It's That Time Again

Instead of admonishing you to have a safe New Year, or reminding you to have a designated driver, or any of that tired old crap that has become so lodged in our subconscious that it's redundant, I'll simply tell you all how much I appreciate your friendship and thank you for making my blog part of your day.

Have a great night tonight, however you spend it, and I'll see you tomorrow in 2010!

to hear the theme song of our party tonight.
And turn it up!!!


Button Mushroom Syndrome

I don't believe people. Last night at 2:30 am while I was sitting here in the living room, I heard a pickup drive by that was going way too fast and revving his engine like he was trying to impress someone. Even without the snow and ice on the ground, and the snow coming down, it would have been too fast, but you know how guys in pickups are...


How I Spent My New Year's Eves

It's funny how things are in different places. I've spent New Year's Eves in California, New York, Colorado, and London, and if I had my choice of where to spend this year's special night, I'd choose California. Oklahoma people are so darned serious about life. Everything is wrapped around job, family, and church, and friendships are usually rooted in one of those three institutions. People get old fast here, something I fight with all of my strength. Once you're married, fun with friends flies out the window unless it's the occasional barbecue...


Rounding a Corner

I've made a horrifying discovery: I can no longer drink like I used to. I had a little wine over the holiday, which only resulted in my not feeling very well. I don't mean in the hangover department, I mean while drinking...


When Only a Bullet List Will Do

We have arrived at the most confounding days of the year, that is, those four days that are wedged between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve. I say confounding because, for the better part of this week, I'll never really know what day it is. Well, I've always maintained that it's good for us to sometimes lode our illusion of control, and always having to know the day is just one of those. If losing track of the days is difficult for you, try this little stab at control. I give you a bullet list:


A Jolly Winter Scene

The young couple across the street is busily making a snow man with their little girl. We're enjoying watching them so much, I thought I'd take a picture. It's the simple things that give so much pleasure.

A Quiet Boxing Day - Scrabble Maybe?

As I sit here in bed, looking out of the bay windows, all I see is white! We had quite a blizzard on Christmas Eve that really gave everyone (in our house anyway) the Holiday spirit. It's still pretty cold out there, but it's warmer than it was yesterday at this time. The last time we had a white Christmas here was in 2000, when Micah came down to visit and got snowed in. The only thing that the snow botched up was that Nathan couldn't spend the holiday with us; he was snowed in down in OKC and couldn't get up here.

One of the things I enjoy about living downtown, is that regardless of the weather, people walk around outside, carrying bags back from stores, walking their dogs, or just playing in the snow. At our other house, we were stuck out away from everything and never saw anyone.

The next thing is our annual New Year's Eve party. We're not doing a big deal this year, just a casual get-together with friends, with food, drink and music, and some fun. I usually have a theme (last year was a Tiki Bar theme), but everyone's just too worn out from the cares and hassles of the year.

So another one's in the can. Whew! I love Christmas, but I'm always glad when it's over!


Just a Couple More Thoughts

Today it's bright and sunny, but it's only 19° so I doubt the foot of snow we got yesterday will melt anytime soon.

We had the best Christmas Eve ever (we open our presents then). We had a great buffet set up, and after opening our pressies we watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carole and finished off with White Christmas. Today we'll just be lounging around in our jammies, new robes, socks, blankets, etc., eat, watch more movies, and relax.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas (or whatever your celebrate) and that you remain safe and warm!


My Tamales!

Being the pastiest gringo you can imagine, it's reasonable that I've never made a tamale in my life. Being from southern California, however, I have eaten my fair share, especially on Christmas Eve. Well, tonight I spent about 3.5 hours in the kitchen making about four dozen tamales. I'm proud of myself. It's not hard, but it is extremely time-consuming. I hope everyone enjoys them, because I probably won't do this again! Not without finagling a couple of people to help me. Anyway, here are my first Christmas Eve tamales! Click to enlargiate.

Niarb Ym Seldda Sserts

Due to the Hashimoto's that is kept largely at bay with proper medication, my body does not react at all well when I experience a particularly stressful day. Like yesterday.

