Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where The Hell Am I?

Got drunk on Thursday. Woke up in Palm Springs on Friday. That's not exactly how it went down but that pretty much sums things up.

We got Home from our Second Home on Thursday and invited some friends over for dinner. We had a couple of cocktails and ordered in dinner. Opened a bottle of wine and listened to Mr. Friend tell us he had a flight the next day to Palm Springs. (Mr. Friend is pilot.)

We all looked at Mrs. Friend and said, "You should go too. For New Years." That was quickly amended to, "We should all go to Palm Springs."

By midnight, we had tickets to Palm Springs.

The task for today is to figure out how to get back home.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Less Is Not More

My ass is getting bigger, not smaller. So why do jeans, nowadays, cover less of it? I suppose the answer is self-evident. Larger butt = less coverage, given the jeans themselves are a constant.

I contend that jeans are not constant. As evidence, I give you this from 1983:


These jeans actually cover this woman's posterior. My jeans would not. Not, especially, if she were to sit down. And, I paid MORE for LESS (which follows the bathing suit rule of fashion, when I come to think about it).

But who really wants to see my rear end? Okay, let me rephrase because I can already hear you yahoos making noise. Is it really necessary that I should look like a plumber every time I bend over? Keep in mind the middle of a middle-aged woman is intended to be hidden from view. What are love handles to one are muffin tops to someone else. What's cute on a young woman is, frankly, not as interesting when skin has lost its elasticity. Need I say more? No, I thought not.

I love my jeans. Don't get me wrong. They look great with a crisp white shirt and a pair of stilettos. As long as I don't move. As long as my white shirt is long enough to reach or even - is it too much to hope? - fall below the waist band. (Oh, but that is a different diatribe.)

What is a woman to do these days? Suffer through it, as far as I can tell. Suffer as women always have with fashion. And so you will find me endlessly hiking up my pants to try to maintain a sense of decorum because actual dignity is out of the question.

Maybe I should buy a skirt.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Resolutions

My baking soda box reads, "Change every 30 days," to which I say, "Once a year is the most you'll get from me."

Justification

I'm eating pie for breakfast. Ginger pumpkin pie. However, there's a very good reason for that: It's a travel day. Which means, housecleaning. Which means, cleaning out the fridge. Which means, eating leftovers. Ergo, pie. I'm just doing my job.

And speaking of which, I bought a second black purse yesterday. Exactly like the one I bought two days ago. So now I have two friggin' black purses that I don't need and I haven't even decided that I want. (What's wrong with me?) BUT, there's a very good reason for that: I saved a whopping $14 on the second unnecessary black purse, so there. It means I have to return the first unnecessary black purse but that was worth $14, right? Just doing my job. (And, yes, the Kindle fits in there, no problem.)

Of course, I found a nice black coat (that goes nicely with my black purses, btw) at the second store. So I got that, too. Needed it, yep. So, there's that. But, I've got to hurry up and get out of this town before I buy anything else.

Better finish up this pie and get a move on. Wait, there's pizza in the fridge too....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Seattle's In For A Baby Boom

Eighty-three percent of Americans rate rainy days and nights as the best time to have sex.
Well, yeah—because what else is there to do when you can’t play golf or drive with the top down?
It's High Time for Conception: Studies Show Peak Times, Weather for Sex

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Purse Therapy

I don't even like purses. At the same time, I am oddly attracted to them. It used to be I didn't carry one because I got tired of hauling everyone else's crap around. Diapers, kid toys, husband's wallet - forget that nonsense! Carry your own stuff! I got very efficient after that. I only took what would fit in my pockets.

Is it me or have jeans gotten tighter since then? Plus, the stuff required to get through the day has expanded. For example, when I wasn't carrying a purse, cell phones hadn't even been invented and now I can't live without one. Car keys looked like keys back then. Now, they look like Oreo cookies or something. Larger, needless to say. I have two house keys, two car keys, keys for the office, keys to my mom's place (3), a bicycle lock key, and two storage locker keys. Those won't all fit in my pocket. I have prescription sunglasses. I suppose I could wear them on a chain around my neck in case the sun comes out but ...

