Friday, September 30, 2005

Tastes of the season

I'm just old enough to remember the "good ol' days" when everyone ate seasonally. Nowadays, one can pick up anything one has a craving for any time of the year at your friendly neighborhood market. Strawberries in the fall? Peaches in the spring? I bet most folks don't even realize how unseasonal those two examples are! But growing up in the four seasons of northern Wisconsin, prices made eating seasonal an important budgeting skill. At least that's what I assume drove my mom to cook that way. Although, honestly, I don't really remember my childhood revolving much around my mother's cooking - she wasn't really fond of the kitchen a lot of the time. Fortunately, I have other cooking mentors in my life.

What I do remember, is the FINDING of seasonal food. I have fond memories of autumn day trips to see the "colors" (Wisconsin is nothing if not breathtaking in it's fall foliage) and stops at apple farms. I remember being handed slices of different apple varieties, much like wine connossieurs (wow, I can NOT believe I spelled that last word correctly on the first attempt!) now sample different wines. I know the difference between the tartness of a Jonathan and the sweet juiciness of a Gravenstein.

I remember tromping through dried grass tall as my waist, dragging a clanky ol' bucket and filling it slowly with raspberries from a local abandoned field. I remember our house steaming with maple syrup that my dad and us kids tapped one year just as winter melted into the promise of spring. I remember corn on the cob bought at farmer's markets and the task of husking them falling to us kids. I remember following a very patient farm woman neighbor around her garden and discovering the fuzzy scratchiness (like my daddy's chin) of cucumbers on the vine, and the elephant ear sized leaves of the squash and pumpkin plants. I remember my grandmother picking strawberries that somehow turned into jewel colored jars of jelly. I remember the gooey crunchy bliss of a caramel apple sold on cold autumn nights at my high school football games. And the scent of pinon pine in people's fireplaces again about the same time the pinon nut harvest was roasted and ready to be purchased from people on street corners selling bags of nuts, ristras of red chilis, braids of garlic.

Although my childhood planted the seed of food as COMING FROM SOMEWHERE OTHER THEN THE MARKET, it was as an adult that I added the most to my storehouse of food and season associations. I started gardening almost as soon as I left my mom's home, and I haven't stopped planting to one degree or another for over 30 years now. I've also been blessed to live in communities that were filled with their own unique cycles of harvest. There were the apple farm trips we continued with our own children, although because we lived in California, they linked with trips to the tree farm in December instead of the autumn trips of my childhood. I anticipate climbing our neighbor's trees late each spring for baskets of cherries that would otherwise be left for the birds. On the coast, I had winter citrus, limes and lemons and oranges that unbelievably (to my midwest eyes) grew FREE on the trees! I remember laying tarps on the ground each November and shaking our walnut trees - the walnuts falling and clattering like hail on the roof in a storm. The luxury of the green of the first leeks in the dreariness of late winter here in snow country. The way the entire "valley of the moon" smelled like wine during the vineyard harvest. Tangerines and nuts and chocolates in the toes of the Yule stockings. The absolutely indescribable TOMATO-NESS of the first red tomato in the late summer garden. Autumns that were on occasion a blur of apple peelers and peach juice and steaming pots of canning jars. Rhubarb and strawberry pies during the brief weeks when the late rhubarb and the early strawberries ripened together. Pots of chicken soup to nurse the colds and coughs of winter. Turkey, turkey, and more turkey leftovers come the end of November. Not to mention cranberry leftovers and mashed potato leftovers and stuffing leftovers and...

Between the gardening and the community level shopping, I've stuck pretty close to the idea of eating things "in season." With our long hot summer finally giving way to the threat of our first overnight frost, I've been craving autumn foods. I made a peach pie the other night. Although there's still a big jar of iced tea in the fridge, I made my first cup of hot tea before bed this week. The first cup of tea of the season, it's become a marker in time, a ritual. The other day I made up a plate of apple slices and sharp cheddar cheese for a snack. I offered to make the same for my family, but both Jeff and William pooh-poohed the idea of a fresh piece of fruit as palatable. Once I sat down with mine, however, greedy, rather, greedy BIG hands plunged in and I was lucky to get 3 slices of apple and one slice of cheese which I had to battle to keep. The idea of bubbling pots of stew or soup or ratatoulle now sound like perfect late evening meals. I am practically bouncing with anticipation for the opening of our local pumpkin patch tomorrow (although sadly, because we have a football game fall on Oct. 1 this year, our pumpkin patch trip will have to wait until Oct. 2 or 3.

