Sunday, December 23, 2007
It is so rare that I do this. It is so rare that I actually "get away from it all." I left work for some vacation time last Wednesday, and it has taken me until today to really decompress. I'm high strung that way; always thinking about what is coming next, what I need to do for tomorrow. But finally, today, it has finally sunk in that I'm on vacation. I've had some wonderful time these past few days; lunching with family, cleaning my house, wrapping presents, shopping midst the holiday rush and enjoying being out during the day (vs. being at a desk). I've met my precious niece Elizabeth for the first time and Matt and I have managed to make ourselves over into giant monkeys just to glean a smile from her. I cant tell you how exciting it is to be an aunt, I relish it.
I hope you all are resting and enjoying yourselves as much as I am. I hope that this Christmas is extra special for you, that you all get to enjoy your beautiful homes and families. I'll be back later, but for right now I'm going to get back to vacationing.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I spent last night cleaning my kitchen and watching football. OK, you caught me in a lie. I never actually watch football. But I don't dislike it, I actually find it interesting. I just have better things to do. Like cleaning, writing, drawing, talking on the phone, reading; basically anything but wasting my life away in front of the 'idiot box'. But as I cleaned my kitchen and gazed over my pink flowers, I realized that it wasn't a bad way to watch football. It was essentially the best of both worlds; frilly meets the world of violent sports. I can live with that happy medium.
Football just reminds me of Christmas anyway. Childhood memories always flood over me; my uncles and dad yelling at a game amidst a living room flooded with torn wrapping paper and bows. My aunt rolling her eyes, blaring her holiday opera music to drown out the game. Good times, good memories.
I've been amazed at how quickly this holiday season has flown by. Each year it gets faster and faster, and it isn't like I wasn't warned. My Meme always tells me, "The older you get, the faster it goes." I'm afraid she is right. But, I have to say, for all of it's speediness, this holiday has been really pleasant. We've spent good time with friends, good time resting in our house and enjoying movies, good time with new friends at church. And, as my completely laid back, eternally cheerful husband would say, "It ain't over yet." The best is yet to come; the family time, the gift giving, the time away from work and obligations.
So, I'm ready. I'm ready for the candy canes and the days spent in pajamas. I'm ready for some good after-holiday sales and endless hours filled with NOT WORKING. I'm ready for antique malls and being home to see the sunlight stream through the windows. I'm just ready.
But, as my vacation is starting today, I'm sorry to say I'll be posting much less frequently. I've decided to throw myself into a few projects, spend time with family and just enjoy being at home for a while. I'll be back a few times to say hello, but my usual every-day-posts will have to cease. They don't call it a vacation for nothing! So, until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
It is cold here. After days of 70 degree weather at the beginning of the month, it finally turned cold. And at a certain point, the house just feels chilly. I could set my heat on 70, let it run all the time, but I refuse. So basically, this is what I do. I wrap up in a throw, put my little space heater in front of the couch, and if I'm lucky, Mabel joins me and lays on my feet. I love this kind of weather, until I have to take a shower. COLD. Which is why we faced a dilemma with Mabel.
You see, Mabel hates taking a bath. She becomes very cat-like when we put her in the tub, her little body rigid with animosity and claws scraping at whatever grabs her. But it was time. As she burrowed next to me on the couch this past week, I've found myself sniffing her and saying out loud, "Mabel, why do you smell like popcorn and old shoes?" It was time for a bath.
At bath-time, it's all hands on deck. I apply the soap, Matt holds onto her little squirming body like an orderly at a mental hospital. I wash the soap off of her, and Matt deals with her mouthy complaints. But this time, when it was all over, Mabel was shaking. It was so cold, down in the 20's (not in the house of course) and she was shivering. So what could we do but bundle her up like a certain tiny figure in the nativity scene? And for once in her life, she didn't fight or growl. She just laid there like a pig in a blanket (EXCUSE the terrible use of that simile).
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I have several, but the one I think of most often was several Christmases ago. I was working at the university I graduated from. It was a little nest of a job... the perfect easy start into the big bad world of working my life away. I had a wonderful, friendly boss and a coworker that was a soul mate from the start. All three of us had an easy camaraderie (anyone affiliated with that school is snickering at my word usage here).