Oh, what the heck. I need a purse. But how many purses does one need? Further, how many black purses does one need? Specifically, do I really need the black purse that I bought today? One that is more expensive than any other purse I've ever purchased? Do I really need that?

I was going to take pictures of all my black purses so you could vote or give me counsel. I have three with me right now and at least two more at my other house. However, I realized rather quickly that the arguments for and against would fall along gender lines with the women saying, "You can always use another black purse" and the men asking, "What's the difference between one black purse and another?" I fully understand what the men are asking. It is, in fact, my quandary. At the same time, this gender will also ask, "How many black shoes does a woman really need?" which, in mind, disqualifies the entire gender from entering into the conversation on black purses.

I also bought a wallet. I can't remember the last time I carried a wallet. (What's gotten into me?) It's black, if you must know, and could double as a clutch so technically, that's another black purse. My current wallet is a rubber band. A real wallet just adds needless weight to an already heavier than necessary satchel. But I bought it anyway.

I'll go ahead and put my money in my wallet and then put the wallet in my purse and then go to the store. Try it all on for size, as it were. And see if there's anything else I really need.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Don't Let Them See You Sweat

In not sweating the small stuff, it helps to know what the small stuff is. In the thick of it, none of it seems small and it's easy to feel victimized by circumstances. Time constraints, chore lists, and expectations (real or false) conspire to pressurize to combustion.

What if fill-in-the-blank doesn't get done? Are there any real consequences? Another question to ask is, could s/he have said it differently? As in, what was the proper thing to say/ask? If there is no real answer to that question, the problem lies with with the offended party and the matter qualifies as "small."

What happens when something really BIG comes along? That's a different story. It should be dealt with appropriately, whatever that is. But if one has practiced letting the little stuff go, the bigger stuff filters down to take its place on the priority list, effectively becoming smaller.

The REALLY BIG stuff sucks. There's no way around it. But what if we think of the REALLY BIG stuff as equally good, as bad? Then  REALLY (bad) BIG stuff deserves no more attention than REALLY (good) BIG stuff like family, health, love and kindness, and all that.

Okay, I realize that may have come off as cynical, that last sentence. But that's small stuff. Let it go.

Life is good and I realize that's not always easy to hear. And, I realize that's not True for a lot of people. For a lot of people, life is packed with REALLY (bad) BIG stuff and I have nothing to say that will placate those people. In fact, whatever makes me feel better about my life, day, obligations - whatever - won't mean spit to someone who's REALLY down and out. When I think about it, it makes all that I've just written seem pretty trite.

Which makes all of my/your garbage really, really small stuff.

I hope you didn't sweat the small stuff this Holiday Season. I hope it was really good big stuff.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mrs. S.

I wonder what Mrs. S. is doing right now. I know that in my house, Mr. S. spent a lot of time watching football and when that was over, he watched golf. How desperate do you have to be to watch golf? But, I digress.

I think Mr. S. gets far too much credit. What does he do, exactly? In my house a giraffe makes the toys and it's the elves that make the mess. A mess of paper and ribbons that streams from room to room. Every room, in case I didn't make my point.

And then, Mr. S. has the gall to wonder why Mrs. S's hair is white and steam is coming out of her ears with the sound of train whistles. And, by the way, when's dinner? And, did you make my favorite pie? And, I'm hungry.

And, OMG.

He thinks he's a hero if he put his finger on the knot while Mrs. S. ties the bows on the packages and carved the Roast Beast. He even ... and, what's this? For me? Why, it's exactly what I wanted.

I don't have any idea what Mr. and Mrs. S. are doing but this I know. He needs the longest night of the year to get done what he needs to get done, and it'll be dark at the North Pole until April so they can sleep it off.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grandma's House

The term is more convoluted since I became one. We are celebrating Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law's house and she's a grandma, too. And our two mothers are great grandmas. And I have another sister-in-law that will be a grandma in about six months, although she doesn't know it yet. (This year's family drama which will become unavoidable very soon.)

If you include all the grandparents (who know they're grandparents) there will be seven of us at tonight's gathering which amounts to approximately 33% of the total revelers.

