giving thanks, day #8: cashmere, & other warm soft things

giving thanks, day #8: cashmere, & other warm soft things

Today is a typical November day, at least for Oklahoma. It’s rainy — just a thin drizzle — and a bit cool. 62°, which may sound warm to Yankees, but with the damp? It seeps into Okie bones. Especially aging ones!

So when I dressed for the day, I pulled on an old favourite: a cashmere pullover. And no, it really wasn’t the splurge it sounds. I probably should, one day, give thanks for the education in shopping I received from my old ladies, my mother, & then my in-laws. Each in his or her own way schooled me in bargain hunting: I rarely pay full price for anything, & certainly ‘not luxury’ items. Like a bright blue cashmere sweater…

No, I sign up for ‘we love you, loyal customer’ discounts & notifications. And I shop when things are 30% or more off. Sometimes, they’re even on sale before the discount! Hence my recent purchase of new sheets, on sale AND 50% off total price!

So while I certainly recognise my myriad privileges, this sweater isn’t as big a one as it might seem. And on a cool fall afternoon, when I’ve left the backdoor open for a flighty cat & a picky dog, I give thanks over & over for soft, warm, things. For the hand-knit throw my 3rd sister gave me one year. For the vivid turquoise cashmere muffler my elder son bought me for Christmas a few years back. For sweaters, & caps, & gloves. For the gentle hug of soft wool, and the goats that offer it up to herders & carders & spinners & all. Here’s hoping they are as happy being cashmere goats as I am with their wool, in my soft pullover.

And just FYI? You can find GREAT cashmere bargains at resale shops! ????



a month of giving thanks, day 5: in praise of tea ~

a month of giving thanks, day 5: in praise of tea ~

Today I sat down to afternoon tea, as I do many days. I often start the day w/a cappuccino, which I make myself. But in the afternoon — especially one where I’ve been doing a lot of this & that — I want tea. In a pretty teapot, swathed in the perfect tea cosy. Set on a tray with a plate of some small treat. In other words? An oasis of calm & peace in an otherwise hectic day.

Since I had a pumpkin scone left over from a foray into town to look at lamps for our new house, I made plain tea — a nice English breakfast. With milk & Demerara sugar cubes. And a small pot of strawberry jam to go on the slathering of butter I swiped over the scone pieces. Then I sat down at the breakfast table, in the slant afternoon light, & inhaled tea steam. And peace.

Tea is such a peace-maker. Probably a peace-keeper, as well. For me, however, it brings in its fragrant leaves the reminder that life is best when we breathe. ???? Slooooowly. Deeply. And inhaling tea is as good a way to practice that as any!

This next afternoon, you should find a mug (or a cup & saucer), and pour some boiling water over a tea bag, or a scoop of loose tea in a strainer. Add a dollop of honey or raw sugar. Milk is good, if the tea is suitable for milk. If not? Just stick w/ honey. Hold that mug of peace & comfort up to your face & breathe. Let the warmth remind you of sunlight, and the smell of leaves startled by the hot water take you back to childhood tea parties, when life was far less complicated.

It’s a good practice, and one I give thanks for daily.


giving thanks: day of gratitude #4 ~

giving thanks: day of gratitude #4 ~

As I noted yesterday, I’ve already voted. And, I’ve also taken myself off FB until after the election. The result? A bright expanse much more contented time. Today, I sat on the deck, as I do most clement mornings, and wrote in my morning pages. I do this most days, and while I don’t always make my 4 small pages goal, I do write. Almost daily. And I have for a few months now, as well as sporadically in the past.

What I noticed today was a lightening of heart. Really: something about being done w/ this whole election year (& yes: I know there will be fallout after the election, but it’s DIFFERENT) is so freeing. Just because… I already got it over with!

So what I’m grateful for today is just that: I’m done! Whoohoo & praise the universe! I don’t have to read the editorials in case I missed something. I don’t have to listen to weak arguments (or what passes for one) from folks who think they may change my mind. I don’t have to even THINK about this crap! How cool is THAT??

