Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Favorite Things, New Mexican Style

Mamma Pat and Bobbo. They have got to be some of the warmest, most welcoming people in the world. Not to mention the funniest. Every day before we'd ski Mama Pat would make sure we had our gloves and sunscreen and chocolate (for energy, y'know), while Bob cracked jokes. I love their marriage, love to watch how they still delight in and enjoy each other after 35 years. When I expressed this to Pat, she smiled. "Well, we laugh a lot," she said. Note taken: laughter a key ingredient for good relationship.
And we have laughed much during our time here. At their 20 year old deaf cat. At Bob's dry and rapid fire wit. At Pat's sudden and outrageous statements. And at their lifetime of wonderfully comic stories.

Ski Santa Fe. I like the mountains here better than Utah, I think - they're softer and more embracing. And Jim and I had great fun sliding down the slopes. He fell first, but I predicted that I would accomplish the most dramatic wipe-out. And I did. Twice. But for the most part, we both did pretty well for second-timers, and I remembered the graceful dip and sweep and float of skiing. Except for when I'd realize I was going fast (ish). Then I'd panic. Then I'd calm myself down and keep dipping and floating.

Meandering Irish Scarves. I am knitting what was supposed to be an Irish Hiking Scarf. Somewhere along the way, though, the pattern, well it . . . changed. So Bob named it the Irish Meandering Scarf. The End.

Straight as a stick. There is No. Humidity. out here. And I love it. You know why? I straighten my hair, and it stays straight. For more than 15 minutes! Yes, there is the slight problem of constant dehydration, but who cares when I can wake up and run my fingers through perfectly straight, tangle-free locks?

She can bake a cherry pie. Sweet Aunt Roberta, who is late eighties, 5 foot 1, and still has an immaculate yard and clear mind and fabulous cooking and more energy than most anyone I know. Gracious. She fed us lasagna and an absolutely perfect cherry pie, and told us about the year the family lived in Alaska, and about her and Glenn's square dancing days, and their friends Poncho and Marie. That woman is amazing.

Sky and earth and color. You'd think New Mexico would be brown. Just brown. But it's not. The earth is red and gold and tawny beneath the pure-white snow, and the sky is every shade of purple and blue. But the light. Oh, the light is the best part - perfect and golden and clear.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Here is all a-right

Current position: Great room, fire blazing beside the lovely tree. Sharing the couch and a cosy blanket with Mom, and taking a short break from knitting my third scarf since Monday.

Verdict: Nearly idyllic.

(The "nearly" is for the leaks I just discovered in two windows. The tree happens to be stationed close to one of the leaky spots, so we had to turn the lights off. Still pretty, though. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.)

We had our big family Christmas yesterday, in Marietta. Jim and I went to the favorite cousins' on Tuesday, though, and much hilarity ensued. Ty and Austin make me laugh until I ache. And Brannon is just a pure delight ("Anna, I think you should be Mrs. Claus for Christmas." Thanks?) I just love being at the Georgia family's place, period. Aunt Laura entertains with easy grace, always has a funny story, and has impeccable booksense. Their house is full of laughter and running and collapsing on the couch for naps.

And when you wake up at 2 am, there is most likely a fuzzy cat kneading your feet and purring. Happy sigh.

So yes, after all the excitement, a quiet Christmas Eve is not so unwelcome. Jim and I are flying to New Mexico on Saturday (we are going to stay with Mama Pat and Bob, and ski, and hug Roberta and all the other sweet family), so today was spent rounding up the last minute ski necessities (I have developed a sudden addiction to knit caps. Straight hair does this to a girl. Curly hair hates hats. Did I mention I have straight hair now? I digress). So the four of us ate lasagna and tiramisu while the storm howled, considered watching The Godfather (which idea was nixed by the female half of the family as too violent for Christmas Eve) and watched Waking Ned Devine instead (Irish music/scenery/accents = love).

Dad just joined us on the couch (and informed me that Alan Ladd was 5"6 . . .), and family and crackly fire and peace - Merry Christmas, dear people.

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
his hair was like a fire -
oh weary, weary is the world
but here the world's desire

-G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Late November Loveliness

One day during Thanksgiving break, I took a ramble in the lovely golden afternoon splendor of late autumn. I love November's golden browns, and the bare twigs and brittle grasses and purple leaves. I'm no photographer, but maybe these photos will show some of the loveliness that is Alabama in November.

Golden wispies.

Gorgeous silky field. See the terraces? And the barn peeping over the hill?

Sweet Mo.

Last remnants of red.

I loved the way these leaves caught the afternoon light and shone against the gray, dead ground.

And the woods behind the house. Brambles and branches and mystery.

