Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee this Christmas morning I would invite you to sit back and enjoy the fire in the wood stove and the candle lighting around the room. I am up early to enjoy this predawn time, as usual. I am in a good mood because I realize how wonderful defining this year of 2017 has been. I did not plan to do a major change this year, but I have certainly accomplished one. I sold my extra red estate and pared down the size of my possessions in order to fit into my condo. This has been extremely liberating and satisfying. I am left with much less stuff, which I love much more.
I am serving coffee, and an assortment of teas, including some iced green tea. We have celebrated all month, and today have no plans to go out or do anything. We are not giving gifts because we just spent months deleting items from our possessions, and are not in the mood to fill up our space with stuff again. We are truly sated.
I did go on a shopping spree this fall, all of which has upgraded our lifestyle. I did little frivolous spending. Most of the spree was spent on very practical home improvements. I wrapped up the spree by buying a new garage door opener last weekend, because mine was on it’s last breath, about to break forever. I was so happy to replace it before it caused a tragic inconvenience in my life. I continue to take a box to the Goodwill each week to fine tune my stuff, since editing is forever. I have new underwear, socks, wifi speakers, and Alexa can now answer the phone on speaker. I have one more planned expenditure with my real estate profits, a hot springs vacation in February. I have not traveled much since I started my job last May, so I am planning a reward for myself in California. I will spa down for a few days, then stay in Joshua Tree in an air bnb. I have already booked my favorite hot springs hotel, but there are many highly desirable air bnb rentals near the Joshua Tree National Park. The decision is part of the fun for me. Are you going anywhere this winter? Do you like planing, or like to take off and see what happens? I like a good accommodation reservation and lots of free time. That is the perfect combination for me.
My blogging is slowly becoming regular once more. I changed may schedule at work, and have started doing my writing before I go to my job. This is working a little better. I do appreciate the return of the weekend coffee share because I enjoy keeping up with the group and the writing you are doing. Please join us on the weekends to share happenings and feelings over digital beverages. Eclectic Ali is hosting this movable feast, which includes a diverse group of writers from around the globe. The party is always digitally delicious. Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for stopping by.
If we were having coffee today I would invite you to quench your thirst with some fresh grapefruit juice. Our ruby-red grapefruit tree is yielding fruit that we will harvest from now until March. It is bright red in the spirit of Christmas, and delightfully tart. Citrus season is generous, bright and cheerful. We have a calamondin tree which bears heavily all winter too. It is a very tart lime flavored small fruit. I am going to town by scenting the air with mandarin and lime oils in the gingerbread house diffuser. I am serving a selection hot teas and coffee for your drinking pleasure. I am even on a citrus jag with tea, loving the roiboos lemon cloud flavor. It does make me feel like I am on a cloud for a few minutes when I drink it. Help yourself to your favorite beverage, and you can feel free to add a splash of alcohol if you are arriving at happy hour in your time zone.
Here in Tucson it is 7:45 am and 46 degrees F. It will be warm and sunny all day, so soak up some rays and the beauty of the desert before you leave. We are going to the Arizona Inn, very close to home, for our Christmas Eve lunch. Our 1:30 reservation for the main dining room is the perfect plan for this couple. I am vegetarian and Bob is not. At home he has to keep kosher, which means no meat in the house. When he dines out he likes to have super excellent carnivore cuts. The Arizona Inn has fabulous selections for me, and outstanding dishes for him. He might eat a duck today, and that is fine with me. We are going there for the elegance, the service, and the superb cuisine. They will prepare and serve our dinner in a highly sophisticated style we just can’t replicate at home in our condo. We have no chef at home, and more importantly, no dishwashers. They never disappoint. They go over the top so we don’t have to make such an effort. I look forward to this traditional lazy holiday.
They will have a glorious flower arrangement in the center of the room, and a fire in the adobe fireplace. The Inn has all the trimmings for a fancy over the top holiday experience. All we have to do is Uber on over and enjoy the day. We take Uber when we want to cocktail, and we do plan to cocktail this afternoon. The car service adds an element of luxury our daily lives do not normally include, and that is fun too. Our driver will deliver us to the front door of the Inn, where the doormen (plural) will welcome us. We will take our traditional photos next to the decorated tree in the library before taking our table in the dining room. For me it is the best no fuss no muss way to celebrate this holiday weekend.
I have plenty of time this morning to hear about your holiday (or not) plans. What kind of celebration will happen where you live? Drop in on Diana to share your comments or a post of your own. Diana keeps the party going from New Orleans, but this is a world wide event. Share coffee with some very cool writers from all over the world. Cheers, all!
I am taking this time so easy I can’t even believe it myself. We do not stress ourselves by including obligatory events in December, so our home life is without strain to complete or compete. We decorate a little, and I like to burn candles this time of year because the dark begins in the afternoon and seems like a cheery flicker in the dark. We celebrate not exactly any holiday other than the winter solstice, but are happy to join in the whole festive season. I drive less and shop very little because the crowds and traffic are not on my list of jolly things to experience. I buy a little more than usual in the specialty foods and booze category, but in general our consumption is normal in December. We certainly do not go wild. We like it quiet.
