The End of the Blog of Delights

I started this blog a year ago and sort of kept it up. I feel accomplished that I didn’t abandon it, especially on days I was languishing. After all, even Ross Gay didn’t list a delight every day in The Book of Delights.

I think the blog has helped me become more aware of the delights in my life and I won’t abandon looking for them and even writing about them sometimes — most likely on Clutch Cargo Lips.

Delights today included:

  • An email from a book group member whose turn it is to host next month. She chose Aimee Nezhukumatathil‘s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, a book I mentioned early on in this blog and said I thought I’d read it after attending a Zoom “conversation” between Gay and Nezhukumatathil. In a way, my reading will have come full-circle.
  • Walking downstairs after waking up and seeing that Dean had put Happy Birthday by the Beatles on loop on the kitchen Echo device.
  • A delightful email from my son’s delightful future mother-in-law (also my future daughter-in-law’s mother).
  • Texts and messages from friends
  • Discovering that contrary to what I was recently told, my grandparent’s cabin in Chetek is still standing.
  • A visit to downtown Bethesda that, while maybe not delightful was not dreadful
  • Dean’s gift to me: a Notorious RBG bobblehead
  • A delightful visit with Andrew and Alex
  • Discovering that turning 65 is not as bad as it seems

Day 6: The Last (Work) Day

Wrapped up clearing my computer, had one last meeting with an on-going project, returned my computer via FedEx, completed and sent paperwork. Signed my time sheet and approved Susan’s. Done! (delight!) I’d been worried during my trip to and from the FedEx place to return my computer that the feeling I was experiencing (mild anxiety) was what I would feel when I finished my final task and was officially retired, but that was replaced with relief as soon as I signed Susan’s time sheet and logged out of the ICF servers.

Dean and I took a 10 minute “victory lap” (as he called it — it was more like a brisk walk) around the block when I told him, at 2 pm, that I was done. It was very warm, but delightful nonetheless.

Susan (my former direct report) came over for afternoon snacks — she brought a variety of sweets. We had a nice chat. I know she’s anxious about the future without me at work, but she will be fine. We can be friends now (delight!).

Andrew (my son), Alex (his partner) and their former housemate Marissa stopped by for a retirement celebration, arms loaded with champagne (the real stuff), sweets, and gifts. We had a delightful time, masks and all. Alex and Marissa, both Montessori teachers, told us about their first week teaching virtually. I cannot imagine what it is like, especially for Marissa who teaches preschoolers.

I sent a photo of me in my new Kate Bush mask to Clare and she made an Instagram story of it. That delighted me.

Clare’s Instagram Story for this day

Day 5: The Last Thursday

The penultimate day of my working life. I have to say this week is the longest I can remember. It feels a little like purgatory or a sort of no man’s land. Every week usually introduces new projects, but not this one. I’m just wrapping up my existing projects and some and helping transition them to other people.

So many retirement related delights today:

  • Unexpected flowers from work
  • More sweet notes from workmates
  • A truly delightful virtual retirement send-off from a number of colleagues

The final delight of the day was a mushroom pasta recipe I made based on one Jeremy’s wife, Frances, makes. It was delightfully delicious (despite the fact I am not a huge mushroom fan). Frances’ recipe is purely vegetarian and I would have used vegetable stock, but had none so I used chicken stock. Also hers is much more healthy than mine, calling for whole wheat noodles and low-fat cheese, water instead of wine and hardly any oil.

Frances Burgoyne’s Mushroom Tagliatelle (the unhealthy version)

Note that I guessed at the amounts of ingredients below

  • 1 red onion (about 3 inches in diameter)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (all I had were portobello)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 T. olive oil or butter
  • 6 (or more) oz goat cheese (I used Humboldt Fog)
  • 6 oz stock (I used chicken made from a concentrate)
  • Fresh spinach (a couple of handsful)
  • Splash of white wine (red might be okay too)
  • 8 oz tagliatelle or other wide pasta (I made mine from scratch because I have an automatic pasta maker)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Slowly saute onion in oil or butter until soft and nearly caramelized.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant. (be careful not to burn it)
  3. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes, until mushrooms are beginning to soften and stick to the pan.
  4. Throw in generous splash of wine and scrape bottom of pan until browned bits and pieces of onions, garlic and mushrooms are no longer sticking to pan
  5. Add stock and let cook for a few minutes to soften mushrooms
  6. Add half the cheese and stir, turn heat way down and cook until melted and the liquids have melted
  7. Cook pasta according to package or recipe directions
  8. Add pasta to mushroom mixture
  9. Toss in spinach, stir, and cover the pan until the spinach gets wilty
  10. Add more cheese if desired

Day 4: The Last Wednesday

I finished moving files off my computer to my work OneDrive — something I should have been using long before now. There’s not a lot of work left to do, and I am required to work all day Friday. I have two meetings tomorrow, well, actually one meeting (overhead) and one goodbye Zoom-ish meeting.

