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    Just stopped in for a minute to bring some Bailey's Irish Cream-- Salted Caramel flavor--well-worth a try, and delicious in eggnog--oh,yes, and I brought some eggnog, too. It's in the refrigerator for anyone who would like some. Fluffy and Mousebane were asleep upstairs on one of the guest room beds, but came down to say hello. I guess anytime they hear somebody in the kitchen they think it's worth a look. No need to clean the catboxes or do stalls--the cats and horses all poop candy canes here.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2018
    "the cats and horses all poop candy canes here"

    brought a good laugh this morning but trying to picture it is even funnier - getting that curve out!!
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2018
    I walk past the big front door seeing the lights on and people inside. Great, it's been opened. I walk through the crunching snow past the skating rink down to the small barn and there they are, Daisy and Mae, the two clydesdales under some tartan covers chomping on some hay. "How are you guys?" I ask but they snort that they're too busy at the moment for chit-chat. I can see my breath walking back thinking about that midnight sleigh ride and the skating nights. Smoke is coming from the big chimney which means the fireplace must be lit. My nose is cold and my eyes are watering as I step into the foyer stomping the snow off my boots and can smell right away that something good is going on in the kitchen.

    It's easy to forget how bright the stars are until you're out here and it's easy to forget how comforting and warm it is inside until it's freezing out. It makes me think of some of those scenes which there weren't in Charles Dickens' story. Too poor or too miserable to have the crackling of the wood and the dancing embers of the fire to get toasty in front of and get lost in.

    A cheer to those who can't be with us until we meet again, don't know how don't know when, and a cheer to those who are here and at least can share such moments as these. I pour a little brandy into my coffee and go to one of the chairs with the foot stools and put my feet up in front of the crackling fire.
    • CommentAuthoraaa
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2018
    "the cats and horses all poop candy canes here"

    Need to have a talk with my horses and cats, I'm still getting the same old stuff :) Maybe time for a visit.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 9th 2018
    I will never eat candy canes again.
    Myrtle, that didn't register with me until I read your comment. Now I don't think I will ever eat candy canes again either. (smile).
    Hi again this year friends. SO happy to see the lodge open again and so many of your lovely faces. I was really active on this site as some of you may remember and for the last year haven't been able to tackle thinking about my husband's and my dementia journey. That did me in and I needed a break from all things Alzheimer/dementia. Having said that I think of all of you I got to know often and hope you are doing well considering.

    I got a Sheltie puppy in January and she has been one of the best things I have ever done for me. She takes a lot of time, of course, and we have so much fun and love learning new things. It is me that needs the most learning. Puppy classes and dog people have opened a whole new world to me. My two cats and seven chickens are wonderful company on our tiny homestead but a dog, well those of you that have them, or have had, know what I mean.

    I look forward to catching up by the fire and out in the barn and snow. I LOVE being here this time of year. The first Christmas after my husband went into care - I would not have made it through without this lodge and those that helped me so much to stumble along.

    Best of the season to all.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2018
    Hi Katherine, Nice to see you. I wouldn't have survived during past holidays without this lodge, either. It's hard to believe so much time has gone by. I think I started visiting this Lodge four years ago, when my husband went into LTC. Now he is gone and to my surprise, I'm still here.

    I'll join you by the fire. Did you bring your new puppy? What is her name? I left my cat, Lucy, at home, since there are already two cats - Fluffy and Mousebane - in residence here.
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeDec 20th 2018
    Hi, Folks. I've been coming by quite frequently actually. But I've just been really really quiet. I've sat in the barn breathing the musty smells of the barn, having one of the cats rubbing my ankles. Sharing a few apples I swiped from the pantry with Daisy and Mae, those beautiful horses. And I've been walking around the pond feeling the icy air on my cheeks, and gazing in awe at the Milky Way.

    I'm getting ready to move back at home. Trying to get rid of a houseful of stuff accumulated over 35 years so I can move into a 781 square foot row house in a co-op down outside of DC. Can't afford to keep this house and I've been invited to come live near my son and d-ii-l who are expecting their first child in May.

