SNOW AND THE HOLIDAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

Today and tomorrow are doctor visit days for Garry. His three-month surgical checkup for his ear and a stress test for his heart … so I’m writing ahead because I’m just not going to be around. Hope you don’t mind.

This is turning out to be a crazy busy month. I feel like Alice, running as fast as she can just to stay in the same place!

The holidays haven’t officially “hit” because of a calendar thing. It’s not because Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Nope, it’s that all of a sudden, it’s winter. We’ve got snow.

Snow falls and suddenly, everyone thinks Christmas, including those of us who aren’t Christian. Much of the snow that fell while we were away has melted. Not all of it, but more than half, anyway.

More is expected today and tomorrow. I suppose we might as well get on with holidays since, with the ground snowy, icy, and muddy, there isn’t much else to do.

The last time we got significant snow before or on Thanksgiving was 2014, a year during which we got 120 inches of snow out here in the country. That is, no matter how you look at it, a lot of snow. It’s the amount they normally get in northern Maine. It’s downright Siberian.

Christmas is so minimal in this house, there’s really isn’t much for us to do. I don’t put up wreaths any more.  We have so few visitors and live far off the main road that no one sees them.

Also, the nursery where I used to buy them closed and somehow, buying them at the grocery store may be cheaper, but it doesn’t have that “feeling” it had, picking the perfect one at the nursery.

We don’t give gifts because we don’t have money and anything we can afford is no more than a kindly thought. We give small things. Holiday reminders, maybe. Remembrance of days gone by when we ran up our credit cards because we got into some kind of bizarre Christmas frenzy.

These days, the tree gets plugged in. Our blue Christmas lights live in the living room drapes all year round, so when the holiday arrives, I just plug them in.

It doesn’t get simpler than that. We had fun with Tom and Ellin and that’s always a treat.

The weather isn’t as bad as it is going to be in a few days. Hopefully, we’ll have time to get some of the many errands, doctor appointments, vet appointments, and other stuff done.

And I have my fingers crossed that we’ll find someone to plow the driveway!

Boston’s big holiday tree

This is an El Niño year which can be bad. But, you never know. Sometimes winter starts out bad but eases up. Meanwhile, I’m keeping a close eye on weather maps and trying not to worry.

ROLL BACK THE CALENDAR! I’M NOT READY! – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – Not the Holidays again!


“Oh no,” I cried. “Not again!”

Bad enough that summer was nothing but a giant rainstorm … but it’s November and you know what that means! Holidays. I am even more unready for holidays as I am for finding someone to clear the millions of leaves off our property, much less having them mix with tons of snow. Arghh!

It will be a Christmas tree. At Christmas.

My son decided to not do Thanksgiving this year. It’s the first time we’ve ever lived near each other and not “done” Thanksgiving and he was a bit apologetic.

“Not to worry,” I said. He got an invitation to go to the Cape and enjoy someone else’s cooking. I congratulated him. I pointed out he might learn to enjoy not making a giant feast. We’ll do a get-together Christmas Eve and open our mini-gifts, which is what we give.

I have a tabletop fake (but it looks real) tree with decorations already on it.  It has lights, too. It lives in the guest room in a big black bag. Every year, I remove the bag, carry the tree to the living room, and plug it in.

Voila! Christmas.

I cook something on Christmas Eve for whoever is coming by. No one except Owen bothers to tell me they are coming. I think my granddaughter is hoping for a better offer.

We don’t buy “real” gifts. No big packages greatly reduce Christmas visits. I give better gifts for birthdays. One gift to one person — I can get something they may actually want. Garry and I give each other stuff all the time anyway. As for me, we’ve already got far too much stuff.

Christmas Day, Garry and I watch boring old movies during which they sing “White Christmas” and Garry always points out that it’s racist. Then we eat something, which this year, might be frozen pizza.

When I was a mere lass, the Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday season was a big deal. Mostly that grew out of being raised “atheistically Jewish.” That meant no celebration. No decorations. I always felt left out. When I married “out,” I was delighted to finally get a piece of the holiday.

November through a sunny window

But then, everyone, including my granddaughter, grew up. I realized we didn’t need a huge tree taking up half the living room nor did I need to go into five years of credit debt to buy stuff no one seemed to care about.

These years, the Holidays are stripped to the minimum. Enough so my little tree looks pretty — and takes less than 10 minutes to set up. Garry and I buy each other something small. This year, I think I’ll get him a Red Sox sweatshirt. He will buy me flowers because he figures if I wanted it, I’ve probably already bought it.

What a relief!

LOATHING LABOR – Marilyn Armstrong

My kitchen floor needs a serious scrubbing. I have put it off for a couple of weeks, vacuuming it regularly and cleaning up dribbles and dropped food when it lands, unless the dogs get there first.

I loathe labor.

Doesn’t everyone?

I don’t mean we all hate our work because some of us loved our work. Continue to love it. I never hated writing, for example, but I hated making indexes. I got exhausted just thinking about setting up a book for publication.

And housework? It’s no wonder men don’t want to do it. No one wants to do it unless they are getting paid.

