I had tried "hot yoga" in Burlington a couple of times in a class that was referred to as "pre-beginner level."
Last winter I had signed up at the YMCA her in Venice and took a yoga class there two to three times per week. When a new yoga studio opened in the next town back in Vermont, I signed up for classes there. I spent a year doing basic, beginning level yoga. And I was feeling subtle differences in my level of flexibility and balance. Subtle as in pretty slow.
I thought that this winter, I would explore some alternative studios while in Venice. I saw a hot yoga advertised. Not hot yoga as in yoga poses done in a very warm room, but Bikram yoga. I had the feeling my progress would get a jump start.
Well, my flexibility will get a big boost or it will kill me. If you want a real laugh check out the poses that are used routinely in the Bikram practice.
Now that show what the ultimate goal might be--not what you are expected to be able to do in your first session or two. But the room is hot, and the routine is fast paced. You do what your body allows you to do. But it is intense. You sweat--copiously. Your heart rate revs right up. And it feels SO good--when it is all over after a 90 minute session and you have had a chance to take a cool shower.
I am fighting the loss of physical well being with ever fiber of my being.
Okay, I am not saying that this was in any way an easy thing, but I have started up the the wireless router supplied by Comcast for a modest rental fee and I have gotten it to talk to my computer, my printer, and with the TV to play Netflix.
So I am pretty darned proud of myself.
My Christmas Day was pleasant. I went to my neighbors for dinner--good food, good company, all good. Perhaps a smidge too much good wine, but all good.
I went to a ninety minute hot yoga class today to redeem myself.
My brother, his wife, their three dogs (lost two of the five in the past year), the two donkeys, and the dozen or so chickens spend six months in Vermont and six months in North Carolina. They all travel together bak and forth.
The have what I call hobby houses in both places--old houses that need restoration--and they do restore rather than renovate.
Their NC place is a former tobacco farm.
The original farm house.
A tobacco drying barn.
Original farm house and "new" house (white building).
The summer kitchen with new chimney.
We did venture into the Raleigh-Durham urban area to check out the NC Museum of Art.
My brother and sister in law.
It was good to see their winter place for the first time. Then on to Mike's daughter's in South Carolina.
I packed up the car and hit the road, heading south. I spent Monday with my daughter and grand kids and left from their house on Tuesday morning.
I will spend the night in a hotel in northern Virginia and then head to my brother's in North Carolina.
It looks like I might not outpace the storms that threaten the southeast this weekend, but I will give it a try.
The 500+ miles I put in today were relatively smooth, except for the mountains between Scranton and Harrisburg, PA. It rained and helpful signs (when I was right on top of them) informed me that I was in a fog-prone area. Right--might not have noticed otherwise.
Have they kicked out St. Christopher? The one who was supposed to protect travelers? I think I heard that some years ago. Well, my dad was not a saint, but he was a good driver. I have long conversations with him whenever I am driving any distance or driving in bad weather, and I definitely feel he is there watching out for me every time I am in a car. Thanks, Dad!
The storm warnings were well founded and we are sogged in with the heavy, wet, white stuff.
Schools were not in session and the snow plows were busy, busy, busy.
Housebound, I had time to finish my memory quilt. I used Mike's flannel shirts and denim to represent his jeans. It wasn't really that easy to work with, but it will be a cozy reminder for me on chilly evenings.
Accumulations: snow accumulation of 5 to 10 inches of heavy dense snow ... Up to two tenths of an inch of ice, mainly across mid level elevations of northeastern Vermont ... In fact, the weather in Florida is not that great, but I do note that there is no snow on the current horizon.
Elev 26ft27.05°N, 82.41°W| Updated 5 min ago
Wind from NE
Today is forecast to be MUCH COOLER than yesterday.
I went out to a movie on Friday night with a friend.
It was a 7:30 p.m. movie. I didn't even get home until 10:00. This is so exciting for someone who has been fighting the urge--and not always winning--to be in pajamas as soon as it is dark. Dark dark happens at around 4 p.m. around here at this time of year.
Not only that, on Thursday I went to a gallery opening in downtown Burlington. I went with friends and afterward we went out for something to eat. I didn't get home until 9:30 that night. And I dressed up to go out!
Two nights in a row! Out past dark! I might be turning into a party animal.
