Monday, December 29, 2008

Cautionary Tale

[Note: I am moderately to seriously opposed to the practice of summing up the holidays with, "so, what did you get?" It just seems a little... commercial somehow. I am at least somewhat of a hypocrite though as just a day or two ago I was more than delighted to get an update on holiday loot of a friend of the Children which allowed me to say, "really? A tattoo? And it's oozing??" Still, it's a bit of a moral stand which I am about to totally violate with not one, but two posts on What I Got This Year. Apologies all around and a massive slice of humble pie for me. Lucky it's so tasty.]

I am about to date myself.

I was alive when the final episode of M*A*S*H aired. Granted, the fact that I have a Child who graduated last year might have twigged off a few of you, but still, for the mathematically challenged among you here is one more hint that I am Old.

So, you would think that I would have been one of the billions (or so) of Americans who tuned in that night. After all, my father was a regular M*A*S*H watcher, even though my mother tended to make pointed comments about the fact that there was reference to, well, [sex] now and then and the characters did, from time to time, imbibe what appeared to be something other than grape knee-hi's. I knew M*A*S*H from the days when Klinger wore haute couture and Hawkeye still shared the tent with Trapper. For years I honestly thought that Korea looked just like Malibu, California. I loved M*A*S*H, I was raised on M*A*S*H, it was practically the only television show I was allowed to almost, maybe a little, sort of accidentally watch [note, this excludes the clandestine television watching my sister and I did whenever my parents were out of the house, a practice which involved lightning reflexes for turning down the sound {no remote} when the phone rang, and an uncanny ability to recognize the difference between tires on our driveway and those on either neighbors's]. So naturally I expected to be allowed to watch the final show, the last hurrah, the ultimate piece of M*A*S*H history.


My mother insisted that, honestly now, this was the last M*A*S*H. It would be shown over and over again. There were going to be endless chances to watch it. No big deal. Yup, I was not allowed to see it. The last M*A*S*H of all and I was doing something so vital I can't even remember what it was. 107 million people tuned in, but not me. The most watched episode in television history (still!) and I missed it.

And the thing is? I never did see that episode. All that guff about it being shown again and again and while I've managed to catch re-runs of shows I never wanted to watch in the first place the last M*A*S*H remains unseen. Which, naturally I shared with the Children recently since we were, when possible, catching out-of-order episodes now and then on whatever obscure channel is broadcasting them [note: The Children, being well raised, show the proper appreciation for M*A*S*H. This demonstrates their superior genes and their talent for enormous tact]. It is, after all, the duty of the parent to tell the younger generation of the trials we faced growing up. The Children were suitable impressed with my suffering.

Which is why there was a certain amount of suppressed excitement when it came to present-opening time on Christmas morning. Normally I can orchestrate things as I see fit but there was a perceptible tension going on and finally I was told in no uncertain terms that I Must Open Child 1's Present To Me Now.


It had done it.

It had bought the whole thing, the complete set, the entire and total and absolute M*A*S*H collection. All of it. Including the final episode.

So on Christmas day when we were down at my parent's house I happened to mention this, probably because it gave me the opportunity to point out the Terrible Injustice of not being allowed to watch the final episode. In particular I tasked my mother with the fact that fate had not allowed me, in all this time, to ever, ever know how it all ended. To which she instantly responded with, "yes, but did you consider that it might not have ended happily?" And when I sort of gaped at her (and maybe mentioned that I was slightly more than six years old at the time), she continued, "and at that time you were drawing nothing but terribly, terribly sad clowns."

It's true. I was.

They were very, VERY sad clowns. All very much alike. With one enormous eye (heavily lashed) and a single tear just gathered at the edge. Of course, there was only one eye because I thought that guide lines and rulers were CHEATING and that real artists wouldn't use them but I couldn't manage to draw two eyes the same size. So the clowns tended to have dramatic hair sort of pasted down over the other eye area. Also there was, if I remember a tiny, tiny little mouth and maybe a couple of nostrils. Anyway, it was all very dramatic and I drew it over and over. Mostly because I wasn't actually all that good at drawing (which is why I do graphic design now) and this was one thing I had figured out. Apparently my mother felt this was Significant.

