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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pioneer woman

I have learned over the course of the last couple weeks (and the 2 blizzards they brought) that I am much stronger than I thought. I was always glad that I wasn't born in the olden days because I was sure I would've been one of those women who swooned in the parlor and had to carry smelling salts everywhere she went...I have often felt too delicate and even at times just plain weak. But after ripping out the bathroom floor and shoveling several feet off the walkway, caulking the window to keep the melting snow out and carrying bucketloads of demolition trash down the stairs and outside, scraping heaps of snow off the roof and fixing the mailbox by bungee cording it back to its stand after the snowplows knocked it down the street -- I feel like I actually would've made a pretty good pioneer woman. And for that I am very thankful. It's not often you get to change your perception of yourself -- but being tested and finding you can actually ace the test -- well, it's a pretty cool feeling. Of course, now that my hubby is home, I am thankful that he can take over the heavy lifting...I'm strong, but I'm also smart;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I took this picture today and it brings me such joy I just had to share it. It makes me happy for several reasons --
1) I love how the color of the kitchen walls pops out in such a vibrant way
2) I love that I have cards and pictures from people who love me to put up on the fridge
3) I love how fearless my cat Amelie is. She is my hero with her intrepid spirit and I am constantly amazed at how nothing intimidates her. She believes in her core that she is the queen of the universe...and she very well may be. I would like to be more like her -- the way she studies the world with such interest, the way she can never leave a place unexplored, the way she never backs down from what she wants -- all while maintining silky smooth hair:)
4) I love that her new plastic claw covers keep her from ruining the couches -- and how adorable it is that they match the kitchen walls. My cat has a manicure! And she is the only one I know who can get away with green nails:)

Racing Trees

The snow looks like
racing stripes
stretched up the sides
of the slender tress
making them look very fast
like they are only still
when I am looking
just waiting for me to turn away
so they can run free
trees are sensitive to the fact
that we humans are terrified
of the unexpected
but the birds place bets
on the birches
they are not limited to logic
or our species' great need
for things to make sense
of course when I think of it
nothing makes more sense
than trees racing

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bridled Majesty

I just watched the movie SECRETARIAT and I have to say, there are few things that call to mind such unbridled (or bridled;) majesty as a horse at full speed. What an awesome creation horses are -- sculpted so masterfully, with their lean muscles and gorgeous manes, and those large liquid eyes framed in long feathery lashes -- they seem to know exactly what the score is in this world. They are magnificent creatures that I have loved my whole life...from the time I was a little kid and my imaginary horse Orion would walk beside me in the grass, to the times Dad would take me for special trips to go riding across big empty fields for getting all A's on my report card, to all of the countless times I've stood in the fields and walked along fences hoping the horses would come near so I could feed them apples and tell them stories. (Horses happen to be very good listeners.) It doesn't surprise me at all that my ancestors were alleged horse thieves:) I won't be stealing any, but I do hope some day I can have a horse (or ten) of my own. Until then, I will live vicariously through movies that show them in all of their thunderous glory -- and I will rejoice just knowing such beings exists on this earth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Belated Life Lesson

I am also grateful today to have learned a very valuable lesson -- never take a shower in an old house while you are doing laundry. Not sure how I've gone thirty something years without knowing that, but I now know that your shower can suddenly become that dreaded camp shower with no "hot" nozzle in a split second, which is exactly the amount of time it takes to get the shampoo in your hair. Yep, lesson learned:)


