Sunday Sunny Sunday / by Alan Strathman

Sundays often put me in a mood to blog.  Really, though, they put me in a mood to communicate, and blogging is the means to do that. Why do Sundays do this? If you look back you will notice that I have blogged on other Sundays. And in those posts I have probably described why Sundays have this effect on me.  But in a nutshell, I think it's for this reason: Sundays cause me to feel grateful and grateful feelings should always be shared.  My goal everyday is to feel grateful; Sundays I accomplish it.

But before I get into why, let me mention something that a few people have commented on. In these posts I often ramble.  And I do so because for 25 years I wrote and delivered lectures that were prepared and organized and followed an outline I put up often during class.  I never digressed, unless it was to answer a student question. And then I put the outline back up and reminded students where we were. On the question in the end-of-semester teaching evaluations that asked students to rate my use of class time, I always scored high.  In addition to linear teaching, I wrote journal articles and book chapters in which, had I rambled, the editor would have told me to tighten the piece up. So I am enjoying the newfound luxury of rambling. Note, however, that I am always basically oriented around a particular point. It's just that in making that point, sometimes I digress.

Like that.

Anyway, Sundays make me feel grateful.  I will tell you what I did today and, I admit, it won't be entirely obvious why these things made me feel grateful.  But that's the great thing about gratitude. It comes from the little things, that you really only understand when they are your things.

Today I did laundry. Actually I have hit on a new strategy.  I do laundry at night, hang most of the clothes overnight underneath the covered area in my backyard, and then in the morning I hang them in the sun and breeze.  Hanging the clothes overnight doesn't dry them but it "pre-dries" them, so that when I hang them in the sun and breeze it takes no time at all for them to get dry. So I did that. While that was happening I had an experience that was reminiscent of times gone by.

Quite a few times I have had the joy to hike/backpack far enough into the backcountry in places like Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming (on NOLS and Outward Bound courses and on backpacking trips with friends) that I thought I could very well be the first human to ever stand in this spot or to see this view.  This was the experience I had this morning when I pulled my stove away from the wall to clean behind it. Oh, my! I am sure I am the first person to be back there, though joy was not the overriding emotion. When I was mostly finished with that it was time to make lunch.

I had some ground turkey thawing in the fridge and, through the kindness of friends who sent care packages, I had taco seasoning, shells, and salsa. And miracle of miracles, I discovered that one of the bottles on top of my fridge was a 2013 Cabernet.  I drink very little wine here because it is so ridiculously expensive.  The only wine I can afford comes in a box and, as the newly-late Nancy Reagan would appreciate, I just say no to boxed wine.  I have no idea how I got this wine. It could not have been a gift because whenever I have received wine as a gift here it has been so sweet as to make Magen David seem dry.  I think I splurged to buy this bottle to bring to a gathering of PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) and then decided I was bringing enough other things that I could leave the wine at home. Anyway, happy day when I discovered it on my fridge.

On Sundays, here, I tend to cocoon, and not talk to anyone else.  I think each week I am so involved with people (children M-F, and other PCVs on Saturday) that I need a day to myself. Saturdays are typically the most fun days because the 7 other PCVs in my group and I have become a family and thoroughly enjoy getting together. If on Sunday I desperately needed company I could go see Mama Ju (my host mom), or go down to the beach (it is another breathtakingly beautiful day here....we have not had a day this beautiful since,,,yesterday) and have a Piton (Lucian beer) at the Merry Yeti, the beach bar owned by friends, or I could visit Tony and Jan, a British couple who own some guest rooms, that I have become friends with.

Back in the U.S. I did not like Sundays that much because Columbia always seemed so sleepy and so few things were open. Well, first, it is clear that in Columbia many things were open on Sunday; here, absolutely nothing is open. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. But here that's a plus. Because nothing is open, I know I have to make lunch at home. And having no fast food options and very few options of any kind for eating out is largely responsible for the 20 pounds I have lost in the 9 months and 1 day I have been here. And I think the weight loss and general feeling of being less stressed than when I was back home are responsible for the significant drop in my blood pressure.  I have been able to cut back on my BP medication because my blood pressure has dropped so much.

(Daisy and Sammy, two of the dogs I have written about, just stopped by. Both had a little food and Daisy got a lot of petting.  Sammy still has not let me touch her.  She has clearly been abused in the past and is still so self-protective.  Understandable.  But she is getting closer and closer. And I can tell that she wants to be petted, she really does. She just can't yet allow herself to be that trusting.  Soon, I think. )

Earlier I wrote that one of the qualities of gratitude is that it rises from moments that only we, ourselves, can understand.  And I think if you look back over the things that made me feel grateful today you will see some evidence of this point. It is possible that my feelings today, and on most Sundays here, can be summed up by a post my friend Elise made on her Facebook page only a few minutes ago (we are clearly aligned):