This sounds a bit Pollyanna-ish, but I think most days have some sort of gift to bring, if you pay attention. This morning’s was a shaft of light that made a brilliant glow of a red maple tree. They say trees are brighter in New England than anywhere else, but frankly I don’t see how much brighter they could possibly be, short of installing neon lights on each leaf, than they have been here this year. Maybe it’s because all the maples I’m seeing aren’t necessarily native to this area; last week when we drove down to the lake, the hills and forests on the way had spots of bright yellow, whereas it’s in town that I’m seeing the brilliant reds and oranges. The road in front of our housing complex was spectacular, with green on the inside leaves and bright red on the outside. The leaves are starting to fall now, and I’m sad to see them go because they’ve been so amazing.

Also, we’ve been in Oregon for ten months now, and I’m still having those “Wow, I love living here” moments. I don’t think I posted this here, though I did on Facebook; this tree is just down the road from my office, and we passed it on the way to lunch one day:

vampires

I feel like I should insert a bunch of disclaimers here about that “every day brings a gift” idea, because I don’t want to sound privileged and obnoxious. I think it’s true, but sometimes you’re too wrapped up in worries to look for the day’s gifts and sometimes a tiny gift of beauty isn’t enough to counterbalance the troubles you’re going through. Sometimes, though, it’s like Frost said:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree,
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

We’re heading out to the lake again this weekend; we were there last week, but I didn’t row because I had a bit of vertigo that made it feel awful (rowing on the water, not me in general). Luckily it’s not a problem on a rowing machine, so I dragged the erg outside so I could at least face the lake. This week’s program is pretty similar to last week’s: row (hopefully); finish my copy edits (three illustrations left to go, plus a recheck to make sure I didn’t miss anything); and shovel some bark mulch onto the plants we put in last week. There had been a narrow strip in front of the house that had some scruffy iris with huge bulbous roots and lots of weeds. I pulled them all out, Ted shoveled and re-graded the area, and we put in some azaleas, kinnikinnick, and thyme. Then he laid down some landcaping cloth, to keep future weeds down. The back mounds we put in a couple years ago are filling in nicely (and we got lots of blueberries this year!) so now we just need to figure out what to do with the bigger front area, which is also pretty scruffy, but which has a couple of beautiful tiny Japanese maples in it, some Lombard pines along the edge, a few other nondescript plants, plus lots of stones and weeds.

I guess we’re into the downslope of the year now; it’s finally late enough that I won’t feel silly buying some of the Halloween candy and decorations that have been in the stores for a month. It’s time to kick gift knitting into high gear. The lap blanket I’m giving my MIL for Christmas is nearly done – it would be already done, but she mentioned wanting it a bit longer than the one I’d made myself. I’d have liked to make a seater for Ted, but don’t know if I’ll have time, so maybe I’ll do a vest for the mini-nephew instead. Or start both and figure on finishing at least the vest. I’m also trying to up my rowing distance to be in shape for the Holiday CHallenge; once I started this job, I gave up on marathon training and my distance dwindled away, so now I need to build up a bit again. It’s a hard one, since Thanksgiving is late this year; we need to do something like an average of 7400m per day (that’s figuring on no rest days!), so I need to be ready. I’m only about 111km from hitting 10 million meters on the erg (lifetime), at which point Concept 2 will send me a sweatshirt. My goal is to get that done before Thanksgiving, but that should be easy. At this point, I only need to average under 3km/day to reach that goal, which is no problem. The other issue will be seeing how much time I can take off at Christmas; I don’t have much holiday time, because of having to take a week off for my parents’ anniversary five weeks after starting here, but I don’t have much taste for sitting in an empty office with nothing going on either. My boss seems amenable to working something out; we’ll just need to figure if her idea of that and mine are compatible. Shouldn’t be too bad, since the days after Jan 1 can come from next year’s allotment of paid time off.