Well, gotta run. I'm off in search of a glass front display case. I'm tired of having to keep some of my more fragile decorations boxed up to protect them from the cats. (and even that's not protection enough for some of them) So, while I'm out and about time, I'll treat myself to a NEW traditional food of the season, a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yum.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


It's Wednesday. Not terribly newsworthy, since Wednesday repeats itself every seven days. But there ya go. What's memorable about it to me is that it's a "weekend" for my hubby, his days off now being Tuesday and Wednesday, although I can't really make much sense out of his new schedule yet, because there's still the standard Saturday/Sunday weekend that most of the rest of the world uses to deal with. Plus, hubby's got all this overtime and conversely, odd days he's taken off, so I really don't know from one day to the next what sort of routine we'll be attempting. If it wasn't for the new fall line-up of television shows and William's football practice and games to factor in, I might be tempted to just float off into my own little world.

With no segue whatsoever, I'm really itching to get my Halloween decorations out now. Problem is, my house still needs to be decluttered and cleaned up enough to find room t o decorate. That, and I have a huge line up of sewing projects with deadlines that I'm working on. I'm feeling lots of stress over them. My only excuse for signing up for them - it seemed like a good idea at the time. Sigh.

But, no pain, no gain, right? I might be more productive if I worked on one at a time, from start to finish. But my brain apparently can't handle that level of organization or calm, so I'm working on three or five or seven at a time, and that's just the sewing. Then there's two knitting projects, a teensy doll project, and that's just the stuff I've actually got started. We won't mention all the stuff waiting to be started. The problem with working on three or five or seven, it spreads out and fills all the flat spaces in my studio, making it hard to do anything without the risk of accidentally sewing project A onto the back of project B, or rotary cutting through the leaf for project C while trying to cut out the snake for project A. Not that I have. Knock on wood. But it adds a level of risk that permeates the sewing room. Maybe I just go in for X-treme Sewing. No ordinary sewing for this hotdogger!

Okay, switching subjects again. Charlie just climbed up in my lap. A big ol' orange kitty, purring at the top of his lungs or purr organs or wherever the sound comes from. I once heard that scientists don't know where a cat's purr comes from - I doubt that's more then a urban legend, but it's kinda a nice one.

Speaking of urban legends, is anyone else watching Supernatural? That's quite the scary show! Didn't think I'd like it after the premiere, but we're all hooked. This week's episode was extra fun, they had FRED on as a guest character. I miss Fred. And if you don't know who Fred is, then nevermind.

I'm still without photo capacity here, as you can see. Sigh. When I find some spare time, hahahahaha, I'm gonna try to set up my new laptop to be able to plug it into my cable internet and maybe I can upload photos to this blog from THAT computer. I mean, it's brand new, hasn't had a chance to develop any strange quirks or idiosyncracies yet. It SHOULD work. Of course, I also have to figure out how to get my photos over to that computer. Hmmmm..... this may not be happening any time soon.

The only thing about big furry cats who climb in ones lap, they make one feel sleepy. Oops, nevermind. He jumped down to see who was opening the front door. The dang microwave keeps beeping at me. Dammit, who left their....

oh, I think it was me. My coffee.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Posting just to be posting

Is the purpose of a blog to write every day, even if you don't know what you're gonna say? Like a writing journal, where you just start writing, doesn't matter about what, and then it's "exercise" for the brain? Or is it more important to write only if you have something witty or important to say? Does it matter? Does it depend on who you're writing for and who your audience is? is it important to be important?

Okay, enough warm up. So, what can I say about today.

It was chilly outside. Feels like autumn.

It was a "keep busy and don't think too much" kinda day since I had a dear friend in for a very serious medical test today and my thoughts were with her when I did manage to have a complete one. Thought, that is.

Later in the day I finally decided to shuck off any sense of responsibility or productivity and just go relax somewhere. William allowed me to take him out to dinner. We sat across from each other and tried to come up with something we both wanted to talk about. He didn't want to talk about reading. He didn't want to talk about the storm clouds rolling up and over the lower mountains at the top of town (visible in the window in the back of the restaurant from the booth we were sitting in). He didn't want to talk about pirate shirts or whether skulls were pirate specific or not. Eventually we fell back on something he's always more then willing to talk about - football. Good thing I actually LIKE football.

