~rainbow mondays~ reflect

We’ve reached the end of the rainbow for 2020 so I’ve rounded up the last photos of the year.

Two days of perching on my whale watching rock produced one whale, and many rainbows.

Roses were blooming for Christmas again!

A few of these were taken to document how high the bayou rose during our recent big rain! The handsome, bearded man in the photo has spent nine years with me and 2020 has kept me mindful of how lucky I am!

Black oystercatchers

Harbor seal

Snowy egrets! I have never seen them flying in formation before!

Moon on the bayou above, and sunrise on the bayou below. One year ends and a new year begins – always a time for reflection, and possibly even more than usual this time around. It is a time I think we will look back on and with the clarity of time passing, be able to see how we grew. It was painful growth, full of a grief that somehow made me more grateful. I never announced a word for 2020, though back in the beginning of the year when I was meditating on mediocrity, I did have the lightness of butterflies in mind, the flux of tides and cycles. My concrete goals for the year were to grow more flowers for butterflies and a few purple vegetables, to go to the beach more and drink more tea, to not try to be everything for everybody. I did not envision that this extreme contraction of our lives, this hunkering down into self is the context in which I’d be carrying out these goals. One of the things I’d like to remember for this year is finding out that going inward allowed me to, paradoxically, expand in ways I wouldn’t have guessed. Though very much still cocooned, I believe I am emerging in new and exciting ways.

I have not arrived at a word for 2021 yet, though there is something resonating for me with navigation, with orienting. Discerning the best course to steer my little ship. I’m not sure what that’s about yet, or where I’m going with it (ha!) but I think there will be time to figure it out as the year starts to unfold.

violets are purple

roses are pink

they just call violets blue

because it’s hard to rhyme with purple, i think.

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

tender and mild

 

I am placing this image of nine-years-ago Quinn drawing a whole bunch of baby dinosaurs “standing on the floor of the egg” here to signify that there’s a lot of writing going on, gestating behind the scenes. The sun ball lamp might be my egg incubator, and I am waking up early to keep up with the words that bubble to the surface after each long winter’s nap.

I do not want to neglect my blog, and it seems like just the venue to wish happy holidays to all, from here at a safe social distance. I considered using this as my holiday card:

but then I realized I don’t have my stuff together enough to send cards. It was just a snapshot of another “one of those days” that we have all had approximately 365 too many of this year.

It’s the end of 2020 now. I usually choose a song lyric each year, but there isn’t a “bleak and weary” Christmas song, so I chose tender and mild. It’s been mild leading up to Christmas, cold but clear, so we got to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, almost. A few days before, and two days after, above the melted sorbet horizon. The word tender certainly fits how our hearts are feeling – battered, bruised, sore, vulnerable.

The holidays are serving as an anchor point for some in a year that has felt awash in a swirling sea of time: You Are Here. For me, these holidays are so bizarrely different that they do not serve me that way exactly. I have calibrated time for myself according to the signs of seasons even more than usual during 2020. The nesting robins placed me squarely in spring, while the nest is now filled up with curled, brittle leaves, so I know we’re closing in on winter. Mushrooms, even, helped me orient, and I don’t know the first thing about them. Yet, just seeing them popping up all around me secured me into autumn. Thinking of their work beneath the surface of things to make available in the soil what the forest needs to absorb next year is a sustaining thought.

To no one’s surprise, I took myself to the edge of the world to perch on a rock and try to find a migrating whale. I did find one (the white puff in the upper left, above). Moving along at a good clip, but paradoxically, for me it was another anchor, another sign to mark the season. The gray whales are headed south to celebrate fecundity and renewal, to circle around newborns, tender and mild, in warm lagoons.

(Laguna San Ignacio 2001)

I hope these photos from an adventure long ago to said lagoons will make you smile, finding you snug and healthy in your homes for the holidays.

(Laguna San Ignacio 2001)

Merry Christmas friends!

