Sunday, November 30, 2008

One Single Impression: Two Prompts -
Welcoming and Childhood Memories

(Please scroll down for the final Gratitude post.)

This week's prompt for One Single Impression was "welcoming." I missed last week even though I really wanted to participate so I have added a response to that prompt at the bottom of this post. I warn you in advance that it is very long and gloomy. Sorry about that.

Welcoming each day

My gratitude unbounded

How awesome is life


I have slowly learned

To welcome all life offers

Not always with grace

But with a desire to trust

To find beauty in all things


This poem for last week's prompt is VERY, VERY long. I just wrote it. I have not polished it. It took two weeks and a half dozen false starts to get anything, yet I wanted very much to respond to that prompt.... so I did, just a week late. My apologies for the length and the.... darkness of it. This is what I come up with after a month of writing about gratitude. What's wrong with this picture?

Childhood memories are rare and full of pain

Part of me thinks still that I had a happy childhood

I was more fortunate than many, I know that

I had a home, a family – crazy as they were –

I had food to eat, ideas and books

I wasn’t Unloved

Just badly loved

Not out of malice or malevolence

But my parent’s own woundedness

They meant no harm

I believe that

My brother, I think, did

He loved me and hated me both

I don’t know why

Some mis-firing synapses in his brain, no doubt

Doesn’t really matter any more

Though his cruelty, his madness

Has etched itself into my bones

Scarring them with the acid of his devious hate

Sometimes he was mean, you see

But often, his malice was coated with sugar

Always it was excused, explained away

By a mother who thought she could pretend it into submission

Then there were my two fathers

The elegant, brilliant actuary and the slobbering fool

Oddly, it was the drunk Dad who I knew best

I was his caretaker

We made music together Drunk Dad and I

Those close moments at the piano

Him lurching

Tuning and retuning his mandolin

Sitting too close on the bench

Breath strange, eyes red and glazed

Those are my “happy” memories

I didn’t understand until years later

Until my 40s

How afraid I was

Didn’t understand that life on watch

Is not normal

I remember watching him make drinks

(I was server)

Chugging shots as he did

Drunk before he had his first official sip

I remember watching him at dinner


Take all the food onto his plate

Before my turn

My mother’s anger simmering

I remember once my mother packing all her things

“I’m leaving,” she said

But she didn’t mention me.

What about me?
I remember that as being on my birthday

Though I doubt it was

Just my psyche’s code

You are to blame

They would have been ok without you

Be good

Be very good

You must atone for existing

Oddly, aware as I was of my father drinking

Of how he got so drunk

The power of denial is so strong

It took my sister’s anger one day

“You’re drunk” she yelled

I was in my 20s.

“Aha!” my brain cried at last.

“That explains it.”

It’s not that there were no happy days

I think there were.

But I think I wasn’t there

I lived my childhood

Both hyper-vigilant and out of body

It’s how I survived

I still feel guilty

Saying all this

(And there’s so much more)

My parents were good people

How can I betray them so?
They did their best

I have no right to blame them

To be sad or hurt or lost

Even now

I don’t know what’s the truth

Was I a lucky child?
My mother said I was

And ungrateful too

Certainly compared to her

I had a golden childhood

She reminded me of that constantly

As she spilled her own grief into my child heart

I listened to her story

And felt it as my own

In therapy years later,

I realized that her memories were so vivid in me

It was like they were my own.

They are terrible memories

Brutal and harsh

My life was so much better

How can I complain?

I don’t complain really

I try not to

The bad came with much good as well

And in the end I am who I am

Because of both

My weaknesses and strengths

Emotional Siamese twins

Operating for good and ill from the same source

This is long


I do not speak easily of the child I was

She is lost to me and she rules me both

I am still trying to make peace with her

With them

With pain

With shame

With love and loss and confusion

So tangled together

That at 60 years I still can’t sort them out

I don’t know why I remember the bad

More than the good

I am ashamed of that

But it’s how it is.

Gratitude, Day 30

Well, it's November 30th and the final day of the Linda-inspired gratitude month.

