Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

From my house to yours,
The best of everything in 2011!

Peace and Love,

Spirit of the Season #31

Should old acquaintance be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Not if their old or new friends,
Cause they are hard to find!

Happy New Year's Eve!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I Read #113

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus: In the mid 1800 a treaty of sorts was made between the Federal Government and the Cheyenne Nation. The government would send 1000 white women who volunteered to be wives to Cheyenne warriors. In exchange, the Cheyenne would give the government 1000 horses. This would be "horse trading" at it's ultimate! The exchange never took place. But what if it had?
One Thousand White Women tells the story of May Dodd, a Chicago socialite who takes up with a man beneath her station, is incarcerated in an asylum by her father for "promiscuous behavior." She volunteers to be a wife of a Cheyenne. Along with several other women who have no ties and want adventure, May makes the trek to the West.
Told in May's voice, this story, though fiction, could have really happened. It tells of the fear, the hardships and the joys, and ultimately, the sorrows that this brave group of women endured just to be free.
In this well-researched novel, Jim Fergus has created a "come-alive" work of historical fiction.

Happy Reading,

Spirit of the Season #30

The excitement of travel, whether it be to Grandma's house,
or a European vacation, is never lost.
If you are traveling this Christmas season,
be safe.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spirit of the Season #29

This could be another type of Christmas tree.



If you look real close, there is a family resemblance among the three of us. Of course, my two offspring are much better looking than ol' Dad. Must have taken after their mother.

Peace and Joy,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Spirit of the Season #28

This reminds me of being back on my grandparents
farm during the Christmas season. It was fun being
with them and cousins, aunts and uncles.


What I Read #112

Stripped by Brian Freeman: Since his introduction in Freeman's debut novel, Immoral, Jonathan Stride has moved to Las Vegas to be near the new love of his life, Detective Serena Dial.
People start being brutally murdered. Stride and Dial are on the case. It leads to another murder; a cold case that occurred over 40 years ago.
Though the theory of keeping everything new reigns in Las Vegas, some of the old rears its ugly head in this fast paced, suspense filled novel.
Once again, Freeman captivates readers with his literary finesse.
Read this one. You won't be disappointed.

Happy Reading,

Could this be a Resolution for 2011?

Note: I have always admired Andy Rooney on "Sixty Minutes." He often says what others feel and he just has the nerve to say it. He's outspoken and sometimes rather crude (and he needs some serious work on those eyebrows) but I like what he has to say here:

Andy Rooney says:
"I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution.
Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue.
Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada , countries founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna?
If I went to a football game in Jerusalem , I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.
If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad , I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
If I went to a ping pong match in China , I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.
When in Rome .....
But what about the atheists? Is another argument.
What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humour us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!
Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.
Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.
God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.
The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!"
God bless us one and all. God bless America and Canada , despite all our faults, We are still the greatest nations of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

Let's make 2011 the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars.
Keep looking up.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Celebrate the Season!

Kids are what the season is all about. Well, Jesus was a child in all the nativity scenes and we are celebrating his birth, right? So I think children make the season bright!
Here are my three grandchildren. My two grandsons, and my beautiful granddaughter. The were the life of the party on Christmas Day. Miss K loved unwrapping, Kiddo did too, but little Sir RJ could have cared less. I would have like to feature a picture of the entire family, but after several, and I mean several, attempts, we just gave up. And yes, I made the hat!)

Holiday Spirit Day #27

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Somewhere else, please.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Be of Good Cheer #26

Winter Wonderland!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

What I Read #111

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: Three women in Mississippi, during the 60's, cause quite a stir when they collaborate on a book. The writer, Skeeter, is white. The other two, Aibileen and Minny are African American domestics. This novel tells of the relationships between the white families and their help. Even though it is fiction, it is not hard to believe the vile treatment these domestics received from their wealthy employers. This book really introduced a life in the South that we people from the North knew nothing about. It showed the shame, cruelty, embarrassment and the naivety of both the employers and their employees.
Read this powerful novel. It will open your eyes. It will have you laughing one moment and break your heart the next. Kathryn Stockett was raised in Jackson, Mississippi and knows the true story, and she tells it with perfection.

