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Warmth and plenty.

thOh, the breakfast we just had. Perfectly cooked bacon, done in the oven. Sliced tomatoes. The last of the homemade rolls from the freezer, toasted and served with a choice of three homemade (not by us) jams. Tea and coffee aplenty

Scrambled eggs for me and for DF, eggs done “the way Jesus had his.” (See Matthew 11:30 for the punny explanation.) A dish of yogurt with rhubarb compote, both – you guessed it – homemade. The only reason we didn’t add in some of those Del Monte red grapefruit sections was that we forgot they were in the fridge.

The fireplace insert was churning out BTUs, its flames resurrected from the previous evening’s fire that had entertained us and also dried two racks of laundry. While I slept in DF had folded that laundry and put away the racks.

This lazy Saturday morning was seasoned perfectly by gusts of snow blown against the kitchen windows. Not new snow, but slabs of old snow and hand-sized chunks of frost blown off the roof and the neighbor’s giant larch tree. My breakfast sat more snugly and smugly each time snow scoured the panes: It’s out there and I’m in here, enjoying warmth and a leisurely breakfast.

All of which reminded me of a line from Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth.”

 


“There was no house in the village of small scattered houses…which was so filled with warmth and plenty as their own.” (emphasis added)

Surely other homes in our cul-de-sac are as filled with warmth and plenty as our own. My point is how pleasant it can be to spend a quiet day in literal and figurative warmth and, yeah, in slowdown.

 

Plenty of warmth

It’s so easy to get caught up in gotta-do and wanna-do mode, sometimes both at the same time. Some of the gotta-do stuff really can’t be put off. Everyone needs something to eat and something clean to wear. Dogs must be walked, cat boxes scooped. Bills should be paid before they’re due, not rushed in at the last minute. And without a certain amount of cleaning your house becomes a place where you don’t want to be.

I’m not suggesting that anyone default on obligations. But rather than crowd every minute of each weekend with wanna-do stuff, I suggest stepping back now and then.

Sleep in, and mentally pencil “mid-afternoon” nap onto the virtual schedule. Have a late ’n’ lazy breakfast that’s big enough to do for lunch. Read a good book (I’m almost finished with “Here I Am” by Jonathan Safran Foer and that is one sharply realized slice of life. Highly recommended.)

If you’ve got a fireplace, sit and admire the flames (my nephew calls “watching the fire movie”). If you’ve got a sweetheart, hold hands or put on your favorite music and dance.

Talk. Talktalktalk about whatever needs discussion or whatever bears repeating. Allow time for companionable silence as well. And I’ve found that an extremely hot bath with an extremely cold beverage is a frugal delight any day of the week.

Without relaxation, without permission to disengage, our weekends become stuff sacks crammed with as many things onto which we can tauten the strings. As a lifelong multi-tasker, I can attest that sometimes you do have to make the most out of any scraps of time you’re given.

But I’ve also come to realize that some stretches of time should be spent doing as little as possible. Inactivity is itself an activity – it gives us the chance to rest and recharge, to take some deep breaths before taking up the burden once more.

 

What’s on tap

Not that we’re sitting absolutely still, mind you. We definitely have plans for this three-day weekend.

DF will do his usual canting gig on Sunday and may ski on Monday (he bought a season pass). I want to put up a post on my writing-focused blog (which I’ve neglected lately) and write and send a newsletter. I’ll do a daily 35-minute circle walk, bake a new batch of those homemade rolls for the freezer and maybe start a crossword puzzle.

Together we’ll be cooking some cold-weather-satisfying delights like “ham and yam” (sweet potato hash with caramelized onions, thyme and bits of leftover pig), turkey stroganoff (utilizing our home-canned bird), and soup made from our frozen boiling bag broth plus a new recipe for steamed-in-the-can bread that I just found. I need to put a new batch of yogurt on the fire as well.

The only things we aren’t planning this weekend? Hurry. Stress. Frustration.

Those may show up anyway, imposed on us from the outside world, but this weekend we’re treating ourselves kindly. Hope you can do the same.

 

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16 Comments

  1. I feel you were speaking to me. I’m staring out my million-dollar view of the mountains here in Seoul South Korea, amongst boxes of my former house surrounding me. And what I want to do is curl up on the couch, with coffee and read. My plan is to work diligently emptying 3 boxes and then I’ll play hooky for the afternoon. Maybe take that nap you described.

