Wednesday, December 29, 2021

That Old See/Saw

I have always felt a letdown as the holidays wind down.  When I was younger I was able to fill the empty hours with a return to my job or projects that I had listed to complete during the winter vacation before I returned to work.  I had family responsibilities that made me feel useful.  I road the waves out until the crest of January and its deadlines reared their ugly head.  (Rarely living in the moment!)

Now I find it more difficult to catch the next wave when the waves are small and barely moving.  Retirement coupled with old age brings time for thoughts, regrets, and wishes for do-overs.  I know that it is stupid and useless to venture down that path, but each year I feel a little more useless in this world and my mistakes haunt me.  I volunteer, donate money, and try to spend as much time as possible with family and my few friends, but everything seems much more ephemeral and questionable as I have acquired perspective moving to the end of the tunnel of my lifeline.  Perhaps the stress of the times mixed with my perspective on world affairs adds to this frustration.

This does get balanced with the wonderful opportunities I have for study, pleasure reading, watching great entertainment, watching my family grow and venture into their exotic new lives, and traveling with my husband.  I know that I have nothing to complain about.  I know that my rich life is how I make it. 

So I look to wise men (and women) to lift me:

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.  Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

And as I venture into 2022 and I will work on my attitude.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Today and Long Ago Yesterday

Today is my birthday and I have made it to 3/4 of a century. I certainly never thought about that, although I hoped to live a long and healthy life. My cough has been suppressed with the medicine and I have been sleeping like a baby for months! 

While the new variant of COVID has us a bit concerned we are taking all the precautions and going forward a month after our last booster using masks and sanitizers. We are eating out and taking that chance, but it has been such a long pandemic season. We headed up to Lancaster, PA last week to shop for a canoe as a Christmas/Birthday gift for our son. He has been trying to save up for one and both families decided to help him out. The canoe inventory in our area, including several nearby cities, was very sparse. The largest inventory we found was way up in a tiny community in Lancaster. We were surprised at how hard it was to pick a size, model, brand, etc. once we got there.  But we got him a nice canoe, did some Christmas gift buying in the Amish market and stores, and ate at a fancy restaurant owned by a former White House Chef who served under both Bushes and Clinton. The food was very good, if not the exotic or excellence I was expecting. The restaurant was designed like an Inn and that coziness along with the Christmas decorations and some wonderful holiday cocktails made it something we had not had the chance to experience since we are out in the rural area of our state. 

This area has lots of churches of various denominations with some historic cemeteries. This one below has some connections to William Penn, a member of the Quakers who emigrated from England and was the founder of the province (now a state) of Pennsylvania. Penn first called the area "New Wales", then "Sylvania" (Latin for "forests" or "woods"), which King Charles II changed to "Pennsylvania" in honor of the elder Penn.
This area is also the heart of an Amish religious sect. The Amish had split from the Swiss and Alsatian Mennonite Anabaptists in 1693 in Switzerland. They are very conservative and avoid modern technologies as much as possible. My husband has been involved in business with our Amish down here and the man is very difficult to reach as he has no phone and has to walk a mile to another farm to use theirs...which seems to me odd. Either use technology or not. They do not like to have their photos taken and this one was a snap from our car as we drove down the road.  They go about by carriage.
There are vast farms with little on no electricity.  We found a number of great places to get ice cream made from their dairy farms.  They still grow tobacco for their personal use and hang it to dry in tobacco barns like they did hundreds of years ago.  Yet I saw some pretty fancy and expensive farm equipment being driven by Amish farmers.

The only bakery we have where I live here is that found in the large supermarkets. They are good but not outstanding like the European bakeries.  We enjoyed window shopping at the local bakeries.  Below is an Amish bakery and we did buy just a half dozen pastries, although everything was so tempting.
The brief vacation was a nice respite from our hungered-down lifestyle.  It was just a bit disconcerting to see how many fractious factions of Christianity evolved over time, especially of note during the holy day season. It reminded me once again that Jesus was not a Christian.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Season of Avoiding the Calorie Count

During this time of year, our two (three?) persimmon trees outside begin to produce abundantly. The entire harvest arrives in less than two weeks and if we are efficient we can get to them before the raccoons. They cannot be eaten until fully ripe as they are very astringent when firm. So we harvest and let them sit out until they are quite soft to the touch and almost translucent in appearance. The tree itself has showy fall color.
Once they are as soft as a firm pudding I can puree them for recipes.
...such as persimmon cookies. Some for the freezer and others for the cookies jar.  I now have too much puree.  I am going to try adding them to pre-packaged lemon and orange cake mixes as an experiment.
I have brought my citrus trees inside to the tiny corner of my kitchen and they have gone crazy with both blossoms and fruit at the same time! Below are my kaffir lime tree and my Meyer lemon tree.  The harvested kaffir are the size of golf balls.

Oddly the fragrance of the citrus blossoms is not as full as when they are blooming outside in the spring. But the kaffir juice and shaved rind are perfect for a warming winter curry.
And today I sort the persimmons for ripeness and begin again!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

A Conversation with the New Neighbor

"Martha is going to come over in forty-five minutes to see the lights out on the dock. She wants to know how we did it."  Hubby calls down the hall from the kitchen.

I stopped pulling on my exercise pants halfway and sighed. I knew she was going to come dressed as if setting out for a trip to shop in the city or looking like she was going on a country fox hunt without the riding boots. 

I pulled over my roomy black chenille top which fit me like a box cover.  It was large and warm and could be used for exercise later in the day if I could talk myself into that.  I was not going to dress up for a neighbor visit! 

As I passed out through the bathroom I glanced at the large mirror over my sink and admitted I needed to at least apply a little make-up and brush my crazy, wild, gray hair.  My eyebrows have gone pale gray, and as a result, I have a little expression on my face if I don't draw them in with a dark charcoal brush.  Martha's haircut is that perfect trim that matches those who have been on television...which, of course, she had in years past.  My hair is cut into a shag-pixie something or other.  It doesn't hurt that Martha has the facial bone structure of a blueblood and has that delicate beauty that some women are able to hang on to when they age.  Like me, she is pushing 80.

It took her over an hour to arrive and I filled the nervous time straightening the living room and moving the folded clothes to the bedroom. I was still barefoot and put on some winter socks.  This is the first time she will actually be in the house as COVID has prevented us from really welcoming her to our home and also the neighborhood.  If you remember she bought the mansion across the ravine.

She finally arrives in slim gray pants and one of those down jackets in a baby pink that matches her lipstick and some large disk earrings.  She apologizes as she had received a call from the local museum and its concern about the depletion of their reserve accounts due to COVID and since she was on the board, she had to respond.  I have never been on a board, and I have never been asked but it makes me think of bored.

Hubby jabbers as he often does around charming people, but finally, I get her to move through the living room down to the dock.  She studies how hubby has tied the ropes to the pilings and then tied the outdoor holiday lights to the rope.  We got a reindeer on discount (still expensive) at the hardware store and plugged it in at the end of the rope.  It needs a bow and/or a red nose! Baring a major rain we should be able to protect connections with taped plastic.

She admires his handy work and says that she likes our "icicle" lights better than the traditional lights used by the neighbors across the way.  She said that she gets up early and some folks already have their lights on.  How do they do that?  While I sense a bit of competitive nature in this, I am polite and explain we use outdoor timers and show her ours.  

She smiles and says she is heading to the local hardware store and maybe the local plant place to see if she can replicate our "beauty."

She is really a very nice person, but I think she is either a 'dumb blonde' or is using this need for information as a means to get to know her neighbors better.  I mean...light timers are not exactly new technology.