Good Morning, Children

. Aha, moving a photo worked. Note that I am snugged up in one of the crocheted jackets Crusie gave me. She crochets so she doesn’t smack people, but then she ends up with too much stuff, and I reap the benefits of it all.
It’s cold in my office, the electric heater that looks like a fireplace is cranking out the btus, and I’m ready to work.
But first … The Shape of Water. (An endless moment of rapturous grinning ensues).

Just … so wonderful. Not like the rampart scene in Last of the Mohicans or the bed scene in The Big Easy, more along the lines of the end of the Big Easy,when they’re dancing. I just sat in the movie theater with a big smile on my face, the one that Richie calls my Disney smile. It appears when I first arrive at Disney World. It appeared when I found out I was having a granddaughter. It’s sheer, innocent joy untrammeled by reality. You don’t find that very often, but I found it last night. I’m still smiling.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about attacking the mess in my house, which I spent the weekend doing, and Jenny was similarly inspired. Tune in, and think about what area you need to make sense of. Office? Kitchen? Bedroom?
Everything needs it in this house, but I’m taking it bird by bird.

See you tomorrow, and we can share organizing, decluttering, stick-to-it tips.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short (Krissie)

That was a saying from my Danish grandmother. Probably common in the first half of the last century, I imagine. I’m sitting her with a spiffy new bottom of the line MacBook Air (people don’t usually brag about bottom of the line, do they?) but of course I didn’t have my sign in info so I couldn’t get on until way late in the day. But I got my proposal and 25k words out the door, and I’m juggling lots of stuff, but not feeling as achy or overwhelmed. Bird by bird, and this year I’ going to revel in the good things. I love your choices for word of the year – I’m looking forward to seeing Jenny’s changes.
As for me, I’ve made a couple of decisions this week. One, that I need to be braver. I don’t drive a lot of places because heavy traffic scares me (snowstorms, not so much). I know there are places where people panic at a snowflake, so I’m guessing it’s simply what you’re used to. Horribly long commutes are terrible in theory, but when you’ve got one you just do it and don’t think about it. I don’t get stage fright, I’m not afraid of failure. I just need to be more adventurous.
And … I realize I can finally be a colorful old woman! I’ve written plenty of them – women with flowing garments and ditzy behavior and fierce strength beneath their eccentricities. Now I can claim that for myself. (Yeah,i know, already been there, done that, but I like claiming it). I found a board on Pinterest (you guys know I love Pinterest, right?) that was incredibly inspiring and liberating.

Milan Fashion Week September 2009
DANIELA GREGIS
Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2010

If you don’t know how Pinterest works, you find photos with links to instructions or articles either in Pinterest or on-line and you collect them (Pin them) to your own boards. I have boards for each of my recent writing projects, heroine ideas, hero ideas (yeah, I know, they’re mostly Tom Hiddleston, but there are other possibilities too). I have sewing and dolls and baking and crochet and house plans and Danish and writing tools and all sorts of good things.
Then, other people like the pictures you’ve added, and they pin them to their own boards. I followed someone who’d pinned a dress I liked to her board, and fell in love.
The board is by someone named Mariaelisabet, called Clothes and Things, and I just realized she’s Scandinvian (Swedish, I think). Anyway, the clothes she’s pinned are loose and flows, sometimes with masses of lace, etc. Stuff that an eccentric, skinny young woman might wear.
Except that she’s pinned pictures or larger models, and older models (some really old) wearing the stuff and my reaction was “hell, yes.”

So I am going to embrace my eccentricities (the world trembles). I’m going to wear any damned thing I please, because I am an old lady and I can do it. Mind you, I always did (nun habits to rock concerts, saris to Greenwich Village, maxi dresses when people wore minis. I remember one day I went to work in NYC at the Rockefeller foundation wearing hot pants and a graduation robe. Another time a vintage girl scout uniform (ca. 1940s) and fishnet stockings.
In fact, I tend to be more uncomfortable in classic clothes – I feel like I’m trying too hard.
So prepare for the glorious new, colorful, ancient me!

