Tag Archive | friends and neighbors

Cheerful, Tender Care

Where’s Wren?

I’m grateful today for all the support from friends and professionals as I had another basal cell carcinoma removed from my face by Mohs surgery. There were neighbors ready and willing to come check on Wren throughout what was a long day that might have been even longer. There was the friend who offered to chauffeur me and invited Wren to come along with us. There were messages of love and well wishes from friends throughout the day. There were people I could share photos of my Bride of Frankenstein forehead with, but I’ll spare the general public that image. There was Dr. Weber and his assistant Molly at Mountain West Dermatology, who do a superb job with this delicate and precise surgery; and there were the office staff who are always cheerful and friendly with a bonus today that many wore Halloween costumes. And there was my best little dog Wren, who was calm while she waited in the car with Auntie Rosie and excited when I reappeared, and who was up for anything including a stroll down Main Street.

I was so grateful today for Rosie’s cheerful, tender care of me and little Wren. After I was released from surgery, she drove us downtown so I could buy lunch. We were diverted off-course from our walk to the bagel place by this gleaming market-deli across the street, The Hog and The Hen, which predictably offered a lot of pork and chicken sandwich varieties, as well as possibly every kind of candy in the US. We ordered and ate outside in the sun. Grand Junction downtown celebrates sculpture in a way I’ve not seen elsewhere. All along Main Street are whimsical, dramatic, poignant, or beautiful sculptures, and the ambience has only improved since the last time I strolled it years ago. This adorable Pigano in front of the market tempted many passersby to plunk its functional keys. I’m grateful that what could have been a distressing day was as companionable, pleasant, easy, and fun as it could have been.

Wren’s Fun Day

Miss Mary takes the early shift. I left Wren under the covers before sunrise, and Mary stopped by to let her out not long after it came up… [all photos by babysitters]

So much gratitude today! Grateful for Wren’s babysitters who checked in on her throughout the morning while I spent it traveling and undergoing a Mohs surgery. I’m grateful for neighbor-friends who happily supported me and my little family during an anxious time. I’m grateful to my dear chauffeur who drove me there and back even with her own concerns, and for the meaningful conversations both ways.

I’m grateful to the skilled surgeon who explained everything lucidly and managed to get all the basal cell carcinoma off me in one cut. Even after multiple Mohs procedures on my face and head over the past twenty-plus years, I learned a new piece about the process today. Dr. Weber explained how he marks the tissue so he can follow the cancer’s direction, and furthermore that he is the actual pathologist in the process. I knew he was trained to excise the cancer in layers, and to skillfully repair the wound, but I hadn’t realized that he is also the one who dissects the tissue to see where the cancer margins are. He told me, “If someone says they’re doing Mohs but they’re sending the tissue out to a lab and not examining it themselves, they are not doing Mohs!” I found this really reassuring.

Honey Badger takes second shift…

Around the time Honey Badger came by, I was waiting in the chair in the dark with a garish patch over my eye after the first incision, for Dr. Weber to determine if he needed to remove more. The wait was longer than I expected, two hours, but I was so relieved when he came in and said we were done, and he didn’t even have to stitch the wound. They cleaned and cauterized it, and left my eyelid largely unmarred. I’m grateful he has a sense of humor and we could joke about him including an optional blepharoplasty to lift my droopy lid.

…and even though he can’t persuade Wren to get in his lap, Fred manages the near impossible: to pick up Topaz!

By the third neighborly visit, I was almost out of the office with a few less eyelashes and a simple bandaid. I admit I had a hard time going to sleep last night. I’d done all the right things: meditating, breathing, accepting, allowing, surrendering, and still my heart pounded and my mind wrestled with worst-case scenarios. Then I remembered a suggestion I heard recently to think on the best-case scenario instead of catastrophizing. This skill of being able to choose one thought over another comes with meditation and mindfulness practice, cultivating one’s capacity to choose where to place attention and to hold it there.

And so I finally fell asleep after choosing to visualize all the aspects of a best-case scenario: just one small cut, quick in and out, easy repair, Wren safe and cared for, pleasant companionship on the road, and home in time for lunch. I’m grateful for the wisdom that allowed me to rest in that possibility, and for the success and validation of that thought-choice. I’m grateful, too, for the many well-wishes that came to me via texts, emails, and messages from friends around the neighborhood and across the country. I’m grateful for everything about Wren’s fun day.

All Terrain Croquet

I’m grateful for the high-low thermometer that’s been telling me the temperature range of the day for twenty-five years, and I’m grateful that the highs have been lower in recent days. I’ve checked it almost every night for decades when I let the dog or dogs out, and this is the first time I caught someone snoozing on it.

I’m grateful for another delicious sandwich for lunch today, lettuce, havarti, and another beautiful garden tomato.

