Saturday morning

Just waiting for my steel-cut oats to finish cooking.

A slow start to a lazy Saturday.  Going to go spend the afternoon with my grandson Ethan and then Tim and I are going to go see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Here are the pictures from our visit to Ice on Whyte last Sunday.  They’re not the greatest; the light was bad.  But, just to share what we saw.  It was a beautiful day, glad we went.

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If I Were a Bear — a poem for a winter morning

If I Were A Bear

If I were a bear
I would pay no never-mind
to the rolls of fat around my middle,
to the graying, un-ruly hairs upon my head
or the wiry, scratchy ones sprouting
on my legs and beneath my arms.

No, if I were a bear
I’d snuffle out a place
warm and cozy, full of all the smells
that bring me joy and comfort,
and then I’d wrap my heart in pictures
of those I cherish so that my dreams
would be nothing but sweet.

And, if I were a bear
I’d stay snuggled down
inside my little cocoon until
the green smells of Spring tickled
my nose and my winter-claws
could no longer scratch through the matted
fur on my sun-starved hide.

If I were a bear
I’d emerge, blinking
into the bright sunlight of promise
and I’d go snorting and snuffing
looking for news of all those I left behind
while I slumbered and grew sleek
and hungry for life to return.

If I were a bear.

 

©Kathy Larson 2012
All rights reserved

Sunday morning

If I had any understanding at all of what it is to be a bear — and I don’t — I’d have to say that right now I feel like one.

I spent yesterday burrowed in my den reading, baking bread, doing a little nest-cleaning, but generally moving as little as possible.  I didn’t crack the door on the outside world even once.  It was heavenly.

Tim and I must go out today, though.  Unlike bears we cannot live off our stores of body fat.  Too bad!  And, truthfully, it will do us some good to get the arms and legs moving, shake the cobwebs off our brains.

Winter, much as I hate it, is a reality, and it has finally come to us.  Better to accept it and embrace what traces of enjoyment I can find in it.  The Ice on Whyte Festival winds up today.  We have never been, and seeing as the temp is going to be a balmy minus 15 Celsius today, I think we’ll go take in the splendors of ice-carving.

A picture from last winter -- nothing's changed -- cold is cold is cold.

Sunday evening, January 15th

. . . and I’ve just wasted the last hour playing solitaire on-line.

But, it was fun.  So, I guess I’m okay with it.

I love to play cards.  But I rarely have anyone to play with.  Tim is not a game player, unless it’s the video, let’s-shoot-some-zombies kind.  I bought him a Playstation 3 for Christmas — pretty much shot myself in the foot on that one.  I love when we have company over because I’ll always manage to convince our company that a game of cards would be fun, and then Tim has to go along with us.

But, when there’s no company. . . solitaire it must be.

I had a great weekend.  Busy, but good.  My grandkids came for a sleepover yesterday.  We played Chutes and Ladders, and Skip-Bo, they helped make pizza for supper tonight — even 2-year-old Ethan.  He plastered mushrooms on and gobbled up handfuls of shredded cheese.  It was too much fun.  We stayed up and watched movies and had popcorn last night and then everyone slept in a little this morning.  A lovely Sunday.

Though, I do have to admit I’m pretty worn out right now.  The thought of getting a blanket and curling up on the couch is sounding pretty good.  Might go see if a new episode of Hell on Wheels taped and watch that before I turn in for the night.  If you haven’t heard of Hell on Wheels, it’s a great show — a Western about the building of a railroad and a conflicted Confederate soldier on the hunt for the Yankees who raped and murdered his wife while he was off fighting in the war.  There’s some pretty complex themes involved (this is an AMC show, after all) and the acting and photography are excellent.

Am reading Black House at the moment.  A book by Stephen King and Peter Straub.  Some twenty years ago I read The Talisman, written by the pair of them.  BH is the sequel.  And it’s turning out to be every bit as disturbing and suspenseful and horrifying as the first book.  It’s all brain candy and exactly what I need.  Gruesome brain candy, I admit.

Well, week one of the return to work is behind me and it actually wasn’t all that bad.  It was busy, and we had the usual problems after coming back from a long break, but for the most part, the kids settled back into routine by the end of the week.  I really enjoy our kids.  For the most part, they’re a great bunch to work with and I truly enjoy helping them learn every day.  When I’m not feeling stressed about a million and one other things I can admit to myself that I actually love my job.  It’s rewarding, it’s meaningful, and it has purpose.  There may be much wrong with the education system in Alberta/Canada, but there’s a lot that’s good about it, too.

I am endeavouring to get around to everyone’s blogs, and this week I even managed to find a couple of new ones to follow.  THERE REALLY, TRULY IS SO MUCH GOOD WRITING AND SO MANY GREAT BLOGS OUT THERE!  It’s like going into a bookstore and trying to decide which books to buy even though you know you probably won’t have time to read any of them.  I’ve managed to peek in on just about everyone this past week — even though I haven’t always left a comment.  I might have only had 5 minutes and so just passed in and out, quiet as a mouse.

