Monday, December 31, 2007

December Reading Round Up

As 2007 draws to its close, I find myself at approximately 115 books read for the year. I say approximately because I know I've read more books in December than I can remember and all the books are starting to run together on me. There was way too much going into my brain, and I'm grateful that in 2008, I'll have some time to not read. I'm also pissed off at myself for not finishing the 2 books I'm halfway through right now, one of which I started in freakin' Florida for crying out loud, and the other I started 2 days ago.

But I wanted to do a year-end round up, so here's what I know I read in December, with of course the by now familiar spoiler warning (particularly with the Superman book and the Water for Elephants book).

1. The Clothes They Stood Up In and The Lady In the Van by Alan Bennett. Two short stories turned into a book. The first details the travails of an upper middle class, childless British middle aged couple who return home from the opera one night to discover that their entire apartment has been cleaned out, right down to the toilet paper roller. While the husband is dealing with the insurance companies and police, Missus finds she likes the simplicity of this new spartan existence. But when their material goods are unexpectedly found, how will they react?

The second short story is I guess a bit of a memoir about when Bennett had some crazy old lady park her van in his yard and refuse to move it. Social services tries to help the lady, neighbors attempt to help, but at the end of the day, she dies in her van, surrounded by piles of junk and it turns out she has money in the bank and could have done quite well for herself. The narrator (or author) tracks down the woman's brother who tells her tragic story.

I honestly expected more from both stories--I thought perhaps the storyline with the wife realizing that "stuff" doesn't make you happy could have gone somewhere, but that was over all too soon when tragedy strikes a second time. As for the crazy old lady in the van, the story just made me sad. Maybe I've been working with sickly old people too long. Not one of my favorites this year.

2. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston. Eleanor and Ted's marriage is pushed to a straining point when Eleanor finds out that Ted has been having an affair with his personal assistant Gina. The feelings between the characters are complicated. Eleanor and Ted have been struggling with infertility for years. Gina is a single mother whose son Toby has just come to live with her and who hates her guts. Although Ted breaks off his affair with Gina when Eleanor finally becomes pregnant, he can't turn his back on the boy, and when Eleanor miscarries and Ted is involved in a serious accident, things resolve themselves for the betterment of all involved.

I thought this was a really great chick lit type book. I felt for all the characters, even though they each had moments when they were wholly unlikeable. In spite of not usually being in favor of things ending the way they did in this book, I was happy with the way the story resolved itself, and I am now looking forward to reading my second Lolly Winston, Good Grief, which I have on my "to be read" pile.

3. Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen. The new book club is reading this as its second selection, a story of life beneath the big top among the crazies on the circus.

Jacob Jankowski is a 90-something resident of a nursing home, who is pulled into his memories of life on the road with a circus after a circus sets up stakes outside his home window one day. Jacob recalls with startling clarity how is parents were tragically killed in a car accident one day while he was finishing his final year as a veterinary student at Cornell. He runs away from school, torn by the shock of his grief, and hops aboard a circus train. He is finally hired on to be the show's veterinarian by Uncle Al, the shady man who owns the circus and meets the beautiful Marlena, who is married to complete headcase August.

The book spares no delicate feelings in describing the hard knock life of circus performers, both animal and human. If you're a horse fan, you might not love what happens to many of the horses, but there are times the animals triumph and you cheer for them.

I enjoyed the book, and I didn't think I would. I read it very quickly, trying to get it finished so that my sister would be able to get it and read it, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found to be a gripping story, good writing, and satisfying finish. I'm squeamish around books when animals get injured or killed, but even that in this book didn't keep me from finishing. Good choice. I look forward to discussing it with the ladies.

4. Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. Clark Kent is a teenage boy who is bothered by his name. He gets gifts from family and friends that are always related to Superman somehow, and he gets teased at school because of his name.

But then, suddenly, he discovers it's all true. He has Superman's powers, and he must come to grips with the fact that he can do everything Superman can do. How he chooses to use his powers, and how this discovery affects his life and everything he does, including having children of his own, makes for one great graphic novel read.

I'm not ashamed to say, at the end, I even got misty eyed. I really like Superman, and I like these kind of off-beat re-imaginings of his story. I'm not a graphic novel person, but Joe keeps giving them to me and I keep finding the ones I like more and more, and this is one of them. A quick but good one.

5. Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah. Ok, this book took me for-freaking-ever to read, but it was an addicting fluffy bit of a novel with a cast of characters that you wanted to root for the whole way around.

Dr. Julia Cates's reputation as a brilliant child psychiatrist is blown when one of her former clients shoots and kills a bunch of classmates and commits suicide. Her practice crumbles and then she receives a call: her sister, Ellie, chief of police in their Pacific Northwest hometown has got a situation on her hands that only Julia can solve: a little girl has emerged from nowhere, wild, uncontrollable, fierce, with a wolf pup in her arms. She is non-verbal, and Ellie is at her wits' end trying to figure out how to help this girl. Julia comes in to save the day, but is beleaguered by scientists, social workers, and the courts as she tries to help "Alice" unlock the secrets of her past, while Julia and Ellie try to sort out their complicated lives as well.

This was a great mystery, romance, psych book, and I enjoyed every last minute of reading it. All the relationships in the book rang true, from the complicated relationship between the sisters, between Ellie and her deputy, between Julia and the hunky doctor, and between Alice and the whole town. It was a little saccharine the way the entire town came together to keep the outsiders away from The Wolf Girl, but otherwise, I thought it was well done and gripping.

So that's it. I wind down 2007 with 112 books officially read (though I think it's more!) and 34889 pages read.

To sum up December:

Great: Water for Elephants, Superman: Secret Identity, Magic Hour, Happiness Sold Separately

OK: The Clothes They Stood Up In...

Total pages in December: 1534.

Though I did read The Last Days of Summer outloud to Michael, so can I count that twice? :-D

I'll be posting a full out 2007 review of the year later on today when I wake up.

Happy 2008 and Happy Reading! If you try something like this in the new year, I'd love to hear about it!

Welcoming In the New Year...New Year's Eve

All is calm at the Kosior house, the General snoring soundly, he will wake up in the New Year, secure in the knowledge that it feels exactly like the year he fell asleep in.

I am sitting here alone, in front of the computer, chatting with my friend across town because we were both too lazy to get up and go to each other's houses. And I'm cradling in my hands what I hope will be the last glass of soda I'll drink.

Yup, among my other goals for this year, I am going to forge ahead on my plan to really start taking better care of myself--which incidentally is a real pain in the ass--and part of that is to quit drinking soda.

I'm sitting here, sipping on my last Pepsi, feeling like a cigarette addict puffing slowly on his last cigarette. The glass is cold and frosty in my hands, lots of ice, just like I like it, but as I'm sipping it, I have to be honest, it really doesn't taste all that wonderful. I think, mercifully, I'm starting to lose my sweet tooth. It must be all the cakes and cookies I've baked over the past year. Sugar just doesn't taste as good as once it did.

So at the stroke of 12, I'll take my last swig and hopefully be done with it... It's going to be hard, we've been flat out drinking it for years. But I'll be thinking of the benefits to my teeth, my skin, my body without it and hopefully that will help me push through the cravings.

I wanted to have another reading resolution this year, so since Lesley and I visited the Margaret Mitchell house on our recent trip to Atlanta, I've decided that this year, I will finally read Gone With the Wind. When I told my mom this resolution, she said, and I quote, "It's about time!"

My other resolution has to do with being more environmentally conscious, or as Michael says, "Don't tell me we're going green!" But yes, we're going a little bit green. I'm pulling out as many canvas bags as I can find to take to the grocery store. I'm hoping to figure out how to build a compost heap and being composting out back. We're cancelling our trash service and trying to reduce the amount of trash we generate by separating out our recyclables, burning paper, and composting food waste.

We'll also be working on saving money. We've discussed meal planning and have made up a list of "acceptable foods" and have started drawing up a monthly menu. Going out will hopefully return to being a novelty, something special for special occasions. I've managed to get all my books for book club via PaperbackSwap and I'll start using the library more regularly for books I can't get my hands on. No more book sales at the Wilderness Library or Orange County Friends of the Library Bookstore, especially not to buy books I just want to trade anyway. I've bought supplies to make and bring my lunch with me on the road, and cancelled my participation in the office water cooler fund--instead of paying $45 for the privilege of paying for the secretaries to drink water daily that I drink one glass per week of, I'll bring in a gallon from home once a month and save myself big bucks.

And finally, I want to wish my dad a hearty congratulations. Tonight, at the stroke of midnight, he is officially retired from being the town judge in our little town, a position he held with honor for 20 years. I'm proud of him and what he managed to do. I hope he enjoys his free time.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Years MeMe from Melissa

My friend Melissa posted this on her blog and asked anyone else who wanted to to participate....it's a random list of favorite from 2007.... She made up a few categories of her own, and I'm amending at least one of them since I didn't take a summer vacation :-D

Best Album: I don't really listen to albums any more. The only full out CD's I've bought this year are the new Celine Dion and the Josh Groban Christmas CD. So I'll point to them as my favorites.

Best Non-Fiction: I read a fair number of non-fiction books this year, but my favorite had to be Father Knows Less by Wendell Jamieson. It was so informative, easy to read, and fun all at the same time.

Best TV Series: LOST (for as much as we got to see it) and Pushing Daisies

Best Fiction: The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK! And no, it is NOT A BASEBALL BOOK!!!!!! Read it!

Best Kids’ Music: Don't have kids, wouldn't know, definitely don't care!!

Best Movie: Sicko was awesome.

Best Sign of the Apocalypse: Danny Bonaduce flinging his little friend around and then thinking we all want to see him naken in a porn rag and some porn rag actually paying him to pose!

