Thursday, December 20, 2007

Topsy Turvy World

What a topsy turvy world we are living in. Here in Missouri’s wine country on Dec. 5th my husband and I were out Christmas shopping in our shirt sleeves and snapped the attached photo of a geranium still in full bloom planted next to a tree with its trunk wrapped in Christmas lights.

Several days later we awoke to find everything coated in a thick coat of ice and feeling as if we had been transplanted into the Ice Castle scene in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Before the week was out we were shoveling several inches of snow from our driveway and watching the geese walk across the frozen lake near our home.

What unusual weather we are having this year but we were among the lucky ones. Many of the good folks in our area were spending several days without electricity or unable to travel the steep hills that abound in our small town causing them to be housebound.

I am not a winter person by a long shot and would prefer to be able to live in a climate that does not require wearing a coat. But, I have to admit that I am enjoying this weather because of my Frank. After 40 years of living in southern California he is like a kid in a candy store. His excitement is sure catching and I am finding it fun to see it all through his eyes.

I overheard him telling the cable installer that he had done something that day that he had never done before in his life. When ask what he replied “shovel snow.” Frank has not been without the camera and is constantly snapping photographs to send to his grandchildren back in California that have never seen snow or ice. He has captured everything from the squirrel’s robbing the bird feeder to the sunsets over the frozen lake.

A month ago Frank was reluctant to go shopping for cold weather clothing and after much urging finally agreed to purchase a winter coat and gloves and now I believe he is wishing that he had also gotten a hat and boots as well. He is such a dear that he came home the other day with a new pair of boots for me but has yet to get them for himself.

As a retired navel officer Frank has had to spend many Christmas seasons away from home and apparently the ones that were spent at home in California just did not have the same excitement that the weather is giving to this holiday season. Plus, I suspect I am more prone to overdo the decorating and fussing than he is used to. I have always gone a bit overboard for the holidays and while he has been a real trooper and pitched in and helped with everything I don’t think he started to enjoy it all until the snow came.

We have spent evenings driving the neighborhoods checking out all the lights and counting the number of nativity scenes set up in the yards with Frank giving a running commentary on how it is all so different in sunny California. I have found it all very educational and extremely exciting. And, just maybe I have worked a little harder at putting things together this year to assure that Frank’s first Christmas here, and our first together will be his best ever.

I wish all of you out there a Christmas as wonderful as the one I am having this year.

Today is January 6th and I want to add a postscript on this crazy weather we are having here in Missouri. Today the temperature got into the low seventies and so Frank and I like most everyone else in town spent the day outdoors.

At one point we walked around our new yard checking things out and discussing plans for the gardening we wanted to do come spring and were overwhelmed to discover all is not as it should be around our new house. First, the grass is much too green for January and we found a dandelion blooming in the front yard. Then we discovered what appears to be tulips poking leafy green sprouts about 3 inches above the soil around the back wall. Next, I discovered a spider plant that had been left sitting in the corner of the patio under the decking and it not only has survived it looks quite healthy and is putting out new baby shoots.

Who would suspect that signs of spring could be found here in Missouri in January. Simply amazing. Perhaps Frank was right when he said he planned to bring the best of California to Missouri with him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Disposing of Christmas’s Past

I’m sure that every person who celebrates Christmas with a gift exchange has at least once been the recipient of some white elephant. If you are like me you probably have a long list of things that came from a friend or relative who would feel hurt if they knew you had passed on or disposed of their wonderful gift.

I will admit confessing to more than one unfortunate accident or lost item as a way of explaining why I was not using Aunt Sadie’s hula dancing hippo figurine or that purple enameled seagull brooch swallowing a large blue tuna from my best friend. But, that is not what this missive is all about.

My husband and I recently purchased our first house together and I have been unpacking items that have been in storage for many years. My dear Frank has been overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of items I have accumulated. I have tried, without much success, to shrink the amount of plunder I have collected during the past forty years. It seems that many of the items I must make a decision about are past Christmas gifts and that brings me to the topic of this post.

Over the last couple of days I have been unpacking lots of large plastic totes filled with the decorations of decades of Christmas past. Every item has a story and most important, memories. Among boxes of childish school and scouting craft gifts are ornaments of walnut shells covered in more glue than glitter, with bits of yarn tied into uneven bows. There are Candy Canes made of rainbow hued beads strung on pipe cleaners. The creator of these jewels is now 37 yrs. old and collecting her own set of offspring treasures. When is it okay to let these gems go missing?

