Copper feels grateful for his new bed. He has three now spread throughout the house. So, as Thanksgiving Day inches closer, what are you grateful for? And don’t we all agree that showing gratitude isn’t just for this one day of the year; it’s for all year round. Let’s face it, watching the news gets depressing. The pandemic is still with us, people have lost their lives to this virus, fires raged in the summer, taking with them human lives and homes. Hurricanes landed causing devastation beyond our imagination. I feel like every day the news reporter tells us about another fatal shooting. Lives have been upended in the most horrific ways, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Still, if we dig deep enough, we can always find something to be grateful for.
Besides my family and Copper, I am grateful for the rain we’ve had, definite cause for a happy dance! We’re still heading into our 3rd drought year, but everything is green right now. Even the weeds are green for which I am grateful! We pray for more rainfall this winter so we can hear Mother Earth sigh once again.
I love the quiet early mornings when Copper and I go for our walks. We get to watch the sunrise and listen to the silence. The air is cool and crisp and wonderful!
I miss the long, light evenings from the summer, but hubby and I break out the candles for the long, dark nights. The coziness wraps us up in its warmth. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people living on the street or in their campers and vans. Having a roof over our head is not something to take lightly.
During this season, I love the smells of sweet and spicy, the baking of pumpkin bread, pumpkin pies, and pumpkin cookies. Hello, Pumpkin! And who doesn’t love the wardrobe changing of the leaves on the trees? Those rich, warm reds, golds, and yellows. I’m thankful for my bookcase that is bursting at the seams. So many books make me happy! I don’t know what I’d do if paperbacks and hardcovers became obsolete. I love the feel of the pages and the smooth covers.
Earlier this year, I did a post about Gratitude and the list I shared had a beginning, but it didn’t have an ending. Isn’t that something to be thankful for?! I’m writing this on the fly without any intense editing, so please forgive any errors. Lastly, thank you for your continued support and friendship in this world of blogging. And a Big Thank You to those of you who have bought my book, More than Coffee, and to those who have written fabulous reviews.
My family, Copper, and I wish you all a very warm and loving Thanksgiving! ~Lauren 🧡🍁🍂🧡
The calendar showed October 4th, 2012. She and I sat in the sterile office surrounded by semi-gloss light blue walls, our hearts thumping, hands like ice. We waited for the man who wore a white coat to join us, hoping he would provide gentle answers to appease our questions.
The matter was serious, but when I first saw his face, I thought of Santa, stark white hair and fluffy beard, red, rosy cheeks good for pinching. The only thing missing was the apple red hat, and though he would bear dreadful news, his smile was welcoming, as if the three of us were meeting for a stroll in the park on a lovely spring afternoon.
It was amazing how a tiny scope could be guided through the mouth and throat then down the esophagus. CT scans, lab work, MRIs, and a needle too long to discuss occupied her hours for over 1,000 days. Still, we craved clarity. Our world was hazy like thick fog a driver would endure crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during summer in the wee hours of the morning. And we waited – a necessary evil that all people grapple with too often to count the times on their hands.
Then on that autumn day came words we would have liked to have hurled back to Santa. We had hoped for gentle. Instead… “All tests point to this auto immune disease, and there is no cause or cure,” he told us with a touch of remorse. The future would necessitate a transplant. It was not cancer, but this finding should not be shunned. She was twenty years old, like a sunflower of friendliness and optimism. He added, “Just live your life.”
I felt her physical pain rip through each atrium and ventricle – my most excruciating moments of being a parent. But her strength embraced and consoled me, her mother, of all things. Life pulled us through each season.
The calendar now presents the year 2021: She is a lovely, young woman – a wedding band adorns her left ring finger, and geography has changed along with a new insurance card. She meets with another man who wears a similar white coat. X-rays and jabs repeat. “All of your tests are normal,” he affirms. All is normal. Words we had hoped to hear from this new expert. “I don’t see a reason to keep you in the same box,” he confirms.
This is amazing news! But abdominal stabs and pruritus from the past were as tangible as a twisted knife to the gut. How can we negate that agony? What is the deeper meaning? Should we get the champagne flutes out, give them a quick wash? Has this nightmare finally ended? She chooses to live in the here and now. Life continues to draw us forward to witness each sunrise and sunset, although we are still waiting to exhale.
