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Posts tagged ‘appreciation’

MOTHER’S DAY APPRECIATION

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, even have enough.”   Oprah Winfrey

Easter 1962

I am missing Mom a lot this weekend.  It has been about four and a half years since her death, and some days it feels like just yesterday.  She always enjoyed a good pork roast, so I enjoyed one today in her honor.  I think Mom would have liked that.

As I reflected on my memories with Mom over the years, I realized how grateful I am to have had as much time with her as I did.  She was 91 when she died.  I am especially grateful for her love of life, good sense of humor, and appreciation of animals and gardens–these are attitudes I inherited from her, I’m sure.  I am also grateful that she (and Dad!) were alert and engaged until the end, not in pain or connected to machines.

I am very aware today that there is so very much to appreciate.  Here is a list that names but a few items:

The hummingbirds that are starting to buzz around the feeders hung by my neighbors!

The delightful spring that is underway right now. My favorite little trek to search for spring thus far this year was to the Carrizo Plain.

Some good books are sitting on my kindle, waiting for me to read them, including A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday, and a delightful collection of stories called Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

My apartment complex management are really nice, worthy of appreciation.  They have added a little cement sidewalk outside my apartment door to make it easier for me to maneuver my new little travel scooter in and out.  How cool is that?  They also do not just remind us to change the filters in our AC units, they provide the filters.

I always appreciate a good sense of humor as it helps make every day irritations tolerable.  For example, I know I need to take water pills to help keep my blood pressure from getting too high.  But if I do not laugh at having to jump up like a pop-goes-the-weasel every 30 minutes or so, I would really go crazy.  And that would not be good.

Of course, I appreciate having family and friends who are there for me—and who I have the time to play with fairly often.  My recent trip to Vegas for my sister’s birthday was not even bogged down with bad traffic.  And I was able to use my new little travel scooter, which I will write about eventually. On one day, we took a walk and fed some bunnies!

Holidays are bittersweet now that Mom and Dad are both gone, but good memories overshadow the grief more and more often.  If you are celebrating with your Mom on this holiday, make sure you give her a hug and tell her you love her.  Overlook the silly little things that can often get in the way of just enjoying your loved ones.

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A FEW QUOTES ON APPRECIATION

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love—and then make that day count!”  Steve Maraboli

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing.  It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”  Voltaire

“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:  1. Acceptance, 2. Understanding, 3. Appreciation.  Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart.  Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable.  Think about it—do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions?  So, for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.”   Vera Nazarian

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you appreciate on this Mother’s Day?

Part of a Great Community (blogging award)

PART OF A GREAT COMMUNITY. . . AND BEING NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD TOO!

I feel truly blessed.  I started my blog several years ago and was immediately impressed with the caring and support that were evident as part of the WordPress blogging community.  I follow many fellow bloggers and appreciate those who follow me as well.  I have been given blogging awards in the past and was even fresh pressed onceLast month, I was honored again when Fat Purple Figs named me a recipient of the Liebester Award.    

liebester award

This award is dedicated to building the blogging community by showcasing blogs that are valued and visited, so others can discover them as well.  If you have not visited Fat Purple Figs yet, please do so as she shares some creative and thoughtful comments about life.  As a nominee for the Liebester Award, I need to answer questions, share some facts about myself, and name eleven other bloggers as nominees. 

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS I WAS ASKED TO ANSWER:

1.  What’s in a name…tell me about the name of your blog and what/who inspired it?

My blog’s name—Learn More Everyday—is actually the theme for my life.  I have always considered myself a life-long learner and encouraged learning in others.  In fact, I have been involved in education my whole life, first as a student, then as a teacher and administrator.  However, I always recognized that the best learning takes place everywhere, not just in the classroom.  You can learn from experience, people, books, problems, opportunities, everything!  In fact, if you stop learning, you stop living life to the fullest.  Thus, my motto:  Learn More Everyday!

2.  Do you blog anonymously or openly under your name? Why did you make that choice?

I blog openly under my name.  I am basically a private person, so the decision to blog included some thought about what sorts of things I would write about.  If anything were so private that I would consider not attaching my name, then it would not be something I would post at all.

