Gratitude Gram #3: A Little Bit of Everything

Horsetail Falls, Hood River, Oregon

As I sit here in the afternoon sunroom stillness, the green leaves filling all the windows outside, I’m filled-up with everything summer. It’s been bananas, like drinking from a firehose! But when a friend asked me recently if it’s stressed me out, I just smiled, “Nope. I’ve just been riding the wave.”

Collegeville Institute! A year ago (and another year prior) I posted my disappointment on Facebook about my rejected application for The Collegeville Institute. Thankfully, third time was a charm, and I was accepted along with 11 other writers to travel to Minnesota for 10 days for a writing retreat sponsored by the Lilly Endowment. It was a professional experience, a spiritual experience, a bombardment of blessings–learning on steroids. Peak. Life. Experience! I’m not exaggerating when I say I will think of my life as “before Collegeville” and “after Collegeville.” The Collegeville/St. John’s campus has such a unique vibe. Originally created around the quietude of a monastery, the two colleges and ecumenical institute feel like a vortex-of-love. The area is surrounded by hiking trails and a lake which I had the opportunity to kayak.

My writing coach at Collegeville was Michael McGregor. Wowza, what a teacher. He pushed me in ways that were frustrating, then freeing, then challenging throughout the week. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a teacher willing to push me so hard, someone who could see what I was trying to do and hone in on what might help. He wrote (among other things), Pure Act, The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax. It’s a biography of Robert Lax, a creative and spiritual seeker who was best friends with the famous Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. I love this book. I read it in a flurry, unable to put it down, even in spite of the parts that made me feel upside down in their headiness. I left the institute feeling like a jar of ocean water whose salt has all settled to the bottom. Looking back, I can see how the time there not only gave me new practical writing tools that I’ll use for myself and with my students, but it also gave me a greater sense of how I can share the joy that lives in me, how I might write a book filled with laughter.

one

well-

chos

en

step

at

a

time

Robert Lax
My little office space at Collegeville. ❤️

Oregon. . . a.k.a. Waterfalls! After Collegeville, three gal-friends and I headed to Hood River, Oregon for our adventure trip this year. We hiked, we rode e-bikes, we went to breweries, we saw more waterfalls than I could count. It zooms me up in the best way to learn about diversity of plant life, diversity of ecosystems, diversity of other women’s experiences. One little nugget I can’t help but share is that 14 species of flowers only grow in the Hood River Gorge–out of the entire world! The wind in the Gorge creates a prime location for kiteboarding, which I learned is like windsurfing, but the athletes ride on their boards feet above the actual water and pump their sail. The sport attracts very athletic, adventuresome people to the area. Not only were the people and the nature so diverse, but the waterfalls were too. We saw two-layer waterfalls, trickly waterfalls, horse-tail waterfalls, roaring monster falls, and everything in between. Oh, and the icing on the cake was an eagle who flew circles above our mountain-top lunch site. All of it left me with a sense of awe, filled up with beauty.

Family Time. . . After Oregon, my family and some other friends headed to Milford Lake for the 4th of July. My immediate family also spent a short week at Mahoney cooking on the campfire, laughing in the wave pool, and lounging in hammocks. I do love the energy, the fresh start, and the new school shopping that’s coming, but for now, I’m thankful to soak in these last bits of summer sun and time not measured by a clock. It has truly been good stuff. And for that, I am thankful.

It’s easy to feel thankful when life is so juicy, so full of travels and zest, but even on the most epic trips, I come to a place where I’m ready for home, ready to see Nebraska with fresh eyes and get back to our community, to my beautiful, regular life. People say Nebraska is the good life, and this year’s scattered showers have left it lush in July in a way that feels like nature showing up. I’m thankful to have been away, thankful to be home, and thankful for a place that’s always here waiting for me to plan the next adventure.