Next year, there will be (at least) eight of us. A perfect example of the aging population.

I'm just taking a short break between baking and dish washing before taking off to Grandma's House. Safe travels to all who are venturing out today. And, keep an eye out for the Fat Guy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Charlie

For me, Christmas begins when I get a card from Charlie. Without fail, I get one and it's almost always before I've gotten around to sending one to him. I just got his card the other day. It's the twenty-seventh card I've received in as many years. And we've never met. Still, it's something I look forward to every year.

I was married (the first time) in 1984 and Charlie, a college classmates of my parents, was invited. He didn't come but I made up an index card with his name and address on it anyway. Everyone who was invited got a card whether they came or not. The cards also tracked what people gave for a wedding present so I could appropriately thank them. And then, the card file became my first Christmas Card List as a married woman. I had been instructed to send each one a card my first Christmas as Mrs. So-And-So. And, so, I did.

I heard back from several to whom I sent cards. But Charlie's was my favorite. He thanked me for the card and then asked who the hell I was. Not in so many words but since I had signed the card with my new married name, he couldn't make the connection to his former college classmates.

So I wrote back, "I am the daughter of ..." and explained the situation of having been instructed to mail greetings to everyone on the original guest list.

The  following year, I received a card from Charlie. And, the next year. And the next. For 27 years.

Now, he uses a computer so sometimes I hear from him at other times of the year. But I still get a Christmas card. Every year.

Which is awesome.

Merry Christmas, Charlie.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Post Today

The post today is there is no post today. Today, I took a day off to play Santa's elf, running from here to there to finish all that's on my list and I nearly did so. Finish, that is. Now, I've got dinner simmering on the stove - which needs stirring - so, really. I just don't have time to post. Not to mention every day - who has time for that? Really?

So no posting. Can't be done. I'm just too busy.

I have to check the list. Twice. And compare it to everything that's laid out on the dining room table in little piles, organized by intended recipient. I have to stir. Again. And check for doneness. So, I'm sorry, dear readers. No post today.

All that's left is the menu. I have the general idea. The roast is already ordered and I figure there will be some vegetables and potatoes. Oh, and don't forget pie. And wine. So, there's at least one more run to the grocery store. On the busiest day of the year. No sweat.

And I should probably do a little housekeeping. You know, just straighten up a little. I usually like to hide things in the oven or the dishwasher but they'll be in use. Maybe the washer? Or dryer? Which reminds me, time to advance the laundry.

Dinner's about ready and it's time to get it on the table. Oh, wait. The table is covered with all the presents. I suppose we could eat under the tree to make things even.

Oh, well. Just so you know. There will be no post today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Awry In A Manger

We let Carter set up the manger this year. He's never seen these figures, much less been able to touch them before. We didn't decorate for the Holidays at all last year and the year before that - well, he was much too young. These figures were hand painted by his Great Great Grandmother and a couple of them are too fragile for him to handle, even this year.

I set him on a stool and let him arrange the figures however he saw fit. Pop quiz: Where's baby Jesus?

I don't think he's familiar with the story of the manger. But he understands the concept of a barn and he knows animals go in there so that's the first thing he set about doing. Getting the animals in the barn. There just wasn't enough room in there for all the people. He got a shepherd in there, and the Three Wise Men, but Mary and Joseph didn't make the cut.

Baby Jesus is there but he's hard to spot because it got a little crowded in there. He's under the camel. The one that's front and center. Actually, back and center is more accurate.

Who knows? Maybe that's the way it really was. Maybe all that the visitors who traveled afar could see after their arduous trek with their gifts of adoration was a camel's ass and a filthy barn.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sex In The City

We went to Bank of America in Portland today and had to snake our way around the parking garage looking for a large enough parking spot for the Escalade. (How un-Portlandia is that? We should have biked or walked - sporting Birkenstocks in either case - if we really wanted to fit in. Anyway, the car was borrowed.)

We found a big open spot on the second level and as Hubby tried to negotiate the behemoth of a gas guzzler between two white lines, I noticed there was a man in the back seat of a car a couple spaces away. It was odd because he seemed to be the only one in there so I looked to try to figure out what he was doing. At first I thought he might be trying to wrestle a small child into or out of a car seat. He wasn't seated in the back seat but appeared to be kneeling. 

