Thankful Thursday 4-30-20

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been a great week. I’ve continued to be hit or miss on sleep. The monthly hormones came and messed with me. I had a monster headache pretty much all day Wednesday and another headache most of the day Thursday (today), though it was closer to pint-sized. There is ambiguity about the reopening process because the state level and the county level aren’t in agreement (or weren’t the last time I had enough brain power to check), not to mention that the community I live in is unique and doesn’t fit in easy boxes, and ambiguity causes its own kind of stress. I could go on.

But, deliberate thankfulness remains a positive exercise. So. This week I am thankful:

Microflowers, 4-10-20

  • that our house did not sustain any damage in either of the severe storms that rolled through this week
  • that both of said storms were overnight, which has meant mostly sunny warm days
  • that, from my perspective as an observer, the online graduation for the school in my community went well tonight. This was the first digital graduation in the twenty year history of the school. They had department based breakout rooms afterwards and I was able to pop into several and say congratulations to most of the people I had wanted to (almost all of whom are not here anymore, having gone back home due to the change in schooling because of the pandemic.)
  • for things that make me smile, including pictures of cute nephews and tiny flowers in the grass. With all the rain earlier this month, and I’m assuming a reduced staff, the landscaping folks have not been as punctual as usual in cutting the grass. This has resulted in hundreds and hundreds of tiny flowers scattered across the grassy areas and they make me smile on my way to work. Pictured is one of several kinds.
  • for friendly neighbors to trade movies with (from a distance)
  • for a nice long, in-person chat with my friend L. It was through her screen door and I still had my mask on from my pharmacy trip, but it was good to talk face to face.

Well, it took longer than I thought it would, but I did make it to my traditional half dozen items, so I’l take it. I don’t have much of a wrap up this week, my brain is running out of juice. But that’s okay, sometimes life happens that way.

Did you have a good week or a tough one? Do you have things to be thankful for whichever way it went? You could put them in the comments below, if you wanted.

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Thankful Thursday 4-23-20

See, now that I’m back into this blogging weekly-ish pattern, I’m remembering the eternal struggle: what to say for an opening line? You don’t want to say the same thing all the time, but there are also only so many ways to start a post that’s essentially about the same thing every time (same general idea, anyway.) πŸ˜› At any rate, I’ve got this one started for now; I’ll worry about next week when it’s next week. πŸ™‚

After a very rainy March and a very cloudy/rainy April so far, we finally have only two days out of the next ten forecast to have 20 or 30% rain chance and they’re not even consecutive. It makes me happy. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately I’m struggling with my sleep for complicated reasons right now, so that’s hampering my enjoyment a bit. But I’m doing what I can. Today, sunny and 83 (28 C), I went and sat on a bench in a little glade instead of going for a walk. I just sat and looked at the sun on the leaves and watched the bees and the butterflies and listened to the shwooshing of the car tires along the road nearby… it was very pleasantly peaceful until the mosquitoes found me. πŸ˜› There is a definite downside to being the mosquito equivalent of chocolate flavored. 😐

So then I got up and went a little way down the trail. I saw a beautiful branch in a sunbeam, brilliant green against the darker background, but my phone camera couldn’t get the light right. I did take this week’s picture a little farther along, some honeysuckle blooming in a clear spot by the trail. Then I turned around and made my way home to leftover pizza – much better when done in the toaster oven rather than the microwave.

Along with the chance to rest in a beautiful spot, I am thankful this week:

  • For lotion to help my hands recover from all the necessary extra washing.
  • For old friends who can give you the giggles even by text from several thousand miles away (thanks M! :-).)

