YA and I decided in November that maybe we should take up jigsaw puzzles now that the weather had turned cold. In the past, jigsaw puzzles have driven us both a little crazy; we have to worry about the kitty messing with the puzzles, neither of us had a lot of extra time and we both can get a little obsessive occasionally. But thanks to sheltering-in-place and neither of us working, we don’t have the same objections that we used to (except the kitty). We did a Ukrainian egg puzzle in November – took us about 5 hours, both of us working on it the whole time.
Right after Solstice, we pulled a puzzle down from the attic. It’s a 1000 piecer and it’s a doozy – no straight edges and lots of little pictures within the main puzzle. We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and we still haven’t been able to identify all of the outer edges. YA is particularly good at seeing the design of a particular piece and figuring out where it goes. I’m better at identifying pieces by shape. But this puzzle is currently getting the better of both of us although we haven’t given up yet.
In our prior life, having a puzzle on the table in the living room this long would have made me crazy and I am having to fight this feeling. So much so that I decided to try to figure out how long it will take us to finish this one. We’ve done about 350 pieces so far. I’m assuming the tipping point (the point at which you’ve done enough of the puzzle that the pieces start going together more easily) will be between 650 and 700 pieces. Right now we are going pathetically slowly; we averaging about 10 pieces a day (if we both spend a bit of time on it – it’s really hard to keep at it at this point). So, taking into account the eventual tipping point and days when we ignore it entirely, I figure it will take us another 45-50 days to finish. It could be spring before we are done with this thing!
When was the last time you had to do math? In your head, on paper or using a calculator (or Excel)?
Husband announced the other day that he considers Gjetost to be a comfort food. I have never considered it to be so, but he was really happy when he found some at the store earlier this month. It is too sweet and chalky for my tastes.
This is a year that has screamed a need for comfort. It has been hard to find at times over the past ten months. I think the worst day in memory was yesterday, as we anxiously waited to see if Daughter’s plane left Denver with her on it. We hadn’t seen her for a year. Her flight into Bismarck on Tuesday was cancelled, and she couldn’t get a flight home until Christmas Eve. She had an excellent time with her grandmother. though, which was a comfort to both of them.
I was so worried all day yesterday. I tried to distract myself with music. The King’s College Lessons and Carols service was a good start, but it was a really long day. I made some soup, cleaned the kitchen, played solitaire, did laundry, and wrapped some presents, all with a horrid sense of dread and apprehension. Our cat must have sensed my distress, as she stayed unusually close by me all day.
The only thing that would provide comfort for me was to hear that she was boarding her plane, and then to give her a big hug (but not, she insisted, until she showered to get the Covid germs off her). She was texting us in caps as she waited for the plane to take off.
What foods, books, music, people, places, activities, or other things give you comfort these days?
I am sad to report that on Monday, Husband and I had to take Millie, our Tortie, to the vet to be put down. She had been doing quite well with her steroid treatment for lymphoma for the past two months. She took a sudden turn for the worse on the weekend, and we knew it was the end, so we loaded her up and went together to the vet. It was sad, but we are relieved her suffering is over.
Husband said he was really glad we went to the vet together, and that neither of us had to do it alone. Then, he suggested a question for the Trail:
What do you think are essential qualities for a spouse or partner?
We inadvertently left a foot stool near the Christmas tree after we trimmed it on Saturday, and our Tortie took full advantage of it. Why else do you have a foot stool but for cats to have a better opportunity to get to the Christmas ornaments that interest them? We have repositioned the foot stool to prevent wholesale ravaging of the lower ornaments.
How do you accommodate the animals in your life? Got any good pet and Christmas decoration stories?
In about three weeks, we will be in a new month and new year. I have never gone through such an extended period of change at work, societal upheaval, and perpetual anxiety. I am beginning to see some glimmers of a more positive existence, and have allowed myself to have some hope.
It has been a few weeks since the governor of ND issued his mask mandate, and while there are still people who go maskless, the number of people wearing masks has increased very noticeably. It is also very interesting that the number of new, positive cases has dropped precipitously since the mask mandate was issued. Oh, I know it will go up due to Thanksgiving gatherings, but the trend of increased mask wearing is encouraging.
Our Tortie was near death a month ago. Now she is thriving on a maintenance dose of steroids.
My workplace is finally settling down after our move, numerous technology changes, staff turnover, and treatment paradigm shift, with good administrators in charge and people getting necessary things done that were neglected for a couple of years.
I try not to wallow in political news since it keeps me awake at night, but that is starting to look more positive, too, in terms of the changes in administrations. I also am hopeful now that the seed catalogue are arriving in the mail.
