I’m grateful that today is a national holiday, and that everyone else in the US gets to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving so I can take the day off!
I bought this recliner almost five years ago, though it seems much longer, from the furniture store in Delta, Lily and Rose. I’m grateful for this family-owned local business that’s given great service to the region for four generations. It was effortless to call up on Monday and say, “I bought a chair there a few years ago, I can’t remember how many, and it needs some help,” and he said, “Okay, no problem.” He said it might be a couple of weeks but they’d get someone out next time they came this way. Cody the driver called the next day and said they were in the area and would come see what they could do. He and Joey came in courteously masked at my request, and cheerfully gave the chair its suspension back and fixed the footrest so it stays up.
This morning I went out about fifteen minutes early to make sure the car would start, because it’s whined a little before turning over the past couple of times I’ve started it, despite the solar-powered trickle charger I have hooked up to the battery. I wanted to make sure I had time to jump it if it wouldn’t start. It didn’t, so I pulled the Mothership around and hooked up the cables. Nothing. For the next half-hour I left the van running and tried a different set of cables, and still nothing. I called the Service Station where I was expected for my hard-won eleven a.m. appointment that I hated to cancel. First he asked me, “What did you leave on?” I had to laugh. “Nothing!” He asked if the lights worked. Yes they did. He said maybe it was the starter, and assured me he didn’t have another oil-change spot available until mid-December. Okay.
Then I made calls to cancel PT, and visiting my friend, and dropping off something for a neighbor. I tried to start the car again, still nothing. So I wrapped up that operation, then called my local State Farm agent Kevin’s office and was grateful to confirm that I have Roadside Assistance. I asked who to call for a tow and she named some local options. Then I called Ray down at Hotchkiss Automotive to see if he could fit my car in after the holiday, and he said sure, have Phil’s tow it in. Then I called Phil and told him I needed a tow to Ray’s, and I have insurance with Kevin, and he said, “Sure, no problem,” and filled out the paperwork. “I live next door to Kevin, you know,” he said. “Oh, yes, of course!” I said, recalling the neighborhood. “I think I can send someone up there this afternoon,” he said.
Young Trae arrived an hour later. Wren was initially skeptical of him as she is of most men, but as soon as he got on the ground in front of her car she dashed right over to help. And then I bid farewell to my little Honda car for the holiday weekend. What could have been another irritating hassle of a day was instead a seamless flow of cheerful support from local businesses, some of whom I’ve had a relationship with for decades. I’m so grateful for the kindness and dependability of all these people; and, I’ve decided that Patience will be my Wednesday practice going forward.
I was grateful to learn that we can order four more free Covid tests to restock the cupboard for winter here. But a little disappointed to notice that the most recent free tests ordered last month actually expired in August. So a snarky no wonder crept into my thoughts: no wonder they’re giving away more tests, they can’t sell expired tests. However, extended expiration dates for all lots of all available tests (and there are a lot!) can be found here, and I’m grateful I had the bright idea to look up the four lots of tests I have stashed, and add the revised expiration date in red on each box, so I don’t have to look it up again later. One box was so old it wasn’t even listed, so I threw that one away. I have a few months remaining on even the oldest box left.
I’m grateful for a simple, delicious breakfast: Brie-butter spread on toast with a dollop of apricot jam. Double gilding the lily! It feels rich and decadent, and I know that not everyone in the world or in the country or even in this state can afford it, so I’m doubly grateful that I can. And, even so, in dollars and cents it’s not that costly. A tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of brie, a tablespoon of homemade apricot jam, and a slice of homemade bread. Altogether this piece of toast probably cost around a dollar, plus some quality time spent harvesting, cooking, canning, and baking. It’s my fervent hope that anyone reading this is able to afford to treat themself to fifteen minutes of indulgence in the morning with an equally scrumptious delicacy; and further, that they make the time to do so.
Well, it took cropping and posting this picture to finally locate the missing match I dropped before lighting this fire 😂 I’m grateful for a sweet, quiet, rainy Sunday.
I was ok without bread for a cheese sandwich yesterday, because I had leftover comfort food in the fridge. I had cooked a batch of grits and a creamy mushroom sauce the night before. Grits was just for breakfast when I was growing up, but I’ve learned recently that I like it more than rice or pasta as a base for many delicious sauces or toppings. Tonight I enjoyed more leftover grits topped with leftover mustard-parmesan cauliflower that I roasted last night, with grated cheddar and a splash of salsa: just a mashup of delicious. But I was grateful to have a fresh, perfect loaf of sourdough out of the oven this morning in time for lunch, another cheese sandwich: cheddar and a slice of roasted cauliflower. Mayo, of course. So simple, so delicious.
I’m grateful for another beautiful day as this mild autumn lingers despite the forecast for snow. Outside there’s the occasional waft of woodsmoke from someone’s fireplace or stove in the morning or evening, but even throughout winter with lots of people burning wood and some still using coal to heat their homes, the air at this altitude is generally clear and crisp. I read yesterday and then saw video on the news last night about the air quality crisis in Delhi, India. Air quality rating here tonight is 29. Last weekend, air quality in Delhi was rated around 218: 0-50 is considered good. After Diwali festival fireworks, Delhi’s AQI measured 850. ERs were crowded with children unable to breathe. I’m grateful for the miracle of clean air on this little mesa in a world where willful ignorance continues to foul the air that billions of human and other beings rely on.
