January 26, 2021

Since I can’t go into stores these days, Patrick has been doing the shopping, planning around peak times and trying to shop only occasionally. But sometimes there are items we forget. Today I placed an order at Target and because they bring the items right out to the car, masked up, and place them in the trunk, I was able to get out of the house.

It dawned on me as I was driving back home that it was still light out at 5:00 pm. The sun was setting and it was actually quite lovely reflecting on the new snowfall.

My picture doesn’t quite capture how nice it looked. I’m thankful for the added light to the evening. Not only does it make me feel a bit more motivated after work, but it also means our gray winter days are eventually numbered.

January 17, 2021

As part of a Christmas gift, someone gave me a box of these inspirational cards. I flip through them every once in a while and this one stood out to me because I feel like I had a moment like this today.

Our two dogs are a lot like small children in the house. They get bored periodically and start getting snippy with each other or with us. They drag their toys around the living room and fight over the same bones. Usually around late afternoon, I can tell that they need to release some energy. Mind you, they have a doggie door and a large, fenced back yard which they run out into throughout the day, mostly to bark at some poor neighbor trying to walk past our fence. Yet they still seem to need some interaction. Probably because we aren’t walking them around the neighborhood during the winter like we do during the warmer months.

So I started going out into the back yard with them. It’s amazing how excited they get when they see me grab my snow boots. They have complete and total access to the backyard 24/7, but for some reason, they love it when I (or we) go out with them. Usually, it prompts them to start a game of chase where they run after each other around the yard. And sometimes, like today, we just walk to the back fence and stand under the trees together.

I’m sure our neighbors think we’re weird, but I don’t care. Most days it helps the dogs lounge easier all evening, having worn themselves out a bit. And it makes me feel good to know how much they love it.

Today, as I stood in the backyard with my pups, we all looked up at the trees and breathed in the cool, fresh air when it started softly snowing. I looked back at our house, and I thought, I’m really happy to be in this moment. Like the saying on the card, I felt truly grateful for what I have.

January 3, 2021

We have over 6 inches of snow outside right now. Sadly, it came after Christmas, but happily, it makes everything look so clean and bright. It also makes my Christmas lights glow differently, so I’m planning to be one of those people who leave the lights on longer than everyone else in the neighborhood. They make me happy, so they’re staying a while.

It was also sunny and warm enough today to take a walk outside. I was thankful for the fresh air and to see how the trees were still covered with icicles. A lot of winter weather is miserable, but today, it was picturesque.

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

While Patrick and I don’t typically have New Year’s Resolutions, I asked him on our walk if he had any goals for 2021. His immediate response was get to the end of it. I couldn’t disagree, but at the same time, I don’t want to wish the year away. We then talked about possibilities that are still attainable; hobbies and projects that have been on our individual lists for a while. I want to read more–not just for fun but for intellectual stimulation. I find I miss the academic world. I’d like to go back and pick up on some of my communications research. I’m also working on my crafts and would like to get to the point of actually selling them, instead of just talking about it. That was my plan last year, and then Covid hit. All the little craft fairs and markets shut down. It became harder to figure out how to sell remotely, so I became lazy with it. The pandemic halted a lot of things last year, but I refuse to let it halt my growth any longer. I may still need to quarantine, but I can do more than binge watch Netflix. Regardless of the difficulties ahead, I’m still thankful for a new year, and while I look forward to what the end of this year will mean, I also look forward to the opportunities that will come along the way.

Snow. Again.

I’m tired of winter. It snowed again today, and I’m just ready for it to go even though it hasn’t been a bad winter, considering. We’ve had nominal snowfall and not too frigid temperatures. We’ve only shoveled half a dozen times at most. But I’m craving Spring… the sunshine, the new plants, the longer days. I want to go outside unfettered by a heavy coat and boots. I keep reminding myself that we’re almost there. March is coming.

In the meantime, I’ve been grateful for some things. My current grad class is interesting. The Walking Dead started a new season. The cat hasn’t been waking me up in the middle of the night lately. My last car repair only cost me $16. I got to share another Valentine’s Day with Patrick. Our new ice cream machine works great. And Bree makes me laugh.

March 3

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about gardening. Strange, I know. We’re still buried under mountains of snow and ice, and the temperatures started in the negatives today. But I can’t wait until I can get my hands back in the dirt and plant stuff. Maybe it’s the fact that I spontaneously bought a 2 foot spiral evergreen during one of my Lowe’s trips last week. It’s sitting out at the end of my sidewalk like a happy little garden ornament. I’ve been considering where I can plant it when the time comes.

When I bought my house it was covered in overgrown bushes and trees. To the point where the front door and big picture window weren’t even visible from the street. There was no way to salvage most of them, so I enlisted the help of a friend and tore pretty much everything out. I think only one small flowering bush remained at the side of the house. Because it was the end of summer by the time I was done with the destruction, I didn’t have a lot of time to plan out a good landscape. Instead, I found a few bushes and perennials to put back in so things didn’t look quite so bare through fall. However, I’m now anxious to continue with the plan. While I wait for the spring thaw to start, I’m going to peruse my landscaping books and Pinterest boards for inspiration. Not only will that help me figure out the best place for my little evergreen, but it may help me get through the last of this painful winter cold.

