So I was just getting around to the end of the year lists when I realized I haven’t said much about the end of December. Not a lot to tell. Classes wrapped up well, the general holidaytimes went just fine. The Solstice Bonfire was great as always. I finally took care of a long-standing sinus issue I’ve been having [since last year] and went in for outpatient endoscopic sinus surgery this Tuesday. I am home and I am fine. I am also superstitious, so I basically didn’t mention it to anyone except a few close friends and my family. It was a non-event but it sort of made me nervous since I simultaneously believe that something terrible will happen at something like this, but also that I am being totally irrational. So I have no useful way to center the reasonableness of my concerns as anything other than this 100% fine/100% dead duality, so I just keep my mouth shut. This is suboptimal but it’s what I’ve got.
Anyhow, I now have a “shaved down” turbinate which, once it’s healed, should allow me to breathe better through half my nose and also maybe not cause me random tooth and eye pain. Also maybe fewer sinus infections. Worst case, it’s about the same. I can already breathe okay through my nose and all the horrible warnings nonwithstanding [“thinking injury” warns the anesthesiology consent form, “blindness” warns the surgery consent form] I feel fine, have abandoned my prescribed pain medication after a day and made up a great chart for when I’m supposed to take all the other stuff [including the nasal rinsing, though no nose-blowing for three more days]. I’m happy I got it done and I should have gotten it done sooner though with all the stuff happening last year, this was about when I was ready to deal with big complicated things. I have to give big props to the Dartmouth Outpatient Surgery Center for not only being full of nice and easy to interact with professionals, but also for not being all Christmassed out on December 27th. This is my surgeon, he was great. He is also growing a goatee.
So I’ve spent the last few days laying low here and watching movies and taking pills and telling everyone I am fine. I wrote up my end of the year reading list over on librarian.net and I’ll be working on the other few lists over the next few days. Hope your holidays brought you peace and well-being. Mine are going okay so far.
I’m still sort of experimenting on what works here and what doesn’t. Uploading photos–such as the one above, of the ORCA Media studios–took about twelve tries to get right and I’m still not totally sure I like what I had to do to fix it [chmodding 777 for those of you who are curious, please ignore this for those who are not]. But anyhow, here’s a photo of what the space looked like when I was on public access television last week. A fellow teacher, Mike Abadi, does a public access show about blogs. Which is a smart idea around here because we’re still in digital divide-land. So I got to talk about my book and the digital divide and corporate ownership of the internet and all those things I like so much. You can see the full video on YouTube in case you’re not in the teeny public access coverage area (and I wouldn’t be able to tell you if you were honestly, being one of those no-tv-having goobers) of the station. Interestingly, I got to see a coverage map for the entire state and Topsham, where I used to live, has NO public access channel. I’m surprised that’s allowed but I guess they have no cable. Surprising. I am thinking it might be fun to have a public access show.
This weekend was a big weekend of cooking and walking around in the winter-but-not-snowy-winter. Jim and I finally checked out the bowling alley in town and it’s pretty nice. After a mercifully boring trip to the dentist (I have finally found the perfect non-chatty non-radio-listening dentist of my dreams) I am hunkering down, trying to get some sun and getting ready for the Christmas Bird Count which is this weekend. If you want to count birds in your area and help the National Audubon Society track bird populations, check out how to get involved.
I’m back sucking at trivia again. But I’ve done a lot since I last left a note here.
First and foremost, I’m on a new webhost. This is after… maybe fifteen years at eskimo? The timeouts were too frequent, the support too slow. I understand the reasons but it was no longer worth paying money for, so here I am. The site lives in a friend’s closet in North Carolina, up the road from where librarian.net lives at UNC. I think it will be happy there. Now that these things aren’t auto-posted to facebook, I’ll have to think about whether I’ll import them there or not in some other fashion. I get a lot of comments, people are clearly reading stuff, I’m not really afraid of facebook in any real way. But I’m also winter-lazy, so I may put it off. I had a list, called the Things You Are Putting Off list, aka the Albatross list, that had a lot of crap on it that I’d been putting of. Estate stuff, other paperwork, selling the place in Topsham, and switching web hosts. Most are done, house is still sort of for sale, I’m feeling less dread which is a good way to go into the shortest days of the year. Speaking of, here is a story in two pictures.