That particular week before Christmas, my husband went skiing with his family in Colorado. I didn't get off work until the week of Christmas, so I stayed behind to finish out my work week. I know it sounds pathetic, my being left behind to work, but it really wasn't so bad. I led a blissful existence there, in a little rented farm house with tall ceilings and creaky wood floors. We lived two blocks from campus, and I got to come home during my lunch breaks to eat lunch in my big white, sunny kitchen with wide wooden windows. I loved living there.
That last Friday before Christmas I fairly skipped to work. OK, I drove, but I was mentally skipping. I bundled up in my favorite grey wool coat and long pink scarf. I drove my two minute commute and my boss declared it an early holiday. We spent most of the morning talking and chatting, drinking coffee. We decided to order pizza for lunch, and the delivery man came within the hour with our two supreme pizzas. Holiday was in the air, everyone was happy and the entire campus was exhaling in anticipation of shutting down for seven days.
We paid the delivery guy, who looked oddly antsy and pale. Before he left, he threw a cautious glance over his shoulder and said, "Y'all might want to think about taking that pizza home early," and disappeared out the door with a ding of the bell. We looked at each other, puzzled, and I leaned out our doorway (our office was windowless) and peered into the lobby.
The lobby windows stretched from floor to ceiling, three stories tall. I squinted, because I couldn't see anything. It seemed a solid stretch of ice was concealing the entire window. I frowned, mentally acknowledging that the sun had been shining when I came to work that morning. My boss looked at us and said, "I think we should shut the office down early."
It became complete panic in the building. There was a mass exodus the likes of which I had never seen before, and have never seen since. Women were running with scarves flying, umbrellas turning inside out and people sprawled on patches of ice. I shoved a few pieces of pizza in a plastic bag and headed to the parking lot. The ground was terribly slick and I slid around, hands waving to keep my balance. The sleet and snow were falling so hard it stung my skin, and I could feel my mascara begin to run down my face. I found my way to the car without breaking any limbs, but immediately began to panic. My entire car was covered with a solid sheet of ice, and my being the southern girl that I am, did not have an ice scraper in my car. In a blind panic, I threw my purse into the car, put the defrost on high and began manically scraping the ice with my fingernails (but not before checking my reflection in the rear view mirror to find that not only had my mascara dripped down my face, I bore an erie resemblance to Alice Cooper).
The parking lot began to empty out and I was alone, scraping with my fingernails. Unless you've ever worked for a university, you cant imagine how empty and deserted a campus can feel at a time like this. Big, dark windowed buildings stood around, hundreds of dorm rooms were empty, and I alone was left in the parking lot, trying to get home. All of a sudden, I could hear a loud alarm sounding inside my car. I leaned down and what did I find flashing? The low coolant light. 'Great,' I said aloud, 'great!" I was yelling this to myself when my coworker walked up behind me said, "Need help?"
I have never been so relieved to see someone, except that when I think back, I had no real reason to panic. In all honestly, I probably could have walked/crawled the two blocks home. Or called one of my two uncles who owned 4wheel drive trucks. But these aren't the sort of things that readily occur to me when I become panicked and irrational.
My beloved co-worker helped me clean off a patch of windshield ice big enough for to see through, we hugged goodbye hurriedly, and I crept home. My tires spun, and I held my breath the whole way. What normally took 2 minutes to drive, stretched into 10 creeping minutes. When I pulled into my driveway, I clicked the garage door opener and pulled safely into the fold. This is the part of the story where you are probably asking, "Why is this one of her favorite days ever? Sounds horrible."
Well, you just cant imagine the relief I felt to get home. I have never felt that before, the ultimate contentment, the knowledge that I had all I needed in life under that roof. The sleet kept falling, hitting hard on the roof. It began changing over to snow, and I decided to make the most of the day. I put on boots, comforted Mabel (who was still a baby who had never experienced winter weather before) and we played in the backyard. She jumped and bit at the snow and sleet, I ran around and threw snow balls at her. Our house had a giant backyard, full of huge oak trees, a storm shelter, a little shop with electricity. It really was a heavenly place to live, and on that day was the picture of Christmas; a sparkling, icy wonderland.