3.  Is your blog secret from your friends and family? Why did you make that choice?

My blog is not a secret from anyone.  Most of my close friends and family know about my blog and read it, at least occasionally.  If others do not, it is their choice not my decision to keep my blog a secret.  Since I am not writing anything that is incredibly private, I welcome anyone to read my blog and see any photos I post.  I include a link to my blog as part of my signature line on my email, so anyone I communicate with can decide to explore my blog or not.

4.  What is your favorite word and why?

When I was nine years old and saw Mary Poppins for the first time my favorite word was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Heck, I even knew the lyrics for all three verses!  But now that I am older and maybe a little wiser, I have a simpler view of the world.  Now, I cannot help but think how much better off our world would be if we all practiced a little more kindness everyday.  Thus, my favorite word is KINDNESS.

5.  What is your least favorite word and why?

Well, this is not an easy question.  I think, for me, it is a tie:  HATRED & IGNORANCE.  Many of the problems in our world—prejudice, intolerance, injustice, even war—are often an outcome of hatred or ignorance.

6.  What is your favorite smell and why?

The lovely fragrance of fresh flowers always catches my attention, especially lilacs now because those flowers remind me of my mom. Or at this time of year, burning leaves, a Christmas tree, or even the waft of cinnamon from a fresh-baked apple pie are welcomed scents. However, freshly baked bread is still my favorite, as of today anyway.

7.  What is your least favorite smell and why?

Several smells compete for this title too.  A kid’s poopy diapers, a wet dirty dog or a dead fish that is a bit too old are smells I try to avoid.  But the worst is burned popcorn!

8.  What is your favorite taste and why?

A good quality piece of sweet and luscious dark chocolate as it slowly melts in my mouth.  Yummy!

9.  What is your least favorite taste and why?

Well, people who know me might think that my answer would be bananas or peas, because I really do hate eating those.  But it is as much the texture of those items combined with the taste that has them on my do-not-eat list.  But others are even worse:  cod liver oil, the taste of a fish oil capsule when it breaks open in your mouth, that chalky junk you need to drink in the hospital before tests are run, liver and onions even though I like onions!  I am not sure which is the worst.  You pick one.

10.  Who you are you when are not blogging?

I think who I am in my blog is basically who I am.  I am always an educator—it is just a habit of mind to seek out learning and to encourage it in others.  But I am also a friend, daughter, sister, niece, lover of animals and nature, and a helper whenever possible.  I am also a reader, writer, photographer, teacher, and a care giver.  I think these different aspects of myself surface periodically in my blog.

11.  Tell me a secret that nobody would know about you?

Well, it is not a secret really, as some folks know about it.  But it is not something I scream from the roof tops or write about on my blog.  The last 3.5 years have been a challenge for many reasons, including long term recovery from surgery and the death of my mother.  But these years have also been a challenge financially.  But matters are improving, I avoided bankruptcy, am expecting a great 2014, and am better able to give gifts and donations this holiday season.  So I am very grateful—the last three plus years make me value the good times right now even more!

HERE ARE ELEVEN OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ME, shared in no special order.  Please note that no one said you wanted to know these things:

1.  Some days, I get my news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  Well, and sometimes The Onion.  Not so good, I know—but at least the news is not so depressing that way.  A little saving grace: At least they are not my only sources for a full week! 

2.  I recently took a Quiz that answered the question, “How Millenial Are You?”  I am not sure what it means, but my score on a 1-100 scale was 54. 

3.  I watch TV too much.  Well, I have it on a lot, always have, ever since I was a kid and enjoyed watching it in the afternoons after school.  But even now, as an adult, if I am home, the set is on.  I do not literally watch it all the time, but I like the sound of it and use it as background for whatever else I am doing. 

4.  I like science fiction enough to watch (and enjoy!) tacky movies such as Godzilla and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai across the 8th Dimension.  A few weeks ago I even watched the end of Star Trek: The Movie.  Now, that’s pretty bad!

5.  Unlike Penny from The Big Bang Theory who exclaims there is no difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, I prefer Star Trek.  In fact, lately I have been watching episodes of Star Trek Voyager every night on my Kindle, to help me fall asleep. 