He seemed to notice our arrival but turned his back to us. He was wearing a crisp, white shirt. The kind someone at the Bank of America might wear, for example. Then I wondered if maybe he was changing his pants. Maybe he had just finished working out and thought it better to change in the garage rather than the gym. And, then, I thought differently. 

Because, I saw flesh. 

It looked like an elbow but it was naked. No white sleeve. Mr. White Shirt was suddenly laying down as if hiding from view. Or, perhaps, hiding someone else from view.

I wanted to look. I really did. Not to see who was in the car or what they were doing. Not for any need for voyeurism. 

I wanted to see if they were laughing. Laughing at having been caught. I wanted to hang around in the elevator lobby while Hubby went upstairs for a business meeting. Whoever was in the back seat of that car had to get out sometime, didn't they? I wanted to see their faces. Don't ask me why. Maybe because it was a hilarious.

It was ten in the morning! Who was was so anxious to have sex, they conspired to take their coffee breaks at the same time to meet for a quickie in the parking garage? An office romance? An  affair? Married people? Ha! 

I never saw who owned the elbow but I image whoever it was said, "What was that?" when she heard us drive up. And I imagine he said, "Don't worry. They didn't see us," whether he believed that to be the case or not.

Or, maybe that's Customer Service at B of A. I might have to think about opening an account.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Insert Panic Here

Don't get me started on what's left to do. I was feeling pretty good about it all until I turned around and realized I hadn't really done anything today. Oh, maybe I did a little but if I could get half as much done as I avoid, I'd be - well, I'd be Wonder Woman is what I'd be. As in, I Wonder How That Woman Gets All That Done.

Cleaned the apartment, so that's good. Went for a walk and got caught up on my reading, so that's good. Prepared a report and ordered inventory, so that's good. But only spent about two hours at my PAYING JOB which is not so good.

Good thing my boss isn't reading this or she'd be PISSED. The trick, so far, has been to produce something that looks really great around 4:30 in the afternoon, something that took me 10 minutes to put together and is completely unsubstantial but looks impressive. That'll work until either 1) someone catches on, or 2) I really need to GET SOMETHING DONE.

I see a panicked, mad dash to Target in my immediate future.

Peeps

I'm going to move my Twitter account from lynnlynny to Lynn_C_Dot.



Please make a note of it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Give Up

I can't figure out how to provide an ePub of Now & Then without actually publishing. What I want to do is provide a link to a copy of Now & Then (in it's current first draft form) that you can download and read on a portable eReader. I found various sites that will make the conversion but then how do I make it available to you? I can upload the ePub to Google Docs but when I try to download it to my Android phone, I get a message that says I don't have the software to open the file.

I can convert to PDF and provide a link to download that direct to your portable device. I tested it and it worked fine. It just doesn't provide a very readable copy. So unless you can help me out (or you convert yourself from HTML to ePub and then sync to your device, which is all I can think of), you'll just have to read it here.

The HTML version will convert nicely to a portable reader having access to the internet but you won't have the ability to bookmark. So, I'm stuck.

That being said, I'll get to work on a final version which will be published, and therefore available for download to a portable reader near you.

Which, my secret agent man thinks is a better idea, anyway, than giving away free books.

Breakfast

Had breakfast with Ron Howard today at Mother's Bistro this morning. Well, not exactly with, more like at the same time and in the same place.

Too bad he didn't get a chance to meet me before he left.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'm Exhausted

Went shopping today. What was I thinking? On the last weekend before Christmas? It's far in advance of the Day Before Christmas, as was our habit.

I remember, long, long ago, shopping at Toys R Us while Hubby's Ex had the kids. We'd buy all the things a Divorced Dad would buy. Things That Required Assembly.

We'd go home, pour drinks, and assemble. I would read the directions and Hubby would ignore them, thinking them more advisory than absolutely necessary. There were usually parts leftover but by the time we were done, we didn't care anymore. We'd be bleary-eyed, exhausted, and a little drunk.

