Friday, December 24, 2010

It is the night before Christmas and it is quiet in the house. Just finished up a good meal of a new tortilla soup recipe and as I was the cook, everyone else cleaned up the dishes and kitchen. The shopping is done and most of the wrapping is done and everyone is settled into their various activities until we gather for Rudolph or is it Mr. Magoo's Christmas (real heavy stuff).

A sign of the kids getting older is that we'll go to church for the 11PM caroling and service rather than the 5:00 family service we've gone to for years and years. Christmas eve takes on a different feel. Sounds of carols in the other room a strumming of a guitar in another; the closing of a door to shield the eyes of another gift to be wrapped. The pellet stove busily pumps out heat that wafts around the corners and up the stairs.

It is a white Christmas, it's been white for weeks. Perhaps there will be a bit more and the fierce cold will make sure it stays. I am on day 2 of vacation and decelerating well. I was in the grocery store today and the bagger commented on the range of emotions they see, the register was acting up and he was thankful that I was in a cheerful state and not yelling at them, as I guess has been the case. The days around Christmas are either overload then wipe out. Fortunately for us it has been busy but resisting the movement to crazy. I guess a couple good runs in this week have helped as well.

I am blessed in many many ways by family and friends (both in person and those I have only met on-line) and by an the abundance of much.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Check out this wonderful video

Monday, December 20, 2010

The look of "very cold"

Here in the hills there can be a very distinct look of "very cold", especially in the early morning. Without looking at the thermometer or stepping outside you can get a sense if it is really cold by the look of the clouds, the air, the trees. Unfortunately it doesn't translate well into pictures, at least with my point and shoot.

Out yesterday morning at 7 for a quick 4 mile run, the haze was over the ridgeline, looking hard and not really moving. So unlike the wafting mist in the summer or low clouds of the spring.....still as if frozen in place. It was 15 degrees out and while sunny, the rays didn't seem to do much.

The sky was a powder blue with a certain fuzziness to the clouds. The branches of the trees along the ridge and up the road seemed more vividly clear and distinct. It wasn't until I got up close that I could see the frozen water vapor that encased them with this ever so thin layer that is so unlike ice after a storm. Like an artist's pencil, each one was highlighted and edges sharpened, they seemed to jump out of the scenery.

The smoke coming out of the chimneys moved slowly and stiffly. Straight up in columns like contained in a frozen tube. Not many swirls.

The light snow covering seemed hard on the grass, as if would crunch if I stepped off the path.

The world seemed more contained, more condensed and with a clearness that was precise on that crisp December morn.

Friday, December 17, 2010

If there was questioned whether winter was here, even though the official date has not arrived, the wave of cold easily dispels that. Add to that this thin layer of snow that seems to be added to every night to accommodate what may have melted in the sunlight of the day. It is somewhat like a holding pattern......

though when I travel out of the hills and into the valley, and someone causes me to notice, these is no snow, there it is just cold. The cold that radiates from the walls of my brick office, that hovers on the inside of the big glass windows not sure what to do with itself. The bright sun outside and looks so warm, but then the trips down the unheated stairwells jolts you back into reality.

It seems like the time is not sure whether to speed up or slow down. The cold says slow down, get warm, the approaching the time between Christmas and New Years, says the same and but then it doesn't. The prep for Christmas and wind down of everything that is nearing an end or break, seems to say opposites: school finals, end of the calendar year rush, work projects that are launched to be picked up full swing in January and of course the Christmas rush and swarms.

I have only ventured to the mall once so far and larger stores a few more times, so my perspective on how crazy things really are, is not there. Though I sense it is much crazier than I think. But that is OK, because if I can keep it at bay I will.

I figured out what was happening with the fuel of the pellet stove, so it is firing away as full force, trying to push back the cold and I am no longer concerned that I have 3 tons of defective pellets to struggle with. There is a mouse(is there ever just one?) in the garage, (I say that quietly so that no alarm is raised) hiding amongst the pellets and hoping for scraps of bird seed. I'll decide what to do about that in a while. Living up against the woods it is inevitable and as long as they are outside, it is ok for now.

