~thankful thursday~ third annual nacho november


~30 days of gratitude~ day 1

unlike last year when i debated joining in on 30 days of gratitude, this year it was a no-brainer to sign up for a third season. a few of the odds are stacked in my favor, such as my husband being away at play rehearsals on week nights this month (time to write), the pantry being stocked with tortilla chips (easy dinners planned), and on off days, say, when i’m standing over my eleven year old cracking the homework whip, i will just lazy-post facebook memories from gratitude challenges of yore. (let’s be honest, we don’t remember what i wrote, so it’ll be ok if we air some re-runs. it’s not lying, i’m still grateful for all that stuff!) i was curious how much i posted since last november, and while my timeline is sprinkled with fun messages from friends, as well as karate functions and family weddings in which i am tagged, my single original post for the rest of the entire year appears to have been about the founder’s day sale on tillamook cheese. but no one here is deluded about my priorities: gratitude and nachos.  exhibit a, word art compiled from previous 2 novembers’ gratitude topics.

i am grateful for a sweet little out-of-print children’s book by bruce balan called buoy that i found when quinn was obsessed with boats as a toddler. i was a tad isolated as a new mama, which i know is common for new moms, especially those who have moved places without family or friends, and/or been the target of someone’s emotional abuse for a while. the book got lukewarm reviews, apparently some critics don’t think children can be captivated by a story about an inanimate object, but i find it to be a delightful piece of literature, winnie-the-pooh-esque in the way that its messages have meaning for people of every age who might come to read it. i revisit it often, and so does quinn.

on one evening with just the right conditions, Buoy and his friends Seal and Gull were watching for the green flash, and arguing over what caused it. the ruckus dies down, and Buoy decides to trust in his hunch about what was causing the green flash. when he saw it, he flashed his own light as brightly as he could in response, so The Other Buoy could see it, so The Other Buoy would know he was not alone either.

Buoy has a characteristic flash, as all navigational lights do, which in his case is flash flash flash… wait…wait…wait… flash flash flash … wait…wait…wait… (repeat forever). i am trying to be like Buoy in my facebook postings, and if i can’t find anything nice to say, i’m doing a lot of wait…wait…wait… apparently around 11 months of that. but come november, i am set to flash my light as brightly as i can, moored to a sentiment called gratitude that keeps me safely focused on the right things.

the spaces between the flashes are part of Buoy’s identity, part of how his light has the ability to shine out when he flashes it. i’d like to say i have spent my waiting time storing up summer sunshine to boost my ability to radiate light to share with my fellow humans, but as is my usual status this time of year, my light feels depleted. a friend flashed a beam of light recently through a post that had an impact on me. i don’t even think i liked or commented, or told her that it did, we all know how potential meaningful connections slip away into the abyss of the endless scroll-down. but a snippet of what she shared said, “if your body doesn’t make enough neurotransmitters, store bought is fine.” i spent $1.10 on my own self care and brought home st. john’s wort and made myself a “collect light like a plant” tincture that i am happily taking every morning. as the dimmer switch of fall gets dialed down i think i’d like a little help to make the most of what light there is. i am visualizing my newly enhanced light-absorption capacity gathering to myself what is needed and actively converting it into life-affirming, life-giving necessities. anyway, that other buoy shining her light made me feel less alone. and i am grateful for that!


~30 days of gratitude~ day 2

tonight, quinn attended his very first school dance. and today i am feeling grateful for middle school teachers and the invisible capes they wear. the transition from fifth to sixth grade, from elementary to middle school, has been rather daunting, with bumps on the roller coaster ride that hearken back to the ones that derailed his successful matriculation into kindergarten. luckily in this case, he has stayed enrolled past the two-week mark and doesn’t even have any Fs anymore as of this writing. i have now met each of his teachers and i have been delighted to find that they are all wonderful people who clearly care about my kid and every other student they teach. it takes something just a little bit extra to willingly, enthusiastically, spend all day with a rotation of 30-40 (how ‘bout them class sizes?) eleven-year-olds. and then to give up their friday evening to show a crowd of tweens a good time on the dance floor! just feeling very grateful for the local superheroes who teach my kid.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 3