This and That

  • A quote: “I make a point to appreciate all the little things in my life. I go out and smell the air after a good, hard rain. I re-read passages from my favorite books. I hold the little treasures that somebody special gave me. These small actions help remind me that there are so many great, glorious pieces of good in the world.” – Dolly Parton
  • A book: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I am working through this 12-week creativity/spirituality program for the fourth time this summer. Each time I learn something new. If you, or someone you know is a creative, or wants to be, this is my top recommendation. It’s woo-woo and farm-girl practical in the best way. 🙂
  • Worth a listen: A Little Bit of Everything by Dawes, a song that inspired this post’s title. I love the joy and the pain all wrapped up in this. It’s Gratitude Gal vibe–not sugar-coated Polly Anna positivity, but joy that knows how hard this all is and yet daring to see the good. If you like Dawes, Free As We Wanna Be is like a prayer.
  • Worth a watch: Stranger Things Season four. Yep, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. After falling out in season two, we skipped ahead and watched season four in two days. If you can get through the (sometimes cringy) horror flick nods stacked throughout, you’ll find an epic battle where love conquers fear/hate, and who isn’t up for that? Plus, Eddie’s character arc and Metallica solo are pure perfection.
  • Also worth a watch: Kurt Vonnegut, Unstuck in Time. This bio-pic of Vonnegut is a long-term labor of love. The relationship between Kurt and the film’s director has so much heart. If you like documentaries, authors, or creativity, this is a good night at the movies.
  • Something that’s inspiring me: “Don’t delete parts of yourself,” and “You don’t have to be just one thing.” I’ve always been searching for some unified-field-theory-of-Evi.  Emilie Wapnick’s Ted talk about multipotentialites has helped me feel less alone in this search, but these two quotes above (said by different guys in my life) have given me permission to lean into the sides of myself. I am a teacher, I am an academic, I am a scoliosis kid, I am a writer, I am a mother, I am a leader, I am a wife, I’m a listener, I’m a spiritual-yoga-nature-gal, and I’m just goofy ole’ Evi Jane. Whitman said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.” Me too Walt, and maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing.

May right now be a time to slow down, a time for thanks.  Amen.

Evi (rhymes with Chevy) 

If a friend sent you this, you can subscribe to my monthly(ish) emails here.

Gratitude Gram #2: Tiny Beautiful Things

Photo by Curt Brinkman of Life’s a Story Photography.

“We can find evidence for whatever mindset we choose.” – James Clear


A while ago, my book club read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.  It’s been awhile ago, so I don’t remember a lot of the story, but one image sticks with me.  It’s of a soccer player.  The player is described as so “in” his body–never walking out in front of himself.

Out in front of himself.

As I shift from school teacher year me into summer teacher me, it’s hard at times to unwind the tightness that has me ever out in front of myself somehow.  My hope for June is that the sunshine and my kiddos might remind me how it feels to be never walking out in front of myself.

I don’t want to be so busy buzzing that I miss the good stuff.  Cheers to summer and the energy of fun, play, and the bright pink peony blooms that have just started.

A Writing Challenge (because even though it’s summer, I’m still a writing teacher):

Inspired by the book, The One Thing You’d Save.  Imagine your house is on fire (I hesitate to type this as a dear friend really did experience this–it’s just a writing exercise.)  Okay, fake fire. . . you can take one thing.  Family and pets are safe.  It doesn’t matter how big.  Avoid overthinking the “rules” and just think on this a sec.  Write any thoughts for 5 to 10 minutes and let ideas flow.  No perfectionism allowed, just write.   This little exercise got my junior high students laughing and crying this spring.  Even though I’m glad school is out, I do miss our daily interactions. Here’s my quick write from class:

  • I would save a quilt–not just any quilt.  It’s the one my mom made for me when I went to college.  A lot of kids got fancy dorm-style comforters from Target, not me.  My mom and I went to a small fabric store and laid out what felt like100 different colors to see what went together  Mom always says you have to have some “uglies” to make the quilt work.  I picked navy, greens, muted purples, and nature prints.  We cut squares and pieced them together.  She put cozy flannel on the back–with an angel print.  Along with the quilt, her excitement for my next step was such a gift.  I took that quilt to the hospital when I had both my babies, wanting to feel at home somehow with all those bright lights and medical equipment.  Today the quilt is frayed and has been repaired more times than is reasonable.  It’s so very worn out, but it’s my favorite.  

Some Reflection Questions for a Saturday morning coffee in a cozy chair:

  • What do I want to experience this summer?
  • What do I want to not do this summer?
  • What’s something I’m looking forward to right now?

