Monday, December 31, 2007

Keep Telling Yourself That

New Year's Eve day and yet another four to eight inches of snow falls from the sky.

Other than getting stuck in upward-slanting driveway for solid half hour this morning -pushed up and out, eventually, by very strong neighbor - other than normally-35-minute commute taking 90 minutes, other than daughter's parting words at grandmother's house being "Love you, mom, don't die out there" (she said and then skipped off to play)...

Other than that, the snow is just so damn pretty.

From the warm sanctity of my office, can now watch it fall and appreciate its poetry. Thousands of tiny, drifting haikus. In fact, am inspired to offer end of year haiku myself:

Here I drift along
Crystallized spindles of snow
Watch me dance and spin

I don't really know where that came from..Mind you, no haikus came to mind during the commute. It was truly dreadful. But having arrived in one piece, cannot deny the fact that I love the snow. Must be my inner Yankee.

Of course, now will have to drive home in it as well...didn't quite think that part through...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ringing Out a (Non)Era

After emotional eleventh hour meeting, One Woman Book Club has decided to disband.

Yes, we realize we have not reviewed a single book.

Here's the thing: SO MANY bloggers are already doing this. Some are really quite good at it. Honestly, mere idea of OWBC is causing me competitive anxiety.

Purposefulness, need to say something relevant - and about someone else's work. To the world. (Or, at least, to tiny speck of the world that may stop by here.) It all smacks of organization.

Organization is nine-tenths of my life.

I actually like reading - a lot. Widely, randomly, leisurely. Murking up those waters with more organization?

Not that I don't want to talk about it. Of course I want to talk about it.

I know this game. Like many bookish folk, I do keep lists of my reading - '07 was a quality year: Bill Styron, Tim O'Brien, Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison. My new best friend KV. Also the travel writing/memoir/American History that I apparently love. A record-breaking year at 25 completed.

That's right, 25. Not 100. Because I have a JOB.

Literary '08 is already taking shape:

First, have committed, at fourth grader's request, to read 7 book JKR series (yes, that series) she is about to begin book #2, I am on the hook to begin #1 shortly.

Then, same fourth grader - showing eerily familiar bookish tendencies - wishes to read together as many Great Stone Face Book Award nominees as possible before voting time. So far have completed one.

Biography of Cary Grant is whispering to me from bookshelf. Right there next to Papa Hemingway's. On my way, gentleman...

From here I will meander. Meandering goes hand in hand with reading. I highly recommend it.

So that's that. See you on the other side.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bow Chick a Wow Wow

As sung by someone else's five-year-old in pizza shop yesterday.

If you have seen trailer for silver screen debut of re-warmed 1950s singing chipmunks, you know why this little bit of soft porn jingled out of the child's mouth. Clearly, woman seated alone nearby had not seen the trailer.

Though she obviously recognized the melody's true origins. Hmm.

Fun to watch her face twist into increasingly horrified grimace as my own two grinned in innocent recognition. And repeated the line. With accompanying gestures from movie trailer.

Suppose I should have been embarrassed to some degree. Surely, my parental supervision of TV time came into question, as did that of five-year-old's mom and dad.

But I wasn't. And they didn't seem to be, either. What can you do?

I'll tell you what I can do. We're going to see the freaking movie today. Subverted, schmaltzy piece of film that it probably is, it smells of nostalgia. Can't get me enough nostalgia.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Winter Musicale, Part II: Oy...

Thanks to brilliance of administrators (or, more likely, fire code), grade school performances segmented into two separate events: Gingerbread Spectacular of yesterpost, and - for those of us whose children straddle lower and upper grades - a second celebration last night.

Second program primarily a showcase for extremely patient music teachers' weekly instruction efforts. Opportunity for parents to evaluate return on investment in instrument rentals and private lessons. Several parents may have freed up $29 in monthly budget by end of the night.

On the other hand, some truly moving numbers and several budding talents in the mix. Couldn't help but admire spunk and passion of band instructor.

(Admiration for band instructor a tiny bit distracting. Music men, you know. Je ne sais quoi.)

A valiant attempt, overall, to be festive and inclusive. And yet...

Having heard "Good King Wenceslas" played on every instrument, slightly edgy during FOURTH offering by chorus.

A little fuzzy on logic of teaching my child to sing "Shalom Chaverim" and "Dona Nobis Pacem." No foreign language program in curriculum. Pretty certain she had no idea what she was saying.

Kids didn't really pull off left-leaning anti-war ditty, disguised as song about "peace", slipped in right before sing-along. Punchy eleven-year-olds hopped up on candy canes maybe not best messengers for cloaked political agendas.

