I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
I had my second Covid vaccine Monday morning around 11:00 AM. By 9:00 PM I was feeling “not quite right.” By 11:00 PM, I had the chills, a fever, a headache like none other than I had experienced before in my life, eye pain, body aches, fatigue and nausea. I went to bed, snuggling next to an additional pillow for extra insulation and lots of blankets to keep me warm, even though I live in Florida.
I woke up at some point in the night with what felt like a fever well over 101 degrees and a throat that felt so dry that it felt like knives were sliding down my throat. With the exception of two bouts of type “A” flu several years ago, I had never been this sick. And yet, I wasn’t really sick at all. It was just a reaction for the second Covid shot I had.
I slept most of the day and finally got up around 8 PM to take a shower. As I stood with my head flat against the shower wall, enjoying the soothing and healing water trickle down my back, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. I was sick but not REALLY sick. I kept thinking of all those unfortunate souls that have had Covid and were ACTUALLY sick. I thought about all those unfortunate souls that have had some type of chronic sickness, like cancer or some other dreadful disease. Little more than eighteen hours later, I was well on my way to recovery.
They say it’s the little things that mean a lot. A husband that comes in to check on me repeatedly while I was sleeping to ensure that I was okay, a daughter to give a gentle hug and a smile, dishes loaded up into the dishwasher in a clean kitchen while I slept, calls from dear friends to check on me, and a husband that made sure I had plenty of water available near by all day long is how I will remember this day. I am grateful for what I have time and time again. Life isn’t perfect, but heck it’s good. Damn good.
Today after seeing the partially assembled pergola in my back yard, I sat under it right after a rain shower and noticed a beautiful rainbow right above my eyes. I am so grateful to see such beauty developing right before me.
As I continued to sit under the half-constructed pergola, I couldn’t help but feel the world of possibilities developing before my eyes in my mind. How exciting it is to envision a big project such as this. I am thinking of all the ways to transform the pergola into an oasis of peace and tranquility. I’m picturing lights hanging from the pergola, maybe a candle chandelier, along with some hanging pots of orchids or new guinea impatiens. I want the pergola to evoke a sensory experience with something scented, colorful, and something I can hear. Perhaps a new set of wind chimes, too. Should I have a counter-height bistro set or a low comfortable L-shaped sectional. Should I have a few chaise lounges? There are so many possibilities to consider.
As I sit here, I remember getting excited like this when we bought our first home about a few millions of years ago. It has been quite a long time since we’ve done a project like this in our own backyard, and it feels nostalgic quite honestly.
I continue to sit, watching the darkness crawl in before my eyes while I remember a poem that describes the fog crawling in similarly on little cat feet (“The Fog” by Carl Sandburg). Sitting in front of the pond behind our house, I notice all kinds of noises and sights I don’t normally see when I sit in the screen deck by the pool. I see gnats swirling around en mass in a frenzy within some sort of twirling and twisting cloud. I see various birds taking off from the water, barely disturbing the surface as they glide gracefully into flight. I hear splashes in the water as some long-necked birds swim underwater, but it is growing too dark to tell what type of birds they are. I’m thinking they are likely either cormorants or anhingas. Both birds swim in the water, but cormorants are usually found in salt water, and anhingas are usually found in fresh water. Both have long snake-like necks, but the tell-tale sign is the beaks, which would help me identify them if it were not quite so dark. Cormorants have roundish hook-like beaks at the end, but anhingas have straight beaks, although both hunt and eat fish.
I consider myself lucky to have this little sliver of time of solitude and peace while the world is in turmoil from the pandemic around me. It helps me to find a little slice of “normal” within each day, and that means finding a little smattering of beauty before my eyes.
Life is good; life fully and completely, and find a reason to be grateful today. Try to see the beauty in something today and enjoy the moment.
Life is good; carpe diem, friends………………
Feel free to comment below with any suggestions, pictures, or ideas about how I can transform my pergola into an oasis of peace and beauty.
(Note to self: ask the landscaper trim the shrubs AGAIN)
It has been said that a good practice is to keep in mind the things for which one is thankful. To that end, I start each day whenever I think about it with an “attitude of gratitude”. Some days I forget, but most days I start the day thinking of all the wonderful things in my life for which I am thankful. I task myself to think of ten, just ten. Most times, I find myself listing many more than ten in my mind or even on a piece of paper some days.
