30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/8/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)


Today, I’m grateful to be waking up in a world that is not eternally mired in distrust, hatred, bigotry, violence, racism, misogyny, sexism, or provincialism. All those things are still there in our society, but they’re no longer in the ascendency. I have real hope once again after a full year of stomach-churning disgust and terror. The election results last night in a small way did much to rout the forces of evil. Thanks be to God.

We have a new mayor in Tacoma – a woman of color. A transgendered woman was elected to the legislature in Virginia, defeating the self-proclaimed “homophobe-in-chief.” A progressive Democrat was elected to the Washington State Senate, giving progressives a solid block of three governorships, three senates, and three houses of representatives on the West Coast. Maybe we can begin to turn the tide against the forces who would destroy our beautiful planet with backwards climate thinking, and shrinking of our public lands and monuments.

The battle for the light is not done. We must remain vigilant. We must continue to work for the marginalized of our society. But there once again is a light at the end of the tunnel.



30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/7/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)

Today I’m thankful for my feathered friends that brighten my day as they flutter and flit past my window. Juncos, chickadees, robins, Stellar jays, finches, sparrows, and flickers. They dine at the bird feeder, and bathe in the bird bath (when it’s warm enough). They are a constant joy to me.




At the Gate of the Year

(Many thanks to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for her great workbook that gave me an opportunity to review 2015 and to begin to set intentions for 2016. You can get yours here.)

Everybody seems to be getting into the act of encouraging you to review, release, and resolve. Even The Container Store added their two cents worth.*

Pastor Sarah handed out Star Words in church on Sunday. I got “Listening” and I’m still not sure what to do with it. It found me, so I guess I need to pay attention to it.

In any case, here is my year-end/new year post for 2015/2016.


Major Highlights


Our family came to see us and help celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was wonderful to get to know Ray’s wife and her kid better, and to reconnect with Bill, his wife, and the grandkids.

2015-09-28 16.46.28

We had a wonderful trip across Canada on Via Rail,

2015-10-04 13.41.07

Then cruised from Quebec to New York City on board the Queen Mary II,

2015-10-22 10.19.47

And rode Amtrak back home through the central Rockies in the snow (in October!).

Physical Health

I (for the most part) kept off the weight I lost in 2014. I didn’t pay any attention to my diet while we were travelling and while the kids were here, so I guess I can count it as a win that I am entering 2016 about the same weight as I entered 2015. I’m still able to completely control my diabetes with exercise and diet, and I no longer have to take statins for high cholesterol, so that’s a big win for the year. I am exercising regularly by walking, and sessions on the NuStep (although I need to put strength workouts back into my routine). I have also kept up with Tai Chi a couple of times a week.


A group of us from FTJ walked along the sound at Owen Beach every week on a Friday. It made a nice outing for many of those who wouldn’t otherwise get away from our hilltop.

Mental Health

My faith in God remains strong, and I’m in a very supportive, loving, affirming church environment. I can’t begin to say how much those people mean to me.

I have had a mindfulness practice (I call it Centering Prayer) for quite a while, and this fall I was introduced to Headspace. It is a guided meditation that is helping me be more accepting, generous, loving, and calm. I can highly recommend it.


I have burrowed further into the community where I live. I walk weekly with a group from the church (and then we drink coffee afterwards), so friendships are deepening there. We also have an informal group from Franke Tobey Jones who meet for Happy Hour once a week. During the summer we met at the Gazebo next to our house, but since it got too cold to sit outside comfortably in the evenings, they are coming to my living room.


Big Al and I gave each other a fire pit for Christmas, and have installed it in the Gazebo. We are trying to get the powers that be here at FTJ to enclose the Gazebo with removable Plexiglas panels or something so it is usable year round.

Sadly, several of our friends here passed away this fall. Other people moved on in the community, leaving their duplexes for an easier life in one of the apartments. One of our particular friends also became so disoriented her husband had to relocate her to the memory care unit. All of this is only to be expected in a retirement community, but that doesn’t mean the holes in our hearts are any smaller.


I had a vegetable garden this year,


and I grew green beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers. I tried to grow black-eyed peas, but didn’t have any luck there. I also had two artichoke plants that didn’t get around to bearing artichokes until late in the fall. I hope they will be a little earlier this year, as several never matured because the weather got too cold and wet. I had such a bumper crop that I was able to donate over 100 lbs of food to the food bank. Al and I ate all the tomatoes, squash, and green beans we wanted.

Political Commentary

The horrible evidence of continued racism weighed on my heart this year. I took an on-line discussion class for 6 weeks this summer called Hard Conversations: Racism. It was convicting, and difficult. Another woman from Bethany and I also facilitated an in-person group from the church who read really current blogs about racism, and then discussed them. We also read and discussed “Between the World and Me” by Ta’Nehisi Coates. The problem is really big, and I often despair of finding a solution, particularly with Trump spewing his awful rhetoric nightly on the news.

I rejoice in the legal acceptance of those in the LGBTQ community. Both in the PC(USA) and in the country, they are finally being given the same rights to happiness (and difficulties) in marriage as any one else. I fear for some of the rights and freedoms we have all been given if the election in 2016 goes the wrong way.


