Thursday, December 26, 2002

M & K have only lived here for a few years. They used to live up higher in the mountains. This is a retirement community, closer to town and with a community center where there are meals served and social events and nurses. It’s pretty cool.
The first time I was here they had just moved in. I was looking out of the back porch window and saw a crane down by the creek. It was beautiful but I didn’t realize it was a rare event. Apparently one of them stops by once a year. On Christmas eve I was walking on to the porch and I saw a crane again. This one was much bigger, standing in the middle of the creek and so beautiful. It made me happy.
Yesterday was odd and out of sync.
Somehow I just don’t feel like writing about it. It was just stupid human stuff.
I did get great books from Kristina and a lovely journal from Karen. Thank you. Very much.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

There are things that I like about Christmas.
I like cards. I used to love finding a great card to send and it is the one time a year I know I’ll hear from some old friends. Starmama sent an e-card the other day. What an amazing and sweet thing to do.
I love having a tree. I love the smell. I love having things that you pull out of a box once a year and remember when and where you got them as you hang them on the tree. I have some origami birds from Karen. Every year I hang them up and picture Karen making them.
I like the music. I have a few discs I put on every year. Mom & Ken get music through their satellite so we are listening to Christmas music from that. It’s kind of like living in an elevator.
I don’t have any money or time. I haven’t sent any cards to anyone. I’m far away from my own stuff. I’m not feeling it.
But I do have three packages under a ceramic tree on the hutch in the dining room. Two from Kristina and on from Karen. They look suspiciously like books and I’m almost as excited about seeing which ones they are as I was to see if I got a Chatty Cathy doll. I’m making oyster stew for dinner tonight and pork loin with sweet potatoes and asparagus for tomorrow.
Ken fell yesterday. His physical therapist was here and they were walking up and down the hall and into the kitchen. I heard her say look up and then I hear a thud. His leg just gave out. I’ve been living in fear of him falling. I ran to the kitchen. She was very calm. She got him onto a foot stool and then onto a folding chair and then onto his wheel chair. It was so smart. I think I could even do it alone if I had to. He can help with his arms but not his legs. He seemed fine enough. All things considered. I put the heating pad on his back. He does seem tired.
Mom is OK. She’s baking another kind of cookie.
I’m working on my puzzle. It’s tedious and contemplative work. It feels a bit like a Tibetan sand painting. 1500 pieces is a lot. Tibetan monks will do sand paintings for people when they’re on a journey. They’re so beautiful when they’re done. And then they sweep up the sand and put it in the ocean. I’m going to finish this puzzle and then take it apart and put it back in the box. I don’t know. I think it’s supposed to be a meditation on impermanence. For me it’s just about being able to make some thing fit some where.
I don’t feel Christmas. But I do feel love.
It rained really hard last night and all morning. The creek is running over it’s banks and into the yard. The tree out side the office window has drops of rain hanging from the branches. They are hanging in perfect lines with equal spaces between them. No strand of electric lights could be that perfect. They glitter with what light is pushing through the clouds. A few intrepid squirrels are running about.
I am having a hard time emotionally. But I am also warm and fed and …on line.
I do feel love.
If I were home I might try to make a special pretty page with a poem or a picture of me as a kid in front of a tree. Or something. I might have linked to the advent calendar and lyrics for songs. I might have written more about the holidays that aren’t Christian and tried to write about war and peace. But I just have a few minutes to publish.
Today and every day I wish you love and beauty.
Merry Christmas to all.
And to all a good night.
Ken lost a lot of weight during his recovery. He’s an average sized man to begin with and in very good shape for a 79 year old but the recovery process really took its toll. He looks emaciated. There’s a bowl of Hershey’s kisses on the coffee table from which he regularly eats and I’ve been cooking and there is a ton of stuff that people have brought over, like cookies and breads. He is eating but he still lost a pound last week.
When he was in the rehab center Mom lost weight as well. Partly, I imagine, from worrying and partly from the fact that she’d drive up to Ashville to be with him and be too busy to eat and too tired when she got home to eat. For Mom this was a benefit.
And now we have all the stuff people bring and she has made some fudge and Russian tea cakes and a chocolate cake and a mince meat pie and a pumpkin pie and, and, and ….and, of course, I’m cooking. So she keeps talking about how much weight she’s going to gain.
We called my cousin a few days ago to say happy birthday and found out that she had a stomach flu. She’d been unable to eat for a few days but the GOOD news is …yes…she lost weight.
So, people having surgeries, worrying about their spouses and having the flu is good because you lose weight but having a professional cook your dinner and having friends who bring you things they make with love for a holiday is bad.
It’s just crazy.

Monday, December 23, 2002

I really want a cigarette.
It’s been more than a year since I smoked regularly, months since I smoked at all.
I really, really want a cigarette.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Mom made Tijuana Hash last night. It’s a favorite from my childhood but it is pretty kooky. She takes a muffin tin and makes little dough cups in which she puts a mixture of canned corn beef hash, green pepper an onion, and some chili sauce. After this cooks a bit she tops it with cheddar cheese and puts it back in the oven long enough to melt the cheese. When I was a kid I would pick out the green pepper and onion and leave them in a pile on my plate. I eat them now. I’m such a food snob. You would never thing I would like these things. I only do when Mom makes them.
Today I made biscuits and gravy but I used soy sausage.
The last time I was here Mom got irritated because I was reading so much. She kept asking me if I wanted to work on jigsaw puzzles. So I did. The first few were fast but she gave me a 1500 piece puzzle, a picture of mountains and a river, lots of blue and green. It kicked my ass. I brought it out and I’ve been working on it again. It’s faded in places which makes it all the more difficult to figure out. But it is a way to space out.
I was crazy to think that I’d get any writing done.
Last night, the night of the solstice, I went out front and stared at the moon for a few minutes. The big, fat moon on the longest night of the year.