If it’s Thursday, it’s time for Three Beautiful Things from the past week:
1. Yesterday after I found out I had to work on my Saturday birthday, I let myself indulge in bad behavior. I ate a slice of cheese pizza for lunch and followed it up with hot cocoa and M&M’s. (There isn’t much that chocolate and cheese can’t fix…) I spent several hours with the knitting group. And I came home and wrote yesterday’s list (which I’d started contemplating earlier in the afternoon). And y’know what? I really do feel better about it all today.
2. The sock I’m currently working on is being knit with yarn that changes colors as you go along (i.e., the yarn itself is dyed different colors; it’s not like a mood ring…). The colors remind me of the rainbow sherbet my brother used to order at Friendly’s when we were kids.
3. Yesterday morning I came outside to a world coated in ice. Ice storms are nasty things in general, as they make travel quite tricky and sometimes dangerous. But they also give a shiny glass-coated appearance to everything, as if a fairy has come along and touched all the trees and bushes with her magic wand.
So… I got word today that I will be necessary to the infrastructure of our organization’s annual meeting — which falls over the weekend of my 35th birthday. (It’s also the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Leave it to scientists to expect people to leave their loved ones on the most romantic holiday of the year…)
I admit I’m disappointed; I was hoping that this year I’d be able to have my birthday to myself — at home with my friends. But part of the whole thing about expecting the best to happen is that sometimes you’re dropped on your head. Oh well…
So, I thought I’d remind myself that spending my birthday with 300 or so elementary school kids playing (educational) video games is not nearly as bad as it could be. Here are 35 far worse ways to spend your birthday:
Having a loved one have to go to the hospital. (I’ve lived through this. My (now-dead) grandmother had a heart attack on my tenth birthday.)
Having a loved one die. (One of my grandfathers died on my brother’s birthday.)
Suffering a heart attack.
Aboard a sinking ship.
Being attacked by a shark.
Working as a sales clerk on the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Involved in a high-speed car chase.
Being held up.
Witnessing a car crash.
Working in a morgue.
In a room full of social conservatives.
Serving a life sentence for a crime you didn’t commit.
On a plane that crash lands in the river.
Caught on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a blizzard.
Losing your home.
Having to put a pet to sleep.
Stuck in a movie theater watching distressing movies.
Stuck in the Third Street Tunnel.
In need of a bathroom without one in sight.
Being forced to eat watermelon.
At a book burning.
Trapped in quicksand (particularly after battling ROUSes).
Falling asleep on the nest of biting ants.
At a slaughterhouse.
In the path of a tornado.
At a Ku Klux Klan rally.
Caught in a fire.
Suffering from kidney stones.
Birthing a baby.
Being indicted on corruption charges.
At an all-day elementary school band concert.
Being shot at by a sniper.
Feel free to add to my list…
(I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my boss (hi Suzanne!) who tried hard to give me a nice birthday present.)
Okay, yesterday it snowed, too. Rudi’s cry of excitement when he looked out the window was what got me out of bed. I was afraid if I didn’t run right out to the living room, I’d miss it. Obviously you can see that I had cause for concern:
It didn’t stick. In fact, if you gave an extended blink, you’d miss the snow altogether.
Today it was serious about the snow. Little flakes followed by big flakes followed by more little flakes. Then no flakes at all until rush hour, when it was the detested “wintry mix” — snow, sleet, freezing rain…
It was a picture of loveliness this morning:
But people still stress out about the snow. There are a lot of Southerners in this fair city of ours — and they consider an inch a lot of snow. (They also use umbrellas in the snow. Silly…)
By the time I out of work, it was decidedly sleet.
Luckily the sidewalks I encountered were well treated. It’s now raining and the snow on the bushes out in the window well have a shiny gloss. The temperature is down in the upper 20s, so we’ll expect a nasty commute in the morning.
But, seriously, it thrills this New England girl’s heart to see fluffy whiteness falling from the sky.
To celebrate quintessential winter weather, we opted for the ideal snow supper — tomato soup and grilled cheese. And we paired it with hot apple cider. Yum!
Rudi watched a James Bond movie while I read and knit. We finished up the night with cupcakes (Rudi was trying a new-to-us cupcake bakery) and tea. It was a good night.
Dad is in charge of buying music for us for Christmas, and this year his selection for me was Rita Hosking’s album Are You Ready?
I was unfamiliar with her work, but it turns out Dad picked her out because she was the winner of the Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at the Sisters Folk Festival in Oregon this fall. We both share a love for Dave Carter’s songwriting, so it makes sense that this would be an artist worth investigating.
