Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
grandchildren. NTG has his 4th birthday this weekend so his
grandfather and I go forth carrying his gift: Tinkertoys! I am
certain he will need some help playing with them and am prepared to
oblige. Tinkertoys are much more in my ability range than the Erector
Monday, December 28, 2009
When I was a little girl in the 1950s I always wanted the toys that boys had. Whenever I had a chance my dolls were abandoned and I played with Lincoln Logs, or Tinkertoys. It was a great day when the kid next door got his electric train. When he got bored he'd let me set it up and run the transformer. Ah, the power!
The supreme toy, one few of the boys I knew had, was an erector set. I imagined building skyscrapers with those gleaming girders, but never got the chance. Whenever the subject of childhood toys came up I'd sigh and feel nostalgic for my unappeased mechanical yearnings.
This Christmas my husband bought me the long-desired construction toy. Yesterday I opened the box and was at last able to let loose my inner builder - with mixed emotions the result. After the first twenty minutes I checked the side of the box for the recommended age group. Eight plus? Plus what? Plus a graduate degree in technical engineering? My belief in my abilities toward hand-eye coordination quickly faded, along with my patience. After several near melt-downs the husband offered to sit nearby in case I wanted help. This, of course, made me more determined than before to finish what seemed the simplest project in the booklet: a helicopter.
I won't regale you with the language required to finish my helicopter but I will mention it took me almost six hours. I wonder how long before I have the spirit to disassemble it, or to begin the back-hoe?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm not a fan of parades on television. Once upon a time one might have seen actual marching bands and floats. These days a televised parade consists primarily of staged singing and dancing interrupted repeatedly by banal talking heads badly reading badly-written scripts laden with bad attempts at humor. Interspersed shots of cheesy floats race by in MTV fashion and more time is given to advertisement than show. It is tooth-decayingly awful.
The Branson Missouri holiday parade was a typical example of the genre. Debbie Boone and Jimmy Osmond were a tad less cloying than some hosts but the bits of actual parade were correspondingly worse. The on-stage entertainment made me glad we live far, far away from this old age home for celebrities.
The coup de gråce to the experience was the stage setting - beside the Branson Titanic Museum. This monument is a half-scale half-ship (a mini-Titanic?) complete with accompanying iceberg. In case having a two-story building shaped like a ship that sank resulting in over 1500 deaths isn't quite in bad enough taste for you, get the Titanic Christmas ornaments. You can do your holiday Titanic shopping online! You can renew your wedding vows on the Grand Staircase! And don't miss the annual Ice Sculpture Competition in January!
I can only judge from the concept and the online site but the entire thing seems very strange. And oh, the possibilities! Is Holocaust-Branson the next coming attraction? Or maybe we'll be treated to Branson 9/11?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
A few days ago I mentioned my occasional job at Wild Rivers Wool and I thought today I'd show what I did on my day of sitting at the desk tending shop.
These are 100% wool, needle-felted critters. They stand about 5-6" tall. Needle-felting them is a bit like sculpture, a bit like doll-making, and totally addictive.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I'm folding laundry this morning, specifically a large pile of kitchen towels that were washed together after sponging up a humongous amount of water with which I did not intentionally splash, slosh, soak and saturate the bedroom carpet. Not intentionally perhaps, but the carpet did get drenched and the kitchen towels were close to hand in the linen closet.
Do people actually ever buy these items for themselves? My shelves hold a lofty stack, none of which I chose, or that in any way compliment the decor. I take that back. Our house is somewhat heterogeneous in furnishing so perhaps the motley collection of towels is the perfect addition. They are solid in colors of red, green, and blue. Many are white or beige, printed with fruit or flowers. Some are embossed with a texture in the terry cloth, others tie-dyed on plain woven cotton. There are florescent green towels with a Halloween theme, and a set with blue astrological symbols accented in gold. Not one has been purchased by me. They are the all-purpose, don't-know-what-to-get, aren't-these-wierd-but-useful, gift items.
