Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winding Down

We are nearing the end of a weird, wild and wonderful year. Weird what with not being at work and the alternatives that I have found to entertain myself, wild with the travelling and planning. And wonderful because it's always a good year when Tarzan and I are together.
There are a lot of good memories in 2008.
Breaking with tradition, we aren't having a party at the house this year, or even having a few select friends over. Tarzan and I decided to take it easy this New Year's Eve. Just us and a few hundred teenagers jacked up on soda, pizza and candy. Awesome!
We're chaperoning a dance for the church youth down south of here and it should be interesting. I wonder if my generation seemed as oblivious and irritating to our parents as these kids do to me? If we were then it's no wonder the generation gap exists and thrives. If we weren't then what's wrong with kids these days? So entitled and so lacking in discipline. I really don't remember being that rude to my elders. (Oh great, I'm an "elder" now.)

This is me a crotchety old fogey already. Ahead of the curve!
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where Is Santa Claus?

Some people have mocked me for believing that Santa comes each year, but it doesn't bother me. This poem has been on my parent's wall for as long as I can remember and I love it.
Thank you Anonymous, wherever you are.
Where Is Santa Claus?
He's seen in the smiles
The whole world is sharing,
He's found where there's friendship
And loving and caring,
He's felt in warm handshakes
When people are meeting
He's heard in the cheer of
A Christmas time greeting
His spirit's behind all the gifts we receive
He's everywhere,
Always to those who believe.

This is me, believing. MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Time, I Promise

Believe me when I say I get the need for new Christmas music. There are only so many ways "Jingle Bells" can be played. Speed it up or down, add a saxophone or dogs, you get it. So I wholly support alternative Christmas music on the radio. I do. Groups like Mannheim Steamroller have made their name from doing alternative Christmas carols. And every once in a while a new song comes out that makes an impact in the fairly traditional repertoire that is holiday music. Consider, "Believe" done by Josh Groban.
But I don't think the song Faith Hill has out right now, "A Baby Changes Everything," is the next big thing. And not because I don't like Faith Hill, because I do. No, the song sits uneasily with me because:
Mary knew.
Joseph knew.
Heck, even Mary's cousin, Elizabeth knew. And they knew months in advance. It wasn't as if Mary went nine long months and then the night Jesus is born she and Joseph figure it out.
But it's the line about Mary losing Joseph's trust that bugs me the most. If the Bible account can be believed, both parties went into this arrangement with their eyes open. An angel appeared to each them, individually, to ask if they would accept being Jesus' earthly parents. This was not some random selection or luck-of-the-draw. Mary, and her fiance Joseph were chosen specifically and carefully. Mary wasn't alone, she wasn't shunned, and she had an idea of what was being asked of her.
So, Faith Hill does a lovely job with the tune, it's well written and orchestrated and the gospel choir is a nice touch. Evokes a lot of feeling, which was the intent I am sure. Also makes a lot of listeners identify with the mother in the song. But I can't really adhere to it. It leaves out the whole divinity of the event. And that's what makes Christmas special.

This is me, with my last musical criticism of the year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Outing

You'll never guess where we were yesterday. (Well, Rocketgirl might.) It was freezing cold - I have never worn that many layers EVER IN MY LIFE - but it was so fun. And great to hang out with SO, M2, PIT, Squishy and Rosy:To be fair, Rosy slept through a lot of the day: But I think she enjoyed it nonetheless:Squishy was all over the place - loving every second:
And he loves his Papa:
These guys were awesomely costumed:
This was the best family picture of the lot:
Tarzan and I squished in a single rocket pod:
M2 and Squishy spinning madly:
The entire group - left to right - Me, SO, M2 w/Rosy, PIT w/Squishy, PIT's brother w/ his son and wife:
Three guesses where we were:

This is me, back, exhausted, but glad to have gone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Now I Know

I love this. Love it! The song's been on the radio for as long as I've lived in The Jungle. The radio station that plays Christmas music all month long mentioned that it was Bing Crosby and David Bowie but it wasn't until this year they gave the back story and it's actually pretty cool.

(This is horribly paraphrased from one hearing this morning.)

