It’s only February 18, and temperatures are expected to drop into the low 20sF tonight. Better pull some of those leaves over you for cover!
I’m either admirable or an idiot or an admirable idiot. 🙂 Despite a temperature reading of 16F I decided to do my 2.75 mile walk anyway. I know that I’m not suffering REAL cold – that’s for folks like my friend Honour in Bay of Fundy. Walking really does make me feel better while I’m walking. And I can cling to the notion of being healthy & determined while I sit at my computer staring at things that annoy me. I’ve been walking now since Sept 27 and it does feel ‘off’ if I miss it. I’ve also learned a few things I need to do in preparation.
My routine starts in the morning with a cuddle with BC. She’s an excellent alarm clock. Then I weigh myself. Yeah, sometimes that ruins the day right then and there. Then I begin dressing. In layers. Since September the number of layers has grown.
Today involved 5 layers on my torso, 3 on my head, 2 on my legs and 2 on my feet. Toss in some face protection as well and I’m all ready! Legs = my nylon yoga pants plus sweatpants. Feet = pair of knee-hi stockings plus heavy socks. Torso = nylon turtleneck, long-sleeve cotton tee, fleece jacket, hooded sweatshirt, nylon windbreaker (hey – I get COLD). Head = baseball cap, sweatshirt hood, windbreaker hood (and oh my – when I’m walking into the wind coming off the river I NEED all of those). Face is protected with lip moisturizer, a cloth facemask (that was new today trying to protect my cheeks), sunglasses. Oh! and my hands!!! I always wear surgical gloves under my mittens. When the temperature is below 20F, I use my incredibly warm mittens from Norway (which are usually too darn warm). 🙂 It’s very hard to reach my tissues to blow my nose when needed. But hey – I did it. I walked. Keeping to my personal commitment. But oh please – let it be warmer tomorrow!
I spend a lot of time showing you my garden and yard. Then comes the winter and it all gets shut down and put away. (Okay, I notice in these pictures I’ve not finished putting things away from the front porch.) It requires a lot of effort on my part to dump pots, and protect vines and move things about so that I can call in the professional yard service to do the “fall cleanup”. They always do more than I expect/want, in that they pull out all of my fencing. It annoys me but I’m also grateful that they do, because it WILL be easier to plant in the spring. After, that is, I go through the effort of putting back the metal fences that *I* consider to be permanent. The yard DOES look better without fences around barren lots.
Last winter was so warm that easily half of my planters came back to life when I moved them out to the front walk. I thought about buying a very small greenhouse to encourage that to happen again this winter. It turns out that there is more to a greenhouse than simply glass walls and roof. Until I figure out what I’d want to do for a heat source I’m going to pile up the planters on the front porch as I’ve always done. I’ve also decided against digging up my canna lilies this year. It was an interesting experiment last year, and it did work, but it also had some minor inconveniences. I find that this year I’m not as gung-ho to dig them up and prepare them to live in my basement coal bin. They’ll winter over in the ground or they (most likely) won’t.
I don’t know why the succulents seem to flower more once I bring them inside. You’d think that being outside with true sunlight all day would be more nourishing than 10 hours under a grow light. They’ve only been inside for a few weeks, and already several of them are putting up flowers. The palm trees always start out as if they will do okay, and then by spring they are in terrible condition and I end up buying new ones anyway. 🙂 This year I’m using 2 grow lights on them, and the lamps are positioned closer than in prior years. They may still fail because BC has decided that they are perfect for chewing. Now a greenhouse (with heat) would be the perfect place to store the palms!
I’m impressed by the bloggers who still manage to find interesting anecdotes and photos to share. I have lots of thoughts in my head, but nothing ever seems urgent enough to overcome the winter/covid/lockdown lethargy that possesses me. It was rather fun to have a major snow storm, especially as the teenager who lives next door dealt with the shoveling (yes, we loaned him our snow blower to do 5 houses on the block). Neither my husband nor I had to go out so that was also good. But now I’m over it. We had snow a week later and honestly – boring. I want to say something like “either snow a substantial accumulation or don’t bother”, but I want to be very, very careful what I wish for. Because it takes a LONG TIME for the snow to melt, and it’s not so pretty anymore.
