Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Sans Family

Down here they start giving out the weather predictions way in advance. What's the harm? Nothing much changes. They started by forecasting  temps might approach 80, say 78 or 79. Caution ruled; we had been having a bit of a cool spell, finally, with some days barely hitting the 70s. As the date neared, they suggested 80, then 82, then possibly even 84! Catching the morning news Friday, we found it had hit 87 on Thanksgiving!

We hadn't noticed. It was pleasant. We were more focused weather-wise on back home. Their day started below zero. Might hit the teens above. We tried not to gloat too obnoxiously while patting ourselves on the back for heading down to Phoenix. It we ever spend a summer here, the satisfaction may wane, especially as the electric bill rises. But we're not planning it in the near future.

There is a suggestion of rain occurring either next Tuesday or Wednesday. It would be nice. There's a large mulch pile burning a few miles southwest of us, and for the last few days a southern wind has left us a whitish streak across the western sky. While it doesn't outright stink here as it does other places directly downwind, eyes are irritated, coughing increases. It's tempting to wonder of allergies are getting worse or whether the pollution spreads more than the visible smoke plume.

We're not traveling much. Sleep patterns are goofy and seldom overlap. Reduced incomes and the abundance of home entertainment help keep us home. Planting the last batch of agaves left me with a sore back, further decreasing any ambition to get out and about, or even clean up for going anywhere. I've been rearranging my southwestern pottery so that it better fits cabinet spaces and origins are kept together, taking up my existing ambition. Four shelves are finished now. Two hold Navajo, one Santo Domingo, and one Hopi. Two more shelves need to be cleared off so there is room to organize Acoma, Jemez, and Mata Ortiz. Then the smaller collections can be given their spaces so they all make sense, to me anyway. Zia, Zuni, San Felipe, Sandia, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos, Nambe, Laguna, Santa Rosa, Isleta, Casa Grande, Cochiti, Maricopa... even when there is only one representative piece from a pueblo, it needs its place. There will still be unidentified pieces and other outliers, like Cherokee. Definitely not southwestern, coming from North Carolina, but represented nonetheless to honor Steve's heritage. It takes energy to organize them all. Add in the baskets and wall hangings, figure in the weird angles that have to be reached in one of the cabinets with side doors instead of front, which knees and elbows begrudge, not to mention that still sore back, and the size of the job becomes a bit more apparent.

It's just one of many. Boxes of books wait on Paul's next trip down, creating more shelving in the library. Then room gets cleared for the Christmas tree, and some selection of the hundreds of ornaments collected over the years. Fred keeps shedding, dishes keep getting dirtied, clothes keep needing washing, the patio keeps collecting pine needles and dog fur, and Ellie has discovered the fun of chewing pine cones to bits land leaving those right where bare feet could safely walk hours earlier.

At some point I will resume calling plumbers for estimates. The first one came in at $18 grand, NOT including replacing the wall and floor they would tear up, and not guaranteeing the sewer pipe replacement for more than 7 years, even if we take out the big pine tree whose roots are destroying the old pipe. After they insisted pine tree roots could/would continue to grow for up to 15 years after the tree was taken out, we decided there must be other, more honest plumbers in the state. But again I'm gearing up the energy for the search.

Now plumbing may seem an odd topic for a Thanksgiving blog post. Unfortunately, it has a lot of holiday history for me. When the kids were young, there was always some kind of plumbing disaster over the holiday. Pipes would freeze, living in a mobile home with a sudden cold snap and heat tapes that picked that day to fail. Sewer lines would clog, from I-don't-want-to-know-what got flushed  into the system. Repairs were always inconvenient and expensive. At least the current issues can be worked around and lived with, probably because I wasn't hosting this year.

Insomnia has become my companion. I can discover it's midnight, sneaking up on me unnoticed and unfelt, and toddle off to bed. Once there the mind kicks in with to-do lists, or ways of organizing books or pottery or plantings or pictures to be hung or items to be packed and brought down next fall, or...  At any rate, it's not ready to sleep. And I'm a person who has always been able to be completely zonked within a minute of hitting the pillow, even in the middle of a conversation with Steve. I am guessing it has been due to years of sleep deprivation. The alarm has been set for work for so many years I can't remember when it wasn't. Even without that, the dogs had to be let out. Nobody told them about the sanctity of weekends.

I've started trying to put back the pieces of old sleep habits. If I think about being sleepy earlier in the evening, I try to go to bed then, rather than staying up to the end of a program or chapter. I try melatonin, which seems to work a few times until it doesn't. I try to get up early again, with the assistance of reminders from my bladder. I dug out the allergy filter/fan, better known as my white noise machine, a great improvement on listening to doggy toenails pattering up and down the halls. Less caffeine, including chocolate, near bedtime. Some days, many in fact, no coffee whatsoever. I have even considered - and rejected - the idea of setting the alarm on my bedside clock.

Hey, there has to be SOME benefit to being retired!

I can sleep during the day, having a nap or two even on days when the night has provided 12 hours of good sleep. But even without those daily naps I can still see that nighttime clock declare midnight, 1AM, 2AM, even OMG 4AM! before the head can hit the pillow and the brain can shut off.

I am told I will adjust, told by people who have already retired themselves, folks who presumably have come through the other side of the problem successfully. I trust they are right.

It in fact became one of the topics of after-dinner conversation this Thanksgiving. We were invited by friends to join them and other friends of theirs for an afternoon feast. We gratefully accepted. There were 9 of us in all, fortunately of similar political views so that wasn't an obstacle to our enjoyment of meeting new folks. In Arizona, opinions run strong, as we've noticed from an across-the-fence neighbor who loudly both plays Rush Limbaugh and even more loudly defends him. Note that we've not bothered to introduce ourselves. There is a lovely screening of various bushes and trees between our houses. If it gets too bad, I could retaliate with opera. I won't. But I could.

At any rate, at our ages, food conversations can easily morph to health conversations. Recipes have notations of what is included or left out, as more of us find things we can no longer eat or should no longer eat. If the system still tolerates it, the latest prescription likely prohibits it. I'm sure some people there must be taking my same medications, as they are forbidden many of the same exact foods. It's actually comforting. Had I been eating with family, nobody else would have needed to avoid the same foods and - besides simply being the weird one there - there would have been fewer foods brought to the table I could partake in. Here I fit right in!

So while I missed hugging the ones I loved back home, it was still a very nice holiday. Good food, good company, old friends and new ones. What else does one need to be thankful for?

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