Sunday Epiphanies

On any given Sunday, you’ll find me awake before sunrise.  Old, very old, habits die-hard.  I embrace being a morning person.  Only causes an issue when I want to toast in the new year since I generally turn into a pumpkin around nine o’clock.  Today was no different from any other weekend.

Yesterday was Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas season.  When Dickens was a youth, Twelfth Night was ‘THE’ biggest day of the winter holiday in England.  Between his Christmas Carol and Prince Albert’s importation of German Christmas traditions (namely the Christmas tree), Twelfth Night began to fade out of fashion during Dickens and Queen Victoria’s lifetimes.

I did not stay up late celebrating or hosting a Twelfth Night party.  I had servers to upgrade and test bright and early on January 6th, also known as Epiphany.

I woke up before my alarm (I almost always do this; my alarm only woke me up once in the last six months) and got logged in and ready to upgrade a server.  It went much smoother than the last time I tried, right before Christmas, and I was done within 20 minutes (leaving an hour forty minutes of my maintenance window unused).  Server patch testing took another fifteen minutes so I was done ‘working’ before seven o’clock, still before sunrise.

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Let’s Do Lunch at the Library

Most Saturdays you can find me hanging out at my local library over the lunch hour.  While it’s true I do devour books, I curb my appetite so that my favorite hard-working librarians can grab a bite to eat and catch up on their reading.  I’ve been volunteering for four or five years now and I look forward to those two or three hours spent helping patrons find their next great book or movie.

Today, within five minutes of getting started at the circulation desk for the first half of my shift, a mother and a cute girl with a rainbow of flowers in her hair arrived to collect her gift basket.  The girl had won one the baking basket, one of eight gift baskets donated as prizes for the winter reading program.  I overheard one of the librarians mention that collectively adults and children read over two thousand books this winter.  I only contributed twenty-two to that total.

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70s Flashback

No, I’m not having flashbacks to the decade of disco, the oil crisis, feminism, civil rights, etc. I’m talking about autumn-like temperatures in the mid-70s at lunch time here in Kansas City.  I took full advantage of the beautiful weather by walking a couple of blocks to my favorite local Italian restaurant for lunch.

WeatherAfternoon14Aug2013For a comparison, here’s the average temperatures, historically, reported for Kansas City (thanks to the Weather Underground for the stats):

August 14, 2013 Max Temp Min Temp
Normal (KMCI) 88 °F 68 °F
Record (KMCI) 113 °F (1936) 54 °F (2002)
Yesterday 80 °F 66 °F

When I first walked out of my house this morning, I knew something was different.  For starters, the sky was clear.  I felt a bit of a chill in the air, not something I expect to feel in the middle of August during a Kansas summer.  The dashboard information center in the van confirmed temperatures in the lower 60s in the pre-dawn morning air.

PreSunrise14Aug2013I took the above photograph about 20-25 minutes before sunrise this morning.  I can’t take an actual sunrise photo during the work week because the sun is rising at or shortly after 6:30 a.m. Central local time.  By that time, I’m fifteen minutes into my morning commute, picking up the last three of my vanpool riders.  I did drive into a glorious golden orange sun hanging barely above the horizon for a few minutes.  The atmosphere was pretty hazy, so I could look directly at the sun for long periods of time.  I didn’t spy any sunspots though … my eyes are not quite that good.  I’m far-sighted, but not that far-sighted.

So today I’m very thankful for mild temperatures, low humidity and beautiful clear skies.

A Bunch of Little Bits Make a Big Whole

Today’s gratitude journal post may be a bit rambly.  I don’t have a cute photo to share.  I’m not feeling extraordinarily witty either (not that I’m ever anything but marginally witty).  Nothing momentous has occurred in the last twenty-four hours in my small sphere of space.  But often it’s the little things that add up to the best moments.

I came home last night to some of the best grilled chicken courtesy of my hubby’s wonderful rub and grilling skills.  Hands down it was hundreds of orders of magnitude better than the barbecued chicken I tried at the baseball game.

After dinner, we hung clingy clear plastic drop cloths in the main bathroom to prep for painting the ceiling.  We managed to complete that task without too many harsh words or bodily harm.

