Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Getting Closer

Yard light with flicker light bulbs and snow

When I should be writing Christmas cards, baking, wrapping presents and above all else, cleaning, here I am writing a post.   I don't know who said it first, but this quote sums me up:  'From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful.'      

I've had way too many 'wildly successful' days, no, scratch that, months! lately.  We're still working on acquiring a new routine that works.  Between dealing with our respective parent's homes and estates that need tending to and nursing home visits, plus my weekly trip for IV treatments, we far too often end up having supper after ten at night.  This won't do.
Snow changes everything

Both of us are tired; the weeks fly by and we seem to be in a never-ending cycle of meetings and appointments.  My back is acting up again; I'm hoping the culprit is mainly stress, but if it keeps on, I'll have to seek out a new general practitioner as my former one retired.   

I bought a book on healing back and pelvic pain by performing stretches and strengthening exercises over a year ago and things did improve.  All summer long, my back was pretty good.   But come October, and with all the commotion with our elders, I ran out of time and slacked off on the exercises.  Now I'm doing the stretches at least twice a day and hoping eventually I'll see some results.  But if this doesn't work, I'll have to give in and seek help.  

I also have a DVD workout with a very flexible Miranda Esmonde-White skillfully bending and touching her knee nearly to her nose and beyond while my knee remains far, far away from my skull.  But hey, I'm trying.

 Last weekend, we finally managed to get the new LED lights on the wire horses and reindeer.  The outdoor decorations do bring me joy; they are the only thing I have completed for Christmas.  Now that we have had some snow, they look even better.  

 I didn't get the garden cleaned up for fall, and I still have concrete statuary to haul in, too, but at least I have lights.  Every now and then, a car going by slows down and it makes me happy to think they might be enjoying the scenery, too.  On Saturday night, after visiting Carl's parents in assisted living, Carl surprised me by taking me on a tour of Christmas lights in neighboring communities.  

There are some glorious displays to be seen; it makes me sad to think Christmas will be over soon and they'll be taken down.  Some homeowners had their holiday light creations hooked up to sync with music you could tune into on the car stereo and cars were backed up for blocks.  

We don't have anything that elaborate here.  (And alas, we ran out of extension cords.)

Yes, I know the fence posts show, but otherwise the poor reindeer would blow over in the wind.  You can't see it from the road.

 The 'relit' reindeer are on the Pachyberm.

So much white, but the lower one is the doe.

The dwarf conifer next to them is Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana Stricta', one of my favorites. 

On Sunday afternoon, Carl and I decided to cross-country ski over to his parent's house instead of taking the car.  We've had about six inches of snow so far and Joel had plowed me a trail out into the Back Eight on Thursday.  We skied across our farm and onto the newly groomed snowmobile trail which hasn't been opened yet for sled traffic.  They need more snow for snowmobiles, so we have the trails to ourselves. 

We're both pretty pathetically out of shape, though in our defense, the snow was quite sticky making for tough going.  We had to take frequent rest stops and as we hadn't left the house until 4PM, it was nearly dark by the time we made the mile-long trek.  We did the tasks we needed to do and put our skis back on, heading home in the growing dark.  

The worst thing about cross-country skiing is knowing what and how many layers of clothing to wear.  When I first start out, I'm cold and am glad of the layers, but soon I start to sweat, especially if there's not much wind.  If we're on a long ski trip, I'll tie a jacket around my waist when I start to overheat and if I need it later when the wind picks up, I can always put it back on.  The worst part is when my glasses steam up, my eyesight isn't that great to begin with and everything is foggy.  

But skiing is fun.  Really.  

It is.

Once we were back on the farm, I told Carl I had to check on Mom's house and water the geraniums stored in her living room and kitchen.  When we walked in, we were amazed at how cold the house was, down to 48 degrees; the furnace blower was running, but there was no heat.  I don't know how long that's been going on, but Carl was able to reset the switch and the heat was finally working again.  We're keeping the thermostat low, but not that low.