My decision to only blog once or twice a week, has, for this one week, anyway, been a good one.  I found myself starting to think yesterday about trying to find the time to sit down and pound out a few words.  Then, tonight, once I made my way in to the computer room I knew that is why I was coming in, but I allowed myself to be seduced by Facebook (just had to see what others had been up to) and then that led to checking my Scrabble games, and then Solitaire.  But, all the while, I was thinking about blogging.

It’s not that I have anything particularly relevant to say, no wisdom to impart, nothing to smart or informative to impart.  It’s simply that need to connect, through words.

I can feel myself moving towards beginning the second draft of my novel.  There’s some other stuff churning around in the old noggin, and I’m pretty certain (once I get my other desk completely cleaned off — I got most of it done last week) I’ll find myself scribbling away in a notebook, soon.

So, it’s a New Year. . .

. . .  and, as always comes the resolutions.  This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.

There, that’s done.

Now, onward.

As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have.  Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:

1.  Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.

2.  Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel.  I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold.  It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age)  I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life.  Life is.

3.  Read a book a month.  I love to read.  Really love it, almost as much as writing.  But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did.  I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away.  I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust.  No more!  I will make friends with reading again.

4.  I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines.  And I will watch HGTV from time to time.  I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful.  Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows?  Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity.  I used to be quite creative  — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.

5.  Start crocheting again.  Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time.  Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns.  Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards.  The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf.  For me.  Ha, ha!

6.  Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in.  It is such a hideous space right now.  Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in.  I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling.  I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains.  I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them.  It would be a space as delightful as they are.

7.  Become a better, more accomplished cook.  It’s funny.  I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it.  I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration.  I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day!  Can’t wait to put it to the test.

8.  Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week.  ‘Nuff said.

9.  Dream more.  Plan trips I might never get to take.  Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial?  That’s me and Tim.)  Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent.  See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS.  Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me.  Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.

10.  Organize my photos!  My lord I’ve got gazillions of them.  Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous.  So, I have decided to become ruthless.  And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!

11.  Exercise regularly.  I walk a lot, but not nearly enough.  Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week.  I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use.  I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week.  Yoga starts again on the 16th.  I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work.  This sounds exhausting.  Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be.  Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.

12.  Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week.  Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me.  I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day.  In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits.  I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like.  No concentration, constant interruptions, etc.   Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that.  So, once a twice a week it will be.

13.  Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging.  There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits.  Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on.  Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to.  I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box.  There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time.  So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly.  The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them.  And really, it’s only just me.

14.  Worry less.  I used to joke:  If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.

15.  Say “I love you” more often.  Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten.  I want the people I care about to know it.  Saying those three little words is all that is needed.

16.  Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions.  I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago.  It affected me more than I thought.  I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it.  I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being.  It’s time to yank it out and burn it.  Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic  horror.

Well, that’s it.  My list of things to do this year and beyond.  I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station.  On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper.  Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?

 

January 1, 2012 — the hiatus is over

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a fantastic, joyous Christmas and are now enjoying a wonderful New Year.

I took a deliberate break from the internet for most of December.  Mainly because I just needed to disconnect for a while, but also because it is such a deadly busy month.  Work is stressful, getting ready for the holidays is stressful, and my body simply said:  Enough!  So, I listened.  And I did what I could and was happy with what I managed.

There is nothing seriously wrong with me — let’s get that out of the way (aside from needing a good head examination, that is) but some minor arthritis problems were flaring up and this necessitated weekly trips to the chiropractor and check-ins with the doctor, etc., etc.  Then, there is the usual mental and emotional, shall we say problems, that afflict me this time of year.  Try as I may to be the happy, carefree soul of Christmas joy and peace that I try so hard to emulate from the sappy Christmas movies and stories that I adore, it’s always a tough haul.

This year, though, I managed to come as close as I have ever imagined I could.  I had an epiphany, midway through December, a real one, and it has given me a new perspective on my life.  There was nothing so dramatic as a Clarence for me, but all the same, I felt something touch me and show me life is good and that I deserve my place in it.  And that I need to stop expecting disappointment, for it will certainly find me as long as I stand there waving my hand in its face.

As crappy as 2011 was as a year, I can be thankful that I learned something important about myself and that I can face 2012 with a sense of restored hope.  I am looking forward to accomplishing goals such as editing my NaNoWriMo novel into something publishable, spending more time with family and getting myself back in to better physical and emotional health.

To my family and friends who check in here once in a while I send you love and appreciation.

And, to each and every person who has touched my life through this blog, I wish you the very best of New Years.

It’s going to take me awhile to get caught up with everyone, but I’m going to do my very best.