Couldn't help but wonder at reality of my own childhood holiday shows. Always believed that something grand was taking place, whether or not my parents agreed. Can only hope that this phenomenon perpetually repeats itself.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Meaning of "Xmas"

Attended youngest child's "Winter Musical" last night in school gymnasium.

Theme of show a concoction of popular TV-based obsessions, centered around a dilapidated gingerbread house. Cast of characters: homeowners, sweet-toothed forest critters, construction crew and, of course, zany heartthrob host, key to boosting ratings.

Watched with mixture of bemusement and sorrow as my child sang her way through ultra-contemporary, totally unknown songs about yumminess and remorse. Took a handful of pictures of her - dressed all in brown, smiling brightly beneath her fox ears and painted whiskers.

Hope they come out - frequently blocked by gigantic raccoon head worn by tall child in front row.

Fought back annoying remembrance of child bedecked in lovely traditional Christmas dress in store dressing room a mere six weeks ago. Purchased for wear at just this occasion.

Should have known better.

To credit of teachers and staff, show was a fine example of their creative enthusiasm and commitment to children. Still, this is the kind of material we are left with when we cannot have angels or shepherds.

Occasionally tempted to yank children from public system and redeposit in private school. Temptation dampened, however, by their otherwise apparent thriving in current environment. 12-1 student/teacher ratio a big plus. Very much in favor of Artist-in-Residence program.

Oh, and practicality of school bus pick up. At the end of the driveway.

Responsibility of instilling spiritual awareness apparently remains on shoulders of parents.

Drat. Will have to take that more seriously.

Retracting prior claim to holiday music overdose.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Seven days to go 'til the Big Day. Tottering dangerously close to the edge of pain threshold.

It's not the shopping. Not the wrapping, baking, planning, mailing. Not the nearly impossible search for places to hide gifts from Santa.

It's the music.

I love holiday music. Love it. When I say I love it, I mean every rendition of Sleigh Ride. All the chestnuts roasting on all the open fires.

Luther. Harry. Dean. Wham!.

All the silken-voiced divas, those mistresses of Mr. Claus, purring their way to rings and duplexes. I love them all.

Except somehow, this year, I find myself...getting a bit...sick of them.

I must be coming down with something. This is completely unheard of. And wrong.

It's just wrong.

With one week to go, it's much too late to walk away. So will keep decking the halls, jingling the bells, whatever it takes to make it through to the other side.

Going back in...cover me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dilemmas Dilemmas Dilemmas

Dilemma #1: So pretty much immediately after publishing last post, my computer died.

This is not good. I was just getting in the swing of things. This is crucial readership-building time... Plus, I finished Julia Child and have ohsomuch to say about it!

Will get myself to a Geek Squadery as soon as possible. The weekend is coming!

Well, OK it's only Tuesday...but it is coming eventually. And it seems the weekend is prime posting time for me.

Dilemma #2: Have been approached by M to consider starting up a book club, which I am certainly willing to do. Believe D has expressed interest in participating as well? The trouble: how will it work, what to read, how to solicit members?

Not particularly overwhelmed with the "how to" stuff at this time, but have been trying to research what to read. This has always presented a quandary for me - selecting reading material. Thought there might be some rather concise lists of recommendation floating around out there in cyber world.

Yah. There are. About twenty trillion. Holy moly...and me without a functioning computer to continue my research.

OK, that is actually only TWO dilemmas, but am working on borrowed time and "borrowed" Internet connection. So what can I say? Just trying to keep the infant blog from going dark for too long!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Babel in Toyland

Speaking of games, it came to my attention the other day that my kids have never played the board game Operation.

How can that be? I asked myself. I am all about the classics!

Determined that this would be the final gift of the season to procure. Headed to the toy store.

May I never, ever set foot in a toy store again. Never ever is too soon.

Store was organized - and I use the term organized extremely loosely - into these kind of categorical bunches. Barbie land. Pretend Tool world. Robotic Beast corner. Not that anything was labelled.

Also no understandable rhyme or reason as to which category intersected with another. One minute you're discreetly checking out GI Joe's physique, then realize you are being watched unfavorably by woman in neighboring plastic grocery section. It all just kind of happens.

Customers are apparently expected to just wander around the oubliette, discovering new lands.

What happened to aisles? Have we done away with aisles?

Found my blasted game. Not exactly front and center in game world, since it lacks relevant DVD component of "cool" games.

Cavity Sam hasn't aged a bit, despite countless procedures. He has come down with a new ailment - Brain Freeze. A simple ice cream cone extraction from the skull fetches a couple hundred dollars. Seems to me a skilled surgeon used to score about ten bucks back in the day. Operation inflation.