I was grateful to see this beautiful couple in the yarden when I woke this morning, and not troubled that he was scratching his head on the wild plum tree. And I was grateful to see the moisture still dripping from the trees after a light rain overnight.
I’m even more grateful than usual for the Cheese Sandwich. I realized today as I was making a simple havarti, lettuce, and pickle iteration just how much stress I’ve shed since surrendering to my obsession and delight in eating a cheese sandwich almost every day for lunch. As long as there’s bread in the box and cheese in the fridge, I no longer have to think, wonder, or worry about what to have for lunch. I am grateful to walk into the kitchen at lunchtime day after day and pull a delectable assortment of supporting ingredients together with cheese, bread, and mayonnaise to create a delicious, nourishing and often unique cheese sandwich. For most of my life meals were a twice-a-day struggle I was rarely prepared for. This has been another gift of the quiet solo time these past few years, settling into simple food routines that allow more peace and ease. As always, I’m profoundly grateful for the luxury of sufficient food.
And finally, Wren is grateful that I made her another batch of Dog Fud. She watched the whole time I chopped and added ingredients, then devoured her dinner. This batch contained quinoa, ground turkey, black beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes, along with wax beans and zucchini from the freezer. Later, she watched hopefully as I packed the cooled food into containers, and was rewarded by getting to lick to pot clean. Another simplifying routine becoming habitual.
I’m glad I left in plenty of time to drive to PT this morning. I’m grateful that I’ve been cultivating patience for the past thirty years. And I’m really grateful that with mindfulness practice the past few years I have expanded my understanding of and capacity for patience. Patience is an opportunity to inhabit the present moment.
After several startling surprises this morning, I set out for town with an open heart. At the Smith Fork bridge I encountered a bleating blockade. I drove slowly to meet them, and then put the car in park as they flowed around me. I smiled, breathed, let go of my timeline, and enjoyed the inevitable pause of the sheep drive. I’m glad I learned years ago to just sit back and let go: everyone around here excuses tardiness when they hear the words “cattle drive” or “sheep drive.”
I enjoyed watching the Basque shepherd and his dogs move the sheep out of the way so I could creep along, but honestly would have been fine just waiting for them to pass. As I crept a little too close to the guardrail the car scraped lightly against it, and patience allowed me to shrug it off rather than react with irritation: it was my fault not theirs, and no harm done to the car even if it left a new little scratch on the old crackling paint.
There was another delay in town where the aftermath of a fire still blocked the main intersection with first responders, a fire truck, hoses across the highway, and EMS and sheriff’s vehicles forcing a detour through town, but I couldn’t ascertain what had burned. I’d seen a plume of black smoke an hour earlier from the house and could tell the fire was out before I left.
I made good time through the dobies, enjoying the sere landscape and lovely clouds, and then encountered another opportunity for patience as a coal train blocked the road to Paonia for a few minutes. I smiled, slowed down, and enjoyed the view.
After PT, I dropped by a friend’s but she was napping so I was happy to move toward home. I finally girded my loins to stop in at the Service Station to schedule an oil change, and the dear grumpy owner was just as grumpy as ever, ‘hope you’re not in a hurry, I’m booked for three weeks,’ but patience again came to my rescue. I was totally agreeable, and by the time we finished negotiating, he told me to come at eleven next Wednesday and he’d hold the bay open. I smiled sweetly as I thanked him, and I’d almost swear he smiled back with a hint of mischief. At last, I was on my way back home!
I had to laugh as I rounded the corner just as this pulled out in front of me. There was quickly no turning back, with steep banks on either side and another car behind. I took my foot off the gas, embraced my morning companion Patience, and together we slowly followed the wet paint for a mile until we’d gathered a parade behind us and came to the next intersection, where there was a break in the paint just big enough for each of us to cut through and get ahead of the maintenance ensemble. I laughed all the way home. I’m so grateful that patience has taught me to let go of the ‘my needs first’ attitude I used to have and recognize the importance of everyone else’s needs too.
I was leaning on the raised bed, talking with John who leaned on another bed facing me, and I didn’t notice right away who had jumped up behind me and started rolling in the garlic bed. Heaven! For her.
I was grateful for a perfect day to spend outside with friends. After I spent the morning slaving over a hot oven, I was delighted to sit out on this utterly balmy fall day first serving Boyz Lunch, and then later with another friend for tea before she leaves the country for awhile. I baked perfect hamburger buns, recipe finally adjusted for altitude and salvaged from misreading the warm water amount, to serve mushroom-chickpea burgers with all the trimmings, and smashed roasted potatoes.
I knew I was going to need room in the freezer when I make another batch of dog food tomorrow, so I wanted to use up some peaches; and also, peach shortcakes sounded like the perfect dessert for today. I simply adapted the strawberry shortcakes recipe I had and substituted peaches as suggested. To thaw them just enough to peel and slice, I zapped a bowl of them in the microwave for just a minute, and the skins slipped right off as soon as I cut them in half. Then I tossed them with a little sugar and let them sit until it was time to assemble dessert.
