So Much Annoyance, You Just Gotta Laugh

Geez, folks, this week I’m being tested for something. Perhaps it’s, “Can Suna find humor in everything?” “Is there a reason to smile hiding in any annoyance?” I hope I pass the exam, because I’m really trying to find humor and beauty, but today has, basically, sucked.

Nature’s always there to rescue me and remind me there’s good out there. So, here ya go, it’s the bloom off my mother-in-law’s tongue plant. How delicate and wondrous that is. Getting a houseplant to bloom has to make you smile (for pictures of it when it was budding, check out my very long houseplant post).

And, my daily commute (yay, I have the all-clear to go to the office) started and ended with one of my favorite sounds, cedar waxwings in large flocks. They flew over, but none were close enough to to photograph. I just love those whistles they make.

In between the commutes was a very frustrating work day, in which all my hardware components decided they were tired of functioning normally. My monitors did a devlish dance that was hard for me to believe. The really nice IT dude drove over (most people work from home) to try to help, which resulted in one monitor ceasing to let itself be found, my new keyboard and mouse stopped working, and my dock gave up the ghost. Well, shoot. I have not yet found the humor in that situation…it just happens when you rely on technology for your job!

Look, there’s a second bloom stalk hiding back there!

So, I ended up having to do delicate meetings on the phone. I started pacing, which apparently made everyone else on the call nauseated. It did give my boss something to laugh about, so there, a good thing came out of it. We were doing meetings that were not fun for us, so there was more than the usual amount of gentle ribbing, photos of dogs, and other distractions. See, not all bad. And I was pivoting, like a good Agile worker.

I got home and was reminded of the other thing that had me annoyed, from yesterday. I left my dang knitting project over at the Hermits’ Rest house. Having gone through a bunch of minor annoyances yesterday, I really wanted to knit, so I ran all over the Bobcat Lair house until I found a yarn I’d bought years ago back when I had knitting friends and went to the Kid ‘n Ewe festival.

Who needs a pattern when the yarn is so lovely, right<

I decided to just start out with a plain triangular shawl, with a classy tabbed start. I’m going to throw in some simple lace later, now that I realize that the blues and purples aren’t too distracting. The yarn is hand dyed from a Texas dyer that’s no longer in business, but I like how it has a matte thread and a shiny thread plied together. So, that’s one more annoyance I was able to laugh at.


Hey, thanks for the nice words and comments on my previous post. I have some really great readers. And by the way, you can always go read blogs on WordPress if you want to cheer up. There’s so much beauty, and at least a river isn’t flooding my back yard (garden) like poor @knittingjane of Woolly Wednesday. Go read a blog! And take care!

Let’s Help Inarticulate Beings

This week, I’ve taken my mind off things by observing my surroundings and seeing when I’ve been helpful without realizing it. Actually, one of the main ways I’ve gotten through the past few years has been knowing that, while I can’t fix big problems, I can often help with smaller problems that might be big to someone else, even those who don’t realize it or can’t express it in words.

I can’t show you the actual dog and me on our drive, so enjoy this actor portrayal of a prettier person and dog. Image by @darinatravel via Twenty20.

For example, today I helped get a dog from Austin to Cameron, as part of my Milam Touch of Love volunteer work that I don’t do nearly enough of. That wasn’t much of a big deal on my part. I happened to be going from Austin to Cameron anyway, and just made a detour. To the dog’s owner, someone in crisis, this was a huge deal and solved a huge, nasty problem. The owner said those of us helping out were sent from Heaven. No, we are people who know that the right thing to do when you know of a person or animal in need and you CAN help, you DO help. It’s doing the right thing, not out of fear, but out of respect and love.

The dog was confused, and had no idea it needed help. It could not thank me other than with a wagging tail. But I knew I helped and am glad it’s safe.

Changing the Subject Somewhat

In the dog transport case, my friends and I knew we were doing something helpful. But, as I observed some of ways I’ve helped some living things. Since they can’t talk, we had to pay attention to see how we’ve helped. I’m talking about plants here.

My pothos (Golden Queen) in my office (also some other plant is in there). The leaves are not very big.

