Ten on Tuesday: Best of ’13 Edition

Jan 07

Carole asked us to share 10 Favorite Moments of 2013. It’s hard to limit to ten!

1.My sister’s eldest, Drew, visited in January. We took the train to NYC, saw the Beatrix Potter exhibit at the Morgan, and enjoyed pastries at my favorite NYC cafe.  IMG_1007

2. My birthday dinner with Neal. A blizzard hit, and Neal spent the day snow blowing and shoveling. He then took me skiing, and finally, to a lovely dinner.IMG_1086

3. Playing with Maddie in the brook during the spring.

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4. Spending loads of time in Paris. I especially loved wandering Shakespeare and Company while listening to this young woman play the piano.

SandCo5. A sunny day in Montplaisir that ended with time spent watercoloring.

watercolor in MontPlaisir6. Morning and evening visits at Montplaisir from my four-legged friend (I named him Arno).

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7. A lovely afternoon in Camon, where nearly every doorway is covered in roses, with artist Cassandra Einstein and her charming musical husband.

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8. Time shopping in the Parisian markets with Sara. Well, let’s just say all moments with Sara were top moments!

market9. Enjoying time on the beautiful screened porch that Neal built me. This included our fun-filled Open Porch Wednesdays (the porch was open to all from 6-9 with drinks and snacks at the ready…I can’t wait for summer to start it up again!), time napping, reading, chatting, watercolor paining, and writing. And…before the screens went in, I saw our clutch of phoebes learn to fly!

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10. Bringing little Oskar into our family. Moments when we hiked together, watched the pups all playing, celebrated Tilly’s return to health as she ran with the new dog, remembered sweet Maddie when Oskar did something just the way she used to.

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There are thousands of great memories from 2013, most of them revolving around Neal, my best pals, my family, my mutts, my creative outlets, and teaching. What are some of your favorite moments from 2013?

 

 

 

 

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Oskar

Jan 06

Oskar

 

We’ve had Oskar for a little over two months, and I am smitten. When Maddie died so suddenly, I thought “I will never give my heart to a dog again.” How foolish I was! It did not take long after meeting him to know Oskar is a special little (truly, he’s little!) husky. He’s almost always a gentleman. He’s a little aloof, which is common for this breed, but in the last few weeks, he’s been expressing a lot more connection to me and Neal.

The rescue group from which we adopted him brought him to CT from GA, where he had been found chained outside to a cinder block, terribly undernourished. At six months old, he weighed only 19 pounds. When his darling foster mom brought him to our home to see if he would fit in with Tilly and Coco, the poor guy didn’t even know how to climb the stairs onto the porch. When he saw the bowl of fresh water we keep out for the dogs, he drank like he might never have another chance.

We brought him to our vet’s the first week, and he showed me the striation on Oskar’s nails, evidence of poor nutrition followed by good nutrition. He also has a bump on his gum that indicates some intense chewing (the chain, maybe?). There were some worm issues (I’ll spare you wormy poop photos…but we have them!), easily amended.

Oskar gained weight, reaching skijoring weight (35 lbs) two weeks ago. I would love to train him for skijor, but I’m not sure I’m a good enough skier. Maybe Neal will take it on. He’s confident with the other two dogs, and he’s starting to be protective over Coco. Neal built an amazing fence around our back yard, and Oskar can really stretch his legs now. Siberian huskies are notorious for running and heading off on their own to hunt. The fence will give him loads of freedom and give us some peace of mind.

I’ve taken him hiking almost every day. Most days we go for about an hour. When I have to get to work early, we hike only about 30-45 minutes, and when the conditions are excellent, we hike for two hours. He and I have both built strength. Hikes that used tire me are now a breeze. It is a joy to watch Oskar develop from a malnourished, weak pup into a strong young dog.

Most exciting to me is how “teachable” (Sara’s word [and her picture above]) Oskar is. He came to us knowing how to sit on command, and I taught him to shake hands and give a high five easily. Since I have a big dream for him, I started dog training in December. I want to bring Oskar into nursing homes to give joy to elders who need some unconditional love from a handsome, soft pup. We have had a ball at school. In fact, the highlight of my week is Saturday morning when we have class. We are a studious pair; we do our homework every day. While he can have some puppy ya-yas, Oskar is also eager to please and likes to focus on working with me.

