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October 2010
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November 2010

Thanksgiving Moments


  • The surprise Thanksgiving Eve appearance by Jeremy's friend Len who lived next door to us for twenty years. Len always walked in to our house unannounced and went directly to our fridge to grab a snack. He had to ring the doorbell this time because our door was locked, but he did go directly to the fridge once he came inside. I still consider him my third son.


  • Explaining to four-year old Grady why the word "night" is not the same as the word "knight" as we read Good Night Good Knight.
  • Posing for the annual Thanksgiving family photo when we walked around the reservoir while the turkey roasted


    IMG_1977 thanksgiving


    • Our South African guest experiencing his first Thanksgiving, and loving all the food and ritual
    • Reading aloud all the "I'm grateful for" notes written during the week before Thanksgiving
  • Sitting around a blazing fire with my loved ones on the once-a-year day when we are all together

Memories to cherish. Prayers that we will all do it again next year


Thankful Jar

Our daughter-in-law Katrina has started a new Thanksgiving tradition. Every day, she and Jeremy and our grandchildren, ages four and six, must write (or ask their mother to write) a different thing that they are grateful for. All of their notes go into the Thankful Jar.


Earlier this week the rest of the family were assigned the same task. We had to do a bit of catching up since they were already on day five by the time we got our instructions. At our Thanksgiving dinner, everyone will read their Thankful List. My list is very long.


Happy Thanksgiving.


One of the key members of my staff has resigned. This is a good thing. Robin married this year and his wife lives in a different city. He is moving to be with her. They should be together, and I am happy for them. But I am sad for us. He contributed a lot to our organization in his almost three years here. Hopefully, he has learned from me. I know I have learned from him.


Although Robin will give his best for his remaining time, our relationship is now somewhat changed. We are discussing some issues that we might not have discussed before. The other day we talked about colleagues and where they may be in the next few years.


I said that I, for one, wouldn't be working there ten years from now. At age 72, that seemed pretty obvious. Not to Robin, however.


His response, "That's what YOU think."

A Change of Routine

We all fall into habits, some good, some not-so-good. So once in a while, it's nice to shake up one's routine.


For example, on weekends when we are in town, Peter and I walk around a nearby reservoir. It's more than two miles around, so it's good exercise. We frequently bump into neighbors, but there are often nice surprises like seeing someone we never expected to find there. One thing we can count on is a huge number of dogs being walked—and Peter thinks that is a plus, mainly because if I get my fill of other people's dogs at the reservoir, I might give up on the idea of owning one.


We've been walking there for more than fifteen years. Over that time, the city has made some improvements, including a field of wildflowers, some nice benches and more. But one thing that hadn't changed was the direction we walk.


I don't know what caused me to suggest last Sunday that we walk in the opposite direction. We both were surprised by the different perspective we had. We entered at the top of a hill that we usually climbed to exit. The view from that point looking down on the reservoir was quite stunning.


As we proceeded around the pond, we kept seeing things we never noticed before-- a new path into the woods, a house situated high on a hill, people we never see because they walk in the same direction we do.


I'm thinking about changing some other routines.



In his famous 1943 paper, Abraham Maslow suggested that we have basic needs such as food and shelter. Once those needs have been met, we have psychological needs, self-actualization needs, etc. If you Google Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, you will get about 4,530,000 results in 0.12 seconds and can learn much more about this.


My basic needs are quite well met. I am well-fed and sheltered. I have wonderful family and friends. All that is good. But lately, I've been thinking about what makes one day happier than another. For example, on Thursday, after an endless series of gloomy, damp, typical November days, the sun shone brilliantly. I could feel my happiness meter going up. On a scale of 1(miserable) to100(ecstatic), I went from about 75-85 when the clouds vanished.


Clouds giving way to sun gives me a feeling of well-being. The following also favorably affect my happiness score:




A really good night's sleep


A productive day at work


A call from one of our children


A call from one of our children who sounds happy


A dish of Starbucks coffee ice cream



Professor Maslow would probably turn over in his grave if he heard that Starbuck's Coffee Ice Cream topped my hierarchy of needs.



Two Proud Mothers

Peter is very shopping-averse. There are few things he dreads more than being dragged to a shopping mall. So when our son Jeremy's shopping website, offered some gorgeous pearl jewelry, I persuaded Peter to shop online with me for my holiday gift. He would get a great buy, give me exactly what I wanted, and contribute to the future well-being of our grandchildren, all with the click of a mouse.

However, because I had some questions about the length of the black pearl necklace I wanted, I called the contact number on the website, Even though it was Sunday, a nice woman answered and told me that the owners (her daughters, Shannon and Ashley ages 23 and 25) were at their warehouse and she would call them there, ask my question and call me back before the offer expired the following day.

Sandy told me about her daughters and how they started their online jewelry business. She said she has gone to China with them twice to visit their workers, and that her daughters know all of them by name.

So of course I told her that Jasmere, the site that is featuring her daughters' jewelry, was started a year ago by my son Jeremy. And the love fest began. Her girls think Jeremy is great (despite the fact that they've only met online). I reported to her that Jeremy had told me how much he enjoyed talking to her daughters and how excited they were about being featured on Jasmere.

One phone call—a new necklace and a new friend.

Friday Night Out

I try not to make plans for Friday nights. I work hard during the week and by Friday evening, I am ready to throw on some sweatpants, have a quiet dinner at home with Peter and veg out. But it never seems to work that way. We have a concert series on Friday nights because we love the couple we go with, and Friday is better for them. Or we get an invitation to a party. Whatever.

Usually, I get my second wind when we go out and end up having a really good time.

This Friday night started badly. We missed a turn on our way to a take-down-the-exhibit party at the home of an artist friend and his wife who live in the city. After a futile attempt to get back on course, we ended up on the Expressway, and imagined finding our way back just in time to go home. But we got off at the first exit, pulled into a shopping center, called our friends for their address, plugged it into our GPS and were there fifteen minutes later thanks to the lady in the GPS who Peter promised to kiss upon arrival at our destination.

It turns out that we had a great time. We saw two sets of friends we hadn't seen in years and had no idea that they were also friends of the host and hostess. Then while talking to a complete stranger, I learned that his wife and I have similar jobs, know many of the same people and had heard about each other. She and I had so much fun talking that I was probably the last person to grab dinner from the buffet table.

Beat staying home in my sweats.

Changing Seasons

It was a cold and windy Friday night of Halloween weekend--too cold for October.  I wrapped my jacket tightly around me as Peter and I hurried to our car after a concert. 

On the way, we encountered groups of costumed college students heading to Halloween parties.  Nobody was wearing a coat. Most of the women were wearing very short shorts, and one in particular wore a bustier that revealed a very ample bosom.  Although I am sure Peter enjoyed the scenery, I could only wonder how she could stand to have all that skin bared in the cold.

On Halloween day, the wind was still howling as we took our morning walk around the reservoir near our house.  There were the usual runners whizzing by, all varieties of dogs and their owners getting some exercise, and kids in strollers pushed by young parents. 

Here is the Halloween morning clothing report:  runners in t-shirts and shorts, kids in their strollers wearing t-shirts and long pants, their parents in sweatpants and sweatshirts, most dog walkers lightly clad.

And then there were those of us with gray hair. Heads down, we were stuffed into our parkas like Michelin men. 

Years ago, we didn't mind the cold either.