Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today's Visit to the CornerStone Gardens

Today my brother and sister-in-law met us (my husband, Jim, and my daughter, Kristina) for wine tasting at Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves. We didn't tour the caves but we sat on the huge veranda overlooking the valley and toasted them for their twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. Then we crossed the road to see the gardens and shops at CornerStone Gardens. It was really windy, which was great in the kinetic sculpture garden. These giant sculptures were spinning around in the wind and looked like they were dancing. A wedding was being set up near the water lily pond. The shops were great fun. The mermaids were still there (see my last post) but I seemed to remember their price being $160 last October and now they were $250 each. They weren't singing my song so they continue to live at CornerStone.

We all had a really great time today.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mermaids' Song

Tomorrow we are going to visit the CornerStone Gardens near Sonoma. The last time I visited there I took this picture of the iron mermaids at Artefact Design and Salvage. From the tips of their heads to the ends of their tails I'd guess they are about five feet long. I'd love to have one in my garden. I wonder if they'll still be singing their siren song to me tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Camping is Crap

In honor of summer I thought I'd post this story I just completed for my Low Fat Fiction class. It will probably appear as a chapter in the memoir I'm writing.

My parents always refused to take us camping. The closest I got was when my Bluebird troop had to earn a group campout badge. I guess the other parents weren’t much into camping either, because we just put our sleeping bags on the troop leader’s lawn. We even got to use the bathroom in the house and we never lit a fire because one dad cooked dinner for us on the barbeque.

The Bluebirds certainly didn’t prepare me for my first real camping trip. I was a newlywed, working to put my husband through college. Our grocery budget of ten dollars a week didn’t go far. We wanted a vacation so my boss offered us the use of his camping gear. This consisted of a six-man canvas tent, propane stove, lantern, and a cooler. This was before the days of lightweight, origami camping gear and that tent weighed a ton and barely fit in our '62 VW bug.

We excitedly left the heat of Davis and headed west to the coast and then north toward Victoria, British Colombia. Our first night we stopped in Coos Bay, Oregon. The hard earth of the campground was too much for the flimsy aluminum stakes that were supposed to anchor our tent. We ended up sleeping under the stars—or where we supposed the stars would be, had we been able to see through the fog and the thick cloud of mosquitoes that immediately surrounded us. They were so dense that, while the bug spray kept them four inches from us, we had to move slowly to avoid eating mouthfuls of them if we spoke.

The next night we made it almost to the border of Washington. We were pleased we’d arrived early enough in the evening to set up camp and be able to explore. The stakes worked fine here but the center loop that held up the tent broke as we were trying to raise the tent. We jerry-rigged it with a shoelace and a rock, but we had the poles assembled wrong so just when it seemed like we’d raised the tent, they would twist in unison and the whole tent would collapse. Three hours later we finally had the tent up but it was dark. Our camp neighbors on either side had pulled in after us, set up camp, eaten, and already returned from a hike. We were hungry but the stove refused to light. Defeated, we ate cold ravioli out of the can. Inside the tent we repeatedly tried to light the lantern. Fire began licking up its sides and then, WHOMP, it exploded into flames. Frantically we got it outside and extinguished the fire. We fell asleep, cranky and exhausted.

The following morning our neighbors came by to share how much they’d enjoyed our camping. Said it took them back twenty years.

Later the rains began. Packing that heavy, mildewed tent each day convinced me maybe my parents weren’t so dumb after all.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Russian River Roses

Yesterday we visited the Russian River Rose Company, a lovely little enterprise amidst the vineyards where the owners grow oodles of roses. We arrived too late to grab a basket and help harvest rose petals from the perfume roses. The folks who helped harvest were able to put the petals into some type of device that extracts the rose oil which can then be used like perfume or in rose water. Maybe next year. They harvest during April and May. They also have a small nursery where you can purchase plants and they have a lovely little garden where you are welcome to wander or sit and have tea. These are some of the photos I took.

Sunday Images

I just love peonies.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Still in the Gratitude Groove

Today I am grateful for:

1. Small things that make my life easier like Chafing Gel from Monistat (see photo). Not only is this stuff great for "chub rub", you not so skinny ladies know what I'm talking about here--the thigh area that rubs and causes friction and the kind of heat you don't want. This stuff is also great on your toes and heels when wearing shoes that rub (although my warning here is don't put it on the bottom of your feet unless you like that stepping on a banana peel feeling.)

