taking stock

Here we are, 30 days into daily blogging, and I don’t feel that I’ve posted too much of substance. But that’s okay. I’ve reopened the creative outlet, and perhaps the posts can keep flowing. I still have lots of photos and stories I’ve been wanting to post.

I’ve realized1 that one of the things this blog does for me is to give me motivation to take stock of my thoughts and ideas. (And my photos, actually.) I’ve also realized that I do a lot of taking stock, in general, in reminding myself to appreciate all the wonderful people and things in my life. (And by things, I don’t necessarily mean objects, though I suppose I have things that I am fond of. Books and artwork come to mind, as well as other odds and ends I’ve collected.)

A few months ago (or possibly something like a year ago?), I started using a meditation app to deal with my stress. My favorite guided meditation is a nightly gratitude session, which I often do once I’ve gone to bed. It involves thinking back over the day, whether it was a good day or a bad one, and focusing on the good things, big and small. Because it’s just for me, there’s no pressure to come up with anything new or entertaining, so I am often grateful for the same general list. But that’s okay.

I settled on the post title of “taking stock” earlier in the day, without quite having decided exactly what direction I was going with it. There’s been a fair amount of taking stock of actual things in my life lately as well–as in actual inventories of objects. The various political postcard/letter projects have me doing a lot of counting and organizing of cards and stamps and pens. My work has me inventorying examples once more, though these aren’t so much physical. And at home we’ve been trying to stock up on food and home staples in preparation for potential pandemic-related issues again. (The US is definitely seeing alarming trends.)

This year has definitely seen some challenging times–for my family, for this country, and the whole world. There has been a lot of stress as well as sorrow. (I’ve taken stock of quite a few new gray hairs in the last few months.) But all of this taking stock makes me appreciate the bounty of good fortune that I’ve had, in spite of it all.

This photos doesn’t have a lot to do with what I wrote about, but it does have a bounty of stuffed animals. This was from last December.
Here I am in December of 2017, also with a bounty of stuffed animals. And there is Brodie, hoping that he’ll have the opportunity to bite some of those things. I put these photos here because apparently I don’t like to put up posts without photos.

1And by “realized,” I suppose I mean, “realized again.” Because the very tagline of my blog is “collecting my thoughts, and other things.” So I guess that’s what I had in mind when I started this blog 14 years ago.

Welcome signs

I went on an excursion into Boston today with my mother (visiting from California) and my son. My son has a school project this year for which he is encouraged to visit various historic and culturally significant sites in Massachusetts. We went to the State House (just the outside), hit a few more landmarks on the Freedom Trail, and then headed to the Boston Public Library. Getting out of the T station at Copley, we were greeted by banners at the beautiful Old South Church proclaiming: “Love thy (Muslim) neighbor as thyself.” I was very heartened by this message of love and inclusion, what I see as an overt and beautiful response to the islamophobia that is running rampant among many in this country. (And which is sickeningly encouraged by the President-elect.)


I have been running behind in my enumeration of gratitude, which I had intended to post here daily this month. However, tonight, it is easy for me to say that I am immensely grateful to live in Massachusetts: a state not only rich in history, but which has frequently shown itself to be on the right side of history. While not everyone in the state feels the same way I do, Massachusetts voters by and large choose social progress. And there are many, many people in Massachusetts speaking out loudly for these ideals.

more than half full

My mind, like this glass of water, is more than half full these days. Indeed, it feels close to overflowing. (Unlike the glass in these images.)



Tonight, I am grateful for clean water. It is so easy to take for granted ready access to water that is fit for drinking, as well as for washing. I am lucky to live in a place where water is generally plentiful and clean. Of course, it shouldn’t be about luck. Every human being should have access to something as critical to life and health as safe drinking water.

scientific attraction

My sister and nephews are visiting, and we managed a big excursion into Boston today to go to the Museum of Science. We’ve had a membership for the last few years, and go regularly. In spite of having been there numerous times, there are always new things to notice. (Whether they are new attractions, or just spaces we hadn’t managed to visit yet.)

