Grace Notes #27 (with lots of Photos)

Grace Notes #27 (with lots of Photos)

This is a periodic blog feature I call “grace notes.” It occasionally captures my jottings of incidental gratitude. My hope is that this practice will make me (and you?) more aware of the constant flow of amazing good we are perpetually steeped in, which we are surrounded by all the time. It is here only asking to be noticed and amplified.

So now I am furthering my ongoing goal of appreciating such a continuous, overflowing abundance of random good. I’ve even taken photographs of some of them –mostly with my iPhone– which you can see in this post.

So let’s start this gratitude list with:

  • Our youngest daughter has come home for a while. After three months of working from her apartment by herself, it occurred to her she could work from here part of the summer, get out of the concrete, urban environment and back into nature, get some human contact, and yes, eat my food. After my whole summer (besides work and this blog and getting outside) was cancelled, including two retreats to Maine (and one artist-in-residency), I was feeling the whole summer gaping wide open at me. I was pondering this on our front porch when it occurred to me that this was the first summer I would not have any kids at home. Every summer for the last decade, I’d been storing someone’s dorm stuff in our front hall! No more; they all have jobs and their own apartments. I realized part of what I was feeling was empty nesting, especially since last summer I had the colossal treat of going on a five week camping trip to Newfoundland with our youngest. (I blogged it in real time; check out July 2019 and August 2019 in the sidebar on the computer or down below on a phone, for lots of photos of that grand adventure! So glad it wasn’t planned for this year!) Anyway, I had just identified this feeling, and told my husband about it, when only an hour later, the phone rang. (You can see the Facetime photo of that conversation below.) She wanted to come home! It was an odd feeling driving to get her two states away, when I hadn’t left the neighborhood for months, except a couple trips to Costco! Anyway, it is a delight having her home. We are all working, but see each other for morning walks, meals, and some evening three-way Phase10 playing (I won one, and she’s won two, even though James is still the reigning champion). We’ve starting playing bananagrams again, and have changed the rules to make it harder; our new rules say you can’t go out with any two letter words. (James and I still play cribbage on occasion; you can see a photo of me skunking him below.) All three of us have settled into routines together well, shifting spaces (like the best spot for zoom) as the need dictates. On her time off, our youngest has started removing the volunteer trees from our back glen, and what started out as a service to her Papa, has turned into a multifaceted creative project. She is stripping each 25′ trunk for one (mystery) project, and meanwhile got into making baskets out of the bark (see photo). So far she’s made three. I’m grateful she’s home giving our summer some shape, different from the rest of the year. I’m also grateful she likes us both enough to want to be here (she had to convince her advisor that she actually got along with her parents, so being here wouldn’t interfere with work). I’m grateful for all the little and big things she does to care for us, and that we can be cheerleaders for each other. And I’m so grateful to watch her creativity with the wood that she is playing with– it is joyous to watch her have hours and hours of free, engaging, healthy fun. I’m grateful she is so authentic, and cultivating her curiosities. It is good to see her like her work as well! She actually got gidy with excitement explaining it to her aunt and uncle. I am so grateful for all of it.
  • I’m grateful that social distancing is working as well as it is, and that Black Lives Matters finally has gotten the worldwide attention it so desperately requires.
  • I’m grateful for Huntington State Park and New Pond Farm, which are our two walking places. We almost always go to Huntington, but on those weekend days when it is too busy, we find we have New Pond Farm to ourselves. Weather-wise, it has been a lovely spring and early summer.
  • I’m grateful for my husband’s garden. In the photos you can see his garlic grew up to his elbow; and you can see our daughter harvesting the scapes, which we made into pesto. There are already lots of lettuce and arugula, kohlrabi and herbs. The peaches and raspberries, peppers and beets and tomatoes are coming on. I am the beneficiary of my husband’s aptitude for gardening, as well as all his dedication and hard work out there.
  • We were sorry the robin’s nest in our front tree blew apart, but are grateful they rebuilt and are still resident in our yard. Many lessons of resiliency can be learned from those birds. They didn’t even skip a beat, and just got on remaking their world.
  • I’m grateful for the nice online annual meeting our church had this year. Usually we go to Boston in person, but 1000 people singing the last hymn virtually was something to behold. (The photo below is only one of many screen shots of this, but it is the one we are on.) I’m grateful for all the good the wider church and its members are doing in the world. I am grateful to be among these intelligent, caring, positive, devoted, and prescient people.