The Christmas tree is up, harvested from one our local tree farms on an excursion last weekend. The lights are on and soon will come the trimmings and the raising of the little town below. My eldest will be back from college soon and I will be on vacation after working a few days next week. Things are ok and that is fine with me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cleaning out the pellet stove today, I grabbed the vacuum to suck up some leftover ashes when I smelt something odd. Smoke was coming from the vacuum and on closer examination, the bag. A stray spark had hidden itself and was sucked in and enjoying the feast of the paper bag. Dumping it out in the snow, it refuses to go out (this thing is only 6 inches long) so I just leave it to do its thing as I go back to doing mine.

I have been fighting with the stove for weeks, it not adjusting well to the new stock of pellets and me continuing to adjust it and dump it out with success seeming to be farther and farther away. So this final event pretty much sums up the experience and for that much my week. Stove fighting pellets, pellets fighting stove, me fighting pellets and stove, staff fighting staff (figuratively) and eventually me......It went on and on.

So now, as I get ready to pack up to leave to chaperone a teen group sleepover ................................................

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I have read that people with limited vision can experience a greater sensitivity to the sounds around them. I remember that the theory behind it was that the brain and consciousness is focused on other senses when it isn't bombarded visually.

When I run at 5:30 in the morning it is usually dark. As I have written before, there are a few streets and most of them are on the dim side, compared with some residential streets lights I saw a few weekends back when we traveled to another state, that seem to turn night into day.

I have found that I hear sounds more distinctly at that time. Some of that may be the darkness that forces my other senses and because my safety can depend on that awareness; and some of it may be that it is just quieter at that time of day.

Some of the things I hear I don't really care about seeing, I just take it in and move on. I hear the movement of the rabbits in the brush, the trickling sound of water running in a small stream by the side of the road (hidden from sight in thick brush); the sound of the metal pieces on a flag pole gently chiming as they hit the metal pole in the breeze. Sometimes when it begins to snow I can hear the flakes hit the ground.

Running through town that early, there are the sounds and smells of the city that seem out of place in this little town. The sound of the trash truck several blocks away and the sound and whiff of diesel of the delivery trucks at the back of the small shops and cafes brings me back to being in London 20+ years ago and hearing these sound in the early mornings outside the windows. A fond memory whenever it is triggered.

This morning while it was in the 20s there was the sound of a stiff frozen leaf clinging to a branch and clicking in the wind; the different sound of my sneakers on the cold pavement and the crusty pieces of ground pushed up by the frost but not cold enough to freeze. My shoes made an unusual slapping noise as they hit the pavement and my feet could feel that there wasn't the usual give in the material. All very subtle sounds or changes in what is the usual.

I know the sound of running on snow is coming....but that can wait a while while I am still acclimating to the changes from just the cold.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The wind was fierce and rain even fiercer........that was the way it was yesterday. The water pelting against the windows like the spray from the ocean. Umbrellas were useless except for that fleeting moment until the wind kicked up and turned it inside out. Dashing to the car, being soaked takes on a new meaning as the drops cascade into my lap and the handful of napkins takes care of only the top layer of water.

How many times did I chase the lid off the trash can, wishing the trash guys wouldn't be late. First it blows up the street, then repositioning it, it blows down the street. Then it's the recycling bids filled to the rim with light plastic. Not anymore, its all over the yard. The plastic fruit container flies like a Frisbee. At least it wasn't paper week, that would really be a mess.

The wind howls, the temperature drops and then by morning it is all done and gone. A little glaze from the rain but even the wet on the street didn't have a chance against the wind and mostly it is dry.

Tree branches on the roof and in the Christmas lights, but all is well all is calm and I thank my luck stars it wasn't all snow.