Friday, December 8, 2017

You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour. ~ Sukhraj S. Dhillon

Well, today has been a relaxing day off.  Really relaxing.  Really off.  I slept in.  The first two Christmas cards came in today's mail, Mom's and Aunt Heidi's.  Mike had the day off too but went out to breakfast alone and then ran a few errands downtown, so I had most of six hours to myself.  I added the miniature pink gingham wreath to my little cottage planter, per somewhat new tradition.  I thought of one last little gift for my older brother and his family and ordered it with just enough time left for it to arrive by next weekend's early Christmas.  While watching The Shawshank Redemption, I touched up a few Christmas tree ornaments with some fresh paint, glue, and faux snow before rehanging them.  I made this year's batch of salt-dough ornaments while watching About a Boy, another of my favorite movies (and books).  (And let us pause here to admire the colorful holiday table-scene here:
Ah!  Love!  Every time I watch this--and it's become another Christmastime tradition for me--I remember that I want to look for a simple candelabra like that one, and then forget until the following Christmas.  Maybe 2018 will be Candelabra Year.)  I had made my last big bunch of salt-dough ornaments in 2011--
--but decorated the tree this year in just pink and white so wanted some pink candy canes and hearts instead of all these rainbow-hued ones.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand just now taken out of the oven and cooling a bit before I add them to the tree, then, is this afternoon's batch, along with a couple hearts formed from the last little scraps of dough.  (Salt-dough:  1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup flour-plus-more-mixed-in-as-needed. . .baked at 250°-ish for about four hours.  Katy Elliot's recipe--and are the snowflake ornaments in her post not the loveliest!--is the one I started with in 2011.  I usually need more flour than her recipe calls for, and I bake mine at a higher temp, but my recipe is otherwise her recipe--and a good one it is.)  Quite soon, then, the new candy canes and hearts will get hooked onto tree boughs and I'll loop some green thread or fishing line through the hearts to hang them and will declare the tree done. 
I'm off tomorrow too and am trying to talk Mike into a game of Trivial Pursuit.  No takers yet, but I got a "We'll see" upon last mention, at least.  'Am at some point re-hanging the gingham apron "curtain" that has a home over the air conditioner now that winter's here. 
I still have my cards to get ready to mail, despite Wednesday night's best intentions, but returning to my book sounds better than cards and envelopes.  Sometime this weekend, I'll take some Christmas tree pictures.  Ahhh, well, one picture for now, because I just added the salt-dough pieces and this is all making me very happy.
Sweet little tree.    After all the stress and chaos this week, this Christmas tree is actually my favorite one ever.  Go figure.  Thank you all for your kind words on the ol' balancing act.  Maybe everything just had to get worse here before I could figure out how to make it better. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Looking for Santa (and Some Smarter Ways)

How sweet is Stuffed, staring at the empty Christmas stocking!    Or maybe he's looking at his own.  :)  This feels like the latest I've ever put up the tree, but it likely just seems that way because so much feels so out of control lately.  Tonight, right after I hit "Publish" on this and pour myself another iced tea, will be a feverish night of Decorate-the-Tree-and-Get-All-the-Holiday-Cards Ready-to-Mail-in-the-Morning.  Because of my wacky work schedule, I usually go to bed around 2 am, but I'm determined to get all this done tonight even if it means I climb into bed later than that.  I just can't handle having More!  Big!  Things!  hanging over my head another day.  I am still (forever and always) behind on laundry.  I have to finish Christmas shopping:  My big family Christmas is next weekend, the 15th/16th, since that's when I can get home for it, so I have to get it all done this next week.  Shoot, I still have to wash tonight's supper dishes.  Double-shoot, for that matter, I still have to put away the leaf and snowflake cookie cutters and frosting bags I used making my desserts on Thanksgiving.  (Containers of sprinkles, cookie cutters, food coloring tubes, sugars, etc. all need to be rearranged and re-fit into little tins and jars for these to be put away properly, but in the time it's taken to write this sentence, I could have gotten it at least half-done.)  And make that a triple-shoot:  I still have to put together the two bookshelves I mentioned in OctoberThere are just So!  Many!  little tasks like that to be done, is the issue, and I'm always exhausted, and in order to accomplish anything besides all the usual everyday chores, I either have to go to bed too late or force myself to start my day too early, and that's not  sustainable for long.  (That my writing and walking--and of course, running--have fallen by the wayside lately is almost more distressing than all the rest of this combined.)  And there are bigger to-do items too, which take more energy and/or a real chunk of time carved-out, and so it all falls further apart.  There are in-person bank errands to run, and student loan nonsense to sort-out and deal with, a new photo to be taken for my driver's license. . . .The lists are all long ones.  This is the first Christmas that I think I would have happily skipped both putting up a tree and sending cards--it's all just so much extra work and feels like a hassle this year--but I don't want to ruin Christmas for Mike, and I know myself well enough to know that maybe I would feel even worse, and life would feel even more out of control, if I had to look back on December knowing I didn't manage the tree or cards.  Everything that had been stored in the corner where the newly-put-up tree is, is now scattered throughout our tiny one-bedroom apartment, and the clutter--or THE CLUTTER (CLUTTER CLUTTER CLUTTER), since I say that word in a booming echo like enraged Saruman bellowing into the snowstorm--