It was September, 1977 and Bing Crosby was planning his Christmas special from London, England. He had been producing these specials for nearly 30 years and was concerned about getting some younger viewers. He asked his "people" to find a rock and roll star who could croon. David Bowie was asked and accepted the invitation to sing with one of his idols. (It seems he was a fan of the Bing.) They met in the studio to film this segment - it was meant to be just The Little Drummer Boy - but David Bowie (can't shorten it to David, seems weird somehow) did not like how his voice sounded in the middle, so the music directors wrote the additional melody, Peace On Earth, right there in studio, they rehearsed for about an hour and then filmed it. In only three takes they perfected the scene and it was done. Less than a month later Bing Crosby finished eighteen holes of golf, had a heart attack and died walking off the green.

The Christmas special was aired right after Thanksgiving, 1977, as scheduled.

This is the segment:

This is me, and that's just awesome.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All My Favorite Things Are Shiny

Merry Christmas to me! It's raining and even though I have to do errands and pick people up and drive all over The Jungle it is a good, great, FANTASTIC thing that it's raining. Love the rain! First we need it here in The Jungle, it's been a dry year and the plants are starting to protest. But second and probably most selfish is...the rain is washing my car! I almost decided to go and get it cleaned after some of the youth at church offered to wash my car for free because it was so filthy - that's a mite embarrassing - but the clouds gathered and it's raining, so my car will be clean AND I didn't have to spend an exorbitant amount plus tip to get some guy to clean it for me.

This is me, glad for the rain.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twelve Months

One year.
So short in some regards. (I can't believe it's Christmas again. It seems like just yesterday I was working on the Christmas program for church. And those cursed Christmas cards!)
But it's a long time to spend when you're missing someone. This time last year we were all in shock and in some ways it still hasn't sunk in. I refer to them as a pair even now, QC and MQ, and to MQ in the present tense - she likes, she does, rather than she liked and she did. I haven't deleted her from my instant messaging program - we chatted all the time - and I don't know if it's because I'm lazy - which I am - or because if I do, it will mean she's really not going to sign on and talk with me about our mother-in-law or her kid or how to deal with the O'Grady men.
I've always thought of myself as a practical person - and certainly not an overly sentimental one - but maybe I've not accepted it yet.
QC is making it. Not the way he wanted and it's not easy but he's doing it. Stop on over and leave him a note if you're so inclined. And I am so proud of his strength and the love that has grown out of this tragedy amongst both the families. We've done a lot in the last year and both QC and MQ have been part of it. I think we're closer as a family than we might have been. Which is a small comfort, I know, but it lets us carry on.
Nothing really helps but I refer you to this blog that I read. Her husband died in April 2007 and she has twins to raise alone. I can't imagine how anyone feels in a situation like this but I have found Snickollet's words and advice to be very helpful when talking about and dealing with grieving. It's not exactly the same, hers wasn't so sudden, but it has helped me know what to say, what not to say, what to help with and how to offer.
This is her One Year post. And just recently.
It doesn't make the pain go away, but time does let us move on.

This is me, and we're still missing you MQ.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Driving Ms. O'Grady

I should open a chauffeuring business. Then I could get paid to do what I am doing a lot of these days! But it's for family so it's good. Really good in fact. M2 is here for three weeks! And she brought PIT, Squishy and Rosy naturally. I was all over the place Monday fetching car seats - there are different rules governing child restraint on The Other Side of The World - cleaning - yes I do clean occasionally - and then fetching people from the airport. Early from the airport. What is the world coming to when one can't even count on the immigration people to be inefficient? I know. So inconvenient. But still, that meant more time to spend with the family and that's never bad.
Then yesterday I drove them and all their luggage - I know there's four of them and two are children but if they have any more I'm going to have to rent a U-Haul truck - out to our parents' house which became a whole long visit - again, never bad.
On the way back to The Jungle BHB called and she needs a ride from somewhere about halfway between my house and The Desert next week. Some boy is driving her to his house and I get to pick her up from there and take her home. Then, ATL will be done with finals and work and SHE will need a ride out to our parents.
THEN, when Tarzan is done with school and the Christmas program is over at church, Tarzan and I will be packing up the car, presents and pillows and such, and driving out for the holiday.
AND THEN, I get to do it all in reverse because some people have school before other people and there are jobs and stuff like that to return to.
I am so glad we opted for practical, dependable vehicles rather than flash and shine.

This is me, driving. A lot.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

In A Word...