 

~thankful thursday~ popcorn seeds

11/26/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 26

I am grateful to still be feeling the considerable benefits of this gratitude practice, nearing the end of year five! This year more than any other, it is clear to me that I don’t have to feel great to feel grateful… but purposely cultivating gratitude does help me feel better. I think I will still close out this year’s 30 day challenge feeling like the bedraggled flower I was when I began, but I will also have set aside a good stash of seeds for next season. As for today specifically, I’m grateful for a yummy nourishing meal, a daylight walk in the woods with Rich, some good music, and a piece of pecan pie waiting for me.

 

11/27/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 27

I am grateful for good men. It is a gratefulness saturated with grief today. I am listening to the good man I am married to talking to his Aunt on the phone to let her know her brother, his father, passed away today. My father-in-law was the wonderful man responsible for raising the wonderful man I love. I am so sad, and wanted to let tonight be a moment of silence, but I decided to google gratitude and grief… and here is what Brené Brown says:

“Gratitude is vulnerability. I’ve had the honor of sitting across from people who have survived tremendous things. No matter what the trauma was, they said: “when those around me are grateful for what they have, I know they understand the magnitude of what I’ve lost”. So often we’re afraid to be grateful for what we have because we think it’s insensitive to those who have lost. However I think gratitude, in some ways, is healing for people.”

I always loved to be the one to make Bob a cup of coffee or pop open a beer for him, on the extremely rare occasions he’d indulge in either one. Tonight we toasted him using the glasses he gave us, and I imagine some popcorn will be popped in his honor in the next couple of days. (Yet another divine thing he is responsible for teaching my husband.) I’m posting one of my favorite photos of our dads from our wedding. I am so very grateful for the memories we get to carry forward with us, of this good man.

 

11/28/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 28

I am grateful for the solace of our backyard.

 

11/29/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 29

I am grateful for light. Back to church we went today, and this time the sun crested like a wave over the ridge, poured itself through great cylindrical columns into the coral reef of fungus arrayed across the layers of ancient trees, and sublimed in droplets from tiny jellyfish mushrooms swimming up a tree limb.

 

11/30/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 30

I can tell that the gratitude challenge has had its intended effect on me again this year, because day 30 whizzed right by me without even thinking about writing a post, but was still a day in which grateful thoughts crossed my mind numerous times. I have tried to make a point over the last few years to remind myself that gratitude is not a class I’m taking for a grade, but I really feel that not showing up on the last day of class proves that I’m absorbing this lesson.

If I had a theme this year it might be the seeds of gratitude planted in the gratitude garden, and how they are an investment in my future nourishment. Whenever I notice and appreciate the snuggly kitty on my lap, the warmth emanating from the wood stove, or my hardworking husband coming home from work, it’s another seed in the seed bank. These dormant spirals of potential, storing an idea for next year, waiting it out through the harsh conditions of winter. So many adaptations to fly, float, cling, catapult, shake, or shatter, to make sure they deliver on the promise of future abundance. Many kinds of seeds require a little hardship to germinate when conditions become hospitable for growth; a freeze, some scarring, a soak in some acid, a trip through an animal gut, smoke exposure, or even trial by fire.

Somehow this fire-tested emblem of tiny, vulnerable faith, whispering its wisdom of diversity, became the mascot of gratitude 2020 and that’s just how this magic seems to work.

All of that to say, today I am grateful for nachos for dinner. Thanks for joining me y’all!

~thankful thursday~ hallowed

11/19/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 19

I am grateful my husband gives me assignments when he knows I am feeling blue, to go outside with my camera. Otherwise, I may never have noticed that spiders build webs in clothespins. I am grateful for date night takeout and not having to cook dinner. I am grateful for the reflections shimmering on the bay, the moon slipping out from behind its veil as it followed us, and the surprising coating of hail around one curve of the bay road. It’s easy to feel grateful on Thursdays.

11/20/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 20

I am grateful for hope.

