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Time Travel January 31, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Upon inhaling that scent, with its subtle hint of mid-1970s full-blown green apple, I am transported from today’s supine winter bath to stand-up shampooings of summer showers long past, to the scrubbing away of the sweat of a humid day, to that eternity when boys who should have liked me didn’t, and men, who probably shouldn’t have, did.

Not Blue January 25, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I am, alas, not so much a person with a wine cellar as a person with wine in the cellar.

And so yesterday, upon awaking to –30°F temperatures, and blessedly not having to deal with frozen pipes, our first postbreakfast chore was to at last move the white wine (the red having migrated a couple of months ago) out of the only-about-60°-warmer cellar up to the first floor, which might, if we were lucky, manage a true 60° by nightfall. (This wine-moving is not a huge chore. Remember, we aren’t wine-cellar people, we’re wine-in-the-cellar people.)

Yesterday was January 24, Blue Monday 2011 according to some (see my last post). Others had declared January 17 Blue Monday—most others, in fact, and January 17 was the date that the media had pretty much glommed on to. Having personally had a very blue Monday on January 17, I was curious as to what might happen on the competing camp’s Blue Monday and whether I would be even more miserable. Helen asked me to report back, so here I am.

Unless you count icy fingers and toes, I did not find it a blue Monday at all. Oddly, I found it a pretty good Monday, which is curious, because I hate deep cold.

I hate deep cold because my house can barely handle it. Despite replacing all the windows and blowing in insulation, it doesn’t change the fact that I live in an 1890ish Victorian with a shallow, coal-burning, now-simply-ornamental-will-never-work fireplace and no logical place to put a woodstove. The kitchen is over a section of the basement that cannot be fully insulated, and when the temperatures drop this low, I can’t get the temperature of that room to 50° some days. I was lucky yesterday—it hit 51° at about 2:00 p.m.

Parts West is full of houses about the same age as mine, although many people have better backup heating systems than I. Still, we hold our collective breath in these conditions and are thankful when the next day dawns 30° warmer. One day we can get through. Five, six, seven days—and I have been through that more than once—is not good.

So what made such a deep cold Monday a good Monday and not a blue Monday was my neighbors. I don’t think I’ve ever had a morning when I chatted with so many of them, both via Facebook and by old-fashioned phone. Up in the heights, Ron had frozen pipes, and so did Laura and Chris, although I heard about the latter’s situation when Laura called from Arkansas, where she and Eugenia are taking care of Laura’s mother, who just broke her leg and had surgery. Chris, who will join Laura later this week, had told her about the pipes and worked it out, and Laura was calling to check on the rest of us. I heard about Ron when he was chatting with Lorrie on Facebook, where I could spy on their conversation and comment. I commiserated with the boys down at the general store, who apparently couldn’t get their downstairs temps past the 40s either. Lynda’s car wouldn’t start, and Thom came over to help her, and it took an hour and a half til the engine finally turned over. Sarah called to offer me office space at her house if mine was too cold to work in (she is such a sweetheart), but luckily my office is on the second floor, where I can get normal temperatures. Rhonda sent some of us coldies a warming video à la Internet, and we didn’t find out til the next day that her pipes had frozen up too.

At 2:30 I started my car and ran the engine for 5 minutes. Then I bravely walked to the post office and back.

Just after 5:00, Deb picked me for yoga, and I heard about the temperatures down Route 153 a ways and how Dan had checked in on Dayna’s cabin, which was holding up fine. Everybody lookin’ out for everybody. At the library we rolled yoga mats onto the radiant-heated floor, and I spread out all over it, like Christine’s cats over the heating vents. Did I mention that her cats’ water bowl in the kitchen had iced over? When I mentioned it to Lynda on the phone, she glanced at her own cats’ kitchen bowl and exclaimed, “Oh my god! Me too!”

Say Anything January 22, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

January threw me right back into the thick of deadlines, the first week pushing to get the textbook on kidney disease at last off my desk, the following weeks catching up on all the journal articles I’d fallen behind on (as a result of meeting the kidney disease textbook deadline) and trying to get everything to and through the art director before her 3-week disappearance to Hawaii. I’ve done little each day but work, work out, and collapse in a heap in front of the TV, wallowing in rewatching all of Firefly with Tim, for instance, then to bed to read a bit of Patti Smith or Carl Hiaasen before losing consciousness and starting all over again the next day. As this has seemed all too dull to report, I have not been reporting it.

There has been lots of snow, which means lots of shoveling (despite having someone plow my driveway). But it has also meant some good x-country skiing, one of the activities on my checklist. Getting outside does keep me from losing my mind in these winter months. Lately I’ve felt a bit on the edge of that—I have to stay on top of the fight against seasonal depression, against cabin fever.

Monday, for instance, was the worst, and when several days later I mentioned this to a friend, he helpfully reminded me that January 17 was this year’s Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year. (Of course, looking at the Wikipedia entry for this, there is good argument for January 24 being 2011’s true Blue Monday. If I live through January 24, perhaps I’ll report back.) In reviewing factors taken into consideration to determine this theoretical date (weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels, and the feeling of a need to take action), I can say that although I am experiencing low motivational levels, I think that the depression’s just a winter thing. For me it’s not debt, Christmas, or resolutions. I just need more hours of daylight, more warmth, even in this cooperative, snowy play-outside winter.

Yesterday I was having fantasies of mud, peepers, woodcock, and snipe. Red-winged blackbirds. Air warm enough to smell things (besides wood smoke and snowmobile exhaust). I’m not truly ready—I need some more winter sport—but what is life, anyway, without a little yearning for the next thing?

I Did Not Take These January 17, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Well, I did, in the sense that I am out-and-out stealing them.

This happened a few miles down Route 153 New Year’s Eve, while waiting to burn Sugartown (photo by Fat Red Ant):

This happened a few doors down sometime before that (photo by someone not appearing in this photo):

Monthly Checklist January 2, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

As I’ve noted previously, I’m not much of a resolution maker, although I experience annual frustration with myself for not finding/making/taking the time to plan meals around the endless supply of condiments and gifty foodstuffs that make their way into our home. I become more aware of this problem at holiday time when the newbies arrive and I realize that many of last year’s newbies are still taking up shelf space.

I successfully prepared a meal last week based on this must-use-condiments philosophy. I even invited a neighbor over at the last minute and subjected her to it, and she pronounced it good. Now I need to remember to remember to keep doing this.

But my monthly checklist idea isn’t about food. It’s about play. What makes me the most happy is playing outside. It is astounding, however, how easily I forget this. I work, I get sucked into the Internet, I collapse onto the couch at the end of a long day. When at some point I at last take a hike or go cross-country skiing or fly fishing, I remember: Oh yeah. Happiness. And then I go back to work and get all involved in projects and chores and I forget again. Or I remember, but it’s kind of theoretical and dreamlike.

So I made a checklist of a dozen activities that make me happy. If I’m not too busy (here we go already with the ifs), I’ll review the list at each month’s end and see how many I can check off. Many are seasonal, of course.

Here it is (in the imperative):

  • Cross-country ski
  • Snowshoe
  • Ice skate
  • Fly fish
  • Hike
  • Bike
  • Bird
  • Canoe
  • Swing (on the swing set next door)
  • Hang out at the swimming hole
  • Read in the hammock
  • Take a vacation (I have been particularly bad at this lately)

Maybe I’ll plaster my checklist to the refrigerator (which is currently and suddenly completely naked—but that’s another story). It’s nice to think that the checklist in the kitchen will serve as a visual reminder but, like all those forgotten condiments, maybe I’ll never really see it.