    Thank you and the Christmas Lodge for being here. My stress is a different kind than when I was caring for my beloved partner who I continue to miss. And always will it seems. But this year coming here is relieving the stress of moving. I really don't think much about it here much. And it lets me remember good times spent here other years. I'll come in and share a cup of eggnog with any who are here. Sorry to have been so shy this winter.
    Hi Katherine and Lindyloo. It's nice to see you again. (Yes, Kath, I Totally know what you mean about getting a dog!) Hey, Myrtle--I've put a pot of coffee on and got out some gingerbread men and shortbread. Not really nutritional, but good to munch on while we see if anybody else is coming over.Not sure if we'll need to put on bacon and eggs and things like that. I wonder if Mary 75 might show up--I always like catching up with her and all her news. I turned on the Christmas tree lights and they're reflected in the early morning dimness of the windows--looks pretty. Bandit is getting along better with Fluffy and Mousebane this year--Katherine, don't be afraid to bring your sheltie over--Bandit is totally used to other dogs, and he's small (11 pounds), so not threatening to your dog. I see some headlights in the drive--looks like a couple more might be driving in. Good times at the Lodge!
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeDec 27th 2018
    Hi folks, I’ve been stopping by now and then. Could handle a cup of coffee and gingerbread cookies just now. I didn’t need to hide out here this year. Since it’s only me at home I didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone when playing the piano. But I like stopping here to visit the horses and remember rip roaring sleigh rides with everyone last year.
    Lindylou the move sounds like a good thing. Seems like your son and dil have been troopers through thick and thin so it would be good to be nearby. And to be a Grandma.
    Elizabeth it is fun to see Bandit getting along with Fluffy and Mousebane. Actually, better to see Mousebane is becoming more social. I have a laser pointer keeping him distracted for awhile.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeDec 27th 2018
    Ha ha, just learned something new. I hit Back to Discussions by accident and thought I lost my post. Then I hit the browser back button a few times and found my comments. Ha. Didn’t have to redo it!
    Hello all! So sorry to be forever since I posted December 18th. Lovely to hear from you myrtle, lindyloo, Elizabeth, and bhv.

    Right after I posted coming to the lodge my computer crashed. Wouldn't even boot up. Long story and not fixable. Then here on the west coast of Canada we had one impressive wind storm and I was without power for days. Just this morning I got my new computer up and running and here is the first site I visited.

    Hope everyone can have as peaceful a 2019 as possible.
    Hello Katherine--I'm not sure how much longer the lodge will be open, but I've stopped in frequently to see who else is here and to sit and have a cup of tea in front of the fireplace. (No fireplace in the apartment--have to compensate by having flameless candles all over the place!) I hope everyone has a blessed New Year--and as peaceful and restful as possible under the circumstances.
    Has anybody seen Wolf? I wonder when he is closing the Lodge this year.
    The magic of the lodge is that it opens up when any of us approach as if it has been waiting for us all along. The lights turn on, the fireplace lights, the food is all fresh and scruptious, it is warm and inviting and clean.
    Yes, as much as I like my apartment, there are no cats nor horses, and no fireplace. I like to pet the purry-furries, go in the barn and rub noses with Daisy's and Mae's velvety noses, and then just vegetate in front of the fire for a while.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2019
    I don't believe in closing the lodge. I saw opening it as an invitation to join in the spirit of having a place in our minds that we can go to, and because many people have contributed to sketching out what is there, it develops it's own sense of place with fleshed out details like the cats and the horses, the skating rink and the fireplace, the kitchen and the rooms available - it's all part of investing in our own moments by allowing them much as people in a theatre allow the other members of the audience and the room itself to disappear.

    We enter the play, or the performance, or the movie while everything else for that time may as well not exist because we are involved, and therefore lose ourselves in the thing for a short time. That's an example, where reading is another, of the power we have to shape our experience of reality. We forget we are sitting in a room flipping pages as our eyes scan the little marks on the paper in the proper order - and thereby bring the story to life within ourselves.

    The most powerful thing I learned from this is just how overwhelmingly we live in our experience of time and space where reality is like furniture in the thoughts and feelings we are having. It's probably true to say that almost everybody's ideas about how they're doing are about their thoughts and feelings more than anything else.

    I'm having a bad day. Lots of things are going wrong today - or seem to be - where the truth is that more important things are going right; but, I'm frustrated and unhappy today and so I'm focused on what seems to be going wrong. One of the important things going right is that I have enough stability and outlook to deal with this, and even to see it as a day where I'm letting my ya-ya's out.

    It's been a hard road. I've earned the right to react sometimes and to complain. But I know how this works and when I'm watching the TV and eating my goulash on egg noodles with cucumber and dill salad, and put my feet up with my blanky and pat the cats, I'll be nodding off in no time and head off to bed with my Economist, and pat the cat that loves to roll around on the blanket while I do. I have my life and even though there are still holes in it and the second floor is still missing, it's so noticeably better than this day on a stick from hades.