Happy Reading,

Merry Christmas Spirit #25

"O Holy Night,
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night,
Of our Dear Savior's birth."

From my family to yours,
Peace On Earth,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Spirit day 24

Christmas Yard Art. All it needs is
some twinkle lights!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Spirit Day 20 thru 23

This photo of my grandson Sir RJ takes
up three days worth of seasonal greetings.
My granddaughter, the Divine Ms. K, was too
shy to go to Santa! She's two...what else
can I say.

Peace to all,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I Read #110

Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark: A sappy suspense novel filled with lots of characters. Too many characters for me to keep track of. Regan Reilly, a P I, and her cop husband are in the middle of it all. A manic-depressive broad bent on revenge, a break-in at the Reilly's apartment, and a robbery of a tony gallery, all taking place during a power blackout in NYC. High speed action, and even a little romance thrown in for good measure.
Thank goodness this was an easy, quick read. With so many people to keep track of, I couldn't have lasted much longer. If you're a fan of Clark, you will like it!

Keep on Reading,

Christmas Spirit Day 19

This says it all!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Warm Hearts and Cold Heads!

Since Prof Mags returned to Alcatraz (not a good word for the place in my opinion, but it's a matter of semantics.) she had noticed that the kids there weren't dressed warm enough for as much walking outside they had to do. Especially, they were lacking hats. So, she and Curley, who is the maven of all things knit or crocheted, knit a couple of hats for a couple of the girls.
Suddenly, it was like an avalanche happening or something akin to that. All the girls wanted a hat. So Mags started recruiting "mad hatters". Curley was coerced into making even more hats. ITSam, Mag's friend, who was learning to use the knitting loom was recruited and so was I. I already knew how to use a "Knifty Knitter" loom, so I was in automatically. We all began to collect yarn, and create "girly" looking sock hats. I think every girl at the "reform school" who wanted a hat, got one.
One day one of the boys stopped Maggie and wanted to know why the guys didn't get hats. She said that none of the guys had asked. He said, "yo, Ms Maggie, us dudes want hats, too. Can we maybe get some?"
So, out went the call...again. Back to yarn central (Walmart) and the busy hands of all of us. I think Curley "outhatted" the rest of the knitting crew, but altogether we probably made 40+ hats in all styles, colors and textures.
All of this because of one loving teacher's concern for the health and comfort of some kids that just don't get the all the breaks that some teenagers take for granted.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Mac came home and said that several of the girls at his public high school admired the hat that Mags had made him, and wanted to know if she would make them one, too. So, Curley, Mags and I made a few more. (Mac even loomed one, but don't tell anyone.) I finished the last one a little while ago. So I think everyone in our neck-of-the-woods will have a warm head this winter. Just goes to show you what a few can do for so many. This was a good "Merry Christmas" project. Thank you Mags, Curley and IT Sam!
(The above picture is a sampling of Curley's hats. Ours were similar; sorry we didn't take a pic of all of them.)

Peace to all,

Christmas Spirit Day 18

"Please have snow, and mistletoe,
And presents under the tree..."


Monday, December 20, 2010

What I Read #109

Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein: This is the first John Ceepak mystery I have read.
A body found in a restroom at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway looks like a suicide. That's at first glance. But the more Detective John Ceepak delves into it, the more it looks like murder.

This was a good, quick read. Ceepak is a little too goody-goody to be believable. But, hey, this is fiction and if the author wants his protagonist to be nearly perfect, so be it.

Happy Reading,

Christmas Spirit day 17

The smell of cookies baking,
For eating or for taking,
To friends so dear,
Wish you all good cheer!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Spirit Day 16

Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cell Phones...Ya gotta love'em.

