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Monthly Archives: January 2015

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The garage is old and showing signs of ill repair. We will have to replace it within the next few years. More than needing a good paint job, there are enough gaps between wood slats in the siding for small rodents or song birds to get in. At times we wonder if a blizzard would pile enough snow on the roof to bring the whole thing down. Even so I still find this old garage to be very useful. We store garden tools and “garage stuff” here but my car fits inside, too. And on cold winter mornings it is nice not to have to scrape frost off the windshield, or sweep snow off the roof or hood of the car. I appreciate that I can drive to work sans twenty minutes of “prep time” making the car drivable. I am grateful for this old, dilapidated garage on cold, snowy mornings here in Cleveland, OH.

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Many of my photographs are taken at the North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I have expressed gratitude for birds, trees, ponds, frogs, you name it, and most of my photos that illustrate gratitude are taken at this special place! Tonight I am grateful for the reservation itself. It is a place where one can go to stroll along paths through woods and fields. There I hear the cacophany of numerous bird species, each bird vying for attention or jockeying for position in the “pecking order.” I walk, listen, watch, touch and inhale the forest. It has become a sacred place for me to run to when I need a respite from the work that I do. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, the reservation compels me to be more mindful, to observe more closely, to listen more intently, and to watch more alertly. I am indeed grateful for the North Chagrin Reservation.

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Winter is a harsh time of year for me. Since childhood i perceived winter to be a “dead” season. Everything went into hibernation: plants, animals, color, warmth, all of life! I viewed the landscape as barren, transformed into a dull monochromatic palette. Grays and whites depressed me. And I dreaded snow once it came because I knew that I would not see the ground again until spring thaw. But as I’ve aged my perception has definitely shifted. The shift may be due to the fact that I have become more mindful as i’ve mellowed with the years. Now I walk the wooded paths, listen to the crunch of my boots on snow and ice, and watch for the flutter of wings as winter birds take up residence. This past week as I wandered my favorite trails, I noticed that the leafless forrest branches were alive with birds of varied species: titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, dark eyed juncos (see above photo), cardinals, finches, various types of woodpeckers, starlings, and even a hawk. As I stood still and listened, watched, and breathed deeply, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude to have come to this stage and age in life when even in winter I am aware of the vibrancy of life. The birds help. I am grateful for birds in winter.

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Mary, our youngest daughter, sent a self-care package to me on my birthday. Included was a box of Tulsi organic Sweet Rose tea, a tea that has quickly become my favorite. There is nothing more nurturing, comforting, or relaxing than sipping a cup of that Sweet Rose tea and reading poetry before retiring to bed at night. Ahhh. Sweet dreams. Sound sleep. I am grateful for Tulsi Sweet Rose tea and poetry just before bedtime.

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When we bought this house about two and a half years ago, we knew that improvements would have to be made along the way. For instance, the furnace was 32 years old at the time of purchase and, we discovered, quite cantankerous. We made it hobble through two winters however, and always counted our blessings that we never had to go more than two days without heat. Although living in Cleveland, OH on the shores of a really big lake (!), two days of no heat can be quite “icy”. Repairs were frequent. In fact we called in the professionals three times thus far this season alone to keep the old furnace working. And we are just now moving into the harsh winter weather common to this part of the world. By all appearances, that old furnace was nigh-on next to dead!

Without too much discussion (actually, we have discussed the old furnace and its impending demise since we purchased the house) we finally “bit the bullet” and bought a new one. Sal’s Heating and Cooling installed the new furnace yesterday! So on this first day of the year 2015, we now have a reliable, efficient furnace to keep our home warm as the temps plunge into the teens and below (fahrenheit for all my friends living outside the USA). It appears we purchased the furnace in the nick of time! I am grateful for our new furnace and the warmth it provides.

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