This & That

  • A quote: “To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something.  Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” – Walter Percy, The Moviegoer.
  • A book: A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson.  I’ve read his memoir before, but this biography is really something different–in a good way.  While the beginning is a little slow with lots of details, once he gets to college, Eugene Peterson’s life is so compelling.  Here are just a few random quotes: “He sensed a magnetic pull toward the truth and beauty he felt must lie at the core of all things. . . I (Eugene) like people who act like they know where they’re going.  I like people who live aggressively–who have a purpose.”
  • Worth a listen: Tiny Beautiful Things.  This collection of advice columns penned under the anonymous name “Sugar” was written by Cheryl Strayed, author of the popular book and movie, Wild.  Cheryl moves beyond advice into short pieces that read like memoir.  She’s such a true, fierce, deep writer that I always have to catch my breath reading her.  She has a beautiful way of looking at the hard things in life, while still reminding us we’re not alone.
  • Worth a watch: As They Made Us, a movie written and directed by Mayim Bialik (a.k.a. Blossom & Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory.  I paid to rent this–her writing and directorial debut–and it was worth every penny.  The depictions of Jewish ritual, along with its reflections on grief and family ties make this worth the watch.  Bring tissues.
  • Something that’s inspiring me:  Asparagus.  I know this sounds silly, but what other thing in the world is like this?  I do literally nothing, and it comes back each year, stronger, and more prolific.  Plus, it makes your pee smell weird in minutes–this stuff is magic!  Cheers to the asparagus winding down after a great season. 

May right now be a time to slow down, a time of thanks.  Cheers to that. 

Evi (rhymes with Chevy) 

If a friend sent you this email, you can sign up to get monthly emails here.

The Gratitude Gram #1: April 2022

Photo by Curt Brinkman of Life’s a Story Photography.

The first book I ever read in one day was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I am still enchanted by the idea from the book that our daily lives could have small windows into a different world.  No, we can’t escape to Narnia through a freestanding closet door, but we can be reminded of joy, lightness, and beauty in small hidden moments in our days.  I think the doors are there.  And even if they’re not. . . it’s more fun to live as if they were.  For example, I’ve been noticing the spring dandelions popping up.  I know these are yard pests, but it was also a little burst of yellow where just two weeks ago all was brown and dry.  We just cut our first bits of asparagus. Even with all these cold snaps in Nebraska, spring is here.  

This Spring the “new thing” that’s popping up in my life is a desire to re-vamp the ole blog a bit.  Some of you have been subscribed since 2013. . . or else you deleted those email accounts. #shrug.  Either way, I feel like this space could use some spring cleaning.  I don’t have the energy to write 30-day challenges anymore, but I do like writing, and I like having a place to share my thoughts.  So, in that spirit, I’m launching the Gratitude Gram–a monthly newsletter that’s not a newsletter as much as it is me passing along some positives–a note filled with stuff that’s put a little pep in my step and been slice of Narnia in my life.  So cheers to that, to the little bursts of yellow popping up, and to Gratitude Gram Issue #1!  

—–

April 22: Moments of Joy

A Writing Challenge (because I’m a writing teacher):

Find a piece of paper and draw an eyeball in the middle.  Hint: can be made less creepy with eyelashes.  Around the eye, make a list of things you’ve seen that sparked awe–that feeling that the world is beautiful, that all is well, and that I am but a tiny part of something larger.  Here’s my eyeball list titled, “Moments of Joy.”

  • A sunset from a canoe campsite, reflecting across the water making two sunsets.
  • Lightning Bug Magic – When I was a church camp counselor, we hiked down into a valley at dusk and found ourselves among a twinkling array of bugs that stretched out in each direction.  Junior high kids got quiet.  Holy ground.
  • My daughter rehearsed her play lines a bunch this last month–working hard to memorize them all by herself when nobody else was watching.  Proud of her.
  • Seeing my new baby Oliver, feeling like I recognized him somehow.
  • My grandma Pearl’s hands.  They always had long, filed-round, painted fingernails and were especially good at picking up cards and slicing fresh bread.

Some Reflection Questions (that someone shared with me) for a Saturday morning coffee in a cozy chair:

  • When have you felt most at home in the last six months?
  • What makes me feel the most at home/relaxed?
  • Which friendships do I want to add extra energy to this month?
  • What do I need to release to feel more at home?
  • What in my home/personal space doesn’t match the way I want to be?
  • What emotions do I need to let move through to get to a deeper calm?