Funny that this just came to me in the beginning of the year. I hope I claim it and revel in it. Anything you guys want to claim? Anyone want to redefine themselves? For me, it’s just another level of reinventing my own fabulousness. How can you reinvent yours?

MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 22: A model walks the runway at the Daniela Gregis Spring/Summer 2012 fashion show as part Milan Womenswear Fashion Week on September 22, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Happy New Year!

Grr. I still can’t figure out how to move photos, or I’d put a photo of me naked, dancing around the New Year’s Bonfire with elves and angels … Naaah, I’m too tired to go with the fantasy. It’s seventeen below right now, but at lest there’s no breeze. It’s been so freaking cold this week that I’ve barely left the house, and I’m used to the weather. I remember one Christmas when the thermometer dipped to minus 42 (but then popped right up to a balmy minus 36). I’m like the logger in the old song. I wear a hat at 10 degrees, at zero I button up my coat. But this stuff is nasty.

But I had a glorious Christmas, my kids are doing very well indeed, my grandchildren are fabulous – they probably initiated FaceTime more than half a dozen times this week – last night Ali fell asleep talking to me.

So it’s the new year, end to a horrible year, which followed a terrible year (remember how we all said 2016 was awful). Signs are not good for 2018. We have to stay strong against injustice, kind to everyone (even the people who don’t deserve it) and good to ourselves because right now life is a challenge given the state of the world, both natural and political. Apparently kindness makes the kind person happier. I’m generally a kind person, and I’m happy. Not necessarily proof – when I’m not in a depression I tend to be a happy person. Years ago (I’m thinking around 1960) I was in the library at Valley Road School in Princeton, and I had a miserable cold. Just awful. And I sat at the table and thought, instead of always noticing when I’m feeling awful, I’m going to pay attention to when I Don’t have a cold, and enjoy that. Pretty advanced thinking for someone in sixth grade, but I’ve tried to do that whenever I could. It’s a better way to live, when you can do it.

We’ve been picking words again to symbolize our coming year. Last year mine was “glide.” It wasn’t soar – that was too much effort, and I didn’t need to soar. I needed to glide peacefully on the breeze, smooth and free. It was a good pick.

Oddly enough, this year mine is “celebrate,” and it goes back to that day in the library. Each day when my kids are okay, when no one is sick, when the sky is bright blue, when the cats curl up next to me, when I’m writing, sewing, baking, cleaning, singing, shopping, sleeping.

Bad things happen. There’ve been many occasions this year when I’ve simply had to take a break from the news and the horrible things that are happening in our country. But I can still celebrate while I fight the good fight, and I can celebrate the fact that we’re not taking freedom for granted any more, that we are energized and involved and not just ignoring the terrible things the Fat Cats are doing. There’s good everywhere.

So choose a word. Sometimes it’s simply endure. Or comfort. Or laughter. Or growth, light, learn. Try for something positive rather than simply reactive, and remember it as you move through the year. I promise you it will help.

Okay, ante up. What’s your word?

