Monday, December 28, 2020



Happy winter, friends.

I celebrated solstice by: getting a gorgeous-smelling fir wreath and a bunch of winter berries on the branch delivered, and by washing our bedding. (My logic goes: sleep is a spiritual practice, in winter especially; bed is the altar; therefore make it extra nice for holidays. The coziest bed for the longest night.)

I always thought it a crying shame in Illinois that the wonderful "Christmas" lights got taken down in December. How about a mental health innovation: leave them up! Help get your neighbors through the grim wastes of February!

I decided myself last year, after reading The Little Book of Hygge, that I would carry on freely through the rest of winter with any previously December-bound practices of light, warmth, and ritual that I cared to.

Speaking of indoorsy pursuits: yesterday I started learning Esperanto. I never understood the appeal of a constructed language before. But I see why people like this one. It's delightfully simple, organized, and exception-free. So friendly. Lots of immediate reward.

And I've enrolled in a community college linguistics course for the spring semester...for the third time! Spring 2009, Spring 2017, Spring 2021. Long story short, there were obstacles the first two times (respectively: being nineteen, living with a felon). The third time will be a charm.

What about you - winter rituals? Winter plans?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Read in November 2020

1. Honeymoon in Purdah, by Alison Wearing (2000)

Reread. Probably my most favorite travel memoir - just such a beautiful, funny, interesting work about the author's months in Iran.

2. Living More with Less, by Doris Janzen Longacre (1980)

Borrowed from my mother, this book represents parts of my religious heritage that I am grateful for. A sweet, earnest collection of simple-living tips from other members of the author's Mennonite community. This was a formative work for simple-living Christians of my parents' generation, and I loved seeing how those values overlap with mine (and those of other minimalist, slow living, zero waste etc. types of my generation). Some of the ideas were dated, e.g. having to personally bring your metal waste to a recycler; most were not, and the structure makes it easy to read in small pieces.

3. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson (1977)

I am probably the only adult lover of books who hadn't yet read this as a child. It lived up to the hype. I thought the two central children and their relationship particularly well drawn.

4. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers (1936)

Read transcontinentally on Skype with my college best friend. This is quite a thick feminist-themed mystery that took a while to get going, and is littered so densely with casual Latin phrases and esoteric literary allusions that I had to get used to feeling a bit ignorant (and/or Googling as needed). Its witty narration and dialogue kept us hanging around, and by the end I was entirely drawn in.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Gratitudes & things that are making me happy


• The wonderful sweetness of roasted leeks

• Discovering sliced Tokyo turnips as a vehicle for hummus 

• The combination of wintry light, clear skies, and fresh winds we get at this time of year in the Bay Area

• Going outside around dusk (paler colors, colder air) to get some last fresh air for the night and reminisce about other early-winter days in years past and places distant. 

• Putting my girlfriend’s extra duvet on the bed and feeling nicely buried at bedtime 

• Sleep socks 

• Vacation from work. A staycation, of course, the longest chunk of time I’ve had off work since August 2019, and specifically, a reading staycation. I spent the week leading up to it ordering books and arranging library holds so as to be entirely ensconced in books, and sleep, for the duration of the week. 

• Relatedly, going back to the LIBRARY (even if only for curbside pickup) 

• Continuing to bake bread every week or so 

• Tea forgotten, but remembered when it is exactly the right temperature

• Finding, and racing through, a single novel containing three of my favorite book ingredients: San Francisco, ballet, and Antarctica (Up to This Pointe, by Jennifer Longo)

• Reading a Rapunzel retelling and realizing what a fitting fairy tale it is for the shelter-in-place era (Bitter Greens, by Kate Forsyth)