Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snowbound in Denver

The snow is at about 10 new inches now. That's on top of everything that didn't melt after last week's blizzard. My husband was scheduled to fly out today at 4:00. We dropped him off at 2:00 after being assured that the plane he was due to fly out on was in the air, on its way from Seattle. Apparently that plane made it to within 100 miles of Denver and was forced to turn back because it would have been flying through a dangerous ice storm as it went down through the clouds. So my husband ended up taking a cab home and is now in watching Star Trek reruns with the kids. Kind of one of those good news/bad news things.

It's incredibly beautiful here, though. At about 10:30 tonight I decided (since I am currently a Seattle gal who rarely sees snow) that I wanted to go out in it again, and we walked to the park right by my parents' house and threw snowballs at signs (and occasionally at each other.) My husband made a snow angel. I went running down the deserted street sliding on my shoes like they were skates. (And wheezing. Oh. My. Gosh. The altitude! I couldn't breathe after five minutes.) Then we walked around the neighborhood admiring the way Christmas lights shine through even when they're covered by snow.

I got home and whacked my shoes against the front steps, which brought back vague and distant memories of doing this over and over and over when I was younger. Different shoes, maybe. But definitely the same feet and same steps.

It's funny how, when you go home you remember things like this. Even the things you don't really consciously remember. My mom had a set of 1 1/2" painted wooden angels out on a countertop. Angels I haven't seen in at least thirty years, probably more. And suddenly with just one glance I could have told you that they belonged to my grandmother, and she used to put them up on her bookcase, and one was missing a wing.

It's odd being home. Life is full of these funny deja vu moments, and also of the moments when you remember things that aren't any more. That taco shack used to be a Tastee Freeze. And there used to be a gas station where those condos are. And that retirement home sits by a creek where we used to play, on land that used to be wild. When I was five my "boyfriend" caught a snake there and gave it to me. Tomboy that I was, I was happy about it.

We are really, really, really hoping to get home on Saturday. This will require that the second part of this storm heads to the east. So cross your fingers for us, and if I can't post before then, Happy New Year! (I am really ready for this month to be over!!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I am Home

We all watched "Scrooge" on Christmas day. The 1970 Albert Finney musical. I once read a review of all the "Christmas Carol" movies which called this one "nobody's favorite version." I wanted to say, "Uh... 'Scuse me? It's mine." Because it is mine, and my entire family's.

So we watched it all the way through on my parents' VCR Christmas night and finished with the typical warm fuzzy feelings. (Seriously, when he ends with the line, "I'm going to go have dinner with my...family," I get teary-eyed.)

And then my dad hits Rewind, and suddenly we're all laughing hysterically as Scrooge snatches back the merry-go-round toy from Tiny Tim, then the dolls and cricket bats from his siblings, then the giant turkey from his parents, then the Christmas gifts from the nephew and the nephew's wife... And then Scrooge is sliding back up the banister, pulling the curtains closed and wrapping the bedsheet around his neck.

And my mother observies dryly, "I think Scooge is off his meds."

Giggle. Oh, right. So THIS is where my sense of humor comes from.

These are my people.

I am home.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

People I'm Thankful for This Christmas

I'm thankful for a lot of folks this Christmas, so I wanted to take a moment to list some of them here. I'm thankful for:

--My husband, who has spent hours and hours on the phone with the airlines because he knows how important it is for me to get home for Christmas.

--Sherry (sp?) and Rob at Alaska Airlines. I hope I don't get you in trouble by posting this, because I know that giving us personal help isn't strictly by the book. But you have no idea how much we appreciate your recognition of the fact that the mistake wasn't our fault and wasn't weather-relataed, and how much we also appreciate your going out of your way to try to fix it by letting us know about the new flights so we could get out before Christmas. You have no idea how much both of you have brightened our holidays!

--All of the folks working for the power companies who have worked round the clock since December 14 so almost everybody could have power and light and heat before Christmas. And a lot of you will be giving up your Christmas to keep at it. You are heroes. You are saints. We love you!

