GratiTuesday: Mom and Dad

By most standards, the beginning of my parents’ marriage did not bode well for its longevity. After meeting at a dance and dating for all of three months, they hopped on a bus to Las Vegas and got married. Because my father was in the army, they lived apart at first, only getting together for the short periods of time his leaves allowed. Then he shipped off to Europe with his outfit and was away for over a year.

My mother on her wedding day.
Two crazy kids in love.

Although they are both gone now, Valentine’s Day still means more to me than a Hallmark holiday; it is an annual reminder of the strength of their union, brought together in a time of war and fortified over the years as a relationship built on love, commitment, and shared values.

My brothers and I were lucky to be able to celebrate our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with them. My mother passed away in 2000, a few years shy of their 60th.  Tomorrow, on their Valentine’s Day anniversary, I will say a heartfelt “thank you.” Thank you for giving us a happy, secure childhood. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of an education and continued learning. Thank you for instilling in us a passion for travel. Thank you for showing us what love looks like.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for taking a chance and hopping on that bus. We are grateful.

GratiTuesday: Showing Up

Like hundreds of thousands of people around the globe, my husband and I took part in the Women’s March this past Saturday. Just as it was last year, the event was exhilarating, empowering, and inspirational. It was wonderful to see so many women and men – young and old – joining together to voice their concerns about what is happening in this country and to remind people of the power of their vote.

At one point early in the day, my husband asked if a friend of ours was planning to come to the March and I said that I doubted if she was coming, that it “really wasn’t her thing.” My husband responded that it didn’t seem like it mattered too much if it was someone’s “thing” or not, that it was more important to show up and be counted. As I looked at the sea of people around us, I had to agree.

To all the people who joined the Women’s March and who step forward in other ways to make their voices heard, I am so grateful that you show up and are counted. It is important.

GratiTuesday: Walkie-Talkies

Walking is my favorite form of exercise and, fortunately, our neighborhood offers safe places to walk along with a reasonable number of hills. My regular 1-hour, 3-mile walk is the perfect time and distance to listen to one of my favorite podcasts. But, as much as I enjoy listening to This American Life, the Ted Radio Hour, or Planet Money, I usually prefer to walk with a partner… and my favorite walking partner is my husband.

Walking gives us a chunk of uninterrupted time to just talk. Our discussions range from mundane household topics to plans for upcoming events to political and social issues. But, whatever we talk about, there are no computer screens, phone calls, or other distractions competing for our attention. It’s just us and whatever we want to talk about… or not. I enjoy just walking together in silence too.

I am grateful that my husband likes to join me on my walks and that we both relish the time we can spend just being together.

GratiTuesday: Rainy Days

Southern California hadn’t had significant rainfall since May of 2017, when we received just under an inch. Then yesterday, a strong sub-tropical storm sent both wind and rain our way – bringing much-needed moisture to our parched region.

My husband and I removed our grass and other thirsty plants from our landscaping and installed drought-tolerant succulents years ago. But, even though these elegantly architectural plants can survive on little water, they also welcome the rain; catching and displaying the droplets on their broad, fleshy leaves.

Agave attenuata
Agave ‘Blue Glow’
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’

I am grateful for the end of a long dry spell, and I hope for more rainy days before too long.

GratiTuesday: Making a Gratitude Adjustment

I have been considering making a few tweaks to my GratiTuesday posts, and the start of a brand new year seems like the perfect time to put them in place. I really enjoy writing these posts and, judging by the likes and comments they receive, they are popular and appreciated. Just as I had hoped, thinking about possible subjects for my (almost) weekly posts has helped to foster a greater awareness of the beauty and goodness around me.

My original intention was for these posts to be short ones. Easy to write, and quick to read. Pretty soon, though, they began to morph into longer essays, which, of course, take more time to put together (have I mentioned that I am a tortured writer?).

Starting next week, my GratiTuesday posts will often consist of just a photograph and a short expression of gratitude or appreciation. Most likely, the comment section will be turned off for these posts too. Easy to write, and quick to read. Changing the format will also give me a chance to concentrate more on my photography, which is a retirement passionette of mine.

I am so grateful for the freedom retirement gives me to start, stop, revise, and adjust. Although I love the connections I make through my blog, I am looking forward to spending less time in front of my computer screen and more time enjoying this remarkable stage of my life.

GratiTuesday: Our Adventures

On each of the four Tuesdays in December, I am highlighting what I have been most grateful for in 2017.

2017 has been an adventurous year for us and I am grateful for the many opportunities we had to get out and about. Some of the highlights (with links to previous posts) include:

Doing Rockabilly right!

Viva Las Vegas is an annual Rockabilly celebration that we have attended for the last few years. Some people go for the music, Some for the dancing, some for the fashion, and some for the vintage collections, including cars. Most go for a little bit of everything. I am grateful to the young people for keeping this genre alive… and making it their own.

In the spring, we spent five weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico. By staying in a single setting the entire time, we were able to better immerse ourselves in the culture (although, in many ways, we felt that we just scratched the surface). I am grateful for all the friendly, interesting people we met and the incredible sights we visited, and we look forward to returning to this remarkable city.

Quite different from the slow travel we experienced in Oaxaca, our travels to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska were jam-packed with activity. We enjoyed scheduled events, explored national parks, visited friends and family, and experienced the grandeur of glaciers. I am grateful for the freedom that retirement has given us so we can expand our time away to fit in everything we want to see and do.

And now we have just returned from our latest adventure in Northern California. We had a wonderful time exploring San Francisco, visiting family, hiking, and sampling delicious wines and champagnes in Napa Valley. I am grateful for the hospitality we enjoyed and grateful for our dear friends who took such good care of our home while we were gone.

It will be hard to top the adventures we had in 2017, but I am grateful for the opportunity to try.