Pumpkin Time begins…

November 2018 Northern VA.

 

A post just this week on Twitter went something like this:

“…But, I’ve never understood the pumpkin spice flavored stuff. There is zero excitement for me.”

It was first thing in the morning, over coffee to be exact, when I started scrolling through comments intrigued to see thoughts on the subject.  Pumpkin time begins I marveled. 

Where has summer gone?

There were many comments of course: All nice, mind you, and thank goodness for that! Nothing snarky or inappropriate save for one or two idiots who felt it necessary to bring –of all people–Trump into the topic. What a way to ruin things: Like what on earth does he have to do with Pumpkin Spice in anything!?   Fortunately, the person who posted the Tweet is as sunny and lovely as the sun itself and she is  quick to cut off trolls at the knees.  To be certain, one doesn’t want to read hate and vitriol before the roosters are up (or ever). Of course, one could argue that reading social media these days, particularly first thing in the morning can be an invitation for starting the day on the wrong foot.

In any event the whole point of my thoughts on this lazy afternoon is that September is upon us this weekend.  Halloween stuff has been in stores for weeks already…crazy, right?  So it’s fitting, I suppose, to start thinking of all things pumpkin and spice (meaning cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) –all of which I love–except…in coffee.

My flavor preferences (for those just dying to know) are puzzling to some (even to me). For example, it is perplexing to my nephew that I like apple pie but not apple juice or I prefer blueberries in my yogurt but I am not inclined towards blueberry pie. How is it that my taste buds are so…curiously discriminating? 

Yes, my sweet…I am weird….

And, when it comes to coffee, I’m a purist.  My cup of java (or espresso) is either black or with skim milk as in a latte or a cappuccino.  That means no sugar, syrups, liquor, whipped cream, or spices…not even the coveted pumpkin spice lattes that are the Starbucks rage from now through Christmas.  And yes, I did try one…once…and, well….blech, far too sweet for my taste buds.  And besides, a 16 oz. pumpkin spice latte is roughly 380 calories.  I’d much rather linger over a cup of black coffee and a piece of pumpkin pie, which is about 60 calories less, give or take.  Okay…honestly, it’s not about calories as my husband will attest to.  I can go face down into a bag of chips polishing off the entire thing at one sitting.  It’s just that those calories need to be ever so pleasing and a pumpkin spice latte doesn’t do it for me.

However, I am mad for pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread….and I’ll happily eat a pumpkin muffin…but–odd I knownot pumpkin cheesecake nor pumpkin ravioli (which makes me shudder) though, I didn’t mind one bit a hearty bowl of pumpkin soup with a lovely kick of ginger and red pepper that I tried when in Scotland this summer.

Lots of folks on that Twitter feed chimed in to agree that pumpkin spice flavoring wasn’t their thing, even in beer.  Some opined that the whole pumpkin thing gets overplayed during Fall as in “…pumpkin this, pumpkin that.”  But many were in the “love it” camp too which is perfectly fine!   One thing however, that nearly everyone could agree on was that pumpkin spice signaled the arrival of their favorite time of year (and mine too).  All the glories of autumn will soon have us gushing over spectacular fall colors not to mention outdoor activities that warrant bowls of delicious hot soups and stews and home-made bread smeared with European butter or Chile recipes packed with enough spices and heat to make you sweat. 

Oh the bliss of just thinking about it!

As long as Fall temps don’t chill me to the bones, I am a happy woman.  So bring on the bliss of autumn….except for this gal, sans pumpkin spice lattes and such.

 

Cycling in Napa Valley, Oct. 2010: Now that’s a pumpkin!

What A Difference A Day Makes

….or, twelve days, to be more precise.

So kind readers, I have not been overly vociferous on this here cyberspace spot about my disdain for the bathrooms in my 90’s built house. Mostly this is because I am keenly aware that there are plenty of folks in the world who, I’m certain, would give their first born for a proper roof over their heads, let alone a functioning indoor toilet. Yet I cannot tell you how many times in the last two years I have bitched and groaned about my crookedly-seated master bath toilet or the “poop” brown color everywhere–from cabinets to flooring–in three bathrooms.