I’m bidding a fond farewell to 2015. It was a wonderful year for the most part. I had the joy of anticipation of travel and hosting our family. I saw new things, got to know the people in our lives better, lost some friends to death or illness, and grew in appreciation of this wonderful area of the country between the mountains and the sea. I grew in confidence in leadership in church, increased my exercise, and enjoyed myself immensely.

2015-12-30 13.30.30

RESOLVE (or better yet – INTENTIONS)

  1. Finish losing the weight I need to by eating right (lo-cal, lo-carb, wine only on special occasions) and strength training 3 days a week.
  2. Walk regularly, either alone or with a group, at least 4 days a week for at least 5 miles.
  3. Grow enough vegetables to enjoy and to help supply the food bank.
  4. Travel to see Bill and his family (for Ian’s graduation from High School), but don’t focus solely on that. Take several short trips as well.
    1. To Pacific Beach
    2. To Portland
    3. To Spokane to look for genealogical information
    4. To the San Juan Islands (because we’ve wanted to return and keep saying “We can do that anytime”, but we never do.)
    5. To Victoria, BC
  5. Keep up with Headspace and Tai Chi.

Happy New Year to all of you, gentle readers. I’m will try to keep up better with this blog, because I love all of you!

*NOTE: NOT a paid advertisement, although I do like a lot of the products from The Container Store.

Thirty Days of Thankfulness – 11/26/15

Thanksgiving 1995 (4) Turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce At El Fenix in Louisville Thanksgiving 1995 - Copy Thanksgiving 2000 - Copy Thanksgiving 2005 010 At Maggiano's (4)

Through the years we’ve been married we’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with friends, family, and just us. We’ve also eaten at our house, at other people’s houses, and in restaurants. In all cases, we’ve been truly thankful for everything we had, and for the wonderful life we’ve led. We have been blessed.


I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to update y’all on my current fixation.

I got the landscaping guys to dig me a garden so I could put something pretty to look at across from the windows where Al and I sit all day at our computers. They did, and I’m working on it.

I promise to take some (more) pictures tomorrow and show them to you.

FTJ had a trip to a really big greenhouse/nursery planned for today, but not enough people signed up for it (what’s up with that? – really? – It’s a beautiful 73 deg today, and the sky is a wonderful blue).

(Oh, by the way, the mountain is OUT in all its glory.)

Anyway, Big Al and I drove over to the greenhouse since I couldn’t go on the bus and I spent enough to cover half the national debt, but everything is going to be SOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL.

More tomorrow – with pictures.


Beautiful Weather

We’ve had “typical” PNW (Pacific Northwest) weather the first part of the week. Cloudy, cool (in the 60s), showery with sun breaks. Yesterday, the heavens really opened up a couple of times and we had about an inch of rain.

Today dawned clear and warm, so for lunch, Big Al and I decided to go down by the water.IMG_0465

Simply beautiful – and tasty, too.


74 degrees and a light breeze.

THIS is why we moved here! (Even though I also love the rain.) What I really love is being able to appreciate it because of the contrasts.


The sermon this morning was about gratitude, and how we should view the world through the lens of thankfulness. Apparently the Holy Spirit kicked me in the tushie a week too early, because that was exactly the thought I came up with last week.

I was entranced with the website thxthxthx.com when the preacher showed some of the posts this morning.

Leah Dieterich’s mother always told her to write thank you notes. So she does. To everything. thxthxthx is her daily exercise in gratitude.







Unfortunately, the following note is post on the top of this page (dated in late 2012).

If you miss thxthxthx

Make sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on twitter (links on the right side of this page). I’m still posting all kinds of thx notes there, but will not be updating this site regularly. thx you so much!

I wish I had known about this site when it was active, but I can still go back and read some of the lovely little notes she has written in the past. I hope you, gentle readers, enjoy her gratitude as much as I have.

My Life Right Now

I promised I’d give you a peek at what my life is like here at Franke Tobey Jones.


I take a shower, get dressed, fix my tea, load any leftover dishes or glasses into the dishwasher, eat a breakfast bar, feed the birds, water the flowers, check my email, read all the blogs I’ve received in my RSS reader, check the bank account, do a Curvy puzzle, work a jigsaw puzzle on-line, check Ancestry.com to see if anybody has posted anything interesting about any of the ancestors, check Facebook to see what’s happening, read the New York Times headlines, the Huffington Post shorts, updates from Knitting Paradise (and read the whole article if it interests me). By that time, it’s probably 11:00 or 11:30 and time to think about lunch.

We eat our dinner at noon and each fix our own snack-type suppers – soup, sandwich, fruit and cheese, nachos, etc.


About 5:30 or 6:00, Big Al and I meet in the living room to watch the news and Rachel Maddow. If there’s anything on network or cable that we want to see, we watch that (not often); otherwise, we watch something on Netflix.com. Right now we’re watching the British series, “M-I 5“, and “All Creatures Great and Small.” We usually get one or two episodes a night of each. Followed by the local news, and Jay Leno’s monologue, and finally – to bed.


