Sunday, August 30, 2015

the gifts of a fifty-eighth birthday and a peek in the dictionary / gratitude and appreciation / then, cluster flies

Cool and cloudy with a snappy northwest breeze, a spit of rain.

Morning view of the north field ’twixt the cabin and the river.

First successful mouse trapping of the season. (Yes, first thing, dead mouse!)

No, wait, first thing is Josie, all excited, waking up, licking my face.  thump thump thump  (Sometimes I wonder what, exactly, it is, he dreams about.)

Thirty sit-ups, thirty push-ups, touching my toes without bending my knees.

JoBeans and Elsinore! Encore!  thump thump thump

AKA Josie the Ever-Watchful and Elliot the Immensely Well-Fed.

Fun stamps at the post office!

Heartbreak Hotel.

Birthday wishes coming in from near and far.

Picking up ribs, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw from the Lucky 7 restaurant inside the Ojibwa Casino. Because it’s my birthday, I could eat in the restaurant for free, but because it’s my birthday, I want to eat at home while watching the Cubs game.


With a cozy fire.

Big Monday afternoon crowd at Wrigley, wind blowing out, but the game is a pitcher’s duel, a fine one at that. In the end, the Cubs win, bottom of the ninth, two outs, a home run.

go cubs go

A few days later I am wondering about gratitude and appreciation, if there is a difference, and if so, what? I type “gratitude vs. appreciation” into Google’s search box. Oh, the many who wade the waters before me! All sorts of explanations. Let’s see … hmm … a bit of hocus-pocus. Gratitude comes first, I read, appreciation follows. Or no, wait. It’s the other way around? Hard to tell. Perhaps a bit circular. One article dismisses the discussion out-right—it’s just nit-pickin’ words, after all—but then it goes on to use some nit-pickin’ words to explain that, if we must know, appreciation vibrates at a higher level than gratitude. It’s a vibration thing. A vibration calibration thing. Like gratitude is a good vibe, but appreciation is a great vibe. Maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Or something like that. We probably need a few more words to get at the meat of that thing, and there are more words, but I’m vibrating so with the giggles I can’t go on.


Recovered, I go to a higher source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. It’s a big, thick, unwieldy book with a hard red cover, slightly yellowed pages that segue to a modest brown about the edges, and it’s always lounging there against the bookcase, near the sofa. It has those half-moon indentations progressing down its outside edge, marking each succeeding two-letter set of the alphabet.
appreciation – 1. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value. 2. clear perception or recognition, esp. of aesthetic quality. 3. gratitude: They showed their appreciation by giving him a gold watch. …

gratitude – the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.
With that, I do believe, we can appreciate the difference between gratitude and appreciation. It’s a vibration thing.

Anyway, it was a good thing that my birthday was Monday rather than, say, Thursday, because Thursday it warmed up, was sunny, and at 3:33 p.m. the cluster flies launched their first massive attack of the season. You would think I had put out a flashing neon VACANCY sign; that I’d put out a sign saying HIBERNATE HERE! Quiet Warm Corners To Huddle In! FREE Continental Breakfast March 28 Thru April 13! Daily SPIN Class with Sally! The dang flies seeped in through the walls, every pore, just all of a sudden, by the thousands, suddenly there, manic, on my windows, creeping and dancing and bouncing and spinning—this is what they do—in my happy little cabin, the one I am so thankful for, and, usually, most days, appreciate, but it’s hard to appreciate a place vibrating with crazy fly juju. But, with both small vacuums in good working order, ready to go, I did what I do, which is to suck up the flies, and by six or so they were receding, backing off, I reclaimed my territory, and by 7:30 I was fed and washed and catching up with that day’s ballgame while planning a strategy for the next day, which would be, give or take a few, my 21,174th day as this person on this planet. And believe me, if I understood a minute of it, I might tell you about it.