Best Come Back of the Year: Matchbox 20

Ok Melissa's categories:

Best Old TV show you are just getting into: I've been just starting to watch Boston Legal, but it's still on TV, so I don't know if that counts?

Best grocery store: Wegman's in Fairfax

Best (Summer) Vacation: My favorite vacation this year was our trip to Las Vegas. Total freedom, lots of outdoorsy stuff, going someplace we'd never been before, it was amazing. I also enjoyed our trip to Myrtle Beach with Mike and Lesley. It was so much fun to be on vacation with them and I hope we can all plan another trip away soon!

Some Susan Categories:

Proudest Accomplishments this year: Finally completing a New Year's resolution! Getting into an excellent place mentally for the first time in years. Completing NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row.

Goals for Next Year: Taking better care of myself, choosing simplicity over the chaos of every day consumer-driven life. Maybe, just maybe, finding a church to belong to. Joining the local photography club, starting a writing club, and reading Gone with the Wind.

Most Exciting Sports Moment of the Year: Tonight's Patriots game, where they went 16-0 and shattered a whole pile of records; second place goes to the Red Sox winning the Series again

Saddest moment of the year: Everyone leaving after Christmas; realizing that I don't actually give a crap, and how far we've fallen away from what used to make us so happy and how it doesn't now. The blow up with my dad and sister.

Happiest Moment of the Year: Touchdown in Vegas; Annual 3 Kings Dinner; Discussing 2008 with my husband and realizing we are on the same page about life

I guess that's about it. I'll tag whoever the heck wants to post this on their own blog! :-D

It's Official: Wii is Awesome

So, my wonderful husband bought me a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, and it's officially the greatest gaming system I've ever used. I gave up on video gaming after the original Nintendo because I couldn't figure out the controls on them. There were ten million buttons and arrows and it was all too much to remember.

However, the new Wii looked like it was right up my alley. Point, click, move around and it moves with you. So I asked my dad for one for Christmas, but he wasn't able to find one. Through a coincidence, Michael knew a guy at work who turned out to be selling a Wii and Michael bought it on the spot.

We now have Wii Sports, M&M Go Kart Racing, Dancing With the Stars, and Cooking Mama, and I'm addicted to all of them. Even cooler is that Michael can play the bowling game on it, so we can have some fun (and once we get another controller in a week or so, we can compete, which will be a blast!). I mean any system that allows a blind guy to play video games is more than alright by me.

The day after Christmas we went out and bought a new TV for the Wii and the games. We had a go kart tournament right in the living room, and my dad, Lucas, Judy, and I were screaming and yelling like we'd won the lottery when we finally broke the 1 minute mark. We were jumping around so much, the angel fell off the top of the Christmas tree. It was hilarious.

I've been playing Dancing With the Stars full out for 2 days now, and it is hard, but in a good way. Every time I score a 29, I get so pissed off, I keep pushing it to see if I can hit a 30. And Michael loves it because there's a lot of audio for the scoring, so he can tell what's going on.

Wii are lovin' it. What fun!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's (Mostly) Over

What a ride. I can't believe Christmas has been and gone for another year. It was a great time, full of the usual family fun and strife, madness and mayhem--my sister delivered on being cranky, my dad on being loud, my mom on being excitable, and yet it all worked. I honestly can't believe it came and went so quickly.

And now, having dropped Judy and Lucas off in Alexandria after a final lecture from my dad about how it's an hour of *his* way (sorry, Dad, it's 2-3 hours out of my way, since I don't have to leave the house unless I have to take them home), I'm sitting here in a quiet house, a house I worked so hard to straighten up and is now covered in the tiny post-present detritus of Christmas (think twist ties, little plastic bags, shreds of wrapping paper, pieces of tape, and someone even stuck stickers on my coffee table), and all I want to do is take a nap, and I just might do it.

This may be the first year the Christmas tree comes down early. Our big Epiphany dinner is next weekend and with a tree this big, we don't have room for people to sit and eat. The nativities will stay up till all is said and done, however.

It was a great Christmas. We got lots of great gifts. The General surprised the crap out of me by giving me a Wii for Christmas. It's easily the most simple game system I've ever played, and my God is it so much fun. I need to get some more remotes for it, but we have some new games and it's an absolutely blast.

My mom surprised all of us by getting each of us a mug from the school where we went to college. I was very, very happy she got me a Manhattan College mug instead of a UALR mug, but it was such a great moment when we all pulled out our mugs and said, "Hey! What the heck?!"

My dad got me a talking GPS for use in my regular and business travels and we've been having a blast with that. I was hauling down I95 the other night as we all drove to spend Christmas night at Reagan Airport with my sister, who was working, and it told me to take a sharp left. It would be impossible to take a sharp left off I95 at any portion of it, but the GPS was insistent. Fortunately, that has been its only foible to date.

And finally, despite what you may read on her blog, no one accused my sister of ruining Christmas. I gotta defend the family here. We don't roll like that. :-D It was a wonderful day, a wonderful week, and a few times, I found myself having to take a step back and go upstairs and let my eyes leak a little bit. It has been 9 long years since we were all together for Christmas, and it was so special and wonderful. So even though I'm no longer juggling cars in the driveway, cooking dinner for 7, logging out my husband from his computer, tripping over the dog, annoying my sister, snooping with Joe, playing the Wii with Lucas, or refereeing between my parents, I'm so sad it's over, and I hope it won't be the last time that my family is together for the holiday.

It's hard to come to those decisions and I know already that we'll all be split up again for Easter, but it was nice to have a Christmas we could all spend in love and (at least on my end) in gratitude for our little ragtag band of merry makers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Waiting for Christmas

Well, all the preparations are complete at the Kosior family compound. The last presents have been wrapped. The house is clean, top to bottom. The beds are made, the towels washed and put away. The last batches of cookies are baked. The rabbit is clean, albeit pissed off. My mom is in Fayetteville, NC. My dad is leaving in the morning. Plans are made to pick up Judy, Joe, and Lucas on Sunday. There is nothing left but to sit and wait. For me, that is the hardest part of Christmas. I'm still like a kid, sitting and waiting on those last precious days to tick by till the big day, when it's over in a flurry and suddenly there's nothing left for another year. So, even though the anticipation is killing me, I'm going to enjoy these last few moments of quiet before the storm.




Today, I was reading over our newsletters which friends have sent us and re-read the one from Annette, which she signed, "See you in January!". I can scarcely believe it. In another month, I'll be meeting the Glecks and seeing Annette for the first time since the bad sunburn of '04. That's a darned good feeling too.




Michael's carpool buddy called tonight and he was out with his two sons, who wanted to come over and see TomTom. It was so much fun having kids in this house. They were only here thirty minutes, and I was exhausted by the time they left (to say nothing of the daggers TomTom was shooting me--and he has now taken up what I can only hope is not permanent residence in his box), but I loved every minute of those boys being here. And Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? < /bitterness >

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To Do List

Well, my to do list is getting longer instead of shorter. I found out last night that my mom is coming early--a good thing for sure! But I've had to revamp my time frames just a scootch. Plus, the General's toilet busted, and we can't have that happening with a houseload of people descending upon us this weekend!

Actually, it doesn't look that bad. Lots of it is wrapping gifts, buying a couple last minute items, and baking a few final batches of cookies to replace the ones that got eaten (note to Sera: I call those peanut butter Hershey Kiss things "peanut butter blossoms" and I seem to have made it my mission to eat what I've baked, so another round of those pups is in order!). We had a neighbor over to visit Mike while I was at the new book club on Sunday and apparently he was munching the whole time. hehehehe I love him!

Sunday, hopefully, we can all sit around and relax. I haven't frosted the sugar cookies, nor have we decorated the gingerbread men so that we can all do it as a family activity on Sunday. The last time I watched my dad fumbling with a pastry bag I nearly wet my pants laughing, so I'm really looking forward to that.

I've gotten barely any reading done this month--maybe 3 books. I'm halfway through 2 more, but just can't seem to get it done. I guess since reading 100, the wind went out of my sails, but at least I did get to 110, so that's making me happy. Time, time, time, I'm glad I didn't wait till now to try and finish!

That's all the news that's fit to print for now. I'm so excited that it's Christmas.

Here's the tree, all decorated. As you can see, the angel's head is crammed into the ceiling. Last year, we ran out of room for all our ornaments. This year, it looks like we dont' have any on. YES!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Cookies Are Baked

Well, yesterday was an absolute whirlwind of flour, sugar, chocolate, jam, "and etc." to quote my favorite book of 2007. But in the end, the cookies are baked. And it really didn't make that many. I mean, we have a lot, don't get me wrong, particularly when Lucas fell in love with his own brand of oatmeal raisin cookies and baked a triple batch, but not as many as I would have thought. The big hits were oatmeal raisin (obviously), Chex muddy buddies, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate chips (Lucas baked 'the Big Cookie' by dumping a lot of dough into one lump and 'seeing what would happen'), and of course, the Contessa's Linzer tarts, which are not fully assembled, but we enjoyed baking the hell out of them and eating the ones that broke.

In addition, we have shortbread, raspberry bars, magic cookie bars, chocolate almond thumbprints, chocolate chip meringues, jam thumbprints, peanut butter, gingerbread men, sugar cookies, and who knows what else. My brain is drawing a blank. We used Splenda for baking a lot of the time, and it baked very, very well. I was really happy with the way the cookies that had been Splenda'd turned out. I think we have about 300 cookies or so downstairs.

There is the usual draw-muh going on, much of which has proved to me what a good guy Lucas really is. And last night we drove around in the rain light peeping, always one of my favorite activities.

