Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday(s) Cheer

Somehow, I made it to the 23rd, semester's work done, and we left for Maine that day.  Since then, there's been some activity, some rest.  For today, a post on holiday celebrations.

Of course, we have been lighting Chanukah candles and exchanging gifts:

But we also had a pretty spectacular Christmas, for a household that doesn't "celebrate" Christmas.  We got unexpected snow (about 3-4 inches) that fell in gentle, big flakes most of the day.  We had a quiet, cozy, enjoyable day.

We also made a Festivus pole (look it up, if you don't remember).  I talked the kids into a quick "feats of strength" with the pole itself, rather than arm wrestling.

What were your favorite holiday celebrations this year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comic Relief

Today has been non-stop: grading, meetings, Chanukah preparations.  The rest of the week promises more of the same rushing. 

The only thing to do, in a case like this, is to escape in a little humor...brought to us by my beloved Anya.

After all, who can resist a cow-cat?

Wishing you all comic relief in the midst of madness.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lessons from my hair

I'm growing out my hair.  It's annoying.  This morning, while trying to get it to look somewhat normal at an awkward stage, I thought:

"My hair looks better cut short, but having to work on it so much doesn't suit my life."  Thus, I am growing it out.

Then it occurred to me: this is the same attitude that I need to develop toward my body. 

Where can you choose what suits you rather than what "looks good" to others?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In MY kitchen

One of the blogs that I often read ( had a post today on "In the Kitchen"...full of holiday baking, winter cooking, and home-grown stores.  So cozy and sweet.

So, what's in MY kitchen?

A mess. 
Remnants of the easiest possible meals we can make while Howard and I are both swamped at work.
Another damned book for me to try to get reviewed.
Wine that's turned to vinegar.
Goyishe art projects that Anya brings home from school.

And, not far away, in the dining room:

Evidence of work in progress.  And, of course, more mess.

Hey, it's finals time and I'm also reviewing job search files.  You were, perhaps, expecting holiday cheer? 

Bah.  Humbug. 

If I make it, alive, to December 23, it will be a minor miracle. 

So, what's in YOUR kitchen?

Friday, December 9, 2011


(Anya and Dad holding hands)

Today marks two years since my Dad died.  This year, how about some of his most famous kinds of sayings?  Some of these are verbatim, while others capture the gist of the kind of things he would say.

1. After a meal, especially Sunday dinner at mid-day, Dad would say "I hate to say it, Martha, but that was a good meal."  (Thank you to Kevin for reminding me about that two years ago!)

2. Dad used to say "Not all of us can be chiefs; someone's got to be an Indian."  Okay, not PC, I admit.  But, it was Dad's way of explaining that it's okay to be...ordinary, not to be at the top all the time.  I think it's how he made sense of and took pride in his own life, though I doubt he would have seen it that way himself.

3. Dad used to advise me that it's better to have a machine with fewer parts, simpler.  Less likely to break.  Good point, Dad.

4. As the years passed, one of his standard lines was "It's hell to get old, but it beats the alternative."  (Thanks for beating the alternative, Dad.)

5. Okay, I don't have a line for this, but it bears saying that my Dad used to tell WWII stories all the time.  Not serious stuff, weird stuff.  The one about time he and his buddies stole a German generator comes to mind (they were drunk). 

6. Dad used to say that workers/democrats have supper at 5:00.  The wealthy/republicans have dinner at 7:00.  You guessed it: we ate supper at 5:00. 

I still miss you, Dad.

What lines remind you of your Dad?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Playing with Fire

While in Maine, I lit my first fires.  I know: it's strange that I managed to get to the ripe old age of 46 without having made one. 

My first fire failed.  I gave up for the night and felt completely demoralized.  I was already a bit overwhelmed by actually being in the house and facing all the work ahead of us.  I was convinced that I would never be able to measure up to my own expectations.  How could I live the life I want if I can't even figure out lighting a damned fire?

The next day, with more patience (and remembering more about how others had started fires in my presence), I succeeded.  The fire glowed and the wood stove eventually warmed the room...and much of the downstairs.  It was the coziest I'd ever felt in a home of my own, and the kids were mesmerized by the flames as they listened to a book on CD that evening.

And I gained confidence.  Maybe, just maybe, I can find my way to the kind of life that I really want to be living...and by just being me, not by trying to be like anyone else.  There might even be hope for me in the garden one of these years--though I'm not entirely convinced of that yet.  But, I'll keep trying. 

What experiences have built your confidence and determination lately?