Gratitude in the Year 2020

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!  Thanksgiving is always a time of reflection and giving thanks for those many blessings in my life.  It was definitely a very different and lonely Thanksgiving.  This was the very first time in 32 years of marriage with Dan that we spent it completely alone.  I’m usually the one who cooks the big dinner, it’s something I’ve always loved doing!  Now that I live in Virginia, I invite all my family members to share.  Because of COVID-19, this year everyone decided to play it safe and celebrate in their own households.  Even my Mom didn’t come, which made me sad, as I hate that she was alone.  I hope our future Thanksgivings can be spent together with family and friends. 

This week, I am choosing to write a blog on gratitude for several reasons.  First, it is the topic of the week for my writing group Blogophilia, but most importantly, to recognize that I have many reasons to be grateful for in my life.  Yes – even in one of the most horribly challenging and frustrating years ever!  So without further adieu, here is my Top Ten Gratitude List for 2020:

Exploring Italy in 2019

1.  My husband – Dan is number one on my list for obvious reasons!  He’s the yin to my yang, patient, generous, kind, loving and understanding.  (I could go on.) He puts up with my quirks and anxieties, showers me with love and attention.  He makes me feel like a queen, is a good father to our kids, and we always have a wonderful time together in our adventures.  You give meaning to Plato’s quote: “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” I’m incredibly grateful to have him as my love and life partner.

Vince & Katie in San Diego

2.  My children – Vince and Katie, you are the lights of my life!  I cannot express how deep my unconditional love is for you both.  It has been an honor and a blessing to be your mother.  You have brought me the greatest joys and wonderful memories.  I have loved seeing you grow through the years, and I am so proud that you have both blossomed into beautiful, loving adults (and parents).  Katie, thank you for my sweet granddaughter, adorable sweet Posie Mae who arrived in January!!! This was the absolute BEST THING EVER in 2020, and we found out today the wonderful news that baby # 2 is A BOY!!! WOO HOO!!!  He is who is due in June 2021!!  Vince, I am happily looking forward to your wedding with Natalie next year and future grandbabies! 

Keller Family 1993

3.  Family –  Thank you, Mom, for birthing me and supporting me through all the years with kindness and unconditional love!  Dad and you gave me a wonderful life, and I am incredibly grateful for that.  I was blessed to be born in a huge family, with 2 sisters and 2 brothers, and lots of aunts, uncles, cousins!  My childhood memories are golden, and I hold them close in my heart always.

4.  Cats –  I’m a crazy cat lady, incredibly grateful for the cats that have owned my heart.  First and foremost, my beloved Tommy who died from lymphoma this year…this was the WORST THING about 2020, and it literally broke my heart.  Rudy lifted us up during this difficult time, and now we have added playful Bobby Moonlight as his baby brother.  They met for the first time yesterday, and it was the smoothest cat introduction ever!  They became fast friends, played and chased around the house without even a snarl or hiss!  It lifted my heart to hear their galloping up and down the hallway all day long.  And last but not least, Jordan who left us two years ago… my pretty princess over the rainbow bridge who started my obsession with cats.

5.  Health – I’ve been blessed to have good health, and I hit that scary milestone of 60 this year!  It’s not so bad, and I am extremely grateful to have made it this far without any major illnesses such as high blood pressure, and heart disease, which runs in my family.  I attribute my good health thus far to a lifetime of dedication to exercise.  Well, you could say obsession…. I love running, high impact aerobics, kickboxing, and yoga!    

Me and my Sierra

6.  Music – I’m grateful for music, as it brings me great pleasure and gets me through the tough times.  I always have music on when I’m awake.  It makes working a lot less like work, allows me to pour out my emotions, dance when nobody’s watching, and inspires my writing, as well!  I like just about all kinds of music (except country – sorry not sorry)… from classical to classic rock to pop to electronic to hip hop.  One of my hobbies is music collecting – I have a cache of over 300 vinyl albums, 400 or more CDs and a mp3 library of almost 15,000 songs.  I’m a (very) amateur guitar player and took piano lessons as a child. For me, music evokes memories and emotions, and touches my soul. Thank you for always being there, music.

