Monday, January 31, 2011

Heart and soul.

I like to think of myself as a Christian, but sometimes I think I'm a bad one, or I think that my views (which tend to be fairly mutable) are too far off center to count. Sometimes this makes me wonder about my ultimate fate--illogical and slightly ridiculous as that may be.

I have realized hundreds of times that speaking or writing negativity causes my internal self or feeling or balance or whatever I would call it to take a negative turn. Possibly someday I will realize this enough times to stop speaking negativity.

I think I spend a lot of time trying to paint my heart so that it looks like the heart of God, or looks the way I imagine God's might look. Pure and loving and forgiving, respectful, wise. Obviously this doesn't work. I am not God. I am not particularly Godlike. I am probably pretty average as humans go, and "average" on the human scale contains a lot of less-than-awesome stuff. Purity? Forget it. You can listen to me talk for a day and cross that one off. Loving? On a "God" scale that would have to entail perfect loving, and... no. Wisdom is especially laughable. Sometimes I think I'm doing pretty well, and then I end up in the presence of another human, who is by definition fallible, who makes me look like a petulant child. And then I remember.

I am a petulant child. I guess we all are in our own ways (or at least it comforts me to think so, in a misery-loves-company kind of way), and that isn't such a terrible thing. He said "suffer the little children to come unto me," didn't he? And there's a verse in Mattew (18:3) which, though it differs across translations, shares this sentiment in all: that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be like children.

Almost any verse in that book is up for debate. People make what they will of the text, for good or ill. In my mind though, a child is a person who can be taught. A child is a person who is growing. A child is, generally speaking, a person with an open heart.

I'm making a little bit of jump here, and I apologize, but there's a stronger connection in my mind than on paper. I have felt for a while that tears are the great equalizer of humanity. That, as I put it here or in a paper journal, "only children weep." Most of adulthood is little more than a constructed wall and a facade of control that we put ourselves behind because doing so is easier than knowing ourselves or one another. It is easier for me to pretend that everything is simple and straightforward than it is for me to really look at who I am. It is easier for you not to know me, either. But when we weep we relinquish our control and we drop our walls, and we allow ourselves to be exposed as the fragile children that we all are. We admit that the world touches us. We admit, not only that we can be hurt, but that we are. I think it can be a very powerful thing.

Back to the heart metaphor: it is gradually coming to my attention that perhaps my fear of asking (read: praying) for things for me stems from the fact that when I mess with shit, I mess shit up. Thus I fear that asking for things in some way constitutes "messing with the plan," and will therefore cause mass chaos and high levels of regret. Anna tells a story occasionally about a friend who did something and then worried aloud that it would screw up her life, which prompted the (somewhat snarky) reply of "Wow, you must be really powerful if you can mess up The Plan." A week after hearing this story for the second or third time, the idea that it maybe could possibly apply to my habits seems to have trickled down into my brain. It now occurs to me that maybe the reason I mess up when I try to force things to happen is that I am not, in fact, God.* And that maybe, praying for something is not quite the same thing as, for instance, trying to stick my hand into a running car engine and bend it to my will, or trying to make six different things happen at the same time.

Back again to the heart metaphor, hopefully this time in a way that makes more sense: usually it takes a lot of repetition for me to truly internalize a eureka moment, so I don't know whether this will stick this time, but I am (for tonight) starting to see that perhaps acrylics are not the best solution for my heart problem. I still get irrationally angry. I still don't know who I am. I still tend to think that my viewpoint is the only viewpoint, and that I am (for all practical intents and purposes) the only person in existence. Even the best paintbrush can only do so much. So I am, tonight, seeing that maybe the way to make my heart look like His is to give up. Stop standing over here and looking over there and carefully applying paint to any place where it may have flaked off since yesterday, and allow actual contact instead. I am not good at letting my guard down. I am not good at Love Close Up. I am not good at allowing myself to feel things. But I am learning.

It takes a lot of effort for me not to apologize for the overtly religious nature of this post, but I am nevertheless choosing not to. If you don't believe in God, I am saddened by that, but that's your deal. If you are turned off by the hatred and judgment that Christianity has been and often is used to justify, then I understand, and again am deeply saddened. If you believe that God is the energy force that connects all living things, I get that too. I feel the same way sometimes. I don't know who or what God is. I don't know if any of us have all the answers. I hope that, as the Bible and Torah say (In Deuteronomy 4), if anyone truly seeks God, they will find him. I hope we are all given a chance to choose after the veil of this life is lifted. But I don't know the answers, and I am no judge. I just believe what I believe.

*Apparently this is big news to me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I really do not love the way I have become hypersensitive to acidic foods. I love orange juice. Orange juice is listed among my facebook interests. I haven't been able to drink it (or not without burning my lips, anyway) for weeks now.

I do love the way this blue snuggie Jack got me fans out behind me like a cape when I walk. (I wear it backwards. This is really the only way to wear snuggies, if you ask me.)

I do not remember the other things I was planning to say.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A few things.

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
but sad mortality o'ersways their power
how with this rage shall beauty hold a plea
whose action is no stronger than a flower?

O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
against the wreckful siege of batt'ring days
when rocks impregnable are not so stout
nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?

O fearful meditation! Where, alack
shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?

O, none, unless this miracle have might,
that in black ink, my love may still shine bright.

This is, I think, the first time that I have ever noticed that in line six, the word is "wreckful"--not "wrackful." Wow. Anyway, I memorized this in 11th grade. I love it even more now. I did pieces of the Crispin's Day speech, too, but I'm not sure how much I can remember. There are always a few places in any memorized piece that tend to slip through the cracks. In the above, sonnet number God-knows-what, it's line nine.

What's he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland?
[No, my fair cousin, if we are marked to die, we are enow
to do our country loss; and if to live,
the fewer men, the greater share of honor.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
it yearns me not if men my garments wear;
such outward things dwell not on my desires:
but if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honor
as one man more, methinks, would share from me.]

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host
that he that hath no stomach for this fight,
let him depart, his passport shall be made
and crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man's company
that fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
will stand a-tip-toe when the day is named,
and rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
shall yearly at the vigil feast his neighbors,
and say, "To-morrow is St Crispian."
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars
and say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's Day."
Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot,
but he'll remember with advantages
what feats he did that day. Then shall our names
familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd;
This story shall the good man teach his son,
and Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
from this day to the ending of the world,
but we, in it, shall be remember'd.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
for he today that sheds his blood with me
shall be my brother, be he ne'er so vile:
this day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
shall think themselves accursed they were not here
and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
that fought with us upon St. Crispin's day.

