Sunday, January 9, 2011

Moving Right Along

It’s 2011 now, and I’ve gotten behind in telling you about stuff. Here’s an update.

First, happy new year! As I told you last year at this time, New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. It is both fun and psychologically substantial. I love how crossing over that randomly determined Gregorian boundary forces me to consider myself truly in the moment, standing in neither past nor future.

We host an annual party, in the tradition of my Grandma S. Although most years, it’s a “family and friends” party, this year it was only family, a smaller group than usual, and a bit more laid back than it’s been in some previous years. Fortunately, my cousin and his wife brought their two young grandkids, and their liveliness prevented us all from sitting around like a bunch of mummies.

Well, it wasn’t that bad, but I was a little let down at the attendance. It worries me a bit about my social currency. I’m starting my third year of working at home, and I have very little social life. It makes me wonder if I’ve losing any social aptitude I might have acquired in the past. But I tell myself it’s just that some years The Party is going to be less of a “deal.” And there were few out-of-state family in Missouri for the holidays, anyway, and that didn’t help the attendance. Oh, well.

We did have a great party, and the mutzens were wonderful (in my humble opinion). We had lots of leftovers, so we have been eating them for breakfast. I’ll be glad to get back onto the oat bran muffins.

We have lots of other leftovers from the party, and it’s been just hell eating all those delicious tidbits. New Year’s Eve is when I buy the really good cheeses and cut up lots and lots of veggies. Oh, the agony of “having” to eat that delicious eleven-year-aged white cheddar from Cheese Haven. We had some tonight with our supper. Ooh-la-la.

This year we did something we’ve never done before: We collected all our party dishes and glassware and washed them at 2 a.m. January 1. Yes! Thus we woke up to a not-completely-bombed-out house. We did have powdered sugar everyplace, but that’s part of the fun.

Each January 1, Sue and I try to go on some kind of outing. This year, we drove to Spring Creek Gap Conservation Area (down by Rolla) and did a brief hike. It was very fun, and it was great to be out in the sunshine of a new year.

On our way there, we stopped at the Fire Tower near Freeburg (not the one that’s right at the Spring Creek Gap parking area—that’s the Vichy Fire Tower—this one is different).

Gotta climb those things when you can, y’know? Even when it’s cold. This fire tower appeared to be situated near some kind of dog kennel. Maybe a dog-breeding operation? Lots of barking down below.

Here’s a picture of the creek bed at Spring Creek Gap. We messed around at the creek for a while, poking at pretty rocks. The Ozarks have some gorgeous rocks!

The MDC’s been thinning out the forest in places. Here’s a view from one of the gladey areas they are apparently trying to promote.

Okay, and then there’s the end of Christmas. You know how I like to keep the decorations up through Epiphany (January 6); therefore, this was the weekend we took it all down.

Actually, in the case of the Weihnachtspyramide, it’s technically “taking it up,” since we store it in a special closet upstairs.

I’ve talked a lot about the traditions of setting up the tree—how we sing “O Tannenbaum” as we carry it down the steps to the living room, etc.—but I haven’t said much about putting it away.

It’s a little less nostalgic. We pull the ornaments off and each year try to figure out some sort of “system” for storing them in their boxes so we can find them more easily next year. Meanwhile, we have to keep an eye on Earl (the cat), who is endlessly curious about the boxes and the paper.

Sue and I have been threatening to teach ourselves how to sing “O Tannenbaum” backwards, so we can reverse ourselves as we carry the tree upstairs.

We took some pictures as the tree was in states of disassembly. Maybe you’ll find them interesting. (Next post. Stay tuned.)

And then, naturally, once all of “Christmas” is packed up and tucked away in the closet, the living room looks big enough to do a square dance in. Does that happen to you? It makes me kinda happy I have some of that sharp cheddar left over to help fill the absence. Because it’s not the crowdedness I miss—it’s the specialness.

Yeah, we’re officially into the winter doldrums. I suppose the busy-ness of Christmas preparations helps us overcome the psychological effects of shortening days, and I’m glad for that—but even though the days are getting longer, this is the coldest time of year, and it can be the snowiest. Cooped up in the house. This is the time of year I’m most apt to ask myself why I ever moved away from the Southwest.

So today I’ve been working on freelance (please don’t ask for details), and when I’m through posting this, I’ll work on a different freelance project. Writing this is my reward for plugging away all afternoon on a weekend on an index.

The weather forecast says that, now that it’s bitter cold out there, tomorrow and the next day we’re supposed to get snow. I’ve got my boxes of tea lined up and ready, and the kitties are here to show me how to keep warm.

And that’s pretty much how we are tonight.

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