2. Continuing on this small gratitude roll I want to mention shower curtain rings with small beads at the top to help them roll more easily. I just switched out my expensive, decorative hooks that matched my shower curtain but were always getting tangled up in each other or simply coming off the rod. I can't believe what a difference this little change made. Instead of stiffling a little snarl when I pulled back the shower curtain this morning it glided open like a breeze through my window and made me smile. Anything that makes me smile gets a gratitude point.

3. Peonies. Why? The picture above is worth a thousand words.

4. My friend Sue who reminded me that "Old is when we get stalled in our thinking, when we quit reinventing ourselves to fit the situation, when we really believe that we have nothing to offer the world but platitudes and adages, when we stop being tickled by a new fad or craze..." and she was nice enough to reassure me that I am "NOT" old. I don't think so either but it is always lovely to have someone remind you.

5. The end of a very satisfying season of "Dancing with the Stars". I absolutely loved all three finalists and when Shawn Johnson won it occurred to me that of the three this win just might mean the most to her. Melissa's and Gille's careers are now launched with the exposure they got on the show but I think Shawn may have taken away a kind of confidence that she can do more than gymnastics which, up to now, is all she's really focused on. Now anything is possible and I'm happy for her.


Why is it that when I meet a new person, or even if I'm with an old friend, I take them in with my appraising eye and I notice how their eyes sparkle, or their smile has an endearing little crook, or how the lines on their face tell a story of where they've been and what they've experienced and I love them even more for it? But when I look in the mirror I am not so loving. Not so accepting. Not so kind.

Why is it that when I look at others I see life, and feel wonder and awe, yet when I look at myself I see aging and excess? I feel a bit of panic. How can I fix this? How can I cover up that? What will make me look thinner, younger, more whatever it is that I'm not?

I've been doing this my entire life. At one point I wanted to look older, more experienced, thinner. Hell, I've always wanted to look thinner! I look back at old photos and I think, my god I looked great! Why did I waste all that time feeling "less than"? Why didn't I celebrate that I looked like I did? Why don't I do that now? I am never going to look like the image of myself that I carry around in my head so why don't I just let it go?

My mom used to say things that reminded me that from her perspective, years ahead of me on the road, my age sounded pretty young. So today I have decided to look at myself as I look at my daughters. They are both so beautiful and have so much ahead of them. Today I will look at myself as I look at others. With kindness. With acceptance. With appreciation.

A young man checking my groceries yesterday said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question? You look like you'd give me an interesting answer." I wondered what he saw in me that led him to that conclusion. When I answered his question he smiled and said, "Wow! I knew you'd give me an interesting answer." That was a very satisfying moment.

Today I won't worry about trying to look younger or prettier or thinner. Today I will allow the mask to slip away and just be. Today I will enjoy that a stranger thinks I look interesting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Thirty

"Columbine and Ladybug" -- one of the images from my new digital art series

Today is the final day of the Gratitude Journal experiment. When I began this, thirty days ago, I commented on how Oprah said doing this had changed her life. I don't know if my life has changed exactly, but I will say some good things have begun to happen. I only knew a few people in my new town (I moved here last October) but in the past month I've become part of a screenwriters group, Northern California Screenwriters, and I meet with the same folks every week and feel I'm beginning form some meaningful connections there. I've committed to completing a screenplay by March of 2009 (this will be a first for me!) I've joined two other writing groups and already I'm feeling great affection for some of the writers in these groups that I'm getting to know by all of us sharing our work. The creative juices are definitely flowing and I'm "in the zone" working on my book. I've begun working on some new digital art, something I used to love doing but had not had time for until now.

I don't know if all these things would have happened had I not been keeping this journal but I think I've been more open to seeking out the positive things in my life since I've been doing it. I will continue to keep a gratitude journal on my own and, from time to time, will share new entries here. A few people have shared with me some of the things they are grateful for and it feels wonderful that I may have inspired others to take a moment, here and there, to appreciate the little things in their lives.

Today I am grateful for:

1. A new day, with the chance to choose again and let go of any guilt or regret I feel about mistakes or missteps I've made.