That's right, my teen rebellion consisted of drawing depressed circus performers and listening to U2 and Depeche Mode in my room. With the volume down though because my father didn't like modern music. I would sometimes sing the lyrics to Blasphemous Rumors though. But I'd feel guilty afterwords.

So, to all you Emo teens out there, just make sure you communicate with your loving and long-suffering family about how you're really just being dramatic and stuff or twenty years from now you'll be trying to impress your friends and family with how you suffered by missing out on some major cultural moment due to your perceived emotional fragility, and frankly it's hard to get respect that way.

Now excuse me, I have ten more seasons to get through before I finally get to see how it all ends.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yule (y'all)

I am not a huge fan of those holiday boast letters - the end-of-year wrap up ones. I don't mind getting and reading 'em mind you, it's the composition of them that I'm not so keen on (and the printing. And the addressing. And the mailing. And the thinking of piles of paper waste and the net ecological effect of the additional fuel needed to physically deliver them). I don't really remember if we had a family tradition of sending those out when I was growing up. If so it might be interesting to read through the ones my mother wrote when I was a teen. I imagine them rather like, "So! Superior Aunt [to be. She wasn't the aunt YET of course but was still quite superior] has had a full year... academics... ballet... science... phenomenal achievements." Significant pause and then, "Megan is... well... there's the violin still, and the drama (on and off stage natch. Much better at off stage) and we're almost sure that if she ever FINDS the teachers's desks, the ones she's supposed to deposit her school assignments on, she just might in a few years time graduate. If she's lucky. Very. Happy Holidays!"

I suppose I could have written a nice honest letter to mail out this year, but having thought that over it would consist of 50% regurgitated blog posts (with names for relatives who might be baffled by my genderless, identity free Children), 49% aimless, purposeless wandering and 1% pure whining (it was 50 degrees yesterday - FIFTY - well after the sun went down. Bleak midwinter my dear aunt Fanny). So, out of the generosity of my heart and a sincere love for my friends and family, I decided not to go down that path. Which left the difficulty of the card/greeting/acknowledgment of polite behavior. Which meant getting creative AND doing some work.


Until I recognized that I have Children! Who are very old and reasonably clever! And to whom I have a motherly obligation to offload all tasks in order to teach responsibility and the value of slave labor! So each Child was plonked down in front of the computer, directed to the folders containing the year's photographs and allowed access to Photoshop and my Wacom tablet (with only a few relatively dire threats). Then all I had to do was work up a cover image, write my own message - denying all responsibility for the festive holiday greetings of the Children - and package the whole thing up as a PDF slide show. I'd post it here for all of you but as policy dictates I replace the heads of all recognizable offspring that would leave you with festive photographs of three of the new cabinet members sporting the following yuletide felicitations:

Child 1: "Happy Christmas with lots of love from [Child]!" *sparkle* *sparkle*
Child 2: "It's impossible to write a meaningful Christmas message while covered in dog fur...Woof!" [two footprints added in purple]
Child 3: "May your Christmas be filled with joy, laughter, peace and plenty of food! I like food! Merry Christmas!" [rabbit made of brackets, an underscore and one set of double quote]

I have no doubt all our loved ones were deeply touched. They should be grateful though, Child 1 spent a happy evening yesterday producing its alternate holiday photo which included one eye with the iris and white replaced with deep, dark, nothingness, one eye weeping a small but tasteful amount of blood and a cropped in version of a sibling's head sitting in a cereal bowl ready to be consumed. Nothing says holiday spirit like flesh eating zombies say I.

The Children did point out that our holiday card, while stylish, did lack one thing - a photo of me. This is quite true and also quite intentional. However in the spirit of fairness (and thanks to the tireless and remarkable efforts of my parents) I give you me, just after wrapping the last million bajillion presents:

Hope everyone's holiday has (so far) been happy, if exhausting.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Technically Child 2 has a house-sitting job over the winter break.

