Monday, February 1, 2021

Slogging the winter doldrums

Alexzandra Lee Trujillo

This is a crazy hodgepodge of a post.

January 18.

I've run into the winter doldrums and I'm not well pleased. I'm wrestling with inertia on several fronts. Physical pain continues to be a challenge as does emotional pain. We're a month into winter, and with 60 long days to go before calendar spring arrives I'm impatient for warmer, longer days. Last year was quite dry and so far we've had a warm and dry winter, so I'm concerned about grass production and grazing in 2021. There are various other vexing irritations piled up as well.

The answer, as always, is to do what I can and let God handle the stuff that's out of my control. Simple. Not always easy. Sometimes it's a slog. Hewing to foundational principles is very hard work.

This morning I'm not doing what I can for myself and I'm not letting God do the rest. It's an ugly, selfish place to be. I'm feeling put upon by my perception of the motivations of other people, by nature's magnificent cycle of seasons, by my mortal body's physical infirmities, and by my inability to master and control my emotions.

There, I've done something! I've written (keyed) out a base set of my selfish complaints. It's a start.

Plan: Pray instead of intending to pray. Make a gratitude list. Wear shorts to work even though "it's too cold, waaahhh." Run some steps, do some pushups, build some widgets with the intent to give full and proper return for my wages.

It's a start. When I come back to this I shall report on my progress.


January 19.

As Dugout Doug said, "I have returned. Now what?"

It's already time to go to work. 


January 20. Perhaps January 21.

Day three. Or perhaps four. This is taking forever to write. Fits and starts.

It was bath time for the littles. Like most little kids they like to play in the bathtub. Scrubbies and washies intermingle with splashies and squirties and flights of delightful imagination. Summarines and paceships and mermaids and pure delight.

"I'm gonna be a big boy," says the four year old. We talk about being a big boy, what it all means. He's filled to bursting with the possibilities. He wants to go to school like his big brother, and he's excited about that. He's also got some hesitation lurking in there, wondering what it will be like to have a new experience on his own, away from the familiar comfort of home.

"Sissy can't be a big boy," he says with an enormous smile.

"Why not?"

"She's a girl!"

"Can she be a big girl?"


"Why not?"

"She's little!"

"But she can grow up like you, right?"

His face scrunches up in concentration. He grabs a plastic drinking glass floating nearby. "Vroom-vroom," he says as he motors it around the tub. He points the glass at me. "My summarine is shooting you!"

Sissy growing up is a big new thing to wrap his mind around. He needs to think and ponder, so he's changed the subject. It's exactly what a four year old should do. He'll figure it out. If he needs help he'll ask. What he doesn't need right this minute is grownsplaining.

"You got me!"

While the big boy/big girl discussion is going on Sissy is busy with another plastic cup, thoroughly rinsing her dolly's hair. She's working hard and concentrating fiercely. When I've recovered from being gunned by a summarine she looks at me.

"If you die," she says, "I won't have my Shaun."


There are moments of clarity in this life, at least for me. In this moment shifting pieces of reality stuff snap into place and I get to see clearly. Not only with my mind, but with my heart and soul. The jumble of my own personal/selfish stuff is pushed aside and I get the full force of loss-grief-uncertainty as experienced by these two precious human beings. It's hard to bear, but it's a good hard, a necessary hard, a centering hard.

Bath water begins to cool and it's time to dry off and get dressed. Auntie and I assist and soon the little ones are roaring around at full throttle doing the stuff they get paid for. I sit back and watch for a moment. At a fundamental level I have changed. I've learned. I've grown. It's a livin' thing. I am so very blessed.


January 23.

It's evening and I have a function to attend, but I also have time before supper to watch a couple of videos with the little ones. They pile into my lap and we're soon watching "cocomelon sick song." It's a thing. I marvel at how much I love Alex's kids and her family. It's an extension of the unconditional love I have for Alex. This love is a state of being in a place which I had never visited or even imagined could exist before Alex created it by accepting my unconditional love. I don't know if that makes sense; I don't know any words which adequately describe this place of pure love.

After a few videos we've maxed out our screen time for the day. The four year old is off like a shot to hang out with his big brother and do guy stuff. The little one is clingy and unsettled. She just wants to be held. I ask her a few questions about her day, but she chooses not to answer and hums to herself.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Shut up," she replies.

