dig out, dig in

The snow keeps piling deeper outside, well-shovelled drift-banks now over waist-high in places on our end of the street. Busy, busy, busy on the homefront. Supper club invite going out today, then work, a birthday party, a Winter Salon of music and stories, more work, and dinner dates. Menus are planned, ready to be executed- the hard part is done, and now comes the fun! The cabin is getting cozier, feeling more warm and homey with each passing day, albeit still cold. I’m revelling in the order that’s developing- still much to do yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and look forward to cutting out the excess and getting down to the heart of the matter, and keeping only the bits that do really matter- still a lot, but better. So much better, and focused. Keep the meat, marrow, and bones, and trim the fat.

Thursday I met my former roommate for lunch at the Lakeview Chicago Diner… quite a ride, for which I underdressed but survived, and by the end of all my errands, my extremities had thawed sufficiently but were very grateful to be home again. It was a hearty lunch, the strong coffee, and chicken fried faux-steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and roasted veggies did much to warm my very chilled in-and-outsides, but not as much as catching up with the friend I lived for six years with in two different south-side apartments. He now teaches English as an adjunct at a couple university programs in Chile, but is thinking of returning to the ‘States at some point in the not-too-distant future… with any luck back here! Our once-third roommate is a lawyer in California, but the three of us keep in touch, mostly virtually, but occasionally in person, which is always a treat.

Made up a fresh batch of herbal tea (raspberry leaf, rose petals, lemon balm, mint, anise hyssop, and lemon verbena, all dried from the potager and the studio gardens, with a bit of nettle and oatstraw from Rose Mountain Herbs) for another friend who stopped by, with her friend, both of them on crutches (one recovering from knee surgery, the other from taking a spill on the ice the day before- ouch!). I was doubly-glad I’d shovelled the walk and the stairs but felt bad that there are no clear parking spots in front of our house. They managed.

Then took Zeus for the first walk he’s been on in awhile to drop off rent at the studio. A wise man gave me some advice earlier this week… “Don’t rent houses from your ex’s”. He is right, of course, practically speaking. I know, papa… I know… if there were a better solution right now, I’d take it. But here I am, dug in for the time being with my not-so-portable-life. Sometimes I’ve got to bite my tongue, but I’m used to that. Not so bad, really, given how grateful I am to have the time and the place here to sort things out. Zeus was thrilled to be out for about half a block, but doesn’t do well with the salt and ice. I can tell he’s getting a touch of cabin fever, which is why I finally brought him out, but I also hate to see him limping along and clearly uncomfortable after the first block. He gets as much yard time as he would like, but it’s not the same as sniffing along out in the street. We only went two blocks, then back (with a break in the middle to warm up). Gotta get little man some boots. I put his hoodie on him, and he’s been happily wearing it ever since. Right now he’s sprawled out on the couch, under the afghan my gram crocheted for me one christmas, eyes at half-mast, one paw dangling off the edge of the couch pillow. Adorable, until he stinks up half the cabin with dog-gas. Who needs a boyfriend? I already share my home with one adoring, hairy, smelly, yet handsome and protective male creature who hogs the pillows. Ha. It’s not the same, but it’s enough for now… mostly.

I’m enjoying the surplus of me-time to focus on friends, work, writing, and whatnot. Not that I’m lacking for company… but that’s another story for neither here nor there. Or, perhaps for there, but we’ll cross that bridge if ever we come to it. After staring at the abyss and abysmal times of the recent past, this girl is happy to have her feet on some solid ground. Hell, a rope bridge or a ladder even would have been an improvement over that rocky impasse, but things are better even than that. On belay? Belay on… Indeed. Even when you’re climbing on your own, you need people you can trust on the other end of the rope when you need to rest, whether that rope is real or otherwise. Press on, climber, onwards and upwards. Stop. Breathe. Then reach for some holds that seem sure enough, or take a chance. Make some moves, plan your route upwards while remaining wholly here in the present. Sometimes you feel your way gingerly along, taking steps that are sure, and sometimes the only way over is to gather, spring, trust, and leap. You won’t get anywhere without taking some risks, at least not to rushing heights. Suffice to say, life is good. Very good. I am happy, happier than I’ve been in a long while. For that I am truly grateful. I am what I am and that’s enough. Plenty, in fact.

This morning I did the usual critter-rounds, made a batch of ricotta for Sunday dinner, strained the vegetable stock I’d made late the night before, fed the scraps to the basement worm bin, built three worm bins for people picking them up later in the week, and cleaned some more- looking for the data cable to my camera, which I finally have determined is definitely not here. Which means it’s over there, which is a bummer. Lots of pictures to upload- my phone camera is frustratingly bad at the low-light shots I tend to take… things will get more colorful around here once it resurfaces or I replace it. Got called in to work this evening to help with a couple parties, which was doubly welcome as I only worked a half-day on Wednesday.

That day only two tables had braved the fresh snowfall by one pm… I never volunteer to get cut early if someone else wants to go, but that day I was glad for the opportunity to go home, fine-tune the supper club menu, get some packages ready to mail out, but first to shovel the walk. B had called me as I was leaving work and asked if I could do a narrow path in front of her place, as she couldn’t get into the room where she kept her shovel (snowed in from the outside, oh irony) and had to run to work. I’d had half that problem- my shovels were on the porch, but as usual I woke with just enough time to dress, feed the dog, and get to work myself. I shoveled the breadth of both of them, welcoming the exercise I sorely needed to clear my head and get my blood moving.

I, and almost everyone else I know, are done with this winter, but unfortunately it’s nowhere near done with us all. Here’s hoping for mercy sometime soon. The crocuses are under there somewhere. and below them, the daffodils, god, the daffodils! I can almost taste them. Warm sun. Drifts of blowing apple blossom snowstorms, blanketing the brown but greening ground. Mud. Rain. Hyacinth. And then the roses, tripping over themselves to outdo each other. Come quickly. Please?

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