Wrapping up 30 days of so much thanks

29 November

Have you ever noticed how green the grass is right before it rains? And even more so during the rain? That’s what I saw all day Friday. Today I’m thankful for the rain that held off every time I went outside and provided just the misty, refreshing air we needed.

30 November

We spent today prepping for Thanksgiving–cleaning, doing errands, making final touches to the menu, and then starting the cooking. Tomorrow, 10 of our closest friends will arrive to celebrate, eat, drink, and reminisce with us. I can’t wait! I’m so thankful for this time of year and all the love we have to share.

30 Days of Thankful? Read on. It’s good for you :)

Sing You Home

I finished this week a book that’s going to stay with me. I wouldn’t say I read obsessively, but I read a lot. Usually about a book a week. This particular week began with Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home, saw a bit of Ian Vasquez’s Mr. Hooligan and is currently finishing with N. H. Kleinbaum’s Dead Poets Society.

The particular one I had to take more time to reflect on is Sing You Home. As someone who tries to read a bit from every genre, I can appreciate a wide variety of styles. It was the story and characters here, above all, that truly touched me though.

Picoult takes her time telling Zoe’s story. It’s a long book, maybe 400 some odd pages, but every page was worth my time. I can’t always say that about an author. I digress… Zoe walks across the pages of the first few chapters as a struggling wife, struggling to have a baby with her husband of ten or so years. After too many miscarriages, still births and heartaches, Zoe’s husband throws in the towel on their marriage. They’re no longer seeing eye to eye and things are falling apart, as often happens when a family loses a child. This is a pivotal moment for Zoe. Divorce is. She’s lost her son and her husband in one fell swoop and somewhere along the while, nearly loses herself.

The next section of the story reveals Zoe’s re-discovery of her values and dreams. She doesn’t need a husband to have a baby. All she needs is a loving home to raise a child within. Along the way, she meets someone new, as happens in so many Picoult novels, but this time it’s different. Zoe finds herself falling for an old acquaintance who has become her confidant when Zoe was at her lowest. They  fall for one another and the story takes another powerful turn because Zoe finds herself in a woman’s arms, Vanessa’s, for the first time in her life. And, for the first time, she really finds herself.

The last section of the novel describes just how hard a woman born to be a mother will fight for her child. During Zoe’s first marriage, she and her husband had a few embryos frozen so that they could continue to try to have children. It hadn’t worked…. for them.  Vanessa could carry her baby though. The overarching conflict arises here when the fertility clinic reminds Zoe that they’ll need her ex-husband, a born-again Catholic, to sign off on the embryo being used. What could be a simple, giving moment turns into a lawsuit broadcast nation-wide with everyone involved biting their nails.

A page turner, for sure, but more than that, Sing You Home, forces the reader to evaluate for him or herself the value of equality, of love, of gender and of sexuality. What truly puts the concepts in perspective is Picoult’s choice to rotate the narrator of each chapter so the reader is able to recognise various individuals’ point of view.

Learn more about the book on Picoult’s website.

And for good merit, as this is my photography blog, here’s a real gem for you to enjoy–an image filled with love and beautiful boys.

A well-earned weekend

After a stressful January and a desire to do anything but focus on the last month of havoc, we had a lovely well-earned weekend. The two best parts?

A tall ship cruise in the Sydney Harbour for dinner and drinks with our closest friends, and… our lovely, ritual weekend coffee date.

Happy February!



A Path Toward Gratitude

We visited this lovely temple on New Year’s Day with some of our closest friends. It’s meant to be a path toward gratitude. It was a lovely walk ending with the ringing of one of the largest bells you’ve ever seen.

On another note, we started a new tradition this year. During the last few months, we wrote a few happy notes down each week. Basically, when something wonderful happened, or even something ordinary and kind, we would write down that memory and place it in a jar on our mantel. Then on New Year’s Eve, we unfolded each note and took turns reading them aloud and reflecting on the past year: where we’ve been, how far we’ve come and the happiness we’ve shared.

Those same notes are now in an envelope, marked with the year, on our book shelf as a token to the past and future. This too has been a path to gratitude.

Happiness Herein

Great news!

For those who haven’t heard, at least.

We just got back from a wonderful long weekend camping along the southern shore (photos to come) and I returned to two particularly happy emails:

1) Our family dog (back in the States) has finally perked up health-wise. She’s nearly 13 years in age and has been struggling lately, but she is now on antibiotics and happily gaining some strength back.

2) A recent photo of mine won a photography contest! Read the announcement here. This is the photo I entered that won $100. The theme for the contest was “happiness”.

Happy new year!