    • Donna Freedman

      Did you move there for work? For love? For adventure? For all of the above?

      Enjoy that hooky-playing.

      • Donna – Yes, civil service. If you had asked me 6 months ago what my future plans were, my response would have been retire in 2 years to the 13 acre farm my former DF, now DH and I, purchased 3 years ago. Then rumors of downsizing began. Decided that if I was going to have one last adventure, this was the time. I had never been to Asia, so why not? I accepted the job, put the current house (not the farm) up for sale, had my essentials shipped over. One part of me wishes I did this sooner, but I know it was the right place and the right time. And in 3 years I’ll retire to the farm (or extend 2 more years) debt-free. I’ll have so many memories. I also plan on saving more stringently. Bringing the same mindset I had at home. “If you don’t need it, don’t buy it”.

        • Donna Freedman

          What an adventure! Maybe you should start a blog.

          (Seriously: If you decide to do that, I know a guy — my current web guru — who will set up a blog for anyone for free. Let me know if you want his info.)

  2. Take it nice and easy this weekend! There’s nothing like good food and a warm house. 🙂 It’s all about appreciating the little things, like homemade meals, and the people you share the little things with. Stay warm!

  3. Your life with DF sounds idyllic. You deserve it and am glad you are enjoying it.

  4. Oh, if only I could kick back, relax and read a good book! I am reading a book a few minutes a day, when I get the time. Between my restaurant job, laundry, looking for another job, laundry, trying to decide when I should fly out to Arizona to visit my 83-year-old dad, laundry, errand running, a little housework, and looking for a new place to live (apartment building’s in foreclosure), I have very little time to relax. But you and DF enjoy yourselves. ;o)

    • Donna Freedman

      That sounds terribly hectic. Amazed you can find even a few minutes a day to yourself, but I’m so glad that you do.

      If your dad’s in Phoenix, PM me when you plan to be there. Right now it’s looking as though I’ll be stopping there in mid-April, on my way back from visiting my own dad in Florida. (Thank goodness for buddy passes.) Should you be in the Phoenix area around approximately April 12 to April 17, we could say hello in person.

      Good luck with the job and housing searches. Keep remembering to take care of yourself, even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time. This too shall pass. Just not soon enough!

  5. Carolina Cooper

    January 14th, when you wrote the above piece, was my birthday—and you two celebrated it perfectly, unbeknownst to you! I had a peaceful morning at home, and then 3 gal pals took me out to a nice Mexican restaurant (of my choice) and showered me with multiple lovely and useful gifts. It was a late lunch day, and we sure did linger there til dark. It was such fun to be able to speak Spanish to the Mexican waiter, and he was thrilled. Additionally, we were able to point the young cook to a place within walking distance, where he could obtain English classes for free. I think being 72 is gonna’ be all right!!!

    • Donna Freedman

      ¡Feliz cumpleaños! That sounds like a great celebration, all right. How kind of you to help that young man get a chance to improve his language skills.

      My BFF Linda is in her 70s and she is awesome. You sound pretty awesome yourself.

  6. OMG, I can’t believe I missed the fact that Jonathan Safran Foer has a new book, so glad you mentioned it! I just put it on hold at the library. I loved “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, did you read that? Great stuff.
    My husband is recovering from the crud (my son and I haven’t gotten it, fingers crossed), so we stayed home today and there’s a turkey pot pie in the oven, the last of the Thanksgiving turkey that’s been hiding out in the freezer. I am a vegetarian, so I’ll be making something else for myself—probably avocado toast, such a decadent treat. Your weekend sounds great to me, enjoy!

    • Donna Freedman

      I haven’t read anything of Mr. Foer’s before, although I’d heard of his other books. Now I’ll be looking for them.

      Just as with John Updike’s “Rabbit” series, the protagonists of “Here I Am” are not particularly sympathetic. At times they’re whiny, tiresome and even loathsome human beings. (I would never allow my kids to talk to me the way the Bloch children addressed their parents. Respect is a two-way street.) But there’s so much of real life in the book — sharply observed, painfully true and ultimately uplifting.

  7. Lake Livin'

    Sounds like an absolutely blissful day!

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