Lastly, here is a quote, and then a thought.

All things are shadows of the shining True:
Sun, sea, and air...
Every thing holds a slender guiding clue
Back to the mighty oneness.

-George Macdonald.

I have no idea whether this is a full quote or some kind of butchered excerpt, but I like it. It is posted on one of the blogs of David's sister-in-law. I would link you, but I forgot to get the url before closing the window.

Another of her blogs mentioned feeling wonder at the snow, and at most things, during the lifting of an illness. I left a note ("The best, most wonderful, most glorious thing about deep illness is the euphoric moment when it lifts"), and then realized how true it was. That many of the most poignant moments of my life have occurred right at the moment when illness (I use the term loosely here; illness ~ misery) suddenly lifted. The moment Chloe gave me a cup of unsweetened black tea, and my migraine dissipated into nothing. I had always disliked that mug before, but it's been one of my favorites ever since. The moment I awoke from my first (and only, thankyouverymuch) post-alchohol-poisoning sleep. The moment I awoke from my first hours of real sleep in weeks. I felt like a desert, and like a rainstorm had just begun in me. There was air.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Priorities

I started training for a swim instructor job this week, having told them originally that I could probably only do 2 days a week and then thinking, temporarily, that I could do 4. Tuesday I realized that 4 was not going to work out after all, as the later times weren't working for one of my tutoring clients, and finally was able to get in touch with a manager of the swim school today. Unfortunately, honoring my prior commitments makes me a liability--and goodbye swim school. I have to admit that while I am really pretty disappointed by this, I'm also a little bit relieved. Losing the prospective source of income is sucky, but this frees up my summer quite a bit. Now I can make my own plans, be they tutoring or Camp or private swim lessons, or, dare I say it, vacation.

I totally had other things to say, but I can't remember them at all. Here is one though that I am making up:

Tutoring: SO AWESOME.

Also, I really like NPR. Like, a lot.

And on the way to work tonight I had the thought or feeling that I was finding my stride and rhythm in life. I think I do have these feelings periodically, but that doesn't make them any less awesome. And I had this vision of my future life, just a flash, imagining what it might be like. I can never remember these things clearly, and they're mostly just feelings of adultness and awesomeness I think, but it was nice. And I imagined a piece of advice for a youngish female: "Just find your beat, baby girl."

I don't know why I like the "baby" word to be inserted into phrases when I'm emotional. I have no explanation for that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


There seems to be a lot of it going around. We had some tonight, and as I was mentally composing bits and pieces of this post I realized that I wanted to call tonight's snow heavy, and I also wanted to call it light. I decided that each descriptor was accurate, as they (sort of) apply to different aspects of said precipitation. The flakes were large and wet -> heavy. The flakes were large and caught the air to provide that great floaty, spinny effect -> light. It looked so gorgeous, so romantic. The descriptive phrases I came up with tended to be less romantic. Example: the way the snow floated so gently down, it looked like particulate matter suspended in a liquid. Candlelit supper worthy, I know.

But speaking of particulate matter, I love the way such light, slow-falling flakes provide a perfect visual aide to the wind, and show every swirl, gust, and riffle in the air. I loved the way the snow fell beneath street lamps, and I especially loved the way it swirled and spiraled down onto the steeple floodlights of the church I passed on the way home tonight. My favorite, though, was when a light shone straight into the branches of a small tree, and I could watch the slow snow settle gently down through the branches.

Unfortunately, wet snow is much prettier from the car. Once I was outside in it again it sounded and felt like a sullen, lead-footed rain. Tonight when I walked Miley the rain (all that was left of the former snowglory) had essentially stopped, and the damp wind made the night feel significantly colder than 39 degrees. I buried my chin and walked on, and spent very little time looking at a sky which was the color of stomach acid adulterated with varying amounts of charcoal.

But the key point here is that the snow was super pretty. It was. Ok, sleep time. (Showers? Who needs 'em?)

The State of My Subconscious Address.

Obama's address made me want to cry at a few points. In a good way. Being fairly uneducated when it comes to matters of politics, I am a little suspicious of any politician and always slightly worried that I'm being taken for a fool. Even so, I am one of those that tend to find Obama's addresses pretty inspiring. I was reminded of the "Fireside Talks" of the Roosevelt era. I like that we have a president who is encouraging us to unite as a country and appreciate what we have and who we are and what we stand for, and I like that we have a president who is, as far as I can tell, trying to get congress to cut the crap. For example: I know there are differences of opinion about earmarks, but I think that they're a terrible idea. For one thing, they allow candidates to run misleading negative ads about each other, because that bill that cut spending to schools might have also included tighter gun controls. I don't like that congressmen and -women are always having to choose the lesser of two evils, and prioritize the importance of all the issues in a bill. Even if it takes more time, I think that as much as possible, each issue should get a separate vote.

As a separate note, a staunch Republican (one who said in the comments on her own status message regarding Obama's address, "I can't like him and I think he is very bad for this country,") just "liked" my current facebook status: "No more earmarks? Living within our means? Making rich people pay taxes? THIS IS CRAZY TALK." I guess maybe my sarcasm wasn't loud enough. Just goes to show that, as they say, body language and vocal tone are the better part of communication.

On another note, it was overcast last night. Sometimes when I go walk Miley on nights like that, I tuck my chin and let my eyes droop and shuffle through, and see nothing. Sometimes instead I pay more attention to the things around me. I hear the way the roof of cloud holds in the sounds of the city, and listen to the jet in the distance and the cars on nearby streets, and hear every crunching leaf, and every jingle of Miley's collar. I look up and see the intricate pattern the fingers of the trees make against the sky, and notice the thin places in the cloud cover, where the sky looks as though it were sponge painted by the mighty and invisible hand of God. I gaze up at the single star shining through, and I turn the corner toward home.

For the last two or three nights (or maybe the last two before last night), the moon has looked as though, in crossing above the horizon, it rose through a deep pool of honey*. The honey color fell away as it rose higher into the night. Fell back into the sea beyond the end of the world, I guess.