Family will always mean the most to me. But as I ride the waves of life, there are many things, and I use that word broadly, that have been significant throughout the years. These are just a few…
Those camping trips when the kids were young: swimming in sapphire-colored lakes and cooling off in sparkling rivers, listening to the them play in the tent – their imaginations leading the way. Sitting around the campfire: singing, laughing, roasting marshmallows. Not just college, but all graduations were joyful events. The dogs that became special family members. Patio time – the talking, the reading, the wine – the outdoor living. Happy blooms in the garden and the hummingbirds flitting about. Walking among Redwoods and the sound of ocean waves. Pinecrest for our 30th, Bodega Bay getaways, and backpacking into serenity. The most loyal friends. Relaxing motorcycle rides. Winter’s coziness: a crackling fire and glowing candles. Chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven and homemade carrot cake (a veggie in our home). Kissing and hugging. Songs that resonate.Acts of kindness.
And the list goes on… Isn’t it wonderful that the list goes on?
Though we live under gloomy skies at times, there is always sunshine waiting to peek through…
What would I read on your list?
Lauren ❤️❤️❤️ Carrot cake photos: My son Lantana: Our garden Gratitude stone: Google
Another dog, that’s what I needed back then when our Black lab, Lucky Girl, on that gray November day Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Then Mom, Doris to those who knew her well, gracefully entered her Eternal home a few months later. I honestly Felt empty inside – all enthusiasm drained, Grasping for unreachable acceptance through the tears. Handling the loss of our sweet furry family member Involved revisiting those memories of the love she gave Joyfully to her four adopted humans. Keeping emotions intact, yet missing Mom – her voice, Laughter, funny off-key singing, and mouth-watering cooking Made greeting each sunrise challenging. Naturally with active emotions, our family felt Overwhelmed. Dad was devastated, losing his Gal of sixty-seven Precious years that began in days of World War II. Mom was the Queen. Another memory was her unequivocal love for dogs. Riley was one of many canines she and Dad loved over the years. So, amid these painful losses came Copper, our lab. The Time was right, and I felt Mom’s otherworldly approval because Underneath Copper’s quirkiness lies his loyalty, cuddliness, and Vigilance in holding the guard dog role. He’ll be at our feet When we call him, shake a paw when he sees our hand. Xenial describes our friendly lab when anyone visits. Even at the not so Youthful age of ten, Copper carries an abundance of Zest for bounding through life, for loving his humans – reminding us that love carries on.
Since I loved to sing ever since I was nine years old, I had always dreamed of singing professionally when I grew up. Performing solos in school and special concerts encouraged that dream right along. So, maybe belting out a tune or crooning through a ballad on stage was my way of shining. If we’re gifted with a talent, shouldn’t we share it with the world?
This musical topic was paramount in one of my past stories, “The Way It Was” so it may seem familiar to some of you who read that tale from the past. As much as singing was an integral part of my childhood and teen years, it was no longer my number-one interest in my adulthood.
A passion for writing gently slipped into that slot, becoming an essential part of my daily routine, whether I’m jotting down notes in a journal, penning a poem, typing away on my laptop for another short memoir, or creating a blog post for my long-standing blog. I always hope to inspire others who have read my writing. To give them something to take away – possibly to help ease the pain, or to be reminded that feeling gratitude calms the mind, or to inspire to take that challenge, loosening the grip of fear.
And lastly, now that I’ve recently exchanged pleasant greetings with “60”, a wife of 32 years, and mother of two incredible adult children, maybe, just maybe, my way of shining has always been to be the brightest version of myself for them.
Hi! I’m Copper! Humans call me a chocolate lab mix. My legs are tall and my belly is shaped like a barrel. I hear I’m a big boy, weighing about 80 pounds, but I’m all muscle. I got my name because my coat is the color of copper like the metal. Humans often tell me I’m handsome, and if dogs could blush, I would blush. I love to cuddle and roll around the floor on my back, and my family gets to rub my barrel belly as often as they want. You see, I’m very generous, but my biggest job is to protect them.
