about bliss

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

family circle

I love impromptu weeknight visits.

And I love living close to family. While a Great Lake separates me from my parents, brother's family, and most of my extended family of origin, Gregg's parents live about 8 miles away, and his sisters (and their families) live within an hour and a half.

Tonight Gregg and I headed out after dinner to bring his parents a few pumpkin pecan bars I baked on Sunday. We chatted for an hour and a half, and I listened to family stories I'd never heard before. We also shared updates on our extended family, and discussed future family gatherings. This time together was just what I needed: heart warming, soul expanding.

Monday, November 11, 2013


fleecy blankets
wool socks
hoods and hats
layers and layers
mugs of tea
and central heat:
shelter. safety. warmth.

This morning I checked the temperature—28 degrees—and looked at the snow flakes swirling outside. I layered on two pairs of pants, wool socks and tennis shoes, tank, long sleeve tee, sweatshirt, and light down coat. I pulled on a hat and gloves, and wrapped a scarf around my neck. I plugged into my favorite Monday podcast, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and walked down the leaf and snow strewn sidewalks.

The wind persisted, but after 10 minutes I was mostly all warm, as usual. As I walked along Lake Michigan, the wind swept off of the water, and my upper thighs and butt were chilled. Against my better judgment, I didn't turn around, but kept walking to the 1.5 mile marker. I turned around to head home, looking for a respite from the wind biting my legs. If anything, the wind was stronger, colder. The cold stayed contained to my upper legs and butt, but it didn't dissipate. I interspersed running with walking. I wondered who I could call to come pick me up, but everyone I know was at work, out of town, or in class. Just one mile to go.

I'm always happy to reach home after a walk on a cold day, but today I was beyond relieved. Home, to strip off my layers on my upper body, where I had been toasty warm. Home, to put on more layers on my cold lower body. To warm up. The unprecedented lingering cold in my legs and butt worried me, so I took my body temperature and turned to the Mayo clinic website to make sure I wasn't in trouble.

My body temp was 95.8 when I first took it. I've never seen it that low. I wrapped myself in another blanket and brewed tea. My temperature climbed .4 degrees with each successive read in the next 15 minutes, so I knew I would be okay, but I was mad at my stupidity. My legs were still cold. I drank tea, ate a pumpkin bar to fuel my inner fire. I waited until my legs felt less chilled to shower under warm water.

My muscles are sore and I'm much sleepier than on a usual Monday, which I chalk up to my exertion and my recovery.

Oh, and that 28 degrees? I neglected (like the rookie I'm not) to check the windchill: 16 degrees.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I waited a long time to seriously date anyone, which meant I waited a long time to marry. Gregg and I both thought we might be single for the rest of our lives as we faced our mid-late thirties...alone. 

And then we met in 2009 and now we're married.

Ruby Beach, Washington, August 2012
I love many of Gregg's traits and habits and quirks, but today I'm grateful that he's truly my partner. For example, today we had a thoughtful conversation about sexual objectification and the media, after which we chatted about football. We raked and hauled leaves together, and Gregg helped me make dinner. He rearranged the bathroom shelves, and I baked dessert. He watched football; I watched Dirty Dancing.

We've approached dividing our household tasks both organically and thoughtfully. Gregg cleans the bathroom; I wash the sheets. We take turns buying groceries. I cook most of our meals except for Wednesday nights when Gregg mans the stove. We help each other when the unfolded laundry pile threatens to topple off of the dresser, or the recycling overflows the bin. 

And sometimes, we make new guidelines: whoever is last out of bed has to make the bed. 

