Sunday, December 31, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
For Auld Lang Sucked
One year ago today, I did a year-end retrospective of the goings on here at WWIT in 2005. That was a fun year here. When I started thinking of such things to write today . . . let's face it, friends, 2006 has pretty much sucked around here.
Some good things: I discovered, in ways that still amaze, delight and a-tiny-bit scare me, how close I could become to people I don't know. On the flip side, I will say here, and probably never elaborate here, I learned how much I could be devastated, really made heartsick, by the deception of people that I don't know. The former so very much outweighs the latter, that it's OK. It really is OK.
I didn't write much this past year. And what I did, for the most part, was the stuff I hate to write, which can be condensed into, "I'm sick. I'm still sick. I don't know what's wrong. I'm scared. I'm still scared. They don't know what's wrong." You probably can't imagine how much I want to leave that place. How much I want to post, "They figured it out and I'm getting fixed!" Or even better, "I woke up and it was all gone!" It could happen. Things happen. Like that. Sometimes.
Anyhow, there are only two things from the past year that I am inclined to share with you again. There came a time, in late April, when I knew something was wrong with me, and I thought I'd stop posting until I got better, except for the Sunday Posts. At that time I thought, mistakenly, that "better" would be right around the corner. I did come back to posting, though, because I missed it (and you) too much. But my favorite Sunday Post, one whose meaning has taken on new dimension since I originally published it in June, was this one:
Sunday Post ~ "That which doesn't kill us . . . is gonna wish that it had." -- Starla Grady, Head Hornette, in the movie "She Gets What She Wants"
2 Timothy 1:7
And my overall favorite post of the year was one that didn't have many words at all. I liked it most because it still makes me laugh, and because it made my girl, eclectic, laugh so hard her husband banned her from the computer for the evening. I have heard Shari's voice, her cry and her laugh, and the thought of making her laugh enough to get her in trouble still tickles me tremendously. That's why I love this post, from last February:
Those turkey farmers across the hall from my office are at it again. Apparently since the turkey holidays are over, they have some time for recreation. And their recreation of choice is the building of snowmen, or, as one of them corrected me, "snowmans."
This snowman has low self-esteem. His nose is running, he slouches, and his mom dresses him funny.
This snowman is going to a formal affair. See his top hat? His self-esteem is better, although he is out of touch with his body. Especially the bottom third of it.
This snowman will need corrective footwear. But he has a very fine hat. See the round, fuzzy thing on top of the hat? When a round, fuzzy thing is on top of a hat, we call it a "pom pom."
What do we call it when it is located here? This snowman may have had an accident, or even an illness, but he can still live a normal, happy life.
This snowman is smiling from eye to eye. Why do you think that is?
Thanks for hanging in with me, you bunch o' ratsasstafarians. Bless your hearts. Sorry to suck so much. Hope next year finds more funny and less sick here. Or at least a funnier sort of sick. Maybe even a sicker sort of funny . . .
file under: &Meta-blogging &WTF Disease
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
At the new new-rollogist, who is a Howdy Doody/Doogie Howser combo platter. He does not impress me with either brilliance or sensitivity. I sit for many minutes, two separate times, on a purple vinyl exam table, in a white paper gown ("disrobe down to your undergarments, gown opens in the back") while he leaves the exam room to make phone calls. Checking on seriously ill patients? Nope. Calling stores at the mall looking for some damn thing that he has yet to buy, and must pick up after he leaves the office, after he finishes my alleged exam. I'm thinking he is not "the one." On to the next doc. (And who says "undergarments," for Doogie's sake!?)
Took LG to the final rehearsal of the church children's Christmas play, "Christmas, Where, When and Why." Left there thinking, "Dear Lord, these children need some help."
Somehow, between yesterday and today, prayers were answered, because the kids did an amazing job. LG played a wheelchair-bound paraplegic who realized she could still "bring Him glory, just the way I am." She sang a solo and did us all proud. And the other kids pulled it together, too. There were the two sisters, ages 12 and 7, who have "R" trouble, that is, all their Rs sound like Ws. And I don't know that I've ever heard anything sweeter than when they sang,
Do you wemember when you fiwst hewd the stowy of Jesus?I cried. So sweet.
It's the stowy of a mangew, the stowy of some shephewds,
The stowy of angels singing peace on eawth,
It's the stowy of a Saviow, the stowy of a viwgin biwth,
The stowy of a pwomise fwom God's wowd.
Then there was this coooool duuuuude who sang "The Thought-that-Counts Blues," in which he lamented
I really tried to smile when my neighbor came by with a fruitcake casserole
And call me ungrateful, but my Grandma Mabel gave me reindeer-scented cologne
After the "R Song," that one was my favorite :)
Before we went to bed, LG prepared Santa's milk and cookies, and the reindeers' carrots, and she also left a note and her VideoNow camera, telling Santa (sic), "I would very much love a picture of you. If its not to much troble, please take one. The directions are with the camera." And she left the directions.
Everyone at the Fairchild home must have been good this past year, because Santa was very generous. I got a couple of books, an outfit, some blingage (a diamond circle pendant), and other good stuff. Biscuit only got two gifts, and for some reason, Indie the fish got none (still trying to explain that), but everyone else was quite happy on Christmas morning. Santa left LG a note, saying, "I had my elf take a picture of me by your tree. I will email it to you soon. Ho Ho Ho."
