovery, and I look forward to another one this year.

At almost 86, Frances is as spry and "with it" as Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls. She attends weekly classes at the local Ameritus college (Shakespeare is her current favorite); she holds 2 PhD's and is fluent in Hebrew, Egyptian and Aramaic; she can navigate the internet but doesn't understand "that tweeting stuff"; Bogart and Bacall stood up in her wedding(!); she was recently in an unaired Windows/Mac commercial and says she would like to play someone's great grandmother in a movie; she loathes Brittney Spears and "loose girls like her" and adores "that William Shatner, he always has a little twinkle in his eye" (I told her we could probably cast her as his mother...and I'm not really kidding...Ry, pull some strings!); she always asks about Cole's Darwin project and I just don't have the heart to tell her we've shelved it for the moment; and she drinks a daily tonic that I've now dubbed The Frances. She swears it helps her live longer, and so Cole and I have started to drink it, too.

The Frances
2/3 cup cheap red wine
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
A splash of 7Up or spritzer

I think that cocktail, plus a healthy dose of good humor and a passion to change the world (even at her age, she still wants to help change health care and a million other issues like saving the whales and squirrels and any other furry creature), keep her living a full life. It dawned on me that she was born in 1924, same as my maternal Grandmother who left us some 20 years ago, who I still miss terribly.

I am so blessed to have met her, and am happy to call her a birthday twin.

An Earthquake Haiku

It woke me from dreams
Is this the Big One, I thought?
The Earth giggled "no"

Family Tree

In between movie marathons and sleeping while I've been sick, I've also cultivated a bit of an obsession...researching my family history on And the amazing thing is, that in looking into my past, I am even more grateful for my present. It had reminded me what a miracle it is that I am here, and how grateful I am that people from all over the country (from Texas and Alabama to Chicago and Pennsylvania) and all over the world (Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Hungry and Austria) were all brought together so that I could have the privilege of walking on this planet. So thanks to Grace and Charles, Aaron and Lurie, Mary and Andrew, and Helen and Charles (my great grandparents) and to Norma and Sylvester, Mary and Murray (my grandparents) and Mark and Lynn (my parents) and to all those who came before them. I sure am happy they followed their hearts, and in so doing, made a path for me.

Monday, March 15, 2010


At sunset yesterday our power went out and it was like the whole world came to a halt. The omnipresent hum of our air filters went silent. The grinding of our DVR, working to capture us hours of distraction, went silent. The clocks went blank. The phone went dead. And best of all, the house grew dark in the absence of our energy efficient artificial lighting.

We lit candles and started a fire. We read books by flashlight. We sat still.



And then in an instant, the hum returned. Like magic. The microwave, the TV, the clocks, the computer, the lights. All common comforts I'm very happy and fortunate to have. But it was great to not have them as well...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gratitude isn't a big enough word

I am grateful for this date, March 14th -- aka My Mom's Birthday. And I am forever grateful for being blessed with such a humble, thoughtful, beautiful, giving woman as a role model, mentor and guiding force in my life. And she is a a river, cool and clear, soft and steady and yet with the strength to cut through a mountain. I am grateful that she taught me to love Nancy Drew and Pollyanna, that she let me play with her make-up samples and wear her high heel Candy's, that she made me volunteer at nursing homes and look up words in the dictionary when I didn't know them instead of giving me the easy way out, I'm thankful she never let me say the word "hate" in her presence, or "fart" for that matter:) But I'm most thankful that she's always stood by me, reminding me of my faith when I felt weak, believing for me when I was too afraid, believing in me when I've needed it most. Plus she makes the world's BEST cookies. Yep, it is a joy indeed to be Lynn's daughter. Thanks, Mom:)


The smell of fresh baked bread...need I say more?

