Call it the post-holiday blues; call it the inertia of a dreary winter. Maybe it's because I really miss my kids that this melancholy has hit. Or perhaps it's that I'm still (still) surprised by and getting used to certain aspects of living the country life. Living in two places like I do, spending days away from my house, dog and man (in ascending order of importance) can bring on the occasional blahs, for sure. Or maybe it's that the February issue of Martha Stewart suggests we label our linen closets, the ones that have ample space between the stacks to allow for air circulation, while I'm cramming towels sheets, blankets and tablecloths into marginally available and unlabeled space. Or maybe it's a little of all of that. Whatever the reason, I've been in a funk the last few days.
I'm one of those people who can wither away under the mere perception of a cloud of gloom. When feeling dismal I forget to eat, loose all appetite, care not if I have a meal. Preferring my usual cheerful, sunny-side-up, glass-half-full, feasting-on-life self to this current woebegone version, I decided to take serious action.
First, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies to coax myself to eat and reignite my digestive furnace. Even the grumpiest of souls has difficulty turning her nose up at buttery, chocolatey, nutty cookies. They were intended for me, but initially I feigned that they were for the septic pump guys we had to call out to the house to unplug our system. I add this detail just in case you think I was kidding or being melodramatic about having to adapt to country living. Those of you with municipal sewer systems, now is the time to thank your lucky stars. Lucky you... you get to flush away more than your cares and worries without a second thought.
I've been making chocolate chip cookies with the recipe from The Village Baker's Wife Cookbook, circa 2003, since about then. I love this reliable recipe, and each of the others I've tried from this book. It remains one of my favorite baking books of all time.
These Chubby Darlings Out Our Front Door Don't Seem to Mind the Winter Morning
The other thing I decided to do was to make note of all the things I had to be grateful for in one day. Many years ago I became aware of the importance of gratitude to my life but occasionally, I forget. So, this day, it was time to remember once again. This is in no way an exhaustive list, or even everything I thought of in this one particular day, but a few things which I could easily capture in digital format to illustrate my gratitude, and send my gloom packing.
Murray the Amazing Wonderdog Getting His Morning Hug
My best dog pal has given me a lifetime of joy in his 7 years. I picked him up at the kennel as an itty bitty roly poly puppy the same day I dropped my daughter off at college. No empty nest for me, no sirree! It's been a tough, wondrous, exciting, and fabulous seven years and he's been a faithful friend through it all. He has all kinds of amazing tricks up his sleeve... Murray can wave hello; shake hands; "hit the deck"; sit very, very still with cookies on his paws until given the OK; participate in a shoot-out, complete with a pretend death (if a huge brown eye staring up at you counts as dead); roll over; find a plethora of toys by specific name; find the monsters hiding in the air vents; and retrieve the socks that he stole from you earlier, posing as a hero and gentleman rather than the wet-nosed thief he is.
This is not just another crummy photo, but one of Murray doing what he does best: Wagging. His entire happy self gets into the game, not just the usual wagging parts.
And not to bore you with the subject, but this is the arrangement I've made with Murray: I cook, he keeps my feet warm. I realize that this fact may keep some of you from dining at our place. I'm so sorry about this, both that you will miss out on a terrific meal, and also that you will miss out on meeting terrific Murray.
Our Little Country Kitchen/Photo Studio
There's about a million things depicted here that I'm grateful for:
- There's a man in the kitchen doing dishes. Yeah. Not that uncommon in this house, and part of "country living" that I can get used to!
- About two minutes after this photo was taken, that lumpy sack of recycling made its way out, thanks again to aforementioned man.
- Big white umbrellas in my kitchen?? No. That's a most thoughtful birthday gift, also from aforementioned man, in support of my passions and efforts.
- See the framed photos on the wall in the background? Daily reminders of our children and moms and dads and grandbabies who give me joy, shape my life, and whom I adore. We call this our "wall of fame." You are important if you are on it, at least to me.
- See that refrigerator? It's abundantly full, a luxury many of us don't have. I'll say no more.
I happened to snap this photo as we were finishing dinner. It is a joy to share a day, a meal, a laugh and a tear with someone who takes me as I am, grumpy or elated, and delights in it all. I'm grateful for our wedding rings, still fairly new, which remind me that we've said yes to one another forever, that we're on the same team, dedicated to working things out such as a geographically challenged marriage, plugged septic systems, country living, and the gloom of winter. Together.