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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thoughts about the New Year

In just three days, it will be a whole new year! I'm excited about the arrival of 2013. I can't help but feel that the universe owes me some karmic balancing good fortune this year, after what 2012 has been like!

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I love the idea of a whole bright shiny new year, full of possibility and a chance for self improvement. I have a whole list of things I want to do and accomplish in the next 12 months. I'm trying to break the list down into small manageable steps to be spread out throughout the year; I don't want to do the classic resolution thing: a big burst of initial enthusiasm followed by increasing apathy and then finally total abandonment of the goals by mid February! The only changes that stick are the ones born of slow, steady, consistent small steps. So those are the things I plan to concentrate on, small changes that can be easily incorporated into everyday life. I'll let you know how it goes!

In the meantime, with the New Year only 3 days away, I have things to get done to accommodate the superstitions my family implanted in me growing up. Certain tasks need to happen before January 1st: the Christmas tree must come down, the laundry must be done completely (including sheets and towels), and the floors have to be swept, mopped, and vacuumed. Failure to do any of those things could lead to bad luck, according to my crazy superstitious relatives. My mom will call me up without fail on December 31st to make sure I've done the laundry and swept the kitchen. Doing those tasks on New Year's Day, according to her and my late grandma, will "wash away" or "sweep away" a family member in the upcoming year. Then on January 1st, you have to eat black eyed peas (for good luck) and greens (for money) and "whatever you do that day you'll do all year" and so on and so forth. Of course it's all nonsense, but I can't help myself!

Does anyone else have superstitions and rituals about ringing in the New Year? Are you making resolutions? If so I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Finally, some rest

As usual, I am glad to see the holiday season winding down. Work has worn me out.

Between extended holiday hours, crowds of shoppers, cranky overextended coworkers, relentless traffic, and my own personal holiday preparations at home, the whole period between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to go by in a blur of caffeine fueled frenzy. Yesterday I had to go to work at 5am (which meant getting up at 3:30!!) to set the post-holiday sale at the bookstore.  Even though I had to get up at such an ungodly hour, it ended up being kind of pleasant. We didn't open until 8:00, so almost half of my shift was spent in the quiet, peaceful, empty store working on first one task, then another, with no interruptions. Even after we opened I was off working alone, removing holiday signage and consolidating leftover merchandise and re-setting empty tables and endcaps. Then I got to leave at 1:00pm. After swinging by a friend's house to check on his cats (he and his wife are out of town visiting relatives) I went home, ate a big plate of leftover Christmas dinner, and went to bed for a nap.

And what a  nap it was! I slept hard for four hours, and woke up confused and disoriented because it was dark outside and much later than I expected. After some of the grogginess dissipated, GB and I went for our nightly walk with Ginger, then came back and feasted on more holiday food and sweets. We watched Netflix for a couple of hours, then went back to bed. I was afraid that after such a long nap I would be wide awake, but I fell asleep immediately and slept a full eight hours. I must have been more exhausted than I knew. Since yesterday afternoon I've slept more than 12 hours!

Today I am off, and it's wonderful to feel so rested. Our home could use some TLC, but I'm only going to do the most necessary chores. Then I'm going to take Ginger out for a long winter walk, and when I get back I plan to make a homemade pot pie with the last of the leftover turkey. Marco is so very happy today; he got two big new toys in his stocking from Santa! That bird loves new toys as much as a human child.  He's been playing nonstop since we put them in his cage. Ginger got a new leather collar, a large meaty bone, and several smaller doggie treats in her stocking. GB and I also have lots of holiday goodies: movies and books and way too many sweets. There are Godiva chocolates, cookie platters, chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter fudge, and boxes of hard candy taking up room on the dining room table. Far more than we need! But the house still feels festive.

It's going to be a good day to be at home!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve



It's Christmas Eve, the day when we await the imminent birth of the newborn sun (or son, if you happen to be Christian. I am not.) I love the sense of anticipation, possibility, and magic that always permeates this night, no matter how old I get. I love the deep, quiet joy that always seems to arrive in the wee small hours of Christmas morning. I love knowing that although the night is long, and dark, and cold, the sun is already returning, albeit slowly.

Speaking of special midwinter births, a distant cousin of mine became a first time father three days ago. His son was born on the day of the solstice, the 21st of December. My (small) extended family is just thrilled with this little boy's arrival.

This photo was taken shortly after the baby's birth. This is the new dad, embracing his mom (the new grandmother). I love this picture. The sense of joy and relief is palpable, and beautiful to see.


Photo


And here is the new baby, going home just in time for Christmas. The reason for a whole lot of joy in our family this year. A special midwinter blessing. His name is Cohen.




Happy Christmas Eve. May you be filled with all the joy and hope of the season!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice

 
Wishing everyone peace, hope, and joy today as we await the return of the light.

"Winter Solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge Just Hours Ago!" <3 @[127510390611984:274:Spiritual Networks] and www.spiritualnetworks.com
Winter solstice sunrise at Stonehenge, 2012



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scenes from a morning walk

Today is sunny and only slightly cool, so Ginger and I went out for an early walk. I took my camera along and got a few photos to share. These were taken around the neighborhood.



