Out with the old, in with the new

We happily said goodbye to 2022, the last quarter of the year having been a medical nightmare. We welcome 2023 with hopes of heart repair, a reprieve for a few months from the immunotherapy treatments that have produced more extreme side effects for longer periods of time.

Traditionally, the holiday decorations were put away on New Year’s Day as school often resumed the next day. This year, the process was begun half a week ago, just after Son 1 returned to his job. The tree was left standing until today and it too has been stripped of his ornaments and lights, removed to the cedar thicket on the edge of the woods, and the needles vacuumed.

The Dyson decided it didn’t want to do the job, so the old Oreck was hauled upstairs and did a much better job of even removing the dog hair from the rug than even the newer Dyson when it is working at it’s best. The Dyson has been disassembled and every washable part banged free of dust and washed, set aside to dry for a few days.

The closet beneath the basement stairs needs to be cleaned out, some ductwork retaped, then the crates will be moved down for storage for the next 11 months.

The bottom left one will go straight to daughter’s house next Christmas, it has about half of my Santa’s in it that I chose not to place this year and are ready to move on to her collection. The tree ornaments got new storage this year that allows a separate cell for each ornament so they don’t have to be individually wrapped, which made the put away simpler and will allow easier decisions on what will go on the next tree if it is too small for all of them.

The Christmas Amaryllis gift is beautifully blooming, a total of 7 lovely red blooms.

Now that the holidays are behind us, more time will be spent working on the shawl that is from Jenkins Turkish spindle spun Alpaca, Merino, and Silk. It was begun in mid December once all Christmas knitting was complete. The spindle is holding a lovely blue wool of unknown origin, spinning enough to double the thickness of the hat that is my preferred one when the weather is cold.

After last weekend’s weather tried to destroy us with single digit temperatures and high winds, today feels like spring with mostly sunny skies. We managed to get a walk in before the tree came down and out. We have a couple more warmish days, mostly with rain, then a return to more normal winter temperatures here with low 40’s f during the day and 20’s at night. Life moves on, we continue to taking it one day at a time.

Rainy Winter Day

It was chilly and wet, not a day for a walk, but with errands that had to be done. The trash and recycle bins taken to the “convenience center” to be unloaded, packages and a card to be mailed. A box of gifts to be shipped. Chicken feed and wild bird food to be purchased. It seemed like a good day to see if the local tree farm where we often cut our own tree had any precut trees at the seasonal store. There were two, a very scrawny one and pretty little tree, much smaller than our usual tree for a room that can take a 12′ tree with ease and has in the past. This tree had to be of a size that I could manhandle alone to get it in and in the stand.

It was small enough to fit in the car and did not have to be tied on top in the rain.

Once home, placed in the stand on a plastic sheet, and the strings cut, it was allowed to drip dry.

And finally lit and decorated, using our large dried Starfish from a long ago Bahamas cruise as it’s topper. It has graced the top of our tree for more than a dozen years now.

It isn’t large enough for quite all the ornaments, but close. The very first one I hung was the first one hubby and I purchased as a married couple. It dropped from the tree and broke, which sent me into tears. It was glued back together with superglue, but though I tend not to be superstitious, I hoped it wasn’t an omen as hubby’s health continues to be a major problem. We hope that it’s repair means that the various medical specialists can repair him as well.

Our tradition, up until last year, had been to purchase an ornament together every year and years of significant events like the birth of a child, a second one added. Each one dated, if not already so, with a fine tip marker in a discrete place. A lot of joy comes from seeing the dates, remembering the time or event or where the ornament was purchased. Many of the more recent ones are from a local potter, a friend, and they were added to a wreath and hung from the hutch.

I have to admit, that decorating this year has been difficult, there have been many bouts of tears as hubby and I both know that there is a significant chance that this might be the last we celebrate unless healing is found. Today brought joy and several bouts of tears. Not all of the collection of decorations were used this year. There is a crate of Santa’s that will go to daughter. I held on to them this year without putting them up but they will go to her before she decorates next year.

The day ends with Christmas lights and fog in the hollows.

Hoping for many more with my love, but taking each day at a time and making the most of it.