I have a cell phone. I have had a Tracfone for over 10 years. This is the company who has no contract, and you add minutes in increments of 60, which also adds months of service.
For a long time, I was successful at keeping my Tracfone active. Recently, though, it has become harder and harder to activate new minute cards. The last time I bought one, Prof was on the phone over an hour to get the job done. I had already tried and became frustrated. It was mostly because I could not understand the person on the other end of the line. When Prof finally got a "real" person, she asked him where he was; he was in Pakistan! We found out that my phone was so old that it was not possible to enter the minutes on the phone anymore, so we would always have to go through the hassle of calling (Pakistan) to get minutes added!! They suggested that it would be a lot easier if I had a newer model Tracfone.
So off to Walmart I went. I bought a new "flip phone" that is much easier to use, and to carry. It came with a car charger, and a headset, plus as long as I own this phone, when ever I add minutes, it doubles them. Good deal, right?
Today it was time to add air time. I bought a 60 minute airtime card. I bought it at our local CVS. I came home, sat down and following the instructions, attempted to add the airtime on my phone. The *pin* number under the scratch-off label came up invalid, and said to "please try again." I tried again, still the same routine. So, I called the toll-free number on the back of the airtime card and after pressing 1 for English, and so on, I got a real person. "Stacie" tried to be helpful. She really did. (And I could understand her.) I explained my situation. She put me on hold for a few minutes while she talked to her supervisor. When she came back on, she told me that I needed to take my card back to CVS and have them re-scan it. So, back out into the cold and snow.
Upon arriving at CVS, I talked to Karl, the clerk, about my problem. He said he also had a Tracfone but never had any problems with it. Usually the minutes were added immediately. He called the manager of the store. I once again explained my problem to her. She said she couldn't re-scan it without a purchase, BUT, she picked up the phone and called the toll-free number on my card. She got a real person, too. She told them that her customer had purchased the card approximately an hour earlier, but could not seem to add the minutes, and that she didn't understand why that customer had to bring it back to the store once again. Whoever she had on the other end wanted to speak to me. (It wasn't Stacie) He took me through the routine again. I kept telling him I could not hear him very well, and he must have "clicked" something on his phone, because, suddenly he was as clear as a bell. However, I think I was talking to Pakistan again! After taking my cell phone number and hitting a few buttons on his computer, he said I should be in business within the hour. I thanked him and hung up. I thanked Karl, and the store manager and headed for home.
Guess what!! By the time I drove the 7 blocks home, parked the car in the garage, and got in the house, I had 120 new minutes and 90 days of airtime on my Tracfone.
I don't have to go through this again until March sometime. Better luck then.


Christmas Spirit Day 15

To all of those of you who didn't get a card from me,
Here's an extra special one for you.
If you did get one , this is a little gift you didn't expect.


Friday, December 17, 2010

What I Read #108

Immoral by Brian Freeman: Freeman's first novel takes us from the city of Duluth, Minnesota to the garish lights of Las Vegas. Teenager Rachel Deese is missing. Detective Jon Stride and his partner, Maggie Bei are on the case. All clues lead to Rachel's stepfather. He is accused of murder. But did he really do it?
This novel was a real page turner. Freeman grabs the reader at page one and he just keeps the suspense building until the very end. Lots of curves that aren't expected. After reading this one, published in 2005, I hope Freeman just keeps up the good work. Back to my library to see how many other treats it has in store for me in the "F" section.

Happy Reading,

Christmas Spirit Day 14

Can we start the "spirit" of Christmas a little early?
After all, it's 5 o'clock somewhere!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Glory of Christmas Music.