Two Jerks

Grunting, burping, yipping, twittering, snoring, needy, whiny, hungry, lazy, sleepy, dumb, smelly, loyal lovable lugs.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Movie Marathon

I'm thankful that being too sick to leave my bed means I've been able to watch some amazing movies I may never have taken the time to see before like: HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY and BROADCAST NEWS and one of my new favorites, THE MISFITS. I'm thankful that watching them makes me want to get well soon so I can get back to my computer and work on being a better writer. I'm also thankful for Cole's extensive movie knowledge...I just email him about my movie choice and he sends back trivia, it's like having my own personal commentary:)

Gratitude for Inspiration

Dear Blog,
I have a confession to make. You are not the only blog in my life. I know, I know, this must hurt, but you have to know, she was the first. It's just that she's all structure, and repetition, and it gets to be hard doing the same thing over and over again. I've been reading the Eugene Peterson Message Bible in the order the scriptures were written down; I choose a verse, write a meditation, and then a prayer. At first it was exciting, like any new relationship, and I wrote every day; then it was down to 2 or 3 times a week; now I'm lucky if I get there once.

Then you came along. You were fresh and new. You offered variety, and, I have to admit, sharing you was actually exciting for me. Those other relationships sparked my imagination and, I thought, made our relationship richer.

Well, today I went back to my old blog. And I wrote in it. Twice. It was so exhilarating to get that spark again that's been missing for such a long time! Maybe it was the Sermon on the Mount, it's always such a good read; and with those familiar verses, Peterson's translation comes across with real freshness and vitality! Sort of like you. I feel so thrilled and grateful. Which brings me back to you.

I know I should have told you; you may be shocked, and surprised, and hurt, but be fair. I share you, can't you share me? I know we don't have a lot of time together, and perhaps that is part of what makes you so exciting, what makes it so easy to throw off constraint and try new things. But I have made a commitment to her. And I need to honor that commitment. And I will, I will carry it through to the very end. You and I will be over by then, and I'll be on to new blogs -- one on my website, maybe -- but I want you to know that you helped me get back on track. You are the source and destination for my joy at inspiration. And I want you to know that whatever happens between us, though our time is short, you have been important to me and I'll always remember you.
PS If you want to check her out, her name is

Friday, March 12, 2010

Garden Promises

The fountain beckons:
come let me be a balm
for your aching body
your itchy nose
your weary soul
and though my legs are unwilling
my soul wins the fight
and carries me out
as if in a dream
to sit and listen
to the constant fall of the fountain
amazing how the sound of water
can be so soothing, so peaceful
a reminder of life in the womb, I suppose
like the steady swish of blood
through the arteries
a prenatal lullaby
and I think about how the garden itself
is like a womb of sorts
for the plants that live here
safe and sound
as they are sung to sleep by the water
as they wait to be born
tiny buds promising
new life
The first leaves are already unfurling
and today there is ivy
on yesterday's bare wall
the maple and magnolia have fresh offerings too
and the perfumed angel trumpets
(putting Chanel no.5 to shame)
call forth the spring
making all the allergies
worth it, in a way
like the pain of childbirth
or making it through middle school
things are sometimes worse
before they get better
And they will get better
the hummingbird has promised me
with the whisper of his wings
as he hovers overhead
pausing between sips of the night-cooled nectar
to make sure I am paying attention
he shows off by flipping upside down
to drink from the pink Chinese lanterns
or maybe he is trying to cure
a bad case of the hiccups
either way, it is impressive
and the smile that has formed on my lips
against their will
must mean I believe his promise

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kids Today

As I was driving this morning, a song came on my favorite Broadway station (yes, I'm a dork) that has been in my head all day -- "Getting to Know You" from the King and I. And tonight I give thanks for the truth of the lyric that says "When you become a teacher, by your pupils you are taught." Being a part of Young Storytellers (a program that teaches 5th graders how to write screenplays) is a true joy in my life. Today when we arrived at the classroom, one of the girls was wearing a t-shirt that said: Music makes me happy. And that shirt made me happy. Then, after some games that are meant to be an ice breaker for the kids, I got to remember how good it feels to be silly. And that made me happy. And as if that weren't enough, my mentee, a lovely little girl named Tamara, informed me that she wanted to write a story about a hot dog...who dreams of becoming a doctor. How could that not make me happy? The story just gets better from there and became like my own little personal flask of joy I stole little sips from all day. And tonight I sit here smiling at it still. I'm grateful for big imaginations in small packages and I am really grateful that, much like joy, imagination is contagious.