I realized this evening that, living in a house, it is easy to forget the sound of a rain in a wood. It is a wonderful noise, and it is different from the sound of rain in a city or rain on a roof, and as it is also different from the sound of rain on an umbrella, an umbrella ruins it. It is a more dimensional, delicate, full sound than those, and if you are lucky enough to stand next to a creek during a gentle rain, you'll hear (or I hope you'll hear) a sweeter sound there, too. The creek might have swollen just a little, and the drops of rain landing on the water add still another element to the sweeping, rushing, happy gurgle of the stream.

Relatedly, I have remembered something I wanted to say earlier today: my absolutely most favorite sport ever in the whole world by far is umbrella jumping. I am reasonably certain that this doesn't exist, partially because umbrellas aren't usually built very well and largely because it almost certainly breaks some laws of physics (or at least meteorology on Earth), but every once in a while I get lucky enough to do it in my dreams. This happened last night, and let me tell you, it is so awesome. You get your (well made) umbrella and you wait for a really kick-ass wind or rain or thunder storm**, and you open your umbrella, and you go for a run. And you jump off things. And you jump over things or just up into the air and catch the lift of the wind with your umbrella like a kite. And you contort yourself to make it over things or just for fun, and you push off the sides of buildings and fling yourself from rooftops and laugh and spin and do acrobatics with the wind and rain in your face.*** If I get to design my own little corner of heaven (and God, I hope I do), it may mostly be like this.

*I remember the very first time I saw a moon like this. I was very young, younger than five I think, and I was sitting on a plastic tricycle on the sidewalk in front of a relative's house in North Carolina. Within five minutes of seeing the moon (I can't remember whether it was before or after), I skinned my toe on the concrete. I never did like shoes very much. Anyway, I had heard the term "honeymoon" and not known the meaning, and as soon as I saw the honey-colored moon I connected the two. For years I tried to reconcile the "post-wedding" aspect of a honeymoon with the moon I had seen. Were people only allowed to get married on the day preceding a honey moon? Did a honey moon happen after people's weddings? How did it know? And which people got one? Obviously it didn't happen after every wedding. Did those people not get honey moons, or was there some kind of fake one? That didn't seem fair. How were the lucky ones chosen?

It was a long time before I gave up on this doomed line of reasoning, and longer still before I found out that the honey color was and is caused by the moon reflecting the light of a sunset in some faraway land.

**If you aren't touching the ground, you don't conduct the electricity. So there.

***And then you go make out with a famous rap artist whose name you won't be able to remember the next morning. That last part is really a shame, too, because you're supposed to go on tour with him next week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On a Friday.

I am heavily tired.

I dislike city driving.

I am utterly sick of painting.

I walked Miley tonight in the early evening, which is out of the ordinary for me. It was so dark, and as last night held a full moon I was confused by this. I guess the moon hadn't risen yet. It was a strange feeling.

I helped my aunt today, and just before I left she gave me earrings and a wool hat that apparently used to belong to another of my aunts. I haven't worn earrings in almost ten years--eight, maybe--because whenever I have tried since then my ears have gotten infected. She promises that these surgical steel posts won't have that effect. I guess that makes sense. They are hearts with copper wire frames, and they dangle. She put the hat on me and decided that I needed rouge and lipstick. It all looked nice together, though (not really owning any makeup) I don't think I'll be able to reproduce the effect any time soon. She is pretty wonderful sometimes.

Shockingly colored sunsets are beautiful, but I love the way a clear evening sky fades up from pale orange to white blue to a deeper, darker, clearer blue than would ever be possible anywhere else. The simple perfection of it takes my breath away every time.

This will be a busy weekend. I want to see the people that I have plans to see, but I don't want all the running around and confusion that it will entail. I am trying to dredge up some enthusiasm. Dear God, please give me a good night's sleep. It has been so long.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quotes on a common theme

From today.

"Keep on loving what is true, and the world will come to you. You can find it in yourself."

"Connection is love. Love is connection. Every time someone pisses me off I look at them like they are my newborn baby in my arms. This is my new practice. To open my heart to every single person I encounter like I did when I pulled my children from my insides to my chest. I really suck at it. I do. But I refuse to stop trying. Because when I get it, it’s good. it’s so good. Right when I am about to tell my man he’s an asshole, I see his baby face, new and fresh. And. I just. Can’t. Do anything but love." 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An addendum

I mentioned earlier that today was a rock music kind of day. So true. There was a bit of a dip in the middle for me--I'm guessing this happened because I went to Marshalls looking for several things that I didn't end up buying--but you know what? $10 and $7 dresses fix everything. I came home having bought five dresses for $44, or right about what I got payed for babysitting the other night. That's pretty awesome, since the babysitting was sort of on-the-side money, and now it feels like I just didn't babysit and I got five free dresses. My mom thinks they're all scandalous, but whatever. "You're wearing those with pants, right?" Leggings, yes. Pants, no.

The air feels so soft and wonderful tonight. Watch out--you might be in for another gushy post after I walk Miley.


In January--

Warm enough to drive with the windows down? I'll take it.

Does driving around with the window open make you feel like a badass, or is that just me? Today was a rock music kind of day.

Also, this is the song Chloe and I are supposed to learn for my cousin's wedding, which is, by the way, in a week and a half. Also, Chloe is eight hours away in Ct. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Handmade" things that I can make and mail.

You know, in case you commented on my "handmade things" pay-it-forward facebook status. Choose your poison.

Food items:
-boursin cheese
-pimiento cheese
-candied orange peel (dipped in chocolate or not)
-cake balls (cake mixed with icing, dipped in chocolate)
-thin mints
-assorted cookies. oatmeal or sugar, with or without choc chips, raisins, nuts, whatever.
-ditto for fudge/brownies
-lemon bars
-really excellent hard-shelled chocolate truffles of assorted flavors. Seriously. If I weren't so lazy, I could probably make a living off these.
-not meringues even a little bit.

Other items:
If you are so inclined, a recording of the C family girls singing--like the one I mentioned the other day, only hopefully a lot better.

I can make a mean collage if I am so inclined, or, relatedly, rude (as in rough, not impolite. Unless you ask nicely.) papier-mache sculptures. Ex: Roger.

Speaking of dinosaurs, I am evidently really good at making them out of rice krispies treats. Other edible decorations upon request.

