Exercise might be a good thing, if the grammar don't getcha

I have just completed a 20-minute exercise routine - my first since October. This is a measure of how deep my depression has been, but also a sign that I am pulling myself out of it at last. I've never gone this long without any exercise before, and it has felt truly awful to be so out of shape, but until today I just have not been able to make myself do it.

Suddenly this afternoon, I was ready.

The black lining to my silver cloud appeared at the end of the video when the woman said, "You have just did the whole routine, now doesn't that feel good?!" Oh, the pain!




Okay, THIS is how sentimental I am - it's pretty bad.

I have a miniature pack of cards that I received - perhaps from Santa? - when I was 7 years old. I took it along when we went on the ship to the Netherlands the first time. I was playing with N with it the other night and she asked why there was a very old, ratty American flag sticker stuck inside the box that I always insist on keeping in the box with the cards. It's ancient and a bit torn and she finds it annoying that I won't let anyone throw it away or at least keep it somewhere else.

Because: Granddad gave me a set of those stickers to take with me on the ship (and put one in my autograph book when he wrote in it) and I stuck some in the box of cards, for some reason. So that one has always been in the box, traveled to Holland with me and back twice, and it belongs there. Now N understands completely and thinks it's cool.

Now that I've explained it, I think it's a little cracked. I mean, it's just an old sticker, and they still make them just like that one. But somehow I can't bring myself to get rid of it. ;-)

I need to start making time every day to edit my novel! I was going to start last week and I had too much going on. It's a lot easier with an external deadline like nanowrimo. I'd better head over to nanoedmo and see when that starts and if they've got any hints for me.

Today I'm going to N's school to do a little presentation on Chinese New Year, assuming they don't end school early because of yet more snow . . .



Now it really feels like the year is starting up

Right after New Year's, Z & C left for college, N went back to school and R started back to work. I, however, was left in limbo, since our classes don't start up again till the 20th. I'd sort of been looking forward to the peace and quiet, and it was nice to have quiet mornings in which to prepare for the upcoming semester. I had several enjoyable and productive coffee-shop meetings with my Learning Community colleague, read some books, and avoided cleaning the house (for the most part). Doodled around on the computer. Had some loooong naps.

In short, I took a vacation.

I'm a little disappointed that I did not visit the gym or do any of the housekeeping tasks I'd planned. Then again, I ended up with a fair (unfair) number of migraines. :-(

Friday I spent all day in meetings and workshops on campus, and they were productive and morale-boosting. I am now almost ready for school to start on Tuesday, and looking forward to it. The Learning Community is really going to be fun; I hope I have good students this semester.

Of all the books I've read over break, the one I enjoyed was Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. It's the first in a series (hurray!) about a twelfth-century Jewish physician/detective from Salerno who travels to Great Britain to solve a case for which all the Jews of Canterbury have been blamed. Franklin has written it very well, and I found it such a good book that I ordered a second copy from paperbackswap so that I have TWO to send to people (one is for a cousin who is facing surgery soon, the other can circulate). Then I put myself on pbs's waiting list for the next two in the series!

I'm not handling the winter too well right now. It has been bitter cold the last four days (single digit temps with wind-chill bringing it well below zero), and what I assume is arthritis is making my knees sore and keeping my hands from performing properly. Yesterday at the workshop, which was (of course) entirely indoors, I had to ask a friend to open my bottled water for me, as my fingers just were not strong enough. Made me feel pretty decrepit, I can tell you.

I'm also having trouble with the lack of sunlight and amount of greyness. I notice that I very easily become weepy and depressed on cold, grey days, and am looking for strategies to manage - another reason I'm looking forward to the start of the semester, when I have more interaction with people outside the house.

Okay, I still need to make a passel o' phone calls (to tell students our classroom's been moved all the way across campus - I don't want them trekking across campus in this weather) and then write a long, informative welcome email to my online class, many of whom are beginning to log in already.

ARGH! N has her friend from across the street (one of the "Herdmans") over. Driving me crazy.

Must - be - charitable - must - not - snap -



Post-Christmas Blues

It's too bad that N does not have school tomorrow (Monday). She's got the post-Christmas blues, when none of the presents she got for Christmas is quite the thing she wants to play with, and she doesn't really want to play outside, but she doesn't really want to play inside either, and nothing anyone suggests sounds like any fun.

R's got a similar problem, which is that he's spent the past five weeks agonizing about it being the holiday season (a time of great angst and depression for him), and now that it's over he's left with nothing to agonize about so he doesn't know what to do with himself. But he's going back to work tomorrow for one day, which will be just about right for him, I think. Enough to get his jitters out and then come home again for some more vacation. ;-)

As for me - well, we had two days' worth of very pleasant visits from friends & relations, and now today I am enjoying just not doing much of anything. Which Z & C enjoy as well. But "not doing much of anything" is absolute torture for R & N. Which is why they're feeling antsy.

