Archive | November 2016

A Real Christmas Tree

Since my husband and I have been living together, we’ve had an artificial Christmas tree. I actually asked him if we could buy it for our anniversary, which is in June, since they were on sale. I had found a company that specialized in Christmas trees and similar decorations, but they were expensive. In June, though, they were selling for half the regular price. We bought a beautiful tree that already had lights on it. The warm, white lights that glow gently. I also insisted that it be taller than my husband, who is just over six feet tall, so our tree is 7 1/2 feet high. Our apartment had high ceilings, but in our house it barely fits.

This year, I wanted to have a Christmas tree in the dining room, too. I wanted to have a real Christmas tree. In additional to our normal tree, of course. There was no way I’d consider having less trees. Mostly, though, I didn’t want to place my sentimental collection of Christmas ornaments on a real tree because I don’t know how our cats will respond to it. I decided that this real tree would be our experiment, a test to see how our cats handle a real pine tree in the house. They’ve only ever seen our artificial tree since we’ve had them almost their whole lives and they only live indoors.

Today, we went and bought a tree. There is a place not too far from us that sells fishing supplies and, at this time of year, Christmas trees. I instantly fell in love with one that was short and chunky. I thought about looking at the others, but I figured there was no point. This one, that I saw almost immediately, was the one for me. Our artificial tree is tall and slender so I knew I wanted one that was chunkier. I also thought one that was too tall might not fit in my car. The people selling the trees kindly tied it to the top of my car, though, so maybe I could have bought a bigger one.

As soon as it was in the house and in the tree stand, I fell in love with it again. It was perfect! Taller than me, but not as tall as my husband. So wide around that I almost can’t fit my arms around the top. I learned that when I started to put the lights on it by myself. After a second trip to the store for additional lights, it’s now in the tree stand with water and covered in lights. I decided to use multi-colored lights to contrast with the all white lights on the artificial tree. Neither of them have their decorations yet, but I’m hoping they do by tomorrow night!

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Two Talkative Cats

My husband and I have two cats. We adopted them the same day that we signed the paperwork on the house. Years earlier, I had volunteered at an animal shelter and the environment there is really open. If the cats are healthy and play well with others, they are allowed to wander about. My husband and I went there, sometimes, when we lived in an apartment because I’d want to pet all the cats. Our apartment didn’t allow animals.

When we knew we’d be buying a house, we figured it would only be a matter of time before we had some cats. I thought we should adopt two, because I didn’t think we’d be able to share only one. We started to visit more often, even though our closing date was weeks away. Since we were looking for two cats, we were willing to look at pairs that the shelter did not want to adopt separately. Most of the cats we met didn’t match our personalities so we would simply pet them all and be on our way. The closest match we found was a mother and son pair. The mom was a beautiful tortoiseshell cat, possibly with medium length hair. Her son was still a kitten and jumped about as an orange ball of fur. I was really attached to the mother cat, but we realized an energetic kitten might not be for us since we planned to make a lot of renovations on the house.

One day when we were leaving, though I don’t remember which day, I was struck by a beautiful cat sitting in an open standing cage. She was a long-haired all white cat, just looking at me with the most beautiful eyes. Her left eye was blue and her right eye was a mixture of yellow and green. She was quite possibly the most beautiful cat I’d ever seen. I stopped and asked if I could hold her. The shelter takes and cares for many animals, so their personalities differ wildly. When she was handed to me, she melted into a blob of fluff, purrs, and snuggles. I immediately wanted her.

The people at the shelter said that she had to be adopted with her sister from the same litter. They had been at the shelter since they were kittens and they were now about a year old. The fluffy one’s sister was also all white, except for a few faint spots of grey on her head. She also had two blue eyes, but she’s definitely not deaf. My husband held the sister, since I was still holding the melted fluffy one. While the sister didn’t melt, she purred even louder and snuggled more aggressively. We loved them both.

The animal shelter wouldn’t hold them for us. We still had almost four or five weeks until the closing on the house. They also let us know that a father and his teenage daughter were also interested in adopting them. When we went to the car, I told my husband I needed to have her, I was already in love.

For the next few weeks, every Saturday we went to visit them and see if they were still there. We brought donations with us. After about two weeks, the shelter let us know that the father and daughter had stopped contacting them and it seemed they were no longer interested. The Saturday about two weeks before the closing, they said that they would hold them for us if we paid the adoption fee in advance. I couldn’t find my checkbook fast enough. I completely understand why they hesitate to hold animals. People often do change their minds and holding an animal for someone prevents another person from adopting it.

That day was over five years ago. I named them Marshmallow and Sugar, because I enjoy baking. Marshmallow is my cat, the fluffy and melty one. Sugar is my husband’s cat, the one with the big, blue eyes. They are the best cats I’ve ever had. Marshmallow is friendly and silly, completely lovable but not too bright. Sugar is more shy around others, but loves us and anyone who feeds her. They also both talk a lot. My husband sometimes sings silly songs to Marshmallow and she’ll meow when he pauses. Sugar will carry on a whole conversation with you if she’s interested.

They make my day better with their purring and their cuteness and their ridiculous antics in the house. I’m glad we were persistent all those years ago. I’m so glad they live with us in our house now.

Writing Letters

Does anyone write letters anymore?