You are welcome to commission a poem on the topic/in the form of your choosing. I have had the most success with sonnets, blank verse, free verse, limericks, and haiku, though I would be happy to return to or experiment with others. Except pantoum. I refuse to write another pantoum.

I can make mobiles out of shapes cut from tin cans, OR I can make one of those cheesy candle holders where the light shines out through the punched holes.

I am known for my excellent rock paintings. That is, scenes/things painted on flattish rocks. My favorites thus far have, I think, been the waterfall and the anglerfish. I haven't done one yet of a waterfall with an anglerfish, but I am beginning to think that that might be up next.

How do you feel about "art photography?" I would be happy to mat frame a large photograph of a spoon, if you like. Or a landscape or a bug, whatever.

A note on all crafts: please be aware that I am aware that most/all of the nonedible listings are superfluous junk. I love making crafts, but generally I only make them when I know they're going to end up in somebody else's house. I have enough junk.

I never want to commit to these,

but I seem to be an INTP. I mean, I'm a little on the line when it comes to I vs E, and when it comes to T vs F, and when it comes to P vs J, and even slightly with N vs S, but the profile for INTP seems to fit me most closely. Here, for my own personal use and for yours if you're as weirdly into psychoanalyzing other people as I am, are the excerpts from the descriptions of that personality type in Do What You Are.

ISTP and INTP: introverted thinking types:
Because they want to understand and make sense of the world, ISTPs and INTPs need work which allows them to make analyses--whether they are considering an abstract idea or a concrete project--in the most logical way possible.

INTP (Introverted Intuitive Thinking Perceiving), approximately 3-5% of the American population:
INTPs are conceptual problem solvers. They are intensely intellectual and logical, with flashes of creative brilliance.
Outwardly quiet, reserved, and detached, INTPs are inwardly absorbed in analyzing problems. They are critical, precise, and skeptical. They try to find and use principles to understand their many ideas. They like conversation to be logical and purposeful and may argue to the point of hairsplitting just for fun. INTPs are convinced only by logical reasoning.
INTPs are usually ingenious and original thinkers. They prize intelligence in themselves, have a strong drive for personal competence, and are interested in challenging other people to become more competent as well. INTPs are primarily interested in seeing possibilities beyond what is currently known, accepted, or obvious. They like to develop models for improving the way things are or solving difficult problems. They think in extremely complex ways and are better able to organize concepts and ideas than they are able to organize people. Occasionally, their ideas are so complex they have difficulty communicating and making others understand them.
Highly independent, INTPs enjoy speculative and imaginative activities. They are flexible and open-minded and are more interested in finding creative yet sound solutions to problems than they are in seeing those solutions made into reality.

Possible Blind Spots:
Because INTPs rely so heavily on their logical analysis, they can overlook what matters to others. If something is not logical, INTPs run the risk of dismissing it, even if it is important to them. Admitting to themselves what they really care about* will help them stay in touch with their true feelings.
INTPs are excellent at detecting the flaws in an idea but are more reticent about expressing their appreciation. (I am thinking/hoping that I don't actually come across as totally unable to express appreciation, but if not then it is a beautiful product of years of determined practice.) They can get bogged down on a minor flaw in one part of a plan and keep the entire project from moving toward completion because they refuse to let one illogical point remain within the whole. (Chloe goes crazy when we are having conversations and I just cannot let go of one tiny little point that seems completely insignificant to her.) When they turn their highly honed critical thinking skills on the people around them, their naked honesty may translate into unintended hurtfulness. They need to be told, and need to learn to ask, what matters emotionally to others. (Seriously, I have worked so hard at this.)
Because INTPs are fascinated with solving problems, they tend to be impatient with routine details and may lose interest in a project and never complete it if it requires too much follow-through or detail.** Turning their energy outward will enable them to gain sufficient practical knowledge to make their ideas workable and acceptable to other people.
INTPs sometimes feel inadequate when they try to live up to their own high standards of perfection. Learning to share those feelings with someone else*** can help them get a more realistic and objective view of themselves.

Using your strengths is easy. The secret to success for an INTP is learning to:
Be better organized, be patient with less intelligent people, and work at improving your social skills.
[end quotes.]

Okay, so INTP was me almost to a t. Not quite as completely me, but close in a lot of ways, is INFP--introverted intuitive feeling perceiving (3-4% of the American population).

INFPs value inner harmony above all else. Sensitive, idealistic, and loyal, they have a strong sense of honor concerning their personal values and are often motivated by deep personal belief or by devotion to a cause they feel is worthy. (That devotion part, not so much. I wish I could say that were true, but no.)
INFPs are interested in possibilities beyond what is already known and focus most of their energy on their dreams and visions. Open-minded, curious, and insightful, they often have excellent long-range vision. In day-to-day matters they are usually flexible, tolerant, and adaptable, but they are very firm about their inner loyalties and set very high--in fact, nearly impossible--standards for themselves...
Although they demonstrate cool reserve on the outside, INFPs care deeply inside. They are compassionate, sympathetic, understanding, and very sensitive to the feelings of others. They avoid conflict and are not interested in impressing or dominating others unless their values are at stake. Often INFPs prefer to communicate their feelings in writing, rather than orally. When they are persuading others of the importance of their ideals, INFPs can be most convincing.
INFPs seldom express the intensity of their feelings and often appear reticent and calm. However, once they know you, they are enthusiastic and warm. INFPs are friendly, but tend to avoid superficial socializing. They treasure people who take the time to understand their goals and values.

Potential Blind Spots:

Since logic is not a priority for INFPs (oddly, even though I really value logic, there are times when I choose to completely disregard it), they sometimes make errors of fact and can be unaware that they are being illogical (very rarely true of me). When their dreams become out of touch with reality, others may see them as flighty and mystical. INFPs do well to ask the advice of more practical people to find out if their ideas are workable and useful in the real world***
Because they are so committed to their own ideals, INFPs have a tendency to overlook other points of view (luckily, I am almost always aware of when I am doing this, and can step out of it. Or not step out of it.) and can sometimes be rigid. They are not particularly interested in physical surroundings (so untrue of me) and often are so busy that they fail to notice what is happening around them. (So true. Busy/distracted, whatever.)
INFPs may reflect on an idea much longer than is really necessary to begin a project. Their perfectionistic tendencies can lead them to refine and polish their ideas for so long that they never share them. This is dangerous, since it is important for INFPs to find ways of expressing their ideas. To keep from getting discouraged, they need to work toward becoming more action-oriented....
When INFPs are disappointed, they tend to become negative about everything around them. Trying to develop more objectivity toward their projects will help keep INFPs less vulnerable to both criticism and disappointment...
When INFPs don't express their negative opinions about ideas or plans, others can be mislead into thinking they agree with them. INFPs need to develop more assertiveness, and can benefit from learning how to offer honest criticism of others when needed.

