Poor Planning and Silver Linings

I did not set myself up for success today, and I’m paying for it now. I’m in a bit of a mood, and it’s too dark to go for a walk.

I suppose I could walk through town, but I really wanted to walk in the woods today because we got some snow, and I lost track of time. This daylight savings thing always trips me up.

I ended up heading to the grocery store and generally slipping deeper into my funk, culminating with getting out of the car back at the house and discovering that somehow the lace on one of my snow boots had become severed during my trip.

At least it waited to give out entirely until I got home – walking around the store with a floppy, untied boot would have made my mood even worse. Silver lining!

I was very happy about the snow this morning. I got up earlier than usual to ride along with my husband to his job, so that I could drive his car back. My Subaru is at the mechanic’s right now, and I don’t like being stuck without a vehicle, especially when the cupboards are getting bare.

On the way to Chris’s work, I said to him that I wished it would snow soon, and within minutes we drove into a flurry of nice, fluffy flakes. What power I have! I can summon snow! I’ll try to use it responsibly.

It accumulated on the road quickly, and coated everything that had been drab, dull, and dead-looking, making the world appear fresh and clean again.

I’m like a kid when it snows. Every grumpy snow-hating person I know has told me I’ll stop liking it when I have to shovel it, but I’ve been the primary shoveler at our house for 3 winters now, and I’m not sick of it yet.

It got a little old the winter before last, when we had an excessive amount of snow – the pile in our tiny front yard became a mountain and obscured the view from our single ground-floor window on that wall of the house. It still didn’t ruin snow for me.

So, I was very happy at the prospect of going out in the snow at some point in the late morning or early afternoon… and yet, I managed to procrastinate enough to completely deny myself that opportunity.

At least I got to admire it out the windows during the day.

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I even had a crow visitor picking at the birdseed we put out on the roof of our basement bulkhead, and after I scared it by coming near the window, it flew further off and seemed to find half of a hotdog bun in the neighbor’s yard. I have no idea how it got out there, but there it was. Good find, crow!

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Well, I’m hoping I’ll have plenty of other chances to get out and admire the evergreens dusted with white before spring comes. That’s one of my favorite things about the dark half of the year. I’m a sucker for snow-covered pines.

I have snowshoes that I bought for last winter and never even got to try, because we had so little accumulation. This year, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get some sort of happy medium.

As for tonight, I’ll try to just be glad I have a cozy house to shelter me from the cold. Also, my cat is on my desk, being extra lovey since he wants wet food. I’ll happily take the nose pushes and tail dragging across my neck, whatever the motive.

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Burying myself in books

I just learned about the Dakota Pipeline decision, and it feels awfully nice to see some good news right now. These days, I just can’t understand much about the world around me, and it feels like things are so much worse than I ever realized, and only getting worse.

So, the tabling of the pipeline is very welcome indeed. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to the residents of that area, those whose lives were the most intimately impacted by this saga.

All the societal upheaval right now is happening at a time when I’m experiencing personal upheaval, which is inconvenient, but there it is. Time and tide wait for no woman. The world doesn’t toe the line just because I’m in a rough patch.

Not that I haven’t been a rough patch for a while, it’s just a slightly different part of the patch, a more revelatory part, and hopefully that means I’m headed out of the rough patch.

It has simply been tough to navigate how much to pay attention to the outside world and how much to focus inward. There’s a delicate balance somewhere, and I’m hovering near it, but still having to make adjustments.

I’m doing a lot of reading lately, some online, but mainly an assortment of fiction and nonfiction books that I’m juggling. It’s helping me to cope with stress.

I try to alternate content to keep from getting to overwhelmed by information. I also have to switch it up based on where I’m reading; a large, heavy hardcover from the library – out of which I’m jotting down notes into a spiral notebook – is not the best choice for bathtub reading (another highly effective stress-reduction technique). I prefer paperbacks for that.

