Monday, December 2, 2013
YouTube -- that scene in Office Space where someone has a case of the Mondays. Classic.
Woke up to a flat gray day, with a list of things I need to accomplish but don't feel like doing. It's a Monday.
More than that, it is a Monday after having an entire week off.
It isn't just me, because The Peanut was dragging a little this morning, too. Vacation time is wonderful, but it does take you entirely out of your usual rhythm, which can be both a blessing and a curse in a lot of ways. We all needed the break, but in all honesty, we could have used a much, much longer one after the year we have had.
This is one of those times when running away to a tropical island (with a giant vat of sunscreen and serious air conditioning, mind you) sounds beyond lovely.
Calgon, take me away. (YouTube)
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 8:37 AM
Sunday, December 1, 2013
As it turns out, my ability to push myself to complete one thing after another has fizzled entirely this week. Apparently, my body after breast cancer treatment is not willing to allow me to keep going and going like the Energizer bunny, and the last day or two has consisted of me sitting around like a lump, resting up from the holiday cooking frenzy that was Thanksgiving.
I'd like to say lesson learned, but we all know better, don't we?
The thing is, the sitting around has led to a bit of introspection about the choices that I make, in general. If, indeed, my energy and ability to do things is a finite resource, then what sorts of better choices should I be making in how I spend that energy?
It's a good question. And one that we would all do well to consider from time to time.
One that I ignore far too often, which is how I get into this sort of blah, exhausted state on a regular basis, I am sad to say. You'd think that I could harness my brain power for a much better return on my energy expenditure investment, wouldn't you?
Today will be all about filling the well. My body needs a rest, and my mind needs some space to figure out how to manage things without this constant deplete and repeat cycle. There has to be a better way, a better path with more balance and much less of this constantly teetering on the edge.
Heaven knows, the breast cancer diagnosis wasn't something I could control. But I can control how I live after the fact: eating more healthfully, getting regular exercise, doing the things that make me happy and healthy and move me forward instead of feeling like I am marching in place.
So many choices. Now to figure out how to pick the ones that take me down the better path...and in the meantime, I'm going to find some fun and relaxing things to help me fill the well. My inner reserve is running seriously low. Suggestions are welcome.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 11:42 AM
Friday, November 29, 2013
Definitely in the post-Thanksgiving haze. Relaxing morning at Chez Smith and, with leftovers out the wazoo, cooking won't be an issue here.
Life is good when you can have some breakfast pie.
We're weighing movie options or laundry. Or naps. It just may be that naps win today.
(Photo via blmiers2.)
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 10:12 AM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Starting Thanksgiving day off with a warm cuppa coffee and a little Arlo Guthrie with the Muppets. Does it get any better?
Yes, yes it does.
Last night, I made Bree Drummond's Cinnamon Baked French Toast ahead to soak in the custard overnight, and now the french toast casserole and some bacon are crisping away in the oven. The house already smells delicious, and I haven't even begun the turkey and stuffing baking. That will get underway in the next hour.
Upstairs, my family is either sleeping or reading away. Our nephew, Ben, flew safely in yesterday, despite all the weather, and we are really enjoying him. My mom and her fiance are driving here today to feast with us, and we will all fill our bellies with gusto this afternoon.
It truly is a day to count my blessings.
After the year we have had, counting my blessings has taken on a whole new level of importance, too. Every day that I wake up and I am not feeling the horrible after-effects of chemo treatment, I am thankful.
My family is amazing and loving and generous with their care, and I love them for it. Our daughter is awesome, and loves me a lot, and my husband and I truly are soul mates in every sense of the word. I really am blessed.
We have a snug home, warm and cozy on a cold wintry day. And an adorable dog who loves to romp with squeaky toys until she falls over, panting for breath with a doggie smile on her face.
Life is good.
Pause for a few moments today and count your own blessings. We'll be doing a blessing bowl at the table today -- everyone writes a blessing or two on an index card and then tosses it in the bowl. Then we read them out loud after Thanksgiving dinner together.
I'm thankful for all of you, too, especially those of you who comment and make this interactive for me. All of your support through the ordeal this year truly meant the world. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:22 AM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Headed out to pick our nephew up at the airport very shortly. Yay!
We've had some snow, but nothing debilitating. Here's hoping it is that is the case all the way to Pittsburgh and back again today.
When we get home, we have to pick up the turkey and get cooking. The smells of deliciousness are about to waft through the air this evening...
(YouTube -- Muppet Show with the Swedish Chef and Danny Kaye prepping a turkey. Hilarious.)
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 6:50 AM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Our woodpeckers are missing.
That is not to say that they have gone entirely, but I haven't seen them at our feeders in quite a while. We used to have a pair of downy woodpeckers -- their feathers fluffing out on the backs of their little heads like down fledging off a baby bird. We also had some red-headed woodpeckers, another breeding pair, that were a bit territorial about our suet in the wintertime.
The last few days were bitterly cold, but none of them showed up to feed at any of our feeders or suet stations.
Living in the middle of town can be like that: construction begins somewhere, and half your birdies move off to quieter pastures. But I'm wondering if they will be back once the weather turns fully to snow and ice in the coming weeks?
I certainly hope so.
