Saturday, December 31, 2011


If you didn't already know there is something weird going on here at Maison Cou Rouge, I give you this photograph. I even put the timestamp on the photo, so you wouldn't think I made it up.

Yes, those are tomatoes ripening on the vine by my back door.

I don't know whether this is an indication of the weirdness of the year 2011...or of the strange things to happen in 2012.

Ah, well...let the adventure begin.

2012 A Year of Change

A new year is like a new box of crayons and a new pad of paper. Hmmmmm--what to doodle? What to draw? What to make of the next 366 days?

You know me--I'm not for making resolutions. But I do know that 2012 will be a year of change for me.

The biggie is that, in August, Alix will be joining her brother at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. I will have an empty nest.

Yes, Alix is gone a lot presently. But she's still officially "in residence" and, although she's quite independent, I do get the occasional "Maaaaaaammmmmmmaaaaa" and "can you do (insert request) for me?". In autumn, my baby bird will fly north and begin making her adult life without my daily guidance (or interference).

Another biggie is that I have to figure out how to earn my room and board. My mother has been incredibly generous in helping me through this period, but it is time I learned to stand on my own. Oh, man--this is the awful, big "scary" under the bed with me right now. How, what, who? The fact that I live in a tiny town doesn't help. But I love living here in Middle-Of-Nowhere-comma-Georgia--or as I should more properly call it, Tennille--and don't want to move. My friends are so supportive--"Oh, you're so creative, you're so talented--you can do ANYTHING"--I love them for it, but maybe I think what I need is some focus and a good swift kick in the pants...... And, of course, the sleepless nights come every so often, with me doubting my abilities to succeed at anything. But I've dealt with that all my life.

I think this year, I want to write more--and with more substance than before. One thing I learned from the past few years is that I stayed so long in an verbally abusive relationship because I didn't think I had any other option. Once I realized I DID have options, I recognized that there are others in situations so much worse off that I. And I want to help them.

I am also feeling a pull to write about living with depression. It will come as a surprise to many folks who know me - some quite close to me- that I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. It is only in the past nine years- with the help of my very observant doctor- that I have come to an armistice with my version of Churchill's Black Dog. Again- I am feeling the need to help others in similar circumstances.

Ok, enough about that. We'll see what evolves, shall we?

I want to live more simply. More honestly. More AUTHENTICALLY. I heard my friend Jane Marx once say to someone "I like you. You are authentic." I want to explore what that means.

Maybe that is my word for the year. Authentic.

Oh, I'm heading places....lots and lots of places...

To Louisiana- lots. I'll get to know Interstate 20 like the back of my hand. All 500 miles of it.

Cruisegran and I are heading to southeast Asia this spring- Cambodia and Vietnam. Angor Wat. I'm too excited for words. I just got my passport back with the visas- so it's beginning to feel "real" to me.

This summer, the Family (gosh, that sounds like the mafia, doesn't it?) is going from Venice through the Black Sea. I've never been to Istanbul or Greece, so it will be new to me.

I am sure lots of adventures are looming just over the when my friend Diane reminded me just a few hours ago of this Mark Twain quote, I smiled.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

2011 Recap

Well, I'm not much for looking backward (or forward, really) but I guess it is this day/evening each year when it is inevitable. At the first of the year, I wrote about 2011 being " A Year of Possibilities".

Let's take a look, shall we?

I used the "good stuff" more. Even just when it was I, by myself.

Treat my body with more respect?? Well, I totally blew that out of the water...but I will try... Lord knows, I will try.

I didn't get to meditate as much as I would have liked. I feel so much more whole when I do. Like in so many other instances, life keeps intruding.

I turned off the news A LOT this year. I used to be a news junkie, but found that switching the channel when people started yelling at one another made me less so. I switched from FoxNews (who now seems to be yelling all the time) to CNN. And if the telly is on in the mornings, it's now on Good Morning America, listening to fluff instead of manufactured "news alerts".

I don't think I had a glass of white zinfandel all year.

Did I have my friends more around me this year? I can't remember- a hazard that comes with aging.

My alcohol consumption went WAAAYYY down this year...but I did explore some great wines, and- as a consequence- did have more "chardonnay giggles"--heck, I even went to New Zealand and Australia and LEARNED to DRINK Chardonnay.....

One thing I do think I accomplished was looking people in the eye more. Asking them -and really MEANING it- "How are you?" And then, actually stopping to LISTEN. It was eyeopening- especially with store clerks. Actually, answering their tossed-off question "how are you"-- with something other than "fine"--and then returning the question to THEM and looking them in the eye and anticipating a response provoked more smiles in this year than anything else I did. Try it.

Did I finish the cookbook? I'm working on it, I'm working on it.

So--as I sit here with a fresh cup of coffee- what did I think of this past year?

I survived.

It wasn't the greatest year of my life. But it wasn't the worst.

I learned to live alone. Yes, I know Alix was here-and when I got down, that was such a comfort. But for the first time since I was a junior in college, I was single. I woke alone. I slept alone. I went to parties alone. I dined alone. I traveled alone.

I have never been "on my own" really. I married six weeks after I graduated college. I've always cherished my "alone" time- making a point to draw a difference between "being alone" and "being lonely". And, by my nature, I am a loner--a solitary character, content with keeping to myself in the company of books, music and my own imagination. This year, I have learned to make friends with being lonely sometimes. I have learned how to cope with it- how to cage it, how to corral it, how to manage it- but above all, how not to be afraid of loneliness.

