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Resistance and Gratitude

Somebody appreciaes the snow

This is me still not feeling much like writing.  At least this week I’ve been doing the part where I write my blog in my head.  That’s an improvement, and better is better.

I watch everyone I know sink into the cabin fever, long winter blues at this time of year.  The longer brighter days are great, but they’re not enough when we get yet another 6″ of snow.  I’m grateful to have a birthday this week.  It gives me something to look forward to and it gives me a reason to get out and celebrate.

I have the best neighbors!

I’m grateful for the neighbors, who are Karina’s age.  I haven’t had to lift a shovel all weekend and I was able to get out of my driveway to spend Sunday with a good friend wandering through the Como Park Conservatory and Zoo.  We are very fortunate to have this haven in the depths of winter.

When you walk in your skin celebrates.  There’s moisture in the air!  Your eyes delight in the variety of shades of green.  The conservatory staff is very contentious about rotating the small plants though so there are always some manner of blooming orchids.

It’s a mini tropical vacation

This time I was delighted by how many things were in fruit.  There were limes on the lime trees, chocolate pods on the cacao, star fruit and prickly custard apple.  (Now I am on a mission to try prickly custard apple or Brazilian paw paw.)  We found odd buds and blooms everywhere.  In the conservatory hope for spring thrives.

Thursday was an adventure.  Karina had the evening off (a rare occurrence) so we’d planned for her to take me out for my birthday.  Then her whiskey distributor invited her to a launch party for Jameson IPA.  (They age their whiskeys in beer barrels (caskmates) and brew their Irish Pale Ale in whiskey barrels).  I was game and we had a good time.  It was not too big a party, probably because of the snow (the first 4″ was Thursday, the 6″ was Saturday).

Don’t know what we’re getting into, but we’re game.

We critiqued the drinks the same way we often have dinner.  Debating the merits and downfalls and discussing how to use or adapt the idea.  Mostly we were pleasantly surprised.  Neither of us are big IPA fans, but the mixed drinks were well balanced and the caskmates added a level of nuance to the whiskey.

“After party” because Karina needed to do a little more “homework” checking out local hot spots

I’ve always maintained that the older you are, the longer you get to celebrate your birthday.  I started last Thursday and I’ve got plans (so far) through most of March.  That’s something else to be grateful for!

 

Here are a few more photos from the conservatory, in case you needed your own touch of spring:

Even the ferns are having babies!

Cocoa pods in the tree

Bright colors breaking up the greens

 

I’ve written about the Como Zoo before:

Apparently it’s a good place for me to go when I’m “resistant”

They’ve finished the expansion, but we didn’t see any great apes Sunday

 

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Money

It has been two weeks of paying big bills – all at once – with money I may or may not actually have.  That’s always fun, isn’t it?  The car insurance was due, there was a registration for a conference,  I have my car in at the shop today for winterization and its 60,000 mile check-up and of course the contract for plowing.  It doesn’t rain but it pours, except at this time of year when it snows.

out the window this Monday morning.

out the window this Monday morning.

I’m not sure if I got the contract in early enough to get this “snow event” covered.  (I kept holding back on sending it because of that iffy money thing.)  They certainly hadn’t come before I left the house this morning.  Thing is that Orion needs to leave before me.  Have you ever pushed a wheelchair through the snow?  They’re not exactly designed for that kind of travel.  Maybe if we had sled dogs!

The plows haven’t come through yet, so at least there wasn’t a huge mound at the end of the driveway.  Getting an electric ramp to lower – flat – over one of those mounds is next to impossible.  My plowing needs are complicated.  It’s been years (10+) since I’ve even considered picking up a shovel.  Those bus drivers (bless them) have occasionally gone above and beyond and made a path. Mostly I’ve been dependent on husbands (not an option anymore) or the plowing contract.

Go Mom!

Go Mom!

But today I bundled up and gave it a go!  Got Orion ready.  Shoveled a path for him down the driveway.  Got dressed and drove, on glare ice, to the dealership and am taking care of business.  It feels really good to be ABLE to do all of that in one morning, and still have a brain.  I’ve been writing this post in my head since last night.  While I wait I’ve finally got time to write it down.  That kind of busy is still new to me.   I really am enjoying it.  There are definitely things more important than money.

Be safe this winter driving season!

30 degrees

Noon 16 April 2014

Noon 16 April 2014

What a difference a week makes!  I’ve talked about our crazy weather in previous blogs.  The Twin Cities has the largest population on Earth that deals with the Broadest temperature range.  The other place where the highest highs and the lowest lows are that far apart is somewhere in Siberia!  Even when the weather talks about “average” temperatures – that average is plus or minus 15 degrees.   Hence the title of this particular blog. Last week I got to drive across town in a blizzard.  Well, there were storm warnings and white out conditions.  The temperatures were just below freezing hovering between 29 and 34.   The storm system split across the cities.  Out in the western suburbs of Minneapolis there was 6-8″ of snow.  In town there was some snow (maybe an inch or two) but mostly sleet.  In St. Paul it was rain, mixed with a little bit of snow.   They got a dusting.

7 am 17 April 2014

7 am 17 April 2014

Both Orion and I woke up the next day because it was so bright!  The setting waning moon reflected on all that new snow came in our windows brighter than sunrise.  I tend to be very aware of the light because it changes so much.  The variation in length of days isn’t as dramatic as further north, but it’s not insignificant.  The angle also shifts as the Earth shifts in its relationship to the sun.  And then there’s the effect of the weather.  I may have mentioned that during our winters a bright sunny day generally means frigid temperatures and a grey day is considerably warmer.