feeling well fed and quite sleepy after a bowl of curry winter squash soup (varieties: scarlet kabocha and buttercup, if you must know), it is easy to feel a lot of gratitude for the good people and land over at gathering together farm. i lucked into this sweet veggie-slinging gig over 4 years ago and i still feel like i’ve won the lottery every time i go home with my saturday haul of organic produce. this year i feel like i leveled up as a part-time farmer when i embarked on an evening you-pick adventure with my husband and son in late august to “clear out” the siletz tomatoes still lingering on vines slated for ploughing under the next day. we cast our long twilight shadows across the first 10 feet of a tunnel that felt like it might be a mile long. we filled up the bed of the pickup truck with tomatoes too ripe to go to market, and therefore no longer worth the price of the real estate they were occupying. now they are filling up our bellies every week, tucked away in their 67 quart jars for the winter. and the good farm people acted as though i was doing them a favor by not allowing those ten feet of the crop to go to waste, when i was really the one reaping all the tomato wealth a gal would ever want to put up for one season. don’t tell nachos, but i love pasta just as much, and a pot of organic sauce simmering on my stove is a happy thing in cool november weather.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 4

cracking the homework whip on a sunday night is making me feel grateful for another book, one that i read back when my three-year-old was full of intensity and a sense of his own agenda. the book playful parenting was not the only source of the concept that has been so helpful in my parenting journey of infusing even the most mundane aspects of parenting with play, but it was the most succinct and direct communication of the concept i came across.

middle school is turning out to be a timely moment to recall this concept, and i’m feeling pretty grateful to have remembered to engineer a playful approach to math homework just 6 weeks along. at 3 (and 4, 5, 6, & 7) he just would not put on his clothes or get into the car when asked, but he would get dressed in his hogwarts robes or hop in the batmobile. “do your math homework,” has been about as appealing and likely to rise to the top of his priority list as “put your clothes on,” but once it became about slaying goblins, he was down.

i was just telling him about when he was 3, and how even that long ago, he had the endearing quality of completely ignoring what i was saying. back then, i was explaining to him in calmer moments how i really wanted him to acknowledge what i was saying, even if it meant just telling me you heard me and aren’t going to do what i asked, for whatever reason. one time when he sensed that i was about to get testy after several repeats of a request receiving no response, quinn shouted, “i recognize your knowledge!” which given how it made him giggle tonight may soon be trending at our house as the way to “use your words” when you ignore your mom.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 5

i wrote about my gratitude for karate during my first annual gratitude challenge, and just over a week ago i tested for my green belt in the art of kenpo. as i sat nursing my sore muscles, i reflected on what i have learned from this journey the past two years since that writing.

like my time on board a schooner, karate has turned out to be something i love even more than i anticipated. also like sailing, i have taken some serious hits and have been lately in a process of reassessing to try and articulate what i am doing, risking injury on a regular basis, to continue to practice and progress in this art. my years of sea time ingrained in me a respect for the ocean that means i’ll never take it for granted, but also means i don’t live on a boat anymore.

when i was a kid, i added “find out how i would do in a real fight” to my bucket list. i’m not sure i ever wrote it down, or admitted it to anyone, but this has always been something i wondered about myself. it turns out, i can hold my own in a sparring simulation-of-real-fight, and it’s sort of thrilling to know that for sure. what i said 2 years ago still holds true: i would not cower.

while i feel my odds of surviving any attack encounter have greatly increased as a result of my training, i am also very much more aware of how vulnerable i truly am, and the limits of my skills against truly sinister forces that exist in the world. it’s not that i live in fear of being attacked in my actual life in rural oregon, and truly i know i would handle any true attack with much more competence, confidence, and reflexive skill now than i would have any time before 3 years ago. it’s the old conundrum of, the more i know, the more aware i am of exactly how much i don’t know. (i remember rolling this around in my mind when the knife attacks happened on the portland trimet bus, the same bus system i used to ride around on several times per week with my infant… would i, given my training, be able to counter a knife attack any better than those men who stood in harm’s way? probably not.) i am keenly aware of my own limitations as a result of paying this much attention to honing this skill set.

