Umbrella Trees, One-Eyed Angels, and Dust Bunnies

I have been reading a wonderful book titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, written by Haruki Murakami.   Murakami, a famous novelist and distance runner from Japan, writes from his heart about writing, running, and life.  He has an easy writing style and high expectations of himself, as well as an attitude I admire about just doing the best he can with what he has and who he is.  He’s never full of excuses for his choices as he goes about his life.  He’s not trying to sell running to anyone either, but rather expressing what drives him to be the man he is.  Reading this book is helping me put things in perspective as I make my way through the month of December.

Last week I logged 35 miles.  I ran six days— two with my friend Sue, the rest on my own.  I spent most of my running time  thinking, which I really don’t like to do when I run.  It seems like there is so much extra to think about lately— preparing for the holiday season, preparing training sessions, planning healthful meals for my family, never mind the war, universal health care, and my mother’s current conversations on cremation vs. burial.  Whew!  I have been trying to remind myself that there’s only so much one person can do, and to continue to be grateful for my life and my family.

Today after thawing out from seven miles of cold, cold running and slipping over ice puddles, I thought about my goals.  Not just my running goals, but the ones for this month.  They are primarily focused on the holiday and shopping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking.  I don’t particularly enjoy the shopping, cleaning, or decorating, but the cooking?  That’s my favorite part.  It’s where I best show my love for my family.  This year for Christmas Eve dinner, I am going to make oven-roasted asparagus and a white lasagna with smoked salmon, peas, and yellow squash.  The sauce for the lasagna starts with a roux base to which I add milk,  Romano cheese, lemon zest, and a tiny bit of nutmeg, which complements the smokey flavor of the salmon in a surprisingly good way.  I still have to decide on dessert— my two nieces count on something special but not too crazy, which leaves me thinking of plates of gooey brownies and cookies for them, and perhaps something fancy and rich for the rest of us.  Easy.  Done.  Check.

Which leaves the shopping, (thank goodness for the internet!), the cleaning, (it should be pretty dark, maybe no one will notice the dust bunnies laying in wait in the deeper corners of my living room, kitchen, and under my dining room table), and the decorating (the tree is still mashed in all its plastic glory in the tree bag in the basement waiting for one of us to drag it upstairs and trim it).  I have been having fantasies about trees that work on the same principle as umbrellas, where I just push a little metal button and out pops a lit, decorated tree.  How easy would that be?  I’m sure almost everyone else loves to decorate a Christmas tree, hanging hundreds of little ornaments from fresh pine branches, but not me.  Even when I was a little girl, I preferred to sit on the couch and watch everyone else place the ornaments just so, and at the end, I’d hang my favorite ornament, a small white felted angel.  (I still have that angel and do put her on our tree, although she is missing one eye now.)

It’s only December 7.  There’s plenty of time to finish reading Murakami, log another hundred miles or so, and put that tree together, one eyed angel and all, before my family shows up on the 24th.  They will know I love them the best I know how, even if those dust bunnies nip their ankles from under the dining room table.

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2 Comments on “Umbrella Trees, One-Eyed Angels, and Dust Bunnies”

  1. Craig Reed Says:

    Me thinks that when you were a little girl, you were pretty lucky to have single-ornament duty. Today, if you want that instant, popup tree, you’ll have to settle for something like this:
    http://tinyurl.com/y9es27n

    But I trust that technology with will offer you the holographic switch-on tree economically in just a few years.

    In the mean-time, I will drag up the tree this year.

  2. Pat Says:

    all too true–and funny..lasagna sounds great..receipe please?? I too have the family on Christmas Eve…


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