Tuesday, December 29 2020
Today the thing where I drink kratom tea instead of caffeine. Usually that works out well for me, giving me a buzz that's just shy of euphoric. And I've found the buzz doesn't get in the way of getting shit done when I have something specific I need to do. But today it didn't work at all. By the early afternoon I felt mildly dysphoric and was having discomfort in my gut that caused me to eat a tablet of generic Pepto-Bismol. (I've been weaning myself off citalopram, so I wonder if this was a result of that.) I just wanted to lie down, but I had work to do. So I took my work-issued laptop to bed and worked from there. The work consisted mostly of database queries as I tried to make sense of our company's most difficult tax import.
I wasn't done with this work when it was time for my social chore of the week. Our new downhill neighbors had invited us over to their firepit. The day had been a cold one and by the time we set out, temperatures were in the upper 20s. So we bundled up as best we could. (I wore insulated trousers, a heavy pea coat, a scarf, a hat, mismatched gloves, and thick socks in Crocs.) The three of us took a shortcut across the ravine (following a nearly straight line from the greenhouse to their house about 200 feet from there).
The three kids were all outside playing when we arrived, and they didn't seem concerned about the cold at all. They were also surprisingly blasé about Neville, considering he'd bitten the middle kid a month or so ago. Perhaps the dogs just didn't look as threatening in their winter jackets (Neville's was army-surplus green). Or maybe kids really are that cognitively flexible.
Neil, the man of the house, had a fire going, and he offered us drinks. I went with the whiskey option, and he joined me on that. Meanwhile Alicia, the woman of the house, fetched tea for Gretchen and Powerful. Neil had apparently discovered the firestarting potential of pinecones, and said he'd shown them to a friend as his "one-match" firestarting trick.
Topics discussed included the draftiness of the house, and the need to replace its aging windows. I told them that they should pick big windows for the south-facing wall, as their house has one of the sunniest winter exposures I know about. Neil expressed concern about what that would mean in the summer, but then I pointed out the house's broad eves, which would render the high-angle sun relatively harmless.
At some point, the kids ran and got us our presents, a pair of walking sticks that they presented to Gretchen and Powerful. I get it; for the kids, Gretchen and Powerful are still their idea of the charismatic people in our household.
Later Ramona joined the kids in playing with them and their hoola-hoops, though it seemed she mostly just wanted to chew on one of the hoops. The dogs drifted off and explored for awhile but then came back and lay near the fire; apparently it was cold even for them in their jackets. And then one of the kids started horsing around in a four-wheel tote-wagon and Neville made an aggressive noise; he's deeply suspicious of humans on small wheeled vehicles.
It was our neighbors' approaching dinner time that was the impetus for our leaving. Our dogs had long abandoned us, so we walked home without them on the road, our way lit by very bright nearly-full moon.
The fact that we'd been able to socialize outdoors in full-on winter conditions (at least in the presence of a fire pit) suggests that socializing won't be impossible this winter. Still, after we got home, I had a lingering chill in my body that didn't dissipate until I took a bath.
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