The movie was St. Vincent. I enjoyed it, thought it was quite touching in a way.
The little kid actor is not in the poster, but he was really the star.
The gallery show was well attended. I have mentioned the local artist, Dianne Shullenberger, and her work before. She made her recent, realistic pictures out of fabric bits and a sewing machine. It was being with good friends that made the evening though.
The day after Thanksgiving was always Mike's favorite day of the year. Absolutely NO eating of leftovers. Early on it was watching Planet of the Apes movies with his brothers and ordering in pizza. In more recent years it was an outing--maybe to Cedar Hill Cemetery or to the Wadsworth Atheneum.
That was just a preliminary sidelight to the main event as far as Mike was concerned. The main event was a trip to Hartford's Franklin Street, once the heart of the Italian section of the city. For Mike, it was pure nostalgia and real comfort food. Nothing says "Thanksgiving" like a salami and provolone grinder* and a bag of chips from Giant Grinder.
Then, on to Modern Pastry Shop for a box of assorted Italian cookies to bring home--or maybe gobble down on the trip back to Vermont.
Life changes. Established traditions change as well. We all have to work around that fact at some point. New traditions come into being and that is not such a bad thing. But we also want to preserve something of our pasts.
The day after Thanksgiving (which was actually very pleasant and not nearly as trying as I made it out to be in my previous post), I left for a trip to Connecticut. I joined Mike's sister and brother and families for dinner at an Italian family restaurant--Roma's in East Hartford, where they make the best eggplant parm I have ever tasted, on Friday night.
On Saturday my sister-in-law and I walked, talked, shopped, took in a movie, had a lovely salmon dinner, drank wine, and just had a good time together. I am sure that Mike was smiling down on my new kick off to the holiday season, although with a tear for the lack of a salami and provolone grinder (especially for it being replaced with eggplant).
And now, a week of diet and fasting and exercise.
*Grinder is New England for sub, hero, hoagie, etc. kind of sandwich.
Thanksgiving Day is such a fine holiday--at least in theory.
It is a day dedicated to family, to giving thanks for that family, to food, to giving thanks for that food. to contemplating our blessings. What is not to love? I cannot understand why it isn't everyone's favorite holiday.
Okay, if you are a kid, I'll give you Christmas and Halloween. If you are religious, I will grant you special and spiritually meaningful holy days. If you are patriotic, well, you get the idea.
So why is it that such a fine concept as a day dedicated to Thanks Giving can sometimes go haywire? I mean, I have never really experienced anything close to, say, the kind of family reunion portrayed in the movie August Osage County, but I don't doubt for a minute such reunions take place all too often.
I had a very nice Thanksgiving Day. I started the preparations early. (Translate as I cooked for three days.) At some point I realized I was cooking as maniacally as my mother used to only there were not going to be twenty to twenty-five people gathered around my table. Whoops.
I asked Kevin to drive into Burlington and pick a few homeless people that might be gathering for a meal, but he didn't think that was a good idea and besides he wasn't feeling all that great.
Then of course there was the storm that dumped a foot of snow over Wednesday night. I know that is nothing compared to 6 or 7 feet like they got in Buffalo, but it was enough to make me worry that my daughter would not make the 70 mile trip. When I called her, she said, "Oh, I told Father I would go to his house for Thanksgiving." WHAT???
Well Amy and the kids did arrive just as my meal was ready to go on the table.
Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, homemade rolls, cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie. Kevin managed to eat a little. Kristen had some of the shrimp I had set out for an appetizer (actually a lot of the shrimp), a small piece of turkey and some mashed potato, and and two brussel sprouts. Dane tasted the turkey and some squash, then he ate two raw carrots from the refrigerator. Amy and I did our best, but there is a lot of food leftover.
Then the kids started getting rambunctious. They had had a long car ride. Ha! Time to go visit grandpa.
The clean up took as long as preparing the meal. In truth, probably a bit longer.
Now Christmas. What a joyful holiday full of tradition...
It is a rainy Monday morning and I sit at my dining room table sipping my morning coffee, staring out at the gloom through the doorway. The brown field, no longer mowed, marching slowly but surely toward foresting itself, is framed by my still green lawn and the white pine marching atop the ridge.
