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December already? Time flies and all that shite, but seriously, where did the year go? Not that I will be disappointed to see the end of 2017, it has been a wretched year in many ways. I am trying to find the holiday spirit, still - writing so many holiday cards has helped, but I am really hoping that our trip to the Christmas markets in the city really brings the holiday spirit. I have no idea what to get anyone - I would like to make a cashmere cowl for all the women but I'm a bit short on time now.
What the everlovin' fuck was I thinking, a 6:20 AM flight? On a Saturday! I am trashed before the day begins, from a mad dash to the airport. BWI disappointed me mightily at breakfast. It was relatively easy to find Helene's house. One of the local roads had the same, unusual name as my own street, which amused me. The day lives with me as odd fragments, not the least of which was an 8 year old girl being a typical 8 year old with too sensitive feelings, and thinking I would be a nicer mommy. So very not.
Supermoon. I spent the afternoon with Helene, just being together, not doing anything special. Almost like old times. When I got back, the hotel moved me to a truly large suite because the toilet in my original room is now in pieces - a simple fix Gone Rong. I'm not overly impressed, but the 180 degree views certainly allowed me a long, glorious view of the supermoon. Which didn't disappoint me, unlike the Carol Burnette 50th Anniversary Special. I don't quite know why I watched it. And room service dinner was a bit disappointing, but the chocolate covered strawberries were not.
At a K-12 conference, I expect to hear a lot about elementary and middle school. Not so much about college. The presentations haven't been quite as informative as I would like. I have an agenda, a purpose, and the speaker content has not yet aligned with that agenda. I've had better luck with individual conversations. That seems to be the way of it, which is why I am the one traveling to all these gatherings. It is frankly discouraging - there is no one to pick up the slack on transition efforts, so I seem stuck with all the travel.
The downtown Nashville dining scene. I know it is a popular tourist destination, although this is an odd time of year. I know there is a building boom going on -- the construction is everywhere, it is a wonder anyone can sleep. But tonight, on a Tuesday night at 6 PM I went out in search of dinner and discovered that nearly everything is wall to wall, an hour wait for a table. I never experienced such a thing in NYC on a TUESDAY! Maybe there aren't many decent dining options in downtown? The dinner I eventually found was a disappointment.
So groggy today. I saved my words to the wrong day - it was a Monday night in Nashville: I got home very last night. The flight was on time, landing a bit before midnight. Still, that is past my bedtime and having been sick for a few days, I feel like I could sleep for a week. Actually, I have been feeling like that for a while, just tired and run down. This goes beyond the seasonal crap that is out there. Part of this is mental as well, feeling like I'm always on the treadmill. I want a vacation.
Today started with physical therapy. I won't be doing that again anytime soon. I don't want to be doing those exercises that early in the morning - my legs were unhappy all day. I am finally really seeing some progress in terms of what hurts, when, and how badly it hurts. I can sit with my foot on the couch again. I can bend my leg when I sit. Progress seems to have been so slow I didn't even notice it happening. Not until I could do something I hadn't been able to do since August. How long now to "done"?
The anniversary party for knit night has become fairly comfortable, but still, there's no way I'm just walking in her house. I ring the doorbell. Even though Lee couldn't make it until late -December in the food business is really tough-- we still have a good time, and with no censoring the conversation for young ears. What is it about this gathering that makes me go? The smallness of the group? People I have something in common with? The fact we all have something to distract ourselves with if the conversation is not of interest and it's not deemed rude?
Our plans for the Christmas Market in the city were cancelled. Mostly due to the bad weather, which did in fact arrive. There was also the not so small matter of it being SantaCon. It was shaping up to be a grisly mess. So instead, we spend the day puttering about the house, watching the snow come down. And come down. Alternating with near sunshine - welcome to winter. I had hoped to find something fun for himself at the market, and perhaps some yummy, festive holiday treats (pandoro). I had wanted to not use the internet so much this year.
December is a struggle for words. Not the actual speaking of them, but writing them. I don’t understand why – I normally love the holidays and have no end of thoughts, memories, wishes, and wonder. This year, I feel like I’m just gritting my teeth to get through each day. There’s not a lot of spirit – although the snowfall does makes it feel more like winter and the holidays. The trees are finally losing all their leaves. Outdoor decorations are up everywhere now, including my favorite large evergreens decorated with a gazillion lights. When will I finally find the holiday spirit?