How do you know you’ve helped a houseplant? Well, it will grow and thrive in a place that’s not where it naturally would end up. Most house plants are really tropical plants that have been hybridized to do okay in pots. Usually they don’t get very big in our houses.

Both spider plants and pothos are way bigger when they grow outdoors, but are usually pretty small in our homes. Pothos or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) leaves can be 39×18″ in the wild! They don’t bloom spontaneously, sniff. I know they are happy when the leaves don’t start dropping off.

Epipremnum aureum is an evergreen vine growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, with stems up to 4 cm (2 in) in diameter, climbing by means of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces. The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 45 cm (18 in) broad; juvenile leaves are much smaller, typically under 20 cm (8 in) long.

Wikipedia
My Golden Queen is not as big as this mama.
A spider plant blossom. By Wildfeuer – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1460984

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) get up to two feet tall in nature (I’ve seen it, since I’ve lived in the subtropics), and I know mine are happy when they bloom. Or that means they’re rootbound. They don’t talk a lot. I feel like the little bonus plants they grow are little gifts to me, even though I’ve seen them take over huge areas when there is no freezing weather to keep them under control.

Anita grows a lot of cactus plants and succulents. They show her she’s taken good care of them by growing, but more excitingly, by blooming. We both get excited when one of her plants blooms. Take a look at this one!

The plant just threw up a big ole stalk and bloomed.
That’s quite a stalk (and quite a cool effect the double-paned windows make with the reflections!)

Many of my own house plants have been around a long time. I’ve had some bad luck lately, but when a plant is happy, it stays. Here is a house plant a money tree Pachira aquatica) that we’ve had for well over a decade, and it was a gift from another family when they moved.

The way-too-big houseplant. Also, note pothos that is less happy than the other one. It’s getting moved and repotted soon.
It’s a flowering tree that also has edible nuts. By © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7898452

This poor plant lived a long time on the deck while the Bobcat Lair house was getting renovated, where it got too much sun, received too little water, was besieged by aphids, and looked very sad. We had no place to put it in the casita!

It had tiny leaves, and most had fallen off. I kept wondering if I should put it out of its misery. But look! It’s funny looking, but it has nice big leaves now, which cover the plant. And it’s new growth is no longer sticky from aphids! It only took me a couple of years to fix that. I helped my old friend.

[I should never look on Wikipedia for stuff. I got all distracted discovering that this thing really IS a huge tree where it comes from, its flowers are the largest of any flowering tree, and it has edible nuts, when roasted. They call it the Malabar Chestnut. Raw nuts are toxic to rats. Enough of this.]

Monday.

Another plant I now realize I helped is this mother-in-law’s tongue/snake plant that was being thrown away when we moved to new offices at work. I have three different pots of it now, but the happiest one is at the Bobcat Lair. How do I know it’s happy? It’s going to bloom! I’ve never seen one of these bloom.

Friday

I discovered the little bloom stalk on Monday of this week. I’d hoped it would flower before I had to come back to Cameron.

But, the stalk is still growing. Maybe I’ll get to see the blossom next time I’m in town! I wonder if it’s blooming because it’s filled the container with leaves and feels the need to reproduce, or if it’s telling me thanks for giving it such good light and appropriate watering for the past few years. You just can’t tell. But, I’m convinced that I helped.

Seeing my plant companions thriving makes ME grateful, so I’ve helped both inarticulate friends and myself. Plus, contributing to life on this planet feels to me like it’s creating some balance, which we need. Not everything is destructive and selfish. Kindness is out there! We can help.

Here’s a photo of what the blossoms look like. In the wild, there will then be orange berries! By Arungolas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89254511

Irrational Pleasure at Small Things

I’m beginning to think the reason I’m usually in such a positive frame of mind is that it’s so darn easy to give me little bits of happiness throughout the day. Just in my office, alone, there are things that make me feel a wee bit of joy every time I use them. Just now I was talking to Anita about my love for the very large set of gel pens she got me for Christmas.

Oooh, ah. This thing has TWO layers.

They replaced the HORRIBLE gel pens I’d been using to write in my notebook every day. I’d say 75% of them were dried up before I even got to use them, and they weren’t that old. I do love the stand they came in, but I guess Anita got tired of me cursing every time I tried to write something down.