A week of Thanksgiving and Frustration

Thanksgiving week in our lives is full of birthdays and family gathering. Five of us celebrate birthdays in a 9 day span, with one born on Thanksgiving Day and celebrating her 11th birthday this year again on Thanksgiving Day. Son 1 came for a week, preparing me a scrumptious birthday dinner and then offering to cook again another night, again preparing a gourmet meal. Grandson 1 came a few days later to be here for Thanksgiving. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we drove to Weathertop Farm to pick up our 19.36 lb turkey. Nearly a decade ago, after reading about spatchcocking chicken, Son 1 and I decided to spatchcock the turkey. The first time, we lacked the proper tool to do it, but managed and learned that it produces a delicious, golden, juicy bird in less than 2 hours cooking time and we have never looked back. Though I have managed to spatchcock a couple alone, it is Son 1’s “job” to butterfly the bird and rub the herbed butter under the skin, then he also is the carver when it is done.

As this year, granddaughter wanted Thanksgiving at their house for her birthday, Son 1 and I went over early enough to prep the turkey and for me to work with daughter to get the rest of the meal prepared together. Son1 and Grandson 1 went on a bike ride then returned home to pick up hubby and bring him over. Eleven of us gathered, enjoyed our meal and birthday celebration together.

Early, very early, the next morning, Son 1 was put on the bus to the train to go home to finish out his semester of teaching and working on a project for the Dean. And the following morning, early, but not quite as early, Grandson 1 was put on his bus home.

Today is Daughter’s birthday, the last of this flurry. She has to work all day, so we are going to take her to lunch tomorrow.

The birthday girls with another of daughter’s awesome cake creations for her girl.

Right at the time when eggs are needed in quantity for holiday cooking, the hens all decided to blow their feathers at once. The just cleaned coop has more feathers than wood chips at this point and egg production has virtually ceased. Two of the girls molted a bit earlier than the others, so one or two eggs about every other day appear, but I actually had to purchased a dozen and a half during the holiday to make pie and breakfasts.

Christmas decorating at our house is always on hold until after daughter’s birthday. It used to begin the day after Thanksgiving because as an educator, I always had a long weekend to get it done. As soon as she was old enough to catch on, she decreed that it had to wait until after her birthday, which only seemed fair. The snowman pillows, ceramic snowman, and sled were brought out already, the dried flowers pulled from my fall wreath and put in a vase and three carved wooden birds added to the wreath with a plaid bow, but other decorating will wait, maybe for a while. December is bittersweet for me. It ends with the holiday that represents family to me, but it is also the month in which both of my parents passed away. This year we enter December after 3 months of stress, doctor’s appointments, treatments, and pending treatments for hubby. Yesterday’s treatment was postponed due to a side issue, this is the second time that has happened. It should have been his last treatment based on the original schedule, but now he is only half finished with this round. There are still many appointments in our future with the various specialists. It has been a stressful and frustrating period for us.

Many months ago, our aging Mastiff reached a point where he could no longer manage the stairs and settled himself in the living room at night. He will turn 11 in 4 more days, very old for a Mastiff and he can no longer even get to his feet unassisted. A folded beach towel is used for me to assist him getting to his feet. About a month ago, the German Shepherd, who is a few months younger than him fell down the stairs and though she limped around for a day or two, still insisted on coming up when we were upstairs. In the past couple of days, she has fallen down all or part of the stairs 3 times, so a baby gate was erected yesterday to prevent her from coming up. This caused her, an already anxious pup, to be even more anxious as she paced around the living room and dining room for hours. Last night, she even urinated on the floor which she never does in the house. We had purchased the Mastiff a mastiff size bed last year. He uses it as a pillow with about half his body on it, but won’t get totally up on it. Last evening after I took her bed down to try to comfort her, I looked down to this.

She was totally up on his bed, he was resting his head on her much small one. I guess she will adjust to not being allowed to come up and it certainly will reduce the dog hair dust bunnies upstairs.

We continue on, taking one day at a time. That is all we can do. Decorating will happen to some extent when it happens, likely a much smaller tree and fewer shelf decorations, but some holiday festiveness.