Amidst the uncertainty that the novel coronavirus has brought to our lives individually as well as within our society, it helps to think about what is going RIGHT in our lives right now. Stop, look, and listen to all that is good in your life at this very moment. The distraction this exercise brings you might help you seize the day.
“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
Life is good. Rest for a moment and be thankful. Develop an attitude of gratitude today if you don’t already have one. It helps us to see that that glass really IS half full.
Today, among the pandemic at hand, I still count my blessings. My daughter, “Teen Traveler,” decided she wanted to try something different to break up our Florida stay-at-home orders this past Sunday. “Teen Traveler” is only fourteen, yet she is what I have called an old soul from the moment she was born. She has always been my hundred-year-old woman in this teeny tiny body. I joke to myself that maybe she is even evidence of reincarnation. She is just beginning to enter the world of cooking but decided she wanted to make a several course dinner BY HERSELF because we haven’t been out to a nice restaurant in some time. She decided she would serve pretty simple food attractively in small portions. She is a real “go-getter” to be sure.
She spent a significant amount of time on Saturday planning her menu and thinking about items that could be prepared ahead of time. Of course, as “Graph Guy’s daughter,” she sorted her thoughts onto a spread sheet and list after list, breaking down the task at hand into manageable chunks.
She looked high and low for items around the house, mostly in the craft bin, that she could use as a table decoration, having no access to fresh flowers from a florist. She really wanted to celebrate the spring.
First came the appetizer. She decided she wanted “comfort food” for this pandemic. Nothing like a little tomato bisque soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to meet this goal. That’s my girl: goal set, goal met.
After the first appetizer, she served some sort of tomato stuffed with Mexican meat, beans, and cheese as her “salad” course, which was garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro leaf.
After the appetizer and salad came the main meal, which was mini Mexican burgers mixed with a blend of brown sugar, cumin, paprika, and chili pepper, attractively served with a pickle, cheese, lettuce, and a cherry tomato on an attractive skewer. “Mexican street corn” was the side dish she made and served in a hollowed out red pepper quarter. She made the burgers herself but “Graph Guy” grilled them for her.
She spent lots of time deciding which dishes to use to create the mood she wanted to create and placed the dishes around the kitchen the night before in the arrangement she liked.
Finally, the desserts were served. She decided she liked the idea of several mini desserts and baked mini red velvet cakes stuffed with a cream cheese frosting and served with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. She even sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on the cake and plate as an additional garnish. The girl thinks of everything.
Living in Florida, she thought it would be fun to serve something citrus for the other desserts but wanted a different flavor than expected. She decided that lemon and lime might be fun. She made lime crumble with freshly squeezed limes that she squeezed, along with a blueberry lemon crumble. Her piece de resistance, however, was home-made lime sherbert. She had never made home made sherbert, so she needed our help under her leadership, however, to get the old ice cream maker going.
“Teen Traveler” decided that the presentation was as important as the food itself, evidently, and served the home made lime sherbert in a hollowed-out lime.
I can still remember how calmly she served us in the dining room, coming from behind a closed door to the kitchen each and every time. She walked confidently and calmly, making us think she had done this sort of thing her entire life. I will always remember the joy in her eyes when she presented us her savory samples and the creamy confections she had made.
There was joy in our hearts that day. There was joy from being her parents and joy from watching her experiencing her success before our very eyes. So very much for which to be grateful.
Coping with Covid-19 was that day centered around consuming the creamy confections and the meal that my daughter lovingly prepared for us. For the moment, for that sliver in time, all was well in the world, and I will always be grateful for that day that time stood still and there was joy in the moment. There was joy in ALL the moments that day, thanks to my daughter.
It has been said “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade “(Elbert Hubbard). The logical axiom that follows, then, is “If life gives you limes, make lime sherbert!”(Caye Smith)
Life is good. Enjoy the gifts of the day. Carpe diem, friends………
Today is a rainy day here in Florida, which is something we don’t get for sustained periods of time, except during the fall during hurricane season. I just love the rain. There is something almost magical about the sound of the rain knocking at the window on days like these, beckoning us toward a moment in time other than our our usual. The sound of rain against any skylight is enough to give me as much joy as watching a flock of birds flying in perfect synchronicity.
