Not a bad way to spend a dark Saturday afternoon

This has the makings of a fine Saturday afternoon tradition through gloomy winter around here. Not that it won’t work on a sparkling day, either.

Moose Island Contradance Band. Photo by Rachel A. Williams.

The local contradance band has another monthly performance at the Old Sow grill coming up, and the previous one, as you can see, was a hoot.

It attracted a handful of sit-in musicians in addition to an appreciative audience that packed the house.

Plus, monthly dances at the arts center are set to resume at the end of January after a long Covid hiatus.

Living in sweats

The thought had once appalled me. Like was this the epitome of laziness, that you really didn’t bother to get dressed for the day? Or that perhaps you’d gained so much weight you wanted something that would hang loose rather than accentuate anything?

Skip ahead to retirement and then the Covid shutdown, and I’m having to admit there have been days when I’m living happily in sweats, especially in the depth of a northern New England winter.

Sometimes I even think of it as luxury, not having to venture outdoors.

Oh, what a bum I’ve become kind of feeling!

How do you dress for everyday comfort?

Brisket and a hunk of binge viewing

Somehow, this past winter I got struck by a sustained sense of cabin fever. Should that be “stuck”? To my thinking, that’s not necessarily a “bad” thing and was not unexpected, given my relatively isolated situation combined with the continuing Covid precautions and the usual northern New England long nights and winter snow, ice, sleet, and unassisted general deep cold. I do believe there’s value in periodically clearing some of the clutter from one’s life and regaining a sense of direction, and I have found a huge difference between solitude and loneliness, so here I was.

Mostly, I was feeling a bit directionless, having completed a big revision of the Dover history and wanting to move forward with its publication but not yet having clarity on exactly how that would go. I mean, as books go, this was one more niche item, not likely to hit the bonanza list, no matter how original the findings. Emotionally, then, I was feeling stuck, not my best mental state. It even leads to fidgetiness.

Breaking that up was a visit by family – or should I say invasion – that included time with movies and TV series on the 40-inch screen I usually leave dark. Me? I’d usually read and listen to the radio. I’ve tried to avoid television series, seeing them as addictive couch-potato time-sucks.

A year ago, though, they hooked me on the first season of Mad Men, which we had on DVD. Whew! I was free only after admitting there is some quality writing and performing available and losing a full weekend in full immersion.

This Christmas, they hooked me with Murders Only in the Building, which again fortunately had only one season.

But during a return visit a few weeks later, we shared a phone conversation with the daughter in California who had just made our son-in-law his favorite meal for his birthday, and that mention of brisket led to my memories of being introduced to the cut as a Jewish tradition by my almost parents-in-law, if only, and those stories now had us sitting down in front of streamed episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The fam scooted off, leaving me to catch up on all of the available seasons, and I’m now miffed I have to wait for more on the way. I hate being left dangling. Worse yet, I was told Prime had the remaining Mad Men episodes – so I caught the final six seasons in a bit over a week, how many hours did I squander there? And the last two of Mozart in the Jungle plus all but one season of the Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which was quite sassy but not nearly as hot as touted. There may have been another series I’m overlooking.

Said family was highly amused by my engagement with works they deeply appreciate, but I am still appalled the hours I lost and by one more manifestation of my obsessive side.

For the record, I’m blaming the younger daughter and her brisket for this latest outbreak. Now, just when is the last time I’ve had a slice of one?

What do you suggest I stream next?

Yeah, cabin fever has kicked in

It had to happen, especially after the euphoria of last summer. The return of Covid only intensified it, especially when family and friends came down with it. A letdown was inevitable. The summer people are gone, and Eastport nearly resembles a ghost town.

So here we are.

Cabin fever. The winter blues. The blahs. Even if I weren’t up here living alone, building new friends I can’t quite drop in on yet. Zoom meetings go only so far. Ditto the radio. At least choir practice is resuming, even if we’ll still be doing it online.

Further dampening my spirit was finding myself stuck on breaking through on the next steps for the book. I don’t want to take up new projects till I see this one over the next few hurdles. So I keep nipping away at the edges.

Some nasty weather had me not wanting to leave the house at all, sometimes several days in a row. If only the place weren’t so cold, indoors and out. (And the fuel oil bill comes as a shocker, as does the electrical. Just for me, mostly.)

By now, I’m getting tired of my own cooking. There aren’t a lot of options up here that are better, either. One night I headed down to the brewpub for a cup of zesty soup or an imaginative panini by our resident culinary angels, aka Bocephus, only to find they’ve departed to his relations in Spain for a month. Well, they’ve earned that part and just might return with a supply of smoked paprikia for my wife. Fingers crossed. Otherwise? A boxed Newman’s Own pizza from the IGA managed to suffice.

Obviously, I’m not the only one under this cloud.

The high school actually had a Cabin Fever Week before their winter break, and since I’d be up there anyway for that hour of indoor walking ‘round the gym, I thought I’d follow along.

  • Monday, for instance, had everyone wearing red, pink, hearts, something lovely. Xoxo. Well, it was Valentine’s Day. I could do that.
  • Tuesday was “anything but a backpack” day for carrying books and gear. More of a challenge, considering the gray messenger bag that goes everywhere with me. My eyeglasses, emergency meds, and cell phone got stuffed in parka pockets. As for the kids? It was backpacks.
  • Wednesday? “Wear your best flannel and/or camo. Let’s get real Downeast here, folks.” Now for me, that’s a challenge. My only flannel, apart from the sheets on the bed, was a shirt that’s rather black-and-white rather than the traditional plaid color choices. Forget the splotchy hide-from-the-enemy alternative.
  • Dress for Success came on Thursday, “Come to school Interview Ready.” Gee, I haven’t worn a tie in how many years now? I do, however, still have some loud ones.
  • The week ended with a school spirit activity. My version was having beloved company on the way up for the three-day Presidents’ Day weekend.

The arts center’s Sunday afternoon free series has been a lifeline – if only we could all take off nearby for more.

By the way, I was wrong about the last of those near-zero overnight lows. We’ve had a few of them return, but on the heels of some highs in the 40s and 50s. The trick is to not believe spring is just around the corner, even if you see a robin hopping around on repeated days.

What’s getting you through the depth of winter?

Ring around the Shead gym

I used to joke that I swam laps to keep my doctor happy, but that ended with the outbreak of Covid. And then I moved to the remote fishing village, one without even an outdoor pool, and, in a routine checkup, my new doctor expressed concern about my blood pressure readings. On reflection, I realized I wasn’t getting enough physical exercise. I wasn’t even climbing stairs the way I was in the old place. And then I learned that the local high school gym is open to walkers on weekday mornings through winter. Voila! I’m now joking that I walk the black track around the gym floor to keep my doctor happy.

Why walk around the mall, even if we had one?

Better yet, there’s a rumor that we seniors are even going to get some exercise machines here, once the basketball season’s over. Remember, nearly half of the school’s enrollment is on the boys’ and girls’ teams.

How many other high schools are that inclusive?

By the way, keep this up, we just might start referring to the place as the Shead Seniors and Senior High School. Those kids should be honored.


Let’s acknowledge another annual turning point

Looking at the low temperature here and then the ten-day forecast, I observe a turning point in the season. This may be the last day of the year that our low reading is near zero, much less in the negative range. We’re heading upward into the teens and above as the minimum.

It may be cold, but no longer bitterly so.

Not that we’re anywhere near getting warm.

What’s the equivalent where you are?