    That was yesterday, today I just got off the phone with a friend from Vancouver who kindly called to see how I was doing. Thank you. The answer is I'm doing as well as can be expected for someone who's skin is turning into a garden patch of interesting moles while it melts right off my frame. My muscles (such as they were) have largely disappeared and anything I might lift or twist or just look at might (and randomly does) cause pain. It could be a joint or a muscle (such as they are) or a toe - I never know.

    I could take up a part time job doing exercise I don't need to do except to delay these things but I choose to play instead. I have a candied ham and a potato/onion/mushroom casserole in the oven and plan to give birth later this evening to a hearty feast. Fortunately the guest of honor is planning to attend and no doubt hold court before the flat screen TV and the feline faces raptly interested in more ham bits coming down to floor level. Afterwards I will likely fall asleep, go to bed, read, pat the cat, and drift off with the light on. But I've already said that.

    You go to the lodge by opening to the lodge (or any other place or thing that seems good), and when you do open to it, you find that the lodge is there. That's the way of most everything we authorize to be within ourselves and then truly pursue.

    I had a friend once who hated seeing himself failing. It made him feel bad about himself. I like failing. It means I'm learning - and I know that if I try harder and keep trying, I'm going to get somewhere. That's what's always happened except in those on-line action war games where I've spent years trying - but I always suck, and I mean badly. I'm terrible at some things and I have to live with that. I was never planning on being perfect so that's not actually a problem.

    You can't always have the things you want, or, depending on your list, any of them. But we have things and we get things - like Daisy & Mae, two Clydesdales I made up - who get tartan throws and a sheltered barn - and visitors who sometimes sneak an apple to them, because that's how stories are. The fact that life can be horrible at times hopefully doesn't stamp out the fact that there ARE good times - and if we can't get there now, we should tuck them away hoping that some day, we can.

    Almost Like Being In Love - Frank Sinatra, the King Cole original was the ending of that famous over and over until you get it movie - Groundhog Day.
    Oh yeah, the skating rink. I'm going down and just glide around in circles for a while --still have my old ratty second-hand hockey skates from when I used to skate with my brothers and the neighborhood kids. They still fit, because they were bought several sizes too large in the first place. I hope you have a better day today, Wolf.
    Love, love, love this lodge. Thanks everyone who popped in. See you in December. Or maybe November...that is when I put up my Christmas decorations. :-)) Right after Remembrance Day.
    I'll probably start checking back around Nov. 29--30--Dec. 1. I love the Lodge, too. Pure genius on Wolf's part.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2019
    It's quiet in here. When the heat gets turned down the floor gets cold. I've just come in to make a fire and to turn my chair into a tardis. The secret to making a fire is to start with bone dry twigs. When they snap like chalk - not when they bend in the slightest. They can be soaked in the rain but if the core has dried out like chalk, it will burn. Even with the fire going it's not going to warm the place. I need the tardis.

    A tardis is something that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside which is as impossible as it is unimportant. It might be wrapping a quilt around me when I sit in the chair. It might be my winter coat in the chair with the parka hoody, then me, then a beach towel folded for my feet to stay warm on, and then the quilt possibly folded over for double warmth, used as a lap comforter right over my feet, opened and put right over the back of the chair making a tent with me in it just listening to the fire going. It might be a recording of a fire crackling on the internet with me and possibly any local dogs or cats checking things out. Or it might be me at the chair watching Escape To The Country on Utube or my current series on Narrowboating the canals of England which includes me sitting on the quilt with it over my shoulders and tucked in over my lap, but leaving my arms free to either pull into this warmth or reach out there and operate the controls like a space ship.

    I never grew up. I find grown ups stodgy, pretentious, unimaginative, and full of rules and requirements. Being responsible has nothing to do with anything else like ironing your underwear or wearing white after labor day. Having some fun staying warm when the soul has been hung out to flap in the wind doesn't either.

    I throw a throw on the floor beside me in case an animal may want some warmth too and without a TV or the internet, I launch myself out of the cocoon of the tardis to get some actual logs on the fire and fire up a coffee quickly before I return to the warmth of the ship. It's just some warmth for the soul to fend off the cold floor and to remind myself that with a bit of imagination I can make things just a little bit better.

    Remind me to put the screen up before I sit down. I have a tendency to drift off in the middle of whatever's going on if I get too snug as a bug in a rug or maybe just because I feel like I'm already a thousand years old. There are other chairs and lots of various throws and blankets in the rooms. Anyone is welcome to join me. There's even fresh coffee. Add some brandy or bourbon or have a few schnapps and start calling everyone else Otto. I just need to remember to put that screen up before sitting back down. Now vhere ahr de Schnapps. Ve have vays of making you talk. Like tickling you vis zis feather! Or making you sing! Like Mrs Zippydedoodah in the Sound Of Music! The halls ahr alive vis zee sound of music! Oh right. Put the screen up first.