6.  Eating healthy all the time is not easy!  Are we sure that bacon, pizza, ice cream, and fried chicken are not recommended food groups? After all, wine and dark chocolate are really good for us, right?  I think the scientists are keeping things from us again.

7.  Back in May, I started teaching writing part-time for the American Public University System. I am loving it.  Well, not the grading so much, but the interaction with students again, so directly, is marvelous.  It is enough fun that I am figuring I will keep at it even though I am officially contemplating early retirement. 

8.  I love Christmas and pull out decorations each year, but I have not put up a tree since my tree and lots of ornaments were damaged in the Northridge Earthquake (January 17, 1994).  Yeah, my tree was still up!  What’s it to you?! 

9.  I like playing games.  I am also fairly tech-savvy.  Still, the only electronic game I play is Solitaire.  It is much better than having to re-shuffle the deck all the time.   

10.  It seemed like a simple little task at first.  I needed to move and box and sort my books, so I could replace two of my bookcases with better ones, albeit one that were a bit smaller.  But then I found books I had not touched in about 30 years, and it seemed easy enough to give some away.  Well, I ended up giving away 20 boxes of books!  OMG.  I still have five bookcases full of books, and my kindle is filling up quickly.  I prefer to think that the books I gave away are really just finding new homes, as well as raising some money for the library via an upcoming Friends of the Library sale.  My home seems a little bit empty at times, but I am adjusting.

11.  Christmas is coming!  And the holidays are enhanced with all the great songs celebrating the joy of the season.  When I was 12, Christmas with Ed Ames was my favorite album.  Somehow—even back then—I really loved that a Jewish guy who played a Cherokee called Mingo on the television show Daniel Boone had created a terrific Christmas album.  “The Ballad of the Christmas Donkey” is still one of my favorites!

 MY ELEVEN NOMINEES!

As Fat Purple Figs’ nomination blog explains, there are a couple rules involved with this Liebester Award:

As Nominees, if you “choose to play along, then please include the award photo in your post, answer the eleven questions I ask you below, share eleven other facts about yourself, nominate eleven bloggers for the award, and give them eleven questions to answer. If you don’t want to participate, that is fine. Just know that I am so grateful to have found all of your blogs.” If you do participate, provide a link back to the blogger who nominated you when you share the answers and comments that will help others get to know you a bit better.

I follow many, many blogs.  Some I found when I first started blogging and enjoy them whenever they post, no matter how frequently.  Others I find as each week brings me new visitors and comments on other posts as well as fresh-pressed picks.  Not every blogger will accept nomination, and that is okay.  What matters is that others may find their way to these blogs for a visit because of the nomination.  Enjoy!

In no special order, here are my nominees:

A Frank Angle, always thoughtful, provocative and funny with thoughts on science and religion as well as great videos and post series.

Around Dusty Roads, shares travel memories of locations near and far.

Flourish!  gives a positive view on life.

The Lantern Room, shares some great photos that help you see the wonder that is always there but often overlooked.

The Monster in Your Closet, thoughtful, insightful, and never afraid to tackle topics that touch on social concerns with compassion and courage.

Slouching towards Thatcham, provides insights of a proud dad watching his kids grow up as well as some thoughtful reviews of television and film.

de Wets Wild, offers great nature shots of animals in the wild from someone who cares.

Year-Struck, insights on life that are witty and thoughtful and always make me smile

Coming East, insights on life and family disguised as musings on everyday matters

Tricia Booker Photography, terrific photography of horses, nature, and her son

Explore Newness, some tips on how to add a fresh outlook or activity into your life

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS MY NOMINEES ARE BEING ASKED TO ANSWER:

  1. What’s in a name?  Tell me about the name of your blog and what/who inspired it?
  2. How do you quickly describe your blog to others?  You know, the elevator talk for your blog.
  3. Do you have any tricks or tips that help keep you writing every day/week/whenever?  If so, please share some advice.
  4. When not blogging, what do you do?
  5. One way I try to find balance in my life is to keep a gratitude journal.  It keeps me focused on the good around me.  How do you maintain balance/sanity in life?  Share some advice for the rest of us!
  6. What is your favorite or least favorite book, and why?
  7. What is your favorite or least favorite movie or television show, and why?
  8. What was your favorite or least favorite birthday present, and why?
  9. What is your favorite or least favorite food, and why?
  10. What is your favorite or least favorite animal, and why?
  11. What is your favorite or least favorite anything, and why?  You know, keep this mini-series going.

