Tuesday, December 06, 2016

my dog sits on the couch

One of the reasons we have pets is that they're funny. Yesterday, we were having coffee in the living room when we look over and Gus is perched on the edge of the couch. Like a person. He looked a bit nonplussed that we laughed at him. (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence. Nonplussed: surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.)

I think I just saw blue sky and a few snow flakes. That would be a welcome relief from the constant gray we have had. You can hardly tell the difference between day and night. It just gets darker gray.

looming spectre

I just put these words into google because I do that sometimes to find a good image for something I intend to write. I thought I would find...well, you know. A spectre. I swear to God, the first row contained an image of the impending president, agent orange. What kind of algorithm caused that hilarity? (Damn this center alignment.)

I have my six-month oncology check-up this afternoon. I don't get as nervous about them as I used to because they're nice people at the clinic, everything has been fine, so far, and I forget to be nervous until the day. But, there is always the looming spectre. The reminders of people who have been confident and then got caught in the snare. There is the looming spectre. My friend, Mary, whose little yellow bird sits in my kitchen window. Mary was going along just fine until her PET scan lit up like a Christmas tree. Her words. Mary died last week. That shit doesn't go away.

It's cold and windy and gray, but I am putting on my armor and going out into the world. The grocery store on Senior Day and the Oncology Center. What better ways to exercise bravery, my friends.

P.S. Hello to my friend Karen in NJ. Sending love and hugs and sunshine (if we had any to spare!) and light. 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

sunday early

We went to see Hank and Rita last night. On the way home, the sky was spitting icy pellets that threatened to turn to snow. I woke up several times in the night to pull back the curtain, hoping for it, but this morning, it's still brown. Sigh. The forecast for the next ten days is cloudy, partly cloudy, repeat.

I woke up early this morning and watched the 1935 version of Scrooge. Get a load of the guy's pants. Overall, I liked it but I like almost all of the versions of Scrooge. Somehow, in my collection, I am missing the Albert Finney one which is my favorite. Regis just ordered it, and Elf, for me. What would we do without Amazon? Probably a lot less impulse shopping.

I read an article this week about baking as an antidote for gloomy weather. That could explain the double batch of chocolate chip cookies and the two loaves of Amish bread. I have had to dole out a lot of calories this week. They can't say I didn't warn them.

I moved the mostly rotten pumpkins from the front step yesterday because nothing says a festive welcome like a rotten pumpkin and a dirty litter box. The pumpkins went to the compost pile in the back yard where the squirrels have discovered them. The squirrels climb right inside and continue consuming...something. Seeds? Next year, we'll have a bumper crop of pumpkins and peanuts in the neighborhood.

My sort of dour and grumpy gratitude list.

  1.  At least it isn't windy.
  2. I have new slippers so my feet are warm.
  3. I got a surprise check in the mail for $100 yesterday.
  4. The smell of fake balsam is wafting through the air.
  5. I'm taking two seven-year old boys to a holiday festival this afternoon at MSU.

What winter feels like some days.

Friday, December 02, 2016

lights moving in the dark

For a good part of the afternoon, I have been watching my neighbor dutifully drag ladders and tubs of holiday lights around his yard. He balances delicately on the top step of the ladder to string lights from treetop to fence post to shrubbery. It's almost dark now, at 4:40, so I have lost sight of him, but the strings of lights keep moving. I trust he is at the end of the string.

I took a short video of it from my front window before the UPS truck blocked my view, but in the way of electronics, I can only post it from my phone to Facebook. It doesn't seem to want to go anywhere else.

The weatherman said partly sunny today but I didn't see the sun. Not even once. Regis is on his way home from work and I know he will want to take the dog for a walk but I am resistant. Maybe if I just sit here in the chair, with my cup of just poured coffee and my keyboard clicking away, he won't notice.

I had a dream last night that I had developed an inactivity calendar. Each day, I would write something I didn't do. Did not go for a walk. Did not do the dishes. Did not do the laundry. I did a google search this morning, convinced that someone else must have had this idea previously. Nope. I think I could market this to the inert folks of the world.

I'm trying to send an email to a person about the photo club meeting that we tried to attend last night but couldn't because it wasn't where it should have been. The email came back with the message that in order to avoid a deluge of spam, this person requires that I fill out a form to prove I am not a robot. I failed the robot challenge three times before I did a Lewis Black.

Isn't there a better way?

We came home after this ill-fated trip to Mankato, made popcorn, and watched a comedy special with Michael Che. The end.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

34 degrees, wet, and windy

I'm tucked up in my chair, flannel head to toe, warm socks, blanket. Electric fireplace is sending out a nice glow and a bunch of BTUs. My coffee is hot and the tree lights are on. I can hear Regis rummaging around in the other room, getting ready for a walk. In the dark. I think I will pass. Actually, I don't think the wild horses have been invented that could drag me out there this morning.