Today we are heading to Judy's pretty early to have the new book club kick off, and then my office Christmas party is on Monday. Then only 4 days and I'll have ten days of FREEDOM. Friday was awful--I cried all the way to work and then discovered that Judy, Michael, and Joe all took the day off, the bastards. I feel a sick day coming on. hehehehehe (I have 3 days of sick time to use or lose before the end of the year, and it's not looking like it's going to happen.)

That's life from Fredericksburg.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I've Reached My Limit

Honestly.

If I hear Mariah Carey screeching "All I Want for Christmas Is You" one more time, I think I'm going to go home and push the Q-Tips in a little bit too far, if you catch my drift.

It was a good song, like 3 years ago. And every time I scan the dials trying to find a station playing Christmas music, but some weird coincidence that's the song that always seems to be playing.

I get it. All you want for Christmas is me.

Uncle.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big Game Hunters

Every year around this time, I start to feel kind of manly. Michael will come home some December evening and hear, "Well, honey, I think it's about time." He readily agrees and after a nice supper, we pack it into the car, grunt a bit, and head to Home Depot to bag the big one. Our Christmas tree. As my mom said last night, I am defintely my father and my grandfather's child/grandchild. They always wanted the big ones, and so do I now.

Now, to be fair, it hasn't always been to Home Depot. In Boston, we used to hit a little tree stand outside of IHOP. In Acton, we bought a tree from the Lions Club. In Centreville, much to my chagrin, we had an artificial tree. But now that we're here, well, you can bet your life on the fact that we've got a real house and we're getting a real tree. And they seem to be growing. Home Depot has been very, very good to us, tree-wise. They never seem to run out, and I've even helped Judy get a tree there twice at the last minute, which is great.

I'm no longer contented with some placid little six foot tree. I like a big one. I like it "branchy" and "full" and TALL. I don't want to dwarf my tree or be able to touch the top of it without a stepladder or a chair. No, no, no. Last year's was a monster. 8 feet tall, very nice. But this year, I was determined to outdo even that.

This weekend is the tree trimming time. It's early, and I don't know how I'll feel about it, because I never have a a tree up this early. But I wanted A Good One, so sacrifices had to be made. Plus, the crew is coming down to bake all day on Saturday, so we'll decorate at the same time.

So, Michael and I headed out last night. I could feel the blood pumping as we headed to the store, "Gonna bag me a big one!" coursing through my brain. And then, a dose of reality. We pulled up to the store and their nursery was locked up for the night. "Oh no!" I said, and Michael was unhappy about it to, but we decided we might as well go on inside and find out what was what.

We went inside and headed out to the nursery and you could get in from outside. Bingo. We were in like sin. And then as we headed for the trees, an older fellow (like in his mid to late 60's) came up to us, and I knew this was the year. "Looking for a tree, are you, madam?" he said in a perfect, clipped British accent.

I had found Paradise by Home Depot. The British practically invented Christmas, well except for Jesus and God and all that, and of course, I'm a sucker for a British accent anyway, and I love England and everything about it.

"Yes we are," I replied, flashing him a dazzling smile as he sized up me and the General.

"What kind of tree are you after, then?"

Michael took the lead on this one, since he was well aware of my requirements. "She wants a big one, chief."

"Well, we've got your eight and nine footers over this way."

"I think we only have 8 foot ceilings," I said.

"Well, you'll want an eight footer then, I expect."

I nodded in agreement.

"Right this way."

So we tromped off, like a safari team, ready to find and bring down the biggest of the herd.

We struck gold on our first attempt. A beauty of an 8 foot Frazier fir, very branchy, nice and full, no big holes, pretty fresh, not a lot of shedding. Steve grabbed it and gave it a good shake, complimented us on our choice and said he'd cut an inch off the bottom and wrap her up for us. Sounds fine, so we all strolled over to the cutting and netting area, ready to grab our catch. But all was not well in Treeville.

"Dear oh dear," said Steve. "This tree's trunk is split, come have a look."

I went into THE RESTRICTED AREA and looked. Steve showed me where the truck was indeed split from the bottom up about 4 inches. It wasn't a very deep split, but he looked at me and asked, "Do you reckon that's a problem?" (I L-O-V-E love when British people say 'reckon' since I associate it with such a rednecky kind of word here, but they make it sound so posh.)

We pondered the situation and finally I said, "Well, I suppose you could cut off that much of the trunk."

Steve was disappointed in me. "Aww, but then you lose some of its glorious height."

"True, true."

"We'd best have another look around."

So, I collect up the General again, and we go back on the floor. He and I head in the direction of the balsams, but didn't have much luck. Steve reappears. "You head over that way, and I'll look over here." So we headed around one corner and he heads around the other. Michael and I are pulling trees out, he's giving them the obligatory fluffing of the branches to the ones I think might be good prospects, when suddenly Steve pops up again.

"I think I've got one for you," he says. And I know, I just know, Steve hasn't let me down.

We tromp over to another section of trees and Steve pulls out a dandy. Nine towering feet of beautiful green, lush balsam. "Wow!" I said, the stars in my eyes, "what do you think, honey?"

Michael fluffs up the branches, and he can't reach around the tree, a key requirement. Seriously, the tree was like 4 1/2 feet across. We declared it a winner.

"I'll just shave an inch or two off the bottom, then, and you put it in water straight away when you get home." Roger, Steve! "I hope you haven't got a convertible!" We assure him that we do not and he disappears, comes back with a hand truck, and cuts, nets, and hoists the tree onto the cart. He leads us to the cashier, and I am puffed up like I won the lottery, the General is quite pleased with our selection, and we head up to pay, and Steve has lost the price tag in the branches. So he disappears to find the price and I think, "Well, that's that, we'll never see him again", particularly when he radios up the SKU and we check out. Michael and I each grab a side of the hand truck and go outside. I tell him I'll be right back and I go to get the car while he holds down the fort.

I roar up, throw a blanket on top of the car to keep it from getting scratched, and we're just about to throw the tree up on top of the car, and are considering it due to the fact that the thing is quite heavy, when Steve reappears.

"I suspected you could do with a bit of help."

Right you are, Steve.

"Yes, thank you!" So I go around the back of the car and pull out my bungee cords, the same cords I've been using for the past 3 years to haul trees and Steve looks at me with total dismay and says, "No bungees, madam" and shakes his head sadly. And I note that in his hands he has the biggest roll of twine I've ever seen.

"We're going to tie it down, then?" I ask helpfully. He shakes his head affirmatively, and begins to whistle "Here We Come A-Wassailing" as he singlehandedly picks that tree up and hurls it onto the car. Then he starts to inspect the underside of the car and shakes his head forlornly there there's nothing to tie his twine to. God help us, he finally zeroes in on the rearview mirrors and begins happily tying away. Then, he does a loop across and through the back doors, and then around the gate door in the back. I inspect his work as he goes and finally I boldly declare, "You must have been in the navy! You know your way around a knot." to which he replies, "It comes in handy a time or two." Then, he runs into a knot and he needs some assistance. He says, "Madam, may I borrow your finger?" I don't know why, but that just cracked me the hell up.

Finally, it's roped on there, and I grab Michael and lead him to the car and tell him to get in carefully. Steve says, "Well, I hope you can get in after all that, and a Merry Christmas to you!" and disappears into the store.

I drove home feeling as shiny as a new penny and then we had to get out and get the tree in. Took some doing, but we got it off the car and hauled it inside. We get her in the tree stand after managing to maneuver around the dining room table and all, I stand it up, and of course, scratch up the ceiling. Yeah, I don't have room for a nine footer.

So, I head out to the shed and grab my pruning shears and give the tree a little haircut on top. It fits, so long as we don't try to put the angel up on top, which is going to happen one way or another. I may have to give it another little shave, we'll have to see.

'Tis a beaut, though, probably the biggest we've had since The Squirrel Tree (which I am sure I have blogged about in the past, but I can't find the post right now). There is still twine wrapped around my mirrors, which I'll remove today. The house smells so great, my favorite thing about balsams, and this weekend she'll be decked out in her finery! I'll post pictures then.

UPDATE:

The emails are rolling in, I sent out pictures of the tree naked for my fellow revelers who will be here at Christmas to see.

Mom: Tis a beautimous tree and I can’t wait to see it!!

Dad: Looks great, Kate. I can't wait to see it live.

Joe: Holy Merry Christmas! Susan you are truly a Christmas Ham! :)

UPDATE 2:

Oh, what the hell. Here's a picture of it au naturale.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Video Addiction

If you're looking for some awesome comedy about the creation of the universe, a God who's kind of a weenie, and a really HAWT Jesus, go to www.crackle.com, click on "Shows" and watch all the episodes you can of "Mr. Diety". It is absolutely hilarious and really very smart.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kindle

So, on Cyber Monday, I was doing some Christmas shopping and was on Amazon.com. They are heavily promoting a new device called Kindle. For the price of $400, you can purchase this "revolutionary electronic-paper display" device which "looks and reads like real paper".

It has wireless technology, so if you're laying in bed and the mood strikes, you can say, "Hey! I need to read 'War and Peace'" and download it instantly (for a price, of course) to your Kindle and then read.

You can download free samples, you can download blogs, you can download newspapers and magazines.

You can use it to email word documents and photos.

It holds over 200 titles at a time.

Short of making you dinner, this thing does it all. And it's sold out.

I've been thinking about it. Trying to decide how I feel about it. Here's how I feel:

hi, i'm pissed off

First of all, there is a wireless, portable reading device with the look and readability of real paper already available and it doesn't cost $400. Let me introduce you to it. It's called A BOOK. You can get them for free at your local library. You can get them for free by trading for them online. You can get them cheap at your local bookstore and read them over and over and over again. And there's no storage limits--you can buy as many as your house can hold if you want to.

But let me get this straight. I should buy a $400 piece of equipment that I will then have to pay $10 or so for each book I want to download? For the price of one Kindle, I can buy 100 used books at a used book store, or I can buy several hundred books at my annual library book sale.

