“Do you hear the snow against the window-panes, Kitty? How nice and soft it sounds! Just as if some one was kissing the window all over outside. I wonder if the snow LOVES the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Bethlehem, Pennslvania by cornersoftheworld

 

“Here
I’m here—
the snow falling.” ~ Kobayashi Issa

Lost in Winder by aL-baum on deviantART

Boxing Day, home, early evening.

It’s 28° F and dropping. This winter, I am perhaps more grateful for one thing above all others: the return of central heat to our house—a luxury too many of us take for granted. My hope for today? That those without, those facing the elements without the warmth of a coat, or hat, or gloves, those without shelter, those without a hot meal—those much less fortunate than we will be able to find a place to sleep tonight that offers some semblance of comfort.

We are currently experiencing one of the worst snowstorms to hit this area in many years. Earlier today conditions were classified as “near-whiteout,” reminding me of our 26-hour road trip to Ohio last  holiday season in which we found ourselves driving through a blizzard with frozen windshield wipers, and eventually, a flat tire. So glad we aren’t on the road today.

That being said, Corey did have to be at work at 7 this morning, and when he finished his shift at 3, it was snowing harder. For some reason, few snow plows are out (actually, not too surprising as Norfolk probably owns maybe two plows for the entire area), which mean that most major roads, let alone backroads in neighborhoods, have yet to be cleared. Right now Corey is scheduled to be back in at 6 a.m.; the forecast is calling for snow throughout the night, wind, and falling temperatures, which means ice.

People in Hampton Roads cannot drive in snow under the best conditions; give them ice, and driving becomes bumper cars. Not pretty.

“Today on the way home, it snows. Big, soft caressing flakes fall onto our skin like cold moths; the air fills with feathers.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Winter Morning (Pixdaus)

Originally, Corey had been scheduled to work yesterday morning (Christmas), but fortunately the yard to which he was supposed to report closed in the wee hours, so he was home with the family. Eamonn came over on Christmas Eve to finish his wrapping, and he spent the night here so that he could be home for Christmas morning. It was lovely.

Then yesterday was another day of running around, more so for Alexis, Eamonn, and Brett than Corey and myself. The kids had to go to their dad’s house, and then their grandfather’s house, then to my mom’s for Christmas dinner, then to their other grandmother’s for dessert. Afterwards, Mike and Alexis decided against their final three stops; Eamonn went to a friend’s house for the remainder of the night, and Corey, Brett and I came home and vegged.

Christmas dinner was wonderfully uneventful this year. Last year’s fiasco with the restaurant was not repeated. Instead, we decided collectively to eschew a traditional dinner in favor of Filipino food, so we had pancit, lumpia, rice, and tuppa. The only nod to westernization were the Pillsbury crescent rolls with fresh butter.

Everyone had their fill, and the aftermath of a big holiday dinner was greatly alleviated by fewer large dishes as well as far fewer leftovers. Admittedly, I had a bit of wine to help me get through the stress that arises whenever my mother’s house is filled with people who are all talking at once, something that tends to wreak havoc with my nerves. Of course, my mother had to comment about me being a wino, which is a hoot since I have gotten to the point at which I may drink a glass of something four times a year, two of them being Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Whatever. 

“Only a house, quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Winter-Licht by Michael Jotze (Pixdaus)

Today was blessedly quiet, with a few exceptions. I could not get to sleep last night, so I visited a few fellow bloggers until I felt my eyes getting heavy around 2:30 a.m. I awoke at one point with Shakes sitting on my chest making hacking sounds like he was about to throw up.

Someone (who shall remain nameless) thought that it would be a wonderful idea to buy all three dogs big beef marrow bones as part of their Christmas. All three dogs took turns throwing up yesterday and into last night. Let us just say that this bad decision shall not be repeated next year.

Anyway, Shakes did not throw up on me (thankfully), and he went back to sleep. I did not, so it was another restless night for me. Which means that I was so glad that my mother called at 10 a.m., asked me if I was still asleep, and then tried to have a conversation with me. I did manage to get a few hours of sound sleep between 10:30 and 12:30, so I’m not completely sleep-deprived.

Everything outside looked so beautiful from inside the house that I decided to snap a few pictures from the doorways (hope to post tomorrow). The big Camellia bush directly across from the kitchen window was almost completely covered and resembled an huge snowball. I then opened the front door and stuck my head out to take some shots of that area. Tillie, who had been waiting for someone to take her snowplowing, immediately gamboled out the front door and sank. I wasn’t worried about her running away, and she had a great time as I clicked away.

