leaving off where I picked up

It’s the end of November, and I managed to post here more or less daily. (I dropped the ball for 2 days when I was travelling, but didn’t let this dissuade me from continuing. That in itself feels like an accomplishment.) Characteristically, though, I didn’t manage to post a number of things I had in mind to post this month. Life has a way of sweeping me along with the current, without always leaving me the energy to put my thoughts into words. At least I usually take some photos to help me remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done. So it seemed fitting to end this month the way I started: with a photo of a leaf that caught my eye. (This photos was actually one I took back in October–there aren’t too many colorful leaves left on or off the trees.)

It took me longer than it should have to decide what to post. I had trouble picking a photo to go along with my rambling. I have lots and lots of photos that I’ve taken, many of which I like and want to post. But at this point, they aren’t well organized. For many years I was very systematic in my tagging and organizing in my digital photo library. I could easily bring up sets of photos that I’d tagged with keywords I knew I’d return to. And more importantly, I tagged when and where I’d posted a photo. But then there was a software calamity that resulted in all of my tags getting royally mucked. And I haven’t yet recovered from this trauma. I guess it’s time to pick up again and start liberally tagging my photos.

But flipping back through my photos was a lovely trip down memory lane. Including memories of some lovely trips, and some lovely lanes. Perhaps I’ll post some of them here. (Will I ever find a frequency of posting here that is somewhat intermediate between daily and virtually never?)

Frosty fronds

Remarkably, it’s not that late, and I’m not that tired. Today was a mellow day where I got to stay home, aside from walking the dog. It was hard to motivate myself to go out in the cold this morning, but I was rewarded by views of some fabulously frosty fronds and flora.

And just because, here is my furry friend among the frosty fronds.

Today was a reasonably productive day. I got some work done towards a couple of work projects, and had a (remote) meeting and a (facetime) violin lesson. (Not my best lesson, since I haven’t had time to practice. But not too terrible, either.)

It’s hard to believe it’s already November 29th. Only one more day of my commitment of daily blogging.

A few Boston buildings, old and new

A picturesque old Fire Station near Longwood in Boston.
The nearly-finished new building at BU. I like the way it looks like the top is floating, what with the sky reflecting on the middle sections. Some have called this the Jenga building. Not sure yet what will be in there.
Inside another recent BU building, where we went to see the talk on pronouns. This installation is Blue-Green Brainbow, by artist Carson Fox.
Detail of the artwork above.
Copley Square by night, looking festive.

I just spent at least half an hour staring at photos, and being unable to decide what to post. Clearly I’m tired again. It was a good day, but long, and I’m still tired from yesterday. My mom and I took the train into Boston, largely so I could see a talk at BU. We went in a bit early, so we could get lunch and do a bit of wandering. (Actually, do a bit of hunting for art supplies.) Tomorrow I’m looking forward to a day with only a couple of virtual meetings. Hoping to get caught up on some work obligations. Tonight I’m looking forward to sleep.

driving in the driving rain

Yet another day with few moments of downtime. I got home not too long ago from a round-trip drive to southern Vermont to return daughter and friend to school. I brought my mom along for the ride, since she hadn’t seen the school yet. I knew it would be largely dark by the time we arrived at the school, but what I hadn’t anticipated (due to failure to really check my weather app) was that it was going to be very rainy. And foggy. Whereas we did get to see a bit of Brattleboro before dark and the heavy rain fell, there was not a lot of visibility thereafter.

I think this mural is pretty recent. I don’t know why I hadn’t particularly noticed it before, even though it’s right across from the lot where I usually park.
We stopped in to a gallery, where we enjoyed artwork by Vermont artists and artisans. I was quite taken by the still lifes by Julie Baker Albright. In particular the lower one in this image featuring turnips. (Perhaps I do have a thing for root vegetables.)
We also got some coffee at a little independent coffee house. I appreciated the flower in the foam of my soy latte. (I also appreciated having the caffeine in me for the drive home.)