 PLEASE, VISIT THESE BLOGS TO EXPAND YOUR BLOGGING COMMUNITY.  

WE ARE PART OF GREAT COMMUNITY!  WE ARE SO LUCKY!

 

 

 

Autumn, Appreciation & Apple Pie

I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!   

multi leavesFor one thing, the colorful leaves are stupendous.  But it is not just their colors.  I love what they represent:  the beauty inherent in change, the excitement of moving on, the importance of preparing for a new beginning. By their very presence, the colors say slow down and notice the beautiful details that erupt unexpectedly around us. They suggest that we, too, should slow down and give into the change that is inevitable every year.  We need to move on, no matter what is holding us back.  Although cold and snow are on the way, spring is not too far behind.  Enjoy this moment of transition and abundance. 

red leaves 3

red leaves 2


yellow leaves

red leaves side

dads fall tree 4

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, autumn is the perfect time to start reflecting on the year thus far and cataloging what all there is to be grateful for. 

Here are some of the things on my gratitude list:

Bishop 2One of the best things about this time of year is all the fall colors that delight the senses as well as the chance to escape into nature and enjoy the season.   

The cooler weather is such a great time of year.  What is better than needing to snuggle under an extra blanket?  And taking walks in the cool brisk air?

I really like my Kindle.  I was not sure I would, but it is convenient, helpful, and easy to use.  It gives me the feel of reading a real book as I flip the pages.  And I can even watch an occasional Star Trek or X-Files episode at night when I want to unwind. 

I am happier in my work over the last six months, and that is letting me take more time off to just do simple things like bake brownies and take treks into Nature and sleep in a bit on nice cool mornings.  Naps are good too.

dad as groucho marxDad is generally healthy and definitely aware and alert, so I get to build new memories with him on every visit—and I am able to visit weekly.  I made him trick or treat for some of the Halloween candy that he loves!   

Christmas is just around the corner—and I love, love, love Christmas! I am even planning a Christmas Open House, taking it on the road to be closer to my dad, so he can attend. Soon I will be pulling out the decorations and ornaments, thankful for all the memories they hold—and the hope of the season! 

But I am not crazy about shopping and crowds and wasting time standing in lines.  So I will just avoid the malls and order any gifts I am going to give online.  One of the good things about technology being so intimately integrated into our lives is that I can avoid hassle and congestion.  And the gifts I will give are the ones I WANT to give, not the oh-I-probably-should-give-something-because-everyone-else-is-this-time-of-year gifts.  Realizing that the gifts are not the season is something else to be thankful for.

I am developing a relaxation and reflection routine that will help keep me calm, aware, and appreciative.  Of course, this enhanced outlook reminds me that it is okay to move away from situations and people that bring frustration, stress and negativity into my life.

I always tend to read for escape—murder mysteries mostly.  And I enjoy that.  But I am also making time for reading “better” books, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.  Making that time in my schedule means I have been successful slowing down, not rushing around and overbooking my time.  Taking care of myself this way is a good thing.  I appreciate the balance and spirituality that are more conscious elements of my life these days.

Chocolate.  How can chocolate not be on my list?  It is luscious and healthy—just read what those doctor’s reports say about dark chocolate.  And this time of year, as part of the holiday celebration, I buy some good German Chocolates as well as the truffles and chocolate pecan clusters that Mom always loved.  And hot chocolate in the cooler weather is just perfection. 

My list is incomplete, but the list itself does not really matter.  It is the act of appreciation, of gratitude that matters.  Being appreciative puts things into perspective, helps show what is really important—and those reminders say the great big world is wonderful, but it is the little things, the relationships, the time with people that matter. Enjoy life.  Do not take yourself so seriously.  Take responsibility for what you do, but remember that you can say no to things and people that bring you down.  And remember to laugh—a good chuckle works wonders. And enjoy the beautiful colors that make the world so glorious in these cool autumn days. 

dads fall trees 3

In conclusion, I am sharing a comment on autumn and appreciation from an old Calvin & Hobbes (1995):  

 calvin love fall

calvin appreciate

calvin melancholy

calvin apple pie

What is your take on this time of year?  What are you thinking about lately?  What are you grateful for?  Me, I am adding apple pie—warm with some ice cream on top—to my list!  Why is it that Hobbes is always right?