Left with my purchase, dazed.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fun and Games

Have been playing this really fun game with myself all week called Leap Over The Garage Motion Sensors Onto The Icy Driveway In Two Inch Heels.

Calling it LegaMose IceTwinch for short. Kinda catchy, eh?

Remote control bit the dust for some mysterious reason. Changed the battery which accomplished nothing. Played around with the little sensor doohickeys. Nothin'.

So next week will simultaneously play LegaMose IceTwinch and Call Out the Garage Door People. We'll go with COGDiP for that one. That should be a really fun game and also a really long one - kind of like Monopoly without the game pieces - as certainly it will entail some scheduling nightmare like "we'll be there between sunrise and sunset."

LegaMose IceTwinch made me wax nostalgic for other fun games discovered this past year. (December is a time for waxing nostalgic, what with New Year's Eve right around the corner.) Remember, for instance, returning from vacation in July to play Haul Our Dirty Stuff to the Scary Laundromat For The Rest Of The Summer (Hods to Slots) as our washing machine decided to take its own little vaca. That was a blast. Maytag repairman must be a lot freaking busier than that actor guy lets on, because it was nearly impossible to get his tail end out here.

Then we played Wow It's Really Dark In Here (WIRDH, pronounced "word") for a week or so... an inevitable one, instigated by great intentions to install a few dimmer switches. Great intentions thwarted by whack electrical wiring installed during construction of home.

I know it's whack, because I have played Replace All the Stupid Burned Out Light Bulbs (which I simply call the Stupid Light Bulb Game) more times than indicated will be necessary on the light bulb packages.

If any good has come from this, I have learned acceptance. As in, I accept the fact that sooner or later I will not be able to simply wait out the dishwasher that occasionally refuses to turn on, and will have to actually have it looked at. I accept the fact that the dryer is the same age as the washer and will eventually demand its day in the spotlight.

My hope is that LegaMose IceTwinch will not end with a broken ankle, because I haven't finished my shopping, so do not have time to learn any new games. Games are for reindeer. Not people with shopping to finish.

Monday, December 3, 2007

'Tis The Season...

Last night had makings of quintessential winter evening. Snow falling softly outside, casting its quiet promise of closing schools today...Tree sparkling...Corny contemporary holiday special on TV. Children up past bedtime eating popcorn. Fireworks exploding in the sky.

...say what?

We thought the booms meant hunters at first - too close for comfort hunters, skulking in the darkness, firing at whatever is open season right now. Byproduct of living so far from civilization, recognition of occasional sound of shotguns firing in the distance.

But this was really close. And it's dark out - hunters don't hunt in the dark, do they?

Then we saw the showers of color in sky over neighbor's house.

This particular neighbor, we have nicknamed him The Answer. As in: whatever crazy, noisy, unbelievable thing you see happening out the window, whatever time of day or night, when you find yourself asking "Who is doing that?" The answer is always the same.

It's him.

So we enjoyed a good fifteen display from the warmth of the sofa. Never a dull moment with that one.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rich To Us

Have just come back in from assembly and mounting of twinkling snowmen in front yard, bringing with me frozen fingers and strange sense of accomplishment.

Twinkling snowmen, though there are many of them, are dwarf-like. They are bound to be the laughingstock of my Wysteria Lane-ish neighborhood, competing with the likes of fully-lit lamp posts and hula hoop-sized mounted wreaths.

But did I mention, they twinkle?

Several neighbors passed by while I was out there. Neighbors in possession of fresh-cut trees. Neighbors with large families to visit and parties to throw. Neighbors who, I'm certain, get a good kick out of me and my little snowmen and my garland-strewn, unpowered lamp post.

Back inside, my children eagerly inquire if the twinkling snowmen are ready, if they are twinkling yet? No, not until dusk, I tell them.

Mom has gone a little automatic timer crazy this year. Dusk has become quite a flurry of excitement for the three of us. Tree and mantle and staircase - and now, twinkling snowmen - come to life all at once. We ooh together. The glow around them is so warm for those few moments, I can almost touch it.

Life has been tricky these past few years: lots of loss, lots of adjustments. Not a lot of twinkling on the outside. Not a lot of twinkling on the inside, either.

But we're a tough little bunch, the three of us, and we're bouncing back. We have a lot to be happy about: warm beds. Plenty of food. A strong probability that Santa will stop by to bring a little something.

And we have each other - a fact that I am known to occasionally lament as Too Much of a Good Thing (particularly when bedtime is at hand) - but one that makes all the difference in the grand scheme of things.

And we are starting to twinkle again - inside and outside.