Technology isn't always the better way. This kindle doesn't have the smell of an old, worn, well loved novel. You can't stroke the pages that are smooth with age and a thousand turnings. You can't crack the spine on a Kindle the way some people so satisfyingly do on a new paperback. You can't give your Kindle books to friends and tell them how much you loved the book and hope they'll love it too.

I have been on vacation and seen people spend dinners on their phones connected to work. I have been on vacation and seen people so desperate to check their email or read stuff on line that they can't think straight--they drive to cafes and hook into wireless ports because the world will end if they don't find out if someone emailed them--they turn their back on the ocean, the mountains, the Grand freakin' Canyon, all to be wired up and connected when they should be taking a break.

And now a bunch of them are turning their back on books. What a crying shame.

Christmas Meme from Melissa

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I like wrapping paper--it's more fun to rip than genteely open a bag.

2. Real tree or artificial?
REAL! I had an artificial in Centreville just because I didn't want to drag a tree up the stairs and all and I nearly cried. Must be a real tree.

3. When do you put up the tree?
December 20th or so. This year will be early. But my mom was allergic, so we always put it up late, plus we don't take it down till after Epiphany, so it's up a lot longer than most people's trees are.

4. When do you take the tree down?
January 6th or so.

5. Do you like eggnog? I love the homemade kind, but not the crap they give you in a box at the store.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I'm not sure. I remember getting a Cabbage Patch Kid was pretty exciting. As a teen, I remember the year my parents gave Judy and I stereo systems was a banner year. The presents are great, but I just have fond memories of other things besides that, and they stick out more.


7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Oh hell yes. I have my grandfather's old cardboard nativity from the 1920's that is still puttering along. I have the Willow Tree nativity that my dad built up for me (I have 3 sets of shepherds and animals!). I have a hand carved nativity from the Holy Land. Plus a cheapy from the Dollar Store that I used in Arkansas.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My husband! And Joe.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My sister.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
My grandparents gave me underwear once. And my parents' friends gave me socks. I remember weeping over the socks and being too embarrassed to show off the undies.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
They went out yesterday. For once, I'm on time!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Love Actually. It's not really a Christmas movie Christmas movie, but I love it anyway and it takes place at Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
This year, I've been picking things up since July. Unusual. I usually follow my father's trend and go the last 2 weeks before Christmas. I still do have a few things to buy, but I'm mostly finished.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Christmas, wedding, and birthday presents. I don't need "stuff" hanging around that I don't like or won't use.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Yorkshire pudding! Christmas cookies! Trifle!

16. Lights white or colored on the tree?
COLORED. White is so boring. I like my tree and my house to have pizazz.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
My favorite carol is "O Holy Night" although I saw a choir sing it all hip and jazzy yesterday and it pissed me off.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's' reindeer? Yup

20. Angel on the treetop or a star? Angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. Despite heavy lobbying from us as children, my parents never caved on this one.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The word "Christmas" disappearing from promotional sales items (um, hello, you wouldn't be having these sales if it werent' for Christmas and oh, by the way, people who don't celebrate Christmas generally don't put a big decorated tree in their house, so don't put it on the front of your catalog and then call it a "family tree" or a "holiday tree". Do you think we're stupid?); turning Christmas carols into advertising jingles (I HATE that); can't go shopping for anything without getting run over by harried people...

Click HERE for a video about the above little rant.

23. What do you love most about Christmas?
Baking, decorating, singing, seeing family and friends, getting Christmas cards, putting up the tree, the sights and sounds and smells of one awesome holiday.

I have gotten this survey through e-mail several times but posted it back here and feel the need to tag people....if you are reading this and haven't posted this to your blog....you are it!!! :) Post away! :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Morning

1. Christmas cards are done!! (Barring any surprise arrivals in the mailbox) WOO HOO! I'm so glad to have that over with. I just have to mail them this morning.

2. Project Runway really sucks this season. They really built it up for us--these are the best designers we've ever had, this is the best season yet, and to me, it's really falling flat. I think the challenges have been boring, the designs have been a yawn, and the cooked up drawmuh amongst the designers has been dumb. The only thing I've been glad about is Carmen getting the boot two weeks ago. I couldn't stand her. The people left that I can't stand are people who, if they left, would take what little pizazz the show has left with them. I hope it heats up, because I am watching what happens and I'm very disappointed.

3. My cell phone is beeping downstairs. Presumably this indicates that the battery is dying. Crap.

4. My sister and I may very well be geniuses. We were discussing the Hollywood writer's strike the other day and came to a conclusion. Practically no one seems to care. Why? Well, the conclusion we came to is that TV execs have been messing around with the schedules so much that it's hard to notice that there's nothing on. For instance, I'm a big-time LOST fan. But last year, they would show lost for 3 weeks, then it was gone for a month, then it was back for a month, then it was gone for 6 weeks. This just seems to me like those weeks when they messed with the schedule. The only people I really hear complaining are late night talk show buffs. But I don't watch it, so I don't miss it.

5. I need an address book. People need to quit moving. I opened my file last night, which admittedly I haven't updated in ages, and it still had my sister living in China, I didn't know half the people I know now who get cards, and a bunch of people in the box are dead. That sucks.

6. Time to get moving. We're going to a Christmas concert today and Michael has invited some Pittsburgh fans over for tomorrow's Steelers-Patriots game. I'm going to have to get some major cleaning done. Yesterday I cleaned out my closet and bureau and have 2 boxes of clothes for the Goodwill. Wonder what today will bring. :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ok, It's Like Christmas Early

I couldn't even sleep...

Click here to read the article about me in today's Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. I even LOVE the picture.

Thanks, Laura and Bob, it was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cookie List!

Well, I've sat down and compiled a list of all the baking to be done, inspired by Jacalyn, who is ahead of the curve and is already baking as we speak.

So, here's what's happening in the Kosior kitchens for Christmas:

~ Sugar cookies (ok, I'm cheating on these because they're a pain in the tush to make and the refrigerated dough is nearly as good as homemade and they'll be covered with frosting anyway)
~ Chocolate chip*
~ Peanut butter*
~ Oatmeal raisin
~ Chocolate raspberry bars
~ Magic cookie bars
~ Chocolate almond thumbprints
~ Ginger snaps*
~ Mini Linzer tarts (the Contessa makes a good cookie and for Christmas they're worth the effort)
~ Shortbread

Non-cookie items

~ Fudge
~ Mini Cheesecakes
~ Chex Mix "dog chow"

Items marked with an asterisk indicate they will be made with Splenda.

Hopefully this will be enough for us and the parties we're attending. :) The weekend of 12/16, I'll be buried in flour, sugar, and chocolate. What a way to go.

Head Bunny Update

If there is one thing in the universe my rabbit loves more than life, carrots, and a good drink of water, it's brussels sprouts. I gave him one a couple of months ago and he literally tried to stuff the whole thing in his mouth. It was hilarious.

So, the other day, Joe and I were at the store to get stuff to make dinner and I found a stalk of brussels sprouts. I didn't even know they grew on stalks. But here is how they grow:



So, I bought a stalk. And I brought them home, and whacked off a piece and gave it to TomTom. He went absolutely bananas. I went in a couple of hours later, and not only did he eat the sprouts, he ate the stalk! I gave him another piece last night, and it's gone this morning. And that's not all...

Suddenly, he's turned into SuperBunny. For a while, it took an act of Congress to get him out of his room. Now, I open the door in there, and the only way to keep him in is to throw him some sprouts. Otherwise, he runs like he's being chased by Glenn Close, hurls himself up onto the chair in the General's office, and proceeds to get a running leap and launch himself through the air into the hallway. I'm going to have to set up the video camera and try to get some footage--it's extraordinary. I want to get him a theme song.

He could take on Bionic Buns, no problem.


So, if you have a lethargic rabbit, try sprouts. They seem to like 'em.

What a Five Years It's Been

Five years ago today, I came home and found my husband standing in the living room, waiting for me. And I knew. I just knew. He'd lost his job. We were newly married, had been married only 7 months, had bought a townhouse only 4 months prior, and now he was unemployed.

Terror struck. How were we going to pay our bills? Christmas was coming--how were we going to deal with that? What would become of us? Michael'd been trying to find a new job for months prior to losing his job with those jerks, and there was nothing.

I remember that the night after it happened, the church where I would go to choir practice was having a living nativity, and we went and I spent the night in tears--it was so beautiful. I remember taking great hope as we came around a bend, following our shepherd tour guides, and suddenly a swell of music and a flash of light and three angels stood on a hill in white, and I took such hope.

Eight months later, the unemployment was running out, we were in danger of losing our condo, our realtor was a real piece of work, and again, a ray of hope, a letter from Washington that Michael had a job.

If someone had told me this day five years ago not to worry about it, that in five years I'd own a full out house all to myself in Virginia, I'd have asked them what they were smoking. To a certain degree, I miss those days when we had so little money that we clung to each other and did not do anything that we couldn't do for free--except that we managed to squeak out a trip to Niagara Falls for our first wedding anniversary.

I know how much I take things for granted--our fine home, never really having to worry about the cost of a meal or if I need something I can go out and get it and not worry about it. In the coming year, I hope to re-shift my priorities and change some things. I want things to feel special again--meals out, getting a new camera or computer, and not just feel as if I can get "stuff" any time. I am reading a book at the moment called The Circle of Simplicity, which will, I hope, guide me on my way. I want to reconnect with people and disconnect from buying, buying, buying.

So, that's my New Year's plan for next year, along with a few other smaller goals, which I'll write about closer to time. And in a couple of weeks, I'll be attending another living nativity and hope it'll be just as moving as the first one.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December: Where's the Year Gone?