We'd hide the debris and go to bed, delirious that we were about to deliver the most memorable Christmas ever. The next day, the silly grins on our faces were as much from our sleep-deprived fog of Christmas Hangover as from our silly delusions of providing love through giant presents.

We're older and wiser now. Much older, mildly wiser. We have a grandson and we leave all Items Requiring Assembly to his parents. Now, we just give love. Oh, there's other stuff under the tree but not a lot. It doesn't take that much to make a three-year-old happy.

Which makes us happy. The silly grins are reserved for our delight in him. And his wants are pretty simple. He wants a pair of scissors he can use himself. And some paper he can cut. And our time and attention, which we gladly give him.

Now, we get to shop for ourselves. And guess what? We got just what we wanted.

Green


It looks white, I know, but it's really green. I was worried about my over reliance on paper towels in the kitchen so I bought a package of washcloths at Costco and put dozen in the kitchen right next to the paper towel roll.

It worked. I use far fewer paper towels than I used to. By having several on the counter top within reach, I want to feel like I can use as many as I need although, as it turns out, I rarely go through more than one per day. But it's also nice to know I can have a fresh one whenever I want and it will never turn into something moldy and stinky like the dreaded kitchen sponge.

Anyway, for about $12, I can help save the planet, one paper towel at a time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Serendippity

Philip hadn't wanted to come but his wife insisted. She said it would be good for him, not to mention their marriage. He was too stressed out and going to this retreat would help him "find his center," whatever that meant. Tranquility, perhaps.

Sherry stayed home with the kids while he was away. She could have gone, if proper arrangements had been made but she was very nearly centered herself, she said. She didn't need to go to a retreat. He did.

And so he went to appease her.

It was a bizarre place with unusual guests. When Philip found out his roommate was a kidnapper, he was glad the whole family hadn't come. A hippy, in sloppy apparel and wearing copper rings in his dreadlocks, resided in the hut next door. Philip wasn't sure if the hippy was also seeking his "center" or if he had already found it and, in fact, worked there.

A grasshopper - the retreat's guru or swami or whatever he was - lived in a separate hut and kept to himself as Philip schlepped his bag to his quarters and plopped it on his straw sleeping mat. The tremor began approximately at that moment as if dropping the bag itself had been the cause. He looked at his roommate in alarm and said, "Did you feel that?"

His roommate went about his business which consisted of unwrapping his stash, sapphires, which no doubt were acquired illegally. The kidnapper suppressed a laugh as he tipped his hand, the stones dripping into a zipped pocket. His happy roommate backslapped Philip who was beginning to think he had imagined the shaking.

But then things got worse and the entire hut began to shake. A cappuccino machine, the only appliance in the room, and its chipped cups threatened to topple. Philip skipped from the room and found the hippy next door utterly unflappable.

"What's happening?" he asked, apparently unaware of the commotion.

"Can you not feel that?" Philip shouted.

"Have an apple," the hippy offered, seeemingly apropos of nothing.

"How can you have an appetite at a time like this?

"I can appreciate an opportunity for the soul to be appeased." The hippy propped up his feet before him.

The shaking became worse and it seemed the earth would swallow them all. Philip stepped around the hippy's appendages and ran to the grasshopper's hut. "Earthquake!" Philip was shouting.

The grasshopper was apparently meditating, balancing on an unknown apparatus.

Philip tried to appeal to him again, "Master! Mr. Grasshopper! Earthquake!" He didn't know what else to say to express his urgency.

"My student," the grasshopper began. "I applaud you for coming so far but you can certainly appreciate how far you must yet travel. It is an opportune moment for your comeuppance."

"I don't understand, grasshopper. How can you be so calm? You, the kidnapper, and the hippy. What do that have that I lack, grasshopper?"

"You lack," the grasshopper said looking at Philip, "inner p's."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sneaky

It seems that no matter where I put the laundry basket there is always at least one sock that leaps to the floor, in a desperate and futile attempt at escaping. What does one do with a sock that so desperately seeks independence? One considers rewashing it, doesn't one, when the floor upon which the sock has landed is that of a community laundry room. Who knows what was there before? Someone's undies? Dust bunnies, without a doubt, lurk there and who needs that? But dust bunnies are harmless enough so one readily shakes the sock into submission, simultaneously relieving it of any unseen coodies.

