Category Archives: christmas

Early Christmas gifts

After traveling to Los Angeles to see my brother and returning home yesterday, I have a number of early Christmas gifts to share. In no particular order.

One early gift was a negative Covid test today. I know, I know — perhaps not reliable and maybe I should test again tomorrow, but I’ll take that single pink stripe! Second gift was that our local drug stores’ shelves were well-stocked with the kits.

Another early gift was being bumped up to first class yesterday. Wahoo! A window seat no less. We’re talking Belgian waffles. We’re talking elbow room. I watched a movie and I watched the clouds.

With dismay, we’re watching my husband’s frequent flier miles diminish. For years we floated a balance of about a million miles (I kid you not). But naturally with COVID he hasn’t traveled in roughly two years. It looks like he’ll retire before there’s time to accrue more benefits.

Boo-hoo me, I guess, having to pay for airline tickets like the rest of the world. It’s not just the miles though. As a Global Premium customer you get speedy, white-glove check in (a glass-enclosed cubby at LAX, a dedicated lane at Logan, a private room in Denver). No waiting ever. And then because I don’t have TSA pre-check, one of the clerks walks me over to security and cuts to the top of the line. Again, I kid you not.

After security, one can enjoy the premium lounge which is less crowded than the general areas and also offers free food and coffee. This benefit was especially a gift this week since my brother watches a lot of CNN and all the coverage about omicron induced a mild panic about traveling. JEE-sus!

More early gifts: I got to watch my brother walk! He’s really working hard to become mobile again and it’s within reach. Also, twice he cracked such hilarious jokes I nearly wet myself. No, I will not share.

Got to see my older son and he seems so good. Without prompting, he offered to drive me to the airport at 5:30 in the morning. What a sweetheart!

Coming home is always a gift but yesterday it was amplified and I’m not sure why since the pall cast over Christmas by Covid is worse than last year.

I think I was moved by the comfort of the familiar. I struggled with my brother’s things — the can opener with a weird switch, the non-compliant bathtub drain, overheating hand-beaters, the lack of a secure stool in a tall person’s kitchen, FOUR TV remotes, none of which make sense to me. You get the idea.

K and I snuggled on the couch with Finn, clicked on a fire, ate Indian take out, and watched the finale of Shetland. It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.

December 22, 2020

Learning a new craft means more mess. For needle felting: wool rovings, specialized needles, finger and thumb protections, foam pads to perform stabbing operations on.

But I am having so much fun!

The end of the year brought some formalized goodbyes: to corruption, duplicity, psychopathology, sexism and racism. LIES.

And of course, COVID-19.

And now we must add: and mutations. (Did you hear the one about Ireland? After centuries of oppression, they can finally keep the British out! Ar-ar)

More personally, as I’ve stated elsewhere, I want to spend less time in grievance. And, I want to read more this year. Both feel do-able.

Today: pin wheel cookies and a dog walk at Cutler Park.

Have you ever seen Stevie the Wonder dog on Instagram? He’s adorable. Lives with some nerve disorder that makes walking difficult, but he is famous and beloved and everyone sends him packages. So many videos of him opening packages. Stevie_the_wonderdog

Above, is Finn’s version. Unfortunately what he is dispatching at the outset was a household gift. I thought it was a dog toy. (Oh well! Sorry, MR! He DID enjoy the treat inside!)

(In case you’re wondering about the clumsy links, the updated WP makes selecting text nearly impossible, especially if near a line break or photo. Errr. But on the positive tech-front, K figured out how to download photos from iPhone to Lenovo laptop. It requires a format change on the phone end and takes a LONg time — because along with innovating to a stellar degree, Apple also spends a fair amount of energy crafting intentional ill-ease across platforms — but wait! I hear farting sounds. Is this grievance? The good news is I’ve already deleted 1,000 pictures off my phone).

Speaking of farting, if you haven’t seen this, you’re welcome!

Snow and Mail

A snowy day is a good day to put the kettle on or to make soup. There will be stuffed acorn squash for dinner. I’m thinking rice, pine nuts, and heirloom cranberry beans. Plus cheese!

Can you see K out there? Fluffy snow or no, he was glad to have a snow blower. There is A LOT of snow — at least eighteen inches. Under the snowy plowed roads, hides a skating rink. I fell flat on my ass walking Finn this morning — a real legs out, arms flailing cartoon-style fall. Two men clearing a neighbor’s drive came close — but not too close! — to show their concern. I gave them a thumbs up and continued on.