As all of you know, who read my blog, I sing. I sing in two quartets, and I sing in my church choir. Every year our choir, as a gift to the community, sings a Christmas cantata. This is done on a Sunday evening, with a full orchestra. Our choir is approximately 40 voices strong. Everyone who hears us, especially members of our Methodist Conference, marvel not only at our sound, but at the number of men in our choir. I guess most choirs are usually "men short."
Anyway, I digress, we have been practicing said cantata for about 2 months. It has been rugged. The music is very melodic, but hard. Since I have a hearing problem, it has been especially challenging. We have hit sections that seemingly are almost impossible to get through. Enough so that our director called a special rehearsal on Sunday morning and again another hour last night. We were to meet with the orchestra last night for the first time. So we all arrived an hour earlier to rehash some parts. I could tell how frustrated our director was, but she is one of the kindest, most considerate people I know, and would just shake her head, and nicely explain that we weren't making music, just singing the notes,(and some of them still weren't correct.) But we persevered until the orchestra arrived.
After intros were made, Ms Director told the orchestra to be prepared to stop often, and "warned" the choir that we may be stopped often. The orchestral prelude began. The choir stood, and began singing. I think we stopped three times during the whole thing. I could feel the stress leaving Ms D's body from 15 feet away. Even the rough places were made straight. If one was of the mind, you could actually feel the presence of God, there in our sanctuary.
This is not to say that we did it perfect, no way. But, after much practice, and lots of prayer, we became a cohesive group of singers. Voices blended, notes were sung, and hearts were really into the message we were preparing to present to the community. Folks, it was glorious! We will be presenting our cantata, "Winter's Grace," on this coming Sunday night. I can hardly wait!


Christmas Spirit...Day 13

"Ting a Ling, Hear them Ring,
Soon it will be Christmas Day!"


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Spirit Day 12

Here's to a happy Holiday Season.
"Things go better with Coke."

Peace JE

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I Read #107

The Disappearance by J.F.Freedman: In the middle of the night, teenager, Emma Lancaster is seen being carried out of her bedroom in the posh home of her wealthy parents. Days later, Emma is found murdered. Who was guilty? Former DA Luke Garrison is called upon to become a defense attorney and defend the man accused. Luke, who left the big city life to become an attorney in the less turbulent part of northern California, does his best, despite the odds. His faithful lady friend Riva Montoya is at his side every step of the way.
This was my fourth Freedman novel this year. I look forward to more.

Happy Reading,

Christmas Spirit...Day 11

I wish I had this shirt in Christmas red with white lettering.
Have a great Tuesday!
We're gaining on it!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Spirit...Day 10

Ah, technology. Follow the Star in the East, you goofballs!

Anyway, have a great day! Remember, "Jesus is the reason for the Season!"


Note: Curley: See why I didn't borrow your GPS!!

What I Read #106

Field of Fire by James O. Born: Alex Duarte, special ATF agent is called in to investigate a series of bombings. They seem to be related, but just how; no one knows. Enter Caren Larson, from the Department of Justice, who not only has an agenda, but quickly develops a crush on Duarte. Together, the two government employees slowly but surely unwind the primer cord that is holding these bombings together.
This was my first Born novel. Believe me, on my next trek to my library and favorite bookseller, I will check the shelves for more.

Happy reading,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Own Sally Albright!

If any of you read the blog "Do These Shoes Match This Purse," you probably know that author Maggie is my daughter. Today she mentioned that she was like Sally Albright in the movie, "When Harry Met Sally." Well, she is not LIKE Sally, she IS Sally. She is kind like Sally, she is efficient like Sally, she is also scatterbrained like Sally. She talks constantly when nervous, cries at sappy movies, and orders everything on "the side" just like Sally. It has always been this way. Not just since the movie came out. Everything has to have a special place on her plate, so no food must touch the other; "on the side" has been her restaurant mantra since childhood.
Maggie love tradition just like Sally. She still loves an old beau just like Sally. She is sentimental, loves walks in the park and would like long road trips, just like Sally.
So when she says she IS Sally. Believe her! She really is!


Christmas is Coming...Spirit Day 9

No, I am not in a poor Christmas spirit today. Although I would like to tell our pastor, "Hello!!!!! It's Christmas carol time." He picks the congregational hymns for the service, and today we didn't sing ONE carol. We sang the obscure stuff. UGH!

