Archive for December, 2007

pic0011.jpgtree04-0091.jpgI am not ready to throw the Christmas tree to the curb, but we’ll have no choice in a few days. We bought our first live tree in many years — just for one year —  I thought. Jerry has been disappointed in our slim, artificial tree since the first year. It looked beautiful, took little space (and lots of ornaments) and snuggled up in a box demanding nothing when the season came to a close each year. Yet I came upon Jerry at his workbench the other day with a truncated section of this very tree, his clippers mutilating the lights. Dr. Frankenstein was driving a stake through the heart of the tree getting ready to discard it. I rescued that part and hope the other two are in tact somewhere.

I’ll admit the live one is amazing, green, fresh and fragrant, but it has to come down without procrastination. This in the house of a family who once left a tree up until Good Friday. No leaves are dropping and drooping is minimal, but there is the safety factor. The battery in the smoke detector began beeping its demise yesterday. The tree has to go. I don’t think I’m ready. Maybe I’m not ready for any of them to go. Maybe I have an issue with endings. But beginnings, that’s another story. A new year? Bring it on!


Note: In case it is not obvious, the live tree is on the left above, artificial on right.


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A week from today Christmas 2007 will be over. You’ll be in the mood to tidy up, get rid of crushed wrapping and bows, begin to return your storage area to normal. Not so fast! Now you deal with the Box Nazi. The box your computer came in, your mixer, your what-ever with moving parts and sensitive electronics all slap your wrist with the warning that goes something like this: Retain original box for shipping. Sometimes it goes on to predict dire consequences (and voided warranty) should you ship in anything other than THEIR box, with THEIR Styrofoam. You could flatten the boxes, but there is still that specially constructed Styrofoam. So even you who have ripped the tags from your pillows take this seriously.  You stack this Christmas’ boxes on top of boxes from Christmases past, knowing one day soon your storage area will be filled with air surrounded by cardboard.

And all over the land Box Nazis are curling their lips in a Satanic grin.


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To be continued——— three of the most dreaded words in the English language. Just as the elevator begins dropping and the walls slowly inch closer to our hero the screen freezes —- TO BE CONTINUED. That’s what kept us coming back to the good ole Saturday serial, but remember how frustrating it was to have the story yanked away from you? Sure you think, they could get away taunting kids with those games, but now I’m adult. Ha! They were just warming your inner adult up for the newspapers. When is the last time you saw a complete story on the front page? It’s been a while, I’ll bet. So how do you deal with the interruption?

My daughter Amy asked the other day whether I went immediately to A-4 and finished the story or just caught the ending when I progressed to that page. Well, unless the story is of great interest I just wait until I get to the continuation and pick it up again.

“Aha! I knew it,” Amy said, “Anyone who reads five books at the same time would do it that way.”

I had never thought of that. She may be right or perhaps I’m just conditioned by the old serials to have that space between sections of narrative. How do others handle them — you, for instance? I’d like to hear.

Note: Of course you know when this post goes into archives it will be whacked in half with a link to “read full post.” Maybe I should rename the piece “Irony.”

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lambjesus.jpg“We’re going to see Mary Had a Little Lamb,” three-year old Hannah squealed again.

“No, Hannah,” I corrected her more times than I care to remember, “We’re going to see Mary and Baby Jesus.” Her look humored me. I reminded her of the manger scene at Ahmaw’s house and the first Christmas story. That look again. During the long wait in line Hannah let everyone know she was going to see Mary Had a Little Lamb.

“There are no lambs here, Hannah, just Mary and Baby Jesus.” My granddaughter was going to be very disappointed if she expected to see a lamb.

A Walk Through Bethlehem took my daughter-in-law, granddaughters and me through dusty paths, past markets manned by Biblical figures greeting “Shalom.”  The smell of oil from lanterns, frankincense and myrrh and and sounds of the market transported us to an ancient time and place. In the crisp night air it was easy to forget we were on church grounds. Along the way characters discussed the pilgrimage to register for the census upon edict of Emperor Augustus. Hannah quietly took it all in. Abruptly it seemed, we reached a stall with hay, three opulently dressed wise men, and Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. A cow lay on the ground with a jackass nearby with the feel of a real manger.

“Mary had a little lamb!” Hannah shouted. I shifted my gaze from the real live baby. There beside Mary, a little lamb bleated as Hannah’s patted its puffy wool.

I know when I am beaten.