Then it was on to join Jif's family at Nana and Pop Pop's. They really do an extravaganza of both food and gifts. This was their first time hosting a family Christmas since they moved to their smaller (though still plenty big) retirement home.
My FIL is, despite all the stories told of his younger, more under-the-influence days, quite the proper gentleman, and notoriously faithful to hearth and home, family values and the like. So what my BIL and I did to him on Christmas day in his own home was probably especially inappropriate. We were looking through old photo albums, old as in from the 30s and 40s. More often than not, if we couldn't figure out a great aunt or uncle, we'd call my MIL over to the table to make the I.D. Then we came upon a book that pre-dated even her. It was my FIL's photo album from before they were married, some 53 years ago. There was a photograph in there of a very attractive brunette, in a tam, on a city sidewalk, with a signature on the front, "Love, Elma." We asked my MIL who Elma was. At first she offered it must be Aunt Alma, but we assured her that it was clearly an "E," not an "A," and that we knew Aunt Alma, and this hottie was no Aunt Alma. This was Love Elma. So MIL came over to look, and she had never heard of Elma. So we had to summon FIL. As he made his way to the table, I came upon another photo of someone who looked an awful lot like Elma, again, on a city street corner, but this time with not one, but THREE baby carriages around her, with young'uns from infancy to toddlerhood occupying them.
"Ooh, look, the plot thickens," I said, "here's Love Elma with the Love Children . . . "
My BIL and I were laughing by the time my FIL got to the table. BIL presented the photo of Love Elma to his 76-year-old father, saying, "Do you remember tappin' this?!"
Not quite understanding the question, FIL looked back and forth from Love Elma to BIL. He slowly answered, "No . . ."
So I presented FIL with the photo of (possibly) Love Elma and the three Love Children, asking, "Does THIS refresh your memory?"
By this time, other sibs and MIL had gathered to give him a hard time about Love Elma and the Love Children.
Later on, after the timer was set to take the 16-member family Christmas photo, when someone said, "Let's take one more . . ." I said, "We'll send this one to Elma!"
Elma, if you're out there, and you remember Joe from Carbondale, email me.
Ever a man of his word, Santa emailed LG, with the promised photograph, taken by his elf, Bucky ;)
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Sunday Post ~ A story that we like to read on Christmas Eve
The Night of Peace
Then God spoke to all the animals and He told them, "I know that you are the worst sufferers of all -- you are persecuted and haunted by man, and slaughtered and killed in your thousands. But I am going to send Someone who will also take care of you."
The animals spoke back to God and they said, "How will we know when He comes?"
And God said, "You'll know when He comes because I will send a star, a shining star low over the land, and," He says, "this star will stop when I send the person I want to earth to teach you. Where that star comes to rest -- there my Son shall come to earth."
And the animals were pleased.
So, that night when Jesus was born, the old wolf came out of his den. He was very hungry. He too had heard the Word of God before that time and all day he had lain in his den so lean and hungry -- tonight he would go out and hunt. The moon was up and the stars were shining, and one great star came across the sky! The wolf looked and he saw and he felt peaceful, he felt no violence. He didn't want to kill, he didn't want to hunt, he didn't want anything. So he sat and he looked at the star and the star came to rest not far from where the wolf was: the place to this day is known as Bethlehem.
But he hadn't sat very long when the next one who came out of his den was a fox. The fox too was hungry and was intending to go and hunt that night, travel many, many miles to look for his fare. But after he came out of his den, and the moon was shining clear and he saw the star (and he too had heard the Word of God when God spoke to all animals), he felt peaceful and content with the world. He had no urge to kill, he had no urge to steal, no urge to do anything, he just wanted to sit and be peaceful.
So he walked up and he sat down beside the wolf. The wolf and the fox were never really enemies -- hey kept apart from each other but they never really were enemies. So the wolf turned round and said, "Well, Mister Fox, I see you're on your hunt tonight again."
"Oh yes," he said, "but I feel very funny. I feel hungry -- more than hungry -- I've been lying in my den in my cave, hiding out all day, but I've got no urge to kill, no urge to steal -- and it overpowers my hunger pangs."
"The same with me, " says the wolf, "I feel the same way. You remember that God told us that one night He was going to send His Son to earth to walk among animals and people and teach them the way this earth should be run?"
"Aye," says the fox, "I got word of that too."
"Well, I expect," says the wolf, "this is the night."
So the two of them sat talking for a wee while, when who comes tottering down his path but a big brown hare! And he came to a full stop beside the wolf and the fox. And the wolf paid him no heed and neither did the fox. The hare was amazed. Otherwise he would have stopped terrified. But he felt no fear! Any other time he'd have been off like a shot in case the wolf or the fox would get him. He sat with his ears straight up!
And it was the wolf who spoke, "Well, Mister Hare, I see you're off on your rambles tonight again."
"Well," the hare said, "I was off down the valley to the farm. A grass field is there and I was off to fill my belly and have a feed. But I have no inclination tonight . . . I feel hungry but I've no inclination to eat. I feel so peaceful and quiet, " he said, "I feel at peace with the world. Even you two -- I feel at peace with you although you're my enemies."
"Oh!" said the wolf, "pay no heed to us tonight! Tonight is the Night of Peace. Have you not heard," he said, "the Word of God?"