Then we went to see Corpse Bride. It was really cute. Definitely worth seeing. I do have a couple criticisms. I don't think they're really specific enough to be spoilers (and I hate spoilers, so I'm very particular about that sort of thing) so, if you don't want to hear ANYTHING about the movie, close your eyes and put your hands over your ears and say "NANANANANANA!" really loudly while you read the next paragraph. But really, I think you'll be okay.

I didn't know it was a "musical". Although, was it? They had a few songs. They were nice. But nothing I could even remember well enough to catch in my brain even minutes after leaving the theatre. Too, they used bits and pieces of melody from Nightmare Before Christmas. Just once or maybe twice, slipping a tiny stream of that music in would have been clever. But all in all I wish they'd made more effort to do something brand new and memorable with the soundtrack. The "claymation" or whatever it's called - was fun to watch BUT, there were a few things I wish they could have done differently. The hair on all the characters was stiff and playdough-like. I thought the corpse bride in particular would have looked more corpse-like if her hair had been dry and flyaway. Just little things like that. Maybe I've just become so used to special effects being able to do anything, so I expect everything to be possible.

Despite those small criticisms, I still liked it a lot. The plot rolled along nicely and was enjoyable. The main characters were all sympathetic and fun. I got a bit misty eyed a few times but hey, I'm just sorta prone to that sort of goofy thing, maybe it won't hit you the same way. And I really loved the ending. I have a feeling it's one of those movies I'll like even more the next time I see it, because there was just so much going on visibly the first time that I couldn't catch it all.

OH! Speaking of special effects and movies - we saw the preview for the next Harry Potter movie. WOW! I'm sooooo excited. It looks fantastic - again more the darker look like the last one. And the "kids" are growing up so much with each new movie. November 18 I think. That's only two months. I can be patient. I think.

Last but definitely not least, I talked with my friend tonight, her medical tests are over and although she doesn't have the results back yet, the comments from the medical personnel were positive and she felt better then she did going into it. At least that's a small something to be thankful for.

Tomorrow is another long day - football. I enjoy the football games but not the long out-of-town drives for the away games. This one will be the farthest away yet. I think now that the weather has turned cool enough, we'll take Rosie with and leave her in the car during the game. She'll be happier then being left home alone for an entire day.

I guess I'll go flop on the couch for a few minutes and flip channels to watch the hurricane Rita coverage. William was talking about it when we got home from the movie and he started to say "In the last episode..." and then stopped. He meant, of course, in the last hurricane coverage - of hurricane Katrina. It's interesting how it becomes "television" when you watch it long enough. Perhaps one reaches a saturation point and then you just start to become numb. It's too hard to maintain such an intense sense of it when you are far away and helpless to do anything to stop it. Particularly when it just keeps coming day after day after day, the news has been as relentless as the storms. Not sure what that all means, just throwing out random thoughts.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bloggers Block

Why, for a person who loves to talk and write a lot (ask anyone!), am I having such a hard time keeping my blog up to date!? I'm not sure. Maybe, by the time I'm done with my e-mail, I get restless to get off the computer. Actually, no. I don't get "restless" to get off the computer very often - I get restless about being noticed by my family being on the computer and thinking I'm spending too much time there. Okay, never mind, yes I do get restless on the computer - I think of all sorts of things I want to be doing instead. But when I get off, then I feel exhausted just thinking about them, and think it's a good idea to go check my mail again.

But, that's not to say I don't do anything but sit on the computer. I have a far too effective guilt producing mind to do that. In fact, lately, I've been a downright busy little bee. Autumn tends to do that to me.

Part of my newly bubbling well of domesticity comes from having my gardens ready to harvest. It always makes me feel productive in a back-to-the-land sort of way. I mean, I worked on planting this stuff long ago in the spring and then, this year, like most years, got so busy I all but abandoned the gardens all summer, and then amazingly enough, there's still food out there for me to pick, put in pretty baskets, eat fresh or just set it out on the counters to enjoy the visual, and sometimes I even get around to putting some of it up for further satisfaction in the cold and dark of some future wintry day. The last few days I've picked peaches, apples, tomatoes, eggplant and a few onions. I've got a full basket full of grapes to still take off the vine as well. Not a LARGE harvest, but maybe that's part of the pleasure. There isn't more then I can handle this year.

