Blogging From A to Z... "Z"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For surviving the Monday zoo at work and maintaining my smile, despite the dread of returning to the rat race after a wonderful week of escaping from it all.

2) For my Grandma's delicious zucchini bread recipe.  I love fried zucchini too!

3) For those who are zealous defenders and advocates of people and animals who are neglected or abused.

4) For being born under one of the more "interesting" signs of the Zodiac - Aquarius.  Ok maybe we're just a "bit" weird/eccentric/strange/stubborn... but I've never met one I didn't like! :-)

5) For zippers - they sure beat buttoning  up a long row of buttons; and while we're on the zip topic, I'm thankful for Ziploc storage bags too... so easy for arthritic fingers to handle.

6) For crocheted afghans stitched in a zigzag ripple pattern.  I once made a king-sized one in rainbow colors.  It was bright and beautiful.

7) For living in a zip code that doesn't experience snowstorms in April!! :-)

8) That the predicted zombie apocalypse didn't come to pass last December. Whew, that was a close one ;-)

9) For considering good reasons to complain about my life and finding zero, zip, zilch, nada!

10) For this personal encounter with a friendly zebra at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas.  How many folks can say that a zebra ate from their hand?
 And this, my friends, is "Zee End"...
the final post for the 2013 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge... I did it!

Blogging From A to Z... "Y"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For the fun memories my children have of their young years, I often hear... "remember when" stories that make me smile, realizing that although life was at times very hard, they have happy memories of those years, so something was done right and they grew up to be awesome adults!

2) For balls of soft yarn in bright colors that I can knit or crochet into scarves, afghans and other beautiful items and gifts.  My furkids are great fans of balls of yarn too, and there tends to be a bit of cat fur in every item I stitch with love. :-)

3) For yummy yellowfin tuna sushi!  My daughter introduced me to sushi a few years ago, I probably never would have tried it on my own. I love it! Papa Bear has tried it but relegates it to the realm of "bait" :-)

4) For yesterday, our final day in Savannah, and the two hours before leaving for the airport that we spent making one last enjoyable drive thru the historic residential area of Savannah, savoring the beautiful homes, beautiful park squares, and the heavenly canopy of trees overhead as we drove down the street. It was like the frosting on the cake to a truly wonderful week!

5) For a yearning to return to somewhere that has trees for our "golden years," God willing.  I'm going to be praying about it;  if prayer can move mountains, maybe it can also move people to the land of trees! :-)

6) For a visit to Yellowstone Park years ago, not long after they had the great fire there. It was a sobering experience to see acres and acres of burned black remains of trees standing in a place of such incredible beauty.  It was a powerful lesson in how important it is for everyone to use extreme caution and be good caretakers of the earth. If you've never been to Yellowstone... GO, it's lovely! While there visiting a friend who was at that time involved in hiring for the park, I stayed at a wonderful historic residence in the park, and watched the moon rise over the mountains from a rocking chair on the front porch... breathtakingly beautiful, I remember it still!

7) For yeast rolls and breads... the soft, stretchy feeling of dough being kneaded, the magic of it rising in the pan, the heavenly aroma while it's baking, and the wonderful taste of  bread warm from the oven spread with sweetcream butter!  Have I made you hungry? :-)

8) For no longer living in an environment that included yelling and screaming and irrational behavior which made it a terrifying experience of always walking on eggshells and waiting for the next outburst! God rescued me from that life, it is perhaps the thing I am the most grateful for of all!

9) For the courage to believe that YES I CAN!  YES I can walk away and leave my past behind:  YES I can start a new relationship, move to a new city, and find a new job; and YES I can become the person I am want to be, the person God intended me to be!

10) For yellow... one of my two most favorite colors (the other being purple).  It is the color of sunshine, cheerfulness and optimism.  It is impossible to look at bright yellow flowers and be sad.  Yellow roses are my very favorite roses, here is one from the dozen that Papa Bear sent me at work a couple weeks ago.  All that week their bright yellow beauty made me smile!
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Sunday Coming Down

And so we are home again, after an amazing week in Savannah. It was the kind of vacation one dreams about, everything went off without a hitch, we got to experience great food, wonderful things to see, and spend hours enjoying the company of my son.  We fell in love with Savannah and it's many, many trees; amazing historic homes; the beautiful island just down the road; and true Southern hospitality.  The days actually passed slowly enough for us to savor them, staying up late and sleeping a bit late.  It didn't feel rushed or like we weren't able to fit in the things we most wanted to do.  We totally enjoyed our daytrip to Charleston too, and were surprised by how different the cities felt from each other.  We even managed to photograph some very interesting things in the city cemetery!  We are going to be savoring our photographs and memories for years to come, and would return again in a minute for another stay, for more walks on the beach and thru the many parks squares downtown, to pop into more shops on River Street, to tour more beautiful homes, and to enjoy more fantastic food.  If we had a way to move there permanently, we'd be packing tomorrow.

