A quiet, snowy Saturday, sleeping late and enjoying a latté and a puzzle: I couldn’t be more grateful for these delights, and I know that it is only through the grace of my birth and the conditions that led to this moment that it is what it is. I did nearly nothing of importance today, just relaxed and enjoyed the simple pleasures of food, water, shelter, and space: the essential ingredients of any animal life.
Come ON! How fantastic is this? Garden clippers that actually ‘clip’! So grateful for the genius of the Liberty Puzzle puzzle master.
For supper, just a snack of miso-maple toasted walnuts. So simple, so delicious. Grateful to watch the finale of the 2023 Great British Baking Show, and inspired, though I’m trying to quit.
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 grateful for a lot today, including the beautiful healing of my Franken-forehead, my morning Telesangha meditation community, the meaningful work I get to do to support teachers and students of mindfulness, the animals wild and domestic who share my life and land, heartfelt conversations with friends about important things, a washing machine in my home that has worked without a hitch for almost twenty years and a Honda car that’s nearly as old with a similar record… I’m grateful that I’ve forgotten a lot of the heartaches that I’ve learned from in my life but hopefully not the lessons. I’m grateful for the cutest little dog who tries but just can’t be any cuter.
And I’m grateful for variations on a theme: the Cheese Sandwich. Today’s was grilled in olive oil and butter, with cheddar, spicy dill pickles, and tomato chutney, on homemade sourdough. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to play with my food in the best possible way. And that I’ve learned to put up the harvest of my garden, trade with others, and freeze and store enough food that I hope I won’t need to buy groceries for this entire month. I set myself a challenge to buy nothing this month, in order to get a clear picture of what I actually need v. what I simply want, as I continue to deepen my effort to simplify. I’m grateful for the trial of No-Buy November.
I probably eat too much of it. But I think I’d die without it. I’m grateful for another cheese sandwich today, using fromage fort, crunchy romaine, and Sandra’s tomato chutney on sourdough toast. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful for so much today, including the chutney, the opportunity to help a dear teacher with a technical challenge, time to work on my own podcast, and a sense of security knowing I have a generous friend driving me to another Mohs surgery tomorrow and a community that steps up to support me. And I’m also grateful for cheese in all its many flavors and forms. There will be a Brie-and-Butter spread coming soon in my kitchen!
In a meditation group yesterday, the introductory inquiry was to share one thing about our bodies that we appreciate or are grateful for (this inquiry was followed by an ‘affectionate body scan’ meditation). Responses included among others the ability to see, hear, move around; to taste, breathe, stretch, and heal. I’m grateful for all those aspects of this living, breathing, largely functional body that I both am and inhabit: In short, I’m grateful my body is above the ground.
We all know there are infinite and unfathomable threats to the health and well-being of our precious physical bodies out there in the world, and also hiding quietly within our very selves. I am frequently astonished to learn of a new way some unanticipated internal event can potentially kill me. I remember to this day the first time I heard of an aneurysm when I was an early teen. I heard of a new way our bodies can betray us just the other day, but fortunately cannot remember what it was. So I’ve been thinking about health the past couple of days more than usual, and want to share two links that came to my inbox that made an impression.
The first is an interview by Eric Topol, cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine, speaking with Chris Van Tulleken, an infectious disease physician-scientist in the UK’s National Health Service, about his staggering research into ultra-processed food (that isn’t food), its global health ramifications, and the political machinations that keep increasing its pernicious influence. It’s well worth the 47 minute listen.
The second is an article reporting compelling research that having Covid-19 increases CV risk, which is the risk of having heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease. The virus “directly infects atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries, producing a persistent inflammatory response.” This is big news, and another excellent reason to take this virus seriously and make a concerted effort to not get it.
Speaking of heart attacks, I really should take a break from the cheese sandwiches. Today I had to make an emergency veggie Philly cheesesteak. It’s my first ever and I didn’t have time to do it right, so I melted the cheese on the bottom half of the bun while I finished up sautéing onion, pepper, and mushrooms, and slathered the top bun with ranch dressing. It was delicious!
And we were blessed with another mild day and just enough sunshine to eat another lunch outside. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity. The sun shone on us as clouds rolled in to the south and darkened to the north. While I mourn the loss of lives in all the tragedies large and small across the globe today, I remain grateful for the thoughts, feelings, and sensations of another day above the ground for this body.
I’m grateful today to have finally accomplished a project I started dreaming more than a year ago, after getting ‘wall envy’ from seeing the blue wall in my cousins’ house on family zooms. The tired, quiet green I’ve had on my one painted wall for almost twenty years was ready for a change and so was I. I bought the paint last fall but winter came before I could open it, and then one thing after another… Procrastination is one of my growth edges… This week, after some encouragement from a good friend, and feeling no pain in my shoulders for a month, and a narrow window of ideal weather for it, I took the plunge.
The 48-hour forecast was perfect: highs around 80, lows in the high 40s, and clear skies. I could keep doors and windows open all day and close half of them overnight, to keep fresh air flowing in the whole time. First I cleared off (i.e. boxed to tackle later) the stuff on the desk and dresser that stood next to the wall, and pulled the furniture away.
Then I photographed the artwork so I’d know where to put it back later, and left those nails and hooks in place. I pulled the C-hooks and plugged their holes with long brads, hoping that I could roll over them and then pull them out after the paint dried to replace the hooks. (I pulled a few small nails where there were studs and tried to plug those holes with smaller nails but that didn’t work: the roller pulled them out right away.)
I called the hardware store in our little town to ask if they had a mechanical paint shaker. “Yes,” she said, “but we’ve had to draw the line at shaking other people’s paint. If it’s not completely sealed shut it makes an awful mess.”
