The Spirit of Christmas Past

I remember when Christmas was a time of goodwill and tolerance. A time when even the Scroogiest of people allowed the ice to melt from their hearts, and they joined the human race, if only for a day.

I remember when Christmas was not an “issue” that people haggled and hurt each other over, but a time of getting back to the basics of hospitality and humanity.

I remember when Christmas was a time of unity. A time when folks focused on that which we have in common—like being human—rather than on our differences.

I remember when Christmas was when we thought, “Okay, we’ve been at each other’s throats all year. Let’s take a break and enjoy a little forbearance. Let’s try to be good neighbors.”

Why have folks gotten so hateful? Why so stiff-necked and prideful? Why is there so little sense of live and let live? What are we teaching our children, and how will this time of year be treated after we’re gone?

Guess I’m just an old fart, but I miss the days when Christmastime was something to look forward to, and to savor for the short while that it lasted. Why can’t we love our enemies as we love ourselves for one single day?

It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love,
Every song you hear seems to say,
Merry Christmas,
May your New Year dreams come true!
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too.

Why are we not only allowing the Christmas spirit to die, but helping it to do so with harsh words and prideful hearts?

I Don't Suck

Poker Night was great, except that Ville strained her back earlier in the day and was in a great deal of pain. Still, I couldn’t help but rib her…and beat her ass at Poker. In fact, I would have won hands down (overall), except that after he put Ville to bed, Beau wiped the floor with me.


Take 4

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Bartender
2. Eexecutive secretary
3. Bookkeeper
4. Assistant conductor.

Four movies you could watch over and over:
1. Monsoon Wedding
2. The Emperor’s Club
3. Office Space
4. What Dreams May Come

Four places you’ve lived:
1. Solvang, California
2. Ventura, California
3. Denver, Colorado
4. Brighton, England

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. As Time Goes By (BBC)
2. The Actor’s Studio
3. Masterpiece Theatre
4. Mystery

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
1. Redwoods National Forest, California
2. Yosemite, California
3. London, England
4. Vienna, Austria

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Hot and sour soup
2. Steak
3. Ice cream
4. Licorice

Four places you’d rather be:
1. Austria
2. California
3. England
4. Colorado



If I were you, I wouldn’t anticipate any deep, stirring entries from me between now and Christmas. A meme, a picture—that’ll be about the extent of my involvement here. I do want to say a few words about the Messiah concert on Saturday night, though.

The chorus was outstanding and the soloists (selected members of the choir) were, for the most part, up to the task, although there were a couple of them who flatted out on a high note here and there. Nevertheless, they each executed their melismas excellently. The best soloists were tenor Kim Childs, alto Lynette Erwin. No, really, she was—I’m not playing favorites—and baritone Matt Thomas. The real problem was the string section, which at times didn’t seem to possess much in the way of intonation. Nor did they seem to be very familiar with the piece in general. Had they been better, and had Maestro Mark Lawlor been able to trust them with quicker tempi, the soloists would have had no problems at all...


Christmas For Musicians

Tonight is the Stillwater Chamber Singers’ performance of Handel’s Messiah, in which Nettl will be singing the alto solo. This performance will include a chamber orchestra, something I’m particularly looking forward to.

It just doesn’t seem like the holiday season until I attend a performance of Messiah, or hear a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. From 1986 to 1992 I worked for Maestro Frank Salazar and the Ventura County Symphony, and over one weekend every December we produced four performances of the Nutcracker. I also sang tenor with the Ventura Community Chorale when we performed Messiah every year. As Frank’s assistant, I was kept pretty busy between all of the score preparation, rehearsals, and actual performances. Too, there were always musicians who hired me to compose arrangements of different holiday music that they were to perform at recitals, school concerts, and performances apart from the symphony...


This is Pissing Me Off

I’ve been going to bed at a decent hour for a few days now and for the most part I feel rested. Problem is, I’m sleeping too damn late. Oh well, guess I need it, but it really cuts into my day and the things I want to get done.

Poor Nettl is so tired. The past weekend was huge for her. As soon as she came home last Friday, she had to pack, then go to Sand Springs for the speech tournament at which she was a judge. That meant working Friday night and all day Saturday. She didn’t get home until Saturday evening, when she had to help the girls get ready for their winter semi-formal dance. We took them, then did a little shopping. I picked the girls up because I demanded Nettl go to bed. On Sunday she was up early, helping Lauren prepare her French club’s Christmas semi-formal dinner party, which she hosted here in our home. Preparing and cooking for a dinner party of fifteen in no small feat.

Last night, when she came home from work, Nettl looked absolutely beat. She tiredly told me she had to take the kids to the bank to cash the Christmas checks they received from their grandfather, take Lauren to a band function, then take Heather and Nathan to Walmart (money burns holes in their pockets). She also want to deposit a Christmas check I received from my uncle yesterday. (Thank you! It was completely unexpected. Now I can do some Christmas shopping without dipping into our personal finances!) She also had “Messiah” rehearsal to go to, from 7:00 to 10:00.