--And while we're at it, I'm thankful for everybody who doesn't celebrate Christmas and offers to take work shifts for those who do. I used to work with a guy who was Jewish, and he voluntarily worked every single Christmas and Easter. It's an example of respect I wish everybody of every religion would follow throughout the year.

--My brother and sisters in the blogosphere, who brighten my life by reading my blogs and writing yours. (And thanks to you, this blog has now reached number five on the melon énorme google list. I am so proud! Give yourselves a pat on the back!)

--My kids, who are just awesome. I am happy and proud to be your mom. (And both boys have gotten haircuts in the past two weeks. It's a Christmas miracle.)

And this really WILL be my last post before Christmas, so everybody have a wonderful one (or, again, whatever you celebrate.) Bless you all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Laurie Has Fun With Google (And By the Way, This is My 100th Post!)

Okay, first my really, really, really good news! Just got off the phone with Alaska and we're flying out Christmas Eve morning!! We'll be there for the Christmas Eve service! And we were able to extend the trip till the 30th, so we'll get a solid six days in Denver! Woot! Woot! Woot!

But the original point of this post, which I'd already started before the phone call: since my flight was delayed four days, that has left me with four days with absolutely no plans. All this free time has meant that I have been spending far more time than I should doing things like Having Fun With Google.

This is two-part entertainment. First of all, I'm getting dozens and dozens of hits on this blog for "Stop the Cavalry." People from all over the world, although mostly from Washington state and the UK. Plus some more from a number of European countries. (Netherlands seems to be a biggie.)

What's really entertaining are the search phrases people use to get here. The most common are "Stop the Cavalry" and "The Cory Band." But people also frequently use snippets of lyrics, like, "I have had to fight almost every night." Or my favorite, which has been used by a number of people: Dub a dub a dum dum. I never really realized that that's what they were saying until I saw it written out, but apparently that's what sticks in some people's heads.

All of this fun has led me to run some google searches myself, or to click on the google link that Sitemeter says someone used to get here. Some fun facts:

--If I google "Stop the Cavalry" I come in at number 24
--"Stop the Cavalry Cory Band" I come in at number 10
--"Stop the Cavalry Listen"? Number 7
--"Stop the Cavalry Lyrics"? Number 6
--"Dub a Dub a Dum Dum"? Number 4
--And one person who googled the lyrics wrong, with maybe an extra "I" or something, sent me all the way to Number 1.

I am not sure what this means. But I am totally one of the go-to people for "Stop the Cavalry" this season. I am SO proud.

I've also been playing with googling my French soccer stuff. (I know that if you're an American your eyes are glazing over, but bear with me. It's humorous.)

It seems to take 2-3 days after I write something for it to crack the top twenty, but since nobody writes consistently about the French National Team in English but me and a few legitimate new sites, and NOBODY else puts humor and entertainment value into it, it usually happens.(Okay, maybe that's just my ego speaking, but I totally crack myself up on a regular basis.) My piece on young player Rio Antonio Mavuba from Dec.20 just broke into the top ten today, coming in at number 6. (Although who's to say how many hits it takes to crack the top twenty. I'm probably doing it myself by re-reading my own posts.)

It thrills me in a truly out-of-proportion way when I beat out sites like BBC Sports and Sky Sports and Fox Soccer. I have occasionally even beaten out the players' official websites. (But that's at Google.com. At the French site, Google.fr, it's an entirely different story.)

My most entertaining hit? The phrase "melon énorme," which is, as one might assume, a slang french term for big head or big ego. One of the France players used it anonymously to describe another player and it struck me funny. I've tossed it into a number of pieces since, and one of my sisters-in-blog at the site has also started using it. And now when you Google "melon énorme," the top eight hits our ours. I am SO proud. I have printed the Google list out and am thinking of having it framed. :-)

(Use caution if you Google that one, though. My sister-in-blog used it in a slightly salty, PG-13 phrase and that's showing up in one or two of the results. If you're offended by this kind of thing... Well, I just thought I'd warn you.)

And I've now made myself curious about whether or not this site will crack the "melon énorme" list.

