Thursday, November 30, 2023

Gratitude a Day part 5



What challenge are you Thankful for?

In 2008 I heard about the challenge to write a rough, sloppy unedited first draft of a novel in thirty days. And I had been writing since I was in second grade so it sounded fun. It kind of was fun, but it also

was exhausting and November always feels stressful to me anyway. I did do the 1,667 words a day to meet their 50,000 word goal, but the struggle to pick it up again and write the next 40,000 words that made it in, sure didn’t start on December First, or after New Years. But forward 15 years. I have finished 4 novels, three picture books and some private collections of letters I’ve written over the last 40 years. I haven’t made a ton of money, but I’ve managed to pay a bill every now and then. Best of all, it’s been fun to give author talks at schools, to speak to book clubs, and to read the books with classrooms of third to fifth grade students. 

National Novel Writing Month. My favorite challenge 

What moment this week are you most grateful for?

My husband’s birthday was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He and I got to talk to family and friends on the phone. Our Granddaughter told him Happy Birthday and my brother sang him a birthday song he heard loud 3,000 miles away. 
Our youngest son and oldest granddaughter came with us for a drive up the coast. We walked on the docks and watched the sun set and the moon rise over a beautiful beach. We ate pizza and ice cream and fudge and played air hockey in the game room. 
We missed a lot of people over this week and the fact so many celebrated his birthday was a good reminder that when we feel alone we really are not. 

What form of expression are you most grateful for?

Every year for 42 years now, I have sat down and thought about the friends and family, far and near, still here, expecting babies, missing from this earth. All of them. And while my current family and friends gather to play boardgames I sit listening to the laughter and write out addresses after having tried to sum up the past year in a letter and single photo card. 

What small thing that you use daily are you most grateful for?

Honestly the one thing that I am always aware is an amazing gift is being able to turn a tap and have running, hot or cold water, clean and safe to drink, abundant enough to fill washing machines and wading pools and take daily baths or showers. 
It’s a luxury my grandmother didn’t have in her house, and one my great grandmother only had via a hand pump and a reservoir on the side of her stove. It’s one I’ve done enough long camping or power outages to know I can live without, but I sure do love living with it.

What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?

Sometimes, in spite of forcing yourself to stop and look at all the negatives in comparison to the good things, when you can see that the scale tips heavily to the side of being blessed, it isn’t enough to keep me from feeling overwhelmed and depressed. It’s hard to keep from the dark thoughts and the fears and loneliness even in a crowd. November is often like that and this one has been especially difficult. So many days when getting up and forcing myself to take a shower is harder than it should be. But music is a lifeline. And my family often leaves sounding stressed, goes to choir and comes back singing and laughing. 
Today the movies did that for us. We went to see the third Trolls movie. The first two were energetic, musical and very positive. This one also served to energize me and I came home happier than I left, singing and teasing Daisy and greeting the dog. Movies are hard for me though, sitting without moving, or standing more than 20 minutes both trigger muscle spasms and pain. The theater was not crowded but still there were plenty of other people, so I held Greg’s hand, gritted my teeth until it felt like they would shatter and screamed silently, kicking my feet around to make my nerves think I was moving. And then the soundtrack would catch me up and carry me, like the pain meds never really do. 

What friend/family member are you grateful for?
Ok, I’m grateful for all my friends and family members, Duh! 

That said, of course it mostly comes back to Greg. I was such an insecure, hopeful girl when I met him. Finally away from the cliques and bullies of Cody Schools but not yet believing or trusting offers of friendship. He was steady and gentle and dependable. He let me freak out and scream, let me cry and swear I hated him, let me repeatedly push him away, without leaving. When I didn’t trust him, he just stayed true and waited for me to realize it. Then when he wanted to introduce me to his family I was terrified. They were 327 miles away, and he was the baby of six kids, and I just knew that going to stay at his parents house when everyone came home would mean they’d all see what a loser I was and then he’d see it too. He, on the other hand, assured me that if he loved me, they’d love me. Well, it wasn’t quite as fast as he assumed, but it was far more instant than I’d expected. His Mom was hesitant but became my other mom and his ten year old nephew leaped into my arms and fell asleep with his head on my lap as we watched movies. Soon I knew that my mom would keep Greg and kick me out if I was stupid enough to break up with him.  I knew this because she told me so in pretty much those exact words. And I haven’t ever stopped being grateful that he entered my life in the Fall of 1981 and is still here. No one makes me happier, or madder or more of any emotion - in short, he is tangled in who I have become because he makes me more me. 

