Wednesday, June 14, 2023

7 Samples Of My Summer So Far


Rather than run through a litany of excuses for my absence here of late, I'd rather jump right in and go for it. 

1. Random Photos--Signs: 

I ran across this first one on my way to pick up my mother for a doctor's appointment. Unlike the hostas, the cannas must be there of their own free will.

This is a front porch I pass on my daily walk. I keep imagining someone standing in front of their door, deciding whether or not to knock.

2. Random Photo--Grocery Store Find:  My funny grocery store has this on offer, and it's awful. 
Obviously, the reason this ended up in the Closeouts section of my grocery store is because it's supposed to read MOM IS WAY MORE FUN NOW THAT SHE CAN DRINK AGAIN. Because of the typo, it sounds really inebriated and illiterate, and no one is buying it. (I don't buy stemless wine glasses, period, but that's beside the point here.)

3. Speaking of Wine:  We had a jaunt up to Canada earlier this month and enjoyed another lovely long weekend and a new release party at our favourite winery. Our cellar is restocked and so is our Good Humour. The trip came at a very good time for us both, and we were so glad to reconnect with friends and places we love.

4.  Places We Love:  Lake season is in full swing, and we had a terrific Memorial Day weekend with the whole family, enjoying the boat, the house, fishing, and a fire. On Sunday we all went to dinner to celebrate the Springtime Birthdays at our favourite restaurant, which was a longtime desire of mine. It was such a Joy to see everyone around the table, having such a great time.

5.  Good Times:  The Asian Tree Lilacs are in bloom all along my walking route, and their scent is heavenly. Several years ago, our neighborhood streets were completely torn up with a major water/sewer project. So many mature silver maples were destroyed. But they were replaced with oaks and Asian Tree Lilacs, and I am grateful.  The blue jays continue to patronize my breakfast buffet, holding my cats in thrall every morning. I put a few peanuts on the window sashes and even on the welcome mat so that the jays come very close. 

6.  Knitting Stuff:  For my Knitting Friends--I finally got all those damn ends woven in on my mitred square blanket, and I knitted the last two squares. Hooray! It's kind of a  skinny-looking blanket, and it could really use at least one or two more rows, but not anytime soon. I'm now knitting a baby blanket. The pattern instructed me to do a long-tail cast on, but I hate those and avoid them at all costs. (123 stitches--nope.)  Instead, I did a knitted cast on. Will it matter? I'm thinking no, just for a baby blanket.

7.  Things That Matter:  Years ago, this was a far more Political blog. I am still very politically aware and active; make no mistake about that. My Politics have not changed in the least. I did, however, have to make a conscious decision to draw a bright line, keeping certain parts of my life free from politics so that I have more stress-free zones.  Don't mistake that for tolerance or acceptance. I'm sure so many of you are the same. 

At this point in June, way back when I was teaching, Summer still felt so young and new to me. Vacation was just starting, and I was energized by the possibilities of the weeks ahead:  so many books to read! so much time unpunctuated by bells and demands! so many evenings unencumbred by papers to grade and lessons to prepare and phone calls to make! Summertime felt brilliant and potent; each day was like a gift to be unwrapped. 

I hope your Summertime (one of my favourite words ever) feels like that, even a little bit, every now and then. 

Thanks for being here and waiting for me (like Walt Whitman). Chat me up in Comments.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Here's Some Stuff From My Head: More Dogs, A Racy Sign, and My Cheap Thrill


'm just going to jump right in with some falderal since it's been so long and I still don't have anything of Momentous Importance to pontificate upon. 

At least that I feel like discussing at the moment. Certainly many weighty things exist Out There that I could get all Wound Up about, but no one wants that, least of all me.


1.  I have met the following New Dogs since last we chatted:  a teensy terrier mix puppy named Rue; a floofy husky named Sterling; a black standard poodle named Molly. Only Molly was barky and slightly rude. This is the usual Poodle Response toward me, so I didn't take offense. 