And I’m grateful for good neighbors and good fun. Honey Badger’s brother is visiting and so they hosted an ice cream social with All Terrain Croquet, one of our favorite pastimes from pre-Covid days. The terrain is challenging, with ricegrass traps, rocks, and sagebrush stumps among other hazards, along with dips and swells that turn a ball mid-course in an unexpected direction. This makes a good shot even more amazing, and also slows the game considerably. By halfway through, the rules have become flexible, and toward the end nearly ceased to exist. We’re having too much fun, and being good neighbors, we all want each other to succeed so there are many extra and questionable shots; all in service of the larger goal, homemade peach ice cream as soon as someone wins!

Little Wren wasn’t too sure about All Terrain Croquet, but she sure enjoyed the Ice Cream Social!

The Last Basket

One of my dear next-door neighbors came over this morning to help pick the last basket of apricots off the tree. We dropped plenty for the deer, Wren, and Biko, and left plenty pecked ones on the tree for the birds. I was grateful for help with the last basket, and she was happy to take them home. I’m grateful beyond words for the joy this amazing tree brings to me and to others, for its beauty all year long, for the history we’ve shared, and for the generosity of its harvest this year.

I said I wouldn’t show her face, but she’s just too pretty to hide!
The cloud show this evening was spectacular. It was followed after dark by dry lightning and loud thunder. I spent an hour playing thunder-coat to a trembling little dog instead of doing dishes, but I’m grateful she let me hold her through her terror and gradually calmed down enough to go out again before bedtime.

I’m Not the Only One Suffering

Tonight, I’m grateful for my martini-buddy Connie who taught me how to can, for Chrissie Lou who suggested cream cheese with my warm jam on toast, for Ruthie who started me on my sourdough journey all those years ago, for Neighbor Fred who prunes the apricot tree, and for the bounty this precious tree has provided this year. I’ve frozen ten cups of halves already, given away bags and boxes, and today canned five pints of jam, with a seemingly endless supply of fruit left on the tree. I can spend only a few hours a day on my feet currently because of plantar fasciitis and sciatica, and so am alternating daily between picking and processing apricots among other standup obligations. I’m grateful to remember that I’m not the only one suffering, and that even with consistently limiting physical pain, I’m able to balance and enjoy every good thing my little life has to offer; including remembering that just like me, there are thousands or millions of others around the world experiencing similar pains and limitations. I wish that they also might find joy, pleasure, and meaning in the simplest elements of their days.

Sour Cherries

My friend John picked sour cherries from the tree in their garden and his partner invited me to come get some. I tried to grow a sour cherry tree once but something went wrong and it died; I haven’t tried again. I’m grateful I live where fruit thrives, markets in summer are abundant with it, and friends are generous with it. I’m grateful for sour cherries, and also sweet cherries, nectarines, peaches, apricots, apples and pears. While I’m at it, I’m grateful for the fruits that don’t grow locally, like oranges, and for the work of thousands of people growing, packing, and shipping it so that it ends up in my kitchen.

Serene scene on the evening stroll, broom snakeweed in full bloom under a sky of cumulus humilis clouds, the ‘fair-weather cloud.’

Dinner Out

I’m grateful that the snow peas are climbing their trellis beautifully. It delights me to check on them each day, and gently turn their little tendrils in toward the net, hooking their curls onto support. They’ve started to bloom this week. Fruit isn’t far away!

My ratty looking notch-eared doe visited for the first time in at least a month. She brought her skinny yearling, and is clearly fat with unborn fawn. With all the fields full of grasses and alfalfa, I haven’t had deer in the yard since snowmelt down here. I’m grateful for the bounty around to nourish them, happy to share the yarden, and glad they’re not devouring everything that isn’t fenced. I’m also grateful that there is still plenty of snow in the high country, roughly 200% of normal for this time of year in our mountain ‘reservoir.’

Wren and I are grateful that I mustered the courage to go out to dinner last night at her favorite babysitter’s house. We enjoyed meaningful conversation and delicious pasta on the patio, along with a spectacular view and gorgeous flowers.


Obligatory Wren of the Day

I’m grateful for daffodils, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll see any this year. Foliage is up for daffodils and tulips, but with the last two nights in the teens it all looks a bit wilty. Only one patch of tulips managed to bloom before these hard freezes, and a few clusters of the little yellow and white ground tulips. Fortunately, only a few intrepid apricot blossoms have opened so far on a tree loaded with them, which bodes well for fruit–fingers crossed! I used the last of the 2021 apricots from the freezer a month ago.

Since I may not get daffodils in the yard, and the Bad Dogs have surplus eggs this time of year, I tried out this Daffodil Cake recipe from Epicurious today. One dozen egg whites and six yolks get whipped in separate bowls. Flour is folded into the whites, and then a third of that batter is mixed with the yolks to make two batters, which are then layered in the pan.