One thing you must know, though, is that I’m not comfortable being left alone at home. I get a little nervous which makes me want to chew…especially, plastic and cloth. The last family I lived with got really mad at me, but it was their fault. They left me alone in the yard, so my nervousness snuck in. I scoped out the area, saw some furniture, then zeroed in on the cushions. Bingo! I chewed and gnawed and tugged to my heart’s content. My teeth were so happy! Next thing I knew, I was jumping into the car, heading to a white building where, much to my dismay, other dogs like me had been dropped off. And their cries hurt my heart, but I joined in the wailing when my human walked out the door without me. If I can’t be with my family, how can I be their protector? I’m amazed at how illogical humans can be.
Luckily, I didn’t stay at the white building for long because I went to live with a foster family. This kind of family couldn’t keep me forever, but they would care for me until I got adopted again. Heather was my foster mom and she was nice enough, but her two dogs scared me! Every time I trotted over to them, just wanting to play, they bared their teeth! The nerve! I realized I was the new dog on the block, but they should’ve welcomed me with friendly butt sniffs.
Soon after I was taken to Heather’s house, a mom with a young girl and boy visited me. When my eyes locked with theirs, I felt the connection! I just knew they would take me home, and they did! Excitement bubbled through me because I wanted to belong to a family; yet, I wondered if I would see that white building again. When I first trotted through the door and into the house, I met my new dad. He fluffed my ears and patted me on the head and said, “Hello there, Boy.” He had a strong, firm voice, but I sensed kindness in his touch. These humans welcomed me into their family, and I grew to love them all the same.
Mom became my main human. Each day, I watch her pour my food into the silver bowl more often than the rest of my family, but that’s because she has more time. She takes me for walks around our neighborhood, and at home, we cuddle on the soft carpet. That’s when she head-butts me gently, letting me know she loves me. In the beginning, I was so scared of the vacuum. She would push it past me and I’d run across the room, afraid it might attack me! Her voice was soft and gentle, though, so I finally realized that was her way of saying it wasn’t going to hurt me. When the vacuum roars past me these days, I just lay there watching the cord slither in front of me, ignoring it. I’m cool!
Now Dad’s a funny fellow. His laugh echoes throughout the house. Mom says, “He sounds just like Santa!” Dad also calls me silly names like log-dropper and doo-maker! He rubs my neck like he’s giving me a fancy massage. My eyes get tired and droopy and he says, “Copper’s drunk on love.”
My siblings are the best ever! Sister and Brother give me so much love it’s like the sun shines even when it’s raining! I’m their cuddle bug! Sister and I run together, which makes my ears flop up and down. Then we stop for what she calls a photo op, but I’m always camera shy. Brother takes me on adventures – up and down hills and into the woods we go! Lots of new scents to sniff and trees and bushes to lift my leg on. Life is good! I heel perfectly, prancing like a proud buck, and that’s when I hear, “Good boy, Copper!” Unless, of course, I see a squirrel skittering on the wire above us. I jump up and down! But that little enemy gets away! My humans laugh, and I still don’t know what’s so funny about a squirrel getting away!
My family loves to sing around the house, except for Dad, and I hear that’s a good thing. I always sing, too, holding my head up high, howling to match their voices. And every time they sit on the floor with their legs crossed, I back my bottom into their lap and plop right down. I feel their arms wrap around me and their faces next to mine and my heartbeat slows to contentment.
Then a very gloomy day came when Sister moved out of the house. She was older by this time and was going to live somewhere else. I watched tiny drops of water roll down Mom and Dad’s faces. My heart ached. I’m so glad Brother still lives with us, but it’ll be another gloomy day when he leaves and I think that day is coming soon. I’m preparing my heart. I guess that’s what Siblings do; they leave the house when they’re grown up. It doesn’t make sense to my doggish way of thinking, but it’s not my job to know these things. My job is to stay focused so I can guard my humans and give them lots of cuddles and sloppy kisses.
I still have to stop chewing. My new family had some things to learn, too. The water bowl they first put outside for me was plastic. They didn’t know I LOVE plastic. After lapping up water from that bowl, I grabbed it with my mouth and ran out to the grass, romping all around the yard. I ripped and tore and chewed and I had so much fun. When my family saw white pieces of ragged edged plastic strewn all over, their voices boomed!
I had prepared myself for another miserable ride to the white building. But I was surprised to find my bed still in Brother’s room and me tucked in each night. They must know my intentions are good! You know, being a dog isn’t easy. It’s a HUGE responsibility trying to keep my special humans safe!