Does the remedy change when what has fallen to the floor happen to be one's own undies? Certainly, if anyone is watching.

Today, not one but two socks, matching, no less, sought to deceive me by hiding in the rear of the dryer as I emptied it of its dark relatives. But, no, I spied them huddled together in conspiracy - or was it fear? - shriveled in the corner, if dryers can be said to have corners. It almost worked, their plan, being dark in a dark vacuum, but it was their stripes that gave them away.

To the sock drawer with them! And let them tell their tale to the others and let the others heed their warnings.

Socks, be darned! My toes shall not go cold!

The Ex Mrs. Rogers

"Did the eggs hatch, then?" Ginger asked her sister.

"Yes," Gloria replied. "We are very grateful to have them to start over with." They were in the kitchen preparing the Christmas meal: standing rib roast, of course, roasted rosemary potatoes, cheddar and chive biscuits, sauteed spinach with garlic and toasted almond slivers, cranberry and hazelnuts on a salad of baby greens with honey Dijon dressing, and dark chocolate pots de creme for dessert.

They chopped, sliced, minced, and diced as they caught up with each other's lives. "I'm sorry to hear about Fred," Gloria offered.

"Don't be. He was an ass."

"But you were together for - what? - twenty years?"

"Twenty-two. And you would think I could learn to love him for who he is in that time, wouldn't you?" Ginger laughed.

Ginger was a professional dancer when she and Fred met but she gave up her career to be with him. Fred was what they called a Player. Most likely, he still was but Ginger managed to overlook the signs. Fred was overly friendly with neighbors of the female persuasion, which Ginger, in her denial, consigned to thinking of as merely neighborly.

"Fred had his faults..." Ginger said.

"Who doesn't?"

"...but he was a slave to his phone. He would text while I was talking to him. Drove me mad. Phone calls, e-mail, text - if it came over on his goddamn phone, that took priority. Over everything. Over me. Didn't matter if we were out to dinner, or in bed."

"Even in bed?"

"Well, no. He was attentive in bed. But that's not my point."

"So what happened?"

"I told him I wanted to go to Belize for Christmas." Ginger was seasoning the beef.

"And?"

"It was Sunday, and I was making stew. Fred was watching football and fiddling with his phone. He asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said 'Belize.' And then, later, I told him I needed him to run to the store for a couple things and his filter kicked in."

"My husband has that filter, too." Gloria laughed. "Somehow, no matter what I say, all my husband hears is, 'Blah blah blah sex blah blah.'"

The roast was in the oven and they were melting the chocolate in the double boiler.

Ginger let out a sigh. "Apparently, 'Belize' sounds like 'bay leafs'."

Gloria asked, "And that's it?"

"Yes, that's it."

Genes

I think I'm genetically predisposed to not getting anything done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Joe

Favorite food? Does coffee count? Coffee, in a red cup. Preferably, a dark roast brewed as espresso and served as an Americano. Yep, that's it for me. If you exclude liquids, then really the experience of eating is what I like best about food. I don't have a favorite food unless you call creative combinations of ridiculously expensive local organic ingredients presented beautifully on stark white dishes food.

I can't tell you where I got my love for food. There's not a gourmand at all in my ancestry. I can, however, that I come from a long line of coffee drinkers. In fact, I'm sure that my grandmother invented espresso, or something like it. She didn't invent it in the sense that it's been around for over a hundred years in Europe. She invented more in the sense of what Americans came to know as overcooked office Bunn-o-Matic sludge. God love her, we drank it anyway. Usually, with a knife and fork.

We drank it until it became the stuff that ran through our veins. Until we didn't really mind the taste anymore. Until it was routine to add a little water and cook it some more in the microwave if it had gone cold. Or, what the heck, just drink it cold.