Feb 7

In case you missed it, today was the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics. I haven’t actually watched it yet, since I didn’t find a live feed, but I plan to later. From what I’ve read and seen online, it looks like quite the fanfare. It should be interesting. I’m not an obsessive watcher of the games, but I do enjoy it catching what I can, especially the figure skating and all of the skiing events. Oh, and the luge; that is amazing. I guess I just listed half of the winter sports, so I probably watch more than I think I do.

When I was a kid I loved skating–roller skating and ice skating. I was pretty good, too. I could skate backwards and make small jumps and go on one leg. In my mind I was graceful and fluid. I pictured myself skating like the beautiful girls in the Olympics and wished I had a handsome, strong partner who could pick me up over his head. Instead, I was stuck my sisters who would rather knock me over than help me with my form. One of them even skated over my hand once and cut my finger almost to the bone. It kind of took the fun out of it. Since I never took lessons, so I’m sure I wasn’t as much graceful and poised as I was slow and careful. But it didn’t matter. I think any kid who loves a sport at some point pictures themselves in the Olympics. It’s the epitome of athletic prowess. The dedication required for an athlete to compete at the Olympic level is beyond me. The personal stories are often so interesting, inspiring and yet sometimes heartbreaking to hear. So many of them give up much of what we call our daily lives to get there, focusing solely on their craft. I find it fascinating.

Of course, I find the whole idea of the Olympics fascinating. The fact that these games have been going on regularly since 1894 and include over 200 participating nations from all continents is mind blowing. We can’t even get our own two political parties to play well together, but we can have thousands of people from that many countries coming together for a common cause? This is like the Super Bowl on steroids. Everything I said about football and sports bringing people closer together is magnified for the Olympics. Whole nations are rallying behind their athletes. I’ve never been to a live Olympic event, but I imagine it’s an overwhelming experience. The energy and pride and competition must be tangible in the air. I’m sure I’d come back home and strap on my skates again, I’d be so inspired.

But one of the coolest things, in my opinion, about the entire Olympics is the Olympic Creed: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.  I’m sure every one of the athletes in Sochi right now are hoping to win a gold medal, yet that’s not really the point of it all. The point is simply to be there. To have practiced endlessly, competed for years, and shown up to do their best, against the best. It’s a good reminder that the win isn’t everything. Sometimes the win is the end. It’s the getting there that matters.

Feb 6

I’m seriously tired of the cold. The snow. And the wind. I’m trying really hard to find some good things in this miserable weather. I was talking with a co-worker the other day about winter. We agreed that it isn’t that we hate it. After all, there is still fun to be had in winter. I do like sledding and ice skating, snowmobiling and skiing. It’s just that with this particular winter, it has been too cold to be outside much at all. Going from my car to my office requires a sprint because the wind is brutal. By the time I get to my office door, I look like I’ve been sobbing. My eyes have watered up, my face is chapped. And I don’t think my feet have been completely warm since October.

Yes, this winter has been challenging. However, I did actually note a few things on my quick jaunts outside today. Have you noticed how when the sun reflects just right on the snow, it sparkles likes glitter? I love that. It seems magical. And there’s a tree in my yard that hasn’t lost all of the berries. They’re hanging like small little ornaments. It attracts birds, and a cardinal sitting on a branch against the white snow is a sight that’s always lovely to me. I’m also fortunate enough to work on a campus that has a park-like setting. There is a pond that attracts a large amount of geese, which typically roam the grounds at will. The buildings are separated by a creek and a large stone bridge and two smaller footbridges connect the sides. There are groves of trees and landscaping that includes a large amount of flowering bushes and native plants. In all seasons, it’s truly a beautiful place to come to on a daily basis. Of course, when something becomes the norm, it’s easy to forget how unique it may really be. Yet there are times I’m reminded. Like today when I was crossing the bridge and a bunny hopped towards me. Or the other night, when I was on that same bridge and the lamps reflected off the frozen creek and outlined the trees and rocks and nature, and the stillness of the setting somehow seemed alive.

As much as I’m counting down the days until Spring (42), I am thankful for the nature around me. Winter can beautiful, even the miserably cold ones.

Feb 4

It was a difficult class tonight. It felt frustrating and unproductive. Maybe the winter is beginning to weigh on everyone because there seems to be little energy left in my students. And in me, if I’m honest. It reminded me of something I had written a few years ago that still seems to apply. I’m always thankful for being able to lose myself in writing.

it seems like
every year they get worse
come late
leave early
skip at least once a week
even when they show up
they’re not really there
it’s just luke-warm bodies
sitting glassy-eyed toward the back
of the room

most days I’d like to skip
myself give in to the defeat
protect the mythical reverence
I still hold for the beauty
of writing
even on the best of days
they don’t really get it
there’s no passion developing
no sense of urgency of needing
to know
apparently the future doesn’t
exist in any rational form

in their futures someone else
does the thinking

on those days I feel like a mime
explaining to the silence
that words really great words
can taste amazing
on the tongue

yet they refuse to taste
and every year I try harder
every year they remain
the same