11/21/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 21

Today I am grateful that my husband bought me a heated shirt, and that he reminded me it might be a good day to wear it at farmer’s market. He bought it back when I used to spend hours at a time in a 2 degree C cold room siphoning carefully around Arctic cod embryos, and it was a game changer in my life on the same level as the sun ball. (Cold/dark are not my happy places have we talked about this?) I was so happy to push the power button on my shirt after the initial hustle to get the booth set up was over and it was time to stand in one place where I’d need my extremities to continue to function in order to punch calculator buttons. Continue to function they did! Also, the sun was especially shiny today and I am grateful for that excellent light, in addition to warmth.

11/22/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 22

It has been eight years and eleven months since Rich first talked to me about watching the sunrise while out in the forest cutting firewood… and today we celebrated by taking a drive out to the forest to cut firewood! I didn’t lift a finger, but instead hiked around the surrounding area with my camera, finding fungus in all colors and sizes, and admiring the stumps of the original old growth trees that once presided over the area. These stumps had seen fire long ago, and the moss and lichen layers now knit variegated green tapestries across the charred black canvas. My favorite aspect of the fantastically gigantic stumps was that they each had some sort of window or archway or dome built into them, and each one now housed a hollowed out center – or maybe more accurately, a hallowed space. I peeked through the windows, positioning myself where I could gaze upward through them at the stained glass effect made by the trees and sky, but I did not enter each cathedral, fearing I’d drop down into some underground root system catacomb never to be heard from again. As I circumnavigated each stump, I would inevitably end up on my knees, photographing the tiny mushrooms juxtaposed against such immensity, marveling at the poetry of the whole thing. Rich watched a half dozen elk glide through the ravine from his vantage point, and when he was done filling the truck, he met me down by the stream that coursed for stretches out in the open, then snuck underneath the spongy moss-covered layers of old decomposing timber. Eight years and eleven months ago, Rich and I concluded that we have the same idea of how to go to church on Sunday, and I am grateful we got to spend our morning doing just that together.

 

11/23/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 23

So much to be grateful for, like a brother phone call, a super quick and friendly grocery pickup (I had my book with me…), a kitty perched sideways on his tower, a pastel rainbow halo around the moon as its reflection in the swamp water looked like a shiny egg in a nest of twig shadows, then hovered in just the perfect pocket between tree limb silhouettes on a bayou walk, in the periwinkle sky as our after work walks inch closer to dusk. Scattering more seeds in the gratitude garden.

 

11/24/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 24

I am belatedly posting a Tuesday post again, because between actually having lab work to do again, and the third session of my writing workshop, I ran out of both time and words. It’s funny because with how I am fairly stewed in words by the end of a workshop session, I simply cannot form sentences. Then this morning my brain woke up at 4:40 with words, but they were for the workshop piece, not the gratitude post! I joked today that I will dedicate my first book to the sun ball which is 100% responsible for me being a born again morning person. I am grateful both for work and workshops, and that my gainful employment brings me up close to creatures such as cod #9436, pictured here looking out from the swim tunnel (think fish treadmill). Of all the years to have been learning so much about respiration, a year characterized by so many horrific examples of struggling to breathe. I am learning all kinds of things about how cold water fish like #9436 breathe, and how they struggle to breathe in water that is too warm. I am grateful to use my dimensional analysis skills hard won in freshman Chemistry class, to still keep trying to save the planet.

 

11/25/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 25

Today I am grateful that on my way to put my fish through its paces, I arrived on the scene of a rainbow shining brightly over the ocean.

~rainbow mondays~ among

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

~thankful thursday~ caterpillar care

 

11/12/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 12

After I posted, I wondered if speaking of placentas yesterday made anyone uncomfortable. I’m not apologizing, but I would like to say for myself that I’ve never honestly had any squeamishness about such things and sometimes forget other people do. I blame my Dad, who called me out to the barn to help deliver any calf that was stuck (or breach, or twins), and we were a good life-bringing, life-saving team. Placentas have always been a part of my surroundings, familiar and sacred.

