The Boston Obstacle Course

It’s like our very own Winter Olympics! And the prize is More Snow.

Obstacle #1: Walk without tripping or slipping.

caution loose bricks in sidewalk

missing bricks from sidewalk

Obstacle #2: Figure out when other obstacle course participants (walking, biking, or driving) are on the other side of a snowbank from you. Dodge them to avoid a collision, without tripping and falling.

roadside snowbank

Obstacle #3: Avoid deadly icicles.

very big icicles

Obstacle #4: Guess the object under the snow. Be specific; what kind of car is it?

cars under snow

Obstacle #5: Get to work on time via public transit. (To my knowledge no one has yet achieved this final and most difficult obstacle, but the efforts put forth to accomplish it have been, may I say, Olympian.)

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The Arts are fine, the Grammar not so much.

Ben and I escaped our house on Saturday for the few hours between blizzards to go to the MFA, and it was lovely. We saw the “D is for Design” exhibit, Klimt’s Adam and Eve (on loan), Japanese paper toys, cool glass sculptures in the contemporary art area, “Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay,” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” Each of these exhibits was on the small side, just one room each (and the Klimt was just one painting, though it was surrounded by Oskar Kokoschka’s Two Lovers and a few Egon Schiele paintings and drawings).

In the “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” room, however, I encountered a problem (click to enlarge the photo below).

two literallys

literally the tip of the iceberg”

The word “literally” was used twice in five sentences. I’ll give them the second one; I’ve never been to the Scharfs’ home, and it may well be that there are fascinating things to look at “quite literally everywhere,” even the bathroom. (Incidentally, I once saw a Klimt print hanging sideways in someone’s bathroom. Not that the Scharfs’ would ever do such a thing, though it would be fascinating if they did.) But that first “literally”? No. The part of the collection in that room in the MFA was not “literally” the tip of the iceberg, or it would have been the tip of an iceberg. And, fortunately, it just wasn’t that cold in there. (I couldn’t even make a good Titanic joke, because the model ships were safely two rooms away.)

I know that language is not static; it changes over time. I know that in at least one case (the word “cleave”) a word may mean one thing (“to adhere closely; to remain faithful”) and its opposite (“to split or divide; to cut off; sever”). I know that language changes and evolves because of the way people use it, whether or not that usage is accepted as correct at the time (usually it’s not). But there are plenty of good alternatives for what people mean when they misuse the word “literally”: try “figuratively,” or “metaphorically,” or “as it were,” or just use a metaphor or a simile or an analogy or a stronger adjective or adverb to make your point.

Or put a damn iceberg in the room, if that’s literally what you mean.

But. On the plus side, this exhibit had a model of the Ford Fairlane, the car that Henry DeTamble’s parents drive in The Time Traveler’s Wife, and it does indeed have magnificent fins:

Ford Fairlane

And we got out of our house for a few hours, and ate a delicious lunch at the cafe, and tried out these green chenille beanbag chairs, which are even comfier than they look:

bean bag chair

All in all it was quite a good outing. It was nice to see some color, and it was even nice to get out of pajamas and into real clothes (well, jeans), and I expect we’ll go back again in the spring when the Da Vinci exhibit goes up. If spring ever comes.

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Keeping an eye on the stray sheep

It’s indisputable that of the two humans in the house, I’m the dog’s favorite, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t keep track of Ben’s whereabouts too. When he goes outside to shovel snow (again), she watches through the window…at least for a few minutes.

Sudo looking out window

Brr, it looks cold out there. Why did he go out there?

Sudo ears alert

Where’d he go? (This is where she’ll hop from the recliner to the couch so she can get a better view.)

And he gets the third degree when he comes back inside.

Sudo legs crossed

Do you know what time it is, mister? Don’t walk away while I’m talking to you. You said you’d be home an hour ago.

All that vigilance really tires her out, though.

Sudo napping on couch

Whew, my eyes were open for five whole minutes there. Time for a nap with my stuffed animal friends.

You think shoveling is hard work? Try watching someone shovel.

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Even more snow days

The next time I have to go to work on a Monday, it’s going to be a rude shock. As of tomorrow, it’ll be three in a row, and next week is Presidents’ Day, so I already know we’ll be closed (but who knows, it could be snowing then too, it probably will be if the last three weeks are any indication). I’ve enjoyed the extra time at home to sleep in, read more (including all three books I mentioned in my last snow day post), and cuddle with the dog, speaking of which (whom?)…

Sudo is certified as a therapy dog!

Sudo and her new friend Daisy, certified therapy dogs!