I always wondered about people who complain about the rain as if some little silly external event would ruin their day in some way. So very many people equate the rain with “awful weather” and that always surprises me.
The rain makes the grass grow; it cleans the air. Flowers get what they need when it rains, too. Rain fills up ponds, streams and lakes. It makes great puddles for children to splash in with their boots and raincoats. Rainy days bring worms out from the dirt, and I have always been fascinated by these creatures that we don’t often get to see. And who can deny the beauty of a rainbow, a promise that all will be well, after the rain clears. My dear aunt reminds me how beautiful the rain smells, especially in cooler climates in the Northeast.
We tend to put on comfortable clothes when we are inside on rainy days like today. We tend to experience a moment of solitude when the rain falls and might even enjoy being in “the moment” if we watch the almost hypnotizing and mesmerizing drops of rain as they fall softly and gently, then loudly and strongly. against the walkways and streets.
One thing is certain, however, the rain can force us to change the plans we had for the day. If we had planned an outing to the beach, the rain puts a damper on that. Similarly, if we had planned to go for a bike ride, the rain can also put a damper on that, too. I guess that’s part of the beauty and charm of the rain for me, however. The rain FORCES us to flex a little and to change our expectations a little. It might even push us out of our comfort zone if we need to drive in the rain. In some way, the rainfall is parallel to the world in which we live at any given time, especially during this pandemic. What IS happening at the moment is sometimes different than what we WANT to happen. We are forced to change our focus to something else, like working at home, learning from home, shopping solely from home, etc..when we would rather be in and around our extended family, co-workers, and friends along with our own immediate family.
I love the rain because it also makes me think of my Nana, who always told me that “The rain is God’s way of saying ‘slow down.’ ” My Nana told me a rainy day is a good day to crawl up on the couch with a soft blanket to read a good book. A rainy day is a good day to have a sauce or soup simmering on the stove.
A rainy day is a good day to pause and enjoy the gift of having the luxury of that extra special sliver in time that we didn’t expect to ourselves. A rainy day is an unexpected gift if we think of it in that way.
A friend of mine years ago used to keep cookie dough frozen in her freezer for rainy days, when she would take out just a few frozen balls of cookie dough to celebrate the day in all it’s glory. Such a wonderful idea that I have taken to doing as well. Tonight, we’ll have our cookie dessert BEFORE our dinner as a way to celebrate this beautiful day. In this house, we find a way to celebrate EVERYTHING.
Rain also brings about fond memories of my father, who once had the patience to sit near a window when I was little during a thunder storm. He was an amateur photographer back in the day when cameras actually had film. Photography was as much a science as an art in those days, as one needed to understand depth of field and how to create it, as well as what camera aperture setting is necessary to capture the image we desired to capture. He wanted to capture that exciting split second when lightening raced across the sky and waited….. and waited…. and waited all day to do so. He was so very happy when he developed his film in his “dark room” in our basement when he discovered that he was able to do what he set out to do. The man taught me lessons over and over again about the value of patience and the need for beauty in watchful waiting that stay with me to this day.
Rain also brings me back to long ago when my daughter, “Teen Traveler,” loved to stomp around into the deepest puddles she could find when it rained. Her”devil-may-care” laugh and impish smile across her face always made me smile. Such happy memories make me smile today and fill my soul to inspire an attitude of gratitude for me on days like this.
It has been said that “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene). It’s about finding something that gives us joy, even though we are faced with a change in our plans or what was expected. It’s about finding joy when we stop to look and listen to what’s going on around us, beyond us. It’s about remembering my Dad, a beautiful and patient man with a beautiful heart and Nana, a pillar of strength, a kind- hearted soul who would feed anyone who needed a place to come on any given holiday.
“Well I love a rainy night; I love a rainy night. I love to hear the thunder; watch the lightning when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good.
Well, I love a rainy night; it’s such a beautiful sight. I love to feel the rain on my face; taste the rain on my lips, in the moonlight shadows…”
-“I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
Life is good, even when it rains. Carpe diem, friends……