Have you ever had one of those days that just starts out badly and only gets worse? Of course. We all have them. Yesterday was one of those for me. I've always described these as days when, "Everything I touch turns to ashes." The problem for me is the way I feel guilty for complaining. I mean, there are people with real problems and when I piss and moan about my piddly little stresses, I feel guilty. But we have to beef, you know. I do it employing the best damned sardonic humor I can musterI'm a Libra after all, and that kind of humor is what we do best. It worked, but today I'm wiped out...

Dogs Don't Go to Heaven!

Well, the Rapture didn't happen. Not that I'm surprised or anything, but damn! I had plans to be the first in line to loot the local Hobby Lobby. Shit happens, man, and I guess I'll be dealing with the the Born Agains here for a while longer...


Monday Stuff

Do you remember a little while back when I said Addios, Firefox? Well, I've said hello again. Seems they've gone back to the previous version or something, because it's now working perfectly, exactly as it did before they added all the crap that made it unusable on my laptop...


Perchance to Dream

Please, please, please???

The Rapture is Nigh!

Apparently, according to some people, the Rapture will take place sometime tomorrow, the 21st. I always wonder what these people will do with their crappy websites when their prophecies don't come true; I intend to check them out after midnight to find out...


What a way to start the day!

What's better than waking up to hot coffee, orange juice, and Panera's pastry ring and soufflé? Hearing Nettl and Lauren in the living room discussing making a big pot of chili for dinner! Lauren's home for the weekend before leaving for France on Monday. She'll be spending Christmas and the New Year there, as well as Switzerland and Brittany.

What a way to start the day!


No Snow

I just checked the 10-day weather forecast and there's no snow in sight. I may as well still be in California. My first Christmas here spoiled me, you see. We got socked in by a snow and ice storm that was so bad, they closed down the interstate from Kansas to Texas. It was great! We all stayed indoors, sat at the bar, and enjoyed music and laughter together. I thought it would always be like that. We don't have a bar now either, but we still have each other!

Don't ask me where I found this picture; you know how Google image search is...


The Stockings Were Hung 'Round the Cottage With Care

If you remember, in our other house we had a big, beautiful fireplace and hearth. Well, it was one of those electric fireplaces that have no fire in them (basically just light bulbs refracting off of some weird junk in a rolling cannister). But the mantle and surround were gorgeous and we always enjoyed decorating it for the holidays.

Our cottage has no fireplace, so we've had to make do. Yesterday I came up with the idea of hanging our stockings on our bedroom doors, and it looks great! We're actually enjoying this house more, because a cottage can handle a little whimsy, where the other house was just too elegant for that kind of thing...

Judge Not

Three times every day, rain or shine, a fellow who lives across the corner from us walks the same route. He leaves his house, crosses the corner and walks down our street to a certain house at the opposite end. He's always smoking a cigarette, he always coughs, and he always walks a little unsteadily. He's usually empty-handed, but sometimes he's taking something with him. One time it was a framed painting, one time a bag of things and yesterday it was a Rug Doctor. He returns in 15 or 20 minutes, goes back inside and doesn't  reappear unless it's to mow his lawn or sit on his porch, smoking.

Given the neighborhood, it's easy for me to suspect that he's a drug addict, but how can I really know? How can I judge? I try not to. And even if I'm correct, I don't know his circumstances. Maybe he's a vet who's gotten addicted through pain killers. Maybe he's helping out friends by giving them personal belongings to pawn. I can't know, and besides, it's really not my business.

Seems like everyone these days has set themselves up as judge and jury over other people's lives, and everyone's a hanging judge at that. Seldom do we experience leniency anymore, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt has flown out the window. Everyone assumes the worst, even of those we say we love. We've become stingy with the best parts of ourselves, those parts that set us apart from the beasts: grace, understanding, and empathy, and it's far easier to act from our fear than our reason. The truth is, everyone is just bloody terrified, thanks to television and other media, religion, and politics and as I've said before, there are only two emotions, love and fear; all others are the children of one of those two.