Bad pens, on their way to Pen Heaven.

The new pens work like a charm. I, being me, and using them in order to write my notes each day. It’s the baby version of the incredibly complex, but meaningful to him, system Lee uses in his really fancy journals.

Other things that just perk me up a little every day are my various rose-scented items. I love the smell of roses. Of course, it makes Lee sick (I have never met anyone so sensitive to scents in my life, and that’s saying a lot for someone who attended a Unitarian Universalist church where scents, real candles, and many types of flowers were banned because of folks who, I assume, would not have lasted long prior to this century), so I indulge mostly in Austin or in my office in Cameron.

Before I got so lost in my parenthetical ravings, I was going to say how I like the rose cuticle oil (with cute li’l dried strawflowers in it) and my fancy rose oil perfume from my favorite multi-level marketing vendor. I have one of those for all my desks.

Smelly objects!

Naturally, my red leather notebook with my name on it makes me happy, too. I write in it every day and enjoy how soft it is. It’s from Jenny Bick, if you want your very own cute journal.

One more thing I love is a good keyboard. I must say I irrationally love the clicky keyboard I have in the Austin office and the cute candy-colored one I have in the Cameron office (they are from a Chinese company that markets itself as the PNK Stuff). Why not enjoy yourself while you type all day, every single day?

Well, look at that. I just came up with all these things just sitting at my desk! No wonder I’m such a chill type of gal these days. I doubt I’ll continue and share what I love about the area around my chairs in my living rooms or my bed. I think it’s clear that many things bring me joy. No wonder I can’t toss most of my things.

What makes you happy just by having it nearby or using it daily? Suna wants to KNOW!

The Mystery Fig

Allow me to return to the original purpose of this blog, which was to document my nature observations and Master Naturalist activities. I want to share that I finally solved our Bobcat Lair fruit mystery.

For a few weeks we’ve been seeing these weird fruits in the road and in the grass near our house. Anita and the neighbors had been baffled. A plant identification mystery!

What the heck?

Finally, last week, Anita and neighbor Angela determined that they were coming from across the street from us, where new owners had recently trimmed back some overgrown shrubbery. That’s been letting more fruit be seen. And it appeared to be coming from…a cedar (Ashe juniper) tree?

Tree is just to the right of the lights. We had never seen the porch lights on or Christmas lights here before recently.

Looking harder, at the tree we realized there was something non-juniper-esque in there, which we never could see before. Well, we couldn’t see the house, either.

There it is!

I took a photo of the fruit, which resembled a fig or a banana or a cashew to us. It was identified on iNaturalist as a snail. Nope. I posted to our chapter Facebook group and a couple people said a fig. But it didn’t feel like a fig.

The picture that looks a lot like a snail.

So, today I took more photos, including the leaves, by crawling in the neighbor yard. Hmm. That tree could be a big vine.

I also got more fruit and cut one open. Hey, there were lots and lots of tiny seeds in there! Like a fig. Okay, so I have fig and vine.

The inside. Spongy pulp and teeny seeds.

I uploaded all my photos, and finally found a match. And it’s both a fig and a vine.

It doesn’t always have small leaves.

This seems to be a weird plant. It often has tiny leaves, but also parts with large leaves. I think the one across the street has both. (Look at what’s growing on the tree trunk above.) And those weird pulpy fruit! They are not like figs you eat. And they are in the mulberry family?

I looked into it more. Mulberries are a big family. So is ficus. Breadfruit is also one. Here’s more from Wikipedia (donate to them) about our new figgy friend:

But what the heck is a liana? I have a friend named Liana…what is she named for? It’s a woody, bridgy viney thing.

Do any of you know more about these plants? Interesting, huh?

Being Alive = Excellent

Came close to being not alive or close, today. I had an excellent drive to Austin and enjoyed getting lots of work done. Then, Anita and I decided to go to Costco for her staples (especially toilet paper!), because it’s practically empty at 4 pm on a Tuesday.

Anita, Not Injured

I asked Anita to drive. I’d driven on wet roads and was tired. That was an excellent idea.