I'm shocked. Why? Again, it's hard to describe emotion in mere words. When I was a kid there were few -- if any -- things worse than a child saying "shut up" to an adult. I can't say why or how, but it's a thing imprinted deeply in me.

In my childhood days yelling at unacceptable behavior was the norm, and whacking was far from uncommon. I can't imagine yelling at these children, and whacking is so far out of the question it's not even a part of the universe I inhabit. I'm grown, for certain values of grown, and I have word tools and love. These children are human beings just like me, and I treat them as I would be treated. My duty is to guide, to help them learn, to protect, to love. Duty is indeed heavier than a mountain.

"Can you think of a nicer way to say that?"

She pauses for a moment, then says, "Please shut up."

Another transcendent moment. Her response strikes hard at my funny bone and arrows deep into my heart. Alex is here with us, right here, right now. Joy and love and laughter bubble out of a place in me that didn't exist before Alex built it.

"You silly goose," I laugh, "I love you so much little one." I hug her and she wraps her arms around my neck and snuggles her face next to mine. She sighs and some of the unsettledness seems to leave her.


January 24.

If you're old enough to remember the old countrytime lemonade commercial you'll perhaps remember the two old duffers sitting on the porch quaffing glasses of the instant beverage and talking about the pending arrival of spring with the vernal equinox. One of the fellows remarked that he'd known Vernal and was surprised that he'd made something of himself.

Not everyone gets it. Might be an 80's thing.

As I began this on January 18 I was in a funk. Sixty-one days until calendar spring would arrive on March 20, and in this part of the country calendar spring generally means another thirty days until it begins to warm up. Actually it begins warming as soon as the sun begins to move north again, but it's a gradual process to heat all of that air mass. We (and by that I mean I) don't notice or appreciate the gradual warming. And therein lies the answer to part of my funk -- I wanted it to be warm and to be warm right now! I was forgetting that the secret to livin' is to live all of it, to cherish and embrace the winter I have rather than whine about the spring yet to come. The herd of funk-inducing elephants in the room is that other crushing thing. I was wallowing in cold and grief and refusing to do the one thing that would help.

Beaten by myself into a state of reasonableness, I began to pray.


Blooger/burgle update. I got traction on the issues I was facing and we'll see how things play out over the next little while. The bright sparks leading the crusade against my existence tried really hard yesterday but burgle actually came through on their promise and I was only inconvenienced for a few minutes. 


January 25.

I keep adding stuff to this post and not finishing.

I'm slammed for time and my thinking has been impacted by lots of emotion over the last week or 10 days. It's very hard to explain, in large part because I can't find a way to understand the turmoil. I can say and intellectually understand that "the grief process is incredibly complex" but swimming in that ocean is challenging. Hard. It's an experience unlike anything I ever imagined; anything I could ever have imagined. I keep trying to "get it" and understand, as if knowledge of exactly what and why will grant me the ability to do the impossible, to control that which cannot be controlled. I keep doing the same thing over and over, and I keep expecting a different result.

I feel bad that at times I've been bludgeoning you kind readers with fragments of my exploding experience. My hope, my sincere hope, is that some of this will somehow prove useful to someone, somehow. It's good therapy for me to write this stuff, and I hope it's somehow helpful to others.

On with the show, except it's already time to go to work! Argh!


January 26.

It's snowing. Not very much, which is inconvenient for me personally. It's been a very dry winter with almost no snow, following on a year in which annual precipitation totalled 5.45 inches less than the 128 year average of 16.77 inches. Soil moisture, which is the driver for grass production, is very low. If we don't get snow to melt and adequate spring rains the grass will not grow, and no grass equals no grazing equals no grazing income. It's a potential storm which we ranching ape-lizards can weather, but we always prefer to not have to weather it. We can do it, just as nature does it. Grasslands go partially dormant in drought years, and we can too. We need only be humble enough to use our superior cognition to work with nature rather than try to impose our will on her. Are we smart enough to do so, should the pending drought not-rain on our parade? I have my doubts. There are people in the mix who are wholly in the tee-vee. They know with absolute certainty that guidance from the talking tits has superseded all non tee-vee reality.

I do not want to be too close when they crash and splatter. Getting that caustic stuff on me would be a terrible experience. 

