Fall Slides Toward Winter

Monday was sunny but cool enough that I kept the front door closed. Clearly it was time to swap the screen insert for its sturdier cold-weather alternative. This I did.

Just in time: Monday night’s temperatures produced the first ice disk of the season, which is to say the water in Tam’s outside water dish froze solid enough to be unmolded and stand up on its own.

This particular ice disk was neither the earliest nor the latest in my personal record, which goes back to January 2012 but got seriously under way in the winter of 2012–13. Last year’s first disk showed up on Nov. 6, my earliest yet, and the latest was around Nov. 22, so this one is about average.

(Note: If you search this website for “ice disk” you’ll learn more about ice disks than anyone needs to know, but here’s a brief explanation of how my cold-weather hobby got started, along with some photos.)

Yesterday I got serious about approaching winter. First step was to put flannel sheets on my bed, along with the quilt that’s too warm from April to November and so spends the summer on a barely reachable top shelf.

The quilt is beautiful but it spends most of its time incognito because Tam, like Travvy before him. likes to sleep on my bed, and though Tam, like Travvy and most malamutes, is a self-cleaning dog, the fur and dirt he leaves behind accumulates and looks dingy. The quilt has to be laundered at the laundromat, and frequent washing will almost certainly decrease its longevity.

Here’s what it looks like at its most pristine.

At that point I was on a roll. Last week I really was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but long pants and long sleeves have been steadily taking over the laundry line, so it seemed a good time to do the Great Seasonal Clothing Switch.

This requires using the bed as a staging area.

Here you see why the beautiful quilt spends much of its time obscured by a 30-year-old comforter that is showing its age but still does the job. Those are warm-weather clothes at the back, the hangers they hung on in the middle, and, in the front, a glimpse of the flannels and other cold-weather shirts that are about to take their place in the closet. Tam’s cold-weather clothing is entirely home-grown.

The short stack of T-shirts is there because they fell off their pile in the closet. For many years my ridiculously large T-shirt collection has been stored in two less-than-sturdy cardboard storage boxes that are deteriorating from age and the number of T-shirts stuffed into them. The one on the bottom is, understandably, deteriorating faster from the weight of the box on top of it. One of today’s projects — it’s now Wednesday — is to hit the thrift shop in Vineyard Haven in search of shelves or something similar that will fit in this tight space and make it easier to keep track of my T-shirts. (For those following The T-Shirt Chronicles, progress has been long delayed for reasons that have nothing to do with deteriorating storage boxes, but restoring order in the closet is a step toward getting that blog going again.)

I finished the day by making black bean soup, which is one of my cool-weather staples.

The days are short and getting shorter, but I’m feeling more energized than I have in months. The midterm election results definitely helped. I’m making some other changes too: I’m not running for re-election as secretary of the Martha’s Vineyard Democrats (six years is enough), but I am joining the executive committee of the Vineyard branch of the NAACP.

I’ve also been doing the Great Courses introductory Spanish course, which I like a lot. I’m not a total beginner, having studied Spanish in high school and also having a mother and grandmother who spoke Spanish to each other when they didn’t want the kids to understand them. (I have never entirely forgiven either one of them for keeping it to themselves.) I’m also doing Allen Wyatt’s online course in Word macros, even though I have little need for macros in my editing; stretching my mind is good, and maybe it’ll turn out to be useful.

I’ve got some things to say about the election, but I’ll save that for another time. An amazing number of people have told me how useful my election recommendations were, both before the primary and before the general election. Some of these people I didn’t know at all: they were forwarded my email and blog link by a mutual friend. So I think I’ll be doing that in the future. Nothing like positive feedback to keep me going!


About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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