We were driving down scenic Far West Blvd., at normal speed, because the school zone was over. As we went through the intersection with Chimney Corners, where our eye doctor is, there was suddenly a black Suburban accelerating towards us, attempting to turn left into the space Anita’s Mazda was occupying.

You can see the driver had sped off, but got caught at the light.

There were other cars all around. I guess the dude was trying to thread a small gap and didn’t see us. Anita slammed on the brakes and veered left to avoid the giant vehicle.

Somehow, she managed to end up still on the road, without hitting the curb or any utility poles. And the vehicle behind us managed to not hit us from behind. Wow. Such skill.

Grr. I can’t read the license plate.

The asshole just sped off, leaving a bunch of stunned other drivers. As we carefully made our way to the stoplight, the guy who had been behind us checked in us, asking if we were okay. Physically, yes! He had a matching Dallas Cowboys hat and mask, which cheered me up a bit.

Yet another Blogmas miracle, I guess.

I’m glad there was hardly anyone in the store and that we got a lot of toilet paper and paper towels. We came home and aren’t going anywhere else.

Partially eaten bread. Very fresh.

We got delicious banana nut bread from Ruth next door, too. I’m so grateful for friends and good drivers.

A 2020 Kind of Christmas Hope

Enjoying a raspberry Coke on the deck.

I’m tired. I’d hit all my exercise goals by 3 pm, so you know I’ve been physically active. It’s all good, though. Some of that time I even spent walking with my son. Finally. We got to walk and chat outside. It takes a lot of coordination to get to see each other, but it’s just so nice to hear stories of his work, his friends, and normal stuff like that. It was a pretty day, too. Cloudless!

I spent much of today outside, which was much better than the hours I spent yesterday in a chilly drizzle. My decoration and home improvements have been quite 2020. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday

I worked so hard that I bruised my hands, but I got stuff done I’d been putting off, boring things like changing the air conditioning filter that’s practically inaccessible in the attic, and replacing all the burned out porch light bulbs.

Oops

Unfortunately, the teeny nut that holds one fixture together fell out of my hand and landed somewhere under the deck. Anita and I searched for it, but no luck. I tried many things to save it, but failed big time. Duct tape only lasted a few minutes.

Ahh

Finally, today it occurred to me I had wire. It worked and hardly shows. 2020 ingenuity!

The main project I worked on yesterday was outdoor lights. Our next-door neighbor, Ruth, gave us 3 boxes of icicle lights. We had another one just like it, hanging around in the Big Box of Lights. So, I set about lining a long stretch of our deck with them. I used pushpins to hold them up (one way I got bruised). I finally finished, in a dripping rain, only to realize I’d put the female end on the far side, rather than close to the extension cord. Face palm. After going inside and sulking, I figured out a way to rearrange the cords to make them plug in. A 2020 Holiday Miracle.

You can sort of see the lights. This is right after I got them working.

I also set up some lights in a different spot from usual, down by the basement, where people driving by could see them. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. It was a start on a winter wonderland to match my indoor stuff.

Little sparkly trees outside the door to Anita’s den.

I managed to get up lights around the front door, with Anita’s help, and think it looks cheerful.

Not perfect, but okay. And the fact that I changed the bulbs in that porch light is a mini miracle. It was not easy.

Today

At some point, I had to drag myself inside and warm up. This morning, I was back at it, driven to use every single light we have. I’m not sure why I felt so strongly about it, but I think there were two reasons. One, it cheers me up to decorate. I’m not as good, nor do I have as many nice things as a lot of people who decorate do, but I have fun and it looks like “me” when it’s over with.

Cheesy, but cheery.

The other thing is I know how I get cheered up when I see cheerful lights on houses, and I just want to give back. No one’s going to be able to enjoy our inside lights but me and Anita, so I’m sharing 2020 Christmas Hope with others by my decorations.

I did NOT get a dumpster fire ornament. Proud of myself.

The first thing I did was complete the winter wonderland. I added our snowflake lights that we’ve had a few years down at ground level. I hope they look pretty. And then I also brought down our sleigh with a tree in it, which usually sits on the deck. I had no way to light it, thanks to my icicle-light-stringing faux pas, so it didn’t hurt to give it a new spot.