I can't believe it's taken me this long to write a joy blog about one of the people who makes me smile on the most regular basis -- Ellen DeGeneres. I can remember being a kid, sitting on my Nana and Papa's thick golden brown rug with the raised shapes (were they diamonds?) watching the giant television encased in shining wood, and somehow, Ellen was on -- I can't imagine I was alowed to stay up late enough to see her on the Tonight show, but since it was Central time and an hour earlier, maybe Mom and Dad let me. Anyway, I remember laughing harder than I'd ever laughed and I was astonished because I never knew there was such thing as girl comics -- and from then on, I was hooked. I watched her sitcom after that and always laughed at her killer delivery and perfect timing. Then when she got her talk show, well, it seemed like just the perfect fit for her and her good-hearted and kind sense of humor, mixed with her humanity and joy at being able to make people happy every day, by dancing or telling jokes or playing silly games, or by changing viewers' lives with much needed gifts. I appreciate her humility and genuine spirit and I think she has the greates theme song of all time -- have a little fun today...give a little love away! I also have a wonderful memory of getting to go to her show for my birthday a few years ago, and the joy in the audience was palpable as we all danced and laughed and had more than a little fun. Oprah gets a lion's share of the press, and has done many good things in the world, and given away alot of great stuff over the years -- but Ellen, Ellen always makes me smile, and that is priceless.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I had a meditative meal night TV, books or radio, nothing to distract me from appreciating the food and my present surroundings...and it was wonderful. Not only did I recognize my love of spinach, but in the flicker of candlelight, I fell even more in love with my quirky little home and it's crooked doors that never close quite right and it's scuffed floorboards with the giant nails embedded in them. I love it's heart-shaped door locks and the old windows that make the outside world look like mirage. I love the tapping of the shutters outside as the wind rushes by and the random creaks deep in the joints of the place. It all points to the lovely fact that this house has really lived, and I'm thankful I get to share in that life:)

Strong to the finich...

Tonight I'm thankful for spinach. I wonder if that sentence has ever been uttered before? Perhaps by Popeye:) I used to hate the stuff, but now I love it -- in a salad with walnuts and cranberries, mixed up in mac & cheese, scrambled with eggs and mushrooms...yum! It's a good thing too, because for a mostly vegetarian (darn you scallops, you magnificent mollusks!) spinach is a great source of iron and all kinds of other good things. So I'm glad that along with fine wine and stinky cheeses, I have finally acquired a taste for it. Perhaps there's hope for Brussels sprouts after all:)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


How strange that Clive
chose the White Witch
as his villain
I could never see anything
but goodness and blessing
in the earth as it is reflected
through a multitude of crystals
Winter would surely be the heroine
in my book
as her cold fingers gently prod us
to gather together
shoulder to shoulder
huddled in our humanity
around fires and traditions
as much for warmth
as for connection
and so she ushers in a time for Spirit
both holiday and brewed
as well as the kind that you find
when you are stripped bare
to the core
she makes us remember
only what is necessary
sturdy bark, deep roots
Watch as she causes peace
to drop soft and slow
from the heavens
reminding the whirling world
to be still
as she tucks us under
a blanket of pure silence
it is the Sabbath of the year
time to rest
Winter whispers
and the creek slows
saving its strength
for the rush of spring
but that is a long way off
no need for hurry now
she knows this is a time of gestation
things growing in the darkness
hidden but present
just beneath the surface
Winter is the queen of what is unseen
as she makes time for Creation
to do its work in secret
Winter is no gossip
she knows the virtue
of a sweetly sustained
listen and you can be
a keeper of the secret too

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christmas in January

What joy! I had a Christmas in January moment today and it was wonderful. All of my held and forwarded mail finally came and I had a big old stack of Christmas cards and two, count 'em, TWO of my very favorite postcard stories by Jack Cobb. It was so amazing to get them all at a time where I could truly take the time to appreciate them -- and to see them all at once in a stack, well it made my heart swell at least three sizes:) Usually when Christmas cards come in the flurry of the season when you're worrying about the cards YOU still have to send and the presents you have to buy and the travel plans you have to make... they can get lost, or just glanced over. But today I luxuriated in them...took in each smiling face, drank in each wish for "Love" and "Merry merry", and just made sure to say a little prayer of thanks for each person in my life that I am lucky to call my friend. Thank you all for the postal hugs:)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

freight train

breath like a freight train
steady puffs of steam float by
in the frigid air

Mighty (Loud) Thor

Tonight I am very thankful for Thor. That is the name that I have given to my steam heat, because when he's on, he sounds like he's banging all the pipes in the house with a giant thunderous hammer. And while he makes a heckuva ruckus -- he does the job and keeps me warm and toasty. Which is a good thing when the temperature gets a bad attitude and goes all negative. It used to startle me, but now it makes me happy to hear him down there in the basement, doing his job, just hammering away.