Impossible Things

Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said `one can't believe impossible things.'

`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

This is one of my very favorite quotes, from one of my very favorite stories. No CGI or 3D required for imagining impossible things :)

Music to my Ears

I hear them! They are back! Those glorious harbingers of spring, those tiny little amphibious opera singers who croak with delight for the longer days and warmer temperatures. A tuneless melody they sing, repetitive and harmonic somehow—oh how I love to hear them trumpet their return.

Spring is here! Welcome back, little froggys :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Lemonade

I was in a bad mood this morning because I drove to Paramount for a mtg and it was a total waste of time. The meeting was like 12 minutes long and the guy was a total loser. But as I was stomping to my car in annoyance, it suddenly dawned on me...I'm at a movie studio. Taking a meeting as a writer, a lifelong dream. My problems aren't really problems. I'm grateful to even have such gripes! So here are the other things that help me make lemonade out of lemons:

I hate LA traffic. H-A-T-E. But...I'm thankful for NPR. It's my constant companion in the car; I get all my facts and bits of trivia and inspiring stories that I'm constantly prattling off (literally, I quote an NPR story at least twice a day). It makes me smarter. It makes me more interesting. I even contributed to our local station during the recent fundraiser drive, even though I was like "I really need a new pair of shoes and I'm not even gainfully employed...but I seriously need to help them make their hourly goal since I listen everyday"

I don't love living in the middle of busy boulevards in the middle of a busy city. I dream of my English cottage or farm in New England. BUT I'm thankful that I can drive 15 minutes and stand overlooking the ocean. I walked along the park on Ocean Ave today just marveling at the white sand, waves and Malibu cliffs. If I squinted, it looked like the Italian coast. Do I really live here?

I don't like drinking water. I've never liked it. But I'm grateful to have easily accessible, clean running water when so many people don't.

But, I'd really rather drink lemonade. :) Preferably, Kara's homemade lemonade from the lemons in their backyard (as long as it doesn't squirt in the eye like it did poor K on Sunday...yeooow)

Being there

This morning I woke up and was surprised to find that the dark cloak of depression had somehow settled on me like the smoke monster on Lost -- unexpectedly and inexplicably, a total mystery. I suddenly felt afraid for no particular reason -- the sun was shining, my loved ones are healthy, I feel blessed by so much good fortune -- so of course, I was frustrated as to why I was feeling this way, which just made it worse. But I managed to pull myself out of bed, thinking it would help to get in the shower and try to have a normal morning -- unfortunately I found out a little too late that my entire leg had fallen asleep. So as I dragged my leg behind me looking very much like Quasimodo, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. I turned and checked out my reflection in the bathroom mirror to see A SPIDER HANGING FROM MY HAIR. What the what??? I pretty much decided at that point the day was going to be a total loss, so I crawled back in bed, determined to pull the covers up and hide away -- but then I got bored. I had actually slept too long. So I willed myself with all of my strength to pull my laptop onto my lap and as if grasping for the anecdote for the poisonous dart of melancholy that had been shot at me, with my last ounce of energy I pulled up this Joy blog. And my sister had written a blog...about being sick and getting well. And it gave me hope that the bad feelings never last forever. And I sat up and I pushed another little button with the little energy I had and skyped her...and she was there...just like she always is. And we talked and laughed and seeing her face made me feel better. And so, as I sit here now, having gotten through this difficult day, I am thankful for my sister. And for my brother who made me laugh with his bad ass geese story. And for Lindsay who offered to send me daffodils and telling me that spiders were good luck:)

Giving Thanks

Last summer, I woke up one night absolutely consumed with horrible itchiness. Upon clicking on the light, I was appalled to see my entire body covered in angry red welts. Hours later, the doctor informed me that they were hives, presumably caused by an allergic reaction to something. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a months long struggle that would change the way that I looked at my body.