Bethany Presbyterian Church worships at 10:30 and Sunday School is out for the summer. During most of the rest of the year, Sunday School is at 9:00.

Big Al and I go out to lunch after church, often on the waterfront.


Many Sundays we take a ride after lunch, sometimes through Point Defiance Park, sometime exploring.

Old Growth Forest

Because I probably didn’t get anything from my daily routine done except the shower and the tea and breakfast bar, I spend a couple of hours in the afternoon catching up on my on-line reading. By that time, it’s 4:00 or so, and I go over to the Wellness Center to spend 50 minutes on the recumbent cross trainer (my personal preference for exercise torture). I try to get in three sessions a week of exercise, so Sunday is my make-up day if I’ve been a slug otherwise. If I don’t have to exercise, I spend an hour or so enjoying the porch and reading in my rocking chair.


Every other week I get together with other residents and a genealogist who gives us tips about how to get past the roadblocks in our research and where to find more information. She also helps us with presentation of our research and encourages us to include stories rather than just facts.

Every week, Big Al and I go to the Gamers Club and play bridge or some other game over in the Tobey Jones building. We only stay for an hour, but we enjoy the folks who make up the foursome – a retired federal judge, and a retired school teacher.

Once a month, the chef has a program on nutrition, or some other interesting topic. He also brings goodies to sample. Recently he has talked about protein, the difference between shrimp and prawns, diabetic diets, etc.

I try to fit in my 50 minutes of torture at the Wellness Center on Monday afternoons as well, sometimes before Gamers Club, sometimes, after.

Once a month I have a meeting of the Pierce County Hunger Advocates – part of the Ministerial Alliance.


Big Al and I eat lunch in the Bistro (think Starbucks or local coffee shop) here on campus. They have sandwiches, soup, and salads, and we usually each have a chef salad.

Then, I scurry off to my Tai Chi lesson, while Al finishes his lunch and reads the newspaper.

After Tai Chi, we go over to the Garden Apartments where we play bridge with a foursome we have been playing with ever since we lived there.

Then, it’s back to the Wellness Center for an hour or so of Brain Games. We play word games (like Scattergories) as teams, have paper games to work on, and have some social time. It’s fun, and a way to stretch my mind, and hopefully fend off the on-set of Alzheimer’s a little longer.


Wednesdays are the least structured of my week.

Wednesdays are often the day for trips. So far (since the weather has turned decent this summer), we’ve been to a winery, and the Wildlife Park. There’s a lunch cruise scheduled for next week.

Big Al volunteers at the FISH Food Bank once every six weeks. He also has a luncheon meeting of the state Safety Association in Tukwilla once a month.

I try to get in my 50-minute work out on Wednesday afternoons.

Wednesday is also the day we go to the commissary, about once every 6 weeks.

If you have a birthday or anniversary during the month, you are invited (with your significant other) to a lunch either in the Tobey Jones dining room, or the Lillian Pratt dining room on the last Wednesday of the month.

Often there are interesting programs on Wednesday afternoons, from the Tacoma Historical Society, a gardening expert, or on some other topic. Once a month, we have a program on wines.

Once a quarter, all the independent residents are invited to a dinner, usually on a Wednesday evening. There’s one coming up in a week.


Once a month, the CEO hosts Coffee with the CEO on Thursday mornings. Anyone who wants to can come and ask questions and air grievances. Generally everyone is pretty happy with how everything is going.

On Thursdays at 12:30 I have my second Tai Chi lesson of the week.

There’s also often a program from Senior University on Thursday afternoons.

At 4:00 is the All-Campus Wine and Cheese, where we are invited to lift our glasses and socialize with other residents and the board.


Friday morning at 11:00 I scurry over to Lillian Pratt for the Knitter’s Club. There are 5 or 6 of us who get together and chat while we do some kind of handwork. There’s a retired college president who is learning how to knit to keep his hands and brain busy, as well, and we can ask the others for help if we run into a problem. They always provide us with coffee, tea, and a goodie to stave off starvation until lunch time.

Friday is one of our lunches out. Once a month, the community takes the bus to a local eatery with whoever wants to go. We’ve been to a Japanese place, a Mexican place, an Indian place, an Italian place and a seafood place. If the Lunch Bunch isn’t going, Big Al and I find our own place for a nice lunch out.

The community has Ice Cream on the front porch at Lillian Pratt every Friday afternoon in the summer.

The Garden Apartments have Happy Hour on Friday afternoons. Everybody brings a little snackie-poo, and they provide wine and hard liquor (and soft drinks). We like going because it gives us an opportunity to catch up with the folks from the Garden Apartments.

Once a month, they have “Chef’s Table” that you have to sign up for. Chef Tim plans a specially nice menu and prepares it table-side, while he talks about the ingredients and preparation. It’s limited to 12 people, so it’s a nice opportunity to visit with other residents over a wonderful meal (with unbelievable desserts).


For the most part, Saturday is a day of catch-up. This is my day to work out (so I won’t have to on Sunday afternoon). We also go to the grocery store, hit the garden shop, buy more bird feed, etc.

So that’s what I do all the time. I’m just as busy as if I weren’t retired, but I really love it.