Tired. So. Tired. And so thankful that the bathroom my sister and I demoed and renovated is clean and new and ready for finishing touches. We were astounded when we found original hardwood floors under the old linoleum and layer of tar and plywood -- and we're very glad we pulled it up because we were able to pull out some rotting wood that we never would've seen. I guess sometimes it takes hard work to cut through all the rotten stuff and get to the really good stuff. I send all of my respect for people who do such backbreaking work for a living...I am certainly NOT cut out for manual labor. But I'm proud of the work we've done -- and very happy it's over now! I may sleep until noon. Who am I kidding, I may sleep until Thursday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Giggles and pastries

I'm thankful for uncontrollable giggle fits that only my sister can send me into, the kind that makes everyone around us stop and stare wondering what in the world could be so gosh darn funny. And the great thing is, we could never explain it -- even if we tried, because the truth is, it's everything and nothing all at once!
I'm also grateful that today we discovered the world's greatest little pastry/cookie today called a Sarah Bernhardt -- a macaroon topped with rich chocolate mousse and then dipped in milk chocolate??? YES, PLEASE. I have officially fallen off the no sugar wagon -- I fell off it, rolled down a powdered sugar hill, skidded into a rice crispy thicket, swished across a caramel river and flew face first into a chocolate lake. Don't even bother to throw me a life saver:)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


My sister is heeere!!! Tomorrow's her birthday and we're gonna paint the town pink;) We already got asked to go to a summer dance party by some guy in the restaurant at lunch, and though we're totally not going to go, it felt nice to be asked:) For any of you who do not know my sister, she is my hero. You can check out her blog under my favorites -- it's called Have Your Cake and Read It Too. Now if you'll excuse me, we've got some Oprah to watch and some hot chocolate to drink!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Little dutch girl

I'm thankful I finally figured out how to plug the leaks in my bedroom window after a day filled with mopping up water with a truckload of towels! Of course, after using an entire box of rope caulk, my window frame now looks like a kindergartner's art project:) But I don't care -- I'm warm and dry and that makes me happy. I'm also grateful that there are professionals coming in the morning to fix it properly!

Monday, January 17, 2011

In appreciation of lemons

Joy is not always a Pollyanna sunshine and rainbows thing (although Pollyanna is a hero of mine, just for her sheer will, her determined CHOICE to see the good in things -- and it is a choice.) Joy is a deep, spiritual, hard earned thing. It is being grateful beyond measure for having made it through the darkest storms of life -- or if you're in the darkest storms, it is gratitude in knowing that you have made it through before, and you will again. Joy is raw. Joy is faith in action. It is tenacious. It is a pit bull that grabs onto the limb of goodness on the tree of life and locks its jaws so it can't let go, no matter what. Joy is not dumping a bunch of sugar onto the sour lemons of life to make lemonade -- it is about learning to appreciate the lemons in a different way. I love lemons for their bright, beautiful color and the smell of their zest, how it awakens the senses! They might taste terrible on their own, but what depth they can bring to otherwise bland dishes -- how they brighten flavors with their tang, and even bitterness. The Chinese have a word for it -- Chi ku -- "to eat bitterness" -- meaning to endure hardship. And for me, that means to allow yourself to experience the lemon for what it is, and then to find a way to use it as an ingredient in your life as a whole -- allow it to enliven your sense of gratitude and awaken the joys of what is sweet in your life and what is good.
Also, they can be used as lovely decorations...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

simple masterpiece

I am grateful and humbled to have witnessed this in my backyard today...

