Friday, December 23, 2011

Tomorrow and tomorrow

'Tis the day before Christmas Eve and tomorrow we'll be celebrating with my father, sister and family plus one son and fiancee.  Christmas Day will be the first in our thirty some years of marriage that my husband and I will be alone.  Son number one is in New York with his belle amie.  Son number two is in San Diego with his.  And son number three and his fiancee will be with us in the morning, then spending the day with her family nearby.  No big meal, no scented candles, no twinkling lights, no Christmas music, no photographs.  As a result, we are treating ourselves to a decadent day of movie viewing. 

We go to the movie theatre maybe once a year.  But this year, we will be immersing ourselves in the fantasy land of Mission Impossible (definitely), Tintin (maybe), Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (definitely and yes, we saw the original), We Bought a Zoo (also maybe).  I figure our knees will be frozen and our bums numb by the time we finish.  But what a way to celebrate the day of celebration.

I wish you all a happy Christmas--for those of you who observe Christmas--and a happy holiday for all the rest.  It turns out the darkest days of the year may be artificially illuminated, but I am thankful for that all the same! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Music

Don't we all tire of the Christmas music that can only be avoided if we were to stay home starting on Thanksgiving, steering clear of any stores, any elevators, any radio, any television?  Not practical and certainly not easily achievable. 

But even when the jingly music barrages our senses, along comes a rendition of Panus Angelicus, sung by tenor Juan Diego Florez, and time stands still--utterly still.  All my other senses shut down.  I don't take in what I see before me.  I don't notice my skin or taste the last bit of coffee I just drank.  The music gets sucked inside and fills me with sensation--not so much of sadness or joy, but of just unidentifiable feeling.  My eyes tear up and I wish for the music never to stop. 

It's a blessing to be able to distinguish the extraordinary from the everyday. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photo challenges

Each year, I try to capture an image of my family that would be appropriate for a Christmas card.  No easy feat, I assure you.  Photographing three sons is like gathering up the contents of a broken egg.  Add my granddaughter as well (She learned her mugging skills from the best--her father!) and you have even more complication.  This season there were several attempts to produce something that would make them appear sweet and kind.  This is what I get.

So I try again.  Oh, so perfect for Sam and Patrick (left to right); and oh so not perfect for Seth and Taija.

Next effort?  Even worse.  Now they're synchronizing their antics.

And this year, I even made the effort to get a photo of the three boys and their girlfriends (and fiancee).  Would that be better?  Decide for yourself.

And even when I try to get a photo of Patrick and Christine, there's mutual interference from both Seth and Patrick.  Ha, ha, ha. . .

Did I get a photo?  Well, not exactly.  The only photo of the boys and Taija that makes them look reasonably presentable includes me.  Not what I was looking for, but the best I can get. 

And finally, one of the couples that finally worked out.  They are left back to right Seth and Rachel and Sam and Samantha (his fiancee) and in front, Patrick and Christine--playing it straight.

The whole time we're taking pictures, you understand, everyone else (including the photographer) is reeling with laughter.  It never enhances the seriousness of the process.  What seriousness?  By now after all these years, it has, I believe, become a challenge for them.  'Let's see how quickly we can make her laugh until she's crying?????' I'm sure they're thinking.  I didn't want to count.  And I'm sure they lost count.  

I was ready for a nap by the end of it! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seasonless Sights

It's December in "sunny California."  Even here in the northern part of the state, the term seems appropriate.  As I wander around the block with the dog, it's impossible to ignore that, though it's cold enough for gloves, the magnolia's showing signs of blossoming yet again.  There are roses in every other yard--still persisting despite the few nights of freezing temperatures.  Privets are evergreen and everywhere--pesky things that they are. 

The dog steps a little livelier to avoid any prolonged contact with the cold concrete, and he's just a tiny bit less enthusiastic about running across the wet lawns. 

Our heater shuts off rarely now, and soup is the order of the day.  Pureed butternut squash and potato topped with yogurt or sour cream and butter-fried sage leaves.  Add to that a green salad with a lovely sweet Jiro persimmon and a rosemary baguette.  A plate of cookies and sliced oranges for dessert while we firmly plant our elbows on the table to enjoy some conversation and the rest of the wine--sated and cozy.

Tomorrow we'll check for signs of spring--or is that Christmas peeking around the corner???

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day

I was reminded today that it's World AIDs Day, which takes me back to memories of dear friends I lost to this dreaded affliction.  While I am saddened to be taken back to those all-too-fresh painful memories--even after many years, I am grateful for the reminder.  And I am grateful for the advances in modern medicine that have extended the lives of many other dear friends.

Our blessings are many.  Our memories are dear.  Let us not forget.

Post-Thanksgiving Peace

The house is quiet after the hum, no roar, of family and friends enjoyed over the Thanksgiving weekend.  With two extra dogs and several extra people in our small California bungalow (actually more like small California tract home), the activity never lessened.  There were, fortunately, no mishaps--no broken bones, no food poisoning, no family feuds, no trips to the vet, and no tears.  It was a happy affair all around. 

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year.  The leaves are falling, which takes me back to my northeastern childhood when leaves were there for the jumping--and burning--done with impunity in the days of innocence.  While spring is the harbinger of new growth, fall is the waning of the seasons and the start of a new cycle--for me.  Winter in California's central valley is brief; and while we experience the occasional morning with "cat ice" on our puddles, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees.  Only once or twice is it necessary to run outside just before bed to cover the lemon tree (bush) with a sheet to protect it from the frost.

As a child, Christmas was a put-together affair.  We weren't much for ritual and so didn't have much to fall back on to make it Christmas-y.  And money was very tight in our clergyman-father's family, making the Christmas gifting a major chore for my beleaguered mother.  So Thanksgiving was our ritual.  And we loved it.  I especially loved the food, the smells, the busyness, the cranberries and the crispy air. 

The ritual persists and I am thankful for it.