Practically it's a two dog sitting job with the house as an optional extra. Child 2 is, one could say, slightly dog-centric on these things. Unfortunately there was a slight disconnect between the day the house-sitting job started (today) and the last day of school/final exams (tomorrow) so for this evening we're actually all dog sitting and the house is left to get up to god knows what all. It's probably throwing wild house parties all alone up there. (Don't waste pity on the Children - they've lived with me for years and are used to the dreadful jokes)

So this evening our house of four is stretched to fit in one mutt (street variety - the sort of dog coloured mid-ranged mutt that you see as local color in all the artsy photographs from around the world) and one terrier type (the sort that seems to have run into a wall at full speed, forcing its nose up and making up for it in the ear department).

I had planned a nice simple dinner for myself - olives, bread, nice bit of cheese... mmmmm... and while I'm totally capable of avoiding the reproachful stares of my Children (don't judge. I hand out just enough tiny morsels of Manchego to appear terribly beneficent while still hogging the lion's share) it was disconcerting to turn from my perusal of the latest copy of Advanced Photoshop (I said DON'T JUDGE. And Child 2 you can swallow that 'Geek' comment that was trickling out of your lips, thanks) and see two pairs of melting brown eyes earnestly fixed on my face... well except for the telltale flicker towards the hunk of cheese still on my plate.

The mutt is a pragmatist. She worked the eyes for about two minutes before deciding there were richer pastures to be found snuffling under the cupboards (I SWEPT thanks, dog) and looking appealingly at Child 2 for consolatory ear scratching. The terrier however was made of sterner stuff. He started with the melting eyes, head cocked to one side. Then he started to hold one pathetic paw up off the cold, hard kitchen floor, touching it down now and then just to see if the pain was too great to bear. When that didn't produce results he coughed gently and began a keen, far back in his throat and barely audible - just a mournful little dirge to the death of his last little hopes.

I'm not totally heartless, it did get to me of course. That's why I hollered for Child 2 to come and take the little fur ball on a walk.

In the cold, dark, windy night.

On the positive side, I think I've discovered which Dickensian characters I most admire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It doesn't snow here.

Well, that's not quite true. It snows, if we're lucky, once a year. That's real snow, snow that sticks and stays and really means it. More usually we get a few flurries that spend more time just getting down out of the sky then they do on the ground. Optimistic children looking at the clouds in the evening and hoping for school closure are lucky to wake up to anything more than damp pavement. On the rare days when there are a few inches accumulated you have to act fast to take advantage. I remember as a kid finding a white yard one morning and deciding to build a snow man with my sister. We carefully rolled up the snow, working back and forth across the yard to collect every scrap. At the end the lawn was cleared of snow and we had a two foot stack of slightly wonky snowballs, all sporting a thick coat of straw colored Bermuda grass. By the afternoon the other houses had lost any snow that wasn't sheltered under deep shade and our snowman only survived, slightly reduced, thanks to his insulating layer of vegetation.

We all love snow in this family (we like rain too really; if it's damp and comes from the sky we're generally in favor). While we are grateful for the relief from the heat of summer, it's hard not to get frustrated that the blue, dry skies carry on into the winter.

But yesterday, in the morning, I looked up from my monitor to see two tiny flakes not exactly falling, more wandering in a random but generally downward direction. I looked away. There's no point getting worked up about two flakes, not here. Two flakes practically makes a flurry and then you're done. Twenty minutes later though there were definitely more flakes, no bigger of course and no more hurried as they meandered downward, but distinctly more. Two hours later my window showed a steady, gentle scatter of flakes, flakes that were starting to outline the tree branches and cling to the rougher places on the stucco wall. It's not the kind of snow that generally lasts long - usually the sun burns through the clouds some time in mid day and by four everything has melted. This stayed. It snowed all day, all afternoon, melting mostly on the streets because of the heat of the cars, but covering everything else in an inch or so of snow.

We all spent the day commenting on it. It's snowing! Really coming down... Were you out in it? I think it might be sticking.

