Friday, December 28, 2007

reporting in from connecticut

After a lovely Christmas Eve, made moreso by the earlier-than-anticipated arrival of Junior, we left Christmas morning for Connecticut and some time with my family. We enjoyed a holiday celebration and dinner at my brother's Christmas night, and dinner with Dad on Wednesday. Thursday we joined family friends for lunch, and at dinner my brother's family joined us here at Seabury followed by some hot and heavy rounds of ping pong and a couple of games of pool.

It's been an eventful day today. We met Dad for lunch at an Afghani restaurant where we had an incredible meal, and then headed over to a new (and still not completed) shopping center called Blue Back Square (see artist's rendering)--named for the color of the back of the student primer associated with Noah Webster, a hometown boy. We found some great deals at Crate and Barrel (why, oh why don't they come to Tennessee?????), then met Mom to see "The Kite Runner." I had not read the book, but found the movie to be a powerful, painful and redemptive story of human failing and courage. Definitely worth seeing. After the movie we found our way to a middle eastern restaurant and had another great meal (the tapenade was out of this world).

With two days to go before our return home we have more dates for food on the agenda, along with some idle time and a few tasks to help mom with some details at the apartment. It's been a nice respite, and though I have enjoyed seeing snow on the ground, I would really like to see some fall!
Unfortunately I couldn't find my photo card reader when we were packing for our trip so I can't share the two pictures I've taken so far, but you're not missing much.
Hope everyone is enjoying some continued holiday spirit, and those to whom we shipped packages on Monday have by now received them (except probably you, Clare!). Happy last days of 2007!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

speaking of wrapping

But first, a status report (humor me, I'm proud of my accomplishments)
Wrapping: done!
Shipping: sealed and addressed and ready to go in the morning (apologies to the recipients that these gifts will be late, though with the exception of Clare (sorry, doll) they will arrive during the twelve days).
Baking: hope springs eternal!

Okay, I confess, I'm a gift-wrap snob. And should the confession that follows offend anyone, let me please offer my apology in advance with the disclaimer that nothing stated here is personal.

I didn't come to terms with my snobbery until Friday night, when I purchased a hostess gift at Barnes and Noble en route to the hosted event and opted to have the gift wrapped. The wrappers were supporters of a local youth orchestra, and one of them claimed to be a professional, having once been employed by Macy's to do the deed. Spare me. This was an act of tape overkill in the extreme. Every fold of paper was taped into place. The folds themselves threatened to give origami a bad name, and the extreme "care" with which the paper was positioned (in itself rather bizarre) about put me over the edge. Ken nudged me to shut up--mind you no words escaped my lips, he was all too aware of my non-verbal communication (the eyebrows raised into my hairline were the first clue).

You have to understand, I come from a gene pool of master wrappers. Except with awkward shapes or very large packages we wrap without using tape. Bows don't have knots, nor are they twisted awkwardly on the underside of the package. Our paper is crisply and cleanly creased to hold its shape and the ribbon tying is deftly handled. It is, frankly, simple (and practice is really all that is required to achieve the art). So you can understand my utter horrow as I watched my craft being mangled and tortured with tape.

I don't pretend to be Martha Stewart, and I admit that if I had the time, the money and the storage space I would have accessories to tie into my bows. That flaw notwithstanding I do have to I admit, I'm a snob. There, I've said it. I feel better now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

random thoughts while wrapping

A quick status report (because I know how eager you all are to learn about the status of my sanity):

Christmas letters: Saturday, 22 December, 10:54 AM CST-- folded, signed, addressed, stuffed, sealed, stamped and in the mail! (exception: those going out of the country need to have postage calculated--I'll get to that...)
Shopping: Friday, 21 December, 5:45 PM CST -- done!
Christmas music: constant!
Wrapping: one out-of-country (that would be you, Clare), and four out-of-state households are wrapped. At least two to go.
Shipping: not a chance
Baking: still a figment of my imagination

Now to my musings. I was wrapping a package for Katie (four in January), using gold metallic ribbon. I imagined her first sight of it and could hear her voice saying, "ooh, pretty." And then I got to thinking, how would she know something is pretty? I suspect that in our early years we simply mimic our parents when they admire something beautiful. We begin to think as they do about what is beautiful. But eventually we develop our own tastes, preferences and ideas about what constitutes beauty.

Where do you suppose that comes from? Is there an aesthetic gene (there must be, because I'm convinced that some people lack it entirely)? And what makes some people love purple and others abhor it? Why are some minimalists in decorating while others go crazy with ruffles? Modern style versus French provincial? You get my drift. I have never given this one moment's thought before, and now I'm really intrigued about how it is that our sense of the aesthetic gets shaped and formed. Although some of what we prefer comes from what we have learned, I am convinced that there is something inate that determines our likes and dislikes. Just curious.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

counting the days...

and trying to hold them back with all my might! This is the first year in the history of my life that this close to Christmas I have yet to wrap a single gift. Let's just let go of the notion that anything that needs to be mailed will arrive anywhere by Christmas. There, I feel better already (well, no, I don't, but maybe if I say it often enough...). Today I finally got our Christmas letter written. Tomorrow I'll work on getting them printed, and then there are envelopes to address... Okay, that was whining and I'm not going to do that.

Good news--Dooley is much better, back to his spunky, feisty self. We had a re-check at the vet this morning and he got the all clear sign. He still has a heart murmur, what is called "degenerative valve disease," and I've got pictures and everything to understand it all. He's got one more medication (blood pressure), and I will now be medicating his little self twice a day for the rest of his life. Hopefully that will be a long time yet. It's frightening to consider how bad he really was when I got him to the vet, but at least he let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't himself. We're a good team, Dooley and me.

