In a bid to keep my 89-year-old mother busy and out of mischief, I've had her going through all the old family memorabilia she brought with her when we moved my parents to the Dallas area eight years ago. It's not an easy job. Her lousy vision forces her to take it slow, and she's had to spend a small fortune in batteries for her lighted magnifier. The downside to this project is that everything she can't bear to throw out --- which is pretty much everything --- eventually makes its way to me.
It took me a long time to stop making excuses and put my own photos and whatnot into some semblance of order. My next project, again, when I run out of excuses, is to tackle the bins of kiddie-related memorabilia I've collected. Now that I've taken on my mom's stuff, I'm not sure I have enough years left to get the detritus of my life properly organized before I am called home to glory. I only hope that doesn't involve more paper.
I've skimmed through things, and the piles appear to contain every kind of written, printed or processed paper known to man --- except papyrus --- and I half expect to run across that any day. In one pile, I found my grandfather's army discharge papers from 1919, so it wouldn't surprise me to find lurking at the bottom some ancient ancestor's grocery list written in hieroglyphics.
One interesting find was an old menu from the Pump Room, circa 1957. This was the place to see and be seen in Chicago. My dad took my mother there for dinner one night, and she smuggled her menu home for a souvenir. It's an imposing 10" x 14", containing seven pages of menu items, including liquor and wine offerings, and two smaller inserts listing seasonal specialties.
The Pump Room's guest list reads like the Who's Who of Hollywood, and if you were an A-lister you had the privilege of being seated in Booth One. This special booth came with its very own phone and designated line. Imagine! Being able to make a phone call from a restaurant. Whodathunkit? It is said that whenever Frank Sinatra wished to dine at the Pump Room, it wasn't enough that he be seated in Booth One. Sinatra would call ahead to inquire how many patrons were dining, and offer to pick up their dinner tabs --- provided they leave ASAP --- so he and his Rat Pack cronies could have the whole place to themselves. Who knows, maybe Sammy Davis, Jr. himself sneezed on this very menu.
The menu is done in both script and print, with the letter 's' being used in two different ways: as a long 's' and also as a terminal 's'. The long 's' dates back to the Middle Ages, and resembles the letter 'f', even down to having a tiny crossbar, and is used in the middle of a word. The terminal 's' is appended to the end, and looks just like a regular 's'. Mom recalled my dad saying the menu was "printed with a lisp" and he wasn't far wrong. Reading it exactly the way it looks would make one sound like Sylvester J. Pussycat. Here are a few of the pages:
The first page of the menu lists various cocktails, including something called "Our Famous Bath Cure --- $1.75 --- one limit". Curious, I Googled the drink and was only able to find a couple of recipes. It's basically a pre-cursor to the Long Island Iced Tea (yum!), which means it's several kinds of liquor and probably explains why the restaurant limited the concoction to one per customer. When I tried to search for an image of the drink, Google gave me a picture of --- and I am not making this up --- Justin Bieber in the bathtub. Not nice, Google, not nice.
Piffed off at Google,
I mentioned in my last blog that I got a new phone. The old one was a Blackberry, a refurbished one, I might add, because a certain someone who promised 34 years ago to love, honor and keep me up-to-date with the latest technical wizardry was too cheap to buy something newer. Anyway, our carrier sent a letter to me in June saying service to Blackberry phones was going to be discontinued, but not to fret because I had my pick of four different phones they would be happy to let me have for free. Not one was an iPhone. I tried holding out for one, but Richard decided it would be better if I "transitioned" (his word) to an iPhone via one of the phones AT&T was offering. After I gave him a few choice words of my own, I quit the campaign, went to bed, and sulked.
The old Blackberry was just a basic phone. I could call (not that I ever did, I can't hear), I could text, and I could play a teeny-tiny version of Space Invaders on the teeny-tiny screen whenever my teeny-tiny brain needed a distraction. That was pretty much it, but I didn't mind because all I really cared about was the ability to text, a thing that comes in handy when I'm at the store and want to find out what Richard needs to keep body and soul together for the upcoming week.