"Oh yes," said the hare, "I've heard the Word of God, that some day he's going to send His Son, God's Son, to walk among us, among all humans and animals and teach them the Word of God -- how animals should be treated on this earth as well as human beings."
"Well," said the wolf, "I expect tonight is the night. Look down the valley there, the moon is shining and you'll see the shepherd sitting out with his sheep, and his dogs are beside him! Those dogs have picked up our scent long long ago, the scent of the wolf and the fox and probably the scent of you too. And they pay no heed, they too are peaceful. So is the shepherd. Tonight I think all animals will be peaceful."
"Well," the hare says, "tonight if you're going to be like that and the fox is going to be like that, why don't we all gather together -- you go that way and I'll go this way, and let the fox go another direction! Tell every animal that you meet on your way that tonight is the night God has sent His Son to earth, and we shall have a night of peace -- no animal shall destroy another."
"Well," says the wolf, "that would be a very good plan, for tonight I feel very funny -- I feel so happy although I'm hungry!"
So the wolf went in one direction, the fox went in another direction and the hare went another. The hare met all the small mammals along the way and he told them the same thing -- from the very little shrew-mouse to the hedgehog, the rat, the vole and the water vole -- and everyone felt the same.
So the fox went off and he met many other animals -- he met the rabbits and he met the badger, he met the stoat and he met the weasel -- he met them all and told them the same thing, "This is the Night of Peace."
So the wolf went off and he wandered in the same way. He met the deer -- the deer was amazed because the wolf never chased him -- and the deer was peaceful. The wolf traveled on and on and he walked among the cattle. The cattle were peaceful. Till he came to the donkey -- the donkey was peacefully grazing. And the wolf walked up.
He says to the donkey, "Hello!"
"Oh!" says the donkey,"I see you're on your travels tonight once again," and the donkey stood still.
He said to the donkey, "Tonight all the animals are at peace."
"That's true," said the donkey, "all the animals are at peace! Why have you come to disturb me?"
"I have not come to disturb you," he said. "I have come to tell you the good news."
The donkey says, "Look, Mister Wolf, you don't have to come tell me the news. I too, more than anyone else, have heard the Voice of God! And this night," he said, "is the night that God's Son is born. Let us all be at peace!"
And that night, the whole night through, all the animals on the hills, the mountains, in valleys and woods were at peace with each other. No one touched another, no one killed another, and the whole night out they celebrated the coming of Jesus Christ to earth!
-- A Scottish story told in "Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children"
And another story for Christmas Eve:
Wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, Peace be with you, tonight and throughout this season and the coming year.
Amen and Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 22, 2006
And We Cheat!
Since I just told you how we lie and steal at Christmas, I figured I'd go all out and tell you how we cheat, too. Well, to be perfectly honest (sometimes I am!) I should say I cheat. I am the cheater in the family. And I suppose in the process of cheating, I have lied as well. (Isn't that always the way with cheaters?) The story I am about to tell you is true. The names have been changed to protect . . . well, no one, because everyone who would recognize anyone will recognize them even with the changed names, but I'll change them anyway. I always said that this story could not be told until at least two of the parties involved were deceased. But that was rather an extreme position, because it's not like it's a matter of national security, it's just a matter of . . . vanity, ingenuity and deception. In that order.
Long, long ago, in a department store about 5 miles away, there shopped three fair ladies. There was the Queen; her daughter, Princess Shirazz; and her daughter-in-law, Lady Susie. The Queen has long been reputed to be very difficult to shop for (for whom to shop?). This is because, as is often the case with Queens, if she wants something, she already has it. Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie were meandering through the Women's department at Macy's when the Queen spied a sweater that she fell instantly in love with (or with which she fell instantly in love). Now, this was quite exciting to Lady Susie, who had not yet bought the Queen a Christmas gift. The Queen held up the sweater, a black, tunic length turtleneck with brightly colored diamond shapes on the front (an argyle sweater, it was), and both Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie agreed that this was the perfect garment for the Queen, and would most definitely fit her as though it were custom made. The Queen agreed, and Lady Susie was just about to insist that the Queen allow her to purchase the sweater as a gift, when the Queen looked at the size tag. It read, "2X." And the Queen said, "Oh. It's a 2X. I wear a 1X. I can't wear that big thing."
Rats (entire rats, not just asses). Princess Shirazz and Lady Susie set about scouring the racks for the same argyle sweater in a size 1X, but alas, it was not to be found. Lady Susie did, however, find a similar sweater, by the same designer, in a size 1X. And she held it up beside the Queen's beloved sweater, pointing out to the Queen the REALITY that there really was only a miniscule difference between the two sizes, and since the Queen loved the sweater, and since it would most certainly fit, and since Lady Susie was so freakin' tired of trying to think of a nice gift for the Queen, one that she would actually use, then wouldn't it be acceptable, just this once, to buy the size 2X?
"No." The Queen had spoken.
Lady Susie pulled Princess Shirazz aside and told her that she had a plan. She asked the Princess to keep the Queen busy. And then Lady Susie did something that is almost certainly wrong, by someone's book of what's right and what's wrong, but probably (though not definitely) was not illegal. And perhaps not even immoral. Well, you be the judge.