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 “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”   George Eliot

 “It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”   P. D. James

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”   Jim Bishop

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air.”   Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”   Faith Baldwin

 “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”   Lauren DeStefano

“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.”    Lee Maynard

“I was drinking in the surroundings: air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and greens in every lush shade imaginable offset by autumnal flashes of red and yellow.”    Wendy Delsol

Bishop 1

Earth Day Every Day!

Today is Sunday, 22 April 2012.  America is celebrating today as Earth Day.  The Earth Day Network gives some of the history and details about this important day.  But, basically, today America stops to reflect and appreciate the wonders of the world around us and to caution that we all need to take better care of the earth, our home.  Just across America the vistas and natural resources are amazing!  I’ve shared some of the wonders of Nature in other posts (here, here, and here), but below are a few photos to show the grandeur of Nature:

“In all things of Nature there is something of the marvelous.”  Aristole

 “I want all my senses engaged.  Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.”  Maya Angelou

“Amidst the splendor of the scene and the silence, I was filled with a wonderful peace.”  Basho

 Of course, it is a smaller world today than it has ever been.  America is not alone in the battle to preserve the earth.  Each year’s Vernal Equinox marks International Earth Day, reminding us all that we are one community, one people, one earth.  In 1977, Margaret Mead spoke at the United Nations to mark that year’s International Earth Day.  Her full text is available online, but this portion of her talk is worth sharing again today:

“In the last quarter of my life, have I, like all those here, come to know what it means to be the custodians of the future of Earth: To know that unless we take care, unless we check the rapacious exploitation of Earth, unless we protect our rivers and our lakes, our oceans and our skies, we are endangering the future of our children and our children’s children.

“We didn’t know this, except in little pieces. People knew they had to take care of their own meadows, of their own forests or their own rivers. But it was not until we saw the picture of Earth from the moon that we realized how small and helpless this planet is, something that we must hold in our arms and care for.

“Earth Day is to be the first completely international and universal holiday that the world has ever known. Every other holiday was tied to one place, or some political or special event. This Day is tied to Earth itself, and to the place of Earth in the whole solar system.

“At this moment, when I climb the steps and ring the Peace Bell, it will be the Equinox in every part of the world, and we can all celebrate it at once on behalf of every part of the world.”

So today, as we all celebrate Earth Day, think of what you can do every day to celebrate nature and neighbors, the glory of community and cooperation as well as our commitment to the future.  After all, as the Environmental Protection Agency website says, Every Day Should Be Earth Day! 

Here are a few more photos and some quotes to help you celebrate today, tomorrow, every day:

“ah sweet spontaneous earth. .  .”  e. e. cummings

 “When Spring is dancing among the hills, one should not stay in a dark little corner.” Kahlil Gibran

 “Earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY 2012?

Is It 2012 Already?

I cannot believe that it is 2012 already.  Where did the time go?  I last posted around Thanksgiving—and now it is January.  I had not planned on not blogging for these last weeks of the year; it just sort of happened.  I even read other blogs rather sporadically and commented even less.  Not sure why.  But I bet there is a short story in those missing weeks.

I started looking for reasons, alphabetically:   Absentmindedness?  Accident?  Adventure?  Alien Abduction?  Asthma Attack?  Avarice?  There is probably a bit of truth and fantasy in every option.  So I will just say the time passed, and I am getting back onto my routine.  Or trying to.  Given what day it is, I resolve to post to my blog at least twice a week, as I intended when I started this adventure.  Other resolutions will be posted later, probably.

As I look back on the holiday season, I do want to say thanks to my blogging friends, who kept busy even while I was silent.  I also appreciated the time I was able to spend with my parents this year—they are both getting older with increasing problems with memory and general aches and pains.  I cannot make things better for them, but I can spend time with them and share memories, pictures, movies, chocolate, and a general good time.  My parents seemed to enjoy the little family open house early in December!