Really, this picture just cracked me up, so I decided to share it with all of you!!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas Day 8

I'm just sayin,"What if?"


Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Spirit Day 7

Even though it is a "bit" crowded, I decided to get out all my Nativity pieces (except the cow; there was no room in the stable, just like the inn!) I thought I had a donkey, but no. I did have a shepherd I had forgotten. The expressions on all their faces surely displays the wonder and awe of that wonderful night so long ago.

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Child is given,
And His name shall be called,
Emanuel, and He shall be a
Savior to all people."


Note: I told Prof about the cow and I said that Mary probably would have objected to "cow patties" in the birthing area anyway. She said,"Dad, Mary was an unmarried 14 year old virgin giving birth to the Savior of the World in a barn. Do you really think a little cow crap was an issue?"
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hangin' With an Old Friend

Yesterday I spent the day with my college roomie. Yes, we are still good friends after being out of college for 42 years next week! He called me, had the day off and asked me if I wanted to meet him in Northern Civilization for the day. That's about the half-way mark for both of us traveling.
He and his wife have remained friends of ours for all these years. They have 2 children about the same ages as mine, and we both have grandchildren. They have 7, I have 3. Usually when Roomie and I get together, Mrs. Roomie comes along, too. The 3 of us have a ball. Yesterday it was just the two of us. We had a ball. It had been a long time since just the two of us had spent the day. It was like being back in our old stomping grounds. Our college was in Northern Civilization. We ate at a local Cracker Barrel, then went Christmas shopping. That was a joke. We really just walked around the huge mall and visited, stopping often to grab a coke or a snack. We each ended up buying 1 gift. But that wasn't the point. We just enjoyed being together. Roomie is the kind of friend that if I got put in jail, he wouldn't make bail for me; he would come and sit in the cell with me!! LOL! (probably because he would have been with me in the first place.) When my late wife was at death's door in a a coma, Roomie and Mrs. Roomie were there beside me. Mrs. R sat with Tilly, so I could get away for a while. Roomie took me to a Bill Gaither Concert that evening. I was only away from the hospital for a couple of hours, but those two hours made a big difference. When Tilly passed away, my good friends were with me through the entire funeral process, holding me up, both physically and spiritually. They have been there for me ever since. They call, they e mail, they visit me, I visit them.
Yesterday was a gift. One I will cherish! Thanks to Roomie for making my Christmas even better!


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Spirit Day 6

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
By the fire it's so delightful.

So I think I will just stay home and
sit by the fire.


Christmas Spirit Day 5

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, All is bright.

Note*: These Nativity pieces are part of a larger set that my parents started for me as a child. They were hand made in Italy.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas Spirit continues!

Had an adequate report from the doc this AM. I think it's okay when the doc can't seem to determine what's wrong, but he isn't freaking out making me have a whole battery of tests. So if he isn't worried, I'm not gonna worry either. Another Christmas blessing, early.

"Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!"


What I Read #105

Vertical Run by Joseph R. Garber: Author Clive Cussler says of this novel, "If ever a novel bristled with sheer intrigue and suspense, it's Vertical Run. Fast-paced thrillers don't get any better than this."
I couldn't have said it any better myself. This is one thriller, published in 1995, that you don't want to miss. There is just too much action and suspense to even begin to tell you what it is about. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you put it on top of your reading list.