What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Well, Day thirty of this challenge. Without sounding vain, I hope, there are many skills that come easily to me, but while I enjoy them, painting and weaving and drawing and writing, reading and singing, and telling stories, all of them, they are things I’m interested in, until I figure out how they work. But I get to a basic understanding and ability and get interested in something else. It’s like Greg is a singer, a vocal music director. But also can teach band. He isn’t an instrument player really, but he understands how they all work and can tell a student how to improve, but never really took the time to master one. With so many things I can judge if it’s good or Great, but I don’t do the great stuff myself. It took me awhile to realize my particular skill that I love is teaching. I love to find the ways to relate to kids and light their enthusiasm and help them see where they can grow. I love when learning is creative and makes huge messes. I love that kids love me and show me the stuff they can barely contain their enthusiasm for, whether it’s art or snakes, or likely something I have to start learning about to help me teach them. 
I love when one of them leans over and whispers, “you keep me safe.” I can’t always. But I sure try. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Gratitude a day part 4



What touch are you most grateful for?

There are so many types of touches and so many people who are starving for contact. The Covid era and social media haven’t helped ease the loneliness that many of us feel even when surrounded by other people. But I’m not sure I can choose just one to be most grateful for. The first touch between a mother and a child, the last touch on a hand clashed with a dying lived one. A firm hug that neither wants to break off before departing home. A delighted hug when surprised by someone who has been missed. The cool touch in a fevered brow, the comfort of the furry head of a beloved pet nuzzling against you when you are sad. There are so many loved ones, so many remembered moments and each was a precious gift. Wiping a tear, kissing and holding on. I’m grateful for those I have touched and been touched by. 


Who are you thankful for having in your life? 
I’m thankful for everyone who has been in my life. The great ones, the unnoticed and even the Glenn Harris years. 
Looking back so many have added joy, some have added strength and courage, resilience and determination but if they’ve been in my life, there has usually been something worth having that I gained by knowing them. 
Of course I have been amazingly blessed in my family, and my extended family and my chosen family. I’ve also been harassed by some fairly strong enemies, which at the time I thought I’d rather do without, but it’s taught me to love myself when others only see someone worth hating.

What song are you most grateful for?
Impossible Question. 
Because throughout my seasons of life I have always loved music and songs have been there through all my highs and lows, but not just one song. There are a few certain songs though that seem to follow and haunt me all through my life. As early as I can remember my parents played records and the radio and such tv shows as Hee Haw and the Lawrence Welk Show. My Dad sang while he drove and they were often sings with a story and an unfortunate tendency to be stereotypical Indian stories like “Running Bear” and “Kowliga” and “Son, don’t go near the Indians”
Mom danced in the kitchen while doing the dishes. The Twist and my breakfast went together. Then the man I fell for, needed a ride to practice in the evenings for Godspell, and so I answered the ad asking for someone to carpool with. The chemistry major soon realized his energy was recharged by drama and music and became the Mr. Goode most of you know, music teacher extraordinaire.
When I started teaching preschool and had my two boys I fell in love with the music of Bev Bos, Raffi, and Kenny Loggins, and had a blast doing Baby Beluga endlessly.
But one sing, maybe the first song I loved that I didn’t learn from my parents, that I still find myself singing as I drive is the sad, but beautiful and wise, song by Terry Jacks, “Seasons in the sun”