And I wonder: how many of the things I dread, in my otherwise damn near perfect life, could be dismissed if I just did something? You know — instead of dreading & whining about it? Just a thought.

That’s my gratitude today: I’m grateful for freedom from the vitriol this election has filled the media with — both social and un-. I’m grateful for a space to breathe, and get on w/ my ordinary (but very precious) human life. It’s such a Buddhist realisation, isn’t it? That action bring peace. Now, if I can just remember this epiphany…????!


giving thanks: day of gratitude #3 ~

giving thanks: day of gratitude #3 ~

Today I’m giving thanks for a two-hour line I stood in. Seriously: I stood in line for TWO HOURS to vote early. I can’t even imagine what lines will be like on Nov. 8th! Sheesh!

And you know what? I’m sooo grateful! For early voting, so I can put this entire contentious, heart-breaking, head-numbing election year behind me. I’m soooo ready!

In truth, I really am grateful for the voting rights I have. Hardwon by women decades gone. Suffrage has always been a controversial right, for women, for people of colour, for non-landed gentry. It’s what has marked this country as a democracy, since before the Boston tea party.

So today, my gratitude is for a state (even though it’s verrry red) that honours voting rights. We haven’t (at least not yet) enacted laws like some states, that impinge on the rights of the poor, the non-white, the non-privileged among us, to vote. And I’m beyond grateful for that.

Give thanks for your right to vote, folks. Men & women over the past centuries have died so you can help choose our leaders. And then? Get out there & exercise it!!


giving thanks: day of gratitude #2 ~

giving thanks: day of gratitude #2 ~

Today is day 2 of giving thanks month (more commonly known as Thanksgiving month… ????). It takes an entire month just to scratch the surface of all this life offers!

One of my ‘superficial’ — but not really! — gratitudes is a washing machine. Seriously: I told my husband, before we married to move to his new job in Algeria, that I would NOT wash our laundry by hand. And I didn’t: I found the only laundromat in the city of Alger, and spent one day a week doing laundry. IN A MACHINE, the way the universe intended!

Each week I schlepped our laundry in the carpool we shared w/ ‘the bachelors,’ 4 single guys. Since the care was a tiiiiny Renault, putting the 6 of us in it, as well as a week’s laundry, was no small accomplishment. I would parse out our linens, our darks & lights, into the small washing machines, & visit w/ the woman who owned the laundromat. At lunch, I would leave my laundry (with her permission) & walk a mile or more downhill the Didouche Mourad (the main drag) to my husband’s office. We’d  have lunch, and then I’d climb the many many steps back uphill to the laundromat. I’d bring a book from the Consulate library, and read until it was time to go home. The guys would pick me up, we’d cram the neatly folded clean laundry into the boot of the R4, and home we’d go.

I have no idea how many THOUSANDS of loads of laundry I’ve done in my life. Suffice to say, I will remember laundry as a defining element of parenthood. Beginning w/ infancy, into sports clothes, then the clothes that come home w/ college kids… I’m not kidding: I sooo hate laundry that when my husband was working overseas, we figured out the time by how many laundry days it would be before we saw each other again.

Don’t take your 1st world blessings for granted, folks. I think of Saliha, who lived across from in that long ago city of Algers. With 10 living children (not including 4 still birth/miscarriages), she did the laundry for ALL OF THEM by hand. In her kitchen sink, across the ventilator shaft from my own. We would stand beside our windows as she plunged garment after garment into hot water. Visiting to while away women’s work.

So no, I almost never take my appliances for granted! And certainly not my washing machine! Giving thanks for it is, in a small way, honouring the millions of women throughout the world who have so little when I have so much. Which is another thing to be grateful: my life of plenty. Including a washer, dryer, and so many other ‘ordinary’ conveniences…