After I got to know my family’s’ funny ways, I really wanted them to be my forever family because it’s the first time in my life that my heart didn’t hurt. As I’ve matured into my handsomeness, I’m not as tempted when I saunter by cloth or plastic, and besides, my family buys me really cool bones that I can’t destroy! I can also sit, stay, shake paw, and perform my fancy rollovers and crawls. These tricks come in handy when I want to melt their hearts. I’ve learned a lot since they adopted me a long time ago. I am here to stay! And they love my cool amber eyes. They tell others, “It’s like he sees into our souls.” I think my soulful eyes have kept them focused on me – the dog who loves them as much as I love peanut butter, and that’s a lot! And what makes me happier than peanut butter is that Mom, Dad, Sister, and Brother gave me the chance I longed for…to be a part of a family forever.
My family got these shots of me, and boy, were they sneaky! Thanks for reading my story. I hope it warmed your heart. Sending sloppy kisses, Copper 💗
Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? It seems unreal because of the virus – how our everyday living has changed. Even though it’s hard to fathom that the year is coming to a close, my trusty calendar says it is, so I thought it would be a good time to post this Christmas tale from last year.
In excitement we wriggle from head to toe anticipating our daughter and fiancé’s visit from Nashville. The newly-engaged couple flies out early December to beat the holiday airport chaos. Thanksgiving dishes barely sparkle when we push and pull our Noble Fir through the front door. I want the house to be dressed in holiday attire for when they arrive. But the day after Thanksgiving is early to buy a tree, so the pickings are slim and the cost is a heart-stopper. Yet, there in the living room by the window stands the evergreen, reflecting in the paned glass.
My husband takes charge of putting up the outside decorations – hanging the Christmas flag, stringing the lights on the house, and sprinkling big ornaments on our shrubbery. My son and I begin indoor decorating by winding the lights among the branches on the tree. As we hand the wiry bunch to each other, around and around, they blink awake like eyes opening brightly. But then suddenly, they go out like sleepy eyes closing. When we tested them earlier, they lit up just fine, so their slumbering is surely a mystery. Feeling frustrated, we fuss with the tiny bulbs, and eventually, they blink “Merry Christmas” again. (Problem solved or so we think.) Then come the ornaments – many made by our children’s’ little hands: photos of them skirted in gold stars or in the arms of pink angels. The clothespin reindeer look excited to join Santa on Christmas Eve, and the homemade sequin ornaments from my husband’s grandma transports him back to the sixties. His grandma was stern but kindhearted, and when she cooked each Sunday for the following week, there was enough food to feed everyone in the county. Then my fingers feel around in the box for another ornament, latching onto the white puffy heart engraved with Dad’s birth and death date. It’s like hanging memories one by one, triggering teardrops or raising smiles. When the tree stands fully adorned, it truly looks Noble.
Outside for onlookers, the house lights blink a winter white with a splash of red, gold, green, and silver hanging among the greenery, but more Christmas spirit arrives with our Nashville kids. They gave us a beautiful wreath which hangs on the front door and completes the decorating. In the evenings, we gather around the table, catching up on life and sharing delicious food. They share their wedding plans and we hear their excitement to search for a special place to exchange vows. And we bake! Having my daughter home to help mix up some sweetness conjures up delightful baking memories.
I want to freeze time – for it alone is an illusion: drifting by like the slow drip of honey, yet, flying by like a hummingbird seeking nectar. With a blink of an eye, our visit with them has ended and it’s time for goodbye-hugs which are never easy; bittersweet tears fall like liberated water over a broken dam. Too soon my cell phone pings, telling me they’re boarding their plane. Once their feet safely touch Tennessee ground, I push the restart button in my routine. Phone calls, Facetime, and text messages don’t replace their presence but will suffice until their next trip.