For my daily(ish) enumeration of gratitude, I offer my gratitude to science.

not out of the woods

Today was a beautiful day, and I managed to spend a bit of time outside in the woods with the kids and puppy. It is good for me to be out in the fresh air, and away from the lure of my laptop, and the constant stream of news. I am still in shock about the election results, still grieving about them, and still worried sick about what this will all mean for the future.


This month, in addition to posting daily, I have been working to take stock of the many things for which I am grateful. While I have successfully managed to post something every day so far this month, there have been a few nights when I have been too tired to come up with a new item. (Or sometimes it’s more that I want to be able to devote more time to write about the things for which I am grateful.) In any case, I skipped the last couple of nights, so I owe 3 items for today.

First, I am grateful for having a life that is so full that it is often a struggle to find time to sit down and take stock. While I often feel overloaded with demands on my time and energy, I recognize that these demands are due to having many good things and good people in my life.

Second, I am grateful that I am stubborn. This stubbornness (or persistence, to use a more positively weighted term) pushes me to keep working on things, keep working through things, and work towards goals.

Third, I am grateful for having clean air to breathe.


These are some photos I took of bittersweet back in September. I first saw the unopened yellow berries, and didn’t actually recognize them. But then I saw the open ones, with their characteristic red berries in the open yellow shell, and realized that they were bittersweet. (I guess that makes it a bittersweet realization.¹)

I’m finding myself too tired tonight to write much. I am barely holding my eyes open. I was going to take a rain check on the gratitude enumeration, but I thought of something bittersweet for which I am grateful. I am grateful to have known amazing people who are now gone, but not forgotten.

¹ Honestly, I did not come into this post intending to make a pun. It’s like they come to me unbidden.

when life gives you lemons

Life has given the world a big fat lemon. I’m not ready to make lemonade yet, but I’m working up to it. Looking for recipes, as it were.

Tonight, I am grateful to the many good people in the world who are continuing to fight for good. When times look dark (and believe me, the prospects of the next administration look bleak), there are still people who inspire me, remind me that I am not alone, and help to keep that little spark of hope going in me.

seeing the forest for the trees

Today, I am grateful for trees. I love them for their beauty, their shade, and shelter they provide to wildlife. I am also rather partial to breathing the air that they add oxygen to. I am very lucky to live in the woods, where I have only to look out the window to see trees. I find it calming to walk in the woods, too.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of trees. (Most of these are near me in Massachusetts, but one photo is from New York.)

information overload

Today I finally decided to delete the Facebook app from my phone. It was using more and more space on my phone, until it was gradually crowding out everything else. It turned out that the version of the app I was using was caching every single thing I was reading. So each article I opened through app was taking up space on the phone. (I was using an older version so as to avoid some privacy issues that people had complained about with the introduction of a separate Facebook messaging app.) In the last few days, I was reading more and more articles, until my phone reached capacity. I couldn’t take new photos without deleting apps. And then I’d run out of space again, and delete more apps. Finally, I decided that I just needed to break from it, and delete the app.

I realize that this is a good allegory, as all the articles I’ve been reading have also been crowding my brain, and I may be effectively deleting other mental applications as I work to process all of the election news. (Of course, I can and do still check Facebook on my laptop, and have continued to read articles and follow links there, but it’s a bit less all-the-time-always-in-my-pocket-always-in-my-face.)

Now I can take photos with my phone again without regularly running out of space. And taking photos is one of the things that brings me enjoyment. I like it that I have a pretty decent camera always in my pocket. (I like taking photos with my big camera, too, but it isn’t generally as handy. Also, the hard drive on my laptop is so full that I can’t import the larger files the camera produces without deleting stuff from my laptop. Sigh.)

The photos in this post are some I took a few weeks ago at our local diner. (A few weeks ago, my phone still had room to take photos, and my head was still full of optimism about the election.)


And on to my daily-ish gratitude. This post reminds me that I am grateful for photography, and the accessibility of digital photography. I love being able to so easily capture moments from my life. And I especially love being able to document the beauty that I see in the details of the world around me.

And since I skipped my enumeration of gratitude yesterday, I will offer a second serving. I am grateful to be alive in this age when so much information is available at our fingertips. While it is a double-edged sword at times like this, which overload us with news and opinion, on the whole the web (or the internet, in all its incarnations and implementations) offers us the power of knowledge.