I am very lucky that the Tucson Botanical Gardens is right around the corner from home, so I zip over there for some outdoor nature time. It is also a winter treat to have the butterfly and tropical frog show at the gardens in the greenhouse. It is a gift the year around to be able to take a beautiful botanical break away from traffic and shopping and work. This is my idea of a jolly good time.
I consider my life to be blessed with ease and good health. I wish all my gentle readers a holiday week of gladness and good fortune. May you all be the merriest of readers in the jolliest of good company. God bless us every one.
I am a big fan of both Schmutzli and his Austrian cousin, Krampus. These characters are Christmas symbols that teach children the value of obedience to parents. They appear on 6 December, St Nicholas Day, to deliver small gifts like oranges and nuts. They also scare the devil out of all the kids by giving each one an accurate description of their discipline problems. The list of behavior to correct is provided by the parents ahead of time. In the past the home visit might include placing the child in a bag to kidnap him for infractions on the list. My Swiss friends had this happen in their youth, and reported that it was truly scary. Santa gets drunk as he travels from home to home because he is offered some spirits along the way. One of my friends was at the end of the route in her small village. She said Santa was always drunk by the time he came to her house, and she was always afraid of him.
How does this differ from our department store Santa that asks kids what they want? Well, first of all, they only ask the parents what they want out of the situation. The threat of Schmutzli’s terror is intended to root out all that bad behavior before 25 December. On Christmas Eve the baby Jesus is supposed to fly through the child’s window and leave gifts. Baby Jesus gets through all the windows just like our Santa gets down all the chimneys, no questions asked. Kids who reform themselves in those 24 days they have to redeem themselves will be rewarded by Jesus.
I think it is a practical system. Now that Schmutzli has been calmed down for modern times, he just represents winter. In Austria I don’t think Krampus will ever be diluted. He is more adored than St Nick. He is still a horned pagan kind of archetype. He jumps out at you on the street in Vienna to scare you just for fun. Have you met either one of these guys?
The “meaning of the holidays” is a phrase that has been diluted. Although this commercial venture of the company was done for public relations purposes, there could be no better public relations. I wish all the gentle readers comfort and joy for the season and beyond.
The ancient world was more highly aware of the seasons than we are today because they had to make fire to stay warm or see at night. Religion, tradition, and regional provincialism are woven together at the winter solstice time. We have a food and drink festival that imitates Saturnalia and a birthday the resembles the birth of Mithra. I believe I have inherited some feelings for Christmas from the way my ancestors behaved. I have had the good fortune to be in other countries to celebrate the season, which opened my eyes to the wide variety and regional roots of the holiday practices. I choose the part I like and feel no pressure to perform now that my ancestors are all dead. I see the end of the year as a fun break before tax organization season, and a good excuse to party with friends. We give few gifts, but like to share extra food and drink with friends. I like to embrace it as an upside down time, a season for preparation and clearing. Spring will be right around the corner, when the harvest cycle can begin once more. For now, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; it is time to party.
Dancing in our heads in December are sugar plums, even if we don’t know what they are. I started making them years ago after I looked them up in a cookbook. I mix and match any dried fruits and nuts for the desired texture. I am not a fan of fennel or anise, so I never use those spices. You can choose the ones you prefer. I like the drunk ladies’ addition of the orange peel, and I plan to incorporate it this year. I am also stalking an exotic date found only in Scottsdale, the Black Sphinx. I am going up soon on a visit and will bring these delicate beauties home for an extra special batch of sugar plums. Dates are extra sticky and sweet, and lend themselves well to this treat. If you have not tried to make this, it is almost impossible to fail, so give it a whirl. They are universally liked by all ages.
In the tropical part of the world Christmas is celebrated differently. Aguinaldos are songs that people sing during the season. The man above is playing an instrument I have not seen, the Puerto Rican cuatro ( which seems to have 8 strings and be pretty big). The traditions differ, but where I lived in Venezuela, the parranda, or band of musical merry makers, went from house to house singing, drinking and then taking the family with them along to the next house. Unlike Christmas caroling, this parranda gets bigger and more spirited as the night continues. They usually came to my house last because my dad was their boss (everyone who lived in the petroleum camp) and it was fitting that he supply the alcohol for the majority of the evening. They came with harps and cuatros, guitars and furucos, cramming into our large central courtyard and rushing the bar. They made up improvisational songs about our house and our family, a la calypso (which comes from neighbor Trinidad). Many of the songs were funny and had nothing to do with Jesus. Some people think of Christmas and snow, and that is fine, but there is more to December than sleighs and gluttony. Here are some religious Venezuelan aguinaldos. I do like to hear the Mormans ripping a Hallelujah Chorus or two, but I am also very nostalgic about the memory of my tropical Christmas fun. Feliz Navidad!