This week, that between Christmas and the changing of calendars, is time this year for a re-set, time to put amendments into practice, time to change or dedicate self to the same. Time to practice resolutions while being released from much of the daily grind. Julia and I could stay inside for days at a time without missing a single appointment. Although there have been years when we have travelled the week, and so many Facebook friends are posting pictures of just that, we lie fallow in our snug house, slowly cleaning up from a week of a houseful of young women, slowly getting Julia back on the schedule of school work that keeps her regulated during our everyday. We don’t even expect our biweekly dinner guests tonight due to flu at their house. We slip outdoors for errands—pick up meds, deliver the letter canceling old insurance, check out library books, CDs and DVDs, and buy bananas and salad greens—and return to tea, a fire and poppyseed rolls. I have such gratitude for the simplicity of these few days.
It has snowed. Our first snow of the season. Um, there was one in November but it was quickly gone and hardly counts. Nothing at all in December, until yesterday when winter claimed roads, paths and garden beds. We stayed inside, happily by the fire, eating leftovers which may last until the thaw. A sewing craft kit keeps Julia busy as she makes two felt elephants. The kit, designated as for a younger child, has held her attention. She is reading directions and taking advice from both Cheshire as Julia made the first elephant, and me as she works on the second. Sewing in many forms reminds me of Julia’s early interest in clay. She continues to build skills and edges into creativity.
Because of my sciatica which unfortunately is the worse for Christmas wear — not that I moved in extraordinary ways but I did not persist in daily exercise and bent and lifted in all of the wrong ways — I have someone shoveling my walk. He is an older man and when we talked in the fall, he told me he had two snowblowers and would do the steps by hand. All of which is exactly what I have always done and I was comfortable with him taking over. However, last night and early this morning, he shoveled by hand and I have never felt so guilty. I would be crazy to be out there taking care of my own walks and I am paying for his work, but his work makes me feel . . . awful. I don’t think I would feel this way if he was a strapping lad or an ambitious young woman. This old man is making me feel guilty, diminished, embarrassed even—I had a momentary thought of ‘what would the neighbors think’ and quickly dismissed that. That wasn’t the point. But, but, but . . . I had that thought.
I have gotten up, made tea and set up Julia’s meds cup, put up the thermostat and settled back into bed to tap on this screen and this older man is slowly clearing, slightly struggling with the snow on my driveway. And all I can think of doing is asking him in for tea.
Julia and I are entering into restaurant math. With basic operations more or less cemented into her brain, as well as counting money, we need practical application badly. I’ve been collecting menus and yesterday we sat down to decide what we would eat, what the final bill would be, sans tax and tip which is a lesson for another month, what paper money and coins to give the servers to pay the bill and what change we would get. There was a lot of scaffolding for this first lesson although the idea of ordering and paying the bill are not at all foreign. Her math teacher at school started this about a month ago in the form of word problems which was also slow going but understood to some extent. I want to work with menus at home and when she is independent with that, to move to restaurants. Eating out for a good cause is never hard to do. Eating out is never hard to do.
Interesting the level of discomfort I can admit to as I hand over the shovel which is work I rarely enjoy and my glee in handing over pots, pans and cleanup for a good meal out. For even a mediocre meal out. Never do I worry over the cooks and servers who prepare and serve what I am willing to pay for when it comes to food.
My shoveler is finished. I threw on my coat and boots and went outside. He didn’t want tea but he did take me up on my offer of borrowing my snowblower. He has a few more houses to do and I hope the blower will help him. I would have never made it as part of the upstairs family in Downton Abbey.