Don't mistake this for a complaint. Kitchen towels get daily use, frequent laundering, and soon wear out or look shabby. A few in my possession barely retain their original decoration. But like most housewives I keep using them because "the fabric is still good."
What I noticed this morning, besides the amazing variety of towels owned, is the labels they carry. Is there a rule somewhere that says that the smaller the towel the larger the label must be? All these super-absorbant drying cloths are studded with non-absorbant satinized labels containing masses of pretty much irrelevant information. I know the name of the manufacturer, the style, where the item was made and what it was made of (including what the label is made from). There are washing instructions and drying instructions - in two languages. Several sets include a website url. And one, just in case I am completely clueless, has a large polyester label announcing KITCHEN TOWEL. Maybe this is to keep me from drying my hair with it? Or using it for a rug?
I've never gotten around to cutting these labels off the towels, probably retaining memories of those Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law labels on beds and pillows. They are sturdily sewn into seams and seem meant to remain, poking out from careful folding under. Surely the Linen Police will swoop down if I approach with scissors in hand. Should I ever run short of reading material they may provide comfort, in English and Spanish.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
was time to put all the furbelows away for the year. And then...
The internet happened.
I'm not tempted to shop in stores. We live 13 miles from town, 45
minutes from a town of any size, 3-1/2 hours from a city, and even if
we were closer my knees are painful enough that the standing and
walking of shopping isn't enticing.
But online shopping? Oh dear. I know I shouldn't, but it is hard to
resist and I managed to rationalize the expense. And I ordered more
Now I wait for delivery. And more wrapping to do. The wrapping
whatsis stays on the table until further notice.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
the thoughts. Does anyone know the symbol for forty years? Himself
said it was ruby or garnet. I told a friend yesterday that I thought
it was our Sawdust Anniversary but after some discussion Himself and
I settled on either Mildew or Gravel.
If it has to be red we thought perhaps, Chianti? But neither one of
us was sure the other wouldn't serve it up with a nice plate of fava
It hasn't always been easy and I can't help wondering, just a little,
if couples in today's world of quick gratification might be losing
the ability to stick it out. But perhaps that is the old and fussy
lady in me grousing about "In MY day..."?
For those of you married and tending to the work involved: Cheers and
Good Luck! We know the labor involved and the rewards it brings.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
decades of living together, not without its bumps but in general a
pretty decent tour of duty. No one who knew us in the beginning would
have figured us for making it this far. I'm not sure I understand how
we've done it. We smile and respond with vague statement about "lack
of initiative" when asked why we've never broken up.
He lets me think I run the show, but I know better. He puts me first
so often that I struggle to return the favor. We seem to have
complimentary strengths and weaknesses as people. We share and we
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. Here's hoping we make it to fifty!
Monday, December 14, 2009
today. Showers are a great place to think. Is it the running water or
just the automatic work involved with washing oneself that frees the
mind? In winter I save my showering for early afternoons - just the
time of day I get the most chilled. Standing in the warm steamy
wetness is a luxurious pleasure at that time of day, one of the perks
of being retired. I'm not at a desk or toiling in the outside! I'm
naked and warm. Hurrah!
So my mind gets churning with the soap bubbles and I'm musing about
friendship and overflowing with warmth and goodwill. My ideas get
organized enough that when I am toweled and dressed, toasty from top
to bottom (the bottom being extra important!) I settle down at the
keyboard and write a glowing thank you to my women friends and save
it to my desktop ready to be uploaded today.
In the middle of the night I woke up and began to feel that what I'd
written was familiar. The thought didn't keep me awake long, thank
goodness, but it returned this morning. Surely that had been the
theme of a Mother's Day blog this year? And maybe last year too?
One of the side affects of living past middle age is repeating
oneself. I hear myself telling the same stories to folks. The same
opinions get verbalized - anew. I hope that the stories are well told
after all the practice. I certainly hope the ideas have developed,
integrated, and evolved with added years and knowledge.
The blog, all edited, has disappeared with a push on the delete key.
