December 29, 2014

Mid-Holiday Musings

It's always a challenge when work and life create a schedule that's just non-stop and such was the case for me in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It was so frantic that I literally didn't have a chance to do any real decorating for the holidays - not something I'm happy about, but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I did put a few things on the mantle, but just a few and they were small. I never really fully unpacked the storage boxes. I just didn't have the time or energy to make a big production of Christmas this year.  Last year, at this time, I was literally in the process of moving to my current home, so I had an excuse then, too.  This year, I was changing jobs, just starting the new one and I was flat-out exhausted getting up to speed.  It's only becuase I had a few days off last week and will have a few more this week that I can start to relax and breathe.

I'm hoping that by this time next year my life won't have yet another major event to create the crunch that I've felt so keenly during the holidays for the past two years. I didn't even have a chance to take any decent photos of the late fall/early winter season. The one above is from last winter - February, actually - because we have no snow right now...thank goodness. We did have some snow - we were hit the day after I started my new job about 3 weeks ago with a heavy snowstorm that left 8 inches of the white stuff behind.  What a treat that I was trying to adjust to a new commute to a new place and gauge how much time I needed to allow to arrive on time each morning. Ugh!

The good news is that we've had some unusually warm weather in the days since that big snow, so it's essentially gone. Did I mention I'm not a big fan of snow?  Yes, I grew up right here in the area and snow is nothing new in upstate New York, but I'm not a skier, not a skater or a hiker or any kind of winter recreational's just not my season, except to curl up in front of a fire with a kitty and a good book, or cook hearty, comfort food and periodically refill the bird feeder.

Speaking of the bird feeder, that's something of a misnomer, I fear.  It's really a squirrel feeder now...the birds stop by, but the resident squirrels have command of that area of the yard. Despite the squirrel baffle, the feeder is just close enough to the privacy fence that the squirrels - there's a ringleader among them, I'm sure - have  fairly easy access.  I have to say, I don't really mind...any wildlife is entertaining for me and the kitties to watch each morning and I'm happy to help them survive the winter's cold.

As you can see if you look closely, there's one squirrel actually perched on the feeder enjoying a morning meal, while his (or her) friend is climbing up the fence. (There's quite a lot of seed on the ground below as a result of the squirrels' leaps onto the feeder swings wildly whenever they land or take off.) There are several squirrels who make daily stops by the breakfast cafe that is my bird I said, it's fine. There's plenty of feed and the birds get their share, too.

Like the holiday season, I'm hoping the winter flies by and we'll be gearing up for spring again. It can't come soon enough for me!

Happy New Year!


December 6, 2014

Playing Catch-Up: Post-Thanksgiving Review

Once again, I'm playing catch-up. November was a busy month, and it had barely gotten started when I was hit with a cold/flu/bug/thing on the 8th that made everything even more challenging. I was pretty well under the weather for the first two weeks, and gradually have been feeling less like I was hit by a bus, but not quite 100% a full month later.  Who knew?  Certainly not part of my plan for the month, but I am so rarely ill that when I am, I hunker down, do what I need to do to get better, though sometimes these bugs take their own sweet time to leave your body and your life.

Happily, I'm nearly there, but Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays, was essentially a non-event for me. I knew early on that I would be declining any invitations to join others' celebrations.  I had ear-marked the time to catch up on as much sleep as I could, and I had already made my own preparations for a simple holiday meal that I fondly call "personal pan poultry" - aka Cornish game hen - and a bit of home-made traditional bread stuffing and Brussels sprouts.  

For those of you who live in the Northeast, and for anyone who was attuned to the news in the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, you'll know that Western New York was beyond slammed with a huge snowstorm in early November - not uncommon for that part of the state, but the volume - 8 feet and more! - was well beyond typical for the region in mid-autumn.  And it just wouldn't quit.  I spent a few years dealing with Western New York  (along with a good chunk of the rest of the state) in a previous professional life, so while I don't live there, I did feel the locals' pain. What a nightmare! 

Fortunately, my part of the state was relatively unscathed, but eastern New York had its share of early season snow on the day before Thanksgiving - about 8 inches by the time it was done on Thanksgiving morning. When I got home that Wednesday at about 4pm, I was well prepared to hole up indoors and not go out -- and I didn't venture out until the Saturday after the holiday.

So, in belated honor of Thanksgiving, I'm sharing the above vintage postcard that I purchased on eBay several weeks ago from a seller in Tennessee. It was a nice card, certainly, but there was something else about it that compelled me to spend a few dollars (very few, fortunately) to buy it.  It was inscribed on back in ink (clearly from a fountain pen) by "Addie" to her brother, "Fred" and - although neither stamped nor postmarked - it was addressed to a rural route located in Schaghticoke, New York. Huh? Where, you ask? Well, Schaghticoke (pronunced SKAT-ti-coke) is a small, rural town in eastern New York not far from the Vermont border (in Rensselaer County, actually) that I know quite well, and which isn't very far from where I live.  It seemed only appropriate to buy it for the few pennies being asked so I could bring it back home to upstate New York.

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and you're gearing up for the December holidays and festivities ahead.  I'll try to get back here to post before they've passed!