And so, we've reached December, and only 24 shopping days till Christmas. As usual, my sister and Joe are here to help me string lights and decorate the house. We are thinking of going to cut down live pines today as well, which I'll stick in some water until I'm ready to decorate it. Due to my mom's pine allergies, we never put up a tree until around December 20th when I was growing up and I find that if I put one up any earlier, I tend to get sick of it after a couple weeks and want to take it down.

So for now, I'll put up a few decorations here, a few there, and eventually it will all add up. Two weeks from now is the annual Kosior Cookie (or is that Cookies Kosior?) extravaganza. I plan to make a pile of cookies--ginger snaps, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, chocolate almond thumbprints, chocolate raspberry bars, magic cookie bars, sugar cookies and probably a few things I haven't thought of. I like to eat Christmas cookies, sure, but I also like to give them and this year I have a lot of social things towards the end of the month where I need to contribute cookies. So that's the plan.

My shopping is not close to done yet. But I suppose I take after my dad in that regard--wait till the last minute. Nothing I want to get anyone falls under the category of "traditional" gift, so I'm not too worried about. The main thing I have to get to now is Christmas cards. I have been woefully lax the last 2 years, really paring down our list, but I think I can handle it. This is probably the least bit stressed about the holidays I have ever been.

What does make me sad is that NaNo is over and I met my 100 book goal. The really sad thing with NaNo is that when I'm procrastinating on writing, I tend to do things I've put off. Like, I re-organized all my books, made all the lists that give meaning to my life, finished book #100 on my reading list, caught up with friends, put up my photo galleries from our trips, etc. I know that if I hadn't done those things, I'd be freaking out, but I'm a bit at loose ends!

Still, I know I'll be busy enough shortly and grateful for these quiet moments before the insanity. Hope everyone out there is feeling peaceful this morning too.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Month of November, When I Reach 100

This post is a momentous one. In it, I mark book number 100. Now, to me, that is pretty darned impressive anyway, but moreso because this is the first time I can ever remember making a New Year's Resolution and sticking to it. That's right, fair reader. I am 32 years old, I made a resolution in January, and for once I completed it.

On Saturday, November 10th, in Atlanta, Georgia, book number one hundred went from dream to reality. It was fitting. I got the idea to read 100 books from Lesley's blog when I think she posted a comment in passing about it. I thought, "Well, that can't be too difficult, I probably read 100 books per year anyway. I'll give it a shot." Ha ha. It was A LOT harder than it seemed. I read books in Las Vegas on our anniversary trip, in Rhode Island and New York for our July 4th trip to visit family, in Georgia visiting Mike and Lesley, and in Florida visiting my mom. I read books while I was stuck in traffic (actual books, not audio books). I read in bed, in the bathroom, while cooking dinner, in front of the television, on my lunch breaks, during dinner, you name it, I read there. Reading affected my travels: I saw Almanzo Wilder's house after reading Farmer Boy, and I saw Margaret Mitchell sites in Atlanta. I'm going to be in the newspaper soon and had my first ever photo shoot, 'modeling' with books all around me. Random people started recommending books to me (book #100 was recommended by a woman I sat at a health fair with), and I now have 3 shelves, each packed 2 books deep, with books I haven't read yet. My wishlist of books I just HAVE to lay my hands on is at nearly 60 on PaperbackSwap.com I found a new favorite book, one of my top five ever. And of course, I just finished writing my second book.

Literarily speaking, it's been an awesome year.

And so, without further ado, the rundown of what I have read this month. As always, spoilers abound, so if you find a book that you think you might read, don't read the review. I might wreck the ending for you. Also, due to NaNo this month, I didn't read half as much as usual. Then I'll post a rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly separate from this post. And if I understand correctly, the article about me will run in the paper on Friday, December 7th. I'll keep you updated.

1. Why Do Men Have Nipples? (Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini) by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, MD.

Very much along the lines of Father Knows Less, which I read earlier this year, Mark Leyner who is a writer and Billy Goldberg, a doctor, set forth to answer everyone's weirdest medical questions, things that it would seem doctors get asked by really drunk party guests. The book is a lot more humor than it is too factual, but you do learn a lot about the human body and why men have nipples :^) The photographer was quizzing me last night while we were taking the pictures, and I felt pretty darned smartish. The book addresses things like folk remedies, food and the body, sex, aging, bathroom humor, and medical media (ER and the like). It was a quick read and a short little book, but definitely FUNNY and informative, skewed a little more heavily towards funny.

2. The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington. In bold, because this is officially book number 100 (sound the trumpets!). I recently did a health fair for work, and had to share a table with the Fairfax County Public Library's NLS for the Disabled representative. We got to talking books since she had a couple of my old favorites on display and then it turned out we were both in book clubs. So she asked what kind of books we were reading and I asked her what book her club was currently reading, and she said they like to read women's fiction that's not chick lit, and they were reading this book, The Monk Downstairs, which was a non-romance romance. Although we had known each other all of 10 minutes, she announced that I would like it and I should read it. Guess what? She was right.

The book tells the story of Rebecca Martin, a thirty-something single mom who's sharing custody of her young daughter Mary Martha with her surfer-dude ex-husband. She has an in-law apartment downstairs and she rents it out to Michael Christopher, a 30-something who has just left the monastery after losing faith in God, having been a monk the better part of two decades. Together, Rebecca and Mike navigate new relationships--Rebecca dumping Bob, a good guy who's all wrong for her, and Mike learning to live in the secular world after having been largely insulated from it for the past 20 years. And however unlikely (although since it's sort of a romance, it's pretty likely), they manage to form a common bond after not speaking for half the book and fall in love.

There is a sequel out, The Monk Upstairs, which chronicles their marriage. I am looking forward to reading it. Truly, this was not the typical sappy love story. The characters were real, their faults were all too obvious and unforgiving, and they were hard on each other. The book was not some hot but heartbroken dude stumbling on a gorgeous farmgirl who wants to raise his darling but precocious five year old. Two real people, who've been a bit banged around by life, find solace in each other. Good stuff.

3. Scarlett Rules (When Life Hands You Green Velvet Curtains, Make a Green Velvet Dress) by Lisa Bertagnoli. Can you guess where I picked this little number up? Yup, at the Margaret Mitchell House gift shop.

I will confess, here and now, that I have never read Gone With the Wind. But the movie was and has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I love that fiery Katie Scarlett O'Hara, and in fact when we were heading to Atlanta, I was telling Michael about the scene in which Scarlett is depressed while having to wear black in mourning and her mother offers to send her away. Scarlett poo-poohs Savannah as too boring, so Ellen offers Atlanta and Scarlett agrees, uttering a breathy "Atlanta!", which I thus uttered along the trip to Atlanta. So it was with great delight that when Lesley suggested some of the Mitchell sights to see that I enthusiastically agreed to be taken to see them.

Well, at the gift shop, they had a number of books and items there, and this little gem, Scarlett Rules..., jumped out at me. Its sassy, hot pink cover caught my eye immediately, and I had to have it. It's a formulaic "All I need to know, I learned from..." type book, of which there are certainly dozens (I also have What Would Jackie Do? in which I can take guidance from Jackie O in all pressing social matters), but I really enjoyed this one a great deal.

Some of the lessons are: Rule 1: Pretty Is as Pretty Does–Not a conventional beauty, the literary Scarlett knew it took more than an attractive face to get noticed. Learn to put your best features forward. Rule 8: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize–Scarlett used determination and perseverance to survive and thrive. Unlock your abilities and go for the gold. Rule 15: Find Your Niche–A woman ahead of her time, Scarlett succeeded on her strengths. Discover your gift and shine!

Some of it was like "Yeah, OK, clever, I get it" but some of it I found genuinely useful, and I think I will probably put some of the ideas into use ("Know when to say "Tomorrow is another day!"--not every crisis has to be solved today). Well written, witty, and clever, definitely a great read for any GWTW fans out there. And I think I might just take a crack at reading GWTW for real. Let me go add it to my wish list. :-)

4. Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter by Alice Kuipers. Evil book. Evil, evil, evil book, it caused me to make a spectacle of myself in public. In a public library even worse.

The book is a series of letters between Dr. Mom (who remains nameless), a single mom working as an obstetrician, and her daughter, Claire. Some letters are short, some longer, but soon they take on a renewed urgency when it turns out Mom needs to see an oncologist, and winds up having breast cancer.

I was sitting in the QUIET STUDY ROOM ONLY room at the public library, and as I reached the end of this book, I started to sniffle. And then I started to weep. And then I outright started to bawl. I stumbled out of there when the chick who was actually studying started glaring at me. I went up to the counter to pay for the books I was getting off the book sale shelf, and the librarian was looking at me kind of funny. I was chewing on my cheek and silently chanting to myself, "Keep it together! KEEP IT TOGETHER!" as I paid and made tracks for the parking lot. As I got in my car, I let it all out and started bawling my eyes out, reached for my cell phone, and called my mom, who was not home. I left an incoherent "I really love you, Mom!" message on my phone, only to keep getting cut off in a dead zone on my stupid cell phone, which only made me cry harder. Finally, I had to pull over. It was awful.

Only read this book if you are in a supremely good place mentally and are able to call your mom afterwards and tell her you love her. You have been warned.

5. The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo. Judy bought Michael and me this book four years ago on our first anniversary, since the traditional gift is paper. She bought us a copy on audio and in print. The audio is read marvelously by Jeremy Irons (yum!). But I have the print copy and decided to read it as well this time. My book club's waiting list has gotten so long that we formed a splinter group, which will now meet on Sundays. This is the first book that group is going to read together, and I'm really looking forward to discussing it, since I had forgotten how great this book is.