What I’m currently reading:

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cover image courtesy goodreads.com

Actually, I just finished The Magicians this evening. I was reading it out loud to my husband. (This is a lovely activity that I recommend over TV-watching, not that we don’t do our fair share of that.) We own the boxed set of Lev Grossman’s trilogy, and The Magician King is next.

I’m also reading Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery.

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This one was recommended to me. It’s quite good, but it’s an interlibrary loan, and not the only one I have, so I’m probably not going to finish this copy. I think I’m going to end up buying it.

The other interlibrary loan I’m currently reading, which is due back on the 10th of this month, is another PTSD-related book, also recommended to me (by the same person).

18693771Bessel van der Kolk is a colleague of Judith Herman, and their books are similar, though The Body Keeps the Score is more in depth and much more recent. It’s another one I think I’ll have to buy, since it’s full of very useful information and I likely won’t finish it by the time it’s due.

I finished another book today, this one by myself, by Margaret Atwood.

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I bought The Heart Goes Last at a thrift store recently, with four other books. I paid $1 for the bunch. I decided to reread The Handmaid’s Tale first, since that’s going to be a series on Hulu soon. (How exciting is that??!)

I much prefer that one to the more recent “speculative fiction” story. Margaret Atwood definitely does creepily plausible near-futuristic scenarios very well. The Heart Goes Last jumped around, in my opinion, and wasn’t quite as chilling as The Handmaid’s Tale, but it was still entertaining and unsettling.

I’m not sure what I’m going to choose as my next novel. I have A Tree Grows in Brooklyn off the bookshelf and on deck, but also Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, and Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend – none of which I have read yet, and all of which are my own personal copy.

I’ll just have to see where my mood takes me tomorrow when I get in the bath.


Walks in Nature, and Sneaky Portraits

I know I’ve written about walking here before. It’s gotten to be a very important activity for me recently, even more so than before.

I’ve always loved going for walks, I mean really, since I was a little kid walking with my grandmother along the river behind her apartment building, watching the current rush around the piers of the two bridges we would pass.

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I don’t have a photo of us walking together, but here we are, best buds.

 

Now, going for a walk is kind of my lifeline when things get too overwhelming for me. I get very stressed out very easily, and I deal with severe anxiety at times. What I’ve discovered is that fresh air and movement, and a natural landscape if at all possible, can be the solution that stands between me functioning and me having a panic attack.

Normally I have to go on these walks alone, since I don’t have a job and my husband works long hours. I have a lot of time to myself. I also have plenty of options when it comes to getting into nature, which is very lucky.

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It takes me about 10-15 minutes to walk from my house to this spot, depending on how much of a hurry I’m in.

Sometimes, on a weekend day, I can get Chris to skip out on one of the myriad projects we have piled up at the house, and go for a walk with me for an hour or two. This is bliss to me.

I always bring my new camera on these walks, one that I bought with insurance money from someone putting a huge dent in the side of my car that I decided I could live with.

Usually I’m taking photos of leaves, trees, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, berries, pinecones, anything that will hold still long enough for me to get a shot.

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one of my favorite critter photos, from a walk in early November

When my husband comes on a walk with me, I like to try to snap a few pictures of him, too, since it’s such a novelty to have him along with me.

He was resistant to this for a while, so I’d hang back and try to take sneaky photos just to get any shots with him in them.

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We had a little adventure walk on Thanksgiving this year.

Last night we were talking about this habit of mine, which he only just barely tolerates.

(I have quite a few photos of him making grumpy “that’s enough” faces.)

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not thrilled about the camera, but handsome just the same

I explained to him that it’s such a big deal to me to have him on these walks with me, so nice to be with him in my favorite places instead of alone, like usual. Not only that, but he’s beautiful to me, so to get a photo that has his beautiful face in a beautiful setting is a double-win.

Flattery will get you everywhere.

Nah, I’m kidding about that last part. I really meant what I told him.

He was touched, I think, and now has shifted his thinking a bit, whereas before he saw my taking photos of him in the woods as distracting. I think he’ll mind it a bit less now that he knows how happy it makes me.

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doing some manly gazing at the river through the brambles