This & That

  • A reminder: “You have to put some energy into it” – Michelle Obama.  This seems like a duh quote, but I needed reminding that day.  I can’t expect things to work when I’m just stepping back and waiting.  
  • A book: The Runaway Bunny – An oldie, but a goodie.  For Easter this year, I read it to the pre-schoolers (because I’m a writing teacher and a librarian).  All eyes were glued to the pictures of the mother bunny searching out the young bunny again and again and again.  Moral of the story is–home is always a good place to be, even when home is changing or the only place you feel at home is with someone else.
  • Worth a listen: Oprah interview of Johann Hari. This two-part podcast got me thinking during bike rides this month.  For parents, for teachers, for anyone really–his ideas of stolen focus, the changing nature of childhood, parenting with less fear, and brain downtime are some good brain candy for our time.
  • Something that’s inspiring me:  “A bike ride, and what’s on the other side.”  Earlier this month, I felt down and out.  Somehow, I got the spark of an idea to go on a bike ride.  Little did I know that the bike ride I envisioned was on the other side of like five hurdles.  Can’t find my gloves.  My tire is flat.  Can’t find my tire pump attachment thingy.  I can’t get it attached!  I can’t find my headband.  Anyway. . . after somehow persevering, the ride on the other side was a respite my body and my mind needed.  Plus, I didn’t know I’d listen to that podcast when I set out.  Just this idea of “a bike ride & what’s on the other side” is inspiring me.  If we can somehow muster the energy to push whatever it is up the mountain, sometimes we find ourselves riding it all the way down and around all these things we couldn’t plan for.  So what’s the thing this month that might take seven hurdles, but it’d be worth it to push through?  What might be waiting on the other side?

Cheers!  If a friend sent you this email, you can sign up to get monthly emails here.

Evi (rhymes with Chevy) 

Thanks for reading.

Things I’m Thankful For. . .

My family just went through a gratefulness re-set. For just under a week, our plumbing’s been messed up, so messed up that we had to avoid doing laundry, showering, or flushing the toilet. While this was super annoying, now that it’s fixed, I’ve felt an oddly amazing sense of freedom in our water use at home.

Last night I felt a surge of joy just letting the water run while I washed my hands.

As our friendly gas station attendant said to me this morning, “You don’t really appreciate that stuff until it’s gone.” And while I know this in my brain, the lived experience of it is really giving me pause.

What if most (certainly not all) of our “problems” are gratitude resets? What would it look like to trust that that swirling mess of a life problem going on right now will eventually settle, that it will work out, and that maybe it will even leave us with a gift of perspective? That is not to say that some problems aren’t real. That would be a dumb thing to say. I’m not saying that. I am saying that this week has me thinking about problems and what they really do in our lives. Big ones. Small ones. And all the things in-between.

Whether it’s a bigger thing or just a small one in my life, I’ve never felt so happy to get a dish dirty, to take a shower, and to use the toilet as I have been this week. It reminds me of the feeling I get after going on a week-long camping trip. Thankful for the things I haven’t had, as having them again feels like a luxury. So today, I’m extra thankful. Thankful to my husband for getting all of the fix-it work lined up. Thankful that we even live in a place where having all this running water seems normal. And I’m thankful for problems that work out, for problems that remind me what it even is I’m thankful for.

Starting Over, Winter Solstice 2021

Moon picture from earlier this fall.

Growing up with a farmer dad, I thought every farmer had a Vise Grip on his belt loop, held in a brown leather holder, always at the ready.

The Vise Grip was actually invented in Nebraska, and they aren’t really called Vise Grips.  Like Kleenex, it’s a name brand.  They’re really called locking pliers, and I find their history inspiring today on this, the shortest day of the year.

William Peterson was a blacksmith in Dewitt, Nebraska.  In 1921 he filed a patent, one that doesn’t really look like Vise Grips.  It has the turning mechanism at the bottom, but not the lock.  The clamp at the top angled around on a hinge instead of moving out straight.  

In 1924, he filed a patent again, this time with the locking mechanism that makes such a tight seal that Vise Grips are used for so many purposes.  There’s even an elderly woman in a rural Nebraska area who uses them to open her milk container each morning, her knuckles too arthritic to do it alone.

