Today I’m thankful for my nephews, older and brand new.
My sister had her second son last week. His birth was easy. Her older son turned 3 in October. When he was born it was an emergency caesarean section. He has grown wonderfully. Both boys are healthy and my sister is recovering well.
I neither have nor want children. I adore my older nephew. I haven’t met the baby yet. I’ll visit in about a month. That should give them some breathing space as a family to start learning their new rhythms. The older boy is smart and caring. Since he isn’t mine I can give him back to his parents when we’ve each reached our limit.
I’m almost 6 years older than my sister. We’ve got a good relationship now but it took a long time to build. Growing up I was so far ahead of her that we had very little in common. We weren’t antagonistic; we largely didn’t know each other. She was pregnant a couple of months before this one. It wasn’t viable. I think we both hope that her boys will be closer as children because of the smaller age difference.
Today I’m thankful for Scottish synth-pop.
I am always hunting for new music. My taste is eclectic and I’ll happily listen to most things once. YouTube suggested a Chvrches video based on what I’d previously viewed. I’ve tended to either highly enjoy or immediately need to skip their songs. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
They have a clean sound. I prefer that to distortion, except in some punk and sludge metal. Their production is crisp and the layering is precise. I appreciate the intricate beats, and the fact that each song is a complete item. They don’t meander to some strange musical future. This particular track has helped get me through a long work week. I was amused by the writer’s description of it as a “middle finger mic-drop.” That probably says more about how I handle stress than I actually care to admit. Listen and enjoy, I hope.
All rights belong to the artists. I do not own this video.
Today I’m thankful for occasional chances to live slowly.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I’m ambivalent toward formal religion and lean agnostic. Even so, I sing in the choir of a local Anglican church. Singing is like breathing to me. I need both to live. I attend most Sundays because we sing at set points through the entire service. I don’t believe in the metaphysical aspects but I still find beauty in the rituals, and consider “seeking justice and loving mercy” a worthy idea.
I honestly love the liturgical calendar. I’m struck by the idea that every day is a feast honoring someone. Every day becomes a celebration. Dividing the year into various “-tides” that reflect the cycle of seasons feels far less artificial to me than worrying about quarterly goals. I don’t suffer from misguided nostalgia in thinking the past was “purer” because survival required so much more effort. I do wonder whether we’ve compartmentalized and subdivided our lives so much as to be pointless.
I don’t sacrifice anything for Lent. That would mean abiding by proscriptions I just don’t believe. I do try to use the season to live an examined life. I don’t have any grand final insights. I write what I see. I probably won’t be an objectively better person by Easter but I will be reminded that what I do has consequences for good or ill. I don’t think knowing that is ever a bad thing.
Today I’m thankful for my ridiculous dog, and that my thumbs still mostly work.
The week of Christmas I suffered a fairly significant autoimmune flare. I was barely mobile for most of the week and I’ve still got some lingering effects. My thumbs don’t fully bend anymore. And fatigue only seems like a sorry excuse to shirk obligations when you haven’t experienced sleeping heavily for 11 hours to wake up feeling like you’ve been on a three day binge. It can continue for weeks. If a person claims fatigue it may be there is an underlying issue they don’t feel like disclosing. Perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt.
On a happier topic, my sister’s former dog is settling into my home beautifully. She’s really starting to feel like my dog. She is the most ridiculous dog but very sweet. She has preferences and isn’t shy about making them known. I purchased her a nice dog bed (most of my floors are tile, and cold) and she has chosen to remain in it, rather than eat very limited human food, several times. For a Corgi mix known for her endless food grubbing it’s an amusing sign. I did something right, and I’m happy she is benefiting.
The beast has arrived. Honestly, we’ll just have to wait and see. She’s a barker and I live in a multi-unit building so this might be tricky.
I’m rehoming my sister’s dumbass dog. That’s right, this beauty.
She’s getting aggressive with my sister’s kid, and that can’t continue with a second one arriving in February. My place is much quieter and calmer, and I could use the companionship. We all, hopefully, come out better than we went in. All the training in the world won’t make the beastie any brighter, and she’s been known to make boulders seem like engaging company. We’ll see. She is sweet.
Today I’m thankful for friends.
My best friend is here! They used to live in the same town but moved across the country for work. They have flown back to visit people they miss and they are staying with me! This is this person I can discuss labor history with, especially as it relates to contemporary theater, and just about every other random shit we feel like. It is my turn to visit them next, probably next year. I miss this!
This is a short one. Today I’m thankful for choices in food.
Today was another visit to the older gal I help with housekeeping. She is endlessly entertaining. As I left she asked if I needed to do anything else. I replied that I still had to bake. She is a marvelous baker and so inquired if it was anything special for Christmas. I told her that I need to bake my tofu. Her expression was immediate, and very funny. She looked like she’d swallowed a lemon slice. She loves stir fried vegetables, and acknowledges the convenience of tofu as a food, but she would rather eat almost anything else. I feel similarly about mushrooms. I truly enjoy spending time with her.
This is a little more personal than I’ve gone thus far and a great deal nerdier. Don’t judge me. Today I’m thankful for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth legendarium.
I’m a bigger Tolkien nerd than I generally care to admit in person. I don’t speak Elvish or wear costumes (some lines will never be crossed) but I did attend midnight openings with university friends, and I know why Fëanor’s sons are important. I think I was ten the first time I read The Hobbit. Gollum frightened me so thoroughly that I couldn’t reread those parts of the book for several years. I finished Lord of the Rings (the first time) somewhere around thirteen. I don’t know why specifically, but his works struck a chord and have been important to me for a long time.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa and fought in WWI, surviving the Battle of the Somme. He became a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. He was great friends with a number of famous contemporary writers, including C.S. Lewis. He produced several well-regarded translations of Old English epics. The man was an enormous lover of languages, which is one of my favorite things about him.
Fangorn Forest is my favorite section of LOTR. I’ve also read many of the extended works. The Silmarillion is breathtaking. Tolkien’s concept of creation as a divine piece of music was deeply appealing to me. I think I’ve made my love of music transparent. As a student of geography I find the depth of fantastic history and culture he created awe-inspiring. He knew where his peoples originated, and how they developed. This is the story that stuck most with me from the Silmarillion.
Today I’m thankful for twinkle lights.
I don’t decorate for Christmas. I never have. I don’t have anywhere to store decorations and everything I put up, I have to take back down.
I changed my mind this year. I’m honestly not sure why. Whether because it’s been a shitty year for the world, or I’m done being contrary about this particular thing, or something else entirely I really don’t know. What I’ve done is minimal and very much in keeping with the rest of my fairly spartan home but it looks nice. I even bought a timer for the lights so they’ll turn off if I forget to unplug them in the morning.
When I was growing up we’d drive around to see how different neighborhoods decorated. There was generally an even split between white and multicolor lights. I’ve always preferred the colourful version, so that’s what I bought for myself. I hope you enjoy them even if you don’t decorate.