Lady Susie took the size 2X sweater that the Queen loved, and a size 1X sweater by the same manufacturer, into the fitting room. And there, being a former Brownie who is always prepared, she took from her purse a small pair of scissors, and she (oh no she di'int) (oh yes she did) carefully cut the 1X tag from the "other" sweater. She put the tag in her purse for safekeeping, and then, unbeknownst to the Queen, she purchased the size 2X black tunic turtleneck argyle sweater.
Later, back at the palace, Lady Susie ever-so-carefully removed the size 2X tag from the garment, and ever-so-carefully handstitched the size 1X tag back in its place. She then placed the lying sweater in a gift box and lovingly wrapped it in fine Christmas paper.
On Christmas morning, when the Queen opened the sweater, she exclaimed, "Oh! I can't believe you found it in my size! I LOVE it." And that was the truth, because the Queen was seen wearing that sweater for several years to come.
So there you have it. I did not set out to do a series of true confessions at Christmas time, as I have done in my last few posts. But I do feel better for having cleared my conscience. At least until the Queen hears of this.
Something about Christmas brings out my need to confess. I just recalled that last year at this time, I told y'all about some lying and cheating, too.
And now, I give you the Christmas Fairchildren. This is from the photo we sent out with our Christmas cards, except their noses were the regular boring color in those photos. Thanks to Shawkey, I was reminded of how much fun it is to give red noses to those who can't do anything to stop you. You do it, too! And go tell Shawkey if you do. She has issued a challenge!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
We Not Only Lie at Christmas; We STEAL, Too!
I swear we didn't mean to.
It was last night. We had been to the mall. (Here I must pause to high-five Jesus and anyone who's been praying for me. My WTFy legs taking me through the mall at the end of the day is truly a Christmas miracle.) THE MALL. At night, the week before Christmas. So we were in a weakened, vulnerable state. A grumpy state. A spacey state. A hungry state.
When we got home, there were the boxes that perch on our porch almost daily now, courtesy of the UPS man. One of them was a Harry & David box. That means some good things to eat! We know this, because we've gotten them before, from nice people. So we bring it in. It's the Deluxe Gift Tower! Woohoo!
Weakened, vulnerable, grumpy, spacey, hungry Jif holds it aloft, like Simba in the Lion King. Woohoo!
"Ha! Hold it like Simba again, let me get a picture!" Woohoo!
Then I take over. "Let's see . . . we've got your chocolate covered cherries . . . got your truffles . . . got your mixed nuts . . . got some very pretty apples . . . and . . . pears!" Woohoo!
Then Jif takes over again. And I, from the comfort of the family room couch, ask him, "Hey! Who's it from?"
"Says . . . Harry & David."
"Does not! Find the card!" Woohoo! Chocolate covered cherries!
"Says . . . Jane and Will Johnson. They thank us for our support." Woohoo!
"Woo . . . WHO?" We don't know Jane and Will Johnson. We look more closely. It's our address on the label. But it's NOT OUR NAME! The Deluxe Gift Tower was NOT OURS! It was sent to The Gorillas, at our address. We bought our house from the Gorillas. Five years ago! Oh, &%^$! One truffle and two cherries had already been consumed.
Really, how much support could the Gorillas be to the Johnsons if they moved 5 years ago and never even told them? We would be much more supportive than that.
(Tune in next time for, "And We Cheat!")
Monday, December 18, 2006
The Annual Telling of the Lies
Every year, as part of the sacred celebration of that holiest of holidays, the birth of our Lord and Savior, I lie like a rug. I just sent an email, claiming to be someone I'm not. It was to my daughter, from email@example.com. A couple of years ago, as Christmas approached, she was not making a name for herself on the "nice" list, if you know what I'm saying. Her room was atrocious, impenetrable, even. Finally, that year, the fat man threatened her with not leaving any gifts at all, if his elves did not report back to him that at least her floor was visible by Christmas Eve. (Yes, I have saved that letter so that she can take it to her therapist some day.)
The first Christmas lie (Santa doesn't count) was one that LG actually originated herself, and there was no way I was contradicting it. When she was a wee little high-chair sitter, her wee high-chair sat next to our breakfast room window. Out that window, she had a perfect view of the home of our neighbor, Missy Colleen, who lived around the block from us, and a corner of whose backyard joined a corner of our backyard. At the front of Missy Colleen's house stood a very tall utility pole. On that pole was (and I guess still is, though we moved a few years ago) a large, bright, street light. When toddler LG looked out that kitchen window, one dark December evening (no doubt after I'd been indoctrinating her with the Christmas story, as I did since she was about 10 months old), she pointed a plump, dimpled finger toward that light and said excitedly, "THE STAW-UH!"
I looked. I saw no staw-uh. Of course, I didn't yet know what a staw-uh was. LG was undaunted by my ignorance.
"THE STAW-UH! THE STAW-UH!"
"The . . . staw? uh?" I tried to understand, since clearly it was something quite special.
"THE STAW-UH OF BUFF-LA-HAM!"