Our flight arrived back in Midland/Odessa late last evening, after a very bumpy flight thru a thunderstorm coming into Houston.  We were home before midnight, much to the pleasure of four furkids who survived well without us but were mighty happy we returned!  The suitcases are unpacked and stowed away,  the laundry is piled in baskets and waiting, and we sit  quietly contemplating the drab brown scenery outside our windows and returning to the high pressure workweek routine tomorrow.  While it's hard to think about that, and we'd all like to live that fantasy life of never having to work hard for another day, it is our reality, and even in that we are blessed, because we can work, and we have jobs to work at.  We have a cozy little home, and loving children who are doing well, we have furkids that cherish and depend on us, and we have friends who cheered for every happy moment we experienced on this amazing gifted vacation.  It is something we never would have had the opportunity to do if it wasn't for Carrie and McGuffy Ann's incredible generosity. How many people actually give away a trip... or pass it on if they win one?  It's one of those magical things God brings to remind us  just how good life is. 

If someone would have told Josie Two Shoes six years ago that one day she would meet a wonderful man, live a life where she is cherished and cared for, and would get to take amazing vacations to places she has only read about, she would have laughed, and then she would have cried at the pitiful reality of her life at that time.  Take heart people, no matter where your life is at today, it can be something so different and wonderful tomorrow, life hold many surprises and even more blessings.  Today, as I sit here reflecting, looking at my little bag of seashells and sand collected from the beach at Tybee Island, and munching on our last piece of fudge from a River Street shop, I realize how very, incredibly blessed I am!

Blogging From A to Z... "X"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

For this most eXcellent week of vacation!  I thought of a handful of true x-words, but none felt quite right.  This is our last night in Savannah and my heart is filled with gratitude for the wonderful gift given to us by Carrie and McGuffy Ann.  I am eXtremely thankful for the time to relax, the time spent with my awesome son, and the wonderful memories made with my beloved Papa Bear.  I truly love this city, we both do -  it is beautiful, friendly, and easy to find your way around in. There is an endless list of fun and interesting things to do, we barely scratched the surface. 

Our plane departs for home late tomorrow afternoon, and we must say goodbye to tall trees and sandy beaches, ghosts and grand old homes, but we hope to return again some day.  If you've never been to Savannah, add it to your bucket list, you'll be glad you did!  Here's a sunset photo of Tybee Island taken tonight, breathtakingly beautiful isn't it?
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "W"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...
1) For my life-long love affair with words, and particularly written words that give me the means to express the thoughts and feelings rumbling around in my mind.  Writing is my passion!

2) For being the wife of the most wonderful man I've ever known!  I still keep expecting to wake up one day and find it's all been an amazing dream.

3) For this week away from work that has permitted Papa Bear and I to wander Savannah and the surrounding area as we please, to stay up late and sleep until we are rested, make beautiful memories together that will last for the rest of our lives!

4)  For the warm welcome Papa Bear received when he attended a Freemason's Meeting in downtown Savannah last night as a visiting Past Master.  The Lodge meets at this Scottish Rite Temple that was built in 1912.  He loves to visit other lodges when we travel!
5) For our side-trip to Charleston, South Carolina today, and the wonderful carriage ride we took thru Charleston's historic residential area, which included driving by the John Rutledge House Inn where George Washington slept in 1791.  I learned from the tour guide that 150 lb. cannon balls had a range of over five miles, which amazed me!

6) For watching local craftswomen weave beautiful baskets from sweet grass at the City Market in Charleston which has been in existance since 1807. 

7) For the mouth-watering low-country (soul food) dinner we enjoyed at Poogy's Porch in Charleston that included collard greens and smoky Gouda cheese wrapped in chicken breasts which are then lightly battered and fried, whipped potatoes, green beans, and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits!

8) For perfect trip weather, including light sprinkles of rain that cooled off our carriage ride this afternoon, and the downpour that held off until just minutes after we walked the six blocks from the restaurant back to our rental car which was parked by the carriage stables.

9) For the best sipping whiskey ever - Wild Turkey American Honey, served chilled or on the rocks!

10) For this beautiful wood puzzle box I purchased from a vendor at the City Market. It was made from an old cedar mailbox post, and it has another box nested inside...
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "V"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For this amazing week of vacation Savannah is a beautiful city with all kinds of great things to see and do, and we are having a truly wonderful time!

2)  For venturing to fun places... like this BBQ place that bears my husband's name! The food was great, and they loved it when Papa Bear showed them that this really is the name on his driver's license!
3) For viewing things on photographs that are not visible the naked eye.  Last night we arrived at Colonial Park Cemetery at 8 PM, just as they were locking the gates. The cemetery is located in the downtown area of Savannah and one can walk the perimeter outside the iron fence.  We did this, taking several photographs as it grew dark.  The following four photos were taken at the entrance gate just a few moments apart. John and I were standing under the arch for the first three photos.  Note the bright little orb of light to the upper left of the D, and the smaller one below the D. 

  

 In the next photo the bright orb has moved down to the center left of the D and the orb underneath has now moved to under the A.
 In the third photo the bright orb has dropped further to the bottom of the D, and the smaller orb underneath is now under the R.  In the above and below photos you can also see a third tiny orb further down and to the right of the arch. It is also in the first photo but harder to spot.  In each successive photo it has moved a tiny bit down.