The Blackberry came with an actual keyboard built into the base of it. Like Space Invaders, it was teeny-tiny, too. Learning to type on it was a bit daunting at first because I kept fat-fingering the keys, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly using both my thumbs. My new phone, an LG smartphone, has the touch keyboard that pops up whenever I'm in text or email mode. Lemme tell ya, that keyboard is the most frustrating thing I have ever had to deal with, easily shoving out the thing that held the top spot for the last 22 years: potty training Brent.
Here's proof. I'm going to type below a phrase used as a typing drill when I was in high school. This is being typed on a regular keyboard as fast as I can type (I've been clocked at 60 wpm), and I'm not going to correct any typos:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.
How about that...perfect. Now, here is my attempt to type the exact same sentence using my right pointer finger on my smartphone:
There are several typos, but most people could figure it out. But the real test is using both thumbs. My daughter types on her iPhone using her opposable digits (notice SHE has an iPhone), and she is a whiz. Here's my shot at it:
Sad, isn't it?
As most people on the planet not living a Stone Age life already know (moi, before I "transitioned", for example), these devices try to guess the word you want while you are actually typing it. It amazes me how my phone can nearly always come up with the correct word from the gobbledy-gook accidentally typed in. I guess that's why they call them smart phones.
I've been assured by my family that the knack will come. I figure if Richard, who wears a size 13 ring, can manage his keyboard, then I can too. In the meantime, it's fun trying out all the bells and whistles.
I cannot believe I've let three months go by. Worse, I don't have any real excuse except sheer laziness and a major case of writer's block. Mostly the former. So, here's another installment of Potpourri until something interesting happens.
James Russell Lowell once asked, "And what is so rare as a day in June?" Well, us denizens of north Texas got something even rarer: three...count 'em...THREE consecutive days in July with high temps in the upper 70's/low 80's. And on one of those days it RAINED. We dumped a good inch out of the rain gauge. What a gift that was.
A bit of advice: never EVER purchase a new computer and a new smart phone at the same time; it is more than your brain and stress-levels can stand, trying to set up and sync everything. After ten days, I think I have finally found tech nirvana. There...I probably just went and jinxed it.
My side of the family is growing again. We added another baby, a little cousin (my oldest first cousin's grandchild), born on July 15 in Washington state. We have two more hatchings due later this summer, also cousins. By the end of August, my aunt, my dad's sister, will have nine great-grandchildren on her family tree.
A good part of the reason I have been so bad about writing these little missives has to do with television. Richard and I have been boob tube fiends for the past few months, watching marathons of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, True Detective, and Halt and Catch Fire. We're now into Friday Night Lights. Our evenings go something like this:
Richard: We've got time to watch a couple of episodes before bed.
Richard (after we've watched the two episodes): Wanna watch one more?
Richard (after the third episode is over): Want some popcorn?
Richard: (after the fourth episode is finished): ONE more.
Me: Go make some more popcorn. And don't forget the butter this time.
I got so enthralled in the world of Westeros on Game of Thrones, that I fired up my Kindle and started reading the books. The first three books were pretty good, and I liked how they cleared up some of the confusing story lines in the screen version. I'm now about half way into the fifth book and I must admit I'm starting to get bored. George R. R. Martin, the author, has the worst case of keyboard diarrhea I've ever seen. He drones on and on and on. I'm convinced he has no intention of bringing the story to an end. If there is an ending, he had better hurry; his age and extreme obesity could be problematic.
Yep, I DID jinx myself. Excuse me while I try to fix things on my phone for the umpteenth time.
I'm back, but I won't say I fixed it because of the jinx thing. My kids' generation wouldn't understand it, but there was a time when people crippled along just fine without PCs and cell phones. Now, if the computer dies it's, like, half my brain just died with it. Or, if I'm out running errands and realize I've left my cell phone behind, I will stress out from worrying how I'll contact Richard if I'm in a fender-bender, or I have a flat somewhere. I've actually turned around and driven home to get it because it's not worth driving with that worry nagging at me. Progress can be a real pain in the rear sometimes.
Well, it's late and this little creative burst has pooped out. At least I got a blog, poor as it is, out of it. Hopefully the next installment won't take three months to post.
Lazy cat GIF: http://giphy.com/gifs/bxPnpFoYphgYM
George R. R. Martin: http://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/george-rr-martin
After eight long months, our middle child is home from Afghanistan.
