winter holiday wrap up

So many things have happened in the past week that there was very little time for posting, but I wanted to acknowledge them in some way if only to get that feeling of completion.

So reaching all the way back to December 17th here's what's been happening.

Great Ellis show and food drive at Ginko's, another annual tradition for me since 2003. Finally bought the new album. Fabulous.

Followed by more snow, cookie baking, solstice and a chest/head cold. My illness wasn't too bad, but bad enough that the only thing I could do on solstice to celebrate was show up for a massage. No ritual, no dinner, no concert as planned.

There was much rejoicing over the generous blanket of snow everywhere, it looks like something out of a holiday movie even now.

Then some long days of work, then we cooked and hosted dinner for 12 on Friday night. [xmas eve] This was really wonderful for me. Again I cooked my family's traditional italian recipes. Speak to any Italian family who follows this tradition and you will hear different recipes. My family has a haddock-leek stew, a paprika sauce with cod, hot bread crumbs with cod, calamari, and fried smelts and fillets of various fish with platters of pasta.

I made the first 3 along with pollo alla cacciatora to balance out all that fish. This year it was followed by my variation on my family's nuthorns and my recipe for pecan tassies [recipe coming sometime]. I had three people offer to help with the cooking but I could only handle one helper so that I could maintain focus. It is really such a simple straightforward meal. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and it was a fun time.

For us it is the 9th day of Yule today. We have opened up a handful of presents already. I got a really lovely watch, the nicest I have ever had and a small messenger bag. Much needed since most of my old bags/purses seem to have died.

We went out for breakfast xmas morning to Common Roots and it was wonderful, low key and really enjoyable.

Then I spent a lot of time meditating and reading over the weekend. Doing some year end wrap up on the spiritual side. There will be stuff to share in the future from this musing.

This week is whipping by between work and spending time with friends. I know that this can be such a hard time of year for people and I certainly have had challenges of my own in that regard. My hope it that all can find some space and love in their circumstances right now, a bit of ease. And hold on, it's almost over.

winter solstice 2010

I have a bit of a cold and am feeling under the weather. Our weather, by the way, is chill and snowy. We certainly have the winter wonderland this year and it is so beautiful. Here it is the winter solstice, and the full moon and lunar eclipse all wrapped up in one day. I am still zen-like from my massage this morning and feeling low keyed. But still a welcome back to the light is order, perhaps by poem?

*The Shortest Day*
By Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Luckily there is lots more yule to enjoy, hopefully without my cold.

endings can be fabulous

So many times I dread an ending. When something horrible ends I find that I frequently forget to celebrate the ending of it. Even if I have comforted myself with the thought 'that everything changes' while in the midst of it.

Yesterday I was reminded that endings can be really lovely happy things. I can't help but rejoice for our country and I am so grateful to hear this good news. In fact, like everything right now, it moves me to tears-happy ones.

I find myself wanting to acknowledge this moment but not having many words. Existence is not fair we all know, but it is nice to rejoice in justice.
I wish you all a happy,
peaceful week if that is what you would enjoy.

ending of a busy week

It's been a busy week. So busy that I woke up this morning and realized that I didn't write for days without really realizing it.

Still all the presents that needed to be wrapped and shipped are done [yeah!] I love holiday cards and they are all mailed [yeah again] and I am making out a mammoth grocery list that will take us through the next week. I even got my old phone turned on, it barely holds a charge but I kind of have a phone again...

I have also been having fun. Last Sunday, when the high temperature was only about 3 degrees, I went with a friend to see the Santaland Diaries at BLB. Theatre Limina did a great job and combined with the fabulous company and the drinks and the mock duck rolls [which were saltier than usual] brought right to your seat it was a wonderful night. If you are wondering why I didn't link to it, unfortunately there are no more performances this year. However if you are dying for some xmas bashing cheer there are other 'holiday' shows to check out at BLB this week.

Performances like that remind me how fun it is to live in a big urban area with so much to do. My housemate goes out a lot as well, but we hardly ever do the same thing, there are just too many fun things to do in the city. And getting to laugh hard at David Sedaris' writing is one of the best cures for any holiday stress I have found. If you haven't heard it yet jump out to his myspace page and listen to 6-8 black men. And let me know how hard it made you laugh after if you like. [go MI hunters!]

before I forget again

I just want to get the word out in all possible ways. My phone is dead. Has been for a week now. Phones just do not like getting wet at all. I am trying very hard to not be furious with myself, you know for being human and making a mistake but that can be a hard pattern to overcome.

