Unexpected ice skating

Everything has been covered in a thin glaze of ice — slushy roads, half-melted alleys, fig trees branches, the cars, the house.

And so, on my walk to get bread from the bakery, there was a lot of last minute panic as I realized the alley (partway submerged in water, partway glazed with ice) would be impossible to get downhill safely. So I crunched over the ice-covered snow in the backyard, around to the front, stood still and slid down part of our pathway to the gate, and carefully picked my way past flooded areas and walks no on cleared after the storm last week. I managed to get to the shops and back again. It was slow going uphill, but without a face plant near the treacherous half-cleared walk by the movie house.

We’ve spent the rest of the day watching a marathon of the Great British Bake Off. And I’m almost done with a toe on a sock. Quite satisfying. So how do you spend your snow days?

It’s been a complicated few weeks


Malkin, unusually pensive

Everyone’s feeling the cold on the east coast. I’m going back and forth to work with the heat on in the car, a silk layer, a turtleneck, corduroys, one sweater with a hood, an alpaca long sweater, 2 scarves, a cowl, a knit hat, a coat with a hood, leg warmers, boots, and a pair of wool socks. I’m lucky. With the “power of wool”, I think I’ll be OK until the cold gets a little less fierce (it’s dipping down to -17°C or 1°F tonight).

Meanwhile, last Sunday we lost a very dear cat — after years of being the younger cats’ nemesis, and terrorizing the mouse population, X gradually lost his spark, and then eventually his ability to get up and get around. At the pet ER, we made the hard decision to let him go peacefully to Valhalla where the mice jump up alive every evening so they can be chased again.

When he was first brought home as a very young kitten, Malkin met X, a domestic longhair rescue cat that we called a “Germantown Hunter”.  After mistaking the older cat for a mom cat with milk, Malkin’s relationship with him soured immediately (X would sometimes stare pointedly, as though saying, “rid me of this meddlesome beast”). Early in their days together, we would hear a noise like a basketball, and realize X had hooked one paw in Malkin’s kitten collar and was “helping” him take it off. We think Leia is expecting X to come out from underneath a desk like a cloud of malevolence, since she sits and stares into the Gardener’s office as though the older cat is hiding there. But Malkin really misses him. As does the Gardener. As do I.

Boston is having epic amounts of snow

… and in comparison, it isn’t all that bad here… at the corner of Church and Graveyard. We don’t have Boston’s epic snow. Our weather is dropping down towards 12 degrees F, and the wind outside is enthusiastically blowing the trees near the house (if I close my eyes, it sounds like the ocean when there’s a large storm offshore). Our house is pretty cold, but I’ve got an appointment with a down comforter, hot mint tea, and Mary Priestley’s A Book of Birds.

Luckily I’m not shoveling out from Winter Storm Marcus. So, we’re chatting about the weather. I’ve seen online pictures of daffodils coming up in England, I’ve heard that New England is ghastly… so what’s the weather like near you? Any welcome signs of spring? Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, do you have welcome signs of cooler weather arriving?

States of Flux

Change is in the wind. Family members are downsizing, which means we are downsizing our expectations of where we go for holidays. Although it may also mean opening up our lives and our home to be the “place” where people come for the holidays.

I think it will take a while for me and The Gardener to process that. Not to mention organizing our lives and the rooms in the house so we can feel confident inviting people over for dinner.

Current favorite fountain pen ink

At work, my current favorite ink is Delamere Green, from Diamine. My work pen is an inexpensive one from Faber-Castell. Simple things make the day go better for me. Luckily, the ink cleaned up with water when I dropped some on the blonde wood table in the boardroom. So, I don’t think it’s waterfast, but it doesn’t bleed through the pages of my notebook.

So, enough name-dropping from me. If you do use fountain pens or ink, do you have a favorite?

Reading – The Care and Management of Lies

Jacqueline Winspear’s book, The Care and Management of Lies had been on my “to be read” list for quite some time. So when it showed up at the library, I put it into my pile of books to read. And then I got distracted by Abdication by Juliet Nicolson, until I realized even if it was frothy and easy to read while I knit, all the characters in the book seemed hateful. So I went back to Lies, and I didn’t regret it. The book is more nuanced, although knowing enough about WWI makes you want to shake some of the characters (back by Christmas… no, I don’t think so).

I spent a lot of time thinking about Dorritt/Thea’s prospects, and her choices that looked outwardly brave, with an inner voice revealing how frightened she is by potential repercussions of being a part of the woman’s suffrage movement. Thea is one of the characters in the book who is able to identify enviable calmness in others, but her choices seem overly driven by a need to be seen “as good as” her brother Tom, who on the battlefront. Kezia – I’m honestly not sure about Kezia and what motivates her, beyond being strong for her husband, Tom. Kezia’s character grows and changes the most, while Tom remains steadfast and terse through everything. The book is well worth a try, even if (like many books set in WWI) it’s a 2 hanky story when the war gets more grim.

It’s the 2nd of February – time for men in fancy dress to go wake up a rodent

Which means it’s: Groundhog’s day.

Info about the observance can be found here. I remember this was a big deal when I was growing up, before the movie Groundhog Day came out. However, I’m not sure if it was “big” to people outside of Pennsylvania back then. In other places of the world, it’s Candlemass, Rosenmontag (parts of Germany), or Shrove Monday. Everyone needs a reason to celebrate this time of year. For me, it’s men in Victorian suits (or sometimes just bankers suits and long black coats), wearing stovepipe hats … who go wake up a groundhog to see if he “sees” his shadow.

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