Driving home, carefully, past the local drivers who reacted either by ignoring the road conditions entirely or by slowing to a five mile an hour crawl and stopping entirely several yards before any light or stop sign, I enjoyed the way even the tattoo artist's sign with its crawling brunette and tempting suggestion that people stop in to ask about tattooed toenails (I've never had the courage) was transformed, slightly, by its dusting. By late that night the day was capped when the announcement was made that the schools and the university were all on at least a two hour delay.

We woke up to find the melt already begun, the roads were slushy but drivable, the snow dropping off bushes and trees in great sodden lumps. But already we're hoping

maybe it will snow again tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008


You know those regional products? The ones you find in local stores that you don't really think about (if you were raised in the area) but suddenly take a good look at and really wonder what the rest of the world would make of them? I glanced across the street the other day and the sight of one of those products proudly displayed on my neighbor's lawn struck me suddenly, and I wondered what some poor stranger dropped into this area would think when faced at the nearest GargantuaMart with this:

I would like to have taken a picture of them in all their glory but that would have meant setting up the tripod on my slanty drive (or risking life, limb and far more importantly my precious, precious camera in the street) and then hoping he didn't notice as I sat in the cold for half an hour trying to capture just the right image. It's a shame, because the images I've found on-line for these "electric bags of light" (and if that isn't an appealing product name...) are mostly from a distance where they look something like this:

Not bad, right? Slightly appealing? But take a closer look:

Yes. It's a brown plastic sleeve surrounding a wire frame and a light bulb. Or, in my neighbor's case, it's sixteen brown plastic sleeves and two bare bulbs shining away at the end.

I've tried to explain luminarias before to non-local friends, and it's a bit difficult. You take a brown paper bag - one of those lunch bags. Carefully fold it down about an inch or so at the top. Some people like to do a narrow, double fold, some like to do a single wider fold. It's practically impossible to fold it at all without tearing it a bit but, come on, it's a brown paper lunch bag and what are you going to do? Next, put an inch and a half or so of sand (around here it's fairly easy to come by - check the vacant lot next door). Too much sand and the bottom will tear when you try to lift the thing, too little and the next step won't work. Place one (1) luminaria candle inside, the sand stabilizing it beautifully. Repeat several dozen times. Sounds a bit odd, and I assure you that in the cold, harsh light of day it looks... well, like thousands of brown paper bags lining the sidewalks.

So, six of one etc? Plastic sleeve vs dirt filled paper sack? But to those with luminaria-know it's important to recognize the difference.

There're the bags of course. Flimsy little things, but it's essential that they're brown paper. I won't get all technical on the sand - any sand will do. My father actually set up a trolley and a ramp so he could use the stuff in the half-excavated part of our basement. But the really important thing is the candle. I only know those candles as luminaria candles - short fat little things that will burn for hours. They come in blue boxes for some reason, two dozen to a box.

Some of them will have faulty wicks, wicks that flop over after only a few minutes and slowly gutter out. Some will burn for a while but grow dimmer and dimmer and finally drown in their own wax. A few will get too enthusiastic and burn like mad, wasting their fuel in one glorious rush for the finish.

When the people walk the streets someone will inevitably nudge a bag the wrong way, or the sand will be put in unevenly so the candle topples over and the paper will catch fire, leaving a strange dark gap in the even rows. In the morning when the show is over and the bags are just bags again, slightly crumpled now with a small puddle of wax congealed around the aluminum diamond that anchored the wick, the burnt ones will be just a neat rectangle of sand.

It's hard work doing it. My father recycles his from year to year. We used to be the only house on the whole tour with sad, bunched up, wrinkled little bags. He's perfected the art now though and in the garage, carefully stashed away, are neat boxes filled with perfectly stacked bags - five to a stack, the sides aligned precisely so they slide out easily. Other neighbors hire seasonal workers who come in pick up trucks filled to the bumper with stacks and stacks of bags.