In the last photo, no one was standing under the arch and no orbs are to be seen in the photo. We were unable to see them with the naked eye at any time. There were no surfaces around that that could have been reflecting the lights onto the face of the stone.
In the following photo you can see what appears to be many tiny Christmas lights in the trees and bushes on the right, yet there were no lights to be seen with the naked eye other than the two large lamp posts that are easily identifiable on the left and right.
This next photo is by far the most interesting of the ones we took.  If you look closely you will see an area of blue mist on the left that forms almost a triangular shape pointing upward across a tree and it's trunk. ( To the left and right of it you can see two lamps lit on their posts.) The mist leaves a defined line across the tree branches with those outside the area being darker and those inside its perimeter appearing muted or faded. 

In the middle of the mist, against the tree trunk itself, there appears to be the image of a women in colonial dress, with high hair, eyes looking down, and holding what might be a parasol or the spokes of one, over her left shoulder.  All three of us noted the image on the photograph separately, we all see it, though we saw nothing at the cemetery.
So today we had to return to have another look at that same tree trunk, wondering if it might have bark worn off leaving a white area or anything similar to this shape that might account for the image in our picture. In today's sunlight the tree trunk appears solidly dark like all the others, no light-colored shape to be seen!

 You can see another less defined area of blue mist to the upper right of the first one, above the smaller lamp post.  It almost appears to be a smudge, but does not appear on any of the other photos taken with the same phone camera.  My husband noted that there also appears to be a bluish mist along the ground by the headstone and tree trunk on the right.  (The areas of brighter blue up in the trees is sky peeking through).

I will leave you to decide for yourself if you can see the image of the lady or not, I'm not here to prove or disprove it's existence, or that of the many light orbs. I do know that we did not see them with our eyes, they only appeared on our digital phone camera. There are colonial era soldiers and families buried in the nearby crypts and beneath the headstones in that area but the headstones immediately around this image were too worn to read when we returned to check out the site today.

4) For the three wonderful days we got to spend visiting with  my son.  He had to head back home to Nashville tonight since he has to be back at work tomorrow.  We had such a fantastic time together, and made many good memories that will keep us smiling for years to come.  I am so very proud of this capable, caring, handsome, marshmallow-hearted son of mine.  It was very hard to say goodbye, I miss him already.
 
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "U"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1) For a week of unscheduled time.. no alarm clocks, not time clocks, no place where I must be, or things I must do other than exactly what sounds pleasing and fun, on my own time, in my own way. Ahhh, to live like this everyday, it does wonders for reducing stress!
2) For unexplained sightings during our visit to Colonial Park Cemetery tonight that bear further review and another trip to the cemetery during daylight hours, and then maybe a post of their own. Needless to say, we will be looking at those photos and talking about it for a long time to come!
3) For being unconcerned that this is a short list, because I've spent my time today enjoying life with my husband and my son, being out and about doing fun things until late this evening.  As all bloggers know, life trumps blogging, and I am thankful that I have this opportunity to step away from the computer and spend time with the ones I love!

 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "T"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For precious time spent with my son, talking and teasing, and laughing until my sides hurt.
2) For the trolley tour we took of the historical district today!  I love all the beautiful buildings - the incredibly architecture and the history that is attached. 

3) For the wonderful riverboat tour up and down the Savannah River too!  Sitting up on the third level deck where the view was awesome, while sipping on cold drinks - mine was iced tea, while the guys enjoyed beer.

4) For trees, God bless trees, how I've missed them!  This city is laid out around 24 squares that are little parks filled with trees, thus the downtown area is filled with trees and wide streets and smells fresh and green and is absolutely charming!  Often the tree branches are so thick overhead that is like driving through a green tunnel!

5) For taking a walk on the beach this evening at Hilton Head Island with my wonderful Papa Bear. The pure pleasure of sharing peaceful downtime together  shows so clearly in both of our faces!
6) For my toes in the sand as the tide comes in!
7) For being a happy kind of tired tonight (too tired to think of more t-words), thanks to lots of fresh air, walking, talking and treasured memories in the making!
 
8) For realizing through doing this "Attitude of Gratitude" series for the A-Z Challenge, the amazing number of things I have to be thankful for - I am truly blessed!
 
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "S"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  That I am pretty sure you will indulge me if tonight's post is all about Savannah!  It seems only  too appropriate that we arrived here today, after dreaming about this week for months, and by strange coincidence, the A-Z post I need to prepare for tomorrow morning is "S"!  I plan to  make this post short and sweet because it is late and we are weary travelers.  It's been a long, wonderful day, and I'd like share just a little bit about it!

2) That our airplane flights went off without a hitch; we had smooth sailing all the way,  and the planes took off and landed right on time.  The Savannah airport is the nicest one either of us have ever seen; they even have a beautiful waiting area for folks who are awaiting arrivals. It's also situated in an easy-access area that doesn't require negotiating a maze of signs and roadway to exit. 