    Having been a good little boy I look back at the pile of quilts and blankets knowing there's a chair under there somewhere and realize my best chance of hunkering in might be to take a run at it and launch from maybe six feet away - correction make that three feet away and just burrow like a rabbit until I reach chair level. It's a cundunderum. Cononderom. A poser.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2019
    Just to help the reader that fourth paragraph at the end with the line "I can make things just a little better" must be read in the Charlton Heston school of over-acting. Stick your jaw out and grind the words through your teeth. Better yet, envision Jim Carrey wildly over acting Charlton Heston when you get to the phrase (from the diaphram) "I can make things just a little better". Too late now. Think of this as an announcement on the speakers in the airport terminal you're running through garbling everything in a mumble except your name.

    I also apologize for making fun of Germans. No I don't. Those teutonic wankers need to lighten up. I've gotten good laughs telling people I wanted to be the world's first German stand up comedian. Forget Wagner, study Python, or just watch Brexit. On second thought study Python.

    In Search Of The Holy Grail
    Camelot Song
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2019
    ROFLOL over and over again.
    Wolf, I read that line “I can make things just a little better” in a whisper. And then I stopped.... And I read it again a tiny tiny bit louder.

    Then I launched myself from two feet away into the other chair piled high with quilts. Thanks for getting the fire going. It sounds so lovely. I’ve got the schnapps under my quilts.
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2019
    Wolf, I've come to join you. That is your nose I see peaking out of the quilts isn't it? And I believe the cats have found it warmer for them to sleep on top of the quilts that are on top of you. So much for the ones lying on the floor. You have made the world a better place because I hear them purring. Bonnie, you are here too. How very wonderful.

    My house is a total disaster. I am moving. And up until today I kept one space neat and tidy, just for me. Maybe if I work real hard until bedtime I can restore my one room that has been my sanity in the midst of chaos.

    While moving is not any where near the stressor that caregiving for AD is, it is still pretty high I must say. I am moving to Greenbelt MD so that my son and DIL and soon to be grand baby will have family near. But never mind stress. Right now I have brought a cup of tea to the side table and am burying myself in quilts and blankets on this cozy recliner chair, sitting near friends. I'm smelling the wood fire, I'm listening to the wind rattle the windows. I am secure. When peace comes back to me I will throw myself back into the fray. At least the task of moving has a beginning and ending point. I am grateful.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 18th 2019

    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2019
    The Lodge is so much more beautiful than I remember it. I may camp out here until Thanksgiving.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2019
    wolf - love that video. It is so peaceful, cozy and warm watching it.
    I just keyed in and watched the Christmas Lodge/fireplace/snow outside etc. etc. video. It's very much like how I picture our Lodge. The video is a little more Western in feel, and I picture the Lodge as a bit more Adirondack-ish or New Englandy. But it's close enough! Aaaah, Heaven.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2019
    I always thought it was somewhere in Canada, maybe just north of the U.S. border, but that was just a guess, since I was magically transported there.
    Maybe it's in Three Pines, that fictional village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that Louise Penney writes about in her Inspector Gamache mysteries. It's a place with no cell phone reception, if I remember right.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2019
    The lodge isn't based on anything, which I know because I made it up. On the other hand I completely support people making it whatever they want.

    That clip I put up is peaceful, cozy, and warm as Charlotte said and I put that link up without words because it's an example of such a place; but, wasn't meant to represent the lodge I envisioned. As I said though, that's not important. At all.
    Ha, ha. Maybe we are all trying to analyze it too closely. I love the Lodge, wherever it is and whatever it is. But peaceful, warm, beautiful, cosy...yes indeed.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2019
    A four minute video walking around Quebec City in the winter.
    Wow, looks just like upstate NY in the winter. Freeze-a-rama, mama.