I had entries written and posted in December. I had written some for the conference last week - for the supermoon in my hotel. Yet today, I discover that there are none. This has happened before - an entry or two just disappear. I am admittedly behind again - quel surpris! This is more bad news as my brilliant idea last month of writing on my iPad at the end of the day has not worked - I am struggling with achieving the focus at the end of the day. Either I'm wired or tired but always unfocused. I jot notes but not enough.
Designing a house from scratch is the dream. The kitchen would be big, with a walk in butler's pantry, please. Someone wants a formal dining room. A casual family room, for the TV and general people gathering. A full master suite with huge his and hers closets, and a comfortable bath with towel warmers. Full guest suite nowhere near the master. A large study / library, with plenty of bookcases, room for a comfy desk and chair, and a fireplace. A full bathroom on ground floor - but not off the kitchen! A large screened-in porch at the back or side.
As important as the house is the property. Privacy is key, particularly after the devastating destruction at our current property's back line. This means at least a full acre. Some trees, but definitely some sunny places to support flowers, fruit trees and shrubs, and room for a real veggie garden. A waterview would be nice, but not necessary - I think water (tidal or not) nearby is more important. This time of year, I always want an evergreen tree in the front yard. Location near a reasonable town is preferred, and a village feel rather than completely rural woods or farmland.
There is one more factor for location of the right house: there have to be reasonable facilities near by: grocery store, basic shopping, and medical care. A decent doctor and the common specialties within 20 minutes. A good hospital and other practitioners within 45 minutes, tops. That is a real constraint. I'd like to be under an hour from a reasonable city with museums. Not everything can be ordered off the internet. And reliable high-speed internet is a must for any house. We have become quite accustomed to being able to troll for entertainment in a variety of forms.
Writing all the holiday cards for the swap this year has provided several opportunities for reflection, just looking at the addresses where people live. Discovering addresses near where I have lived, I went looking at GoogleMaps to see how the neighborhood look now, can I recognize the block or house? Sometimes I went looking to see where that city was. Sometimes I contemplated the weather - did they have snow now? Other cities, I thought about what living there would be like, though to be honest, this was mostly the international cities. A little armchair traveling while catching the holiday spirit.
Buying a Christmas tree is always a crapshoot for me. As a kid, our trees had been allowed to grow naturally - so there was space between the branches. My first years in NY, I didn't have room for a tree, but had some boughs in a vase. I remember dragging a small tree in the snow behind me for a few blocks in Manhattan. My grandfather sent me trees, carefully folded (literally!) into the narrowest, longest box allowed by UPS. G and I used to walk to the local church and carry the biggest tree back to the house.
Many moons ago, I had two different sets of cream dinnerware, everything. When the mismatched but coordinating pieces didn't meet with his approval, I disposed of them. We now have even more mismatched pieces - most of them chipped! Five years ago we looked at dishes but could not agree on anything then. No, that's not true: we agreed on something and then someone began overthinking and suddenly was unwilling to buy what we liked because what if there was something better? I am tired of eating off broken dishes, so I bought the set we looked at five years ago.
The house -- THE house -- is under contract. It has been for sale most of the year. We saw it in very, very early spring. Other than the price, and the road it is on, I always thought it was the perfect house. Those are two rather significant issues, I know; one is immutable. But four acres! Wide staircase leading to master suite on one side, other bedrooms on the other side! A freakin' pantry ROOM! And the deep, screened in porches - on two sides! I can only hope and pray that the covenants hold up and prevent remuddling. Or worse.
Another day of wall to wall meetings. It is impossible to get anything done, even if one meeting is cancelled. Email piles up, but all I do is dig other people out. I'm tired of giving feedback on half-assed work. Particularly when it appears they don't really think about the feedback the next time they have to do the same thing. But wait, I am trying very hard not to rant in this space. Today would be a very ranty day, however. I've got lots of material to work with, different people and some different issues to rant about.
This Mercury retrograde really kicked my ass. I somehow didn't know it had started (again!) but suddenly realized how many different problems could be attributed to it. I really have to get the new phone completely set up. I've been limping along with the basics, but it is time to make some choices and get the critical apps installed so that I can really make full use of it. That was the point of buying this new phone, after being hampered by the piece of crap I bought in 2015. But I won't do anything more until retrograde is over.
What happened to the Christmas lights? We spent some time after a solstice dinner out touring neighborhoods that in the past have been a joyous delight, it was as if someone turned off the power. Darkness abounds. There has been warm weather to allow for decorating, so what gives? Does the younger generation not believe in putting up holiday lights? It was seriously depressing, the lack of festive holiday glow, street after street. Is it uncool? Are people afraid to indicate they celebrate Christmas? Is the electric bill too high? Are they too busy to make any effort at all?
