Wrapping up a week down in Massachusetts tomorrow and heading back to Vermont on Saturday. My mind is swimming with potential resolutions and end-of-year lists and infographics. For now, I’m typing in a dark chilly room while Jim takes a late afternoon nap beside me and it’s dark and cold outside. 2010 has been a pretty good year but I’m interested to see what’s coming up.
So the Christmas Bird Count went well. I went for a nice long walk in the woods and saw nothing, and then I walked along the road on the way to the supermarket and saw a bunch of the little local birds and one big pileated woodpecker. I even managed to get a photo. The night before I had one of my standard recurring dreams where I was out looking for birds and the feeder was filling up with all sorts of rare and unusual species–the Curtis Jennies of birds. I have similar dreams about my coin and stamp collections–suddenly I’m surrounded by the rare and unusual and I think to myself “What good fortune!” So, getting a photograph of a woodpecker on Christmas Bird Count day was sort of terrific. And I never mind a walk in the woods.
At the moment I’m heating water on the stove for a bath–the hot water heater here doesn’t quite fill the tub, I am not living in Frontier House or anything–and packing to head down to MA for a week or so. I am not sure if being a 42 year old lady who still brings laundry to her parent’s house is exceptionally weird, but I think it’s within tolerances for my family. I’ve got some snacking and relaxing planned and not much else. I made some little presents for folks this year, not so much because I’ve got any sort of holiday spirit but I like giving people little things when I see them in the doldrums of winter.
I often feel that my handmade gifts have all the appeal of a macaroni sculpture so this year I tried to go a little upscale. Got some vanilla beans early. Made some vanilla stuff [extract, salt scrubs, sugar] and did up some labels and whatnot. Super holiday score came when the thrift store in town was selling little glass angel bottles for a quarter and I bought ten. I had to ask people if giving someone a little angel filled with liquor was sending a message I might not want to send. They assured me it was not.
I’ve also got a trunkload of Grade C maple syrup. If you see me, have a jar ready.
Josh recently did this, reminding me that I’ve been meaning to do this. The alphabet, according my browser’s URL autocomplete suggestions:
A is for Amazon – because I have a smart keyword set up for it.
B is for Paperbackswap.com – for no reason I can immediately understand.
C is for Couchsurfing – I hosted some nice people recently.
D is for Dashboard of the library website – Yes, I am confused too.
E is for Ebay – Another smart keyword.
F is for Flickr – which I guess is better than facebook.
G is for Gmail – which should come as no surprise.
H is for Homemade Jam – Matthew’s website.
I is for Inbox – Another way of saying gmail.
J is for jessamyn’s profile – I’ve been editing it lately.
K is for this photo – A mystery image from this question.
L is for Learned League – Where I am a member.
M is for Mail.yahoo.com – and I’m not sure why. I’m rarely there.
N is for airbNb – Because there’s not much starting with N, I guess.
O is for Open Library – They are wonderful.
P is for Paperback Swap – Again.
Q is for the Anonymous Queue at MetaFilter – No, I will not link it.
R is for REBOOT – The shortcut to 192.168.1.1 where I have spent a lot of time managing busted internet lately.
S is for Stan’s Twitter – I sent him a message today.
T is for Twitter – I usually use Syrinx but sometimes I go to the website.
U is for USAA – The best bank.
V is for Vermont Library Association – I made that site!
W is for www.purple.com – The tech support guy sent me there to see if my internets were working. They were
X is for Unicode Xmas Tree – Tis the season.
Y is for Youtube – Specifically ladybug-sprinkles video.
Z is for this old article about Led Zeppelin – I made a MetaFilter post with that article in it a long time ago.
I’ve learned a little bit more about Firefox and a bit more about my browsing habits. I amended this slightly to make mysterious entries a little less mysterious.
This coming Saturday is the Christmas Bird Count which, yes, is not actually happening on Christmas. I’ll be participating somewhere in-between working at the library and heading to friends’ to have some dinner. I’ve been fighting with my internet connection here somewhat. It always goes kablooey when the weather starts getting cold and wet. There’s a little bit of snow on the ground which is good because if there isn’t, the Solstice Bonfire can’t go on as scheduled. I’ve destroyed my kitchen making some little holidaytime snack type things and destroyed my printer making some holiday postcards. I’ve been getting those “hey you have too much mail to fit in your box” notes at the post office even though I’ve been going there every day. It’s that time of year.
Unlike other years, I am not travelling for work, writing a book, or balancing a ton of other people’s holidaytime obligations. I got to go to a nose doctor on Monday and see the inside of my nose on a television screen and see the thing that is getting in the way of my nose-breathing (I wrote down the name, I have forgotten it). The thing is not growing, not a symptom of a worse problem, and not cancer. I can get it taken out sometime if I want to. I had some looming dread about this that I had been ignoring; it’s been bothering me since May. The absence of dread, dread that I wasn’t even aware of, has created a pleasant atmosphere for casual birdwatching.
