“It’s been a sad few weeks in the valley,” my friend noted this morning. We had been softly sobbing and hugging each in the middle of her country store for several minutes. The day before, Sunday, we had all learned of the sudden death of a friend — another fixture at the country store and a beloved teacher at the kids’ school. The news came on the heels of the death of another mutual friend. Both women were what my friend and I think of as young, and we were both shocked and then, like so many we’ve talked to, deeply sad.
I found myself tearing up throughout the day, looking for a bright spot in the loss of a mother by three young children and now the extinguishing of a kind and lively soul in the community.
When I got back to the house, Thing1 announced that parts for a computer construction project he’d been working and saving for had arrived. He was waiting for Thing2 to get home so they could build it together. I told him this is how Dell and Gateway got started and realized I was smiling for real for the first time since I heard the news yesterday.
The smile was the recognition that the gruesome twosome had found a shared creative outlet, that their curiosity is taking them down a glorious rabbit hole of research and discovery.
But the smile was also the reminder that there often isn’t a bright spot in the bad events; the bright spots exist in parallel with the sadness. But when there is so much sadness in the valley (and the world), the bright spots — the ordinary miracles — are what light the way through.
We had about 10 inches of fresh snow and ice and then snow again. last weekend. The temperature plummeted into the double digits below zero, and the Big Guy and I were working together to get the wood bins filled so that the door didn’t have to open again between Saturday and Monday morning.
I was actually enjoying a little bit of the labor. Iit’s one of those every day reminders to be grateful. Be grateful for the fact that we could to stay inside for the next 24 hours and work on tech support or illustrating books. And it was a reminder to be mindful of those who did have to work in the snow and cold or those who have no home at all.
The weather is bringing less drama this weekend, but as my big orange tabby settles himself in my arms to negotiate painting and cuddling, I’m making a point to be looking for the everyday blessings.
It’s 1 am, and i’m trying to fill the wood stove as quietly as possible.As the official night owl in the family, my last job before bed is loading her up so that we have coals to make starting the fire in the morning easier.
Earth-sheltered on three sides, the house base temperature is around 55 degrees, and It takes several seriously subzero days to require more than a couple loads of our Kitchen Queen wood cook stove to keep us all comfortable.
This weekend is predicted to be normal temperatures for this time of year—single digits at night, teens and low 20s during the day. I know I only need to load enough fuel for a few hours. As i put the last log in, I open the vent for a few minutes to let the wood catch. The soft red glow is the antidote to electronics, medí and social media anxiety. It soothes and hypnotizes. It’s a reminder of how much the simplest tasks can bring peace to our lives — even for just a few moments.
Jim-Bob, somewhere in his kitten hood, develop some sort of attachment disorder. This is displayed on a daily basis by his inability to let his favorite humans sit down without being sent on.
Most days when I sit down to work at my computer, he will hop up on my desk and then crawl into my arms, wrapping his paws around my arm. The first few times he did this, I would put him on the nearby chair or the ground and then another spot on the desk and say, “not right now Kitty.”. but he persisted.
I’ve now adopted a new typing style so that I can sit hunched over with the cat curled up between me and the laptop. I’m realizing this is setting a terrible example for the kids-if you badger mommy long enough she’ll eventually give in. But with the subzero temps, I like my living for coat.
The only the little hitch in our new routine is that my other winter routine has become doing my illustrations at my desk (painting doesn’t work during tax season for some reason). Jim-Bob, However, is refusing to recognize the line of demarcation between comfort time (when I’m typing) and creative time (when I really want to draw). I realize that we humans were put on this earth to serve felines, but now my conundrum is how to convince my orange art director that he’ll best be served sleeping next to and not on the drawings.