The point is, that in 1921, William Paterson didn’t realize he was making milk openers.  So what if today on this shortest day of the year, we look back and realize that any “failures” in this past year are more examples where we “filed that first patent,” times where we tried something new–even if it didn’t really work?   The first patent is actually a required step on the road to success.  The Model T car was actually the letter T in the alphabet.  Henry Ford started with a Model A and then a Model B and went from there.

We can’t get to T without A first.  So begin.  Begin something. Try again at that something that didn’t go quite right. Who knows, the next iteration might be the one that sings.  After today, the days are getting longer, a great chance to start again.


Today’s Gratitudes:

  • Teacher food day. 🙂
  • Seeing a student writing longer and stronger than he ever has during a final exam
  • Twinkle lights in the library.

Day 7: Thanksgiving Decoration DIY

The kids and I bopped over to Beatrice on Saturday. We didn’t really have a plan for once and took our time going from place to place, enjoying the fall weather between stops. In the Hallmark store (one of my favorite places to go this time of year), I noticed something.

There is rack after rack of Christmas items, and just one small stand for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving just doesn’t get the hype. It’s not easy to commercialize a holiday that encourages us to look around and be thankful for what we’ve already got. And I get it–Christmas is exciting. But here’s one simple idea to decorate for Thanksgiving. It’s a craft that not only leaves you with a Thanksgiving-specific decoration but also encourages gratitude practice along the way.

Step 1: Print off leaf cut-outs. This works best on cardstock, but regular printer paper is fine.

Step 2: Grab some watercolor paints. Mix colors together and decorate your leaves in a variety of hues.

Step 3: Cut out leaves and write down the names of special people to remember this Thanksgiving season and things for which you are especially thankful.

Step 4: Either string the leaves together to hang like a garland, or “rake” them together in a pile.

Step 5: Enjoy the colors that are made on purpose and by accident, and notice how having a gratitude item in your home or workspace shifts the focus to thanks.

Day 6 Thanks

  • Beautiful fall weather
  • A McDonalds cheeseburger with the kids
  • Reading cards at Hallmark

Day 7 Thanks

  • Making a Craft
  • Time at the park
  • Family meal at the farm

Day 5: Lens

Photo by Becky McAuliffe.

Life will always bring with it matters of concern. Yet each day carries the potential to bring the experience of heaven; have the courage to expect good from it. Be gentle with this life.

John McQuiston II, Translating St. Benedict

Over a year ago–just before Covid–we went to the ocean with friends. We felt the squish of sand between our toes daily. We had fun. Our spirits were light. Travel, being together, puzzles, live music, and time in a beautiful place woke up our eyes to all things new.

On trips like that, we can’t help but grab our camera. We look through a lens to capture beauty and memories. I wonder if we can’t bring that lens home.

What if we used vacation eyes to look at our world?

At any moment, we can stop, look around, and find gratitude. A common grounding practice is to stop and note five things you see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one you can taste. What if we take that practice and use it with thanks? So often I have a Facebook view in life: like or dislike. Instead of that simple binary way of seeing the world, what if we look around knowing that even among the hard things in life, so much of this is a gift. What if we look around. . . and say thanks?

What pictures might we “snap” today? What simple, daily memories can we capture for the trip home?

Day 4 Thanks

  • Texting with a friend
  • A shirt that feels comfy
  • Tennis shoes that squish

Day 5 Thanks

  • A good night of sleep
  • A to-do list to-done 🙂
  • Fresh, red salsa
Thursday morning sunrise in Sterling, Nebraska. “Clouds that looked like mountains.” Photo by Charli Wusk.

Day 3: Starting Again Forever

A friend of mine messaged, telling me how excited she is for this year’s gratitude party. Along with her excitement, she’s hesitant because when she’s done it before, she doesn’t finish the 30 days. I chuckled when I read the second part of her note.

I do this too.

Last year I didn’t do a gratitude party at the blog.  The year before, I posted day one and then never posted again. Many times during these 30-day challenges, I miss a day or make it up or just move on forward. This pattern in me makes me think of a little Benedictine book I love titled, “Always We Begin Again.”  That title sums up how I tend to operate in spite of my very best intentions.

I wonder if the more important thing is finding a way to start again.

Gratitude party isn’t about the 30. It isn’t about perfection. It’s about the small shift in me that comes when I intentionally practice looking for the good. I am training my synapses to notice, doing push-ups for my brain muscles that I want to be awake to this exhilarating thing called life.