Yes. I know. I’m lucky to have not one but three bathrooms.

Oh wait: full disclosure, we actually have five counting a guest powder room and a basement bathroom.

Sigh.

Okay, I feel embarrassed…silly even… complaining about twenty-five year old bathrooms.  I am one lucky woman.

But still:  The cabinets were well worn, and in some cases broken. All the wall mirrors were plenty oxidized with unsightly black edges. And don’t get me started on the floor tile.  Add to that, we discovered a broken pipe under the Jacuzzi tub.  This adds credence to a universal truth: TRUST YOUR INSTINCT.  In this case, it was my refusal to use the Jacuzzi tub because my gut said so.  Our contractor said just one soak in the tub would have caused a great deal of damage.  An image of me–in the tub–crashing through the floor into the kitchen below flashed before my eyes.

So we decided to update the bathrooms. And, instead of pulling off the band-aid a little at a time (i.e. one bathroom remodel a year) we went for ripping off the band-aid all at once: let’s remodel all three.

I’ve never had to remodel bathrooms; completely new territory for me. Naturally I spent many sleepless nights worrying about money and making the best selections within our means. As I didn’t want to shell out an additional $5k on top of the project estimate for a design consultant I relied on my gut–which was, in a word: terrifying— as well as endless hours perusing Houzz.com, Build.com, Pinterest and a host of other cyberspace articles on bathroom projects. I also relied on my sis’s creative skills, picking her brain every now and then on everything from accent tile to drawer pulls. Add to that weeks and weeks of countless trips to Home Depot and as many more to the tile store agonizing over color, grout, accent tiles, etc. My exercise routine plummeted and my chip-snacking sky-rocketed. Still, my only mantra through the process of selecting tile and all the necessary fixtures was: Anything will be better than the poop brown that we have now.

Now, save for shower glass (expected to arrive next week) and hanging mirrors, we are through the worst of the upheaval and the difference is astounding, though my photos don’t convey well enough the before and after! Suffice it to say that we were thrilled to be able to increase our master bath space by a good fifteen square feet without a lot of trouble, and, by getting rid of the “built-in” Jacuzzi tub we gained usable space. In addition, oh what joy to discover we gained nearly a whopping three square feet to the shower!

I’m over the moon with the results!

Now here’s a burning question: What do I do with all my free time now that I no longer need to spend endless hours on Houzz, Build.Com or Pinterest?

Ah, Yes….I suppose I can get my tush to the gym now and afterwards enjoy a soak in my tub under the serene eyes of Buddha…

Not complaining…and there is bliss in that.

It Doesn’t Take Much…

It’s in the 90’s today with 65% humidity.  Just a wee bit sweltering for another day into our first week of bathroom updates.   The twenty-five year old cabinets, fixtures, tiles, etc. are  history.   Out with shabby brown stuff and in with whites and neutrals.   I’ll confess to many sleepless nights thinking about it all: Did I make the right decision on the floor tile…the shower/bath accent tile?  Is this neutral direction too blah?  And more importantly, will my selections negatively affect resale?  In fact, just the night before I’d had a mini panic attack. 

“I should have researched designs more thoroughly.” I say to hubby as I paced the bedroom floor.  He brushes aside my anxiety saying everything will look great.  He also adds an emphatic: “No more fixing-up this year! Period>”

Tension rises as I know Hubby could have happily lived with poop-brown floors and cabinets for at least another decade.

So, In an effort to save money I did not seek professional design help; that would have been another 5K to the project!  And, alas no…I don’t spend any time watching fixer-upper shows on T.V.  It was time-sapping enough browsing bathroom ideas on Houzz or Pinterest.   This is not our “forever” home.  My objective is to keep things simple and neutral.  I also remind myself that anything I do to update the bathrooms is sure to look amazingly better than it does now.

