Chilly End of the Year

Midday and it is only 12 degrees. I wait at home for the “sanitation” truck to arrive. After lots of moisture in our basement and lots of ruined stuff, we are ready to dispose of things. I hate to just pitch all this stuff, even if it is mildewed and too soggy to salvage, but here we are–the American Way, baby. The truck was supposed to arrive some time before 1:00. I’m still waiting. It was 0 degrees when we rose. The sun warmed things a little but now that is hiding.

Yesterday our high temperature was 8 degrees. I blew off running. The wind was, I don’t exaggerate, howling. It was blowing snow around and generally cooling things off in a frigid like manner. It was dangerous weather. I have run in weather like that, but I was warm inside, reading a good book. I had tasks to do. I didn’t go anywhere. I was going to run by now, but the trash pick up is still pending. Once that happens I will suit up and head out. Maybe it will be 15 degrees by the time I go.

We had snow a couple of days ago. See:

Falling Thick

Things have calmed down a bit. We may get some more snow. I was hoping the Nor’easter that has been shaping up would slam us with snow, but that looks unlikely now. We are considering skiing tomorrow. Squeeze in some runs on my new skis before the year turns. We’ll see. Friends are coming to ring in the new decade (or the last year of this one, depending on how particular you want to be). I am hoping that they will get a fresh blanket of white. That would good of us as hosts. Their arrival time will determine whether we have time to ski.

In the meantime I wait for the truck to haul away our American waste. And wait. At some point I will run. At the moment I am going to toss another log on the fire and pick up a magazine. Once I am comfortable I am sure I will have to get up.

Holiday Pics

My daughter was awake at 3:30 AM this morning. I gave her the good news that it was after midnight. I also gave her the bad news that she had to wait a few hours to get up for the day. We took a peek at the gifts laid out, then back to bed. She managed to fall asleep for about an hour between then and 5:30. Then she was up for the day. Her brother was not so stimulated. He was conked out until 5:45 when she went to “check on him.” Then we all were down by the Christmas tree, ogling the booty.

We unwrapped, with some restraint, for a couple of hours. We had some scattered breakfast. We ate candy. We took photos. And then it was play time. The children looked at books and did an art project and had some rescue pretending, among other things. Then they went outside and now we are ready for some apple pie. That was a special request from the early riser. That was easy enough to provide. Plus, it means I can eat pie as well.

The day is young and we have much play time to come. There may even be a bath involved, to test out the toy shark cage. Only a huge snowstorm could make this day better. Merry Christmas.

Heading Downstairs in the Dark


A Little Chaos

The Eve

The kids are pretty dang fired up. The lights are lit. Cookies are on the table. The big man comes tonight. Tomorrow we will have a fine family celebration. Thankfully we have that. I’m pretty excited myself. Hurrah and all that. Hurrah for Christmas.

Table Set for Christmas Eve at Bed Time

Note in the photo:

  1. Christmas tree cookie jar–NOT filled with cookies for Santa
  2. Cookies for Santa–sugar cookies with “stained glass” melted Life Saver centers
  3. Mandatory milk to accompany cookies
  4. Plastic angel with working (!) candle from 30+ years ago.
  5. Lists for Santa
  6. Egg carton filled with sparkly art project for Saint Nick to admire

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Bobcat by the House

This afternoon, hanging with my son and a friend of his, I look out and see a bobcat walking down the driveway. It had come out of the woods and walked down to the end. It sat there for a bit and then dashed into the tall grass to hide when a car came down the road. It was way cool, although I was more into it than the boys. I guess others have seen a bobcat, maybe the same one, not too far from here. I guess now would not be the time to get those chickens…

Walking Down the Driveway

Still Walking

Bobcat Tracks After it Disappeared


That’s what it was–bitter. The wind, I mean. At 6:00 in the morning, eleven degrees, the wind came out of the north and bit. So maybe biting would be a better descriptor. It certainly was nibbling at my cheeks. My run today took me west, then north, then back the way I came. So the first quarter meant wind on only my right side. Then it came right at me. Then my left side took the hit. At least it made me move a little faster. I have to admit I was concerned about frostbite, and so I was ready to head back home at any point. I had no neck gaitor. But it worked out.  I was moving fast enough that my face was flushed the whole time. And the rest of me was covered. Duh.