The other day I made jam - I wanted to can it, because it seems more impressive somehow and because I don't have much room in my freezer - but I couldn't find my canning gear, so I cheated and made freezer jam. Still, it's tasty - apricot jam made with apricots from a friend's apricot tree. I wonder if she's got more to spare - I'm thinking of drying some too. I also made all sorts of homemade goodies to eat and we've been enjoying them for a few days now, stopping the flow of hard earned cash to our local restaurants.

I impulsively cleaned up a lot of the backyard. Wow, it looks great! As in, NOT a garbage dump anymore. And did some major trimming on our apple tree. I know, not the typical tree trimming season, but it didn't have a very good harvest this year (as in, maybe a dozen apples) and I think it needed some TLC. That and Jeff and William kept bonking their heads on the low hanging branches.

Even more amazing then me cooking and cleaning (yep, been doing some of the latter too), is me sewing! I've spent several evenings working on art and quilt projects and am amazed to discover that this phenomenon - the actually moving of hands and working of tools and thinking of brain cells, creates REAL RESULTS. Not imaginary results - of which I have so many that my brain is clogged with all my imaginary accomplishments (which might actually be part of the reason i don't get much done in real time) - but REAL results - things you can hold up, even if they're not completely finished yet, and say "Lookee at what I did!"

Another by-product of REAL WORK, other then REAL RESULTS, is REAL MOMENTUM. Work begets work begets work. Of course there's a natural swing to this sort of thing. Eventually you reach the top of that momentum, like a kid on a swing going up, up, up, and there's a pause while the world changes direction. While we're using this happy-kid-on-a-swing analogy, in real life that pause is more accurately called by it's true name - an INTERUPTION. This interuption might be a trip, a logjam of yucky jobs, a phone call asking if you'll work snack bar, a sad kid in need of focus, a shift in internal hormonal levels, or even a really good night of back to back to back television shows. But whatever the pause (interuption, distraction, roadblock, family need...), it's the point at which one's momentum, or at least MY momentum, changes direction. And then instead of work giving birth to baby works, sloth begets sloth beget sloth. Not that I truly think I'm slothlike. But it was wittier to say sloth three times then to describe the process more accurately and say something like "Distraction begets change of direction begets overwhelmness begets mental and physical exhaustion begets eating large quantities of carbohydrates begets working on imaginary successes. In artistic and psychological circles, folks have found a way to describe this as if it's a GOOD thing. It's called "down" time. Or "recharging your batteries." Or "spending time in a state of receptive calm, allowing oneself to do the REAL work of self that takes place below the surface". Yeah, that last one sounds really good. I'll go with that one. Fortunately, I don't think I need to use that excuse quite yet. I'm still in the upward swing of things here, still got a few accomplishments in me.

Oh, and speaking of autumn, it's the autumnal equinox today. A day that speaks of balance - how clever of me to write a post about that very thing - wish I'd known that was what I was doing -but hey, I'll take the credit.

Happy Mabon everyone.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My inner child

One of those online tests. Can never resist them. And wondered if the computer code would copy here. Let's see:

Your Inner Child Is Surprised

You see many things through the eyes of a child.
Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.
You cherish all of the details in life.
Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.

Oh my stars!!! Happy happy joy joy! It worked! Something other then text worked on my blog - the blog that eats photos, casts off lists of friends, and refuses to allow me any pictorial creativity whatsoever -ALLOWED a picture to be included.

Clear evidence that my inner child is, indeed, surprised. My outer child, however, is astonished.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Brave Little.... er Coffeemaker

My 4-cup coffeemaker gave up the ghost today. Went to the big kitchen counter in the sky. Sigh.

I've had that coffeemaker for over sixteen years! That's a long time for a small appliance. Particularly in these toss'em and buy a new one times. I remember the first time I realized that appliances weren't meant to be fixable anymore. It was probably 25 years ago at least. B.C., anyway. (Before Children - duh! I'm not THAT old) I tried to take my toaster to the local Fix-it Shop. Later, in another town, I'd look and not even be able to find such a thing as a Fix-it Shop, but I happened to know where one was at that point in time, because I'd drive by it out on the highway all the time. So, I took my toaster in and the guy took it from me, sort of peered inside, and said "Y'know, it would cost me more to fix this then for you to go to the store and buy a new one."

I remember feeling shocked and saddened and ultimately resigned. For me, it somehow marked the end of something. Maybe those elusive "good ol' days" - the ones where things were made to last, and so on. (Speaking of which, I just found out yesterday that our neighbor's '65 Ford pickup has been in their family since it was new. Still painted the same turquoise blue with a white top that the manufacturer, in a delusional moment, thought looked great, or retro, or something. I assumed he'd bought it old, like we bought and redid our '64 Chevy pick up. Cool, huh?)

