Holiday Retreat – Day 3

Snowy Scene on the lake shore trail.

Christmas Eve changed into a quiet time. It has always been that — for as long as I can remember — yet it seems quieter today than it has been. I heard the wind howling in the neighborhood, rattling our windows while I was reading. This cold snap is beginning to break with wind speed slowing overnight and warmer ambient temperatures forecast, beginning today.

Yesterday the garage got colder than I wanted. I scraped snow and ice from the rubber seal on the door and piled rags where the door met the concrete to keep wind out. In the afternoon, I warmed the garage with a space heater until it got closer to freezing. I turned the space heater off when I went to bed and this morning the temperature had stabilized at 30 degrees.

I phoned my sister on Friday. Part of our discussion was Mother’s cooking. I don’t remember much of the food we ate at home while I was in K-12 schools. I made a list of main dishes: meatloaf, liver and onions, roast beef, baked ham, tacos, vegetable beef soup, salmon patties, and hamburgers and hot dogs came to mind. Mother would make red-eye gravy for Father because of his rural, Southern roots. It was usually all for him, so we kids didn’t get any. We ordered takeout pizza from time to time from the Chicken Delight restaurant on Locust Street. I have some of Mother’s recipes yet don’t prepare them after my conversion to being mostly vegetarian.

I have forgotten how to make bread. In my second attempt during this retreat, it was good tasting, yet didn’t have the crumb I wanted. After posting a photo on Facebook someone commented, “Eat your failures, no evidence. We will not speak of this again.” I do need to eat some of the bread, and then I want to do it again until I produce a decent loaf. I also baked a batch of 12 almond cookies for Christmas Day (unless I eat them sooner). They are simple and good.

Yesterday the U.S. Congress sent an omnibus spending bill to the president for his signature. They funded the government until Sept. 30, 2023, the end of the fiscal year. Democrats didn’t have the votes to address the debt ceiling, so that remains an open question. The bill signals the end of Biden’s successful years with the 117th Congress. With Republicans holding a slim majority in the U.S. House after the midterm elections, we expect to see big successes slow down. If it is like the Obama administration was after the 2010 conservative tsunami, very little will get done. I hope I’m wrong, yet I’ve been paying attention.

I considered the letter to the editor and opinion pieces I submitted to newspapers. I don’t know what future there is in that for me. I became proficient in making a single point and sticking with it in tight, brief sentences. We could call what I did “issue advocacy” where I had a position on an issue and argued my point. Part of the problem with our society is everyone has issues and will argue their point in public spaces while no one is listening to each other. We have to get beyond issues politics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Thing is, some opinions are plain wrong.

Today is another day of home cooking and reflection. I plan to have some sort of snack tray with pickles, crudites, and prepared snacks. Dinner will be chili with cornbread, which is a home-grown Christmas Eve tradition. If I can figure out the television schedule, I might turn it on and watch a full program or movie. That may be more cultivated than I’m feeling this morning.