I am grateful Dad always unhooked the air hose.

I am grateful for the familiar smell of new tires that reminds me of a pretty great childhood with many hours spent hiding inside stacks of tires at the gas station.

I am grateful for the ends to very stressful days and the feeling of crawling into bed completely exhausted.

I am grateful for cats who are happy to see me.

I am grateful for time spent with my brother, my sister, and my dad.

I am grateful for the best hair magician in the world and a really good feeling haircut.

I am grateful our son is moving back home tonight.

I am grateful I know how to clean a mean windshield.

I am grateful for Costco bulk.

I am grateful for the green of Kansas City WITHOUT humidity.

I am grateful for the sound of an adding machine and the satisfaction of adding up the credit card slips at the gas station desk and getting the same total two times in a row.

I am grateful for less humidity in small town USA, even though it isn’t as green.

I am grateful for a vacuumed, clean car.

And I am grateful that I’m okay but I’ll get over it. Right, Dad?

Made beds.

The case for making the bed vs. not doing so is one that I have heard forever. I like a made bed, one that is wrinkle-free, sheets pulled tight, pillows fluffed and puffy and inviting at the end of a long day.

“Why should I make it when I’m just going to get back into it tonight?”

That is the argument from those who disagree with my logic.

I supposed they could use the same argument for washing dishes, or washing their clothes, or showering.

I remember when I was just getting to know Sam, it was one of the questions I asked him. Make your bed every day, or just occasionally? He answered that he made his bed every day, because if something ever happened to him, he wouldn’t want his loved ones to have to come into his home and discover an unmade bed, and he likes to be neat and tidy.

I sure am grateful that Sam is that way.

Mom taught me how to make a bed with the corners tucked just so, like a wrapped package. Saturdays were cleaning days, and one of my jobs as a little girl, was to sit on the floor and iron pillowcases and Dad’s handkerchiefs. I know now she just needed me to be busy and work and stay out of her way, but it also instilled in me the lesson of contribution to the family, and of how great an ironed pillowcase looks on a clean bed.

I sure am grateful that my Mom was strict and taught me how to make a bed AND iron pillowcases, appreciating those square and rectangle creases.

Over the years, it has been important for me to observe how hotel staff makes the beds, and I must admit, I always click on the latest video tips and tricks to making an inviting bed. There are so many different ways, and every once in a while, I change it up.

I sure am grateful for the hotel staff who make the beds tightly and crisply every day so that guests have the simple joy and luxury of a made bed at the end of their day.

Now, Sam and I make the bed together each morning, and if by chance, one of us ends up doing it by ourselves, the other says, “I’m sorry,” and “Thank you for making the bed.” It’s just our thing.

When we do laundry, we fold sheets together. It could be an Olympic sport, I think. We’re pretty good at it.

I sure am grateful that it’s just our thing.

It is amusing how many people can’t fold a fitted sheet, though – it is easier to just take it from the dryer and straight to the bed than it is to fold it. I watched that video over and over and now I know how to fold a fitted so that it isn’t all wadded up in a drawer.

I sure am grateful for fitted sheets. There’s almost nothing worse than sleeping on a flat sheet that wrinkles and bunches underneath.

And then there are the weirdos who don’t use a flat sheet. WHAT. It’s a fitted sheet and a comforter like some alien lives among us. I have a family of grandchildren this way. Aliens, I say.

But I sure am grateful for alien grandchildren anyway.

The famous video of the Navy Seal Admiral who prompts the graduates at a commencement ceremony to begin each day by making their beds is classic and a big YES in my book.

I sure am grateful he made this a commencement address and someone videoed it and thought it was important enough for the world to hear. Spread simple lessons like butter.

We are now AirBnb hosts with two different properties. This week, two guests checked out of the house, and we walked over and did laundry, but instead of putting sheets back on beds, we just left them. We needed to walk and didn’t take time to make the beds. Besides, we didn’t have a booking for the rest of the week.

Our best neighbors in the world were interested in checking the place out last night, so I told them to go on over and have at it – “but please don’t mind the fact that it isn’t ‘show ready,'” since we hadn’t finished getting it ready for the next guest.

This morning, I walked over to make the beds and put the towels out in the bathroom, just in case we got a last minute booking for the weekend.

Today, I sure am most grateful for best neighbors in the world who MADE THE BEDS for us, just because.

He turned that frown upside down.

Mother’s Day is always a hard day. I miss my mom, and I wish I could still be a mom.

I am grateful for tulips plucked by Sam to cheer me up.

I am grateful for three messages to hear and ponder – from my sister-in-law, our KC pastor, and one of my dearest friends.

I am grateful for a beautiful day to plant flowers and shrubs.

I am grateful for a phone call from my Texas daughter and all her children.

And I am most grateful that at the end of the day, when the blues were still hanging on, I received a text message that simply said, “Go look on the back porch.”

Foster son surprised me.

I am very, very grateful that I have a son, a son who was thoughtful to remember me. And even though he needs to learn the difference between “seen” and “saw,” he gave me a card that I will keep forever. I won’t correct his terrible grammar, at least not on the card, because what he wrote was perfect for who he is, and he made me smile cry.

Thank you, M. I love you, too.

One of those nights.

It’s 9:00. The house is silent, except for the sounds of a basement sump on overdrive and two upper elementary cats chasing each other before I head upstairs to bed.

Normally, 5 miles would have been walked, dinner had and cleaned up, and a few minutes on the porch allowing my legs to rest before finishing my 30 flights of stairs.

But tonight, none of that happened. It’s chemo day, and chemo day has it’s own agenda.

So tonight, I needed my daddy. He isn’t here, and I could call him but it is 9:00. I have a rule. So the best way to need my daddy is to make Kraft Mac & cheese. We don’t keep boxed food on hand normally, but foster son changed that, so there was a box.