2.  At my Super Fun Grocery Store, they had a huge paint buyout in the Closeouts Department. But even better, they made this sign:

If this sign were in any other store I went to, I'd be completely annoyed and rail about it to my husband and everyone I know. But because it is in my grocery store, I can merely laugh and be indulgently amused, like parents are when their kids mispronounce words in a cute way. ("Did you hear that? She said cabrella for umbrella! How adorable.") Probably if I saw this in, say, Lowe's, I'd be outraged and complain about it for days. ("How many staff and management pass by that sign every single day and no one has noticed or bothered to correct it!? How ridiculous.") I can't wait to see if it's still there this week.

3. It's no secret that I am easily entertained, and one thing that never fails to do it for me is the automatic carwash. There's just something about sitting in your car in the dark and having all that water and suds and those brush rollers all over while your car moves all by itself through the building. I love it. I used to take Jared and Sam through one all the time during our summer vacation. When Sam used to work at a dealership in the area, he knew that taking me through their carwash would make me happy, so he did it often. Now, carwashes are pricey. Back a hundred years ago, I paid four bucks for a wash. Not anymore. But I treated myself and got an actual Carwash Membership (and not solely for the fun of it; I have a black car, and I hate how dirty it gets and how bad it looks when it does). 

I go to a Mod Wash that's on my way to my mother's place and my grocery store. I can go every single day if I want (I don't), and it's like unlimited free rides at an amusement park for me. Today I got one of their free air fresheners, which smells like the worst fruit bubblegum on steroids, so I won't be using it, but when I flipped it to the other side, I saw that it was more than just an air freshener. Here's what it said:

Thank you, Mod Wash! I needed to hear that today, a day when I am running on very little sleep, thanks to shitful cat behaviour all night and a pulled muscle in my back. Not only do you make me unreasonably lighthearted, but you remind me that I've Got This! (As long as I don't put your freshener on painted, plastic, or varnished surfaces, or mind if my car smells like 1977.) 

It's the little things, you know? Regale me with your car wash feelings and anything else in Comments.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Cows (And I) Hate That

cene opens on Rick and Nance in the car. They are driving to go pick up their taxes at the accountant's office.

Nance:  Why are you going straight? Why didn't you turn left? This is an odd way to go.

Rick:  I don't know the best way to go, honestly. There is no good way to go. 

Nance:  Hm. This just seems--Oh look! Cows! How wonderful!

Rick:  (turns his head toward the window at the cows)  Mooooo!

Nance:  (big sigh; disapprovingly) Cows hate that, you know. They hate being mooed at.

Rick:  They do? How exactly do you know that?

Nance:  Oh, Rick. Everyone knows that. It's disrespectful and demeaning. It''s like going up to a Native American and (raises one hand, palm out) saying "how."

Rick:  But how do you know that?

Nance:  I would think the analogy I just gave you is example enough. Good heavens. 

Rick:  Okay, but what if a little kid was in the car with us and said Moo to the cows? What would you think then? You'd think it was cute.

Nance:  It would depend. If it were a sweet little kid, I'd probably think it was cute. But if it were some mouthy snotty kid who is always yelling and being a brat, I'd hate it. And I'd tell him the same thing I just told you. 

Rick:  Wow. What are you trying to say? 

End Scene.


Sunday, April 16, 2023

I'm Nance, And I Am A Parking Lot Avenger

Let me say at the outset that I am not one of these fussy parkers that has to circle the lot a hundred times to find a spot close to the door. I prefer to start my shopping inside the store. Unless the weather is rainy, I often choose a spot quite far from the door since I am able-bodied and don't find walking objectionable. 

I am also not the parker who sits idling in the middle of the lane, waiting for someone to pull out so that I can pull into that spot. That behaviour frosts my cupcakes to no end. Why must you have that spot? Is it climactically perfect? Are its coordinates your lucky number? Or are you just a jerk?

