With the gas fireplace now officially kaput (and with queries sent to the manufacturer and the propane company), I’m huddled in an alcove between two space heaters, drinking hot coffee and eating warm comfort food.
It’s funny. Fifty-nine degrees feels perfectly decent outdoors. And considering how humans have lived for most of their history (and how some, like Joel, still live), 59 indoors is a relative luxury. Heck, electricity is a luxury. Nevertheless, I’m exercising my prerogative of feeling like a Dickens character. In the snow. Barefoot. Tubercular. Selling matches. (Or was that Hans Christian Andersen? I forget.)
Another thing the Little Match Girl didn’t have was a DVD player. And I admit its among my very favorite escapes from the cold. And from myself when the hermitting bit gets too intense.
Yeah, as jed mentioned in a comment, it’s definitely been too quiet around here. I hope that means everybody’s having a relaxed, peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.
Tomorrow is the hump day in my two-month retreat. Mixed results so far. I’m glad I’m doing it, but instead of peacefulness, I’m actually feeling quite a lot of stress and anxiety. Partly that’s over decisions I need to make. Mostly it’s just a lot of “old stuff” coming back on me. Really, really old stuff. Like things I thought I’d moved past years ago.
Boring to go into, but I find myself longing for busy-ness.
It doesn’t help that the only real heater in the house has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Both times in the middle of the night. When the temps outside have been in the low 20s. And on weekends. I swear, it’s a conspiracy.
News avoidance lurches right along. Mix of nooz and think pieces today.
New software (so far W*nd*ws only) aims to help activists detect and foil government surveillance. Get it here. Can’t say how effective it’s going to be, but it’s endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, and other big-timers in the field. (H/T MJR)
Along the same lines, Let’s Encrypt aims to bring SSL/TSL to the masses by taking the difficulties and mysteries out of those pesky web site certificates. (Remember: Encryption is subversive! Or so our masters claim. Which is, of course, all the more reason to do it.)
If you were talented enough to play in the NFL, would you quit to become a farmer? Jason Brown did.
Holleee freakin’ cr*p! The shooter who did this was lucky he didn’t (in the famous words of Ralphie’s mother) “put his eye out.” His (or her) eye. Or face. Or hands. Or parts of the guys standing next to him at the range. Just looking at that photo is mind boggling.
Which dietary supplement claims are backed by evidence and which aren’t? Interesting chart. But also not the be-all and end-all of truth. Much is still unknown.
Do you ever — have you ever — felt like an alien in this world?
I have and I’m guessing you have, too. I first became consciously aware of my alienness when I was around 11, though it was unconsciously there the first times my kindergarten teacher tried to force me into “social” games that left me like a deer in the headlights. It was there in the way my parents treated my brother and me as if we’d been left on their doorstep by a particularly bizarre band of gypsies. (Brother and I were very different critters, but we were both unconventional loners and deep thinkers, unlike my uber-social, join-everything, voted-most-popular, shallow-as-a-mud-puddle older sister.)
By the time I was in high school, I’d invented an elaborate mythology to explain how I could look so human while being so apart from my supposed peers. I was sent here as an alien spy; the physical transfer succeeded but something went badly wrong when it came to transmitting my mind across space.
In the adult world — where there are so many more options, where it’s forgivable not to be just like everybody else, and where now there’s a whole Internet! — I’ve seldom been bothered by that terrible sense of being something irreconcilably foreign to the “normal” world. Adults can find their own “normal.” Or live outside of “normal.”
Once in a while alien horror strikes out of the blue, though.
Local cranberry growers who lost their contract with Ocean Spray landed 20 pounds of their harvest on furrydoc the other day. What do you do with 20 pounds of cranberries? Furrydoc shared the bounty and instructions for drying.
I took a couple of pounds and they’re in the drier now, some unsweetened and some drizzled with honey.
I’m not so big on cranberries, but I do like the dried ones in salads and trail mixes. Good to have a few locally grown superfoods among the preps, too.
Knitting today. Not only for the soul but this time, the body, too. Ready to start cabling.
Just as soon as I find those wandering third needles.
I was surprised and gratified the other day to realize quite a few guys hereabouts had knitted or crocheted. I am at this moment wearing fingerless gloves (aka arm warmers or better yet gauntlets) I made with wool gifted to me by one of those knitting guys.
(Pattern for that particular glove here. Many others here.)
Finally, some things not so mundane
Saturday, December 13. Washington gun owners rally: We Will Not Comply with I-594. Over 6,000 already signed up.
Don’t be put off by the word “knitting.” Even if you’re not crafty (and I’m not!), even if you’re a guy who’d rather build a brick wall or try for a perfect grouping with your best rifle than (heaven forbid) knit. This is about that process common to so many things.
You know how you sometimes open a book at random looking for guidance? For some it’s the bible. For somebody else, one of those Chicken Soup things. Could be Ayn Rand or Herman Hesse. But you hope if you just open and read there’ll be a message there, just waiting for you?
I have to laugh. I just picked up Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, not because I had real interest but because it’s one of those must-read books and this is a good time. I opened near the end to a chapter about self care and the art of just being still and listening.
Then I took my old copy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience off the shelf and arbitrarily opened to a page that heralded the value of 16-hour workdays, but with the work so integrated with free time that you can barely distinguish one from the other.
Yup. And of the contradictory two, I must admit the latter appeals to me more than the former. Not, mind you, because I’m some virtuous workaholic. Far from it. I favor the latter because the former is harder.
So … how are y’all enjoying the deep freeze? Seems as if it’s settling in to stay, doesn’t it?
We’re just on the edge of it here in the North(currently not so)Wet — cozy compared with some of you. But it’s clear and cold and fiercely windy and I’m ready to stay indoors surrounded by space heaters.
Wonder if I could teach the dogs to use the toilet? Or just encourage them to go walk in the woods by themselves?
Though I’m still having not much darned luck with “listening to silence” (e.g. sitting meditation), this week has felt both blessedly serene and productive.
I’m working on something. Too early to talk about it; probably even mentioning it right now is hazardous to the creative process. Very likely it’ll come to nothing.
But if my brain must always be busy-busy-busy it’s a pleasure to have it busy on something potentially useful.
I don’t have tons of new or deep stuff to say right now. So here’s a nice time waster. Can you find the snipers (or hunters, if you prefer) in these pix?
And here’s a first. It’s so cold this morning that when all three critters in the household had a chance to get up on a cot in front of a nice, warm heat source, they jumped at the chance.