Time off. Taking a comp day for the lost weekend at the beginning of the month. I am refusing to look at email, although I suspect there may be something there of relative importance. I scurried around to get my KnitNite presents together, but I am so glad I did - I nailed it! B said she had nearly filled the notebook I gave her last year and was delighted with the blue flowered one. Tonight J asked to borrow my little scale – I almost laughed out loud. They are little things but more personal than buying a wishlist pattern.
Thirty years ago was Christmas in Nuernberg with Robert and meeting his family. Christmas eve dinner of smoked fish, garlic sauce and bread - and lots of champagne. Walking to the church for midnight service - and being overcome by the warmth inside and nearly fainting. Christmas day spent visiting his family relatives in turn - struggling to understand the local dialect, never mind speak it – noting the speculative glances. Recognizing the glint in his mother’s eye. Then traveling by train to spend New Year’s Eve with a second cousin in the military and being a fish out of water.
After nearly twenty years I think I may have finally mastered my own version of the Christmas breakfast tradition of cinnamon rolls. The easy version, anyway. There was very little cursing tonight as I formed the double batch, one for tomorrow, one for the freezer. I did briefly imagine how easy it could be next year, when I have enough counter space to roll out all the dough at once, rather than in small batches. A few tricks from the GBB masterclass videos made it a bit easier. But of course, the truth will only really be known tomorrow morning.
Himself asked today if I would prefer to be going out today or if I was happy being home with our feast. Well, hells yeah! I prefer a quiet holiday, especially when you can't get around by anonymous public transportation: no driving, please! A holiday to do as we please - get up, have christmas rolls, lounge around, shred, watch holiday movies, call family, and make an easy, tasty feast. Moving at our own pace through the day, not having to worry about a schedule. Yes, a little snow would have been nice, but a White Christmas is quite rare here.
Boxing day. Of course, himself has Boxing Day presents for me. I need to remember this for next year and get him something small and delightful. We did finally leave our cocoon and run a few, brief errands in the cold. I restored basic order to the knitty room, although I'll have to crack open the closet soon to look for the yarn to knit the river otter "otteralong". I still can't believe I agreed to knit a softie, all in the round. Maybe that's what I should give him for Boxing Day next year! Can he wait that long?
It had to happen sometime. I did something dumb and now my back is paying the price. I am hoping it is just muscular, but even that is going to be awkward for a few days. I can barely manage to stand up when sitting and coming up the stairs to bed was a real trial. It isn't even the problem side that is in pain, it is my "good" side, so I will admit to a teensy bit of worry about that. I am able to sit without immediate pain, which is a good sign. I think. I hope.
It has been a long time since my back hurt this way - in the transition between sitting and standing. I am remembering the tricks to get by and doing my best to heal as fast as possible. I am fortunate I don’t have to drive. I limp along through the day, with several meetings and webinars. Working remotely is no big deal anymore, unlike fifteen years ago when it was a distant second choice for all involved. Voicemails are emailed to me; skype lets me talk with colleagues in an instant and email is how work now gets done.
A day at work with no meetings. Almost. And yet, I am not able to clear my plate of all the stacked work. It would be the same even if I hadn’t taken two days off, but it would be worse if I had taken today off. Which I really wanted to do and was considering. I hate having time available and yet feeling as though I can’t take it. So I knit while watching webinars – I am doing something I need to do for work while doing something I want to do. It is a small act of rebellion.
Community. That's what I am seeking in my annual, end of year movie marathons - by way of continuity. Many of these movies are about building community - of realizing where you fit with others, discovering others of like mind. Yes, there is love along the way, but a lot of them are about finding new friends along the way. Philadelphia Story, Holiday, It Happened on Fifth Avenue, and now, The Jane Austen Book Club. Perhaps if G and I do find a yoga place next year, we may find some other community, something that we can both be a part of?
A quiet day to see out the end of a year that was personally not that bad, if I take a step back and look at it: no sick cats, no damage to the house or pool; we paid all our bills and still have money in the bank to donate to favored causes. Still, I found 2017 a difficult year – there is so much violence and pain in the country, it really feels like a nation divided. Work continued to escalate: I spent six weeks this summer traveling – never again! I hope 2018 provides some relief on all fronts.
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