my mini-sabbatical from posting

Spring springs earlier every year. African daisies are the first sign around here — late January, 2022.

It’s been three months since I posted. I miss writing. Several times a day, I begin composing mentally, but the words never get to print. I’m having my second knee replacement on March 9, and the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to do everything I’ve been putting off, so my time has been nibbled away. January until mid-February were only normally too-busy.

Shortly after my December 10 post, I started another one, hoping to post it before the New Year. The title was “humility / hubris.” A couple of incidents had made me suddenly aware of this duality in my nature and the degree to which it has affected my interactions since… oh, I don’t know, maybe birth?

I ended up splitting the two facets into a two-part draft. It felt like an area worth some self-examination, and I got a good start, but took it too far when I decided to end each draft by recounting the most horrible and embarrassing situations of my life that could be seen as instances of over-humility (which were consequently humiliating) or hubris. If you ever decide to plummet into depression, I suggest that you take a deep dive into dredging up memories of the most mortifying situations of your life, from toddlerhood forward. My wise friend Peggy, when I told her about this, said, “You know, you can write about something else.” So I just stopped. I recently re-read those drafts, and I think there’s some value in them. I have put them back together into one draft and will post them after my surgery without the planned list of mortifying details. Then, if my blogging experience holds, I’ll be able to let all that go.

our (gulp) new mountain house

Our experience spending the month of October in Flagstaff, AZ, was so exhilarating that we were determined to spend more time up there. We attempted to schedule two weeks at the same Airbnb in August this year only to find that the cost in the summer season would have been the same for two weeks as for a whole month in the fall. This led to the thought of buying a place up there. The thought then led to the deed itself.

I never aspired to have a second home. In fact, a couple of months before we found this place, I rejected the idea outright. We have a big, lovely house in Phoenix where we’ve lived since 1991, and that already seems like too much space, and WAY more than our share of worldly goods. Now two houses?!

From birth, I breathed in my parents’ visceral mistrust of rich people, and I still feel cognitive dissonance every time we buy things that Ralph and Dorothy would have seen as unnecessary, excessive and decadent. (To give them some credit, I believe they became less reactive to the idea of wealth as they got older and less poor — but would still make an extra stop on the way home from grocery shopping to get an item for $2 less than it cost at the first store).

On the other hand, I know that they would have loved our “new” Flagstaff house, and would have visited us there regularly. I wish they still could. The photo of the “great room” in the listings first attracted us to this house, but we were skeptical. We had discovered in the two houses we looked at previously that realty photographers can make a 9 x 12 room appear to be the size of a basketball court, so we waited to see it in person before making a bid. That room is, in fact, not as big as it looks here, but it’s a nice size and the view of the Ponderosa pines gives it a peaceful feel. A view of Mt. Humphrey’s is only a short walk away to the property line.

Other than the purple bathroom (soon to be a much different color), this will give you an idea of the appeal of the place.

We spent the night in the house for the first time last week, expecting an early morning delivery of furniture the next day. I walked around the house over and over again, getting acquainted with the place, and noticing things that made me wonder about the folks who sold the house to us. The most off-putting one of these was a closet that had been home to their cat(s). Although it is now empty and had been cleaned, it reeks of cat urine, one of the worst smells in the world. We poured four boxes of baking soda into an aluminum roasting pan, rolled a die to see who would have to take it in there (not really, Richard did it) and left it in there to absorb what it would. We will probably not use that closet, though if we had little kids, it would make a perfect time-out room. (Again, not really. Almost no one deserves that, other than some politicians and world leaders I could name.)

This is a photo from the listing with the sellers’ furniture, tchotchkes, etc.

Cats apparently had the run of the house under the management of the former owners, but only stunk up that one closet. Can you see the mouse-hole-shaped cut-out at the bottom of this closet door? The same kind of hole (without benefit of wooden panel to close it) is in the door to the master bedroom and (of course) the cat closet. The latter has the added feature of a brush built into the edge so the cat can be groomed on the way in and out.

Other oddities are shown below. That vertical pole Richard is standing next to is way too close to the wall for pole-dancing. Any reader have a guess? There’s also an oddly shaped piece of plywood nailed to the top of the railing on the steps into the garage. We found it a handy place to put cups of coffee while we loaded the car, but it seems purpose-built for something specific. Also, in the den, two very heavy hooks are screwed into opposite walls, perhaps for a hammock?

What else to say about the house? Well, the words “plethora” and “dearth” went through my head as I walked around again after getting up in the middle of the night. Specifically, I was noticing a plethora* of storage space — closets, cupboards and a huge pantry — and a dearth of towel rods. I hope to never fill the storage space, and first on my list of to-dos is to paint that god-awful bathroom and to add more places to hang towels. There’s a new sheriff in town!

*I mentioned “plethora and dearth” to Richard, who said I meant surfeit, not plethora. Sigh. What would I do without him?

as always, puzzles

My friend Paisley sent me a wonderful short poem, About It: A poem for Sunday by Geffrey Davis. about the pleasure of jigsaw puzzling. I recommend it to any of you that share my passion. My favorite line: “…the thousand little clicks of pleasure.”

Until the past three weeks, I spent way too much time puzzling, starting and never getting very far on the one at the top. It’s going to be time-consuming. The colors, already a little brown-heavy in the Bruegel painting, are very brown-heavy on the puzzle itself, and on the pieces, only the red is immediately discernible. The blues are gray (as are the grays), the whites are tan, and many browns are nearly indistinguishable. I will have time to spare during my recovery, but haven’t thought of a way to work on the puzzle in the days post-surgery, since I’m supposed to assume a position in which my knee is higher than my heart. (Still trying to work that out.)

And previously…
This one went quickly. I just built each block then fit them together.
The pictures were fun –the many “Playbills” in various sizes, not so much.
The World of Shakespeare — I knew a few of the references, not all…
My favorite lately — the way colors blend into each other. Delicious!

Another post to come soon… I love you all for reading this.

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