Monday, December 28, 2009
I weighed myself today for the first time since Christmas dinner -- and I'm doing fine, actually at the low end of my maintenance range. Middle number still 5 and I'd prefer a 4 of course, as I'd temporarily achieved earlier this month. But in truth, that temporary middle 4 may have had something to do with a medical procedure requiring fasting AND purging, and giving new meaning to the term "purgatory"! You don't want to know any more details, truly. Way TMI. Didn't expect that middle 4 to last and it did not; that's why I didn't permit myself to change my weight tracker. Just a mirage . . .
What about this water thing that STLRZGRRL is all about big time? TWELVE cups a day?? Would that be the ticket for a "real" and sustainable middle 4? Yikes, my immediate reaction is: can't do that. Twelve cups of coffee, now: that would almost certainly be achievable! (and yes, I do understand: not at all the same thing. Counter productive even, maybe, even if some of it were decaff. But coffee is my only remaining sin. Almost, anyhow). But it works for her. So: I'm pondering more water. And contemplating how there would be any time whatsoever to work in between mad dashes to the little cubicle!!
Feels very very good to be at the gym. Caught up on my sleep over these few more relaxed days and I'm feeling something like the old energy. Excellent sensation! I enjoyed my elliptical and my weights and my abs today, and even feeling pretty svelte in the old gym tights also!
The mushroom turkey barley soup simmering on the stove is something I actually prefer to the roast turkey Christmas dinner. It's frugal -- I made the broth yesterday from the turkey bones, chilled it and skimmed off the fat this morning. And it's healthy: lots of veggies. I put in a touch of that "dill in a tube": never tried that before, but a big bunch of fresh dill does tend to go bad in the fridge before I can use it all up. So: now I'm looking forward to a big bowlful.
It's snowing gently and I've got one more day before officially heading in to the office tomorrow! A fire in the fireplace . . . a good junky book . . . life doesn't get too much better!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Work is winding down a bit, which gave me time to work thoughtfully and carefully on a very interesting problem today. The fridge is full (last grocery run on my way home tonight) and nothing urgent left to do. There is snow on the ground and our Christmas lights across the front of the house look beautiful as I pull in the driveway.
Life is feeling good enough: no call for imperishable bliss today! .
Friday, December 18, 2009
and of course that First Christmas involved labour and delivery in a stable. After a long journey.
Those of us who've ever done labour and delivery, even without the preliminary donkey ride, are prepared to concede: that's an element of the Bethlehem saga which could not have been so great.
But once that part was all over, is it frivolous to suppose that the donkey plus an ox or two and maybe a few other farmyard extras must have made for pretty effective seasonal decor? A little lowing, a little clucking. Nice manger, swaddling clothes, some straw on the floor: simple.
No need to steam clean the carpets or arrange the Victorian ceramic village in drifts of cotton batten on the mantelpiece or polish the silver. No recalcitrant Christmas tree to be fitted into a stand that leaks water and then tips over; no ornaments with hangers requiring untangling; no tablecloths to be freshly starched; no preparation of guest bedrooms; no cleaning of bathrooms to meet the standards of a visiting mother-in-law: none of that.
The angel Gabriel handled all of the First Christmas greeting requirements: "For unto you is born in the City of David . . " That was pretty much it. No drafting and photocopying of a detailed newletter describing everything that had happened the previous year. An absolute absence of last-minute envelope-licking or rush trips to the post office. Not even a mass email.
In lieu of animated lawn inflatables and Christmas lights perilously strung from the eaves, the Heavenly Host supplied an effortlessly dramatic exterior lighting effect. One bright star in the east: enough. Although -- and again courtesy of the HH -- there was also a full program of entertainment: all singing, all dancing, all night long. Quite divine, actually.
What about food? Here's the insider information: not everyone realizes it, but it was the shepherds who handled the catering.
Shepherd's pie, that's what I've been told. Of course those one-dish casseroles are way easier than fiddly hors d'oeuvres, carving a turkey, timing all the sides, pouring the drinks, organizing the plum pudding and brandy sauce and shortbreads. An assembly line of shepherds prepared an ample supply of shepherd's pies well in advance and then just re-heated them as required; they apparently used some kind of celestial precursor to the microwave.
