Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Forward

Always suffering from a little post-holiday depression, I'm usually pretty ambivalent this time of year. I know that I won't keep my resolutions, so I don't make any. It seems to take forever to put all the decorations away, and I'm tired of cooking, sweets and alcohol, so I just want to have a pizza and a Coke every night.

But this year is different. I feel optimistic and ready for the new year to get going. I actually have some resolutions, simple and attainable ones (I hope), but resolutions none the less. First and foremost, I want to learn stuff this year. I feel stagnant and bored. I want to read more, and maybe take a class at the community college--something challenging but fun. (I've already started the reading resolution with The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. It's a great ghost story that I'm having trouble putting down.) I also want to learn how to knit socks (guess what everyone will be getting for Christmas). And I'm going to knit my first sweater, which I promise not to inflict on anyone because I'm guessing it will be pretty hideous. But I'm signing up for a class so that I can struggle with others.

Speaking of others, I'm going to try not to be such a loner. I do a lot of things by myself, and sometimes that's OK, but I don't think it's always good for me. So, when someone calls and asks if I want to do something, I'm going to say yes instead of saying no and giving some lame excuse. I don't mean I'm going to chair any committees, just simple stuff like going to the movies or going to lunch.

I also want to make some small trips, weekend trips around the area, and a trip back home. My grandmother's 90th birthday is this year, and that's a party I do not want to miss. I'd also like to go on another weekend knitting retreat and learn a new technique, buy some unique yarn, and just sit around with others and knit and talk. I'd also like to go and explore at least one place that we would be interested in retiring to, if we could actually agree on where that might be.

I'm going to be more active this year. Not just the gym, which I will be hitting bright and early on Wednesday morning, but I want to get outside more. I want to do some hiking and take the dog out to the state parks and walk the trails, and I'd like to go camping.

One last resolution and probably the hardest one: I want to go out of my comfort zone. For me, that means working on that novel I started with NaNoWriMo and those short stories that are sitting in a dusty folder in my computer or as notes in my writing journal. I want to submit at least one thing for possible publication. I don't even care if it's accepted, just sending it out is a major accomplishment. OK, so I care a little, but actually sending something out is HUGE. I'm also going to do some housecleaning, like finishing up the stories about the trip to Scotland on my travel blog and adding the links to the Italy and South Dakota write-ups. And my friend R and I have talked about setting up a knitting blog, so that I won't bore you guys with the intricacies and joy of mastering the heel turn of a sock.

I'm not sure where that leaves this blog. I want to continue with the WWC, always a blast, but I'm not sure how much I'll be posting. This is a great little procrastination tool. But I've tried to take a break before and just got antsy to get back to it, so I think I'll just take it as it comes. Did I mention I'm also going to try not to stress out about stuff this year, too. But I say that every year.

So, what are you're big plans for 2008? Whatever they are, I hope they result in a happy and healthy new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

WWC and After Christmas Blow-Out

I'm a little late with the WWC this week. Sorry about that. If you don't know what the WWC is, that go to the amazing Tink's blog Pickled Beef and join in the fun!

With apologies to the vegetarians out there, this is the traditional rib roast with its pink center that I make every year.

Cosette enjoyed this tradition. She smelled the roast cooking for 2 hours, and she was about to hyperventilate from sniffing the air around the oven.

And I'm joining in with others who shared their Christmas tree tradition.

We had a lovely Christmas. It was just the three of us most of the day, then we went over to some friends' house for Christmas dinner. We got up late, took a long, quiet walk with the dog, came back for breakfast (I made scones and eggs and peppered bacon) and we enjoyed a cup of coffee as we read the paper. Then we mixed a pitcher of mimosas (champagne and orange juice) and opened gifts. This is the first year I can honestly say that I did not go overboard. I said I wouldn't and I didn't. It helped that others said the same thing and were sticking to it, so I had to, too. But it was nice and calm and I knew that everyone was going to get what they wanted, and I got awesome things, too. And Cosette got a stuffed leopard that she loves to death, literally. I'll be sewing up the hole in its leg this afternoon.