3) That the executive hotel suite Carrie booked for us is so perfect! The hotel is beautiful, and our suite is sized more like a mini-apartment.  I could live here indefinitely quite comfortably!   Because we have a suite, my son will be staying with us, so he will not have to spend money for a room, and we will have lots of time to spend together! :-)

4) That my son drove most of the way down from Nashville tonight.  He stopped shortly before midnight to sleep at a hotel in route so that his mother wouldn't fret about him driving tired.  He will join us in Savannah before lunch time tomorrow!  I am so excited since I haven't seen him since October 2011!

5) That my son's sibling - my daughter, called us a short while ago with spectacular news... she put an offer in on a beautiful home in Nashville today, and the buyer has already accepted her offer.  He financing is pre-approved, and it looks like she may be a homeowner by the end of May!  She has come so far, and this is an amazing step in the right direction! I've seen photos of the house, it looks like something from a magazine! I told her the bonus room would make a lovely parents apartment, she laughed!  :-))  Prayers for the smooth and speedy success of this transaction are truly appreciated.  She tends to stress easily, and buying a new home is very stressful!!

6) For beautiful Spanish Moss that is covering all the trees here, it adds so much to Southern charm; and speaking of trees, they are everywhere! You don't realize how much you miss trees until you find yourself  surrounded by them. 
7) For the wonderful smell in the air in Savannah.. it is fresh, and damp, and a little salty from the wind blowing in from the sea, so very different from the dry, dusty air we breathe in West Texas.

8) For the seashore that is less than twenty  miles away, we shall see the seashore tomorrow, I can't wait!  For some reason the sea calls to me, even though I was raised no where near one. In fact it has been over thirty years since I have sunk my toes into the sand of the Atlantic shore!

9) That we saw a sign for a  seafood restaurant, that was only a short distance from our hotel, and turned out to have scrumptious seafood, with which we stuffed  ourselves, having not eaten anything but a few snacks all day!  I had shrimp with cheesy grits and tasso gravy, and I'm hear to tell you that it was to die for!   The authentic Southern Sweet tea  put that pale-faced stuff we get in West Texas to shame!  We had to take our peach cobbler with ice-cream back to the room for a bedtime snack since we were so full from supper!
10) That I have a wonderfully soft bed to sleep in tonight. I am so thankful for this day, it has been the perfect start to our Savannah vacation.  Thank you Lord, for giving me so much to smile about!

 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Finally the time has come!  This morning will find us on one of these headed East toward the coast and a wonderful week of vacation in Savannah, Georgia, a place neither of us has ever been before.
 
We won't be back until late next Saturday night, and of course I had planned to have all the A-Z posts for the coming week ready and scheduled, but most of you know me well enough to be certain that didn't happen.  Thus, I will probably be pecking away at them from the hotel room as I unwind at night.  Please forgive me if posts for the coming week are a bit disorganized, or I miss typos and such, though you are not likely to notice that as being much different from my regular "very polished" posts!  :-)  I am determined to continue with the A-Z Challenge because I'm enjoying it so much.  I'm betting that time to free my mind from work responsibilities will make writing flow much faster.
 
Rest assured that I won't be tied to my computer though, my son is coming down from Nashville to join us there for part of the week, and we have all kinds of fun activities planned!  I haven't seen him in eighteen months, so I can hardly wait!  My daughter wasn't able to join us, and we sure are going to miss her.  Will have to catch up with her later a few months down the road.
 
What I'm looking forward to most is walking on the beach at sunset, hand-in-hand with my Papa Bear and watching the full moon rise over the water.  We're going to take in at least one sunrise too!
 
Please understand that I will probably have very little opportunity to get around to visit your blogs this week, but rest assured that as soon as I'm home and have had a chance to readjust to the rat-race, I'll be stopping by each and every one of your blogs to go back and catch up on what I've missed.  I appreciate your visits, comments and support more than you'll ever know... without you blogging wouldn't be much fun!
 
Please add your prayers to ours for a safe journey and a wonderful new adventure.  I'll have stories to tell and pictures to share when I get home!
 
One more time, I want to express my deepest appreciation and love to McGuffy Ann for passing this wonderful trip on to us, and to Carrie for her great Getaway Giveaway blog contest that made this possible.  Who even does things like this?  Only someone with a heart of  pure gold, and both of these ladies have just that!  It's still hard to believe it's true... but I'd better get my bags packed because it's happening for real!
 
Josie Two Shoes is headed outta Texas... look out Georgia, here she comes! :-)


Blogging From A to Z... "R"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1) For my love of reading, for the ability to read, and for having access to all kinds reading materials at my fingertips!

2) For learning to respect myself enough to remove toxic people from my life.  I am also thankful for understanding that we need to respect other people's right to live and believe differently from us, and to make sure than in exercising our rights we are not over-stepping theirs.

3) For rainbows - I love them!  I once saw two arching across each other directly over my head!  I wrote  a blog post called I Believe in Rainbows which has proven to be one of my most popular posts, based on the number of views.

4) For my jumbo oak rocking chair that Papa Bear got me from Cracker Barrel. It is where I am sitting as I write this and where you will most often find me if I am relaxing at home.  Recently we found another of the same size and bought it for Papa Bear, so we can rock happily side-by-side into our senior years.  I love my rocking chair because it's rigid back gives mine much better support than the curvy reclining sofa.

