Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Wassail! Wassail! All over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made from the white maple tree
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!

Took Friday and Monday off. We were way behind on holiday preparations. I put up the outside lights.... house only. Didn't get to the trees and bushes this year.

The tree is up and decorated. It is a little lopsided on it's trunk and unfortunately the side facing the room is the side with the most branches... and all the ornaments on that side did make it fall over, but very little damage was done. The water was sucked up and a few ornaments placed back on the tree and key balancing measures were put in to effect. Halls decked, cookies baked. Shrub made. (brandy, lemon, and wine... good drink).

We saw The Lord of the Rings, last installment. Good. Probably have to see it again -- a lot happened in that movie. That being said, it did drag, I thought, in a few places. I realize there was a lot of despair in the story... but the way that was portrayed in the movie was a lot of long, long shots of Frodo's legendarily expressive eyes .... you know, showing... despair. Lots and lots of it. Couldn't they have cut 7 minutes of despair and put, maybe, Saramaun's 7 minute scene back in?

We did not get Christmas cards out this year. Sorry, those of you who did not get them (which would be pretty much all of you) but that's the way it went this year. Don't feel left out. You weren't.

I hear Mahtaj, a lady I work with, is off camping in Colorado. Ah, to just take off and go on a whim. I'm so jealous.

I still have to wrap Vicki's gifts. Looks like once again that will happen on Christmas Eve. I don't particularly like doing it Christmas Eve, but that's when it seems to happen.

Installed MSN9 on Mom's computer, but man, it's bogging it down. May have to go back to 8. I put 9 on there for the popup-stopping capabilities. But really. I think it should run much better than that.

As the season wears on, I listen to more and more traditional Christmas music. Right now I'm listening to "The Sixteen". Mediaeval Christmas music. Pretty much Church music (for the most part). Makes me want to burn some of that incense that we burned at church. Vicki hates the aroma. A lot of people do. I always liked it. Used to be able to buy it at Cool Stuff. "Gloria Blend", it is.

I've learned the chords to "The Gloucestershire Wassail" -- now I just need to learn all the words. It's another Wassailing song that I like better than "Here We Come a Wassailing". It really captures the spirit of wassailing very well. I've also learned "The Boar's Head Carol" -- another of my favorites.

If you haven't guessed, I really like the traditions and circumstance around Christmas and its pagan northern-European counterpart, "Yule". Most of it seems to be centered around (1) the fact that it's a cold, dark time of year when a little cheer is most welcomed, and (2) our own persistence and renewal of that on which we subsist (agriculture -- food) from a time when you couldn't just pop down to the local store and buy some apples or whatever else you lacked in the middle of the winter. The story of the birth of a redeemer fits well into the old pagan ideas -- hope in the middle of dark times and the promise of an eternal life. From what I understand scholars put the birth of the actual Christ sometime in summer, but the church moved the feast to coincide with the grand traditions of the midwinter festivals. Probably not only a politically wise move, but a fitting one as well. I don't see Christmastime through the same polarizing lenses the right and the left see it through. Yes, the word Christmas itself refers to the celebration of the birth of Christ and many of the traditions we see this time of year come from that tradition. Many others come from other traditions. I see them as a remarkably rich blend, not as one side or another being "the right way". This bunk about removing Christmas Trees from public places is a bit nuts to me. I understand the whole separation of Church and State thing but is State to remain completely sterile from culture as well? There is a difference, I think, between endorsing a particular religion and acknowledging that a very large portion of our population is in fact, Christian.

So, as we near Christmas, everybody enjoy the lights, the trees, Mr. Claus and his flying reindeer, the nativity scenes, the church music and the secular music and bask in the synergy of traditions that is known collectively as "Christmas" to Christians and non-Christians alike. And whether you're dreaming of a White Christmas or on a beach on Christmas Island with your stocking hanging on a great big coconut tree.... have a very very merry one, and do your best to ensure those around you do the same. The smile you send out comes back to you a thousand times. Whether you're smiling yourself or doing something to cause someone else to smile, do your part. You'll get yours.