First I got scared, then I got organized, then I got mad. The torture became weekly, then sometimes daily, and there was never any readily apparent reason. My lips swelled to Angelina proportion, my limbs were more hives than not, and waistbands and bra-straps became torture devices. After keeping a month long journal followed by a $700 doctors visit at the allergist, I finally got a diagnosis: chronic, idiopathic, auto-immune urticaria. In English: you have hives, we don't know why, but we know that they have lasted longer than 6 weeks and they have no external trigger. Well gee, thanks guys.

What was their suggestion? To take steroids and/or anti-histamines everyday. I resisted this track for a number of reasons: I did not have breakouts everyday, the drugs made me sleepy and/or loopy, I wanted the drugs to really work when I needed them, and I had discovered that taking them daily rapidly reduces their potency. Also, I was still able to function, and could for the most part handle the breakouts.

So what did I do instead? Several things. First, I started taking time each day to be grateful for the miracle of my skin. Think about it: everything that we experience in our life is through our skin, or made possible because we have it. It is absolutely remarkable! The hives themselves were a result of my body trying to protect me, even if the reaction went a little haywire. I took my dad's advice, and instead of slathering foul medicinal creams on my body, whenever I had a breakout I would rub soothing olive oil on the hives and pray for healing with a thankful heart. During those breakouts, I concentrated on calmness, both for my state of mind, and for my skin's reaction.

So guess what - after 6 months of suffering, as soon as I started this new approach, my breakouts rapidly became less bothersome and fewer and farther in between. After a less than a month, they disappeared altogether. It has now been over a 6 WEEKS since I have had a problem - how incredible is that? When my doctor called to check on me last week, she was astonished and happy for my amazing news. So here is my time to give thanks more publicly. I don't take a single day of being hive-free for granted, and I hope to carry that joyfulness with me for a long, long time :)


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is there anything better than a hot shower? All that delicously hot water running down my skin, warming me all the way through, getting that chill out. And the hot air pumping through my house right now, taking the temperature in here up from 60 or below, where it's been since Friday, back up to a civilized 68. I am grateful to all those smart people who figured out indoor plumbing, and water heaters, and central heat and all that great stuff that makes living habitable, even in winter -- even in southern California. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for being in southern CA, I probably wouldn't even have been able to stay in my house all week-end, so hats off to warm, spring week-ends at the beginning of March! And to the plumbers who have restored the gas, so that I can have my hot water, and my heat again. Bravo!

Here's what happened: Friday, standing in the den, with the heat going full blast, I smelled gas. Now, I didn't actually smell the gas itself, because, as we all know, it is colorless and odorless. No, I smelled whatever it is that is now put with the gas so we can smell it when it's leaking all over your house. Which it was. So I called the gas company, and the smell got worse so I turned off the heat. And it still got worse, so I started opening all the doors and windows. So by the end of the afternoon, when the gas guy got here and determined that yes, indeed, there was a pretty humongous leak going on, got to turn the gas off, the house was already cold. I have a pretty loyal plumber, and he tried to get to me Saturday, but with the rain, and a job that turned out to be about 6 times what he expected, he didn't get here. I waved him off for Sunday, it's a day of rest, and then Monday he got hung up, so by the time he got here today, I was really glad to see him. And now I have my heat back, and my hot water, and I cooked my first meal on the stove since last week, and I am feeling so blessed and thankful.

I think of people who don't live where the leak can be fixed and the heat turned on again, who must battle the cold every day of their lives. Or people who get stuck in a winter climate and run out of fuel, either because they can't afford it, or the power gets shut down or whatever. People die that way. And people used to die because gas could be escaping and no one would know until the place blew up. So I am really grateful to whoever had the brilliant idea about making gas "smell", and to those poor souls who gave their lives until someone said, "this isn't right" and went ahead and did something about it. That guy saved my life.

west side gaggle

I was walking into work yesterday, and there was this gaggle of geese perched on top the four story office building where I work, kind of staring me down and honking at me. Despite myself and my typical melancholy mood, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at these geese, which for some reason reminded me of gang members from west side story. It was just so absurd, especially the attitude they were giving off like they were going to break into song and kick my ass for coming near their territory. Anyway, I'm thankful for the occasional absurdity/oddity that breaks the sometimes mundane days.

Just an Apple

I ate an apple today.

It doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary, but it was. Because I tried a little exercise suggested by the great spiritual thinker and doer, Thich Nhat Hanh...I ate the apple "mindfully." This simply means that I gave my attention to the present moment, the task at hand. I paid attention to the act of eating, sat still and noticed each bite. Which is not easy for me...I have gotten into a terrible habit of multitasking while I eat -- watching TV, surfing the web, talking, even driving. I actually can't remember a time when I've eaten in silent stillness. I shove food in my face as an afterthought, often forgetting to give thanks that I get to eat food that is not only beautiful and flavorful, but also plentiful...

Could it be possible that the act of eating food can be an act of true gratitude, of worship? That not only the body is nourished, but also the soul? I have often wondered if the Christian community has misunderstood Jesus' command when he broke the bread at the Last Supper and said "as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, do it in memory of me." I'm not convinced that communion was necessarily just supposed to be a Sunday morning thing -- but instead, perhaps, something we should do with EVERY meal. After all, in the days when Jesus spoke, bread and wine were something enjoyed at every meal...not just special sacrament times. And so, maybe we are to give thanks each time we eat, and remember that we are not just to feed the body, but the soul as well.

And so this brings me back to the apple. After feeling a little silly for sitting and staring at a piece of fruit, I noticed how it looked...perfect and round, like a baseball with a stem. And then, the many colors...not just red, but a yellowish soft red underneath, with a watercolor layer of a deeper red making almost undetectable stripes around the whole. Then there were the tiny yellow freckles dotting the entire sphere, and the long, almost graceful brown stem with a bit of green near the base. On the bottom was the dry brown star-shaped remnants of the blossom that once adorned the tree, before the fruit was born. Beautiful. I took a bite and noticed the sound, not just a crunch, but a crunch and a swish...almost like stepping on snow. Hard and soft together, crisp with a hint of slush. And as I took a rather large bite, a shard like the side of an iceberg broke off into my mouth, melting into juice. Better than any juice from a bottle. Sweet tangy nectar, all the fruits in one -- a little grape, a hint of lemon, a remnant of pear -- all coming together in a symphony of flavor. And that's when the most amazing thing happened -- while I was noticing all that the apple was, I never once remembered to notice my sore throat, or how tired I was, and I didn't have room in my mind with all of my senses so focused to mentally beat myself up for not having been more productive this week.

The dogs watched with intense interest while I sat and ate in silent revelry -- they seemed to think I was enjoying something extra special, and not just an apple. Perhaps I was.


Is there any surer sign that spring has sprung, than a vase full of sunshiney daffodils?! Their long yellow "noses" remind me of Alice in Wonderland cartoon flowers, singing to me as I enter the room. At only a $1.25 a bunch at Trader Joe's, it's a great bargain considering how they fill an entire house with happiness. I wish I could buy the whole country some -- I think everyone would feel much better :)

Gratitude Haiku

The sunset tonight
was like oil and water
salad dressing sky

pale peach underneath
a dense layer of purple
tasty twilight treat

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Golden Statues and Mini Cupcakes

Phew, what a day! Totally exhausted but very happy with a successful baby shower and relaxing Oscars viewing (with lots of couch commentary...Joan Rivers watch out).

I'm very grateful to Ryan and Kara for co-hosting the shower, and letting 15 perfect strangers come over to their place. Sarah was truly touched and I know it will help her get through these last tough weeks until the baby arrives. And how exciting to think we'll meet her daughter soon! A brand new life as spring arrives.

And I'm very excited that my parents will be here in a few weeks as well, it's always such a treat to have them here (thanks Ryan for getting a job!)

I'm also grateful to Cole for being patient as I freaked out about my last-minute party prep, and for assisting me in making the food and cleaning up. Sorry I'm such a freak :)

Last, I'm grateful for moments of inspiration that came in the 3+ hours of the Oscar telecast -- reminders that as tough as it can be, following your dreams can pay off; the John Hughes tribute which made me all sad and nostalgic, but smile when I saw that Brat Pack reunion; and I can't help but be happy that a woman FINALLY won a director's award. About time! Next up, Kara and Lindsay :)

And The Winner Is...