I am pretty down about this and also it's now way harder to get hold of me, email is your best bet because it will be a few more days before I get a new one. sigh.

It all seems to be going at once. The oven is dying, it took forever to get it to 350 on Saturday, we have a strange burning smell coming from the dishwasher [we stopped running it] and we already know our ancient washer is on borrowed time.

I may be an appliance whore but this is making me feel pretty overwhelmed with it happening all at once. ah well. At least with the appliances it's mostly age.

and I can't seem to remember to feed those trolls even though I bought the beer... I love the grim yuletide stories though.

an old fashioned December

If you heard about Minneapolis getting a tons of snow this weekend know that they did not lie. Eighteen inches in less than 24 hours is a hell of a lot of snow. Especially when neither snow blower/thrower wants to work and you have to resort to shoveling it all.

Since we only own one snow shovel we pretty much spread out the work between three of us and it is incredible pretty. The drifts are huge and sculpted and beautiful. Many neighbors took pictures. [that is actually our truck with the huge drift] Which is great because we all know I suck at taking pictures and getting them online.

There was a ton of wind as the snow fell, it was actually a blizzard there for awhile even in the city with all the buildings to block the wind. The buses stopped running and many performances were canceled Saturday night. I guess the show doesn't go on if the audience risks death to get there? [But then my unruly mind wonders about theatre in London during the blitz of WWII]

Although the snow threw me off a bit this weekend, I didn't get my father's candy made or shop or finish my cards or or or, still I am happy about the snow. Nothing makes me more grumpy than to have a snow-less December. I feel that if I live up here in the far north, I better have a white winter solstice or else. [Else move to somewhere tropical] If the snow all wants to disappear come January that would be fine. If not we'll try out our new skis, you know if it warms up above 10 degrees at some point.

Stay warm all!

trying the blackbird

So last night was resiliency follow up and beforehand I went out to dinner with a friend. We hit the newly opened Blackbird Cafe and had a nice time but that may have been due to the company not the food.

My gnocchi was wonderful although the truffles were extremely understated. My shitake short ribs were tasty. My companion said her food was very good. And perhaps they are still trying to get their feet under them, what with being so newly reopened? We were there very early, 5 pm, and the place was virtually empty, but it took almost a half hour for them to take our order. Then they made a mistake on it, which they quickly fixed. It felt very scattered somehow.

The menu was so eclectic, I found it confusing. Or was it just me and my mood that night?
As you can tell it was all very mixed for me. But I would try it again, definitely, although I will not be in a hurry. I'd be interested in hearing how it goes for anyone else at the new Blackbird.

For anyone wondering I never visited it in it's old location before the fire so I can't compare it to 'back then'.

oh and before I forget Mr Tuffy says purr

the 'how can I be so lucky' anniversary

Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I can't believe I am so lucky. I have a dear, dear friend and this is the anniversary of the day we met. [this does not mean I don't appreciate all my other wonderful friends of course!]

I am going to guess that we all have pivotal people in our lives. The kind of people who had/have a profound effect on us. She is one of those people for me. Still. I truly don't know who I would be without her. I do know that before I met her I felt her absence in my life. I longed for my friend.

True we sometimes [still!] after all these years misunderstand each other, thank goodness we can laugh about it now. Apparently we are both human and all. But the benefit of having the 'superest' of Virgos in your life cannot be underestimated. Like health, you cannot buy friendship in a store, it is a gift. Sometimes, if you are lucky. During a week where people are getting laid off right and left at my company it is good to know this--I am truly fortunate in friends.

This year I am in snowy MN with my friend and we can celebrate it together. I can toast her in person and with my hand over my heart as I bow, I turn my face towards her in gladness, in gratitude.

I hope everyone can find something to celebrate this Wednesday.

near perfect cookies, phones and trees

I am not fond of the word perfect. I don't use it, I don't even believe in it's existence. Is it possible to be a word-atheist, a 'watheist'? But it's ok that others do, we all have our things after all. This weekend I made a version of my Rustic Salted Pecan Cookies. They were deemed perfect by the people I live with, 'damn fine' even with the nuts by my favorite nut avoider, and excellent by two other testers. So I figured I should share my recipe. I had thought that I had shared an earlier version but hell if I can find it.