At this time of year, I also just love the Christmas Spirit—colored lights and Secret Santas and reconnecting with friends, spending time with family, enjoying holiday goodies and watching Christmas movies.  It was a good holiday. I do resolve to keep my daily gratitude journal alive, even though I do not post everything from the journal on my blog.

Happy New Year, everyone!  What are you thankful for as the old year moves on and the new year starts?  Any resolutions you want to share?

Giving Thanks

Well, it has been forever since I have posted to my blog.  Well, a little over three weeks.  But it feels like forever.  I wish I could say those three weeks were spent doing something stupendous, but that is not the case.  I slept a lot getting over the infection that caused the need for a root canal—and had several visits to the dentist in there as well.  A legal matter is moving forward so very slowly it seems to be standing still—and that fact frustrates me more some days than others.  But through it all, I did keep my gratitude journal, but not online.  Giving thanks and sharing appreciation needs to be an everyday thing, even though today (Thanksgiving) calls for a bit more thoughtful reflection and gratitude.

Here is my list of some of the things I am thankful for today:

My dentist:  He saw me on short notice and eased the pain!  And he is very gentle when poking around in my mouth, kept the procedures pain free,  answered all my questions about what he was doing and why, and did not ask very many questions when my mouth was full of so much junk that there was no way I could talk.  Other than the terrible shrill whine of the drills, the experience was not bad at all.  And as my mom would say, “It’s good you still have all your teeth for the dentist to work on.”

My general good health:  Two years ago at this time I was preparing for my last surgery, meaning my most recent surgery but also hoping that I don’t need another surgery one anytime soon.  The surgery successfully reversed the need for a colostomy bag.  Geez, am I thankful to not have to live with that anymore!

My parents:  They are both still basically healthy, although they do have aches and pains.  I was not with them today, but celebrated with them on Tuesday.  Their medical needs are different enough that they live in different facilities, but I saw both of them.  Mom and I shared a nice lunch and talked about decorating her room for Christmas.  Dad—although his memory is not the best these days—remembered enough to tease me about calling him when I got home safe from my over two-hour drive home.  Over the years, whether I was traveling 5 minutes or 5 hours, Dad wanted a call and I would typically say, “I would not call.”  It got to be our goodbye habit.  I am thankful we can still share fun silly moments together.

Good friends:  I appreciate the good friends and family members who are always there to offer love and support, not just today but every day.  I feel lucky to have them in my life.  I just wish some of them lived closer so we could literally get together more often.  That we don’t just makes me that much more thankful for the internet.

Good food:  I am thankful for good food—and not just today.  But it is great that today’s turkey and stuffing turned out so well.  You see, I do not often cook full meals.  Even the gravy turned out really well, with no lumps at all!  Now, I need to do all the clean-up and put-away the leftovers.  I am not thrilled with those chores, but am thankful I have such a bounty to contend with.  Maybe I will make some turkey soup in the next couple of days.

Autumn weather and colors:  I am thankful for the cooler weather that has been here for the last several weeks.  Cool nights just make it better for sleeping, and snuggling under soft and cuddly blankets.  And it is conducive to late night reading too.  I stumbled on a little book hiding on my shelf that is proving quite interesting—and I do not even remember how the book got there.  But I enjoying Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress nonetheless.  There have been some great sunsets lately too.  The colorful leaves are still around both here in Bakersfield and near my parents in Arcadia—and many blogging friends have been sharing some great autumn photos!

Holiday Cheer:  I am thankful that another holiday season is on the way, even though the commercialism associated with the season is a bit daunting.  I have already ordered the cookies and candy and sausage that are part of my annual holiday gift-giving.  And I have some books in for the great nieces and nephews I may see over the holidays.  I am very thankful to not have plans to go out shopping tomorrow, or any time soon, sales or not!  I love the music, the movies, the fun of believing in and acting like Santa, and the general good will that comes with the season.  A couple messages—although not exclusive to the holidays—help remind us that the people, the connections are what are important, not all the commotion that goes with the season.

  • Four things you can’t recover:  The STONE after the throw. The WORD after it’s said. The OCCASION after it’s missed.  The TIME after it’s gone.
  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover!        —Mark Twain

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  Here’s to the start of what I hope is a terrific holiday season for everyone.  If we all focus on giving thanks and voicing appreciation, it will be a joyful season.