The tale is that of a Spanish shepherd named Santiago who is haunted by a dream of finding his treasure under the Egyptian pyramids. He is encouraged to do so by a gypsy and an old king, and so he sells his flock and makes his way across the desert, having many grand adventures as he does so. He learns many important lessons about life, such as not doing something just because that's the way you've always done it, and the importance of following your heart. The book is kind of self-helpy without being self-helpy, and I really like that about it. It's also just a great story. Without getting into overblown detail, you feel as if you know exactly what each place looks like, you can envision each character, you can nearly smell and taste each experience yourself. The writing is exquisite. I'm jealous!

6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Joan Didion's daughter Quintana fell gravely ill and was hospitalized with a serious infection. She was placed in a medical coma and put on life support. Only weeks later, Joan's husband, John Dunne, was speaking with her from their living room after visiting their daughter in the hospital, stopped mid-sentence and keeled over dead on the floor of a massive coronary. Four weeks later, Quintana pulled through and revived, but only two months after that, she collapsed from a massive brain hematoma.

Joan Didion documented this year in this book, which I think I heard about on NPR or somewhere, I'm not entirely sure. I know you're all going to hate me for kicking the widow when she's down, but this book was a lot less than I expected. I got through it, but I really thought it would be more about her feelings. Instead, Didion did a lot of research on grief and puts many of her findings in the book. She spends a lot of time analyzing the way things are and trying to figure out if she's behaving in a way that seems "normal" for your "average widow."

I read a review on Amazon.com that calls Joan Didion's writing as "cool" and perhaps lacking emotion, and I felt that way about this book. The most moving passage in the whole book was one in which she states that she realized she was in denial when she cleaned out her husband's closets, but couldn't get rid of his shoes because he would need them when he got back. I thought to myself, "well, now we're getting somewhere", but perhaps she didn't want to share where those painful thoughts led, because there was no indication that she picked the shoes up and flung them at the walls while sobbing in rage. And I wanted her to. I wanted her to be angry at God and everyone for putting her in this terrible situation with her husband's death and her daughter's serious illnesses. But instead, she seemed rather detached. Maybe she didn't want to share those feelings, but if that were so, she shouldn't have written a book purporting to be about that very topic. I found this book to be tremendously disappointing.

7. The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards. Kat is a big girl hiding a big secret: she's in love with an Englishman who thinks she's all of a size 4. She hears about a TV show called "From Fat to Fabulous" and decides to enter. She hopes to lose all the weight she needs to before the ravishing Nick (a London fashion designer) enters her life and finds out the truth about her.

Formulaic chick lit, but so not boring. I actually vascillated back and forth. I knew Nick was going to meet her and find out the truth, but I was thinking that perhaps Nick wasn't all he was cracked up to be either and that would be the catch. Wrong! Nick is every bit the snot he promises to be when he meets Kat, a meeting dreamed up by the producers of the TV show. I will leave it at that for the plot.

I absolutely tore through this book--it was good clean fun. I loved, loved, loved reading it, I think I read it in about 2 days at my mom's house in and around painting. Get it and read it if you like chick lit, and maybe even if you don't. it was the good kind, I promise!

8. Miss Julia Strikes Back by Ann Ross. Ok, this is one I forgot to add to the list earlier, and I can't believe it. I know I read it this year, since it came out in April and I have the hardcover. And the sad thing is, I remember reading it. I can't believe I didn't add it to the list, however. So I guess I'll add it here. It makes me wonder how many other books I forgot I read.

Miss Julia is back and better than ever. She comes home one day to find that her jewelry and Hazel Marie's jewelry has been burgled, and of course, she is not in the least content to wait for the police to go and find the stuff. Together with Little Lloyd and Etta Mae, she finds a private investigator (her usual go-to man, JD Pickens, is vacationing with Hazel Marie in Mexico) and goes after the jewel thieves herself.

The book is typical Miss Julia madcap hilarity, her proper Southern ladylike ways getting her into all kinds of trouble. The private investigator they manage to pick up is a drunk of the nth degree, and her interactions with him alone is worth the price of admission.

I love Miss Julia. Can't wait for the next one!

9. Merry Kitschmas: The Ultimate Holiday Handbook by Michael D. Conway.

I was shopping at Borders the other night, the night of the crocodile/wildebeest incident, and I happened upon this book, which was on sale for all of 3 dollars. The cover is a striking little number in bright red with a wreath of kitschy looking elf-heads adorning it. I thumbed through the pages, and when I saw a drunk Barbie swimming in a punch bowl, I knew I had to have it.

The author states that Christmas is the time all good taste goes straight out the window as people try to outdo each other with decorations, crappy food, and gay apparel. This book embraces the tradition of over-the-topness that is Christmas. The hell with Martha Stewart perfection! On with Kitschmas!

I am madly in love with the Valley of the Dolls Christmas tree, featuring Barbies spray painted silver. As you can imagine, Barbie takes it on the chin quite a bit in this book. There is also a tree made out of rubber gloves and one made from a tomato cage, covered in green grass skirts and leis. There are directions for wreaths made from an old tire, a straight from the cupboard Christmas feast, and clothing made from tree skirts. There's a scary-as-hell looking night light made from Santa's head, a drink called The Judy Garland, and stockings made from fetish boots.

The book is a festival of bad taste, but it's so bad it's good. Holiday hilarity just in time for the rush to hit.

So, that's it for this month. I am going to post my wrap up in December, as I want to see what number I ultimately get up to. I read nine books during NaNo, so I guess anything is possible, right?

Here's where I stand on the year:

The Great: Merry Kitschmas, Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Alchemist, The Monk Downstairs, The Next Big Thing, Miss Julia Strikes Back

The Good: Why Do Men Have Nipples?, Scarlett Rules

The OK: The Year of Magical Thinking

Totals for November:

Books Read: 9
Pages Read: 2206

Totals on the Year:

Books Read: 107
Pages Read: 33355

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I Didn't Tell You About Florida

The trip started out a bit of a fiasco. Saturday morning, we're rushing around, trying to pack up ourselves, the rabbit, coordinate who's picking who up, dropping who off, etc. I call my mom one final time, and she says, "Well, call me on your phone when you land."

Ok, no problem.

We're ready to go, right on schedule, it's 10:15am, and I can't find my cell phone. I'm looking all over like a mad woman. After 20 minutes, with trepidation, I go downstairs and I find it. In the bottom of the washing machine. *Sigh*

Yup, I washed my phone. So I call my mom and tell her what happened, and tell her to wing it. We get in the car, haul it on up to Judy's, I drop off TomTom, Joe takes me to the metro, and I'm off.

I get to the airport and head down to see my sister. I have a 30% off at Border's Coupon and I thought it would be fun to buy something from her. I get to the store, and guess what?

I left the coupon in my jacket pocket, and my jacket is now in my suitcase, which I checked through at USAir.

Then I realize that my brand spankin' new Celine Dion CD is in the car with Joe and the General. I wanted to take it to FL, since my mom loves Celine too. I have the empty case, no CD.

Sitting around, waiting on my sister, and I decide to listen to my iPod. Ok, take it out of my backpack, "Where the heck are my headphones!?" Forgot them on the dining room table.

So I get to Florida, I'm lamenting all this, and my mom suggests we go over to Verizon to get a new phone. Michael tells me price is no object, etc. We finally get there on Wednesday.

I go to the lady, and I don't know how they know this, but she opens the back of the phone and says "it's been soaking in water. Unless it's insured, you'll have to buy a new phone."

And didn't I have a hot little Razr phone? Pink. Camera. Real sweet, loved that phone.

So we're debating our options, and I'm about ready to cry, tears are in my eyes, a new Razr is $250. Mom strolls over to the woman and says, "Is there anything you can do? Her husband is blind, he handed it to her and said it was broken, we don't know what happened to it."

So, the lady says to us, "One of my best friends is blind, boy does she have a real zest for life. Ok, ladies, here's what we're going to do. Keep your voices down. I'm going to show you some phones, you come back with $100 in cash, and I'll have a new phone for you. Put the money in a brochure and hand it to me over the desk."

So we look, we leave, I get $100 from a nearby ATM, and we go back. There she is, a brand new pink Razr in hand, puts a new cover on it, the whole nine, hands it to me and tells me to call someone and make sure it works. It works a treat. I hand her the $100, and that's the end of it.

Is that crazy?? Seriously, I felt like a drug dealer!

I got home and my sister has made off with my Celine Dion cover, so now I have the CD and no cover, but my headphones are here and working. Crazy.

Florida

So, as per usual, the General and I spent Thanksgiving apart. Everyone who learns this looks at me like I have two heads. So I ask them, "Well, what would you do when you're married, you have in-law's, and your parents are divorced and there are two of you and three of them, and you all live in different states hundreds of miles apart and on top of it all, your cat you had to give up due to your husband's allergies lives with your mom?" That usually shuts them up pretty good. So yes, it sucks that we spend a holiday apart, but I guess as far as it goes, it's not like it's Christmas, which is my favorite holiday, and someday when we have kids and this kind of togetherness matters, then I'll worry about it more.

It stinks not creating our own little traditions, but as I say, our time will come, if and when we ever have little ones. So if you were wondering, that's why the General is in Rhode Island and I'm in Florida at the telling of this story. (My dad and sister are in Virginia, if that makes things any easier for you!)

Be that as it may...

I flew to Florida last Saturday. It was the crappiest plane I have ever been on. It was so dirty, dirty, dirty, I think they herded the other passengers off and put us on and that was that.

We got to Orlando a tad early and I got right off the plane (unlike Atlanta when Michael and I were seated in LITERALLY the 43rd row, I was in row 10 this time), hopped on the shuttle, went to the main terminal, found my mom, we got my bag and got in the car, and it was all good. We were going to go to Steak N Shake on the way home--something I really and truly love about the south--but sadly we were both too tired, so we went to Wendy's and went home. I got filled up on my cuddles and snuggles with Buster, rough housed with Sidney, and we called it a night.