EB's Rustic Salted Pecan Cookies

sift together:
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 t baking soda

cream together:
3/4 c butter
1 c palm sugar

Add to the butter-sugar mixture:
eggs, room temperature
1 t vanilla

Stir in by hand sifted dry ingredients and
1 t sea salt [I used a vanilla infused sea salt with added to the yummy I think]
1 c crushed pecans

chill and bake rounded teaspoonfuls of dough for 9 minutes at 350 degrees,
remove and cool on rack.

If anyone tries them please let me know how they turn out for you.

In other news I think I may have killed my phone, it's sitting on the buffet drying out and it doesn't look good. *sob*

On the brighter side we got our tree today at the fabulous Mother Earth. The night air was brisk, there was a little snow drifting down, the women there were fabulous as well as my friends, the shop cat friendly and now my home smells like a forest in heaven. Add to this a great writing session with my partner, and a few more cards getting sent out and it was mostly a grand Monday.

Here's too a good rest of the week for us all!

so that running thing? report already

As at least some readers know I started running last April. Those who have known me long hit the floor in a resounding thud of disbelief. The idea of me running still seems goofy to me as well. But I have been keeping at it in a very modest way the past 7 months.

However for the past 3 months I have kept it around the 2 1/3 mile mark. While this is huge for me there really wasn't anything to report. It was a static state of running, and yes I know that doesn't make much sense.

Now with the early and beautiful snow I am back to running indoors completely which I do not find as comfortable. I am attempting to run on the treadmill, which still feels so awkward. Part of me insists that I need to worry about shooting off the back of it. Hopefully I will get used to it at some point.

The indoor track is more tiring than running on dirt outside, or is it that it's just more boring? I have to wonder. Either way I am spending time on the elliptical machine which does not seem like running to me at all and getting the odd mile or part of mile in around the track or treadmill. I may not make the 5k mark until sometime next year when the weather warms up....I'll reassess after the holidays.

In the meantime while working out today I realized, you know I think I kind of like running. Perhaps not all the time but way more than I would have ever guessed. It's easy. It's good exercise, I just need to do it more often. I need that happy pill that exercise gives.

I hope everyone gets to participate in their favorite de-stressor this weekend.

My apologies to those who hit the floor again when they read that I actually like running. I know it's freakish sometimes how we surprise ourselves [and others]. peace out

at least there were klingons

The past 2 days were just one big work suck. The kind of suck that makes you think 'really being laid off is sounding better and better'. Usually followed by crashing guilt because hey I still have a job.

I hate that feeling, being overwhelmed by judgment and aversion. And the overwhelm makes it harder for me to bring a friendly eye and curiosity to it. It's hard to find any distance from it.
To be kind to myself and just have sucky feelings. Of course the migraine that I woke up with this morning didn't help. It just seems evil to wake up with a headache.

However last night was the Klingon Christmas Carol. This did not suck, it was delightful. There were 5 of us and 4 who had seen it last year. It is in the more spacious hall in the Landmark Center over in St Paul. Very well heated by the way compared to Mixed Blood. We had phenomenal luck parking thanks to the sharp eyes of one of my passengers. All in all a delight.

It is a work in progress, there were differences from last year. I thought the first act could use a little tightening up. The tone seemed slightly more somber this year as well. But I enjoyed it immensely and between my shopping trip and now this I feel that the holiday season has been well and truly kicked off.

I have a spacious weekend opening up in front of me. I can't imagine I will get everything done but it may be fun to try. Almost certainly more fun than work.

nanowrimo ends and winter holiday season begins

December is here, Nanowrimo is officially done for another year. This means that the winter holiday season has begun. And my brain is regaining a bit of lost ground.

I hit the ground running Monday morning less than 12 hours after I won nanowrimo. My dear friend and I had our annual "shopping--spend time together" trip.

It was a rainy warm day and we got quite a bit accomplished. It was really helpful for me, I had tried to think of gifts for people beforehand but I was just feeling stuck. The act of shopping, having someone to exchange views and ideas with was so helpful. It all seems doable now.

Also it was just plain old fun. We had a long a fabulous lunch and did our best to catch up on each other. That didn't happen fully but at least we made a start. We made plans for other holiday gatherings and learned something new about ourselves; we are open to bribery. [at least it was new to me] My wife treated us all to take out so that she didn't need to cook that night. We quickly caved in to her bribe/suggestion.

I returned home exhausted and satisfied about 12 hours after I had left that morning. Truly one of my favorite things this tradition. I am so grateful there are no health issues this year to interfere with it. Now onto addressing those holiday cards. I just can't help it, I love them. Call me a kook.