I find dreaming a delight, unless it is a nightmare, then that is the opposite of a delight. I’ve been dreaming a lot lately about travel; either being somewhere other than here, or being at an airport or on an airplane. Although in my waking dream this morning my cousin, Beth, and I went to prom together, or we were planning on going to prom and were in the middle of prom practice. All of these dreams could have been delights, but Covid-19 influenced all of them. In these dreams I either forgot my mask or people around me were showing symptoms of the virus. So, although these dreams were not quite nightmares, neither were they delights.

I remembered one delightful dream I had exactly 4 years ago, though:

I flew to Illinois when my brother called and told me that the visiting nurse said our mother had only days left to live. I arrived around nine at night and after sitting next to my mother’s rented hospital bed in my brother’s dining room for a few hours, we decided we should move into the living room and try to get some sleep. I slept fitfully at first, hearing the raspy sound of my mother’s breathing, the death rattle. Finally I slept, and dreamed.

In the dream, my mother tried to get out of bed but her pastor (not Pastor Keith, but the one who took over for him) pushed her back onto her bed and enlisted us to help. Mom (now a slender, black-haired teen again) pushed past those of us trying to keep her in the bed and ran to the window, stood on her tiptoes and fluttered her hands behind her. She did this with every window in the room (which was a huge room full of many windows), like a moth to a flame. The pastor was still insisting we put her back into bed. As she passed me I grabbed her and tried to hold her in a tight hug but then she dissolved into hundreds of sparkles of light and I felt a shock of electricity fly up my arms and into my heart. The sparkles of light flew out the nearest window and I briefly woke up and could no longer hear my mother struggling to breathe in the next room.

When I awoke again later, my brother told me Mom was gone, but I already knew it because I saw her spirit become part of the air.

Teenage Patsy in Two Rivers

Day 3: The Last Tuesday

Today was my last Tuesday at ICF. Tuesdays usually are very open, I have no regular meetings. Today, however, I had three meetings. One to record a video about creating accessible PowerPoint templates, one to explain a project to someone taking it over and one to help my direct report with a PDF file. Not too many delights there, except when the video recording session was over, the relief was delightful.

The biggest delight was listening to Ross Gay read his book this blog was influenced by. I have the ebook, hardback and audio book of The Book of Delights. Each has its place, but I think I prefer the audio version since the author reads it himself. When he says “delight” he often says it with a delightful voice.

My new camera (paid for by ICF’s incentive program points) shipped today, according to an email from the incentive program folks. Delight!

Another delight was seeing that Mali commented on my first two posts. Thank you for that Mali.

I made dinner while listening to Ross Gay. Both Dean and I had busy days, the kitchen was a mess, we had no leftovers, neither of us had the foresight to take anything out of the freezer for dinner and Dean had back to back meetings until 7:30, so getting takeout was not a convenient option. So I made packaged mac and cheese* with tuna fish (delight) and a salad.

The final delight of the day was watching a rom-com on my tablet. These are guilty pleasures to me (guilty delights?)

Oh, and that zinnia. Zinnias are easy to grow, constant delights during the summer.

*Most packaged mac and cheese is not a delight, but I discovered Fishski Provisions Hatch Chile Cheddar Mac and Cheese about six months ago and declared it to be the only packaged mac and cheese I would ever buy again. The directions are to only add water, but I add butter and yogurt instead. I also like their grits and I thought I hated grits.

Day 2: The Last Monday

Well, the first Monday for this blog, but today is my last Monday at work. That in itself is an extreme delight — and will continue to be so all day. Mondays are typically slow for me in terms of meetings, so I don’t really dread them, but they are still Mondays and the beginning of a work week.

Today’s featured delight is water, specifically my first sip when I am mildly dehydrated. I tend to wake up 4 to 5 hours after I fell asleep, often this is around 2 am. This morning was one of those 2 am wake-ups. I also tend to not drink enough water during the day so I often wake up parched. This morning was also one of those parched mornings. I poured myself a glass of water and took a sip. To me, that first taste of water at 2 am in the morning (or whenever I wake up), is often the most exquisite taste in the world. Better than a good glass of white wine, better than my favorite cocktail (the Last Word), better than subsequent sips of water at any other time of day.

Have you read The Search for Delicious? It is a children’s illustrated chapter book by Natalie Babbitt about a ruler who is on a quest to find the perfect definition of delicious. His subjects name their favorite foods but soon everyone is arguing with each other about the definition of delicious. I always think of that book when I have my first sip of water at 2 am.

Click here to see how The Search For Delicious ends and what the perfect definition of delicious turns out to be. Eventually everyone agrees, after a drought, the perfect description of delicious is that first sip of water after being thirsty. So someone agrees with me!

Other delights of the day were a ripening fig on our fig tree and a sweet note from a developer at work who learned I was retiring.

I heard you were leaving, Dona. If it’s retirement, it’s well deserved and congratulations! Good for you, bad for us—you will be missed. I’ve really appreciated working with you and the rare level of detail and quality you provide on a constant basis. Thank you so much for your direct contribution to so many project successes, and making it look easy. All the best in your next journey Dona.