Mom called today to tell me Dad is spending the night in the hospital tonight. Everything will be fine, but he passed out and his heart rate dropped a scary amount when they put in his IV for a routine procedure he was supposed to be having. I am feeling very grateful tonight for the quick response of the health care workers who were by his side, and those who rushed in until he was completely surrounded. By the time I talked to Mom, he had eaten dinner and napped and was ready to leave, but they convinced him to wait until after the EKG.

When I was driving today I swerved to avoid a rabbit on the highway, and I am grateful I did not hit it. I was coming home from feeding my fish, which is not that different, in my mind, than the work I grew up doing around the farm. I developed the right muscle groups for hauling buckets of water around, for sure, and caring for animals is in my veins. I am grateful my Dad made me do all those farm chores, so grateful that he is okay, and immensely grateful for the medical team who are making sure of that.

 

11/13/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 13

Grateful. (In photos today.)

 

11/14/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 14

I am grateful for my farm, and my farm crew. At the end of our veggie day, four women stood in a parking lot and decided that word of our farm stand’s new rainy day location had happily spread “faster than corona.” A remarkably steady trickle of our regular customers came and stocked up on soup ingredients. And they told two friends, and they told two friends… we figured people were ecstatic to have some good news to pass on, so they did. Gratitude is a wonderful ingredient to add to November cooking, and I came home with a good-sized bundle of it.

 

11/15/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 15

I am grateful for a little time in person today, hiking with my kid. With the increasing COVID numbers, he stayed even farther away from me than our last few biweekly hikes, but he did agree to come. Our first pandemic hike back in June was the subject of the essay I wrote and ended up submitting for the writing workshop I am attending, in which I observed that, “Wandering in a wilderness area together all day is unlike our hour-long video calls in all ways, but most acutely in that I am positioned beside the waterfall of his imagination like I have not been in months. The story comes spilling forth of a pod of whimsical dragons hatched out of colorful eggs…”

Today the waterfall of imagination poured out a quest in which I was meant to establish a civilization in a landscape he vividly described, then challenged me to decide where and how to build shelter, how to best provision myself with food, how to build tools with the various materials available to be gathered. He came up with a name for these “Talking Games” when he was very small, and still likes to play them now that he is very big. In the game, I set out on a hunting mission like any good Oregon Trail generation kid would do, but the story took a left turn and instead, I ended up finding a rare white deer who healed the deer I had speared, licking its wound until it closed, and then became my companion when I fed it a magical root and vowed to never hunt its kin again.

On our biweekly hike, we are not going for any speed or distance records. Instead, he stops to look at each caterpillar crossing the path. When this occurs on the dirt road before we get to the trailhead, he helps them to the edge. He uses his walking stick to move them, waiting for them to climb onto it, and then moves them to safety.

Today I am grateful for the kids who care about caterpillars.

 

11/16/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 16

I’m grateful for gratitude. It’s usually around this time in the month that I feel grateful for gratitude, I think (and I’m not fact-checking that because it’s bedtime). I really did not think it would be the same as other years, because it isn’t like the other years in any other way. I am filled with a multitude of emotions, and nothing at all is simple. But I am warm, (relatively) safe, content, loved. Having retreated into my home, I find it is a place within which I can expand, rather than a place of confinement. I think this snail from October might agree to be my mascot tonight, since I don’t have any photos of my rare white deer. I’m also grateful for the bunches of you nice people bothering to stop scrolling and connect for a moment.

 

11/17/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 17

Today I am thankful for the refuge I find in nature. It can be as simple as the hummingbirds buzzing Rich’s head as he leaves for work, the apricot-lit reflection of a cloud in the water we walk down to every day, a pinecone colonized by tiny mushrooms, or a newt comically toppling off the side of a large spruce root we had just stood watching it laboriously climb. It’s the little things. It’s also the big things; the wind bathing us in fresh air after a year in which breathing has become much more sacred, the eagle dancing above the rainbow-glazed waterfall at the low-tide-without-storm-during-daylight I enjoyed solo the other day, a unicorn of a tide this time of year, with rainbow sprinkles on top.