The Oscar goes to... Lindsay for coordinating the BEST baby shower a cousin could ever hope for! I'm not sure how you found the time and energy, but I'm darn grateful you did :). YOU ROCK!

Inside the Fairy House

Today we had a baby shower at our house, filled with the excitement and joy and anticipation of a new life about to enter this world. And it was made all the more fun with the presence of guys, drinking their Guinnesses while the girls drank their mimosas. It was a beautiful day and one of my favorite moments was taking a beautiful and precocious 3 year old girl down to our small garden in back (or as she called it "look, I'm in the jungle!") and introducing her to my tiny brightly colored "fairy house." It's about four inches high, with tiny little windows and a copper roof and an itty bitty door that the fairies can fly through. She was quite disappointed the fairies weren't home to say hello to, and then proceeded to wrap herself around it, thinking that perhaps she could fit if she just tried hard enough. I relished that magical little moment. To her anything was possible, even shrinking herself down to an inch tall if she just closed her eyes and wrinkled her little nose. Watching her made me believe in possibilities I sometimes forget to consider. And from now on, instead of calling it "thinking outside the box" I believe I'm going to start calling it "thinking inside the fairy house."
And in a separate note of gratitude, I have to say how thankful I am that my husband understands me, even when I have little bouts with anxiety or moments of hypochondria or just no reason freak outs, and he is always there, a lighthouse shining through the fog and scary waves I can feel lost in, signalling the way home. And suddenly I'm at peace again, which is magic in a way too.

A spring in my step

What a glorious day the dogs and I enjoyed today. The wind was quite nippy, but the sun was brilliant and the water sparkled invitingly. Maggie did her first flying leap off the dock of the year, and Sadie sunned contentedly on the towel next to my lounge chair. The giant herrings and geese and ducks and robins were all in attendance of our little party, with only my husband missing-sigh.
Looking at the beige grass and leafless trees, it is hard to believe that in another month everything will be full of life and energy again. In the mean time, my tiny seedlings are thriving in their little tray in the house, and I fuss over them daily like a new mother, eager for their leaves to take shape and their wonderful fruits and vegetables to be born. Soon my swim suit will be my uniform, the boat my vehicle of choice, and the southern heat will again blanket the days and make sultry the nights.
Yeah for spring, and new beginnings. Hurry up summer!

Honorable mentions that I am thankful for: baby showers only come every year or so (thank goodness), I am a day away from submitting my first batch of queries to literary agents (trying not to panic), I have so far written 12 more pages of my next book this weekend, and it is rest week for P90x (hip-hip-hooray!)

Somewhere that's Green

I'm thankful for the way the rain makes the hills around us look like Ireland...if you ignore all the houses crammed on the cliffsides and just look at the pretty green grassy parts. I like that they inspire my dreams...not the sleeping kind, but the dreams I dream when I'm awake. Like about the house I will have someday in the country surrounded by green as far as I can see, with flowers and fruit trees and maybe an old stone fence with a view completely unblemished by buildings. Dreams about the family I will have that will make that house a home and how we'll all watch the stars together from a secret spot we've found with the best view of the sky in the whole world and we'll tell stories about how the stars got up there and what they're doing and why they seem to blink and wink sometimes. I'll teach them about how to make little stone piles when you're hiking so you can always remember the way back, and to look out for poison ivy and it's uglier cousin poison oak, and about how you need to start with the kindling first to start a good fire and how s'mores taste best when there's four bars of Hershey's chocolate sandwiching the marshmallow. Yep, I'm thankful that a little rain and some green grass makes me think about all of that.
It also makes me think about how my time stuck in traffic will be doubled, but that's for another blog:)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Playing Dress Up

