Winter Is For Ice Sculptures

The weather is evilly cold in Wisconsin. Whipping winds, below freezing temperatures, all make for long nights under the blanket.

It also is a marvelous time for ice sculptures. So this fine winter’s evening I thought I would share a couple of images from my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog — Ice Sculptures. (https://wp.me/p5LGaO-zg)

 

 

Suffering from Freeze Envy

Here in the Midwest mid-December is rolling in on wheels of 10 degrees, tossing in a windchill of around -15.  A real freezer burn is waiting for all of us.

Most of my colleagues at work are dressed up in wonderfully warm cable knit sweaters, turtlenecks, and fleece hoodies. Some are extra chilled, relying on an extra sweater or even their coat to keep the freezies away. Getting together with my friends, they all show off their sports hoodies, camo jackets, and other warm and fluffy garb.

And then there’s me.

Short sleeves, sometimes a tank top beneath, a medium-weight sweater that is off as often as it’s on, and a small fan blowing and stirring the air.

I suffer from a strong case of freezy envy. I am always jealous of all these colleagues showing off their long sweaters with just the tips of their fingers peeking out and over-sized-neck turtlenecks and Christmas sweaters with bling or Christmas trees. Winter is full of great looks, and yet I can’t take advantage of them because I’m still as warm as a toaster oven.

I suppose it’s some kind of cosmic hot flash flashback. I thought I was past the hots of menopause, but its tentacles still must be wrapped around my body. My house thermostat is set at a balmy 65 degrees — it’s the one place I can get into my fuzzies and get under the blanket and snuggle for least for 10 minutes. Half hour, even.

Bedtime is toss and turn time, hot flash time, throw the covers off, pull the covers back on time. I make myself tired with all the on-and-off clothes routine. You would think with the weather being sub-zero that I would be able to embrace the cold with the same apprehension my friends and colleagues do.

Not happening.

For my male friend readers: Do guys have this kind of hot and cold thing going?

Do you suffer from freezy envy? Ever wish you could spend the day in a hoodie or sweater without sweating profusely?

I’ve always been a fan of layering. It’s easier to layer to get warmer than it is to peel off to get cooler. You would think that once the temperature dropped below 10-15 degrees, the world in general would be in favor of layering to get warmer. No one wears short-sleeved peasant shirts or cutsie T-shirts when there’s 5 inches of snow outside.

Except me.

I trust that as the years go by the hot flashes will, too. That I will be able to wear my pink camo hoodie and my leopard print lounging pants and my heavy-duty Bears sweatshirt or be able to watch TV from under the blankets for at least an hour. Until then, I will deal with this envy and wear something close to what everyone else is wearing.

Just have to remember no footed jammies or pulled up hoodies — there might be spontaneous combustion in there….

 

Ice Dreams

6You would think these dark, long months of cold and shadows would encourage those of us who can’t sit still a chance to not sit still for a shorter period of time.

Fat chance.

Being a mover and talker and creator is a lot different in your 60s than in your 30s.

When you’re in your 20s or 30s or 40s, being active is foremost in your plans for success, money, kids, or whatever your life choice is. You have more energy, ideas, and whereforeall to get it done. A higher chance that your peers will listen and understand you, your ideas snowballing to the benefit of both employer and circle of friends.

By the time you’re in your late 50s/early 60s, those body and mind parts that worked so fast start squeaking just a little. The mind slows down just a little. Your coordination teeters just a little. To you, these changes are barely perceptible. So you can’t remember where you left your phone. So you drive past your exit on the highway. So you forget an ingredient in your dinner surprise. These things are no big deal to us, for we are too busy thinking about the next thing and the next thing.

Younger sprites think of the next thing and the next thing, too, but they just do it better. They have a better grasp on things like technology, job security, and time management, and somehow they seem to get everything done in time, in a fairly organized and sensible manner.

Not me.

Since my biological clock turned upside down the past few years, I’ve wanted to stay up longer and sleep in longer. Lately my Muse has been pulling me in a hundred different directions, either ignoring or ignorant that my mind, as creative as it is, doesn’t move as fast as it used to. I need to have a bit of organization in my crookedy life.

Getting the computer out after dinner and doing some “creative” work has become my version of organization. Yet circumstances are such that, for the next few months, I will have company every evening, and the things on the telly or the music in the background won’t be as much my choice as my kids.

I am noticing a slight change in the atmosphere lately, though, especially since they are starting to look for houses. The grandkids are not as dependent on me as they were when they first came to live with us.

Which is how it’s supposed to be.

They are networking as a family more and more now that they see change on the horizon.

Which is like it should be.

You would think there would be a shift in my atmosphere lately, too. But I’m afraid all I’m going to want to be contemplating is how to be a vegetable the evenings my husband is working (which is 5 nights a week).

Oh, I know, everyone says I will have to make myself go out and do something, make myself write and edit and find artists for the Gallery. I will have oh-so-much-more time to clean and putz around the house, reorganize, redecorate, rethink the old habits of Claudia.

And I will.

I just need to tell my body that.