Late Thanksgiving means fewer days of somewhat aimless dread between now and the great holidaytime EXIT door which is New Year’s Eve. Actually I’m doing pretty much fine this year. I’m participating in some random holidaytime stuff [gift exchange via Elfster and a card exchange with internet friends] as well as some real life stuff. I’m getting enough sleep and almost enough exercise. I’ve seen some good movies and the weather has been very accomodating.
This photo is a current one of my house up north. I finally took Jim to see it over the long Thanksgiving weekend. It did its siren song job on him and he was standing in it looking around saying “Wow this place is really neat” at the same time I was grabbing a few Scrabble sets and moving towards the door saying “Get out before you decide to live here for the next decade!” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I feel at some point I made a choice to go from living in a drop-dead lovely place as a vulnerable slightly lonely hermit to living in a pretty great place where I have friends and a job and I run into people that I know when I go into town to do errands. I have a feeling I will enjoy no longer owning this place up north, but I could be wrong about that.
This weekend Kate is moving to her new house up the road from where we grew up, a dynamite place in a cute neighborhood with a funky name. I expect to be spending some time down there and thereabouts over holidaytime between Xmas and New Year’s in case other people are in the area and want to say hi. I have a car with a magical trunk; things you put in it just disappear. Helpful this time of year. There’s a spectacular bonfire in town here on the 19th, contact me for details if you’re in the area.
Jim’s birthday is Monday and it’s the one event of all of them that we’re not spending together though I did send him a fun package of loot. If you’ve got a free minute or two, please wish him well on the facebook or the twitter or I’ll send you his email and you can send him your favorite YouTube video from the seventies.
I went away last weekend and headed down to Amherst where I hung out with Jim and my friend Matthew, went walking around outside a lot, ate a lot of delicious food and saw the Asylum Street Spankers for the first time on what was, sadly, their farewell tour. It was a good time.
The last few weeks have been a lot of adjusting to the shorter days and hoping that my poozly sinuses can hold up long enough for my ENT appointment which is in December. So, I’ve been scarfing down a lot of zinc, drinking a lot of tea, trying to get some sunlight and dwelling on my least favorite dwelling-topics: sinus infections (avoiding) and sleep (getting enough of). Mostly successful.
A story you might like is how this video of my colleague Josh and I swearing up a blue streak wound up making $200 for my local food bank. It’s sort of complicated and involves a lot of inside baseball, but I’ve had a frustrating day trying to explain Mac computers to local folks, so I’ll try this.
– There was a thread on Ask MetaFilter where some one asked for good jovial insults to call your friends. It was, predictably, hilarious.
– So, we mentioned it in the monthly podcast. Yes there is a podcast, about a website. And yeah it’s really us talking about the website. I can’t explain it, it is somehow good.
– In the comments for the podcast — yes we put the podcast about the website on the website itself and then people comment on the website, about the podcast — someone mentions that he’ll give $20 to my favorite charity if I read the list of insults into a video camera. He did this knowing full well I would totally do this.
– Josh (cortex on MetaFilter) offers to help and he is much handier with video stuff than I am.
– I do the reading and send the link to my friend who donates $20 to the Randolph Area Food Shelf (my charity of choice) via PayPal. He mentions it on Twitter and a few other people offer to make donations if I send them the link. I do
– The next day, Josh finishes the remix and it is terrific. He makes a separate thread about the new video and people enjoy it and because PayPal is so ridiculously simple, chip in some cash for the food bank.
– I put up the original video of me just reading words off, with no remixing. At some point I decide to explain to the Food Shelf what exactly is going on and I receive a nice note back from them. I have no idea if they saw the video or not.
– I teach a somewhat frustrating Mac class and decide I would rather explain this to internet strangers [and facebook friends] than make myself a drink.
This has nothing to do with tree swallow houses, which I decided to use as an illustration on the off chance that an auto-playing video of me swearing like a sailor might be surprising or off-putting to anyone. I realize this is not likely.
So according to my calendar, I’ve been away or home with houseguests every weekend since early September. Last night I got home after doing my last talk of the season and I slept for 13 hours. This morning I got up and contemplated an empty calendar. I can tell things are mellowing out here somewhat when I catch up on my RSS feeds and my sweeping. But things aren’t so relaxed that I’ve figured out where to put all the Scientific American magazines or sorted out my CD collection. This bowl of pumpkin innards was in my sink for way too long.
My new-to-me car seems all modern compared to my last one but it does actually have a tape deck, so it’s been somewhere between 1984 and 1994 in the car most of the time. It’s been fun and weird to drive around listening to mixtapes that people made for me in high school. Most of it is music I still like. Some of it is music I’ve been missing. Jim and I had a “Woah!” moment when one of the mixtape songs came on and I said “This is that song I’ve never been able to identify, even though I’ve Googled and Googled” and he said “What? This is Tribe.” And it turns out that the word that I thought was Hoedown was Down Home and suddenly it was all there.
Related big grins in my highest ever Scrabble score [against a well-matched opponent]. Jim and I have played somewhere around sixty+ games since we started keeping track. Until Wednesday we were about twenty points apart in total scores. Somehow the stars aligned and I got four seven letter words and pow pow pow. Luckily, we play using the Internet Scrabble Club which lets you replay games for kibitzing and nerd purposes. So, I made this little movie about the game, well OF the game really.