--is driving me crazy/even more crazy, especially since everything-that-had-been-in-the-current-tree-corner-and-that-is-now-scattered-all-over was only in the current tree-corner because I had to move it from the hall closet to the corner in May when I turned the hall closet into the spot for my work-wardrobe.  I still haven't found a new spot for any of these things--but doing so was/is ON MY LIST!  Bwah ha ha!--so the fact that everything's now been shuffled around AGAIN just makes me want to give up and live in a hotel awhile.  This one, please!  
Add a pitcher of flowers, my journal, pens, and a stack of books, and fill the mini-fridge with iced tea for me, and I'M THERE, I tell you.  I'M THERE.  I hate clutter.  I hate clutter.  I am here surrounded by it tonight, though, and I am signing off to attempt the nightly slaying of a little more of it.  I am off both Friday and Saturday, is what I am holding onto in this regard tonight, and I can spend them reading in my chair with Stuffed, content knowing my cards are already are their way to everyone while the tree lights and decorations charm me from across the (I swear, I swear, if I have to stay up ALL NIGHT TONIGHT) organized and tidy apartment.  That will make me feel better for December, but I need to figure out some new and better ways moving forward because the schedules and routines that worked for me the seven years I had my now-old job are clearly just not the right ones anymore.  Alas. 
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Oh, to have this cozy and tidy little home again!  Well, I had four days off every week with my old job, since all my hours were squashed into three loooong shifts before, so that made a huge difference.  And the hours themselves were quite different and allowed me to be home at times I could do noisy things like vacuuming, moving boxes and furniture around to reorganize things, clanking dishes together while washing them and putting them away, running up and down the three flights of stairs from our apartment to the basement to do laundry, etc. all without fear of waking Mike or any neighbors.  That made a difference too.  And I used to leave for work and return home from work at the same time every shift I worked, and I can no longer say that either.  Sometimes I get home from work at 6 pm now, but usually, it's 12:30 in the morning.  Other times, 11 pm.  Today's shift was supposed to have ended at 5:15 but saw me leaving at 6:05.  This is the job I had wanted for so long, though, and I am determined to make it work without letting everything else suffer.  I want some peace and organization and routine back.  I will get there again, I think, but it's going to take some real doing.  And realizing--really understanding now--that all the new jobs in my future will require that I figure out all new ways and routines to make them work too--has been eye-opening, indeed.  Ah, the constant adjustments and readjustments needed to make life run smoothly.  Onward and upward, and all that jazz, then, because I'm not climbing into bed every night of 2018 feeling like I just slid into home plate in a kick-up of dust (and to-do lists). 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This Day

'Leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast, 63° outside, Stuffed is curled up in the sun-slants along the floor, and I have the day off work.  'Time to read with Stuffed snuggled into the afghan on my lap, time to cook a proper dinner this afternoon, time to catch up on email to dear Lisa later, and time to get laundry and other chores crossed off my list for the day and rest of this week.  It's all so much of a juggling act lately--I much preferred the work-schedule I had with my previous job, it turns out--that I feel like everything I do gets done at the last minute in a rush of "Whew!" and "'Pulled it off again!" so days like this when I can catch my breath and sit awhile in late fall sunshine with pie and a good book and a cuddly cat are truly, more than ever, the sweetest days of them all. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Few Days Late

Thanksgiving was last night here, and a sweet one it was.  Best wishes to you all. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017