The kids help a lot at those houses without hired workers. They come out in mid morning when everyone sets out the bags, play in the wheelbarrows that are used to cart the heavy, sand filled bags safely around. They follow behind as the bags are placed, setting up candles and prying the wicks out of the wax to make them easier to light. Just before dusk you can hear them all begging to please use the lighter; luminarias are marvelous at the pyromaniac age. Before we had trigger lighters we used long candles, carefully sheltering the flame as we dipped and rose from one bag to the next. Now, with a careful eye from the adults, the kids are allowed to light a few at the far end of the lighter. Some families set up outdoor braziers to sit around and roast marshmallows. Others have worked all week to prepare enormous amounts of food for open houses as friends and neighbors move from house to house. The next day it all has to be dismantled and carted away (or stored for the next year). Hours of work.

But from dusk until well after midnight on Christmas Eve those bags are transformed into small, golden brown lanterns - thousands of them circling trees and parks, picking out the flat-roofed architecture and the pattern of the neighborhood streets with warm, flickering light. It's a soft glow, the regular rectangle of the bag just visible as light against the darker ground, at the base a brighter halo where the candle sits. Cars and motorcycles and tour buses inch slowly past and you can see where someone walks as their silhouette blocks the lights in regular progression down the street

Because you can't do it with plastic sleeves and light bulbs. You have to earn magic.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Dear Young Man Who Came to the Door Yesterday,

First, I'm terribly sorry that after the first five minutes of watching you stand in the wide open doorway thus allowing the (expensively) heated air to go bless the lives of the sparrows on the drive I went back to the work I was doing on my computer and only glanced up now and then. I'd like you to know that it wasn't just that you were spending that time telling me how much you hated my neighbors and how little you wanted to be doing what you were doing - it was that you were missing a front tooth and frankly, that makes me feel like my skin is trying to crawl off my body.

Second, when you asked your clearly canned and prompted question about my job, obviously in an effort to imply that you really were doing something to better yourself (rather than being used as slave labor by a corrupt and exploitative organization), I did try to explain what it is I do. When you responded with, "well, but, I mean, how do you design the web? Isn't it already up there?" and then suggested that I must be, "real smart, huh?" I felt you wouldn't recognize the irony in my response. I was right. This does make me feel, I'm afraid, that your stated chosen occupation of school teacher might be just a bit ambitious on your part. However, I do wish you luck with that.

Thirdly, when you invited yourself into my house (at least allowing us to close the door) and proceeded to try to "sell" me a volume from a set of books which I could happily donate to a local charity (without ever seeing it) based on a) guilt and b) your clearly scripted patter I want you to know that my response would have been the same to any t-shirt clad, dentally challenged person: no. I don't buy stuff in this way. I'm sure this placed me firmly with my neighbors on your long, long list of Not Nice People but I'm afraid that I cannot hope that you managed to find the 50 Nice People you had been tasked to find as you worked your way down the block.

Finally, I think you might want to take a closer look at the promised reward you told me about; you know, the one this fine organization that sent you out on a cold December day said you could earn? You said that you got points for every book bought and donated, yes? And that all you had to do was earn 350,000 points and you would get $5,000. Then you pulled out a cheap piece of paper with a list of about 20 titles, each with a point value next to it (yes, I did notice you didn't show me the cost for each book, but hey if I'm helping build a young man's public speaking prowess AND giving some homeless kids one more cheap copy of Bible Stories for Children I don't suppose one can really put a price on that) and I couldn't help but see that the highest point value on there was 50. Just wondering. Did you crunch those numbers at all? Let's take a look at it.

You need to earn 350,000 points. Let's be generous and assume that you have some Very Nice People indeed who only choose 50 point books. So, 350,000/50. That's 7,000 books. We'll go ahead and further assume that you manage to get an order for every five doors you knock on. And hey, I'm being generous so I'll even let you assume it's a consistent TWO book order. Now, you spent ten minutes at my house and didn't get to go all the way through the sales portion of the pitch, but maybe ten minutes is a nice, round number. Five doors times ten minutes is fifty minutes. We'll tack the extra ten minutes on for walking which means you make 100 points per hour. Which means you need to spend 70 hours walking the streets, knocking on doors and making your pitch in order to make your goal. Two weeks work (well, minus ten hours, but work with me). On the one hand, $2,500 a week is pretty good pay, particularly at your age.


