Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Let the season begin!
While I have been taking my break...
I decided to work on some stories about Christmas
the way it was when I was a kid.
Because Christmas is special to children...
and infects all their thoughts and ideas...
in a way that does not affect adults.

So here is my warning...
these are stories,
and they are wordy!

If you are looking for short posts,
I do understand and you are welcome to look elsewhere.
But these are memories near and dear to me,
about a time that was magical.

I credit each and every one with to my parents,
who worked very hard to make 
Christmas very special to all of their children.
They were the best parents that I could possibly have had.
I believe you will see why.

Here we go... I hope you enjoy the ride.

Oh Christmas Tree!

The first weekend in December was dedicated to our traditional activities...
It began with boxes and boxes of decorations for the tree and house,
pulled out of their home in the closet that ran under the stairs.
Mom would set them out on the dining room table,
the big coffee table and here and there on the window seats.

Mother hated messes... 
and this was a messy business.
But for once, it was a mess that she honestly loved.
Each item was taken from its nest in the tissue, 
newspaper and paper towels,
and gently inspected for damage.
There was always damage... 
bulbs that were broken or burnt out,
fragile ornaments that had shattered or cracked.
She morned each and every lost reminder of her favorite memories.

Between the balls, bulbs, light strings, garlands and angel hair...
lay her favorites; 
all the dopy, sappy ornaments made at school
from bits of paper, glitter, photos, macaroni and pipe cleaners
and the baker's dough ornaments made at home by our little hands.
There was a set of glass birds with spring legs attached to alligator clips
with feather tails from her own childhood trees.
One bird had lost a leg and flopped to one side, 
but still made his home in our tree.
Dad called it
"the drunk bird".

She would work through the morning...
enjoying the memories they conjured up,
sharing them with us.
We laughed and smiled 
and shared our own stories as
each ornament came out of the boxes.
"I made that!"
The house smelled like oranges poked by cloves,
cinnamon, gingerbread, 
always bayberry,
and her stew perking in the kitchen.

This was Christmas tree ornament day!
We were kept busy hanging up and 
laying out the house decorations.
Setting up small winter scenes...
a pair of ice skaters on a mirror...
snow men conversed in their snowy angle hair fog
("Don't touch your eyes!")
on the sill of the window at the place where the stairs landed and 
split toward the living room 
or the breakfast room on the other side.

There were candles here and there...
angles, santas, snowmen, gingerbread boy and girl...
and always fresh bayberry candles in 
the giant brass candle sticks on the mantle.

Red satin bows were tied to their necks
to match the big bow on the front door
with it's cascade of  sleigh bells.
The following few days fir boughs and 
sprigs would find their way
around picture frames, mirrors, and across the mantle...
and cedar garlands 
would be hung in swoops under the crown molding.
Mistletoe was hung in the center of 
the french doors to the dining room.

We peeked out the windows...
waiting for Father.
Hurry, hurry, hurry home!
The bigger girls would help mom push
the love seat around the room,
until mother was satisfied with its temporary home.
This made room for the tree between the
built-in bookcases with their leaded glass doors
and the high, 
short and wide window with her antique bottle collection,
that would glitter with the reflected tree lights.

The excitement of the day was contagious...
  anticipation grew by the minute
and every car that entered our street made us hold
our breath... until it passed us by.
We'd groan and wait for the next engine sound.

Once the ornaments were all unpacked...
the boxes were filled with the wrappings and 
tucked back under the stairs.
The rug under the place where 
the tree would go had to be vacuumed...
and we showed a rare enthusiasm for the task.

Then the sound of the Buick in the driveway
inspired us to gape out the window.
"Don't smudge the windows!"
Father walked smiling into the house,
as we rushed him...
and he announced the same line year after year...
"Hey!  It looks like Christmas in here!" 
as he tired to cross the room to kiss mother,
with a five pack of little bunnies hanging on tight... 
all chattering wildly.

But there was diner to eat yet...
before the best part of the day.
None of us had to be told to hurry or finish what was on our plates...
and no one asked for seconds...
unless Father did,
then you might as well have another 
bit of stew or chunk of cornbread.

The oldest bunnies would snatch up dishes
and wisk them away to rinse and put in the dishwasher.
One of us would wipe the table and counters down.
Another would take out the trash...
all without being asked, 
which made the parents smile.

Father would stretch and threaten to read his newspaper...
all the bunnies protested and groaned.
But instead of stopping at his chair...
he would take his jacket from the hall seat,
that looked like an oak throne...
causing the bunnies to hop into their coats as well...
and run to get the best seat available in the car.

