Expanded Grace in Small Things

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Wind chimes in the Garden

“Train yourself to listen to that small voice that tells us what’s important and what’s not.” ~  Sue Grafton

” . . . to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly . . .” ~ William Henry Channing

I’ve been pondering the small things in my life that bring me joy. This is not exactly a Grace in Small Things, but more of a contemplation of  several little things in my life and why they bring me such pleasure.

Here goes:
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  • I love my Cuisinart Coffee On Demand coffee maker. It’s the model that holds the coffee in an internal bucket and dispenses it from a spout. The coffee stays fresh and hot for two hours. The flavor doesn’t get that aged taste because the coffee is protected from the air. Granted, this is the most that I’ve ever spent on a coffee maker. My last one was a GE that I had for years and years. But I waited for just the right model and just the right sale price. It has been worth every penny.
  • My huge, flat computer screen is twice the size of the old behemoth of a screen that I had on my old computer. This size allows me to work without my glasses, which I find keeps my eyes from getting as tired as they used to when I was working on the computer. The resolution is incredible, and I can adjust the brightness to accommodate my headaches.
  • Media player is a wonderful thing to have on a computer when you also have Bose computer speakers. Again, I never invested in good speakers for my computer, just the $15-20 sets that you can pick up at Kmart. The difference in sound quality is incredible. I have compiled six different play lists for my computer. The most extensive one will play for 12 hours. I created a sleep list that I like to turn on with the volume fairly low after a stressful day and let play into the night. I used to fall asleep to music all of the time with my old clock/radio. I would hit the play button, and the radio would stay on for an hour. I would usually have it tuned to the local classical station. But this way, I have a nice mellow mix with a wide range of styles, everything from some tracks from the movie The Piano, to some  Beth Orton to Van Morrison to Vanessa-Mae, a violinist that Corey introduced to me. 
  • I love my little workspace in the corner of the bedroom. Granted, it’s a small space, but it’s mine. Corey calls it my “office.” It will be nice once we finish the house renovations as we hope to have a small room for office space, but for now, I enjoy my little corner of the world. Whenever I’m on the computer, Shakes comes and settles at my feet and goes to sleep. 
  • We have wind chimes scattered around the house. I really enjoy it when there is a soft breeze, and all of the chimes are moving. They all have different tones, and it’s so interesting to hear the combination of sounds and textures: shells, bamboo, hollow metal tubes, copper. It’s my natural symphony. 
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    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  • In the late spring, our butterfly garden begins to bloom. We have lantana, rose of sharon, roses, mock orange, heather, rosemary, Hawaiian white ginger, several colors of bearded irises, and a few other plants. I wish that I had the variety of butterflies that Janson Jones has posted on his site, but I am content to watch the monarchs, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, buckeyes, and hummingbird moths. We also get big fat bumblebees. Between the amazing color of the different flowers and herbs and the array of hues of the visiting winged creatures, the garden is one of the best things about spring and summer. 
  • We have a 16-foot round, four-foot deep, above-ground poolin our backyard. Because our house is on a corner lot, we have a large front yard and a smaller backyard. The pool takes up a lot of room, but it’s worth it. In the summer, there is nothing that I like better than floating in the pool while reading a book, that is until the dogs jump in. Both Shakes and Tillie love to play ball in the pool. Next year we hope to get an elliptical-shaped pool, which will fit in the available space better and still leave some room. The other good thing about an elongated pool is that I can swim short laps and get some exercise. As it is now, I have some foam weights designed for resistance water exercises. 
  • Speaking of dogs, one of the best things we ever did was to adopt Tillie from a shelter. She is an absolute sweetheart, as most Labradors are, but she is such a daddy’s girl. I suppose that’s because Corey picks her up like a small lap dog. Tillie loves to give hugs, and she has finally realized that she is bigger than the Jack Russells. She no longer lets them intimidate her. In fact, sometimes she bullies them by not letting them on the bed, which really bothers them. But one of the sweetest sights I know is when Tillie is sleeping right next to Corey in the bed. She actually puts her head on his shoulder or drapes a paw across him. She does the same to me when I’m the only one in the bed, but between the two of us, she definitely loves Corey more, which is fine because I’ve been able to prove to him that Labradors are the best dogs in the world. 
  • My new red wallet was a great find. Even though I mourned the loss/theft of my black Kenneth Cole wallet, I believe that this new wallet has filled that void quite nicely. I did order a Kenneth Cole black wallet on line that appeared to be exactly like my old one, but when it arrived, it was different, and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. I plan to send it to Mari as I know that she loves Kenneth Cole leather as much as I do. That being said, my new wallet has just the right amount of pockets and holds all of my miscellaneous items without being overstuffed. It’s also the perfect shade of red, and nothing beats a good red, except black, of course. 
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    Sony Cybershot DSC-H2
  • I finally got the Sony Cybershot (DSC-H2) digital camera that I had been wanting before we went on our cruise last year. Now that I have time, I’m starting to shoot more pictures, which is something that I have always enjoyed. It has so many different settings and a 12x optical zoom so that quality of the shots that I am taking is incredible. The only thing that I need to do now is go through all of the pictures that I have taken, clean up the ones that I want to print in Photoshop, and then save them on a disk so that I can get prints. We don’t have a photo printer, but the cost of single prints at Costco is so reasonable, I think that it might be a better value than having to buy cartridges for yet another printer. 
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    California Cara Oranges
  • Part of my nighttime ritual is to have a cup of hot peppermint tea around 11 p.m. The peppermint is very relaxing, and it helps with my finicky stomach. It also doesn’t hurt that Corey fixes the tea and brings it to me. He likes to pamper those he loves; that’s one of my favorite things about him as I have never had the pleasure of being pampered. 
  • Right now, I am on a binge for juicy oranges. I must be deficient in Vitamin C because I have been craving oranges like mad. Corey has been buying cases of big California Cara oranges that are incredibly juicy and delicious. I’ve been eating two a day. So good. 
  • And finally, I’ll close with my appreciation for broadband Internet access, which enables such quick searching capabilities as well as speeding up blog surfing. Corey set up an in-home network for all of the computers. I don’t know how I ever lived with dial-up.