Although the day was perfect, nothing about the food was. I forgot to put cheese on the burgers, the potatoes were undercooked, and somehow the whipped cream was just a little bitter. But the Boyz didn’t seem to notice or care, and the precious time together was perfect.
I’m grateful to have spent a pretty healthy day. I exercised in the morning with some PT and stretches, and then made a salad including romaine, broccoli, pecans and homemade croutons using up an older sourdough heel — instead of turning into French toast! That felt like a healthy choice.
After working awhile at the computer, I chose to take Wren for a walk down to the reservoir instead of taking a nap — a healthy choice for both of us! I am embarrassed to admit that I have never walked the Indian Fire loop on the west side of the reservoir. I don’t even know how long that nature trail has been there. But with my new pass, I’m exploring my own backyard State Park for the first time since I worked there for a few seasons many years ago.
The trail is about half a mile, looping low then high along the steep slope, which was just a hillside above the confluence of a few streams a hundred an fifty years ago when it was inhabited by Native Americans. I’m grateful that the synopsis the park offers of the events preceding the reservoir’s construction is told with some sensitivity in the trail guide.
I am grateful for the perspective that this reminder gave me. I’d heard about the fire as the Utes were driven away from the area, but I’d forgotten. This history sheds new light on some of the burn-scarred ancient junipers in ‘my’ own piece of the mesa: I’d always assumed they were lightning strikes, but it seemed like a lot. Now I’ve revised my interpretation of these old trees, half-burned yet still living like those noted along the park trail.
Little Wren enjoyed trotting along through fallen cottonwood leaves, while I enjoyed the views. I’m grateful all over again today for the reassuring volume of water in the reservoir going into winter.
The upper half of the trail includes a panoramic overlook and some stone benches, where we caught our breath for a few minutes before heading for home. And that was the end of the healthy part of our day.
For my evening snack, I sliced thin the remaining heels of sourdough and baked them to make melba-like toasts, to go with the double decadence of Brie-butter spread. Why make Brie any more buttery than it already is? Well, why not? So simple, so delicious: shave the skin off some Brie (while it’s cold), and let it come to room temperature along with an equal amount of butter, then just whip them together until blended. Beyond indulgent.
I’m grateful for Old Friends and Existential Threats. They both give me a healthy perspective on this fragile human life. And when the two come together it doesn’t get any better. A dear couple of friends from out of town visited yesterday morning, to enjoy a short visit, coffee, and cinnamon rolls. They are Dog People, and quickly made friends with Wren, who was delighted with their calm and soothing attention.
We were discussing Biko, who is now 23, and he asked about the tortoise’s life expectancy. “80,” I said, “ish.” We laughed as he said “You’ve gotta find someone young, then.” Then she asked, “Not to be gauche, but what are you gonna do with this place?” I laughed. “It’s only gauche to ask if you think I might be leaving it to you,” I said. I shared my thoughts on the matter, and they understood without further explanation. They are also Climate Realists. Then they left, and I came inside and opened the virtual newspapers, and read about this Supervocano in Italy. I’ve been well aware of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, but I had not realized there are more scattered around the world.
“Supervolcano is ‘a made-up word,’ said volcanologist Michael Poland, scientist in charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. ‘I think it’s misleading. I think it’s misapplied. I can’t stand that term…” Of course it’s a made-up word. All our words in any language are made-up words.
Supervocano refers to only about 20 of the 1000+ known volcanos on earth, one that has already erupted with astonishing force, ejecting “a volume of around 1,000-cubic kilometers or more — about a thousand times bigger than Mount St. Helens.” Supposedly, just because one erupted thirty thousand or a couple of million years ago doesn’t mean it will erupt again. But it might! And while it might not result in human extinction, if one does erupt in our time it would create massive destruction and havoc across the globe. So the mere idea of an Existential Threat reminds me of the fragility of all life on earth, and of course my own; while a visit from Old Friends recalls the stability of enduring connection among our fragile human selves.
And speaking of perspective, we were all three grateful to hear the primeval call of migrating sandhill cranes, a bird that’s been around at least two million years, and then we felt doubly blessed when this beautiful V flew right overhead. Bearing witness to this antediluvian species puts our own into a healthy perspective that adds even more gratitude to my little life.
Last night I was grateful to prepare another delicious recipe I’ve been wanting to make for awhile, and finally had all the ingredients: Chickpea-Mushroom veggie burger. You’re supposed to freeze the patties for at least two hours but by the time I finished mixing everything I was too hungry to wait, so I fried one right away. It was really delicious! And I still had eight to freeze for later meals.
Today I was grateful for a lot of other things, including a good vacuum cleaner, Method cleaning products, a warmish sunny day, and a visit from a newer friend, mentor and teacher. She also, it turns out, is a Dog Person, and Wren recognized that right away. That, or Wren is just starting to realize that most people are dog people at heart, and no one is out to hurt her while she lives with me.