I guess I could make this post very short by simply writing. Oskar: a gentleman and a scholar who has won my heart.

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Silver Locks Project Update: Cut and Grow

Jan 03

silver locksJust before Thanksgiving I visited my stylist, Em. We talked about the Silver Locks Project and how to proceed. At this point, it’s getting routine: cut, grow, cut, grow until the blonde is gone.

Em cut a bit more than two inches, making my hair shorter than it has been in a long time. Even five weeks after that cut, it is still too short to twist in back the way I like. Still, we got a lot of blonde off my head with that cut. In fact, Em thinks the next cut (probably in February or March) might be the one that removes all of the blonde. My original math said October 2014, but I guess if I go short enough, I can have all silver sooner!

Every now and then I get what I perceive to be an underhanded criticism about growing out the silver, but I just smile and think of the hair coloring money in my bank account and my love of this new color. Neal and my mom–the two people who would be most brutally honest with me–are both pleased with it, and most importantly, I’m pleased.

I like this picture because it shows how much of my dark hair is left. Before I started this project, I had forgotten just how raven black my hair was pre-coloring. I’ve fallen in love with the color!

Want to read more about my journey (8 1/2 months so far) to silver hair? Check out all of the Silver Locks Project posts.

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Happy 2014!

Jan 01

2014 hikeHappy New Year to you!

Neal and I celebrated the end of 2013 by writing out lists of what should stay in 2013 and burning those lists. How satisfying to let go of troubles that way.

And we welcomed 2014 in our usual fashion: a fantastic hike with friends. We packed festive foods and drink to enjoy at the top. Today’s crisp weather made for great hiking; Sarah and Josh schlepped a large carafe of hot coffee up the mountain…welcome warmth when fingers, bare to get at the Camembert cheese, numbed!

I’ve envisioned some endeavors for 2014:

  • Return to a paper planner. I’m testing out a bullet journal. It’s only day one, but the method appeals to me. I finally grokked the difference between a calendar and a planner (I’m a slow learner), and this grand bullet experiment will be supplemented by the calendar section of Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year.
  • Do 44,850 push ups. I’ve got a month-by-month plan (in my bullet journal, natch!).
  • Formulate and investigate a beautiful question. I’m undertaking a research project to prepare me for a digital writing class I’m teaching in the fall.
  • Help Oskar become a Canine Good Citizen. I want to train him to be a therapy dog who can visit nursing homes. I think he’ll brighten lots of elders’ days.
  • Knit an Icelandic sweater. I registered for Ragga’s Craftsy class ages ago. I have the yarn. I can’t wait to wear the sweater!

What endeavors have you dreamed for 2014?

 

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Ten on Tuesday: Holiday Tradition Edition

Dec 17

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You’re right. Visiting the Christmas tree at Notre Dame in Paris is not really a tradition, but this picture makes me happy every year! This week, Carole wanted to hear about traditions, and while I don’t have ethnic ones, there are a few traditions I love:

1. Bake cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Almost every year since 2004, my pal Cheryl treks from upstate to NY to the woods of CT for epic cookie baking. I anticipate it so much!

2. See a show. We alternate between A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker.

3. Open one gift on Christmas Eve. This goes back to my childhood. It helps ease the anticipation.

4. Wait until Christmas night to exchange gifts. Neal and I wait until we’re alone in the house before exchanging our gifts to each other. It’s a quiet, sweet way to close out a festive day.

5. Listen to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite as the first holiday music of the season.

6. Hand write Christmas cards. I get so much pleasure from writing out cards.

7. Give my four godchildren an ornament. Some years I make them, some years I buy them. When they finally decorate their own Christmas trees, I know they will be filled with childhood memories.

8. Put out the Christmas boot. We didn’t have stockings at my house when I was a kid; we had Christmas boots made by my Gram. I love setting mine on the mantle!

9. Give the dogs a gift. I’m telling you, Maddie (RIP) knew what Christmas was, and she loved getting her little gift each year. I’m convinced she anticipated it with joy! I’ll let you know what Oskar thinks of the holiday.

10. Kiss under the mistletoe as much as possible!

What are your Christmas traditions? Do they include hand made gifts? If so, you might want to read about my newest project offering, The Organized Elf!

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