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Choo Choo Train

choochoo-0011.jpgFor hours the sirens have wailed in Longwood, Florida. There they go again, more urgently this time. Hours ago I assumed Santa Claus was hurling candy to kids at curbside from the back of a fire truck, but the six o’clock news told me differently. Seems a freight train had croaked right in the middle of town while its tentacles wrapped around major (aren’t they all) intersections. I suspect every Barney Fife has been issued his bullet from the sound of police sirens. Okay, it’s calmed down a little, only sound is one police siren. How nice to be tucked away in our office, not out in the Christmas shopping fray.

Okay, now I hear the horns saying, “Damn it! Get that f****ing iron horse back to the reservation.” But it’s nice here back to back with my husband communing with the world beyond Longwood. Except we’re getting a little tired of all the urgent screeching. Get the fricking train off the fricking track! Oh, the humanity!

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solarlights12-7-0041.jpgMy demons battle each other constantly, the one who thrills to Vegas style lights and the other whose dream is to be “off the grid.” To exist on solar and wind power would be the ultimate to demon # 2. Demon #1 encourages those who set the electric meter spinning by electrifying Christmas in their front yards. If we didn’t pile in the car like a bunch of Oakies on the way to California, would they do it? I don’t know, but the Yuletide Galaxy ends at our house. We decorate, just not luminously. Not until this year!

Jerry craved a fat, woodsy smelling tree, to replace our slim artificial. So, this is his year. Today we brought the most beautiful once-live tree home. It would have LED lights. They save up to 90% in electrical usage over regular bulbs. So why not put them on the firebush out front, too? But that is not what is happening. While searching for outside LED mini-lights I run into –be still my heart – outdoor solar mini-lights! Zero electricity! The instructions said it would take 6-8 hours to charge the batteries behind the solar panel. Two cloudy hours later the firebush lit up. You would think we were wildcatters observing a gusher. We could not believe it. The glow is rather faint, but Jerry assures me it will be brighter after an all day charge tomorrow. Of course, we haven’t yet gotten over the miracle of the sun setting our water fountain in motion. We are easily entertained.

So now I’m thinking of a huge lighted wreath between the front windows, maybe light the crepe myrtles at each end of the house. How about down by the pond reflecting off the water? All this would require no electrical cords snaking through the grass, no meters spinning out a January surprise in the power bill. It may not be easy being green, but it is getting easier.

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Like belly button lint, I have no idea how these thoughts collected, but this is cleaning day.

The sound of a word doesn’t always reflect its meaning.  Mildew was always said softly, lovingly by an old friend. She liked the way it rolled off her tongue and thought the unfortunate connotation a shame. I think of her when I hear light, sweet crude. But fun words are my favorites.  Is there a more entertaining word to say than  onomatopoeia? And then there’s tarmac and rejigger, which is probably not a word, but says a lot. Isn’t that what words are supposed to do?

Did you ever run into an old acquaintance in the grocery aisle and you greet each other like long lost friends.?Then you don’t know what to do when you meet again and again on subsequent aisles?

I heard a good term the other day, linguistic barrios, describing areas where a language other than the host country is spoken.

Do you know some people who have standards so high only they can meet them?

We have a new navigator with choices for (a) most toll road use (b) shortest route (c) fastest route. No where can I choose (d) all right turns.

I’m waiting for someone to invent a motorized treadmill. It would putz around allowing you to enjoy the neighborhood sites while you worked out. Don’t laugh. My husband is working on a helium bra.

What is with those high-rise desks school boards, councilmen, etc. sit behind? Do they think they look like Abe Lincoln up there? We know the intent is to intimidate; we just don’t like it. I’m giving judges a pass. They represent the law while those other jokers popping out of a Jack in the Box represent you and me. Come on down!

I’d like all the personal-habit nannies out there to lay off. If I saved all the money I spend on lattes each year and invested it at 5% at the end of the year I’d have — zero. And while we’re at it, the number of calories I’d save by skipping the chocolate each day is –what do we have here?—zero again.

Gerontocracy is another favorite word, meaning, of course, government based on rule by elders. I understand France is fast becoming just that. They do seem to be thinking more rationally lately.

This from Neal Boortz: How do you have a fire museum? Doesn’t the fire go out? Maybe it’s an “old flames” exhibit.

Two South American brothers are the last  people on earth who speak a dying language, and they don’t like each other and don’t speak. I am guessing we won’t have to “press 3” for that language.

Would someone tell our Persian Emma she is supposed to let us sleep? It’s professional courtesy.

“The windows throbbed,” the young man said, describing the tornado. I don’t know about you, but I like that. Colorful descriptions by witnesses are rare, but worth listening for.

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