Monday, December 24, 2007

Is it Christmas yet?
(By the time I hit publish it will be)

I'm working on a bottle of wine from my ex, biding my time for the kids to be really asleep before I start my elfish ruckus.

I enjoyed a few firsts this Christmas.
Last night I was invited to watch my friend Peggy's daughter receive her two new kittens for Christmas. What better moments are there than a nine year old girl finding two ginger kittens under the Christmas tree?

And tonight in church, I was Mary. (Sorry if you just sprayed egg nog or coffee on your computer.)
I think it was a combination of "They must not know me very well" and "Let's ask Ann. She doesn't know how to say No!"
The good part was that I didn't have any lines. The hard part was not cracking up when my Joseph called me "Queen of Heaven" to the Innkeeper.
Who ever heard of a Mary in her 40's? But apparently a teenage Joseph was hard to find. Mine was pushing 60. And mercifully, I was not required to stuff a pillow up my dress. I was really reluctant to have anyone associate me with pregnancy in any form.

It just goes to show you that you never know what will come next. I thought my pageant days were long gone.

I wish you all warm new memories that you can pull out and wrap yourselves up in when you are cold.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I keep encountering reminders of the sadness everywhere in the world while I’m trying to float into the Christmas Spirit - some darker thoughts for the Winter Solstice.

Last week I saw a frightening billow of dark black smoke. Something huge and unplanned was burning. I hoped no one was hurt, but radical changes were certainly happening in people’s lives that day.

A young man was killed in a freak car accident with his widowed mother as witness to the tragedy. I drive by the cross and flowers on the side of the road almost every day.

I bought a friend a coffee table book of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. When I got home and looked closer at the book before wrapping it, I flipped through the photos: stark evidence of the suffering and cruelty in the world at the hands of fellow human beings and capricious Mother Nature. I couldn’t bear to put Christmas wrapping paper on such a sobering collection of photos.

On my morning walk I got bit in the arm by a leashed neighborhood dog that I have greeted many times before. Maybe with my hood up he didn’t recognize me. I haven’t been walking in a while. I had to go in for a tetanus shot today. It hurts and the wound is ugly.

There is such beauty and joy possible, but sometimes it is hard to see.
It’s like the bunny I saw hopping across the road tonight: a bit of freedom we haven’t paved over yet. It better be agile to survive. But nature is still wild. Even on a leash, it can’t be expected not to be wild.

I went to yoga to try to catch up with that bunny tonight. It helped. I need to find that balance.

Maybe I needed to remember all the sorrow and tragedy to appreciate the Christmas Spirit. Love came to a crushed world. Love came in a package that we were to wrap in softness and nuzzle up close to, full of potential and tragedy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

After Christmas, I collect all the Christmas story books and put them away. It is fun to pull out the basket again and see our old favorites. Even my big kids enjoy the old picture books.

One of our favorites is "How Murray Saved Christmas" by Mike Reiss. It is set in the rhythm of "Twas the Night". It is the story of a Jewish deli owner who substitutes for a sick Santa.

"Polar Express" and "Alabaster's Song" are basically the same story, but they both choke me up in the end.

I love Jan Brett's illustrations in the famous "Twas the Night" by Clement Moore.

Which Christmas stories do you enjoy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I have begun a little Construction Girl revival in my attic.

After getting a contractor’s bid on upgrading my attic insulation, I decided to consider doing it myself. My twenty year old house has a mere six inches of insulation, which was to code at the time. Now the standard is 15 inches. We are cold.

I needed nine more inches and Mark was happy to volunteer.

The first order of business is clearing the attic floor, no small task. I hadn’t realized how personal that would be. I hadn’t thought of what Mark might learn about me by helping me organize and purge my attic. It was personal archeology. Why did I save that?

We went to the hardware store for supplies to build shelves in the rafters to get some of the residential clutter permanently off the floor. Before too long, we were screwing in the attic.

There are so many variables when screwing, even on a fairly simple project like ours. Even if, in theory, each shelf was identical, no two screws are alike. One board is curved. One screw gets stuck in a knot hole. I got a minor injury when I didn’t bother with the proper protective precautions. And the angles had to be adjusted to make sure everything came out level. One screw in the wrong place could send years of my collection crashing through the ceiling.

But you guys already know this.

Mark and I have reached a serious point of commitment in our relationship: we mixed our tools into one toolbox. Between us, we have quite an impressive collection.
What is up with that plastic armor so many products are wrapped in?

Monday, December 10, 2007

I took my daughter to her school's Skate Night tonight. Normally, I would have put on the skates and joined them, happy to join my children in play. But I'm still too nervous about my ankle to take the chance, especially given my skill level at the roller rink. (John, do you remember the those Franconia skate nights?)

I hate being the spectator. Well, that's not totally true. I like watching people who excel at a sport or art perform. I love to watch my children play and perform. I was impressed with my friends' performances in the Nutcracker Sunday afternoon. I like riding shotgun so I can gawk at the scenery.

I hate feeling afraid of getting hurt. It makes me feel old. That pain is still too vivid in my memory. I still feel twinges of pain in sudden movements, or after a long day.

I think, soon, I will be ready to take a chance again. Healing takes longer than I realized, longer than I hoped. I'm tired of limping.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Damn those Butter Trefoils.
The first time I opened the sleeve of cookies, I only ate 3 or 4. But this time, I have a cup of my Yogi Breathe Deep Tea to help alleviate my annoying head cold and before I knew it, there were only four left. You know, there's no point just saving four.
In a moment of weakness, I agreed to be Girl Scout Cookie Mom this year. What have I done?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My son makes his first attempt to merge the new and old outdoor decorations.

As punishment for putting Georgie on the tree in Harold the angel's place, I made my sweetie snip off all the malfunctioning lights that were clipped onto my lovely fake tree.

My kids still enjoy putting on their box of decorations - and our friend & neighbor, the rabbi's daughter, joined us for some cross-cultural collaboration.

Save the polar bears!
Here are some pics of my pleasant and quiet Thanksgiving.

Anne's son helping chop mushrooms for stuffing.

The rocket scientist planning his turkey carving skills.

The moms and their wine.

My son off to a quick start against Grandpa, a formidable opponent.