However . . . the two Jack Russells got wind of the fun being  had without them and came from beneath whatever covers they had been snuggled in and made a mad dash out the door. When they sank up to their bellies, I thought they would turn around and come back in, but nooooo. They made a run for it. It would have been funnier if not for a few things: Brett got really nervous, and I suddenly realized that if they went into the street, no one would be able to see them (good thing few cars were out and about). So I pulled some boots on over my flannel pjs, put on a sweater and coat, and went in search of the bad boys.

Brett pulled on his boots and ran out sans coat or hat and immediately spotted the two dogs that I hadn’t managed to find yet.  It was only amusing in retrospect. 

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” ~ A. A. Milne

Winter Dreams by Mikhail Tkachev (Pixdaus)

All in all, it was a fairly relaxing Christmas. I did start to go into overdrive on Christmas Eve until Corey reminded me that we had actually done pretty much everything that we needed to do. We had a nice meal, a few nice visits, and the kids got some things that they needed and wanted (the wanted was from relatives other than us).

My special present was that Corey picked up the ring that I had taken to the jeweler’s over two years ago and then forgot about; when I did remember that the ring was there, there was no money to pick it up, and then I convinced myself that they no longer had the ring and was too afraid to call them to find out the status.

Let me back up a second, the last Christmas before everything changed in our house Corey and I were both still working. He had bought me a right-hand ring that I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I didn’t really pay attention to the design until the ring broke at a stress point that was pretty obvious after-the-fact. That’s the ring that I finally took to the jeweler and promptly forgot as things like life took over my mind.

But now I have my ring back, and it’s better than new as the jeweler reinforced the stress area. So good times.

I’m going to close with a passage from James Joyce’s short story “The Dead,” which comes from his Dubliners collection. I did a Joycean seminar in which we studied Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses—all in four weeks. If you know anything about Joyce, then you realize what a grueling proposition this was (I was unaware when I enrolled). At the time, I didn’t have a real appreciation for “The Dead” as I was still trying to come to grips with Joyce’s transitional epiphany style as well as the lack of final literary resolution to which I had become so accustomed at that point.

Years later, I can appreciate much better Gabriel’s epiphany and the overwhelming subtlety of the snow as imagery for both life and death, paralysis and change.

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland . . . It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” ~ James Joyce

More later. Peace.

Music by The Weepies, “All that I Want’

“I know no other way out of what is both the maze of the eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.” ~ Lewis H. Lapham

 

 I want to go here: Hotel de l’Europe, Amsterdam

                   

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” ~ Mark Twain

And here: Bakklandet, Norway, by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Saturday afternoon, my house.

The autumn sun is shining brightly through the window of what used to be Eamonn’s room, and dust motes are dancing in the beams. Shakes is asleep on a pillow on the floor near my chair. Corey and Tillie are at the park; Alfie has the big bed all to himself, and Brett is playing XBox. All in all, a rather quiet, peaceful Saturday.

Alexis is busy with a yard sale, some of the proceeds from which will go to Jennifer’s fund for her son Reilly. I spent $10 I didn’t have on two china teapots that belonged to Janet’s mother, Amanda’s grandmother (Amanda is a life-long friend of Alexis). They are beautiful and might make lovely gifts for someone. I also scored a free bread maker, which is great as Corey and I were looking at breadmakers last Christmas but decided against the investment. Scott, Amanda’s father was diagnosed as being Diabetic Type II, so no more homemade bread for them. The bread maker is in great shape, which makes getting it free a great yard-sale deal.

Fresh, hot bread and homemade soups and stews—a winter staple in our house. I know many people who do not like using slow cookers, or crock pots, but I have always used one. When I worked full-time, I would put the soup on in the morning, and when we got home nine hours later, we would have a delicious, hot soup for dinner. Small pleasures.

“So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being.” ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel

And here: Bruges, Belgium

I began this post on Saturday, and it is now Wednesday evening. Corey asked me this morning if I was going to post soon as I hadn’t added anything since the 19th, which reminded me that I had actually started a post but had never gotten back to it. I had a very good reason, though.