I probably won't have a chance to post tomorrow, so everybody have a wonderful Christmas! (Or whatever you celebrate.) And remember: Dub a dub a dum dum!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Complexities of Love

I was at my daughter's choir concert when I felt the tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there she was, the young woman who could have been my fourth child. I had not seen her in over a year.

She looked the same: intelligent, heart-shaped face, dark hair, pierced lip, wary eyes. Managing somehow to look both guarded and vulnerable.

I got to know her just before my daughter's senior year, when my daughter came to us with a request. Her choir friend "Ellie" needed a place to live. Ellie's father had moved across the country to marry his high school sweetheart and now had a hard time with things like remembering birthdays. Her mother had descended from middle-class married life to divorce and chronic pain from an accident, and then into alcoholism and homelessness. Ellie had been living with another family, but they were asking her to leave, at least partially because the money her father had promised had never materialized.

How could we say no? Plans were set into motion. She would take over my sewing room. She would use Medicaid coupons. She would go with us on vacations. My husband and I struggled to figure out the ground rules for a child with whom we had laid no groundwork. She had been independent for so long. What limits could we and should we set?

The people she had lived with had not been family in any real sense. Her true family for the previous year had been self-created, an array of musicians and other kids from the teen centers where she spent her time. Not traditiional, but surprisingly supportive. Not something we could expect her to give up. But what about our kids? Our daughter and her friends were solid and well-grounded by that point, but what about our middle son? His life was at a turning point right then. The two of them liked the same music, had other things in common. How could we keep her from living the life she'd become accustomed to? And if we couldn't, how could we keep him from being drawn into the life she lived?

And then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. Ellie discovered that her mom could get into transitional housing, but only if a dependent child was living with her. She made the choice to go back. I think we all stepped back from that edge, that leap into instant family, with a similar mixture of relief and regret. She continued on with her independent life and adult responsibilities. We would give her occasional rides. She somehow managed to work close to full time and to do well enough in school to be accepted into two good colleges. Then she cobbled together enough financial aid to attend her first choice school.

She and my daughter and daughter's friends had a bit of a falling out that year, a lot of it to do with Ellie's life, and her difficulty in accepting others' boundaries. It's hard to understand sometimes that for some people, accepting boundaries can mean having no place to stay, no way to get home, or nothing to eat.

She seems to have done well that first year of college, enjoying her classes, finding a house to rent with two roommates, learning a lot.

And now here she was again, back from college for the holidays to work. Her mom was living in another town. We chatted for awhile. She asked if she could come see me. I slipped all of my spare cash into her pocket when I hugged her goodbye.

That was Tuesday. She stopped by last Friday, the first day of the power outage. There were no open restaurants where I could take her for lunch, so we went to Safeway and got cheese and crackers, then back to my house. And she had a request: Could she maybe stay with us for a bit of her college break, then pet-sit at our house while we were gone?

Again, how could we say no? She spent one night with us, during the power outage, spending the time chatting about her classes and playing board games with our youngest son. On Sunday she was heading off to visit her boyfriend in Oregon for two days, then she would come back to stay for a week. Plans were made, and we again struggled with ground rules. Drive our car when we were gone? (Yes.) Friends over? (No.) Ground rules that we would, of course, be unable to enforce if she chose not to accept them.

Then yesterday morning we got a call from Oregon. Her boyfriend, a 26-year-old musician, had been hospitalized with a manic episode. She would be staying until school started to take care of him. I wanted to say, "Ellie, be careful! Don't let your dreams be pulled out of your grasp!" But she is not my child. She is another woman's child. So we wished each other Merry Christmas, took down addresses and e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and promised that this time we'd keep in touch.

And once again we we all stepped back from that edge, that leap into instant family. Again with a mixture of relief and regret. And I find myself again wondering about my responsibilities, and reflecting on the complexities of love. Especially love unanchored by blood ties.

Please pray for Ellie, who doesn't believe in prayer.

Here's How Much I Hate Alaska Airlines

First, the good news: The power came back on last night at 9:00. I never thought I would actually enjoy doing laundry. (Clean socks! Clean underwear! O! Rapture!) And I just returned from a trip upstairs to turn up the heat. Again. Because I can.