Blog Awards (again). . . thank you, thank you

I am definitely blessed by having terrific readers!

Michelle of Steadily Skipping Stones nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. I am pleased, amazed, and humbled. I want to echo her words that echo those of Sally Field: “You like me, you really like me!” When I started my blog back in March, I was writing for me, but I quickly learned the power of readers and their feedback. I still write for me, but knowing there are others out there who will read and respond truly makes my musings communication.

I feel especially blessed by the quality of the blogs that I read regularly—they make me laugh, cry, think. Michelle is in that group. I just started reading her post in June, right after I had been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award for the first time. I did not nominate her then because I was just starting to get to know her—but I would name her as one very worthy of blog awards today! She has my utmost thanks and appreciation.

The rules behind The Versatile Blog Award sound simple:
1. Post a link to the Versatile Blogger who gave you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself that are not widely known.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
4. Send notices to those you nominate.

Actually, Rule #1 is as simple as it sounds: Thank you Steadily Skipping Stones for thinking of me when nominating me for this award. I appreciate the nomination as well as your blog. Rule #4 is not so bad either—I will track down emails and let my nominees know how great I think they are. Rules #2 and #3 are not as easy as they sound. For one thing, I am not thrilled about blatantly talking about myself. I know, I know—then why do I write a blog? But there I write about thoughts and things, not about me, but I will do my best.

Rule #3 is perhaps the most deceptive. In some respects it is difficult to limit the nominations to only 15 bloggers; however, I also want to make sure I praise the blogs I feel I know well who consistently offer quality writing and intriguing insights. I did name 15 bloggers when I was first nominated for this award a couple months ago—and I still read them and value their contributions, but I am not going to name them again. But I will again impose a time limit on my selections—I need to have been following the bloggers I nominate long enough to know their work. Figuring that the rules are flexible, I am only going to nominate 5 award winners this time around.

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. I used to be a teacher—that’s not the point. When I was in the classroom, I would try to help students develop their descriptive-writing skills by using a rather traditional visualization exercise. Close your eyes, visualize your favorite place, relish all the sensory details—what do you see? Texture, colors, actions? Then eventually, the students write about what they “saw.” My confession? Whenever I actually do the exercise myself, I cannot see anything—it is all black. My sister has the same problem, so maybe it is hereditary. It seems to be a symptom of my visual memory being poor. If someone says, “You remember, we turned at that red house back there,” you can bet I will not remember! I can draw the layout of my old apartment not because I can see the place in my mind’s eye but because I can use my words to say what the layout was like—and then I’ll draw that. I can recognize faces and such, but I cannot close my eyes and imagine someone’s face and then tell another what to draw, for example.

2. An extension of #1 is that I do not remember my dreams. I think it’s because I just do not see any dreams. I may recall an occasional snippet of dialog and when I was younger I talked in my sleep, but I do not remember my dreams.

3. One of my favorite things to read for escape from day-to-day problems is murder mysteries, especially those that feature dogs. You see, I miss my dog, so I like to see dogs in action in books. There are several series that have dogs as primary characters—the novels are fun, no matter what it sounds like. There are two series that I especially like. Laurien Berenson writes a series that features Melanie Travis, a mom and teacher who also sticks her nose into mysteries; she owns a standard poodle that she shows at kennel clubs—so there are dogs all the place! Susan Conant writes a series that features Holly Winter who is a columnist for a dog magazine; she owns two malamutes who are somehow engaged in solving the mysteries, which also involve other dogs in some way. As an English major from way back, I am rather embarrassed to have admitted liking these works as much as I do. I read good literature too, but these are really fun!

4. I grew up watching TV after school and into the evening. I can remember once when I must’ve been about 13, giving my parents such grief because wherever we were going as a family meant I had to miss The Carol Burnett Show. Ah, the horrors of a life without VCRs or digital recorders! Today, I do not care what shows I miss, but I do have TV on as background most of the time if I am home. In part, little noises drive me crazy, so without the TV on I am constantly distracted by outside noises (kids, pets, plumbing from upstairs, whatever). I rarely just sit and watch something anymore, but it is on for me to keep an eye on while I work on other things. Ah, the fun of multi-tasking!

