March 16, 2016: A Good Day

gratitude photo

Have you ever had one of those days when your energy level, your mental attitude, the weather, how what you’ve decided to do with your day and/or what happens to you that day is unusally satisfying, and even what crosses your mind throughout that day all combine to make your entire day seem unusually full and gratifying and almost charmed?

Although I’ve written before about how sometimes I remember to feel grateful for the relatively care-free life I’ve been living since I retired three years ago, the Especially Good Day I enjoyed recently was a particularly excellent example of  how agreeable some of my post-retirement days have been. I’m writing about that day so I can refer back to it on one of those Other Kinds of Days that also happen – to me and to everyone.

The day started out with a suspenseful hop onto the weight scales to see if I’d gained any weight in the two weeks since ending a month-long diet I’d gone on in February. Still holding at 196, so hurray!

[A footnote: I realized this morning that I’d miscalculated how many pounds I’d lost on that diet. Not 22 pounds, but only 14 – which makes more sense, really, as I did not strictly follow the diet, only approximately followed it. Anyway, I’ve corrected my diet-reporting blogpost to reflect the correct math – and the more modest results of ye diet experiment.]

I next checked my iPhone for the day’s weather prediction, and was pleased to find that (a) it would be warm enough to take my motor scooter to my calligraphy class, and (b) it would be sunny enough in the afternoon for me to undertake a bit more pre-spring gardening work.

Because that week was registration week at the nearby senior center where my weekly calligraphy class is conducted, the only people who showed up for class were me and my instructor. That circumstance resulted some interesting conversations about the role calligraphy plays in our respective lives as well as my instructor’s teaching me how to more accurately write the Italic letter p, which – because I’d been going at it incorrectly all these years – I’d long been unhappy with! I also, for the first time, wrote out a lengthy (vs. a short) quotation on some lovely parchment-like paper that I’d bought a few weeks ago from a local paper dealer my instructor had told me how to find. Once I was finished writing out the quotation, I could actually see that I have, in fact, improved my skill at (Italic) calligraphy in the two years that I’d been taking my class at the senior center. A gratifying realization!

Scootering from the class to the grocery store, I was able to re-stock some of the items that I’ve incorporated into my food repertoire since the diet – “Jazz” apples, rice milk, oatmeal, etc. – plus, this time, I remembered to ask for my senior discount (something I forget to do half the time I go grocery shopping on Wednesdays!).

After lunch at home (so far in March, I’ve been eating less often in restaurants), I changed into my shorts and short-sleeves and plunged into a back yard task I’ve been wanting to do for at least three years now: refurbishing the flagstone path that circles my tiny garden of potted herbs. This required a lot of kneeling, digging, hacking at weeds, etc. Repaving a short path may seem like a small thing, but for me getting that path to look the way I wanted it was Another Very Gratifying Thing.

Coming inside for a break, I made two phone calls that made me feel even better. The first call was to set up a trip-planning session with one of the six friends I’ll be traveling to Ireland with this coming fall. The other call was to the Atlanta Water Gardens, to arrange for one of their staff to come out and get my patio fountain working again. As anything even marginally related to eventually traveling abroad again or being able to better enjoy my tiny garden makes me smile, these two phone calls were calls I was happy to make.

The day was also special because I was looking forward to something I’d planned the previous week: another urban hike with a group of gay men whose organization I had joined a couple of years ago. That evening’s hike was from one end of the eastside leg of the Atlanta Beltline to the Carter Presidential Library on the other end, and attending a presentation there by the guy who invented the Beltline, Ryan Gravel.

A major component of how pleasant it was to hike along the Beltline with a group of 20 other gay men in the Wilderness Network of Georgia was the conversation I had that evening with a guy in WNG who I’d never met before. We gabbled the whole way there, something that doesn’t always happen when I always-hesitantly join a large group of people who I barely know.

The Atlanta Beltline is the most exciting thing that’s happened to the infrastructure of Atlanta in my lifetime, and I have always wanted to hear Ryan Gravel speak. Gravel has written a book whose title (Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities) I really like the sound of, and his talk was inspiring. (As is Gravel’s blog, which I only found out about today.) I had also never been inside the so-called “chapel” of the Carter Center, which is a very impressive space – and very large, although it barely accommodated the crowd of fellow Gravel admirers who attended his talk.

Gravel’s talk was actually a staged interview with local public radio station host Valerie Jackson, the wife of onr of Atlanta’s former mayors. My participating in an public event that I could walk to (and could scooter home from), that was sponsored by the librarian at the Carter Center (who was a patron of mine during the nine years I worked at the Ponce Branch Library), that was being hosted by someone from the local public radio station WABE, and that featured one of my local urban heroes made me happy to be there, and proud to be in a city that is supporting a project like the Beltline. It also occurred to me that the bookstore selling Gravel’s book at the Carter Center that evening was another Atlanta amenity I appreciate having neaby: A Capella Books – which I remembered I still have a gift card for, and which I intend to use to buy Gravel’s book!

After the short trip back to my much-beloved neighborhood from the Carter Center in suddenly-chilly-again temperatures, I pulled up to my perfectly-sized (tiny) house, and spent an hour or so in my congenial living room contentedly beginning a book that resonated perfectly with Gravel’s thoughtful and sensible approach to urban design. The book, City Life:Urban Expectations in a New World (1995) by Witold Rybczynski, was one I’d long wanted to read because one of my favorite nonfiction authors had written it. I finished reading this engaging and encouraging book yesterday, happy not only with the book, but with the fact that my local library system – my former employer for 30+ years – owns  it, and, had it not owned it, would have obtained it for me free of charge through the U.S. miracle called the Interlibrary Loan System.

Eventually I snuggled into bed, grateful once again that it’s fitted out with thermal sheets, a thermal bedspread, and an electric throw – all comfort-inducing things my sister Gayle has given me over the past few years because she knows how cold-natured I am. This realization led to my thinking some nice thoughts about all the members of my immediate family.

A good way to end an Especially Good Day.

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4 thoughts on “March 16, 2016: A Good Day

  1. Cal, you have provided me with another fascinating story of your journey. I am able to see your stories as you write. What a wonderful and beautiful gift you have and I am so blessed to know you and to be able to share whatever you write. You certainly know how to create a story with minute details. You are the only man I know that can do this. That should tell you what a gifted and loving man you are. Thank you for letting me read from your life.

    1. Pat, you are so generous. Thank you for reading these screeds of mine, and also for your encouragement, as writing for me has never come easy. Reading, yes. Writing? Not at all. So what you’ve said is truly enheartening!

  2. Whew! That day was choc full of things. What a good idea to recognize these great days, and blog or write or journal (or maybe those are all the same thing) about them. I have had the feeling, now and again, that a day went really well and that there were things that I accomplished or experienced that were very satisfying, but I had never recorded my thoughts. One silly question: when you got the advice on calligraphy for the letter “P”, did you practice “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”?

    1. Practicing the P via Mr. Piper and his pickled peppers sounds like a great idea, especially since most of the p’s in that are lower-case ones (my biggest problem – the capital P’s I seem to do OK with). And maybe I’ll address my next envelope headed your way to Pris Pane???

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