I cannot wait to get rid of this tile. Only the half of it…

So, The Poodle and I are hanging out on the screened-in porch trying to escape the thunderous noise from the work being done on the upstairs bathrooms.  The Poodle is curiously calm despite the drilling and hammering as cabinets and tiles get ripped out from the walls and floors.  Just a few days before rain fell in buckets, nearly drowning out the construction noise. In fact, there was a flash flood alert just a few miles away.

On this morning, as I sip coffee, beads of sweat form at my temples. I close my eyes, inhaling deep and exhaling slow as I contemplate the day. A Spotify playlist of lively Latino tunes has the contractors singing along as they work. It makes me smile, which is helping to temper a building anxiety.

There has been some turmoil as of late, which actually began whilst we were dining in a Scottish pub on the last day of our vacation. Hubby’s mother had an “episode” in her memory care unit causing enough of a to-do that now she needs to “advance” to another level of care. Understandably, Hubby is majorly stressed (we both are) as we consider what to do next.

My mind drifts to where I was just two weeks ago; cycling in the Scottish countryside. One of the morning rides had us cycling in quite a downpour. Not only were we cycling in torrential rain but it was cold enough to briefly sleet as well. I think too of how awfully nice the Scots are. In fact, everyone I met was as nice as can be and good-natured too. I’m not sure why I’m thinking about the subject of “nice people.” Perhaps it’s because of all the stupid stuff people say or do. I was happily disconnected from news and world events while on my excellent bicycle adventure. Since my return I have encountered a person or two who have been mildly rude or unhelpful. Nothing terribly egregious mind you…but still.

So what a lovely memory I carry from meeting one couple, whose names unfortunately escape me because I’ll recall the noise level was fairly deafening…

So I’ll call him James and her Lillian.

We’d just arrived in Glasgow hours earlier and after a shower and a brief nap we hailed an Uber and off we went to city central. It would be the best opportunity for shopping as the remainder of our adventure would find us in small country towns–and sure enough–too exhausted for much else after cycling all day. We managed to pick up a Crawford tartan scarf for hubby and odds and ends for my sis and her family. After a few purchases we decided to find a pub to begin, in earnest, our Scotland vacation. We stumbled on Denholms, a place up the street from Glasgow Central (train) Station. Hubby was intent on a brew while I just wanted a glass of wine. It was barely 5 p.m. and the place was already packed and the noise level was loud. Hubby asked if I wanted to find a quieter spot.

Downtown Glasgow side street

“Are you kidding? This is perfect! We’re in Scotland!” was my reply.

Hubby ordered his brew and I got a glass of house wine. Hubby was happy with his selection. My wine…eh, not so much. But I drank it anyway just happy to be on a new adventure. As we sat and sipped our libations the lovely couple (that would be ‘James and Lillian’) the next table over, noting that we were Americans, struck up a conversation. Strong accents aside, it was difficult to hear with the background music and all the pub chatter but we gleaned that James was from Liverpool and Lillian a Glasgow native. James served in the military, during the Falklands War, and now retired from the military drives the equivalent of an 18-wheeler throughout southern Scotland. James and Lillian are still newlyweds…barely married a year! They chatted with us as if we were Denholms regulars. These folks were nice as can be!

Another round for the Americans!

At one point I excused myself for the restroom. When I returned just a few minutes later there was another glass of wine waiting for me as well as another large brew for hubby.

“Oh dear…” I began, a look of dismay directed at hubby. But before I could finish my sentence he chimed in informing me that James had surprised him by ordering round for us.

“Oh my…well, thank you James!” I said. “But…well, I haven’t eaten for quite some time…not since getting off the plane early this morning. I fear I just might just slide under the table if I drink this.”

“Ah, but it’s better wine than that first glass you ordered. Come on…give it a go,” said James with a wide smile.

“Darling…perhaps we should have asked first before ordering,” says Lillian. She adds a jovial apology.

“No..no. This is fantastic,” I nearly yell over the increasing din of pub chatter and lively music.

Indeed, the wine was far better than my first glass and yes, I could feel a slight buzz coming on due to drinking on an empty stomach. When James and Lillian finally prepared to leave I asked if I could take a photo of them–which they were absolutely tickled to pose for. By then, the small pub was tightly packed. We exchanged a round of hugs and thanks.