I love writing letters and indulge in it completely. I buy beautiful stationery and envelopes. I recently bought an inexpensive fountain pen that I’ve been using specifically to write letters. I also love stamps and buy lots of them with different and interesting designs. My husband says that I’m trying to keep the post office in business all by myself.

When checking the mail, it seems that there are two types: junk mail and bills. The idea that a friend of mine or family member might check the mail and see a letter from me hiding in the chaos makes me smile. It’s one of the reasons that I put so much thought into the envelope, stamp, and return address label in addition to the letter inside.

This becomes really obvious around this time of year. I send Christmas cards to my family and friends and separate invitations to the party I host on Christmas Eve. I often look for envelopes that are brightly colored or decorated in some way so that they’re really noticeable in a pile of white and beige junk mail and bills. I also buy Christmas themed stamps and Christmas or winter return address labels. When in doubt or if the envelope is white, I’ll cover it in Christmas stickers.

For the past month or so, my best friend and I have been writing letters to each other. She had the idea to make the letters each have a theme, which I thought was wonderful. We talk and text regularly, so the themed letters are always relevant no matter when they arrive. We bought our stationery together on a whim one day after work. We had impulsively bought matching fountain pens the day before.

Now, I love taking the time to sit and write a letter to her. It takes my mind away from everything else in life since I have to focus on writing complete sentences that make sense. I think I might even enjoy it more than preparing the Christmas Eve invitations and the Christmas cards. There’s something so personal about writing an entire letter to someone. I’m already partial to sending mail and even I was surprised by how much I enjoy it. So, I wish more people would write letters. I think it would make both the writer and the recipient smile.

Cherry Blossoms

The plants around my house have been unruly ever since I moved into it, before even, since many days and weeks were spent renovating the house before I actually lived in it. The garden and plants and trees had been left to do whatever they wanted since the eclectic gardener who lived here before me had left before the house was sold due to a divorce situation.

Since the house was bought in the winter, it was impossible to tell what was dead and what was still alive. It took so much to renovate the interior of the house that there was no money or energy left to revive the rest of it. As spring started and the growing season began, I was constantly surprised by random plants growing in unexpected places.

One of my favorite plants, though, was a pink and fluffy tree next to the driveway. I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that, in the spring, the gentle buds burst into so many tiny, pink flowers. So many and so small that the tree looked fluffy from a distance. So, it became known as the ‘pink fluffy tree.’

My husband did not love this tree like I did. I adored it. As we slowly managed to take the yard back from the decorative chaos of plants and garden decorations, I made a decision. I didn’t care what was cut down or thrown away, but the pink fluffy tree was here to stay. It was the only plant I cared enough about to desperately want to keep. Unfortunately, I also believe that it was the plant my husband liked the least. This was because, after the beautiful pink blossoms faded away, the tree basically pooped pink plant pieces all over our cars. My husband hated parking under it and having his car covered in pink flowers and whatever else the tree decided to throw away.

I didn’t care. I offered to park directly under it because I refused to let him cut it down, or even trim it too much. He knew this wasn’t a fight he could win and, honestly, I don’t think he cared that much. Mostly, I think it amused him that I did. So, the pink fluffy tree is still there, stunning us with pink blossoms every year and then pooping them all over the cars and driveway.

While we are still in the process of turning the yard into my garden paradise, the pink fluffy tree is still my favorite plant on our property. One spring, while gardening, the tree’s pink blossoms were gently blowing through the breeze. As I stood there, covered in dirt and sweat from working in the yard, I realized that it was as beautiful as a picture. A perfect romantic moment. I called my husband over to me and shouted ‘Kiss me under the pink fluffy tree!’ I wanted a romantic moment to remember forever, despite the dirt and grime and garden tools. He rolled his eyes at me like he does when I’m being my type of crazy, but he leaned down and kissed me. A perfect romantic moment to remember forever.

It wasn’t until another time that I discovered what type of tree my pink fluffy tree was. My father-in-law was actually the one who mentioned it to us, in a conversation long since forgotten. He was the one to tell us that it must be a cherry blossom tree. Which are now, and will forever be, close to my heart.

Moonlight

Tonight is the full moon. I couldn’t help but stare at it earlier as small dark clouds moved past it. The light was more a warm yellow than a bright white and the glow illuminated the clouds. I find myself staring at the moon often lately.

It probably started a few months ago. My mother and I went on a cruise together. I didn’t realize when I made the reservations that we would be at sea during the full moon. I was also lucky in that our balcony room faced east during that time. For two of the days we were sailing, I was able to watch the moon over the ocean. One night, I looked from the balcony as the moon was already high in the night sky. It shone brightly with white light and the ocean surface sparkled from the reflection. I tried to take some photographs to remember, as I’ve tried before, but the pictures don’t capture the moment. Another time, I watched the moon rise from the ocean as the sunlight faded. It was so bright with a faint orange glow that contrasted with the water. I thought, at first, that it was the sun setting. Then, I realized it couldn’t be. I stopped to wait for the moon to rise, still not certain it was the moon.

These moments over the past few months have helped me to slow down. The world is so fast now. Sometimes, I need a moment to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature. I completely understand why people used to worship the moon. It’s beautiful and magnificent and overwhelming. That moment at sea, without bright lights or buildings or electrical wires blocking the view, I hope that I always remember it.