Winter Solstice, in real time. The cookie baking party was a success, if you measure success by the amount of cookie dough and sprinkles and silver balls ground into the carpet.
One child took it all very seriously and worked steadily, ignoring all the others’ silliness, to meet some quota she had set for herself. The rest of them were very silly.
None of them are destined to compete on the Great British Baking show, but that wasn’t the point.
And there was poop. In the middle of the chaos the three-year-old exclaimed proudly from the bathroom, “I pooped!” That did not mean she had done it in the toilet.
I hadn’t cleaned up human poop for a long time. It’s really, really gross.
Later, the three-year-old exclaimed from the kitchen, in a distressed tone, “There’s poop!” In an act of karmic justice, the cat had crapped on her coat, which she’d thrown on the floor instead of on the bed as the other, older, children had done per my instructions. Someone had closed the door to the closet where the litter box was placed, also in contradiction to my instructions.
Then everybody was pooped out. The children cuddled up on the couch and read books, and the naughty poopers fell asleep.
My son’s step daughters stayed overnight. The next day, we went for a long walk in the woods and across Beaver Lake.
That night, without cleaning up at all, I collapsed onto the new mattress that had arrived in the middle of all this and I slept through the night for the first time in years.
Still in real time. Yesterday was my last day at my job. It happened to coincide with a planned team retreat to a puzzle room. Now, I can’t stand board games or “brain teasers” or Sudoku. I am a crossword aficionado, but I was very leery about a puzzle room.
Well it was a lot of fun. Ten of my coworkers and I entered a room and worked to solve a mystery by the end of one hour. If it had been just me, I would still be in the room. But we all contributed something, even me. Then we went for drinks at a nearby pub, and that was my last day at work.
I also finished the day with a signed agreement for six months of contract work at this same organization, and an offer letter for a part-time job at my local YMCA.
It’s been dreary and cold for months. As I write this, it’s the shortest day of the year and I am dreaming of winter travel but not getting anything done about it.
Day 8 in Australia: The West MacDonnell Ranges.
A new tour bus pulled up in front of our motel, a nice comfy one. Lachlan introduced himself as our guide and we were off. We were a group of about a dozen, including a family with four children, one of whom was disabled and used a wheelchair. I give them a lot of credit for getting out there and seeing the world when it clearly took a lot of extra effort.
Lachlan was passionate about the area, so while there were only four or five stops on the official tour, he kept saying, “We’re going to stop here; it’s not on the tour but it’s one of my favorite views.” And it would be worth it.
There was a couple sitting in front of us and the wife was a loud talker. She started every sentence with the standard Australian “Awww,” but much louder and more nasally drawn out than normal. I could see through the seats, her husband gazing at her adoringly.
Heidi and I looked at each other silently cracked up. It would have been annoying if we were on a five-hour drive but we were stopping every half hour.
I will never remember all the stops but I will never forget Standley Chasm. We walked through a glade to said chasm and back, and Heidi and I agreed there was something about the place … we both felt a sensation of peacefulness descend on us.