In 1969 there was a new and "novel" strain of flu going around. As is always the case, it sickened many people. Healthy people survived while many unhealthy, infirm, and elderly people succumbed to complications associated with influenza infection. We all remember the flu panic of 1969, don't we? The way the government had to shut down the nation and destroy the economy. We all remember that the Mets couldn't win the world series that year what with baseball being cancelled, and the way Apollo 11 couldn't land on the moon. As best we can tell, considering the way 2020-2021 morbidity and mortality numbers have been manipulated, far more people died in 1969. In total and as a percentage of the population.

Now hold on, Shaun, you can't just say that the numbers have been manipulated. You have to show some evidence!

That's right, but it's a bit tricky just now. Especially in public places like this, where anonymous ape-lizards can denounce people for impure thoughts and writings.

Nevertheless, and this is anecdote rather than evidence, I have seen three death certificates citing wuhandromeda as the cause of death in cases where it certainly was not the cause of death. In two of those cases terminal illness was in play; liver disease and lung cancer. In a third, death came from trauma in a motor vehicle accident. All three had tested positive for wuhandromeda though, so that was listed as the cause of death. The physicians who signed the death certificates are not bad people, but they have chosen to do bad things. So they should be punished, right? But what about all the people who choose to believe the narrative even though they see every single day that the narrative is completely false? They also choose to do bad things, day in and day out. They should be punished too. Right? Never fear, they are all punishing themselves. In some locked closet of their mind and heart they know it. When the locked door bursts open, as it certainly will, it will suck to be them.


January 28.

This is an experiment. An accidental experiment. I've written it in dribs and drabs, adding new stuff as I find time but not hitting the publish button.

Yesterday was a grand day, a day in which very good and nice things happened. It was rather a yucky pain day for me personally, but that didn't diminish the beauty of the good stuff.

The little ones and I sit on the couch playing with cars and watching Little Angel videos on the television. The four year old is such a happy guy and bursting with imagination. He gets so excited as he tries to flow his visions into play. I think he gets frustrated that others can't see exactly what he envisions, can't experience all the cool and exciting stuff going on. But he's so happy and filled with the joy and wonder of it all that he doesn't let frustration take over. He just forges ahead and does his very best to explain and include his slow-poke playmates.

The two year old is in a two year old mood. There's a reason they call it the terrible twos. She's trying to control her world and it isn't working out for her. People, places, and things simply refuse to fall in line and cooperate fully with her desires. This makes her angry, and the world must know of her displeasure and feel the depth of her wrath. But that's not the only thing going on. She's learning and growing and tinkering, figuring out how to navigate her ever expanding life. She has a towering rage going on, but she's also a happy little girl who has an imagination every bit as big as her brothers. She loves to play and have fun; she delights in the magic of interacting with others.

Thirty-five years ago today STS 51L went in the water.
Front from L: Mike Smith, Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, Ron McNair. Back from L: Ellison “El” Onizuka, Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith “JR” Resnik.

I wonder what those seven souls would think about the American (and indeed global) zeitgeist of 2021?


January 29.

I planned to write a bunch of stuff. Didn't happen. I worked. I spent precious hours with family.


January 30-31. Last weekend of January.

I did a lot of writing. I cleaned house and did laundry. I helped a young fellow sight in the rifle I built for him.

Some things are falling into place. Others are not.

One thing that's not falling into place is finger tats.

I had what I considered good reason to acquire the finger tats. Some people I love far more than life itself shared their perspective with me, and my reasons just up and faded away. Like the smoke from that torpedo!

I like the song a lot, and I like the sequels more. Things have changed a lot since 1986, but things have also stayed the same a lot.

This life thing is quite an awesome gig.


February 1.

I'll be off to work soon. Up early as usual I've been working on the novel and making some good progress.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, and I rather expect Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow. If I remember correctly that will mean an early spring. If I read the local climate trends correctly I don't really need a rodent report from Gobbler's Knob to tell me what the weather is likely to do. Experience tells me that the stars are lining up for a dry year. Experience also tells me that while the past is good at rhyming, it never repeats. Within the concept of that phrase lies a nugget of wisdom and a key to unlocking part of the wonder of this whole life gig. There are a lot of keys out there hidden in plain sight. None of them are in the tee-vee. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Tomorrow is also the day I get more injections. I'm very much looking forward to the experience. I'll get some temporary pain relief if nothing else. We'll also move a step closer to finding out if a permanent-ish fix is possible. As the days go by I've been learning by trial and error how to live more optimally with this infirmity. My body continues to do amazing things to adjust, and the wonder of this part of the journey takes my breath away when I look at it for what it is.