I know, but it's been SO LONG since I posted a meme - I think The Back Porch peeps have found something more interesting to occupy their time - I sure hope no one is sick or had something bad happen, then I would feel guilty about mocking their lack of meme-age - and I don't think I have done this one before? The deal is to answer each question with only a single word. I've been told it's harder than it sounds.
(Thanks Gamma!)

  1. Your cell phone? - Kitchen
  2. Your significant other? - Bedroom
  3. Your mother? - Desert
  4. Your father? - Also
  5. Your favorite thing? - Tarzan
  6. Your dream last night? - Unremarkable
  7. Your favorite drink? - Milk
  8. Your dream/goal? - Attainable
  9. The room you're in? - Living
  10. Your hobby? - Reading
  11. Your fear? - Heights
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? - Here
  13. Where were you last night? - Party
  14. What you're not? - Tall
  15. Muffins? - Blueberry
  16. One of your wish list items? - Garden
  17. Where you grew up? - North
  18. What are you wearing? - Clothes
  19. Your pets? - Cats
  20. Your computer? - Shiny
  21. Your life? - Wild
  22. Your mood? - Content
  23. Missing someone? - Little
  24. Your car? - Working
  25. Something you're not wearing? - Shoes
  26. Favorite store? - Target
  27. Your summer? - Warm
  28. Like someone? - Many
  29. Your favorite color? - Blue
  30. When is the last time you laughed? - Earlier
  31. Last time you cried? - Before
  32. Who will respond to this? - Few

This is me, sure you have heard some of these answers before, but what can I say? I am consistent.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pick A New Song

I am not going to harp on the radio stations in The Jungle all month, I promise, and I love Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I do. (I really do.) But seriously? Can the all-month-long-of-Christmas-songs radio station please pick another song to play over and over and over and over? Three times - so far - in one day I have heard Christmas Canon Rock, the same Vanessa Williams carol twice and three versions of O Holy Night in a row! But not a single piece by Mannheim Steamroller. That seems just a little unbalanced. Am I right?

This is me, indignant about the quality of public radio Christmas carols.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bah Humbug?

You know how there are all those stories about how people are so much nicer at Christmas time than any other time of the year? And how someone, who wouldn't usually let you cut in line, or turn left, or give the homeless guy a dollar, did because the spirit of the season? Yeah, no so much this time around it seems. Blame it on the depressed economy or the hysteria of the election or exhaustion from Black Friday or whatever, but there are a lot of people out there trying to avoid Christmas altogether, which I think is sad.
I love Christmas. I really do.
And yes, the radio stations start playing carols a leetle too soon - believe me, before Thanksgiving is too soon.
And the stores go nuts trying to make us buy things and spend money and they start pushing Christmas as soon as Halloween is over - obsessive much? - but just because the world is ridiculously commercial doesn't mean we have to take the bait. There are a lot of activities scheduled in December and it feels like a ridiculous amount of pressure to be everywhere and do everything, but you know what? Last year I didn't send out Christmas cards...and I still have friends. So it's not as obligatory as my overactive brain would have me believe.
Of course there is the religious and moral meaning of Christmas - the real reason we give and celebrate and sing and put up lights - and that's important, no question. But. Even from the secular side there is a lot to enjoy about the season without maxing the credit cards to the hilt.
I like the snuggly feeling of Christmas, and that's very subjective I know, the family getting together - assuming you have a vaguely functioning one - the tree, the lights - I am amused by shiny, sparkly objects, sometimes the snow - if it comes and goes in a three day window and one of those days is Christmas Day - the hats, the hot chocolate - The Jungle doesn't get cool enough for hot chocolate often and I don't like warm drinks most of the time but December is okay - the cards with the inane newsletters and totally staged and/or Photoshopped pictures.
And the presents. I do love the presents, but not because it's all about me getting stuff - have you seen my house? I have enough stuff - but the getting for others, making it sometimes, finding out what they want and working it so they don't know what they're getting. One of the biggest letdowns for me is if I know what I'm getting before I open the wrapping. Childish? Maybe, but the anticipation is half the fun. Keeping good secrets from others and knowing they will like what you have spent your time going out to find makes Christmas morning less of a greed-fest.
As with so many things in life, attitude determines altitude. I thought that was the cheesiest phrase ever when I was twelve, but I have since learned it's validity. How I feel really does make or break my day, and I can change how I feel. So why not have a good day? Or a good season?

This is me, getting ready for Christmas.

From Whence You Cometh