Well, let me begin by saying that I'm grateful for Linda herself and am proud to be her honorary aunt. Linda is my niece Cindy's closest friend. Their wonderful children are friends and play together. Reading Linda's blog, reading about her struggles and joys as a mother and a human gives me a sense of joy and gratitude for the goodness there is in the world, for our capacity to love and strive and move through life's light and dark moments with grace and an open heart.

I feel like my life has been richly blessed with interesting and wonderful people. When I first ventured into cyberspace, it opened my somewhat closeted life to a world of interesting, kind, creative people. The blogosphere has introduced me to a whole new set of people who I get to know in a deeper way. And the real world offers me my nieces (Cindy and Diana) and my nephew (Matt), my great niece and nephew (Ani and Trevor), kind neighbors and friends, those I see regularly and some with whom I only have occasional contact these days. I really love people, even the ones I don't much like. At core, we are all struggling to find happiness, to find ourselves.

I'm so grateful for - the world of books and words. I started a post the other day listing books, but It was getting kind of long and complicated.... there are so many wonderful books that have touched my life, changed me, enriched me, entertained me. I don't read as much as I used to. I want to change that if I can.

I'm grateful to live in the age of television and movies. Especially as an agoraphobic, how amazing to sit in my living room and see the world, to see animals in the wild, cities, countries, all forms of beauty and creativity. I'm grateful too for all the amazing photo memes and blogs which offer an incredible window into the vast and astonishing range of beauty and magic of lives all over the world.

I'm grateful for reiki which has taught me much about myself and others and about life itself. I was as big a skeptic as you could find when I was first introduced to the idea of healing. It has been an awesome journey into how miraculous the Universe really is and how interconnected we all are. How stunning that I can reach out with my intention and tap another living being with Unconditional Love. How amazing is that!

I'm grateful for the senses, for sound and touch and taste. My second Thanksgiving dinner from my neighbors was awesomely good. I really think you can taste the love that people cook into food. Anybody who hasn't seen the movie Babette's Feast really should make it a point to do so. It's just so beautiful.

I'm grateful for the little things that really aren't little. For water to drink and bathe in, for fuel to heat my house. For the house itself. Out of trials and pain and the bad behavior of some sad, crazy people, I ended up with something I had never even thought to wish for - a home of my own! I am grateful for the kindness of family, friends and strangers who worked together to make that possible.

I'm grateful for Angel and Tara Grace and for Abigail and Katrina who went before them. My mother didn't like animals. Katrina - my first kitty - was a gift from my sister. I don't know if Trini was really a cat or a guardian angel/spirit guide. Whatever she was, she taught me about love. She - and all of my cats - have enriched my life beyond measure. They are teachers, friends, children... They are gifts from God.

I'm grateful that even though I can't walk very well, any more, I still can. I'm grateful that my brain still works, even though I have to search a little harder for words sometimes these days. Boy is that annoying.

I'm grateful that I live in a free country and in a world that - despite the wickedness being perpetrated in so many places - is struggling to find it's way to universal good. Some days it's harder to believe that than others. When salespeople are trampled to death in the passion to get a cheaper television, or when people are blown up in their hotel rooms for purposes that make no sense other than pure evil. Still, these evils, depraved as they are, also allow us to reach into our capacity for good and love and compassion... if we let them. I'm grateful for our new president-to-be and the hope his election gives me. I'm grateful that good things often come out of the ashes of evil and tragedy. I'm grateful for hope and decency and possibilities.

I'm grateful for life and beauty. I'm grateful for wonders yet to be and for life itself, grateful, that at 61 I am still learning to open my heart to love and life and to myself.

I'm grateful for all of you.

May your day and your lives be rich in peace, joy and an abundance of gratitude. Thank you for being you and for visiting my little blog and sharing my day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gratitude, Day 29

Next to the last day of my gratitude posts. Wow the month has flown by.