“I haven’t even opened this!” I exclaimed with hope, “but I certainly understand if you can’t do it.” She was happy to shake my unopened paint can and would not take compensation. I was grateful for her generosity. I remembered to buy a jar of spackle while I was there, and filled in the empty holes in the wall. Then I taped off the perimeter, thermostat, switch, and outlet.
It’s been hard to adjust the photos to reflect accurate colors as the light kept shifting throughout the day. This morning I spread out the alleged ‘heavy-duty’ plastic dropcloth I’d purchased at the same time as the paint, brushes, and roller setup. While everything else was better than I could have hoped, the dropcloth was about as heavy-duty as I am! Amazon will hear about this deception. Then I started rolling on the paint.
After four hours dry-time, I repeated the cutting-in and rolled on the second coat. I could not be happier with the result!
I only let it dry a couple of hours after the second coat before pulling the tape and hanging the first two pieces back on the wall before the light faded. Yes, I missed a spot with the spackle, oh well. And as I watched the paint dry, I realized I wanted to swap out a few art pieces, so I pulled my mother’s pastel portrait of her Aunt Gretchen from the shadows where it has lived for years, and returned it to the same place it held even longer ago, when the green wall first replaced the original peach wall from the housebuilding in 1995. I look forward to playing with the rest of the wall art tomorrow!
Somewhere in there, I also accomplished another masterpiece cheese sandwich, with smoked gouda, shredded romaine, and garden tomato.
Though I knew some basics, including taping off edges and spackling, I was so grateful for the tips on rolling and some other aspects in this wonderful book from the Trans Handy Ma’am. I’m delighted to support her work empowering trans people, and making the world of home repairs more friendly and accessible to introverts like me. Her motto is “You’re worth the time it takes to learn a new skill!” Thanks, Trans Handy Ma’am, for helping motivate me toward a real sense of accomplishment.
I’m grateful I had a productive morning, because I lost the afternoon to the aftermath of a wasp attack. It was a grilled cheese kind of a day: chilly and grey outside, and cold in the house. Smoked gouda with avocado and garden tomato, yum! It kept getting cooler, so I decided to build a little fire in the freshly-cleaned woodstove. There was no kindling split yet for the season, so we stepped outside to crack a few sticks from a well-dried aspen log set on top of the two stumps I’ve been using as a kindling-cracking pedestal for many years.
Crack! one stick. Crack! two sticks, and a wasp on my wrist cuff, and then another, latched onto the fabric, and suddenly I realized I’d disturbed a nest in one of the stumps and they were streaming out angry and determined. I also noticed poor little Wren running around snapping at her tail end, so I hurried to the other side of the house calling her after me. One stung my right index finger and I pulled out the pumping stinger. I swept my arms gently, not frantically, to keep them away, and they kept following. So we kept hurrying away. By the time I got to the back gate there were only a few left but they were persistent. We went out the gate and I pulled off my sweatshirt and swung it slowly in a circle above my head to keep them at bay, but one had gotten up my loose shirt and bit my belly. I dropped the sweatshirt and we kept hurrying away, Wren spinning to bite her back end and me sweeping my limbs to clear the air.
We walked the whole Breakfast Loop and came around to the front gate, grabbing the can of wasp spray from the back of the Mothership where I’d set it after spraying a nest in the side door the other week. I don’t like to kill them. By and large I let them live as they like, and just avoid areas where they nest, but as I was working on the Mothership and needed access, I had to kill that nest. I didn’t mind that one wasp snuck up my sweater sleeve last week and got my thumb pad when it felt trapped, even though it itched and hurt for days afterward. But I felt inclined toward vengeance after this all-out attack, especially since they hurt Wren.
But first things first. She was still hurting when we got inside, and so was I, so I poured some liquid baby Benadryl into her bowl which she lapped up, and I took the Therapik to my injuries to laser the venom enzymes. Maybe it helped, maybe not. By then my finger had swollen stiff and gone numb, and my whole had was turning red, so I popped a couple Benadryl tablets and squeezed on some cortisone cream. Then I looked out the window and watched where they were entering the stump. I waited until near dark so they’d all return to their nest before spraying the crack. The can quickly emptied, but there seemed enough to do the job, as no wasps flew out.
I’m grateful for Cousin Nurse who suggested a topical anesthetic, which reminded me I have Aspercreme with Lidocaine, so I’ve been slathering that on liberally. Wren calmed down and we both went to sleep for the afternoon. She seems now to have recovered completely, though I have not. I popped another couple Benadryls just now and am trying to type with an ice-pack on my hand which isn’t very effective–kind of like the Benadryl tablets, which are pretty old. Time for lights out, grateful for surviving another day in Paradise.
As though she thinks maybe I can’t see her… I’m reminded of a childhood memory, one of my earliest. Our family traveled through the Smoky Mountains on our way to visit my father’s parents in west Tennessee. It was the only time I met my paternal grandfather and I don’t remember that, I was barely more than two. I’ve seen pictures of me by the pigpen at Unc’s farm so I think that I remember that but I’m not sure. What I know I remember is this:
It’s a dim memory, but once was brighter. My brothers and I are playing Hide and Seek in the woods. I’ve hidden all that I’m aware of, my head and shoulders, behind a big stump in some bushes. Robin, who is not It and is four years older and far wiser, creeps up beside me and whispers, Remember, Rita, just because you can’t see us doesn’t mean we can’t see you. You have to hide all of you. All of you! It is my first awareness of all of me, a radical comprehension. It is the first kindness I recall from anyone in particular. I’m grateful for this memory of Hide and Seek, and the other early memories I retain. I don’t think of them often, but I appreciate the perspective when I do.
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!