She has two albums out currently with a third on the way and seems to perform live shows mostly in her home state of California (with a few forays to Oregon), so if you live out on the West Coast, I’d suggest checking her out while you can still see her in small venues.
I like the album and hope to offer a fuller review of it later this week, but, in the meantime, here’s one of my favorite tracks, “Tall White Horse,” off the record:
It wouldn’t surprise me if the District’s bars and nightclubs experienced a lower-than-average attendance this weekend. Everyone I spoke with last week seemed exhausted from our four-day Inaugural extravaganza. Yes, nearly everyone I knew had four days off in a row. But when you combine that time with cold weather, back-to-back-to-back-to-back events, and mind-numbing crowds, it just leaves you aching for some quiet time in your pjs with your laundry.
Let’s not get totally carried away, of course. I did change out of my pajamas today…
Yesterday, though, I remarked to Rudi as he was prepping dinner that I’d forgotten to brush my teeth all day. (Yes, I immediately went and rectified that situation, but you get the picture.) I tidied some. I washed a lot of dishes and baked cookies. I knit and read. Rudi watched non-stop skiing after returning from his bike ride. We had a tea party after supper:
Don’t you love the teacups? They were a Christmas gift from Grey Kitten. The teapot under the cozy is the one Rudi gave me for Christmas, as opposed to the one from Grey Kitten or from my folks. I was impressed with how all three of them came up with unique pots.
Today we made it out to the farmer’s market to replenish our supply of potatoes and greens. I showered and did laundry. Rudi and I took down the tree and packed up the ornaments. Rudi vacuumed the building’s hallway after I dumped needles inside instead of out… And then we settled in for the evening, heated up a pot of fondue, baked another sheet of cookies, and watched the first Harry Potter movie.
While one is never ready for it to be Monday (even when, like last week, your Monday is really a Wednesday), I feel a lot more prepared for heading back to the office in the morning than I did last week.
Tomorrow the Christmas tree will come down. It’s a month past Christmas, seven weeks since we put the tree up, covered it with lights, and decorated it with our friends. It’s time.
It’s been a good tree. We stopped watering it weeks ago, probably last right around New Year’s Day or maybe a few days past. Definitely before Russian Christmas. And yet, it remained strong, vibrant. It held onto its needles tightly, and I was loathe to end its existence before it was ready to give up the ghost.
It could also be that I needed it as much as it needed us. The colored lights and their pink glow fill my light-deprived soul with gladness and joy. I admit I needed it less desperately this year, whether because of the assortment of happy lights my parents gave me for Christmas or because of the impending Inauguration offered me hope of a different variety, I don’t know.
But the tree and I have grown comfortable together, and so together we spent many cozy evenings.
This past week, though, I’ve noticed a difference. The weather turned and temperatures dipped down into the chilly regions. We turned the heat on. The tree remembered that it grew up outside and likes a chilly winter. It started shedding layers the way a child does coming in from sledding. And I knew it was time to let it go.
So tomorrow Rudi and I will take each ornament off the tree. We’ll remember once again the friends and loved ones who’ve given them to us or where we acquired them. The sled from my first grade teacher. The styrofoam ball from nursery school. A bauble with my name painted on from Kim my sophomore year of college. The glass we brought home from Montreal and from London.
We’ll wind up the strands of lights.
And we’ll take the tree back outside, thanking it as we do, for giving us a gift of life and of hope.
But tonight after Rudi headed to bed, I turned out the rest of the Burrow’s lights and sat knitting in front of the tree, admiring its soft pink glow, grateful for one last night.
This week has been filled with Inaugural activities, most of them positive. Sure there have been long lines, cold temperatures, delays, and tourists (lots and lots of them) wandering the city with delighted, if dazed expressions on their faces. But at the same time, there were no arrests, a visiting Metro volunteer saved the life of a woman who fell onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train, and people were generally pleasant and patient regardless of somewhat trying conditions. So I’ll offer you three beautiful things from what I’ve seen around the nation’s capital:
1. A young woman wearing fairy wings is ahead of me in the volunteer line at RFK.
2. A little girl and I converse on the Metro Wednesday morning about the Inauguration. “What was your favorite part of yesterday?” prodded her father. “The candy.”
3. At the concert on Sunday, they ask everyone to please remain in their seats while the Obamas exit the premises. A crowd of half a million share a wave of laughter because only 200 or so lucky souls have seats. I hear it again on Tuesday (but this time on CNN) when they make the same announcement to the two million people who’ve been standing on the Mall for hours.