This morning I'm grateful for a beautiful sunny day with blue skies instead of gray and a return of some color to the ground. And it's not cold out, either. I'm grateful that I think Angel scared the mouse away. I did here her (Angel) squeaking loudly at around 5 am, but I found a shredded toy when I got up this morning, so I'm hoping that was it and not something live. I didn't see any signs of mouse in the kitchen. Cross your fingers for me.

Anyone who reads me fairly regularly will remember that I've mentioned Dennis Puffett a couple of times in my gratitude posts and told you that he offered to give me a free healing for my house. It's called Cosmic Harmonic Resonancing... and he did the deed last Sunday, am my time, Monday his time. He sends a nice certificate too. Unfortunately I sent him a picture of the house before the windows were replaced. Typical me. I get all excited and I stop paying attention to what I'm doing. But anyway...

Two things happened so far that I'm really aware of (besides the mouse). The first day in particular, the energy of the house felt lighter and more fluid to me. But the big thing - the thing I can't say enough words of gratitude for - is that especially on that first day I felt more like myself than I have in probably 30 years. I felt truly grounded and present in myself in a way that I haven't in ages. I've started shifting my hours a little, something I've wanted to do for a long time since I am in the habit of staying up way too late. Maybe that's a factor. In any case, I'm wonderfully grateful for that day of feeling more whole. I'm hoping it is followed by many more. The days since that first one have not been quite as dramatic, but they have been pretty darned good. Here's how Dennis P. describes the process.

Cosmic Energy of Nature that will balance and tune your home or business to the wonderfully refreshing natural rhythm of the universe. Making your home or business user friendly for the occupants. Warm and welcoming to visitors and customers... Following the expulsion of all negative influence, your home or business is flooded with Special Exclusion Energy. Negative influence can not survive in the presence of this Special Exclusion Energy. As far as I know, this is only available through this service.

The wonderful, natural energy cleansing power of CHR follows the same path as Energy of Nature Healing to reach its target.

Besides the certificate, Mr. Puffett writes to tell you anything he experienced. In my case he felt there was a "dark spot" in the back right corner (my guest room/bedroom) area and he fixed that. Anyway, I'm grateful to have my little house in harmony with the universe. I'm hoping this will finally persuade the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes people to bring me my big check. Ya never know!

I'm grateful too, that I got my wordzzles done and posted last night. I had a tough time with this week's words. I'm grateful for all the people who participate in wordzzles every week (I know I've said this before but it's worth repeating) and for their witty, clever creativity.

Although I've enjoyed it, I think I'm grateful that my month of gratitude draws to an end tomorrow. I do kind of like having a theme for the month, though. Saves me a bit of thinking.

So that's it for today.

I'm also very glad that the Christmas Tree Wars
only last for 3 weeks or so each year with no casualties,
living or fiber optic.

May your day be full of laughter, good company and whatever weather best suits your mood.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 41

This is week 41 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Had an awful time with the mega this week... with all of them, but especially that one. Whoever came up with these words needs to see a psychiatrist... oh, wait... it was me...

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: posthumous, flagrant, seven days a week, cheese and crackers, pyramid, civil war, clarinet, microwave, absent without leave, blue jeans Mini Challenge: sugar-coated, thermometer, tractor pull, evangelical, masquerade

Here's my ten-word offering for this week:

Edward Posthumous had gone absent without leave from both his job as a tax accountant and his position playing first clarinet for the Boomberg Community Orchestra, with a flagrant disregard for the pyramid of disaster that his absence would cause. He did not care. He could not take it any longer. He was tired of working seven days a week without rest or relaxation. From now on – at least for the next two weeks - he planned to sit on the sofa eating cheese and crackers in his most comfortable blue jeans watching videos of The Civil War series and all the movies he had wanted to see but missed because he was working. He would microwave his meals and owe “nothing to nobody.” Then, he would see about returning to work.

And here's my mini challenge:

Gloria’s passion for both tractor pull’s and masquerade balls bordered on the pathological or, if you wanted it sugar coated, she was almost evangelical in her love of both events and her desire to bring others into the fold. This no doubt explained her annual Halloween Tractor Pull which was followed by a gala costume party. Her own costumes were always creative and ingenious. This year she was attending as a thermometer and Harry, her husband, was an ice pack. Besides being great fun, Gloria’s annual event always raised a small fortune for the local pet sanctuary.