The last few years, I have enjoyed watching them rear their broods and bring them to the feeder once they fledged from the nest. We had a Carolina wren family that lived in our pine trees out back for the longest time that did that every year. They disappeared from our yard, though, when we were having our roof re-done, and have not yet reappeared, either. Their loss on our big sun room feeder is painful.
It is funny how attached you can get to these little wild creatures, just by scattering a few seeds about and admiring them through a plate glass window. But we do. Or, at least, I do, watching them every day as a sort of half meditative, half naturalist practice that soothes me to my core, while the rest of the family just enjoys them on random occasions.
I do hope we haven't lost them to a quieter yard, somewhere outside the heart of town.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Serious arctic blast at our house this week.
The poor birdies are fluffed out so much to keep warm that it amazes me they can even fly at all. Our feeders and suet baskets are covered with a nonstop flurry of starving creatures, and the dog barely wants to go out to the yard.
Spent part of the morning fighting the crowds at the grocery store, gathering some of the things needed for our Thanksgiving meal. Since I use a lot of fresh herbs in my stuffing, I've found that they are out at our local grocers if I don't snag them early. It's a sort of balancing test between how early I need to get them and not having them go bad before they get used, you know?
Planning for a big feast day meal can be tricky. But, thus far, things have gone pretty well in terms of planning and such. (For a copy of what I normally do as a pre-Thanksgiving plan, you can read here and here. Planning ahead and doing a little every day instead of doing it all at once keeps me sane. Mostly.)
Managed to find some turkey necks and thighs this year to make my yummy slow cooker turkey stock. Delicious stuffing and gravy, here we come!
Tomorrow will be cranberry salad and turkey stock day. Wednesday will be stuffing (which technically is really dressing, because I cook it in a pan and not in the bird, but my Granny always called it stuffing, and thus so do I.) And I have to pick up my fresh turkey, and get it dry-brine seasoned for overnight, so it will be delicious when we pop it in the oven in the morning.
All I want now is to curl up under a blanket with a book and some hot tea. Alas, that will have to wait until later today, I'm afraid. The holiday rush is upon us...
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 1:04 PM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Outside, it is 20 degrees here this morning. Brrrrrrrr. Have already had to refill the bird feeders, because the ravenous hordes (and one greedy squirrel) had cleaned them out and the fluffed-out birdies were looking pitiful.
Mercifully, inside the house, it is cozy and warm. We're about to start the fireplace and pop on a little Christmas jazz.
That's right, boys and girls, it's time to drag all the decorations out of storage and festive-ize the house.
If you'll pardon me, I have some dusty decor to wrangle. Hope your weekend is going well.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
If you haven't seen this yet, you really should: more orchestra flash mobs, please. My favorite is the little girl conducting from the lamp post. Adorable.
The weather has begun to turn. You can feel it in the persistent chill that pervades the morning air, even on the warmer days.
Winter is coming.
This weekend will be our wholesale house tidying and Christmas decorating extravaganza, where most of the downstairs will be transformed into a decorated wonderland that makes all of us smile every year, even as we are dragging things up and down the stairs from storage to the living areas and back again.
Am trying to figure out a way to decorate this year without going whole hog, because I honestly don't have the energy to do the whole thing this year. The question is, how much is enough to visually satisfy what the heart wants without overdoing it to the point of exhaustion? It's a concept that gives me difficulty, but I am going to work on my forced zen and try to err on the side of not too much.
It is a marathon, not a sprint, right?
I am reminding myself of that, at least, and hoping I take it to heart. Call it a personal work in progress.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 9:01 AM
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Today, more than anything, gratitude is taking over.
This morning has been all about sitting still and counting my blessings. And they are a long, wonderful list, let me tell you.
I woke up exhausted, like I have the last few days, weeks, and months in a row. More than that, I am weary, worn down by all that cancer has thrown at me this year.
But the moment I start thinking about what is good and wonderful and loving and supportive and just plain awesome in my life, the better I feel. It just piles up in a shiny stack of goodness and mercy and happiness, one right after the other, until suddenly all the exhaustion melts a little more away and warmth and love and light pull me along to get through whatever next hurdle comes my way.
Whatever I have gone through is nothing compared to what other folks have to deal with every day of their lives. It is a good thing to remind myself how truly lucky and blessed I am to have such a loving, caring family to wake up to every day of my life. Somehow, just reminding myself of that, even just a little bit, makes everything better.
So I am here to tell you: gratitude is everything.
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 11:16 AM
Monday, November 18, 2013
The birds are gorging themselves this morning, even though the weather is warmer than it has been and there is no drizzle in sight. Folks have been predicting a bad winter for weeks, but this is the first time that it feels like that might be right to me.
It is a frenzy to fill up on our feeders of late, so much so that I cannot keep them filled with seeds.
This morning, I feel like hibernating, crawling back into our comfy bed and just sleeping the day away. But duty calls, with midterm grades to finish along with a trip to the local DMV office to get a new driver's license.
Do you sense my quivering excitement about the DMV? Oh yeah. Long lines, here I come.
While I got a lot accomplished this weekend, I still feel like I am running woefully behind on everything. Guess we'll either catch up at some point, or we'll lag so far we'll just lap ourselves and start over again.
Oh for a House Elf, a la J. K. Rowling, and some magic spells to set everything to rights with a swish and flick...
Posted by Christy Hardin Smith at 8:28 AM