Monthly Archives: January 2014

Winter’s Fingers

Icicles on landscaping bush.

They’re promising us temperatures in the high 50s this weekend. Hmf. I’ll believe it when I see it.

We’ve been in winter’s icy clutches long enough now that Spring is an oasis mirage in an arctic desert. I know that it’s ridiculous of me to be moaning about it from Western North Carolina, when so many others have it so much worse. But the chill has sunk to my bones—set up shop in my core—this season in a fashion unlike any before.

A Year Ago: Hopeful [Palette]

Image with color palette.I’m moving to my next rental location, which I fervently hope and expect will be the last…
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Cobblestones outlined in snow.

I wish Safari would stop substituting the WRONG, non-functional URL when I try to enter the new, FUNCTIONAL one, so that I keep ending up on a 404 page despite having fixed the bad link ages ago. Seriously, this is stupid behavior and there doesn’t seem to be any way to force the correct URL to load. Idiotic.

This, alas, is a metaphor for the way I feel things are going in my life lately. Absolutely nothing is happening right the first time. Everything takes more steps than it should and every little thing that can possibly go wrong is going wrong.

Generally I like to think of myself as having a fair amount of tolerance for life’s small aggravations. I do try to cultivate equanimity. But recently I’m starting to feel a little stabby.

I would be most grateful if I could just have a few days without the steady stream of minor irritations. And I wish my cat would just CHILL THE FUCK OUT. He went from being Sir Cuddly Cuddlesome last night to 12 straight hours of bitey, crazed hell-kitty. (Sometimes I seriously want to drop-kick him off the porch. I won’t. Of course. Never. But I do fantasize about it periodically.)

A Year Ago: Making a Book

Running on Faith

Indoor plant.

It’s snowing again, and it’s cold and grey. About this time of year you just have to believe that it’ll be over eventually. The sun will shine. It will be warm… and then hot. (Remember hot?)

One thing I insisted on and paid more than I liked for in my new house was a deep soaking tub. I only use it a couple of times a month, but each of those steamy episodes has confirmed for me that I was right to fight for it. I’m a tall girl; regular depth bathtubs leave more than half my body out in the cold. But 17.5″ of water is enough for full immersion and the hottest water really warms my bones. Sometimes you just need to get the chill out of your core.

It’s easier to imagine that winter will pass when you’re tucked in bed radiating warmth from a hot bath. Today though, in the cold light of morning, I’m thinking greenhouse thoughts and hanging on for Spring.

A Year Ago: Well, Hello There!

Goat face

Some days, like this one, are just better than others…
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If You Don’t Like The Weather…

Snow falling on trees.

…wait five minutes.

Heavy blizzardy snow. So pretty! I leave the office, scrape off the half-inch of snow that’s fallen in the last ten minutes, and head home.

Sunny break in the blizzard.

Here’s the scene when I pull into my driveway, about 5 minutes later. Blizzard? What blizzard?

Blizzard through the screen window.

This blizzard. Aaaaaand it’s back! Five minutes later it’s coming down fast and hard again. Fortunately I am snugly inside my own home.

Patchy snowfall around Asheville, NC

This snapshot of weather radar shows the story: patchy bouts of intense snowfall. Welcome to beautiful Western North Carolina!

A Year Ago: Triune Dove

It looks like my temporary housing problem is solved…
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Among The Ruins

Trunk and vines.

When I was a young person, I was captivated by the stories of the lost cities of Central America. The etchings and early photographs of archeological wonders eaten up by the jungle—vines and trees swallowing the monumental remains of lost peoples—the romance and mystery of those images remains with me to this day.

Even in the tamest of environments (like a greenhouse at a well-loved tourist attraction), I can still see that tropical atmosphere of yet undiscovered ruins in my mind’s eye.

A Year Ago: Doodle Pattern

Ink and watercolor pencil surface patern.All I have to work with at the moment is a Dr. Grip pen and some watercolor pencils…
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Winter daisy in conservatory.

When I moved to Asheville, I wondered whether my friends of nearly two decades in DC and from elsewhere would be willing to make the trek here to see me. It’s not exactly a hub of the travel universe, Asheville, and finding your way here requires either a long drive or an annoying number of plane changes.

So far I have been blessed to receive quite a few guests in my new home. My sister and niece, my college friend Carole, Deb who I met my first day on the job at the Smithsonian, and then this past holiday weekend came the visit from Jocelyn. I am so grateful and touched that these people choose to spend some of their precious spare time and resources to come and stay with me.

The weather was cold but mostly sunny, and I was able to give Jocelyn a pocket tour of my new town and use a seasonal guest pass to take her to the Biltmore Estate. It was a lovely time. (Today’s picture is from the garden conservatory.)

Dear friends: allow me to assure you that Asheville looks quite different and has different pastimes to enjoy in each of the four (temperate) seasons! Please visit again and again!

A Year Ago: Cat’s Eye

Close-up of Sweetheart, a shelter kitty.

This is Sweetheart, a resident at Pet Harmony…
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Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 7—Kisses

Loki waiting for me to come in.

When I open the door to my home, more often that not Loki is perched atop the back of my armchair by the door, waiting to greet me. If he’s not, he usually comes running to assume that position.

He meows while I take off my shoes and coat, meows until I pick him up—feet and belly against my chest, front paws around my neck. He then buries his muzzle in the crook of my neck and commences to suckle. I sit down in a chair and transfer his oral attentions to the pad of my thumb or the side of another finger. We sit together for five minutes or so while he nurses and purrs and looks at me with drowsy, contented, trusting eyes.

He’ll do the same thing in the morning when I let him into the bedroom.

The first time he suckled on my neck I thought to myself, “Oh great, I’ve adopted a neurotic vampire kitten.” Now I find it mostly endearing. He’s so enthusiastic about it. This display of physical closeness, bonding, and affection has become a touchstone for our multifaceted relationship. I treasure it.

Some people might try to discourage this behavior, or hope that their cat would outgrow it (although a little research online suggests that it’s unlikely to disappear spontaneously). Loki was separated from his mother and neutered at a very early age. I suspect that this will be a lifelong habit, though perhaps it will diminish in frequency and intensity.

I don’t know whether others will ever be the object of this kind of affection from Loki. I think I may be the new designated mommy. And that’s fine by me.

A Year Ago: French Broad

French Broad River, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NCI’ll admit that the name makes me giggle, as I picture some brassy Parisian dame… [read more]

Garage Aura

Reflected light on garage ceiling.

I was on my way to the movie theatre to see “Nebraska” with Bob, when I had this aesthetic emergency. Looks like it was a monochrome kind of day after all, even with the late appearance of the sun.

Apparently, I wound up in black & white two years ago too.

Two Years Ago: Late Afternoon, Albuquerque

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NMMy first attempts with this image involved preserving the ultra-blue of the sky… [read more]

Puddle Love

[I believe the original source of this video is David Neils.]

When was the last time you romped or frolicked? When no one was watching or cared and you just cut loose with your bad self?

Was it prompted by joy or merely the cause of joy? Or both? Who cares which?!

Splash in those puddles, baby, just for the fun of it! You know you want to.

A Year Ago: Lift to the Light

Climbing vines/bush in winter on stone wall.It’s not an easy climb, and winter strips away all the color…
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A Winter Story

Brick wall and bare trees.

The snow and wind arrived tonight, and the relatively mild beginning to the year is being erased with 60-mile-an-hour gusts and single-digit windchill.

I am glad to be safely at home and will be grateful if my roof doesn’t get blown off.

A Year Ago: Abundance

Red berries in winter.I wake up sometimes with a jolt worrying about being poor, utterly without resources…
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