Sleeping in . . . will not happen. Of course it won’t. Tomorrow is Christmas and even though I do not have to provide a holiday meal for anyone, I did make 5 panettones today, plus the stuffed baked potatoes with and without dairy, and the pumpkin custards with and without dairy and refined sugar. This evening we are invited to a Christmas party, taking along chocolate pots de creme, rugelach, and roasted broccoli. Later will open presents to one another and light the candles on the little German whirling forest.

In the morning we drive over a mountain range. Our older son and his family have colds and our younger son and his wife work in theater and The Nutcracker has not yet closed and been loaded out. They will all be exhausted but determined to feed us well, and they will smile past sleep. Perhaps we and the other grandparents will commiserate while all the youngsters doze sitting up.

Here is a short piece from 10 years ago when I was still running and more of us lived here. It was written with my students for the Idyllic Place assignment in 2008:

The Still Day

The day is overcast and I am not working.  The dog and I have had our run, my husband is at work.  A wood fire burns in the living room stove and I have set my watch to beep at me every hour or so, a reminder to add logs throughout the day.  Outside, wind blows and waves move forever onshore.  I am curled in a chair with a book, a good one with characters I like, adventure and the promise that the story will turn out well with my heroes better off than they were at the start.  Maybe they will fall in love, maybe they will save a life, maybe they will suffer and experience loss but at the end they will know they are stronger and wiser than at the start. 

The sofa is squishy under my body, but I need another cushion behind my back to get comfortable.  Yeti is upside down on her loveseat, one lip dropped away from her teeth and her eyes tight shut.  The cat sleeps on the little wing chair that used to be my mom’s favorite.  She’s been there since Gary left for work, and unless I disturb her, she’ll still be there when I put down my book and go downstairs to begin dinner. 

I wear my pajamas of red and pink pencil-striped cotton jersey and my orange cashmere robe that I bought on eBay.  I have a jug of water by the sink, but I am cozy, my feet tucked under and finally warm, my head resting on the corduroy cushion, the book pressed open against my knees.  I feel heat at my core and know a hot flash is coming, but I’m alone in the house so I stand and shed my cozy robe, sweat begins breaking on my skin and I strip off the socks on my feet and the top of my pajamas.  I head for the bathroom and pour water into the jug, gulp it down, replace the lid, and rest my palms on the edge of the counter.  I breath in and out and check my watch to see if the fire needs tending, my pores close and the sweat begins to dry.  I replace my clothing and head down the stairs to put wood on the fire.  I’ve left the curtain open at the base of the stairs and I feel cool air drifting along my bare feet as I turn down from the landing.  But now I close the curtain so the downstairs will have a chance to heat up. 

The air over the stove shimmers from the heat rising off it, and I can hear soft sounds from inside the steel that reassure me even before I touch the handle: my fire is still burning.  The handle squawks when I turn it and the door squeals as it opens. 

Gary is retired now. Me too, mostly, and I gave up running more than five years ago. The dog and cats have gone over the rainbow bridge. But this morning we got to pet two dogs on the beach. Life still goes on.

Below: another Swanson-Vance creation, a winged cat from 1979, the same year we moved home to OregonIMG_3728

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