Here's another thing that gets me:  designated parking for "special" people. Mother-to-Be spots. Family Only spots. Spots for Veterans. I'm sorry, but what? When I was pregnant, and hugely so, I walked up three flights of stairs to a third-period study hall five days a week. And my school covered an entire city block, so I did a lot more walking than from a parking lot to a store. My doctor never suggested I walk less. And why would a Family need a special spot? Do mothers and fathers no longer tell their kids to hold hands and stay with Mom and Dad, that a parking lot is Just As Dangerous As A Street? That was Standard Operating Procedure for our family everywhere we went (with no special parking spots, either). A special spot for a Veteran seems condescending and ridiculous to me. How about that business really honors their service and gives them ten percent off every purchase, every day? I park in the Mother-to-Be and Family spots every so often when I'm feeling snotty. (Not the Veteran spot--stolen valour.)

On Friday I had to make a trip to the warehouse club, and you know how those parking lots are. It's a free-for-all, and most people are driving bigass SUVs and up-armored urban assault vehicles. I drive a Prius plug-in, and it was like I was driving in a canyon, the place was so crowded. I finally saw a parking spot, but no! some selfish snot parked astride two spaces. I drove farther on and parked, but I was so irked by this moron's selfishness. Even if it were an accident, why not, upon getting out and seeing what a horrible job he did, get back in the car and park it correctly? 

I felt the need to Avenge This Wrong, so on my way in I grabbed a huge cart from the cart return and parked it carefully--broadside--against the rear of the offending car. That way, the idiot knew it was on purpose; he had to move the cart before he could open his hatchback to unload his own cart; he had to deal with two big carts; and he was inconvenienced, too. 

It made me feel pretty damn good, I have to say. Later, when I told Rick of my Parking Lot Coup, he said, "I just worry about your safety when you do stuff like this. Especially when you're by yourself." He acts like I do Stuff Like That all the time. 

I don't, by the way. But every so often, I like to...rebalance the scales in my world. Don't you?



Tuesday, March 21, 2023

My Life In Dogs


One thing I do before I leave for my daily walks is to grab a few small dog biscuits from the jar on the counter and tuck them into my pocket. Ours is a dogful neighborhood, and I'm on a first-name basis with many of them:  Sophie, Beethoven, Milo, Onyx, Clover, Bruno, Copper, Oswego, Therese, and, most recently, a very impressive and sweet pair of bloodhound sisters named Gracie and Delilah. We were walking toward each other and Gracie let out a perfectly wonderful, breed-standard baying Hello. I greeted her almost as enthusiastically, and her Dog Dad simply let their leashes go and both girls loped over to meet me. Needless to say, it was the high point of my walk that day.

I have to say that the Dogs Of My Childhood were not nearly as charming or fun as the Dogs Of My Maturity. They were certainly full of strange personality, and it's definitely true that you can't blame the dogs; you can only blame their owners. 

Right across the street (and that's East 38th Street) lived Tuffy Ward, a morbidly obese cocker spaniel, pet of Marge, also enormously fleshy. Marge and her husband frequently ate Hydrox cookies out of a huge tin and so did Tuffy. So did I, as a matter of fact, as a favoured and regular visitor. I don't think I ever heard Tuffy bark, only huff, puff, and wheeze. At one point, he had to be helped up and down the porch steps.

Two doors west from us lived Candy Schroeder, a small black terrier mix who looked like she swallowed a propane tank. She was one of the ugliest dogs I ever saw, and she perpetually had a snappish look on her face. Every so often, Marie, the long-suffering matriarch of the house, used to holler out the front door at Curt, the youngest son, "Cu-urt! Come take Candy for a walk!" Curt, who was my sister Susan's best friend, would sigh deeply and trudge home. A few minutes later we'd see him pulling his red wagon with Candy sitting in it like a terrier Buddha up one side of the street and then down. 