Most days, I could use a tune-up. That is what gratitude party is about.

So today, I am starting again. And tomorrow we’ll see. . . but for now, I’m glad we’re here together, searching for gratitude.


Day 2

  • Staying over-night at a dear friend’s house
  • Spicy Chinese food
  • Driving around a neighborhood where I used to live, remembering P90X with a college friend and an earlier time in my life

Day 3 *(Notice how we can do six when we miss a day. . . ahem, when we miss a day.)

  • Hot tea in a tall glass
  • A nice new orange pen
  • My green knitted stocking cap

Gratitude Party 2021

Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to day, Tomorrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick

I yelled at students today. I was doing a puppet play and high schoolers were talking too loudly in the background. . . so I swung around and told them to be quiet, quite loudly. Okay, I yelled. I only stopped in my tracks based on the startled looks on their faces. I must have looked like some weird football goal post lady with a monkey puppet held up on one hand and a tiger on the other.

One of my finer teaching moments.

Tonight too, I was just feeling crummy. Maybe it’s the weather or some tough sports losses, but I’ve just felt like a grinch all day. So, I asked our kids to tell me a list of things that were important in life. I thought, maybe their wisdom might just cheer me up. Here is their list (2nd and 4th grade):

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter
  4. Space
  5. Love
  6. Warmth
  7. Family
  8. Hair . . . and if you don’t have hair, hats.
  9. Naps

This is a fantastic list. It lifted my spirit in a small way; it put a little pep in my step. So, in that spirit, I’m inviting you to the 2021 Gratitude Party. All you have to do is jot down three things you are thankful for each day in November. So, get a little notebook and join in the fun. Here is my day 1:

  1. Kiddos still young enough to want to trick or treat with me this year.
  2. Writing and teaching writing–forever my favorites.
  3. You, here reading along. Thanks for being here.

Cheers to gratitude party 2021!

I am 38.

Yesterday is my favorite birthday I can remember. We wake up, do swimming lessons, and then head to lincoln.

Our first stop is the most important–Nothing Bundt Cakes. We buy a 12-pack variety box of mini cupcakes and one regular sized mini-bundt, Raspberry lemon flavor. We devour the mini-bundt and two of the cupcakes before we even start the car.

Cake for breakfast–pretty good day.

Next we head to Tuesday Morning. You cannot plan what you will find at this lovely store. Instead, you find what is there and at least one thing is just right somehow. I got a glass container with snap-down green sides for yogurt. I am trying to copy my friend Sara and make yogurt from scratch because when she makes it, it is yummy, and I eat it like ice cream. Probably it is yummy because it is made by Sara, but I will try at it nonetheless.

After Tuesday Morning, we head to Joann’s Fabric because Oliver says that they will have all the school supplies we need. The woman who checks us out is so kind. She talks to my kids like they matter, and my kids respond with conversation as I try to download an app to save 20% or something. I cannot get it to download and the kind woman leans in and says, “I can just key it in.” She does and we save money, and the kids both holler out, “Thank you!” as we leave and I am proud.

Next we go to the matinee. For the first half hour I catch a cat nap. Those red reclining seats are worth it. After I wake, I find the storyline of the new Boss Baby movie so compelling. It is about time and how things go so fast. I cry twice. The good kind of crying that I get from movies. It is my favorite.

Crying at the movies–pretty good day.

After the movies we head home to swim at a neighbor’s house. Their son is feeling sick and we all dote on him and hope that he will feel better soon. My other friend’s husband holds the baby while the baby is being fed a roll. The baby sneezes bits of roll all over his arm and he doesn’t seem to mind too much. It is not his son, but he is taking care of him.

We leave a bit early because of the sick baby. We head home and give a friend some sweet corn in a plastic grocery bag. We’ve been given so much we need to share before it goes bad. Our other neighbors are having a campfire. I tell Ralph and he says, “You mean a firepit.” I smile and say, “It’s always a campfire with me.”

We go over and bring lawn chairs. It is no longer hot, but we sit in sleeveless shirts and shorts without feeling cold. The smoke from the fire heads straight up–no wind. My children both make a s’more. My daughter doesn’t want to eat the burnt edges on hers so I do. My son can’t finish his, so I do.

Eating a s’more and sitting around a campfire–pretty good day.

Cheers to 38 years grateful.