After dropping off daughter and friend at the school, I evaluated the drive home. Usually I take a route up that involves some steep winding roads that take me out of cell phone range. I was considering taking the Pike home instead, which is a longer but straighter route. But then upon seeing the traffic on my map app, I thought I’d try a third option. While not so steep and winding, it was still exhausting with the rain and fog and barely visible road lines. And tailgating drivers. Did I mention that it was exhausting?

I opted not to get stuck in the traffic on the Pike.

Tomorrow will be another busy day. Heading into Boston to see a talk by a friend/colleague about recent changes in pronoun use. My mom will be joining me, and I’m looking forward to the excursion. (But also wishing I had a day of down time in between.)

changing of the garlands

We’re starting in the Christmas decorations a bit early (for us) this year, trying to get the most of the Thanksgiving visit from my mom and having the kids home from school. Lest you think we are totally on top of things, we only just finished taking down the Halloween decorations. Today Theo swapped out the black garland for the tinselly ones in time to welcome in the tree.

It’s a start. A few decorations in the background, and at least I put some water in the tree stand. Maybe we’ll get around to putting on the lights tomorrow.
While this photo was from October, most of the seasonal decorations stayed in place until this morning.
Brodie was very helpful protecting us from any trees trying to invade our home.

We got the tree in, but that’s as far as we got. I’ve been trying to get some work done today, as I haven’t found as much time to do work as I’d hoped. And tomorrow is a big day, driving up to Vermont and back.

Seeing the forest for the trees

I’m not totally sure where today went, but I guess a lot of today involved trees. We had a couple of excursions, plus I wrote a bunch more postcards for Georgia. (I got a lot of help from my mom, plus Phoebe and her friend helped with some, too. Which is good, because today was the mailing deadline for the big project I signed on for.)

This tree was very orange.
I liked the way the top and the little branches curved.
This tree isn’t totally dead. I thought the peachy orange tips of the branches looked kinda neat.

In the evening, we headed back out to go the Winterlights at the Bradley estate in Canton, MA. Again, there were colorful trees that caught my eye. This was an event we hadn’t been to before, but it sounded like it would be a fun thing to do with the kids and other guests. It was quite pretty, and happily the weather was pretty mild.

Light-wrapped tree trunks lining the path at the Bradley Estate.
I enjoyed the colorful pseudo-trees at the Bradley Estate.

On the topic of trees, I use an app called Forest to help me track my time on projects, as well as to keep me focused in my tomatoes. I like that it plants little virtual trees in my virtual forest for each chunk of time that I dedicate to a task. But that’s neither here nor there, though it is in the screenshot that is here (or there). What amused me and inspired me to take the screenshot was that my phone’s predictive text clearly knows what I’ve been up to. (I guess I’ve been logging a lot of time writing postcards for Geogia.)

Ah, phone, you know me well…

Of course, my phone also made a pretty unexpected suggestion in the predictive text in a message I was sending. Note that the tree farm starts with the letters “vand.” For the record, I don’t remember every making plans to vandalize in the past. So maybe my phone doesn’t know me so well after all.

Interesting suggestion, phone. Not quite the family activity I had planned…

table manners

Very long full day. Dinner was a bounteous feast with family and friends. My belly is still full, and my feet are tired. I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my life, as well as my life’s many comforts and joys. Much work still to do tomorrow, so I need to get to bed.

I didn’t take too many photos today, but here is one of the highlights. (See the slideshow for a more complete sequence. Note that Brodie did not get to have any of the pumpkin custard. He did get some treats, though.)

Brodie wonders when he will get a seat at the table.

A plethora of preparations

Very long day again, largely filled with home and family things.

We are fortunate enough to have a cleaning service come to clean our house every other week, which helps us fight back the chaos. We typically spend quite a bit of time before they come decluttering and organizing, basically trying to expose surfaces that potentially could be cleaned. To make things less stressful on both the people who come into the house and on the dog (who is very anxious), we get ourselves out of the way when they come. For the last couple years, at least since the pandemic, the tradition when the kids have been home has been to bundle us all into the car, and then go to the Starbucks drive-through in a nearby town. (Before the pandemic, Brodie would go to doggie daycare and John and I would typically go to work. But this stopped when quarantine shut everything down. The doggy daycare presumably reopened after not too much time, but we didn’t get back into that pattern. And now Brodie hasn’t been socializing enough with other dogs to manage that kind of thing. He didn’t really like it that much in the first place, but it was good to get him to socialize with other dogs. But I digress.)