In the meantime Rigel grows by literal leaps and bounds. He's got such long legs! He's trying to get the hang of good behavior, but he's still got a ways to go. Sigh. Nothing in the house is safe, but he's so cute that it is hard to stay annoyed with him for very long. I'll need to try a photo shoot this weekend to get updated pictures of him for the record.

I'm rambling, so off I go into the holiday whirlwind!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ruh-roh

Since my return home our skies have been gray and the weather has turned raw. I am grateful for the recent memories of sunny Florida days and breezes at a time like this! It's cloudy here at home as well. Our dear Mr. Grumpy (affectionately named), better known as Dooley, has congestive heart failure. He'd been hacking and wheezing for a few days before I went to Florida, and a trip to the vet yielded a diagnosis of bronchitis and a dose of antibiotics. Since I left the next day I couldn't monitor any changes with him, and though in some respects he seemed better, this morning he was definitely feeling punk. Our vet isn't open on Saturdays, so we headed elsewhere for care, an x-ray, blood work, and so on. An exam indicated a heart murmur, and the x-ray showed an enlarged heart and pulmonary edema. Poor Dooley. He received an injection of lasix and two sets of pills for treatment. He is glad to be home, and I am glad to have him on his way to better health. Time to put on some Christmas music, turn on the lights, light some candles, and inspire a cheerier mood. Who knows, we might even bake some cookies!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

back to the grind


The days are becoming a blur. I returned home yesterday, heading from the airport directly to the office, getting home at about 9:00 after an evening meeting. According to the calendar there are two weeks left before Christmas, and there is still a great deal to do--shop, wrap, mail packages, arrange for dog care, finalize plans for our trip home, write the Christmas letter, print the Christmas letter, fold the dang thing, address and stamp envelopes...

My sojourn to Florida has refueled me for these tasks, but there are still only so many hours in the day that aren't already committed to other things (like work!).

A few more pics from the weekend will at least let me take visual breaks from the holiday crush!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

road trip!

I left for Florida Thursday morning, but it wasn't until yesterday that I was able to get an internet connection to post here. It is divine being here. The air smells different, the culture is different, and it's a delight to be on vacation with beloved friends.
Far too much activity has taken place to recount the details to this point (although Kip's blog does a great job!--see link to the right!). I spent the first almost 24 hours with Jules and E at their place in Tarpon Springs, north of Tampa. Little did I know that TS is the sponge capitol of the world, and inhabited almost entirely by Greeks! What fun it was exploring some of the town with Jules and soaking up the transplanted culture.

Friday Jules and I picked up Kip to head to Anna Maria Island and Janet's house where we would begin what has been dubbed "The Goddess Weekend." (We happened on a couple of t-shirts with four women drawn and depicted as the four goddesses--the perfect subtitle for us). Janet's house is amazing, with a fabulous view of the water. It pales, however, to the delight of being with good friends, of laughing, playing, eating, drinking and toasting to the glory of good relationships and shared times together. Here are a few pics that tell a little something of our tales...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

stolen from Jules

1. Colored lights or white lights on your house or not at all? None
2. Hot chocolate or Egg Nog? Hot Chocolate (even better with Kahlua added!)
3. What's your favorite holiday dish? I haven’t made it in years, but the only thing I make at Christmas that I don’t make at other times of the year is a Buche de Noel.
4. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Why, wrapped, of course! What’s Christmas without a little suspense?
5. Do you hang mistletoe? No
6. When do you put up your decorations? When we can get around to it!
7. What's your favorite holiday tradition? Traditions have shifted and changed since I was younger, and no longer live in the same area as my family. From my early days I think my favorite tradition was the Advent calendar. I also appreciate the lengths my mother went to to decorate the house with a seasonal theme. I’m afraid I haven’t developed a tradition of my own as an adult that has had any consistency, sad to say.
8. What's on the top of your tree? It used to be a special angel until one of the dogs mistook it for a snack. Nothing has replaced that angel since…
9. Do you have a nativity displayed through the holidays? Yes, finally! I have spent most of my life looking for just the right nativity, and found the one I love in the Willow tree collection (see photo!)
10.Candy Canes, traditional or flavored? Or Chocolate Covered Cherries? I’m not into candy canes, and have never been a fan of chocolate covered cherries. Sorry.
11.What's your favorite holiday goodie to make and share? Mom has a great toffee recipe that I used to make all the time.
12.What's your favorite Christmas song? Just one? O Holy Night is a childhood favorite that continues to deserve top billing.
13.When did you learn the truth about the "magic" of Christmas? don't remember??? The Truth? You mean there isn’t magic at Christmas?
14.Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? I did as a child
15.Is there a special ornament or Christmas decoration that you wouldn't feel like Christmas without? At Mom’s the organ pipes and angel orchestra are a must. At my house my favorite decoration is the shepherd Santa with his sheep.
16.Do you take neighbor gifts/treats to anyone, everyone, a select few? Depends on the year, but I usually make goodies to distribute to a variety of folks
17.Is your big meal on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning or Christmas afternoon? Christmas afternoon
18.How do you decorate your tree? Lights and ornaments. Last year I thought the tree needed something else, but I haven’t figure out yet how to get the right look.
19.Snow? Love it? Dread it? Tolerate it? LOVE SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
20.Do you remember a favorite gift? The year I got my first dog, a Sheltie puppy.
21.Do you have a family get-together during the holidays with extended family? No, they all live too far away.
22.What's the most important thing that you must do each Christmas season? Remember what the season is about
23.Do you bake Christmas cookies? I used to, but haven’t in the past few years
24.Do you leave cookies and milk for Santa? I did when my nephew was young
25.What's your favorite Christmas memory? One memory doesn’t stand out—there are lots of good memories!
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