The organization that sent you out, the one providing the books, let's just guess that they're making a profit of... say... $5.00 on each book. You sell 7,000 which means they get $35,000 off of your work. Of course, I didn't see the price list you understand, but I can sort of imagine that they might charge something like $20 for a book and if these are the sorts of books I'm thinking about I just might guess that the profit margin is even higher.

And then let's just imagine for a moment that you didn't make your goal. That you, and the other teens I saw out walking the streets yesterday, somehow don't get to that magic number. Do you get paid anything then for the time you put in? Or is it all just down to experience.

I know I feel I've learned something.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The Male Child had a bit of a shout the other day. Geometry: specifically proofs. Also teachers who assign 32 problems but only grade a random 5. Totally with the Male Child on that second one.

But not the first.

I love geometry - love it, and the proofs were the best part. I loved the logic of it, the fun of building up a watertight argument based on simple principles. I loved that you start with one line and add another and the complexities spiral out in a gorgeous pattern, with the proofs underlying it all as a word-constructed skeleton.

Male Child thinks I'm nuts. Male Child couldn't disagree more strongly - or loudly. Male Child feels that proofs are The Man (okay, the woman - teacher is female) trying to dictate how it thinks. Male Child was rather eloquent (if noisy) on the subject of intellectual freedom and integrity.

I'm down with that.

But the Male Child then starting bad-mouthing my man Euclid and we do not trash talk Euclid. Not in this house, man. Nor do we disparage Archemedes (dude! The guy ran naked down the street shrieking "I have found it!" out of the sheer excitement of discovery and invention! Doesn't get better than that).

So I might have gotten a bit passionate about just why Euclid and his lines and circles were so damn cool. Look kid, I said (or words like that), this guy was discovering laws and precepts about the world - think about it, laws and precepts that were not based on the supposed desires of some dude on a mountain with a questionable concept of marital fidelity. They weren't handed over by a chap in a stone building with a sharp knife and a thing for barbecue. Euclid was seizing control of the world by figuring out how to describe the abstract and then using that description to predict the material - just him and his brain, no gods, no priests, no political leaders. His geometry gave him and his friends the ultimate in intellectual freedom and integrity and made them the ultimate rebels. James Dean in Peloponnesus baby - probably wore a black leather chiton and had white-walls on his chariot.

The Male Child might not have been totally convinced, but it did sit down to do its homework.

Next week's lecture: Newton: Fifty Chat Up Lines from the Inventor of Calculus.

Monday, December 08, 2008


One of the female Children has been dithering for a few weeks about that terrifying topic - hair cuts. This particular Child has had long hair since it was five and first started growing it out. Once a year it would get impatient and decide it was NEVER going to have super-duper long hair, grab a pair of scissors and lop off its mane at just below shoulder length. But short hair? Really truly short hair? Not since it was in kindergarten.

This particular Child inherited my hair - curly when its short, frightening tendency to frizzy when long unless cossetted and pampered and (often) pleaded with to JUST BEHAVE. So hair cuts are a serious matter. In my opinion the whole thing should go like this: a) consider getting hair cut. Like, for several months b) get to point of irritation with current hair enough to look at a few styles online c) get further to point of thinking about maybe actually making an appointment d) repeat a-c with small variations in amount of whining vs amount of dithering e) gird up loins and make appointment f) remember what happened last time hair was cut short - DISASTER, suffer massive panic attack, cancel appointment and sigh with relief that while hair is unmanageably long there are such things as hair ties in the world and they are good.

Child clearly had not read the manual. It thought about a hair cut, it looked up a few things and then it hopped itself off and had the darn hair lopped off! It arranged to have its long, long hair donated to Locks of Love and without even a sideways glance at mandatory Hair Cutting Fear it waved goodbye to 14 or so inches. And - and here's where reality is genuinely stretched - it looks FABULOUS. Sweet and darling and pretty and everything - and frighteningly older. Child even admits that this is true, admits it to the point that yesterday it allowed me to take pictures of it. From the front. Without putting its hands in the way, or ducking at the last minute (leaving me with fourteen shots of very blurred top-of-Child-head). It even smiled.