 

11/18/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 18

Elements are often a favorite theme Quinn explores in his Talking Games. He is inspired by games like Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, D&D, and many of the book series he has devoured throughout his childhood. He favors forest/tree/leaf/grass types himself, and we recognize as a family that I am of the water element, while Rich is of fire. I have always loved the phrase that someone is “in their element,” and I love to be around a person in that state, soaking up (see? Water) whatever I can learn from them. The person on my mind today is my father-in-law, whose element is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Rock. He embodies this element in his steadfast, stable personality, his imperviousness to pain, his unwavering faith, his matter-of-factness when going about chores, and when he is in his element, he can be found tumbling, grinding, polishing, and sawing through rocks. Each of the few visits we have shared have been gems. On our last visit to Oklahoma, he gave me a lapidary lesson, and it was a highlight of our time together. Today I am grateful for Bob.

~

Postscript for those reading it on the blog…

Both Dads could use prayer. Dad Rew is home and healthy and repairing things, but is awaiting test results and answers so please keep him in your thoughts. Dad Hicks is in the hospital just days after Dad Rew, and we would appreciate all good thoughts/chants/prayers heading towards Oklahoma on his behalf.

~thankful thursday~ seed bank

11/5/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 5

I have kept a gratitude journal for much of 2020. It helps me in November, and this year I needed help in all the other months. I was also looking ahead with some awareness that this November might not be my finest hour either, and thought of it as an investment, but it’s not really money in the bank I’m picturing. More like a seed bank, like I was putting away seeds from the flowers I grew this summer, knowing I would need to have the memory of past flowers and the hope of future flowers tucked in a safe place in order to get through the flowerless days. In July I recognized this, and was grateful for, “this garden of gratitude I am growing, one which will be able to be visited in November and harvested from when I may not have enough of what is in season.”

A few of the summer seeds I collected in my bank:

7-12

Hummingbird having a snack of crocosmia while the sprinkler was watering the terrace garden, and then resting on the flower stem to have a little shower before taking off again.

8-27

Pulled over on Otter Crest Loop overlook and took pictures of the beautiful blue ocean, trees, rocks, Queen Anne’s lace. Whales came by to say hello.

9-1

The smell of fifty pounds of beautiful peaches ripening in the kitchen.

9-3

Egrets wading in the bay as we drove the bay road home for date night pizza night. Their reflections in the blue, blue water (so nice and sunny) were just stunning.

9-5

Having enough energy to chop two ziplock bags of peppers for the freezer and can nine pints of fresh chopped heirloom tomatoes in rainbow colors, the urgent care variety I salvaged from the compost bin at market. One green zebra tomato (with one tiny squashed shoulder) the size of my head filled two pints with one more chopped piece leftover… one pink damsel that was about the same size (with one hole poked in it from another stem)! By tomorrow these would have been slumping with mold. Some beautiful vegetables are so vulnerable that it defies all pragmatism to try to bring them home, but I do it anyway, to honor the farming wrought, against all pragmatism, to bring them into being.

9-17

Walk on the beach- a fun egg case, a new nudibranch, and the whole place to myself since I arrived at dawn in the fog. Just what I needed.

Date night. Always.

11-5 today:

Speaking of date night, it is date night once again… modified for the times we inhabit, but we still observe this weekly tradition. I am grateful my love didn’t look at my tenderness, my propensity to fall to pieces, and decide I was too vulnerable, grateful that he defied all pragmatism and brought me home anyway. Grateful for the gratitude seed bank today.