The next day, we got up and we were kind of debating what to do, and sitting and talking and thinking about things and Mom mentioned she hated her ceiling fan in her breakfast nook. Well, as these things are wont to do, it took on a life of its own. I offered to buy her a new ceiling fan for Christmas. Then we decided if we were going to replace the light figure, well, neither one of us really liked the wallpaper. And if we were going to paint, we might as well get some new shelves for the wall. So, we went to Home Depot (I'm on strike against Lowe's), and got primer, painting supplies, a ceiling fan, etc. We spent the rest of Sunday washing down the walls (adios nicotine from the cigarettes Dickhead didn't smoke in the house), taping, and priming. My mom is not good on a ladder. This was proven numerous times when she was up priming trim and all of a sudden I'd hear THUD! and then "YOWCH!" and then maniacal giggling. She kept leaning back and sticking her head in the ceiling fan! And every time she did, it got funnier and funnier. THUD! Tee hee! THUD! Tee hee!

We sat around debating color choices. This was hard on my mom, who loves white and whiter. Or as she calls them, beige and cream. I demanded she pick a color she would never ordinarily choose and we'd leave the beadboard white so it wasn't a shock to the system. Finally, she settled on a color called Athenian Green, which I loved. It was a really nice color, dark, but not too dark, moody in a good way.

So we go to Home Depot the next morning, and order up the paint, and I kid you not, the guy who did the paint had the insides of his ears tattooed. Right around the little curve, heading down onto his earlobe, he had some tattoos. I was stunned.

So, we head home, touch up the priming, get cranking on painting the white over the primer down below and around the trim, and meanwhile, Mom's neighbor John is getting very anxious to install the ceiling fan. He's real handy and loves to go all over the park helping people do odd jobs, so we finished up the first coat of green and then asked him over to do the light.

Well, honestly, we probably could have swapped out the lights and been done with it. That alone was an amazing change. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. We went ahead and finished up all the painting.

By the time we were done, my mom had a terrible headache from her little incidents with the ceiling fans (yeah, she stuck her head in the new one too!), but the room was transformed. It was amazing what a coat of paint will do. She also bought her neighbor's dining room set, and we installed that, plus moved in her bookshelf from another room. Neither of us could move. It was a LOT of physical labor. The room was pretty small, but a lot of ups and downs and peaked ceilings and so forth. We were tired. The results speak for themselves. You can see them at: http://mkosior.com/gallery/makeover

So, as my just reward, we tried to go to Steak N Shake for dinner. Those twelve year old bastards wouldn't wait on us! We sat there ten minutes without a peep from anyone. Finally, we got up to leave and no one even said anything. Unbelievable. So we went to Cracker Barrel. Not quite the same, but it was good anyway.

The next day, despite being incapacitated, it was time for the big trip to the Princess Diana Dresses for a Cure display in Ocala. (When we got there, we literally almost just rolled and fell out of the car--kneeling on linoleum is a real kick in the pants.) They had on display a bunch of memoribilia and some of her Christie's Auction dresses. Incredible. I wish we hadn't had to travel 3 hours each way to get there, but the dresses were amazing. There were thirty in all and there was a nice little audio tour. I got a little souvenir program, and then I drove back to Vero Beach from Ocala. Mom's neighbors rolled in, and Estell and I had a nice chat regarding the idea that Diana was murdered by the Queen and Prince Phillip.

We were so tired, we ordered a pizza, watched episode one of Kids in the Hall, which I had brought down on DVD, and passed out.

Wednesday dawned bright and clear, and we didn't have all that much to do, really, so we decided to do some shopping. Mom had farmed out a lot of the cooking to neighbors and we couldn't make the turkey till Thursday, so we hit a few little shops in Vero Beach, and I returned a book I had bought earlier in the week that I a) didn't understand and b) wasn't going to force myself to slog through (the guy must have gotten paid by the number of times he used the words "ethos", "infantilization", "capitalist", and "peurility").

We did some baking, decorated the breakfast area, and spent time walking the dogs and visiting neighbors. At one point, people just started walking in to my mom's, including one guy she'd only met who was looking for another guy who was already visiting.

Thanksgiving was really nice. I typed up 1500 words during the morning and we made up the turkey and spent the day getting things in order for dinner and then playing cards till people started to arrive.

Dinner was just great, I said my traditional "please bless our turkey for laying down his life for us" grace, and we all had a good laugh and ate till we were stuffed. And then it was early to bed, since I had a 7am flight out of Orlando the next morning!!!

I really enjoyed my trip. Got to the beach twice, which was awesome, and got to spend some quality time with my mom, plus she'll never forget me when she sees that green paint! My flight home arrived early, but another plane was stuck and blocking our gate so we had to sit out on the tarmac for 20 minutes, which SUCKED. My sister was waiting for me when I got off the plane and we went down to where my dad and husband were waiting (Michael got in an hour before I did) and got my suitcase. We loaded up the car and got Joe, and we went shopping in Old Towne Alexandria for Christmas ornaments and Advent calendars, and then had lunch at Bugsy's pizza buffet. Afterwards, we went to the Lighthouse at Alexandria, a memorial from the Freemasons to George Washington, and my dad, sister, and Joe took the tour while Michael and I waited in the car (we were tired). We dropped them off at home finally and were back in Fredericksburg by 2:30. By 3:00pm, I was in bed asleep and didn't wake up till 7pm. Felt good to get some sleep, and it was good to be home with 2 days to get things done that I needed to do before facing the dreaded Monday and going back to work!

I've posted pictures, mainly of the beach, the cats, and the dog at http://www.mkosior.com/gallery/florida07 I took a Pulitzer worthy picture of a jellyfish dead on the beach you'll want to see :-) Thanks, Mom, for a fun and busy time!

Atlanta

Well, now that I have some time to do something other than stress out if the railroads ran where I wanted them to go and if certain towns had been incorporated yet, I can finally catch up on writing about my life in the past month!

So, I figure I'll start with our trip to Atlanta.

I had been really, really, really looking forward to seeing Mike and Lesley and going to Atlanta for a long time. As it got closer, it seemed like everyone I knew had been to Atlanta and we started getting tips! "Go to where they make the Cabbage Patch Kids" or "Go see the 7 story escalator at CNN" or "Go to Atlanta Underground". My main thing I wanted to do was go see Turner Field, where the Braves play, since I used to be a rabid Atlanta Braves fan.

So we arrived a little early, and I was real nervous about finding our way around that airport, because it is so stinkin' big and I had to find the baggage and find Mike too. True to what I expected, we were parked at the far end of one of the terminals, and I swear, it took us 20 minutes to get down to where the train was to go to the main terminal to find the luggage. Our bag was sadly swirling around on the carousel, waiting for us, but that was actually good, since we didn't have to wait around for it.

We went outside and Mike was waiting right there for us, so it was all very convenient. We went home and had a grand tour of the house and a really good dinner of beef stew and then hung around a while and went to bed.

The next day, we hit Atlanta proper. Mike showed us where the Olympics and Olympic bombing happened and we went to CNN. Jacalyn wasn't lying about that 7 story escalator. I felt a little woozy just looking at it. So we bought our tour tickets, but our tour wasn't till later, and so we decided to go to the Olympic Park and walk around. It was really nice there and all the bricks were inscribed by people who bought them for their loved ones, so Mike tried to find the one his family bought for his parents, but they weren't able to locate it, sadly. The park is beautiful, I really loved the tall towers that had the Olympic flames burning on top of them. It was pretty cool.

On the way back, we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce and I went in to get some brochures and all the woman at the desk said was, "There are some magazines in the back." Sheesh! Nice job with the tourists, lady! We got a couple magazines and then went to get on line for the tour of CNN.

The tour before us was packed with school kids, so we thought we'd be safe, but our tour was packed with kids too, and in particular this one obnoxious kid who kept jumping in front of Michael and elbowing people out of his way so he could be first in line. We went up the escalator, and I was pretty pleased when I went up that they had TV screens so I wasn't forced to think about the fact that we were going straight up in the air with nothing on the sides of us really. I get vertigo a lot on the DC Metro stations that have the steep, deep escalators. Sadly, when we got to the top, Lesley had suffered as I usually do! She said she nearly fainted going up there.

The tour itself was not that great. We were ignored for the school group--for instance, there was one of those guys who takes the scam photography that they try to sell you, and he asked the kids if they wanted their picture and the hell with us and one other couple of guys who were there.

The guide himself was a kind of smarmy, "I'm too cool for you idiots" type. Lesley learned that he was hoping to break into the reporting business in California. I wanted to give him a shave and a haircut so bad--does this mean I'm getting old?

The tour takes you past 3 large windows overlooking 3 different news rooms, plus you get to watch 2 videos--one live showing how it looks in the control room as they're scrambling all the stuff to make a cohesive show, and the other at the end with all the CNN reporters talking about how it is to be a journalist. The big excitement of the tour was that we got to see Jenny McCarthy from a distance of several hundred feet as she wrapped up an interview. They were doing CNN International while we were there, so there was no news being taped in the newsroom.

Afterwards, we were all pretty hungry, so Mike and Lesley took us to an Atlanta landmark, The Varsity! It's the world's largest drive in restaurant, but we ate inside. It was YUMMY! Chili dogs and the best onion rings I've ever had. I have been dreaming of those onion rings ever since. Seriously.