One more note. The Male sibling had been warned that this Child was thinking about lopping off its hair. When it came back home the Male looked blandly in the Child's eyes and began telling a long, long, LONG involved story about its afternoon. Finally the Child and I, exasperated, pointed meaningfully at the new do. The Male looked at us calmly, said, "Oh, yes I noticed. So, ANYway..."

The Female sibling had no warning at all, came home that evening, began telling a long involved story about its day, glanced over at the short-haired Child stopped completely mouth agape and said, "but you look so BEAUTIFUL! And it's so CUTE and it's... and... and..."

We never did hear what happened to the Female sibling, but I can tell you all about what the Male did.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Tree retrieved from garage rafters by long-armed Child balancing precariously on chair and resting said tree on head of its sibling helper

Decorations finally run to earth in bin (after Children insisted they were nowhere to be found - bin had been misleadingly labeled "Christmas")

Egg nog poured into festive martini glasses and drunk

Crackers pulled, Male Child mocked for finding a lipstick case in its cracker, stupid jokes read and appreciated, paper crowns donned

Child 1 ensconced on couch due to exhaustion and allowed to dole out decorations to the decorators

Ornaments held up and admired, stories told about places of acquisition, favorites chosen and extolled for their virtues (I still love our moose snowflake and the white heron that bobbles its head)

Usual ponderance on why we keep: 1 scrunched paper ball with red and green dots drawn on (creation of Child 1), 1 key chain with cheap aluminium soccer ball on, one clay representation of a dog, missing two limbs and carefully painted with red fingernail polish. Said "ornaments" are then placed on the tree anyway

This year's ornament, small pottery blue bird in honor of the dozens of jays we see on our hikes, carefully hung to best effect.

Irritating tin "icicle" tinsel thingies retrieved from box and hung on tree where they will only stay for fifteen minutes before leaping off and spreading over the entire house

Effort to decipher pre-lit light plug system which results in bottom tier of lights working beautifully while rest of tree remains firmly dark. Looks a little like the tree is wearing a lace petticoat. Pre-lit lights abandoned.

Multi-colored light strand artistically arranged by Child 3 to wind up tree like a garland. Effect is remarkably attractive and Child 3 is lauded for its efforts. Child 3 will spend next three days un-winding and re-winding lights

Decorators, still adorned with paper crowns, collapse on soft surfaces to lap up more egg nog and bask in the beauty of their efforts. Dr Who episodes put on to provide ambiance (because nothing says tree-decorating-day like two hours of creepy little kids in gas masks cooing, "are you my mummy?")

Okay holidays, I think we're ready for you.

Monday, December 01, 2008



Four days.

Four LOVERLY days

of offness

that is, off work

and with these used-to-be-short people of whom I'm rather fond.

Was good.

Also dinner with parental types of whom I'm also rather fond.

Also good.

There was the torn moment on Thursday morning when we all realized it was raining, because on the one hand we LIKES rain and we needs it (it hasn't rained in weeks and weeks and weeks) but on the other hand we was going to hike Thursday with Child 1 who had only Thursday off all weekend (moment of silence for poor Child 1 who worked Black Friday and Charcoal Grey Saturday and Smoke Grey Sunday) and as the place we hike is a canyon washy thingy (Arroyo) with rather steep mountains all around it we felt it was probably not wise to go traipsing up the sandy dry creek bed all things considered. So we lolled around and slept in (some of us - I've lost my sleep-in button and don't know where to find it) and generally spent the morning being Thankful For Days Off.

Which led to Day 2 of general lolling (more rain) BUT Day 3 and Day 4 of hiking and THEN lolling about which was marvelous.

Granted there was the sad, sad moment last night when we realized it was now the end of the holiday weekend and Monday was looming, but all things considered? We'll call it four days off well and truly seized.

And for that we are truly thankful.