Well, I'll be darned. She was right. There, big as life and twice as bright, was the Star of Bethlehem, curiously affixed to a pole in front of Missy Colleen's home. The Staw-uh of Buff-la-ham, indeed. The beauty of that perception is . . . Missy Colleen. If the Star of Bethlehem were going to take up residence in suburban Baltimore, there is no place more worthy of its residence than Missy Colleen's house. She LOVES her some Jesus, and will tell you so at the drop of a hat. She is in her late 70s now, and she will tell you about her younger years when she lived a rather "worldly" life. She will also tell you how once she met Jesus, in her 50s, her life began again. Missy Colleen (as she refers to herself) is in a wheelchair, from childhood polio. (Her wheels never stopped her from "getting around," back in the day.) She is beautiful, in face, in body, in spirit. A few years ago, she married a tall handsome man who attends to her in the way in which she should be attended, and who sings show tunes with her, for the entertainment of visitors, say, a "young" friend with WTF disease who drops in to ask Missy Colleen for prayer. I adore Colleen. She is an example to me of a mature Christian. She is more conservative than I, in many ways, but mostly she is trying every day to do her best to follow Christ, and to acknowledge that whatever wrong thing someone else is doing, she probably did as bad or worse, or would have if she'd thought of it, and God still loves us all.
So, I ask you, why would the Star not sit right out in front of Missy Colleen's? Well, it would, of course. LG asked me, either last year or the year before, if you can still see the Star of Bethlehem from our old kitchen window. I said I believe you can. You know, as I write this, maybe that's not a lie after all.
What lies do you tell, or were you told, in celebration of Christmas?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Sunday Post ~ "Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle." -- Annie Besant
file under: &Sunday Post
Friday, December 15, 2006
What Do You Give the Girl Who Has WTF?
Earlier this week at chez Fairchild:
Jif: You haven't told me what you want for Christmas...
Susie: Yea, if I were you, I'd hold off on spending the big bucks on ME. I mean, you might want to wait until I get a diagnosis before you go buying anything with a long shelf-life, if you know what I'm sayin'...
Jif: Oh, stop.
This afternoon, out to lunch, after today's appointment:
Jif: So, now that you're not going to be dying any minute now, what do you want for Christmas?
The doc today said that while the throat symptoms are suggestive of monstrous diseases, he does not see the "muscle wasting" that one would expect to see present with the monstrous illnesses. (Remember the insult, "Up your nose with a rubber hose?"* Well, that keeps happening to me, like today, except it's up my nose AND down my throat with a rubber hose on which is affixed a video camera. How's THAT for an insult?) He says I should keep pursuing a diagnosis with the New-Rollogist -- I'm seeing a NEW New-Rollogist next week -- and that I should see a speech pathologist to help me learn to deal with the weird throat muscle contractions that are plaguing me like . . . a plague. So. It was not bad news; just not as good as I'd wished for. I must be patient. Some more. Apparently. And pray. Some more. And I can do that. Especially with help. With helpers. Thanks, helpers :)
*It's funny how perspective changes. I've probably thought many times in my life, after visiting someone in the hospital or such, that I would HATE to have a tube up my nose, down my throat. Now, if someone offers to stick a flexible scope up my nose, or an inflexible lead pipe down my throat, I'm all, "HELLZ YEA! If it'll help you help me, by all means, bring it on!" I want to go back to being a normal person with only the occasional finger stuck up my nose.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
2nd Annual Blog Cookie Exchange! Come in, come in!
Welcome, everyone! I'm a little late getting started today, due to a brief power outage, but we're good now. Come in and get comfy. There's some of my favorite Christmas music in the CD player -- quite a variety, with Handel's Messiah, Odetta and Emmylou Harris. Tip: can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving. Asparagus Rollups
Random Acts of Christmas
Early yesterday morning, I got a phone call from a friend I hadn't seen in nearly a year. I had talked to her once over the summer, telling her about WTF. She called to tell me that she had held a cookie exchange "in my honor" and that she had a large tray of cookies for me, in case I wasn't up to baking this year. Now, how nice is that? I was so touched. I might feel like baking, but now, if I do bake, it will be because I want to do it for fun with my kid, and not because it is one more thing on my holiday to-do list. What a gift she gave me, the gift of freedom from have-to.
No cookie recipes here this time. But I will share a delishus cookie go-with: Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate (not my own, thank Paula Deen). I have never had, nor can I imagine, a hot chocolate that tastes better than this one.
Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water
mini marshmallows or whipped cream (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL. Top with marshmallows, if desired.
And an appetizer that always disappears quickly and completely:
This is my creation, based on input from blogfriends Greenie and Mamaramma, from back in the days when dooce comments was a place to hang out. I don't know how much of anything you need, but just get you some:
Fresh asparagus (a bunch)
Thinly sliced (not shaved) prosciutto ham (1/2 pound?)
Whipped cream cheese with chives (or plain, or any other flavor you like, just make sure it's whipped, for easier spreading)
Spring onions (you want the green tops) or a package of chives
Cut the ends off the asparagus spears. Drop the remaining spears into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Then put them immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. You want them "crisp-tender."
Take a slice of ham and spread a thin layer of the cream cheese on it, covering entire slice.
Put an asparagus spear at the edge of the ham, and roll it up, wrapping the ham around it. The cream cheese will act as glue.
With a very sharp knife, cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces (about an inch, or just a tiny bit longer). Sharp is important, because a dull knife will pull the ham off the asparagus, causing you to curse and throw the knife. And how Christmasy is that, really?
Next, with your very sharp knife, slice the green onion tops length-wise, into long, thing "strings." (If you've bought chives, they're already string size.) Tie a green onion string into a bow or a knot, around each little package. Is that cute or what? And people eat them like crazy.