“Oh you shouldn’t be thanking us” I said, hugging Lillian. You bought us drinks! You both have given us a lovely start to our excellent Scottish adventure.”

“Aye…but we had a lovely time too,” replied James.

Hubby and I lingered for a few minutes more which is when I caught sight of my first Kilt-clad gentleman. It was obvious he was a regular. As I watched him make his way to the far side of the counter he greeted folks right and left. His mood was so genial as he ordered his brew and then raised it in thanks to the bartender that inexplicably, it made me smile from ear to ear. Of course, I had to take a picture of the man in the Kilt and had I not felt that I’d pass out from hunger I would have stayed and gotten his name.

Kilt clad gent enjoying his evening brew

The Poodle rises from his place by my side and starts barking, snapping me back to reality. One of the workers had come into the kitchen for water. Through the patio window I could see he was eyeing the enormous Costco box of chocolate chip cookies that I had placed on the kitchen table. I had purchased several boxes–as well as bottled water– as snacks for the crew. “Go ahead,” I said as I entered into the kitchen. “The cookies are for all of you guys.” Still, I could sense his hesitation–most likely due to a language barrier– so I motioned him to take cookies.

“Thank you Miss,” he said radiating happiness with a broad toothy smile.

Oh how lucky I am. And, it doesn’t take much….

Though uncertainty, sadness, and a host of other emotions punctuate the day one thing is for certain, the feelings experienced from gratitude and kindness…that is true bliss.

Feeling blissful, one moment at a time.

BAA-AH Bad

It only took less than twenty-four hours into our Scotland bicycle adventure to form a solid opinion of sheep: they are exceedingly stupid… and dangerous. 

Of course, there are opinions to the contrary.  In a 2017 BBC article one Harriet Constable wrote: Sheep are actually surprisingly intelligent, with impressive memory and recognition skills. They build friendships, stick up for one another in fights, and feel sad when their friends are sent to slaughter. They are also one of the most destructive creatures on the planet.

Before the morning of June 16th I knew nothing about the woolly wonders, thinking them incredibly cute…even sweet.  I mean, who doesn’t love those Serta® Mattress Sheep….or claymation sheep…..or…counting sheep to achieve a peaceful slumber.

Serta Mattress Sheep

So imagine the following scene that happened before my eyes….

Our group of nine cyclists were cycling along a lovely country road in Dumfries and Galloway.   We had already had our group meeting and first route briefing, fueled by cups of tea and coffee and freshly baked, mouth-watering scones along with tiny jars of a lovely assortment of sweet jams.  As we headed together for our first ride we stuck together.  This particular ride would be our day-one orientation ride to work out potential kinks in our bike fitting and to orient ourselves to riding on the left.  The latter naturally a critical skill to master, like…um… immediately!   All of us had a moment of forgetting to look to the right and not the left when entering an intersection (as that’s where cars would be coming from).

We were all pedaling along nicely, getting into a lovely rhythm whilst oohing and awing over greener than green fields partitioned here and there by old dry stone walls (many are centuries old) as well as modern hedges and low wire fences. The stone walls were a marvel to me as there is little to no cement to hold them together. How they have managed to stand over hundreds of years through the fiercest of weather is astounding to me. A major feature of the Scottish countryside these stone walls serve as property boundary lines as well as keep livestock (cows and sheep) from roaming away.

Dry Stone Wall – Dumfries and Galloway

In theory that is.

As we pedaled in a mostly leisurely fashion for this first ride, we rounded one corner to come upon farmland to our left. There were plenty of sheep, of course and for the most part they were preoccupied with eating…grazing. Some bleated in the distance and some who were closer to the rock wall looked up as we approached ….

Several woolly fellows crossed the road quite a bit ahead of our guide leader Jeff and my husband. They happened to be cycling side by side while the rest of us followed single file. They slowed their pace to allow ample space for the sheep to pass slowly, in a manner that suggested they did this every day, as if they were on their afternoon errands.

