GratiTuesday: Tax Returns

Today is the filing deadline for federal and state taxes in the United States. Like just about everyone, I don’t relish the process of completing our tax returns nor do I enjoy writing a check and mailing it to the government.

But, here’s some of what I do enjoy:

  • I enjoy driving on well-maintained roads that are safe and free of potholes.
  • I enjoy having K-12 schools that are in good repair, provide students with up-to-date school books, and offer teachers salaries that allow them to live in the community where they work.
  • I enjoy having a quality college and university system that educates the workforce of the future.
  • I enjoy having police and fire departments that provide public safety.
  • I enjoy the fresh, safe drinking water that comes right out of the tap.
  • I enjoy visiting our state and national parks and want to maintain them for future generations.
  • I enjoy being able to access our public libraries and check out just about any book I want.
  • I enjoy our non-profit, award-winning Public Broadcasting System.
  • I enjoy having a strong national defense.
  • I enjoy the benefits of our government investing in science, technology, health research, food safety, public health services, and disease control.
  • I (will) enjoy the benefits of Social Security and Medicare and appreciate the safety net these programs provide.

While I am not comfortable with our country’s debt levels and I know our government could be more efficient, I know that much of what I enjoy would not exist without taxes. I may not be happy about writing that check, but I am grateful for the benefits that I get in return.

GratiTuesday: Hug a Librarian Day

I’ve always been a big fan of libraries and, since my retirement, my library card has gotten quite a workout. So, I was thrilled to learn that this week, April 8 – 14, is the 60th annual celebration of National Library Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, National Library Week was created to recognize the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and promote library use and support.

The theme for this year’s National Library Week is “Libraries Lead”

 

Although most libraries will have their own locally-tailored events, the national celebration has identified four areas of focus for the week:

  • On Monday, the list of 2017’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books (compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom), was released. Of course, these ten books represent just a few of the many, many documented book challenges. If you click on over, you will probably be shocked at the books listed. You may also be surprised and saddened by the reasons given for their attempted – and sometimes successful – censorship.
  • Today is National Library Workers Day, a day to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.
  • Wednesday is National Bookmobile Day. This day recognizes the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.
  • Thursday is Take Action for Libraries Day which is a national library advocacy effort observed for the first time in 2017 in response to proposed cuts to federal funds for libraries.
I love my neighborhood library

I’m thrilled that today is National Library Workers Day. I don’t know about your library, but mine is staffed by the nicest people. They certainly deserve a hug or, maybe better, a big tin of cookies or some other treat to tell them how much they are appreciated.

Today, this week, always, I am grateful for our libraries. I don’t think there has ever been a time when the important work they do has been as threatened. They deserve our heartfelt appreciation and, even more, our active support.

GratiTuesday: A Glorious Day

A beautiful spring day, temperatures in the low 70s, a cloudless blue sky, four friends who have known each other since elementary school, and a -0.81 low tide making the beach wide and the tide pools inviting.

Dear friends and walking buddies.
Clown fish
Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier
Rocks exposed during low tide.
Looking south towards La Jolla Cove.

I am grateful for the beauty of this day and the company of dear friends.

GratiTuesday: Spring’s Gifts

At exactly 9:15 (Pacific Time) this morning, winter became spring. Today – the vernal equinox – the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator, making night and day approximately of equal lengths all over the world.

We switched our clocks to Daylight Saving Time a little over a week ago (I know that some people hate DST, but it makes me happy) and now, as the periods of daylight grow longer each day, I am grateful for the extra rays of sunshine that we will enjoy.

The orioles, who often nest in our neighborhood’s palm trees, are a delight to watch.

The hooded orioles have started to arrive after being away for the winter enjoying the serene climate of Southern Baja and mainland Mexico. I am grateful for their beauty and for the backyard entertainment they provide with their comical antics and happy chatter.

Bees have been busy pollinating the trees and making orange blossom honey.

After producing a tree full of tasty fruit during the winter months, our orange tree now is bursting with fragrant white blossoms. I am grateful not only for the blossoms’ heady fragrance that perfumes our yard but also for the promise of a new crop of oranges next fall and winter.

Although there might not be obvious indicators of the four seasons where I live, there are subtle changes that are noticeable for those who look for them. I am grateful for all the gifts of spring I see, and for those that nature still has in store.

The jacarandas will burst forth with their purple blossoms a little later in the spring.

GratiTuesday: The Young and the Restless

I imagine that just about every older generation looks at the younger ones nipping at their heels and wonders if they have the skills and fortitude to run the world one day. Are they too selfish? Unfocused? Lazy? Have they been sheltered too much or have their lives been made too easy? Are they overly obsessed with their status on social media? Will they be able to take the reins when the time comes for them to pick up where we left off?

I wish I could say that my generation has done a better job during our tenure. Sadly, the environment is in deep trouble, violence and conflict are seemingly everywhere and never-ending, and the chasm between the haves and have-nots is widening. We will be leaving them with a bit of a mess.

Yes, you are.

Two observations these last few weeks have given me a reason for hope: seeing the optimism of the young athletes who took part in the Olympics and following the focused passion of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I am grateful to see young people who are energized, who reject societal inequalities, and who see the urgent need to protect our environment. They are concerned and they are restless, and they understand that sitting down and shutting up is not an option.

If they are indicative of the generation coming up, I think we are in good hands.

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.