Today is the first day of my winter break. It's strange to have this time off; I've usually worked this whole stretch for most recent years. I'm excited to bake in a more leisurely way instead of trying to cram it in during my lunch break.

Today I'm making a shortbread cookie recipe that I have used a lot over the past two years (maybe three years?). It's the same one I referenced in a previous post. I need to find the source that I got it from before I share it--accurate attribution is important, right?

It's really dreary out. I think I'm going to need to put some music on to convince myself to get started. There's usually an abundance of snow where I live at this point in the year, and it's a little creepy? haunting? unsettling that none of what fell a couple months ago stuck, and we haven't received any more yet.

I find snow cover calming, comforting, and insulating. It's also strikingly beautiful, like all of the various hooved, antlered animals that live in snowy climates. I know that it can be awful for many people: maybe you have to shovel for your landlord or your neighbors which can take hours; maybe you have to drive for your job which can be dangerous; maybe you have to clear off or even dig out cars which can add hours to your before-work time; maybe you have to put salt or sand down on a sidewalk; maybe you have to commute far by bike or by foot. The inconveniences don't generally bother me. For me the snow is a familiar, friendly presence. My stance would likely quickly change if I had to contend with it all as an unhoused or unstably-housed person. The state I live in is currently not a good place for unhoused people during the winter due in large part to political hostility and growing economic inequalites/disempowerment.

My family listened to the radio program The Writer's Almanac when I was growing up. I have since stopped listening, as many people have; the host has written and said many problematic things throughout his career and has since doubledowned on them with great force. I finally started catching the creepy, sexually harrassing themes, bits, and lines in his other show as I grew both older and less naive, and pretty quickly lost interest as a result. The reason I even bring the show up is that I think I remember The Writer's Almanac had a section with poetry that sometimes had accompanying sound effects? Maybe it was another show, but I'm pretty sure it was this show. The sound that the sound engineer played for snow drifting in a blizzard is frostburnt into my mind: it was so accurate! I don't have to listen to the show to hear it if it is snowing out. There's a sort of raggedness to it--it almost sounds like a person hoarsely wailing if it's a particularly strong storm.

I miss the radio the way it was when I was younger. Something about it being live made me feel included. I like consuming podcasts and people's video content now, of course, but I miss the idle together-time without phones or other electronic distractions that the radio provided. Twitch and twitch-like platforms don't really do it for me for this reason: there's the comment section, there's ads, there's visual overlays when someone subs or donates. It's all too stimulating and there's the ever-present feeling that there's a chance I'll miss something if I blink or walk away to use the restroom. The radio was predictable: there was a restroom trip-length break after each segment. Most things were scripted with transitions, except for the discussions, which were deeper than regular speech. There were quiet, thoughtful people speaking about things they have come to know a lot about, but they were humble and open to learning more and sharing.

I miss the silent generation in a lot of ways. I miss my Grandmother and Grandfather. I remember they were stoic and carried themselves with quiet dignity. They reserved judgement. I recognize not all silent generation people were this way, but it's something that many people I have talked to about grandparents remember about their's. My Grandmother refused to use corporal punishment in her house, despite social pressures from the church: my Grandfather respected her decision and didn't strike anyone either.

I lived with them briefly as a child. My Grandmother made me chicken noodle soup from scratch (even the noodles!). She had two talkative cockatiels to keep her company after my Grandfather passed away. She loved them so much. She talked to them all of the time and took them out of their large cage to gently pet their heads and let them nuzzle her face. Sometimes she held up a mirror so that they could admire themselves while she told them they were beautiful. She decorated the roof of their cage with a dainty doily cloth. She was heartbroken when the second bird finally passed.

She had moved into a nice retirement home facility by that point that was similiar to an apartment building in layout. Each unit had their own bathroom, kitchenette, bedroom, and small living and sitting rooms. The ground floor had a communal service kitchen and comfortable seating area with large bay windows that overlooked the town's modest thoroughfare. I remember telling her that I didn't think I was a girl when I was younger. She didn't say much or argue; she didn't change her facial expression; she just asked me to explain the feeling. I didn't mean to tell her, it was just related to something else she had asked me about for school. I don't know what she thought about it; if she privately prayed for me, or if she just accepted me. Either way, it was important to me to have an older adult just calmly listen without displaying discomfort and ask me questions rather than start freaking out and telling me I must be mistaken. She was the only family member I told for the longest time.

I wish she hadn't lived so far away; I wish we had gone to visit her more. Now I am trying to learn about her through the ripples she's left in other people's lives. My aunts let me keep her single-serve teapot and teacup on the condition that I use it frequently and remember her while doing so. Apparently she had tea almost everyday around noon and read pulp romance novels. I hope having tea with breakfast while reading "trash" fanfiction is a close enough analog.

If I find that shortbread cookie recipe online, I might post another update today or tomorrow. I work off of printed pages when I bake so that I can write my own notes on them.

So anyway. Thanks for stopping by! I know not everyone has a nice family member, so please don't forget to reach out to found family and friends during this holiday season--but also in general. Seeya next time!