I told her, “You don’t have to do all that. The kids can wait till tomorrow, it won’t kill them to wait a day to spend that money. Take a long nap.” She lay down on the bed and was asleep in no time at all. I then went out to the living room and told the kids their mother was tired to the point of being ill and asked them if they’d mind waiting. Heather looked disappointed as only Heather can when things don’t go the way she thinks they should (she’s a Leo), but they were good about it (they’re great kids). I made dinner and everything worked out just fine.

So I’m ticked off that I’m sleeping so late every day, and I feel really guilty, besides. I try to chalk it up to the fact that I’m ten years older than Nettl, but it doesn’t really work.


My Year in Review

Go into your archives, and post the first sentence from the first post you made each month:
  • January: Maybe it’s my sun in Libra, ascendant in Sagittarius and moon in Cancer.
  • February: I should know better than to stop flipping through the channels when I come across one of those inbred talk shows like Jerry Springer or Maury Povich.
  • March: I’m just going to get this crap out and then I’ll be done with it.
  • April: It has been repeatedly expressed that due to the extraordinary circus/gypsy/vaudevillian life I’ve lived, I should one day write about it.
  • May: You’re right.
  • June: You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.
  • July: Although technically it’s early Monday morning, I’m writing this as if it’s very late Sunday night because, well, to me, it is.
  • August: Really, how can anyone be more fortunate than I am?
  • September: After a restless and (for me) mostly sleepless night, we got up and met the crew in the hotel’s breakfast room before the day’s work began.
  • October: It’s 8:00 on Saturday morning.
  • November: After nearly a full week in bed with an especially bad cold, I’m happy to report that I’m on the mend.
  • December: It’s World AIDS Day, and I wanted to post a picture of my friend Cteev, who died from complications due to AIDS at the age of 32 in 2001.


A Night Alone

In the nearly six years that Nettl and I have been together, we’ve spent only a handful of nights apart. Tonight, she’s in Tulsa at a speech tournament with Lauren. Heather will join her tomorrow and they’ll be home sometime tomorrow night. I don’t think we’ve been apart since the night I helped Ville and Beau move into their house. It’s weird. Kind of like walking around wearing only one sock.


Thursday Things

I woke up to a beautiful landscape of snow beneath a sunny sky. We didn’t get as much as we’d hoped, only about an inch, but it’s cold enough to keep it from melting. I love looking outside in the morning to see what kind of critters have left their prints on the sidewalk. This morning there were the tracks of a cat and of our kids, Heather and Nathan. I really need to get those outdoor lights up.

I didn’t sleep at all well—I kept waking up as soon as I’d get into any semblance of real sleep—so I gave it up around 8:30 and got up tired. I think today I’ll nap from two to three so that I won’t ruin a good night’s sleep with an involuntary evening snooze. I’m really trying to adjust my night time schedule, but it’s hard. The need to sleep is a giant pain in the ass.

What is the most over-played Christmas Song?


All In the Mind

I worked all night on Nettl’s site, entering her archives &ct., but when I went to bed, I lay there, my mind spinning in a million different directions. Of all the ideas that raced through my mind, the one that caused me to get up and turn my computer back on was the idea of age...

Brain Surfing

Today has been a peculiar day. I kind of thought it was going to be when I didn’t get to bed until early this morning. I’ve figured out that I don’t sleep anymore. I nap. I can’t seem to sleep longer than four hours, unless I’m ill, toasted, or just plain worn out. I’m going to try to turn over a new leaf, as they say, starting tonight. I want to start going to bed around 1:00 or 2:00 am...


Weekend is Here

It’s been an odd week. Not bad, really, just out of sync or something. Although I’m a stay-at-home Hausmandl, I’m glad the weekend is here, not because it means a couple of days off (most of my days are like Saturday), but because the family is home. Nettl and the girls are going to a wedding tomorrow evening, and Nathan’s at a friend’s house tonight, but the family is home. Sort of.

My only plan is to put up the outside Christmas lights. With as cold as it is, that’s a major undertaking.


World AIDS Day

It’s World AIDS Day, and I wanted to post a picture of my friend Cteev, who died from complications due to AIDS at the age of 32 in 2001. He's the one on the left.

He’s been on my mind a lot this week. Sometimes I miss him more than at other times; this is one of those times. I miss his silly laugh and his unique sense of humor. I miss the way he used to help me with my garden and how he helped me drink my wine. I miss the wisdom that was hidden deep within the little boy he was and I miss getting to know the man he never had a chance to become. I miss you, Cteevenheimer.

My Happy List

I’m following my dear spouse’s example and making a Happy List...