We capped off Christmas by going to the Mannheim Steamroller concert. It was amazing and a little surreal. I really like Mannheim Steamroller, but I always kind of thought of them as computer-generated, new-agey, techno geek music. So seeing them live, playing their instruments and loving what they were doing was a little weird. But weird in a good way. Chip Davis, the founder, is from Omaha, so they always end their tour here. During the show, they were presented platinum albums for the latest CD. It went platinum in 9 days.

So, New Years, then the gray days of winter. I don't mind it so much, but my hubby hates it. I know this because he tells me at least twice a day. Although it was gray this morning during our walk, the trees were twinkling with ice and it really was beautiful.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Catching Up

I have some time to breathe again, now that I’ve finished wrapping and shipping and baking and decorating and all that stuff that makes Christmas fun. Oh come on, it is fun! I may complain when I start to feel too stressed, but I love being this busy. I said in our Christmas newsletter that I’m starting to revel in my domesticity. That’s a little scary, but I’m gonna go with it.

However, despite having my own little world that revolves me, the world in general continued to spin the last few weeks. The news is full of the candidates in Iowa and their speeches. Huckabee is the lead GOP? When the hell did that happen? I know, I know, where have I been? I knew this was happening, but I just don’t think he can carry the rest of the country. But what do I know? I didn’t think Hillary would run, either.

The writer’s strike is affecting the award shows, and I say thank you to the writers because I’m really tired of self-congratulating actors constantly on TV. It seems every time you turn around, there’s an award show. And who cares if the writers aren’t there for the show? Was the witty banter really all that great to begin with? It always amazes me how actors who are so amazing in a movie, come across as interesting as a piece of wood when you put them on an award show. Even they seem bored. Besides, I’m supporting the writers. I might not have cared so much if some rich old-guy producer hadn’t said about the strike, “I’m not the one who’s going to lose my house.” Not cool, dude.

In Omaha, Linkin Park and Matchbox 20 are both coming here (not on the same bill, two different concerts). I wanna go, I really wanna go, but I don’t think I can find anyone to go with me. Well, maybe to Matchbox 20 because it doesn’t surprise anyone that I’m a fan of there’s, but they are surprised that I love Linkin Park. Yeah, I’m all nice, southern belle, homemaker, non-threatening type, but there’s a rocker in there. Instead, I’m going to see Mannheim Steamroller. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see them, too, because since he’s from here, Chip Davis ends the touring season with his last concert here in Omaha. It just seems like something you should experience if you live here. But I still want to see Linkin Park.

I can’t wait to see Sweeney Todd. I can’t think of a better director for that movie than Tim Burton, and I think Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter will be great in it. I didn’t know what to think at first because it looked so dark, but then I thought, duh, it’s about a serial killer. And all this concern about can Depp and Bonham Carter pull off the singing. Ooooohhh, the songs are so difficult to sing; Ooooohh they’re Sondheim songs. But Sondheim had the final say on the cast and he worked with them. Who am I to argue with Stephen Sondheim?

Cosette continues to be a joy, except for her penchant for stealing my underwear. She doesn’t mess with Al’s, she seems to prefer Victoria’s Secret to Hanes. She also likes to play chase once I’ve caught her. The last time, I was running after her saying, “No, no, no, no don’t go outside!” as she went through the doggie door. She stuck her head back in to see if I was going to follow her out into the snow, and when she realized I wasn’t, she came back in—without my panties! *Sigh*

But her favorite thing to do is bark at the kids walking home from school. I open the door so she can look out the glass door, which Al calls her plasma TV. She jumps up and does her little bark/bay, then she marches to the doggie door in the back door, huffing, growling and mumbling, “I tell those kids every day to get out of my yard and they just keep coming.” Then she barks at them through the fence.