Mourning dove and mistletoe.



Mistletoe in a sweet gum tree.
 
 
Loaded with potential kisses!
 
  
Woodpecker in the pear tree outside our kitchen window.



Blooming in our backyard.




 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our little tree

Our little Christmas tree has been up for over a week, and I finally got some pictures to share!

It's a very small tree, with only a few sturdy ornaments that can withstand Marco's attentions. Still, it makes our kitchen and den cheerful, and I smile whenever I come  home and plug in the lights after a long day at work!




 

 
Glitter fish.


We own lots of bird ornaments.


Santa has dreadlocks!
 


Marco loves the tree.


 
Christmas is one week away!

Monday, December 17, 2012

One year already

Today it's been exactly one year since my husband came home from seeing the doctor and said, "I have cancer." Without a doubt, it was the worst day of my entire life so far. We didn't have any information at that point beyond the fact that there was a tumor in his lung. I choke up whenever I remember that day, the fear and despair and sense of unreality (like a waking nightmare) of the hours and days that followed. Life changed dramatically, unequivocally, forever. We were so frightened of what the future would hold.

Now here we are, one year later, and the tears keep flowing again...but they're tears of happiness and gratitude this time. Gregg is healthy again. The cancer is gone. He continues to improve each day, and life is almost back to normal....but held so much more dear. What a wonderful Christmas this is going to be for us! All we need is each other.

Hold your loved ones tight during the holidays, and every day. They are your most precious gifts.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Words fail me

Yesterday there was yet another mass shooting here in the USA. This time the gunman targeted small children in an elementary school. At the end of the day, seven adults and twenty children were dead.

Words fail me. I don't understand how or why this kind of thing keeps happening. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that twenty little kids are dead today after going to school yesterday morning. How can even the sickest of sick mentally ill people do such a thing? What is wrong with our culture that we keep producing these monsters? And how do we stop it?

This country has gone utterly mad. My heart is heavy for the victims of this latest tragedy, as well as their families. And for all of us.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marco and the Christmas tree

A few days ago I finally got some  lights for the little Christmas tree I bought and put it up. We decided to put it in the corner between our kitchen and den this year instead of the living room, which means we get to see and enjoy it more (the living room windows have a better view of the street, but we're rarely in that room). This placement is also very close to Marco's cage, and it turns out that he loves the Christmas tree.  Really loves it. From the moment I plugged in the lights he began to "ooh" and "ahh" with a few "woo hoo!!"s thrown in for good measure. He sang snatches of his little song (a silly tune we invented when we first got him) and flew over to the tree and clung to it once or twice while I was working on it. I never considered that a parrot would enjoy looking at a Christmas tree as much as he has! He's like an adorable toddler that's excited by all the lights and sparkly things.

I haven't finished decorating the tree, because I've had to sort through ornaments to find only the unbreakable ones. With Marco nearby and fascinated with everything I dare not use any fragile or cherished ornaments. Tomorrow I plan to go through some more boxes and put the finishing touches on the tree, and then I'll post pictures. In the meantime, here's a picture of the little guy last week hanging out with me in our office.



Marco is always dressed in Christmas colors.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three weeks!!

It's only three weeks until Christmas, a fact that  occurred to me this morning with a tiny twinge of horror. I somehow had failed to notice it was getting quite so....close.  How have I missed this? The following is a list of the holiday preparations I have made thus far, as of December 5th:

1. Gifts bought/made: 0 (unless the Of Monsters and Men CD I bought myself yesterday counts, haha)
2. Holiday cards mailed: 0
3. Plans made for Christmas Eve goodies and Christmas dinner: 0
4. House decorations up: .50

All I have really accomplished so far is buying a super cheap small fake tree. We put it together the other night, then realised we only have two strands of lights that work. We'll have to go buy some before we can finish decorating the tree. Right now it's sitting in our living room looking bare and kind of forlorn. As for holiday cards, I have bought some and even filled out a few. I still have to finish writing them, though, then find all the addresses for the envelopes, and then mail them. Gifts will have to be small, simple, and mostly homemade this year (and for only a few select people) as we are still trying to recover from GB being out of work for so long. Small, simple, and inexpensive gifts take more thought and time than regular gifts, though. I have a few half formed plans, but I definitely need to get started soon. On everything.

I can't believe the holidays are only three weeks away! How are your holiday preparations coming? Am I the only one that's so far behind?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

O Christmas tree

December is here, and I am finally in the mood to do a little bit of decorating. I just went out and bought a super cheap little fake Christmas tree to put up. It's small (only 6ft by 3ft) and it won't ever be as nice as a live tree, but it will serve the purpose of lighting up our living room with some holiday cheer. And more importantly, there won't be any danger of a repeat of the Ghastly Tree Incident of '10, in which the huge live tree we had picked out went crashing to the floor one day, creating an ugly mess of fir needles, water, and broken ornaments in our carpet. I had to call a neighbor in to help me right it, as I was alone that day and it was too big and unwieldy for me to fix without help. It soured the whole experience for me that year!
 
Hopefully the cheap little tree I bought today won't end up looking too much like a Charlie Brown tree! I will, of course, be posting pictures either way!