I did something on Saturday and Sunday that I’ve needed to do for a while, but just didn’t feel ready to do: I cleaned my closets, really cleaned, and filled two large black trash bags with clothes, not including the three suits on hangers. I got rid of pretty much anything that I wore to work; I realized that if I ever returned to work, I would want a new wardrobe, that and the fact that none of these clothes would be in style if I do ever resume my career.

So someone at the thrift store will get a great deal on two Jones New York suits, and one Chaus suit, one of which had never been worn, not to mention the jackets, blouses, and pants that I tossed.

It felt good, really good, as if I had passed some kind of hurdle, which is actually what I did. I mean, I cleaned out a chunk of my life that doesn’t exist any more. Corey was both surprised and amazed.

Of course when I finished, my body was completely trashed, and it has taken until this afternoon for me not to be in constant, throbbing pain. The price I pay for living.

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering—because you can’t take it in all at once.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

And here: Istanbul, Turkey

While trying to recuperate from my big project, I had to take my mother to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, after which she wanted to do some grocery shopping. No surprise that by the time we were finished, she was complaining bitterly that her leg was hurting. She is doing well, but she has not yet healed completely, something that she does not seem able to reconcile.

After all of her hard work, Alexis only made about $70 at the yard sale. She was a bit down about that, but at least this particular project is over.

In other family news, Eamonn stopped by Monday evening to pick up some of his belongings. I have been pressing him to make some decisions as Corey and I want to change Eamonn’s bedroom into an office, so of course eldest son is thinking about moving back home. I would love to have him move back, but I don’t think that he will; rather, I think that he bothered by the idea of his bedroom being transformed into something not reflective of him, which is to be expected.

Brett finished his astronomy project yesterday, which put him in great shape for Thanksgiving break. He is really doing well in school, and I cannot say enough how happy I am at the change that I see in him.

“Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.” ~ Simone de Beauvoire

And here: Helsinki, Finland by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and in preparation, I have baked sweet potatoes so that I can mash them tomorrow (with a dash of vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cream), and I have made a cranberry salad that I hope turns out okay as it is my first time with this recipe. Tomorrow I’ll make the dressing. just a basic recipe.

Corey has to work from 7 to 3, so we’ll probably eat around 5. I’ll go to my mom’s around noon to put the turkey in the oven as it is quite large and heavy. Mom has already made pecan pies and is cooking the green beans, and I’ll make the gravy and heat the rolls after the turkey comes out of the oven.

After last year’s fiasco in which Alexis got up in the afternoon and didn’t put the turkey into the oven until 2 p.m., she is responsible for the mashed potatoes and corn this year, two things that do not require a great deal of time. I do have to say, though, that since she started her new medicine, she does seem to have more energy and hasn’t been sleeping for 24 hours at a time—a positive sign that perhaps she is moving in the right direction.

So if everything goes as planned—which never, ever happens with this family—all details of our Thanksgiving feast should be covered. Eamonn is eating with us, which means that the whole family will be together. I just have to try not to get hyper and anxious, something always happens whenever the whole family is together. I love it, but it makes me very fretful as the perfectionist thing kicks into overdrive.

“If I see the outer world differently from how others see it, it’s because I inadvertently incorporate, into what I see, the things from my dreams that have stuck to my eyes and ears.” ~ Fernandoa Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

And also here: Locronan, Brittany, France

                   

I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another winter in this house without natural gas for heat and cooking, so I took money out of my retirement to pay the back balance to Virginia Natural Gas. In addition to the balance, we have to pay a deposit, which they will spread over three months.

It’s a major expenditure, but a necessary one.  I mean, let’s face it; the cold wreaks havoc with my back, not to mention my knees, which is why it’s so odd that I would love to relocate to a place that has mountains and snow. But ask me on another day, and I would love to relocate to the tropics. As with most things, I don’t really know what I want, but what I want is anywhere but here.

Brett has been talking about New Zealand, a country that I have wanted to visit since I was a child. I told him that unfortunately, the reality is that I cannot even think of moving far away as long as my mother is still around. Her recent accident only reinforced the reality that I have been trying to avoid: As an only child, there is no one else to step in, and there never will be.

Life has an odd way of unfolding, of spilling seemingly insignificant pebbles across the path, only for the pebbles to morph into giant boulders when no one is paying attention. And boulders, well they don’t move at all and cannot be easily pushed to the side, which means that the only way forward is around, making the path longer than anticipated.