So that’s my list of small things, some smaller than others, but all significant in their individual ways. As I’ve mentioned before, it has taken a while to adjust to the major life change of being on full-time disability. But one of the best things about being home all of the time now is that I have more time to stop and smell the roses, literally!

Remember:

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~ Antonio Smith

More later. Peace.

If you are interested in surfing blogs and increasing your own blog’s exposure at the same time, be sure to visit Conron.us at www.condron.us.

And Now . . . For Something Totally Different

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Lightning Bugs

Reflections on the Letter L

I saw this on someone else’s blog, and for the life of me, I cannot remember whose. So if it was yours, please jump in and remind me so that I can give you credit. The idea is that you choose a letter of the alphabet to ponder, and then once you have chosen, you think of ten things that that letter signifies for you and write about them. I thought that it was an interesting writing prompt, and since I am not up for anything too taxing today, I thought that I might try this.

The letter that I have chosen is . . . L. Surprise! I know that you are absolutely dumbfounded, as was I. But it was the first letter that popped into my weary head, and so I thought that free-association may come easier. I’m going to try to find new subjects to write about so that I’m not always writing about the same, predictable things.

  1. Lies: I have a very hard time with lies and liars, and I think that it’s because of my nature to trust too easily and too quickly. As a result of this, I frequently find myself encountering people who lie as easily as they breathe. I find this to be a deplorable trait as what is the point in trying to have a relationship of any kind if it is not based on truths that are shared? Too many people in this world get by on façades which they hide behind, never letting anyone see beyond the persona they have created.
  2. Labradors: I have never made it a secret that labs are my favorite breed of dogs. They are quirky, funny and have incredible senses of humor. Just don’t ever buy one as a guard dog. A lab is more than likely to welcome an intruder and lead them to the cookie jar than to attack them. But they are wonderful family dogs and protective of their little humans. Just don’t leave lab puppies alone to their own devices or you will probably find that they have begun to teeth on your best pair of boots or a piece of furniture. 
  3. Loneliness: I am one of those people who can be very lonely if a loved one is away, or I can relish the time alone in the peace and quiet. It really depends upon the circumstances, as in exactly how long I am going to be alone and why. I do not equate being alone with loneliness. Sometimes, it is very nice to spend time alone; while other times, it is infuriatingly tedious. 
  4. Learning: I am a believer in life-long learning. If it were possible, I would stay in school all of the time earning degrees in different subject areas: anthropology, sociology, political science. Since I can no longer teach, it would suit me just fine to be on the opposite side of the lectern listening and devouring. I know that my sons think that I am some kind of freak for thinking this, for actually wantingto sit in a classroom, but I don’t care. I’m not much for online learning. I like the face-to-face time too much. 
  5. I was offered a job teaching English online for an online college several years ago, but I just could not do it. I was supposed to write scripts for other instructors to use to teach literature classes, but when I sat down to do it, I realized that there was no way that I could put down in a script what I do in a classroom. I ad lib too much, depending upon the mood of the class, my mood, the reading material. And what I do depends so much on the immediate feedback from the students. I literally feed off them. Learning, and teaching, are creative processes. A script does not allow for independent thought.