Two doors eastward could have been Candy's cousin, Ladybug Rigo. The difference between the two was probably about ten pounds and mobility. If Ladybug wasn't tied up, she'd come after you, all snarling and snapping. Years later, the family inexplicably got a beautiful English Setter and named it Pete. (I know; how British!) This dog...something was terribly wrong with this dog. Unpredictable and mean, it would often get loose and gallop the neighborhood, terrorizing everyone.  Pete also had some sort of seizure disorder or something:  every so often, he would suddenly stop--a little off balance, neck sort of wrenched, legs stiff--then immediately recover and start running like hell. It was legitimately frightening to find Pete in your yard.

Next door to Pete was Skippy Losh the Pomeranian. Skippy was a cute dog, but nippy and unapproachable. He spent a lot of time outdoors tied to a clothesline so he could run up and down the length of his back yard, which he did with infinite zest and zeal. The sound of Skippy's bark, however, sent every single woman on East 37th, 38th, 39th, and part of Tacoma Avenue out to bring in her laundry off the line, and it made me hurry on my paper route. Kids at Homewood Park knew they had very little time left to finish their baseball game, and other kids knew they'd better get off the swings and monkey bars and get home. It was uncanny--the only time Skippy barked was when rain was imminent, and he was never, ever wrong. 

Right next door to us was Katie Lesh the black chihuahua. She was owned by Helen, who was not much bigger than Katie and was the smallest grownup I ever saw. Helen carried Katie constantly, and like most chihuahuas, that dog always looked miserable and nervous. She wasn't, I'm sure, because Helen treated her like a baby and was constantly fussing over her. Sometimes I wonder if my general disdain for chihuahuas is due to Helen and her annoyingly nasal voice always calling Katie's name and hauling her around, or if it's just because of how they're so trembly and seem like they need some heroin real bad or something.

I had a paper route for years on my street and a couple of the surrounding ones, and one of the houses had an enormous dog. If I had to guess, it was likely some sort of mastiff. (I think his name was Brutus, but I'm not sure.) He was owned by a Russian couple, and he used to be outside in his fenced-in yard when I delivered the paper. As soon as I came near the driveway, he'd start barking and stand up at the fence. I knew if he really wanted to, not only could he take that fence, he could make short work of me. But his owners would give a command in Russian, and he'd get down and be quiet. After some careful listening, I tried to say the same thing in an equally forceful voice. It worked!

I vastly prefer my present-day neighborhood dogs. They are far more pleasant and well-behaved. Perhaps it's just that Dog Ownership is largely different now. Most people are more compassionate and humane about their pets. There's more of a Pet Culture, and there's definitely a Dog Culture. And maybe I have more appreciation for dogs now because I have a granddog and because I'm not out there delivering papers. Despite my Joy in neighborhood dogs and even in seeing dog heads hanging out of cars, one thing is forever certain:  I'm not going to get a dog of my own. For me, Other People's Dogs is my favourite breed.


Friday, March 03, 2023

Catching Up Old-Style


Oh, hello. 

It seems we have some Catching Up to do. Let's get started.

*I Am Old And They Are Liars:  For 30+ years I wore high heels with pointy toes for 8 hours a day. My students and my colleagues appreciated (and envied) my shoe wardrobe. I seldom wore flats or sneakers, ever, even in my off hours. Fast forward to now, 12 years later:  I wear flat shoes with good support and a wide toe box like all the Experts recommend in order to Take Good Care Of My Feet. And for the First Time Ever I had to buy a corn removal product at the grocery store like an old person. Adding to my outrage was the fact that I had no one tangible upon which to focus my anger and resentment. How I'd love to go back to wearing my wonderful, beautiful career shoes in some audacious display of self-righteousness! Alas, however, I'd look ridiculous since I am constantly in leggings, skinny jeans, and comfy shirts.