And for the mega challenge:

There was no way to sugar coat it, Sandra Spartenburg thought, her son was the worst clarinet player in the history of all time… and the most dedicated. To put it mildly, his music sounded like a pre-posthumous cat at a tractor pull. Unlike other children, who resisted practice, Samuel went at it with evangelical enthusiasm; he played hour after hour, seven days a week. So far the neighbors had been good humored about it but she could not be sure how long it would be before civil war broke out. She herself wanted very much burn the stupid thing in a large fire or maybe nuke it in the microwave. Since that wasn’t practical, she had tried building a sound proof pyramid in which he could practice unheard, but it only seemed to mute the sound which was almost worse. She felt ashamed of herself as a parent. She had developed a flagrant disregard for her son’s feelings. When bribing him with cheese and crackers didn’t work, she would say things like ”you look like you have a fever,” and stick a thermometer into his mouth before he could respond. Anything to keep him from playing another note. She knew she was supposed to be supportive of her children, and she really wanted to be, but the sound of his playing was driving her crazy. It was all she could do to not disappear, to go AWOL (absent without leave) every time he started playing. She wanted very much to don blue jeans and a wig and masquerade as someone else whenever she left the house. But then at night, she would look at Sam’s sweet sleeping face and all else but her love would melt away. I helped too, that her always wise and thoughtful husband had invested in a large enough supply of earplugs to cover the whole neighborhood until hopefully, this phase of Samuel’s development passed, or, God willing, he improved.


This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: tiger, false, camera, obsolete, velvet, novelty, timeless, contract, mellifluous, sandalwood, perfection, xylophone, topography

Miranda raised her arms to the sky and spun around three times in a dance of joy. This place was perfection - a timeless and sensual wonderland, so rich in texture, color, sound. The topography was just what she had asked for, velvety green forest on one side, from which she could look out on the vast green veldt and the enormous mountains in the distance, so huge and beautiful that they almost seemed unreal. Here in camp she was wrapped in the rich smell of sandalwood and hibiscus and who knew what other good smells. The mellifluous ripple of the small clear stream nearby sang to her heart. She could not wait to set up her camera, to try and capture this wild beauty before it became obsolete, to show people what they would lose if they did not stop soon. Elephants, lions, tigers, gnus - this was where they belonged. The fancy preserves, no matter how pretty or well designed were false - the works of man, not God. They took these magnificent creatures and turned them into novelty items. But they were not. Each species, each animal had its own unique aura and style and gift to give the universe. She could not bear the thought of losing all this beauty. Her contract with the magazine was to take pictures, to preserve this place in the annals of history. But she had her own contract with God and with this place and all the plants and other beings that inhabited it. She would do still shots, but also a movie. She even knew what music she would use - native drums and a kind of local xylophone that held the spirit of the place. She had to save this beauty. And as the sun set against the distant mountains she sent her heart out into the land and the sky and the trees and asked them to speak to her eyes, to her film in the coming days, to help her fulfill her mission. And then she whispered, "I will keep you alive and then, if you will have me, I will come home to you to die."


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: think the rain’ll hurt the rhubarb?, B Vitamins, credit card, jolly, angels, mouse, three ring circus, haiku, sponge, copper

Mini Challenge: compulsive, trunk, African violets, curiosity, UFO

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Gratitude, Day 28

All of today's photos were taken by Shannon Dermody.
(Please ignore the dirty windows.)

Wow. November is almost over. I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday with yummy food and family and friends at their best.

I didn't get to watch Babette's Feast because I had unexpected company much of the day. Shannon came by and spent some time with me. We visited Webkins and then she took some more photos. She really has a gift, I think. So today's photos are again the work of Shannon Dermody.