  6. Lantana: In Mexico, lantana grows wild in between the rocks, and it’s everywhere you look. Corey planted lantana in the front yard, and it’s the centerpiece of the miss20huff20lantana201butterfly garden. The plants, when in full bloom, are almost four feet tall and just as wide, and full of orange and yellow and purple and pink blooms. Like our lilac bush and fresh lavender, butterflies love the blooms and the scents, but the lantana also attracts large bumble bees. When I look at the plants, I am always reminded of the plants in Mexico. 
  7. Lightning Bugs: When I was a child, we used to catch these little beacons in jars and watch them light the jars in which we imprisoned them, never having the first idea that we were harming them. When the boys were young, I used to read a book to them by Eric Carle, I believe, about the lonely lightning bug that was looking for his family, and on the last page, he found them, and there were all of these blinking lights. I loved those books. I remember there used to be so many lightning bugs (or fire flies)in the summer time; they were never hard to find. Now, I hardly ever see them. I wonder what happened to them all. 
  8. Leaves: I love to see the changing leaves in the fall, particularly on Maple trees. The best place in Norfolk for beautiful foliage is Forest Lawn cemetery off Granby Street near the Naval Base. There are so many different kinds of trees planted in that cemetery. I remember that right after Caitlin died, the first few years, I would ride through the cemetery every day, and in the fall, there would be this wonderful path of yellows and reds lining the narrow lanes between the sections. Other than there, Skyline Drive in the foothills of Virginia is a lovely place to drive and look at nature’s autumn pageant. 
  9. Loons: Loons are lake birds, larger than mallards but smaller than geese. They can live for up to 30 years and have been known to mate for life, but what is so distinctive about loons, and what I find so intriguing about these water birds, is their call, which has been described as haunting. In some native legends, the loon is a bird of magical power. To me, the sound of a loon calling, and the water lapping is the epitome of a natural concerto.

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  11. Lockets: Lockets are wondrous things, and you don’t see them much anymore. I’m talking about the sizable lockets of the Victorian era in which small keys and shakespeare-sonnet-locket-based-on-va-museumlocks of hair could be enclosed from prying eyes. Lockets could also contain powders, poisons, and other secrets. Made of sterling, gold, aluminum, brass and copper, the lockets of old were much more interesting than today’s lockets, which tend to be flat, with only enough room for pictures. Round and heart-shaped Victorian lockets were often set with seed pearls and jewels such as rubies, and were often monogrammed and worn close to the heart.
  12. Li-Young Lee: I’ll bet you thought that I was going to finish with love, didn’t you? I told you, I’m trying for new topics tonight. Li-Young Lee is one of my favorite poets, and his poem “The Gift,” one of my very favorite poems. I will close with the first two stanzas of that poem because it always reminds me of my father, his hands, the great care that he took when he was doing something gentle with them:

 
The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

(from The City In Which I loved You, 1990) 

More later. Peace.

Grace in Small Things #30

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Swallowtail Butterfly

“Be a gentle friend to trees and they will give you back beauty, cool and fragrant shade, and many birds, singing” ~ Unknown

Well, today will be short and sweet.  Think I may be coming down with something.

1. Beneflu in a bottle. Most people don’t like liquid cold medicines. This stuff is great. When I get on a coughing jag, I just take a big swig right out of the bottle (I make sure it’s the bottle that no one else uses). It goes down warm and is very soothing, and it usually starts to work immediately. Measuring? That’s for sissies.

2. Corey brings me a hot cup of coffee while I’m still in bed almost every day. I like this tradition. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he finally gets a boat.

3. Finding a new song to add to my playlists. The way that I love music, it is always wonderful to find a new artist or a new song by a favorite artist to add to one of my playlists on the computer. Of course I have different playlists. Would my OCD allow anything else: Mellow List, Country List, Bedtime List, and then Extended List, which has enough music on it for 16 hours of play.

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Black Capped Chickadee

4. Butterflies. When our Lantana comes into bloom in the spring and summer, we have a veritable butterfly garden in the front yard.  Monarchs. Swallowtails. Painted Ladies.  It’s incredible to be so close to so much beauty.

5. Song birds. We also get a lot of songbirds in our yard, more when we have the feeders hung. My favorites are the cardinals and chickadees. Once in a while we’ll get a hawk in our neighborhood; then all of the smaller birds just disappear until the hawk leaves. It’s amazing how nature works.

More later. Peace.