Ho Ho Ho

I had a truly stellar Christmas, so stellar that noon on Tuesday was the first time I thought of Refab (and that was with Jenny’s prompting). It was glorious! Christmas Eve was just Richie and me – we stopped and visited with Sally after picking up some last minute things – I made seafood chowder, we lit all the candles, finished our decorating, then watched the George C. Scott version of a Christmas carol, in between face timing with Tim and the grandkids.
I was pretty tired. We’re having hellacious weather (lots of snow, some ice, and then the bottom of the thermometer is going to shatter) – so both of us snuggled down for a long winter’s nap (me listening to a cute Christmas romance on my iPhone, only to have it suddenly ring at 8 in the morning (we we exhausted so still sound asleep.) It was the grandkids in New Mexico, two hours earlier, opening their presents, excited and happy. I was on the iPad, the other grandparents on the iPhone, and we watched them romp around in joy. I’d made Christmas pajamas for all of them, and Alex was proudly wearing his (Ali was wearing hers later that day) from a large amount of Hello Kitty Christmas flannel I’d bought for Daniel when he was a kid, and they looked adorable.
I’m a very advanced soul – I just thought I might mention that in case you missed it along the way (there needs to be an ironic font). Y’all know how much I love American Girl dolls, how I’ve been making clothes for them, etc? Right now I have nine of them around the living room, all in their Christmas finery (I made Christmas outfits for those that didn’t have them). You aren’t supposed to have an American Girl doll until you’re between six and eight, but I’ve been working on doing stuff for Daniel’s old Kirsten, planning to give her and the full wardrobe to Ali when she was old enough since Ali has lots of swedish blood in her background (that’s the only thing we know about Tim’s background). But I discovered the Target version that were recommended for three and up, so I bought her one for her birthday and had lots of clothes for her, but when I gave it to her last spring she wasn’t that interested (she likes Barbies more because of their size) and Erin left it at her parents’ house because her car was too full.
Conveniently forgotten, of course, because her parents sent her an AG doll with tons of clothes and a backpack. A normal person would have a sulky fit, but I simply rolled my eyes (not when they could see me on FaceTime) and shrugged. I’ve always treaded carefully – dueling grandparents can be difficult. In fact, because Erin’s mother is extremely competitive and we’re latecomers (Alex was about one when I became Grandma Krissie) I tend to tread carefully.
So this is fine. I’m not sulky, but I deserve a little bit of self-congratulations for being.. such an evolved soul.
So we facetimed for a couple of hours, then I finally got to pee, then we had sausages and scrambled eggs, then Daniel called on FT, and we watched him open his presents, and then Erin called for help on setting up the PS4 Pro we gave them, (2nd ft with them), while I was making Risalamande (traditional Danish Christmas dessert). Then Jenny (Mini-me) FT, (she and Tim went out for early morning runs and then she took him out for a Christmas lunch, which was just perfect). Then Alex again, then we went to Sally’s (I’d been planning to make Gløgg and Smørbrød but I crashed, cried a little, cheered up, got to Sally’s and immediately Facetimed with Tim and then with the kids grandkids again while they facetimed Tim on another device. Finally we went home and I had the best night’s sleep in my entire life.
I’m sitting here by the Christmas tree watching Hallmark movies and snuggling under my delicious new electric throw (which, since the temperature won’t be reaching 0 degrees for the next few days it will be very timely – a present from Sally).

So now I’ll see and pick-up stuff and bake my grandmother’s julekage with no deadlines – we celebrate the entire week between Christmas and New Years. Life is quite wonderful. I have the best grandchildren in the world, wonderful friends (Jenny and Sally in particular), an excellent niece, fabulous children who seem to be emerging from long, difficult times. We won’t even mention that magnificent man I married. Plus two phenomenal cats.

I’m hard-wired to notice the good things around me – I think that’s partly why I’m happier than most people. Life is a banquet, and right now I have a groaning board.

Share some stories of your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so we can celebrate your time too.

And God bless us, everyone.

One Week to Christmas

Damn updates! Can’t put up the pictures I took of me eating Christmas cookies for breakfast. That’s okay – just know that I did it and enjoyed it tremendously.
Busy week. We dodged a family feud bullet – lots of hurt feelings and tears but it’s working out, thank heavens. Imperfectly, but perfection is boring.