In the early evening Nate, Dan and Sue came by with a massive meal for me and visited for about an hour. Then the Dermody's dropped off a plate from their Thanksgiving, so I have food for tonight too. And for my part, I baked (well I unboxed an put into the oven) a Rhubarb Triple berry pie from Schwan's. I always wanted to try rhubarb pie and now I'm addicted. I gave half away to my friends as a thank you for their generosity to me. I had a small taste last night and knew I was hooked. I had rhubarb pie for breakfast this morning. May not be good for me, but it sure tasted good. I love tasting new things so that was a special treat indeed... and it was fun to be able to give back to my friends a bit too.

Yesterday - and I wish I could just post it instead of linking to it - my friend Kim sent me this wonderful little 16 minute movie called SMILE (0r it might be called Valicaton, I'm not sure). I thought it was truly wonderful.

On another gratitude front, the mouse seems to have left or at least to have gone into serious hiding. Angel is no longer on military patrol and has not been turned into a killer and I don't have a dead mouse body to dispose of. All things to be grateful for. Hopefully word will spread among the local mice that this house is protected by a watch kitty and they won't come calling again. We will see, I guess.

I'm truly grateful for the delight of getting to spend time with a young person like Shannon. My sister's kids are grown and live far away and Cindy's awesome children are strangers who I know by photograph. I'm so grateful that I got to live with Ani for the first year of her life. What an amazing miracle that was! But back to Shannon. There is something so enriching about the curiosity and enthusiasm of someone who is just learning about life. I so enjoy that she enjoys me and I am enjoying watching her explore with the camera. I've set up a folder on my Picassa page for her pictures but I thought I'd post a few of her own and my favorites here.

For all of you who cooked and hosted large gatherings, I hope you had good elves to help with clean-up. The up side of living alone and having people bring you food is that there's no clean-up involved.

Have Purr-fect Day!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gratitude, Day 27 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. I imagine that the blogosphere will be pretty quiet today as people cook and bake and gather with family. For all the craziness of my immediate family, I do miss these holidays when the larger family gathered and we were all at our best (mostly). Still, I am very blessed. My "friend family" is watching over me (even though they really don't have to), which is very nice. And I'll probably watch Babette's Feast today. I just love that movie.

Today the universe has seen it's way to giving us a mouse. At around three am I heard Angel wailing in a very excited way (actually she did this the night before too). I decided to get up and use the bathroom and make sure she was ok.... just as she herded a tiny thing straight in my direction. I didn't realize at first that it wasn't a toy. I didn't really see the whole mouse, but I think it has at least a white face. Of course Angel drove it right into the bedroom. So far it has escaped her, which I'm kind of glad about. I don't want a mouse in my bedroom (or the house at all), but I really don't want a dead mouse. I'm hoping she can just scare it back out into the big world where it belongs. At present I think it's under a blanket tossed rather untidily in the corner. I think this because Angel is on patrol. I made the mistake in my panic as it ran into the bedroom of telling her she was very brave. Of course she listened to me when I was spouting nonsense. So I'm grateful that the mouse is corralled and not dead and grateful that I managed to put my fear aside and get some sleep.

I'm grateful for friends in the flesh, in cyberspace and the blogosphere, for Angel and Tara Grace.

I'm grateful for the lovely day I had yesterday. Shannon came over to play with me and we had a grand day. We took some video of Angel which I will probably not bore people with. We spent some time at Webkins World (my computer being a major part of my appeal). I played my keyboard for a while and Shannon took some photos. She videotaped me playing too, but we're not sharing that either. I will share the picture she took of my old lady hands. They still surprise me from time to time when I look at them. More than changes to my face or hair even, I wonder whose hands are those? Anyway, all the pictures today were taken by Shannon yesterday. I think she's got a creative eye. I'm so grateful for the joy and youth she brings into my days when she visits.

I guess I'll leave it at that this morning.

Of course Angel has to get into the act.
Her music is somewhat Gothic and atonal... the stuff of horror movies.

This is a scene from Webkins World. That's Clyde, one of Shannon's pets.
The pig (see below) is named Cutestuff.

I think this is a really nice picture of Angel.