Woodrow just made his first ascent of the Christmas tree. I think he was trying to make it to the windowsill because he made a turn halfway up and landed there. He doesn't like his world disturbed, I will say that, but we moved his favorite red chair yesterday and he has adjusted. He took a nap in it last night while we watched Star Trek.

I started a paragraph about things that irritate me this morning, but I deleted it. Here is my gratitude list instead.
  1. Great night's sleep. No scary dreams, no long periods of being awake, no sore hips.
  2. Bread baking. I tried an Amish bread recipe last night. Crust is a little tough but it makes great toast. Toast is my universal standard for goodness.
  3. My fake Christmas tree smells like real balsam. The magic of science.
  4. A date with a friend involving coffee and thrift stores. 
The picture at the top is one I took of Woodrow last night with my phone. Somehow, it turned into a little video. The magic of Apple, I suppose. The fire moves and Woody's eyes appear. It's creepy.

I still have a very low tolerance for all things controversial or unpleasant. A very low tolerance for bullshit of all kinds. That's all I will say about that.

I had Regis drag the tree out of the basement yesterday and I went to the store to buy some more lights because that's easier than trying to find and untangle the ones I bought last year. Eventually, I will find them and probably hang those on the tree, too. A guy can't have too many lights this time of year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

nothing says the birth of Jesus like a giant minion

We went into Lowe's yesterday to peruse the Christmas trees. The lobby was filled with these gargantuan air-filled figures. I started to laugh, maniacally. Of course, I have seen these things in yards but that experience is different from being up close and personal... I would fit in one of Mickey's arms. It's a crazy world.

I have ventured carefully back into social media because I missed the recipes and the pictures. I have gotten quite proficient at hiding posts, seeing less from certain pages, unfollowing sites that promote fear and hate, and limiting my experience to things of a more positive nature. It's hard to live in a world where it is impossible to be sarcastic or cynical enough.

I am going to concentrate on gratitude for the rest of 2016. Here is my start:

Today, I am grateful to wake up in a warm house. To turn on the fireplace, to pet my cat lying in my lap. To sip my coffee and watch the birds come to the feeder.

Today, I am grateful for my sweet husband who fills my cup before he sits down. Regis, who takes our dog for a walk two times a day, no matter the weather. Regis, who always makes me laugh. Regis, who took me on an adventure yesterday to shop for a Christmas tree and out for lunch.

Today, I am grateful for my health. I have had health scares in the past but today I am grateful to be able to walk outside as much as I like, I am grateful to be able to work with Gunnar and train with weights to strengthen my back and legs, I am grateful to feel my muscles.

Today, I am grateful for sharing. I am grateful for baking cookies and having kids within walking distance who can come to take them to their families. I am grateful that I can buy lights for my daughter's Christmas tree. I am grateful to be planning outings with all my grandchildren for the holidays.

Even on gloomy days, sunshine comes pouring through and for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

a walk in the woods

Regis and I went for a walk in the woods by they river yesterday. We had an assignment for our photo club to take pictures at a state park, but being the lazy sort, we opted for a county park. Of sorts. There is beauty in our own backyards, my friends.

When Jane was here this summer, she mentioned forest bathing. I found this about it today:

This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

No phones or Facebook in the woods. No politics. Just the peace of wild things. 

by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

drawing the curtain on fall

I woke up this morning to feel a chill in the house. The Nest on the dining room wall, unlike the Nest in the picture, is set at Cooling 64. What the hell does that mean? I have an app on my phone to control it but since I have a new phone, I don't have the password. The front door was wide open, too. Nothing missing...just the maladjusted Nest. Seems like an odd thing for a burglar to do.

I got a good start on cleaning up the detritus of fall yesterday but I felt the urge for a nap about 2 o'clock and I am not one to resist so that was it. I was done.

I noticed on our way out for dinner that a lot of people have holiday lights up already. That sort of goes against my grain. I like to have the turkeys in the basement before Santa makes an appearance. But they are cheerful and they help move me toward a lighter space. It has been dark and gloomy the past week.

I did spend some time last night making a Christmas playlist on Spotify. Since every Christmas album ever made (Think Michael Buble and Lady Gaga.) are on Spotify, it took a while. I lean more toward Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Dean Martin. Old, dead, white guys. Haha.

So, the movies are ready, the music is ready, and the picture frame of holidays past is ready. It's my motivation to draw the curtain on fall. This metaphor might be a tad dramatic for dragging a box of plastic turkeys and pumpkins to my messy basement but whatever works.

I spent some time yesterday looking at used books. My friend, Michele, recommended the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley to me as more light-hearted mysteries. I think I need to get out of the underbelly of Edinborough for a while. When I wake up screaming because bad guys are chasing me, it might be time for a new genre. I found four of them on Thriftbooks for 13 bucks with free shipping.

I have a big pot of turkey stock that I might reduce down and make into soup today. Other than that, I am weary of left-overs. Remnants of autumn. Green bean casserole and cranberries. Blech.