As a fellow once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Too right, that.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cyndi Lauper, “Fearless”

                   

Fearless

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go
Sometimes I’m afraid when you come home
Underneath it all . . .
I think I’m afraid when there’s nothing wrong.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

There’s something that I never told
When I find myself slipping off of my pedestal
I’m a fierce believer afraid to fall.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark
I can’t find the light in my heart
I can see my hand pushing away from you
Hard as I can

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your wreckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go . . .

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Norma Desmond

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

 

Joe Gillis: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.” 
Norma Desmond: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

No post yesterday as I could think of absolutely nothing interesting to say.  Hate it when that happens.

A few bits and pieces for my Friday Leftovers:

One of my favorite bloggers has taken down her blog. I deleted it from my blogroll today and have to say that it gave me a pang of sadness to do so. She is a wonderful writer and has a great turn with words. I’m hoping that she will reconsider and come back with a new iteration. Although I must admit that I understand too well her comment about how she feels that her blog has become too whiney. I often feel that way myself, although, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to whine and post. Perhaps she has the right idea . . . Just a thought.

I’ve been reading the latest on what Junior Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is doing, and boy am I glad that he was finally sworn in. The man is incredibly intelligent and is working quickly to make a name for himself. In one article, Franken took to task conservative economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth for claiming that the Democrats’ healthcare reforms would increase the number of bankruptcies filed for medical reasons. As Franken pointed out, countries with national healthcare, such as Switzerland, Germany, and France had exactly zero bankruptcies due to medical crises last year. So nice when sweeping generalizations are countered with cold, hard facts.

Sunset Boulevard Movie Poster
Movie Poster for Sunset Boulevard

In my ongoing quest to add new titles to my music playlists, I have downloaded some songs from the movie Across the Universe, which features covers of Beatles’ songs. Even though the Beatles still rank as one of my favorite bands, I am not a Beatle elitist, and I really enjoy a good cover. I’m including one of my favorites at the end of this post. It’s by Fiona Apple, who has a wonderful voice. The song is actually not from the movie but from the television show “Smallville,” but it is a Beatles’ cover nonetheless.

I have asked Corey to go through the storage bins again and find me some new-old reading material. I haven’t read a book in almost two weeks, and I’m going through withdrawal. Of course, for most of those days, I couldn’t read because of the blasted migraine, but the pain has settled into just a general tight discomfort, so I want to read. In particular, I’m craving my Ann Rule books. If you like a tightly-written true crime novel, she is the best in her genre.

Speaking of migraines, I think that I’m clenching my teeth again. Actually, I’m sure of it. When I first wake up, my jaw is very tight, and it hurts, just like it used to years ago when I was clenching and grinding in my sleep. I actually had two jaw surgeries because of my TMJ. I hope that just by being aware of it now I can reteach myself not to clench. No more surgeries for me.

Last week this time it was about 46° F outside. Today it’s about 80° F. I love this area. It’s just a hotbed for extremes, which wreaks havoc on the sinuses. Common saying about Tidewater/Hampton Roads: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours.”

I glanced at the calendar today, and am completely mystified as to how it is October already, let alone almost Halloween. I am so not ready for the holidays. I hope to make it through November reasonably well this year, but I never know. November is such a horrible month for me—too many bad anniversaries. Here’s hoping that I don’t crash and burn like I did last November.

Norma Desmond: “There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn’t good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Another political aside: Darth Dick Cheney received the Center for Security Policy’s Keeper of the Flame Award. Looking on and listening to Cheney were convicted felon Scooter Libby and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Great company. Essentially, the speech was filled with more of Cheney’s nonsensical commentary about how life was safe under Bush and Cheney (for, and I quote, “seven years, four months, and nine days”) and life is horrible now because . . . well . . . Obama hasn’t resolved the war in Afghanistan that Cheney started . . . This administration isn’t using the former administration’s review of the eight-year-old war. I believe the word dithering was used. Hmm, if Cheney had such a great plan to end the war, why didn’t he do it when he was in office? Why did requests for more troops sit unanswered for eight months? Why was Afghanistan clearly relegated to secondary status after Iraq? But most importantly, why is this man still speaking, and why are people still listening? “Keeper of the Flame”? More like perpetuator of flaming discord. Beh.