11/6/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 6

I am grateful for the tiny bird that visited my window this morning, when the sun came out (grateful for the sun). I did not think I would get any photos but this little guy really wanted to check out what was going on in our living room, and kept lurking long enough for camera retrieval, and even after Lisa kitty wandered over and settled herself down to watch the nature channel. (The bird did decide to depart when Bart panther-pounced up beside Lisa.)

I am no birder, but my Sibley guide said it might be a Ruby-crowned kinglet. They would like our spruce trees, and would be coming down out of the treetops this time of year to migrate, possibly. When I first saw this bird’s head, I thought it could have bashed its head on the window and been bleeding. No, it was a little more red violet than red, so maybe it had smashed one of my last few raspberries on his head (DIY raspberry beret?) and finally I got a good enough look to realize it was the actual color of the feathers. (Parsimony would have helped me here.)

I later discovered that the scientific name of this little bird is Regulus calendula, and, of course this magical creature would be named after a star and a flower. Not just any star… the first schooner bunk I slept in on my first semester at sea was also named Regulus. And not just any flower… calendula, one of the only things still blooming in my flower pots in November, a botanical healer, an edible salad topping, and of which quinn asked me as a toddler, “are you going to put calend-u-willa on that owie to feel it better?”

Basically, this little bird might as well have started singing to me, “you belong among the wildflowers, you belong on a boat out at sea, far away from your trouble and worry…”

So it was an easy choice today, though happy nacho day to those celebrating (we’re out of avocados, such bad form! We all know I will be grateful for nachos other days this month!)

11/7/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 7

I am grateful that a woman can hold the office of the vice president of this country, and not just in theory anymore, but in reality.

What it’s like for me personally, is I’m just now realizing how much it matters to me. I have been thinking for a while, like since maybe a little over four years ago, of how it matters to little girls everywhere, watching, listening, absorbing, that women be trusted with positions of power, but it hit me tonight that, as Quinn pointed out to me one time, I was once a girl. Tonight, hearing our Vice President-elect say, “I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” was the moment I could no longer hold back tears. The other thing this election outcome is like, for me personally, is like the time when I was leaving an abusive relationship and I was having a panic attack that I had almost forgotten to get some of his tools out of the vehicle we had shared, and my guy friend who was helping me pack my U-haul told me, “MB, someday, someone is going to say nice things to you.”

I’m getting pretty used to the person I’m married to saying nice things to me all the time, I mean it’s pretty relentless, all the nice things he says, and does. Also, when I showed up wildly unprepared for cold rain and gusting wind at farmer’s market today (pretty sure I’m not the only one with some of my ducks not in a row this week), I was so grateful for his XL hooded sweatshirt (and the fishing community who keeps him supplied with F/V swag from all the boats he works so hard to build and repair every day) stowed in the back of the car, which nested nicely atop my size M sweatshirt and kept me warm for the whole day.

I am grateful to be able to look forward to having a president very soon who, when he speaks, will not trigger memories of years of emotional abuse. A nice aside is that the President-elect is the very guy who wrote the legislation that enabled me to get a restraining order when I needed one. America, get ready, because someday soon, someone is going to say nice things to you.

11/8/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 8

I am grateful for the glorious weather today as my honey and I made our annual honey pilgrimage to obtain our four-gallon bucket of gold. I am grateful for the fully stocked chest freezer and pantry heading into the season of slow cookers and staying in. I am grateful for the way the god light was slanting through the conifers in the fog as we drove east, and for the colorful trees painting our journey into a rainbow road trip.

 

11/9/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 9

Today when I was waiting an extra long time for my grocery order, I was grateful I had brought along my book. I am grateful for the ability to order groceries from home and pick them up outside the store, and for the energetic youth who cheerfully hoisted two cubic yards of potting soil into my trunk, saying he does the same to help his grandmother, who also likes to garden. I’m grateful the store gave me a discount I didn’t ask for, just because I had to wait; I basically got paid to read fifty delicious pages. I am so grateful, in case I haven’t said it yet this year, for good books. Sometimes, they take me right out of myself, and sometimes they pour me right back in. I have leaned on them hard this year for both of these essential services.