Over the rim of my coffee cup, through the haze of steam, I see a dark form sweep by. It is a crow circling the back yard. It lands and marches sentry-like in line with the deck railing.
I get up and quietly open the door so that I can toss out the toast crusts, breakfast for my faithful morning visitor.
Crows have a usually black with tints of blue depending on the light shining on them. Their color is symbolic of the onset of creation, of the void or what has not taken form yet. Fascinating spirit animals, they carry the energy of life mysteries and the power for deep inner transformation.
As a spirit guide, the crow will guide you in getting in touch with life mysteries and develop your ability to perceive subtle shifts in energy within yourself and in your environment. It has the ability to go beyond the illusions, especially duality of right and wrong, inner and outer.
According to a piece I read on Yahoo's news feed, Vermont in the fifth "booziest" state in the nation. It comes in behind Montana, Alaska, Colorado, and #1 Oregon.
It appears that Vermont is noted for the number of craft breweries per unit of population. I am not a beer drinker, but I do know about Magic Hat, Otter Creek, Harpoon, and Long Trail. There are others that I have not heard about as well. One--Alchemist Heady Topper--is so rare and, therefore, coveted that there is apparently a black market dealing in it.
I guess I am missing out on one of the finer points of being a Vermonter.
I have been cold for the past month and turning up the furnace did not offer relief so I was not surprised when the conclusion was, "You need a new furnace."
New air conditioner in Florida this past summer, which I was not expecting, and now a new furnace, which I kind of was expecting. Some repairs were done to the old one in the hopes that it will last through the winter. Always something, something with home ownership. Of course the furnace is 50+ years old so I suppose I should not complain too much and a new one will be much, much more efficient.
I would have it done right away except that my fuel and furnace company is down to a one man operation at the moment and he really does not have the time to do it during the height of fuel season. He did say he would though, should it fail completely and become an emergency. I am glad my son will be here through the winter while I head to Florida.
That is the nice thing about small town Vermont--such good neighbors. The fuel man checks the house twice a week when he goes by. All my immediate neighbors keep a sharp eye on things. I know who to call when I need help and that is a comfort.
I am good to go for another year. I had my annual mammogram and received my all clear letter in the mail today.
As with everything else, there is a certain amount of controversy around the need for an annual mammogram. It's quick and only somewhat uncomfortable in spite of all the jokes to the contrary. So I will continue to make it a part of my proactive health maintenance since there is the family history.
It is just a bit sad that Thanksgiving is becoming the forgotten holiday.
I went to the Gardeners' Supply today and it was a Christmas wonderland. At the drugstore, Christmas items shared the better part of an aisle that also included a few shelves worth of Halloween markdowns.
Grocery stores are mentioning Thanksgiving--sales on turkeys and cranberries and pumpkin pie spice. Otherwise, what is wrong with the entrepreneurial spirit of our country that we have not yet thought of a way to exploit this day of family gathering and gratitude for commercial gain? Black Friday is as close as we can come?
The grandchildren have spent the weekend, plus Monday and Tuesday, at grandma's house.
It is not always easy to entertain both a 13 year old girl and a seven year old boy at the same time. Granddaughter would spend all kinds of time with me if it involved my trailing her through the mall with a credit card always at the ready. Grandson wants nothing to do with going into stores for any reason.
I think it was being traumatized at a young age. He happily agreed to go to Plateau's Closet with his sister one time only to suffer severe disappointment at not finding the stash of PlayDough he was certain was the purpose of such a place.
Grandson is happy to play games, do crafty projects, read stories, take walks, watch movies, and (best of all) listen to grandma's stories in the "Dane Adventure Series." As long as he is the center of my attention, he is pretty content.
Uncle Kevin brought Dane a box of cardboard tubes from his job at the coffee roaster a couple of years ago. Timeless toys. This trip they they became a military installation with tanks and mortars.
I especially liked the expressions on the soldiers' faces. This is serious business.
In a recent post, gigi-hawaii, wrote about aging in place. On my walk later that very same day, I passed a nearby house with this sign in front of it:
The number of cars in the drive indicated that there was a small party going on. I remember when this woman. who still lives this house that she and her husband built right next to the farm they once worked, celebrated birthday #100 last year. She was written up in the paper and there was a huge community party at the Catholic church. She is still going strong--aging in place.