Here’s how it looks in the daytime.

I put some decorations on the rocking chair area on the porch, so it didn’t look neglected, and put some stuff in my sad Texas mountain laurel at the entrance to the deck, too.

Then I went into some kind of overdrive. Honestly, I had decided to tone down my lighting this year, you know, because it’s a somber time.

Looks so exciting.

But nope, I kept thinking of Anita walking Pickle, making her tea, or whatever. She needs cheer, as hard as she works every day. So every light that was left got strung in a tree branch.

From the other direction.

It’s not a thing of true beauty, but no matter what window you look out, you’ll see lights this year. Woo!

Obviously I need another extension cord. Back deck.

Plus, it’s a family tradition to just sorta throw lights on trees and call it done. Declan remembered us doing it at our Braesgate house for many years. Back then we used brooms to get higher in the trees. No professional light-stringing service for us! And it showed. But, it was cheerful.

Yes! You can see them from the road!

What’s left now is decorating our villa-sized tree. It may be the tree’s last year, since it no longer will sit up straight in its pot. Anita tied it up with string, and at least from the front it looks all right. From the side, though, it’s a 2020 Christmas tree.

It’s just leaning a LITTLE.

I feel better having done this. And a neighbor texted that it looks good. My 2020 Christmas is just fine.

They look good from inside, too.

Do whatever works for YOU to get through the season. I will support you! Now this is a real Blogmas post!

Ready for a disco party for me, Anita, and Pickle!

Getting Your Car Serviced — Worse Than the Doctor

Ugh, I screwed up. I made an appointment to get my car serviced, which it needs yearly. I assumed it would be like previous years. You drive up, a dude asks you if there’s anything wrong, you get a fancy rental car, and you leave.

Of course, I could buy some fancy wheels for the holidays.

I had stuff I was going to do. But nope. Everyone acted like I was interrupting whatever they had planned for the day. They had no idea who I was. Now, it’s true that the car is owned by our real estate business, for taxes I guess. But every other time they remembered me. No familiar employees.

Ah, there’s where they keep the hospitality.

They grudgingly led me to the lobby. Every single person I spoke to was wearing their mask incorrectly. Cute noses, folks. No wait, the young man who finally noticed I was there had his on right.

To top it off, I got all sad. They are building a giant condo between Donn’s Depot and El Arroyo, two of my favorite Austin places. Dang. They really ARE erasing the town.

I eventually got helped. But I was grumpy. I’m gonna make that rental car haul stuff from Lowe’s. So there.

More Yoj and Christmas Decoration Confusion

Yes, I have now broken down and begun turning my Austin house into a winter wonderland, even after saying how much I loved the autumn décor. It got cold. That did the trick. Thus, I’ve been wandering into all our secret storage areas and getting out items. And thanks to those crazy people at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, with their 80% off (with coupon) sale and curbside delivery, I got more.

I didn’t have to buy anything to create my thematic table setting. I just combined stuff I had around. I don’t have silver candles, so the pop of red is on purpose, yeah.

But, there’s another Yule mystery going on! It all has to do with our YOJ sign. I shared the story of it back in 2018, but I bet you weren’t reading the blog in 2018. In brief, I bought this light-up sign that said “JOY” at Target back when we lived at the tiny casita house in north Austin, when Anita first moved here. I proudly set it up in my bedroom window, which was the only window in the house visible from the street. I went outside to view it in its glory, only to realize that I’d set it up backwards, and the sign said “YOJ” (with the J backwards).

Back in the glory days when YOJ lit up.

This struck Anita and me as totally hilarious. It really felt just right to us, with our contrarian bent and strong dislike of the commercialization of the season. So, we left it that way. A few neighbors pointed it out and enjoyed the story. So, we’ve put up YOJ ever since.

Here’s how I improved the mantel. Garland and little pine-cone picks really make it look like a frosty forest, to me, at least.

The sign fell in the garage and lost a light, so now it doesn’t shine with, um, joy anymore. But it lives in our current living room year around, along with our tree for all seasons, etc. We had a second YOJ in 2008, but I don’t recall it returning last year (which was not our best year for decorating).