Hillsborough Winery 2019

7.  Wine – Yes, I know this is one is a real shocker!! Wine, thank you for helping me get through 2020!  Seriously though, I have always been a red wine connoisseur.  It is good for your heart, you know!  I love a good, bold red.  I belong to 4 wineries, one in Napa and three locally.  We have been fortunate to visit the Napa area twice and hope to return, as it was one of the most beautiful and enjoyable trips ever. One of the things Dan and I enjoy doing is hitting a local winery or two on the weekend, sipping some Cabernet, gazing at the beautiful vineyard views and listening to music.  COVID-19 has impacted that experience this year with social distancing and strict protocols, so we cut down on our winery visits this year.  I’m hoping 2021 is better.

8.  Cheese – Yep. I love cheese!  (And it’s a writing prompt.)  I love all kinds of cheese, thanks to one of my first jobs – working retail at a Hickory Farms store.  I got to sample cheeses from all over the world:  Brie, Gouda, Havarti, Gruyere, goats milk cheese, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Parmigiano, Roquefort, Swiss, you name it!  My absolute favorites have always been sharp cheddars like New York and Vermont, Colby, and Muenster cheeses. I should probably cut down on it, but it goes so well with my red wine!

I chase sunsets!! 🙂

9.  Nature –  I love all animals (well….except rats, most snakes and insects like roaches and spiders).  I marvel at the wildlife in Virginia – we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, groudhogs, chipmunks and all kinds of birds that visit our yard frequently.  I am a lover of trees, sunsets, clouds, stars, changing skies, the 4 seasons, the moon, flowers, and bees (excepts wasps).  My love for nature is expressed through my photography, also one of my hobbies.

10.  Poetry –  I’ve been writing poetry since I was 5 years old.  It is my passion, and allows me to express myself in words.  If I’m feeling anxious or experiencing emotions such as grief, anger, joy – I can channel it and use it creatively while relieving any negative stress. I love experimenting in poetry formats such as sonnets (my fav), etherees, pantoums, villanelles, and haiku.  Even with my busy life and career, I make it a point to write one poem per week.  I published my first book of poetry in 2011 called “Shadows of My Father,” a tribute to my Dad after he passed away.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to publish Book #2, if life ever slows down.  

So there you have it!  There are lot of other things that did not make the list that I’m still extremely grateful for:  my home, my job, my car, technology, Virginia, Florida, toilet paper (haha, so 2020). Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, with hopes of a better year in 2021!

Colleen Keller Breuning © 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 38.13 Topic: Gratitude
Hard Bonus (2 points): Incorporate a quote from a Greek philosopher (Plato – “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”)
Easy Bonus (1 Point): Include three types of cheeses (either types or names of cheeses will be accepted) – I listed quite a few!

This week’s pic


1.  Snoopy
2.  Bicycle Race
3.  Autumn
4.  Falling Leaves
5.  Windblown
6.  Thanksgiving
7.  Beagle
8.  Change of Seasons
9.  Happy Dance
10. Basket full of happy

Topic:  Christopher    Pic:  Christine

Bobby Moonlight

Bobby Moonlight

what’s behind the door
hiding underneath the bed
white whiskers and fur

I can see your eyes
like a starry summer night
glowing like the moon

heaven knows I tried
bribing with treats and catnip
you hunker down low

I’ll see you at dawn
my little Bobby Moonlight
until then, sweet dreams

Colleen Keller Breuning © 2020
November 20, 2020

We are doing a foster to adopt with a 5 month old tiger cat named Moonlight.  However, because we prefer “real” names for our cats, we have decided to rename him Bobby (after my uncle). For the time being his full name will be Bobby Moonlight (sounds like a rock star). Since he’s used to being called Moonlight, we want him to recognize his name for now until he gets used to Bobby.   Of course, we always have multiple nicknames for our cats so he’ll also be called Bob, Bobcat, Mr. Moonlight, any other variation we think of…. 😉 

The reason we’re doing a foster to adopt is that because of COVID-19, the adoption process has slowed down and substantially changed. Since we were not able to actually go in person to the foster mom’s home to spend time with him in his environment, they recommended we go this route as a trial. 90% in this situation end up adopting, and that is our intention unless he’s simply not able to adapt. We had been looking at kittens, but they’re in high demand. Seems the older the kitten or cat, the more challenging to get them adopted out. Bobby is technically still a kitten, but he stayed longer in foster because he needed a little more socialization. But the foster mom reports he is loving, enjoys being with other cats and is a purr machine. The fact that he’s a little older than 8-10 weeks may actually make for a better integration with Rudy, since he’s bigger and could stand up to him better than a tiny kitten.

