Monday, December 26, 2011

the goodness of life

"One of the advantages of getting old is that you just let go of a lot of things you never needed in the first place ... and all the colors are more vibrant, and every day is sweeter. And when that snow fell I held out my arms as it fell down on my face and my hair. It stood for the goodness of life. If we can't hold onto it, we just have to enjoy it." - Garrison Keillor, "The News from Lake Wobegon"

Love this. And it couldn't have come to me at a better time, as the post-Christmas letdown is already rearing its ugly head. Yet I am reminded the good stuff abounds, like fresh memories with my beautiful children and homemade cranberry caramel oatmeal bars on the kitchen counter. Whatever joys you're experiencing in your life at the moment, I wish you a week of enjoying them to the fullest!  Here are a few more I recently spotted in my virtual world:

My son could have written this letter to Santa in his earlier years.

The Christmas CD A Very She & Him Christmas got me thinking how much I adore M. Ward all on his own. Here's one of his best.

How would you describe the world in one word?

Loved this tribute to musicians lost in 2011.

Tina Fey's prayer for her daughter. Perfection!

We are dogsitting this week. Oh how I miss having a dog in my life! Speaking of which, how cute is this?

Just cause I needed a laugh!

I've perfected this winter body diet! "If it doesn't have a crust, don't eat it." lol!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

for unto us a child is born

I'd like to thank my good friend Lori for posting this on her Facebook page this morning.

It's Christmas Eve day .... I woke up way too early with the weight of Christmas pressures upon me. So much to do today to make things perfect for my kids (and yes, for me!). These two days will be the stuff memories are made of, come hell or high water. They'd better - I've been shopping and baking for weeks. But as I awoke the only things on my mind were the flaws in this all but perfect scenario.

I forgot to buy candles for the advent wreath and it's impossible to find red candles this time of year. I have about eight loads of wash to do ... why didn't I address this earlier in the week? I won't be with my mom or my boyfriend this Christmas, and the thought of this made me so angry I set the coffee carafe down a bit too hard and it shattered. Just great. I'll be coffee-deprived this weekend (Christmas, of all times to be coffee deprived!). I am dog-sitting my boyfriend's pug and she's drinking the Christmas tree water. The monogrammed towels I ordered as gifts came delivered unmonogrammed. My son lost his phone and we haven't heard from him in days. Will he be here for Christmas? Is he even alive? God, don't let it be the worst Christmas ever.

But through Lori - and Facebook - I've been offered this brilliant message in the form of a piece from the great Handel's Messiah proclaiming, "Unto us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Wonderful, biblical words, but so lofty I have to bring them down to my own level to even begin to comprehend them.

I think of my own son. How perfect he was as a newborn, how he has grown into a man before my eyes, and how totally proud I am of the person he's become. I have to magnify this by about a million with Jesus ... such greatness I simply cannot fathom it. Yet this beautiful piece that my mother always played at Christmastime helps me get there, at least in part. This is SO not about me giving everyone an ideal Christmasy experience for the 2011 memory book. It's about the greatest gift we have all been given, being quiet and trying to wrap our heads around its massiveness, and celebrating it with whomever we are lucky enough to be with on this day. How perfect is that?

Monday, December 19, 2011

let your heart be light

M. & Zooey

Let your heart be light
From now on
our troubles will be out of sight

A week before Christmas and the stores are jammed with beady-eyed shoppers seeking last-minute perfection - I was out there and it wasn't pretty. Back at home, I ran out of christmas lights and only 2/3 of the tree is lit. Also my house is a mess and I haven't the time nor the inspiration for the dish I'm supposed to bring to the holiday potluck tomorrow. In other news, I'm standing before a judge this morning to finalize child/spousal support issues with my ex - not expecting a good outcome. In its present condition, my heart is quite the opposite of light, with my damn troubles ruling the day. Maybe this stuff will help:

Christmas made merrier...

Yankee Swap!

First American ever to dance at Russia's Bolshoi ballet. Take that, bullies!

Sure, we want the truth. But what we really want is to fit in with our friends. So say the experts at Freakanomics.

All of the answers to the story of Christmas, as told by little ones.

Kissing by the Christmas tree. Love. This. Blog.

What makes life worth living?

Seems to me Jesus would have approved of both of these modern Christmas carols. Thank you, Tim Minchin and Rufus Wainright!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

they don't teach you

“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.” 
 Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

Photo by Melissa Mathieson

Monday, December 12, 2011

I want a new banjo for Christmas

“When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” 
 Lily Tomlin

One early-80s Christmas I convinced my parents buy me the instrument my guitar teacher helped me select: A brand-new Iida 5-string banjo. Not top of the line, but nice, and all I needed to establish my own identity among the 2,000 students I shared a campus with.

I quickly became a legend in my own my mind. Countless hours were spent in the privacy of my room perfecting riffs to Orange Blossom Special and Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Geek! I didn't care. Transitioning from guitar to banjo was easy, and I was able to start sounding like a b-version of Earl Scruggs in no time. I performed at my high school talent shows (OK, one high school talent show) with my backup band, the Hicktones, consisting of my brother, best friend, and boyfriend. So lame. Good times though.

That was then. All through college and into the early years of my marriage, I didn't pick up the banjo at all; not once. And the more I didn't play it, the more I knew I'd hate myself for not practicing and becoming horrible at it. I ended up selling the thing at a garage sale (we needed to make the mortgage payment that month) - figured I'd purchase a superior version in the near future and start playing again. Which never happened.

But I've had banjo on the brain lately. Those after-school jam sessions between me, myself, and I were some of the most fulfilling hours of my life, and I want them back. I might never have the confidence to actually perform it in public, and I can think of every reason in the world not to take this on: I'm almost 48. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I'm a full-time working mom with no time for such things. My daughter will think I'm lame. I'll miss out on my favorite TV shows. I won't be any good.  I'm scared to death.

I've been following an online reality series called "Failure Club" in which people set out to do the thing they've always wanted to do, but until this experience, have been held back by their own fear and self-doubt. Sound familiar? (In this clip, a 48-year-old woman decides she wants to do show jumping even though she doesn't have any experience with horses). Inspiring.

So here it is. Certainly not the smartest use of the meager funds in my savings account. (Suzie Ormand would DENY my request for sure!)  I'm likely to fall flat on my face, in which case I'll turn the whole experience into a really funny blog entry. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Second Advent

“Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you've got a Christmas tree in the living room. All those presents under it, all that anticipation. Just a way of saying there's always light and hope in the world.”
― J.D. Robb

In love with this Christmas CD. This selection's especially great.

"He used a semicolon correctly; that was reason enough to get a drink with him." Is this couple cute or what? (Make sure to watch their adorable video.) 

Octopus ventures onto land to check out the humans - discovers they're even more lame than he'd suspected.

The difference between my son and daughter.

Male mentality during the holidays.

The Cure redux: Love it when my favorite artists cover my favorite artists.

This Christmas commercial turned me into a blubbering idiot.

May your week be filled with joy and anticipation of good things to come!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


It's World AIDS Day. Maitri in San Francisco took wonderful care of my brother in his final days - proof positive that angels on earth do exist.