The sleigh bells jangled on the door and swayed.
The station wagon doors slammed.
The engine roared to life and the Buick backed out.
Someone would begin to sing and we all joined in.
"Jingle bells!  Jingle bells!"
Extra loud on the "Hey!"
Look out tree lot... here we come!

The story continues tomorrow...
see you then!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Two holidays down... one more to go.
Break time!

I decided to treat myself this year to a nice,
easy break.
I'm dedicating the days between now and the 1st of December
to taking it slow...
and doing one nice thing for myself and the man
each of those days.

Today its a nice long hot soak in the tub for me!
The man gets stuffed bell peppers, pilaf and fresh zucchini for diner.
A meal that does not include
one single left0ver!

I have no desire to brave the shopping crowds!
The best deals are between the 15th
and the 20th anyway.

Things are a bit tight for us this year.
The man was laid off just before Thanksgiving...
and that feast set us back
enough to buy 4 decent presents.
We don't know how long the lay off will last.
They said "hopefully not too long".


We decided not to get gifts for each other...
that can wait.
Our focus will be on the 5 grand kids...
and the 2 grand babies to be.
We decided to buy American.
That is not easy to do since most of the things
the kiddos want for Christmas are
not made here.
Leggos for example.

And we would like the toys to be not only 
made in the USA,
but the company corporate offices here as well.
If money is going to be shelled out into
the economy...
we want it to stay here,
not overseas.
So I'll be busy researching that.

But not until December 1st!
All things in due time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Little N and her creepy friend.

Two days of cooking, cleaning and some
frustrating last minute schedule changes...
dishes done, food given away or divided into containers...
and all the cheerful good-byes.
Thanksgiving is over for another year.

Yesterday we lazed around and recovered.
I think that's where left-overs
get a warm fuzzy place in my heart.
We did babysit that cheerful little gal up there.
But she isn't much trouble.

Today is a special Duck day!
Our 115th  civil war with the Beavers.
The high emotions make it a real wild card
sort of battle...
anyone can win, 
no one should be counted out.
Go Ducks!

I had a minor disappointment today...
We thought the Bear's family 
would be stopping in on their way home
from San Diego.
But, alas...
it wasn't meant to be.
They will be back before Christmas.

The sun has decided to shine
for the second day in a row... yay!

We are fat with toast.

Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The list is made...
I'm about out the door to buy
Thanksgiving feast food.

Tomorrow will be a day of cooking and cleaning...
same as today.
I had a few thoughts...

Thanksgiving Comes First...

Last night on the news they were showing where to
buy Christmas trees!
they are popping up on the corners and in
otherwise vacant lots.

The lot attendant said
"It's a gray time of year, you know...
people want to bring that cheer into their houses
and make things bright as early as possible."

I say
"Bull spit!"

There are plenty of things you can do to
brighten up your home with a
Thanksgiving theme.

On top of that,
here is a bit of rational thinking.
Every year people have Christmas tree fires.
Why buy a tree so early
that you add weeks of extra drying out
time to increase that risk!

Someone is just plain greedy.

Thanksgiving Promises:

Today the shopping will be insane.
I know that going in.
I promise not to ram anyone with my cart.
Even if they are obnoxious, cut me off
or nab up the last item that I have to have.
There are other stores out there.

I promise not to buy all the added extras
so often displayed...
the special cakes, cookies, pies, etc.
When I can make my own with love for the people I love.

I promise I will eat before I shop.
So the extras are not so tempting.
And my stomach doesn't growl at the check stand.

I promise I will eat light for the next few days...
so that I can indulge on Thanksgiving,
and not feel guilt...
and have to come up with reasons not to eat
what someone brought to
add to our feast.
I think this might be rationalization,
but I stand by it.

I promise I will keep my baking schedule
so that I am not insane
by the time the turkey is placed on the table.

I promise I will make no new baking mess
until the last mess is clean.

I promise I will keep the spirit of
in my heart despite the frustrations
of preparing the feast,
last minute added guests,
or removed guests,
schedule changes due
to guest's work schedules,
dog foot prints on the clean mopped floor,
children underfoot,
and that crucial item not bought today...
that I can't do without.

I think
Wild Turkey
might be that spirit.
But again that might be rationalizing.
But its surely the best name for Thanksgiving spirits!


Monday, November 21, 2011


A bear in progress.

I woke up this morning feeling slightly off.
Low blood sugar.
Feeling better, but slow.

An interesting weekend.
I got a text early Sat. morning saying
that Mikey P. was in the hospital in San Diego.
He had to have his appendix removed.
Bear was kind of freaked out.