But one develops taste along the way, doesn't one? And one begins to discern between burnt coffee and aggressively strong coffee. One also learns you can't drink the stuff all day and keep your teeth. (Right?) So you figure out how to pack in the most coffee into a single punch and, voilĂ , espresso.

And so I drink it because it's in my blood. And I love it because it's an homage to my grandmother.

Anyway, that's the way I remember it. Truth be told, and I'm off topic here, my grandmother was something of a legend. For much, much more than her coffee. But that's a topic for another day and better told by a much better storyteller.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Egg Squeeze Me?

"Gloria!" The farmer yelled to his wife who had run back into the house to get a light bulb.

Dayo, the farmer's son, asked him what the matter was.

"The light's burned out in the incubator and the eggs won't be warm enough without it."

The poultry farm had suffered in recent years. In fact, the six geese were the last to go. He missed the hens and Gloria liked the doves but the swans were mean and the partridge was sickly anyway. They'd built an incubator to keep the goose eggs in hopes they would hatch and they could rebuild their business. Holidays Are For The Birds.

"Gloria!" he shouted louder, elongating the first syllable.

He had been teaching his son how to take care of the eggs. Every day for the last month, they went to the barn to take temperature readings and to turn the eggs. The incubator was simple and did not have a fan so it wasn't enough to take the internal temperature of the incubator. They had to measure the temperature at the top of each egg.

Dayo would hold the thermometer above each egg and report the reading to his father. "One oh one point five," he'd say, to which his father would reply sternly, "Celsius, Dayo. Celsius." His father, a Canadian, felt it was important for his son to be acquainted with the metric system and insisted the measurements be in Centigrade.

"And, in-egg?" his father would prompt. The temperature inside the egg had to remain below 40.5 C. Again, he would have to remind his son, "Celsius, Dayo. Celsius."

Twenty-seven days had passed and it was nearly time for them to hatch. They had increased the humidity in the incubator from 55 to 75 percent in anticipation of the goslings' arrival and they no longer rotated the eggs. The goslings were positioning themselves for hatching and rotating them would confuse them.

But today, when they went to check the eggs, they found the bulb had burned out. Everything could be lost.

"Hurry, Dayo! Give me a reading!"

"One hundred, Father!" Dayo shouted.

He did not reprimand his son because there was no time. They would lose everything if they couldn't save the eggs.

He barked, "In-egg. Celsius, Dayo!"

And then it started. The eggs began to hatch. They needed that light bulb now. Both of them began to shout, "GLOOOOOORIA."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Now & Then

It's done. Finally. The first draft anyway. The last chapter has been posted. Check it out. (Click on the Now & Then tab at the top of the page if you haven't done so already.)

I'll work on getting a link to a downloadable ePub and will let you know when that's done.

And then, I'll work on the second draft.

Whew!

And, thanks for reading.

I believe!

My favorite holiday stories are the ones we write ourselves. The ones that begin with, "Do you remember the year when...?"

One such story takes place when our youngest son still believed in Santa. His older brother had figured things out but was content to let his little brother continue in his belief. That, in itself, was a Christmas Miracle. Big Brother loved to torture the living daylights out of his little brother to no end. Maybe he still believed, a little. Enough to let Little Brother have something of his own, something shiny and good. Maybe someone really was watching, this time of year above all others.

We were coming home from Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas Eve, and we were telling the kids that maybe - just maybe - Santa had come while we were gone. We bought them bicycles that year. A green one for Big Brother. A blue one for Little Brother. We figured we wouldn't be able to wrap them so we put them in their bedrooms for them to find when we got home. So we were trying to encourage the idea that it would have been a perfect time for Santa to come. While we were gone.

Oh, no, Little Brother explained, Thanta can't come until it noeth. (He had trouble with the letter s but for some reason, snow became no rather than thnoe.) Well, this was a predicament. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Are you sure he can't come?

No. It'th not noing.

A fairly serious discussion ensued on the topic but we could not convince him. We searched the sky for snow, hoping for even a snowflake so the magic could happen. We pulled into our garage and went into the house. Put away your coats, boys, I said. They ran into their rooms and tossed their coats on their beds. One saw a bike. One was still concerned about the no.

