Twelve Days of Christmas, an Experiment

The Twelve Days of Christmas is usually a lie I tell myself as I fail at thinking of presents and posting cards and packages and decorating and baking so that everything is in place no later than the morning of December 25th. As things slip, I go, “Christmas is really twelve days, I can send New Years cards instead,” et cetera, but then actually as of the 26th it’s over and I uncomfortably forget what I haven’t done. I hate feeling behind, and Christmas is pretty much a month of feeling behind, starting in late November.

This year I’m conducting the experiment of treating the twelve days of Christmas like it’s for real. The post office is running late anyway, and I have way more days off work after (the first day of) Christmas than before it. Today is the sixth day of Christmas. Christmas is half over, half yet to go. I’m writing “Merry Christmas!” to people (who celebrate Christmas) without waffling about sorry-it’s-late. I unwrapped my chocolate orange after dinner tonight. (Granted, I have it now because I forgot I had it on the first day of Christmas.) Mostly, I’m trying to operate in that holiday sense of time where you can do pointless fun things and there’s no list, or at least not a fixed and urgent one. We’re still in a pandemic and I think officially supposed to be gentle with ourselves when possible? so it seems like a good time to try it.

This is harder on days I’m working, did you ever notice that jobs really cut into one’s free time? but we’ll see how it goes. I’m also enjoying New Year’s being just a slightly differently flavored couple of days in the middle of Christmas, stripped of all that anxious resolution to start something off right.

Monday Magpie

sidewalk repaired with concrete inset with multi-colored glass marbles

This Texas Monthly piece from April has been on my mind. It reminded me of the older women I’ve known who have their hair done for years and years by the same person, or who have their routines and never use the shower or the whirlpool bath or whatever at their own houses. I feel fondness and respect for this lady’s generosity in sharing a small adventure.

With Salons Closed, an 89-Year-Old Houston Woman Washes Her Own Hair for the First Time in Decades

(ETA: just reread the scene in Ramona and Her Father about Mrs. Swink and the tin can stilts. Same energy!)

More recently, the Yuletide collection opened! My favorite fic from the kidlit canon so far is this one:

The Queen’s Lover [authors are still anonymous]
Fandom: The President’s Daughter series, by Ellen Emerson White
F/F, General Audiences [I would rate it Teen], Beth Shulman / Meghan Powers, Best Friends, Falling in Love
4138 words

The tough-as-nails dialogue expressing unshakeable love while remaining extremely cool is spot. on.


On a day when minds are on the big picture, let me tell you the best tiny thing I’ve started doing: standing up in the middle of the room when putting my shoes on or taking them off.

I read this tip on a physical therapy site and regret to say I can’t figure out which one, to give credit.

Especially with my pair of Hokas that has unstretchy collars and must be tied and untied every time, I get a few seconds of back relaxation and hamstring stretch reaching down to the laces, and a few seconds of balance practice standing on one foot at a time while getting the other foot in or out of the shoe.

I did say tiny thing! But it’s several times a day and takes essentially no extra time or motivation. In my current physical state (sound but sedentary) it’s working for me.

Behold the Brandywine!

Red Brandywine tomato artfully nestled in some attractive green weeds
This is the one full-size tomato that made it from seed to ripe in our garden this year. (The cherry tomato seedling our CSA gave us did much better.)

The seeds came from a neighbor’s seed library, when stores and nurseries were closed and everything mail-order was sold out. We nursed them along on the windowsill, where they were too chilly and dim to be happy, then in pots outside the back door, where ditto, then in the garden that’s partially shaded by a pine tree.

Sang and I did get one dinner of fried green tomatoes from the garden as well. And the CSA gave us green ones too this week! Tomatoes have always been the one thing we have to grow, since green ones aren’t even at the farmers market.

So I’m proud of this tomato that marks the end of the year. (Today I walked past a pink rose that still had a scent–but I also brought the pumpkins in for roasting.) Maybe I should save its seeds, for us and the seed library.


pink cyclamen amidst other greenery in a backyard

The cyclamen are naturalizing in the back yard. In Colorado I knew them only in pots for the winter holiday season, so I get a kick out of seeing them make it on their own here. Little flames.

I am still feeling the relief and gladness of being able to go outside and see blue sky, or clouds that have shapes, or sunlight, instead of staying inside and breathing as little as possible because of the toxic haze of wildfire smoke. That was a hard week. Now the season has turned and the days are shorter, but we get another week of warm sun.

Picking up library holds is by appointment now, across a table blocking the entryway to the library. Tonight I will get Rocketman on DVD, The Evidence of Things Not Seen in print, and the sequel to a DVD about Dick Proenneke, who built a cabin by hand in what is now part of Lake Clark National Park in Alaska, when he was about my age in the late 1960s, and lived there for thirty years or so.


