A Morning Stroll

I’m grateful to be getting back into a good habit after too long away from it: a morning stroll in the woods. Today I strolled with my two little companions, aimless on various trails. We took a couple of breaks to sit on some logs, and I got reacquainted with some tree friends. It’s so different without big dogs, but I’m getting used to it.

Wren watches Topaz watching something.


I’m so grateful for colors! My life is full of them. No blank white walls in this house. Everywhere I look, inside and out, colors and more colors. I’m grateful for my friend who introduced me to a new word when she described herself as ‘a colorist’ — and I’m grateful for her wonderful blog where she shares the colors of the world when she travels.

Continuing to enjoy the puzzle ‘Canoe of Fate’ today in between work work, housework, and yard work. Here are some more details of whimsy pieces and images. Note the deer pieces making up the wolf image, and the wolf whimsy piece upside down right above it.

Six feathers above, and one of them in place in the feather headdress below.

More whimsy in the garden, and the birch tree turning yellow with pendulous catkins, flowers that will hang on until they open in spring and release their pollen. As I sat outside for a few minutes this afternoon, soaking in all the colors, I thought of a painter I admire whom I haven’t spoken with in a long time, so I looked up her number and called her out of the blue. “What a lovely surprise!” she exclaimed, and I was grateful to have an easy, happy phone call reconnecting with her.

Liberty Puzzle’s designer had to have had Peter Pan in mind when he drew this lovely little piece. As for what Roy de Forest had in mind with the faces below, who knows?

I saved these two figures for near the end because I love the color bubbles in them, and it was fun to find their hands touching in dance when they fit together.

They ended up fitting into the top edge and so hang upside down in their dance. I really enjoy that moment when two large sections I’ve been working independently suddenly show how they connect, when they’ve been building right next to each other for hours. The star below brings together the dancers and the canoeist.

Winding Down

Today’s cheese sandwich included mayo, of course, romaine, avocado, Sandwich Sprinkle, smoked Gouda (a cheese I am just now truly falling in love with), and apricots. I’m grateful for every lunch I get to eat a cheese sandwich: so simple, so delicious!

I’m grateful that the apricot blessing is winding down! It’s been –is being– an extraordinary year for apricots at Mirador. The east side of the tree looks like it’s about given up all its fruit… but the west side still has plenty to offer! However, at this point even many fruits within reach have been pecked by birds on their tops or far sides, and so while I may still be able to harvest a few more, I’ve pretty much surrendered the season. A couple of baskets remain in the kitchen to be turned into jam or frozen, but within a couple of days I believe that apricot harvest will feel complete. It’s been a fun ride!

Though little Wren buries herself in towels or the bedding during a rainstorm, she quickly runs outside when the storm has passed, to enjoy with me the gorgeous aftermath. Note the slowly ripening peaches on the next tree up for harvest, another banner year if I can get to them before the rodents.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, apricot upside-down cake is brewing. I’ve never made an upside-down cake, honestly never understood the appeal until quite recently when Deb shared some homemade pineapple upside-down cake. Hmmmm, I thought, this is actually quite tasty. And so when NYT threw this recipe my way in its ‘Many Ways to Use Apricots’ feature, I saved the recipe, and baked it tonight.

While I’m immensely pleased with the outcome, I haven’t tasted it yet. The blessed rain postponed my dinner plan so I’m saving the cake to serve with coffee tomorrow. Instead tonight, I zoomed with a friend and student as we sipped cocktails together and discussed impermanence, non-attachment to outcome, and the infinitely unfolding path of mindfulness practice. I’m so grateful for every little bit of my life; even more so when I remember how fleeting and fraught with uncertainty it is. I’m grateful for gradually learning how to hold everything, just as it is, the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows. And the ten thousand apricots.

The Cheese Sandwich

Wren enjoys a morning nap as I drink coffee on the patio.

I’m grateful again today for the cheese sandwich: I’ve truly become addicted, not only to the cheese sandwich but to exploring its infinite possibilities. Mayo with Penzeys’ sandwich sprinkle, Havarti, potato chips, lettuce, apricot halves and mustard on homemade sourdough. Crunchy, creamy, tart and sweet: so simple, so delicious. I thought twice about the apricots but concluded Why not?

I’m grateful to be able to share the bounty. Yesterday it was the old doe reaching for low fruit; this afternoon it was the tragic buck picking up fallen fruit under the tree.

This evening the old doe had her brave fawns out grazing in the new green grass next door.

I’m grateful every day of every year for this beautiful apricot tree as it steadfastly lives its own life, whether or not its able to provide fruit for the rest of us in summer. It offers flowers reliably each spring, followed tender leaves that start out the blush-tinged green as its ripening fruit in conducive years; its leaves transform to yellow and fall, and it rests and rejuvenates in dark winter bark, year after year. It doesn’t ask for much: We tend it with water, occasional food, and skillful pruning, and it gives and gives.

Letting Topaz Lead

It’s been many awhile since I strolled through the woods without an agenda. It was so relaxing this morning to let Topaz lead the way. She doesn’t stay on the main paths, and often goes under, over or up into places I can’t follow, but I’m content to more or less trail her along a nearby deer track.