And now the other news: In case you had not guessed, we are not currently on a flight to Denver. And due to a combination of bad weather and horrendous Alaska Airlines incompetence, it doesn't look like we will make it until (if we're lucky) Christmas day. Which means no get-together with my brother and his triplets on Christmas Eve, and no Christmas Eve service with my daughter singing in the choir of the church I grew up in. And only three days in Denver rather than the eight we'd planned on. I'm alternating between hysterical tears and exhausted resignation.

My mom called early this morning to tell us Denver was in the middle of a blizzard, and sure enough, when we checked online our flight was canceled. Along with every other flight today. My husband (who ONLY flies Alaska, to the tune of thousands and thousands of miles every year) called their "customer service" folks and was told that we couldn't rebook ourselves -- we needed to wait for a rebooking agent to call us. And so we waited and waited by the phone, not making outgoing calls and cutting off incoming calls, waiting for the rebooking call. Which never came, because, contrary to what we'd been told, there WERE NO REBOOKING AGENTS. And in the meantime, everybody who called in the four hours we were waiting was rebooked on a pre-Christmas flight. By the time I finally got nervous about not hearing from them and we called Alaska again, everything had been booked by people who had called after our original phone call.

My husband and I just spent forty-five minutes conferenced on the phone with an Alaska supervisor, who kept trying to tell us that because this was weather-related there was nothing they could (or were willing to) do. No recognition at all (at least for the first forty of those minutes) that this wasn't a weather thing at all. It was an incompetence thing. If we had dealt with somebody competent at 8:30 this morning, we'd be going out on the 23rd.

I have decided one thing: my husband makes a wonderful good cop. I actually, believe it or not, have a bit of a temper, which makes me the bad cop. Between the two of us, we finally got her to agree that we are going to call her directly every two hours or so to see if they're bringing in other planes. Until we get on a flight to Denver. (Her original plan was that Alaska would commit to nothing at all except for maybe booking us on a flight on the 25th. We convinced her that this was not the best option for any of us.)

I keep reminding myself that there are so many people who have it worse. And we could still be without power, like a lot of people in this area. And I have a wonderful family who will be with me, regardless. And I just talked to my parents, who are cheerfully saying that we'll do Christmas whenver we get here. (Even if we're only there for three days.)

I'm still fighting back tears over the fact that I won't get to experience Christmas Eve at home like I'd hoped. But I'll get over it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life On a Cold, Dark Hill

We have a new and fun pastime in my house: Watching our breath smoke indoors.

The temperature indoors hit 43 degrees yesterday. To put this in perspective, the optimum temperature for a refrigerator is 37 degrees. There are currently fewer bacteria growing on the food on my counters than on the food in my refrigerator.

We had kept the freezer pretty much closed till yesterday in the vain hope that power would be restored before the 72-hour window. I realized that this was futile yesterday when my youngest son said, "Mom, the dog is licking something off the bottom part of the outside of the freezer." It turned out to be a delightful stew of melted ice cream and meat juices that had dripped to the bottom of the freezer. Yum! Everything goes in the garbage today.

Last night was our fifth night without power. I think I finally saw power trucks at the bottom of the hill today, but I'm not sure. And there are just so many trees down it will still take ages. I'm a little hopeful, because they finally put up pylons and blocked off the street one block over where a sixty-foot tree is suspended over the pavement by the three electrical wires it didn't take down. That's a sign that they expect to have juice in those wires before too long, right? RIGHT?

It's very cold here, and raining again, and people are tired and starting to get surly. Our flashlights are all dying and there aren't any batteries to be had within a twenty-mile radius. (Which could soon make using the restroom a challenge.) Yesterday a woman I'd never seen before pounded on my door and demanded that we not run our generator all night because it was keeping them awake. Thing was, we'd just started running the generator the day before, and it was shut off well before midnight. So geez, lady, go pick on somebody else. You're just jealous. Because yes, we have a generator. Neener neener. (Oops. Wait. Who's getting surly now?)

We inherited the generator from my husband's parents when they sold their vacation cabin a few years back, but we'd never fired it up before Sunday. It always felt kind of like a huge effort. And like cheating. We were tough folk. Generators were for wienies.

