Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ten Reasons to Be Thankful Even if I Was Worried about the End of the World

1. California Decembers are still clement enough for geraniums to bloom. Red and green at Christmastime are apropos.

2. Even if the Fiscal Cliff thing were to come to pass, our lifestyle has put us outside the grid. We'd have little impact on our way of life, if any.

3. Our two favorite supermarkets have begun carrying potato chips cooked in olive oil -- this means I can eat them. (I can't eat the ones cooked in sunflower or canola oil, as they make me unpleasantly ill. ) Merry Christmas or Armageddon, I have had potato chips to snack on in the evening!

4. The longest night of the year will shortly be a thing of the past until a year from now. (Daylight Savings Time should be adopted year round. Night-time at 5pm is just stupid.)

5. In seven weeks, I'll be buying tomato plants for the garden. (God willing and the creek don't rise.)

6. My 6-month-old grand-daughter smiles broadly when she sees me, and she just cut her first tooth.

7. My 10-year-old grand-daughter is creative, well-spoken, and a welcome guest in other people's houses. And respectful, and loving.

8. We're getting lots of glorious rain this winter so far. Everything feels damp, but I can live with that. Fill those reservoirs! Max that Sierra snow-pack!

9. Our household is stable, and at peace with one another. Three generations living together can't always say that, but we can. We're a team, and it makes us strong.

10. The "Perfect Ten" is my marriage to Bernie. We've just celebrated 38 years since he asked me to marry him. I still remember how the world changed that day, and how I knew that I would never again feel alone, that I would always have him at my side, that we could conquer anything that life threw at us.

It was a kind of innocent assumption ... we never know how long we'll have with anyone, not really. But on the other hand, for 38 years, we were right.

Happy End of the Mayan Calendar!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sleepy One

A chilly December evening, and on my side of the bed is my dog Howie, soundly asleep, nose curled underneath him, tail keeping his hind legs warm, his stripes not at all clashing with the purple flowers on my pillowcase.

He's confident about taking over my half of the bed; he knows that when Muvver beds down for the night, she won't order him off. Why not, when he has his own cushy pillow bed beside the dresser?

In one of those weirdo old age phases, for some unknown reason, I've begun having painful back and shoulder issues when I sleep. Painful enough that I wasn't sleeping well at all. I'd shift from right to left, rearrange my pillows, move my legs ... and then fall back to sleep only to awaken again with a numb left arm and a burning ache of muscle spasms from the base of my skull to mid back.

Of course, the less I would sleep, the more tense I would get, and the worse the symptoms. Feh. What was more, I was keeping Bernie awake with my shifting and sighing in the night.

Fed up with disturbing Bernie's sleep, one night last week I hoicked myself out of bed in the dark, found a thick throw blanket, which I threw on the floor. I found (by touch) a sheet and a couple extra blankets, and curled up on the carpet beside the bed.

The next morning I felt better rested than I had in weeks.

On subsequent nights, I added another thick throw to make my sleeping pad, and I am in absolute bliss. My dreams are better, more peaceful. I wake with energy and no pain. My arm doesn't fall asleep. The muscle spasms have stopped. And I find it easier and less old-woman-achey to get up from the floor than I did from the bed.

Muvver now sleeps on a mat beside the bed. Why shouldn't Howie curl up on the bed to keep his Daddeh company? At least while Daddeh naps. At night, Howie returns to his cushion on the floor, too. Maybe he has the same achey issues as I do. Who knows? We just find solutions when we can.

The picture above is Howie curled on my pillows, rendered in Paint program.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Hey, This Was Fun!

Yes, this was what I had in mind when I came up with my next idea for a 15-minute art project challenge.

I went out into the pouring rain and found five eucalyptus leaves (unmunched by leaf-cutter bees) and a sycamore leaf. Howie assisted by snatching leaves out of the gutter-full of rainwater and tearing them to bits -- that's his idea of gathering autumn leaves. I was simply looking for a few that were flat.

I slathered thick white watercolor paint on them, put them paint-side down on various papers, and then weighted them down with cardboard panels and cans of beans. Not crushed pineapple, not sauerkraut, beans. Butter beans and garbanzo beans, if you like specificity.

That was enough for one day.

The following day, I peeled the leaves off the paper to find lovely ghostly leaf prints. And over the next couple days, I added touches of pastel pencil to each.

There were three of these little projects: one was on cheap black construction paper, one on a not-quite-as-cheap gray craft paper, and the pictured one on Aquabee Bogus Rough Sketch, an unbleached paper that always disappoints me with its uneven tooth. You can see all three at my Flickr gallery.

I don't think I've had so much enjoyment from an art project in decades. It was simple, it produced a charming result, and it was FOR NO REASON. Cheap paint, on very cheap paper. Is that a waste? No, I guess not.

Today we took a walk, and on the way back, I collected another handful of variously-shaped leaves. Guess what I'm going to do with them!