She also received her first Christmas present and she loves it. Well, obviously--

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


That's the way this month has gone. Whoosh! Ice storms not letting me get out to the stores had something to do with it, but it just went by so quickly. So quickly that I'm already thinking about what I should do differently next year.

This was my dining room table last week.

I affectionately call it "Christmas Chaos."

But this is what my dining room table looks like now. I affectionately call it "Aaaaahhh."

However, there has been one major glitch this Christmas. I didn't knit enough blocks for my mother-in-law's afghan. I was so proud of myself because I started this project at the beginning of the year and finished by summer, I thought. I smugly put them in a bag to block and sew together later and moved on to finish the balaclavas I was doing for the guys.

Why didn't I lay those blocks out sooner? Why didn't I realize that I should make sure I had enough before I put them away? Why didn't I look closely enough at the pattern and realize it was a baby blanket. Why? Why? WHY?!?

So, her gift will be late. Good news is that I had an excuse to go to the yarn shop. I've had to avoid going there because I'm supposed to be buying stuff for others, you know. So, there really is a silver lining if you just look for it.

Otherwise, except for buying some champagne for the Christmas morning mimosas, I'm done with all the Christmas stuff. Done, done, done. Now I can sit by the fire and the Christmas tree and sip on my coffee spiked with white chocolate liqueur. Now that's "Aaaaaaahhhh."

Monday, December 17, 2007

WWC--Life and White

It's that time again when I try to think of something other than the obvious for the Weekly Word Challenge. I may not succeed, but I sure have a good time trying.

Weekly Word Challenge is brought to you by the totally talented Tink of Pickled Beef. This week the words were Life and White.

OK, white is pretty easy around here. I, of course, had to take a couple of pictures of the white snow. Look what it did to this tree! Cool, huh?

(and no that's not my house in the background)

This is an early snow, just dusting the greenery on our fence.

And with it being the Christmas season, it's the season for fudge. Here are the white marshmallows for the fudge, even though they don't look all that white in this photo.

And these are my Knitting Girl socks that my friend R sent me. I'm afraid to wear them because I want them to stay white.

And one more, we have white lights on our Christmas tree.

I only have one picture for life, and it's really special to me. When my dad past away 10 years ago, I was in graduate school. My friends gave me this philodendron, which was tiny. But it has grown into this large, rich metaphor for life.

Did you play? Come join us! Yes, join us. Join us. Join us.

In other news, Al got an assignment extension, so we know that we are here until summer 2009. It's a relief and we've both relaxed a little. It's nice to know we don't have to put the house on the market, and he's happy to be staying in a job that he likes.

So, since I know I will be here next summer, I can attend the Kansas City Scottish Games on June 14 and 15. Care to join me? I'm pretty sure Jay will come up, and it's always a party where Jay is. It's a lot of fun, and Kansas City is a great place. We can meet up for a long weekend, watch men in kilts, eat some haggis, drink some scotch, then hang out in the city and eat some B-B-Q and drink some beer at the Irish pup to get the taste of that haggis out of our mouths. Fun, huh? Let's do it! Put it on your calendar now!

I love this plan. I'm excited about this plan. We have to think of something fun to get us through the dreary, gray days of winter.

Oh my gosh, I haven't mentioned Cosette once in this post! What's wrong with me? I'm falling down on my bragging duties. So, here's a picture.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Brought to you by the wonderful Tink of Pickled Beef, I bring you another thrilling edition of the Weekly Word Challenge. This game really is addictive.

The words this week were Want and Green.

This Scottish Santa does double duty. He sits on our green Christmas tree, while representing how much I want to go back to Scotland.

This is Cosette's favorite new toy--the green thing. It seems pretty sturdy, so I'm hoping I won't be sewing it up every day like I am that duck.

I write a letter to Santa to tell him what I want.