ink dipped ears twitching
liquid eyes large and trusting
simple masterpiece

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pretty in pink

I made the somewhat controversial decision to paint my office PINK...and I LOVE it!! Not only do I love the color (so warm and cheerful) but I feel a joyful pride in having painted it myself. I actually enjoyed painting the room...the whole process felt more like a form of meditation than manual labor. Maybe I'll paint it a new color every month! And now that I've worked on my office, I suppose I should start to work in it...:). Hooray for new paint and new inspiration!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queen of the Mystic

I found a ring when I was a kid
under the navy and peach floral couch
in the room my mom designated as
"for guests only"
which meant sometimes
when no one was looking
I would crawl in on hands and knees
with feet bare not only to protect
the velvety silver carpeting
but to revel in its unspoiled plushness
and it was in one of these
moments of revelry
while I was making imaginary snow angels
with light and dark swishes of the fibers
beneath my feathery limbs
that I first caught a glimpse of the magic
and when I put it on my finger
the colors changed in the light
flashing from blue to green to pink
beneath the smooth pale oval gem
the ring looking very much
like a princess in reverse
a crown wearing a head
instead of the other way around
and it was then that I named myself
the Queen of the Mystic
long before I ever knew of Van Morrison
and his modern minstrel tunes
and his tales of slipstreams and gypsy souls
of course it is possible
that my dad might have sang them to me
while pushing the bright orange stroller
that was once my trusty carriage
and however the moniker came to be
this morning I was christened by it anew
as I spyed a lone doe lingering
near the frosty pond
the opalescent snow flush with dawn
the colors changing in the light
flashing from blue to green to pink
and my thumb reached up to feel
the place where a magical ring
first graced me with the power of belief

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Poop boots

Tonight while I was cleaning the dog poop off the bottom of my husband's boots and scraping it out of every crack and crevice of the chunky thick souls, the name of the boots took on a whole new meaning -- UGG!!!
Anyway, it made me laugh:)

Won't you be my neighbor

There are still real live NEIGHBORS in the world! What an amazing discovery! The nearly 80 year old man down the street used a snow blower to clear our road for us this morning, and the next door neighbors came over to give us a care package of wine and cheese and bread, while a friend's mother made homemade lentil soup for us:) We returned the favor by helping a college girl on her way home to dig out of a snow drift when her SUV got stuck outside of our house. It felt equally as good being neighborly as it did receiving the neighborly hospitality. I am going to make it a goal to try and be more outgoing to the people around me this year. My sister is always amazing at arranging neighborhood get togethers, and I would like to take a cue from her. Seems like our lives are so busy, and so technologically distracted that we forget there are living breathing good people all around us that we could reach out to -- to help dig them out of the proverbial snow drifts and to share some good cheese and wine from time to time. I can hear Mister Rogers singing right now:) I'm thankful for Mister Rogers and all the people like him who try to make the little worlds around them a better place with friendship and love.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Tonight I'm thankful for a new birthday tradition -- eating dessert at a Mexican restaurant (with an actual sparkler in it instead of a lame old candle) while wearing a sombrero the size of Saturn's rings. Made me feel like I was ten years old -- and that was a fun feeling:)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I spent the day as Cinderella -- literally -- I spent hours scrubbing the cinders from my brick fireplace. After two soapy buckets had been turned to thick back sludge, the bricks were finally clean enough to paint. I took great pride while I was painting, putting my stamp on my home and making part of it look so pretty -- but I'll tell you, there's a reason they call it backbreaking work! I stood up after hours bent over and on my knees and it definitely took it's toll. That's why I was so freaking excited when I finally collapsed into bed and while looking for some hand lotion I found a forgotten CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TURTLE! It was better than finding ten bucks in my pocket or the lost city of El Dorado itself. The golden caramel and rich dark chocolate were such a delightful taste treat I nearly danced for joy. I'm thankful that hard work makes you appreciate the small joys that much more...and I'm thankful that I swiped the chocolate treat at Christmas, put it in a baggie for later, and then forgot about it until the time I needed it most. Yes, I said needed -- shelter, water, clothing and CHOCOLATE:)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So much we could learn