After attending three workshops with Dog B.O.N.E.S. (Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support), Sudo, Ben, and I are a certified therapy dog team. This does NOT mean Sudo can (or should) assist the blind in crossing streets, nor does it mean that I can take her on a plane as my “emotional support animal”; what it does mean is that we can visit places like assisted living facilities, nursing homes, colleges, and anywhere else where her presence might brighten someone’s day. Our instructors were great, and the classes were a very good start to what I hope will be a rewarding volunteer experience. (I think Sudo earned extra points for not trying to chew the tennis balls off the walker feet; unlike, say, golden retrievers, Sudo cares not a whit for tennis balls.)

I’m pretty certain she’ll enjoy visiting people who want to pet her. What she is enjoying less is this:

WHY IS IT STILL LIKE THIS?

WHY IS IT STILL LIKE THIS?

But until she learns to use the toilet – and I just can’t see that happening – three times a day we must rouse her from one of the below poses to go outside, at least for a few minutes.

Snuggling with stuffed alligator toy

Snuggling with stuffed alligator toy

Tucked under a blanket on the couch

Tucked under a blanket on the couch

Pretending that outdoors does not exist

Pretending that outdoors does not exist

Somewhat miraculously, Ben’s birthday outing was not snowed out. Six of us made it to Danvers to play indoor mini-golf, because nothing says grown-up birthday party like glow-in-the-dark monster-themed mini-golf. (Right, other grown-ups who read this blog?)

Par three? Are they kidding?

Par three? Are they kidding?

Cool, right?

Cool, right?

Both before and after indoor mini-golf, we stood around in the parking lot and ate homemade cupcakes out of the trunk of our car. This is also a very grown-up thing to do. (Hey, we knew enough not to bring outside food into the establishment. If glow-in-the-dark monster-themed indoor mini-golf can be called an establishment.)

Grown-ups!

Grown-ups!

While I was planning that classy outing for Ben’s birthday, he took me to see Nick Hornby. So yeah, I think we’re even.

What will tomorrow’s snow day reading be? Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug, Howards End by E.M. Forster (it was mentioned in Vanessa and Her Sister), another book from my TBR list? We shall see…

Last, and least, the rose bush got another haircut:

DSC07995

Almost a year old – it was a Valentine’s Day present last year.

 

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Snow days

The blizzard hit pretty much as predicted in our area. This morning I went out the back door and waded through snow above my knees. We took Sudo out the front instead, so there was only a little deep snow before the street, which had been plowed at least once during the night or early morning. Coming back in, Ben was going to dig a little path through the snow banked between the street and the front steps, but Sudo had had enough of being outside, and tried to jump straight over the snowbank. She kind of got stranded on her belly, since the snow was taller than she was, but she paddled on through, ran up the stairs, and tried to push the front door open with her face. She’d be shocked to learn she’s the same species as a husky.

sudoandben

snowdog1

snowdog2

In this one you can see how she’s squinting her eyes against the snow and wind.

Inside, we’ve been well provisioned, having purposefully created leftovers for the past couple days in case the power went out (it hasn’t). Fresh baked bread, North African stew, pasta with homemade sauce, chocolate chip cookies, and lots of tea and hot cocoa. And that’s just the food! We also have stacks of books. I finished God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet (thanks Erin!) and am trying to decide what to read next – The Art of Fielding? The first in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series? Vanessa and Her Sister? Decisions, decisions.

Back inside and ensconced in her armchair once again.

Back inside and ensconced in her armchair once again.

 

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Winter rose

The miniature rose bush I pruned back to nearly nothing is doing extremely well indoors.

November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

Once these blooms start to fade, I’ll cut it back again. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? I really should read a gardening book one of these days. Any recommendations?

Aside from the rose bush, most of the other plants are still doing well indoors too (except one of the African violets seems to be dying, I’m not sure why), and I’ve added an orchid to the bunch. My track record with orchids is so-so; I know to drench them and then let them dry out completely before watering them again, and keep them out of direct sunlight (they actually do okay in offices). We’ll see how long I can keep this one alive.

New orchid, January 12, 2015

New orchid, January 12, 2015

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On Letter-Writing, II

2014 yielded 4 inches of letters.

2014 yielded 4 inches of letters.

A year ago, I read Simon Garfield’s book To the Letter and Lewis Carroll’s “Eight or Nine Wise Words On Letter-Writing” and was inspired to start writing letters again. Luckily, I had four equally dedicated correspondents, plus a few friends who send postcards when they travel (and sometimes even when they stay home).

Reading and writing so many letters this past year has been a pleasure, and it’s an activity I plan to continue this coming year. Letters are a different quality of communication compared to e-mail, talking on the phone, or social media; they’re a little more organized, a lot more thoughtful, and they have more personality. I’ve loved recognizing friends’ handwriting on envelopes when I pick up the mail, seeing what stamps they chose, what kind of paper and ink. I’ve sent and received beautiful and unique cards and postcards, and I’ve learned about more facets of my friends’ lives than I would have in any other way.

To my letter-writing friends, thank you. Here’s to 2015.

DSC07910

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