“We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the stars we could reach
We’re just starfish on the beach 

All our lives we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed
 were just seasons out of time

And the wine and the song
Like the seasons
Have all gone”

What story are you most grateful for?
This list already asked what was your favorite book. I guess there is some difference. But my favorite story. Maybe a story I wrote or a movie I saw or a puppet story I tell little kids at Halloween. But the first one I became totally obsessed with was the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I really wanted to meet Aslan and live in the castle on a sea cliff and eat Fruit grown in fertile earth from toffee.  My fifth Grade teacher, Ed Schnackenburg read it to us each day after lunch. I’d put my head down on the desk and see the scenes more vividly than most movies. In fact. Rereading it as an adult I was shocked at how short the books are, how brief the descriptions are to be able to create such vivid images. He was a master at referring to tiny details which evoked entire emotions and scenery.

11/23/23 what Tradition are you grateful for?
For me it is the Christmas tree. That light in the darkness, that gathering focal point for family and friends. That reminder of the past abd hope for the future. That intruder which won’t fit and takes effort and requires a cleaning and decluttering of living spaces. I never want to put it up and then I hang on longer than is acceptable. I love not only mine, not only traditional but seeing others through windows. Seeing ones made of books or crab pots or tires or old laundry. I love having friends invite me around theirs and having them around mine in all my messiness. I love sitting with the chatter of board games being played while I quietly address Christmas cards.


Sunday, November 19, 2023

Gratitude a Day, Part three

What about your body are you thankful for?
Other than simply the fact that it still is here, and had more than one opportunity to give up the ghost, I am very thankful for senses that can still process the sensations and most of all, because I love beauty and lights in the dark, my eyes. They need trifocals now and the skin around them sags and sometimes they are dry or baffle me with the private fireworks display of a visual migraine but they still bring me more joy than sadness. 
What knowledge are you most thankful for?

I’m so very grateful for the ability to read and for the long line of grownups teaching children to live books while teaching them that they are deserving of love by snuggling them close and exploring both ancient texts and the newest tales. Being able to “hear” the thoughts of our ancestors and speak to our future is an amazing thing. Foolish and wise and oh so magical and yet dangerous. There is power in the written word and wanna be dictators are wise to fear it. They can try to “other” people and make us fear and hate each other. But nothing is more unifying than sharing our dreams and hopes and stories. 


What piece of art are you most grateful for? 

It’s more a craft than a real art work, but over the years I have produced hundreds of these silhouettes inside a wreath of hands. My students were mostly preschool through first grade. These were my two year old and three year old the Christmas my Dad was in hospice. And again four years later. I sometimes see one hanging on a door or in a window here in town. I love knowing that years later some of them are still around. 


What touch are you most grateful for?

     There are so many types of touches and so many people who are starving for contact. The Covid era and social media haven’t helped ease the loneliness that many of us feel even when surrounded by other people. But I’m not sure I can choose just one to be most grateful for. The first touch between a mother and a child, the last touch on a hand clashed with a dying lived one. A firm hug that neither wants to break off before departing home. A delighted hug when surprised by someone who has been missed. The cool touch in a fevered brow, the comfort of the furry head of a beloved pet nuzzling against you when you are sad. There are so many loved ones, so many remembered moments and each was a precious gift. Wiping a tear, kissing and holding on. I’m grateful for those I have touched and been touched by. 

Merry Christmas 2023

 Greg and Dixie

2023 Holidays

 Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! 