After a writing class where another contemporary scene set in Boulder spilled onto the page, I made cut outs.

And then noodled.

They’re like paper dolls. They’re reminiscent of Jane Maxwell’s work. But I’m gonna keep going with them until something new arrives.

This mouse — shame on her! — not wearing her mask properly.

Which reminds me — I had such an unpleasant experience at the Highlands post office yesterday — an encounter with a woman who just could not abide by the stickers on the floor. She was so weird about it. There was a glass entry door between her sticker and mine. After pushing past me to grab an envelope that she could have easily grabbed three minutes later when the line moved forward, she propped the door open on her hip, and stood there. Humming. She was three feet from me. It was senseless, aggressive rule-breaking. That’s when I shrieked that she wasn’t wearing a mask and I might’ve called her a fucking bitch. She slunk back and let the door close but couldn’t resist giving me a hostile Queen’s wave later out on the street. That’s when it occurred to me that she might be mentally ill.

Did I mention that covering her lower face was a single layer of some crap polyester organza? Not even a bandana!

Telling K about it later, I had to remind him that the stranger was the aggressive one and not me.

Ah well. Off to try felting up a fox head to go with the pretty orange silk party skirt on my mantel.

PS I meant to make the MAIL story include a delightful ornament gift from Nancy. Got distracted by grievance, I guess.

So let me end with gratitude. How glorious the gift that comes in the mail and surprises you. Thank you Nancy!

Solstice means Sun Standing Still

Wendell Barry’s lines: “make a poem that does not disturb / the silence from which it came,” served as a writing prompt this week. Tall order, that! In fact, those lines would make a useful weekly prompt for the rest of my life (the full Berry poem, below).

SoulCollage : Solstice

Here’s a version of what I wrote on Tuesday.

Even when lids shut, the tissue
aquiver — the scroll of light
rolling on, a form of
damnation.

I want to go through my days,
my nights, like a rib cage.
Each curving spear connected
at a central pole. Sure
in form, sure in purpose,
protecting the two wind
lobes and the single beating
fist — lungs and heart safer
for the bony embrace.

Instead, a vibrato of uncertainty.

How has the non-tactile
flow of damage gained ascendancy
over sinew and nerve,
crowding out all the places
in the body that crave
silence?

One day those ribs will spear
dirt and crumble. Shouldn’t the body
being Hand Maiden to Death wake
us out of stupor now
and then?

Let me eat a cracker
with a smidge of butter.
Let me sweep the steps free of snow
and then sleep under a blanket
that whispers ‘hallelujah.’
Let the sun falling on tabletops
stir gratitude.

The Solstice is here.
Let ‘standing still’ mean something.

Wendell Berry’s poem, “How to Be a Poet,” from “Given:”

Make a place to sit down
Sit down. Be quiet. [ . . .]

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditional air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

So many lines there to use as springboards!

I made my crack of day (not quite dawn) run to Wegman’s. Shallots, greens, prosciutto, corn meal, dill and sage, oranges and oyster mushrooms. Tonight: a Solstice Party at a neighbor’s (see last year’s post on ‘the Irish Goodbye’). I’ll bring an onion tart. Christmas Eve, dinner for eight. Ham, smashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cukes in vinegar. Slight variation on a meal I’ve made many times.

Any nice ideas for dessert?

With the boys and now my niece living so far away (LA, Boulder, San Fran), I’m really looking forward to this.

Happy Solstice to you!
May the richness of the dark touch you, nourish you,
and bring us all forward into the light.

PS I went to see if my first blog post was December 2009 so as to mention TEN YEARS of blogging. Turns out the first came December 2008. Imagine that! Eleven years here.

Mail from Michelle. More on that to come.

Also, have to post this. It goes to season, darkness, and the hope for cycling into light, after all.

 

 

Pages turning

Ran to the store near the lions to get my new calendar. Does that make the new year official?

Yesterday, some of us stood on the corner near Rep Kennedy’s office. I dashed off to writing class, late, while others met with our rep. Does that make the new political season official?

Also yesterday: Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, ushering in a season of HOPE and accountability.

(Year-end review produced this gratitude-soaked realization: I’ve needed no major dental work for the last two years. Ahhhh!)

Time to get back at it. It’s easier to pick up the needle than the pen, but both are in hand again.

Reading for the new year will be facilitated by the generosity of others. I’ve devoured three from this glorious pile already.