I don't quote biblical scripture much anymore, but Paul had some great things to say about love. Here's a comparative to ponder:
Love is patient and kind; 
(Fear is restless and mean)

Love is not jealous or boastful...
(fear is envious when it doesn't have what someone else has, and is egotistical when it does)

Love is not arrogant or rude.
(fear is conceited and 'in your face')

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
(Fear is selfish; it is cantankerous and bitter)

Love does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
(fear applauds the bad behavior of others, and ridicules their good deeds)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(Fear is cynical, believes in nothing, makes no room for positivity, and has no tolerance)

Love never ends.
(Fear is not our soul's natural state; it can be transformed into love)
Next week I'm making a bunch of Christmas goodies to leave anonymously on the porches of certain neighbors: the chap I just described, Myisha, who works two jobs to support herself (she's the young woman who bought our bicycle last Fall), and the young couple and baby who live directly across the street. None of these people have much and, hopefully, it'll surprise them with a little Christmas cheer. It's not much, but it's a start.


When Will It End?

I'm not whining, really I'm not. It's just that Mercury must be retrograde or something. As if giving myself a mild concussion last week wasn't enough, I cracked a bone in my finger last night. Typing this isn't easy, but sod it. If I put off doing things while I'm letting something heal, nothing would get done. The good news is, all of the concussion symptoms are gone and I didn't seem to do any real, irreversible damage. Unless, maybe, breaking my finger was evidence of my depth perception being affected. Nah, I've never had that.

Other than this, I'm getting a lot of work done for a client and last night my dreams were full of ideas for my musical (some are even usable). Yay, my creativity is returning! Now, if only I can get through the day without dropping something on my toe or running into a door. Glad we no longer have stairs.


Family Traditions, be They Ever so Humble

I'm not really in the mood to write an entry today, but Nettl wrote a great one about one of our family's Christmas traditions. It's funny how something that gets burned into your clan's collective memory can seem insignificant until someone brings it up and talks about it. Why don't you head over to her blog, A Window to My Soul, and find out about the infamous Ugly Chicken? (You know you want to...)


I'm a Guest Poster at Last!

I've always wanted to be asked to write a guest post. Seems to me that if someone asks you, it means they like your writing enough to entrust their hit counts to you for a day or so. Well, that dream has come true for me because Sue over at Back Door Logic recently invited me to write a guest post for her great blog. A few weeks ago I gave Sue my Remarkable Women Bloggers Award. You really should go check her out (and not just because of my guest post). She has so much wisdom, and her story is a compelling one. She's quite exceptional. To read my post, click here.

The great drawing is by Sue's brother-in-law, Steve Dean.


Friday Already?

What? I lost a couple of days this week. I know I was here. I have blog entries to prove it, but I just can't believe that it's already the weekend. I think it was Monday and Tuesday that I lost. Oh, well...


Wherever We Are, it's Damned Cold

When it gets as cold as it's been the past week, it's easy to find all of the air leaks in an old house. Last night it got down to 4° f, and my feet found every cold spot. I have to say though, for an 80 year-old house, it's more airtight than the new-construction house we lived in before moving. All the same, I had to put a rolled up blanket at the foot of the front door, and our big bed pillows up against the window seat in the bedroom.

As I sit here, cozy in my bed, I watch people outside, walking or biking to school with their parka hoods tied up tight. It's a clear day, with blue skies holding only a few wisps of clouds. If not for the barren trees, it could be spring or summer. The thermometer, however, tells me that it's now 19°. No snow in the forecast. It's supposed to get as high as 61° on Sunday... a heatwave!

That's the funny thing about this state. We're too far north to be the South (although maps say otherwise), and we're too far south to be considered the North. Likewise, we're too far west to be considered the Midwest, and we're too far east to be considered the Southwest. Most people think we're part of the Midwest, but the midwest ends at the southern border of Kansas. As someone who's from southern California, I have a hard time thinking of this as a Southwestern state. Wiki places us as a south-central state, which rings true with me. All of this ambiguity is played out in our weather patterns. Officially, this is the Mid-southwest, a classification I can live with.

Oh well, I have things to do today so I'd better get to them. I've venturing out to the store; I haven't had a headache for 24 hours, and I'm not feeling particularly "goofy" in the head either. And my brain hasn't stuttered once while writing this! Yeah, I think I can manage the half-mile trek to the store.


