THE ANXIOUS TRAVELER

My husband and I take a lot of short trips on our boat throughout the summer. I love the trips, but I’m not a “good” traveler. Despite having traveled a lot in my life, going away for two nights still requires two suitcases and days of planning and organizing.

I envy spontaneous people who can decide on a whim to go away to some exotic place. Throw a few things into a suitcase and take off.

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Maybe they don’t have dogs, kids, or plants. Maybe they don’t have as many cosmetics, skin care products, hair equipment, vitamins, and medications, as I do. (Plus the bite plate that I regularly forget).

Maybe they their summer beach clothes are readily accessible in the dead of winter. Maybe they have husbands who can pack for themselves without leaving half their essentials behind.

Whatever the reasons, I am not that person.

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When I travel, my lists have lists. Footnotes, too. I feel like I’m planning the invasion of a small country. “You – feed the dogs and don’t forget their medicines”; “You – water the plants and collect the mail”; “You – handle the UPS delivery on Friday”. The list of all emergency contacts is on the refrigerator, highlighted in three colors!

Packing is a trauma. I try to take the smallest amount of clothes and jewelry, but that just adds to the stress. I always end up packing a large amount anyway. I do loads of laundry to make sure that everything I could possibly want to take is clean. Then I try to find the minimum number of tops that go with the minimum number of pants and skirts.

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I suck at math so this becomes a very stressful exercise as well. Jewelry selection is another major operation. I try to limit my color palette so I can also limit the amount of jewelry and accessories I take, but then I have to make sure that they will be able to mix and match with all the clothes. I also have to make sure that my wardrobe covers everything from poolside casual to dressy evening as well as unseasonal weather, which has caught me off guard many times. You can see that the complexity can be overwhelming.

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Coming home is also stressful. There’s always a lot of laundry in addition to unpacking and catching up on phone calls and errands. If I haven’t been away for at least a week, it feels like deja vu. Wasn’t I just packing all this shit? I usually manage to relax and have a good time when I’m away, especially when I’m on our boat. Only someone with serious issues would have trouble relaxing there. But when the next trip comes up, my first reaction is still, “Oh no! Not again”.

Then I take a deep breath and start making lists.

HERE AND NOW. AND THEN.

Here and now. And then. I’m pooped. Garry and I were just talking about how WBZ didn’t cover the First Night New Year’s stuff in Boston this year, but Boston didn’t do as much for First Night as it has in the past.

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I said that New Year’s is dropping out of the top five of Big Holidays. Why? I think it’s simply too much. Halloween has gotten bigger and Thanksgiving has always been huge. Then, up roars Christmas and by the time everyone is done with the last of the pies and leftovers, oh my god it’s New Year’s.

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Holiday exhaustion has overwhelmed the population. We’ve been partying, shopping, cooking, entertaining, wrapping, decorating and overeating since October and no has the energy or money for one more big bang holiday. Thus we all more or less sleep through New Years.

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And so, here I am. Still in my flannel granny gown and robe with no intention of getting any more dressed than this. Oh, I’ll get to the shower eventually. Probably.

It was a long, busy year and the last two months have been monumentally overloaded in every way. Now, we are about to pack up and go on holiday for real and all I can think about it how much i want to just sleep for a month.

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We are up, up, and away the day after tomorrow for two weeks. I’ve prepared posts for at least the first week and I’m hoping that photography and holiday updates will take care of the rest, but if I seem to disappear, you can assume any of the following:

  1. We went to the Grand Canyon and I fell in, camera and all.
  2. We went hiking and I was eaten by something huge and furry and hungry, thus completing the circle of life.
  3. I discovered the joy of not blogging for a whole week or two!

Take you pick of any or all of the above. I will be back, hopefully energized and with stories to tell.

AS THE BALL DROPPED IN TIMES SQUARE …

Suddenly, without any warning, Garry changed the channel.

“Why,” I asked, “Did you change the channel?”

He arched one eyebrow and I looked at the time. “Oh,” I said. “It’s almost midnight.”

He navigated to the channel showing the Times Square (New York) annual event and he counted down the final ten seconds. Then we kissed, retaining our delicate balance and not falling off the sofa.

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The dogs, instantly recognizing an opportunity, seized the moment to do a happy give-us-a-biscuit dance. They were intensely cute and were properly rewarded for their efforts.

And then, we went back to watching NCIS. Another year has passed. Let’s hope this is a very good one for us all.

IT MUST BE CHRISTMAS … OR MAYBE THE DAY AFTER

Post by Marilyn Armstrong

Photographs (except 2) by Kaiti Kraus (aka The Granddaughter)

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It’s one in the morning and you’re exhausted. You ate so much at dinner you are uncomfortably aware of how full your tummy is.

Full of great food you rarely eat. Despite this, you can’t seem to settle down.

  1. It must be Christmas because you are so full you can hardly breathe, yet you want another piece of peach pie.
  2. You’re in bed. Warm. Finally got your feet up … but you need to go and look at least one of your gifts. It will still be there in the morning, but you need to look right now.
  3. You are wondering if you should have kept more leftovers so you wouldn’t have to cook again until New Year’s.

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Even though there’s no more room in the refrigerator.  Or anything in which to store more of anything.

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It really must be Christmas … because you’re too tired to move, but you really want to …

WRAPPED UP

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It’s here. Christmas Eve. To all of you with whom I’ve shared this blogging year, Merry Christmas. May your next year be the best ever. Joy to the world and let’s have a little bit of peace!

Bishop's ready! Doesn't he look ready?

Bishop’s ready! Doesn’t he look ready?

It is Christmas Eve. The packages are all wrapped. The pies are baked. The family will be here later, but meanwhile it’s nice and peaceful.

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A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS – or – THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.

1864

1864

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

1883

1883

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

1886

1886

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

1896

1896

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack.

1898

1898

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

1901

1901

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.