We'll still be doing the Star cake and LG's homemade Christmas card, that I told you about last year. Here are a few more things that we do every year.
Like many families, we watch "Rudolph" on TV. Call me an old fogey, but I remember, and am wistful for, the days when Rudolph (and all the other Christmas shows, and The Wizard of Oz) came on broadcast television ONCE a year, and if you missed it, well, that was tragic. There were no DVDs, no videos, in the sixties when I was in grade school. Everyone looked forward to the Christmas shows, and watched as a family. We watch Rudolph together now, at least one of the umpteen times it's on one of the bazillion channels. But we are not alone. We have, in our possession, the entire cast of Rudolph. And every year, LG gets them out of their plastic tub in the basement closet, to watch the show. A cast party, I guess you could say. Then they stay out the rest of the season to play. Here they are, assembled last Friday night to watch their glory days.
These folk were part of a promotion that Rite Aid drug stores offered some years back. I remember that some of them were elusive, and Aunt Jen in Maryland and Granny in North Carolina diligently hunted them down. I don't know what year it was, but it was long enough ago that a toddling LG called Yukon Cornelius, "Chew-pon Bee-nee-lee-us," so of course, that is still his name. Chewpon.
Another tradition we have is one that comes from our church. Every year, the kids in the Sunday School make paper Advent chains. One paper link in the chain for each day of Advent. On each piece of paper in the chain is written an assignment for the reader to do on that day. For example, "Sing Joy to the World," or "Pray for those who have no homes. Donate some money or food to the Food Bank," or "Call someone who lives alone and wish them Merry Christmas. If they're not home, sing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' on their answering machine." Good stuff. The Advent chain is residing on the tiny Advent tree in our kitchen right now. The tree gets a new tiny ornament every day.
And here's a tradition that we don't do, but I've always admired. The reason we don't do it is because another family in our church originated it, and it was sort of "their thing." When their children were small, they would save up empty toilet paper rolls and then fill them with small candies and toys, then wrap them up with the wrapping paper gathered beyond the ends of the roll and tied with ribbon, so they looked like "Christmas crackers." Then the kids would give out the wrapped presents to anyone and everyone at church, usually on Christmas Eve. But you could do it at school, in the neighborhood, wherever. I once asked the mom where they got that tradition, and she said that it was important to her that her children have the experience of giving to people from whom they had no expectation of receiving anything in return. I liked that. Giving just to give, not to "exchange" gifts.
And one more tradition. We discovered some years ago, quite by accident, that Santa has a tradition at our house. When LG was a preschooler, Santa actually borrowed some of OUR wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. He left LG's presents, with tags that clearly indicated they were to her, from him, BUT she recognized the wrapping paper as some she had seen in our closet! And, bright child that she is, she concluded that Santa will use your wrapping paper if you leave it out for him, but ONLY that which has his picture on it. He takes that to mean, "It's yours if you want it." Makes sense to me. Ever since then, we've left out a roll of paper with Santa's face prominently featured on it. We don't wrap any of our gifts to each other in that kind of paper. So now Santa doesn't have to tell us what is from him. We can tell by the "signature" giftwrap. (I love Christmas.)
When I Don My Gay Apparel
At some point, I'll wear my "Kids Need a Stable Background" sweatshirt that I showed you last year. I also have a thing for fun, but tacky holiday jewelry. Like rhinestone Rudolph earrings and colored lightbulb necklaces:
Almost every year I add to my little collection. Last year I even tried my hand at making some holiday jewelry, which I believe might be on display this year at Bucky's place.
What I'm Giving
Oops, I almost forgot! These are a couple of gifts that I will be giving this year:
Most of my shopping has been online, for better and for worse. I found these two little somethin's: a no-battery flashlight, that actually works and is quite bright. Only $7 -$8. And a box of three Philosophy (I LOVE Philosophy) lip glosses: "the ginger bread man, the milk man, and the ice cream man" are the three good men inside. You can give the whole box to one someone, or take them out of the box for stocking stuffers, about $25 for all three.
So, that's my party today. Stay as long as you like. If you don't have a blog, tell us about your holidaying here. If you do have a blog and you're joining in the Cookie Exchange today, leave a note and I'll come visit. I hope everyone who visits here will visit everyone else who extends an invitation, too.
Oh, and if you missed the invitation last week, this will get you started. Tell us:
Favorite holiday recipes
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel :)
Thank you for stopping in. Merry Christmas. Surf safely ;) xxx
Tip: can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Sunday Post ~ "Once we learn to be genuinely happy for others' good fortune, then no matter what our circumstances, we are never without a reason to be happy." -- Susie Fairchild
Thanks for telling me happy somethings this past week. When I went visiting, I found another happy something. A poem at KimS's place, that tickled me. And wouldn't you know, I had the perfect photograph to accompany it, just sitting in my camera waiting for the right words.
What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stand he sit almost;
When he hop he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly;
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got almost. --Anonymous
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I was going to call this post, "My Tits Have Been Recalled," but I'm not bold enough to put that in big green letters. Little black letters? Yea, no problem.