2. My renewed appreciation for how the tiniest bits of beauty grow large when seen in the light of appreciation.

3. The love I receive from my family and friends. I can feel quite tangibly how it sustains me every day.

4. The new friends I'm making through the blogosphere. The threads that connect us all, while not always visible, are powerful nevertheless.

5. All of you out there who've taken time from your incredibly busy lives to join me, even for a moment, on my journey.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-nine

Today I am grateful for:

1. Losing myself for a few moments in the very intense, intoxicating smell of a gorgeous peach colored rose.

2. Elizabeth Berg. She is one of my favorite authors and today I finished her newest novel, "Home Safe", which I loved. The amazing thing was that part of the story mentions Santa Rosa and takes place in Mill Valley where I grew up. I didn't know this when I began the book so it was a lovely sort of surprise.

3. Today was my daughter's last final for the semester so I am done with driving duty every day. In some ways I'll miss the chance for conversation in the car and for the sitting-and-waiting-in-the-car time I use mainly to write, but overall I look forward to having more time to set up my studio.

4. Getting to do more writing now that I'm taking two new classes. Somehow having a class legitimizes for me, and everyone around me, the time I spend just sitting, staring off into space, and actually writing.

5. Feeling really excited about what I am doing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-eight

Today I am grateful for:

1. Receiving notification that one of my uber-short stories, "Tailed by a Dog", has just been chosen for inclusion in "Vintage Voices: Cent’Anni: May You Live 100 Years", the Redwood Writers 2009 anthology. I'm excited that I'm going to be in print! It's a beginning.

2. SITS or The Secret is in the Sauce. It is a collection of lively bloggers and since joining I've gotten five new followers.

3. All of the wonderful folks who follow and comment on my blog. It kinda keeps me going, if you know what I mean.

4. A break in the heat. 100 degrees on a day in May is simply too damn hot.

5. Dreams, both the day and the night variety. I love how ideas bubble up to the surface when we relax enough to dream.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-seven

It's 100 degrees here in the wine country and we foolishly tried to do some weeding in the garden before heading off to the Farmer's Market in Windsor and then the Korbel Champagne Cellers in Guerneville. Jim, my husband, took the garden tour while my daughter, Kristina, and I waited in the air conditioned deli.

Today I am grateful for:

1. The fact that no one had heat stroke while working in the garden.

2. The beautiful drive under arching trees along the River Road on the way into Guerneville. These lush, leafy bowers are enough to prompt poetry to flow from writers' pens.

3. Wonderful samples of champagnes.

4. Finding a Meyers lemon bush at the local nursery. I've been searching for one for several weeks and finally found a reasonably priced one complete with tiny lemon nubs. (I don't know that they're officially known as nubs, but you get what I mean.)

5. A tall glass of Lemon Ginger Echinacea juice over crushed ice when I returned from our adventure. We get this juice at Trader Joe's and it is wonderfully refreshing and, supposedly, healthy as well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gratitude -- Days Twenty-four through Twenty-six

What can I say? My life ate my blog. But I'm back!

Today I am grateful for:

1. Waking up thinking about things I'm grateful for. How cool is that! I've actually started thinking about things I'm grateful for even before I'm fully awake and they bubble up into my conscience as I open my eyes. Maybe this thing is working...

2. My screenwriting group, Northern California Screenwriters, and the energizer bunny, Anne Jordan, who has put it together. She's larger than life and has more energy than anyone I've ever met. She's putting on a screenwriting expo in Napa next March and somehow I've managed to commit to having completed a screenplay by then. (Yes, I'm certifiable--nuts that is.) Anyway, be prepared to see excerpts here as I progress. So I'm grateful now. Ask me again in a few months.

3. My book writing group led by Guy Biederman. Yes, I've been grateful to him before as he leads awesome writing workshops. We met today for the first of three sessions and I'm all fired up about the novel I'm beginning. (You beginning to see how my life ate my blog?)

4. The opportunity to share these writing journeys here with you. I'll be looking for feedback.

5. My garden which is beginning to offer me herbs to use in my cooking.

6. My clean windows in the kitchen and family room. My sweet hubby can't stand dirty windows and polished them all to a gleaming clarity this morning.