I appreciate my family more. Maybe because I seem to have spent more time with them, traveling to Louisiana, or maybe it was the addition of my cousins on our summer family cruise. Or, maybe I am simply more sensitive to relationships, post-divorce. Maybe I have come to value those special ties of family more deeply. And, of course, I still like to remind my friends that they are my family--the family I got to pick.

In the past year, I have come to understand the Victorian concept of a mourning period. In a real sense (as the ever-wise Susanne pointed out), divorce is a death...and with it comes a period of grieving and change.

I worked on my photography-and with the help of some great teachers-have reawakened a passion that got lost somewhere in my teens.

I sold some artwork- needlepoint canvases, jewelry and photographs. (Yes, IRS, you will get your pound of flesh. Ah, if only the WOULD take pounds of flesh....)

I saw some amazing places in 2011- I travelled to New Zealand, barely avoiding a devastating earthquake in the process. I experienced summertime in February in Australia and met an internet friend in Prague, of all places. I returned to Russia-still not quite understanding why I feel so drawn there. I strolled the streets of Stockholm and had a martini in a glass made of ice. In Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, I watched with tears of laughter in my eyes as my daughter and her beloved cousins linked arms and, skipping away toward the amusement park, broke into song..."We're Off to See the Wizard".

I watched as my daughter became more independent and my son became an adult. I stopped myself from dispensing advice to them on nearly every occasion and watched as they made mistakes. I watched them learn. I watched them grow.

Maybe the best thing I can say about 2011 is that I have learned to stop-and look-and appreciate. To realize- really understand- that this thing called "life" is a journey, not a destination. That it is the things that we do NOT plan that make up the richness of our lives. That it takes courage to choose to live life. That everything is impermanent.

And to smile because it happened.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

EP 366 Week 34

Day 232
December 18, 2011

Day 233
December 19, 2011

Day 234
December 20, 2011

Day 235
December 21, 2011

Day 236
December 22, 2011

Day 237
December 23, 2011

Day 238
December 24, 2011

EP366 Week 33

Day 225
December 11, 2011

Day 226
December 12, 2011

Day 227
December 13, 2011

Day 228
December 14, 2011

Day 229
December 15, 2011

Day 230
December 16, 2011

Day 231
December 17, 2011

EP366 Week 32

Day 218
December 4, 2011

Day 219
December 5, 2011

Day 220
December 6, 2011

Day 221
December 7, 2011

Day 222
December 8, 2011

Day 223
December 9, 2011

Day 224
December 10, 2011

EP366 Week 31

Day 211
November 27, 2011

Day 212
November 28, 2011

Day 213
November 29, 2011

Day 214
November 30, 2011

Day 215
December 1, 2011

Day 216
December 2, 2011

Day 217
December 3, 2011

That In-Between Time

I love the last week of the year. It's that calm-after the storm sort of thing....where there's always leftovers in the 'fridge and no one really has to be anywhere or do anything.

This was a different Christmas...but fun. All the chicks were home to roost- but in a semi-permanent state. AJ and Anna-Grace were at her mom's house for Christmas Eve and so it was Alix and I first thing on Christmas.

Before anything "began" we grabbed coffee and turned on the traditional "always on in the background" continuous loop of that Christmas staple "A Christmas Story". Still funny as hell, no matter how many times I see it.

Proper headgear donned, Alix telephones Wesley to wake him up..

Cruisegran always has clever and much-appreciated prezzies...

North Face Jacket. Score!!!

Then "GJ" came over in their jammies around 11am for stockings and prezzies...

Anna-Grace's custom-designed running shoes. Sooooo HER!!!

Molly found her master and mistress wearing those silly hats too much to take.......

Wesley came over around 1pm....

And another round of prezzies ensued.

AJ experimented with some bacon, onions and brussel sprouts (never a bad combination...)

The Beef Wellington came out perfect--yes, PERFECT...

There couldn't have been a better way to end the day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holy Frijoles!! 10 days and counting!!

Yikes! Where has the time flown??

I've been crazy possessed, trying to get Christmas loose ends tied up before the chicks come to roost for the holidays!

I finally got Christmas cards and packages mailed not 30 minutes ago, and now I can begin to get the house ready for SANTA!!!!

On the academic front, Alix sitting the second of six exams as I type. Two tomorrow and two on Friday.

AJ has one exam- French- left. The fact that the subject matter of two of his three finished exams dealt with astrophysics and quantum mechanics makes my head hurt. I can barely spell them.

Wesley, that rat, has been off since Thanksgiving. Quarter system at Georgia Military College. This has not ceased to rankle Alix as she researched and wrote papers on stem cell research and Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome (yes, a real disease).

And Anna-Grace....well, Anna-Grace is an official GRADUATE of the University of Georgia!! And she has a job!!!!! And she's researching Master's programs. Don'tcha think there's a little bit of overachieving in that couple?????

The tree is up.

Yes, Alix and I hunted it at "The Flower Garden", brought it home, trimmed the bottom and set it up in its stand together!! No fuss, no muss and no CURSING!!! Wesley did the lights and I did the ribbons. That's as far as we have gotten. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Alix also insisted on a mini kitchen tree--yes....a pink tinsel mini tree, with pink, purple, silver and white ornaments.

Oh, STOP THAT!! It's Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

EP366 Week 30

Day 204
November 20, 2011

Day 205
November 21, 2011

Day 206
November 22, 2011

Day 207
November 23, 2011

Day 208
November 24, 2011

Day 209
November 25, 2011

Day 210
November 26, 2011