Mother's Day will come around in May and once more I'll praise the
women in my life. They'll smile and think, "Oh dear, there she goes
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
The coming holiday brings a rush of emotion into people. The usual email pass-arounds begin like a snow flurry and build to a true seasonal blizzard. Have you noticed the polarization as I have? We send along the satirical or miserable - stories of gift theft, pictures of naked Santas; or we send mushy poetry and tear-evoking chain letters.
I'm more likely to be among the former category, it's true. My sentimental side is strong but it is easier to share the cynical somehow. Is that because it seems less forced, more real to me? Perhaps it is.
Christmas is a difficult time to parse out. The mixture of Christian and pagan symbolism is confusing enough. What do snow and Santa have to do with a godling born 2000 years ago? And the sudden reversion to "love and light" in a world so filled with everything but? What good the cheer and goodwill on one day when the folks expressing it are spending the days before and after it breaking laws, cheating, filling themselves with eye-for-an-eye rather than charity and blessing?
My holiday time wobbles me back and forth from cynical to sentimental. Perhaps that is why I indulge in my marathon of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge's tale reminds me to un-Grinch a little more. I'll try hard to give a well-needed shove to sentiment and allow the love that surrounds me in life flow through, back to where it came as well as outward to the world. It can't hurt.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
With the recent "colder than usual for this time of year" here in coastal Oregon, I'm reminded of just how little I like winter. The cold season is just, well... COLD, and there is nothing wonderful about it. I suppose it makes lovely scenery but only when viewed from afar, like gazing at white-capped mountains from a lush, warm valley.
People actually like this season, everyone of them certifiable, I'm sure. They purchase expensive thermal everything to wear and buy expensive toys so they can go outside in (shudder) SNOW to frolic. This is simply not a mentally-balanced thing to do.
But what can I say? I somehow blanked out the subject of cold and retired northward from California to Oregon when I should have slid south to Arizona.
My husband just checked the outside temperature and told me it was 24 F. "Do we assume anything under freezing is cold" he asked?
I assume anything under 60F. is cold! Of course yesterday at this time it was 19F. so perhaps we are having a heat wave.
(By the way, the smart-aleck just chirped "It's not even winter yet!" I may let him live.)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
A couple of things I learned (or relearned) in the past 24 hours:
1. I feel warmer if my hands are warm. (I guess this means doing dishes 20 times a day in winter?)
2. There are too many television interpretations of Dicken's A Christmas Carol. (Most just plain BAD)
3. I like the Bolshoi Ballet version of Nutcracker the best. (Okay, I'm all traditional, but I liked Mike Morris' version too!)
4. Little yellow cats aren't very smart. (No, I won't elucidate but she is lucky she is cute.)
5. Cold, a stubborn kitty, and bad holiday TV, can stimulate creative epithets from an irritable over-sixty woman.
And now (sigh) a return to our holiday spirits?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
On Mondays, after my morning writers group meeting, my husband and I will often get lunch and go to the south jetty in Bandon to eat and watch the Coquille River as it empties into the ocean. The river changes its color and mood. Some days it is green and sullen looking. After a heavy winter rain it can be cocoa brown with silt and dotted with logs floating from upstream to become beach driftwood. Yesterday is was glorious royal blue, reflecting the clear sky above.
We're not the only creatures lunching here. Crabs and fish hidden under the water bring scads of birds and I sit, sandwich in one hand, binoculars in the other.
Gulls, crows, and blackbirds perch near with eyes fixed, hoping for a handout. Brown pelicans sail past barely stirring their wings to maneuver the river curves. A heron settles near the bank to stand, statue still, and watch the water for a meal. Nearby a kingfisher uses a different technique. He hovers high above to spy his dinner, then plunges headfirst into the water just beyond the rocks. He must have missed because I see him moments later, repeating his hover and dive in the shallows upstream.
In the river itself surf scoters with brilliant orange beaks float on the current. A bufflehead duck and, further off a loon in drab winter plumage are there, then gone, then back again in view, diving beneath the incoming ocean waves where those dwindle against the river flow. A harbor seal does a similar hide and seek, poking his head up to gaze around then sliding down to swim away.