Merry Christmas!

- P

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long

A very long time. I've been bad. Thanksgiving was cool. We got Mom (Krick) a laptop to replace her MSN companion. Got that up and working well, took it home with her and set it up. I can even remote control it from here so I can help her out. She's doing really well with it.

So we had Mom, Bri, Kev, Ken, and Mom along with Sam and Connie over for Thanksgiving. My stuffing didn't turn out as good as it could've. I shoudln't have covered it. Everything else was great. Connie made sweet potato pie in place of pumpkin -- I knew they were similar -- it was very good.

Ok, between helping kids out with finances, fixing Vicki's car, me frying my computer, (got a new one... 2.6GHz E-machine) and the beer fridge conked out.... we've spent a darned lot of money over the last two months. Hopefully things will get better after this. That heat pump probably won't last forever. It's at the end of its life cycle.

So we got a new refrigerator for the kitchen. Vicki wanted the freezer on the bottom. It's cool. You don't have to bend down to see what's in the fridge. It's a bigger one, too. The kitchen fridge was retired to the garage as the new beer fridge.

Vicki is punting the job as the secretary of the homeowners association -- too stressful for someone with a full-time job. Which means there's another $600 a year we will get to shell out, but it's worth her not being stressed, to be sure.

So, we have her going to a... get this.... acupunturist. I know, I know. Practical Phil, right behind her on this, belive it or not. Her doctors are bent on treating her symptoms, this guy claims to know the cause (liver problems) and he can fix it by.... sticking needles in her and improving her Chi flow -- ok... well... they've been doing it in China for 2,300 years.... so either they can't afford an education in modern medical practice or maybe they've been onto something all this time. Time will tell. Hopefully not too much, as this, too, is expensive.... and not covered by insurance.

Went to an exxxxxxxcellent housewarming party at Alex's house (guy I work with). He has a charming and brilliant wife (cardiovascular research) and they are great hosts. We had lots of interesting food from the Ukraine & other republics of the former Soviet Union. Mostly Ukranian. They have a fabulous house overlooking a bluff on a creek, looking out the back over a floodplain. It was beautiful with 5" of snow covering everything. Then we went out to Vicki's boss's party at their house... that's always a nice party -- and closed the night down with Sam & Connie and ate at the waffle house at 1:30 in the morning. Heck, I didn't party that much when I was in COLLEGE.

The Groves were up two weekends ago. It was a quick visit -- plus, the Lord of the Rings II extended version took about 4 hours out of that. But as always, it was nice having them around.

Sadness... Brian and Jess broke up. We sure like her. She sounds pretty strong, so no matter how this turns out she'll do great. Apparently Brian's just not ready for a Jess at this time. Which is too bad, because you don't run across them every day. Everybody has to figure it out in their own time, I guess. What's that Gerry Rafferty song... "If you get it wrong, you'll get it right next time"? Yeah. Good song (http://www.yimpan.com/Songsite/Lyric/index.asp?sid=3516)

Got the tree up, with just lights on it. Have very little Christmas decorating up. Very unusual for us. Have to get it done this week. I'm taking Friday and monday off. Get some baking done and the rest of the decorating.

For Vicki's birthday we're going to see the Return of the King (with Sam & Connie). Bri and Mom should be home Friday. I'm taking Friday and Monday off, but I have to work Tue/Wed/Fri. Then I'm taking of the next monday and tuesday and working Wed/Friday. And of course Brofest on New Years Eve. Looks like Mexican this year. Ryan and Kristie will probably come over. Kristie has to work late -- but she'll be over before midnight.

Ryan got rid of the bowflex and the freeweights and bought a Wieder C670 weight machine that we're using to work out. He really wants to get 120 workouts in this year -- and that means 10 more before Jan 1. I don't think so, Tim. We'll see.

Well, that's a quick recap. I'll try to be better from now on.