Do y'all remember back in the summer when I was rejected from having a mammogram BECAUSE I had found a lump in my breast? (And if you don't remember, the previous sentence is not in error, that's what happened. Go read.) Well, I went back when I was permitted to, and got the mammogram, got the sonogram . . . took weeks to track down my previous films so they could compare them, but eventually, I got the "all clear," as I expected I would. They told me to come back in a year. One less body part to worry about. Well, two less.
Now they call me from "A" Radiology to tell me that they have done a "medical audit" of their mammography files, and sonofagun, they did me wrong. I should not have been put in the "come back next year" pile. The medical auditor said I should have been put in the "better follow up sooner" pile. So I'll be going back early next month. Actually, I see the gyn again in two weeks and if she tells me to go before that, I will.
Gotta laugh to take a break from crying. WTF symptoms are getting louder. The Room-At-All-Ogist was clueless, although I go back to see him next Thursday to go over test results. And next Friday I see a doc at the "among the best docs in the world" place here, who specializes in throat troubles related to neurological disorders. I am hoping, praying, wishing, vibrating, that he will know of something other than ALF that will explain my troubles.
All day an old Anne Murray song has been playing in my head,
Sure could use
A little good news
You got any GOOD news? Tell me something good, wouldja?
file under: &WTF Disease &Can't Make This Stuff Up
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
2nd Annual Blog Cookie Exchange: An Invitation
Last year, a good time was had by all, so a tradition was born. You can read about it here and here. The idea is, we like to hang out together. If we could, we'd share some holiday cheer in person. But since most of us can't, we'll do the next best thing. Virtual celebration. Next Wednesday, December 13, will be the official Blog Cookie Exchange posting day. If you need to arrive earlier or later, no worries. (See, in some ways, it's better than an IRL party! And you don't have to clean your house.) Here's how it works: On or about December 13, post your
Favorite holiday recipes
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel :)
and/or anything else you'd like to tell us about your holiday celebration. As is the custom here, there aren't many rules. Whatever you'd like to share is fine -- carols, stories, decorations, something new that you're trying this year, whatever. Here it's Christmas, but all holidays are welcome. If you don't celebrate ANYTHING, then your grinchy scroogey ass can just fake it for one day, for goodness' sake! Make something up! And you don't HAVE to include cookies, if cookies aren't your thing. It's just that Cookie Exchange has a nice, Christmas ring to it. Better than, say, "shindig" or "hootenanny," although it may turn into either or both.
If you don't have a blog, leave your contributions here in the comments. If you DO have a blog, leave a comment here next Wednesday on the Cookie Exchange post, and we'll all come to your party, too. I think last year I went to about 20 parties in one day! And I didn't gain any weight or need a designated driver!
This year, I am pleased to offer a special (oh-so-special) entertainment opportunity in conjunction with the Blog Cookie Exchange. It's a holiday performance by our very own Nilbo! If you click on him here, you'll find out how to order "The Truth About Christmas," and bring Nilbo, as he likes to say, into your bedroom. For a mere 5 U.S. dollars, you get Nilbo's skillful storytelling, plus wonderful holiday music courtesy of his friends. Go to his place and read about it! This is a BARGAIN. Plus, Nilbo said it will help keep him from having to live in a van down by the river. (Although I must confess, when he said that, it made me NOT want to order the thing, because, really, how enjoyable would that be, to know that he was posting live from a van down by the river?)
The Truth About Christmas
So here's the deal, again. We wanna come to your place and eat your cookies and rummage around in your things and stuff next Wednesday. After we leave and you clean up, you can relax and enjoy Nilbo and friends. Good times. See you then!
(Oh, and do post an invitation at your place, if you're so inclined -- everyone is welcome, the more the merrier!)
Monday, December 04, 2006
Anything for the Kids!
This post will contain some profanity. Even some profane references to children! If that troubles you, get the hell outta here and come back another day :)
William recently wrote a very entertaining post about The Office, and its effect on viewers. I was at first surprised to read, in the post and in many of the comments, how the humor in that show makes some people very uncomfortable. I find it extraordinarily funny, and not at all discomfiting. As I read what others had to say, though, I realized that I have developed a rather high level of tolerance for human behavior that horrifies (not in an axe-murdering way, but in a politically incorrect, socially inept kind of way) others. This is a product of working in the mental health field. For our own sanity, we supervisors at the agency where I work often laugh at things that just plain ain't funny. But we understand the function of the laughter, and accept that oddity about one another.
Discussing such things with Jif, I was reminded of a time when I, and others, behaved in such a way that our "humor" made someone else extremely uncomfortable. I used to serve on the Board of Trustees of a small private school where LG went to pre-school and kindergarten. I was on the board for years before she was born. It was by far the most painless such assignment I have ever accepted, because unlike other non-profit boards I've served on, this one had some money. Not a lot, but plenty enough, thanks to very good leadership by my neighbor, the board president, over a number of years. Because there was money to do almost everything we needed to do, meetings were quite painless and stress-free. Sometimes outrageously so, with lots of laughter and silliness. On the board were parents and other community residents from many different disciplines. There were educators, attorneys, techies, an architect, butcher, baker, candlestick maker. The one discipline that was not represented at that time, but was needed, was accounting -- a CPA.