From "As an INFP, career satisfaction means doing work that:"

Is in harmony with my own personal values and beliefs...
Is dont with other creative and caring individuals in a cooperative environment free from tension and interpersonal strive...
Allows me to help others grow and develop and realize their full potential...
Involves understanding people and discovering what makes them tick; allows me to develop deep one-to-one relationships with others
[end quotes.]

*Is, practically speaking, nearly impossible. I think a lot of the troubles I have when it comes to letting myself feel things is that I really dislike/am kind of terrified of how out of control emotions are. I mean, seriously, how do people deal with that? How do you let yourself feel things when you don't know what they might end up being or what will happen or where it will take you? And you can't even predict it, because emotions don't make sense. Whose stupid idea was THAT?

**Story of my life. This is the main reason I don't rock climb.

***Thanks, Sara!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I complained (in an extremely restrained fashion, believe me) yesterday about the preparations for today's party. Perhaps you remember, or will read it in a second, or not, whatever. But I'd like to say that it went off without a hitch, and I love my family. The party was at 4, so people started arriving at 3:30. My cousin walked our dog for us. His parents brought an assortment of crackers with homemade dips. The next aunt and uncle that came walked in with gifts for the bride and groom to be, a box of rooibos tea (we'd run out) and a hot pot/electric kettle, and set to work helping us put together the sweet potato rounds with smoked turkey salad. More people came in with more food and more hot pots and started making teas, putting together snacks, heating water, helping my dad pick out a bow tie, hugging everyone and talking and being altogether lovely. Later on my mother played the recording that Brian had made of us (mom, me, Chloe) singing--had I mentioned that we did that? As a belated Mother's Day present for my mom--and everyone was so complimentary, even though I felt like it needed a lot of work. One of my uncles got teary. And Ginny asked Chloe and me to sing in her wedding! Chloe hadn't made firm plans to be in town that weekend, as this is all very short notice and she'll be coming down from Ct basically just for the day, but that decided it. Ginny said she'd send the song to us tonight. I feel so honored, and so nervous, and so hopeful that it will go well. I haven't sung for a real audience in a very long time, and I definitely struggle with stage fright. But hopefully, with enough practice and enough self pep talks, everything be great.

I was also really glad to have a chunk of time to spend with my cousin Sara. We made a movie-watching date. I am looking forward to it. Outside of parties, we haven't gotten together in ages.

Lastly, as the icing on the cake, as it were, my mother kept telling people how helpful I was in the preparations for this party. I really had not been under the impression that I did much--not because she said I didn't, but because, I suppose, I ended up spending so much time just sort of sitting around. Also because I felt like cooking was the main work of the thing, and I didn't do any. I did rearrange the living room though, and move various pieces of furniture downstairs, and do a lot of the work on the bathroom, and evidently that counted for a lot. It felt wonderful to receive so much gratitude, even if I didn't feel I earned it all.

And singing! At a wedding! I'm a little tempted to upload some of what we recorded at Holly and Brian's, but unfortunately it's all one track. And some of it (namely, our attempt at "Hard Times") is seriously rough.

In case you don't know the song, here is a much better version of it than ours:

Maybe I should re-title this blog.

"Midnight Dog Walking in Va."

It's a wonder I get any hits. I swear I'll stop talking about the moon though when Sara stops insisting that she likes what I say even when I say silly crap. Or at least I'll think about stopping.

Seriously though, I promised myself I wasn't going to do it tonight. I even closed my computer before we went outside. I should have gone ahead and shut it down completely. I just... I just don't even know what to do with myself. I look up and I see the moon with that round rainbow halo it gets around it sometimes, hanging up there and shining through the tree branches, and it's so perfect I just don't know what to do with myself. I feel like I could just stop time and stare at it forever. I get the same way every time I hear wild water running. You're lucky that there's only so much one can say about the sound of the creek at the bottom of the hill. But then, I guess some might say the same thing about the night sky. It has a moon, it has a bunch of stars, there are clouds sometimes, the end. But, you know, where there's a will, there's a way. I was going to throw in a quote about obsession, but my three-second Google search only yielded quotes about how "[x] is my obsession." How profound.

On another note, I would like to say that I am completely disgusted with myself for being up until 3 am. Again. This is so stupid.


Just kidding! Found one! Lucky you.

"I do not think that obsession is funny or that not being able to stop one's intensity is funny."
Jim Dine 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conflicting visions

I'm not feeling particularly great at the moment, and not very enthusiastic, but I started to type that today wasn't great and I immediately felt worse about the day. So I'm not doing that. And it wasn't all bad. I had a lovely shower. Mom and Chloe and I went to lunch with some friends, and laughed a lot on the way home, and in the late afternoon I talked to Lindsey (friend and mother of my godson Ian) for a while. All good. I'm just running out of steam when it comes to getting this party to happen. My approach to these things is to put forth as little effort as possible--not because I don't care, but because for me entertaining is about spending time with people, not about wearing myself out in an effort to make every detail perfect. My mom and sister would also agree that the quality time is what matters, but they're a little (a lot) more focused on presentation than I am. Probably there's a happy medium, but we haven't found it yet. So I am trying not to be bitter right now, and I am trying to talk myself into washing a whole lot of teacups and their accoutrements for tomorrow. I am reasonably certain that my absolutely horrible attitude today has a lot to do with the fact that I have been staying up too late to get a good night's sleep every single night lately. I stay up until three am and then try to blame other people for waking me up "early." It's ridiculous.

Bad-attitude me totally sucks. 

Friday, January 14, 2011


The sky looks fabulous tonight. It's weird of me to say that, I know. I think maybe I'm slightly more biased than most (as though there are more than three other people in the world walking around with massive crushes on their local starscape) because I walk out my front door* every night and look up at it through these massive trees that tower over our house, and then I wander down through the neighborhood until I can stand by the dark, sleepless, singing creek and look through the woods. It's like taking a pretty girl and dressing her up in satin and silver and pearls. She would be pretty anyway, but some nights she is breathtakingly lovely.

