12-10-2014 Sister-Friend Day

December 10th, 2014
Yesterday we had a phone call from PSNH warning us that there was an ice-storm coming, were we ready if the power went out? It didn’t, but it made me feel nervous. Part of me feels that anyone who chooses to live in New England should expect the power to go out and be ready with candles, batteries, blankets, water, etc. So I’m split between being irritated that I was on edge all day yesterday, and thinking that was nice of them to issue the warning. Today it’s rainy (melting more of the snow), and warmer, in the 40ºs. Yesterday it was only in the 20ºs, and below that at night.
DSC01624   “Idiot cat” (Zoloft) hasn’t come downstairs all day. She’s ensconced in the sheepskins on my bed, and I check on her every couple of hours, but I think she’s embraced a state of semi-hybernation. Or maybe she just likes the furs. I know I do. Between them and the “cozy toes”, foot heater, my bed is SO comfortable! When I get in I turn it up high, then turn it down during the night (and off during the day). I’ve checked, and none of the heat seems to get up through the layers of fur, so Zoloft doesn’t seem to get any benefit. But fur does hold the heat one generates in beautifully.
On a sadder note, we haven’t seen Smokey recently and fear he may have died. He was a pretty old cat, but has been looking really good since his eye cleared up. We’ve asked the other cats, but they deny knowledge of his whereabouts.

The holiday season is progressing, it seems especially quickly this year- probably because Thanksgiving was so late. We DSC01627get a big wreath (18 inches) to support the library each year, big to support them, and not be dwarfed by the size of the barn. (One year we just hung two 12″ wreaths, one on each door).  I think the one we got this year is sagging a bit- getting almost drop shaped; maybe the support wire wasn’t strong enough. Willow climbed up  and replaced the old one we hadn’t taken down from a couple of years ago. (No, really, it had gone orange! So last year, we put a green bow on it!)
DSC01626   We have a wreath on the front door too, but no lights yet. No one is really happy up on ladders, and so I’m sort of out of luck on that front. I DO like the old fashioned, colored Christmas lights, but if I’m not doing it myself, I can’t really ask someone else to.  John put up just a string around the door, but while he was hanging it, they blue a fuse, and we’ll have to see if replacing the fuse will fix the problem. I think you can get a better idea of the scale of the wreath when you look at it compared to Willow- from below her knees to above her waist.

We have our holly patterned plates out, and our assortment of Christmas tablecloths and place mats. Each of us has adopted certain of the mugs- my favorite is an old fashioned father Christmas, Willow loves the pointsettia mug, and also has one that takes two tea bags- I think it holds 20 ounces- the only problem is that sometimes the gets cold since it takes so long to get through it.
Friday was St. Nicholas Eve- we put out our shoes. This is an old family tradition DSC01628that goes back to wanting a way to be able to give Christmas hair ties, or jewelry or vhs/audio tapes on Christmas themes, because if you gave those things on Christmas, when would they get to use them? Also a bit of candy. The kids remembered I used to like Rolos. Now the big thing we each get is Christmas stockings.
Steve came up this weekend and we made the first cookies of the season, cinnamon horns and the first candy cane cookies. Sadly, I was not paying attention and grabbed a bottle with a label that started with R- I thought Red food coloring. It turned out to be Root Beer extract. Oops. Had I not already put in the peppermint extract, we would have had root beer cookies, but the mint rather overwhelmed the rootbeer flavoring. THAT will teach me to pay attention! In theory we are cutting down to only seven types of cookie this year.
Yeah, I doubt it too.

DSC01622 Thursday the wood was delivered. It’s only half seasoned, but we still have almost a cord from the last batch, so if the cold isn’t too bad, it’ll be fine by the time we get to it. Meanwhile we are loading it into the woodshed a row at a time. We started  by cleaning and organizing, and I took the sheet of plywood that had been waiting by the barn door and put it down as another layer for the floor. The girls went up to Vermont and got acupunctured. I made a roast pork dinner that came out as close to perfect as makes no difference (with mashed potatoes, gravy, vegs, salad, and apple pie for which we had no room until breakfast!)