Brodie in the morning, biting a poofy platypus.

Anyhow, the morning was spent cleaning and organizing, then we had the brief excursion, and then back to the house for more preparations. I’m still trying to find the dining room table, which I believe to be the surface under the months worth of accumulation of papers and other work and project-related items.

A freshly cleaned sink with an appealingly-arrayed assortment of glassware.

Phoebe then had a couple of friends coming over, so we all took Covid tests to make sure we were safe. (Of the friends has a medically vulnerable family member.) Then I walked Brodie again around 3:30. (Afternoon walks have to get earlier and earlier, as the sun sets a little after 4 now.)

Brodie looking majestic in the golden glow of the setting sun.

More cleaning and organizing followed. Then dinner (take-out, happily), and then food prep for tomorrow. Various vegetables were washed and cut, and I made my traditional pumpkin custard. (Effectively a crustless dairy-free pumpkin pie.) My mom and the kids helped with lots of the vegetable tasks. Tomorrow will involve more cooking and food preparation, and the final push to make the dining room presentable for guests. (Happily, the friends who are coming know us and our home well enough that they won’t be too alarmed the by a bit of clutter. Or more than a bit of clutter, as the case may be.)

Pumpkin custard, fresh from the oven.

The other big task that needs to happen this week (by the time the post office closes on Friday) is the writing of another 80 or so postcards to Georgia. As is my way, I committed to the sending of a lot of handwritten postcards. After the Georgia runoff was announced, a couple of my friends contacted me expressing interested in writing cards for the runoff. When I was in DC (actually, having a rest on a bench in the National Gallery), I got an email with details on a project with a mailing deadline of 11/25. I optimistically signed up for 500 addresses. I contacted the 2 friends who’d first expressed interest, and then reached out to more people. I got permission from the group organizing the postcards to get mailing addresses printed, and very quickly the 500 addresses were claimed. So I requested more addresses. And then I reached out to more people, and requested more addresses. I spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of weeks printing labels, assembling packets, contacting people, and doing a few deliveries. In the end, I requested a total of 1150 addresses, and distributed 1040 of them to friends and acquaintances. Which is a lot, and fantastic. But, if you do the math, that leaves a not insignificant number for me to get written. Happily, my mom is lending a hand with the hand-writing, and I plan to recruit others in the household as well. Maybe even after the feast tomorrow.

A postcard penned with an intermediate level of care. The writing isn’t my neatest, but I drew a peach. Not all 110 will get peaches. But I do enjoy drawing the peaches!

Off to bed for me now, as tomorrow will be a full day.

Watching the world cup

I admit to never before having watched the World Cup. But since Theo has been playing soccer this year with much enthusiasm, I thought it would be fun to watch some together with him. Plus, having watched and enjoyed Ted Lasso, I have found a greater understanding of the appeal of the game. We looked up the schedule and how to watch the games, and John signed us up for a Peacock streaming account. (Funnily enough, it turned out to only have commentary and most commercials in Spanish. Which was actually good for Theo, who has been taking Spanish since kindergarten, and not terrible for me. I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, but caught some of it. Terms like “la pelota” and “el offside.” It also added to the novelty of the experience for me.)

To mark the occasion, I got out a world cup from the cabinet¹. (For the record: I did indeed watch some of the actual first game, which was between Ecuador and Qatar. We were rooting for Ecuador, having both visited there, albeit on separate trips².)

Off to bed early now, as I am picking up my mom at the airport in the morning. She arrives around 6:00 a.m. The kids want to join me on the trip to the airport, and Theo is hoping to be home in time to watch the next game (at 8:00 a.m in our time zone).

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¹ It seemed fitting given my past praise of a super bowl, as well as my enthusiasm for the red socks.

² Plus Qatar has the whole poor track record of human rights violations thing.