Well, call me a wienie. I'm suddenly a big fan of this generator. Life becomes somewhat more bearable when you can power up one light, a TV and an itsy bitsy space heater. Granted, putting an itsy bitsy space heater in a large, drafty 43-degree house is a bit like going after an entire army battalion with a BB gun, but at least if I lie directly in front of it I can read with my fingers sticking out from the blanket to hold the book. Couldn't do that before. We've discovered that one gallon of gas can power the generator enough to run the following for 2 1/2 hours: a TV, one lamp, one small space heater, and the Christmas tree. What more do you need in life, truly? Yes, the Christmas tree may seem excessive and superfluous. But our neighbor last night told us to keep it going. He said it's "inspirational." And it's kind of a way to give the figurative finger to the forces of darkness that would take the joy out of this Christmas.

Ooops, sorry if that offended. I'm down to my last pair of clean undies. So I'm not feeling particularly delicate.

Tomorrow it's off to Denver, where we'll be bringing loads and loads of laundry to my mom's house. It will feel like I'm back in college. I asked her to make me vegetable soup. I am so ready to go home.

Everyone, have a Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate.) I'll try to slip in occasionally over the next week, but if not we'll chat as we get closer to New Year's!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Incredible Vastness of a Million

Last night we had to drive fifteen miles to find a place with power where we could eat. It was during that drive that I realized exactly what the phrase "a million customers without power" encompasses.

Bellevue, no power. Redmond, no power. Woodinville, no power. Bothell, no power. And when I say "no power," I'm not saying pockets of outages here and there. I mean no electricity. Anywhere. Miles and miles and miles of sheer, solid black.

In case you haven't been following the news for the Seattle area, we had a rather major windstorm Thursday night. The power at our house went out at ten, and the worst of the storm hit between midnight and two. It was so amazingly, frighteningly powerful that I couldn't sleep. All I could do was watch branches and debris fly through the dark streets. And listen.

With every huge gust, you would hear cracks of large tree branches breaking, followed by the smaller cracks of the larger branches falling through smaller ones on the way down, followed by a muffled thud as they hit the ground. Well, actually, it was the lucky ones who heard the muffled thud. Sometimes the final sound was a crash, which meant that the branches had connected with something a little more valuable. Like a car. Or a fence. Or a house.

At at about one-thirty, we got our crash. A neighbor's fifty-foot tree came down on our roof, directly over our bedroom.

We were lucky. It wasn't a huge tree -- maybe eighteen inches in diameter at the base. And the softest, branch-y top of the tree was the part that connected with our roof, and the branches seem to have caused it to bounce at the collision point. (At least that's what it sounded like, listening from right beneath the contact point.) There's no roof damage that we can see. (Cross your fingers. We have another rainstorm heading in tonight. Since all the roof inspectors are kind of occupied and the tree is sitting at the highest part of our house, we haven't been able to make a good inspection. The rainstorm is when we'll find out for sure if there really was damage.) I'll post pictures as soon as I get my computer back.

Right now, I'm sitting here in my husband's office, grabbing a few minutes of computer time and getting warm. Like most people on the Seattle Eastside, at our house we have no power and no heat. (And, sadly, no way to make coffee.) And we have the added bonus of still having a fifty-foot tree on top of our house. They did finally restore power to the main business section of our town today, which is only a couple of miles from our house. But they're still guessing it will be several more days of round-the-clock work before the houses have power again.

But half-a-dozen people were killed in this storm, most of them by falling trees, and a lot more have had their homes destroyed, so we're counting our blessings.

And last night was an incredible night for star-gazing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stop the Cavalry Lyrics (In Case You're Interested)

Just thought I'd post this picture, because I LOVE the Grinch. I have the entire show memorized. My youngest is still young enough to find this humorous. (We watched the show together last night, everybody else being out of town.) When I was in grad school I once did an entire marketing presentation that was a takeoff of the Grinch (the gist of it was that my group hadn't done as well as planned on a project because the Grinch stole it.) I think it got me a better grade than I actually deserved in that class.

