Staying in Low Gear: A Week of Treats

As I have indicated in previous posts, after working extensively on Maya and the Book of Everything  for the past few months and then being busy with all the folderol of  the holidays, I have been oh so tired.  Add an inner ear infection, and I decided it was time to have a little vacation.

For Clif and me, vacations are very modest, and mostly include simple pleasures. We don’t go anywhere special. We just enjoy what’s around us and plan small, special treats.

On Monday, we went to Lucky Gardens in Hallowell and had a tasty lunch of Chinese food. Here is the view from the deck at Lucky’s, as it is known locally.

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On Tuesday, I went to visit my friend Beth and her granddaughter Piper. I was so enthralled with watching Piper play that I forgot to take pictures of her. Darn! Piper will be three in March, and her imagination has begun to blossom. She sang, she fed her dolls and stuffed animals, and she listened to their heartbeats with a toy stethoscope. This brought back sweet memories of when my daughters were young. I would often pause from my housework and listen to them play as they came up with various scenarios for their toys. The imaginary life of children is so rich and full.

On Wednesday, I went to visit my friend Mary Jane so that I could meet her new puppy Charley, a Russian Bolonka. Little Charley is as cute as a button, and he made us laugh as he frisked with his toys. Mary Jane hasn’t even had him a week, but there is already a strong, loving bond between them, and it was beautiful to see.

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For lunch, Clif and I went to Mia Lina’s, right in town, and had some of their delicious Lina bread—-bread with melted cheese to be dipped into a tangy tomato sauce.

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Tonight we’ll be going to a movie–20th Century Women—with our friends Alice and Joel.  It’s always a treat to go to Railroad Square Cinema and see a movie with friends.

It is good to work hard. Lord knows as a Franco American, I come from an industrious ethnic group that scorns laziness. But sometimes, especially as we get older, we need to rest. As my friend Diane put it,  “Time to pamper yourself and stay in low gear for a while.”

Good advice! Soon, I’ll be ready to get back into the swing of things, to work at promoting Maya and the Book of Everything and to continue writing the sequel, Library Lost.

But for now, I’m staying in low gear.

Living the Creative Life

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“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”  —Maya Angelou

On Facebook last week, I learned that January is creativity month, very appropriate for many of us in the United States when the days are short, and the nights are cold. However, I can’t help but think that every month should be creativity month because it seems to me that creativity brings spark into our lives and helps give it meaning.

There are, of course, many different ways of being creative, from knitting and crocheting to sewing to writing to singing to taking pictures to cooking to gardening to weaving to making things great and small. As the current movie Hidden Figures illustrates, even math can be creative. The creative life does not follow one track nor should it. One of the beauties of creativity is the different forms it takes.

Nowhere is the scope of creativity more evident than through the  blogs I read. I follow many blogs, but the one feature they all share is an astonishing creativity—in all its various aspects. (Yes, I know there are blogs that are not so positive, but I don’t follow them.) When I read about the goings-on of my blog friends, what they create and how they live, I feel inspired and enlarged. It reminds me that there is much good in our species, something I need to keep in mind right now as the drum roll to repeal the Affordable Care Act gets ever louder.

I could feature any of the blogs I follow as prime examples of creativity, but for this post I want to focus on Melissa of The Aran Artisan and her incredible, nimble-fingered family. In “Creative Support for the Homeless,” a post written before Christmas, Melissa  told of how her family rented a table at a local craft fair. The post featured pictures of all the beautiful things she and her family made to sell, with proceeds going to “Galway Simon to show support for their work to end homelessness in our neighbouring mainland community.”

Readers, I’m not going to spoil the ending by revealing how Melissa and her family did at the craft fair. For that you must read her post to find out.

Creativity can also be, well, soothing. Last week, I had a sinus infection that made me feel  woozy. Fortunately, I wasn’t sick to my stomach, but every time I moved my head I felt dizzy, and even reading was a struggle—a very bad thing for me. One late afternoon, after forcing myself to do some household chores, I gave up and settled on the couch. I went to the Create TV channel, from American Public Television.