Where did this go? I’m confused!

This year, though, we spotted some stocking holders in a catalog, so Anita got them. Now we have matching signs in our living room windows, which makes up for the other one, which is probably hiding in the garage, where we haven’t looked yet.

Joy to our windows!

Sadly, we can’t light them up, because they don’t go on and off automatically, and we will not be climbing up there every evening to turn them on to save batteries. Maybe the last week I’m in Austin before Christmas, we’ll light them up.

One of my Christmas cactuses is doing its best to provide decorations, as well!

I’m not sure if the neighbors can see the signs in our windows, but I like the idea of bringing in some joy to our lives so much that I got a couple of smaller signs to go in the windows. They also look like they are knitted, which endears them to me more.

Here’s where the second YOJ is. The decorations around my ancient gingerbread house light up at night.

As you look around my decorations, you will see a lot of large, white branches with bells and snowflakes. I thought they were much smaller, and was going to put them on the mantel. Instead, even the sad cactus that got messed up last year looks happy again, thanks to those branches. And the little palm tree. Whatever, I made it all cheery and like a woodland snow scene around the house.

Now, that’s a happy cactus.

We will drag out the Christmas tree from the garage tomorrow, I guess. I hate to admit it, but that cheers me up. As for the ranch, we’ll see if I can come up with anything dog-proof. Maybe we will get a new branch or something. And I can look forward to doing something in my office next week! There, I have a reason to live!

Semi-happy palm tree, with weird broom I made.

Just kidding. What are YOU doing to keep your spirits up? Suggestions are welcome!

The Word “Weary” Seems to Fit

Since work has started up and since groups I’m in have started meeting, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people I know. I’m seeing similar things in Facebook groups, chats, etc. It’s summed up by something my friend, Barbara, wrote this morning, which I quoted in the title of this post.

At night, when the snowflake lights are on, this peace tree manages to provide comfort to me.

We’re Weary

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been in this week that either started or ended with someone looking into the camera, bewildered, and sharing that their parents are very sick, or that they lost a friend, or that they’ve been exposed and are worried. People tell of losing multiple loved ones or friends in a short time (I’m one of them). A neighbor at socially distanced book group got visibly shaken telling us that she won’t be able to see her frail and elderly mother this year, because she’d reluctantly canceled her flight to Texas.

At one point, the same neighbor looked at us all, and plaintively asked, “When can we hug?” Whew, we miss hugs.

At the end of the Friends of LLL Board meeting on Tuesday, we had some time left over, and people were talking about the challenges we all had been dealing with, a friend who lost her husband recently, etc. At one point, we all seemed to have our heads in our hands, or blank stares, as we just silently sat there. It felt like a virtual hug was really needed.

A work meeting yesterday was similar. It was hard to get started with the latest project’s progress after we’d been sharing about lockdowns in England, a mutual Swedish friend who got sick…all that. But, work is a thing I am lucky enough to have, because it lets me think about other things beside germs, the degrading environment, and the government.

Yes, we are weary. We know we have to keep up what we’ve been doing, and that it’s important. But people, at least in my circles, are feeling helpless to do anything for themselves or others. The separation we’re experiencing is important, but as it drags toward a year, it’s hard to keep our spirits and resolve up, isn’t it?

What Can We Do?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are decorating the heck out of their houses. I’ve seen a lot of holiday extravaganzas out there! Anita and I have even made a winter wonderland out of our year-round tree and our mantel. Other people are crafting like crazy (my current knitting project is now too long to be even a maxi-skirt on me).

We always have nature to help out. At the book club meeting, the sun shining through these grass seed heads brought me comfort.

Mostly, though, let’s talk. Let’s listen to each other’s stories and hold those who are having a hard time in our hearts. We’re all having challenges, to one extent or another, right now. If we all send comfort out, we’ll all get some. I feel like by honoring the stories of my friends and colleagues, I’m sending good energy out. I’m appreciating theirs, too. I’d really like to see my husband and my animals.

