Phases and pink blazes

I have never quite enjoyed official holidays as I do now because they are days that I don’t have to cobble together 8 hours of work. I didn’t realize that the day after Christmas was an official holiday (Christmas being on Sunday) until this morning when I saw it listed as official MSH holiday on my Outlook calendar. Yeah!

The day after Christmas was devoted to clean up, both of Christmas paraphernalia, creating space again in our already crowded living room, and throwing more things out in the big dumpster that will leave us shortly. This included the red fake leather chair Axel’s father used to sit (and sleep) on in their TV room and on which countless squirrel mothers had given birth. We had decided that it was too gross to consider for re-upholstery. There is a matching white fake leather chair (Axel’s mom’s) and it may go the same way as it also shows remnants of squirrel afterbirths.

Included in the big throw-away was my moldy Halloween collection, built up over my 25 years at MSH and mostly for the purpose of Halloween displays that a colleague and I used to put up at work at some ungodly hour in the morning. This year I realized that that phase is over now and things could be thrown out. It included masks, rubber body parts, wigs and more. I saved only a few things that may come in handy one day and that can be washed (like the Ronald Reagan mask).

After the cleaning we went for a very long and intense hike in the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust area, a gem of a semi-wilderness area that we have only once visited in our many years here. Trails are marked and so we did not pay much attention to the map. If it wasn’t for the pink blazes marking the trail we might have gotten hopelessly lost. We did end up a little different from where we had expected to return so we sent Jim jogging to bring the car and pick us up.

Lately I have found walking on uneven ground difficult and very hard on my ankle. It is not the ankle that was injured in the accident but I am beginning to suspect it may have been injured after all, an injury that wasn’t detected. Such intense hikes up and down hills and across tree roots and boulders is becoming increasingly painful but I am not quite ready to acknowledge that this phase (of being active outdoors) is over as well. We are still holding on to our cross-country skis, just in case we can.

After a Dutch dinner of ‘boerenkool met worst’ (kale, potatoes and smoked sausage) we went caroling with a neighboring family that consists entirely of artists, a very uplifting experience. While the men were admiring silk-painted ties and tasting a home brew the women played music and sang carols, changing the masculine pronouns in all the songs into feminine ones; no one noticed. I slipped out early as it was a school night, but with the promise of more artistic fun on New Year’s Eve.

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