5) For raspberry jelly, rib-eye steaks, Ramen noodles, rocky road ice-cream, and rhubarb pie!

6) For rain, anytime it comes to West Texas. We are in a drought, and need the moisture badly.  Rain is rare and precious here, and we all rejoice when the sky begins to pour.

7) For the wonderful educational opportunity Red Cloud Indian School provides for Lakota children, and for having twice spent an incredible week with the elementary students and teachers there.

8) For refrigerated air-conditioning.  I often wonder how we managed to live without it years ago.  It is one of the little luxuries in my life that I would be hard-pressed to give up, especially living here in Texas with summer days often being above the 100 degree mark.

9) For the wonderful road trip John and I took to Tennessee in October of 2011.  We got to visit with his daughter in Arkansas and my son and daughter in Nashville. All the trees were decked out in autumn foliage and it was so  incredibly beautiful! I wish we lived there, so does Papa Bear!  I love road trips and this was the first out-of-state one we've shared. I'm looking forward to more in the future!

10) For learning to live my life with no regrets. That doesn't mean that I've never made any mistakes, it's just means I've come to terms with them, accepting them as learning experiences, and have moved on with my life.  Everything I've experienced has made me who I am and I'm good with that.
 
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "Q"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For people who realize that the quality of time spent with family members and friends is important, far more important than the quantity of time spent. Memories don't have time clocks, but they do record the moments that something wonderful was shared.  Just being in the same room or vehicle with someone, or sitting at the same table in a restaurant with your noses stuck in your cellphones and tablets, does not mean you are sharing quality time.

2)  For the awesome quilts that have been given to me.  Not only are they beautiful, but I know that they were designed and stitched with love, so wrapping up in one is like wrapping myself in a giant hug!  Among them is a traditional Lakota star quilt that was given to me by the mother of one of the little boys at Red Cloud Indian School that I became pen-pal friends with. She brought it to the school when I came to visit, and we've been wonderful friends ever since! 

3) For quotations - I have loved inspiring quotations since way back in my high school days, and these days they are accompanied by beautiful illustrations and are shared among friends on Facebook,  as well as being found on Google Image Search for just about any topic you can think of.  You will find them at the bottom of many of my A-Z posts, and they often appear in my regular blog posts too.

4) For Q-tips - clever little things that are just perfect for cleaning small spaces like keyboards with a bit of rubbing alcohol. One of my furkids loves Q-tips and toothpicks, and looks so funny carrying them around in her mouth like prize trophies. We have to be careful not to leave the box of them sitting out or she will happily empty the entire box and distribute them all over the house!

5) For the pair of quail that nest on our land each year.  The momma can be seen later in the season with a row of little chicks following her around the yard; they are so darn cute!  No, I do not let Papa Bear "harvest" our quail for the freezer; we have plenty of food without eating little birds.

6) For questions! Anyone who knows me at all is very much aware of my fondness for questions! It's not that I really mean to be intrusive, its just that I have that insatiable Aquarian curiosity about people and what makes them tick.  I believe that everyone has a story, and I delight in finding out more about every person I come in contact with. I like to get to know the person beneath the surface and the superficial conversation and talk about real things, important things.. questions can lead to that!  I once did a series of blog interviews with willing fellow bloggers and it was really fascinating and fun!

7) For quinoaQuinoa is a small and very nutritious grain that my daughter introduced to me.  It is cooked and eaten much as you would rice; it has a slightly nutty taste, and I think it's really good! If you're not familiar with it, look for it at your grocery store and try some of the recipes available online.

8) For Qwerty on our cellphones, because we all learned to type using Qwerty keyboards, and it is so much easier to text that way than it was on the first cellphones which were in ABC order and left us doing the hunt and peck thing! Do you know why keyboards with keys placed in this order are called Qwerty? :-)

9) For the beautiful quillwork bracelet that one of the young student at Red Cloud Indian School presented to me.  His uncle made it.  Lakota quillwork - made from dyed porcupine quills - is even more beautiful than Lakota beadwork, if possible; the intricate designs amaze me.  Artistic talent runs strong in the Lakota people, the drawings and sketches I've seen students do are incredible!  Check out The Red Cloud Heritage Center Gift Store, you will find some beautiful handmade items for sale!

10) For quiet.  Oh Lord, I am so very thankful for quiet times in my life, when phones aren't ringing, traffic isn't rumbling, tv isn't blaring, music isn't blasting, and people aren't gossiping or complaining!  In moments of absolute quiet I can listen to my own heartbeat and clear my mind.  I spend my Saturday mornings in silence with only the purring of cats and the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard - total bliss!
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "P"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For my beloved Papa Bear who is one of God's very finest creations. In my case, God saved the very best for last when He brought Papa Bear into my life five years ago!

2) For purple, one of my two favorite colors (you'll find out the other one later this month). 

3) For Post-It Notes - One of the coolest little inventions ever!  How would I live without them?  I use three different sizes at work in assorted bright neon colors, and you will find them attached to objects as well as papers all over my work area! :-)

4) For people who understand the value praise and use it to uplift and encourage. One can never give too much sincere praise, people grow so much better with  praise than with being pounded down!

