gratitude sunday

Baby Boo

Our beautiful Bayliss Lily died this morning, peacefully in her sleep, at the age of 15 and a half. Despite no outward signs or changes in her, for the past few days I sensed her end was coming. I moved my work from the home office to the lounge where she slept. On Friday I stopped weeding in the garden to take a few photos of her as she rested nearby. And last night I slept on the sofa next to her bed. I’m so glad I did.

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We’ve been sharing our favorite memories of her since this morning — from her early days at the Front & Chestnut dog park in Philadelphia, to the goat track in Spain, and long walks around Baldy Hill. She had the most soulful eyes and loving spirit, a true beauty inside and out. As one of our Spanish neighbors always said about her, “Ella siempre será el más hermoso perrillo en el pueblo.” And we couldn’t agree more.

baylissOn this sad, difficult day, we are still grateful. We are grateful for each day of her life that we shared, that she was able to live all her days fully, and that she did not suffer in the end, that she died at home with those who loved her. Rest in peace, beautiful girl. Xo.

the essence of summer

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  • Sunday dinners of steamed littleneck clams, corn on the cob, and lots of butter
  • Evenings on the porch waiting for the fireflies to wake up
  • The smell of freshly cut hay
  • A gentle stream of sweat trickling down my back on the hottest of days
  • Afternoons of shelling peas
  • Ice cream for supper
  • Warm soil between my toes
  • Beach umbrellas and coconut butter suncream
  • Swinging in my hammock
  • Picnic dinners with friends
  • Gin and tonics with fresh lime
  • The annual peach festival
  • Driving with all the car windows down and the music blaring
  • Every week new flowers in bloom
  • The crack of a baseball bat
  • Grilled dinners
  • Rereading my favorite childhood books on a lazy humid afternoon
  • “Watch the tram car, please.”
  • Sliced tomatoes, lightly salted, a drizzle of olive oil
  • So many shades of green
  • Waking up to birdsong every morning
  • Listening to big band music while sipping lemonad
  • Crickets

garlic harvest

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One insanely hot summer morning a few years ago, I was standing in a very long line at our local bank in Spain. Bank hours were short in our village, and the hours set aside for bill paying even shorter. It was invariably during those hours that one of the two clerks would take her breakfast break, leaving just one woman to cover all the routine transactions.

This particular day, the acondicionador de aire was not working properly, which meant that the old widows (all dressed in black), seated in folding chairs lined up in a short row against the wall, waved their lacy and painted hand fans back and forth with fervor as they caught up with family gossip. I was positioned near the tail end, behind a wizened farmer. He was dressed in a tattered shirt, dusty olive pants, with rope sandals — true espadrilles — on his feet. Having traveled down from his summer finca in the Sierras, he was ripe in sweat…although not as fragrant as the long braid of garlic he had slung over his right shoulder. Oh how I was grateful for that pungent garlic smell simmering in the sardine-packed room.

Not surprisingly, good fresh garlic was abundant in our corner of Andalucia. When we moved to Baldy Hill, however, we found the available offerings lacking in flavor and priced high. So we decided to grow our own! Our first harvest last year was successful, yielding enough Georgian Crystal, Godfather’s Italian, and of course ajo andaluz (our former local variety) to last us through this year’s scape season. This year we added more varieties — Red Janice, Nootka Rose, and Island Rocambole — and we have been fortunate that all have done well and produced strong yields.

Planting season for garlic is in late summer or early fall, depending on your geographic location, so if you’re tired too of paying one dollar a head for stale organic garlic, try growing your own. It’s not hard, trust me. :-) Now, does anyone have an Altoid?

gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • Each and every day we have with the bundle of love and fur that is Bayliss. At 15.5 years, she is showing signs of her inevitable mortality — worsening arthritis, early congestive heart failure, deafness — so we indulge her with her joys: a bit of grazing in the garden, extra hugs and kisses, her favorite foods. At age 95, my grandmother threw dietary caution to the wind, regularly choosing bear claw pastries over more healthy alternatives, and she lived happily for another few years. We’re taking the same approach with Bayliss
  • Visits with old, good friends — friends whom I have had now for half my life, incredible as that may seem, friends with whom together we’ve weathered unemployment, divorces, long-term separation, infertility, love affairs, income disparity, sickness, as well as celebrated marriages, births, a PhD, new jobs, holidays abroad…. So wonderful to be able to pick up where we left off six years ago
  • Well-loved handmade gifts — Eight years ago, I was busy finishing a baby blanket for a friend’s new family addition. Little did I know how that little girl would love and adore Purple Blanket for years to come. She has declared that when she has children of her own — all 5 girls, all to be called Lily — Purple Blanket is to be divided equally between them because it’s an heirloom. She recently gave it to me for patching and minor repairs, which it needed after so much lovin’ — and Buster insisted on keeping guard over it :-)

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  • Beginning to finally feel like my old self, after coming down with a niggling summer cold that seemed to want to move in and never leave, like an unwanted house guest overstaying her welcome
  • The renewed health allowed me to spend all day Saturday in the garden; finished some long overdue weeding and harvested garlic and peas
  • Picnic food — I think one of my favorite things about summer is the quickly thrown together, uncomplicated picnic lunch. It’s around this time of year that I break out this book by Elizabeth David for inspiration. My picnic versions tend to include some version of deviled eggs, a bean salad, in-season fruit, followed by cheese, and washed down with mint tea or lemonade

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  • Receiving unexpected, sad news this week but not reacting with stress, worry, fear. Rather, I was able to step back and see the bigger picture, understand that this door closing was truly opening another, and that at the end of the day we’ll all be fine.
  • Getting back to my UU community today and the loving support they provide to everyone
  • Being reminded that we can choose at any moment to lay down the burden and choose joy instead — that’s a no-brainer; I choose joy :-)