Brent arrived very late Tuesday night, March 4. He was tired and a little loopy from a long overseas journey that started at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and ended two days later at Ft. Polk, LA. In between were connections in Romania, Ireland, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Alexandria, LA.
Originally, we were going to hit the road by 9:00 Tuesday morning in order to make the five hour drive in time for the redeployment ceremony scheduled for 4:00 that afternoon. However, a longer than anticipated layover in Romania pushed the ceremony start back to 9:30 PM. With that news, we decided to sleep in and mosey out in the afternoon; we had all day, no sense in hurrying. Except we didn't count on Old Man Winter throwing a wrench into the works.
Early Tuesday morning the phone rang. My mother was calling in a panic because her attached garage was flooded. She thought we were still on our 9:00 AM schedule and was trying to reach us before we left. So much for sleeping in.
It turns out the apartment above my mother's is vacant and without anyone there to make sure the faucets were dripping and cabinet doors open to allow warmer room air to circulate, a pipe burst in the extreme --- for Dallas, anyway --- low temperatures. Thankfully, my mom's actual living quarters stayed dry, but the garage got a thorough soaking and it was a huge mess. All the junk she couldn't bear to part with when we moved her to Dallas eight years ago was stored in the garage. I won't go so far as to say my mother is a hoarder, but she is definitely a packrat. Fortunately, the furniture that had been stored out there was long gone, thanks to my daughter needing it for her house in Lubbock.
We spent three hours in the freezing cold trying to salvage the junk. Richard fell down twice on ice that had accumulated at the mouth of the garage and banged up his right hand pretty good. Finally, we had to call it a day and get moving if we were going to get to Ft. Polk in time for Brent's homecoming.
As it turned out, there were more flight delays and 9:30 became 11:45 PM. This was good because it allowed us to catch our breath a little. The downside was having to drive in the dark on unfamiliar roads. There's this one little two-lane country road, 117, that meanders through several small towns between Natchitoches and our destination of Leesville. Natchitoches is pronounced Nackatish, for crying out loud, and is where the movie Steel Magnolias, one of my favorites, was filmed. But I digress. 117 is a scary place to be at night. The road curves --- a lot --- there are no street lights, no median between you and oncoming cars and worst of all, DEER! They were everywhere, grazing unconcernedly alongside the road. Now, if you read my blog at all, you will know that I had a very unfortunate encounter with a deer a year ago. As the saying goes, once burned, twice shy, and this was almost more than I could bear. I kept expecting one of the creatures to bolt directly into the path of our car, but maybe Louisiana deer are smarter than their Texas cousins. As it turned out, it wasn't deer I had to worry about but birds. On the return trip the next day, in broad daylight, we hit a hawk. The bird was feasting on some roadkill and our approach spooked it. Being a large, heavy bird, its take-off was slow and it smacked into our windshield. Oh, the irony...from eating roadkill to becoming one two seconds later.
Anyway, we arrived in Leesville without mishap, checked into a motel, and made our way to the base. The redeployment ceremony was held in a hangar and was jammed with families waiting on their soldiers:
Eight months in a Muslim country had built up in Brent an intense thirst for a beer, and he wasn't about to wait another minute. Lemme tell ya, trying to find beer in a small town after midnight is nearly impossible; everything closes up tighter than a clam at 9:00 PM. We drove up and down the main drag of Leesville before finally spotting a Circle K store that was open and selling the precious fluid. Next time --- hopefully, there won't be a next time --- Richard and I will bring along a cooler, just in case. I'd post a picture of Brent hoisting that first beer, but he was still in uniform and I don't want to get him in trouble with the brass.
It's good to have my boy home, and now my little family isn't so flung-outer. Everybody is within a five hour drive of Dallas...including lots and lots of deer.
I recently posted a blog about inappropriate birdie nesting sites. Now we have another one situated in the arbor above our deck, and Mama's bottom is perfectly positioned to drop bombs on anyone passing below.
This is the third nest to be built in as many years. In addition to this one and the one I wrote about earlier, we had a sparrow take up residence in a metal watering can we kept on a shelving unit. Those babies were lucky they weren't accidentally drowned; it would have been so easy to stick the hose in and fill the can with water, completely unaware of the little ones inside.
