Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Am Thankful

I am thankful for the blessed life I lead.  It has its ups and downs, sure, but overall I just love the life I live.   And I think that its really important to recognize that.  I've been thinking that gratitude is really an exercise in self-improvement.  Heck, its an exercise in world-improvement.

I am thankful for my awesome family.  And Matt's awesome family.  Its almost too good to be true that both sides are so caring, talented, generous, fun, smart, supportive, and all around just, well, awesome.
A family photo op at my cousin's graduation party. Photo credit to Megan Cozza.
Photo credit to one of my parents.  This was from a family vacation from my youth.
Making lefse with Matt's mom, Sharon.
I am thankful for Matt.  We're really well suited for each other and we have so much fun together.  We fit together in matters of practicality and in play.  I'm thankful we finally got married this year, too.  I'm thankful he is my husband and I am his wife.  That feels good.
We were trying out our new double sleeping bag.  I wanted a photo.  Matt tried to jump into the frame in time.  It made me laugh.
At Bryce Canyon National Park
And, on that note, I am thankful for our amazing wedding day this June.  It was everything I might have hoped it would be.  We had a great, magical, beautiful day with so many people we love.
All wedding photos taken by the talented Jenny Williams at Jenny Lynn Photography.
I am thankful for Ginger.  She's a ray of furry sunshine in my life.  I am so glad that she is a part of our little family.  Its hard to believe she's only lived with us for nine months or so.  Its like she's always been here.  I can't imagine her not greeting me in the morning and when I get home from work.  I love her personality--her endless curiosity, her likes and dislikes--and her little orange face.
Ginger thinks the indoor clothes drying rack is her fort.  Sometimes she likes to play in the clean laundry.  Socks are especially fun to pull down, I gather.
'Tis the season for heat vent basking.
I am thankful for libraries and getting to work in one.  What incredible institutions!  They have so much to offer the communities they serve.  And what a sweet way to make a buck, too.  I learn something new every single day.
Hard at work in my office behind the front desk.
One of my job perks in making book displays.  For Thanksgiving I not only put up an assortment of books and magazines, but gave the students a chance to fill out a leaf saying what they are thankful for.  Its been really nice to see them as they've been added to the display.
Reading children's books--the Caldecott winners--which I checked out from the library.  The tiny table was mine when I was a little girl.  I spent many happy hours.
I am thankful for my friends--of old and of recent.  Dang, are they a good time!  Going to Vegas recently with my high school buddies was an amazing reminder of that.  Game nights, clothes swaps, dinner parties, concerts.  These people bring a lot of joy and good times into my life.
Casey came over to hang out and have a drink.  As a matter of unplanned coincidence we both had our hair tied up in a turban.  It was a turban kind of day, I guess.
Prego belly painting
I am thankful for the national parks.  Every one I've been to has been a truly remarkable.  America is a vast and varied, beautiful country.  I'd like to see as many of these national park highlights as possible.
Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park
Old Faithful geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
I am thankful for our house.  It little and cozy and just perfect for us.  Its our busy hive of activity and our comforting sanctuary.
Processing tomatoes
Playing guitar on a lazy Saturday morning
I am thankful for our garden which provides so much bounty for our table.  The fresh taste and price can't be beat and it affords such a nice opportunity to work in harmony with the little patch of nature out the backdoor.
Spinach
Peppers
Purple broccoli
I am thankful for live music to dance to and lift my spirits.  I am almost always happiest when dancing.  I wish I was more committed to making music myself, but I've never been able to make myself practice enough.  So, I am always thankful when others can make my feet sing a happy little jig!
The happy hoopers and dancers at the Lil Smokies at Alive After Five
Government Mule
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite at the Magic City Blues Festival
I am thankful for so many things.  More than I could hope to list.  I have so many blessings and I do my best to return the generosity the forces in the universe have bestowed upon me.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  May we all have too many blessing to count--but that we try to anyways.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Naked Face Husband