I did almost everything right, except I think I mixed too much white into the yellow (above), which made the yellow batter perfectly fluffy but didn’t leave me enough white for three good layers, so the top (which became the bottom) was skimpy.

But I was pretty pleased with the final product! I returned half the cake to the Bad Dog Ranch, where a slice of it was enjoyed the way the recipe suggested: with whipped cream and fruit. I chose to eat my slice plain today, but tomorrow’s will be topped with vanilla ice cream. Not simple, but delicious.

photo credit Bad Dog Man.

What to do now with six egg yolks? … oh I know! Boiled custard. Perfect nutrition for the weekend, since the temporary crown my tooth got on Tuesday cracked in half today while I was eating a burrito. Oh well!

So Much

Or I could have titled this ‘Reading’ again. Or ‘Bibliofillies.’ Our book club celebrated its 18th anniversary this month with one of the best books we’ve ever read. Everyone gave it two thumbs up, and some of us included more fingers and toes. I personally gave it five thumbs up, who’s to say how many I get to give? I mean, if I can give zero fucks about something like … well, then surely I can give more thumbs up than are apparent, right?

This book is hands down one of the best reads I’ve experienced in my short life. And that’s what it’s about, life. Just the depth and breadth of “the ordinary orbit of one life,” which “at the time you’re living it you can sometimes think your life is nothing much…”

“Story was the stuff of life, and to realize you were inside one allowed you to sometimes surrender to the plot, to bear a little easier the griefs and sufferings and to enjoy more fully the twists that came along the way.” This gorgeous Irish novel is about living each day with awareness and gratitude, kindness and compassion, and I felt honored that some of my fellow Fillies thought of me and the mindfulness that I preach as they were reading it. When we can step back and observe the reality of our unique and precious life as it unfolds, one breath, one detail at a time, we can more deeply appreciate each moment.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone. Please do yourself a favor, if you love to read, and get it now. Those Fillies who listen to books claim that it’s about if not the best narration they’ve ever listened to, and I don’t doubt them. I was glad I could hear the Irish brogue in my head, and several-many times I read a passage aloud to Wren, in my own poor imitation of the lyrical accent.

Speaking of lyrical, I found myself with a spare half hour this morning, and cracked open my piano for the first time in a year. Not only am I grateful for being able to read words, and for everyone who contributed to this skill, but I’m grateful for the ability to read music, and to Mrs. Tankel for teaching me that skill starting when I was in the first grade through high school.

I haven’t played much since the kittens came, and that’s amazingly coming up on eight years; I haven’t played at all since Covid, because the piano is a tiny bit out of tune, and, well, I just didn’t call the tuner. Until this afternoon: and he has put me in his rotation and will be here sometime this month. I’m grateful for John Blackburn, the hottest piano tuner on the western slope and maybe anywhere, and for Neighbor Robert, who tuned me into him. I’m also grateful to Robert for one day dropping the line, “…and of course you have Hanon,” to which I responded with an eloquent “huh?” And he gave me the Virtuoso Pianist exercise book that might have made all the difference when I was learning piano as a child. It’s a joy to play.

Wren isn’t too sure about piano, since today was the first time she heard it, but she was game, and stuck her nose in the way between my hands for a few exercises, but left as I began to play a Schubert waltz. She was long gone before I tried to sing along with ‘King of the Road,’ but that’s okay. I don’t need her with me every single moment. I’m so grateful that I have a piano, and to the Colonel for giving it as his last gift to me, and that I knew when I closed it the last time that I would get back to it eventually.

And I’m grateful, as always, for the inestimable cheese sandwich. And really, in the course of a day, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what I’m grateful for: so much!


Midday Shangri-la

I’m grateful today for the impromptu party that happened in my driveway this afternoon when the Bad Dogs stopped by with a delivery from the Asian Market and the Liquor Barn in Grand Junction, at the same time the Honey Badger dropped off this takeout meal from Best Slope Culinary that dear Mary had picked up in town. It takes a village! Once again and as always, I feel so grateful for this kind community.

Chef Brant’s Baharat (7 Spiced) Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas, Hot Honey and Yogurt was almost too spicy for me, but delicious for an early supper. The garlic hummus and soft bread was a great snack after a meeting, and I split the Blue Sky lemon tart for a dessert after each mini-meal. There’s enough leftover for some of each tomorrow. This chef grew up in the neighborhood, went out into the world for awhile and acquired mad culinary skills, and returned to the valley a few years ago, where he’s since made a fine name for himself. If you live around here or are passing through, take advantage of his changing weekly menu, and occasional popup restaurant.

An evening vignette between meals. Grateful for nourishing deliveries from friends and from Mother Nature.