Thursday, December 23, 2021

All We Need

We have all we need, and that's saying a lot. Look, I am trying to be mindful and full of grace, good will, to have some perspective and be thankful. And, in all fairness, I think I am mindful, thankful, semi-objective. But good gracious, it's no fun living in the COVID times, with Qheads throwing irrational tantrums, and all the rest of the gun-toting, hate spewing, conspiracy spinning knuckle heads. Between school lock-downs... I'll stop. We know. I know. You know. It's hard. It's been hard, and it's still hard. Let me start over. Try, again.
We have cats, and twenty-four new teas we have been sampling. We have one last box of Trader Joe's Peppermint cookies stashed away. We have a broken oven. Oh. Yeah. Hadn't I mentioned? The old holiday tradition, of our oven going on strike, is back. The large oven is totally out, and the handy side oven doesn't get quite hot enough. But! We have cats, and a pretty tree, and straw bales, and rain in the forecast. We have presents under the pretty tree, a Nat King Cole Christmas album to play on our turntable, and an invitation to Christmas Eve brunch. We have more booster appointments, and one test appointment, and I have a good mind to scream if anyone tells me COVID is a lie, a conspiracy, blah blah blah Wear a mask! Get boosted! Seriously. It's not hard to do. We are in a crisis. We have all we need, but I want so much more. sigh.
I want extended family over for breakfast, lunch, tamales! I want friends around the house, in and out, and making, laughing, and hardly a thought of exposure, risk. I want to bake every favorite recipe and then drive around, looking at lights, and sharing our goodies with neighbors and healthcare workers, the delivery folks, and you, and you. I want to hear that student debt has been cancelled, because we can afford to do this, and it would be a fantastic shot in the arm to the economy and to the well being of thousands of people... see, it's not really so alturistic, because we are helping ourselves when we help each other. Good things are better shared. I want to see my Mom and Dad, my brothers and their families. I want to travel abroad, and I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to mentor, again. I want to buy an electric truck, or van, then drive with friends to the redwoods, and stay by the river for a week, longer. I want Maria to ask all of her friends over, so they can safely have a tea party and a movie night, play games, sit close together and whisper their jokes, and wishes, and not think once about a teacher home with COVID, a father or mother with health risks. I do have all I need, and I am deeply thankful, but I wish we could have more.

Do you spy Santa?

This is Maria's last day of school before winter break. Only, it's not, because I am keeping her home. She finished projects and finals already, so today was going to be a fun day, and yesterday could have been a fun day. But someone close to her is home with COVID, including his young family. Another school, down the street, is actually totally closed, because so many of their staff and teachers have COVID, they couldn't operate. We have been notified of 11 confirmed cases, and that was only yesterday. Alex, Bambi, and I spent hours searching the county for test kits, for a test site. I like to speak eloquently, to write thoughtfully, but really I just feel like blurting angrily, "I am so tired of this shit!" Inelegant, but honesty has it's own merits that can eclipse niceties.

She wants to be at school. She really wants to see that favorite teacher, be in his class, for the last time. She's already lost an entire semester of Japanese, and the trip to Japan. One and a half years at school, around friends. She isn't belaboring these things, the setbacks, the challenges. She doesn't get overwrought, but the toll is real. I hope, in writing these things down, that someday we will look back and reflect... Hey, Maria, that was a significant event, and it changed things, made life strange and uniquely challenging, but we found ways to overcome, even to thrive, and we had gains, accomplishments, and happiness, too. I want her to know that we see the struggle, her effort, her worry and disappointment. I won't downplay and refute any of the hard stuff. She deserves our concern, and respect. I feel this way for all of our children, all of the students, teachers, the custodians, and nurses, the lab techs, waiters, cooks, and delivery drivers. I am sorry this has been so hard, so unnecessarily hard, and strange. I see you.
Last night we watched Elf, which was just as silly and funny as we could hope for. What a gift! Rain is coming! And what else? There are errands to run, and some appointments to make... can I complain, just one more time? All three appointments are in three far-off destinations, so that means a lot of driving, in the rain, and I don't want to, and they are piled on top of each other, timing-wise, and go late. Grouse, grouse, grumble, dread, and grouse. Thank you. It's nice of you to indulge me. Isn't Feynman, passed out on his back, the most adorable? You don't have to agree, but I very much adore his trusting, safe and comfortable posture, his faith in his world. What a sweetie. I think our cats have been a saving grace for our hearts and minds. Well. We do have all we need, and maybe just enough bandwidth to cope with the yucky bits, like a conference call happening the hour before Christmas Eve brunch (Let's not consider that another complaint. It's simply an acknowledgement.) So. Okay. Here we go! The holidays are here. Christmas is coming! We can fire up the grill, brew another pot of tea, and I don't mind if we watch Elf one more time! Stay safe, friends! Make merry! Sing aloud, and hang in there. Someday, we will look back on these days, and sigh... we made it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Happy Winter Goats!