  • I’m grateful for some awesome sunsets and sunrises. I’m grateful for all the days with low humidity. I’m grateful for time to watch the fireflies in the yard from our front porch. I’m grateful for hiking boots and sandals. I’m grateful for rhododendrons, delphiniums, and foxglove. I’m grateful for the socially distanced swordfish dinner we had at my sister-in-law’s house on her deck (see blue plate below). I’m grateful for the play of light and shadows across surfaces. I’m grateful for air conditioners on humid days. I’m grateful for our shaded picnic table where we’ll spend a lot of time this summer. I’m grateful for wild lady’s slipper orchids, water lilies, peonies, and amaryllis. I’m grateful for the convenience of texting and the health giving properties of confidential conversations.
  • I’m grateful for my husband’s podcast, The Bible Speaks to You, and its growing reach. I’m grateful he has this outlet (especially when he can’t go to the prison) and that there has been so much positive feedback of it really meeting people’s specific needs.
  • I’m grateful for my several book groups. I am squarely in two, and partially in another two. The people and the conversations are wonderful, and reading together is a great way to get to know people. We look forward to it every time. I’m grateful for this accessible, affordable way to cultivate community. Also, I’m grateful to read things I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
  • I’m grateful for zoom. How would we have done this pandemic without it? I’m grateful for using it for our local church services, book groups, clergy meetings, work calls, and catching up with camp friends I won’t get to see this summer. My husband even had a reunion of his study abroad people from college recently on it. We are using it so much, it is nice whenever we do not need to be on it!
  • I am grateful all our children have jobs they’ve maintained (at home) even in this unusual time. Even though the other two are far away right now, I’m grateful they do not feel that way to me. I’m glad they are doing them in their own authentic ways.
  • I’m grateful for all the recent babies born on both sides of our extended family recently, and for their parents, who have just celebrated their first Mother’s and Father’s Days. All are healthy and happy, and a few have photos below, although we haven’t met them yet. I’m grateful for nieces and nephews, cousins, and siblings too.
  • I’m grateful for Costco, which keeps us in good seafood, fruit, and nuts. I’m grateful for our farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, where I get eggs and veggies. I’m grateful for all the essential laborers that keep the food chain working. Many thanks to each of you.
  • I’m grateful for my dentist’s office that reopened with hazmat suits to clean people’s teeth like mine. I’m grateful to know how to cut my husband’s hair, and to have effortless hair I do myself, so we were unaffected by the grooming aspect of lockdown. I’m grateful for my ability to cook too; we haven’t really been missing restaurants either, and are happy not to be spending that money.
  • I’m grateful for books, both reading and listening to them. I’m grateful to be getting regular quiet time to study spirituality. I’m grateful for all my practice clients, and for my cell phone that makes ever-availableness not feel like a tether. I’m grateful for poems that express both big and tiny ideas. I’m grateful for the time I get to paint, now mostly out on my easel in our driveway. I’m grateful to be painting in oils again, as it is the season, since I only do them outside to avoid fumes. I’m grateful to be growing, progressing, having new ideas, and working on new projects.
  • I’m grateful for you blog readers, that you are here sharing this space with me. I’m also humbly grateful so many of you have donated financially recently to keep this blog possible. I’m grateful for all the communication, pondering, and delight we partake in together here, while we amplify good together. Thank you for being along!

Please share some of your grace notes in the comments below!


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. John gregory 4 years ago

    Life is beautiful. Translates so well in these photographs. I only wish I could produce the colors on a canvas.

  2. Meg Hanson 4 years ago

    Great photos! So nice your daughter can be with you for the summer. Our daughter is also coming home for a couple of weeks. And our son and his girlfriend will be here too, later. So grateful for family.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago

      So true! Glad you’ll have company too!

  3. Lilian Sly 4 years ago

    Polly you are a whiz at living life the way it’s meant to be. I loved your lockdown story. I’m fascinated by all you do!
    We live in Ballito South Africa on the warm Indian Ocean and have also played Banagrams. It’s fun. We so love James’ The Bible Speaks to You. Please tell him we don’t want it to end!

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago

      I will. He loves doing it, so no worries.

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