Thankful Thursday: Poultry

Because appreciation increases joy,
it's Thankful Thursday.

What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a thing? A story, a song, a poem? I've found the more I appreciate, the more I see to appreciate. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. Tell me, what makes your world expand?

• • •

We are smack in the certainty of winter, and my world is feeling damp, abandoned, cold and cruel.

Thankfully — yes, there is an upside to this dreary disposition — I have learned how to roast a chicken. I'm no gourmet. I like food and love eating but I have no patience for complicated cooking. And I'm frugal to boot. Thank goodness for easy, affordable, delicious roast chicken. After a robust search, I now use this simple recipe. Today, the kitchen is warm and my heart is thawing, and all because of an edible bird.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for poultry.



Bookstores I have known & loved

West Side Books in Denver, Colorado

Some people remember their first kiss. I remember my first bookstore.

I was just eight. Down the street and around the corner was a house turned into a children's bookstore where I spent days nestled in cozy corners, exploring the Five Little Peppers, Little House on the Prairie and more.

Does anything press more on the memory than books?  Not for me.

Since my early bookshop experience, whenever I visit a town or move to a new city, I seek first books. Not restaurants. Not even coffeeshops. First things first: I want to know a town has a center, a literary core.

When I moved to Seattle, young and broke, I was grateful for the Seattle Public Library. I loved this place, even before the fabulous renovation which came years after my departure. In those Seattle stacks I found Pablo Neruda.

In Denver, where I grew up, Tattered Cover is the legendary forerunner of independent bookstores. And in Portland, Oregon, where I was born, Powell's Books fills an entire city block. I've been lucky to know and love these models of literary independence.

But even more, I'm thrilled to find small book shops, places with little fanfare but lots of heart.  When lost and wandering in what seemed a dry desert, these bookstores quenched my literary thirst:

Chickering Bookstore - Laramie, Wyoming
You've been to Laramie, right? It's an austere landscape (which, admittedly, I came to love) with large, open spaces and howling wind. Big sky but few books. Chickering was an oasis, lush, fertile and welcoming.

West Side Books - Denver, Colorado
Located in what is now Denver's hip Highland neighborhood, West Side Books was old-school cool long before it was surrounded by swank boutiques and cafes. Just like my favorite, worn-soft jeans, even with relocations and expansions the book shop has retained the comforts and charms of age. And, thanks to owner Lois Harvey (bless her trusting heart) West Side Books was where I first read my poems aloud and in public. 

Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard
- South Padre Island, Texas
My nightmare? A vacation of sun and laze and I have run out of books. It's happened. More than once I have trawled the grocery store selection, thumbing through B-list bodice rippers, desperate to find something to read. Thank goodness for Paragraphs, the only bookstore on Texas' South Padre Island. Crisp and clean, at just two years old, they've got new books, comfy chairs and a roster of readings. 

Mari's Books and . . .  - Yachats, Oregon
As evidenced by the shop name, owners Mary, Mari and Jeanine are open to possibilities. Located in downtown Yachats — an oxymoron in this remote coastal town (and my home) of just 600 full-time residents — Mari's sells gently used books, which means it's best to arrive not with a shopping list but with an open mind. Just the other day, for example, I popped in to say hello, and popped out with a handful of books I had never heard of or intended to purchase. In my book — pun intended — that's the best kind of impulse buy!

How about you — Where are you shopping? What shop marks your memory?


On Sunday 

We have to earn silence,
then, to work for it:
to make it not an absence
but a presence,
not emptiness
but repletion.

— Pico Iyer


Thankful Thursday: Gratitude Rock

This is a Gratitude Rock.

Every year, Sara sends us homemade Christmas cards and gifts. One year a miniature totem pole. Another  year a three-dimensional, wood Christmas tree. A pickle-in-a-jar ornament. A handmade coffee table. And my all-time favorite: my very own, in-house mailbox!

This year she sent a triangle of green cloth, with this message:

Every time you touch or see your gratitude rock, you are supposed to think of anything in life that you are thankful for. I now keep one in my pocket, using it to think of my good life, nice home, wonderful dog, loving friends & family, and a great job with inspiring students [Sara is a teacher]. I generally touch it at least twice a day . . . being ever so grateful that I do have so many things to be thankful for.

I love this gift, and I especially like that Sara sewed the rock into a pouch, creating a gift of the rock, and a gift of gratitude, too.

We hung the green triangle, still sewn shut, on the Christmas tree. Yesterday, as we packed away the holiday decor, I snipped the stitches and found the precious stone inside. 

Thank you Sara, for making thankfulness touchable, solid, simple and real.



Wish I'd written that

She looked like a woman who had spent her whole life waiting in line.

— from Mohawk
by Richard Russo