May you have something to celebrate and someone to love in 2024.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.” – Agnes M. Pahro

Dear Family and Friends, 

So once again, I sit down to write a summary of sorts, to give you a bit of an understanding of the Goode life here in the California Redwoods. I'm not sure where this year has come and gone so quickly from. Looking back there were long stretches where I can barely believe we lived it. Time seems to have rushed up and past me this year without many grand adventures. Again we have lost one of my sisters-in-law. Greg's brother Harv's wife Fran who has been both a generous hostess, and a delightful guest at our home. Her laughter and her temper were both as vibrant as she herself was, and I can't believe she is gone. It happened quite fast, while she was out on a walk in the Black Hills we at one time called Home. I also lost another one of the four cousins of my Mom's who was more like her brothers and my uncles. Roger Slack was always there, at least weekly and usually more often through my entire life from early childhood until I married and moved away, and even then I never doubted the connection. Again I have to say that I can't believe he is gone and I'm only sorry I didn't spend more time appreciating him while he was still around.

But of course there has been more to life than just death and loss. There have been many moments of snuggling granddaughters, and watching my grandson's delight in the simple beauties around us. The new house that Austin and Trisha moved into is a warm, homey place with a garden that they have really gotten to thrive. It's as perfect a place to raise their son and daughter as I could have wished for for them, lots of fruit trees and room for exploring and animals and even a neighbor girl for their daughter to have as a friend. 

We did go on a short trip to the Redding Water Park for my 60th birthday. We drove through the Trinity River area and spend two days just roasting and soaking in Waterworks park in the 105* heat before coming back to our 60* and fog, coastal summer. We had a gnarly forest fire not long after that, triggered by a dry lightning storm, which put the family without power or running water for ten days, and the city on gas powered generators for over a month. It left much of our Smith River canyon and river area scorched. Its a strange patchwork of charred and green areas. Some survived untouched right next to areas where nothing is left. We really owe much to the hard work of fire crews from all over the world.

Greg had those knee replacement surgeries in 2021 and that allowed him to move better. I'm really proud of him because he determined that he wanted to be around to see those grandkids grow up, and he started walking, then biking and swimming and has since lost 100 pounds even. I think it was actually 16 months and 100.4 pounds on the same scale at the Dr. in Medford. 

Emerson has been walking and getting in shape again too. And he had a chance to drive to San Francisco to take his client to a 49ers game. It was a big, exciting victory for the 49ers but his client had an abscessed tooth that ended up making him quite sick, so then Emerson has spent many many days and nights with him in the hospital. His client is almost exactly the same age as my brother Lance, but his handicapping condition is a lot rarer than Down's Syndrome and more severe.

Daisy got a wonderful German Shepherd/malamute female for her 9th birthday. Foxy was a graduate of obedience school at Pelican Bay State Prison, in an inmate run program called Prison Paws. Walking the dog has helped all of us get outdoors more and be healthier. Of course we also have a ton of fur everywhere in our homes and cars and lungs. The only sad thing is Foxy gets car sick. I mean almost instantly. She has been known to vomit three times in a 4 mile drive, so yeah, we walk her and she plays with neighbor dogs and a neighbor pair of pigs that keep coming here to visit. 

I haven't gotten a diagnosis yet. My Neurologist from San Francisco referred me to one closer to home who supposedly was really good at testing the types of muscle issues I have, but she ended up moving and the Dr. I actually saw was a specialist in eye issues in neurology. After he told me I just had abdominal cramps and should drink tonic water, I became so frustrated I gave up on seeing anyone for awhile. But I have still been feeling better since I started being prescribed gabapentin a few months before seeing that idiot it took a few months to help, and the first noticeable side effect was my hair falling out in hands full. But still, I have the muscle spasms and the pain, but I also find my mood, my endurance and ability to participate in life all have improved this year.

Greg and I also indulged in tickets to Three plays at the Ashland Oregon's Shakespeare Festival. Two (Rent and Romeo and Juliet) in the Angus Bowmer theater, and one (the Three Musketeers) in the Elizabethan Theater in Lithia Park. And we got a second set of tickets to Rent given to us by Greg's friend so we went four times to plays. We also went once to see our Niece from Arizona, Remi and her boyfriend, Gabe perform while they were on tour before moving to Nashville. Once we had to cancel tickets to Jurassic Quest Animatronic Dinosaurs, and once reschedule a play because the fire had the canyon Highway closed down for a lot of July and August. 

