Sunday, the Sunday before Christmas, my mother called and said it was snowing an inch an hour in Boston. Not a good shopping day. In NJ, it was 35 and cloudy, eventually even sunny. The Only Beloved Daughter needed to go to the mall. It was surprisingly navigable, with parking places and everything; apparently the bad day had been the day before, when there were lines going out of the stores. We were lucky; lines were short, fast, and cheerful.
On Monday the OBD and I drove back to MA, only she had lost her wallet earlier in the month and had no driver's license. The traffic from the exit to Shoppers' World in Natick stretched back to Framingham. It was an awful warning about the hazards of consumerism. We had Toby with us, which was another reason the OBD was not taking the bus (the bus and the train will not take animals even in crates)(don't get me started). He was reasonably brave and sat on Ellie's lap or hid under her seat. My ex met us at Riverside and accepted the cat. We cut through Lexington. The snow there was really impressive; it had been plowed into 4-foot berms and was still stuck all over the trees and drifted up against the walls of buildings to about three feet in places. Snow always looks more severe in towns than it does in the country; there are fewer places to put it and it takes up a lot of space, completely fouling the ecology of parking places. And making driving slower, which was all right since I could crane my neck and exclaim.
I dropped the daughter at her boyfriend's house in Woburn, and skipped over to visit Alice in Winchester. Where we found Ellie's computer in the backseat. Since she has two papers due, we went back to Woburn though in the interval it had become Rush Hour and Rt 3 was slow...a ten-minute there-trip from Woburn became an hour-long back-again-trip to Woburn. Ellie's boyfriend's mother suggested we wait out some of the traffic by sharing their pizza, and it was delightful. Around eight pm, Alice threaded me through some back roads to avoid the Burlington Mall traffic, which was, according to Alice's iPhone, formidable. We reached my house about a quarter to ten. Paul my plow guy had come through, although it was not as much snow in NH as there had seemed to be in Lexington.
I have known Alice for it will be 20 years in September; she's 23 now and a much more interesting conversationalist than she she used to be, in fact a more complicated and gracious individual in a lot of ways. She is annoyingly gifted in the clothing-design ways, possibly something to do with being a math major and a computer science grad student. She earned the cats' eternal gratitude by shovelling off the secondary front door steps, so they can make a circle: from asking me to let them out through the kitchenette, through the plowed driveway to the proper front steps Paul shovelled out of kindness, in through the cat-enabled other front door, through the house to ask to be let out through the kitchenette... they hope somewhere the weather will be better.
Sometime in the last week or so, the dynamic has changed and Marten is gratuitously beating the daylights out of Willow. It has become any more serene.
Lisa and I had lived intensively in the kitchenette, and though all the dishes were washed the room was pretty well trashed once again. Alice and I managed to find enough space to sit and barely, to bake. This involved things like putting the food processor (for almond-meal) on the floor and upsetting the cat in front of the fire. Alice earned my eternal gratitude by chopping two pounds of dried fruit. At last, I made fruitcake, and plum pudding. At least up to the crunch time, the Psychological Moment, the point of No Return where one adds wet to dry. Then it was time to forge into Concord for lunch, a trip to the LL Bean's outlet (irregular Smartwool socks for half-price), The Elegant Ewe, and taking Alice to the bus station.
For some reason, possibly the driving the day before, I was tired. But I needed to go to the Co-op (gluten free-flours) and the utterly delightful deli (I bring wine). I have not bee to the deli latel because I know it is an easy place to spend too much money, but I like the staff and they are kind of me. I must have looked really awful because the manager was concerned and Jen behind the counter made me a small baguette and blue cheese snack. I felt life return to part of my brain. I finished my shopping and went home, where the cats explained that they are tired of winter, I usually like winter but I am not feeling as cheerful this year as I did last; I think the romance of five days by flash- and lantern-light has taken some of the edge off of my insouciance. Also, I still need a job.