The first spring flowers are up in the woods, the little native buckwheats. It’s heartening to see some natives among the dazzling green carpet under the trees, most of which is invasive weeds. There will be plenty of dry fuel this summer. We can only hope the planetary winds settle down soon.

In addition to little treasures off the main trail, there were some hazards.
But nothing fazed our fearless leader.
Letting Topaz lead is a new concept for Wren, but she seemed to enjoy it.

After another busy day grateful for being alive, Wren took a little nap on my lap before bedtime.

The Last Warm Day

Morning of the last warm day, looking north from the deck. I’m grateful to have spent much of the day outside enjoying hanging laundry, wrapping up the garden, tidying up the patio, and appreciating the beauty all around.
We made a point to walk to the canyon this morning, expecting with big wind tonight and rain by morning that it would be our last chance to enjoy the fall colors in the canyon. The temperature is forecast to drop to 22℉ by Monday morning, with daytime highs below 50 and nights all below freezing for the next two weeks.
I’m grateful to get a fine load of firewood delivered just in the nick of time. Four cords should certainly keep the house warm til spring, and then some. I’m grateful for both the living trees and the dead trees.


Even as the aspens are just past their peak in the high country, canyon cottonwoods are turning golden. I’m grateful for the spectacle of fall colors across the valley and on the mountain slopes, more glorious this year than it’s been for many past. Grateful for a long wet autumn.


Alan Alda as Dr. Gabe Lawrence on Season Six of ‘E.R.’

We all wonder what it is. Is it intuition, memory, awareness? No one can really say, even scientists. So we’re each free to interpret this word, consciousness, as we like… as long as we tacitly agree to some parameters. For me, the word consciousness sprang to mind the other night when I was in the kitchen doing dishes, watching ‘ER’ out the corner of my eye, and I heard a voice that took me only a fraction of a second to recognize.

That’s Alan Alda, I thought, as I turned to the TV to see who was speaking. I chose awhile ago to spend some of the remaining hours of my precious life watching ‘ER’ because I wanted, after reading some random article, to see the role in which George Clooney got his big break. He’s an admirable actor for his talents, and an admirable human for his values and actions, in my humble opinion. Anyway, it’s my choice how I spend these precious hours, and he’s pleasing to watch. As is the entire show, it’s good TV. It was indeed Alan Alda, brought on cast no doubt to keep people hanging in after Clooney left the show. (Season Six brought lots of new people on board, and it’s working for me. I’m grateful to know when and how I’m being manipulated, so I can choose whether I want to go along with it.)

With a predictable story arc, it’s clear he won’t be here long. But the point is, in that instant in which I heard and recognized his voice, I thought about consciousness. It’s been years since I heard his voice, a lifetime since it was as commonplace as any voice I knew, when he starred in M.A.S.H. and I heard him every week for years, and still decades later, it was unmistakable, instantly recognizable. It surprised me. Back then, Alda was ubiquitous; today he’s like a madeleine, a few recorded words bringing back with startling clarity a past reality, a lost time. I’m grateful for the consciousness that can string these disparate times together with the instanteous thread of a single voice.

I’m grateful too for the consciousness of ancient trees. Here is the Triangle Tree, with three distinct sides instead of a circular trunk. How do you measure the radius of an isosceles triangle?

Side 1 (pay no attention to the date)
Side 2
Side 3. All shot within two minutes of each other, equidistant from the tree, near sunset this evening. I’m grateful for The Triangle Tree.
I’m grateful for a healthy dinner, more or less, of a BLT salad. Nothing could be easier: lettuce, chopped tomato, mayo, salt, pepper, and crispy bacon. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful for the cousciousness embodied in me to appreciate time, space, and food.

Finding Lost Things

I’m grateful we got to start out the day with a nice walk to the canyon, greeting our old tree friends, and taking stock of more erosion deeper into the woods.
Most of our trails to the rim experienced some transformation, this one with a new rill snaking quite a long way down the center.

What happens when I get a burst of inspiration to tidy up or reorganize is that I always lose something. Awhile ago I did a kitchen project in which I bought a few new shelf and drawer accessories, and really got the pantry and cabinets in order. Not long after that I was searching for the J&M granulated garlic refill that my neighbors produce for their marvelous garlic grinder. I was sure that I had a packet somewhere, but scoured my spice racks and drawers and couldn’t find it. Some weeks after that, I was searching for the Chaat Masala that my cousin had sent me last winter, and I knew that I had done something sensible with it when I reorganized, but it had vanished. It was reminiscent of Breadgate, but I didn’t get quite so attached to finding it. And a week after that–this morning–I opened a little flat drawer in a lower cabinet looking for something else, and voila! There were the missing spices. I had quite logically put the flat spice bags in there instead of trying to cram them into the racks with the bottles and boxes. I’m grateful for finding lost things, and for being able to laugh about it.

In other food news, all the string beans are tapering off production, while the paprika peppers continue to ripen. Lunch was a simple BLT wrap. Wren and Biko each got a green bean, but Biko turned up his beak and Wren ate them both.

And I’m grateful that we got to end this precious day that will never come again with a stroll to the west fence, and view this surprising cloud configuration.