Still, Big Brother didn't break the spell. Little Brother ran to the big picture window in the living room to resume his search for no. It hath to no, or Thanta won't come!

And just at that moment there was a light in the sky. It was an airplane or a satellite but that didn't matter. To Little Brother, it was Santa. He pointed. He shouted. He was sure. It was him! I can thee him!

Let's go outside and get a better look, I said. He ran into his room, past his blue bike with a red bow, grabbed his jacket, and out the front door we went.

Do you think it's really him?

Oh, yeth, it'th him.


We watched the light until we couldn't see it anymore. It's was a magical moment to actually see - or make believe you see - Santa in action. Not just the man but the entire entourage. An amazing, imaginary sight.

Little Brother was elated. Santa was probably the biggest concept he could get his head around. An epic moment for a six-year old.

We came back into the house, silent in our reverence and joy. Put your coats away, boys, I said for the second time that night. To their bedrooms they went.

And then it happened. Little Brother came running out of his bedroom. He wath here! He came! He had finally seen his bike.

He ran back to the picture window and searched the sky for another glimpse at the Fat Man. I believe! he cried. I believe!

And ever since that night, I do too.

Red And Green

Balls. My favorite holiday tradition. In fact, we've had red and green balls since as long as I can remember. It was family time together, rolling the balls between our hands, dusting them in sugar. Waiting in anticipation for the balls to cool so we could pop them into our watering mouths.

When I had kids, I taught them to make red and green balls. I made chef hats out of paper towels and tape, tied on aprons and stood the boys on stools so they could manufacture their own balls.

Now, I have a grandson and it's time to pass on the balls. And fish. Herring, pickled and creamed. Another tradition which sounds disgusting even to me - and I like it. Not together, of course. Herring with balls. Can you imagine? Just the thought is a trifle sickening. No, best to keep the balls and herring separate. Safer that way.

I lost the recipe for the balls last year. Turned the house upside down for it. Got an e-mailed copy that was lost in translation either by the sender or the recipient but they weren't the same. Had to throw them all away. Such a sad, sad waste.

I'll turn the house upside down again this year because it's time to make the balls again and maybe I missed it in last year's search. The kids are already asking for them and the grandson is too, although he's not old enough to really know what they are yet. But they're delicious, the balls are. That much I can say.

I already have the sugar, red and green, to roll the balls in. All I need now is a truckload of butter. And a recipe. I need that recipe or all is lost.

It's just not the same without the balls.

And red and green fish is gross.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Somewhere Between Naughty And Nice

Maybe you're like me and don't get - presents, shall we say? - like we used to. And yet, I find myself preparing myself just in case I do. Got to be prepared, just in case. Such as in the case of an accident, you might say, good to have your nice drawers on and such.

I know some of you are still getting presents pretty regular. Being young, and all, it's to be expected. I'm sure you're ready. Permanently on the nice list, as it were. Then, there are others that have no expectation of being so lucky as to get presented with - ahem - a present. Does that make you naughty? No doubt, unprepared.

But, there's always hope, isn't there? No matter who you are. How old or how young. How naughty or nice. It's a bit like Cindy Lou Hoo, that belief, although maybe not so innocent or naive. But that's what this time of year is for, isn't it? A little hope?

Ah, yes. A little hope. For a present. Somewhere between naughty and nice.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Party Pleaser

Cook a Hormel peppercorn pork tenderloin according to directions. While the roast rests, prepare buttered rosemary rolls. For the rolls, I substituted Pillsbury biscuits for the frozen dinner rolls called for in this recipe. Make 20 biscuits according to package directions, adding butter and rosemary and salt according to the recipe for buttered rosemary rolls.

Make a honey dijon spread. I used coarse ground dijon mustard - about a quarter cup - to 1-1.5 tablespoon honey according to taste.

Slice the pork tenderloin into very thin slices.

Assemble sliders: rosemary biscuit, pork, a little honey mustard (doesn't take much), add a little baby lettuce greens = twenty pork sliders that I guarantee will be eaten up at your next gathering.

They're great reheated too. Take off the lettuce, wrap in foil, reheat about 10 minutes in 375 oven. Yum.