5) For paychecks, a necessity for survival, whether we love it or not. I a truly grateful that both Papa Bear and I have good, stable jobs and are able to bring  home enough money to make it through each month.  I know we are blessed, because there are so many that aren't able to find  jobs or work.

6) For pistachio nuts, peanut butter and pizza... - need I say more? :-)

7) For photographs  that capture the memories of our lives, and for instant cellphone pix that enable us to share fun events, beautiful scenes touching moments, and even reminders of what we need to buy at the store!

8) For my soft, puffy pillow that is such a pleasure to settle into when I crawl wearily into bed.

9) For the incredible Chinese freshwater pearl that a precious friend gave me for my birthday.  It is unique and so very beautiful, something that I will treasure always.

10) For peace of heart and mind, and for peace in my life... at long last!
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 

Blogging From A to Z... "O"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For open-minded people who allow new insights and information to change their point of view, and who display tolerance and understanding toward those who are different from themselves.

2) For the few beautiful times I've been able spend at the ocean shore, and for our upcoming visit just a week away!

3) For oatmeal, Cutie oranges, Double Stuf Oreos, and the delicicious omelettes Papa Bear makes!

4) For having had the opportunity to see Orca Whales intentionally interacting with trainers in the water at Sea World in San Antonio before an unfortunate accident resulted in such performances being banned.

5) For having a nice office of my own, and no longer having to share a small space with three other women as I did at my previous job.

6) For the outpouring of  friendship and encouragement we experience in the blogsphere from people all around the world.  Relationships such as these promote my belief that we are all far more alike than we are different, that we are truly one family, and that we must work together as one world.

7) For seeing the amazing Cirque du Soleil production "O" with my daughter when she took me to Las Vegas as a Mother's Day gift one year.

8) For wistful memories of homemade oyster stew that were a Christmas Eve tradition in my family when I was growing up.

9) For the obstacles I have overcome in life to get me where I am today, including those that were admittedly the result of my own poor choices! I am happy to say that my life is ok now! :-)

10) For old-time photographs that are such fun, like this one made of Papa Bear and me when we were vacationing in New Mexico.  This handsome, smiling sheriff wouldn't really arrest a sweet little ol' lady like me, would he?
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "N"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For people who are comfortable being natural and feel no need to put on airs or go to extremes to modify their appearance just to get noticed or in a sad attempt to look much younger than they are.

2) For noon hour which I use most workdays to catch up on email, blogging and commenting. I find this much more relaxing than trying to go out for lunch with long lines and little time to get your food, eat, and return to the office by 1 PM.

3) For the truly good nurses like my daughter, that put kindness, compassion, and quality patient care above all else, while working long, exhausting hours on understaffed shifts in very busy hospitals.

4) For my nearest neighbors being long horn cattle in their pens about a half-mile away.  I love living in the country with more "elbow room" than found with houses crammed side-by-side in crowded city subdivisions.

5) For needlework - it is relaxing and fun to create useful and decorative items. Needlework pieces make great gifts too!  I enjoy knitting, crochet, and counted-cross-stitch, and I'd love to take up quilting some day.  My grandmother made beautiful piecework quilts that I can still picture in my memories.

6) For naps - there is nothing nicer than an afternoon nap.  If I am ever able to retire, I plan to take one each day.  I love mornings and evenings, but often find myself tired and sleepy by mid-afternoon.  A brief nap recharges my batteries and makes all the difference in my attitude!

7) For the nutty people in my life who keep it interesting! :-)

8) For non-stick pots and pans that ended the much detested chore of scouring stuck-on food from cookware when I was young, this is another one of those great developments we take for granted today.

9) For brightly colored nail polish on my fingers and toes, preferably purple... it makes me smile! :-)

10) For the opportunity to tour King Ludwig II's incredibly beautiful and ornate Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany; it was like stepping back in time and finding yourself in the midst of a fairytale!  I am also very thankful that the mini-bus transporting us up the mountainside to the castle did not fall off the mountain road when it's rear wheel slipped over the edge as the driver pulled onto the narrow shoulder to avoid collision with another mini-bus returning from the castle... that was very scary.
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "M"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For my Mom who always made sure we were taken care of, that we had all we needed, and that we got where we needed to be on time.  She went the extra mile to make holidays and our birthdays special occasions, and she took the time to do the little things that make up my best memories  of her now. How I miss those cookie care packages in the mail!

2) For Mother Teresa, she is my hero - she represented the kind of woman I aspire to be, having lived her life fully in accord with her beliefs, and using her time and her talents to serve others.

3) For men (where would be without them?), and especially for real men, like Papa Bear that take their role seriously and live their lives with integrity, respect, responsibility, humor, and love.

4) For Maine Coon cats, my most favorite cat breed.  They are called "gentle giants" and indeed they are like cuddly teddy bears.   Smokey, Stormy and Emily - furkids that were part of my life in recent years, and little Sophie that we cherish now, all had some degree of Maine Coon parentage that made them beautiful, soft, and sweet!

