Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Striated swirls cloud
the sky, pale corals on blue,
brightens, fades to night.
I’m not a huge risk taker, but occasionally I try new things. I love sitting outside at the end of the day. Recently I invested in a new zero gravity outdoor chair as over the years all our chaises and plastic webbed outdoor chairs have disintegrated. Really. The plastic webbing has fallen off in tiny bits away from the rusting frames. There is no webbing left to sit on and the rusted frames are too fragile to sustain the weight of any body. They are discarded to the recycle bin. The molded plastic chairs inherited from my deceased mother-in-law are more than ten years old, pitted, stained by algae, and reserved for people under 150 pounds. Now I have something new.
There’s not much I want in this life anymore, but I decided I want to create one of those little free libraries (different project, different essay). I love that reading and books have gone from an elitist activity allowed to only the most wealthy to reading materials available freely on the street without possession cost or penalty for loss or fines for returning late. So in my evening sit-out (sitting outside) I had been concentrating on observing the activities in my neighborhood in the evenings, beyond the evening birdsong, to project possible users. I started looking at activity in my neighborhood and found I could not remember from one day to the next what happened out there.
To aid my memory, I obtained a small notebook to record nightly activities. I purposely bought one with small pages (5″ x 7″) for use on my lap while sitting, figuring it was plenty of space to write what I observed in my evening respite. I had plenty of larger sized legal pads to write on, and the small one I already owned and found quickly had blue pages and I couldn’t see the page or differentiate the letters as darkness fell on the place where I sit to observe. I needed white pages. Digging through my vast collection of paper to write on I could not find the “perfect” pad of paper, so it was off to the stationery aisle of a local store, a dangerous, possibly expensive, proposition for me. I found several functional notepads, and some acceptable colorful notepads. But the one with the black cover with the sparkly shiny diamond pattern spoke to me, saying “I must belong to you. I need you to write on me.” I unearthed one of my favorite purple ink pens for more writing fun.
My neighborhood has always been quiet in the evenings, and since the concrete business across the street closed for business last fall it’s quieter during the day. Domestic disputes and loud parties involving alcohol usually take place only on Fridays or Saturdays, even during the school year in this semi-rural university town. The street is not a main arterial, and hosts mostly owner-inhabited homes with families and elders, so there are few trucks and cars racing up and down.
I live on a flag lot, which means my house is a good 130 feet from the street behind another house. My street view is limited to the small width of the driveway plus about 5 feet on either side. It’s just enough area to have a short sweet view of the street and yet be unnoticed by all the street users.
Cities and municipalities pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have neighborhood studies done to justify improvements like sidewalks and curbs and street gutters, or to justify improving infra-structures. I am my own unfunded study of neighborhood dynamics. My notebook has proved nearly too small for what happens in the last hour of light. Or maybe I have many words to note what I see.
I’ve never been successful keeping a diary, though this blog may be some distorted version of such, considering it has a weekly gratitude, various rants and raves added in for crankiness, and a struggling version of book reviews. While these nightly neighborhood observations don’t seem like a diary, I start each day’s entry with the day of the week, the day’s date and year, and anything of note for that day (June 5th, favorite uncle’s birthday, would have been 89 today, Robert Kennedy shot, 1968; June 6, D-Day, lest we forget).
Part of the recording is simply noting how many of something. I have a line for walkers, vehicles, bicycles, and planes. I’m considering a line for skateboarders, scooters, motorized wheelchairs, and segues as different kinds of vehicles but I’ll add those lines when I see the first one. If the walker has a stroller or a dog there is a little plus column. If a walker or bicyclist goes first one way and back again a little plus is added to the line. If I know the person I observe I jot down the name. When darkness begins to fill the page I turn on a tiny book light, lighting only the page, not me or the area.
And then there is all the other stuff that happens. The neighbor across the street who walks down to the local store for his nightly beer run, leaving his front door open because he knows I’m watching his house. The truck parked in the other neighbor’s driveway, where no one ever parks, owners of the truck talking and laughing, their baby making sweet baby noises; whom are they visiting? The unidentified sound and invisible user of a leaf blower or weed eater; which is it, who’s using it? The amount of wind or not. The need for a robe depending on the heat of the evening. The color and shape and change of the clouds as darkness rises from the earth to cover us with night. The fragrance of newly mown grass or a neighbor’s barbeque. The joyful sound of a fiesta up the street. The child who skips a few feet detour into my driveway from the sidewalk, body too full of joy to continue a straight line walk. Happy dogs with their happy walkers. The alcohol fueled party next door where the girls go deaf from alcohol consumption and have to talk louder and louder to hear each other. Bike brigade (mostly homeless) folks who have little trailers attached to their bikes for scavenging garbage cans and found treasures left on the side of the road (whom I give the benefit of the doubt, I don’t like to think of them casing homes and stealing; I am sad they don’t have homes). I have discovered though my neighborhood is generally quiet, it is very busy with people keeping their homes up or enjoying their evenings.
What’s happening in your neighborhood? Our days are so full if we live every one as if it is our last. I love taking this time in the evening sitting in the quiet with my thoughts and my notebook and my purple pen and my neighborhood. How much fun I have filling the page with notes and trying to keep each day to one page. I am amazed at how much I see and hear and smell and feel outside in the last hour of light.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – bright yellow sedum blossoms (sedum grows well for me, as a succulent it tolerates neglect); emerald green mint just starting to bloom tiny white blossoms at the tip grows weedly well and freely in my yard; the fascinating flower tip of a thistle getting ready to make purple blooms; the very last of my pink rhododendron blossoms; yellow moth mullein with centers in two shades, pale lavender and darker purple, I love how the centers look like a many legged colorful critter.
Currently Reading – It’s My F—ing Birthday (2002, fiction) by Merrill Markoe; Can They Do This To Me: My Reluctant Introduction to the Legal System (2012, sibling rivalry) by Larry Landauer; Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (2014, science) by Bill Nye. Yes, concurrently. I am revitalizing my From Me 2 U Book Review page. Check it out.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Shamelessly researching every topic I’m interested in.
- Walking barefoot on the earth.
- My pretty, shiny, sparkly, new notepad.
- Lovely warm days and refreshing cooler nights.
- The book light I gave the hubster a few years back.
- Sugar ants committing suicide in my automatic dishwasher and my salt shaker (Eewww); fewer I have to kill by hand since all commercial and home-made poisons have stopped working.
- A friend who helped her son accomplish a goal after going through a very tough year.
- Graduations and commencements. I know so many this year.
- The hubster’s espresso. And that he makes it for me.
- Garry’s “Meadow Fresh” lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized real cream from Lady-Lane Farm in Molalla, which comes in returnable glass bottles. Worth every penny. Yes; that was a commercial endorsement.
- Oregon cherries.
- Scones layered with a smear of mascarpone.
- Having enough and wanting little; realizing my wants can be dreams and not needs.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch
Flower Border by Susan Branch