365 Grateful: of mice and cookies

IMG_1390A guest Grateful from Charlie Crow:

Remember the book, “If you give a mouse a cookie?”  Yes?  Then let me tell you about my day.

I start the morning by emptying the trash cans around the house.  As I grab the trash from the laundry room,  I notice the clothes on the nifty indoor clothesline are dry.  So I take them down, put them in a basket and head toward the bedroom to dump them on the bed. Oh, but wait.  The bed’s unmade. I probably need to make the bed before dumping the clothes on it. So I make the bed, dump the clothes, sort them, and put them all away.

While I do that, I recall how droopy the clothesline is in the laundry room. I investigate and decide it needs tightened, so I do that. While I’m there, I decide to put another load of clothes in the washer and notice we’re almost out of homemade laundry detergent. I stop to dilute more and glance over at the dryer. Hey, we’re almost out of homemade dryer sheets so, yes, I dig out the scissors, the essential oil and other ingredients and make them! While I’m in the storage room anyway, I notice the new 15-roll pack of paper towels, so I unpack and stack them neatly in the closet.

A little later, I’m backing the car out into the driveway and notice it’s time to change the current John Denver CD to a John Denver Christmas CD. I take care of that little tradeoff, but, to get to the CDs, I have to pass the kitchen. I notice the dishwasher is ready to go save for my morning coffee cup, so I slip that in, reach for the detergent (there’s plenty so I don’t need to make any. Yay.). My gaze lands on the mail sitting on the counter, Visa bill front and center. I decide to go ahead and schedule that payment now; I mean, why not? Sitting at the computer, I gaze out the window and notice the four evergreen bushes in pots waiting for a permanent home. I’ve been meaning to plant them for weeks, and now it’s almost December! I do a quick google search and discover it’s not too late for that. I grab the shovel, wheelbarrow, gloves, and topsoil and start digging. Before long, I’m satisfied by my four settled, fertilized and mulched evergreens.

By the way, did I mention a city waterline broke this morning and we’ve been without water since noon today?  Lesson learned today:  I’m never going to empty the trash again! But I am grateful for one thing:  While performing my chores around the house, I discovered my wife has an extreme sense of duty and loyalty to tasks to which she has committed.  She worked steadily at the computer today for over 10 hours (NO exaggeration) on the classwork for the course she’s currently teaching at a local college.  Her steadfast devotion to her commitments is inspirational and I’m grateful to have a wife who has these traits.

365 Grateful: humor and love

365 - 11-22-2015

So, I had much in common with my dad: my mouth, my brown eyes, my dark hair that whitened early … but what I recall the most is how neither one of us liked to wear shoes. First thing off in the evening after work? Shoes. Maybe we liked the feel of earth beneath our feet, that connection with a living force. I don’t know. He was (usually) good about picking up his shoes. Me? Not so much. Every once in while I’d be suddenly bereft of shoes and have to make my way to the basement. There, I would find them all, scattered among the dirty clothes in the big wooden laundry bin where they’d come to rest after a quick trip down the laundry chute.

Today, what I’m sure of is that old habits die hard. I generally have to search the entire house for shoes, and more often than not, they can be found in the computer room, the first space you encounter when arriving via the garage. Sometimes, you can find ALL of my shoes there, plus a few in the living room and, yes, the less popular ones in the closet. Maybe.

I’m also pretty sure that my husband Charlie is a smart-ass. Because I woke up today, stumbled out to the computer room to check the weather, flipped on the light, and there, leading the way to my desk, were my shoes, well some of them, anyway. The ones that were living in the computer room.

They led the way like sentinels — like guardrails or berms. I laughed out loud for a long while, all alone in the early morning. And you wonder why I love this man? That’s why. Grateful.

365 Grateful: a cookie is a berry is a truffle is a blade of grass

365 - 11-14-2015So, a friend on Facebook recently posted an observation that caught my eye:

When my husband brings me milk with breakfast I drink it because it is so kind of him and because research says it is good for us, but have you ever considered that humans are the only animal in the kingdom that continues to drink milk into adulthood?

A friend of hers replied:

Yes but as I read somewhere, we are the only ones that have cookies!

I laugh. It makes me wonder if humans invented the cookie just as a way to justify drinking milk. I love that thought because, well, cookies.

But who’s to say that other creatures don’t have cookies, too? It seems to me that something another species considers a delicacy or a treat is just another way of translating cookie. To a cedar waxwing bird, the ripe, luscious berries from my Mulberry tree surely translate as “cookies” in its brain. A pig, unearthing a truffle in the forest, surely feels as though it’s finally broken into the cookie jar for a delectable treat. For my dog, I suspect cookies are none other than fragrant, fresh, delicate green grass, among other interesting things.

We humans don’t actually get that, with the possible exception of the truffles, but then we’re probably not supposed to. For many of us, our cookies have chocolate chips or icing and taste sweet and yummy. They go well dipped into a tall glass of cold milk.  (Of course, there are those among us who eschew the sugary cookies for fresh fruit or other healthful alternatives. I think they probably qualify as cookies, too.)

For all the species that share our planet, cookies may carry the same meaning but differ vastly according to each perspective. A snake’s cookie (which may look like an egg to us) is no less a cookie than a freshly baked sugar cookie (with icing) is to us.

So I’m grateful for this fun exchange in the early morning. It broadens my awareness to how we humans bring the world into compliance with our awfully narrow perspectives – how we think and operate and exist. The truth is, we’re just one of many species that live here, and we each have our own viewpoints and definitions of such things as cookies. Sadly, as humans, we even subdivide our own species – by race, by religion, by nationality – and a cookie to one is not necessarily a cookie to another.