    Honeysuckle, 4-23-20

  • How, under the right conditions, the forest in Spring smells like the jungle I grew up in.
  • That eventually I did find all the things on my list on my first grocery shopping trip in a month yesterday (even though the inconsistent, or complete lack of, adherence to current guidelines by other people was stressful and I wound up exhausted. πŸ˜› ) I am also thankful that I am pretty sure I got enough to be able to stay out of the grocery stores for the next two or three weeks.
  • For the discovery that half sticks of butter is a thing you can buy. I don’t use butter much generally, but as I’m going through the pantry, I’m discovering things I need it for (like instant mashed potatoes.) I know you can buy a four-pack of full sticks and just freeze them, but I already have quite a few things in my freezer and didn’t want to add much more. Then I discovered that it is possible to buy a four-pack of wrapped half sticks (and the price per ounce wasn’t bad), so you can have just a half in the fridge and only a two stick sized box in your freezer. That solved my problem neatly. πŸ™‚
  • For fresh – free! – bright green apples and the video of a friend’s children eating some that made me laugh πŸ™‚
  • For an unanticipated side-effect of cloth masks – because I don’t feel like hand washing them all the time, I’ve been throwing them in with some laundry every few days, which means that I’m more caught up on laundry than I have been in forever. πŸ˜›

Bonus honeysuckle because I couldn’t decide which picture to use

In fact, I’ve got a small load in the dryer now, and I need to get this wrapped up by the time that’s done, because after that I’m taking my tired self to bed (and hoping I sleep; which is not actually a given, in spite of the small amount of sleep last night…). There’s a similar conundrum with the closing paragraph, like the opening line, though it’s a little easier because by this point I have the body of the post I can play off of. Last week I got profound about moments of beauty (I liked that one πŸ™‚ ) but this week I’m just tired and listening to the dryer rumble. So I think I’m going to leave this without the profundity. [side note: ha! I didn’t think that was a real word, but spell check let me have it! πŸ™‚ ]

I do want to do the thing I always do, though, which is invite you to contribute by adding anything you’re thankful for this week in the comments. Maybe you’re thankful your sleep has been better than mine? For your sake, I sure hope it hasn’t been worse…

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Thankful Thursday 4-16-20

It’s Thursday again, even though I had my days confused this week. πŸ˜› I’m a bit late getting this out and I worked on this intro paragraph last, so I’m thinking I’ll just keep it simple this time.

This week I am thankful:

  • That both our AC and our heat work, as we’ve needed them both in the past two weeks. On April 4th we tied a hundred year old record (for that specific date in this area) for the lowest maximum temperature that day, with a high of 48 degrees (9 C). Then, four days later on April 8th, we set a new record for the highest temperature on that date with a high of 97 (36 C), breaking the record of 93 degrees set nearly thirty years ago in ’91. On Easter Sunday we had a warm but rainy high of 82 (28 C), followed by two days ofΒ  brightly sunny 55 (13 C) which is more than fifteen degrees colder than average for this time of year. I’m glad our system works, but it is a bit of a pain figuring out what to wear. πŸ˜›
  • For my friend L, who generously shared some Easter candy with me after I revealed I’d forgotten to buy any (and a pleasant visit at the exchange, carefully distanced.)

    Relaxing 4-15-20

  • For my friend M, who has hung her hammock by the side of our triplex and gave me an open invitation to use it, which I enjoyed doing yesterday and today after work.
  • That my lungs do still work and I can indeed still take a deep breath on my own, even when a mask makes that harder.
  • For the positive response to last week’s post, which made me smile. πŸ™‚
  • For good food that I didn’t have to cook – our chef at work made taquitos today, along with made-from-scratch salsa with just the right amount of bite, and it was a delicious lunch. I know a lot of people are having the adventure of needing to provide three meals a day for themselves, every day now, instead of being able to have dinner out or have lunch at that place next to the office or whatever they were used to. I am glad that at least five meals a week are not my responsibility. (And that our chef L is such a good cook!)
  • That the slower pace of life has given me a chance to notice the little things again – the path of a snail after the rain, a bunny in the grass, sunlight on the curve of a branch, the layers and shades of green you can see looking up from under a tree (and how they change as the light shifts), the texture in the ridges on the edge of a tiny leaf the vigorous wind landed in my lap…

    So tiny, yet intricate 4-16-20

I’m not going to act like things are easy – things like not being able to give my friend a goodbye hug two weeks ago are definitely hard and the longer this goes on the more I miss being able to touch people – but being thankful and noticing the little pieces of beauty help. Hopefully at some point the weather will settle down and we won’t have this wild swinging to deal with on top of everything else. For now, though, I’m grateful for good forecasting and I know that someday I’ll be sweltering and look back on the cool days with fondness.

