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.

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.