So as I was saying, today our coffeemaker died. The ON light works, so I assume it's the heating coil. I bought that coffeemaker right after my first husband walked out on the family. He left light, taking his Navajo rug, his homemade couch, the recliner he got as a birthday gift from his mom, and the coffeemaker, which was a big ass ol' thing that made 12 cups at a time. Since he was by a huge margin the primary coffee drinker in the house, I replaced it by buying this small, just-the-right-size-for-a-single-adult coffeemaker and felt a small sense of recovery and smugness from the purchase.

All these years later, my little coffeemaker has shared many more stories with me. It's lived through three, four, maybe more carafe replacements. It's poured coffee to a new hubby (who is now also an old husband, but in age, not in the sense of being outgrown), it recharged the midwife that delivered William after back to back births, officiated over numerous birthday parties and superbowl gatherings, kept me awake during late night studying jags, woke us up for early morning get-on-the-road plans. It's served us during thousands of days of joy, occasional nights of sadness. It was in cahoots with my husband who brought me coffee in bed for the first eight years or so of our marriage. (we've been married fifteen, but he gave up when he started working nights. Although, now that he's finally back on a day shift, the tradition has been renewed!) It's been packed and carried to SEVEN new homes with us over the years.

And now it's gone. And we're all sad. Jeff said we should have a funeral. Say a few words. Sprinkle a few coffee beans over the grave. Strangely, that makes sense to me. But where, exactly, does one bury a coffeemaker? While we decide how to say farewell, on a more mundane level, I'll have to add "coffeemaker" to my list of things to buy at Walmart today. After all, coffee, as they say, is for the living. Or something like that.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Happy Birthday to William

William turned fourteen today. For some reason that seems like a big deal. He's no longer a kid. He's not even thirteen, which as every parent knows, means a kid is not a teenager, but just a wannabe teenager. They're just "trying on" being a teen at thirteen. But by fourteen even the late bloomers start to notice things like that girls have breasts, how embarrassing their parents have become, and how many more months until they can get their driver's permits.

Somehow William's birthday got lost in the busyness of late summer this year. Okay, okay. OKAY! William's birthday almost ALWAYS get's lost in the busyness of late summer. It's an incredibly hectic time of year for our family. Most years though, I can pull something off at the last minute. This year it was difficult for a number of reasons. We bought his gifts ahead of time and since he helped pick out his main gift (a new television) and I got caught trying to smuggle in the other gift (a body pillow), he had nothing to open on his birthday. Too, it was a school day for his buddies and a work day for his dad (who had to leave by 1 pm), so we had to do whatever we could as a family to celebrate in the morning. Not the typical birthday celebrating hours.

It worked out, in a crazy sort of way.

Jeff made a cake for William last night after he came home from work. Somehow this has become a tradition in our family. Jeff the NONbaker, the man who can burn water and can't taste the difference between cucumbers and strawberries, is in charge of the childrens' birthday food. This particular cake had a huge depression in the middle of it as Jeff didn't think to check to see if it was actually done when the timer went off. He just took it out of the oven and walked away before he could watch the middle sink into a puddle of something between batter and cake - think a gritty puddinglike substance. I came across it about fifteen minutes later and insisted he put it back in to finish cooking, which he did, but it still had a distinct "hill and valley" shape to the top. That is, until he frosted it. As I overheard him saying this morning, "nothing a little (or a LOT) of frosting can't fix."

Mom, papa, and dog all descended on the still sleeping child... er, TEEN, to wake him this morning to a family cuddle and off key singing of "Happy Birthday to you!" William commented that there were no gifts to open and Jeff dashed off for, cough, cough, uhm, "candles - yes, I forgot the candles. I'll be right back."

An hour later, William and I now more awake, Jeff dashed back in the door (Jeff doesn't really walk anywhere - he's either sitting, or dashing, even on a less exciting day. On a day like this his dashing is downright hyper), hands full of packages. And candles. And balloons, which the two "boys" set about blowing up and taping to anything in the livingroom that didn't move.

Jeff decided we'd take the birthday boy out for breakfast, insisting we take the gifts and cake with us. On the way out the door I peeked in the gift bags and realized Jeff had bought William toys. Yes,TOYS. Funny, but sad. He might as well just have given William a birthday card that was signed "Please, please, please don't grow up, stay a boy forever! Love, Papa" I looked at William and he saw the look on my face and then he peeked inside the bags and I said quietly "You can return it all if you want."