Have you had time to notice little things in your slowing down? I know not everyone has extra time – especially stay at home moms with fewer options to get out of the house now and perhaps more children with them all day than before. But in the moments you do have, look around at what you can see. What small pieces of beauty can you find?

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Thankful Thursday 4-9-20

Well, I had a funny post planned about my discovery a while ago of the joy of topping your plain cheesecake with Nutella, but with the state of the world these days due to the coronavirus that seems a little off. (Honestly, though, it is delicious and if you have the opportunity you should try it.) A friend recently reminded me about deliberately finding something to be grateful for each day in this time of isolation, which reminded me of when I used to do these Thankful Thursday posts every week. So, here I am again.

Just a quick update for folks who read this that I may not be in text contact with: my job at the Dining Hall is still currently open, though we are taking it one day at a time on that and are take-out only with significantly reduced customer numbers. The place where I live is on stay-at-home restrictions, which matches with the county we are in. It is currently ‘stay at home except for grocery/gas runs, essential medical things, and if you work at an essential business or service’ and not a full on lockdown-don’t-go-out-of-your-house. I am hoping that doesn’t come, but will do my best to comply if it does. My heart goes out to folks in the really hard hit areas of the country and the world.

With that taken care of, back to the objective of this post, which is to be intentional about finding things to be thankful for. This week, in no particular order, I am thankful:

  • for the fact that I still have a paying job
  • that and the fact that I have a housemate means I can still see and talk to people in person, even if I am choosing not to touch anyone for the sake of the people I work with. Some people who live alone and now work from home don’t have that. Digital contact most certainly helps, but it is not the same.
  • that someone offered to help us by looking for toilet paper on their early morning shopping run a couple weeks ago and so now we have enough to last us a little while, instead of “only one on the roll and one in the cabinet” that we were down to for several days. That was just bad timing with us running out of what we’d been using right when everyone else was using buying toilet paper to help themselves feel in control of at least something in all this upending.

    Yellow iris in the sun

    Yellow iris, 3-24-20

  • that last week the sun finally came out after ten days of rain and clouds and my reduced hours at work meant I could get out with my camera and enjoy myself taking pictures of the flowers that are flourishing as a result of all that rain (hopefully a Spring pictures post is coming, we’ll see.) We had two sunny days this week as well, between the cloudy ones.
  • that I have good enough internet connection to be able to stay in touch with people from my church by group online meetings
  • that, strange as it currently feels, we are still able to go forward with a digital/online Easter observance – we are not under persecution of the sort where we could not do what we are doing
  • that a global pandemic does not change the Truth we celebrate at Easter
  • that, now that cloth face masks are recommended for the general public, several ladies in the community have been kindly sewing and donating them, so I haven’t had to struggle through making some myself (I could do it, eventually, as long as I was okay with none of the seams being straight, but it’s been nice to not have to.) As a bonus, I got some pretty blue ones. πŸ™‚ I am not a fan of actually wearing them – I don’t like the hard to breathe feeling, not to mention that said stuffy air gets routed up between my glasses and my face, often fogging my glasses up unless I’ve got them positioned just right… but I know that, like the other sacrifices we’re being asked to make, this is for our collective good and hopefully won’t last forever. So I am choosing to look on the bright side – I didn’t have to make the ones I have and they are colors I like – and remembering that it is a small suffering in the grand scale of things.

Okay, I am going to stop there or else I’ll never get this posted (it’s been almost two weeks in the draft stage as it is.) As I said, hopefully there will be more posts coming – I have a lot of pictures (currently all still unsorted on my camera) and I think continuing to be deliberately thankful will be good for me – but I am also giving myself the option not to write, to have freedom from the internal pressure. If I do have the time and energy, I’ll be happy to share with anyone who is still reading after over a year of silence here.