*Am I Old Or Not And What Is She Trying To Say?  I've written here before about my funny grocery store and its astonishing Closeouts section where customers can buy anything from a Ben Franklin bobblehead to Subway restaurant visors to a bathroom vanity cabinet (no top). A couple weeks ago, I found a New York Times page-a-day crossword 2023 calendar for 25 cents. It also includes a free one month subscription to NYT Games. I grabbed it immediately. My favourite cashier, Sunshine, was ringing me out and she couldn't get over the price. "This is 25 cents?!" she said. "That's crazy!" I was bagging my stuff (reusable bags, of course) and agreed, "Right? I stood there for a minute trying to think of anyone else I could buy one for. It's such a great deal." Sunshine unintentionally clouded my skies with this remark, "Well, any old person, really, would love it." Thank goodness this was not the same day I had to buy my corn pads, or I probably would have smacked her.

*Speaking Of Old People, This Weather Alert From My Mother, Age 92:  Here in NEO, we've had an extremely mild winter. As in, I've only shovelled snow once SO FAR. Oh, we've had a bit of snow here and there, but nowhere near where we normally would be.   Nowhere near. And I've seen lots of robins around, along with my daffodils poking up several inches and the silver maples already budding red and getting their fringe. This, according to my mother, is Bad. "It's not good for this area of the country not to have snow this time of year. It's not good for the trees or the birds or anyone else. It's bad; it's not natural." I'm sure you all remember her Dire Warnings back in October of a Hard Winter. True, we still have March and at least part of April to go. And we did have a nasty snowstorm in May that broke down so many lovely blooming crabapples. But right now, I'm inclined to say YOU BLEW IT AGAIN, MOM.

*But Some Things Never Get Old:  I'm still taking tremendous satisfaction from quite a few Simple things, like my daily walks, which are full of happy encounters with neighborhood dogs; reading good books, most recently The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (highly recommended for any lover of words); a hot cup of coffee and Biscoff in the afternoons while watching Judge Judy or, more recently, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld. (The latter is a show on Netflix which I'm completely charmed by. I love hearing people talk passionately about their work, and I love listening to the perspectives of these comedians--how they see things so differently from the rest of us.) And I find constant Joy in our family group text. I'm crazy about my kids; there, I said it.

How are you feeling about your age these days? Lied to? Almost insulted? Silly? Grateful? Thanks for waiting, and chat me up in Comments.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

The Word Is Diplomatic, And I Wonder About Its Nuance


Before I get started on my Random Word, I want to take a moment and catch you up on a couple things happening here at the Dept. Firstly, I am somehow managing to exist without my dear Biscoff cookies these many weeks. Each trip to the grocery store(s) has been dismaying and sorrowful. Is there a National Shortage like there is with sriracha? I am bereft and there is no suitable substitute. Secondly, it is Cold here, too. We did get the polar freeze, but since we are not New York, Chicago, D.C., or Philadelphia, you would not know of it. Way back in 2016, when Cleveland hosted the RNC (ugh), we were briefly featured on weather maps, but that was short-lived. Once again, I'd like to acknowledge the Kindness of my Canadian Friends who selflessly shared their weather with us and again ask that they Not Do That Anymore.

On to today's word, which is Diplomatic

As a Teacher in a large (2100+), urban public high school, I had a great deal of practice with this word. Not only did I have to practice being Diplomatic with students, but more often, I had to exert an enormous amount of Diplomacy with their parents. Parental Contact was the number one mantra at our school, and to talk to the principals, you'd think it was the panacea for all concerns. Every single problem taken to a higher-up that involved a student was met with, "Did you talk to the parent?" Tardiness, cell phone usage, failing performance, violent behaviour, absenteeism, missing work, you name it, a call to the parent had to be the First Line Of Defense. Many times, the parents were baffled as to their student's behaviour, and many times my Diplomacy was put to the test, especially at conferences when I was face to face with parents, step-parents, grandparents, legal guardians, and/or probation/parole officers.

I will say that my Usual Way is always to be Straightforward and Honest. I'm naturally Direct, and that can sometimes come across as bitchy or mean. Of course, this is largely because I am a woman. If I were a man, it would be a non-issue.