 

11/10/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 10

There are days when writing a gratitude post is like plucking words from the air as easily as picking raspberries off the vines in the vase on my kitchen table. Even though I spent part of my day today studying word-crafting, tonight I am in percolating, not plucking mode.

I do have one gratitude I’ve been tucking away for a day when I was otherwise undecided. I have been having a much easier time waking up in the morning this November, having finally bought myself a full-spectrum light near the end of October. I’ve suspected myself to be a SAD puppy for a lot of years now, so I’m not sure why this took me so long. I’m grateful that when I mentioned it, my husband was also wondering why we didn’t already have one, and happily turned it on for me the first few mornings, during his usual wake-up (yes, I’m a grown-ass woman who has trouble waking up before dawn without help). The thing is, just a week or two in, I’m already awake enough to turn it on for myself, and more importantly, I don’t feel like rotten black death inside for the first hour of the day as my body rejects it’s-still-night-time like a mismatched organ. I don’t know what wizardry this is, but I know this little light is better than any supplement has ever done by me. We call it my sun ball.

When I was buying it Rich supportively said he thought it would help us both, though he felt he may not be as affected by shortening daylight as I am because, he said, “I generate light.” Boy does he ever. (He meant welding but I mean how he lights up my life.)

 

11/11/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 11

Today I am grateful for and in awe of the connections… the unseen order of things… the cosmic consciousness. This may not make any sense to anyone else, and I’m okay with that. (I’m not taking this class for a grade!) I was told to “just obey it” yesterday when the wrong scene came to my mind during my writing workshop, and I spent ten minutes writing descriptive language about a scene I had no idea was connected to the piece I’m writing. Turns out it was so integrally connected, I spent the next twenty-four hours with wave after wave of profound revelations crashing over me. A significant breakthrough. In the earlier part of the class, when asked to explain why I was the most qualified person to write what I’m writing, I wrote why I’m the expert on mothering my son, including a sentence about the placenta that it still in a ziplock in the back of my freezer. Then today, as I was reading more of my book (my teacher is one of the authors), I came across a passage where she announced to her teen daughter that her placenta is still in the freezer. Shortly afterward, a rainbow came pouring across the page as the low and lazy November sun streamed in through the glass block window.

In other literary news, Rich and I discussed this morning what constitutes a nacho (singular). Grateful for November nacho nights, a pair of placentas, and rainbow connections.

~rainbow mondays~ regulus calendula

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

~thankful thursday~ bedraggled we begin

11/1/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 1

Squinting into the mid-afternoon sun while I stood six feet apart from a local friend and goddess in the parking lot of the Toledo post office not long ago, I received both a goddess blessing and some good advice. In getting through this year of hardship, she said she has tried to do her best to “put some light on it” each time the heartache, worry, and trauma pile up on her doorstep. I had just shared that my son has been living and isolating with his dad since March, and dumped a little more on her doorstep, and, true to her word, she put some light on me.

She didn’t tell me it would all be okay, or try to talk me out of feeling how I feel. She looked at me and said, “that must be hard.” It is hard. I’m not doing great, and I didn’t have to pretend I was. I could just stand there like a bedraggled flower and absorb some light, nothing required of me.

It is with some trepidation that I embark on my fifth annual November gratitude challenge, as not-great as I feel; the inner critic, she may need to be shoved in a closet for the season. Luckily, I’m now accustomed to feeling iffy and self-critical as November approaches, then wondering why I was ever uncertain by the end of the month. Each November, I relive the mystery of how a very small sparkly thought of mine can come back to me magnified a hundredfold, a many-mirrored lighthouse beam orienting my small craft to shore in the storm. The unprecedented storm we’re experiencing in 2020 may test the limits of this self-care practice, but it is also why I believe sharing light this year might be more vital than ever.