Then, in the space of a nano-second two sheep grazing on a spot of higher ground looked up, taking notice of us… and for some unfathomable reason they decided to hop the fence.

The incident unfolded before I could blink.

Together….in perfect synchronicity….the two hopped over the old stone wall and directly into the cyclist just inches in front of me. This would be Dr. G. a pulmonary critical care doctor from New Hampshire.

The sheep literally took him out.

I screamed as the sheep ran into Dr. G. causing him to crash and land with a heavy thud to the pavement. Our bike guide, Jeff, literally flew off his bike, as did I.

In that split second I honestly thought that the writing was on the wall for our fellow cyclist. Surely our next stop would be at a hospital.

Aye….you just had to be there dear reader….

But our Dr. G. was spared that afternoon! Miraculously he suffered only a broken helmet, road rash to one arm and a seriously large bruise that took several days to develop. And incredibly, not even the bike was damaged. But, even more remarkable to me was he did not quit his bicycle adventure. After we all calmed down over the ordeal he was given a new helmet and off we went finishing our first days’ ride of nearly 43 miles. Little did he know that he became my hero for the week. I was but a breath away from hanging up the bike before the adventure really began. The country has over a gazillion sheep after all; I wasn’t keen on the now real possibility of another sheep attack.

You can do this…came the whisper on a breeze. And so I did.

Yes, there is bliss when you’re scared sheep-less.

More to come, when time permits.

Enjoy a few photos (click on them for a better view).

Obstacle Kind of Morning

Broken glass, despised by cyclists the world over.
(photo courtesy of Purecyles.com)

Glass and nails….glass and nails….glass…glass…glass and…

rabbit’s foot.

Now that was random.

Hmm.  Where is the rest of him (or her)?

I took a nano-second scan for the rest of the body.  It was nowhere in my line of sight.  It would be the fourth roadkill sighting (not including a deer that also met an unfortunate end) of the morning and I had been on the bike for less than an hour.

So…Hubby and I are attempting to get our sorry butts into shape for our upcoming cycling vacation in Scotland.  I’ve been across the pond many times but this will be my first visit to Scotland and our first across the pond cycling vacation.  We are woefully behind on training for cycling miles and miles for seven consecutive days. 

At this point, it is what it isI tell myself.

Our plan for the morning was a forty-mile distance.  Though it began refreshingly cool I struggled to enjoy the crisp spring air as I found it difficult amid the din of highway traffic.  Anxiety and tension pulled on every fiber of my being as eighteen-wheelers screamed past me.  I kept hyper vigilant for traffic as a myriad of obstacles such as potholes, road debris (lots of glass and nails) and downed tree branches from a recent storm that littered some of the bicycle paths and road shoulders.

As I peddled I found my head and heart were back in Southern California where cycling was mostly joy-filled.  From spectacular ocean views and frequent dolphin sightings, post-ride coffee and muffins with my circle of cycling buddies to year-round perfect weather, it was truly a cycling paradise.  Sure, there was traffic to contend with but somehow, even with all the cars, it was much more enjoyable than my present moment.  

At a stoplight, I take a sip of water and turn to see that hubby has caught up behind me. 

“I’m not having much fun at this today,” I tell him.

He is surprised. “What do you mean? he asks as he squirts water into his mouth from his bottle. 

“The noise of this traffic is almost deafening.  It’s just not relaxing…not like it was in California.”





My photo, taken during our Big Sur ride

“There was plenty of traffic there too.” he reminds me.

“Yes, but not all these monstrously huge eighteen-wheelers,” I reply.

We’re off again as the light turns green. We turn off the main road onto a designated bike path. It’s somewhat narrow and trees hang low over the path so we’re having to duck every now and then to avoid getting slapped in the face by a tree branch. I’m again well ahead of hubby when I see not to far ahead of me that there is a painfully-thin elderly man leaning against a rail. His walker is on the other side of the path. For a moment I think that he is in trouble but as I get closer I can see he’s fine. He’s smoking a honking big cigar and looks to be happy as a clam.