If you’ve made it this far – thank you! Assuming that you’re being affected by this virus too, have you been able to find things to be thankful for in spite of all the changes? Would you mind sharing in the comments below?

Oh, also – Happy Easter! I hope, whatever it looks like for you and yours this year, that it is good.

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Books I Miss

Β  The above post from 2012 made me think about the books I reread… I reread a lot (I have even, more than once in my life, reread a book immediately after finishing it.) But it was the phrase “good, familiar, comfort books” that really got me to thinking.
Β  All of the books I’ve had for a long time are packed away right now; the books on my bedroom shelves have all been with me no more than the three and a half years since my most recent move. So, in the context of “comfort book rereads” and books that are boxed up, I thought of not necessarily the books I’ve reread the most times, but the books that I miss the most and wish I could reread. Here is my top ten list of books I miss:

Cover of Night WatchI miss all of my Discworld books, really, but especially Night Watch, Hogfather, and Witches Abroad – my favorites of their respective subseries – by Terry Pratchett. Night Watch and Hogfather were both bought in airport bookstores when I was flying a lot during college; I believe Witches Abroad was given to me by my oldest brother my first Christmas at college and was my introduction to that particular hilarious and fascinating trio of characters. I love the weaving of fairy tales through that story, how it pokes fun at them and yet acknowledges their power at the same time. For several years I read Hogfather every Christmas season. πŸ™‚ I enjoy its satire of Christmas traditions, pointing out just how many of them make little sense, while still telling a good story and making me laugh. “Oh, there has to be something in the stocking that makes a noise, otherwise what is 4:30 a.m. for?” (Terry Pratchett, Hogfather) I could read the fantastic time-slip novel Night Watch every spring, but I don’t. I certainly do think of Sam Vimes every time the lilac comes pushing up over the backyard fences, though.

Daughter of the Forest coverThe Sevenwaters Trilogy, Β by Juliet Marillier; Daughter of the Forest,Β Son of the Shadows, andΒ Child of the Prophecy. I first encountered this historical fantasy trilogy set in ninth century Ireland and Britain during my barely-post-college days on a recommendation from a friend and I borrowed her copies. When I moved states about six months later, I left a sentimental hoodie behind at her place. A mutual friend, also a fan of the books, was now living in that apartment and kindly mailed my hoodie back to me – with a bookstore gift card. So, in honor of the good times I had shared with them, I used the card to buy the three books, and I think of those young ladies when I read them. It’s easy for me to identify with the heroine of the first book, Sorcha ofΒ Daughter of the Forest, whose influence runs through the trilogy; a small sister trying to keep up with the adventures of older brothers. Though she’s got double the older brothers I do and they ran through a forest instead of a jungle. It’s been years since my last reread, though, and I miss Sorcha and her family.

Lord of the Rings one volume cover, the version I haveThe Lord Of The Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. An online conversation one September – the birth month of certain Hobbits – made me realize just how long it’s been since I read the whole epic fantasy trilogy. I have a one-volume version, bought back in 2001 when the movies were just reigniting the popularity, but before the second and third movies came out. I actually watched The Fellowship of the Ring without having read any of the books besides The Hobbit. The credits rolled and I thought “That can’t be how the whole thing ends!” So I went the next week and bought the one-volume book. It took me a while to work through it that first time, it is over a thousand pages with the appendices and index, but it was indeed a much better ending. πŸ™‚ My copy has a ticket stub from the Pebble Beach Aquarium as a bookmark, from a family trip we took while I was reading it the first time.

Starship Troopers cover, the version I haveStarship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. Just before I wrote this post [which, admittedly, was in the draft stage for quite some time] I tried some free Kindle books and found several… subpar military science fiction books. It made me miss one of the well-written classic good ones. πŸ™‚ I first read my eldest uncle’s copy – more than once, I think – until I broke down and bought my own while living in Pennsylvania in the late 2000s. Mine is a new-edition cover, and not the classic paperback size, but I think I had a coupon and that was what the store had. I know the book is controversial for its militarism and political threads, but I love it for the characters, the coming-of-age story, and the old ’60s sci-fi feel.