The un-Christmas house

It’s hard work. It’s thankless because half the time, no one even notices that you’ve been down on hands and knees cleaning that hideous place behind the toilet in the bathroom … or scrubbing off the sticky mess on the refrigerator racks. And before you blink twice, you’ll need to do it again. It is hard and it’s repetitive.

I love when doctors calculate how much work you do, they don’t count housework because “that’s not work.”

They should try doing some of it. Personally. With their own delicate hands. After that, please tell me again how “it’s not work. ”

Today is Labor Day. The day isn’t a celebration of working, but rather a joyous celebration of how Labor Unions, who everyone trashes these days, worked so we could have a five-day week, get safer working conditions, and hopefully take home a paycheck on which we could live.

Ghost of Christmas present

Now that so many corporations have brainwashed workers into thinking unions are merely graft, they should think back to the good old days of Tiny Tim when Bob Cratchit had no days off, no vacations, no sick days, no holidays. And a paycheck so small he could not afford to buy a goose for his family on the holidays.

I’m pretty sure that’s the way we are going — and I’m equally sure that no one is going to like it one little bit.

FOWC with Fandango — Loathe

RDP Monday Prompt: LABOUR

CHRISTMAS CACTUS BUDDING AND BLOOMING

FLOWERS OF MY DAY


Usually, my Christmas cactus blooms like mad around Thanksgiving, but this year, they looked limp and miserable.

I realized I had done the one single thing that you can’t do to a cactus: I over-watered it. Not by a lot, mind you. A little bit. I let the earth stay moist instead of letting it get dusty dry, which is what you need to do to bring them into flower.

When they failed to flower at Christmas, I stood in front of my mirror and yelled at me. I told me to “PUT DOWN THE WATERING CAN.” I did.

For the past week, I’ve been watching the buds come out on the cactus. Red and dark pink — on the same plant. That’s new. Usually I get just one color per blooming. Most of them are still unopened, but we’re going away for the next few days. I’m afraid i may miss the main blooming, so I shot pictures today, just in case.

I should have used my macro lens, but I didn’t … just a more or less standard f1.7 “normal.” They are still pretty. I’ll try to grab a few more shots tomorrow.

IT’S NATIONAL “CLEAN OFF YOUR DESK” DAY

I’m not making this up. That’s what it says on the calendar “a holiday per day” app I have.

“The second Monday of January each year recognizes National Clean Off Your Desk Day as an opportunity to begin your new year with a clean and organized work-space.  Whether in a private or shared office, cubicle,  home or a make-shift desk on the counter, having an uncluttered, organized, refreshed, and clean place to work will improve your efficiency and improve your serenity.”

Or, in my case, a place to store the Christmas tree for another year.

This is good because I was actually planning to clean off my unused desk so I can put the Christmas tree there to await next Christmas. We had been putting it in the attic, but the ladder to our attic is getting increasingly rickety. Every time Owen goes up that ladder I wince. I’m sure it’s going to collapse under him.

Previously, my office. Now it has the guest bed and the Christmas presents that still need wrapping. And, of course, a giant oak desk. Anyone need a giant oak desk?

I decided this year, since we aren’t really using the room or the desk for anything much, why not put the tree and the nutcrackers there, thus saving Owen from a death-defying clamber up a creaky old ladder.

So. Just this once, I’m aligned with the calendar. I am cleaning off my desk on the official day. Are you impressed?

DOGS, TOYS AND A HOLIDAY

We gave them three brand new Kong toys … the only ones worth buying because they are the only ones that last longer than a couple of minutes. Of the three, the one that looked like a little Teddy Bear disappeared entirely within minutes of Bonnie adopting it, but has reappeared several times. I saw it as recently as this morning, but when we came back from the hospital, I saw it on the far side of the front yard near the other gate.

We gave the strange birdlike stuffed creature to The Duke and eventually when Gibbs appeared, gave the Dodo to him.

Sometimes missing toys reappear. Others vanish and are never seen again.

Of the original three, one still looks almost newish. It’s identical to its original, the strangely birdlike creature that all the dogs dearly love. So there are two of them — the old one and the new one.

Then, there’s the blue Dodo. It was brand new. Gibbs grabbed it and took it outside. Later, he brought it back. Covered in ice and snow and mud, it was one of the most disgusting items ever brought in from outside. I washed it with soap and hot water and Garry threw it in the dryer. It sat in lonely isolation on the end table until Duke, frustrated by seeing it but not having it, went rogue and got it on his own. It is out in the snow in the front yard now. Maybe it will come home later.

You certainly couldn’t accuse our dogs of not appreciating their new toys. I wish they wouldn’t drag them out into the mud and ice so fast, but they don’t lack enthusiasm. They sure do love the toys. Looking around, one of the two strange birdlike creatures has gone missing. Again.

IS SNOW A COLOR? – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE

IS SNOW A COLOR? I THINK SO!


It snowed Christmas Eve and ended just around dawn of Christmas Day. It left a few inches behind. A pretty little snow. It still needs to be plowed, but a plow will not be forthcoming until later in the day.

After the plow will come the oil truck. First things first!

Scarlet autumn
Silver steel