The rest of the ride went smooth enough…save for a mini melt-down on my part. And yes…of course It was dog-related. So dear reader, if you’ve followed a tenth of my thoroughly uninteresting life you’ll remember that my years of cycling in Alabama were so beset with dog issues that I pretty much gave up on the bike for two years. My beauty of a bike languished in the garage collecting dust and I’m sure she pined for her Southern California days as much as I did.

So here we were, with around ten more miles to home…We had already made the turn-around on the bike path back when I spot a woman walking with her dog. The dog, a large brown lab, was not right at her side and was not on a leash. In fact, said leash was in the woman’s hand whilst the dog frolicked in the weeds directly on the other side of the path from it’s handler. I slowed my pace considerably and loudly announced my approach as in: “On your left.”

Nothing.

Hmm. Let me try this again. Slowing more….I now shout: “Coming on your left.”

The woman turns her head. Ah. Okay, Whew….she sees me.

…but she does absolutely nothing to contain her dog. Hubby has caught up now and is directly behind me. “The dog is off-leash,” he says calm as can be. I’m certain he knows that my head is about to explode.

“No shit,” I mumble under my breath trying hard not to let fear overwhelm.

As I cautiously pass the woman, I was fairly sharp in my rebuke (but without expletives, so that’s good….right?) I added, as I peddled away something to the effect that though I’m not confrontational by nature if her unleashed dog would have come within a half-inch of me I’d be calling the police. I’m sure she did not quake in her boots but dog’s off-leash when cyclists are present is not something to take lightly. It can cause considerable harm to a cyclist who is clipped in. I still recall a huge hematoma one cycling buddy received on her thigh (requiring a hospital stay, I might add) as a result of a dog giving chase. And, ever-fresh in my mind is the day I received a healthy dose of pepper spray to the eyes as a cyclist buddy in front of me attempted to deter being attacked by a large dog.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a dog-lover….after all, The Poodle is the four-legged love of my life. And, I love to see pooches happily running free and unrestrained (like the beauty pictured below courtesy of a photo by Jamie Street) but there is a time and a place for untethered freedom and if for nothing else, when you see people on bikes, one should have the courtesy (and commonsense) to immediately properly restrain their pet. Dogs are animals after all. One never knows when they’ll get a bee in their bonnet to do something out of their normal behavior pattern! Like attack a cyclist perhaps.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

When we rolled into our driveway, I let out a long, slow sigh of relief.

“Another ride in the books and thankful to arrive without a fall,” I said to hubby.

“Amen to that and no flats,” he replies.

Ah yes…no flat tires. There is bliss in that!

Saddle Time

Shifting the Load

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

I walked into the closet this morning to hang hubby’s dry-cleaned shirts and sighed in dismay, as I usually do. Our closet is a nice size and though it is not all styled-out and custom-beautiful as in, say California Closets, it is one of the better closets we have had to share during our twenty-plus years together.  It’s organized well enough that there is a clear demarcation line; my side and his side.

His side?  It’s always in a certain state of….well….messiness. Not that I am a neat freak by any stretch. Point in fact; at this very moment there is a visible layer of dust on the coffee table in the living room.   Still, all things considered, the disarray is fairly mild.  It could be loads worse. 

And there is that word.

Loads

This is the reason for my deep sigh, which is (shamefully) sometimes accompanied by an expletive (or two) when I am in the closet.

I’m working on it folks.

Loads.  As in loads of laundry.

Maybe it’s because my knees are particularly cranky today or I’m trying to fight an infection… but today was an expletive day; only one (see, progress!).

“Shit! Again?”

I just did a mountain of laundry two days ago!  How is it possible that his basket is completely overflowing… again!  Moreover, how is it that one man could produce so much laundry on a weekly basis?!  I walk over to my side of the closet.  Peering inside my pretty little laundry basket I count four items in it.

I all but growl with certain annoyance because, well…I loathe doing laundry. 