Dinner at 9:15 on a Wednesday night takes me back to childhood when it was past bedtime but Daddy came home from a long day of work and Mommy would let me get up and go sit at the kitchen table with Daddy and eat Mac & cheese, just the two of us.

I am grateful for that memory. I am grateful for a box in the pantry tonight. I am grateful for silence and funny cats. I am grateful chemo day is done and Sam is resting in bed.

And I am grateful for my Daddy…in Overland Park, and in my heart.

Circumstance without the Pomp

I am grateful for a walk in a light rain.

I am grateful for sounds of small town USA.

I am grateful that in the silence of my walk, the rocks cry out, and the droplets of rain rain, and the birds sing, and the stems of grass reach, and the hyacinths open.

I am grateful for my family – my brother’s help and always happy demeanor, my sister’s calls, my brother and sister-in-law’s zoom reunions now in effect, and my Dad’s love…and Alexa Echo calls from grandchildren in Texas and Washington.

I am grateful for a renewed motivation to get back to 15,000 steps.

I am grateful for Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir music that fills my soul.

And I am grateful for a bucket list item checked off – I am a soon-to-be graduate, even if it is just an Associate’s. Two weeks ago, I received an email asking for a picture to be included in the graduation ceremony that will be virtual and online this year. I thought it was a mistake and ignored the email. But I got another one that was a reminder. When I responded that they mistakenly had me on the list, I received an email this morning informing me it was not a mistake. I am graduating with an Associates in General Studies.

It took me long enough, and it was a surprise, but I did it. Now if I could just figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I could go on to get the next two years out of the way.


Easter and a PSA about a cat toy.

I am grateful for a quiet Easter morning at church with Sam, for beautiful music and a message that brought us to tears, for the emotions of a lit candle signifying He is ALIVE.

I am grateful for wonderful weather on Saturday before Easter, so we could enjoy the porch and the sunshine before Easter Sunday’s April winter hurricane and snow flurries.

I am grateful for plenty of food to make a fairly decent Easter lunch for three.

I am grateful for technology when I am usually NOT grateful for technology, because our Easter Sunday included an hour long video call with my family and then another one with all of Sam’s family. It was like we were all sitting around the table on Easter afternoon, my brothers, my sister, our niece and nephews, and Dad. It did my heart so good.

I am grateful for a box of masks that was supposed to be for our grandchildren, but they sure are coming in handy for us right now.

I am grateful for an Easter afternoon and evening of playing a game with Sam and foster son, something we NEVER do but should do more often, and I am grateful for the game my daughter sent to us, because Sam really likes to play it.

I am grateful for aluminum foil. So here is a PSA for cat owners, and they probably already know, but I didn’t, so here is my enlightenment:

A ball of aluminum foil is the best cat toy in the history of the world. Banana and Split are incredible soccer players with this thing, and they will play for HOURS if we fling the aluminum ball across the floor for them to chase. You’re welcome.

A Holy Week like no other.

1. exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness

It is Holy Week.

The neighbor dog barks, the rhythmic crunch of gravel keeps a beat with every step, and I am surrounded by beauty – a pink and orange sunrise to the east, and a full, orange moon as big as Dallas setting in the west.

The nose-crinkling smell of pigs wafts down the street after a truck goes by.

A beginning band trumpet player serenades to the practice-will-make-perfect tune of “Jingle Bells,” as we walk by.

Adult cats who are accustomed to social distancing sit under cars eyeing us with a stare reminder to back off, Jack.

Downtown is empty at 7:45 in the evening with the exception of “We are the Champions” by Queen playing on the crisp and static-y speakers attached to the light poles

Evidence of spring is finally beginning to take shape, and the first flowers we notice are purple phlox just waking up from a long winter.

Occasionally, a fly annoys enough to require a hand swat in front of our faces.

Banana is adventurous enough to experience grass for the very first time, and he loves it so much he runs full speed across the yard and out into the street, only to be scooped up quickly and reprimanded with a stern “no.”

The 68 degree breeze whistles through the window screen and offers such a peaceful background noise while I work, along with mourning doves cooing, robins gossiping, and blackbirds announcing to the rest of us they are back and ready to annoy.

Monotony is interrupted by a squeal and scream of a child playing in the safety and confines of a back yard.

37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”[a]

39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” Luke 19:37-40

A Dad and son enjoy time together playing a yard game, laughing together after a particularly bad throw and then waving “hi” to us as we walk by, socially distant and safe on the brick covered street, nonetheless.

Foster son beep-beeps at us with a big grin as he rides by on his electric scooter, a semblance of freedom after feeling trapped inside for so long.

The harmonization of the big wind chime keeps us company during lunch on the porch as Split is fascinated by a new toy with 8 legs, skittering as fast as it will go to escape her curious paw.

It is Holy Week.

My internal jukebox is playing an old favorite, from Friends Church days: The Lord is in His Holy temple, the Lord is in His holy temple,
Let all the earth keep silent.
Let all the earth keep silent, before Him.
Keep silent.
Keep silent, before Him.

Even in the middle of what we’ve never known, storefronts are festively decorated with bunnies and flowers and springtime colors. Our neighbor at the end of the block reminds everyone who goes by that the cross is still the most important yard display in these times of uncertainty. My mind swims with menu ideas for the three of us on Sunday.

The earth is much quieter right now. It makes Holy Week even more poignant. It is a good time to recognize all that is holy and worthy of our praise and gratitude.

Besides, God still has us in the palm of His hand. The gravel, the birds, the flowers waiting to burst, the welcome breeze, the sunrise and the moonset – they all say the same thing to me this week. The worst thing is never the last thing. Just hang on, keep silent, and enjoy His holy creation.