When we had filled ourselves up, Lesley and I decided to go to the Atlanta Aquarium and I really, really enjoyed it. I find that scaly things kind of give me the creep-out, but the Atlanta Aquarium was beautiful, one of the nicest I've ever been to. They had a lot of touch tanks, so I got to touch some sharks, some sting rays, live shrimp (they feel exactly the same as the dead ones do), a sea anemone, starfish, and sea cucumbers. I saw some sea creatures I had never seen before, including the amazing sea dragon, which looked kind of like what I envision the Loch Ness Monster to look like, and then Lesley took me to this tunnel where all the fish swim all around you. They had giant sharks swimming over your head, and a lot of butt ugly fish besides. After you go through, there is a big wall that showcases the tank and you can just sit there and watch the fish as long as you want, which is what we did. I also videotaped the fish, and I might post that to YouTube. It was so relaxing. I loved it.

Afterwards, it was time to meet the boys again, and we went over to Mike's sister's house for dinner. She was a real live wire, her name was Susan, and she collects Coke memorabilia. I had never seen so many Coke bottles in my life.

On Saturday, Lesley and I had plans to go to tea at the Ritz Carlton, so after lunch, we got all dolled up and headed over there. I'm not going to lie, it was nice to be in the lap of luxury. There was an aura of hushed elegance on the place, and we had a wonderful time catching up over tea. We agreed that the sandwiches weren't so great, but the pastries were to die for and the tea was really good. We had a tea called Blue Sapphire that was blended especially for the Ritz and it was great. We had our own tea girl who made recommendations and she packed up extra pastries for us, and scarcely blinked when I asked her for a souvenir menu to take home (I know, what a tourist I am!). Lesley and I wandered upstairs to find the restrooms, and believe it or not, the Ritz had little gold stickers on their TP!!!!!!! I peeled one off and put it in my wallet. Priceless.

We got home and it was supper time and then we took a little driving tour of downtown Atlanta at night. I got to see Turner Field, and the Georgia State Capitol Dome and then Mike roared into a Krispy Kreme and got a dozen hots, and we all ate hot donuts and drove around Atlanta. It was AWESOME. Those donuts were amazing. Atlanta is a really nice city and it was nice to be able to drive around it and not be worried about the traffic. The streets were really basically empty compared to even Fredericksburg standards. In that way, it reminded me a lot of Little Rock. My friend Tim and I used to cruise Little Rock at night because it was so easy to do.

When we got back, we all hung out in front of their fireplace, playing board games and watching TV. It was so relaxing. It was like a commercial on TV for the good life. Friends, a roaring fire, fun around the coffee table. A cat curled up nearby. Yeah.

Sunday, we did a little literary tourism. Lesley told me that Margaret Mitchell's gravesite was there and so we hauled it on over to the cemetary and took some pictures. Then we went to the Margaret Mitchell House and did a little retail therapy at the gift shop. When we come back, Lesley and I are definitely doing the tour--we didn't really have time that day.

Then we went to a fun little part of Atlanta and had Indian food for lunch. Michael actually ate it, we found a meal he would eat there, and he loved it. Lesley and I went shopping at a kitschy little junk shop where I got some stuff for my sister and for me, and then we headed back to their house, since Mike's family was coming for dinner.

It was so much fun--we met his dad and his sister and nieces also came over. Michael and I played poker and blackjack with his dad and sister and Mike and we had a big dinner of chicken and the most wonderful macaroni and cheese (Lesley, if you're reading this, please email me that recipe!) and cake and ice cream for dessert. Mike's dad is a real kick in the pants too, and we all decided afterwards that the best show on television would be a reality show starring my dad, Michael's dad, and Mike's dad. That would be a smash hit.

And then it was over all too soon. :-( Mike dropped us at the airport and we headed back to Richmond, and then drove home to the 'burg. I had my newspaper interview that afternoon, and then pretty much crashed. It was so nice to get away and to spend time with Mike and Lesley! Thanks for everything, guys! Hopefully we can do it again soon!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I DID IT!



And I did it before midnight. As my dad always says, "Gloryoski, boys!"

Craptastic though it may be, The Flight of Frankie Stanton has been written. My real life can resume now.

And Now For Something Completely Different...

...another procrastination blog... (I've got less than 1000 words to go. I'm going to finish tonight.)

I was re-reading an email my mom sent me after I got home from Florida. The last line was:

I am so proud of you and who you have become!

I'm blubbering. Even though I'm 32 years old, that still feels pretty freakin' fantastic that I've made my mom proud of me.

So, I'm Standing In Line At Border's Last Night...

(Procrastination post #1)

...and I am second in line. The guy in front of me is staring at the tv screen they have playing for their customers. And so I sneak a peek, since I kind of enjoyed when the Fredericksburg Borders would play the DVD of the planet and you could see the little plants and the beautiful shots of earth from space.

Not the Springfield Borders, however. Oh no. I, who hate to see animals get hurt, have to look as a goddamned crocodile takes down a goddamned wildebeest.

I swear, I cannot get the image of this out of my mind. It is haunting me, all day, I have seen those jaws of death wrapped around the poor wildebeest's leg, as it struggles to gain a foothold in the sand and keeps getting dragged to the water.

My sister comes over to find out what I'm doing, and I (more loudly than intended) declare, "Don't I have to be standing here while this goddamned thing is showing the death of a wildebeest by a crocodile? I think I'm going to start bawling."

And to my utter embarrassment, all the men in line start chuckling, and the women turn their faces to stare at the back walls.

What is it with guys and this kind of thing? The guy in front of me was glued to the set. When the Borders guy FINALLY got the lead out and took this guy's order, I moved right up behind him, away from the set. I couldn't stand it.

I know it's the laws of nature and all, but honestly? I find it devastating and gratuitous.

Back to NaNo.

Desperate Times...

My NaNo book SUCKS and I've finished the story at just under 46,000 words... AUGH! what to write? what to write? "This book sucks" over and over again maybe... The end is near. I can't believe it. It's a great way to get the hell through November's major suckage, but now the month and the challenge are nearly done. My life will seem so empty when it's done. *Sniffle*

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Annoying Me

Top things I do that annoy even myself:

1. I never put the new roll of toilet paper on the roller. I just let it sit there and unroll it by hand until about half the roll is gone and then I put it on. WHY DO I DO THIS?

2. I put my car keys in my left pocket. I fill my right hand with things. I'm a rightie. Then I go to my car and I have to get my keys out with my left hand, transfer everything to my left hand while fumbling to get the keys in my right and then I can get in the car. WHY DO I DO THIS?

3. I take my clothes off and throw them on the floor right next to the hamper. WHY DO I DO THIS?

4. Speaking of clothes, I never put my clean clothes away. Michaels stacks them neatly on my bureau, and then eventually the tower collapses and there are clothes everywhere and I have no choice BUT to put them away. Only to discover that my drawers are full of clothes I can't remember wearing. WHY DO I DO THIS?

5. I never, ever delete the pictures off my digital camera card, so when I want to go and show someone something, I have to scan through hundreds of pictures before I find the right ones. WHY DO I DO THIS?

I'm sure there are many more pet peeves I have about myself, but now I've gotten these out, hopefully I'll start to do something about it. Yeah right.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Home!

I have arrived home from Thanksgiving. Good times were had by all. I will be getting that and the Atlanta trip posted ASAP, but I have got to break 40K by tomorrow for NaNo, so as per everything else, it's on hold till I get it done.

I was so freakin' tired when I got back to the 'burg that I actually took a 4 hour nap. If possible, my mom has more energy than I do. By the time we got around to going to see Princess Diana's dresses, we were about rolling out of the car and crawling on the ground to get where we were going. It was hilarious and awful all at once.

Thanks, Mom, for an AWESOME time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving

My mom and I went to the beach twice today. We ate breakfast at a restaurant there, and I just sat and stared at the water, and my mom commented that it was the first time in a while she'd seen me really relax. I could feel my body changing, my heart rate slowing, my breathing slowing, everything. We went back tonight. I wanted to get some pictures of the water when the sun was going down and everything was turning pink and peaceful. I swear to you, if my mom hadn't been there, I would have sat in the sand and had myself a good cry. I could feel all the sorrow and disappointments in life welling up from my chest into my throat, and begging for escape. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and kept walking.

November is a difficult time in my family, and has been for ten years. I lost both of my mom's parents in November 1997, only ten days apart. I feel like I should have asked them so much, gotten to know them as people, but my life was only really just starting as an adult when they died and I didn't have that frame of mind. It was "Me, Me, Me!" when I was 21. I am tremendously sorry to have missed the opportunity to share their history.

So, I suppose Thanksgiving will always have a little sadness attached, falling as it does on or around the anniversaries of their deaths. But this year, I've done so much work on me, and I feel like I'm really making some progress putting the answers together in a way that makes sense, in a way I can live with. I'm not sure, truly that I like all the answers that I've come away with, but I'm starting to understand that those things can change--I'm not the person I was ten years ago, and in ten years I won't be the person I am today.

So I was reading some Thanksgiving blog entries and a new friend posted one on hers about her gratitude towards people for helping her up during some recent hard times. And then she wrote:

Mostly, I'm thankful for my life. It has its ups. It has its downs. But, this life is mine.

You betcha. This year, I'm thankful for my life. I'm glad I'm taking some time to be selfish and to get to know the person I am and feel comfortable with the person I've become. I'm thankful for all the people who have contributed to making me the person I am, family and friends and colleagues and sworn enemies and the ones who got away and the ones who never left my side. I really don't believe I'd be here without each person's influence and I feel incredibly lucky to have the life I lead, to be surrounded by the truly quality people I'm surrounded by, to have taken advantage of opportunities that have come towards me, to have lived and worked and played how I wanted, to have fallen and picked myself up and dusted myself off and gotten back on the horse.

I truly believe 2008 has big things in store for me, but tonight I'm grateful for 2007, for the life I've led this year. It has been up and down, but I wouldn't have traded it, and I've come to value it a bit more each passing minute. My wish for you is a safe, happy holiday filled with love and joy and everything you need to feel a little peace.