By the time we left Mom's house it was nearly six pm.  Carl took the lead, breaking trail for me.  He was off on a good pace and when I tried to catch up, I lost my balance and went down in a blaze of snowy glory.  I hollered at him and he came back to help me.  

Years ago, I'd read the best way to get up on skis is to roll on your back with your skis in a tabletop position above you and then roll onto your side.   If I were more flexible, I'm sure this would be the best way to get vertical again, but I was flailing around in a most ungraceful manner before I managed to get up.  (Ms. Esmonde-White would not have been impressed.)  

However, I will say, lying on your back in a snowbank is a good way to cool down.

As it was pitch black out now, we headed for the lights of home.
Carl went in to make our traditional Sunday night light meal while I stayed outside and took pictures. 

 Mom would have loved her remembrance garden, especially the blue tree lights.

A gift poinsettia and plate commemorating our dear late dog, Teddy, under the Laburnum table lamp.
I do have one thing done in the house; the indoor tree is decorated.

Another weekend has come to a close, time goes by too fast.  The winter solstice is this week; the shortest day of the year.  

But before we know it, we'll start to gain precious seconds of daylight again.
  Until then, I'll have the lights of the season to brighten my mood.



Ellie's friend from canada said...

Hi Karen,
It's so nice to read about your lights and activities. You know Christmas cards received between
Christmas and New Year's are equally loved. Your blog brightens up my day considerably. I accidentally broke my camera today. When I was in charge of my brother's house, I had to check it every day for the insurance to be valid. One Friday, we had warm weather so I didn't go over, but on Monday the temperature was going to drop from +30 to -30ยบ in a couple of hours so I sped over. Wouldn't you know, the motor had quit. There was a scramble to get it fixed on an emergency basis.
Luckily none of the water pipes had frozen. So I sympathize with your trips to check on your mother's house. The first Christmas without your mother is difficult but I hope you will be warmed by the lovely memories of Christmases past and have a lovely, restful, peaceful Christmas. It's hard to believe it's almost here already. A blessed Christmas to you and yours. Ann

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

So good to see a Christmasy post from you. I love all of your lights. The lights are something I look forward to every year.

I can't imagine your cross country skiing in the dark. YIKES!

Happy Christmas to you and Carl ~ Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

outlawgardener said...

With all you've got on your plate and so much pain to boot, it's amazing to me that you've done so much decorating! Your lights are beautiful and I'm sure everyone passing by enjoys them a great deal. Your pictures made my day.
"dkiing is fun. Really." made me chuckle. Happy solstice, merry Christmas, and all the best for the new year!

Karen said...

Hello Dear Ann! I'm sorry your camera broke. I'm down to using my cellphone as a camera since my son and I used to share his Nikon. Of course, he needs it more than I do. :-) Good idea about sending the cards out a little later; I may just have to do that myself. I love getting cards (and letters) any time of year. Yes, the furnace situation was a real shock...we've been going over to Carl's parents' home every day to check on it and somehow dropped the ball on my Mom's house. Too many houses to deal with, sadly. I'm glad you were able to head off disaster at your brother's home, too. I have to admit, I don't like going into either of the houses very much; especially Mom's. The house is so empty without her there. I saw her snow boots on the basement stairs and teared up; she was such an amazing woman. So many memories, but best of all, they are all good, happy memories. Thank you, Ann. Merry Christmas!

Karen said...

Rainey, yes, as if I don't have enough vision problems, we decide to ski in the dark. :-) We're very silly, aren't we? Now I just have to find some ambition to get the cleaning, baking, and wrapping done. I wonder where I left my ambition??

Karen said...

Peter, maybe this is my last hurrah? I hate to think that is a possibility, but there are days when I'm down in the dumps and think dark thoughts. Hence, the lights! And yes, skiing is fun. Sometimes. (At least when I'm vertical.)

Merry Christmas, Peter!