Happy reading,

Monday, December 06, 2010

The "Ghosts" Of Christmases Past

No, not really ghosts, just memories of two specific Christmases of long ago. Well, not so long ago, but, well, you get the idea!
Memory #1 takes place when Prof was in second grade. Back then, we still called Christmas, "Christmas" not "holiday." The elementary school where Prof attended put Christmas trees in the class rooms. The kids decorated them. They had fun. They actually celebrated the birth of Christ. Well, this year, on the last day of school before Christmas break, the trees had to be taken down, and gotten out of the building. They were real, and might cause a fire hazard if they were left in the school. That afternoon, Prof came home dragging the tree from her room. "They just dragged it to the street,and were going to throw it away, Dad," she explained. Well, we already had a tree up in the living room, so I found an old tree stand in the basement, and we put the tree on our front porch. Prof insisted that we put lights on it, and Mom garnered some small red bows from her stash of Christmas decorations. Prof had her own personal tree. She was so proud of it! We were the only ones on the block to have a tree on our front porch. We were always glad they didn't bring stray puppies to school!!!
Memory #2 concerns Lil Bro. The church two blocks from our house always had a live nativity scene the three nights before Christmas. This was complete with live animals, and all the trimmings. The lights would come up and the performers would begin. Mary and Joseph would arrive, enter the manger, then the angels and shepherds appeared. They froze in poses for a few minutes. The came the wise men all regally dressed in their velvet robes and crowns. As we stood watching them come slowly down the pathway, Lil Bro, who had been hearing the Christmas story for all of his 4 years said in a voice that all could hear, "Hey Dad, here come the "smart guys." Not only did the crowd of onlookers around us giggle and snicker, I saw two of the regally dressed wise men shake and stifle grins. Have we ever let Lil Bro forget this? No never! Such stuff are memories made of.

Peace (and good will towards men)

More Christmas Spirit day 3

Deck the Halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la la la la la !

'Tis the season to be jolly,
(So I need to get with the program,)
Fa la la la la,la la la la!


Sunday, December 05, 2010

What I Read #104

A Matter of Motive by Michael Hachey: Another novel about murder in a small town. Dexter Loomis has just been appointed Chief of Police in the tiny village of Higgins Point. He has only been in law enforcement for 3 months. Retiring in Higgins Point after working as a civil engineer for the state for many years, Dex took a job with the town for something to do. He didn't anticipate becoming chief, let alone having to be a "crimebuster." Ann Summer, a DCI agent, is back in her hometown for her father's funeral. Dexter enlists Ann's help as murders seem to be piling up.
Author Hachey's first novel started out slow. It took me a while to get into it, but then I hated to put it down. His characters are believable and his down-to-earth writing style fit right in with the small town feel of the novel. I hope has written more since this was first published in 2004.

Happy Reading,

More Christmas Spirit day 2

Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet,
We need a little Christmas,


Saturday, December 04, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas! (or I do!!!)

I am going to try to make an effort! I promise!


Oh! The Weather Outside is Frightful!

Prof just came home from a morning out and said I should go out and enjoy the snow. It started snowing sometime after I went to bed last night and is still snowing at 2:21 p.m. I do suppose that I could garner a little Christmas spirit if I went out, but there's no way I want to fight the weather and the Saturday shoppers! Although, we need bread and bologna, and I am completely out of beer and wine. So, maybe a trip to my local market is in the foreseeable future.
Speaking of Christmas spirit, I have none. Usually, no, always, I have the tree up, and the house decorated by this time. Nada! Not this year! I can't seem to be motivated. Partially because putting up the tree involves moving furniture and so on. The older I get, the more of a chore this becomes. I have added a couple pieces of furniture and now I don't know where to put the tree. Also, no one feels the need to help. When Tilly, my wife, was alive, she guilted the kids into helping. I just can't do that. They have lives of their own, and kids and work and other things to occupy themselves. So I would "rather do it myself." But this year, I am feeling Tilly's loss more that ever. I miss her. She was "all about Christmas." She baked, made candy, and we decorated to the hilt. A few years we had 9 trees all over the house. Quite a feat in a 5 room house! She loved to shop, and even in the lean years, could fill the tree's underside with a veritable treasure house of gifts. Nothing expensive, just a lot of stuff, making gifting even more fun. (One year, we divided the final $25.00 between us and had to buy the most gifts we could get for each other for $12.50.)
Maybe, if I go shopping during the week, I will be inspired. The crowds should be less, and the clerks in better moods. Nothing puts a damper on Christmas spirit like a clerk with the gloomies. I have enough of those of my own. Bah! Humbug!