I have even seen birds nesting in traffic lights strung out in the middle of busy intersections. What an awful place for the babies when it is time for them to learn to fly. This is the avian version of the Darwin Award at its bird-brained finest:
Our deck has also attracted the attention of a couple of mockingbirds. They must be nesting somewhere nearby because every time we let our cats out in the backyard --- Phoebe loves to bask in the sun and channel her interior tiger --- the mockers dive bomb them, chase them, cuss them out, and just generally make their life hell. Phoebe will stand her ground, but Penny is deathly afraid of the birds --- as she is of most things that move --- and will run back to the house. I've even had mockingbirds dive at me while I mow the lawn; they are very aggressive and territorial for songbirds.
As soon as the current maternity ward closes, we plan to get one of those plastic owls and place it where it will --- hopefully --- scare off other birds thinking of raising their families in and around our deck. It might also give our poor cats relief from the aerial assault.
Traffic light nest: http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/72205/Traffic/
Vulgar (adj): 1. deficient in taste, delicacy and refinement; 2. marked by a lack of good breeding.
My mother is a very proper lady. "Damn" is the extent of her vulgar vocabulary. It is only ever used under extreme duress, and even then, you can see how much effort it takes for the word to squirm its way past her internal filters and out into the air. My father wasn't nearly so selective, but he did save his most peppery speech for those occasions when he was truly good and mad. For example, during one of Atlanta's rare winter storms, Daddy, who took the bus to and from work, gamely fought his way from the bus stop all the way up the icy incline of our street, and up the dozen or so steps leading to our front door --- all without mishap --- only to slip and fall on the very last step. Mom recalled that the language he used would have made a sailor blush.
Being a girl, I was expected to follow my mother's example and never cuss. I remember when I was 10 years old saying "darn it" in front of Mom and my dad made me apologize for my lack of civility. And on one memorable occasion, I actually dropped an F-bomb in front of the 'rents. I was in college when that happened. A former neighbor from many years ago was in town on business, and he invited my parents and me to meet him for dinner (read big, fat expense account). Afterwards, Daddy asked me to drive home. Not being familiar with the area, I decided to retrace our original route. Usually, this strategy works pretty well, except in this instance one of the streets was a one-way street and when I made a right turn onto that street, I was suddenly facing four lanes of heavy traffic. I said the only thing one can say when contemplating the prospect of a very messy death, "Oh, f---!" It was not the long drawn out "fudddddddddddgggkkk..." Ralphie made famous in A Christmas Story, you know, the kind that can go either way. My expletive was loud and decisive. A nice flatulent PHHHHH followed by a crisply enunciated K.
Fortunately, God provided a shopping center right when and where I needed one, and I was able to claim the safety of the parking lot well before things reached critical mass. As I sat there trying to will my heart back into my chest from my throat, where it had taken refuge, I couldn't help but notice the profound silence in the car. Nobody said a word and I decided against apologizing on the very small off-chance that my parents had been too absorbed in watching their lives flash before their eyes to register my slip of the tongue.
As I said, my mother is very proper. I always have to vet anything I say to avoid offending her, and I am envious of friends who have a much more easy going give-and-take with their moms. When I became a mother, I made the decision that I wasn't going to raise my kids to be Nervous Nellies around me (tho' they may dispute that, I don't know). I wanted them to feel comfortable saying whatever came to mind. I may have succeeded a little too well in this endeavor, for Richard will occasionally wince and say, "I can't imagine in what universe I would have said that in my mother's presence." Oh, well.