The little building that houses the school is very, very old, with a lovely slate roof which needed repairing. The architect board member was given the task of getting prices from slate roofers in the area. She reported back to the board that she had been successful in getting a roofer at a decent price. She had haggled with him to get the price down, and he finally relented and told her, "I'll do it . . . but only because it's for the g*d#a^n%d kids!" For whatever reason, the lateness of the hour, the juxtaposition of profanity and "kids," whatever, we thought that was hilarious, and took up the chant, responding to every agenda item, "Yea, it's for the g*d#a^n%d kids! Anything for the g*d#a^n%d kids!"
That night, after the architect had presented her report, we had a guest arrive at the meeting. A CPA. We needed a CPA, and the director had invited him to meet us, see what we did, and determine whether he'd like to serve on the board with us. In service to the g*d#a^n%d kids. Of course, he hadn't been there for the start of the kid-cussing, knew nothing of its genesis earlier in the meeting. The thing was, none of us were able to muster enough maturity or propriety to stop cussing the kids after our guest arrived. And mind you, there was not a person in the room who had ever ACTUALLY cursed at a kid, except perhaps when we WERE kids. But that night, we picked up the roofer's persona and chatted on and on about the little b@st@ards, each one using a more heinous epithet or more absurdly profane turn of phrase, and everyone (except ONE person) laughing to the point of tears with each new agenda item.
I had been asked to investigate the possibility of purchasing a small, used bus for field trips. A "short bus," if you will. Truth is, I hadn't done my homework, but I offered a report something like this: "Rather than purchasing a bus for the little m*ther#uck%rs, I was thinking maybe we could work out an arrangement to use another organization's bus when they don't need it. I saw a Department of Corrections bus on the side of the road, just sitting there for hours, while the inmates picked up trash. There is no reason we couldn't have been hauling our little b@st@rds to the zoo while the cons were picking up the trash!"
My "report" was received enthusiastically, but with some modifications. "But if we've got the little sonsabitches on their bus, we oughtta have the inmates here at the school doing something!" A chorus of "Yea!"s, followed by suggestions: let the inmates landscape the playground while the g*d#a^n%d kids played among them; let the inmates volunteer in the classroom, teaching the little f*c#ers about "stranger danger," and on and on, each idea more WRONG than the one before.
The CPA/guest didn't contribute much to the meeting. And truthfully, I think most of us forgot he was there. At one point, I remembered, and noted the stunned look on his face. I thought at the time, "He ain't coming back."
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
From the time LG was a baby, her Daddy has been the one to put her to bed. This started when she was months old, and I returned to work part-time. I would spend my days with her, and my evenings I would go to work and see clients. To keep her routine consistent, even when I was home, Jif would do the honors. I would give my kisses and say my sweet things to her in the living room, and Jif would take her into her room and go through their ritual: tucking, holding hands and praying, a kiss, an "I love you." I have loved that she has had a Daddy who does that.
This routine has only changed slightly over the years. For the last few years, because she's a big girl and stays up later, even on the nights I work, I'm home before she goes to bed. The routine is the same every night -- a hug, a kiss, and this dialogue:
LG: Goodnight, Mama.
Me: Goodnight, baby.
LG: I love you.
Me: I love you, too. Sweet dreams.
Every night, that "'Night-night" part tugs my heartstrings. That's her own little convention, I don't know where it came from. But it seems even if she tries to leave the room and go up to bed without saying that, she can't; she calls from down the hall, around the corner, "'Night-night."
Then Jif follows her up, and they tuck, and pray, and the rest.
Last night, she said goodnight to me as usual. Then, she said goodnight to Jif. And she added, "You don't need to come up, Dad, I can put myself to bed." I still can't describe what happened inside me, except for an acute awareness that I am not ready for that. She may be. I am not. Jif haltingly said, "Okaaay..."
As LG left the room, I spoke to him as though she had said she was taking the car out to 7-11 to get a pack of cigarettes. "No," I said firmly. "It cannot be time for her to start putting herself to bed. Don't let go of that yet. Don't let it go." I think the near desperation in my tone left no room for him to respond in any way other than to follow her up the stairs.
Tonight, she said it again. I didn't have to say anything. When she said, "You don't need to come up, Dad," he said, "I want to," and she shrugged and said, "OK, then." I am thankful that she's not insistent on this new step into the next part of her life. When she was younger, I had vague ideas about when certain things happened -- a sippy cup, a big-girl bed. I've never considered when a little girl stops being tucked in. (Come to think of it, if I go to bed before Jif is ready, I like to be tucked in, perhaps that's why this burst of independence seems so ill-fitting to me!)
I don't want to stunt my kid's growth. I don't want to discourage her independence. But I'm not ready for her to tuck herself in yet. A memory has just floated up . . . . some 7 years ago, Jif and I, and our toddler girl were in a hotel room in Milwaukee. He was there for work and we had tagged along. We three were in the king-sized bed, chatting and giggling before sleep. All was quiet as we began to drift off in the darkness, when LG said, "This is a sacred night, isn't it, Mama?" I don't know how she knew the word "sacred," but she surely appeared to use it properly. And I said, to this baby I'd waited 13 years for, "Every night with you is a sacred night."
Santa is coming soon. At least once more, I want him to see that she's been properly "nestled all snug in her bed." She still believes. If there are some official guidelines, if there is some chart or equation that tells a parent when their child is ready to put herself to bed, I would think that it must include something about "belief in Santa = no self-tucking." Wouldn't you think?