A simple timer to switch on twinkle lights coiled up inside a heavy, green glass jar provides a gentle glow, casting subtle shadows and turns a darkened room into something almost magical. Whenever I sit in this room, quietly reading in my comfy chair, sipping a hot cup of chai and I hear that click, I look up and smile. Its warmth and blush of glimmering light always makes me happy.
The eating season is upon us.
Purists, myself included, might argue that Thanksgiving is NOT the true starting point of holiday gluttony. It’s Halloween, instead, that really kicks off the Season of Eatin’ in my mind. Sure, the kiddos are scarfing down sugar at an alarming rate on All Saints Day; however, only the most disciplined among us fail to hold back our favorite candies from the Trick or Treat Trough for our own enjoyment later, leaving little ghosts, witches and goblins a paltry mix of Dots, Butterfingers and hard candies instead of the really good stuff – Tootsie Rolls, Milky Ways and Hershey bars.
And so it’s Halloween when our caloric intakes begins its steep ascent. By the time we’ve eaten our way through our private stashes of chocolate (and let’s face it – that’s the stuff we tell ourselves we’re buying for the children but we all know we buy those bags of miniatures for US, not the neighbor kids), we’re only a few weeks away from Turkey Day with the named main course, hard to resist side dishes, buns, rolls and pies, pies, PIES!
As we scramble to locate needle and thread to refasten all the buttons that have popped from stuffing ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, our eating thresholds now risen a few notches, the pièce de résistance – the countdown to Christmas! – begins. Endless potlucks, company luncheons, goodies showing up at work every other day, holiday get-togethers and the Big Day itself with ham and potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and platters brimming with sausages, cheese and crackers. And that’s just the warm-up. The real business is yet to come – Christmas cookies, bars, more pies, decadent desserts of every kind. To wash it all down are soft drinks, eggnog, wine, steaming hot cocoa and apple cider and other choice beverages, several of which are alcoholic in nature.
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the warmly traditional yet rich, calorie-laden, sugary, fattening, gloriously delicious foods of our childhoods. Come January, we’ll pay the price but for most of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the things I treasure most about where we live is the view from the picture window in our living room or while standing on our deck. We are fortunate to have some incredible sky shots and with our north by northwest vantage point, we are front and center to the whims of Mother Nature, fickle and ever changing as is her prerogative. Whether the skies are sunny blue or angry gray, I am always in awe of the power and majesty of this world just above us.
I love the clean, angular lines of this fire escape staircase, the shadows thrown onto the brick walls, the metalwork – both the intersecting picket railing and the graceful filigree elements – and the architectural detail of the windows.
Solid. Clean. Strong. The hallmark of many of these beautiful old buildings.
The incredible beauty of the Rocky Mountains on a crisp fall day, hiking with my best friend, surrounded by landscape shots at every turn that were both mesmerizing and irresistible – my camera was forever in front of my face! – and the peace, calm and stillness of this amazing place has implanted a powerful urge to return there again and again, to experience ever more of this magnificent natural arena.
I am forever changed by what I encountered there.
SWARM Definition: Move somewhere in large numbers. Synonyms: flock, crowd, throng, surge, stream.
This describes the atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum after Iowa State beat inner state rival Iowa last December in a thrilling display of Cyclone domination! Students rushed the floor and arms swayed to and fro in time with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
Victory was indeed sweet and seeing all the fans rushing the floor at the buzzer was a perfect way to seal the deal!
A sunny afternoon, blue skies overheard. Glorious weather. Reconnecting with my son after several months apart, getting to know his new lady love. Enjoying the wildflowers that gently swayed in the breeze. The rush and warmth of a mellow glass of wine feeding the exuberance of running through tall grasses. The sense of calm. Feeling relaxed. Freedom and joy, laughter and delight.
Elements, all, in creating a defining moment, a fond memory, a good time to remember and cherish. These are things that always make me smile.