Not being in much of a Christmas mood with our second child forced to spend his holidays in a hostile Muslim country, Richard and I took the other two to New Orleans for a little getaway. We wandered up and down Bourbon Street which, as anyone familiar with the French Quarter knows, is nothing but a giant souvenir stand. Mitch pointed out a tee shirt that read:
We both had a good laugh, but I couldn't help but think that if I had seen this shirt at the age of 26 with my mother, I would have died of embarrassment. (On a related side note: in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many people of young children were outraged that the topic of oral sex was getting such huge play on the news shows and in print. How does one get around explaining that business to kids who innocently ask? One man, however, had a slightly different problem. He was riled because it was his 85-year-old mother who wanted to know!) Still, tho', I was a bit taken aback when my daughter bought for her college roommates, several strings of Mardi Gras beads, each with a cartoonish penis dangling from it. They went well with her matched set of plastic Hand Grenade glassware:
What's that definition again? A marked lack of taste and good breeding? Call me delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
Not a delicate flower,
Tee shirt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/treyjp/126811788/
Box sign: http://randeeandcompany.com/home-decor/accents-decor/box-sign-swearing.html
Hand Grenades: http://thesimplifiers.com/cocktail-friday-hand-grenade/
A friend, someone I knew in college, found a nest with two newborn bunnies in his yard. They were just days old, eyes still squinched shut against the world. Here's a photo Percival (not his real handle) uploaded on Facebook for all to see:
Naturally, Percival's 1,200-plus FB friends were in raptures over the photo, with lots of comments about how precious/sweet/adorable/cute the little guy is, along with suggestions for names, and a few jokes about rabbit stew.
I'm conjecturing here, but I believe Percival, buoyed by the comments his photo generated, decided it was his duty to keep the Sheeple informed of the bunnies' progress with a pictorial diary. This, of course, meant repeatedly uncovering the nest, handling the little creatures, and just being, in general, the worst kind of neighbor possible.
Again, the photos generated a barrage of positive comments, with some folks calling Percival a rabbit whisperer. Percival was on a roll and not to be stopped. With the weather forecast calling for first, rain, and then, freezing temperatures, Percival set about building an enclosure to protect his charges from the elements, never mind that wild rabbits have evolved to survive harsh weather:
Mama bunnies don't stay with their babies. This keeps predators away from the little family. But mama hangs nearby, and visits a couple of times each day to feed her babies. Can you imagine what this particular mother rabbit must have thought when she encountered the new, but not necessarily improved, nest?
Despite my friend's best intentions, the poor bunnies were found dead on January 24. Percival announced the deaths on FB, saying the little things had not survived the cold. (My daughter's text to me after she read the blog, "The babies DIED?!") Percival lives in Austin, which ain't exactly Buffalo, NY when it comes to frigid weather. I Googled the overnight low temperature for Austin for January 23 - 24, and it was 26 degrees.
Now, I don't claim to be any kind of expert on wildlife, but in my opinion, these babies didn't expire from the cold, but from starvation. Mama got scared away from the constant interference or, being just a dumb bunny used to simple nests of hair, grass and dirt --- materials that have served her kind for untold eons --- she couldn't figure out how to get past the fortifications. Either way, the babies didn't get the nourishment they needed to accommodate their rapid growth and maintain their body heat in the cold. So much for being a rabbit whisperer.
A couple of springs ago, a sparrow laid her eggs in an empty flower basket we had hanging in our backyard. The basket had hung out there all winter long --- for some reason, no one could be bothered to take it down and store it --- and it was nothing but packed down dirt, with a sort of depression in the middle where the flowers had been rudely yanked out. I can't imagine why this mama sparrow thought a basket of dirt would make a good nest; perhaps she was lazy. Firstly, the basket was completely, and I mean COMPLETELY, open to the elements. Secondly, it hung on a chain and it didn't take much of a breeze to blow the thing around. If there's such a thing as avian Section 8 housing, this was it.
Anyway, that damn mother bird made my life hell until her babies finally flew away. It was early spring and the nights were chilly, so I worried about hypothermia. I worried about direct heat from the sun. When the wind blew the basket, I worried the eggs would get tossed out like miniature hand grenades, or the babies would get seasick. When it rained, I worried. I worried about predators. I wouldn't let anyone out on the deck because I didn't want to disturb the babies and their idiot mother. Phoebe, who loves to prowl around our backyard, wasn't allowed out, either, and I had one very pissed-off cat on my hands. I wouldn't allow Richard to grill outdoors or mow too closely, which led to marital strife. Honestly, I worried and fretted more over those baby birdies, than I ever did over my own kids. In the end, we learned a very valuable lesson: put hanging baskets away for the winter.
Because of this, I understand only too well Percival's concern for the wee wabbits. The difference was that I kept my distance and didn't interfere, despite the mother bird's poor choice of suitable housing, and my strong desire to help make things a little more homey for the babies. Just little things. Like a roof, curtains and maybe a throw rug.