Tonight every inch of the ground (not the road) gleamed under the glow of our two streetlights. I love the frost on nights like this. It made me a little sad though to think that for so many centuries of winters this magic lay on the ground, right under people's feet, and no one could ever see it. Perhaps it will show up under the full moon, but I'm not counting on it. This may be the first time ever that I have been grateful for street lights. Wonderful!

*Toor? Really? I can't type worth a damn tonight.

Today is Thursday. I dislike thinking of titles.

I tutored for a total of four hours today. It was pretty awesome. Also, since the last hour was accidental (helping S prepare for finals and kind of lost track of how far over-time we were going), we decided to skip a meeting next week. I didn't realize it at the time, but this meeting (I'm pretty sure) happens to be the one that would have prevented me from going to a movie night at Maria's. Awesome, no? 

In other news, I was stalking my friend Danny's former profile pictures when I came across this gem. I nearly cried. 

His comment below was "AND THEY DON'T MATCH YOUR FUR AT ALL."

I just felt like it needed to be shared.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And now, a few extremely original musings on the night sky.

The sky has been gorgeous all this evening and all tonight. The roof is ringed with clouds around the horizon, and all above the sky is clear, with gauzy tendrils of cloud wandering across in front of the stars and moon. It's a half moon tonight, and golden, and glowing, hanging slightly tilted like a rounded cup set down on the ground. I think it may already have been setting when I set out. It seemed to be sinking fast through its glittering dark sky, and it shone like a low beacon through the branches of the woods at the bottom of our hill.

I seem to have run out of peppermint tea. That is, my mug is empty. The teapot isn't. But it's all the way over there, and I am all set up over here.

While I was gazing around the darkened streets and sky and woods and trying to match words to what I was seeing, Miley was industriously seeking out optimal rolling patches. I've started to be able to see the signs, though I can't describe them well. One thing I can single out though is that she stands fairly still for a moment, sniffing, and then she gives one wag--back-forth--of her stubby little tail, and then she hurls herself face-first into the dirt and wriggles around as much as possible before I drag her away. Tonight she did it at least three times.

I got more tea, but the cozy was left off and the tea is now tepid. What a shame. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stuff I need to do

Introduce sparkles to my wardrobe.

Apply for this thing.

Get my jacket off the sofa.

Stop participating in this pattern: stay up till 3 (or 2 or 4) am; sleep till 9; be awakened for some unforeseen thing at 9 or 10; lie angrily or dejectedly in bed, trying in vain to lose consciousness, for a couple of hours; get up and do stuff.

Look at this picture some more.

I'm pretty sure I forgot something, but I think it'll be ok.

I have been interested to mull over the idea that when I make these grand (or perhaps not so grand) proclamations about myself or the way I feel about things, they are actually just snapshots of moments. I feel this way in this moment, and this moment may last for ten seconds or for a year, or two, or more. That my life is (I began to type "just," but thought better of it) a continuous, interlinked strand of moments. That I am a collection of moments. That all of my relationships, and all of yours, are built of them.

I also had a conversation with Sara earlier about things I am afraid of doing, and how I should probably allow for the possibility of them happening anyway, even though almost everything in me rebels against the idea. (I'm not good at opening up to people. It doesn't feel safe to me.) And after I came home from tutoring tonight*, I was suddenly having trouble remembering why I shouldn't just stay closed off and keep myself safe that way. Why should I try to connect with people, again? Then I remembered.

Look. I tried living out of fear. I tried shaping my life around the avoidance of things I was afraid of. It was no kind of life. That's why.

*It's finals week, and I missed four sessions over the holiday and Scotland, so I tutored Suzanne for two hours last night and two hours, fifteen minutes tonight. English yesterday and social studies today. It was great. I should maybe ditch this swim thing and find more people to tutor. Does anybody need tutoring in anything?


shortly after 2 am I stumbled out the front door with leaden feet and a dog leash clutched in one fist. eventually I began to realize that I was passing most of this walk with my chin tucked down into my chest (no doubt a subconscious message that any person in her right mind would be tucked into blankets just then, rather than scarves), but when I convinced myself to lift my head I could see that it was (is) a beautiful night. the sky is purple. purple! and the stars are, of course, just lovely. sleet obviously has its downsides, but in the small hours every tree branch gleams in the porch lights, and the liriope*plants looked like dim green sea anemones underfoot. Walking on the thick frozen grass felt pretty spiffy, but it was less fun to hit a spot that had been tire-flattened earlier in the day, and slide on the ice-slicked ground. another note: wind chimes on an extremely early january morning sound pretty mystical. That sounds horrible. "Mystical" is not the word I want to be using, but I'm not sure there's another that fits better. You know? When you picture wind chimes, it's sunny and hot, 3pm on a july afternoon. (it's 3. f capitalization.) hearing them in the dark cold of january is so unexpected, and somehow a little amazing.

I noticed on the way to work tonight that the ground was all frosted. it irritates me a little that when you read this, you'll read "frosted" as a reference to cake, when actually cake frosting is almost certainly a reference to the phenomenon I was noticing on the grass. worse, if you're really doomed (like I evidently am), you'll hear "frosted" and think of the "ladies, frost yourselves" diamond commercial from "how to lose a guy in ten days." /shudder.

okay, TO BED. for real this time.

*Evidently I've never written that word before. Had no idea how to spell it. Thank you, google.

I'm doing all right.

I want a rainbow raincoat, with the colors bleeding down into one another in rings until, at the bottom, purple. I want a white umbrella that I can paint with raindrops and sunshine. I want bare feet and warm puddles and distant thunder and, after nightfall, a crescendo of fireflies glittering across the fields and up into the full, luscious trees under a royal blue-black sky.

I guess I can wait, though. Afternoons of grey skies and chill wind and freezing rain have their place. And I felt so much joy, driving home after tutoring tonight, that I laughed aloud and nearly wept.

I don't love any of the videos of it, but despite my strong issues with smoking, I do love this song. Can't help it.

A quote posted by a facebook friend: "He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart." -C.S. Lewis. I have no idea whether Lewis actually said/wrote this, but I hope so.

Song I was listening to when suddenly smitten with a wave of nearly overwhelming joy:

I've been on a little bit of a country kick lately. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the new years.