This month I have actually gotten back into writing my novels. It's been several years since I had the mental focus to write like that. Again I think it is the gabapentin helping, even without a diagnosis. I have been digging into research on Pompeii and Mount St. Helen's and actually enjoying the process again. There were too many family deaths about the same time I started to have the muscle spasms and severe startle reaction, so I can't say for sure whether my brain fog was from the sadness and depression or from actually being a side effect of whatever neurological thing I'm battling, but I just couldn't even read a novel, let alone focus enough to create one from thin air.

What haven't I mentioned? Trisha has been creating absolutely gorgeous beadwork earrings. I don't have pierced ears, but if you do and are curious about what she has for sale, just ask. I don't know where she finds the time and patience to be both an amazing gardener and do such artistry, on top of raising my 5 year old granddaughter and 7 year old grandson. Gavin is non verbal, and smart. He's observant and has an ability to communicate that goes beyond words. Trinity is an eager kindergartener who loves school and has a very firm opinion which she is happy to tell you all about. Each of my grandchildren are very strong personalities unlike each other but I'm so in love with the three of them. 

Much Love,

Dixie and Greg

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” – Eric Sevareid

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Gratitude a Day - part 2

 What Taste are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 10.

     This question stopped my progress on this challenge.  I felt at first that I had already answered it when I answered the question about what smell.  The smell and anticipation leading up to the taste are very much part of the same indulgence and experience in my definition.

     But thinking it over beyond the immediate reaction of Spaghetti.  Home made becomes the required component of almost every option I think of.  The taste of meals shared with family, or cookies baked with grandma, the flavors I wake up longing for are those tied to memories with friends  even when I think of foods that I never tasted until I was grown and away from Wyoming, the ones I love were shared in someone’s home, with friends who welcomed me like family. Lamb and cabbage and steamed bread, in a sesame garlic tahini sauce after being boiled in a hot pot in the middle of the table. Chicken, noodles and pumpernickel bread with chicken Paprikas at my cousin’s house. Blanched peaches in cream with new friends after baked pork chops and rice. Crab in lemony butter caught by my son out in the wintery Pacific.

Food with family becomes a taste for the soul too  

What Holiday are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 11.

     Summer or winter? July or December? Choosing between dark nights walking among twinkling lights and holding the hand of a beloved child. Or. Turquoise water, hot sun and fireworks on the beach. I can’t choose between the 4th of July and my birthday week, or Christmas.

What Texture are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 12.

     Fur, silky, soft, luxurious mink is nice, beaver is incredible but even though I’m against furs as fashion, my childhood was spent among furs, I know the texture of skunk, possum, Fox and bobcat, rabbit and the feeling of porcupine as I delicately pulled the quills for design work on deer skin dresses and moccasins.  My grandfather was a trapper at first, then a trader who bought and sold the hides, Antlers, horns and furs harvested in the greater Yellowstone, Park County Wyoming area.  Now my favorite fur is the fur of a living cat and dog  

What Ability are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 13.

     I can swim, sing, write, paint, tell stories and explore the world but it’s always best when done with a child. I guess that means that my favorite, most treasured ability is the ability to relate to, encourage and love the little’ uns. I love a great day as a teacher more than almost anything else  


What Sight are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 14.

     My favorite sense is the sense of vision  I love photographs and paintings  the interplay of lights and shadows, the emotion evoked by colors.  But most of all I feel alive and small but part of something enormous when I see tiny, twinkling lights. Give me firework displays or Christmas lights, the coals of a campfire or the fireflies over a summer lawn, give me stars and a universe of peace fills my soul.

Which Season are you most grateful for? The challenge for November 15.

     Summer, only summer unless it’s Christmas. But I love spring and its luscious mud puddles and nest building birds. I love fall and the leaves that glow like a fire.  Each season has its own gift, but I’m a school person. So the school calendar has formed my world view and times off of school to be with family are my favorites.