I'm thankful for a reason to get dressed up every now and then. I love that it still feels good to twirl in a dress just like it did when I was four and I tried it for the first time in my long and ruffly pink and white Easter dress. I'm glad someone invented sequence because it's nice to shine every now and then. And I'm thankful for a sense of humor so that when I am trying to decide which shoe looks better with my outfit and I try one on each foot -- and then get distracted and leave the house wearing two totally different shoes -- I can laugh about it. And not get too upset when everyone else laughs too:)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I've been off sugar for two weeks now and for some reason the withdrawals are just now hitting me full force, so please forgive me if this isn't as eloquent as I'd like, but my mind is feeling a little cloudy with a chance of duh...
I'm thankful that I never got hooked on cigarettes or alcohol or drugs and that the only thing I'm jonesing for right now is about six dozen ho-ho's. I'm thankful that if (and let's face it, when) I fall off the wagon, it's not life and death, I won't lose my home or my job or my relationships like so many other addictions claim. I could have never imagined when I started this journey that the side effect would be empathy. And I am so grateful for it. I realize what a judgemental jerk I've been...what's the problem, just don't buy the cigarettes, just put down the beer -- it's easy. I know now that it is not. If stupid frosted flakes are kicking my butt this hard, I can't imagine how hard it must be to give up things that companies have actually developed to make you need them. So, my hat is off to all of you quitters out are so much stronger than I ever knew.

Old Brushstrokes

I went to the LACMA Art Museum today and saw two exhibits, "Renoir" and "American Stories." I'm grateful that I could get one inch away from these masters' brushstrokes. Hundreds of years separated me from the moment oil touched canvas, and yet they look so real and immediate they still took my breath away. Some pictures had me at hello. Their combination of colors, or the composition, or the subject matter were immediately pleasing. A pretty lady in a hat; a loyal dog; sisters playing the piano. Others were more challenging, made me look closer, deeper. Depictions of war, of famine, of slavery, of people who aren't, well, "pretty". I found some of the tiniest details the most impressive -- HOW could they capture a child's look, or the velvet on a chair, so realistically? How in the world do they get a ruffle to look so...ruffly? Conversely, how do all these seemingly random impressionist blurs -- not "realistic" at all -- give me such a sense of realism of a person or place? I am humbled and awed by it all. But not too grown up to giggle with my girlfriends at some of them -- we totally got the "shush" a bunch of times :)


I'm grateful for pistachio nuts: they have the right amount of work-to-reward ratio which I find important in a snack. Cashews are slutty, very willing to give up the goods. Walnuts are prudes, way too much work to loosen up. But pistachios are great -- a bit of a challenge with an inevitable tasty payoff. A day of sitting around the house in my underwear is made productive by simply eating a few pistachios. I've worked for my food and that's something to be proud of.

Rye Bread and Cauliflower Soup

Last Friday (Friday has become my cooking day) I made Rye Bread and Cauliflower Soup. Oh, man, how scrumpdiddliumptious! I am so grateful for food, especially of the simple and hearty kind.

I used to make bread, years ago, before I had a family, and always liked it, and always wanted to get back to it, but when my kid went off to college I realized how thrilled I was not to have to be cooking all the time, and then the husband moved out, and it was just me, and how much cooking do I want to do for just me? And so it was, until Christmas break, when Christopher came home from his last year of college full of ideas for cooking together. So we made chicken and cheese enchiladas, and had a blast, and made plans for bread but never got to it. And I found after he left that I was enjoying the cooking again, and starting trying out bread recipes. The first time, I left out the salt -- ooh, not so good! Then, I forgot to change the oven from broil to bake, and charred the roof off two loaves. The third batch was a very simple, but uninspiring recipe. Then, I decided to try Deli Rye.

I followed the recipe exactly, letting the sponge rise overnight so it would develop flavor, watching the free form loaves dimple as they spread out on the cookie sheet, so I could get them into the oven and still get an "oven rise". I slashed the tops and painted them with egg white and milk to give them that translucent sheen, cooked them till they were golden brown, and they were not only absolutely stunning, but the best Rye bread I ever ate! My husband agreed, and while he may be biased, he's often biased the other way, so I considered that a true compliment!

