I dreamed last night of being taken on a virtual tour of a Canadian winery area on the upper shores of Lake Michigan. I have no idea if this is wine country--I would think it too cold. But anyway, as rumble strips on the roads warning traffic to slow for stops, they had imbedded King George sixpenny pieces. Oftentimes, I can trace elements that have gone into constructing my dreams--the virtual reality tour was from the last episode of the Japanese TV serial The Perfect Insider, and the allusion to wine country was from a conversation I had with my brother Nate last night, but the Canada angle and the sixpence in the pavement were singular innovations.
Nate, his tiny dog (who bounded around like a maniac for a while and got sick several times as a result of all the Christmas ham she consumed), and his girlfriend drove in from Atlanta yesterday and stayed last night with me. I told them there was an open pack of coffee in the freezer door for their morning use, but apparently this information didn't percolate; when I wandered into the kitchen around noon, I found a new bag of grounds had been opened, and when I went to put it away until the next coffee-drinking guest came over, I found not just one, but three others in the freezer. So, now I have four almost full bags of grounds waiting to be brewed and drunk. Come all ye coffee addicts and I will caffeinate you!
Nate's girlfriend is a blonde bombshell from Hell's Kitchen who flips houses for a living, many of them the ex-dwellings of deceased hoarders--she says the structures tend to be fairly well-preserved under all the trash. I told her of my own experience of the hoarder with the black mold in the basement. She said there were certainly some exceptions, and was amused by the thought of the half-gross of mermaid Christmas ornaments.
While I was in DC two weeks back, I went shopping with my friend Leah, her infant son, and her parents, searching for a nice artificial Christmas tree. We went to Sears and to Home Depot, and were horrified at the prices--hundreds of dollars for a decent one between eight and nine feet tall. I love the aroma of real trees, but cut ones are a fire hazard, and for potted ones you have to have a a place to plant them after the "holiday season" is over. So, given the fact that I am close to destitute, but still have decorating ambitions, I was happy to hear that my mother had left her artificial tree for my use. "At last," I thought, "I'll have a full-size tree." (The four-foot version I got at Target years ago doesn't hold half of the ornaments I've gradually accumulated).
On Tuesday, I went into the attic and extracted the boxes of ornaments and the two containing my mother's tree and mine. And I found that hers was only 5 feet high, including the weighted urn base! So, it wasn't a case of choosing one faux fir over the other, but of needing to use both. I wish that the combination of a four foot tree with a five footer meant that they could together accommodate the volume of decorations achievable on a nine-foot tree, but unfortunately, that's not the way math works. I set them up next to one another, the taller on the floor and the larger on a stool. Double the festivity!
Nothing says "Christmas!" like a toy Harley Hawg suspended by its neck in a noose from a hook on the wall, like the body of a hanged cattle rustler. My father used to have it dangling from the rearview mirror in his big diesel truck (I think it was a secret Santa gift from a hospital coworker).
There have been multiple moments over the last fortnight when I've thought wistfully about how I would have liked to have had children--people share what their offspring are doing, what they've said, post cute pictures, and I've observed siblings interacting, and I think, "Gosh, I'd have liked to share that parental experience." It's odd, being outside the norm of society, neither married nor employed at 40, yet still relatively capable of self-expression (as opposed to drunk and slurring on a park bench somewhere). Childlessness is not a pain that plagues me, but I do feel a sort of wistful spirit every now and then, a mildly melancholy mood from speculating what it would have been like if I'd had the opportunity to be a mother. It's odd to be past the age of certain abilities, from too old to join the military under normal circumstances to too old to easily bear healthy children, not that I really had a yen to pursue either course when I was younger!
In that vein of vanity, I have been wondering sourly if is it better to have one's best physical feature marred by surgery before it can be destroyed by advancing age? I was always unreasonably proud of my neck, and now there is a scar stretching two inches across my throat. More immediately, there is the inescapable fact that the frenetic, fundamentally indolent period between Thanksgiving and New Years inflates the waistline and festoons the hips with unsightly panniers, tending to the silhouette of a packmule or eighteenth century duchess. I look at the shapely nude in the painting opposite my bed and wriggle my bulk despairingly under a concealing stack of warm covers, cozy in environment but uncomfortable in my own stretched flesh. However, I was too overstuffed with good food (and fundamentally lazy) after today’s midafternoon Christmas dinner with my stepdad’s family to bother to go back out to the gym.
I did exercise yesterday, and discovered that the gym managers have changed tactics in their ongoing effort to get unthoughtful male lifters to replace the dumbbells:
Casting aspersions on the muscle men’s masculinity may work where all else has failed.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!