There WAS a plus to the big snow storm. As I checked in on the neighbor to make sure he knew that he could use the snowblower, his little sister came to the door as well. 🙂 You remember her – she’s the one who greeted me on my return from a long, hard day at the office with “Can I have a hug?” *huge smile* I adore her and miss our baking sessions. Maybe we could bake with masks on? Anyway, she came to the door and told me she had a gift for me. She then presented me with a gorgeous eye glass case that she had made for me. Can my smile get any bigger? What an absolute joy!
I made it back to the library this week to pick up more books on my “want to read, too cheap to purchase” list. Thank goodness for the library. What a brilliant innovation!!! 🙂 While reading eBooks I came to several conclusions. I’ve already ditched the author who never lets her characters be happy. The relentless misery and disappointment is too much for me. I’ve decided I’m also bored when the main character is YET AGAIN considered the main suspect. Enough already. We know it’s NOT you so it’s boring to read all the details implicating you and the hostility of the ones suspecting you. Yawn. I’m also tired of books that start out with the protagonist breaking the law deliberately even though they are in law enforcement. I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. I don’t know if it was the writing or the “here we go again” feeling it evoked, but it’s taking up room on my iPad at the moment until I figure out how to delete it. I don’t mind obvious plots – I’m very happy reading “chick lit” where you KNOW who ends up together (unhappy girl runs to wherever, swears off men/that man, meets man/remeets that man, sparks, misunderstanding, fight, reunion, happy ending) if the characters are likeable and believable. I treated myself to a big THICK book a few weeks ago – Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. This is Book 4 of the Stormlight Archive series. My son got me started on it and I love it. The books are a few inches thick, *grin*, and you do have to like sci-fi. I look at the book and I don’t start it, I just sort of drool. It seems that there are at least 3 years between the publication of each book. If I read it NOW, that will be good, because I remember everything (okay – a lot) because I just read the first 3 books all fall. But if I read it NOW, I’ll have to wait 3 years to find out more. If I wait to read it until Book 5 is out, I can have the pleasure of re-reading books 1-3 and then 4. 🙂 I do that with another series – reread the entire series start to finish when the latest book is published. Those are much shorter books, however, and I’m sure that they are in the “teen novel” genre. I don’t care. I love Elantra.
We have still not braved going out to dine indoors at a restaurant. As stir-crazy as I feel at times, it’s still not worth the possible risk. What we did instead was have a friend come to dinner at our house. Rather than eat in the snow on the deck, we ate inside. We sat at opposite ends of the nearly 9 ft. long dining room table. I had an exhaust fan pulling air out of the house in the sun room, and a fan in the dining room pushing air out of the dining room (or such was my theory/hope). We had a fantastic dinner – my husband made what is now my all-time favorite dish, some French chicken recipe. It was wonderful to see our friend, who we’d not seen in months. We talked and talked and talked. Absolutely great.
This past weekend was the NFL Superbowl. It was also the first time in over 25 years that I was NOT throwing a Superbowl party. I’ve mentioned this in years past, how this might be our premiere party each year. We have to move out the living room furniture, we set up 2 TVs, TONS of food, dozens of friends. It’s always a wonderful wonderful time, no matter how uninteresting the game. I’ve been a bit bummed about no party – difficulty wrapping my head around that. On top of that I had some health problems. I mentioned my costochondritis. Not only did I have that, but apparently at the same time I contracted shingles. Well NO WONDER I’ve been exhausted all of January. Just as both of those appeared to have loosened their grip on me, my back went out the way it has not done in years. I don’t remember the last time I got “stuck” and had to call for my husband to help me move. I spent the day with my back packed in ice and popping ibuprofen. Thank goodness it cleared up very quickly. That meant I could think about a Superbowl zoom get-together. Cheers for my friend Pam who refused to let me wallow in self-pity. She kept nudging and suggesting things to do. I got my sister signed on board (as she is the one with the zoom account that can run for more than 50 minutes) and we did indeed have a virtual party. I made up Superbowl bingo cards (can’t start playing until after kickoff, and only words that are used in commercials or during the game broadcast) and sent them out to everyone. We had folks logged in from Florida, NC, Delaware, NJ, Ohio, and AZ. 🙂 We all shared views of our party food and drinks. For most of the game people stayed on mute but when something major happened we’d text and chat. 🙂 It wasn’t the same, but it was fun. It’s good to have family and friends. 🙂
The rest of life is pretty much as it has been. Sandwich making twice a week. Working from home. I took a new role at work, which contains all of what I used to do and then some. That means I’m in a LOT more meetings. I also appear to be on the 2-person committee of people expected to create a virtual “water cooler conversation” in text channels. Although it can be a bit annoying when the other committee member nags me to figure out what to do, it can lend itself to some very fun activities. I spent several hours photo-shopping our VP into “Where’s Waldo” type scenarios, and onto Mount Rushmore, into a suit of medieval armor on a horse also wearing medieval armor, and more. Today was turn our VP into an emoji. This is because I got tired of the other committee member saying last week “What do YOU want to do, Ahuva?” I replied “*I* want to be on vacation in the Caribbean”. Sigh. But today’s pictures did seem to bring a lot of enjoyment to the team, including (or maybe especially??) our VP. 🙂 Success!