So, joy is a perfect loaf of rye bread and a bowl of cauliflower soup (I know, Kara, I still have to send you the recipe!). I'm grateful for rye and caraway seeds, and whoever discovered yeast and figured out how to bake bread. And all those people at Cook's Illustrated, where I got the recipe, who baked loaf after loaf testing different combinations of flour, and risings and caraway and glazes until they found just the right combination, and then explained it well enough that I could follow it and come up with something like what they made! Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Gratitude of Here and Now

The smooth silver clouds have edges
so perfectly smooth
they look like cardboard cutouts
painted by a freshman drama student
in hopes of impressing Miss Most Talented
And I take a hint from my dogs
who seem to think there's nothing else
in the world to do
right now
then to sit and watch the molten metals
streak the sky and snuff out the sun
It lasts a few moments until
Alfie needs his ear scratch very badly
and I notice an errant vine behind him
climbing down the wall
instead of up
forging its own path
but missing the point completely
The sun is up
at least from where I sit
right now
but I suppose it is down for many people
at this very moment
Damn, I've been outsmarted by a vine
who seems to understand relativity
much better than I ever will
And I realize it is cold as the sun sets
and rises
The colors are softer this time of day
quiet, still
I look like I'm trying much too hard
out here
in my highlighter yellow hoodie
sticking out like a neon sign
on a nature preserve
The palm trees rustle with laughter
or maybe it's just the wind
blowing through the here
and now

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shatner's Son

I'm thankful that my husband's hard work and dedication and persistence and talent were rewarded tonight with a roll as TJ Hooker's son! (Look it up, kids;)

Also, I'm thankful for a husband who can be big and manly and tell the guy next door to turn down the bass because our pictures are falling off the wall...

Wait, what was I saying before the Terminator unleashed his fury of machine gun fire into my bedroom wall? Oh yeah -- I'm thankful for reasons to celebrate and people I love to celebrate with:) It's just really good to see someone who deserves it get a win in this town. Take that, Hollywood!

The word "yes"

After hundreds of "no's"... tonight I got "yes". And as grateful as I am to have an amazing job... I'm way more grateful for the unwavering support and love of my wife, my sister, my parents, my family, and my friends. You guys are amazing. Can't wait to introduce you to Captain Kirk :)


Cause for Celebration

I'm grateful for all the talented people in my life, and getting to celebrate their successes with them. We all work so hard in our own ways, and it's hard to actually measure "success"...sometimes it's finishing a difficult project, sometimes it's getting that recipe right, sometimes it's winning the small battles that no one else would notice but those who know and love and support you. We don't always get noticed or rewarded for our little successes, but we need to celebrate them anyway. So tonight, my hats off and my glass is raised to my baby brother. My only sibling, my dearest friend and my partner in crime for oh so many have earned a big HOORAY! and I'm very, very proud of you. xoxo

Living Foot Warmers

Is there anything better than a dog at your feet? If there is, I can't think of what it is at the moment... :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Little Plants

I'm thankful for the little plants I have growing in my kitchen. Weird, I know...but I've never had a green thumb and yet these little guys have lived for over a year, and they make me smile every time I walk into the room. They even make washing dishes bearable. I love how they spill out of the antique tea cups and potters I found at flea marts; I love how resilient they are no matter how little I water them (or the times I definitely give them too much). Thank you, little shoots of green, for making life a little more live-able in the middle of the city :)
I'm thankful that while I was lying in bed with a dumb tummy ache I had a perfect view through my bedroom window of a sunset that rivaled that famous technicolor scene of Gone With the Wind...although if I were shaking my fist at the sky today, my declaration would be something like: "As God is my witness, I'll never take flax seed oil again!"

hockey, eh?

My son and I managed to somehow emotionally exhaust ourselves watching the US/Canada hockey game this weekend. It was crazy -- he was crying and could barely watch, I was jumping up and down and then euphoria hit when the U.S. scored the tying goal with 27 seconds left in the game. Sure, the game ended in overtime won by those "crappy Canadians" (as my son calls them, got to work on the whole cultural respect thing), but who cares? Wisely, my wife had suggested we not watch the overtime so we were happily eating dinner when the bubble burst and the U.S. finally lost. I realize this makes us pretty shallow fans, but it was nice to turn off the TV and just enjoy the excitement of the moment and say screw it to the final outcome. Sometimes a little guilty joy can be found in the occasional sidestep of the harsh truth:)

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