It is not, however, difficult to temper Honesty and Directness with Kindness. It took me a little bit of time to discover that, and I think that was due to being a small woman in a tough school. It was important for me to establish my authority and learn how to command a room, to keep order and convey my expertise in the subject matter (along with my passion). 

But, after all, isn't being Diplomatic simply being Kind? Diplomacy is "handling people and situations so as to cause no feelings of ill will." It's the reason I used to bring in tubs of crackers, cookies, and granola bars for everyone in my class to share even though I was really making sure that the four or five kids I knew were going hungry would get something to eat. 

Perhaps Kindness is Diplomacy With Heart:

 "This haircut is terrible. I'm really unhappy with it," says your friend.

Diplomat says, "I'm sorry you're unhappy. What don't you like about it?"

Kind says, "Oh no! You're beautiful and I'll help you fix whatever you don't like."

What do you think? 


Saturday, January 21, 2023

The Word Is Plane, And I'm At War With Disney And Air Travel

January's weather is killing me, giving me horrid headaches and recovery days full of fatigue. Thankfully, there has been no meaningful snow, so I've been able to walk outside when I feel up to it. Another assist has been provided by NGS over at her spot The Time for Change--the idea to use a random word generator to give me a blog topic when I get stuck. Today's word was Plane, so here's my Plane story.

I was returning from visiting my dear (now late) friend Ann in Orlando, Florida. She was a vice president for a major resort company (second only to Disney), and had invited me for several days to relax at their properties and take drives into Georgia and North Carolina as well, where we visited some lovely places and just had a Ladies Getaway. It was wonderful.

She dropped me at the airport in Orlando, and while I was still unnerved by the somewhat overwhelming presence of the National Guard, I felt a little comforted. It was October 2001; the attack on the Twin Towers had occurred less than a month before. I also resigned myself to being pulled out of the line and wanded separately again. It had happened on my flight from Cleveland to Orlando, and I chalked it up to my olive complexion and almost black hair. Sure enough, I was pulled again despite not having set off any alarm. Soon enough, I was on my way.

On the plane my seatmate in the middle was a woman of about forty or so. Nonetheless, she was wearing her Minnie Mouse ears and was clutching a pair of winter white fur Mickey and Minnie plush figures. Her husband had the window seat. Inwardly, I rolled my eyes so far back in my head I could see my spinal column. There is nothing that annoys me more than an adult with a pathetic Disney fixation, and here I was, sitting next to one for the next two and a half hours.

I had brought a book, and I pulled it out. I always bring a book with an off-putting title, and this one was about the Salem witch trials (The Devil in Massachusetts). Unfortunately, this didn't deter her for long. Pretty soon, it started:  Was I coming from Orlando? Did I go to Disney World? Why not? Oh, she and her husband celebrated their anniversary there, and she just looooves Disney. And she was soooo happy to get these Special Edition White Mickey And Minnie Dolls! And on and on and on. I smiled and nodded and kept trying to look at my book.

Finally, I said, "I'm sorry, but I'm expected to present at a panel discussion tomorrow. I really need to study this," which was a complete fabrication, but I was desperate. She apologized and left me alone.

As we got near to Cleveland, the pilot spoke over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to have to delay our arrival in Cleveland for just a little while. They're not quite ready for us yet." Everyone sighed and grumbled. My seatmate futzed with her fluffy friends and wondered aloud what was going on. Our plane circled and wandered, and I looked out at the night sky, hoping that Rick knew our flight would be late and wouldn't be worried.

It seemed like we were waiting forever. No one knew anything. It was the Age Before Twitter. Before Smartphones. We were virtually disconnected.

My memory is a bit fuzzy on this detail:  I cannot remember if we landed and were held at the gate or if we were still in the air at this precise moment, but I finally pulled out my credit card and grabbed the AirPhone from the seat back in front of me. I called Rick and asked him if he knew what in the hell was going on after telling him what our status was.