There's a book the Percivals of the world should read. It's called:
There's a Hair in My Dirt! tells the tale (from a lowly worm's perspective) of fair Harriet, a nature lover, whose dim understanding of the very thing she professes to love so much wreaks havoc wherever she goes. The amusing drawings and sly humor aside ("Father Worm sat back, stretching himself out to his full, glorious three and a half inches"), the story reminds us that we humans are very much a part of the natural world, not just interested observers in a cute and cuddly zoo. Nature is a complex, fragile and violent system where every creature plays a vital role. As wise Father Worm tells us, "...loving Nature is not the same as understanding it."
Rest in peace, little baby bunnies,
Rabbit pictures: from Percival's FB page (no links provided to protect Percival from PETA and bunnies bent on revenge)
Note: below is the Christmas newsletter I sent to family and friends this year. Yes, this newsletter broke the rule about keeping it all on one page. But in my defense, this is not your typical newsletter that brags about family doings. Also, I sent this as an enewsletter to save postage. Yes, I'm cheap.
Here is installment #2, in my continuing quest to send you, my kith and kin, a different kind of Chrithmath newthletter...
It must be Christmas --- because one neighbor has gone all Clark Griswold in decorating his house, while another just threw a string of lights on the nearest bush and called it a day.
It must be Christmas --- because Pinterest (motto: See the same picture pinned 2,857 times!) is chock-a-block with holiday decorating and craft ideas that 1) I have no time for, and 2) I can't manage anyway, because my own thumbs oppose me every chance they get. Besides, they really aren't kidding when they call it HOT glue.
It must be Christmas --- because the Salvation Army bell ringers and their little red kettles are out en masse. For the record, I believe the Salvation Army with their tagline of "Doing the Most Good" is one of the best charities around. So, in a fit of holiday generosity, but mostly because it was a bitterly cold day and I felt sorry for the bell ringer having to stand for hours with his eyes frozen open, I dropped a very generous amount into his kettle. I felt really, really good about my act of human kindness, thinking of all the warm fuzzies my money was going to give to some truly needy person, until I walked up to the next store and there's another bell ringer and another little red kettle. People were going out of their way to drop coins and bills into the red monster's maw, but I had, as they say, given at the office. I had just donated a bunch of money, but this bell ringer didn't know that, and those people didn't know that, and the guilt was overwhelming. To the Salvation Army: please consider giving your donors stickers that say:
...so those of us who already gave can wear them and smugly pass by your kettles, and everyone knows we're really one of the good guys, and not Scrooges who hate little kids and kittens and snicker when Old Yeller gets it. You know, like they do on Election Day with "I Voted" stickers, so that those of us who failed to vote will know it's our fault when everything goes wrong for the next four years.
It must be Christmas --- because I just made a loaf of scrapple. Unlike normal families who sit around singing carols 'neath the tree, and sipping mugs of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top, my family's holiday tradition consists of making pork mush. On Christmas morning in Washington state, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, we think of each other as we fry up the cement-like slabs in bacon grease. My cousins actually have contests to see whose tastes the best. Bless their little hearts.
It must be Christmas --- because our granddog is visiting from Lubbock. This creates tremendous problems for our two cats. Penny, convinced that "out of sight, out of mind" is the best policy, burrows under the bed covers and adopts a slug-like existence; which, come to think of it, is not all that different from her usual daily routine. (As Garrison Keillor once noted, "Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.") Phoebe has a more aggressive approach that utilizes hissing, snarling, swatting and shooting laser beams from her eyes.
It must be Christmas --- because I spent 45 minutes waiting in line at the post office the other afternoon. I would have used the automated mail kiosk, except mailing overseas requires customs forms, lots of official looking stamps in red ink, and fielding questions like, "Are there any obscene materials?" To which I reply, "I'm his MOTHER!" Anyway, there wasn't much else to do while waiting except to retreat into my own head --- always a scary proposition --- and for some reason, I got to remembering the Mad Magazine parodies of Christmas songs that I enjoyed as a kid. Perhaps it was the tottering tower of packages shoved to the right of the service counter that made me think of this little ditty, sung to the tune of Deck the Halls:
Hear the postal worker singing!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
As your package he is flinging!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
See it crumpled in the bin there!