5) For all the medicines that have not only improved the quality of our lives, but in  many cases are what keeps us alive.  While most of us don't love pill-popping, there is a  need for them, and - used appropriately - medications play an important role.  I am grateful for the lives of those I love who wouldn't be here without medicines!

6) For moss roses, also known as Portulaca, that are small succulent flowering plants with an abundance of brightly colored blossoms.  They thrive in heat and dry conditions.  My maternal grandmother grew them, my mother grew them in her gardens, and now I grow them in big flower boxes of  my own.  I fell in love with moss roses when I was very young, loving their rainbow of colors, and fascinated by the bees that were as drawn to them as I was.

7) For treasured memories that warm my heart, make me smile, and remind me of all the marvelous things I've experienced in my almost sixty years of life!

8) For microwave ovens, I'm not sure how we ever lived without them!  The days of warming things up in a pan or in the oven are long gone.  Microwave ovens also make it  possible to have warm lunches at work!

9) For ME!  Yes, I am so very thankful that I am still here among the living, and that over the course of the last few years I've become more of the person I want to be.  We must learn to love ourselves before we can truly love anyone else.  Celebrate your uniqueness, it's a beautiful thing!

10) For miracles... I believe in miracles, I see them happen every day!
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 

Blogging From A to Z... "L"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For all my young Lakota friends on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Watching them grow up has been amazing; getting to know their families and learn more about their culture first hand, has been the best experience of my life.  Their trust and friendship has been far more a gift to me than anything I have ever given them.  This year many of the children I met when they were in the first grade are seniors and will soon be graduating. I can't wait to see what they do with their lives!

2) For letters... the old fashioned handwritten kind that were read and re-read and became treasured keepsakes. I wish we all took time to send more snail-mail letters nowadays. It is so fun to open your mailbox and find something besides advertising and bills.  I always used to trace my handprint on letters before I sent them off.  One time a friend sent back a tracing of his foot as a response! :-)

3) For autumn leaves in their beautiful array of colors. We don't have many trees here and I really miss fall. I love the crunch of them underfoot, and the smell of them burning in the piles we labored to rake up as children.

4) For lefties, like me, that comprise 10% of the population. There's all kinds of studies online about the way we differ from our right-handed peers.  As a rule we don't live as long, but I think that's because we burn brighter while we live! :-)

5) For Life Flights that have saved countless lives by their ability to provide fast emergency transport to hospitals and trauma centers.  A good friend of mine owes his life to a Life Flight that transported him from a small town in New Mexico to a Large Hospital in Lubbock two weeks ago when he had a heart attack.  Three stents and one long week later, he's back home and doing good, thank you Lord!

6) For lobster my most favorite very special meal!  My fantasy is to enjoy an "all-you-can-eat lobster buffet" just one time before I die!  I know I would eat myself  sick, but one lobster tail always seems to be just a tantalizing tease, making me wish for much more.

7) For my laptop computer.  It seems less exciting now with the advent of tablets and smart phones, but remember when laptops first came out, and what a blessing their portability was compared to big clunky desktop computers?  I still use my laptop along with a small rolling laptop desk for most of my blogging, because the larger keyboard is easier on my old arthritic wrists and fingers.  Do you know anyone besides me who has used  their laptop so much that they have worn the letters off the keys?  I now have to resort to locating most letters from memory. I do fine with that except for punctuation keys. Ugh!

8) For lightning - God's masterpiece of pyrotechnic shows!  Watching lightning branch across the sky at night while soaking in the hot tub is breathtakingly beautiful!  I've also seen lightning strike things such as street lamps, setting off a brilliant display of shooting sparks!

9) For lists, I couldn't live without them! My short-term memory has long since left the building, and were it not for the many notes and lists I make myself each day, I would never be able to remember or accomplish anything.  I love the handy little Notes app on my iPhone - instant lists that are always at your fingertips!  My favorite list at the moment... things to remember to take on our upcoming vacation, so that we don't leave anything important behind! :-)

10) And last but never least, I am so very thankful for LOVE - it is absolutely the most powerful force in the universe....
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "K"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For my niece Kari, she's a child after my own heart. We always joke that there was a mix-up at the hospital and she's supposed to be mine. She has endured some terribly painful things in life, and yet remains strong, kind and caring.  Kari has a heart for all of God's critters and is active in dog rescue.  There is always an extra tail or two at her house in addition to her own furkids. :-)

2)  For random acts of kindness. We all like to be treated kindly, and it takes so little effort.  It's amazing what a little bit of kindness can do to make folks feel better! 

3) For kittens! As far as I'm concerned, there's just nothing cuter than a kitten.  We rescued a mama cat two years ago that gave birth to six adorable kittens They had an entire bedroom to themselves as a nursery/playroom.  Watching them from day one until they were eight weeks old was such fun!  Kittens start out so funny looking with over-sized heads, tiny bodies and tails standing straight up.  Before long their eyes open, their ears pop  up and their noses begin to take shape. They abound in curiosity and playfulness; how I wish they would never grow up!  We kept sisters Tiggy and Gracie from that litter, finding good homes for the mama and the remaining four in  pairs.