FireLineCoverHonorable mention: Fire Line: Summer Battles of the WestΒ by Michael Thoele. Conversations with my mother [again, recent to starting this post] about her teenage summer as a fire lookout in a metal tower in northern California made me miss the wildland firefighting stories in this book. There are some great photos included, even a picture of a tower that looks like the one she worked in. I first encountered a story from this book in an anthology on Fire that I bought from a library sale. Several months later I had some birthday money to spend and decided to take a risk on ordering a book I hadn’t actually read (unusual for me.) I’m so glad that the whole book turned out to be as good as that excerpt – it reads like oldtimers sitting around the campfire swapping fire stories, incredible but true, with a bit of history and occasional technical explanations thrown in to help those of us who don’t know.

Β  Well, there you have it. That started as just a list of titles, then I began to add in what made me miss those books in particular, which then tied into how I’d gotten some of them, so I decided to include that information for each book. It probably tells you a lot about my psychology or something. πŸ™‚
Β  What about you? Do you ever miss books? What books do you (or would you, if you could) reread? I love book recommendations! πŸ™‚


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Thankful Thursday 11-1-18

I skipped a week by not posting last week and didn’t mean to, but ah well, life goes on. Things get dirty and things get cleaned. Things break and things get repaired or replaced. Food gets eaten, friends get hugged, cute kids get smiled at. Life goes on.

Over the last two weeks, I have been thankful:

  • That I have enough clean and hole-free socks that “reorganizing my sock storage” was a thing that needed to happen. Among other things, I sorted them for seasons – now all the knee socks and fuzzy socks are together in one place.
  • That when my hands slipped in the process of pouring from the #10 can into the smaller container and I spilled a large amount of jalapeno juice on the floor, it was late in the day and I could take my time cleaning up, instead of happening in the rush before lunch, or when there was a lot of traffic through that part of the kitchen. Sometimes it takes more effort than other times to be thankful. I did not enjoy that cleanup process, but it could have been worse.

    Man in kilt attempting to turn/toss large piece of wood called a caber

    Caber toss, 10-27-18

  • For fine weather for the Scottish Highland Games I went to with friends on Saturday. These were my third Highland Games in the last two years – that is, my third time going to an event that isΒ just the Games, I’ve been to four Celtic Festivals which also included Games. This time was much nicer than the Games at the same location back in February, when it rained sideways for half an hour before they started, and was twenty or thirty degrees colder. πŸ˜› We had more fun this time, and enjoyed some good barbecue after.
  • That two of the maintenance workers were able to find a small spring from a hardware store to replace the one in our ice maker that had bent and was keeping a water valve from functioning the way it should have. This allowed our nearly twenty year old ice maker to keep working long enough for the new one to arrive, thus sparing us from having to buy any ice while we waited.
  • For the new ice maker arriving sooner than we had thought it might, and for the installation this morning going smoothly. Because it has a stainless steel exterior instead of a plastic one, it is very shiny. πŸ™‚ And hopefully easier to clean. I will say, though, that an industrial ice machine dropping fresh ice into a large empty bin is quite loud. Our old machine almost never got actually empty, so there was always old ice for the fresh ice to land on. The new machine should (I hope) run without trouble all night, so the bin should be fuller and quieter in the morning.
  • For sunshine with patchy clouds today after intermittent torrential rains yesterday. It was even warm enough that I sat outside for my afternoon break and enjoyed my Greek yogurt on a bench. It should be warmer tomorrow, I believe.
  • That I was able to figure out the problem I was having with downloading my audio books, so now I have them and can listen on my little mp3 player. Though I haven’t listened to them all yet, four of the five have British narrators and just listening to the samples makes me smile. πŸ™‚

I’m glad to find things that make me smile, little things to enjoy like a warm bench, or a tangy orange, things to be thankful for. What makes you smile? What have you been thankful for this week?

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