Falala, lalala, la, la, la!
Aren't you sorry you walked in there!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
It must be Christmas --- because when the panic has set in and I'm convinced it'll never get done, I wonder why we can't just convert to Judaism for the whole month. I mean, this year's once-in-approximately-900-lifetimes confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah!) was pretty cool. Get two major holidays out of the way at the same time, and the rest of the year is devoted to bowl games and no interruptions. Besides, placing nine lights on a menorah is certainly easier and faster, than stringing 1200 lights on an eight foot tall tree by hand.
It must be Christmas --- because I said hello to dozens of dear friends I see for only a short time each year. Many of these friends I've known my whole life; others are silver among the gold. Each one has a story to tell me, or a memory to share, and the past becomes a fond present. I delight in welcoming each one, and I never tire of hearing what they have to say:
It must be Christmas --- because no other season has the power to bring us together, each and every one. The days have more sparkle, our cares seem smaller. We are more forgiving, more understanding, more patient, more kind, more tolerant. Daily, we are reminded that we are a part of something bigger and grander, and that a message of love and peace and goodwill resonates just as much today, as it did 2,000 years ago.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...
Ugh. Starting late last Thursday afternoon, just before the icecalypse hit, I noticed flies in the house. Big ones. Like the house variety on steroids. Unlike the house variety, these guys are slow and dozy, so they are easy to suck into the bowels of the vacuum cleaner with the vacuum hose. They are called blowflies.
Owing to the sheets of ice and below freezing temps, Richard and I didn't go anywhere for two solid days. Reading books. Watching DVD's. Playing Scrabble. Finishing the Christmas decorating. Doing laundry. Watching football. Killing flies. Lots and lots of flies.
By Sunday morning, cabin fever had set in. We skidded out to breakfast, then slid to Target to pick up a few items. Here's a photo Richard took of the cold foods section. It was completely cleaned out due to a power outage. It was the same with the freezers. Fortunately, we weren't at Target for food as I had had the foresight to stock up on Thursday afternoon.
Sunday night, the flies were really bad. Richard was already in bed. I was trying to follow him there, but the little buggers kept materializing out of thin air, and I couldn't go to sleep knowing they were zooming around. They considerately kept themselves to the "public" areas: the den, living and dining rooms, and the kitchen. The cats had a great time helping me catch them. Just by watching the cats' body language, I could tell when a fly was near. And I saw several that turned out to be floaters; you know, those bitty specks that you see swooping around in your vision. I'd think, Whoa! That one was close! and then realize it was a floater. Anyways, as each little winged beast was sucked into the vacuum nozzle, it would hit the side once --- kind of a SCHWIZIP! --- that is immensely gratifying, so help me. Like popping a pimple --- SPLOOSH! (Not that I do that.) Richard, always helpful, pointed out that perhaps I was catching the same fly over and over, that as soon as I sucked it in (SCHWIZIP!), it escaped, only to get sucked in again. I immediately pooh-poohed this (THBBBPPT!), but later secretly tested his theory by putting duct tape over the nozzle end when the vacuum wasn't in use. It didn't stop the winged onslaught, unfortunately.
Monday morning, Richard called our exterminator and that's when we were told that most likely, something had crawled into the attic and died. Hopefully, not Santa. It made perfect sense, but at the same time, URGH-BLECH! Of course, they couldn't send anyone out that day, so we --- what am I saying? Richard was at work --- I spent another fine day in combat mode.
On Tuesday (yesterday), what I had come to think of as V-F Day (Victory Over Flies), and despite sucking another couple dozen into the black hole of the vacuum cleaner nozzle, the exterminator couldn't find any sign of something rotting in our attic; no smell, either. And dang it, he couldn't treat for the flies if he couldn't get to the source. He hung a strip-looking thing that releases a vapor into the attic, which was better than nothing, but it appears we are going to have to sit this one out, and let nature take its course with whatever is festering (Blurgle-gloop-gloop-gloop) up there.
Naturally, I had to Google 'blowflies'. I'm glad I did, because the articles I read reinforced our exterminator's claim that he couldn't do anything without removing the source. At the same time, I was kind of nauseated; no one likes to think there is something foul and squishy (SQUOOSH!) up in their attic.
