giving thanks, day #11: for art & ordinary beauty ~

giving thanks, day #11: for art & ordinary beauty ~

Today is a brilliant fall day. Following a drizzly, gloomy day. Which is much better than the reverse, right? Everything has a lucent sheen to it ~ light almost halates: there are tiny haloes around pinpoints of sunlight. I’m grateful for that.

And when I went to look for a pic to add to the blog (Creative Commons ROCKS!), I found Nick Saltmarsh’s lovely mural. What a great piece of art! Whimsical, and very Portland (put a bird on it). I’m grateful for this, as well.

In fact, today’s big gratitude is for both found & made beauty. Many of my friends are artists: painters, metal workers, cartoonists, bookbinders, weavers. And more: gardeners, cooks, cabinet makers. People who leave, in their wake, beauty they created w/ their own hands. It’s an amazing talent! And when I’m depressed, it’s a never-fail way to remind me that there is much good in human beings, despite current issues.

Found beauty is another element entirely, and may deserve its own post. But today, I’m grateful for beauty in general, and I’m not really distinguishing between the beauty of sunlight on a refractive surface, and the art of handmade glass. Both fill me w/ content. And I’m very grateful for that.

The Buddha tells us to live in the now of things: that there is only this breath, this moment. And I wonder if part of the ‘now’ is the beauty of each moment ~ the feel of the breeze rounding the deck corner, the bright autumn sky. How the last few leaves sift from the almost naked branches to the vivid carpet below. If I stop, and look around, and breathe, my heart stills, and I forget — for entire minutes! — my grief at a world so very full of hurt.

If I just let go of my hurt, long enough to sit in this perfect now (and yep: I do realise it’s pretty hokey sounding!), I stop hurting. Sure it returns, but never in quite the same searing sharpness.

So go sit where your gaze fall on something lovely, and just sit there, looking. Breathe in, breathe out. It’s enough, I promise. Do it a few times. And I really don’t see how you can avoid feeling grateful. ❤️

day #10 giving thanks: in praise of little things ~

day #10 giving thanks: in praise of little things ~

There are days when a LOT of (little) things go wrong, on top of whatever BIG thing is pressing you like you were a 1/2″ thick panini. That would be today. The coffee grinder (for the beans that rescue my dull morning following my sleepless night) is making a … well, the WRONG kind of grinding noise. And taking it completely apart, cleaning it multiple times, & reassembling it has NOT set it to rights. I improvised a tea blend — not successful (fyi: lapsing soughing & spice tea do NOT make a smoky chai; they make a mess).

Plus I’m all achey from my flu shot. And yes: I know you don’t get flu from flu shots. I also know that they give me a low-grade fever, and my arm hurts. Hence last night’s sleepless night. And then?? A small wren (one of my favourite birds…) got in to the house, & before I could save her, the dog pounced on her & broke her tiny bowed back…

This is a verrry roundabout way of sharing what I do on days like today to remind myself there are still things to be grateful for. (Believe me, today was not a day when they were overly evident!) But here is what I found:

I can clean off a shelf I’ve been meaning to do, & it brings order to my scattered thoughts. I’m grateful that I remember to work w/ my hands when I’m down.

And I can always sit in the sun — that helps enormously. It’s hard to be depressed & gloomy when the sky is brilliant blue, & the sun a warm honey. I even had a tiny bee visit me!

There’s also the joy of ordering in! Thai soup — my comfort food — is a sure-fire gratitude builder. And having my  beloved suggest it? To spoil me a little? Gratitude squared.

In other words, when life conspires against you — in both the large & small places — it’s the little things that will help you remember content. It’s a perfect scarlet leaf, a bite of Thai soup. It’s the barely audible hum of a tiny bee, nuzzling your hand. It’s the underlying fabric of everyday life, made lovely in this autumn of our discontent.

And it’s well worth my humble gratitude.

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! ????



giving thanks: day of gratitude #6 ~

giving thanks: day of gratitude #6 ~

In keeping with my focus this month on everyday pleasures (achievable by most of us), today I’m grateful for watercolour pencils. Yes, really. They’re an inexpensive ‘luxury’ (no one ever died for lack of watercolour pencils, I’m sure!), but one that I increasingly rely on.

Most days — probably 4 out of 5 — I ‘draw’ my day. In a small ‘graph,’ I colour the day’s weather, my mood, and then I draw a kind of doodle ~ a variation on a Zentangle. Unlike most true Zentangles, I don’t fill in every millimetre of white space, and I do colour it. With those coloured pencils I’m grateful for. (And fyi: I’m also grateful for the pencil sharpener that keeps them nice & pointy!)

It’s a small moment out of my day, but it’s pleasant to try to distill my mood to colour (or colours). If the limited colours in my two boxes (I have four!) of pencils don’t provide me w/what I want? I can layer colours, then add a wash of water, & I have a colour I may not even have a name for. How cool is that??

Because art — even our own pretty lousy attempts at it! — is the best of therapies. When I colour w/ my pencils, or crayons in a colouring book, I’m lost to stress. All that exists is the colour in front of me, and the one to come. Sometimes the ways in which they relate, too. But not what I ‘should’ be doing, or what I’ve ‘forgotten’ to finish.

Adults do far too little play. We make everything (sometimes even play…) into work. And it’s sad. I love to colour — I even have 2 colouring apps on my phone & iPad. Those aren’t everyday pleasures, I realise, as they require smartphones, which many Americans flat can’t afford. I don’t apologise for my material happiness, but I’m well aware that it isn’t everyone’s good fortune.

Still, coloured pencils aren’t pricey. Not even the watercolour kind (which are MUCH more fun!). And you don’t need a fancy colouring book — you can use a straightedge, and draw a graph, and find ways to fill those neat boxes, one by one.

Try it! It may be the key to helping you relax as we enter an increasingly hectic pre-holiday season. ????

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.