It occurred to me that my own mother would have been 101 this past September had she lived. My mother developed dementia and spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home. I suppose by definition she was aging out of place. Dementia is such a strange condition--aging and regressing to infancy all at the same time.
To add to the convergence here, the drain pipe for the kitchen sink sprang a leak. Another little nudge to my thinking about aging in place--definitely not this place. Unless a good looking plumber comes knocking on the door and wants to marry me, I think I am going to let this house age in its place while I go find another place for myself. That is a project I will think about next summer.
I heard a pounding noise outside the window yesterday. When I went to investigate, the snow plowing company truck was in the driveway and some guys were putting in driveway markers.
I told them to plow the driveway this winter but refrain from putting down sand and gravel. What a mess that was to clean up this past spring. It it is icy, my son can use my Prius with the studded tires. One of his jobs is to run it every so often to keep the battery charged anyway.
There is no snow yet. Maybe the plowing company is just being prepared, or maybe they know something that I do not, but it has been cold. I have had to bundle up for my walks.
Even the horses are dressed for the cold.
The trees are bare and the sky is gray.
Winter is around the corner. Probably no one wants to hear about the progress on my Christmas shopping ( and wrapping) though. So I won't mention it.
The elections are over. I was kind of looking forward to a quiet simple supper after yoga class last night. Surely it was too late by then for any more reminders to vote, surveys of opinions, requests for money. I was wrong about that, but I have to say I think caller ID is about the greatest innovation of the past century. Somebody should get a prize for that. Maybe not the Nobel, but a prize.
I worked at the polls, checking voters in. I had to be there before the polls opened and there was already a line. That was encouraging. I cannot say I am in any way enchanted with the current political scene in this country otherwise. The obvious solution is to just let me rule the world but that does not look likely anytime soon.
I had forgotten what it was like to wake up and have to get busy right away preparing to go out of the house. It was a bit of a shock to the system. Much nicer, this morning, to sit here by the window, wrapped in a cozy robe, sipping coffee, and watching the school bus stop to pick up kids and then the parents heading off to work. Ahh. And doesn't a second cup of coffee sound like a good idea on this grey and windy day?
I always have plenty to do, but I LOVE being able to just ease into my days. Nice to be reminded sometimes of what a treasure that is.
I was driving along on the way to my daughter's house when I spied this display.
From a distance, I thought I was seeing those round hay bales that someone had painted orange. But, no, could not be because they were glowing. As I got closer, I could not believe I was seeing actual pumpkins. I stopped, turned around and went back to take these pictures.
Now was it
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
had a wife and couldn't feed her.
Put her in a pumpkin shell
and there he kept her very well.
Our small town library volunteers had a farewell luncheon with out wonderful librarian of the past eight and a half years.
A small town library is a big time job and it was time for Donna to move onto other things, but she will be greatly missed at the library. Of course, we have become friends and so we were not saying good-bye, just good wishes on the new job.
A new librarian has been hired. She will start next Monday. She has big shoes to fill.
I am afraid she was promised way more volunteer help than will actually be available. Three of the volunteers are dealing with health issues--one recovery from a hip replacement, one facing both her own shoulder surgery and a daughter's critical surgery, and another with progressing COPD. One volunteer, the one who gave the most time, notified the board that he was leaving to pursue other interests, one will be moving out of town, and I will be leaving for Florida.
But she strikes me as a capable and resourceful person, so I am not worried.
I [lan to get back to actually reading books more now!
Everything changes. This, according to Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, is the fundamental ambiguity of being human. To want things not to change brings pain.
The season is changing. I don't want it to, so guess my mood.
Even though it is still clearly autumn, it is starting to look and very much feel like November. And nothing says winter is almost here in quite the same way as the month of November in Vermont. The bare trees are black against the gray skies. The sun burst through once in a while, but mostly it drizzles rain from those clouds. The temperatures drop sharply at night and frost covers the morning more thoroughly each day. And it is dark. It is dark for long hours of the day and night.
I wonder at those who so readily embrace this time of year with its permission to gather inward, stay close to home and hearth, have a kettle of hot soup simmering on the stove and a loaf of bread in the oven. They must be able to identify with Persephone.
I, on the other hand, identify with Demeter who mourns for her daughter as I mourn for the passing of summer.