a seraph of snow
fallen on a feathery fir
gathers individual crystals
together in celebration
earthbound passengers
making their way
to the promised land
celestial showers sewn into
a single solid mantle
making all things new
nature's perfect parable
of that lofty human aim
the flakes fall and flock
clumping and congregating
until they melt into each other
there is so much
we could learn from snow

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I know I've written many times about my dogs, but I can't help it -- this is a joy blog, and they are a constant source of joy for me. The cacophony of noises they produce on a daily basis never ceases to make me giggle, especially Pippin's impression of a 600 pound man when he snores and Alfie's squidges. Squidging is what we have named the noise that Alfie started making after he had to have his back tooth pulled -- it's a strange and hilarious sucking/clicking noise that he makes when he sucks air in through the hole where the tooth used to be. I know it sounds gross, but it's actually quite endearing, like a little old man with dentures. Yep, with the burps and groans and snores and sniffs and rooroos and lips smacks and happy sighs there's not much quiet to be had around here, but it's all a sweet symphony to me:)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Safe Travels

I am thankful for safe travels and that miraculously, somehow, in 60 hours and 3200 miles of driving, we didn't see ANY precipitation. Nary a flurry or a flake or a drop. Just brilliant blues and firey oranges and deep violet and velvety black specled with stars. Amazing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Proud big sister

It's quite a special joy to witness the transformation from smelly-cast-wearing-dorky-little-brother to kind-gentle-father-with-an-awesome-sense-of-humor. Tonight I watched as the aforementioned little brother was the dad sitting in the front row of his son's basketball practice, an awesome example of just being there. And then later in the evening, he pulled his daughter's tooth with confidence and a smile that were so reassuring she didn't even think to cry -- and well, I almost cried at the sheer beauty of it. I am blessed beyond words to have been born the big sister to two incredibly inspiring siblings. I hope I grow up to be like both of them some day:)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Joyful New Year!

I kept thinking of an Anne of Green Gables quote all day and it sums up pretty well how I feel about starting a brand new year,
"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
Yep, a new year without any mistakes in it yet. Sky's the limit this year and the possibilities, well I could burst with excitement wondering about what new joys lie ahead. I even made resolutions this year. I never make resolutions. But for some reason, shaking of the muddy old slush of 2010 and diving into the perfect soft fluffy white new fallen snow of 2011 makes me feel like I just want to lie in it and make angels:)
So today I'm thankful for a new year and the possibilities it brings.
I'm also thankful for my Dad, because it's his birthday, and because his laughter is one of my favorite things in the world -- and he did alot of it today. I could always pick his laugh out of the audience when I was doing plays in high school, and then when I was much too cool, I would move a few rows away from him in the movie theater because I was embarrassed at how hard he laughed -- but now, well, I wish I could bottle it for stormy days, because it would brighten them right up. I'm grateful that my whole family was able to celebrate together this year for the first time in at least a decade. I loved laughing our butts off when my brother finally lit all of the candles on the cake and then went to blow out the match and blew out all of the candles instead. We rolled with laughter over cards and gifts and stories and capped it off with some good old AFV. I also got a pretty good chuckle out of my pragmatic little niece who told me she found a white feather in her mom's car, and when I asked her if she thought it came from a fairy or an angel, she looked at me like I was a complete idiot and said flatly "feathers come from birds." Don't know why, but it killed me. My brother keeps telling her that she was born in Narnia and she stomps her feet and explains to him for the hundredth time that Narnia isn't real. I look forward to the day that she discovers it is...:)