Controversy? I Prefer Autumn Decorations in Autumn

Let’s talk about something less serious for once. To start of, I’m happy to say that the meal Anita and I created for ourselves yesterday was quite nice. I made a very moist and yummy turkey and am looking forward to a sandwich for lunch. I spent many hours turning the carcass into broth that will make a fine soup tomorrow, too. And we sat around being thankful we weren’t sick or endangering anyone else. Wow, such smugness. Moving right along.

Anita prepares to dig in. We brought out all the Fiesta ware, for festiveness.

Main Topic

Right now I’m going to declare that I am not one of those people with a compulsion to slap up my Christmas decorations the second they go for sale in the stores, nor mid-November, nor US Thanksgiving, and sometimes, not even in early December. Shocking!

I do allow some silvery items to accent the fall stuff. Who says you can’t mix and match seasons?

How can I be so un-traditional? First, for many families in the not-so-distant past, trees didn’t go up until December 24 and they went down at some other holiday in January, which I’m too lazy to look up (readers have helpfully pointed out it’s Epiphany, which is on January 6). So, this whole frenzy to decorate and keep the décor up for a few months is not a hallowed tradition; it’s a marketing thing. Granted, lights and shiny things are cheerful, and we could all use some cheer right now, so if it makes you happy, decorate away.

The fall and winter stuff are very happy together, so I say.

Second, and this is my big reason, so I have a legitimate excuse, I’m not someone who celebrates the religious Christmas holiday, given that I’m on a more Buddhist/tree-hugging path and growing fonder of some of the more “Christ-like” groups of Christians these days. So, I’ll decorate for winter solstice, for which there is no frenzy.

We secular people who like all traditions do sometimes end up with confusing items.

And another thing (like this matters one bit, right, but it’s fun!), I like to enjoy the autumn decorations while it’s still autumn, I think our tree is really pretty, and all we had to do is remove the overtly Halloween/Samhain decorations to create a lovely ambiance here at the Bobcat Lair (the poor ranch missed my decorative touch this year, which probably didn’t bother Lee one bit).

The seasonal tree in its fall incarnation.

Here in Texas, it just doesn’t feel all that wintry, so I don’t feel awful about enjoying the leaves, acorns and such.

On the Other Hand

I do have some winter decorations out all year round. I happen to love my green glass trees and peace plates from the late, lamented Pier One (the online version is NOT the same). And there are a few wintry bird items I can’t bear to put away.

I think peace, birds, and trees are appropriate all year.

And then there are all my glass pumpkins and acorns that never go away. Pumpkins are attractive year round, so I am not hiding them. I guess I just focus on the things for each time of the year, dragging flowery things to the foreground in the spring, etc.

These move around some, but they are always here. Sigh, no more pumpkins from Pier One.

Where Do You Put It All?

Something I ponder about the people with all the decorations, like complete re-decorating of many rooms for the Christmas period, is where do they put it all when it’s not Christmas? If you have separate linens, towels, pillows, rugs, and assorted décor items, where do they go? I know my friend Maggie has an entire garage for that stuff. At the ranch I happen to have a holiday closet, since we added SO MANY closets when we built the house that there’s space. And dear Aunt Margie in North Carolina had a “present room” in her house; now she had some decorations!

Not everyone has the space for winter, spring, summer, and fall niches in their living room. Also, aren’t these pretty?

But, these are all people who are, shall we say, privileged. The examples I gave have or had big ole houses with only two occupants. There was space to put all this excess stuff. I feel rather wasteful for having duplicates of my dishes and other items that I can drag out every year. Or maybe I’m just grumpy.

This winter bird is too lovely to hide for most of the year.

This year, with all the struggle going on, I’m going to tone things down. It just doesn’t feel right to wallow in excess right now. That’s just me, a person who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I do like shiny things, and don’t hold it against any family that wants to decorate every surface of their home, inside and out, it just doesn’t feel right for ME.

Granted, as gloomy as this weekend is looking to be, some cheerful lights might be useful.

One Final Gripe

Plus, I really don’t like those inflatable decorations. They seem to spend most of their time as sad, deflates, non-festive lumps. Again, that’s just me. Feel free to convince me otherwise in the comments!

These things just don’t do anything for me. I must be too old. Image from @ginarossi via Twenty20.