Thinking-Impaired Creep

I think I'm okay until I find myself doing something that I know better than to do... or until I attempt a sentence like that one and am not sure if it came out all right. (Why isn't there a contraction for "am not"? What would it be, am'nt?) It's not until I do something like I did last night that I'm pret-ty sure that I shouldn't attempt driving for a little while.

I consider myself to be web savvy. I'm a web designer after all and I've been hanging out in the ether since before it was called the Web. My first online experiences were in 1989 when I had a Q-Link account. $3.99 an hour... ouch!


Cat Wants Out, In, Out, In

Every morning, Lowrider and I go through the same routine: she goes to the front door employing the meow I recognize as demanding, "I want to go outside!" If I try to ignore it, even if for only a couple of seconds mind you, or if I hiss at her or tell her no, she starts clawing the chair, ripping up the tassel that hangs from the doorknob, and jingling the bells that decorate the door. When I finally give in, get up, and open the door, she sticks her head out looking around, and plops her hairy ass down. She'd do that for several minutes if I let her and all of the heat inside the house would escape. Then she looks up at me as if I'm supposed to do something about the freezing weather just for her. If I push her outside, she stands howling to get back in and if I don't, the routine continues on and on ad nauseum. Invariably I have to get up several times, and in my perturbation I trip over my laptop's power cord, ram my toe into the end of the bed, and nearly kill myself on the desk chair. Right now, with this concussion, my vision isn't so great when I first wake up and I feel a bit too disoriented to play this game...


Our Christmas Cottage

No presents under the tree yet,
but that will come in time.
(That's clock that clocked me!)
Lynette took these pictures to post on her blog, and because I don't feel up to taking new ones (and because these are so pretty), I've decided to post them too.


Wow, I have a concussion! As a kid I wanted one. Other kids got them, but not me. Now that I have one, I don't like it very much.

On Saturday evening we decorated our Christmas tree and as I was putting on the lights, I ran my head into the corner of the big antique wall clock. I saw stars and had to sit down because I got dizzy. Then it passed—outside of a headache—and we continued decorating. I had a hard time sleeping, and was nauseas, but yesterday I decorated the front porch, bought groceries and cooked a full-on Viennese dinner for a dinner party. Sleeping last night was really difficult and today I'm staying in bed. The nausea is still there—Tagamet and Rolaids didn't even touch it—so I'm going to take a nap as soon as I post this. Oh, lucky me! Bleagh.


Back By Popular Demand: 101 Gifts Under $10

Through the year (especially now that it's Christmas time) I've noticed a lot of hits on my blog that are generated by this entry's title. For all of you who want to see it again, here is my list of Christmas gifts for under $10.