We have put him in a safe bedroom, which is Katie’s old bedroom. We had it all set up with the usual cat things. When he arrived with his foster Mom, I took him directly up there and opened his carrier. He scurried right and and under the bed where he has stayed hidden all day. I’ve spent much of the evening lying on the floor meowing and pretending to be a kitten…. that has elicited the most response and he’s at least come out of the box springs (Rudy’s former hiding place). Overnight he ate, drank and used the litter box, which is a good thing.  Eventually he will get curious and leave his hiding place to check me out. This is totally normal, but I’m dying to be able to see and pet him. It always takes time, and I’m not the most patient person lol.  

In the meantime, Rudy is energized since he knows there’s another cat in the house.  He is keeping watch on the closed up bedroom, and is dying to get in there. When I’m in there he’s sticking his paw under the door.  It’s too early to introduce them, will take days if not a week or more until we allow them to see each other for the first time. We did foster to adopt because of COVID and the fact that Bobby is a little older, which sometimes is hard to integrate. We want to make sure both cats are accepting of each other, but I suspect things will work out okay in the end.

Side note: The above picture is not Bobby, it’s from Flickr. But he does look similar to this, and I’ll post pics when he comes out…

Week 37.13 Topic: What’s Behind the Door?
Hard Bonus (2 points): Use a lyric from the song “Misty Blue” (any version or artist) (“heaven knows I tried”)
Easy Bonus (1 Point): Include a Ray Stevens lyric (“like a starry summer night”)


1.  Super freak
2.  I mustache you a question
3.  Forgot to shave
4.  Black beauty
5.  Porn stache
6.  Beer mustache
7.  Chocolate Stout Beer
8.  Goth Rocks 
9.  Here for the Beer
10.  Chrissie Hynde Look Alike 

Topic:  Christopher  Pic:  Jonathan

The Autumn Storm

The Autumn Storm

Outside the rain clattered,
pounding on my windowpane
as the autumn winds rumbled,
thrashing like a hurricane.

Dread ran deep in the black night,
sharp lightning cut the skies.
Sparking bolts struck the ground,
impervious to my fervent cries.

Hours dragged on in turmoil
until the storm came undone.
Its last chords, a final sonata
in deference to the morning sun.

A prism shone through the clouds,
rich rainbow colors peeking through.
Leaves were scattered on the ground,
jewel tone reflections in the dew.

Crisp periwinkle skies beckoned
as tree limbs stretched, cold and bare.
Blue jays frolicked in the woods,
the scent of hope rising in the air.

Though storms of life may come and go,
I realize how simple it could be
to breathe deep and release my fears,
allowing serenity to wash over me.

Colleen Keller Breuning © 2020
November 14, 2020

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 36.13 Topic: The Final Sonata
Hard Bonus (2 points): Incorporate a quote by Laurie Colwin (“Outside the rain clattered,” “How simple it could be”)
Easy Bonus (1 Point): Include a prism in your blog


This week’s picture

1.    Moonlight sonata
2.   Luna
3.   Blood moon
4.   Man on the moon
5.   Purple haze
6.   Pink moon
7.   Full Moon Madness
8.   Dancing in the Moonlight
9.   Moondance
10. Bad Moon Rising

Topic:  Lissa    Pic:  Christine

Darkness Turns to Dust

Darkness Turns to Dust

I feel the chill of winter blow
As clouds of blasphemy rain low.
Strong beams of steel dissolve to rust
Whenever darkness turns to dust.

The wheels fly off, dark skies portend
The world’s going off the deep end.
Into the realm of lies we’re thrust
Whenever darkness turns to dust.

Feels like I’m circling the drain
In this cruel world of hate and pain.
Unsure of whom or what to trust
Whenever darkness turns to dust.

I feel the chill of winter blow
Whenever darkness turns to dust.

Colleen Keller Breuning © 2020
November 6, 2020

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 35.13 Topic: Off the Deep End 
Hard Bonus (2 points): Use a song lyric from singer Post Malone 
Easy Bonus (1 Point): Include the word “blasphemy”

Post Malone lyrics used:  “Darkness turns to dust,” and “Feels like I’m circling the drain.”

This week’s pic – would love to be there right about now….


1.  Lakeside
2.  Sitting by the dock of the bay
3.  Lake Tahoe
4.  Blue water
5.  Crystal Blue Persuasion
6.  Red Red Wine
7.  Somewhere in Paradise
8.  Raspberry Tea
9.  Mountain View
10.  Serenity

Topic:  Tyler   Pic:  Christine