for example, my husband is 3 inches taller than me, but weighs one and half times my weight, plus in the dimensions that really matter, such as upper body strength, he is truly four times my size. when i sit shoulder to shoulder with him, it hits home that anyone in his same size range (a good percentage of the male population) who truly wished to do me harm, even without any training, most certainly could and probably would. my best bet is to be married to a soul who would never raise a finger or even his voice to hurt me, because as i know too well and is well documented in statistics, harm is ever so much more likely to come to a woman from within her home than from anonymous sources. if i were to be faced with an actual attack, i know my non-karate husband would stand in front of me and be the one to do the actual defending. (i haven’t had a fit of mushy husband gratitude overtake me yet on this year’s posts, but it’s sure to happen. so grateful for him!)

a few years ago, i went out there on that mat because of my kid, and after all this reassessing, i’m staying out there because of my kid. it’s a bond between us, and a way we can both practice asserting ourselves in the world, in a safe environment. it’s also how i know i would stand the best chance of being able to defend him in a fight, because you never know.

i have learned what my assets are in a fight, how to assess the opponent, see their weaknesses, and use them to my advantage. my reflexes are trained through all the repetition – i routinely catch heavy round vegetables falling off the veggie scale at farmer’s market, so these skills even play a practical role in my every day life.

before my test, i helped one of my fellow testers adjust some things in one of his forms, and at the end of my test, i read aloud the green belt pledge which plainly states that the requirements of this belt rank are to actively teach in the art. huh, i guess that does start happening if you just keep showing up long enough. i remember the thing that hit me from the blue belt pledge, last time around, that i will actively defend the weak and vulnerable; and the purple belt pledge before that, to never use my skill to harm or make afraid. there is much more to the art than how to punch and kick and win a fight. one could even apply these principles to voting in tomorrow’s election! i’m grateful for my instructor and all i have been able to learn, as well as the character traits that have been instilled in my son that reach a long way beyond the edge of the mat.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 6

one of my goals is to only be grateful for nachos one time during this round of gratitude… and today is the day! it’s national nacho day, and gosh i think there’s something else going on, too. oh yeah, voting! it was my pleasure to vote against several appalling measures on our local ballot, and i think everyone ought to reward themselves for voting with a big plate of nachos. last year i could not think of any appealing images of nachos, but as i was scrolling through the toddler archives i came across one i quite like.

vote nachos! vote gratitude! gratitude for voting! gratitude for suffragettes, the 19th amendment, and the equal rights amendment (oops, still haven’t ratified that last one yet! gratitude for e.r.a. pending future ratification!)


~30 days of gratitude~ day 7

i am grateful that i can just take the night off, because you don’t have to get an A in gratitude!

2 comments to ~thankful thursday~ third annual nacho november

  • camp boss

    SO glad you and Fugate are both doing the gratitude challenge! It is always fun to live vicariously through yalls gratitude!!
    I have no gratitude for the outcome of the local(oregon) ballot measures, i am appalled with the results and not the bills themselves.
    But i did my part, I went to the polls as they say……errr um well i filled out my ballot while drinking tea, then
    went the wrong way through the ballot drop lane and accidentally cut off a deputy sheriff…but i voted! looking forward to visit soon!!!

  • so many wonderful things here!!!! i absolutely love what you did with the buoy book. that brought tears to my eyes. i love your creative idea for homework. how fun! sixth grade is definitely a tough transition. i have loved all of the teachers at the middle school. my kids love it there, and so much of that is because of their teachers. i don’t know if i just forgot… or never put it together… but our kids go to school together now! that’s awesome! mine are in 7th and 8th though. i can’t believe i am going to have a kid in high school next year! that’s really blowing my mind. i love that your doing karate with your son. that is very special. it feels like the older they get, that these types of connections really help strengthen the bond. my son has become interested in photography recently. it has been really fun teaching him, and allowing him to use my new camera (although also a bit terrifying). and that is the best nacho picture ever!!!

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