So this week I made nightshirts and sleep pants for Erin, Alex and Ali (I had a bunch of Hello Kitty Christmas flannel I’d bought more than a decade ago). I’m putting the binding on Alex’s quilt today, I’m attempting to make Ali’s quilt (it’s all cut) but I expect that’s not gonna make it in time for Christmas. I spent Thursday making Christmas cookies (cut-out sugar cookies, m&m cookies from my aunt’s recipe, cute green and red cookies with lemon extract). They were for GAAR (our theater group)’s Christmas celebration, which was a staged reading of A Christmas Carol interspersed with carols and music. I’ve been in such pain I tried to get out of it, even though it’s one of my favorite things, but Sabra talked me into it so I was Mrs. Fezziwig, the third narrator (and I got to read all about “luscious pears” and “twelfth-night cakes”), plus, my children I sang “Dona Nobis Pacem” With two other women. One was Cara, a magnificent alto who’s been the Mother Superior in Sound of Music (Climb any Mountain, anyone?) and the other was Heidi, a professional opera singer. My knees would have rattled if they weren’t so swollen, but I summoned forth my long-forgotten training, supported from the diaphragm, and managed to hold my own. In fact, was told I had a voice like an angel. I’m still shaking my head about that – my classical voice is weak. But not on Friday night.
I spent Saturday in bed, and finished up the nightclothes on Sunday. Today I sew while Richie decorates our tiny tree (I’m in too much pain to do much – can’t raise my right arm to hang things, etc). But I’ll try to do some cleaning. This year I’m embracing hygge with full force – it’s a long, cold winter and we need to be cozy.
The kids are safe and well, so I don’t need to panic. Sally and family are coming for Christmas (to their own house, thank God) and while I’ve got appointments this week we’re sliding into celebration mode rather than preparing mode.
Did I mention I love Christmas?
It’s really nice not to feel pressured about presents, or socializing (or lack thereof). We can just celebrate the return of the light (central to Christmas, Hannukah and Saturnalia) and be happy.
I hope you’re all going to have a lovely holiday, with no politics, lots of good food, family you love, friends and pets and everything with a candlelit glow. to quote one version of Auntie Mame, we need a little Christmas in this world of ours. Let’s seize it!

Merry Christmas, my children. Let’s hope that 2018 will be better than 2017 (which somehow managed to be worse than the god-awful 2016). Things have got to get better, and they will. We each just have to do our part to spread love and good-will.

Amen.

Monday, Monday (Krissie)

Blasted upgrade. Now I can’t figure out how to find my photos. I need to spend time with the new wretched upgrade but the days are just packed. For instance, today I drive 40 miles, go to Social Security (and wait and wait and wait), then 25 miles further to pick up the back-up to my poor dead computer and drop off my only working one (the trackpad isn’t working), and then another 15 miles to Fedex to ship out a heavy present, then back to Montpelier to go Christmas shopping (JoAnn’s for fabric I mis-cut, sewing machine store to drop off good scissors to be sharpened, TJ Maxx because, Wal-mart for a list of things, the grocery store, anything else I need to do, then take Route 12 over the mountain to Morrisville to pick up meds and then home. Tomorrow was going to be a trip to Morrisville and my therapist, but we’re supposed to get heavy snow so I’m guessing I won’t get there.

So – many of you lucky people have snow! I know it’s a pain, but it’s Christmas, and man, I am a Christmas junkie! Everyone’s doing well for a change – Daniel has a job that he likes, we gave Tim a ski pass for Christmas and instead of staying in his dark room and never seeing anyone he’s out on the mountain and happy. It seems absurd that someone on disability spends his winter snowboarding, but he’s unable to interact with other people. He starts out fine and then gets squirrelly and paranoid. So getting him out in the sunshine is the best thing for him.

Which means I can enjoy myself and not worry. Neither of them are coming home for Christmas, which will be the first time since Daniel was born that neither of our kids are home, but it’s okay, as long as they aren’t dissolving into crisis. And my OBFF (Old Best Friends Forever – Jenny is NBFF) is coming for Christmas with her family, and they’ll have enough crises to keep my busy.

So Monday, Montpelier, Tuesday, MOrrisville, Wednesday a get-together to meet the new minister and baking cookies I promised, Thursday Burlington for a writer’s lunch, Friday all day rehearsals and carols, etc. that night. (Take a deep breath, Krissie).

Funny – I am exhausted and in massive pain. Yesterday I almost threw up from exhaustion and pain (and all I did was go to church and come home and sew). I’ve got all this creative and mental energy and everything just sort of pancakes. Not sure if that’s aging. Oh, hell, yes I am. Because it’s a combination of my body being no longer able to keep going as long, and the physical effects of the arthritis and fibromyalgia dragging me down. Except I don’t say no. I bustle and play, etc., collapse in exhaustion and then do it all the next day. Because life is fun.