Lunch is consumed. Husband and I head for home. We'll be back next week where I'll marvel and watch, feeling so lucky for the opportunity to be here in Oregon.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The Matawheeze award for best husband of the year goes to:
My man. (of course!)
He is patient with me, takes the best care of me, is my best friend, chief computer geek, terrific chauffeur and so much more. Here's a "for instance":
I have had this humongous stack of cassette tapes gathering dust on a shelf. Many held songs or compilations that had special meaning for me but we don't have a cassette player accessible anymore. I wasn't ready to toss them out, but hadn't listened to them in quite some time. My hero is copying them to CD for me, a hassle since it involves a certain amount of attention, tape-turning, and equipment cable-crossing. Hubbie is ever so good at this sort of thing and I am ever so appreciative.
You da man, honey!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We were standing side by side staring glassy-eyed at the long aisle of Christmas kitsch in the drug store. Plastic holly, plastic tinsel, plastic poinsettias, plastic nativity sets.
She sighed as she turned toward me and said, "I hate Christmas. It is depressing and phony. Where is the spirit in this?"
"This isn't the spirit, that's inside you somewhere. This can be the fun on top, or not. But the holiday is what you choose for it to be, isn't it?"
As I said it I realized how true for me as well. The plastic and the glitz get in between me and the meaning. Perhaps this year I can smile at the trinkets and remember to FEEL love in my heart. I'm not a Christian, but the symbol is nevertheless valid.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Two older women standing in the toy aisle of a store, lists in hand, eyes scanning the shelves. Our eyes meet. She shakes her head and mutters. I smile and say "Grandkids?" She smiles back and says "Boys, two and six."
"Hard to decide isn't it?" I say, staring back at the stacks of boxes. "I don't get to see them much," she says, "I don't know what they'd like. I had a girl." "Me too."
We joined together, just for a few minutes, comparing ideas and empathizing. She chose Matchbox cars and decided to add a gift card so Mom could choose what the boys might like. I complimented her on a wise resolution. A moment of holiday sharing, lightening the chores just a little.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Giving to others is a wonderful thing. I learned quite young that it was almost as much fun to give as to receive. Almost... let's be honest, getting is pretty nifty too!
Over the years I've donated money to Habitat for Humanity, the ACLU, the local animal shelter, KIVA, Planned Parenthood, the Red Cross, various woman's groups, food banks, etc. but for some reason it has always been difficult for me to hand over money when directly approached. From panhandlers on the street to tables in front of the grocery store where girl scouts waylay customers, I avert my eyes and scuttle past in trepidation. It feels as if I have no choice over the giving. Something inside me fears public exposure and censure if I don't contribute. My response is gritted teeth, and a tighter clutch on my purse. I tighten up and refuse to cooperate.
Walking past the seasonal Ding-a-lings has always been tough. I hear those bells, spot the Salvation Army red pots in front of a store, and I'm ready to turn around to go somewhere else. It won't seem like much to those who don't have the same reaction, but this year I dug into my wallet, stopped at the red tripod, and added my dollar to the pot. Mitzvah on both sides?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I was pretty sure that once the goal of blog-every-day for November had been met I'd collapse in a corner and avoid posting for, well, not forever. There are opinions to share and ideas to mete out. Wisdom to dispense (with?)...
But surely an immediate few days off would happen? Instead I woke in the middle of the night thinking of stuff to write and I created a zippy entry - totally gone like all those nightly dreams that POOF! when morning intrudes. It seems though that after 30 continuous days a habit has developed and here I am typing with intent to blog. (Is that a criminal act?)
NaBloPoMo is every month, not just November. The home site even suggests a monthly topic. For December the theme is Mitzvah: "to give something, to someone, every day of the month, and then blog about it. The goal is to act with kindness..."
While I doubt my ability to post a mitzvah each and every day it will be my goal to keep the idea in my consciousness. Perhaps it will become habit as well?
My small first step is to let my husband sleep in later this morning than I'd like. He's night guy, I'm morning gal. I want to go to town and do holiday shopping. Early. But I'll wait until later.