Saturday while looking something up I found some REALLY old letters and posted them on my website. These include some from when Ælfwine first went to the hospital, the Christmas when he was in the hospital, and also the Y2K turnover,  I still hope that we’ll be able to find some of the earlier letters, maybe in hard copies, although I had too much faith in storing them on the floppy discs we were saving at the time. As can be told by the numbers, there have been a lot of letters over the years. I think half the pages in my website are letters at this point, and I haven’t come near to publishing them all. Still, it’s fun (and eats up time- oops) to look at the ghosts of Christmas past. I’ve always preferred to look at happy memories to sad ones.
While we’ve temporarily put most of the photo albums up in the attic in order to clean, there’s one left down by the scanner. Looking through I found a couple of old shots- not Christmas, but some of the pictures used to make Christmas cards. Luckily these seem to be from the ones we have missing from the collection of cards. (here) 1958-60?  christmas picture 1960?There are a LOT of old Christmas cards in the album of people I don’t recognize, and I can’t help thinking that these cards might fill in gaps in their family history- but I have no way to get them to them. Sigh.
At this time of year I get very nostalgic. I remember the wonderful childhood I had an write about it on my website.   I can remember the tree with simple round balls, lights, and tinsel. Our tree topper was neither a star nor an angel, but a plastic Santa with a light in his belly. These days it seems more common for people to recall all the traumas from their youth, but while I have poignant memories (it was heart-breaking when Bob was in a half-way house during Christmas when I was fifteen or so), mostly I remember singing carols, wrapping presents, Christmas mornings, and feeling surrounded by love. I wish such joy for everyone!

We’ve been exploring e-bay this week- looking for bargains so we can afford the gifts we’d really like. (I got some glue to try to fix my Uggs again, and Willow’s looking for some for me. She’s much more patient than I. I scored a lid lifter for the woodstove, and some bottle brushes in assorted sizes that have made me VERY happy, as cleaning the inside of a bottle is HARD. (Speaking of hard, Kat is incredibly ingenious and stubborn when it comes to cleaning. Earlier this week she was boiling a pillow case that John had left on his bed so long that it was disturbing! I really admire her determination, she does what so many advice gurus tell people and is totally involved in whatever it is that she’s doing. The other day she was scrubbing the floor (in her gorgeous old fashioned outfit), and it looked so “right”.
I may have mentioned last week that now that Christmas is almost here, and despite her having been telling people to order early, the orders for Willow’s blankets are pouring in (she sent off two today, and had to go out and get more fabric). What part of “each of these is hand made and takes at least a day to make” do they not get? Other than meals I hardly see her unless she is sewing a back onto a blanket she’s finished. Or scanning some artwork.
I’ve been spending far more time than I’d like at the computer. It’s too easy to get sucked into old letters, or ebay or facebook. And I suppose I can count the pod casts,  because those are done on skype. Last night I was a guest on someone else’s podcast (and she wants me back), The Enlightened Circle (out of Colorado so it’s 10-12 eastern time) with Kristin West. Embarassingly, even though it was so late, I forgot to call in until about quarter of 11 (I was supposed to call in at 10:30), so if you want to only listen to my part of the show, start at 46 minutes into the show. Kristin was incredibly nice and we plunged in and didn’t spend a lot of time apologizing for being late, and just jumped from subject to subject. Tonight, on the other hand, I had no one to talk to, and just talked about House spirits all by myself for nearly an hour on the New Normal. It’s not like I can’t go on about a lot of subjects for hours, but it’s much harder without an audience and feedback!
This morning Kat saw her psychiatrist again, and they’re tweaking the dosages up from base levels. I guess we’ve stopped looking at side effects, and are now looking for medicinal effects. As I pointed out, is improvement from the meds or from coping strategies? Can we tell? Do we care? We just want the improvements.

I want to thank everyone who writes me and shares a bit of their lives. I got a wonderful letter and picture from Rose of her daughter (how quickly they grow!), and on a more somber note, last weekend Megan’s mother died suddenly- which I suppose is better than after a prolonged uncomfortable illness. Megan is sharing some lovely pictures of her mother on facebook, as well as the chaos of dealing with a death in the family. I hope we’ll be able to offer her and Dennis some help as they work through this added complication. What did the old show say “There are a million stories in the naked city…”? Every one of our friends has a complex story, and they are all full of of compelling turns and details. I really love hearing from and about each of you. I’ve started reading Hild, a book Marieke recommended to me. Today I got caught on the “goodreads” site, adding books I’d read, both recently, and years ago. I was reminded that each time I read a book, it changes me, each time I meet someone I change. Thanks for being part of my life.
DSC01626 - Version 2
Tchipakkan
“Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.”  Richard Bach

(It’s much better to have the plywood on the floor of the woodshed than outside the door to the hall.)
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