I watched Auntie Name again yesterday. It doesn’t hold up that well, I’m afraid (I watched it for the Macy’s scene because of my WIP) but her mantra still holds true. Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live!

Do I’m living, amplifier turned up to eleven, playing christmas carols on the stereo (almost the only time we use it), wearing Christmas clothes and having a marvelous time.

So, is anyone having fun with Christmas/the holidays? Or are you stressed and anxious? What are you doing to enjoy yourself?

If you’re blue watch a Christmas movie. It’s good for what ails you.

Prezzies (Krissie)

So all you noble people who don’t want anything for themselves for Christmas – you’re all a bunch of poops!
No, not really. You’re wise and grounded. There are too many things in this world, and I keep decluttering like mad, so what’s my problem?

I don’t have a shopping disorder. I do like to shop, I have bought too much in the past, but I haven’t gotten into debt over it, ordered stuff and never opened it, etc. I think maybe during times of grief, like when my brother died, I went out to shop a little obsessively, though it was the trips, more than the purchases, back then, and now that I have a hard time wandering stores I haven’t substituted Amazon, etc.

I think part of it was that shopping with my mother was one of the rare times we really had fun together. Even when we were little she would take Taffy and me into Philadelphia to the big department stores (Strawbridges, Gimbels, etc) and we should shop. For my mother, who was, fortunately, a bargain hunter, it was her major recreational activity, a way she could interact with people without interacting. She was very much devoted to her self-image as an intellectual, and she wasn’t interested in gardening, fiber crafts, cooking, outdoors, sports, visual arts, getting together with friends … She would read and she would shop and she would rage.

I remember one Saturday when she took us into Philadelphia (we lived in Princeton but we’d moved from Philadelphia so we tended to focus there rather than NYC), We’d had a fabulous time – gone out for a fancy lunch, I’d gotten a beautiful pink easter dress (god, I loved that dress!) and arrived home to find my father passed out on the floor, and everything came crashing down . There are certain moments that stick out in a child’s memory (I must have been around ten) and that’s one of them.

So, since I’m spending all my time giving stuff away, why do I have a big Christmas list? Part of it is that we’re so tight for cash that I can’t just get what I want. We’ve been spending $2,500 more than we bring in each month, and that’s just about the amount for Tim’s rent and food and Daniel’s college loans. But Tim just got approved for SSI and disability and Daniel’s got a job he likes, so things are looking up. But I still have to double and triple think every purchase and then still probably not get it. Here’s my list:

Ha! Okay, I can’t cut and paste, but I laughed when I looked at it. I thought I was being so fucking greedy, but what I’d chosen was $15 Thor’s Hammer, three craft books, a couple of crochet patterns, a set of fabric stamps, and a cd of Danish Christmas carols. There are a couple of things that cost about $25 and the rest are about $10. So I guess my soul-searching about my shopping and acquisition needs was totally unnecessary. I think buying stuff for creativity/craft is excellent, except when you substitute buying for doing. For instance, I spent years buying fabric and books (and even then I paced myself – I’m a bargain shopper too). But a book on learning a new technique or a tool for doing it (the fabric stamps) is stretching you rather then hemming you in with stuff.

All right, none of this is terribly interesting for you, and that’s okay. It’s a way for me to work things out, which is exactly what this did today, and I feel less grabby, and delightfully righteous.

Anyway, it’s Christmas, and since I’m a Christmas fanatic I tend to think about Christmas-y things. Today I’ll decorate plain sunglasses with christmas stuff just for giggles. Ho ho ho.

Which reminds me, I once made matching nightshirts for the kids with xmas fabric that said “ho ho ho” but I forgot to pay attention to direction when I cut it out, so the kids had xmas nightshirts that said “oh oh oh”.

Off I go in my sleigh. Er … to shop.