But anyhoo. The Stop The Cavalry visits continue from around the world. I got a hit from S. Korea yesterday and Denmark today. I'm moving up the google list, too. Eleven yesterday, eight today. So how cool is that for somebody who has no expertise whatsoever?

I thought I'd post the lyrics today so anyone who wants to can figure out what they're saying. (It makes me laugh that they include the entire "Dub a dub a dum dum" chorus.) And then I'm done with Stop the Cavalry. (Click there for the listening link, again.)

Stop the Cavalry

Hey, Mr. Churchill comes on over here
to say we're doing splendidly
But it's very cold out here in the snow,
marching to win from the enemy
Oh I say it's tough,I have had enough
Can you stop the cavalry?
I have had to fight, almost every night
down throughout these centuries
That is when I say, oh yes yet again
Can you stop the cavalry?
Mary Bradley waits at home
in the nuclear fall-out zone
Wish I could be dancing now
in the arms of the girl I love

Chorus:
Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum
Wish I was at home for Christmas

Bang! That's another bomb on another town
While Luzar and Jim have tea
If I get home, live to tell the tale
I'll run for all presidencies
If I get elected I'll stop - I will stop the cavalry

Chorus

Wish I could be dancing now
in the arms of the girl I love
Mary Bradley waits at home
She has been waiting 2 years long
Wish I was at home for Christmas

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stop the Cavalry: Take a listen!!

In the past couple of weeks, I've had at least twenty people drop by this blog after doing a google search for "Stop the Cavalry." (Which is, in my opinion, bar none, the best Christmas song ever.)

But here's the funny part. They tend to come from two places: Either from England, or from Washington state.

I know I had never heard this song till I moved out here, but I thought that a song this cool would have spread around the country in twenty-two years. So has it, or hasn't it?

Everybody who lives elsewhere, have you heard of this song? Click here. Let's see if the audio I just listened to works. (To make it play, I had to click on the little pink "next" square on the right, then click on the "back" browser button. I'm sure there's a more efficient way, but I didn't find it. But the song will play from this site!)

If you've never heard it before, it this not just the coolest song ever?

Christmastime is not Christmastime without this song!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ring Those Bells


There is something about playing handbells that is just...primal. Heart-deep. Soul-felt.

Your brain shuts off, your day-to-day existence is cast aside, and all you focus on are those two (or,if you include accidentals, occasionally three or four) notes. And your soul takes wing.

We had our annual Christmas concert tonight. Okay, yes, we could have done better. A lot better. The thing about handbells is that when you're only playing a couple of notes, you're very dependent on other people. You expect their notes to be there, to let you know when your notes are supposed to be there. And when they're not... Well, oops, my bad. My notes suddenly aren't there either. And the person who was relying on them... Well, you get the picture.

So we didn't sound so nearly as good as we could have tonight.

But here's the funny thing about bells. No matter how bad you are, most people won't hear it. Their eyes see the movement, the flash of light on brass. Their ears hear the music...

It becomes primal. Heart-deep. Soul-felt. And their souls take wing.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Corporate Wife Does the Corporate Christmas Party


My husband changed jobs last year. He went from a company where he'd spent twenty years to another company when he was offered a great opportunity to manage a region. And I became The Boss's Wife.

Of course, I was the boss's wife before, but it was different, because he didn't start out as the boss, and a lot of folks knew him when he wasn't the boss, and the department was smaller, and there were more people closer to our age. (Which was, y'know, younger.) So company events felt more folksy and less obligatory-make-an-appearance kind of things.

No more. It's odd. Everybody's still very nice, but they're all So Incredibly Young! Almost all of them in the just-past-college or newly-married stage. So at corporate events I have to make small talk and act like a grown-up while they pretend they want to talk to somebody who's, like, old. It isn't horrible, but it feels like an I'm performing the improv role of Corporate Wife in a play. When what I'd really like to do is kick off my shoes and go to a sports bar and watch a football (or better yet, soccer) game. Or even better, stay home and read a good book.

But at least it's only once a year. Or actually twice. Last night was the company event, next week is the department one. At which point I think I'm home free for another year.

A whole year to practice acting mature and grown up.

