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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Chaos rules now. How can one move from a small apartment to a full size house with a full basement and roomy bedrooms and still not find places for “things.” Ah, the joys of moving. On a bittersweet note, there are features of our previous abode that I miss, like the glorious view out on a luscious courtyard where flowers bloomed, birds warbled, and squirrels scampered to and fro. I shot a few last photos of flowers in bloom just outside the window before we left that sweet apartment for the last time. But already I’ve heard birds in nearby trees, and seen squirrels at play in our yard at our new home. We have beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas just outside our living room window, and the back yard is waiting to be landscaped (by me) and planted. We now have a “proper” dining room where we hope to feed many guests in the years ahead, and even a “guest room” for those who choose to stay a while. Our neighbors appear to be friendly, and we are already making new acquaintances. Once we create order here (which may take a while; coursework is as demanding as ever!), I have no doubt that we will find all sorts of sweet and wonderful, awe-inspiring surprises. We always do. So today and everyday, I am grateful for our new home!

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Last shots from our apartment window:


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TWO MEN AND A TRUCK truck in front of a home

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK truck in front of a home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Two-Men-and-A-Truck, we are now in our new home. There is still clean-up to do in the apartment, but we now live in our new home. 🙂 I would write more but in the midst of the chaos of moving, I still have papers to write and studying to do. I had to take a few moments though, and say how grateful I am for the movers who moved us, Two-Men-and-A-Truck (I wonder if women can be movers, too?)

These days are filled with stress, good stress, but stress none-the-less. At times like these, when busyness and life demands threaten to overwhelm, nothing beats a good night’s sleep! Today I am most grateful for a good night’s sleep! 🙂

I love the music of the birds each morning. I’m an early riser by nature and so are birds. Each day (except in winter) I listen to the birds singing and chirping back and forth as I brew my coffee. Darkness still shrouds the courtyard outside so I can’t see who is ‘talking’ to whom, but that doesn’t matter; their warbling is music to my ears and a wonderful wake-up call. The only exception in my experience was in Nicaragua when roosters’ loud, harsh cock-a-doodling jarred us out of our beds. Birds in my neighborhood however, provide a melodic prelude to each day. I am grateful for the sound of warbling birds as I awaken each morning to  new opportunities and possibilities. 🙂

When I write of interesting and ‘bizarre’ creatures, I am referring to how they appear to the human eye. From the other’s perspective however, this lizard may see us as the bizarre ones. Who knows? Looking at this lizard I see brilliant colors and rough skin, but these characteristics are protective camouflage in their world. In fact I could not see this thing for the longest time because it blended in so well with the surrounding fauna. (Once I saw it however, hanging above my head I might add, it was quite obvious!) I don’t know much about these lizards, but I know they are part of an amazing ecosystem. Seeing this lizard is a reminder of the intricacy of life and the interdependency of all living things. Yes, this lizard looks bizarre to me, as do many other animals and creepy-crawlies, but we are all part and parcel of the fabric of life, and for that reason, in addition to gratitude for all things beautiful, I am grateful for the beauty of interesting and bizarre creatures.

The primary reason we took this apartment back in August was the view from our living room window. Every morning I sip on my first cup of coffee while gazing out this window. Birds are continuously seen and heard as they nest and feed from the lush courtyard pictured here. As many of you who follow my blogs know, the squirrels have kept me company with their playful scampering about and daily visitations through the winter. I have been able to photograph this scenery through all four seasons now, and every season offers a breathtaking view, and it is all right outside my window. By this time next month we will be settling into our own home, a bungalow just ten minutes away from  this location. While there will be new sights and sounds and smells, I will not have this view from any window in that house. I will have to discover new kinds of beauty. Having lived in dozens of places (literally) however, I know that beauty awaits. But for now, today, I am grateful for the view from my second-story apartment window.