This is a collage of some of the other photos Shannon
took yesterday and the day before.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude, Day 26

Well, I started a whole other post which I decided to leave for another day because I wasn't happy with how it was turning out and now I'm not sure what to do for today. It was about books and writing, but I got lost in a sea of titles and don't like how it was coming out... so I'm going to switch to music.

I'm so grateful for music, all kinds of music. What would my world be without music. It has been a profoundly important part of my life. As a child, I played the piano and sang and it probably helped to keep me sane and whole. I loved folk songs and at one time in my life (possibly somewhere in the deep cavities of my brain still) was the repository of a pretty extensive collection of folk songs from all over the world. I loved playing the piano and I'm so grateful to have my keyboard, though frustrated at how much I have forgotten. I love singing, though my voice isn't what it used to be. I used to have sing-alongs when I lived in the city. What a wonderful thing to gather with others and sing. There's not much that matches it in life.

It's a fairly well kept secret that I started my college career majoring in music. I played the clarinet. Unfortunately (long twisted family story) I was uncomfortable having people hear me play, which doesn't go so well in a professional music setting. Nerves eventually flunked me out of the music program at Fredonia, but not before I discovered my soprano voice (I had always sung tenor) and had some wonderful experiences, like singing Benjamin Britten's War Requiem with the Buffalo Philharmonic and meeting and singing under the baton of Pablo Casals. Awesome, humble man.

Nerves ruined a lot for me musically, but I did have some cool experiences in spite of myself. I (can you believe it!) auditioned for and got accepted into a pretty hoity-tointy madrigal group in the city but was too insecure to stick it out. And I got into the New York Choral Society. Lasted through the Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall with Peter Paul and Mary. I made myself ill (literally) with anxiety. I made it through the two performances but was too ill to attend the party at Peter Yarrow's house. How dumb is that! Still, I sang at Carnegie Hall with PP&M and the music was wonderful. During the days when I attended the little Lutheran Church around the corner from my house, I sang much of the liturgy. I loved doing that. The LCA had a beautiful vespers service and it was wonderful to sing it. Gee, maybe when I'm done with this post, I'll pull my hymnal off the shelf and take a trip down memory lane.

And of course there's Bach, and Mozart and Schumann and Dvorjac and... so many styles and moods and tones. One of the wonders of music is that there is a style and composer/musician for everyone of us and for every mood and moment. Music touches profound places in most of us and it (I think this is true) links the left and right sides of the brain. Sometimes people with strokes who have lost language can still sing or recite poetry (I think this is accurate) because the information is stored in a different place in the brain. How incredible the world is.

And there's popular music. I'm bad at names and sort of out of it. I won't even try to list groups or individuals I like. There are many but the names aren't coming to me. The Beatles, of course... and for some reason the "Jeremiah was a bull frog" song comes to mind. That song always makes me happy. John Denver always makes me happy too. And Enya and Loreena McKinnett... but they are probably all more "folk." I do like soft rock. Hard rock, not so much, some jazz but not all. But I'm just rambling now.

There's also the music of life itself and the wide-ranging sounds of cat's purring, the wind in the trees, birds songs, waves lapping against the shore, rain on the roof, laughter, weeping, babies laughing... or crying, children playing... so many wonders for the ear to take in.

I'm so grateful to have ears to hear and a voice to speak and sing.

That's it for today.

Hope you have a wonderful day
rich in music and laughter

and a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude, Day 25

Well, I had planned to do something a bit different today, but I woke up to a world of new snow falling, so I'm taking the lazy way out and we're having pictures. These are especially aimed at the snow deprived who don't get to enjoy the beauty of this season. I'm really not that fond of winter or of snow, but it IS pretty. I'm so grateful for my camera, so grateful for the beauty of fresh snow, so grateful that I don't have to go out in it. Grateful too, the my neighbor Shawn brings his snow blower and clears my snow for me so I never have to worry about that.

Shannon got the day off from school so she's sitting here with me this morning. I'm grateful for her laughter and that she is entertaining Angel while I do this. We're trying to video tape some of it so maybe there will entertainment at some time in the future... or maybe just six minutes of exceedingly boring video of cats playing. I'm grateful too for Shannon's laughter.

