Month: December 2021

Closing Out 2021

My strongest wish in bidding farewell to 2021 is that I be done with it today, on New Year’s Eve. The last two years slopped their events over into January, making the transition muddy. I want this year to stay contained within its calendar. More than that, I want 2022 to be after. All of the events of 2020 and 2021 are blended together in a shared memory mire. I’m ready for after. Even though I know that so many things are still in the middle and will be for a while. Pandemic will continue. Economic uncertainty will continue. Political wrangling will continue. Personal challenges will continue. I am going to be carrying so many unfinished projects with me into this next year. However I still believe that I can cultivate the next year to be something different than the last two years have been. It can feel like after even while being a simple continuation of all the things I began in prior years. The first part of making things feel different is to really mark this New Year’s Eve. Note its passing. Make conscious effort to contemplate the year and lay it to rest before crossing the threshold into the next one.

As part of that effort, I have made my annual compilation of blog entries, correspondence, and private journal entries. It is my One Cobble book that I print into a bound format and set on my shelf. This will be the seventeenth volume. I also printed out The Year Compass booklet and wrote my way through its exercises even though that sort of guided contemplation usually sets my teeth on edge. (Don’t try to make me pick a favorite event!) For once I didn’t let instructions like “list the most important events of the year” tangle me up into an anxiety ball over what in my life counts as “most important.” Instead I treated the whole thing like a snapshot of this moment in my brain. Instead of “most important” I wrote down whatever response jumped to the top of my mind when I read the question. This means some of my answers are tangential to the questions and occasionally I simply declare that the question is shaped wrong. (Who did I have the most influence on? I don’t get to decide that, other people get to decide if I was influential in their lives, not me. Also the attempt to exert influence is an attempt at control, which is a thing pandemic has slowly been teaching me I can’t cling to.)

I’m so earnest about trying to put my pandemic years to bed that I’m willing to come up with three words to describe my year and write them into little boxes. I grabbed the three at the top of my mind rather than searching for the perfect ones. I wrote Exhausting, Growth, and Cocoon. I was quite interested to see a news site a few hours later where a survey had people list their words for 2021 and the top of the list were Exhausting, Growth, and Relentless. There is a shared experience in the year just past which has a million different expressions, but is still somehow shared. I am grateful for all the gifts 2021 brought to me. I’m grateful for the growth I’ve had during it. It hasn’t been a bad year on the whole. So I plan to Konmari this year just past, thank it for what it gave to my life and let it go.

Only a few hours left and then I’m on to something else. I hope.

Feeling My Way Toward a New Year

In theory, Boxing Day (The day after Christmas) is a great day to spend cleaning up, sorting, giving unneeded things away, and generally settling the house after the holiday celebrations. Some years that is how I spend it. This year I aggressively did very little at all. I put together a puzzle, played a couple of games, took a nap, watched a couple of shows. I chose that path because I was listening to my mind, heart, and body, all of which were telling me that I needed rest. So I rested. It felt like yesterday still belonged to Christmas. I woke up this morning solidly in the space between Christmas and New Years. This is my week to drift a little bit and contemplate the year to come.

I’ve actually had my eye on 2022 for almost a month now. I’ve been stewing and thinking about how I want next year to be different. This year and the year prior have melded into a sort of amorphous lump in my mind. Memories are muddled, some of them pulled closer than is accurate, others pushed much further into the past than they actually belong. It doesn’t help that 2019 lapped over into half of January 2020, so that most of that month felt like it belonged to the year prior. We had my daughter’s wedding, and all of the stress of wedding planning and execution felt like it belonged in 2019 even though the wedding landed beautifully in mid-January. Then the transition from 2020 to 2021 did the same thing, with anxieties over the election, capitol hill riots, and inauguration slopping all the way through January. This year I want a clean break. I want 2021 to stay contained inside its calendar year and to start having a different year on January 1st. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make that happen.

In quest of that goal, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions. How do I make 2022 feel distinct even while it is likely to be impacted with ongoing pandemic which might want to muddle it in with the two years prior? What do I want to be different in my daily schedules? What to I want to make more time for? What do I want to spend less energy doing? How would I spend my time if I didn’t have to worry about paying bills? Since I do have to worry about paying bills, how do I still make some room in my life for the answers to the prior question? I’m still gathering answers for most of these questions. Collecting the answers into a mental basket and letting them bump into each other and change each other to see what emerges. It might result in me rearranging my weekly appointments scheduling, or in me rearranging my physical spaces. It might result in concrete, stated goals and resolutions or it might result in an intention or feeling that I hold in my mind while I move into next year. I’m still waiting to see what will emerge.

For today, I have some pieces of regular life to pick up and get done (packages won’t ship themselves) and I’ve got bits of celebration to start cleaning up and putting away. I’m approaching it all in a leisurely way as is appropriate in this liminal space between the holiday and the new year.

Long Slow Remodel: We Have a Faucet!

We’re working on Year Three of our long slow remodel. It has been almost a year of no progress because of no available funds. But we decided to spend some of our Christmas money on installing a faucet in our pantry wall.

Antique copper faucet over a Corian countertop and sink.

It may not look like much as Christmas presents go, but installing it involved the services of a plumber and a rapid trip to the hardware store to grab a different faucet which didn’t have a separate sprayer because the plumber informed me that we couldn’t just leave the sprayer off and we didn’t have a hole for the sprayer to go through. (This one has an integrated sprayer.)

Sink and faucet with surrounding cabinets forming a pantry wall.

Whether or not it looks like much, having the sink installed is a source of joy, and that makes it a good Christmas present. Perhaps in January we’ll be able to begin our adventures in moving a doorway.

Two Days in Pictures

It started with putting up the Christmas tree. Milo “helped.”

Gray cat crouches among a pile of artificial Christmas tree branches

This led to the second phase of putting up the tree, which I call “Milo! No!”

Spray bottle full of water in the foreground, undecorated Christmas tree in the background

Fortunately the cats seem to have learned from prior Christmas/spray bottle encounters. They didn’t try to climb the tree at all this year. However I discovered that all of our tree lights had gone dead, so I had to go on a fetch quest for new lights. I succeeded.

Christmas tree with red and white lights on it.

After all that work, Kikaa reminded me to sit down and take a rest.

Elderly tortie kitty asleep leaning on an arm and hand.

But Milo lurked. He seems to regard me as a very complex food puzzle, something to manipulate with cuteness until I get up and give him treats.

An elbow on the arm of a chair, gray cat peeks over the elbow at the human.

I also had one of my kids help me take a reference photo. I’ve started a yoga practice. Right now I can’t reach that foot with my hand, but someday I will.

Person in raised pigeon pose reaching behind to grab the same-side foot.

I put our first ornament on the tree. For us 2021 was a much better year than 2020.

3D printed ornament: dumpster with flames coming out of it and the year 2020 on the front.

I finally dragged myself outside to go rake up the leaves that were threatening to kill off the lawn. I made a massive pile on a weed patch so that they can kill off the weeds instead.

Tired from raking, I sat down at our little bistro table. I’d only been there a couple of minutes when our Scrub Jay friends showed up and made clear that I should go fetch some peanuts. Which I did.

Western Scrub Jay perched on the edge of a metal table looking at a peanut sitting on the table.

We’ve named the jays Screm and Lurk. They’re the same pair which nested in our pine tree last May. For a final picture, I leave you with this hand-painted wooden egg I bought in St. Petersburg on my day trip as part of a Baltic cruise. My one regret is that I didn’t buy a dozen more of them. So Beautiful.

Wooden egg ornament painted blue with a pink flower.