5. I was amazed the other day when a catalog arrived proclaiming a pre-Christmas sale. It is August, for heaven’s sakes. I was chagrined, miffed, flabbergasted, to say the least. The other catalogs were pushing fall—which is also too early. But after being distraught about how quickly the year is flying by and how our world is bombarded by commercialism, I found myself actually perusing the catalog and thinking about what to order—not now, but eventually. It seems I am responsive to crass commercialism after all. Drats! I would like to be above that, but it does not seem a battle I want to tackle right now. I am resigned to my flaw—much like eating chocolate. I console myself by proclaiming, “I am not a quitter!”

6. Speaking of Christmas, there are several movies that I always watch over the holidays! They somehow represent Christmas. I am okay if I do not watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Most of my favorites are traditional: The Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street (original), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, and Die Hard. Yeah, Die Hard. It somehow says Christmas to me—think setting, bringing presents to the kids, holiday party, and closing Christmas Carol.

7. I am amazed by the power of fortune cookies. They are an extension of the idea that attitude can help dictate feelings. For over a year now, I have been embroiled in a conflict resolution scenario that I am consciously not talking about on my blog. Its resolution is moving forward but very, very slowly. Patience is not one of my virtues, so there are times when I get down over how slowly things are moving forward. I was in one of those funks this week. Then I stopped for some Chinese food en route home one day. It is a drive-thru Panda Express. As I was pulling away from the window, the young woman leaned out of her window and said, “Here—I forgot to put fortune cookies in your bag!” With so much attention drawn to them, I took the time to carefully read the message: “Good News is coming your way. It will be here any day.” Ya know, that silly little piece of paper made me feel better. Go figure.

My Nominees for The Versatile Blogger!

Although I am supposed to name 15 new award recipients, I am naming only five at this time. But there are some other worthy blogs worth exploring. First, please be sure that you visit The Monster in Your Closet; this is by Deborah who first awarded me this prize a few months ago. She is remarkable, brave, witty, insightful—read her work! Also, remember to visit Michelle’s work at Steadily Skipping Stones. If she had not recently been named as a recipient herself, she would be on my list. Her work is thoughtful, provocative and engaging. Second, when I was initially awarded this prize, I did name 15 bloggers to receive the award; they are still excellent bloggers worthy of your time and attention, so visit them as well.

Finally, here are the 5 new bloggers I am naming as recipients, listed below in no special order.

A Frank Angle: Thoughts from the Inner Mind

Frank’s writing is varied, witty, insightful. He presents a range of topics from his “Opinions in the Shorts” that comments on the social and political happenings of the day to a chopped dinner with friends to insights on such topics as food, entertainment and economics.

Meanderer: The Lantern Room, Enlightenment through Photography

Meanderer captures powerful images that show the world through Nature as well as our interaction with it. Sometimes it is a single glorious flower, but other times it is a series recording the harvesting of a hay field or explorations of structures such as windows and doorways and fences. The photos help show the world with a bit more clarity and humanity.

The Petal Pusher: The Incredible Lightness of Seeing (a photo blog)

The Petal Pusher offers photographs that show a great perspective on a variety of subjects that give her readers a new way of seeing the life that is around us as well. For example, we tag along on her vacation to St. Martins, appreciate her take on the weekly photo challenge, and understand her comments on current events and matters of nature. As a bonus, she also offer a Quote a Day, such as “Silence is more musical than any song” by Christina Rossetti.

Coming East: Living Life One Sunrise at a Time

Susan Okaty has been writing her blog for a bit over a year, sharing her views on the life around her with insight and precision. She helps the rest of us see our worlds with more detail and understanding as well. Her subjects are varied (weddings, gardens, loss, past events, photo challenges, current events and favorite things, for examples), but they always pull the reader in and offer new perspectives and some enhanced understanding.

The Pink Underbelly: A day in the life of a sassy Texas girl dealing with breast cancer and its messy aftermath

While her focus is her survival tactics against cancer, her site is so much more than that. She shares a love of life and a willingness to fight for what’s special by commenting honestly about her medical procedures but also about her family and summer activities, about her worries about being a good parent, and about all the things in life we all deal with, whether we are also fighting cancer or not.

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