As you know, I work part time at a public school. I am also more Jewish than anyone else who works there. Every year the public school does a holiday display and we get into some light-hearted ribbing about how their idea of diversity is putting up a coloring book cutout of a menorah in the holiday stocking-and-tree display. I guess I could make a bigger deal out of it, but I’m not mad, just sort of “C’mon guys, try harder” about it. So two years ago when the menorah was stolen, one of the shop teachers actually made another one (very cool) which for whatever reason the principal forgot to make sure was part of the display this year. So I nudged him. And here we go. I could live somewhere else, but I really like it here, the pervasive Christmasness around wintertime is just part of being part of a more homogenous (and religious) community than I might otherwise like. There are many other benefits. I’m thankful for both my larger and smaller communities at times like this. Next update on the blog: Solstice Bonfire. Stay tuned.
Related: if you see anything weird happening here that shouldn’t be, please drop me an email. Still troubleshooting.
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.
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.
At the risk of jinxing things, it’s been a pretty good holiday season so far. Starting on Thanksgiving, there’s a steady stream of Things to Celebrate til New Years. Aside from the big holidays, there’s also Jim’s birthday on the sixth of December and Solstice which is celebrated here in the neighborhood with a Sunday night bonfire and a lot of good food. His family does a big family Christmas thing which was fun last year, and it’s a good time to head down to see my family when I don’t have classes here and when the temperature drops into single digits.
My landladies don’t celebrate Hanukkah, I don’t think, but they have artist friends who do. One of them made a large menorah for a local synagogue and made them a smaller version. They found some nifty candles and asked if I’d come over and take a few photos and email them to their friend. This was a few days before the actual last night of Hanukkah, but it was great to see the candles all glowy against the dark night [at 6 pm!] and I took a few nice photos. I enjoyed the letters to the editor in the New York Times after the David Brooks Op Ed talking about Hanukkah.
“Sometimes a festival of lights is just a festival of lights.” Happy holidaytime, whatever you may or may not be celebrating.
I can’t spell Hanukkah which is probably okay because I don’t really celebrate it. However as the Most Jewish member of the high school I work at, I felt it was my duty to make sure there was some sort of menorah around holidaytime. If you’ll recall, there was one last year but it got stolen. Well it turns out it wasn’t even stolen but rather mangled by an angry kid who was stuck in the principal’s office. It was never replaced. “Where do you get a menorah anyhow?” the lady in the office asked me. I had to admit I wasn’t sure. I did go around telling people the story of Hanukkah [somewhat cribbed from Wikipedia] and answered a few FAQs [no there’s no Hanukkah bush, no it’s not really a major holiday, no there’s no Christmas tree involved, yes I still like cookies].
Yesterday I went to the school to pick up my car after its oil change — just another wonderful perk of working at a voctech school — and I found a little clip art menorah which I put on my classroom door. I don’t really have a classroom per se. That is, I don’t teach a class at the school. However, I’m there enough and there’s a free classroom so one of the rooms has come to be known as “Jessamyn’s Room” There’s a door decorating contest at the school where each class decorates their door in a holiday theme. This is the predictable presents, trees, red and green whatnot. Each classroom also adopts a family, a family from town having trouble making ends meet who gives the school a list of things they could use. From my position the lists are terribly poignant. No one’s asking for gameboys, they’re all asking for things like warm socks and a pair of women’s jeans, size 32. The kids all chip in to not just get the things on the list, but stocking stuffer stuff also. They then assemble and wrap it all and put it under the school tree which is out in the hallway and the families come pick up the presents right before the school shuts down for the holidays.
I used to have a pretty GRARGRAR opinion of the oppressiveness of Christmastime. Too much religion in my Wintertime. Too much shopping in my long dark nights. Too many well-meaning people not considering that other people might have different culutral traditions, or different choices, or different types of families. I’m still not totally pleased with the whole creche on the town commons thing, but I moved and I hear they don’t do that anymore since someone stole the baby jesus. Being more of a fixture at the school where they actually take pains to make sure the holidays are about sharing what you have with the people in your community, where it matters to people that everyone has enough, has really allowed me the room to enjoy the stressful Thanksgiving to New Years streak in a way that hasn’t worked as well in the past. Last night, when it was dark outside and I was leaving the school, I colored in one candle on the clip-art menorah.