As I sit here writing I realize that I'm in many ways more batshit crazy than I've ever been. At the same time much of the trauma fog is clearing. I'm in a hard but interesting place. Both of those things are good. Time to finally push the firetrucking publish button.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



  1. Thank you for pushing the button. Though I usually say to give us an update when you can, I was getting a bit concerned. Looks like a variety of good and bad with the good being the far better stuff. Praying for your injection to work, but your problem will be solved in one way or another with God's intervention and your cooperation. Keep on livin' and keep us posted when you can.

    1. Don't know why I sometimes have a hard time pushing the button Mark, probably some OCD going on in there somewhere. The good certainly does outweigh the bad. Heading over for the injections in about an hour, I've got a 0630 show time. They should work at least temporarily and it's a blessing to have them available. I shall keep on livin' and postin'! Thanks for stopping by.

    2. not sure if i will ever have a blog, but i ALWAYS find worthy revisions at LEAST once (when i re-read stuff i type out) and it's a bit of a coin toss... do i wait an hour (or a day? or a week?) and see if i want to change something? or do i hit *send* (kind'a like the "publish" button, yeah?) and get those thoughts on their way?

      But i dunno... do you find yourself rewording/revising previous compositions? Or is it just a *feelz* kinda thing? Often times when i re-read something an hour (or more) old, i remember what i wanted to say, but what i typed out an hour ago makes me go: oh no, that isn't going to work at all. And after i've revised something 2 or 3 times and i'm very happy with it, then i wonder if the reader will really internalize my words with the message i was trying to convey?

      Yup... no revising this comment, gonna click "publish" right meow...

    3. Lots of good questions there cT! And I don't have any good answers. Sometimes I work very hard at writing and sometimes I just puke it out. One thing I'm sure of is that no one reads exactly what I write, it's always their own interpretation of the marks on the screen. That's the way it's supposed to be and the only way it can be.

      Thanks for the great questions, I'll be thinking about them for some time.

  2. A lot to digest here.

    It sounds like a definite case of the winter doldrums, hope you break out of it. Sounds like the kids are keeping you in touch with reality, they're good at that.

    1. Family is keeping me grounded and centered here on this mortal plain and God is constantly delivering up blessings. The winter doldrums are strong this year, but they are in the process of passing on by.

      Thanks Chris.

  3. Welcome back! Yeah, life is full of good and bad, and you have your plate full of real world stuff to do, other than entertaining your imaginary friends. Kids are doing well, so "Job One" is going well.

    So, what type of rifle did you make, and what did you like or not so much like about the project and final product?

    Winter's not over, so don't throw away the shovels and plows yet. But, I appreciate that Mom Nature has been pretty good about dumping her snow upon the ski resorts and not on my driveway. We do depend on that water, so I'll shovel as much as necessary.
    John Blackshoe.

    1. In my world the good certainly outweighs the bad and I'm blessed to be able to see and live that reality.

      The rifle was a fun project, a beat up Remington 700 in 30.06 with a smashed stock and bulged barrel. It's now a 7mm Mag with a composite stock and a nice 3-9x scope.

      Hoping we get snow and spring rains but we'll take what we get as always. Nice days in January and February are a treasure to be enjoyed regardless of what the future may hold. There's a good chance the future will bring one or more spring blizzards, just to keep us humble!

      Thanks John.

  4. I think that I meant to say that it looks like the good far outweighs the bad, but with me you never know. Anyway, stay safe and keep on livin'

    1. That's what I got, Mark! Wilco on the safe and livin'. :-)

  5. She left me when she was but 4. You don't know how blessed you are.
    You take the rough with the smooth and you accept what you cannot change.
    You are an engine of change. Keep on doing it to the best of your ability.
    Where shorts in the depths of winter. I went out to shovel snow off the drive and steps this morning to return and find how warm was our house.
    I'm not crazy, I wore gloves.
    Be you well, enjoy you the blessings of liberty and the sun in it's limited sphere and those wonderful kids.

