Giving thanks

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Frosty pond on Thanksgiving Day.

After rain and clouds and fog and darkness, we’ve had a week of sunshine. Sun in November means there is no protective blanket of clouds and the ground is exposed to the frigid atmosphere. Lows in Rainier have been in the 20s (below zero Celsius) at night and warm up to around the freeze/ melt point during the day (most people saying “freezing point,” but meteorologist say “melting point”). Despite the cold, the sun makes me happy. And when it’s cold day after day, and you walk in the air and breathe deeply while chasing chickens or chopping wood, you get used to it in no time.

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I am no longer worried about the pond being too warm for the fish to stay healthy. Interestingly, I have no concerns about the effects of a frozen pond on the fish inside.
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Frost is adornment for the leaves and grasses and branches. When the sun hits them, the land sparkles.
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My friends told me this plant looks like kale. I’m pretty sure it is not kale, but I haven’t identified this random weed growing on my property. I do agree that it’s as pretty as kale.

The chicken hussies (so-called because of their stubborn insistence on misbehaving) are periodically in their pen. I capture them, and I force visitors to help me wrangle chickens, so on occasion all four are inside. But they lose their patience and fly out within days. Or hours. They used to be content to scratch the dirt and eat the grass within feet of the house, but in the past month have decided that no distance is too far to roam. I usually have no idea where they are.  Thanksgiving morning I walked down to the chicken pen to visit the only chicken in there at the time.

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Tawny examines a crust from leftover key lime pie.

After chatting with Tawny, dumping out the solid block of ice and refilling her water dish with liquid water, I noticed something white that looked like paper trash down by the creek. It was not trash but the most amazing ice sculpture! I’m guessing that the cold temperatures froze the moisture inside the sticks, and when the ice swelled, it was forced to squeeze out of the sticks. Anyway, what do you think happened?

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I brought the two branches up from the creek to the deck, so I could photograph the ice better.
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It was very difficult to get my camera to show what I saw: delicate feather-like wisps of ice that clumped together in a chilly pillow.
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As soon as I touched these mounds of ice, they crushed and melted beneath my fingertips.
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I was totally captivated by the ice.

I have been worn out with my commute. I spend three hours a day in traffic, sometimes four. I can’t stand driving to begin with, so it really takes a toll on my spirit and my ability to get stuff done at home since I’ve been deprived of all that time. But the upside is, I am slowly learning my new job and gaining a tiny bit of confidence. In a few months I will probably be released to go back to working at home.

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My view every single day when I leave work and begin the long trip home. Well, usually it’s raining.

Hair care I find to be a menace, and once I have a hairdresser that suits me, I stick with that person till something drastic pulls us apart. When I lived in Boston, I continued to schedule haircuts for when I flew back to California, ha ha. Well, I have moved from Portland to way out in the country, and only recently made it back into the city to get my hair cut. I like it long in summer, so I can pull it back into a ponytail. I like it short in winter.

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Short hair is a good way to show off enormous earrings!

I was asked out on a date a few weeks ago, and he and I hit it off, which is CRAZY because this guy is proud to call himself a conservative Christian Republican. I may be nuts. I am proud to call myself a liberal atheist who refuses to align with any political party. In my Thanksgiving phone call to my Pa, he laughed and said, “Well, I’ll bet you two have some rousing conversations!” So… it could make for some future rants in my blog that could offer some real entertainment. Stay tuned. 😉

Tara has been home the last two weekends and I am *so* happy to have my kid at home. I didn’t realize how much of a hole there was until it was filled and I felt the peace of it.

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Last weekend, Tara came home because there was a performance by the dancers at their old studio.
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It is like family being there, even for me. I love these girls and have watched them grow into stunning young women athletes.

Tara got their first tattoo yesterday. It was an event. Tara has wanted a tattoo for years, but I would not give consent. The kid is now 18 and I relinquished my right to say “no.” If the plan had been to get a tattoo on the face or neck, or someone’s name, I would have protested, but instead Tara wanted a honeybee on their thigh. I can totally live with that. I think the tattoo is beautiful. While I was there I showed the artist my sadly distorted faery on my abdomen (who looked lovely until I got pregnant), and she had some ideas for how to make her pretty again. I may soon go under the needle myself.