Good thing that *I* control the temperature INSIDE. 🙂 I woke up this morning and my phone app and my actual thermometer both agreed: 16 F. This wasn’t a surprise – we all knew this huge drop in temperature was coming. As one of my favorite bloggers has been noting, the weather is yo-yo’ing all over the place. Last Saturday it got up to 70 F. Today our high is expected to be 30. Wooohooo! Thirty whole degrees!
My mother used to have an ash tray (remember ash trays?). I didn’t understand it when I was growing up. I think my sister might have it now. I’m SURE we didn’t get rid of it when we sold the house. It shows 2 men at either end of a table. I think there are either coffee cups or old fashioned glasses or something on the table. They are both semi-reclining, with at least one of them having his feet up on an adjoining chair. I’m fairly certain at least one of them is smoking. The caption on the photo is “Next week we’ve really got to get organized.” See – THAT is adult humor. 🙂 Kids are either totally organized or have no clue what being organized means. I neeeeeed that ash tray. 🙂 I have so many photos I took in order to post here, but I just can’t get organized to write a coherent narrative. Perhaps you’ve noticed that lately yourself. 🙂
But writing to you makes me feel as if I’m having a social life, especially on a day when even if there WAS no pandemic I have NO intention of setting foot out the door. Brrrrr. I was supposed to have a massage, which I need badly because I have a spasmed muscle (why does WordPress not think spasmed is a word?) and only my massage therapist can help me now. She’s my only hope! But I texted her yesterday and asked to move the appointment because I am such a spoiled princess that even for my massage I am not going out there. 🙂 I’m willing to bet by now my good friend Honour is rolling her eyes and shaking her head. (She lives on an island in the middle of the Bay of Fundy – they know how to do cold up there.)
One day I may have enough inner strength and control of my temper to tell you the saga of my attempt to get an attractive heater for my deck, so we could still see friends during the winter. Last year we had NO SNOW and fewer than 5 below freezing days. We were supposed to have friends over for dinner this weekend so I had been accumulating deck heaters. Or attempting to accumulate them. One I ordered online on Nov 2. I’ve been assured as recently as yesterday that it really IS on its way to me – it’s on a boat in the Pacific. Still. Before Thanksgiving I went out and bought Mr. Heater and he has been a rock star. He may not be much on looks but he heats like the sun. We took him with us to have dinner with friends last weekend. Between their wood-burning fire pit and our Mr. Heater we were perfectly comfortable for 7 hours of fun and food (all socially-distanced).
Last week I began to lose faith that my slow boat from China would ever arrive so I bought a Pyramid heater at the grocery store. I set it up last weekend (remember last weekend? temps in the 60s?). We turned it on, saw & heard it sparking – nothing. I was fairly certain the problem had to be in the control box as there really was nothing else to that tower but structure. I didn’t know WHAT exactly although I had my suspicions because things didn’t really look aligned. I asked my brother-in-law to come help me debug it. He came yesterday, after our big snowstorm 2 days before. That meant before we could work on the tower I had to dig it out, clear my steps off the deck, and bring up both a ladder and Mr. Heater. No way we could work out there for any time without heat. 🙂 As usual, my brother-in-law figured out the issue and we fixed it. I got a lesson in spark gaps. I had thought the one piece was the issue but intuition can only take you so far – knowledge is power. Anyway, I now have 2 working propane heaters AND a propane fire pit with lots of ceramic logs. I cancelled dinner anyway. Even with 3 heaters going none of us wanted to sit out in 30 degree temps.