One more: When I mentioned earlier that I didn’t think that President Obama’s White House should openly engage in a fracas with Fox Noise, I said that the publicity would only encourage them. Boy was I right, and not in a good way. People: Calm Down. Some of you need to be reminded that the Bush administration regularly neglected to allow commentators and news people from networks and radio stations that were perceived to be too liberal or anti-Bush. Whenever W. invited talk radio hosts to the White House, liberal hosts were never included, but conservative braniacs like Glenn Beck were. In the last two years of the administration, NBC, and MSNBC were regularly left off lists. And dare I mention that little tidbit about how W.’s communications people paid journalists to ask questions? Remember Jeff Gannon of the questionable Talon News? ‘Nuff said.

Sending good luck wishes across the world to Australia for Maureen of White Orchid, who is waiting to hear about her new job, and her daughter Prue, who is scheduled for surgery. A stressful time for everyone. Hoping that everything turns out well.

On this front, still waiting to see if Social Security is going to approve my disability claim this time. Had to send them additional information. Have I mentioned before how much I love bureaucracies and paper work?

Someone please explain to me why it would be bad to have healthcare for everyone who needs it? I know that we aren’t going to get exactly what we need, but if we get nothing again this time, then I am going to work my butt off in the campaign to rescind healthcare for Congress at no cost. Why do they deserve healthcare, but everyone else does not? And don’t try to tell me that this statement and the one above contradict each other. I would gladly fill out forms if it meant that I was getting somewhere. It’s the constant completion of forms without any forward progress that irks me.

President Obama is coming to Virginia on Tuesday on behalf of Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds. About time, I say. I’m not really sure why Obama waited so long to get involved in this race as it’s a big one. Virginia almost always goes with a Republican governor when the President is a Democrat. This time, we had a chance to keep a Democrat, yet Obama has not done much in the way of supporting Deeds. You would think that he would have worked harder to retain a state that went blue for the first time since 1964.

Windows has come out with Windows 7. Excuse me, but I still can’t use this frigging Windows Vista without my computer locking up at least once a day. Windows XP was a wonderful operating system. I loved it, loved everything about it, considered it the best since Windows 95. What is it with Windows? I know, Macs are better, but who can afford a Mac? If they weren’t so blasted expensive, I’d say convert all of the PC’s to Macs, but of course, that is completely out of the question. Corey likes to remind me that he has no problems with Vista. Yep. Okay. Whatever.

Norma Desmond: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond
Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond

When I proofed this post on Sunday, I realized that an entire paragraph was missing, the one that explains the whole Sunset Boulevard theme: In case you did not recognize the quote “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,” it is taken from Sunset Boulevard, a classic movie starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, an aging, delusional movie star. That particular line comes at the end of the movie. Some of you may remember Carol Burnett’s hilarious turn as Norma Desmond on the old “Carol Burnett Show.”

Nothing yet on the job front for Corey. He did submit his application to Newport News Shipbuilding for their apprentice program, but we have no idea as to how long that process takes. If he gets in, it would be a great move. He would get a decent salary as an apprentice with full benefits, plus he would finish the program with an Associate’s Degree. I’m really hoping that this works out because the whole tug boat thing is at a standstill.

Mom decided not to replace her roof right now, this after weeks of calling us every couple of hours about what to do. My mother is decidedly single-minded once she is focused on something, and then, she turns on a dime. Not even trying to figure her out any more.

By the way, any more is technically supposed to be two words all of the time. Over time, anymore as one word has been substituted, but it is not preferred grammatically. The difference is that any more as two words signifies any longer. When used as one word, it is a colloquialism for nowadays: Not a day goes by without a headache anymore. Yuck.

Other than that, everything else is pretty much normal. Tillie is fine after her last episode. Brett is trying to stay caught up in school, and Eamonn is still working on his construction job until the new school semester. Not hearing a lot from Alexis these days. Not sure if she is in one of her moods, or just extraordinarily busy. Such is life when everyone is busy with their own things. Oh yes, the van is still running nicely, and the truck is still dead.  Good and bad, as usual.

Here’s hoping that nothing else too dramatic happens in the next few days. However, I’ve been on the phone (currently on hold) with my retirement fund for the past 20 minutes regarding a withdrawal, and I don’t think that I’m going to hear what I want to hear; this after speaking to three different people about this transaction and being told that everything was fine. Why oh why, I am whining to myself.

 

More later. Peace.