A healthy recipe, of course. Balanced fats, carbs, proteins: low sodium; extra calcium worked into the whipped potato topping; lots of veggies in the filling. After all, those Heavenly Host dancers were working up quite an appetite, each one aiming to enter a huge calorie burn into their individualized fitness trackers. Enough calories, in fact, that after the main course, the shepherds felt completely justified in passing around candy canes. Just small ones, naturally. Still, a very nice touch.
But that (washed down with copious supplies of plain water) was the whole menu. Really. And Mary was responsible for none of it. No menu planning; no grocery shopping; no fridge stocking; no cooking; no serving; no clean up; no stacking the dishwasher; no unstacking the dishwasher; no putting the dishes back in the cupboards. None of it.
Biggest job not on Mary's list? For sure it was the gift shopping. Because the wise men (yes: the wise MEN! Can you believe it??) handled all of that. The wrapping too. And then they tracked the gift receipts, just in case of returns.
But as it happened, possibly because they were WISE men, there were no problems with wrong sizes or duplicates. Gold, frankincense and myrrh: one of each, all good. Not a single trip back to the mall was required. So neither Mary nor the wise men experienced second-round shoppers snarling over a short supply of parking places in the parking lot. No items were dropped in the slush. And there was no anti-climactic day-after-Christmas delivery to ungracious recipients of the replacement "gift" they had signalled should have been selected in the first place.
Sounding good, isn't it? But that's still not the whole story.
Because most significant of all: we have it on excellent authority that Mary only did Christmas once.
Never to be repeated.
Whereas over a lifetime, most women organize Christmas for their famlies how many times?
OK. I'm just saying. Not suggesting that we don't love every blessed minute of it, of course.
And: Merry Christmas to all!!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
"Downward to darkness/On extended wing"
This phrase, from a poem by Wallace Stevens called "Sunday Morning", is one I often think of on Sundays at this time of the year as the days get shorter. It describes a couple who seem to be on that "downward glide", post middle-age: reasonably prosperous, comfortable, generally satisfied with their lot in life.
Although not entirely so. We hear their reservations: apparently it hasn't been quite all they would have hoped. One of them admits, "But in contentment I still feel/The need of some imperishable bliss".
Well. Why not a little imperishable bliss? We do need that. And surely it's not too much to ask. Should be available at Costco this week on special. Right? Or if they're all sold out, maybe there are still a couple of cartons left on the shelf at Wal-Mart.
It cannot be a coincidence that almost every culture seems to have evolved a "staving off of darkness" festival. And it cannot be a coincidence that -- whether we take a religious approach or a secular approach or adopt a hybrid of the two -- our Christmas celebrations are overlaid upon a much more ancient and pagan solstice rite. So these December celebrations answer a deep human need to halt the plunging mood evoked by the lessening of light. The end of the growing season. Anticipating the inevitable end of each of our own lives. Like the lives of everyone who went before us and the lives of everyone who will follow. Not imperishable, after all.
We scurry around shopping. What we want most can't be bought. But we try to acquire it for ourselves, and we try to giftwrap it for others. Just a small portion of bliss. As I scurry in compliance with the seasonal imperatives, I experience my own resistance to that "downward to darkness" movement with a fluctuating sustainability which I expect is famliar to most of us. There IS joy. There is also slush, crowded parking lots, frayed tempers, too much to do. And joy again. More slush. Joy in the interstices, okay, but not necessarily more than that.
Today it was close to twilight by 4:30 or so in the afternoon. I had had a late but more substantial-than-usual breakfast -- including a toasted wholewheat bagel -- and then braved the crowds to get my grocery shopping done. By the time everything was put away, I was ready for an early supper, including a steaming bowlful of this week's soup: a lively curried chickpea and lentil stew. Mmmmm.
Imperishable bliss? Well the soup was good. Very good even. And I was wearing my cozy sheepskin slippers while I enjoyed it. Quite pleasant, actually. But perhaps not amounting to bliss exactly, imperishable or otherwise.
The snowy white narcissus blooming on my kitchen window sill? Not imperishable either. But lovely. Especially lovely against the dark and deep red pine forest in the park outside the window.
Downward to darkness; can't stop it happening. And then?
With agonizing slowness, almost imperceptibly, the days will begin lengthening. All the while, it will get colder yet and there will be much much more snow. Howling winds. Gusting blizzards. Snowbanks higher than my head.
But there will be occasional days of bright blue skies and sunshine sparkling on frost-etched tree branches. In February there will be light still at the end of the workday; I will drive home to spectacular winter sunsets. And by late March there will be snowdrops outside my door.
I'm counting on it.
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