"Nance," he said, "the US just bombed Afghanistan. And some idiot in the airport ran past security at this concourse. They shut the whole thing down and are making every single person go back through again. No flight is allowed to come in until everyone here has gone through security. They're being very careful because of the US action tonight. I'm sure they're worried about terrorism."

As Rick was talking, I couldn't help but react. "We bombed Afghanistan?!" As soon as I said this, Disney Fan lost it. She clutched her Special Editions and half rose in her seat, facing the rear of the plane. "We just bombed Afghanistan!" she announced dramatically.  "Oh My God!" 


Obviously, this night--October 7, 2001--was stressful and auspicious. I remember feeling dread, confusion, and anger about the invasion itself. My overall sentiments about this war and its instigator are well-known to longtime readers of this blog.

But what I remember most about the night of the actual bombing is that Plane ride and my incredible annoyance at Disney overall. As a matter of fact, that night put together two of the top things on my Most Annoying Things Ever List:  Air Travel and Disney Cult Members. Someday, perhaps, when I'm very, very old and really, really crabby and somewhat demented, I may even conflate Disney and the Afghanistan war and hold all of Disney responsible for it and for making me take my shoes off at the airport.

It's the Circle Of Life.


Saturday, January 07, 2023

Out With The Old And In With The New


It feels pretty late to tell everyone to have a Happy New Year. Also, it feels a bit prescriptive and even silly. Of course I want you all to have a Happy New Year. I also wish you had a Happy Old Year; did anyone? Someday this coming week, I need to sit down and really look back at 2022 and see if it was a Good Year. Lots of people bitched about it pretty solidly near the end, and I wonder if it was as bad as all that. 

(I did manage to end the year with one minor fall--up my basement steps with my arms full of stuff--right on my face. The first thing I did was check my teeth. They were intact--hooray!--but I split my lip. I put ice on it immediately, so I just looked like I had a collagen injection. Talk about 2022 going out with a bang, huh?)

This is also That Time Of Year when everyone's Spirit Of Resolve plucks up again, and we decide upon Guide Words or Programs or Philosophies that we hope will make us happier, better, or more purposeful going forward. As I always say, I am on a Continuous Path Of Self Improvement, so I don't usually use January 1st as an impetus for change or growth. Often, just ushering Christmas out the door makes me feel such a vast sense of Relief and Renewal that I get a rush of energy and a lift of my mood. I feel the urge to get things organized. I'm ready to throw things away.

(I have to tell you:  one thing I threw out was the remainder of a batch of Christmas Crack I made. Do you know of this stuff? It's aptly named. I was eating it for lunch, snacks, and anytime I passed the refrigerator. It's addictively wonderful. The day I dumped it in the trash can outdoors was liberating. I may never, ever make it again.)

We enjoyed some uncharacteristically warm weather for several days, and I was able to air out the entire house in January, and go walking in just a sweater. We were in the low sixties, and I was in heaven. My parsley perked up in the herb garden! I saw a dandelion in bloom on my walk! Strange days, indeed.

(Some strange things here lately:  we're both eating a lot less; I'm really sick of cooking; I'm observing Dry January; I'm listening to more music.)

About that last one--I'm listening to more music partly to drown out the persistent whine of our furnace, which needs a new inducer motor. Every time our furnace revs up to get to temperature, it sounds like an airplane getting ready to take off. Then it simply settles into a high-pitched whine. This will go on until mid-January when they come and replace it for a whole lot of money. A whole lot. Definitely not a high point of 2022.

But Winter has returned with her frosty mantle and icy breath. A sprinkling of snow covered some high spots this morning, and I shivered as I took out the trash and fed the blue jays their breakfast buffet. Lately, some squirrels have gotten wise to the free food and grab some peanuts, too. Oh, well. We don't exclude or discriminate at our restaurant. All are welcome, and my cats are entertained.

I'm hopeful for 2023, as I am for every new year, and I'm sure you are, too. Let's hope that it makes us joyful, content, and satisfied. And let's do everything we can to make it so.



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