In other news, we've been hit by the winter storm gripping the middle section of the country. Did I sound like a weather forecaster on CNN? I don't think we're getting such a bad hit, but it was bad enough that Al got a snow day. It is so nice that he isn't "essential personnel" any more. Not that he isn't essential, he just doesn't have to be available to run and jump on a plane any more. He's out using the manly snow blower right now. Maybe when he's done he'll actually sit down and enjoy his day off and watch the Muppet Christmas Carol with Cosette and me. All of us sitting on the couch, cups of hot cocoa, popcorn, cuddling under our wool blanket we bought in Scotland. *sigh* Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

In more news, the Mandy Patinkin concert was A-MAZE-ING! He's even better than he was years ago when I saw him in San Antonio. His voice is even richer and more powerful if that's possible. He seems so at home when he's singing and he was having as much fun performing as we were watching him. His voice is different from anyone else's. He can sing in a higher register but can sing such low notes that room resonates, and most of his songs are in those registers with not much in the middle. I don't know how to explain, but if you go here, you can hear him sing one of my favorite songs. He didn't do this song at our concert Saturday night, but this recording is from the current tour. I was going to post the video, but I know on my computer it takes forever for those things to download so that you can watch it and I didn't want to put you guys through that. But go hear him because he's wonderful and that song is so lovely.

For a comparison, you can go here and hear him sing "Cat's in the Cradle." It's not in that high register that "Mr. Arthur's Place" is.

And to cheer up an icky weather day, here are so more pictures of Cosette.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Little Catching Up

Things have settled down a little here. The mall is still closed, and many churches, including ours, are holding prayer vigils. It's been very odd to live in a town where this kind of thing has happened, but I think things will slowly return to some semblance of normal because that's all we can do.


The house is decorated and the ingredients for fudge and cookies have been bought and are ready to be baked. Most presents have been bought and most knitting projects have been completed and are ready to ship to their new homes. We'll be staying here for Christmas and enjoying a quiet and peaceful Christmas. But of course, if anyone wants to come over, the door is always open! Just be prepared to to be licked to death by a fuzzy white dog.


I've added a few more blogs to my list of daily reads.

  • R.E.H. at Ramblings of a Madman has been blogging for a mere couple of months and man is he good! His writing is honest, raw, and funny.
  • Macoosh at A Chuisle Mo Chroi . . . always has something interesting to say. She's really busy with a new job right now, but keep checking in with her. She lived in Ireland for a while, which is reason enough for me to be in awe. I'd love to go to Ireland, especially now as I listen to Celtic Women singing "Oh Holy Night." But I digress.
  • Karen at Smiling Through It All is another wonderful writer who has already done and experienced so much in her young life, that she makes me wonder where all the time has gone. There's always something interesting going on over there.
So, go check them out!


Now I'm listening to Diana Krall singing "Jingle Bells." I love my iPod. I could turn the TV to "Sounds of the Season" which isn't too bad, really. Lots of standards and great singers. We turn that on every time we leave so that Cosette will have something to listen to. Al would prefer the classic rock station.

I've been taking it easy this week, sort of. Not only because we had 5 inches of snow and the roads were horrible, but also because I seem to have done something to my back. I know I fell on the ice Saturday, but could there be a delay before I felt it because it wasn't until Monday that my lower back started hurting. Anyway, it's slowly getting better, but I think it acted as a trigger for the MS because I'm having some trouble with my the left side of my body being a little weak. Nothing so bad that I can't keep going, but enough that I have to take breaks a lot throughout the day. I hate that. Put greenery and cranberry garland on the fireplace mantle, then sit down. Put a load of laundry in the washer and take the dry stuff upstairs. Then sit down while I fold. And why just sit when I can play tug-the-duck with the dog. Luckily, pretty much any activity with a young dog is followed by a nap. I told Al that if I'm still feeling this bad by Monday, I'll make an appointment with a doctor.