There is the moth eaten fur stole my Father acquired second or third hand and gave to me for Christmas 1963. He was so proud of that gift he requested I wear it to Midnight Mass every Christmas until the animal rights folks started screaming some fifteen years later. My Dad has been gone for years but I just can’t find it in my heart to get rid of that ratty old fur. Another clear tote contains what appears to be a mass of red tulle. It is in fact a very red Christmas tree made of nylon netting and covered in gold balls with a dove as the topper. The netting is limp and torn, the ornaments tarnished and the dove has gone from white to a battleship gray. It has been taken apart many times and washed, starched and shined but has finally reached the point where no amount of work will salvage it. Yet I can’t seem to toss it out. That poor pathetic looking tree was lovingly made for me by two seventeen year old friends who were high school sweethearts (now married 35 years) and given to me to decorate my bedside table during an extended stay in the hospital one December. That tree was displayed in a place of honor for many years as a memorial to my first born son who was born and died during that Christmas season of 1967.

If you dig deep enough into my moving boxes, you will find a small bottle of Lancer’s Rosé sitting in its own hand crocheted patchwork Christmas stocking; a handmade silky blue prom dress, the wedding gown I wore at my wedding in August of 1966, and even several boxes of personal items that belonged to my long deceased first husband. All of these items are well past their prime, have no current use or monetary value and certainly lost their luster decades ago; yet I continue to tote them around and take up valuable storage space with them.

I have a new husband, a new house and a very happy and exciting new life yet I find I am having a hard time parting with all the baggage (literally) that accumulated from my old life. Regardless, it is time to shed all those extra pounds of worthless plunder so I am boxing it up but I will find someone else to decide how to dispose of it all.

For all of you who gifted me with this mountain of boxes; please know that your items were appreciated, loved and had a good life, but now it is time for them to go the way of all good things. Your love and support will remain in my heart always and never be forgotten. But, it does feel good to lose a hundred and fifty pounds overnight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

When all good things fail

No, I did not fall off the face of the earth. No I have not been on a trip around the world. And, No I have not been intentionally ignoring my blog. But I have been disconnected from a way to post to this cyber medium for quite some time now.

It is one of those “good news” “bad news” stories I have to tell today. The good news is that our house hunt is finally over. As reported in my last post we found an adorable little house on the west side of town and we are now almost settled into our cozy bungalow. The better news is that a buyer for our tiny condo almost fell from the sky into our laps and tied up all our loose ends into a nice holiday package. The bad news is that our wireless router went out and left us without internet service in the condo two weeks before the scheduled move and we elected not to fix it since we were planning to change our internet provider at the new house. Plus all the packing and fix-ups at both properties would keep us too busy to use it anyway. Then we ran into a list of problems and screw-ups with the new company long enough to fill the Sunday Times. As I write this, we still are fighting to get the new service connected at the house. We have been told that hopefully today will be the magic day. Only time will tell, so I am trying to have this ready and waiting in the event a miracle does happen.

I would love to go into all the gory details of the many errors made by our big name service provider but I am afraid that it would only cause us to get disconnected (assuming we ever do get connected, that is) if they were to come across my bad mouthing them in print. They are so large they do not need our business and have been such jackasses during this whole process that I don’t want to rock the boat. I am sure by now you are asking why we did not give up and go to another carrier. That is part of the story as well. We have actually been working with two providers and it has come down to whichever gets us hooked up and working properly first will be the one we stay with. The other will get a call to cancel their install. It is sure a shame the way big business has taken service and pride of work out of their formulas for success, but that is another kettle of smelly fish I do not have time to fry.

Much has happened over the last 8 weeks and I hope to bring you all up to date as soon as possible but it may be some time as I still have boxes to unpack and the holidays to prepare for. Actually, we have been without both our television and our internet and that has probably been a blessing. Without any distractions from those two fronts we have had no reason to do anything but work on getting our house in order and are much farther along than we would have been otherwise. But, I look forward to being able to take a break and play a game online or just read my email without taking a trip to a cyber café.

Wow!!!! You are reading this. That means that I must be back on line.

Thank you all for your concern and inquiries as to my absence.