    1. Make that "wear shorts" and let's forget I wrote where....hmmmmmmmm?

    2. In the depths of my loss and longing I am more blessed than words can describe. Livin' comes with hard stuff and that's the way it's supposed to be. With the hard stuff comes a choice of whether to to good and share love and life or to be bitter and selfish. Walking with god makes the former possible and causes the blessings to flow.

      The wearing shorts thing is a tiny and painless challenge to myself. Walking a block to and from the pickup can be a bit uncomfortable but only for a brief time. Running steps in shorts in the cold is more of a challenge but once the muscles warm and the blood flows freely it's not bad at all. When it comes to moving snow or any other real work in winter's cold I dress up like a proper Eskimo, and that's a fact!

      Thanks Curtis.

  6. Thought of you yesterday as I left Scottsbluff but my route took me into Wyoming.

    This is something I put on Facebook today.
    I love farmers and ranchers.
    Spent Saturday night in Scottsbluff. The motel had a breakfast bar but because of COVID you had to take your food back to your room. Leaving, the morning was sunny but the temp was around 15°. A middle aged couple was sitting at a picnic table, instead of their room, chowing down on biscuits and gravy. They were from South of Bennett, CO who came up for an auction and were on their way home with a combine header.
    I wonder what kind of climate conditions would keep them from eating outdoors?

    You folks who have spent your lives working the soil are a tough bunch!

    1. A huge blessing in my life has been learning to revel in the feel of the sun's warmth in winter even when the air temp is cold. It's one of life's secret joys. Mind you, a sharp cold wind can chase the joy away pretty quickly, but that's one of the reasons to pause and enjoy when the sun shines and the wind calls in sick.

      Thanks Frank.

    2. a brief memory... a car i use to have would get quite toasty warm in the sunlight. That was a bit uncomfortable in summer (but that's why car designers invented roll-down windows?) but with milder winter temp, it created a warmth like none other that i've experienced. I guess it was basically a "green-house" effect? If i wasn't in a rush, i would just sit there and enjoy that unique warmth...

    3. The sun is an awesome engine of radiant heat. Feeling that warmth in the cold of February is a delightful gift.

  7. You're doing better at posting than I am.
    My excuse is the PC broke, and I really don't care for using the laptop.
    Phone and laptop are almost worthless.
    The blurbs you write each day tell a worthwhile story.
    Even when you only push the button after a couple of weeks it's worth reading.
    Really, it's all about keepin' on keepin' on. whether it's shorts or long pants.

    It really does look like another drought year.
    So far we're just an RCH shy of five inches since Sept. 30.

    1. All this crazy technological stuff. Like everything else in life it comes with good parts and bad parts. Who knew I would enjoy the little kid videos on u2b? Surprise blessing right there!

      Thanks for the kind words. I often feel like I'm flailing badly but when I look back and reread posts I see that I am indeed keepin' on keepin' on, and that's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. The shorts in winter thing is just plain strange though. ;-)

      We're at 2.16 since September 1. Not quite 4 inches below average. Warmer than average with no snow cover and plenty of wind means soil moisture evaporating away. The prairie can take it; it's evolved to hunker down in drought years. Whatever we get, we get, and it'll be part of the big adventure.

      Thanks Skip.

  8. Count me among those who were starting to get concerned. If you get too busy, just do a weekly recap, like you did with this post.

    The Old Timers I talked to who said the Winter would be like this also said we'd get a wet Spring. Didn't ask if they meant snow, but I think they did. Which means I'll probably have to go get the snowblower Beans has been bugging me about, and that means I'll have to clean up (AGAIN!) the area I kept the other (electric - big mistake) snowblower parked in.

    I get the mid-winter slump, too. Several Doctors have told it's a sunlight thing, but more than just the lack of Vitamin D we make inside when exposed to sunlight. Hang in there, even *I* notice the days are getting longer!

    1. Seems like I strung together a bunch of days where good intentions got run over by life stuff. Sometimes it surprises me just how quickly days can evaporate.

      Spring and early summer are the wet months around here; timely and adequate spring precip can work wonders. I've learned to take it as it comes, whether in solid or liquid phase. Not like I have a choice anyway! ;-)

      I take vitamin d in the winter. I also wear shorts! Sometimes. Don't know if either help. I do know that longer days help. It'll be interesting to see what the rodent decides today...

      Thanks drjim.