Here is the thing. It was crazy beautiful this morning. All those bright stars on the deep blue sky. The moon was long set so they glimmered. Mars and Saturn danced up there, too. And by the time I got home a hint of pink was spread across the Green Mountains to the east. OK, it was cold. And dark. But daggone, I love being up at that time of day. It isn’t easy to get out of bed, but it is way worth it. I think I’ll do it again tomorrow. Of course, if I want to take the time to run I kind of need to run that early, but I will enjoy it once I get out there. That is pretty much what always happens. I am hoping it won’t be quite such a face pincher tomorrow. But at this point, what does it matter? I seem to have gotten used to it. I do look forward to more light in the early hours but for now, this will do.

Shortest Day

It was hard to get up again this morning. Of course, I had stayed up late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, the annual viewing that couldn’t be put off. And I did get up at 5:30. And it was dark on this solstice morning. But I did it, and was rewarded with bright stars and a good run, despite the dusting I got by a few passing cars. After I got home, the sky turned pink before the sun peeked over the mountains at about 7:40.

The sun stayed out most of the day. It was a cold one but it did get up to 23 degrees. Heat wave. It was bee-yoo-ti-ful in the afternoon, short as the afternoon was. The sun shone on the snow in the mountains. And the sky was clear. It was good for a peramble out into the field with my son. We ogled the view:

A Little Snow Close, A Lot of Snow Up High

Camel’s Hump was wearing her finest. Here is what she looked like a little closer:

Snow on the Hump

We followed some coyote tracks for a while. They were old and faded and disappeared on us. And we saw turkey tracks as well:

Prints in the Snow, Turkey

The days get longer every day now. I was envisioning, literally, running in the morning without a light. It will be nice to be able to run faster since I won’t be afraid of slipping on ice. It will be nice to not worry as much about being seen by drivers. It will be nice to see what is around me a little more. I love the darkness, and heck, I’ve got lots of it left. It will be a couple of months before I’m looking at brighter mornings at the hour I get up. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The days will go on. Happy solstice. Let’s celebrate some light.

Another Cold Day

OK, I should have taken a trip to the dump today.  I should have gone to the hardware store to get some salt for our water softener. Some new wiper blades would be a good idea, too. But I did not get in the car today. I stayed home, stoked the fire, and went for a run. I read for a while, I ate breakfast, I drank coffee. I played with my kids. But I did not go anywhere. It was too cold. It was one degree when we woke this morning. The high temperature for the day was 16.

Saturday usually is my day for a long run. I would have preferred to go in the morning but I thought it prudent to wait until the temperature got to at least ten. I ran during the warmest time of the day which, as I mentioned, was not especially warm. I had a good run, however. I had to keep taking my gloves or my hat or both off and then don them again. I was cool at a couple of points, where the wind cut across a field, but mostly I was good to go. The danger was not the cold but the dust. Every time a car passed, and there were more cars than usual of course, a cloud of fine dust would rise and hover over the road. I used my hat or a glove when they were off as a mask but otherwise I was sucking in particulates.

Tomorrow will be cold again. And the next day. And the next day. I got my nine miles in today but I will run again in two days. It will still be cold. Tuesday’s high is forecast to be 11 at least. Winter has, indeed, arrived. Monday is the start of celestial winter but December 9th was the start of meteorological winter–the first of the 91 historically coldest days of the year.  A little snow would be nice. They are getting slammed down south, but we got diddily squat. Maybe next week, if weather tracks north, we will see some white stuff.

Right now we’ve just got ice. And dust. Despite this, in the darkest time of the year, we are doing well in this house. The solstice is just about here, and Christmas. In this warm house, amid the cold and dark, we are happy campers.

Two Cold Mornings

Two days ago I one again got up in the wee hours and donned the old running duds and ran in the dark, before everyone else in the house was awake. It was cold, the coldest morning yet this winterish season–18 degrees. I dressed warmly and got out quickly. Too quickly it turns out. The thing you need to know about our house is that it is open. I get everything set up the night before in part to save time but more importantly to be quiet. I leave my toothbrush on the counter so I don’t have to open the drawer (it squeaks) and I don’t want to be pulling anything out of anywhere since every noise seems to clang throughout the house when it is dark.  So there’s that, plus it was cold.

I knew it would be cold, of course, since I pay attention to the forecast. I have run when it is cold many times, but this was the first cold morning I would be running. I made sure to dress appropriately. Unfortunately I forgot one important thing. As I was walking down the driveway, guided by the beam of my headlamp, things seemed to look fuzzy. I blinked. Still fuzzy. I closed one eye–clear as can be. I closed the other eye–blurry as a painting of an octopus in a mud puddle. I had forgotten to insert one of my contact lenses.