The one good thing about this lackadaisical attitude is that I DO jot down creative ideas when the mood strikes. I have a lot of things on my plate — a lot of “maybes” and “heys!” and “ooohhh…that would be soooo cool!”s on my platter of plenty. And I know that once my housing situation shifts, once the sun lasts longer, so will I. We all will have gained a better understanding of each others lives and hopes and dreams, and encourage each other to get our individual Mojos going again.

Eating and writing and sleeping on the sofa by myself again will be so nice.

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Snowflakes

Snow Fairy

by Claude McKay

snowflake 8

Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,

Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,

snowflakes

Whirling fantastic in the misty air,

Contending fierce for space supremacy.

snowflake 10

And they flew down a mightier force at night,

As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,

snowflake2

And they, frail things had taken panic flight

Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.

snowflake 6

I went to bed and rose at early dawn

To see them huddled together in a heap,

snowflake 13

Each merged into the other upon the lawn,

Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.

snowflake 7

The sun shone brightly on them half the day,

By night they stealthily had stol’n away.

snowflake 1

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Find more poetry from Claude McKay at http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/claude-mckay

Find more images of real snowflakes at SnowCrystals.com

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Seven Fashion NoNos for Goddesses of All Ages

pantsDuring these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style (Old Lady BoHo http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu). But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

Winter Crabs

Im-CrabbyI have a question for all of you, young and old, hot and cold, here, there, and everywhere.

But first, my turn.

I often think the older I get the crabbier I get. I find I have less tolerance, less worldliness, than I did years ago.  This lioness of emotions seems to rear its head during the cold, dark, snowy days of winter.

Does anyone out there find themselves turning into sulking, bulking creatures this time of the year?

I feel bad about this. I really do. I have a job that I can tolerate for another 7 or 8 years, great co-workers, and a short commute to and from work. I have a family that’s fun and loving, I’ve got great friends that ride the roller coaster of life with me all the time, and right now I have a chocolate chip cookie and glass of milk to keep me happy. I’m cancer free (as far as I know), I walked away from a rollover, and my sick cat has turned the corner and is getting better.

Yet still I walk outside and hate the weather, hate the freeze and the snow and the gray. And I find myself saying the “hate” work more often than not. I personally believe hate is a strong word and should be reserved for truly evil people and things, but it seems to slip out on a frequent basis these days. I have little energy to do the things I love, and have insomnia to the max. I feel fat and dumpy and don’t want to deal with either.

This isn’t me — is it?

I am a lover of life, lover of friends and chocolate and watching movies with my grandbaby.  Yet a lot of the time I feel I’m wandering aimlessly through the cold, not caring if I’m entertained or not. What a contrast of emotions. Which, in turn, messes me up even more.

I really think the older I get the more the weather affects me. I don’t remember feeling this cranky when I was younger. Maybe I was, yet I was too busy with kids and soccer games to pay attention to it. I mean well — I am still nice to people, and I do find my way to the computer now and then.  I know this mindset isn’t set in stone, but I do feel it’s stuck in a snowbank somewhere.

So let me know — are you affected by the depths of winter? Are you a Dr. Jeckyll waiting to turn into a Mr. Hyde? Or are you a fluffy snowflake having a wonderful time turning into a diamond?

I’d love to hear your side of the weather. And, if not, you can always growl…

It’s such a Trifling Experience

Raspberry-AmarettoTrifleBeing stuck inside a Wisconsin winter, even the easiest-going person can find themselves absorbed in the business of escape. Some plan summer vacations. Some make ice sculptures. Some bury themselves under layers of blankets and wait for the first ray of sun to melt a snow mound or ten.  Me? I watch cooking shows. Now, I watch the Food Network year-round. No biggie. But the it becomes a problem when I think I can actually COOK like the Iron Chef or the Master Chef.  Like, if I only took a few hours and paid attention and bought all the right food and wrote down every little detail, that my dish might look (and taste) like Iron Chef Michael Simon’s or Gordon Ramsey’s.

I imagine I could just as well try to paint like Monet or sing like Beyoncé.

I watched Master Chef Junior recently and was humbled by what 9- and 10- and 12-year-olds could do with a basket or a piece of fish.  I have seen what Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri’s kids did during a cook off. Then there’s always what the contestants on Chopped make out of pickled pigs feet and reindeer pate. Amazing. And, of course, there’s always Rachel and Robert and Guy and Alton who make gourmet out of kitchen scraps. I look at my jar of garlic powder and pound of lean ground beef and feel overwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cooking. I have whipped up many a gourmet dish in my time. My homemade spaghetti sauce is to die for (or at least good enough to have third helpings). I have tried trifles, coq au vin, and shrimp scampi. But with working full time and a few personal bumps and my anti-cancer meds making me tired and sunset before I get home and below zero temperatures — let’s just say my cooking aspirations have turned into mounds of grey slush. Kinda flat and uninspiring.

I know it will come full circle — that with spring flinging in a few months I will whip out the cookbooks or surf the Food Network website and I’ll be wowing my dinner guests and myself.

Until then, I think I’ll let my husband cook.

How bout you? Are you cooking away a storm these freezy days?