Happy goats, thanks to Geoff! Geoff joined a buy nothing group and his first success happened tonight, when he was offered straw bales, and they were just around the corner! I think the church must have put up a Nativity scene. So, he and I are back from grabbing four bales and stuffing them in the mini-van, S'more. They just fit. Snuggly. And now they are all set up for the goats! I arranged them, while Geoff vacuumed the van. I am delighted, more than you might expect for some straw. There is a lot of rain and more cold weather in our forecast. Straw bales are the trick for making mud-free zones, which the goats love, creating wind blocks and some insulation, and everyone, chickens and goats, enjoy nibbling, scratching, pecking, stomping, and jumping and napping on the bales! Because of the straw, we have happier and cozier goats and hens. I hadn't thought of this useful measure, and it's just good luck and chance that we have everything ready, now... so, what better way to say Welcome, Winter! We are ready for you! Some of the pictures look a little spooky... like we have ghoasts! Instead of saying Boo, like regular ghosts, ghoasts say Baa! Good night, folks. I'll be here all week!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Ready For Winter

We had to celebrate early, but now that we've had our Solstice gathering, we are ready for Winter! Sometimes I am just slightly astonished at what we can accomplish. It always begins, in my head, simply enough... oh, we'll just hang out and light some fires, people can drop by, maybe some hot chocolate. La-di-da-di-da And even though we have no snow, things seem to avalanche! "Some food" turned into cooking a dinner, and "some fires" was four fire rings, plus chairs and tables, and a projector and screen, and me trying to figure out how to keep a lot of hot water on hand for the hot chocolate! I think, with a future wedding in mind, I am on the brink of ordering a hot water thingy... you know, the kind in a church basement, for serving coffee? If you have any experience, maybe you can help me choose between one made just for water, but which only heats 20 cups, or the one made for coffee, but I assume could just heat water; it makes 45 cups. I am leaning towards the 45 cup option. Wow... I can take a tagent!

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes... starting simply, and then riding an avalanche! But the real point, what I actually want to share is this: It's always been worthwhile to move forward on a simple enough idea when it means seeing friends, sharing time together, and making memories. Time and time again, I have loved celebrating Winter Solstice. It always warms me up, and brings my holidays a shiny gold star.
It started in slow, then it started to grow. Leslie and Ido came with another birthday cake. I think celebrating birthdays is our new and future mandate! Bring cake, it's someone's birthday, somewhere! Brilliant, right? This was a tres leches cake! I like my world spinning shot. Probably taken between dashes to the kitchen for more hot water. We had a lot of visitors, including friends we have not seen in a long time, which is always welcome, and special. Anna B and Jacob came, and with cookies. And at long last, we got see Bobbie and Darrahl, again. We had (almost) the entire C family, including Beto, and Katie and Andy. We had a big ol' moon, and owls hooting, there was fluorescent sidewalk chalk, burning pinecones. One year, we have to do this with tents, or like Michael said, "Cowboy camping. Sleeping under the stars." Under the stars, and under a lot of warm blankets. It's just that, I am always sad the evening has to come to an end. We stayed out there until the fires died down to embers and everything was glistening with dew.
Spencer's art.
Bex drawing.
Geoff, Andy, Katie, and Paul.
Michael, Andy, Katie, Leo, Beto, and Grace.
Spencer, Simon, and Ido.

2020~ Winter Solstice... a hard one, but winter came and we made it bright.

2019~ A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

2018~ Pretty Things

2016~ With Warmth, Welcome Winter

2015~ Happiness and Cheer

2014~ Solstice, So Far and The Party That Just Couldn't Not Happen

2013~ Friends & Winter Warmth

2012~ Happy Mayan Winter Solstice

2011~ The Great Cookie Solstice