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From this photo you can’t tell how much pain my kid is in.
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honeybee

It’s the season for giving thanks, and I am so grateful. For having a perfect child and an open mind, for having a father I can call, and a stepfather who calls me. For the reminder that I am a woman that a man could love. I am grateful that it’s so cold I think about the weather, and grateful that I have chickens to worry about. I am grateful for a troupe of gorgeous dancers and their parents and siblings who hug me every time I show up. I feel lucky to have a job many miles away, and I know I am lucky to have a home that fills up when my Tara and my Racecar kitty are here with me. I am so grateful that I turned out to be a person who never ceases to be fascinated with investigating the world around me.

25 thoughts on “Giving thanks

  1. Much indeed to be thankful for, including the chickens. And you are looking good. The commute would be a little much. I think the worst I ever had was around 30 minutes on a bad day. Gorgeous tattoo for Tara. When I was on North Coast above San Francisco (Fort Brag) in August, I visited a tattoo parlor and museum, and, I must add, had a delightful time. I’ll be blogging about the experience in the next couple of weeks. Nice blog and photos… –Curt

    1. Thanks Curt! I’ve been so busy I haven’t read your blog in weeks, and I can’t stand not keeping up on what you’ve had to say. I look forward to reading about the visit to the tattoo parlor, and I’m eager to see what would be in a tattoo museum. I am very familiar with that part of the country, since I lived in Eureka for 7 years. I worked for the National Weather Service while there, and was the program manager for the Weather Radio program, and also involved in the Cooperative Weather Observer program, both of which took me as far south as Fort Bragg and north to the Oregon border.

      1. Sounds like you have been busy doing some fun things, Crystal. As well as commuting. The weather job sounds like it was interesting. Stay tuned for Madam Chinchilla the tattoo artist, a fascinating person. 🙂 –Curt

  2. Crystal, I love your hair cut, your daughter’s bumblebee and the frost displays in your natural scenery close to your home! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. ♡ ☆ Did you see the full moon? 🙂

    1. Thanks Robin! I love the hair cut too. My Thanksgiving was really nice, and always a bit of a complex holiday for me, being Indian. Makes it hard to celebrate colonization, so instead I think of it as a holiday for food and family. Tara and I had a lovely meal and got properly stuffed. We also saw the full moon! How lovely and fat and orange it was, the two nights in a row we saw it low across the Columbia River near our home. Did you get a chance to see it?

  3. The frost is looking pretty cold to me! I have never seen sticks absorb or desorb ice like that – our temps don’t get so low. I used to commute 45 – 55 mins each way in my last principal position – I had the ocean views and countryside to look at though and that made it most pleasant. I was destressed by the time I reached home. You look very fetching in your new hair cut. I too have had mine cut, but it is not so fetching as my hair is more like a wire brush when short, but I am getting rid of the colour and going au-naturale at last! I’ll be photographable in about a year I think 🙂

    You do have so much to be thankful for [even naughty chickens] 🙂 and it is a pleasure to have a wee catch up!

    1. Yay for au naturale! It will be such a pleasure, I think, to become satisfied with hair colour as it is. I have a co-worker who recently went natural, and it was awkward for her in the meantime, with hair not at its best. I can just imagine your eagerness to end the transition. Isn’t it unfortunate how our hair gets wiry with age? Just not fair. The young people get youth AND great hair.

      My last supervisor had a similar story of commuting when she lived in southern California and had an hour commute along the coast. She was adamant that it was *her time* and relished her hour on the lovely highway. Once I get out of the cities of Portland and Vancouver (practically the same city, but on the Washington side of the river), it is a pretty area, but since it’s winter, I drive in the dark, morning and night.

      The naughty chickens are all I’ve got for children now, so I guess it makes sense that I’m overly concerned with them. As I told Marlene (Insearchofitall), they’ll have to get their own post soon. It’s an epic chicken tale. Fingers crossed I can keep them all alive till Spring.

  4. Figured you were stretched to the limit these days with work. You could have a heart to heart with those naughty girls and let them know you are just trying to keep them save from what could eat them. Maybe they will stay inside more now that it’s getting so cold. You are much colder than we are. I love Tara’s tattoo. We need to save the bee’s. Hope she is loving school. The commute is miserable, I know. But hopefully it will be over shortly. I’m with you on celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s about friends, family and food. And I thankful for all of those too. Hope you had a wonderful day. Giant hugs, M

    1. Yes, you always seem to have an intuitive sense of the main things on my mind. Right now I’m mostly just trying to keep my sanity because of the commute. Am I really such an old fuddy duddy that a long commute practically wrecks me? But it is long, and many people wouldn’t subject themselves to it, and I knew that taking this job would mean having this commute, so I just need to stop complaining and suck it up!