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You see that planter in the first photo?  This is what it looks like 7am 21 April 2014.

You see that planter in the first photo? This is what it looks like 7am 21 April 2014.

Last weekend the high temperatures were between 70 and 74.  The sun was shining and there were plenty of folks outside for Sunday BBQ or Easter egg hunts.   It was glorious, even into the evening.  Our days are getting noticeably   longer.  Sunset isn’t until after 8pm.  Last month at the equinox sunset was 7:27pm.   I got home later in the day Sunday than I expected because sitting outside was so bright and pleasant.

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Promise of flowers and mowing.  :)

Promise of flowers and mowing. 🙂

The rains continue to come and go, but at these higher temperatures its cleansing and pretty rather than dreary and deadly.  The month is almost over and we’re finally coming to the point where April showers – rain or snow – may indeed bring May flowers.

Brrrrrrrrr

0120141509We had a little more snow this morning and another arctic blast is moving in.  They’re predicting sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temps by this evening.  So I decided on this grey and chilly day it was time to brighten up the winter blues before hunkering down under the blankets.

I didn’t do a lot of holiday decorating this year, and am slow to take it all down.  Still the birds will appreciate a little treat over the next few days.

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The snow may not be as deep here as up at Kathy’s “little house in the big woods” but it’s not easy getting around when you sink in to your knees!0120141513a

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0120141514aI captured a snowman.

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And made a snow angel.0120141514

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And stopped for a little tea.0120141515b

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Stay warm and healthy!

Whimsy

winter feast

winter feast

My blogging friend Kathy at Lake Superior Spirit occasionally delights us with whimsical photography.  She’s been taking photos of things like Santas and Snowmen.  She says I could do it to.  All it takes is finding something colorful or that will stand out against the white at going for it.  So I indulged myself in a day of whimsy.

Whimsy is important for spiritual work.  It’s so easy to get to taking ourselves too seriously.  The silly and absurd help snap us out of that in the most gentle and joyful way.

plates and shadows

plates and shadows

I found it really interesting to note that most of the things in my house that are colorful are textiles, which I hesitate to drag out into the snow.  I also noticed that my fall back for almost anything is my kitchen.

Hippo in the pond

Hippo in the pond

There is something magical about the whimsical.  It not only kicks us out of our seriousness, but also opens us up to the possible.

Pink Hippopotamus

Pink Hippopotamus

If Kathy’s Santas and Snowmen can march through the north woods,  If a pink hippopotamus can frolic in a frozen pond, then what other magical sights await us?

When you take a close look at the prayer on my prayer beads you’ll see that one of the repeating lines is I find joy and awe in the world around me.  Followed on the next bead by I am amazed.

lighting the tracks

lighting the tracks

 I need the reminder to look for the amazing, the wondrous and the whimsical.  When I do look I find it all around me.

Blessed Be.

Snow

White car in the storm

White car in the storm

Sparkles tinkling in the headlight beams

Falling in clumps from overburdened branches

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Drifting in biting breezes

not too high yet

not too high yet

Plowed with dirt and grass ready to trap the unsuspecting traveler

Blown in furrows an orchestra of engines up and down the driveways

Toddlers in a circle tossing handfuls up to fall again100_4095

Packed as gentle weapons in a war of laughter

Snowman Karina Dylan and DavisSculpted into fat round men glistening in the sunlight

Cold damp kisses on eyelashes and tongues

Winter’s cloak of glory

icicles under the rain barrel

icicles under the rain barrel

The season’s first snow100_4103

Distractions

Sorry I’m late posting this blog.  It’s been quite the week of distractions, pleasant ones.  The problem is that I get behind.  Then I’d rather continue to be distracted than catch up.  I managed to get through most of my to do list yesterday, just missed this one.

If my daughter read my blog she'd be mortified I posted this. It was a class assignment and she wasn't happy with her work.

Snow laden branches pulled toward the ground.

The first distraction of the last week was my birthday.  (It was probably the second and third distraction as well.)  I’m a firm believer in celebrating many times in small doses and this year is no exception.  My kids took me out for dinner on Tuesday night.  Nice restaurant, great food, decent price because apparently it’s “restaurant week” so there was a tasting menu.  Didn’t get much done around the house, but didn’t plan to.  The weather was wet and ice was forming on the trees by the time we got out from dinner.

Looking across the street out the picture window.

Wednesday the distraction was definitely the weather.  The snow storm came through and my house was one of 13,000 in town without power.  Better than having no house because of the tornados that came through the lower midwest behind this thing.  Still, I spent the day off of the internet and tending the hearth.

Hearth fire

A fireplace goes a long way towards keeping the pipes from freezing because no power means no heat.  Luckily by the time the sun set I had electricity again.

Even at midday the fire added warmth and light.

Thursday evening is often catch up time for me, but my daughter had tickets to the home and garden show.  We went out again for the evening.  We saw a culinary demo by Yigit (the winner of Top Chef Desserts) and chatted with him afterwards.  You may or may not know my daughter is in culinary school studying to become a dessert chef.  She and Yigit hit it off as you can see.  I had a great time.

Karina and Yigit from Top Chef Desserts. Aren't they a cute couple?

All of this rushing about (and avoiding household chores) has made me tired.  I feel like I’m fighting off a cold with a sore throat (I have a history of strep throat every spring and fall) and all I want to do is curl up in bed.  Hulu was made for days like this and so the Marathon of mindless TV colored my weekend.

There really is no excuse for getting as far behind as I did, except that it was my birthday week and I just didn’t want to do anything more.

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