I go back and grab my husband’s laundry basket and slowly walk down the stairs wincing in pain as my right knee practically shouts its displeasure over trying out a new workout yesterday; eight minutes of jumping rope.

As I angrily stuff clothes into the washing machine with far too much of a edge to my breath I realize two things:

Firstly, I could be on hands and knees washing clothes in a bucket…or a river or dirty lake ….and/or hanging my personal items high from a tangle of wires from outside the window of my ramshackle-of-a-room located on the fifth story of a dilapidated building that often has no electricity…

and, secondly, but for the Grace of God, I could be sans husband, which naturally signifies that my laundry loads would be reduced by more than half. 

That flash of realization causes me to stop for a nano second.   I then feel a perceptible shift within me which causes me to relax.  My jaw softens and my breath does too.  I simply let go of the load that was building up inside me–the one that nearly had me cursing out aloud at my husband who, at that very moment, working from home, was on a conference call.  He’s busting his tail and I’m belly-aching?!

Human….but not admirable.

Gently now–as if caressing a baby–I continue to load clothes into the washer.  I mindfully reach for the bottle of  detergent and even take a moment to breathe in the lovely fresh linen scent.

So yeah.  I passionately dislike the never-ending, often daunting, routine of laundry.  But the alternative(s)–real and imagined are infinitely more frightening.  I’m not saying I’ll whistle while I fold mountains of laundry but what I do know is that with every load,  I’ll breathe in gratitude that I still am lucky enough to have this gem of a guy in my life.

There is bliss in that!

 

 

Say A Little Prayer

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”  ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Photo by Mika Luoma on Unsplash

It’s National Prayer Day. I found out only this morning….early….whilst perusing the news on my iPad over my first cup of espresso. Alexa did not inform, which comes as no surprise really. It’s not PC to talk about prayer these days. It’s so unfortunate, I think. There is much value in this simple communication tool between you and God…a Higher Power…or whatever label you want to attach to that which is Infinite Spirit…a Universal Life force that is so much greater than ourselves.

Though I was berated on more than one occasion by my ex-husband because I did not know the Bible from cover to cover (and most likely never will) prayer (IMHO) need not be strictly associated with scripture or religious dogma. Somehow, in my ex-husbands’ eyes this made me less than a spiritual being. Poppycock of course. Nothing could be further from the truth. I consider myself a deeply spiritual soul and my journey on the spiritual path is ever evolving. And yes, prayer is a part of my daily life (and my own various mantras too). My prayers can be as simple as “Please Lord, guide, guard and protect my family,” or my own expressions of love and gratitude for the food that nourishes me, the roof that covers my head, melodies that soothe my soul, or the beauty of the world around me. And, not a day goes by that I don’t pray for more peace and loving kindness all across the world.

Though I was confirmed Catholic I am far from the perfect example of a practicing Catholic. I’ve been known to joke that I practice my own brand of Catholicism, an à la cart practice. Still, I’ll often recite the “Hail Mary” and the “Our Father” when I’m feeling particularly low and in need of a solace that somehow nothing else fills. And yes, most of the time my heart grows lighter, a burden lifted, if only for a moment.

Finally, most nights as my head hits the pillow I silently recite a brief variation of The Children’s Bedtime prayer by Henry Johnstone. It’s what I shared with my children each night when they were wee ones–a lifetime ago, tweaking it for, well obvious reasons; I didn’t want them falling asleep with the thought of death on their young minds.

My version: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…now, tomorrow and always. I love my mamma, my daddy, my brother, my auntie….(etc. etc. etc..)…and, all the people in the world. ~ Amen

The Poodle has pulled himself up from his place on the sofa with an old man groan (literally). Ah…yes. He’s telling me it’s time for his bedtime walk. A glance at the clock confirms his expectation. I can see that the night is getting away from me so I won’t prattle on about this whole prayer thing. It’s not for everyone though I wish it wasn’t so often viciously maligned by those who aren’t so inclined. But rest assured, as my head hits the pillow I’ll say a little prayer….for me, for all whom I hold dear, and for you too dear reader. That’s just how I roll.

There is, I believe, bliss in that.