As the time comes nearer when we will be all the way moved to Trail’s End, I find there is a never-ending number of tasks to be done. Which means that I know the time will go very quickly. But for now, it is winter, traditionally a difficult season for me, as I am extremely S.A.D. Lucky for me, Sarita has helped me learn to enjoy winterly things that can change my perception just enough to get by.
One thing that we find is a favorite activity, is reading aloud to each other, with the little Christmas lights on the mantle, and the house cozy and warm despite the early nights. We sit on the couch and one of us knits (or spins) and the other one of us reads out loud from one of many books we have for just this purpose. We have two wonderful books of Christmas stories that are not very commonly known, but are thought provoking and sentimental all the same. I think I got them both on discount from Barnes and Nobles. One has Newberry stories, the other is just old tales by old writers, who seemed to really capture the spirit of Christmas. Then we have a book called “Knitting Yarns” which are stories about yarn and knitting by writers we know from other genres. Since Sarita and I are both knitters, and I am the newbie, I can especially relate to many of the wonderful and troublesome aspects of knitting that are brought up in the stories. It turns out that my learning curve is not necessarily as unique as I thought it might be, which is actually helpful to know. And many of the stories are quite funny. Finally, our latest find is a book called “Sheepish” about two women who have a sheep farm in Minnesota, and lots of adventures and dramas, as is the case with any farm. But the one who is writing also has a good sense of introspection and humor, and since Sarita is interested in sheep, it gives us a lot to think about. (Mainly, maybe we really just want fleece from someone else’s sheep…)
Another favorite part of winter, especially during vacation, is staying up late, past midnight, and then getting up late the next morning. Although I know this doesn’t really make sense with the daylight savings time we have, it does make sense with our body clocks. Even the dogs actually slept in till 10;00 one day, unheard of!! That shows you how late we must have stayed up the night before! But we just love the cozy time at night, and we’ve been hooked on watching “All Creatures Great and Small,” an old BBC show based on the books of James Herriot, the country vet in England. These shows make me laugh and often cry, as it’s hard to see animals in difficulties, but it totally validates our love of our animals. Even our little chihuahua, Penny, watches the show with a focus I’ve not seen in any of the other dogs. I think I could say that it is her favorite TV program! She gets quite involved, growling and even barking at the dogs that appear, and she has perfected a way of lying on my lap, resting her head on the arm of the chair, so that she can still see the TV. It’s a family activity!
The other thing that goes with this cozy scene, is good food, and we certainly have had that. I am not always into cooking, in which case we eat a lot of popcorn and do a lot of snacking (but it’s actually healthy snacking). Or, I have found some wonderful cookbooks that have really good vegetable recipes and do not take long to prepare. “The Longevity Kitchen” by Rebecca Katz is one of my new favorites, and “Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes” by Jules Clancy, the blogger who does Stonesoup. And then when I’m really in the mood, I get my chemistry “fix” by baking gluten free goodies from my new “The Essential Baking Guide to Gluten Free” volumes 1 and 2. I have to admit, 99% of what I cook or bake turns out really well. And I really think I am feeling better because of being mostly wheat, meat and dairy free.
Also, this beginning of the new year means it’s time to think about what to take to Trail’s End, what to leave here at the house for my daughter to use, and what to actually get rid of. We spent a lot of time clearing out junk and emptying out furniture this vacation. We took quite a bit to our local recycling station, which also has a place for “Exchanges” that allowed us to get rid of books, bags of yarn we don’t need, and a couple of old instruments that were broken, but could be used for parts. What a wonderful place! Now I can actually start to pack things in boxes that we won’t be using for the next six months, and I am definitely in the mood. Although I am sure I’m not going to get rid of things as thoroughly as the next person, I am plugging away on it. We are project people, and readers, and collectors, so there will be an excess of stuff that will have to be stored in the new garage until we figure out a place for it. But because we are thinking of building a separate bedroom/bathroom, the good news is, we will already have the furnishings whenever it is finished.
Oh yes, we were told about a structure that we are really thinking seriously about building on our lots next to the house we have at Trail’s End. It is called an Earthship, and it’s based out of Taos, NM. It is a house made from old tires, and the interior walls are build from cans and bottles (including plastic) and concrete. It is self sustainable, with cisterns and sophisticated plumbing that takes the water all around the house, there are no bills associated with it, and the temperature stays a pretty constant and comfortable one, no matter what the weather. It’s also inexpensive to build, not bad looking, and we think would be so perfect, that if we can figure out the funds to build it, might just move into it and leave our other little house to be a studio and guest house. Well, we have to figure out the financing, but it’s a great dream to have, and winter and coziness is for having dreams as well as all else I’ve mentioned.
Finally, last but not least, one of my favorite winter activities is just plain reading for enjoyment. Nothing sweeter than curling up somewhere under an afghan (hand knitted or quilted) reading a great book. Even better if the book inspires writing. My latest find is about a woman’s relationship to her grandmother’s store of vintage dresses. (“The Secret Lives of Dresses”) Each dress comes with a story that is told in first person about its experiences being worn. Well, loving vintage, dresses, and stories, I think that is an amazingly creative idea. It makes me want to think of amazingly creative ideas to write about based on the things I love. Of course that is basically what I do when writing songs, so my vacation hiatus of song writing is about to be over. And who knows what else may come out of my mind, it feels like the possibilities are endless.
Possibilities — I saw the Queen Latifah movie called “The Last Holiday.” It’s not necessarily a movie with a deep message, but her character had a Book of Possibilities, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I guess that is a book of dreams. And in winter at the beginning of the new year, whether that is December 21 on the solstice, or January 1 in the calendar year, I’m finding that creating dreams and working to fulfill them is a perfect activity. I know there is a chance that they will change before they are fulfilled, but I’m sure that will only be for the better. I have one of the biggest transitions of my life coming up, (well, I guess it is, besides retiring and getting through cancer). My Book of Possibilities is brimming over, and my life is all about both doing exactly what I want to do in each season that comes upon me, and preparing for this major change. I have a lot of curiosity, excitement, and some nervousness about the year coming up. But tonight it’s dark and cold, and I think I’ll knit and cuddle with Penny and Max while we watch another episode of “All Creatures Great and Small.” It looks like I might learn to like winter after all.