I learned the ins and outs of starting a llama farm business and then a soy candle business. I watched Pati make Mexican lasagne,  and I watched the recent instalment of This Old House and the progress they were making on an Arts and Crafts home. There was nothing negative, nothing harsh, just people doing a wide variety of creative things.

I know. We have to watch and read the news. We have to keep track of what is going on in the world, and all too often this isn’t pretty. But living creatively and following the creativity of others isn’t retreating from the world. Instead, for me, it provides a place of illumination and beauty, a way to recoup from the hustle and turmoil all too often created by our species.

This is not only good, but it is also necessary.

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Liam Is Twelve

Today is Liam’s twelfth birthday. Happy birthday to our dog buddy! With Liam going blind, it’s been a hard year not only for him but also for his people. However, he has adapted really well, and so have we. Other than being blind, Liam is in excellent health and still a very handsome dog, if I do say so myself.

And maybe, just maybe, there will be a birthday treat for one of the sweetest dogs in Winthrop.

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The Wolf Moon and March in January

On Wednesday, we visited our friends Paul and Judy. We had tea and apple crisp and plenty of conversation about politics. As Clif and I were getting ready to leave, Paul called, “Come look at the rising moon! It’s nearly full.” We followed him to the other side of the house and looked out the window. There was the moon, in its serene beauty as it crested the tops of trees.

“Oh, lovely!” I said. “And January’s full moon is the Wolf Moon.”

Clif took a picture, but our wee camera really didn’t capture the magic of the nearly full moon.

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On the way home, I admired the dark fringe of bare trees outlined against a deep blue sky. A January dusk.

Unfortunately, the weather turned on Thursday, the night of the Wolf Moon. The day was gray and rainy. Because of the rain and the warm weather—it was nearly 50 degrees—the landscape now looks like March. The snow is gritty and packed down hard. The driveway and pathways are thick with ice.

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Clif plans to sprinkle wood ash on the pathways. This is a dirty solution, but with our wood furnace, we have plenty of ash, and messy footprints on the kitchen floor are better than falling on ice.

The gardens are buried beneath snow, but a few of the taller plants can be seen, and the bee balm has been transformed into a many legged creature that looks as though it is ready to skittle away.

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In the afternoon, we went to the movies to see La La Land, and much to my surprise, it turned out to be my favorite movie of the year.  I am not a fan of musicals, but the musical numbers are kept to a minimum, and they really do help the story flow. La La Land is about two artists—an actress and a jazz musician—who desperately yearn to succeed in their careers and who fall in love. The movie is at times whimsical and even fantastical, but it is also grounded in the two main characters, played with quirky charm by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. In essence, La La Land is about the artist’s journey, and the movie really spoke to me.

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The ride home was so foggy—all that melting snow—that it was a relief to turn into our driveway.

But today the sun is out, the temperature has fallen, and we are back to January. Yay! Now, all we need is a little fresh snow to cover the gritty mess brought by the rain.

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Deep Winter: A Restful Time

This morning, when I got up, the temperature was barely above zero.

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Little Miss Watson was staring out the window. Perhaps she was wondering when the snow would go away.

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Not any time soon.  The snow bankings at the end of the driveway are taller than the car.

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The wheelbarrow is stuck in snow.

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And the pig won’t be flying until spring.

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Even though I am partial to warm weather, longer days, and nights on the patio, I always look forward to January, a beautiful, restful month. Yes, it is cold in January in Maine, but I feel as though I have permission to slow down, to not worry about anything other than basic housekeeping.

After the holidays, always fun but hectic, this time for slowing down seems like a gift, and this year, it is especially true. After launching Maya and the Book of Everything and then galloping into the holidays, I feel—to borrow from Bilbo Baggins—like butter scraped over too much bread.

Deep winter. Time to watch movies and read. To make apple crisp and get together with friends. And when I’m more rested, to host a brunch or two. Clif’s waffles are pretty darned good, and my homefries aren’t too bad either.

 

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