Kind of interesting how they do that now...
they go in through a small incision in the belly button
and another lower one
where your tummy meets your lower body.
He had a two day recuperation time.
Today they are back on the road to Arizona.

Then came our Duck game.
We lost in the last 7 seconds.
A close nail biter of a game.
I have no complaints...
USC deserved the win, they earned it!
Their QB gets my vote for the Heisman...
if they would let me vote.

Yesterday the man worked on his 
"Murphy cabinet".
So called because everything that can 
possibly got wrong with this monster has happened.
But I am happy to 
report that it is nearly finished.
We can't wait for it to go away and live elsewhere.

That's it.
My brain is too dull to be creative.
Its Monday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I've done my birthday to death now.
This one is not about me.

One year when I was working at the school,
I happened to hear that one of our volunteers
was having a birthday.
She was a sweet old gal who
brought to mind Edith Bunker.

On a whim,
I put a candle in a hostess cupcake
and presented her with it.
She burst into tears!
Oh crap!
Leave it to me to make Edith Bunker cry.

She explained that she and her husband and never had 
children and all her own siblings were gone.
She had not had a birthday cake or card
since her husband had died three years prior.
Blew me away.

I think about my own dad...
who once said to me
"Birthdays are like any other day.
Nothing special."
when I handed him my card.

I knew that they had been special when I was a kid
and we had family parties.
I knew they were special all the way up
until my mother passed away.
Then it wasn't the same anymore.

But he still had me and my kids living in the same town
and my brother and sisters
who came up every few years to spend a few days celebrating with him.
It wasn't the same, but there were people who loved him
close by.

Obviously I love birthdays and holidays...
I celebrate my day for a whole week until it arrives.
I hope I never lose that.

I think that I have begun to understand that let down.
Cards are mailed early to make sure they arrive on time.
They are opened and read and put on the mantle.
When you are alone, 
it must be bitter sweet to be remembered from afar.
By the time your day or holiday arrives,
the celebration is pretty much over.

For those older people who have living family who 
don't live near, but care...
there are phone calls.
But I think the end result must be that same bitter sweetness.
Once the calls end,
they are still alone.

I'm sure the cards and being remembered are good things.
But I wish there was something more.
Something that lasts longer.

I guess that's where church groups
or other senior groups come in handy.
The in-laws belong to a camping club.
I will be attending their culb's
Thanksgiving get together this Saturday.

Its a great group!
Many have joined with their spouses
and the spouse passes away...
but they still have their camp buddies who
make a point of having celebrations for everyone in the group
who is alone.

But I know there are people out there,
like my Edith Bunker,
who are just plain alone.

I know a man named Jack.
He was the man that I had considered working for...
as his housekeeper before the man and I committed to each other
and I agreed to move in here.

I don't know Jack's birthday.

Since he cannot leave his home...
I think the day after Thanksgiving that 
I should take him a plate of goodies...
and share some laughs.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I look forward to my birthday every year.
I don't care that it makes me a year older.

The fact that I survived another year is worth celebrating.
Its my day.

So far my birthday has paid off with my Kindle from Squeaky
and two book downloads...
"In The Balance" (Harry Turtledove)
and The Cool War (Frederik Pohl).
A book is the perfect present for me.
I am grateful for all of the above...
and I am tickled pink!

This morning when the man gets off of work,
he comes home carrying a camouflage sack on his shoulder.
He walks inside, swings it around to me and says
"Happy birthday."

I knew what it was,
not a difficult thing since it wasn't wrapped.
A folding camp chair.


Don't worry, I smiled, hugged and thanked him.

He said
"It was a good thing you said you wanted a new chair,
because I had no idea what to get you."

That he had no idea what to get was pretty obvious to me at that moment.

This would not have made it onto my birthday list.

It was because of a statement I'd made about the chair 
that I sit in out in the shop.
Two days prior, 
I had felt the chair out there wobble.
I stood up and looked at it and saw that the rivet was trying to come out.
I turned to the man and said

"I'm going to have to get another chair...
this one is about to give out."

What I meant was that I needed get one of the folding metal chairs 
that we have in abundance, 
to use instead.

Well, I am touched anyway,
even if it would not make my wish list.

He listened to my ramblings and 
thought he'd found an idea that would work for a gift.

He was thinking about what to get me, even worried over it.
That is a gift in itself.

And one that I do appreciate very much.

I gotta love him for trying.

But next year I think I'll help him out and post a list on the fridge.