What glimmers of hope are you seeing? What are you hopeful for in the new year?
The handsome fellow in the header photo is a Julbukk. We have had him for many years, and I used to leave him and two smaller goat companions and an Austrian straw girl displayed in the living room year round. He used to have a lovely beard made of wheat berries.
About four years ago we adopted a grey tabby cat named Luna. She was very, very interested in all the goats, but especially with the biggest one. She loved wrestling all the straw figures to the floor. She also ate all the wheat berries off the big one’s beard, leaving him the emasculated, beardless goat you see today.
We trimmed the Christmas tree this weekend, and I noticed this straw ornament and I got an idea.
I thought that this would make a lovely goat beard, and if I took it apart and carefully inserted the sprigs under his chin, Mr. Julbukk could be restored to his former glory. I will wait until after Christmas, since I need the straw ornament to fill in a bare spot on the tree.
What good ideas have you come up with lately? Made any good repairs? Do you have any julbukken?
I drive home for lunch most days. It takes me about seven minutes to get home. I take the same route, and on the way I keep watch for two gorgeous Standard Schnauzers who are sometimes in their well fenced-in yard enjoying the sun. They are perfectly matched and are very well trimmed. I love watching them run around their yard in the few seconds I glimpse them as I drive past.
Son tells about two Great Horned owls he watches for as he walks his West Highland Terrier. He once observed an owl try to nab a duck in mid flight. It wasn’t successful. The owls hoot as he strolls past.
What do you like to keep a watch for?
I have often been accused of “biting off more than I can chew”. I have always liked a challenge. I suppose the most memorable experience with this is getting purebred Welsh Terriers, who proved, despite their smaller size, to be far more dog than I had ever anticipated.
My latest experience with this occurred last week. I treated myself to a new Springerle rolling pin for Christmas. That is a rolling pin with intricate carvings used to make Springerle or Speculaas cookies. I had been eyeing one in the King Arthur Baking Company for several years. The pin arrived last week. It is much bigger than it looked in the catalogue, and it weighs 5 lbs. It is the classic blunt instrument. Husband says it should be in an Agatha Christie mystery. You can get an idea of its size in the header photo with the 12 inch ruler in comparison. It has really lovely, deep, carvings. It is too big to store in the drawer with the other rolling pins, so we keep it in the entryway closet wrapped in bubble wrap in its box so that the carvings don’t chip. I never imagined I would have a rolling pin that requires such special care. I guess should have been prepared for this since it is called The Showstopper Springerle Pin. I sort of overlooked that hint.
When have you got more than you bargained for? When have you bitten off more than you could chew?
Out tortoiseshell cat, Millie, was recently diagnosed with what is probably lymphoma. It could possibly be a form of leukemia, but we would need to do a bone marrow test to find out, and the treatment is the same in either case. She gets a smear of prednisone cream in her ear every day, which we will gradually reduce to a maintenance dose every other day in a week or so. She is rallying, and is almost back to her pre-cancer goofy self.
Our children are real cat lovers, and insist I give regular news updates regarding her condition and prognosis. It feels some days as though I am running an official Millie news network. I could call it MNN.
I myself have been consumed with the news of late, and go to my regular news sources. NPR, CNN, Reuters, and MSNBC too frequently for my own mental health. I am alarmed by 45’s plan to start his own news service, which I can’t imagine being at all reasonable or accurate. I doubt I would ever look at it.
What news services do you follow or not follow? What kind of news service would you start if money was no object?
As I clicking around yesterday, I found a list of the best breeds for each astrological sign. If you can get past the idea that all of humanity can be dumped into just twelve categories, based on the month in which they were born, can you get past the idea that all people born in a certain month will all be suited to the same dog?
- Aquarius – Siberian Husky
- Pisces – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Aries – Labrador Retriever
- Taurus – German Shepherd
- Gemini – American Pit Bull Terrier
- Cancer – Old English Sheep Dog
- Leo – Border Collie
- Virgo – Dachshund
- Libra – Bernese Mountain Dog
- Scorpio – Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Sagittarius – French Bulldog
Even if you CAN get past both these problems, this list is seriously flawed. First off, it’s missing the best two dogs on the planet – the Irish Setter and the Samoyed. I’m guessing that a few other baboons will think there are others missing – English setters, terriers, bassets. My mother would absolutely dispute the choice for her sign – only the Golden Retriever would make her list. Then there’s the problem of all the fabulous dogs whose pedigrees are unknown.
For me, I’m not sure the Border Collie represents me well. Although I certainly like to keep busy, I don’t think of myself as particularly driven and pandemic has made it clear that I have big-time couch potato tendencies.
Do you think there’s a perfect pet to match your personality?