Now I'm listening to Loreena McKennitt singing "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen."

Saturday night I'm going to see Mandy Patinkin sing at the Performing Arts Center. I'm very excited and am hoping the next snow storm holds off long enough for me to get the there and get home. I took pity on Al and told him he didn't have to go with me. He was a good sport and went with me when Mr. Patinkin came to San Antonio. That was where we discovered that he is the most amazing singer and actor, but he's also really odd. Not bad, but there was some audience participation that was a little different. Anyone who wanted to could come up on stage and at a certain part in a song, they could all run up and touch him wherever they wanted. OooooKaaaaayyyy. I just wanna hear ya sing, dude. Actually, that's not true. If Al hadn't been there, I might have participated. I've loved Many Patinkin since I listened to the Evita cast recording in 1978.

Anyway, Al said that if the roads are bad, he'd take me and come pick me up. Is he the greatest or what?


Gotta go. "Snowfall" by Manhattan Transfer is playing and I just have to stop and listen to it. I just can't help imaging snow softly falling outside, the Christmas tree lit, and Al and me slow dancing to this song in front of a roaring fire. *Sigh* Who says I'm not a romantic?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Horrible Scene

Luckily, I wasn't at Westroads Mall when the shooting happened. A single gunman, a 19-year-old, entered Von Maur department store and started shooting. Last I heard, 9 are dead, including the shooter by a self-inflicted wound. Several people are at area hospitals, two are in critical condition. The mall has been in a lockdown and probably won't open until tomorrow.

When I heard there was a shooting, my first thought was that someone had shot at President Bush, who was here to give a humanitarian award and attend a money-raising event. But, he had nothing to do with this shooting.

Please keep the families who are struggling with the loss of loved ones and the relief for the ones who are OK in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WWC Orange and Landscape

Hello all you crazy WWCers! I'm back. I just couldn't stay away!

So, brought to you by the talented Tink, here we go:

This was our icy landscape Saturday morning.

Most of Cosette's chew toys have orange on them. And she has chewed right through them already.

And, as promised, a couple of more pictures of Cosette.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like


Ice and snow hit us this weekend. I think we had about a quarter inch of ice Saturday morning. But that didn't stop Al from going to the BMW Motorcycle Open House. Luckily, it started to melt as the morning went on. However, it did not start melting on the driveway. How does Kell know this, you might ask.

Well, I had grand plans of going to the Open House with him. I was going to be supportive, but I put my knitting and book in a bag, just in case my support started to wear thin and I needed something else to do. My hubby had already put the truck in 4-wheel drive, so while he pulled out of the garage, I decided to run back in and grab a hat because the sleet had now turned to rain. I was in a hurry and Al was waiting. I took one hurried step onto the drive way and Whoosh, Spalt! Al said, "One minute I saw you in front of the truck, and the next minute you were gone."

I have a small bruise on my knee and a huge bruise on my ego. Luckily, I fell mostly on my hip and rear, where I have ample padding.

In other news, thank all of you for your encouragement during NaNoWriMo. I didn't tell anyone except you guys that I was doing that. There's an anonymity with the blogshere that makes it easy to tell you guys something that I'm not telling the people who are around me every day. Honestly, I'm surprised I even told you guys. I'm pretty introverted when it comes to writing. It's one of those things that I know I could use moral support and objective opinions about, but I'm just shy about sharing it. What if the overall opinion is that it's really awful and all the joy I get out of writing becomes crushed under self-doubt and the loss of self-confidence due to feelings of failure?

Did I mention I'm a little melodramatic?

Anyway, I'm gonna go back to work on what I started once I pay bills, balance the checkbook, decorate for Christmas, bake some Christmas cookies, do some shopping, and mail gifts. If I can find a passage that I'm not too embarrassed for you to read, I'll post it.

WWC tomorrow! I'll be joining in the fun, and there just might be another picture or two of Cosette.