We ate breakfast at one of our regular coffee shops. Jeff tried to find Happy Birthday on the jukebox, but couldn't, so he played a bunch of other songs and then explained WHY each of them were good substitutes for the birthday song. Jeff hadn't brought enough candles for the cake (he only had 12), so one of the waittresses found us some extras. They had obviously been at the bottom of a drawer for awhile and I started scraping the worst of the dust off them but Jeff said they weren't radioactive. William grabbed them and stabbed them dirty ends and all into one edge and said "Don't eat that piece mom."

We spent most of the time reminscing about William's childhood and relating the youngest memories we could remember from our own pasts. Jeff gave William his cards and gifts and loudly urged him to open them up. William sweetly, so so sweetly, set aside the luxury of being embarrassed and opened them up, IN PUBLIC, and let his dad enjoy playing with them. He might be fourteen, but he is old enough to know how to be kind.

I wanted to save William from the added embarrassment of having to blow out his candles in public, in part because we were all too stuffed from our meal to actually eat cake, mostly because William and I had another eye-to-eye moment when we both realized that Jeff had bought the the kind of candles that you CAN'T BLOW OUT. We'd just convinced Jeff to let us take the cake back home when the waittress came up and insisted they be allowed to join in the fun. The other waittress and waiter were coming around the bend in the aisle. We knew when we were beat and sat back down. The waittresses happily lit the candles and the waiter, the SIL of a family friend, STOOD on top of an empty booth and said in a booming voice to the entire restaurant...


And everyone did. They sang and they laughed and they applauded. And William managed the entire thing without turning even the palest shade of red. Even more surprising, he managed to turn the surprise on Jeff and somehow managed to blow all the candles out in one full swoop and they STAYED out. We offered everyone a slice of cake, but folks rubbed their bellies and said either they were stuffed from their meals or were saving room for the meals they had just ordered.

Back home, William pretty much got his way. He spent a good fifteen minutes lighting and relighting the candles, perfecting his technique, burning them down to little puddles of color in the frosting, and filling the house with smoke. I "forgot" to nag him to do any school work today. Jeff indulged him in a game of Risk before he had to go off to work. And I promised to make up for the toys by buying him something he'd actually enjoy and use. He asked if I'd go to and see about buying a video game called Mercenaries.

Mercenaries??? Yep, he's fourteen.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Little pleasures

Have you missed me? Have you, uhm, even noticed I was missing?

Well, I was. I was busy with three overlapping things. The first thing I was busy with was getting ready to be inundated with family. Joe and Lisa flew in for a visit and the other kids came home or met up with us during different parts of the visit. The second thing I was busy with was the actual visit. Along with all the kids and the lone grandkid, Jeff's brother and some old famly friends also put in appearances. I was very very busy.

Overlapping both of these activities was the third thing I was doing - whenever I wasn't doing anything else, and it was probably a very good thing I had other required things to be doing or I would have done this particular thing 24/7 and just fallen into complete despair, and that was watching the television coverage of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

After everyone went home, theoretically I was looking forward to getting back to my every day routine and activities. What really happened though was I watched more news coverage and wandered around feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Understandable, if not particularly productive or emotionally healthy. Thankfully, today I finally felt like I turned a bit of a uphill corner. I found I was enjoying some very, very simple moments in life. The same moments that were there the day before but went unnoticed, today felt like small, compassionate gifts.

In the midst of all the tragedy and my general feeling of helplessness and frustration, what made me happy today? Well, the sheer pleasure my puppy took in sleeping in the sun. Noticing how the sun frosted just the very edge of a frayed old quilt hanging on the clothesline. The absolutely heady mingled scents of the tomato plants and basil leaves in the garden as I brushed up against them. The wild abandon of the wind as it flung a thunderstorm across the valley. The creaminess of a pumpkin spice latte. The air being chilly enough to allow me to wear my soft new socks (black with cat faces on them) for the first time. The unexpected curl of my son's hair as it spills over his ears. The familiar squeak of the wood floor in the hallway. Taking photographs of the first crop of peaches bobbing warm and fuzzy on my young peach tree.

Although it's certainly true that it's the little things in life that often drive us crazy, it's equally true that it's the little things that bring us back to our sanity. A new car might make us happy, but it's a hot cup of tea in our favorite chipped tea cup that makes us content.