Thanks for this early morning Facebook reminder to co-exist with other species – animal, mineral, vegetable (and cookie) – on this green and white ball that’s hurtling through space. And in light of the recent events in Paris, Syria, and countless other places across the globe, may we learn to extend that co-existence to our fellow humans, too.

365 Grateful: of moonlight and clouds


365 - 11-01-2015Right now I’m slipping through three times zones on a flight from Ohio to Seattle. It’s still pitch black out there – my flight ascended at 6 a.m. I swear time’s standing still because it’s still 6, and I’ve already come a long way.

I stare out the window and think that it’s much too early for serious cognitive activity following a restless night spent waiting for the chirp of a phone alarm. My sleep-deprived eyes prove it; they’re slow to recognize the vivid tundra of puffy white clouds out there. Not much wonder, though. This morning I’m gazing down at them, which is nothing like my everyday earth-bound view.

Eventually my brain fires. Ah, these clouds are otherworldly lit, with texture and shadow, light and dark, all glowing and ethereal. I crane my neck and there it is: the Full Hunter’s Moon silvering out the clouds all around us. Ironic, too, for this moon is also the Travel Moon and I, of course, am traveling.

Oh, I wish I could capture that view with all the nuances my eyes see, but plane windows and cameras are not so compatible. Still, I can’t help but think that this moment cups the promise of a different perspective on life.

From our ground-level tunnel-vision perspective, clouds just block the sky, don’t they? They hide the sun. They bring rain – necessary, yet at all the wrong times, it seems. They depress spirits and spoil best-laid plans. When we say something clouds our vision or our judgment, we really mean our thinking’s skewed, occluded: We can’t see clearly.

But here, awash in the soft light of the full October moon so high above the ground, a different perspective emerges – one where silver linings are real, not imagined, and clouds seen from above offer the hope of new insight. Earthbound, we catch glimpses of it in the clouds, but only when the light of the sun or a brilliant moon illuminates.

Grateful for the reminder at this eternal 6 a.m. moment that clouds in any form — in the sky or in our lives — may at times obscure but, if we expand our vision and really look, also hold perspectives to help us uncover an Aha or two. And that’s something worth exploring.

365 Grateful: clouds, sun, and sky

365 - 10-14-2015I stepped out into the middle of a conspiracy the other day: the sun and the sky and the clouds all conspired to create a breath-taking sunrise.

As I stood there just soaking in the view, I realized something …….

Without each of these three entities, there would be no achingly beautiful vision to start the day. That view required the cooperation of those heavy, dark clouds to serve as a foil to the radiance of the sun’s rays. And without the rich blue backdrop of the sky, there could be no canvas across which the sun might spread its rays into the world.

Life’s a little bit like that, don’t you think? The glow of our spirits is never so apparent as when we overcome roiling clouds of adversity and setback, trouble and vexation. Even so, the culminating piece is the backdrop — the living of our lives — that provides the canvas upon which we can see what makes us human, and makes us glorious.

Grateful today for nature’s reminder that what we make of ourselves depends so very much on how we overcome whatever clouds life orders up for us. And that it’s not until we view it across the the span of our lifetime that we truly can appreciate the stunning beauty that emerges.

Grateful for the lessons found in everyday moments.

365 Grateful: katydid

KatydidI thought it was a leaf, looking down, all flat and veined and green there on the concrete. At least until it waved an impossibly long, slender antenna, capturing my attention. Nestled up under the garage door, it must have sought shelter from the encroaching cold of an Autumn night only to find itself precariously perched behind the projected trajectory of the Honda’s tires.

It was my first-ever katydid sighting, surely something not to be taken lightly. I was not about to be a slayer of this curious, green visitor. I hustled it up onto a magic carpet — a handy scrap of paper — and transported it to the hillside so it might find its way back to greenery, to the trees where it likes to spend its nights in concert with its kind, singing, “katy-did, katy-didn’t.”

Grateful for its visit to my garage this morning.

365 Grateful: what makes me smile

365 - 10-16-2015So, I walk into Artsbridge’s offices for the monthly board meeting. It’s often cut-and-dried and business-like, but tonight there are dozens of pieces of art propped up in chairs and ready to go on the walls for an art show. I wander around to look at them, all variations on themes: Two Fish, Truck, Horse, Dog. The coolest part is seeing the different ways to color and design those fish, trucks, horses, and dogs. It’s just awesome.

Artsbridge is great about providing space for emerging artists who might not land a show in a more public space. And, since our mission includes a huge push into education, we also showcase student art, from preschool through college.

These pieces might be right at home on refrigerators, of course — they’re all created by the preschool class at the local Art Center — but I love that we’re putting them up in what may be their very first (hopefully not last) art show. What a potential turning point for a child! We never know when some event in life winds up propelling us through a door to a whole new world or point of view or talent or even career.

My choice (and I’m probably going to have fight off another board member for it) is “Truck in the Sun.” I mean, how cool is that? It’s a happy yellow truck, with a smile (I think), a lovely blue sun, and huge wheels that look sturdy enough to take it smoothly through life.


It speaks to me. And isn’t that the point of choosing art? That it speaks to you and begs for a spot on your wall somewhere?

Today, I’m grateful for two things: Truck in the Sun by Izzy (age 4) and Artsbridge.

First, I’m grateful for the happiness that painting evokes, for how Izzy augmented the truck with an unexpected blue sun, and for the creativity that jumps out at me.

Second (and here’s the best part): Izzy’s helped me reconnect to something elemental in Artsbridge’s mission — the one about bringing art to children and firing their passion for it. What I know is this: while Izzy may or may not become an artist with shows on the walls of galleries and a huge following of fans — that spark of creativity will fire passion and fuel success in life: as an engineer, maybe, or an analyst or a cook or a volunteer or … well, I guess that’s pretty limitless, isn’t it? Which is a good thing for Izzy.