Afterward, Mabel and I both were sopping wet and cold. I left all my wet boots and socks on the slanting back porch next to the washer and dryer (it's a miracle the lines in my washer didn't freeze and break that winter) and put on my pajamas and warmest sweater. Mabel snuggled into some blankets on the couch. I baked chocolate chip cookies, opened up all the curtains to see the snow, and listened to Charles Trenet on my cd player. I ate those cookies and watched cars and people skid around on the street near my house, so content and happy next to my Christmas tree. I had seven days ahead of me, nowhere to go, and lots of snow outside. It is one of the happiest memories I have, and anytime I hear 1930's french music, it sends me right back to that blissful afternoon spent in pj's, watching it snow.
I took this picture that day. Sometimes, when I get stressed out during my workday, I put this picture as my screen saver and listen to Que Reste - T'il de Nos Amor. It's the perfect memory, of a perfect day. Isn't it funny how that happens? I've wondered how I can completely forget hundreds of days in a year. I often stare at Matt, blank faced and say, "I don't remember that." And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I remember that day perfectly. Every detail, every smell, every sight. Don't you often find yourself sitting around, wondering when the next perfect day will happen? Another perfect day, I'm ready.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We have had the most bizarre weather here lately. Every morning, I wake up and wonder if perhaps we've acquired, by some Christmas magic, London weather. Fog everywhere. Or as my Dad calls it, werewolf weather. At first I just attributed this to the lakes in our neighborhood, but on my commutes to work I find that it has enveloped the city. The tops of the buildings downtown have disappeared above the fourth story, as if they never even existed. I feel a little sorry for the people working in them, staring at cloudy nothingness all day, day after day.
Monday, December 10, 2007
During the course of our party throwing, I've come to understand a few things about myself. One, I may perhaps be somewhat ADD. The night before, when any sane and rational person would be scrubbing their bathroom floor, I decided to take up a very pressing and important project instead: making paper chains.
A few weeks ago it dawned on me how much I used to adore doing that. Mom used to sit us down in front of the TV and we'd make paper chains for hours. One particular Christmas (when we lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere), my sisters and I made paper chains by firelight during a huge snowstorm. Of course, now I know that this was just Mom's way of keeping us busy, and by default keeping her own sanity during the holiday season. But, I digress.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
So, I find myself trying desperately to hang onto the time, enjoy the season. I've made a concerted effort to schedule lots of holiday movie watching (because last year I missed seeing Christmas in Connecticut AND It's A Wonderful Life, two of my favorites). I'm totally stocked up on chocolate chip cookies supplies and am really looking forward to being off work for two weeks. I plan on relishing every moment, or at least that's my plan.
In other news, I moved the curtains into my office for a trail run. After several days of living with them in there, I think they've found their new home. While I would have loved to make them work in the living room, there just wasn't a way. I HAVE to have privacy on the front window and there just wasn't a way. So, this is their home. For now. I've learned to always add the 'for now' part, since everything I decorate seems to be subject to change at a moments notice! But for now, I'm very happy.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Every time Christmas season rolls around... I start making tons of chocolate chip cookies. Now, they're not the best cookies on the earth, but they ain't bad. A lot better than those dough rolls at the grocery store. Oops, my cookie snobbery is showing. :) And this time every year, I start eyeballing this baby. Isn't she beautiful? I've coveted this little piece of machinery for the past three years, but alas, I still have the good old hand mixer. Why? Um, because I'm cheap. Sure, I'll spring for Martha Stewart ornaments, or plastic mixing bowls. But ask me to cough up over $300.00 big ones, and my throat starts to constrict and I get tunnel vision.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your advice and help regarding my dishes conundrum. However, I think I've found the solution. After some head scratching and many trips to the dollar and thrift stores, I realized that perhaps my problem was one of finding the right linens, rather than buying a whole new set of dishes. Hmmm.. that sounds a little coy, but I'll be posting pictures as soon as I get everything figured out. And besides, I SO love my coral dishes, Christmas or no Christmas.
On another note, I'm still rumbling around the house with my three gorgeous curtain panels. It is possible to hang just two on my big front living room window. They obviously aren't full enough to be working curtains, but they look fine. But, then there is the problem of privacy. My front bamboo shade is somewhat sheer, and while it does give us an element of privacy, it isn't complete. And I don't know about all of you, but I don't like thrashing about to Denise Austin's Workout in the Morning with the possibility of a neighbor, early morning runner, or even a neighborhood cat catching a glimpse of me doing that.