Friday 5: State change

Questions courtesy of

  1. What recently caused you to boil? Reading the news that jail staff at MCDC are not wearing masks, and not all inmates had access to masks before mid-July.
  2. What often causes you to freeze? Social tasks like communicating a correction or reminder with the timing and tone that will not cast aspersions.
  3. When did something evaporate into thin air? Long ago, Sanguinity and I had an aquarium, and the first fish we got was a serious little bottom-cleaner type. His name was Mr. something, neither of us can remember now. He vanished, and none of the other fish was big enough to have eaten him, so I figured he must have ascended to nirvana. However, years later when we were moving I found his dessicated body stuck to the carpet, so apparently he had instead found a way to jump out of a gap in the cover.
  4. What recently caused you to melt? Our kitty lounging on the porch, free of her cone collar and looking elegant in black fur. It was hot, so she also tended toward melting.
  5. Among United States you haven’t visited [sic], which would you most like to check out next? Idaho, when Sang and I go to Hell’s Canyon one day. Nor would I say no to riding the train to Glacier National Park in Montana.


I walked down through the college campus this morning. One of my last chances to do so for awhile: next month campus will close to casual public traffic because students are coming back in person.
weathergram hanging in shrubbery: "One cannot have too large a party"

weathergram is ephemeral, but these days it feels on the long side of ephemeral.  This one was hung in October for the inauguration of the new college president; I wonder what it will mean by the time it’s delivered.


Gradually, Then Suddenly
A couple of weeks ago I was proofreading a newsletter for my co-worker, and it felt strange that Black wasn’t capitalized when talking about people. I didn’t correct it, because it was consistent and I follow Chicago Manual of Style instead of APA for that newsletter, but sure enough a few days later the CMS confirmed my spidey-sense and announced the change in their recommendations. The AP, and therefore the website formerly known as my local paper, too. It was definitely less than a year ago but feels like ancient history that seeing Black capitalized meant I was reading something from the 1970s or a social work article.

”Is it reflex or sickness?”

I can’t remember how I got there—probably from Twitter—but I watched this five-minute video about asemic writing by Ananda Naima González, and gave it a try. Mine came out like this:
Page of an unlined comp book filled with asemic writing in purple ink

Looking back at the translation I wrote shortly afterward, it does reflect my state of mind on the day I wrote it. My favorite line: “is it reflex or sickness?”

If I try it again, I might write right to left, since I don’t usually get to do that and as a lefty it might feel good.


Love from A to Z, by S.K. Ali
cover of Love from A to Z, aqua background, teenage boy and girl in airport seating
Just finished the audiobook of this Muslim YA romance and it was so good! In the middle I was getting big Pride and Prejudice feels—they needed to work through their different outlooks on life, for real, but it was never the annoying “just a big misunderstanding” romance trope.

Then I was heading out for a walk and there was 45 minutes left in the book, and Adam and Zayneb were in love and trusting each other and communicating, and I thought, “Is it going to be 45 minutes of how things worked out happily?” and reader, it pretty much was!

I loved Adam’s family in particular and also now want to visit Doha. Islamophobia is a topic in the book, but not in the characters’ families or between Adam and Zayneb, It’s more about thinking through how to be yourself and not lose joy in your life even though haters are lurking.

There is a meant-to-be, Happily Ever After vibe much like the one in When Dimple Met Rishi, but it didn’t feel limiting to me like some YA romance does when it goes that way. Maybe because they weren’t high school boyfriend/girlfriend.

Anyway, it was a balm and just what I like in an audiobook.

Three More Things Wrap Up a Post

  • CSA vegetables are a lifestyle. Last night I made a Caesar salad. Tonight is red lentil dal with turnip greens, radish greens, and mustard greens.
  • Sanguinity and I are rewatching Farscape, about halfway through the first season. I forgot how trippy it is! like half the episodes are about some weird drug they come across. We remember the first season being something to get through before the show gets good, but at the same time a LOT happens in the first season.
  • I’ve walked about six miles today. Since I’ve been following a rule that each week’s running mileage is half the walking mileage of the previous week, I will be running at least (checks log) five miles next week. That’s more than I have been.

fifties achieved!

Holly backyard selfie smiling with red hoodie

…well, by achieved I mean reached. I took the day off work to mooch around and think about life, which I have done, largely in the back yard. It’s a good day. And sanguinity’s going to pick up Thai food and ice cream for us this evening.

sad news

For those who know him and have not heard elsewhere, I’m so sorry to report that Stephen, aka leboyfriend, died last night. He was in England, hospitalized with Covid-19 and other complicating factors, and passed away in his sleep.

I wish he’d gotten to marry his fiancee Imani and live for many more happy years. His is the most generous spirit I’ve ever known.

Stephen Llewellyn in a white shirt, seated and smiling