I don't think it will help.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Favorite Christmas Decoration



This is my wonderful, exciting, color-changing, probably-mildly-tacky fiber optic Christmas Wreath.

I love this thing! And the funny thing is, every year I forget I have it. And then I go down to the garage and, wow, there it is! It's like getting a Christmas present three weeks early. Every year. (I am so easily entertained.)

It changes colors on a regular cycle, and goes through the entire spectrum, and goes from solid to blinking. I love to turn out all the lights, put on some Christmas music, and just watch it. It is cool. It makes me happy.

Now I want each of you to go out and buy one for yourself. (Or maybe Santa can find one for you in the half-off after-Christmas sales.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Daughter, As You Enter Your Third Decade



It was your school Baccalaureate, two days before graduation, with an audience of maybe 600 people. You and your friend Jeff were singing the opening song, "The Prayer." I'd listened to you rehearse as you worked on it over and over to get it just right. And now the two of you were standing onstage, poised and composed, microphones in hand. The music began.

We watched and listened as you began to sing. I doubt that anyone else noticed your confusion, but I could tell that this wasn't right. The person running the sound system had keyed in the wrong track. Without notice you were singing in an entirely different key than the one you'd practiced in and competing with the voices of Charlotte Church and Josh Groban.

What to do? This was a serious and reverent service. You couldn't just stop and make them go back. I watched as you made up your mind, squared your shoulders and began to sing. Your voice soared over Charlotte's, and Jeff followed your lead. And it was beautiful. Probably 95% of the people there didn't realize that anything had gone wrong. You finished with poise and a smile, then made it all the way back to your seat before bursting into tears.

I have never been more proud of you. That incident is you, Sarah. Your ability to triumph over adversity, shine through your troubles, and smile in the most difficult of circumstances... Well, that is my daughter.

I can't believe that you're turning twenty. Your father and I disagree about whether it was 6:08 or 6:09, but we agree that it was an early morning after a very long night. And the first thing I thought, and said, after you were born was, "Oh, what a beautiful baby." And you were. And are.

Have I mentioned recently how glad I am that you're going to UW, where you can stop by home on a semi-regular basis? (Decorating for Christmas just wouldn't be the same without you.)

I love you, Sarah-Kate. My lovely firstborn. Happy birthday!! Posted by Picasa

(S)He's Ba-a-a-a-a-ck!

Back again! To my humble blog! The Play Strip Soccer guy (or, let's be fair, possibly gal) from France!

Oh, Play Strip Soccer Guy/Gal, how I have missed you! It's been months since your last visit!

Granted, my blog has nothing about, y'know, actually playing strip soccer. (And I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about that.) And following the route of your search, neither does any other website. Yet still you persevere! I SO respect that.

Should you return (and I really, really hope you do!)... Well, please stay awhile. Introduce yourself.

And explain to me how the heck one plays Strip Soccer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Warped and Twisted and More than a Week Late


Sorry about this. I just couldn't wait a full year to post this picture! Giggle.

Our snow is officially over and done with. Two days of school cancelled, and a late start on the third day. (And even with that my mom-van did not want to travel up the hill Thursday morning.)

My youngest son and two of his friends made $80 shoveling driveways (partly because nobody here has a snow shovel.) This is the Gift Wrap Kid -- once he sets his mind on something, he just keeps on going. My little Energizer Bunny.

We're off to another Chess Tournament tomorrow. We're not taking the full team because I don't like to obligate people to events in December -- it's always so crazy anyway. But I think we'll have about ten kids there. This tournament has a U800 section (for more beginner kids) and an Open section for more advanced kids like my son. These kinds of tournaments are always great fun for my beginners, because they have a much better shot at qualifying for State and even getting a trophy. The Open section can be brutal, though. I'm trying not to think about it because I'll get a stomach ache.

Happy December, everybody. Twenty-four days till Christmas. (AAAAAGGGGHHH!) I need to finish the quilt currently on my machine so I can finish the Christmas Seattle Streets quilt I want to give to my parents. Which means I need to have it Done-Done before December 20. Guess I should probably get on it.

Have a great weekend!