“Knowing love or the hope of knowing love is the anchor that keeps us from falling into that sea of despair.” ― bell hooksAll About Love: New Visions

Saturday, November 09, 2013

long sweaters

with long sleeves and maybe pockets, that skim my body, cover my backside, and allow for wrapping and snuggling and layering over tanks and tees and thin sweaters.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

singer-songwriter soundtrack

Lately, I've been listening to Brett Dennen's latest album, Smoke and Mirrors. I first heard "Wild Child" on XM radio, and added the entire album to my Spotify account. Mellow, upbeat, thoughtful, and soulful, perfect for these short cool days that slip between winter gloom and holiday cheer. "Wild Child" speaks to my desire to dance freely and love dearly:

"I am a wild child, yes I am
I love the country and I
I wanna run free and I
Don't wanna live up to anyone's plan
I wanna feel the good vibes and I
Wanna feel the sunshine with you,
By my side

I am, I am, I am, I am
I am a wild child, momma
You can, you can, you can, you can
You can hold me tight if you wanna
If you wanna hold me tonight

Take me where the music's playin'
Get me on the dancefloor
Pull me a little closer
I am a wild child, yes I am
I wanna feel the good vibes and I
Wanna feel the sunshine with you,
By my side"

I love to follow up this song with the peppy, "When We Were Young." The exhortations to "remember when we were young" help ease the anxiety of my looming 40th birthday. 

I'm grateful for new tunes and the mood infusion they bring.  

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Today I'm grateful for a new full box of Puffs ultra soft and ultra strong, as I sniffle all day long.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Tonight I'm grateful for new tires with deep treads that whisk away the water on dark, rain-slicked highways in the late evening. And for my husband, who ferried us home from an author event 40 miles from home (more on the event tomorrow!).

Monday, November 04, 2013


Snuffley (sniffle + stuffy).


My first semester cold has arrived.

And I'm thankful. I made it 10 weeks into the semester before succumbing to the germ stew that is a small commuter college campus.

Usually, I'm stricken by week 5. Last year, I was heading into my second cold about this time of year. I had a few doozies last year, but then again last Fall was a stressful blend of work responsibilities (heavy committee service load and tenure file time) and personal challenges (a family member's serious illness).

In contrast, this Fall is fantastic.

And so I drink tea, rest, sniffle and snuffle, and give thanks.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

fall back day

Trying to find a silver lining in the ritual of falling back to standard time, I mused to Gregg that we only have a month and half of short days before the Winter Solstice and the days start lengthening again.

Silver linings, I tell you.

Fall Back day worked its magic today—time seemed magnified between awakening to the Sunday puzzle on NPR to settling in with blankets and slippers. (this is likely due to our currently pet-free, child-free home).

mini peach pie

Today I managed to read about 20 rough drafts of annotated bibliographies, catch up on my reading for Monday and Tuesday classes, bake pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and a mini peach pie, read an entire section of the New York Times, walk four miles, cook a quick but tasty dinner, and talk to my mom without feeling the pinch of limited time. It helped tremendously that Gregg ran the errands (thanks, DH!).

Now I'm sleepy and snuffly (do not settle in, rhinovirus!), ready to eat pie and drink tea, curl up with a fun book and be sleeping by 10:30.

More than a silver lining: a full yet relaxing day. Grateful.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

spontaneous outings

Every so often, Gregg and I will head out in the morning with one destination in mind and enjoy an entire day of exploration. Some days, the many stops (meals, shopping, other curiosities) and miles take a toll, and by the end of the day we arrive home tinged with crankiness. Even then, I'm thankful for our mutual sense of adventure and willingness to allow the day to unfurl as we go.

Today we headed out for breakfast, and succeeded in stocking up on household goods (the ever sexy 18 pack of toilet paper), revamping our winter wardrobes (thank you, TJMaxx!), and lingering over afternoon coffee in a funky little cafe along the river. We walked along a developed riverside, reading the signs for charter fishing companies that decorate the railings even as the boats are tucked away under shrink wrap and canvas.

Today we mused that such excursions will soon be a memory; our much anticipated puppy is due to come home to us in January, expanding our family and changing our lives.

Our last stop of the day: a big box pet store to survey crates and leashes and assorted canine sundries.

We're almost ready for the change.

Friday, November 01, 2013


November 1st: grey, chilly, and rainy.

I can smell winter in the damp air, feel it creep into the dark, shorter days.

November is the cruelest month (Sorry, T.S. Eliot).

To counteract the impending gloom and to spread harvest fest/pie day/thanksgiving cheer all month long, I plan on sharing a gratitude journal everyday.

Today, I'm grateful for the thick flannel sheets that create a warm nest during the winter. I love the soft fuzzy fabric and the pale pink hue.

Goodnight, friends.