7. Turkey bacon. I don't eat red meat and I thought for years that bacon was a thing of the past but this substitute has really come through for me a number of times--great with fresh tomatoes!

8. Capers. Great to eat alone, with salmon, and to cook with (my family would disagree on just about all counts here, but then, I am the one doing the cooking!)

9. Reduced guilt potato chips from Trader Joe's. These are very, very crispy and I am addicted. I still feel guilt, but not quite enough to resist them.

10. Seeing a fun, fast paced thriller that delivered the goods (where so many haven't). It is called "State of Play" and is definitely worth seeing.

11. Automatic sprinklers, without which my yard would surely be toast.

12. The Biggest Loser. I just love this show. This season really inspired me. Not to say that I've trotted my butt into the gym just yet but I've actually been seriously considering it. This is real progress!

13. Treehouses. Haven't you all had treehouse fantasies? What could be cooler than living in the treetops in a cute little Swiss Family Robinson knock-off?

14. Black. While I love color I have always had a love affair with black. I mean, what other color makes you look thinner? Or hides the fact that you've spilled your wine down your front? (Am I revealing too much about myself here?) Or lets you look mysterious or dramatic? Does everyone have a little purple dress in their closet? I would say no. But a little black dress? This color does it all and for that I am most grateful.

15. Good books. Whole worlds and families and adventures held silently on paper between two pieces of cardboard until I unlock the mystery by reading. Miracles really.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-three

Many times in the past I have caught myself "playing desk". This is where I make lists, get excited over colorful clips and glitzy post-it notes, and arrange then rearrange the piles of work in front of me. Endlessly. It can feel fun and satisfying until I realize that I've artfully managed to avoid actually accomplishing anything of depth or significance. Lately I've had the nagging suspicion that perhaps that's what I'm doing here with my blog. Not exactly wasting time, but just playing. Am I avoiding the REAL writing? Does anyone even care? What is the point? (I suppose that writers and artists have always asked themselves that question--sort of the nature of the beast. But still...)

Then I started getting some comments from people that indicated there actually ARE live people out there in the ethers that are reading some of what I write. And I've talked with a few folks who surprised me by literally quoting something they read on my blog. (Now that was a shock!) And today I had coffee with my good friend, Cynthia (A Shimmy in My Spirit), who reminded me that what I'm doing has real value, even if I don't always see it in the moment. I realized that while I do my artwork for pleasure, I write because I can't seem to help myself. I simply have to write. I suppose if I touch someone along the way then I get bonus points, but the payoff is just getting to say what's on my mind and sending it out into the great big unknown. When a voice comes back to me it really is a wonderous thing. And besides, we all should play a bit more.

So today I'm feeling truly grateful for:

1. All the someones who've reached out through space to say hello.

2. All the people who've smiled after reading my words.

3. All those intrepid bloggers out there who've allowed me into their thoughts and their worlds.

4. Getting to see a little more clearly the gossamer threads that connect us all together, regardless of our vast differences.

5. Getting the chance to play in this great, glorious game.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-two

Today I am grateful for:

1. Great neighbors.

2. The IRS. Just kidding.

3. Castello di Amorosa -- a gorgeous winery near Calistoga we visited on Mother's Day. "Bedtime Stories" with Adam Sandler was filmed here. I've posted some photos of it above, including one of Chris who poured us wine and entertained us in the tasting room. He was lots of fun.

4. Dancing with the Stars. I continue to love this show and will feel sad to see who gets eliminated tonight as I like all the semi-finalists. I have to say my favorite is Melissa Rycroft but Gilles Marini is certainly easy on the eyes. I hate to admit that I'm so shallow but I'll definitely feel a hole in my Monday and Tuesday evenings when this season ends.

5. The sweet smell of honeysuckle that fills my backyard.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty-one

Today I am grateful for:

1. How happy my oldest daughter, Bri, is tonight. We spent the afternoon visiting UC Berkeley where she's been admitted as a transfer student in theater. I want to freeze this moment in time, right now, where every fiber of her being is focussed on the absolute, upside potential that lies ahead of her. This feeling is how we should all live every day--focussed on our very best expectations and possible outcomes.