I'm not great at New Year's* resolutions. I forget to make them, and I don't really care. Looking through some things I wrote last year (or two years ago?) though, I saw that one of my resolutions was "don't panic." It was a good resolution. I highly recommend it. I was thinking about this as I bitterly lay in bed this morning**, and I also mulled over the fact that I am less good at resolutions like "clean 15 minutes every day" (not to knock your list, Sara! It's an excellent goal) than I am at resolutions like "no jackets in the living room."  I just don't keep up well with anything vague, anything that I'll do "sometime today." For me it has to be an extremely specific "don't even think about doing that shit." Par exemple: "are you panicking? Cut that crap out. Calm yourself down right this second." Or, as I am maybe considering for this year except that it seems like too much effort, "excuse me--did you seriously just drop your jacket on the sofa? Again? On top of the jacket you dropped on the sofa yesterday? Pick up the damn jacket."

The reason this is too much effort is that I don't really have space in my closet for my jackets. So if I don't dump them on the living room couch, I generally dump them on my bedroom floor or chair, and end up with either no place to walk or no place to sit. It's a good time.

*Should this be capitalized? I have been wondering each time I type or write it, but thus far I've been too lazy to check.

**I got six hours of sleep, because I didn't see any particular reason that I would need to get up at any particular time. Evidently though it was extremely important to wake me up right at 9 am, which is exactly the time you should wake me if you want me to be really angry and completely unable to go back to sleep.

There just isn't enough trashy in my life.

It has come to my attention that there is nothing in my wardrobe that sparkles. Not one thing. Where can I find cheap crap with glitter and sprinkles*?

This appalling lack of trashy came to my attention on New Year's Eve, when Eva and I went to get dressed and while she was putting on a sparkly tank top, I was dejectedly pawing through my piles of cotton blends. It was a sad moment.

One thing I am happy about, though, [disclaimer here: I am so terrible at drawing a line when it comes to TMI and noonegivesashit and "that girl is so crazy (in a bad way)." I am aware of this. You should be aware that this is maybe one of those times where my inability to properly screen my subject matter is more apparent] is my colorful undergarments. I got some new ones via mail order while I was in Scotland, and I noticed this afternoon that the under layers I was wearing were (are) colored as follows: blue and white polka dot, plum-colored, bright yellow, and bright blue. And in the dirty clothes pile on the floor were (are) pink silk long johns with a matching shirt, and some more pink and blue and bright green and purple and "with stars" stuff. So maybe most of my normal clothes are boring and I have too strong an attachment to blue jeans and zip hoodies, but it's okay, because I'm like a mullet. Business in the front, yes?

I bought new chapstick (I use the term loosely in that I never buy Chapstick, only sticks of wax-based stuff to keep my lips from bleeding when it gets too dry out) tonight, and I didn't like it at all. This is at least the second time in a row that this has happened. Not cool. I gave it to Chloe. I've been using Burt's Bees for a while, but have been looking (out of boredom and curiosity more than dissatisfaction) for an alternative. I haven't been particularly successful, obviously.

We're throwing an engagement party for my cousin this weekend, and as trying to get me to cook or bake is generally a pretty painful experience for all involved (not that I can't; just that trying to get me to is a huge pain), my main job in all this is to paint the bathroom and not eat the freshly baked biscotti or cheese pennies or ham biscuits with pimento cheese, or whatever other delicious things get made this week, all from scratch. I'm sure that second part of the job, the not-eating-stuff part, will get harder as the week progresses, but at the moment I am feeling the irritation that is trying to scrape a bathroom that, for some unfathomably asinine reason, was painted ten years ago with flat paint. Except for the closet door frame, and one stretch of wall below the medicine cabinet, which were sensibly painted with semigloss. Whose idea was that? Flat paint, by the way, does not hold up to moisture. Like, at all. Don't f-ing paint your bathroom (or kitchen, for God's sake) with flat paint.

On the plus side, and on an entirely different note, we lost power the other day. I think some drunken idiot ran into a power pole or something, because a huge section of the neighborhood lost power on a fairly clear, non-windy evening. Obviously that isn't super great. It's "on the plus side" because I texted Jack to tell him the power was out and ask him if he needed a flashlight or extra blankets or anything, and then he came home with five snuggies. I have way too much stubborn pride to actually buy a snuggie, but damned if I'm going to let one go to waste. Also, as it turns out, a snuggie is (or seems to be) the perfect thing for my father, who is nearly always cold but doesn't like using blankets or adding lots of layers. Cozy light blanket with arms? It's the perfect compromise! I can't imagine why we didn't think of this before.

*Halfway meant to type "sparkles," but had intended to type "metallic sequins" before I stopped paying attention to what I was typing. I think I'll leave sprinkles though.

**Homeless footnote: in the interest of using this like a diary and giving myself some actual record of what's going on even when I don't feel like typing/talking about it, I should admit that I have been super emo about David lately. "Super emo" is probably far too strong a phrase, but whatever. And anyway, it's hard to be so completely single when kissing is so much fun, and when there are piles of colorful awesomeness lying around. I mean really.

Friday, January 7, 2011


We discovered and became quickly addicted to these whilst in Scotland. Thank you, Fisher's In The City (best seafood in Scotland) restaurant. From the bottom of my minty heart.

They, along with scone mix and clotted cream (foods of the gods, I am telling you), can be had here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So, Scotland.

We took a van up to the airport, and we checked in for our Air France flight by an angel or something. We were upgraded to business class. I had never had much of an idea of what traveling business class would entail, but to give a basic description, it entails unbelievable awesomeness. It is, in my opinion, basically what long-distance air travel should be. Our seats were of a comfortable width, with ample leg room. Each seat reclined within its own space, so as not to affect those seated before and behind it. The food was, for the most part, rather excellent.* We were offered orange juice or champagne (or, in the case of those who couldn't make up their minds, both) after we were seated. There was a selection of complimentary wines. There were hot towels. There were extremely attractive male flight attendants. (Honestly, I suspected that they put the most attractive attendants closest to the front.) There were pillows and (sadly, quite scratchy) wool blankets, and little toiletry packets with eye masks and socks and lotion and travel toothbrushes. There were water bottles and little storage spaces for stuff. There were also individual movie screens with a selection of tv shows and movies and music and so on, but I suspect that that is fairly standard on international red-eye flights. I watched The Karate Kid remake and Inception, not in that order. The first was quite enjoyable, but I'm not going to try to argue that it was extremely high quality. I thought Inception (which I also hadn't seen) was fantastic, but after discussing it with Sara, I will admit that a lack of depth was covered up with interesting ideas like multi-level dreams. Still, I loved it, with the one exception of the stupid "oh, is it still spinning? Will it stop?" top totem shot at the end. I thought that part was a little bit stupid and unnecessary.