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who hold this kind of space, who experience the full range of human emotion, expect and accept it of others, help normalize it in the world. Thank you for shining your light.

 

11/2/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 2

On Halloween, Rich handed me the newspaper so I could read Bobbie’s beat, in which she had shared the day brightener where adults asked little kids to define love, and Rebecca, age 8, says, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.”

There were seventeen other ones, but I was overcome with cat hair and had trouble reading the rest because my eyes were watering.

After I regained composure, I told him I would probably begin painting my toenails at exactly the age I was no longer able to do so, and we both laughed.

Then we went outside (me, bundled up) to stand near the wedding trees at the head of the trail and observe the full Halloween moon come up over the tree-lined ridge across the slough, and then walked down our trail a little ways, dunking the moon back down into the treeline, and watching it unskewer itself from the trees one more time. As I leaned on him, he had his arms wrapped around me and we heard an owl calling.

Today and every day I am grateful for my husband. This year I have especially felt grateful for the little patch of nature we get to steward; the solace it has provided to be able to just walk outside our door and visit the trees, the birds, the growing things, the sun, moon, and stars, has never felt so profound as it has this year.

After we got back from our moon date, Rich told me he would paint my toenails for me, when the time comes. And that is love.

 

11/3/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 3

I’ve been tagged in gratitude posts by no fewer than five of my friends, who are also participating in the gratitude challenge. I am grateful for this safety in numbers, giving me courage.

Once upon a time I changed someone’s mind about something. It’s really so rare, isn’t it? I remember the times my own mind changed about things, and it wasn’t because of a carefully crafted argument or because someone bludgeoned me enough times with their opinion. It was because someone who happened to have a different opinion had built a rapport with me around areas of common ground, and I had time to think about why their opinion differed and weigh it against my own values.

Joel is a customer at the farm stand every Saturday. I don’t think he has missed a single pandemic market, he is there with his face shield, his list, his basket, and he has strived to be among the first customers in line each week. If I had to oversimplify I would say Joel is conservative, Mormon, loves Thomas Jefferson, and preferentially chooses my checkout line. I have the date ready to tell him so he can write it on his check (still writes checks), and we chat while he balances his checkbook right there on the spot. He asks about my son, who he can tell is “very smart” from the stories I’ve told him, and Joel likes that in a kid. I tell him to say hi to his wife Claire for me. I get the feeling Joel does the COVID shopping so she can stay safely at home, and I think that’s sweet.

Joel’s list usually includes the same items: chard, broccoli, carrots (two bunches), green beans, a green bell pepper; melons when they’re in season, delicata squash when it’s their turn. Nothing too crazy, no watermelon radishes or radicchio. He doesn’t branch out, if we don’t have it, he doesn’t substitute. If green beans are out of season, he skips them. Someone on the crew who hasn’t known Joel as long was delivering the bad news that we didn’t have green bell peppers that day, but offered that we did have yellow bell peppers. I knew this was normally a no-go but I wondered if he might hear the suggestion if it was coming from me, and I figured, what the heck. “Joel, try a yellow bell pepper! I bet you’ll like it!”

Joel took a yellow bell pepper home that day. I am grateful for this. He may not have liked the yellow bell pepper, but I hope he did. When you think about it, opting for a yellow bell pepper is maybe not the most radical change of heart. Yellow bell peppers all start out as green bell peppers after all. But maybe we humans also have more things in common than we have that divide us.

11/4/20

~30 days of gratitude~ day 4

I am grateful my husband is looking forward to me posting, which is helping me go ahead and do it.

It’s still raining today and when I saw rain in the forecast the other day I cut myself what flowers I could find. Recently I read about using raspberry foliage in arrangements so I cut the not-yet-ripe ones that would just mold in this weather and it’s a (sing it with me and Prince) raspberry bouquet.

I don’t know much right now. But I know I want every vote counted. And I was grateful to have some ripening raspberries to stare at today when I didn’t know what else to do.

~black and white wednesday~ strand