4) For sweet kisses from my Papa Bear, and for yummy Hershey's Kisses too!

5) For Kindle software - I have the Kindle app on both my tablet and my iPhone, and I love it, love it!  How wonderful it is to never be without a variety of books and magazines to read!

6)  For Kleenex. Ok, young'uns, don't laugh!  I grew up in a time when dad carried a cloth handkerchief in his back pocket and mom always had a pretty embroidered one in her purse. I also remember the yuck factor of sorting them from the pile of laundry - just thinking of it makes me want to reach for the hand sanitizer!  Now we can't imagine a world without a box of Kleenex tissues handy, and those extra-soft ones with the lotion are so very nice for irritated noses!

7) For  kaftans - my very favorite home attire.  I would wear them to work and everywhere else if I could get away with it.  I love the beauty of the silky fabrics and designs, I love the airy, flowing feeling, and the extreme comfort. I've been wearing kaftans since I was sixteen, in fact I wore one made by Hare Krishna devotees in Denver for my first wedding, along with a wreath of red roses on my head.  I'm wearing one now as I sit here and write.

8) For kiwi, such a delicious fruit, and so pretty when sliced!

9) For having the opportunity to introduce Papa Bear to the magic of Cirque du Soleil when we went to see their show "Ka" while in Las Vegas two years ago.  I knew he would be as entranced by Cirque du Soleil as I was when I first saw their production "O".  I was pleased to discover that "Ka" was every bit as good as "O", and we can't wait to see another!  By the way, ka is a handy word to know when playing Words With Friends.

10) For The Knots Prayer, this is one of my favorite prayers...
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

Blogging From A to Z... "J"

An Attitude of Gratitude 
I AM THANKFUL...

1)  For my pen name, Josie Two Shoes - It fits me, feeling more right than my given name, and it's allowed me a bit of privacy to share more without being dogged by family or coworkers.  Yes, they could find me if they wanted to work at it a bit, but thankfully I have managed to fly under the radar thus far.  My given middle name is Jo, so Josie isn't really that far of a stretch.

2)  For journaling.  In previous years I did more journaling on my blog, sometimes to the extreme, and now I do a little more creative writing, but having this space to share my ups and downs has been the best form of free therapy that exists.  The support and encouragement I've found among fellow bloggers has made all the difference in my life.  You guys are the best! :-)

3)  For jingle bells, love 'em, love 'em!  They are part of the magical childhood memories of Christmases long ago, before the days of digital carols being belted out in stores in October.

4)  For blue jeans - if you grew up in the 60's and 70's this was the dress code of the day, and it has remained so for future generations, but the style and decoration have changed greatly, going from "hip huggers" and "elephant bells" with hand stitched embroidery and patches, to today's skinny jeans that barely cover the wearer's private parts and  have minimal space for the bedazzled designs on their backsides.  A pair of jeans doesn't get really comfortable until they are "broken in", and then they become favorites that you wear until they literally fall apart.

5)  For July 4th, officially known as Independence Day, but most commonly referred to as "The 4th of July".  This is definitely one of the most fun holidays of the year, coinciding with the warm days of summer that are just right for swimming, camping, picnics, parades, rodeos and barbecues, and let's not forget the fireworks... that's the very best part of The 4th of July, no matter what age you are! 

6)  For Jello... don't laugh!  If you were brought up in the Jello generation, your mom knew at least a dozen recipes for a variety of Jello salads and Jello desserts, all of which were part of the expected fare at church potlucks and family gatherings.  Although I haven't made one in years, I still have a few tried and tested recipes that are actually quite good, and to this day I still enjoy slurping my way thru a dish of plain black cherry Jello, even better if it's cut in cubes, kid style. 

7) For jigsaw puzzles - a fun and relaxing diversion for fried brains at the end of a day.  I remember once in my teen years assembling a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle that was nothing but a red circle, entitled something clever like "Little Red Riding Hood".  It was challenging to say the least, but I did it, now I ask myself why.  I much prefer jigsaw puzzles that depict fun cat-related artwork that makes me smile.  Those handy roll-up mats are great too, makes it easy to pick up and put away at the end of a puzzle session.

8) For my junk room.  Why am I thankful for a junk room?  Well, because it's a great place to hide the clutter that I am supposed to be addressing/sorting/organizing/disposing of.  We clean and organize it, then manage to let it fill with clutter again, and since Papa Bear and I both know better, I am going to blame the furkids - I so wish they wouldn't do that!! ;-)

9) For joy.  It is said that we cannot know the true measure of joy without first having experienced the deepest measure of sorrow.  I  agree with that because I have lived it.  I have been in that dark place where one has given  up on life and longs for the release that would come with dying. I look at my life then - and it was not very many years ago, and I look at my life now - so very different and more wonderful than anything  I cold have possibly imagined or thought possible, and my heart sings for joy... I know that God loves me and life is good!

10) For justice.  Mercy and justice are the two wings that must work in balance and harmony for a bird to fly.  I love justice, as much as I cherish mercy.  Although there is no perfect system of justice in our world, it is still the ideal, the goal we reach for.  Justice cannot be for only some, it must be for all.
 
 This post is linked to the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge