sun please- or January – will it ever end?

I am in a serious…not really depression…a bit blue?, maybe…at loose ends? aha!;  a malaise.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider what a marvelous word.  Malaise.  A bit depressed, blue mood, a tad twitchy, not really unwell but definitely not right and terribly Edwardian (isn’t it? or maybe Victorian, at least in English.. much longer I’m sure for French – oh well – you get the point).  Cranky but with style.

Back to the point:  my little area of the world has had snow and bitter cold and the accompanying treacherous roads making one and all doubly housebound.  (The first housebound (at least for me) is a really wild outbreak that is determined not to peak and fall.)  No lovely sun – until today – but still too cold for enjoyment.  I know.  Grumpy.  But with the sun putting in an appearance, I do feel a bet perkier and a bit guilty for complaining when I know there are many without to keep themselves warm.  Hmm.  Now I’m feeling guilty and cranky.

Okay.  No more sulking.  I’ll make a hot chocolate and read the silliest book on my shelves.  And hope this passes quickly and/or I shake myself out of it. Oh my.  a bad thought here… March is usually my malaise(y) month!  I promise not to type anything in the month of March! Be cheery today for me!

 

I baked!

I haven’t done this in years.  I have always loved to cook.  In my family, everyone participated in meal preparation.  Over the years, one moved from fetching canned goods, to greasing the baking dish, cleaning veggies (chopping came much much later – possibly that was just me?), all the way through to the retirement ages – sitting at the table grating cheese, sipping wine, and maybe, having a bit of a gossip. Baking of course is different thing altogether.  

It is said ‘bakers are born, not made’.  

My Grandma was a born baker and no-one can match Mom’s flaky pie crust.  Me.  I can’t say my baking skills come anywhere close to Mom’s or Grandma’s,  but I can hold my own with most recipes.  But…I haven’t baked in years.

Over this past holiday season, I received a King Arthur’s Baking Company catalog.  It was beautiful.  I said, I’m on a diet or at least watching my sugar intake and I put it on the pile with the other catalogs.  Another one arrived.  I said, I’m trying not eat all that much and watching umm my um…Drat.  So… yesterday, I made The King Arthur Baking Company’s Gluten Free Scone Mix.  (The adorable mini scone baking dish is sold separately and was on sale when I placed my order.).  It was perfect!  I can highly recommend this mix and I can’t wait to try their other mixes. But not too soon ’cause I am sort of umm…still on that um diet thing….

Anyway, thanks for reading!

a lovely(ish) day

I awoke to find out it is January 14. I feel like my accustomed sense of time has all but evaporated. Instead of progressing in a sort of one foot in front of the other orderly fashion, I seem to be living in a kind of severely abbreviated Rip Van Wrinkle reality.

Case in point. I took the above the photo two (or was it three? no, definitely two) days ago. My area had a break in frigid temperatures and our warming mid 30s day inspired me to get out for a walk. Just a nice airing out. The sun trying just as hard as it could but it never quite developed into a ‘sunny’ day. Be that as it may, my walk was exhilarating. Brisk air, and long enough to feel cold and then, as muscles (such as they are) stretched and flexed, feeling warmed and fluid. Even had time to chat to a dog or two.

So why the time reference? As I sat to coffee this morning, I picked up my phone, and ‘found’ the above photo. I honestly could not place the when of the thing. In that moment, two days could have been two decades. I shook myself free of that moment and reflected on its implications. I’m sure there are numerous psychological, philosophical, metaphysical, and physical reasonings behind such happenings. Maybe maybe…. As I sat in silent contemplation of the complexities of life and the very nature of time, my mother’s voice piped up (that internal one), ‘why all the fuss? this too shall pass. maybe like kidney stones but it will pass. enjoy your coffee.’. hmmmm She does have a point. and it is really good coffee.

Enjoy your mid January.

a long brief trip with a little magic

Last Spring.  It was our brief period of hope and freedom.  The vaccines were here and maybe a new sort of normal was a’comin’.  So that didn’t turn out exactly as anticipated – but – It was a breather.  A time to run about and accomplish tasks and get that very excellent coffee at that little shop and see people and sometimes, take a long trip to see those people.

Successfully fully vaccinated, I booked myself on a lengthy flight to see my sister.  A nonstop four hour flight in a jammed plane in a non cushioned plastic seat that did not recline whist wearing a mask.  Being gluten free (celiac), I had brought my own snacks and a bottle of water – which was good since passengers needed go to the attendants for water.  Not that that was unreasonable given the pandemic, just that after… hmmm my goodness it must have at least five (or was it six?) hours in my seat, I was questioning my potential mobility.

But I seem to be fixating on such a minor point. 

The major point, of course, was an extra long weekend spent seeing family members I thought I’d might not see again.  Their company was an utter delight.  We had agreed to build a little personal time into the trip, so off in my rental I went.  And that was when I saw a moment of magic. Or hope. Maybe inspiration.  