I am currently sitting in my favorite chair, wearing my new slippers, listening to my new iPod nano, and inhaling the fumes from my new Himalayan salt candle-holder. All of which would be just a little more peaceful if R were not irritated with me for not wanting to go walking in the rain with him, and if N were not ringing the doorbell (the door is unlocked, so this is entirely unnecessary) to complain to me that it is raining.

I am ignoring them both.

The question of when to take down the Christmas tree is what I am currently pondering. I think I'd like to take it down some time in the next couple of days - before C & Z go back to school. If I wait till they leave, it will be sad when I do it, plus I won't have their help.

So it would seem to be a no-brainer, wouldn't it?



Chappy Chanukkah!

So it's the first night of Hanukkah, also Yule and Solstice and, coincidentally, four days till Christmas. And around my house we're pretty laid-back about it all. Which is nice.

I spent a good chunk of today getting the holiday cards written and addressed, except for a few for which I still need addresses. I scrounged up enough stamps and return-address labels so that they can even be mailed tomorrow - I think this is the first time in many years that they've gone out this early (i.e. before the end of the year). Z made a few cards for special friends, from scratch, and they are lovely. C loaded a mess o' CDs onto my computer for me so that I am now listening to Kitaro as I type, yay! N played outside with friends all day, and is now sleeping the sleep of the just. And R worked on various tasks that had been calling his name. The four of us (minus N, except when she and her friends came in for refueling every so often) kept each other company cozily most of the day, and it was truly gezellig.

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching the last few days, and have discovered that there are two things greatly lacking in my life. One is people: I never - really, never! - see my friends any more. It's been six months since I last saw my two close friends here, because of busy schedules and difficult lives. And the other people I know around here are more acquaintances and colleagues than friends. I need to change that. Not sure how to go about it, yet, but this absolutely needs to change. I have good, special, dear friends in far-flung places, but I need more people about me here, where I can see and touch them. I've always been a very people-oriented person, and yet somehow I have ended up a virtual recluse.

The other thing lacking is a soundtrack. I used to play music all the time, but our stereo system is old and fading, and I need something I can take with me on the run. This is why I've asked for an iPod for Christmas/Hanukkah. It's not just a fun little techno-toy - it's something I can carry about from room to room, can go to sleep to, can listen to when out walking. (I won't wear it while driving, though, I promise.) All three of our kids have mp3 players and love them, and they were enthusiastic about my suggestion that it would enhance my life. And the kids are going in on an iPod for R for Christmas, too, and loading it with a sleeptime playlist and a brisk-walk playlist for him. They're very excited about it.

So: people and music. That's what I need more of, and that's what I hope to add more of to my life in the coming year. I know, it's too early to blog about the new year. As far as Christmas is concerned, we've already done one of the traditional holiday rituals. Yesterday we watched both of the "Batman Animated" and the "Justice League Unlimited" Christmas episodes to get us in the mood. The scene in which Superman tries to use his x-ray vision to peek at his presents, only to find that his parents have wrapped them in lead-lined paper, inspired N and C to go to our tree and start shaking the presents underneath to guess what might be in them.

"Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg . . . ."




I seem to have put off my Christmas sewing projects till the very, very, very squeaky-last minute. Worse than usual, but I needed to get all the grades in for my courses first (at least, this is what I told myself).

I've now finished 8/11 of the top of a quilt for my niece, and expect to complete the top in another couple of hours. Then I'll head out to Joann Fabrics to get the batting, more black thread and some black yarn for the ties (she's heavily into the Goth scene, so there is a lot of black in this quilt). Home to do the quilting.

Once hers is done, I will get back to the first quilt I started, which was for a wedding present in September (oops). It, too, has a lot of black in it, so I'll be buying PLENTY of black thread when I go out. ;-) I don't need to finish it by Christmas, but I do want to finish it during this vacation break.

And then there's a pillow I want to put together for Z, using two of her old favorite t-shirts that are too raggedy for her to wear any more. She adores them and noticed they were missing (I took them for this project before they could disintegrate any further), and will enjoy having the pillow as a "comfort object" at school.

N was happy this morning: the school district called a two-hour delay, due to icy roads. She enjoyed the extra time with Z, who hadn't really planned on getting up quite that early but was willing to play with her new XBox 360 anyway. She bought it for herself two days ago - the first thing she's ever bought herself that cost more than $20. She is enormously proud of it.



Are You Ready For The Holidays?

I threatened on Facebook today that I would slap the next person to ask me that question, and I meant it. It implies that there's some kind of competition to get everything bought and wrapped and mailed and decorated - to get all that nonsense out of the way as quickly as possible because it's such a pain in the neck.

Personally, I love the baking, the choosing of presents, the wrapping and, to a far lesser extent, the decorating. (Okay, I detest the mailing and am always happy when that's out of the way.) I find the process, not the end product, to be the Whole Point. For me, "getting ready" means cleaning the house enough to make space to set up the sewing machine, and scrubbing the kitchen in preparation for baking enough poppyseed cake to take to all the neighbors.

Now I've turned in my grades and started the cleaning. Tomorrow I take out the sewing machine.

I am psyched.