Right now – in the middle of November – thanks to the polar vortex or whatever the heck it is that’s wreaking havoc on not just our beloved Midwest but throughout all of the country, there is snow on the ground.
Granted, there isn’t as much here where I live in central Iowa as what they are experiencing elsewhere in the state or farther north but the white stuff is here and with frigid temps like this, it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
Snow is, however, a vital ingredient if one wishes to enjoy riding snowmobiles. That and warm attire, a full tank of gas, a smoothly operating machine and, ideally, sunny skies, no wind and winter temperatures in the 20s. At least, that’s the recollection of my teenage years when Dad, for a few years, became first a Sno Prince and then a Mercury snowmobile dealer.
On a trip to visit our cousins north of Minneapolis, most likely during the Christmas holidays, I saw the bright headlights, zipping through the roadside ditches, of several of these newfangled contraptions that I’d only just recently heard of – a moment that I can still vividly recall. I was intrigued so when Dad announced some time later that he was going to start selling snowmobiles, I was wild with anticipation.
The night Dad pulled into the driveway with the long trailer loaded with new sleds, we girls were already in our jammies. Snow was lightly falling and despite the hour, the air was still and relatively warm. Sensing our excitement, Dad unloaded one of the sleds and prepped it for take-off. Wearing only my PJs and slippers on my feet, I took it for a spin in the field north of our house. ‘Yee-HAW!’ I squealed with delight at the speed, the smooth ride and the exhilaration of motion in play. This was FUN and I wanted more!
Over the next couple of winters, I rode the school bus along country roads and pictured myself riding on imaginary snowmobile trails through the ditches and corn fields as we stopped to pick up and deliver students before and after the school day. I bought my first (red!) snowmobile suit, boots and gloves at the local Big Bear farm store and sewed on patches that I bought from a vendor catalog: Don’t Eat Yellow Snow and I [Heart] Sno Prince. We were always pestering Dad to take us snowmobiling at night and I remember one particular evening he said he would if the local weather forecast showed the temperature was above zero. It was and we went!
My sisters Kelly and Lorie were my primary partners in crime although all of us six girls enjoyed the sport. Kelly, especially, shared my enthusiasm – so much so that she gushed about it in a diary entry. Kelly has a fantastic sense of humor, is very creative and has always been quite good at tinkering with things and figuring out how they work. She is, however, a terrible speller. ‘We had so much fun today on the snomoblees!’ she wrote. Being the dutiful older sister, I teased her mercilessly about her error but today her choice of spelling still makes me smile.
I enjoyed pulling my sisters behind our trusty Sno Prince on those slick plastic, saucer sleds. As my sister Nanette righted herself after falling off (following a sharp turn on my part!), she pulled on her stocking cap and just as she attempted to rotate it so she could see out of the eye holes, I gunned it. She had no choice but to grab onto the sled with both hands, hanging on for dear life, and it still makes me laugh to recall looking back and watching her trying to stay on the sled but not able to see! As she would say, funneling her best SNL voiceover, ‘good times, good times’.
Our neighbors down the road, the Robbins, also had snowmobiles and we sometimes got together to ride. One particularly boring Saturday, I sat at the window yearning to see their sled coming up over the hill. The wind was blowing drifts across the road and suddenly – I couldn’t believe it! – there was Brad riding his sled. And he was headed for our place for an afternoon of snowmobile fun. Dad sometimes took us riding to their house as well and I remember one warm and pleasurable evening there when they served us toast and hot cocoa.
Today, if we owned an acreage I would not hesitate to reenter the world of snowmobiling. The sleds these days are pretty slick, streamlined, equipped with plenty of storage and heated seats, steering bars and runners for your feet. They come, I’m sure, with a pretty hefty price tag and some winters see little snow, making these expensive beasts unusable for much of the season. No matter. If we had the space and the time (always the time, isn’t it?), I’d have one again in a heartbeat. Because, for this gal, it’s hard to beat winter fun on a snomoblee!