Have you ever noticed how the simple things in life are the real day-brighteners? The older I get, the more I eschew the material-hoarding lifestyle that seems rampant in today’s American culture. Rather, I (we~R and I talked about this just last night) prefer a walk in the woods, time with the children and grandchildren, settling down with a good book, a phone call from a friend, bird watching and a host of other activities, all of which lift my spirits and imbue me with a sense of wonder and awe . . . and hope. Yesterday I found myself in the doldrums; academic books, notes and such strewn everywhere. Late in the afternoon I defiantly pushed myself away from my desk, took up my camera and left the apartment. I was only gone for about 30 minutes, but in that thirty minutes I came upon a beautiful blooming tree. Sitting in its shade, I breathed in deeply, savoring every aroma tinged breath. I shot a few photos. Spirits lifted,  I returned to my studies with renewed vigor and peace of mind. I know what is really important . . . and what is not. I am grateful for a beautiful flower on an otherwise gloomy day.

Passover celebrates the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom. You can read about it in the book of Shmot/Exodus in the Bible. Each year those of us who observe this holiday, prepare by getting rid of all the chometz/leavening in our possession. We do this to remember the swiftness with which the Jewish people picked up and left Egypt; the bread that was baked for the trip did not even have time to rise, so we carried the flat matza with us to eat on our journey. We are told to tell the story of this journey to our children and their children for all generations. To help us do this we have a seder, or a meal, with a particular order so that we are continually and consistently conveying the story of our existence and connection with God.

We were privileged this year to attend a seder where the youngest child, a 5-year-old girl, was in attendance. The leader of this seder stopped frequently to ask Leah questions about the Exodus story and the meaning of the meal we were preparing to eat. Amazingly, already by the age of 5, Leah knew the Passover story. Seders usually end in the wee hours of the morning, but we don’t complain because this is the story of how we became a people.

As my husband and I prepared for Passover this year, we talked about cleaning the chometz from our home, our car, our storage unit, his office space~any area where we might have chometz in our possession. But the meaning of this exercise goes deeper than cleaning out the crumbs and crackers and bits of leaven that gather in ignored corners and crevices throughout the year. Passover is also an opportunity to take an inner inventory of one’s thoughts and actions throughout the year. We spent time discussing the spiritual chometz in our lives that we wished to clean out, to discard from our lives~greed, envy, whining and complaining, etc. We took a hard look at ourselves and considered how we treat each other, how we treat our family and neighbors, what good is there that needs to be cultivated and what spiritual, emotional and psychological leaven needs to be eliminated.

This is a special time of year when we celebrate our journey out of slavery and into freedom. I am grateful for Passover.

 

I know this is a broad subject, but today “life” is all I can think of. I am grateful for life and all of its intricacies. Dad is going through a major (and risky) surgery today to repair an aneurism that has refused to heal. We, the family, although spread out across the world, sit anxiously by our phones in hopes of receiving frequent updates on Dad’s condition. We utter prayers beseeching the Almighty for a good and positive outcome. How do I express gratitude when at the moment I’m on pins and needles waiting for word? What am I grateful for? Why blog at a time like this? The answer is simple; as I think of Dad I think of life. My parents not only gave me life, they taught me throughout our years to recognize the awesomeness of all things living. They taught us to respect the natural world, the sustainer of our physical bodies as well as our aesthetic senses. I think of Dad’s life, a humble and simple life, yet my brothers and I agree that Dad is the wisest man we know. I think of Mom beside him for 60+ years, and of the students who were fortunate enough to walk through her classroom, some of them forever changed as their eyes opened to the magnificence of life in its many forms (Mom taught middle school life science.) Day and night, each season, vegetation of all kinds, animals from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale and everything in between, all are worthy of gratitude. I think of the spiritual aspects of life that feeds our souls, yet that part of life cannot be seen or touched with our physical senses. But our spirits know. Right now I pray for the life of one man, but in praying for him I think of the preciousness and beauty of life. I am thankful for my Dad. I look forward to more years of life and joy with him and Mom. And even though I sit here nervously, anxiously waiting for word on his surgery, I am humbly and eternally grateful for LIFE!

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