Anyway, I'll probably never get to travel business class again, but trust me: I savored every single moment of it.

I managed to stay perky and upbeat through our cab ride to the hotel and a bit of our tea with Sara and Ami and Brian, and then I started to crash. And then I started to get a bit irritable. And then I started to get downright angry. (This tends to happen when I don't sleep enough before leaving for a trip, and then I don't sleep on the trip, and then people tell me that I'm not even allowed to nap until nightfall.) I quietly and rather passive-agressivly ditched the giving-Sara-and-Brian-Christmas-gifts party and went and, dammit, took a nap in my room anyway. What was evidently only fifteen minutes later I felt about 60% more human, and barely conscious enough to talk myself into accompanying everyone on a stroll around the city and the Royal Mile, on the bases that 1. you only get a first day in Scotland once, and 2. Ami's visit only overlapped ours by about 24 hours. I wandered around, 15 feet behind the group, in a near-stupor with an utterly dazed expression on my face for what seemed like days. I watched the hours slide glacially past with mounting horror and a vague sense of panic. Eventually, miraculously, evening came, and I slept. I was late for breakfast (possibly I didn't sleep well? Can't remember), and sat down about five minutes before Ami left to catch her cab. We (Ami, Sara, Brian, and myself) had all spent some time together the previous night in the bar**, though, so it wasn't a total loss. We spent most of our time in Edinburgh wandering the Royal Mile, which is the mile-long (or so I gather) stretch of road connecting Edinburgh castle with the Scottish Parliament and the Queen's castle. It's pretty touristy, but it's nice. We met a schoolteacher who evidently uses his free time to dress up as William Wallace, take pictures with tourists, and flash unsuspecting bystanders with a view of the royal lion tattoo on his right buttcheek. We toured the castle, explored some shops, ate a lot of truly excellent food, and went to the Keilidh (pronounced kay-lee) at Hogmanay, which was excellent. These people know how to do fireworks, and even if the main band conspicuously lacked a fiddler, I loved the dancing.

After Edinburgh (which, I admit, was better and more eventful than I am letting on, but you're getting shafted because I'm tired and lazy) we went to Dundee to visit Sara and Brian's apartment and stomping grounds for a night. Their flat is enormous, and quite nice, even if the alley outside is loud. Very loud. I was struck with a strong urge to stay and live with them. I miss Sara a lot. :o/ All of their favorite restaurants were closed (as we should have forseen, as we were visiting on bank holidays), but we made out alright. The next morning, that being yesterday morning, we took off for a brief visit to St. Andrews and a very sleepy drive to Gullane, which is where I now sit typing.

Key points:

Scotland is beautiful.

The dollar seems far less awesome when visiting the EU, as the euro (not used here) and the GBP rather effectively cut my purchasing power nearly in half.

AMERICAN SCONES WTF. Don't eat that crap. Come to Scotland and try these.

If you aren't careful, random Indian men may or may not try to make out with you at Hogmanay.
   Australians, forever underscoring the excellent rating they already have in my head, carry breath mints at Hogmanay.

Get upgraded to business class if at all possible.

Scots like thistles.

I am going to bed.

*In all fairness, I should probably note here that I almost never have problems with airline food.

**And when I say "bar," I mean a beautifully furnished and well-spaced set of rooms with an open floor plan, couches, and rather attractive*** bartenders.

***Don't judge me.


Obviously it's been a while--if anyone was checking back in hopes of an update, I apologize. I also apologize for any odd typographical errors, as I am in Scotland at the moment. It took me a couple of minutes just to find the "@" sign so that I could sign into facebook. (Interestingly, its position is switched with that of the quotation mark.) The shift key is also a little further over than I'm used to, so that's proving to be interesting. At least all of the letters are in the same places.

Christmas was wonderful. Of course I don't remember it all at this point, but on Christmas eve Chloe and I went shopping for various things, and then went to our uncle's house to make eggnogg. I've done this for the past three years (including this one), but this was Chloe's first time coming to help. We separated a lot of eggs and mixed a lot of alchohol and honey and heavy cream. We watched bits of It's A Wonderful Life, and it's a wonderful movie. Around 11:15 we raced home to change and race to midnight mass, where my mother was singing and where we ran into some friends. I don't know how your late Christmas eves/early Christmas mornings go, but we, as usual, ended up stumbling around wrapping things and stuffing stockings and lamenting the loss of that one bag with the candy in it until around 2:30 am, at which point we gave up and fell into bed. My brother, when asked whether he had finished his wrapping, gave the vague and, as it turns out, highly appropriate answer of "sorta." Christmas morning, as we opened gifts over and between the wreckage of our breakfast dishes and stocking-gift remnants, Jack ran back and forth from his room, using the same (reusable--ha) "go-green" grocery shopping bag to "wrap" each of his gifts. Everyone gave and was given wonderful, personally chosen gifts. Our dog got an identification tag (finally), two squeak toys, and a piece of pork skin from which most of the fat had been rendered. She would not put it down for anything, for fear that we might have changed our minds. Our cat got some catnip and a catnip-scented carpet scratcher with a dangling feather attached, to which she attached herself for quite some time. She's rather difficult to shop for. We were quite excited that she liked it.

The rest of Christmas day, for the most part, passed in the usual fashion--beautiful, full of family and excellent food (and eggnog!), and then it snowed. We had been fearing a travel-restricting storm appearing before we woke on Christmas day, but the system rolled gently in while we were leaning back in our chairs and exchanging secret santa gifts all over my aunt's warm and comfortable city home. We left probably around 4:30, and I exited the house from the basement door, which opens under the porch and leads one up a set of brick stairs and out into the back yard. Walking from the cheerily and warmly lit basement out the shadowy door and up the stairs into the gently falling snow was like walking into a fairytale. It was absolutely breathtaking.

This is getting longish. Please hold for a post on Scotland, which I will write in about two minutes unless I change my mind. It happens.