I’m sitting on the couch in my cold-weather gear after shoveling the walk for the first time today. About 3″ of powder has fallen so it was easy to clear off the walks and driveway. They have no idea how much is going to accumulate so I’m going to keep at it until dark to stay ahead of things as much as possible. I brought in an extra load of firewood last night, and Apple is giving us free AppleTV+ until July, so we should have plenty to keep us occupied tonight.
I was pretty low this past week overall. It was hard to stay focused on work throughout the day, and I’ve been struggling to feel like I’ve accomplished anything solid for a few weeks now. The nature of my day job at this point yields no actual product, and I can’t go anywhere to produce anything in person, so I’m finding it harder and harder to validate my daily existence. (Jeez, that sounds pretty grim when I type it out). Here at the house I don’t have a lot of projects going, so huge gains like the front porch or the Chic Shack or the kitchen tile feel like years ago.
At this point I should mention that I am immensely grateful to have a full-time job that supports my family, and as jobs go it’s incredibly gratifying to know that we make an actual difference for good in the world based on science. In no way is this a complaint about my many privileges. I work with amazing people for an incredible organization. I think I’m just suffering through some of the ennui that most other people are dealing with in Month 10 of quarantine and pandemic, and even though there are signs that things are slowly getting better, there’s still a lot of confusion and unease.
We ordered a new twin mattress for Finn’s bed on Thursday to replace the one she’s been sleeping on since she was in a crib. She’s growing by feet these days, so growing pains are setting in and we have no idea how old that mattress actually is. It’s supposed to land on our doorstep sometime in the next week, and then I’ll have to find a place to store the current mattress until I can haul it down to the dump.
This beautiful young buck was hit by a car out in front of our house this morning. I was at my desk working and heard a dull, loud thud as a rust-colored Jeep slammed into his flank; I looked up to see him scramble to his feet and run back into our yard and behind the house. I ran to the windows to see if I could see him, then outside to check the yard. He was laying on his side behind the Chic Shack with a stunned look in his eyes, drawing labored breaths and bleeding from his mouth.
I ran to check on the driver, who had pulled over to the side of the road. She was OK so I told her I was available if she needed me for the insurance claim and went back to look at the buck. In that short interval he had died; there was a pile of dark red blood and tissue around his mouth that he’d aspirated before the end. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, but I felt so bad for this guy, cut down in the prime of his youth, just trying to get the fuck out of the suburbs and back into the woods where he belonged.
From Fabulous Hair Finley.
Jen started a Lockardugan family tradition after Finn was born, something I’d never seen until she explained it to me: an advent calendar. She spends a ton of time searching out fun activities and traditions for our family to enjoy together, and I’ve written about some of them in years past. This year proved to be an extreme challenge.
We spent a quiet weekend together continuing the calendar events, starting with a Friday night ride through the area to find the best Christmas lights with some hot chocolate. Some of the old favorites weren’t set up this year. There’s a house with music-keyed lights and a working, lighted disco stage that gets tons of visitors every year who put a sign up saying, in effect, “thanks for coming, we’ll see you next year.” But the good news is that most other houses that that have been historically dark are covered in lights: evidence of Jen’s theory that we’re all trying to find cheer where we can, and one way to show it is to clean out the Target decoration aisle.
On Saturday we got a lazy start and then got down to business making Christmas cookies: first we made a batch of molasses and then mint dark chocolate dough, and then baked both of them. We’d talked about making galettes after the cookies but I think everyone was tired after being on our feet into the afternoon so we took the rest of the day off.
After dinner, we went out to check out a new house that Jen had heard about, which by itself made up for all of the lame Christmas house displays of the past: a lone house up in Security that had an incredible display keyed to a metal Christmas playlist.
On Sunday we all had different things going on, so I cleaned out the kegerator and did some puttering in the basement before we went out for a ride to the store. When we got home I worked on the engine in the garage and then came in to watch some football in the warmth until it was time for our Sunday activity: a dinner picnic under the tree. Because we didn’t feel like making anything, we got chicken from Popeye’s, made a fire in the fireplace, and finished playing the rest of Thursday’s activity: a homemade game of Christmas Who Am I.
Jen spent a lot of time organizing the advent calendar this year, and really filled it with fun things for the three of us to do together. Despite all of the bullshit going on beyond the borders of our house, I feel like we’ve spent the best holiday time with each other this year than ever, and I feel more cheerful about this season than I have in a long time—even though we can’t see family or friends.
We got about three to four inches of snow that packed down to two inches of snow/sleet/snow overnight. I didn’t bother going out and shoveling anything yesterday because I knew it was supposed to continue until sometime in the early morning. Instead of taking Hazel on a slippery walk—she wasn’t interested in being out in the snow for long anyway—I put boots on and got Dad’s old coal shovel out to chisel off the walk before work. In the afternoon Finley did the driveway and I finished off the apron to the road.
I will cop to the fact that I spiked a second cup of coffee with Bailey’s when I came back inside. We’ve got the fixins for homemade Bailey’s on standby in the pantry—with whiskey left over from the wedding—because that shit is expensive.
I was supposed to have snow-going boots from Nordstrom Rack by now; I found a set of Sperry duck boots on deep discount and ordered them before Thanksgiving, but still have not seen them on our doorstep. They are being shipped via USPS, and while I stand in solidarity with our overworked, underpaid and barely appreciated postal service, I must say their tracking system sucks. They are currently somewhere between Washington D.C. and here, with no estimate on delivery. Meanwhile I’m wearing 12-year-old Keen lowtop boots whose soles have been reglued to the uppers twice.
Here’s where we stand in the kitchen right now. The grout is sealed and ready but there are two plugs in the corner that aren’t working for some reason—they were fine before I put the tile in but I can’t get them to work. I replaced both of the outlets with new units; sometime GFCI outlets fail over time, but I can’t for the life of me understand what’s happening with these. Strangely the one in the back corner works fine because it’s on a separate circuit. The other big update is that I replaced the rope lighting above the cabinets. Over fifteen years the original filament unit had slowly died, so I pulled that out and replaced it with an LED version. It looks strange in the photo because the under-counter lights are bright white LEDs while the rope is warm light, but in person they warm up the whole kitchen dramatically.
Jen and I were talking this morning about how much brighter it is in there during the day, due to the light reflecting off the shiny white surfaces. It could all be wishful thinking, but I know there’s a big difference when I walk in there every day. Best $200 spent this year.