There were just a few red remnants hanging on to the branch, and they were beautiful against the blue sky. Too bad my camera skills couldn't capture it. You'll just have to trust me.

Golden stands of grass. I never get tired of it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Song

This afternoon, when I climbed the stairs and pulled the shades and crawled onto my enormous fluffy white bed, it was light outside.

Now it is not.

I slept for two hours. And I took a nap yesterday, too. And the day before that.

I think this is what they call "hibernation."


Items of Note:

- I have decided that Mosby does not run, he does not walk, he gambols. This is the only word for his weird, clumsy, hyena-like lope. And it makes me laugh and I love it. Sweet Mo. I love him to pieces. We played fetch-the-ball for a solid hour on Monday. Sweet Mo. He's also a little obsessive.

- Yesterday was my day to put things in order. As in, unpack and organize everything. Originally, I was going to spread the process out over a few days. But I have found that once I begin to sort and organize, I cannot stop until I collapse from hunger. I didn't just unpack, I organized my closets and half the attic. When the dust settled, I found a Very Tidy room, three bags of stuff to give away, and five large plastic bins filled with things. I have three childhood boxes, one high school box and a costume box.

- Speaking of childhood: my dad recently unearthed some books that had disappeared somewhere into the black hole of moving. Among the salvaged was one of my favorite ever books: Minnikin, Midgie and Moppet. I was completely obsessed with this book when I was three, and the obsession has never quite gone away. Three mice that live in a tree with their mom and go out to lead their own lives for a while but all come back to live in the big tree. Sorry if I just spoiled the ending for anyone.

- I am learning to knit. Yes, that is right. Un-crafty Anna is trying to learn an art that involves physical dexterity. And . . . it's a little bit addictive. You feel relaxed and productive at the same time (as in, I can knit while watching a T.V. with my family. I usually sort of hate watching television, because it's so passive and I think of everything else I could be doing and I can feel my brain cells dying from the lack of stimulation). Last night Jim and I watched Arrested Development and I knitted and somewhere in the episode where Gob makes the yacht disappear I dropped a stitch because I was laughing so hard and now there's a huge hole in my practice swatch. I like that show.

Yes, I am home and glad to be here. The people-deprivation will set in soon enough. But for right now, it is good to have no school and a real kitchen, and naps whenever I want them.

There was a little melancholy the end of last week - but then, I was melancholy all of last week. A combination of knowing it was the last week with friends for a while, and finishing the durn paper, and, as I wrote last week, "that peculiar melancholy that hits at random times." Where I get sad about ridiculous things that don't bother me most days.

I guess change makes us a little nostalgic, and it makes us long for the things that used to comfort. Whether they were good or bad. For me, it's mostly bad, because I tend to deal with those feelings by sinking into a comfortable gloom. I may not like my little black rain cloud blanket, but at least it's familiar.
For others, it may be a relationship, or Calvin and Hobbes, or smoking, or maybe just cookie dough ice cream.

What about you? What comfortable habit do you go back to when you feel down?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Light will come again

Well, yes. I could be using this time to finish that review due on Friday. Or edit a poem. Or start brainstorming for the paper due Tuesday. And maybe I will do one of those things in a while.

But right now - right now I just came in out of the cold. And washed my face. And took down my hair. And slid into pajamas. And inside a blanket.

And that's why I'm writing.

In news of great import: I finished the Deathly Hallows. Yesterday. As in, the seventh, the last, the final book in the Harry Potter series. And I always thought they were overrated. Or uninteresting. Or too trendy. Or . . . something. And I thought the people who got excited about them were strange. Well.

Is it too weird that the end of Harry Potter pulled me out of my Eyeore complex enough to believe that things will be right in the end, that God is good and joy is true?

Yes. It made me pretty happy.

"Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."

Well said, Albus.

I've made my finals game plan. It's written in colored pencil and hung on the wall beside my desk. It's nice to have it out of my head. Plus I love scratching things off the list. Maybe too much. I just love study plans.
Only maybe I should call it "project plans." Because I have no finals this year. Nada. Just papers, and a presentation. And I like it, I like it lots. I'm the world's worst studier, and I'd much rather sit down and think and analyze and write than . . . study.

Oh yes - and the last GRE? It proved what I've always known: my right brain is abnormally large, and my left brain is the size of a shriveled pea. I got a very exciting score on the Verbal section, and a dismal - nay, abysmal - score on the Quantitative. But that's ok, because my field is English! Take that, mathematics, you have no power over me anymore.

Now. Time for poem revision (cue nerdy excitement), sleep, and finishing strong. Then Jan term: New Mexico ski slopes, good books, and knitting. You heard me right.