Betsy said...

Your decorations outside are beautiful!!! Can't say it enough. I decorated mine outside the first thing after Thanksgiving. I was scared we would get cold bad weather and we did. The rest inside, just finishing. Can't get with it.
I know exactly how you feel about nursing home visits and taking care of the elderly this way. We have to take mom to a nursing home after Christmas. Her money has run out from the sale of her house and it's too expensive where she is. Can't stand thinking bout it.
You probably have stress causing lots of those aches and pains. Mine was stress related to some of mine.
I see mistletoe on top of your doorway and I love your staircase. Show your village when you put it up, would love to see it.

Karen said...

Thank you, Betsy, yes, the nursing home visits are very difficult, though they are in a nice assisted living for now. We don't know how long they will manage there due to their advancing health issues. I am hoping the stress is the cause of my random misery, too. I am not sure how I'll cope with the same things in just a few short years, either. None of this is easy, is it? I'll get the village up soon, I promise. :-)

africanaussie said...

I would love to drive past your place, it looks magical. Happy Christmas to you.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom. Sorry you're having to deal with nursing homes and so many difficult family situations in a short period of time. I hope your aches and pains will subside soon. Your light show is magical!

El Gaucho said...

I'm still laughing at 'From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful.' That is outstanding! I'm going to borrow that from you and use it liberally. That could not be more applicable to me!

Your Christmas lights are just lovely, very well done. Merriest of Christmases to you and Carl and the family.

Indie said...

I just love your blue Christmas tree in the gazebo. It looks so beautiful! I love all your lights, and I'm sure people who pass by appreciate them too. We only managed to get one tree lit up outside, though we put out a couple lit up snowmen, which kept keeling over until we finally figured out how to stake them. It seems to have been such a crazy and busy year for everyone this year, but especially for you. I wish you and your family a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year!

Ellie's friend from canada said...

Hi Karen,

Just wanted to say I hope you found some peace at Christmas. I read your comment (only today) and read that sometimes you "think dark thoughts". I think that is normal after a beloved person has died for it makes us think of the meaning of life and death. I hope that as time passes a bit, the edge on the pain will dull and you will remember the joyful moments and treasure them more and more. As John said: "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it". I hope that if you have such dark thoughts, you will divert your thoughts in a better direction, a direction that you will see the shining light that is your Mother's spirit. It is hard when we are being orphaned left, right and centre to think in other ways but it is also heartwarming for you and me to know that our loved ones were blessed with long lives and knew (recognized) us until the very end. That in itself is a huge gift. You could not have been kinder or more generous to your mother and she was well-aware of that. I myself was left with a sense of failure that took me a year to overcome. Your kindness and generosity shone through these pages, too. We are not really raised in our society to think of the wonders at the end of life. I have been sitting here tonight thinking that this is the first Christmas that I really felt like celebrating in a long time but didn't do so. I bought Christmas decorations from my favourite camera store that is going out of business that I can use next year. As an update, only the telephoto lens was broken: the camera actually survived. The good news is that the insurance company covers the cost of the new lens: the bad news is the new lens cannot be used on my old camera (except perhaps on manual which I cannot use due to my eye damage). And so I'm faced with getting a new camera. The bad news is the cost; the good news is that the new lens has incredible advantages over my old one. I was diagnosed with macular degeneration just in late fall and in both eyes, on top of all of my other eye damage. I have been thinking of giving up photography entirely so why buy a new camera? To me, it has, except for the initial outlay, been a very low cost hobby. But as I sat here, I thought "I am going to get a new camera and make the very best of my eyesight and photograph to the max this coming spring, summer and fall". Why not? Now is the time in our lives to have fun, to appreciate beauty on a daily basis, to turn to great nieces or grandchildren and give them more opportunities to know us and for us to treasure them, even more. Now is the time to enjoy life to its fullest. And so, dear Karen, I hope you have a healthy, happy new year rick with blessings and beauty. Ann