We took the dogs, Lexy and Apollo, on a short walk after sundown.  I could see the almost quarter moon easily, as well as Venus and Saturn (near the moon).  Terry and Lexy headed home early and Apollo and I walked for another twenty minutes.  I didn’t see many children out playing (a couple of teenagers) because school starts this week.  Summer break is over for them.

Terry is taking both dogs to the vet today.  We’re not sure what’s going on with Lexy.  She’s got a spot up near her left shoulder-blade that she keeps trying to scratch.  We’ve treated her for fleas and ticks and inspected her skin.  We gave her a bath.  She’s still scratching that spot.  Terry’s worried she may have been bitten by something.  Lexy will get a pedicure from the vet as well.

We’re also worried about Apollo.  He’s been lethargic lately.  And he has a growth on his back that we’ve had the vet look at before.  Terry wants a needle biopsy done, so poor Apollo will get poked this afternoon.  I can’t remember if he’s getting a pedicure or not like Lexy is.

All of them will get some sort of treat on the trip back home from the vet, probably mini-cheeseburgers.

So, today, and every other day, I’m grateful for my husband.  He’s great at so many things:

  • grilling
  • home improvement
  • pet care
  • being awesome

My life would be empty without him.

Anti-Dog Days of Summer

tbones gameI took the weekend off from my gratitude journal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a ton of things to be grateful for.

Like most other weekends, I spent all of it with my hubby (shown eyeing me dubiously in the photo at left – I’m famous for my ‘candid camera’ approach to family photography).  We took a break from our home improvement projects to attend my employer’s summer event at the T-bones baseball game Saturday night.

tbones gameA short list of items I’m thankful for from the weekend:

  • free barbecue with free beer (if you drink beer – I had water)
  • free baseball
  • free fireworks
  • unKansas like summer temperatures in the 80s
  • not having to water my lawn (because it’s been raining)

Terry and I enjoyed all of the above, plus a good effort by the T-bones against a team from Fargo, who out hit and out scored them to win by two.  Saw a couple of double plays and a lot of errors that went mysteriously unreported for both teams.  I also enjoyed seeing the blast from baseball days past coaching first base for the T-bones:

tbones game
Frank White #20 coaching 1st for the T-bones

Frank even stopped at the bottom of our section, 109, to sign a few autographs after the game.  Almost made me wish I’d moved down a few rows since most everyone left the game after the seventh inning stretch.

Terry and I stubbornly stayed in our assigned seats until the lights were turned off and the fireworks began, only to discover that you can’t see the fireworks from the stands.  We quickly vacated our section and left through the front gate in time to see most of the fireworks.  We were home before eleven o’clock and I debated staying up to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  I opted for bed.

In hindsight, I should have stayed up as Sunday night/Monday morning, during the peak of the meteor shower, we experienced a vigorous thunderstorm which dumped an inch of rain in less than an hour during my Monday morning commute.  Thankfully, there’s always next year for the Perseids.

Afternoon Delight: Frozen Crumbly Chocolaty Goodness

Mocha Cookie Crumble FrappaccinoFor my first entry in my Gratitude Journal, I want to expound on the joys of frozen mocha cookie crumbly goodness.  For the past couple of months (summertime), this scrumptious treat has been available from Starbucks ~ the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappaccino.  I took the photo (to the right) yesterday afternoon after making a quick stop between the Country Club Plaza and Crown Center.

Yesterday wasn’t particularly hot, but for the third day in a row, I left work with a persistent headache, possibly related to job/project stress or the weather (low pressure system most of the week).  I don’t like to take any medications if I can avoid it, so when I do get a headache, I reach for chocolate or a caffeinated drink.  In this case, I doubled down with a frozen blended mocha cookie beverage.  My headache vanished before I made it halfway to the bottom.

Thus I’m very grateful for the ease with which my headache left and for the incredibly delicious way in which I encouraged its exile.  And also grateful that there are two Starbucks near where I work:  one within walking distance on the Plaza and one on Main Street that I pass twice daily.

No, I don’t give in to temptation and treat myself every day.  Just occasionally … once a month or every other week.  I tried to make up for the extra calories I ingested yesterday by walking Apollo last night.