I plan to spend the day baking. This makes me happy. Unfortunately it also makes me gain weight. I’m planning to share with neighbors. Another thing that makes me happy is to get unexpected presents. I looked out the window and saw a package on my deck this morning. A little package. I figured it was something my husband ordered. Nope, it was for me (yes I took 3 steps out the door to grab it). It was from a co-worker. There is also a very long annoying story about the word “co-worker” but all I’ll say now is that corporate politics and policies are blocking me from being on the team (hers) I wish to be on. That team and I, however, are all acting as if I am indeed officially on that team. 🙂 Yeah, you really don’t want to mess with me at this moment. I opened the box and it was SO PRETTY and there were so many goodies inside. Maybe I can trade some of the goodies to my sister in exchange for the ash tray???? Spiced rum? Vanilla cinnamon Bailey’s?
Winter! Bah! Humbug!
Don’t ski. Hate the cold and gray.
Bring back hot summer!
Watching through windows
Snow falling, blanketing all,
Glad I am inside!
The storm has ended
Brilliant sunshine reflecting
Off pristine white snow
Young neighbors are best
Lend him our snow plow, sit back
Watch the sidewalk clear!
North’s winter solstice
Ends the lengthening darkness
Brings promise of light
Only four more days
Until sunshine starts to grow
More light, warmth, flowers!
February in central NJ is without a doubt the absolute WORST month. Although the days are beginning to get longer, the residual emotion is darkness all day long. We rarely get snow, but if we do, it’s usually a wet heavy mess that turns dirty and lasts forever causing inconvenience – no winter wonderlands here. This particular winter season we have not had any snow. It’s been gray, dreary, with rain and damp the entire season. Not warm enough usually to feel warm, but not cold enough to feel like winter. Almost no sun, just occasional breaks in the clouds. Not especially uplifting. Which is February in NJ. It’s not been a great month for me personally, even ignoring the weather. So imagine how I felt this morning when I heard a noise outside. BC had her face up to the window at the stair landing, staring outside. Birds. Birds all over all the trees around my house. I opened the door to get the paper (which thankfully was on my porch, not on the walk) and the din from the scores of birds grew even louder. Who knew I was living in Bodega Bay?
I went up to Corporate yesterday for some meetings. I was a little concerned about the weather forecast. They’d been predicting 1-3 inches of snow up there by dawn and perhaps another inch in the morning. The commute was surprisingly trouble-free (for me anyway – there were accidents and tie-ups all over the place according to the traffic reports). I only wish I’d had time and place to pull over to take a picture of the trees along the lake as well. You may think that I was shooting in black & white but I was not. *smile* The world was gray and black and white all the way up, during the day, and then walking back to my car by moonlight (and safety lights & cameras). It was beautiful.
I’m not dreaming of California. I’m dreaming of a warm tropical beach, the sound of waves lapping at the shore, a pile of books by my chaise lounge, the cabana attendant within easy calling distance, no electronic devices, no news feeds and time, time, time to savor the sun, sand, water, sky and books.
The sky is gray, the news is dispiriting, I’m busybusybusy with work, and still not 100% recovered from illness (probably because I pushed too soon and then relapsed. Oops).
Yesterday was Valentine’s day and I offered to cook my valentine one of his favorite casseroles for dinner. Alas, when I went to open the necessary soup cans, I noticed that we were just about 2 years past the expiration date. Even for me that seemed excessive. *grin* Not to fear, I substituted whipping cream and cheese and dried soup and the casserole was yummy.
The days are getting longer, the little bit of snow/slush we got this week is nearly gone, and soon it will be spring.
snow turning to sleet
warm fire in fireplace
soft kitten in lap
stew cooking on stove
glass of red wine in my hand
staying home – priceless