First, you have to see a picture of my beautiful new telephone. It seems to be kitty proof so far and you can use speaker phone without it being all echo-y.

I am very happy. It has a thing for mounting on the wall so I may do that and hopefully that will make it totally kitty proof. But back to snow.

Here's what greeted me this morning. Isn't it beautiful?

This is looking to the mountain...
it's completely hidden by the snow

Well, I have to play with my friend now, so I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gratitude, Day 24

Happy Monday!

Today I am grateful for unexpected gifts. November has been a very fruitful month... It's very strange, but gifts have just been pouring in... My nephew gave me the gift of two visits and a keyboard, which I've already talked about.

The day after Matt came to see me, two friends from my days in the city came. Paul gave the girls a gift... a nifty toy which they can't lose. They both have a penchant for losing their toys. I don't know where the twelve million little balls are... but they will no doubt turn up at some point and be lost again with in a day of rediscovery. The toy Paul left us is on a stick and I have actually gotten smart enough to put it in a safe place when we aren't playing with it. Both girls played this morning and I took these terrible blurry pictures... but you can see that they were having fun. It was really remarkable for Tara Grace to come and play. She doesn't often do that because she doesn't see too well and I think she was kind of robbed of her kittenhood. Anyway... they are enjoying the gift.

Then last weekend, Nate and Dan came with a free microwave. I haven't had the courage to use it yet, but my food delivery just came and there are some specifically microwavable items in the mix this time, so maybe I'll work up my courage and try it. I'm always grateful for the gift of Schwans and for Tom, the man who delivers my groceries. He's such a kind, nice man. We had a lovely chat this morning about healing and spirituality. He's now behind schedule, but it was a good talk.

Then yesterday... I'm not kidding... it has been a never-ending flow of gifts.... Nate and his mother Sue came by for a surprise visit. For about five years now, I have had a tragic but much loved little fake Christmas tree - a fake tree worthy of Charlie Brown. I got it on sale from some on-line candle store for something like $3 or $5. Cheap. Really cheap. It was such a pathetic eyesore that I loved it. It was loveably pathetic. Alas, at the end of last year it twinkled it's last ( the lights went out and as far as I can tell, there's now way to fix them). Nate knew I was hunting for a replacement. I had found one online but it was a touch pricy... good sale but... more than $5 that I paid for the tree it was replacing. So last night in comes Nate with this little tree which he insisted on giving to me. Oh - and I almost forgot that last Sunday Dan brought me a Merry Christmas thing for my door. It's really sweet. I'll share a photo at some point but it's already taking me forever to write this today and taking more photos would just add another delay.

Almost done with my list... Later today, I'm getting new phones... They weren't a gift and I suppose I should wait to talk about them since they haven't arrived, but I'm really excited about getting them. Found a deal on answering machine and phone with a second handset all for $35. I've long wanted a phone in the bedroom because given my physical issues it's kind of stupid not to have one there. This new phone - hopefully - will have the virtue of being smaller and not reprogrammable by the cats as the current phone is. They change my message, turn the answer machine off, do all sorts of things to it. Stomp all over it... even when I'm talking to people. Sigh. This morning it was off the hook. I'm hoping that this new one will solve that problem. And it was half price. I love a good sale. And this phone is cordless! Needless to say, I'm profoundly grateful for FedEx and UPS who so kindly bring me stuff from time to time.

And of course last but not least, last night - or perhaps the wee hours of this morning, my house was "cosmically harmonized." I'll write about that more as the days go by, but I think it's such a cool gift to have received. I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but the energy in the house feels "lighter" to me. I slept really well and I feel more energetic than I have in a while. This could be because I went to bed earlier and got up earlier... In any case, I'm very happy about it and will share more later in the month.

So, anyway, this morning, I am awed and grateful for so many small and large gifts and improvements in my home life. And grateful as always to have this sweet home and the beauty and wonder that surrounds it.

Have a fantastic day!