So what to do? Go back in and make all kinds of noise to put it in? Or run with only one good eye. I did not go back inside. It was an interesting run. It was chilly but I was dressed for it, so that wasn’t an issue. I was too distracted by my eye sight to be cold, anyway. I kept closing one eye, then the other, back and forth. And it was slippery. I was afraid I would miss something. My binocular vision was compromised, so I had to be careful. I did make it home safely. I found my contact lens in the case. And I put it in for the rest of the day.

I took yesterday off but ran this morning. I took yesterday off partly because it was going to be a lot colder. It was a lot colder–two degrees at its lowest, and that was right when I would have headed out to run. So I waited a day. It was forecast to be slightly warmer at first, but then the forecast was for possible sub-zero temperatures. Screw it, I said to myself, I’m going anyway. And I did. I dressed for a cold morning, too–several layers but not too many, I hoped. The last thing I wanted to do was sweat a lot, then have my sweat freeze me right up. So I was ready.

I remembered to correct my vision before I left this morning. Then I checked the temperature. Sure enough, it was cold. Five degrees. So it was a little warmer than yesterday after all. The wind blew, however, so I had to be ready for the old wind chill factor. I was good–warm enough and feeling healthy. But the run was not without its own issues.

Our driveway is icy. A little snow, a couple of cars smashing down that snow  a whole bunch, some wind and not a lot of sun–that is how one creates the old icy driveway. I knew this, so I was careful to stay to one side, out of the slippery ruts. I mean, it was dark this morning. Even with a headlamp, we’re taking limited visibility. So, trying to be extra careful, I decided to walk in the middle of the driveway, where it might be least slippery. On the way from the edge to the middle, however, I managed to slip, fall hard, and hurt myself.

I didn’t hurt myself badly, mind you, so I kept going. My had was stinging underneath my sandy glove, and my elbow was sending nerve impulses to my brain warning of a bruise to be expected. My ego was bruised as well, so I grumbled slightly. But I just started running and hoped to forget about it. That didn’t happen right away, of course, because I noticed, in the meager light of my headlamp and through my black glove, blood seeping through. That blood had turned to frost by the time I got back home, and it still hurt then, despite the cold.

Sure enough, I had a fine abrasion on my hand, along with a small avulsion. When my son saw it he backed away with a look of horror, asking “What’s that?” The price of glory, my boy, the price of glory. The had still seeps and the elbow still throbs, but I went running this morning. Five miles. At least I can say I did that, eh?

Proud Parent

My daughter had a holiday concert this evening. She was one student of all the students in her grade and the grade above hers, singing and dancing. They had practiced for weeks and tonight was the big night. It was a packed gymnasium where they performed. It was fun to watch and to hear, and the kids had lots of fun.

She was a little nervous when we left–not worried so much as anticipating that she would have to do something in front of others. She knows already that she wants to please others, to show herself in a positive light, to do well.  And of course she was stellar. She sang right out. She smiled the whole time. She looked around. She laughed. What more could a parent ask?

At one point her class sang as a unit. I watched her sing, smiling all the while (both she and I), and I felt a pang of proudness. I had a feeling of how quickly time passes, how she will grow to do wonderful things and lead a fine life, and how I will remember this moment more than she will remember it. I felt proud of her standing up and doing her best, enjoying life in that moment. I was genuinely happy, from within as well as for her. I didn’t just feel the small pride of a parent that comes from watching one’s child do something for the first time or trying hard to accomplish something. There was something more there. It was a flash of the future, an emotional glimpse of the power of the world that is hers now and will be as she grows. For just a moment, time flared out and tingled over me.

I am sure there will be many more moments where she performs in a group or even on her own. I will feel proud then as well, I am sure, but when she ran out of the building afterward, as I walked with her brother in the cold air, and jumped into my open arms for a huge hug, I held onto her and to that earthly briefness tightly, knowing that it will not be long before I remember how long ago this night was. And she may not remember it at all.

In a short while I will look in on her sleeping. I will feel proud, and I will love her as much as one can love one’s child. I will her as long as I am alive to do so, and I will miss that child when she grows up. Tomorrow I will be sure to make meaningful the moments we share, and to let her know again that I am proud of her, and that I love her. And both of us will be better because of it.

Sweet Set Up

The children spent and hour or so before dinner creating this whole story line about a big storm coming and how all the people and animals needed to be saved and all the cars needed to be inside the wall and on and on. They got way creative and got along, as they typically do, as well as any parent could ask. The result, which my daughter came rushing to tell me “You have to check out!” was this:

They will all get saved, all right!

And here are a couple of details, to give you a sense of how detailed they were sure to be:

These people were in need of saving

Animals saved!