Note*: Self portrait!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tree Trauma

Can a person suffer from "tree trauma?" I am thoroughly convinced that I can. Putting up the Christmas tree was always a traumatic time at my house. Buying the tree was always Dad's job. He was really good at it. He always bought the "perfect" tree. He had a special stand to put it in which consisted of a large bucket with sand, which HAD to be kept moist. I'm not sure how he fastened it into the bucket, just that that was what he used and that wire was involved. After said tree was anchored into the stand and was set in place, always in the southeast corner of our living room, Dad then put on the lights. My brother and I always made ourselves very scarce while this ritual occurred. Remember, back in the 50's, the only lights available were big colored ones, either strands of 8 or 16. Usually part of the lights worked, part didn't. Mom always made sure Dad had a supply of extra bulbs at hand to help the process along. After much aggressive language and contortions, the lights were finally arrayed on the tree. Then Dad always left the room!

My brother and I got to hang on the ornaments as Mom handed them to us. There was never any new ones. Always the ones that we had always had. Mom always told a story about each ornament. Like the silver one with the bite out of it that my brother damaged when he was 2 and the Dr. said feed him peanut butter sandwiches. The angel on the top of the tree was the one that Dad and Mom bought on their first Christmas as a married couple in 1941.
After all the ornaments were on, then came the icicles. Icicles back then were made of tin foil, not the synthetic ones like we have now. We actually kept these, carefully wrapped in newspaper from year to year. We boys were not allowed to throw them on the tree. We had to place each one carefully so that it hung straight down. Then for the final touch, Mom put a small handful of "angel hair" (a substance made of spun glass and made me itch) around each light. This softened the light, and also made the lights appear bigger. After the tree was done, it was always a thing of beauty! Dad would come back from "hiding" and always exclaim that this was the prettiest one yet!

The year Dad passed, it was up to my bro and I to shop for the perfect tree. We went to the tree place where Dad always went. We went after dark! We looked and looked. Of course there were lights all over the place so picking the tree wasn't a bad job. Until we got it home. We had advanced to a "store-bought" stand by this time, and after trimming a few lower branches and mounting our prize tree into the stand, it was time to carry it inside. We stood it in the special corner and...alas. this tree had a severe dog leg problem. We could either go back and buy another tree, or figure out how to make this one work. Being the two industrious young men that we were, we wired it to the curtain rod, put a couple of Reader's Digests under two legs of the stand, and "voila" the tree was straight. We had to put on those blasted lights ourselves, but we got it done. Mom snickering all the while, but was gracious enough to make nice. My brother got married the very next weekend, I finished up college and got married the following summer and Mom bought an artificial tree.

My new wife and I tried a real tree our first year, but she was allergic to all the sap and stuff, and I had to do all the decorating of it myself, so we opted for artificial ones after that. We had a beautiful one for several years, until our garage caught fire and we lost tree, lights and most of the ornaments. Fortunately, most of the ones that were precious were stored in back of the dining room closet. Replacing the Christmas tree and ornaments was not fun!

Last year I decided that the old tree (now about 20 yrs old) was shedding and looked shabby, so I bought a new one. One with the lights already on it. Wow! This was living. Only I did find out that those trees look a lot smaller in the store than they do in your living room. My kids gasped in either shock or surprise when they saw it for the first time. It is huge. And tall! But it is sure beautiful.

My how times have changed. I no longer have to string on lights. If one goes out, simply pop in another one, the bulbs don't get hot and threaten with fire. The tree doesn't dry out and I don't have to crawl under it to add water to the stand every other day.
All this, and I miss some of the old ways. Or maybe I am just missing my youth! But, I do know that I have some very fond memories of Christmases past!