Remember the reports that came in early in the pandemic about wild animals strolling about city streets? Well.  I had a chance to see long horn rams enjoying the sun.  People who lived in the area had never seen a wild ram anywhere let alone in a heavily visited park.  While their appearance does have all sorts human/planet implications, and yes I have considered all of them, in that moment, to me, these rams were nothing short of little bit magic. 

I hope to return this coming spring.  I doubt if the rams will be there.  And I think I’ll avoid the seven hour nonstop on unpadded seats.  Or not.  I’ll decide later.

must try harder…

…or my ongoing attempt to read tarot.

As I wrote about last year (! I can’t believe it is another year),  I had begun to learn tarot.  After a rather frustrating beginning, I, with the reassurance of a dachshund tarot deck had started to make a wee bit of progress.  Sort of.

Since then, I have made definite strides in my understanding and enjoyment of the cards.  At least the cards themselves.  My enjoyment is discovering new decks.  Seeing the artist’s interpretation of each card is truly fascinating.  It is much like discovering a new author whose prose just ‘speaks’ to you.  Okay, I will type out the truth: I fear, if I don’t take preventative measures immediately, I may become a deck collector – but not a tarot reader!

To be fair to myself, I have made a great deal of progress.  I have a very (very and comparatively) basic grasp of the cards, but I have quite a way to travel before becoming an intuitive reader.  And yes there cards that I get and others that – hmmm – just not clicking.  An example:4BD67844-6604-46F4-8D33-D001B0E17401

The Moon card.  (This one is from The Textured Tarot.).  From the very start I liked this card.  It is, to me, a card of mystery and strength.  Of traversing the night bravely whilst staying on your path, of soaking in the energy of night and reaching a new understanding.  I’ve never gotten the lobster.   However, many many many (okay all of them) readers and writers of books hate/fear this card.  They say the dark combined with the full moon symbolizes the unknown and having to rely on your intuition. To get this card means you are controlled by inner fears, paranoia, anxiety, and mental instability, and if you get this card stop what you are doing and run!  One goes as far to say that if it appears in reverse you need to seek professional help.  Yikes.  I may be in trouble here.  What am I missing?  or…..I have discovered one reader who says this card means ‘stay on your path’.  Hmmmm

 So as you see, I am still facing a steep uphill climb.  or am I?  I can’t be sure but every so often, things do make sense.  Sometimes a a couple of cards will make a sentence.  But I haven’t given up.  I am still muddling through!  

Has the new year started?

I kinda feel it in the air, or perhaps my bones. As I sit typing while watching BBC America’s Whoathon, I realize I have started on the ever growing, endlessly nagging, internal list of things ‘I need to do for my own good’, or ’have always wanted to do’, and the ever popular ’damn it all, I will accomplish this before I die’. What have I begun? Well. I’ve started walking as frequently as the weather permits. And yoga. Minding what I eat. That sort of thing. And apparently, resuming my blog – which falls in the category of ’have always wanted to do’. So yay!

It occurs to me I haven’t been here for many a month. All I can say is oh my has a lot happened and yet absolutely nothing has. If that makes any sense at all. So while I sort that out, here’s my very best, very favorite happening:

My new friend, Bella, joined the household this past September. She is quite beautiful and smart, and standard dachshund stubborn. She has my heart.

To recap….. and to return to my actual topic, (before Miss Bella distracted me), I seem to have started on improving my diet and health without – well – telling myself first. Upon reflection, I think this is really quite good. No need for resolutions, oaths, and subsequent disappointments which is invariably accompanied with self recrimination. Hmmm. Works for me. I think this next year is already off to a better start than last year. I think. One step at a time etc.

Until next time!

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Pietr the Latvian, originally published in 1930 is Georges Simenon’s first Maigret mystery. This edition is translated by David Bellos

Georges Simenon, 1903-1989, published seventy-novels featuring his Inspector Maigret.  This fabulous character has been featured in several series, (in both English and French), and well as a recent two season remake which sometimes pops up on PBS/Create TV.  

I first heard of Georges Simenon and his ‘Flying Squad’ while reading a novel written by Andrea Camilleri.  Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano was reading a Simenon book in his book.  (Wow does that sentence sound wrong…anyway..). I had never heard of Georges Simenon – I was curious of course, but life being what it was/is I promptly forgot about this author.  Now life being what is/was, I recently remembered.  And found the above book and loved it.

I think that the actual plot – which is quite good, dark and twisty and powerful – is secondary to the spare, elegant writing of Mr. Simenon.  While this book, and the writing, is somewhat noir – it isn’t.  True crime and gritty, sure, but with a casual depth not often seen.  I recently read a discussion in which his writing was compared to Camus and Sartre.  Okay, so I’ve never read Camus, and Sartre was college reading done eons ago – but you get the drift.  George Simenon is definitely a genre defying – in writing at least – and his Inspector Maigret in a category of his own.  Try one. or more.

Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Accidental Tarot

Do you remember back at the beginning of the pandemic, with the first of the lock downs/stay at home/shelter in place orders, the initial fear/panic and compliance?  We stocked our cupboards as best we could, thanked our deity of choice for having cupboards in our life as well as the ability to stock said cupboards, and then tried – as best we could – for the potential positive uses of our time such as:

not only learn, but master two or three languages,

get started on that book I believe to be lurking inside me, 

achieve the yoga crow pose,

or..um…… maybe I clean out a drawer or two….

Yes indeed that last one was my winner.  I organized, recycled, and threw away bunches of stuff.  During this embarrassingly short purge time, I came across a Rider Tarot Deck.  I had purchased this particular deck years ago in an effort to learn the tarot – something I have wanted to do since childhood.  It was not an instant affinity.

Now this is THE deck that created tarot as we know it and therefore studying this deck is vital.  While I loved the intricacies of the symbolism, the sagas behind each card, and above all learning about Pamela Colman Smith, I did not connect to this deck.  It simply didn’t speak to me – I don’t know why.  Not wanting to give up, I went searching for another deck.  And came across Melissa Wortherspoon’s Etsy site and saw this:

 

The Low Rider Dachshund Tarot

What? Dachshunds speaking tarot? It was too silly and delightful for words. Oddly enough, I did not purchase the deck immediately but continued on my search for a far more ‘serious’ first deck. After poking around various blogs and channels, I realized the truth: the dachshund tarot was my perfect deck.

The artwork is unbelievable! Each card is simply beautiful. The packaging is fantastic: a hard box with magnetic flap closure and an extensive full color booklet. And all the better, since I’ve known and loved dachshunds forever, (and so has Ms. Wortherspoon), I found myself starting to grasp the intent of the cards.

Since purchasing and using this deck, I’ve really begun enjoying trying to learn tarot. Oh it will be a very long time before I gain any skill level, but I’m making a start – I have purchased a brand new all human deck.

Thank you for reading and stay safe.

Gluten free delight(s)

I had a – I don’t think ‘spectacular’ would be an exaggeration – gluten free bakery experience this weekend. I ordered, and picked up from, Cherbourg bakery. Simply wonderful! A polenta rosemary lemon cake that was out of this world, donuts and a carrot cake twinkie – the baker here specializes in a balance of sweet and savory – nothing too sweet – just plain delicious. A true treat and a soon-to-be habit! Not only was this an indulgence to mark the end of a horrific year, being fully vaccinated, but – most importantly – for being three years gluten free.

I was, for nearly two decades, plagued (or is that assaulted by?) an odd assortment of debilitating medical ‘problems’. These ‘problems’ included everything from chronic giant urticaria (huge hives that didn’t go away permanently (one can only hope)) for three years, unexplained weight gains that I could not diet or exercise away, swollen and consistently infected gums (leading to gingivitis and then periodontal disease) and so on and so on. Nothing was life threatening, just life deadening. What’s worse, somehow my assortment of doctors, along with family and friends seemed to believe, (no matter what superficial comfort was offered), my physical and increasingly shaky mental health was somehow my fault. I still, and most likely always will, remember bursting into tears during an old Golden Girls rerun; the one where Dorothy was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. (I’m now a loyal fan of this long ago show. I have the t-shirt and everything.). My turning point came when the urinary track infections started.

I’d never had a uti before. Yet here I was, not only having one infection, but three consecutive infections. Talk of specialists started. Panic started taking up residency. I was so very fortunate when a friend of mine happened to stop to say hello. My friend was very open about having chronic utis since she was very young. I poured my heart out to her and she was very comforting. She talked me through my panic and reassured me that it was still entirely possible that nothing dreadful was happening. On her way out she said:

‘oh, try cutting back on your bread.’

‘um?’

‘how much bread you eat. I’ve found it helps to cut back on bread. but I love bread too much’

I was stunned. It couldn’t be that easy. Still, I decided this was time for drastic measures. I didn’t cut back on bread, I eliminated gluten from my diet. I never went to a doctor. I admit I couldn’t believe the answer to my health problems could be so simple and entirely in my control. I thought if I brought it up, I would get that standard look and sigh I had seen and heard too many times before – so I made the choice on my own. And slowly – over these past three years – after endless reading and research – I found the root cause of my misdiagnosed disorders. Every one of my medical problems is indeed listed as being associated with Celiac disease. Oh, there are still lingering difficulties, for example; once you have it, periodontal disease does not vanish, but overall I’m finally feeling pretty darn good.

Thanks for reading – especially today! And stay safe.

P. S. you can order Cherbourg bake goods on Etsy. She ships!