Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tis the Morn of Thanksgiving

And we are here.  That uniquely American tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving.  All around this great country of ours, friends and family are waking up to Thanksgiving morning.

No doubt millions of homes already have the scent of turkeys in the oven or freshly baked pies.  There is a bustle to every one's step today.  It is a day we look forward to every year.  Not only are we blessed with a bounty of tastes and sounds but it is a chance to step away from our normal work lives and just exhale for a few days.  We trade the routines of the Monday through Friday workload for many things that require attention at home.  We work but it is working for ourselves and for our families.  Our efforts benefit both home and heart.

As the years have progressed, I have seen an ever-changing Thanksgiving scene.  Once a child watching the dinning room table for signs of progress and some signal that soon smell would become taste to fending off my own children and answering the never ending question of 'how much longer?".  The scene changes again to traveling to family for this celebratory meal and then again to my own family going their separate ways for Thanksgiving.  And yet, with this change and all the changes before it, Thanksgiving has a way of happening.

I've learned that it matters not with whom you share a meal or conversation on this day.  What is important is that you give Thanks.  Being thankful for the people who have been placed in your life and for the blessings of an abundance of food.  Being thankful that family is still connected to you even when you might not be breaking bread with them this year.  Being thankful that your children are healthy and that you  have enough money to pay your bills.  Being thankful for the big and small things alike.  It all matters in the big scheme of things, doesn't it?

While my family will be away from me this year, I shall not be alone for Thanksgiving.  And this is the part I really wanted to write about today.  Life simply has a way of guiding you in the right directions.  It closes doors and opens windows for you to crawl through and since I don't believe in coincidences, I see it much as walking through an unfamiliar room in the dark.....blindfolded.  You bump into this, change direction and then bump into that.  But in the end, you find your way through, the blindfold comes off and the light is turned on.  Then you see the journey as well as the destination and purpose.

Well, doors closed and windows opened this year.  The ever gracious human spirit that on this day and in this season, finds people reaching out in many directions, gathering up humans souls the way those on that first Thanksgiving gathered the harvest.  On this day, we reach out and find those that might be alone and pull them into our families and groups of friends making the day all the more special.  On this day, we see the best in ourselves as we open our homes to those that need the company or simply to be part of something bigger than a lone plate of food set at an empty table.

While I certainly would not be alone on this day, my small family cluster will be absorbed by another family's cluster creating a hodge podge of shared moments of giving Thanks.  My thoughts will be with my larger family today and while I can't be with them, I will be thinking about that crowded house full of people and laughter and Thanks. Like so many people on this day that are separated from family, I will find comfort in friends.  As the sign over my front door says:  "Friends Are The Family We Find Along The Way."

So to each of you, wherever you are and with whomever you share your day, I wish you a simply fine Thanksgiving.  May your turkey be tender and your pies delightful.  May you have plenty of help in the kitchen and find time for a nap after dinner. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Pashmina

It has been awhile since I posted on my blog.  Don't even ask where they days have gone as each went far too quickly.

Since my last post, we have had an election, changed the time and raced to another holiday season.  The weather has turned cool and darkness comes early these days.  Soon we will be tasting turkey and stringing Christmas lights.  Its a good time of year.  It makes the house feel cozy and warm even when its chilly.  It is indeed the best of atmospheres.

The cool weather has brought me to write about a lovely gift I received from my neighbor.  On one of my many coffee visits to her, I was surprised with a most glorious of gifts.  She handed me my very own Pashmina scarf.  I must admit, I did not know what made this scarf so special aside from the fact it was given by a dear friend.  Here is a purple version of what I received.

The day she gave it to me was damp and chilly.  One of those days that makes it hard to get warm.  I opened the packaging and pulled out a very wide powder blue scarf.  It was light weight to the touch and oh so soft.  As I wrapped the Pashmina around my shoulders, I was surprised at how quickly I warmed.  How could this light weight thin piece of material be warming me on this chilly day?

When I came home, I went to work on learning about this scarf and the material from which it came.  Thank you Wikipedia for some clarification and explanation of what made this scarf so special.

 To my surprise, I learned that my scarf came from mountain goats, specifically pashmina goats. The goat sheds its winter coat every spring. One goat sheds approximately 80-170g (3-6 ounces) of the fiber.

 The tag on the scarf said "made in India".  It appears my scarf came from pashmina goats raised at the higher elevations of the region between India and China.  To survive the freezing environment at 14,000 feet altitude, these goats grow a unique, incredibly soft pashm (inner coat) six times finer than human hair.  Because it is only 14-19 microns in diameter, it cannot be spun by machines, so the wool is hand-woven into cashmere products including shawls, scarves, wraps, throws, stoles etc. for export worldwide.  Pashmina is the name given to it as Iranians came to Kashmir via the routes of Drass Ladakh, and found it very soft and tough in quality.

Pashmina is the Persian (Farsi) word "pashm" meaning soft and silky, so we can compare the Ladakhi pashmina with original Nepali pashmina. Kashmir pashmina has been famous for centuries due to its quality and products like plain pashmina, woven jamawars, embroided pashmina, ladies and gents 6 & 7 yards. It is history that Mogul emperor king Akbar presented a gift of Kashmir jamawar to the Queen of England.  Now I have no idea what jamawars are but I'm sure if they were made of pashmina fibers, they were exceptional.

So now I know from where my scarf originated.  I understand why such a thin piece of material can be so warm and comforting.  From goat to my shoulders, I am grateful of each step and each contribution along the way.

If you do not own a Pashmina scarf, I highly recommend them.  As the chill of Fall and Winter set in, you will be glad you invested in this piece of material.  They can be found online from $6 on up.  Take time to shop around and get the best deal.  There are plenty out there.

Happy Fall Everyone!