If you were a Mad Magazine fan back in the day, you'll understand the reference to Don Martin.
Not in a holiday mood,
A friend (who also taught my kids in school) posted the above photo and comment yesterday on Facebook. Thanks, Liz, for a nutty holiday laugh!
A few years ago, another friend sent me what is now known on the Internet as The Thanksgiving Letter. In it, the writer, Marney, tells her beleaguered family not only what to bring to the table, and how much, and how to package it, but even gave some strongly worded hints about what she really wanted certain contributors to provide, even though she claimed not to care. (I do this with Richard all the time. He'll ask me what I want for dinner. I'll say I don't care, and then, when the poor guy makes a suggestion, I immediately shoot it down. He never learns.)
I sympathize with Marney, because big company dinners bring out my never-far-from-the-surface OCD tendencies. The difference between us is that instead of delegating out nearly everything, and then trying to micro-manage those things from afar, like Marney does, I delegate very little, because I firmly believe in the old saw that if you want something done right, do it yourself. The downside to this DIY mentality is that there is so much to remember and do, I'm sure to forget something important. It's happened before: the rolls are still in their cans in the fridge, the candles aren't lit, the water goblets are empty, the cranberry sauce is sitting forgotten on the counter, you name it. Soooo, I write a letter to myself --- actually a list --- and post it on the fridge Thanksgiving morning. This list gives a blow-by-blow of what to do and when to do it. It takes a few hours to put it together, but the idea is that instead of thinking --- because frankly, by early afternoon, my brain is mush --- all I have to do is read and follow directions. Here's this year's version with explanations in red:
Turkey Day Countdown
(This doesn't include all the morning prep work)
9:00 – turkey in oven
1:00 – set out dressing, squash and potatoes to bring to room temp; toss sprouts and carrots with EVOO, salt and pepper and arrange on foil baking sheet (return to fridge); set out ham; remove turkey from oven
2:00 – Richard carves ham and turkey, arrange on big platter, cover and keep out
2:05 - do "something" and send half the house back to the days before electricity (This was not planned, obviously, nor could we get the power back on. Thankfully, the kitchen was juiced up or I really would have been SOL.)
2:45 – remove cat towels from furniture and return pillows to couch (I drape old towels on the parts of the furniture where our cats like to hang out. I figure it's easier to wash the towels of accumulated fur, than trying to lift said fur out of the couch and chair fibers.)
2:50 – Paige to pick up Mom
3:00 – Mitch arrives with beer and wine
3:15 – light candles EXCEPT those on dinner tables; put water and tea in separate pitchers, set aside; set out appetizers; Richard puts finishing touches on bar area; cleans out litter box if needed
3:30 – guests arrive
3:31 - separate the dogs (My SIL's teacup Chihuahua suffers from the canine version of 'little man syndrome'.)
3:35 – set lower oven at 375, adjust racks for upper and lower cooking
3:45 – put dressing (covered) on upper rack and potatoes (uncovered) on lower rack
4:15 – set upper oven to 400, rack in lower middle; turn on crockpot to high and partially cover squash
4:20 – melt 2 TB butter in MW for dressing; Richard to put ice in maroon ice bucket for water and tea
4:25 – put carrots and sprouts in upper oven; take out dressing, drizzle with butter, cook additional 20 minutes uncovered
4:30 – Paige to light candles and find out who wants iced tea with their dinner
4:35 – put gravy on stove to heat
4:40 – Paige fills goblets with water or tea
4:45 – turn off lower oven and crack door, leave dishes inside; check on squash, turn down heat if needed
4:50 – get salad prepped and put out
4:55 – turn off upper oven, remove veggies, arrange on white platter and return to oven with door cracked; put 4 TB butter on stove to melt, bring to foaming and stir in mustard; remove veggies and drizzle mustard sauce on top of veggies
5:00 – Have meat, salad, dressing, potatoes, roasted veggies, squash, gravy (pour in boat), and cranberry sauce set out… (I wound up eight minutes behind schedule. Not bad!)
After dinner – Richard makes coffee; put out desserts
3:00 (AM) - crawl into bed after washing all the china, crystal and silver by hand
Get notified of new content! Enter your email address in the space below to get started...