2. Michael J. Fox. I just watched his TV documentary about optimism. It was fascinating to learn that some of us are wired to be optimistic and some pessimistic but how we are nurtured has a big influence on how we view things as well.

3. The people of Bhutan who measure their country's GNH (gross national happiness) as opposed to GNP (gross national product.) I think we all have a lot to learn from them.

4. Corvids. I am so in love with the birds in this family which includes ravens, crows, jays and magpies. They are feisty, smart (they even use tools!), funny, bold and irascible. I feel they have so much to teach me.

5. Guinness. I had one for lunch today and there is nothing else like a cold, creamy Guinness. I feel very lucky to have gotten to tour the Guinness brewery in Ireland a number of years ago.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twenty

Mother's Day has just about come to a close and I have a lot to be grateful for.

1. My mom who, while no longer with me physically, is always with me in spirit. She was a pretty powerful character who shaped who I am more than she could ever know.

2. My husband Jim without whom, let's face it, I wouldn't be a mom at all. He's always up for new adventures.

3. My incredible daughters who agreed, on some spiritual level, to join me on this amazing, unpredictable journey.

4. The hand I've been dealt this time around. It hasn't always looked the way I thought it should but somewhere within it has been the strength and creativity to create new hands when it didn't always seem possible. In this I've had a LOT of help...

5. And for all that help I am tremendously grateful.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Nineteen

Today I am grateful for:

1. My sweet hubby and all the work he helped me do in the garden this morning. He calls himself "Jim the Destroyer." Just point him in the right direction and he'll clear a path.

2. The new Star Trek movie. It was really fun! At first I thought, yes this really is for the 14 to 24 year old male demographic, but it also had great characters and was well cast.

3. Healdsburg throwing itself a party today on their town square. Fun music, good food and a friendly, family vibe.

4. Having a dance concert to go to tonight at Santa Rosa J.C. It should be fun.

5. TiVo. If you have it you know why.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Eighteen

Today I am grateful for:

1. Spring semester is almost over and I should soon have more time to write.

2. Another beautiful day.

3. Air conditioning. Geez it's hot today here in the wine country.

4. The way the sun lights up the leaves in the big tree in our backyard as though the tree was a stained glass window.

5. Basil. I just brought home a little basil bush from Trader Joe's and the pungent scent of those lovely green leaves are enough to take me on an olfactory adventure through Italian vistas.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Seventeen

"Soul of the Rose"

Today I am grateful for:

1. The end of the rain.

2. A sunny day both outside the house and inside--the dark emotional clouds that have been hovering over my daughters seem to have lifted along with rain and now the house is truly sunny.

3. Clean laundry. Clean dishes. A clean house. Okay, I went too far. Not yet a clean house, but two out of three ain't bad.

4. Feeling healthy and upbeat.

5. Conversations on the phone with friends. It is great to feel connected.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Sixteen

We're at the halfway point (unless, of course, this gets to be a habit...)

Today I am grateful for:

1. IKEA. My house is beginning to look like an IKEA catalog. The picture above is of a "curtain" I made at Christmas in my family room. It looks much warmer and glows more in real life but I lack the skill to photograph is properly. We hung these star lights in the window like a curtain. They brighten the corner and reflect in the windows without overpowering the room. We all liked them so much we decided to leave them up all year. Luckily I bought a slew of these so when these finally die I have more just waiting in the wings.

2. Monet and Thiebault (my canaries) singing up a storm despite the gloomy skies outside the window. They remind me that no matter how dark the clouds may seem there is always room for song.

3. Optimism. Wikipedia defines it as, "an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome". I always think of it as "reframing". As long as you can find something, anything, about a situation that is positive, or where you've learned something, you avoid falling into the pit of being the victim. I certainly count myself as an optimist and think it has served me well. It is a subject that fascinates me and I can't wait to see "Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist‎" on TV tomorrow night.

4. Crystals. I'm grateful for all kinds of crystals. While it is fascinating to read about all the healing properties of crystals I guess my favorite thing about them is how they can turn light into rainbows.

5. Martinis--always gin and with three olives. No matter how optimistic you are, or how many rainbows you look for, every now and then there's nothing like a good, stiff drink.