    I get so tired of my down parka and beanie hat with pom that I'm ready to burn them by the time spring arrives.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2019
    Today I’m going to a neighbor friend’s house. I’m remembering one Christmas a few years ago when I told her about our Christmas Lodge. Her eyes got so wide and she wanted to know how to get here and how I found the place. Tonight I’ll put up the tree and then I’ll curl up in front of this fire place with a cup of tea and one of the cats in my lap and remember how we were physically all over the world, yet together in front of this fireplace.
    I'm still decorated for autumn/harvest. I'll start with the winter decorations (Christmas) on Sunday, Dec. 1. I don't have a fireplace in the apartment, but I have three flameless candles that turn themselves on automatically, and a string of orange mini-lights to go with my autumn theme. On Sunday I'll switch to my string of multicolored lights. I find that the combination of flameless candles and a string of season-appropriate mini lights gives a lot of ambience in a 750 sq. ft. space.
    • CommentAuthorlindyloo*
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2019
    We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday because my daughter in law is a nurse working a 12 hour shift today. I had fun cooking the feast Saturday, and was grateful for my family. Today I spent baking cookies, and decided to bring a few here to share with friends who have come to the Christmas lodge. I'm sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine following the day's work. So very glad for this lodge. Don't have a fireplace either in my home, but it is good to know I can wish myself here any old time and feel the comfort and the warmth and the smell of the wood fire, and feel the comfort and warmth of being with my friends here as well. A blessed Thanksgiving to you all.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2019
    Lindyloo, I'm kind of tired from my day of storm prep, so I've come over here to put my feet up and join you in a glass of wine. It's nice to have a fireplace that I don't have to vacuum out and fill with fuel.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2019
    Youth is wasted on the young some have said. I think only older people say that. The young don't think that way and they shouldn't. Life is called that for a reason. It's the thing you're supposed to live, and what wasted means is just opinion.

    Life is about becoming what we choose to believe. Time relentlessly records the choices we make day by day based on what we believe and that is precisely the road map of how we got from way over there to way over here.

    Those things we believe in become the ivory keys on our piano; those things we don't believe aren't anywhere around us. That becomes the music of our behaviour. It defines what we see both inside ourselves and at the outside world.

    This world is a lot like going to the Guggenheim, looking at a strange piece of modern art, and wondering what the heck they were doing. Someone explains that it's an existential interpretation of the id, and you nod that that's fine. A lot of life is like that. We don't really know what's actually going on; but, we are here, so we have this life to live.

    Some people think we're here to suffer and struggle and having read a lot of history I can understand why that idea exists. I don't shop there though. I never asked to be here, and was never consulted. Yet I have free will. And so I am free to be me in whatever limited time is on offer.

    My choices and my path have led me here to pursue my goal of learning the fine art of doing nothing. I'm not the droid you're looking for. I'm just some space dust that for a while can either do the Abbott & Costello Who sketch or recite the second law of thermodyamics which makes as much sense as anything else around here - a thought that makes me smile.

    I get up and poke the fire with a stick. It doesn't need to be poked, but I can feel the milleniums of my ancestors all standing right here in front of the fire, poking it with a stick. It's a crazy and fascinating universe - and that makes me smile too.

    It was the bible with it's endless list of begating that made me realize that the only reason I'm here hunched in front of this fire is because right back to the beginning of life, and all the way through time on this planet, somebody was bopping somebody or I wouldn't be able to be here. I poke my stick into the red hot, glowing embers in a tribute to them all. Thank you for your service. Come and warm by the fire.

    I imagine the lodge from the outside with the starry night and the cresent moon, the blue tones of the snow, and the warm, orange lights coming from the windows. I'm living in a christmas card on a big blue marble around a bright yellow sun moving through a spiral galaxy that may as well be endless, but is one of trillions. The fire crackles and pops. Good idea taming fire. Better idea fireplaces. Best idea, comfortable chairs.
    And watching a beautiful opalescent freezing cold dawn with my cup of hot coffee and snuggly wool socks. Yes, Wolf, there are many craters on the dark side of the moon. Blessed be.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2019
    Here's what some people are doing right now. This is a young couple and their dog pulling a sleigh of supplies into an off grid cabin in the snow. It's quite short and is a great exposure to the snowy woods and the feeling of being in a wood cabin with a stove.

    All the best to everyone.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2019
    Would have been nice in my younger years. If I had the right person/people to go with it might be fun now.
    The boards have been very quiet over the last few days. I hope that is because everybody is having at least some half-way decent moments through the holiday season.I just stopped into the Lodge to check on things. It is peaceful and quiet, with the fire flickering in our big fireplace and snow falling gently outside. The horses are fine in their stalls, and I gave them both carrots and rubbed my nose against their velvety noses while hugging them. Fluffy and Mousebane are curled up on the hearthrug, and I noticed that instead of candy canes, they are pooping round red and white peppermints into their cat box--probably easier on their magical little rear ends. I left Bandit asleep on the sofa at the apartment, so I'll just have a quick Bailey's in egg nog before getting back into my magical flying car and zooming home. I'm thinking of all my friends here at Joan's with such gratitude--what a wonderful bunch of people. I could not ever have got through this without you. So with 2019 almost finished and a new year to look forward to--let's hope it is filled with good things, or at least, not a whole bunch of bad things--and as Tiny Tim says, "God Bless Us Every One!"