  1. Gourmet coffee with a personal coffee cup
  2. A "blank book" and pen
  3. Teacup with a bag of tea samples
  4. Deck of cards and book of card game rules
  5. Homemade cocoa mix in a homey jar (wrap the lid with gingham and tie with a ribbon)
  6. Collage of special photos
  7. Gel pens and stationary
  8. Bottle of sparkling cider
  9. Inexpensive bottle of wine
  10. Home baked bread, include recipe
  11. Basket of deli cheese and fruit
  12. Holiday serving bowl or platter
  13. Christmas tree ornament (paint 2009 on it, something like, 2009 - Friends for 10 years!)
  14. Scented candles
  15. Decorative napkins and napkin rings
  16. Funny bar napkins, swizzle sticks, or shot glasses
  17. Fancy chocolate bars tied with a ribbon
  18. Gardening gloves with a plant, or flower seeds
  19. Hand decorated photo album
  20. Herbal soups tied in lace and ribbon
  21. Makeup tote
  22. Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking
  23. Special coffee cup filled with candy
  24. Vintage dish, vase, or pair of wine glasses from a favorite thrift store
  25. Vintage costume jewelry from the same thrift store
  26. Gourmet popcorn and flavored oil
  27. Locally made barbecue or steak sauce with basting brush
  28. Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup
  29. Old book from a used book store. Classics and poetry are especially nice.
  30. Board games
  31. Jar of pure honey with biscuit mix
  32. Note cards
  33. Picture frame with a meaningful photo
  34. Glass jar filled with candy
  35. Muffin mixes with muffin pan
  36. Set of dish towels and dish cloths
  37. Nail polish kit
  38. Pretty night shirt
  39. Basket filled with kitchen gadgets from a dollar store
  40. Video rental gift certificate
  41. Pepper mill and fresh peppercorns
  42. Handwritten copies of your favorite recipes
  43. For the pets, gourmet dog biscuits or cat treats
  44. Small clock or radio
  45. Decorated shoebox for keepsakes
  46. Colorful Post-It notepads
  47. Address book
  48. Puzzles
  49. Sewing supplies
  50. Favorite quote embroidered on a nice handkerchief
  51. Makeup brush set
  52. Cozy socks
  53. Home baked cookies and/or fudge
  54. Sets of special chopsticks
  55. Basket of Christmas cookie cutters
  56. Holiday guest towels
  57. New calendar
  58. Coasters
  59. Incense and holder
  60. Small figurine from an antique store
  61. Aromatherapy essential oils
  62. Emergency cell phone charger
  63. Silly tie for Dad, with the purpose of being silly
  64. Hand cream
  65. Massage oil
  66. Fleece throw
  67. Slippers
  68. For musicians: guitar picks, sheet music, note pads
  69. Something geeky from a place like this
  70. Tasteful fridge magnets
  71. Sample box of chocolates from a chocolatier
  72. Classic oldies CD
  73. Sealing wax and seal
  74. Pound of roasted cashews
  75. Scarf
  76. Mittens
  77. Sketch book
  78. On-sale gift book
  79. Nature gifts like these
  80. Bird feeder
  81. Table scarf
  82. House plant
  83. Glass paperweight
  84. Candle holder
  85. Trendy costume jewelry
  86. Decorative padded jewelry box
  87. Bubble bath or bath salts
  88. Small pail of electrical tools and tape
  89. Garage dads always need note pads and shop pencils
  90. Gag gifts
  91. Golf tees
  92. Mustache trimming kit
  93. Travel sewing kit
  94. Money clip
  95. Desktop calendar
  96. A homemade book of "naughty" coupons
  97. A homemade book of coupons for a massage, foot massage, hairbrushing, etc.
  98. Desk supplies
  99. Roll of pretty fabric. Buy remnants and tie with ribbon
  100. Wall decor that's on sale (check places like Hobby Lobby)
  101. Antique miss-matched silverware from a thrift store. Not an entire set, four teaspoons are nice


Reclaiming my Nine Years

When we moved last August, we couldn't afford to have the cable turned on, and even now it still seems like an unnecessary expense when we're struggling to keep food in the pantry. Sure, there are times when I miss it, especially right after dinner when I'd like to relax with something mindless, and especially on Sunday night; I really miss my Britcoms on PBS. Other than those two instances, however, I don't miss it at all...


I Got Them Washin' Machine Blues

It's not that our washing machine doesn't work anymore, it's just that we have to walk it through every cycle. Hell, we've had it for ten years and it's serviced five adults and three teens all that time. I'd say we got our money's worth, but since we can't afford a new one, and because I grew up with a dad who could make a washing machine last twenty years, I refuse to stress over it. All it needs is a new timer, and that we can get after the first of the year. Meantime, it's taking twice as long to do a load of wash because I keep forgetting to get up and advance the cycles

Ah, life.

The YouTube Generation

Yesterday, as I watched some Beatles videos on YouTube, I read some of the comments that other viewers had made, and the sad, nay, disgraceful shape of our educational system was really evident. Across the board, the kids cannot spell, or even form a coherent sentence. "I should of..." is common enough, but I saw even worse examples. And I'm  not talking textonics or lack of even intermediate language skills, I'm talking about gross misspellings of basic words that most of us learned by the third grade...


Sixties Faces: Astrid Kirchherr

Well, that title is a bit misleading, isn't it? This entry is really about a woman who created facesor imagesthat still hold power over our thinking half-a-century later.

Astrid Kirchherr was a mere 22 when she met the as yet unfamous Beatles in 1960. They were playing in a dive in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, Germany, and she saw something in them that inspired her artistic eye. The Beatles were young then (George Harrison was only 17), and they learned a great deal about life working and living in the red light district of Germany's "naughtiest" city...