      I’m pleased to hear your great response to Tara’s tattoo. I actually expected people to be more reserved, but the response (mostly on facebook) has been supportive. Tara did good research beforehand – to find a place safe & clean, with a good reputation, and a good artist. And paid for it entirely without my help. Obviously.

      Thanksgiving was fun. Tara and I were invited to join S, the new man, and his family. He owns a cafe downtown, and everyone showed up and we used the industrial kitchen for preparation and cleanup. That was pretty neat, and only a little nerve wracking to meet the family. The biggest bummer is that when someone else makes the turkey, there are no leftovers. 😦

      I assume you were able to spend the day with your kids. Did you eat at your place? Did everyone pitch in on the cooking and cleaning?

      Giants hugs back atcha’!

      1. Ah, so much good news here. Do you listen to audio books on your commute. My sister has to do that to keep her sanity. As the traffic gets denser, it frays more nerves than just yours. Even the very young lose patience and I think they lose it quicker. There were almost no left overs here. I will try to post a follow up if I ever get this Shutterfly book ordered. They are not user friendly.

      2. Yes I get a lot of listening done in the car. News in the morning on the way in, and audio books on the way home. Just finished reading The Frontiersmen, by Allan W Eckert. A part of American history I didn’t know much about, the book spans the timeframe from just before the war of independence, to just after the war of 1812. The two main characters are Simon Kenton (Butler) and Tecumseh. I didn’t realize how long we fought the British. It’s obvious if I think about it, but I hadn’t. It was a new perspective to think of Kentucky and Ohio and those parts as “the frontier.”

    1. I know! Crazy, huh? Volunteering to be poked with a needle. Tattoos are the worst too, since the needle goes for an hour at least, and usually longer. Poor Tara didn’t realize it took so long, and also didn’t realize it would hurt so much. By the time the situation became clear, there was part of a bee already tattooed, and too late to quit. But my kiddo clenched teeth and got through it. No tears!

      “A Drag!” That is the perfect description of my commute. Why haven’t I thought of it yet? It’s a drag. Omigosh, absolutely. Wish I could walk to work instead. 🙂

    1. I got a kick out of your blog post, Derrick. You have obviously been a talented writer and storyteller from the beginning. It’s a shame you wrote such good stuff prior to having so many readers: we have been deprived of those bits of cleverness.

      Cold indeed!! I haven’t been this cold for so long. Portland is consistently 10-15 degrees warmer than where I now live. I haven’t been frozen like this since I lived in Boston for school. That’s been 9 years now.

      Thanks for the feedback on those photos. It’s hard to know if I was able to show the characteristics of the ice. I look at the photos and see it, but I also know what I’m looking for. Still, there is nothing like spotting these sticks on the ground on the banks next to the creek. I was momentarily enthralled.

  5. What a beautiful post. It cheered me up no end (except the commute, but I hope you get to work at home soon). Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think you’re right about the ice forcing it’s way out of the twigs – I’ve seen similar things on the TV. Tara must be delighted to have a tattoo at last, but I think you were right to make her wait (now she’s only got herself to blame when she gets tired of it! 😉 ). Good luck, and I hope you have a wonderful winter.

    1. Thanks Sarah! It makes me feel good that you found some cheer in my post. I hope your winter is a good one, too. I noticed you have been posting a lot lately, and I intend to get over there and read up on your life.

  6. Crystal, how wonderful it is to visit you! The photos are wonderful (especially those ice crystals), and I loved that last paragraph. I’m so glad you are happy, and settled (even with that commute), and loved.
    AND
    That you are grateful for all of it!
    Your contentment just rises from your words.
    XOXO

    1. Now that is a lovely comment. Gratitude is one of those qualities that seems to give back more, once you give to begin with. If that makes any sense. You know, when I stop and think of how glad I am for the things in my life, I get more glad about it. Win win. You are one of those people who is great about pointing out the good around you and your appreciation for the daily joys of life. That’s why I like following your blog so much.

  7. Crystal, your hair looks so pretty, and Tara’s bee is wonderful as well as looking so FREAKING painful!!! OUCH! I’m glad that you had a nice visit with your kiddo. I’ve been adjusting to the babies growing up and moving on around here, too. *sniff*

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