I'm Excited AND Grateful

I am so excited. I just signed up for two writing workshops with my favorite fiction teacher around here, Guy Biederman. He teaches a workshop entitled "Low Fat Fiction" which I took once before. It was there that I wrote "Tailed By A Dog", "One Wednesday Morning" and "Lessons I Learned at Work--The Early Years". These are some of my favorite pieces of writing.

The other workshop of his that I'll be taking is for working on the first draft of my book. Imagine that! I'm really going to start my book with an eye to completing the first draft within three months. I'm throwing out the gauntlet to myself. I'm truly stoked.

Gratitude -- Day Fifteen

Today I'm grateful for:

1. Cinco de Mayo. I'm sure it has great significance for many people but for me it is enough that it is a wonderful excuse to drink a marguerita, mango currently being my favorite.

2. Polka dot and striped doggy poop-pickup bags. If you have to stoop over to pick up poop it's nice you can do it in style.

3. The sun breaking through on a rainy day.

4. Earth shoes. These are practically all I wear these days. For some reason my body feels best walking uphill all day, which is what Earth shoes provide.

5. The rare, to the point of being exotic, moments of silence I get to experience around my house (both daughters are vying with each other this very moment to come up with the goofiest, and most lewd, things they think I could be grateful for. That's them up above.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Friend Makin Mondays

Amber Filkins is hosting a friend making blog today that you are invited to join. Just click the link to her blog (highlighted above) and you can play too. Five toys that remind me of my childhood are:

1. Jacks (I was the master at my playground!)

2. Roller skates (these clipped onto my saddle shoes and I kept the key to tighten them on a red ribbon around my neck. Yeah, yeah, I know. So hold old does this make me?)

3. Chinese checkers (I think it was the spatial relations skills I learned here that allow me now to pack so much in my car's trunk.

4. Careers ( I always went for the hearts and could never understand why the person with the most dollars always won. Come to think of it, I still don't.)

5. Poker (I'd play for hours on end with the girls down the street. Okay, mine was not your run-of-the-mill childhood.)

Gratitude -- Day Fourteen

Today I am grateful for:

1. Broccoli. Not for me so much, although I enjoy it okay, but for my canaries. They go through bags of the stuff, jostling and pushing each other aside to get the best spot. Yesterday I put a huge, juicy blackberry in the dish with the broccoli and they wouldn't go near it. Note to all broccoli growers--beware of canaries. They'll decimate your crops. If you can't get rid of them with scarecrows just put up a giant inflatable blackberry and you'll be good to go.

2. Korbel Cream Sherry. It is sweet and mellow--perfect for a rainy evening (or even late afternoon!) The only place I've found it is at the Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, not too far from where I live. We went there for my daughter, Bri's, twenty-first birthday. As you can see from the photo above, she was pretty keen on the place too.

3. Heirloom tomatoes. I love that they come in such varied shapes and colors--dark purple (they call them black!) through oranges, yellows, pinks and reds. The flavor of these summer gems makes me remember what summer is supposed to taste like. I just bought a dozen plants at the sale they had on Sunday at the Kendall Jackson Winery, also near where I live (Damn, I'm lucky!!!) I can't wait for these plants to bear fruit this summer. I'll be sure to post some pictures when that glorious day arrives.

4. Dark chocolate. Okay. Clearly I'm into a food and flavor flow here so I guess I'll just go with it. I have become very picky about chocolate lately. It has to be rich. It has to luxuriously coat the tongue. And it has to be dark. Heaven...

5. A really tasty, bold red wine. I have a few current favorites but I'm playing the field. I'm happy to take a spin around the dance floor with any that offer a smooth, complex flavor (a hint of cherry, blackberry and chocolate get my attention), but I'm not ready to make a serious commitment to a single wine just yet.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Thirteen

Today I am Grateful for:

1. A post from Black Hockey Jesus over on the blog, "Wind in Your Vagina", entitled "Thank You". I am including an excerpt here:

...Then Lucy started guzzling a glass of water. Lucy performs everyday acts with an intensity that tends to attract my attention. She just tipped her head back and gulp gulp gulp gulp gulp gulp. She’s got guzzling in her genes. Then she went and did that magic little kid thing where they perform a sweetly simplistic act all shot through with profundity and ancient wisdom.