Matt shaved.  He got a new job that, really, he is very well suited for--a produce clerk at a small, old-fashioned (at least in my opinion) grocery store.  But, they have a store policy against beards.  So, he shaved.  I was shocked he was willing to do it.  I'd never seen his face before--aside from childhood photos--and never expected to in all my life.  I cried.  Oh, how I cried.  I just loved that beard.  I know that its only hair.  And he's still my incredible Matty, so hard-working, funny, and kind.  (And handsome, of course.)  But still.  I remain in shock.  I can't believe it.  As we spread the word to friends and family, neither can anyone else.
I think it makes him looks ten years younger.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tucking in the Garden Beds

We put the garden to bed the second week of November.  We'd harvested pretty much everything before we left for the megavaction, but there was still clean up and end of season tasks to do.  This year Matt decided to borrow his dad's rototiller and work over all the beds.  Many of them were sod just a season ago and so the soil is far from loose and well-worked.  After tilling they got a thick dressing of leaves.  The leaves will work down into the soil with the snow moisture, freeze-thaw action, and insects.  It made me realize that Matt really does harvest the ripening of the leaves like a crop.  He goes out of his way to do so, actually, for his compost operation.  He picks up leaves from at least three other households.  Sometimes he even rakes up at the college where I work.  Under cover of darkness we made off with 18 bags of leaves my neighbor had left at the curb.
It was funny, too.  As Matt and I were spreading thick layers of leaves on our garden beds our next door neighbor was out raking and bagging with his kids.  I had to wonder if he thought, "What on earth are those people next door up to now?"  It was had been forecast to snow the next day and so both households were out working with leaves before the snowfall--in very different ways.

The leaves on the raspberry canes were a magnificent array of color.  Most were deep reds--cranberry and wine colored.  There were also flashes of orange and yellow and even lingering hints of green.  Many of the leaves were ringed with a contrasting deep brownish-black.
As I admired the changing colors of the leaves it was interesting to note how different the canes were between our two varieties. The Fall Golds on the north end of the patch are almost all brilliant yellow and gold in the leaves as well.  The leaves on the Red Heritage raspberries to the south were the rich reds.
There is still a bed of carrots and rutabagas out there to be covered over winter.   Which reminds me:  We finally had to toss the last few remaining 2013 overwintered carrots into the compost bin.  They were getting soft--some to the point of dissolving--and had lost most of their sweet, yummy flavor besides.  These carrots were planted in March 2013 and eaten from October 2013 through October 2014.  That is pretty remarkable.  Its been so long since we bought carrots.  I like that.  I like an ever increasing degree of self-reliance.  The fresh, new, 2014 carrots taste SO much better though, quite unsurprisingly.

The garlic has been planted.  We managed to buy some really, really large cloves this year which we hope will translate to larger yields.  Peeling a million tiny cloves of garlic isn't all that fun and they're not worth saving for seed garlic either.  We're hopeful for fat, tasty bulbs of garlic in 2015.
And the garden is all tucked in for the winter.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beth Handy - The Power Drill

I don't like loud things, concerts being the only real exception.  It took me years to work up to using the food processor.  Like Ginger, I avoid being around the vacuum if I can.  Motorcycles and throaty muscle cars do not impress me.  Fireworks are pretty and fun.  Firecrackers are pointless.  But, I wanted to learn how to use the power drill.  It didn't seem that loud or intimidating, for a power tool.

See, Matt had mounted some hooks in the bedroom closet, one of which eventually came down as he'd used a pre-existing hole instead of drilling a new one.  It had been laying around the house for months since it came off the wall.  This is the sort of cluttery household detail that I can't help notice but which Matt is fairly oblivious to.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to mount it myself using a screwdriver before realizing I was going to have to step it up.
So I got a little tutorial from Matt--marking the location for the holes with a pencil, choosing and inserting the appropriate sized bit, and how to hold the drill steady and do the actual drilling.
The hook is back on the wall.  It was easy and not loud at all.  I suppose I could have just asked Matt to do it, or put it on the to-do list, but now I know how, too.  And I think that's better.  Who knows when a power drill might come in handy?!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Rock Pile - Inspiration Thursday

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
All photos from Bryce Canyon National Park, October 2014.  Bryce is certainly a fairyland cathedral.  It was mesmerizing.