Monday, November 14, 2011


X and I had our first "adult" Thanksgiving in the Town to the Left.
It was in our curious little first house...
one on the edge of a huge orchard made from
not at all attractive cinder block.
It kind of looked like a bunker.

But we were young and I thought it had a pretty view.
I couldn't wait to have my parents come for Thanksgiving diner
so I could be the hostess for the first time.
I spent days decorating,
trying to make the place look festive.

The turkey was in the oven,
all the goodies were waiting on the sideboard
and our side dishes rested in their pots
on top of the stove until it was time to put them
in the French glassware bowls.

My folks showed up, hugs all around.
My mom made appropriate sounds about my efforts.
We were in great spirits.
My dad wanted to peek at the turkey.

He was the turkey wrapper in the house I grew up in.
He'd spend an hour or more doing foil oragami
 until it was perfect.
No doubt he wanted to check what I'd done...
and sniff the aroma.
We all followed him into the kitchen.

After he'd closed the oven door,
we had to shuffle around to make room for him to back out.
It was a very small kitchen.
X stepped to one side, 
then slid butt first across the long oven door handle.
My dad leaned up against the counter
as mom and I poured everyone drinks.

Standing there chatting,
mom looks toward the stove.
She said "Oh!"
My dad and I immediately began to look for trouble.
My mom had a way of saying "Oh." that meant
bad things were happening.
Things like fire, or killing the garbage disposal by
dropping her diamond ring down in there and turning it on.
(No, not on purpose.)

It was a very tiny "Oh." with a powerful meaning.
We must have looked pretty worried
because X turned around and started looking
for whatever we were looking at.
That's when I saw it.

"How did that get turned on?"
My dad rushed to the oven and brushed X aside.
He began to pull on the oven cleaning knob frantically.

It was X's turn to say "OH!" in a not at all tiny way.
We could see the turkey through the window.
We could hear the oven ticking as it began to super heat.
"George!  Get it out of there!" 
my mom said helpfully.
He paused to look at her like she'd lost her mind,
then went back to frantically pulling at the knob.

"Your butt did it." 
I accused X.
"Get the manual!" shouted my dad.
X and I both began to paw through the kitchen drawers.
It had to be there somewhere.
My mom began to giggle.

I was seeing a vision of a platter of ash in the middle
of my beautifully decorated table.
My dad began to giggle too.
It was ridiculous.
Who manages to self-clean their Thanksgiving turkey?

The X took two steps forward,
leaned down and pulled the oven plug.
We listened to it tick for a few minutes
then the locking mechanism made a loud click
and released our bird.
We all released our breath.

As it turned out, no harm was done.
We plugged the oven back in and moved
into the living room where we could avoid repeating that mistake.
The next day when they left,
my mom told me that it was a wonderful meal...
I had done a good job.
We all looked at each other and cracked up.

Somehow that story comes up every Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I know, you all aren't into my Ducks like I am.
I'll try to be brief.

Bear's family left early yesterday morning.
We were a bit tired, to say the least.
But in a very happy way.

By the time our evening game began
we were pretty darned pooped.
I wasn't sure that either of us would make it through the game.

But the Ducks started out hot...
and jump started our energy level into high gear.
This was supposed to be the game 
between the two best PAC 12's top teams.

Even Lee Corso picked Stanford to win!
Unbelievable to us.
Lee is usually one of our biggest supporters.

The long and the short of it
is that the Ducks won.
Both teams played good games.
It was a heck of a good game to watch.
No one can blame the refs.
No one can say they didn't both have the talent on the field.

Of course the "duck farts" helped elevate our joy.

I've never had a duck fart before...
very tasty!

One third each;
Bailey's Irish Cream
Crown Royal
in a shot glass.

Kind of reminded me of an old Happy Days episode
where Ritchie comes home sloshed
tells dad he had beer but they were in 
"teeny weeny glasses".
Dad asks him how many he drank.
No, we didn't drink 57 duck farts.
But they did sneak up on me!
Holy crap.
I have not had a hangover in over 30 years.
I still keep that record...
but I think I got closer than I like.
Duck Farts are dangerous.
But seem so innocent.
Today is a quiet day.
The man is sleeping and I'm moving slowly.
But its not a bad day despite the rain.

That was something funny one of the announcers said.
He was talking about how Stanford was in their own
house... and though it was raining, 
they should be used to that there with real grass.
But it was the Ducks who didn't seem to be having any
trouble playing in the rain.

Well duh.
Oregon stays green because it is a wet state.
Our fellas take to it like...
like Ducks to water.
I Guess Andrew Luck doesn't walk on water after all.