Our focus is back to the Noble Fir and we notice it doesn’t appear to be thirsty. This evergreen that cost an arm and a leg is beginning to dry up faster than a drop of water on a sun-kissed sidewalk. Then to our surprise, the bottom lights go out! A couple of days later with one tilt of our heads, we spot the lights on top of the tree are out! Frustration seeps into our veins for a second, then trickles of laughter follow, and because we’re too busy to shop for new lights, our tree remains topless and bottomless where festive colors once shimmered! We join Charlie Brown and call it our Peanut’s tree – a little forlorn to our eyes but beautiful just the same. The angel our daughter made years ago, though only a toilet paper roll with lacey craftsmanship, sits in a place of honor on top of the tree. Replacing this dear angel is out of the question, so we look to her for hope that the tree lasts until the big day!
Moving on from our tree-light calamity, it’s time to bake again. I find my mother-in-law’s gingerbread recipe, preheat the oven, then press the button on my faithful hand mixer. When all ingredients are blended, I dip a spoon into the sweet-spicy batter. I have to make sure it’s fine for others to eat. Of course, I do. I was about to put the pan in the oven, opening the door, when I realize 350-degree heat did not whoosh out at me in the face. I call my husband over and we do some button-pressing, hoping our magic touches will perk up the oven. No luck, but no need to panic fully because the burners work, so not a total loss. The gingerbread stays overnight in the fridge, but I’m unsure as to how refrigeration will affect the batter. I call on a friend for help and use her oven the next day. When the timer beeps, the bread looks done, except for the molten-looking center – mushy, but honestly, gooey and delectable.
Two weeks pass since the oven’s demise, and no repairman is available until December 30th. It sounds like the death of many appliances! At least the oven functioned when my daughter and I needed it to for our upcoming cookie exchange. Four dozen buttercream-frosted sugar cookies were displayed on glass platters: stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and angels all bejeweled in red and green sprinkles. Now, as Christmas draws closer by the minute, I feel off-kilter because I’m unable to bake.
While the oven sits waiting to be repaired, the alternator in one of our cars dies! First the lights, then the oven, now the car! But wait, there’s more…our big TV is next on this chain of events! What a kerfuffle this holiday season has been with things going kaput! I won’t ask, because if I do, we’ll wonder what’s next! I didn’t ask!
Because of the unexpected and unfortunate events, our shopping sprees have barely begun. But we’ll still find merchandise sitting on the shelves, contrary to popular belief that Black Friday is the only day to shop for Christmas. And each time I walk past our unique Christmas tree, I am reminded of the quote, paraphrasing, of course, “It’s not about the beginning or destination; it’s about the journey.” Well, the tree’s middle glows with Christmas enthusiasm and so does our journey through this holiday season in spite of the blips.
These hiccups caused us to pause, but they’re not the end of the world. Baking later could develop into a new tradition. Our tree will remain noble until Christmas Day, or at least we hope it will. Those temperamental lights will be tossed when the tree comes down. The car is on its wheels again. So, regardless of these glitches, the blessings stand tall: precious family time, safe travels for our Nashville kids, and gifts beneath the tree acting as an evergreen anchor. Saving the best for last – our family’s good health. What more can we ask for besides new lights for our tree next year!
I hope this account of my family’s last Christmas brought smiles and maybe even a few giggles. And I have a strong hunch, this holiday season will look a little different. But if good health abounds, that’s what matters most. And Cheers to hoping 2021 is much brighterfor all!
It was a townhouse that stood two-stories tall, where fond memories float about, and where I wore pigtails and a smile. I recall my foot landing on the bottom step, and Morton would offer his feathery hello, and in my language, the same I would bestow.
This is the home where Mom gave me a frog that would live forever. It was made with time, love, red corduroy and beans. I named him Sam, and he meant the world to me.
Events from two days ago can be obscure, yet visions of my first day of kindergarten remain vivid, wearing a plaid jumper, black and white saddle shoes, and riding in the big, yellow school bus. This was a time when Mom and Dad were still with us…
We’re home after camping among the Redwoods in northern California. While walking among these amazing trees it is absolutely a magical and spiritual experience…
From death comes life
Inside Big Hendy Grove
Over 1000 years old
Sun’s peeking through
“This is their temple, vaulted high, And here we pause with reverent eye, With silent tongue and awe-struck soul, For here we sense life’s proper goal. To be like these, straight, true, and fine, To make our world, like theirs, a shrine, Sink down, O Traveler, on your knees, God stands before you in these trees.
~Joseph B. Strauss from “The Redwoods” 1932
Chief Engineer of The Golden Gate Bridge