She pulled the tiny purple cup from her lips and made that exaggerated “Ahhhh” refreshed noise. She held it 12 inches away from her face and admired it with sparkling eyes and a delighted smile. She made me smile. I think the cup smiled too. See. Lucy’s smile was not limited by the bounds of her face. Rather, she created an atmosphere that smiled. Everything in her orbit smiled in the smiling. She set the cup on the kitchen table, leaned into it, and said earnestly:

“Thank You, Cup.”...

The entire post is absolutely wonderful, as is the amazing writing of this most interesting dad.

2. Mine That Bird, a magnificent horse that won the Kentucky Derby at 50 to 1 odds, once again proving that fairy tales do come true. (You may notice a theme here in my blog. Yes, I am very big on happy, improbable endings.) The favorite to win, I Want Revenge, scratched before the race. With a name like that, kharma simply had to step in and allow the Cinderella horse to do his thing.

3. Mint juleps which, besides occasional upsets like the one Mine That Bird pulled off, are the best thing about the Kentucky Derby. You can get a recipe at the Kentucky Derby site.

4. Getting to go to a movie with the family today. We are off to see "Monsters v. Aliens" in 3D. Heading off to movie always fills me with excitement and anticipation.

We just got back from the movies and, Yippee!

5. "Monsters v. Aliens" was such fun. I'm so grateful I finally got to see a movie in the theater that delivered on its promise. I stayed and watched the credits at the end and am always astonished at how many folks it takes to make a movie...and I only saw the names of those who made it into the credits. Well they do say it takes a village...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gratitude -- Day Twelve

I'm almost two weeks into my gratitude journal and I find that some days I wonder if I'll run out of things to list. Now that would be positively pathetic, if I were so jaded or numb that gratitude would fail to just pour out from me. And yet...there is always that little fear.

Today I am grateful for:

1. Scrabble. And now the new Super Scrabble Deluxe Edition which has twice the tiles and twice the squares of the original game. This keeps our family busy for long hours each weekend as we gather around the coffee table by the fireplace and try to beat the pants off each other. We are a competitive lot and this is a perfect outlet.

2. Non-stick frying pans. I am actually grateful each time I wash a disgustingly dirty pan when everything slides out so clean and easy by simply running the pan under hot water. Somewhere there is an inventor to whom I owe a big kiss.

3. "Eulogy"--a funny, quirky movie that almost no one I know has ever seen. It has a marvelous ensemble cast including Debra Winger, Zooey Deschanel, Ray Romano, Kelly Preston, Rip Torn and many more. If you get a chance you should really watch it sometime. It begins when the father of a large family dies and all the kids come home for the funeral. I'll grant you this is not a typical setup for a dark comedy but this is not your ordinary family. It is a goofy, highly disfunctional group and their gathering makes me laugh whenever I watch it.

4. Lovely ripe blackberries. We just bought a bunch home. Every mouthful brings back memories of summer mornings as a kid filling buckets of sweet purple fruit that stained my fingers and my lips.

5. Orchids. I have always loved these exotic creatures. Two of my latest images of orchids are shown at the beginning of this post.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gratitude -- Days Ten and Eleven

Once again I have been out and about (a good thing) and haven't had time to sit at my computer reflecting on all the wonderful things I have going on in my life.

Today I am grateful for:

1. Being busy.

2. Rediscovering my joy of creating digital art. I've posted one of my new pieces, "Red Rose Salute", above.

3. Having health insurance. I've been on both sides of this issue and even though it costs a bloody fortune I am grateful we have it.

4. Meyers lemons. I just love the juice from these lemons--sweet and sour at the same time.

5. Lazy conversation in front of a cozy fireplace on a rainy evening.

6. High tea at Lovejoy's Tea Room on Church Street in San Francisco where I spent this afternoon. What fun! Aromatic tea, tiny crust-free sandwich triangles, scones with clotted cream and jam, fresh fruit and conversation with old and new women friends. It's hard to beat an afternoon spent like this.

7. The sound of rain on the skylight.

8. Having my family together for the weekend.

9. HBO (I never thought I'd say that.) I am addicted to three shows on HBO--"Big Love", "In Treatment" and "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". All are engaging, well written and wonderfully acted.

10. A roof over my head and my warm comfy bed that awaits me. (It is almost midnight and my dreams are beckoning.)