Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping Up 2009

I did this questionnaire the last three years, and it's nice to start making this a tradition, to help me look back on the previous year.

1. Was 2009 a good year for you?

As years go, 2009 was a pretty good year. No major tragedies (or minor ones either), and lots of high points

2. What was your favorite moment(s) of the year?

Definitely my trip to France and Italy with Jeri. Getting to spend two weeks with her, and going with the other women in the Pinata group was very special.

Also, being in New York for the opening of Jim Brochu's play Zero Hour and getting to attend the opening night party at Sardis was really a thrill.

I also was so full of emotion watching Obama's inauguration. No matter what kind of a president he turns out to be, the inauguration and all the feelings that went along with it will always be high point in my memory.

3. What was your least favorite moment(s) of the year?

A tossup between realizing I'd have to climb down 250-300 stairs in order to catch a boat in Italy, or having to race a mile in blazing heat after a day of dragging myself around Florence.

4. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Visit Italy (I'd visited Paris briefly--one day--several years ago).

5. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't make New Years resolutions, so I never have to confess how quickly I broke them!

6. Where were you when 2009 began?

For the past 4-5 years we have gone to a small party attended by members of the former Davis Comic Opera Company. It's low key. We have home made soup, home made bread, fabulous desserts, play "the name game" and are home in bed by 12:30 a.m. because we're all getting so old.

7. Who were you with?

About a dozen (or less) people from the Davis Comic Opera Company.

8. Where will you be when 2009 ends?

Back at the same party.

9. Who will you be with when 2009 ends?

With all the same DCOC people, probably our best friends in Davis.

10. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin Kathy's daughter gave birth to Brandon and my cousin Peach's grandson became a daddy as well.

11. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2009?

One of the My Fair Lady puppies didn't make it and that was very sad, but there were no deaths of any humans close to me in 2009.

12. Who did you miss?

The same people I always miss: I miss our kids, David and Paul. I miss friends at a distance, like Peggy, Diane, Melody, Olivia and Lynn. And I miss the camaraderie of female friends who live close but who are busy about their own lives and whom I rarely see: Barb, Marsha, Rosemarie.

13. Who was the best new person you met in 2009?

A woman named Sherri, who was on our France/Italy trip. I now read her journal regularly. Actually all of the people who went on that trip were delightful and fun to get to know.

14. What was your favorite month of 2009?

I guess June, the month we left on our trip.

15. Did you travel outside of the US in 2009?

Yes indeedy. To France, Monaco and Italy with Jeri and a bunch of other folks.

16. How many different states did you travel to in 2009?

Just New York, where we went in November for the opening of Zero Hour.

17. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Personally, I can't think of anything. Globally, more peace and less war.

18. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 5, the day of my mother's 90th birthday party. She was as excited as a little kid and there was such a great turnout. I was so very happy that we had the chance, for the first time, to blend her "other" family (the kids of her second husband) with our family. Ned was a great MC and the kids put together a wonderful song that even included parts for The Cousins.

19. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I survived Florence. I actually survived the whole trip. It was more grueling for me than I thought it was going to be, but I didn't give up (most of the time).

20. What was your biggest failure?

I am, if nothing else, consistent in my failures -- house still not clean (though better now that Walt has taken over doing so much of it), and weight still not under control.

21. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing beyond the "preexisting conditions." And I got my cataract fixed!

22. What was the best thing you bought?

Registration to a conference of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). This was my third year to attend and while most of the stuff is much more complicated than anything I'll ever do, I always come away so inspired by the possibilities of PhotoShop.

23. Whose behavior merited celebration?

All the wonderful people who run the Yolo County SPCA. I look at the masses of dogs and cats that we have at Petco each week and I know that we are just one little foster family out of dozens. All the women who are in charge should be canonized.

24. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

People who run puppy mills and anybody who tortures an animal for fun or profit.

25. Where did most of your money go?

Like every year, to!

26. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Being at Jimmy's opening, the party at Sardi's and rubbing elbows with the likes of Theodore Bikel, Marge Champion, and the cast of the show we had seen the night before.

27. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2009?

Not really. The only time I really drink at all is at Cousins Day or if we go wine tasting (but even then I don't drink very much).

28. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2009?

Only legally prescribed ones: for diabetes, for high blood pressure, and for cholesterol. Also some vitamins.

29. Did you treat somebody badly in 2009?

If I did, it wasn't deliberate and I wasn't aware of it. And I'm sorry if I did!

30. Did somebody treat you badly in 2009?

I don't believe so.

32. What do you wish you'd done more of in 2009?

More socialization with female friends.

33. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Procrastination. It's my downfall every time. Give me a deadline and I wait until the very last possible moment to start. I always manage to get things done on time, but usually not without a lot of angst.

35. What was your favorite TV program(s)?

The Daily Show, Jeopardy, NCIS, Amazing Race, Monk, House, Glee, The Good Wife

36. What song will always remind you of 2009?

"I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables sung by Susan Boyle.

37. How many stage shows did you see in 2009?

The original question is "concerts" but since we see more stage shows, I decided to change it. Like last year, we saw about 60 stage shows in 2009

38. Did you have a favorite stage show in 2009?

Zero Hour, of course!

39. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The same as an awful lot of people's: Susan Boyle!

40. What was the best book you read?

"Dragonfly in Amber." I had read Diana Gabaldon's first book, "Outlander," several years ago, but had never gotten into the subsequent books. But I really ate up "Dragonfly in Amber" and then "Voyager" and am now working on the fourth book in the six-book series, "The Drums of Autumn."

41. What was your favorite film of this year?

I only saw five movies in the theatre this year: Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Up, Julie and Julia, and The Princess and the Frog. They are all so different it's difficult to chose a "favorite" from among them, but probably Julie and Julia just because Meryl Streep was so amazing as Julia Child.

42. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 66 this year and it was a quiet day. I had flowers from all 3 kids (2 real, 1 virtual), I had lunch with a friend (who didn't know it was my birthday), I went to a meeting, had a Skype chat with Tom, Laurel and Bri and then out to dinner with Walt after the Skype conference.

43. What did you want and get?

An iTouch from my mother

44. What did you want and not get?

World peace and a clean house.

45. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

For Obama to have put some of his promises into reality by now. I am forever hopeful that he is going to turn out to be a great president, but I wish that things were moving a bit faster in several areas.

46. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Sweats, t-shirts, and big puffy slippers (Birkenstocks or loafers if I'm going out)

47. What kept you sane?

The internet, I guess, though there are probably those who would think that the internet makes me a little insane!

48. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Susan Boyle. Her initial appearance on Britain's Got Talent which went viral on the internet still moves me to tears. The recent Susan Boyle Story that I saw on TV just filled my heart with such joy for this woman who, at age 47, is finally achieving her dreams. I have a feeling her fame is going to be short-lived, but she seems to be the kind of person who will handle whichever way her future swings...and will have amazing memories.

49. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

I survived Florence; I can survive anything!

50. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Everything is beautiful, in its own way."

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen snack foods I always crave

1. Peanuts
2. Potato Chips
3. Snickers bar
4. Anything milk chocolate
5. Ice cream
6. especially Haagen Dazs almond crunch bars
7. Croissants
8. Donuts
9. Shortbread
10. Peanutbutter (by the spoonful)
11. Cheetos (the crunchy kind)
12. Cheesecake
13. Anything with a flaky crust

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Ten Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my angel gave to me a lovely party at the home of my boss, the collector of Peanuts Memorabilia.

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Snoopy's house

On the second day of Christmas, my angel gave to me a low key gathering with my cousin, her husband, and other relatives. We missed Kathy, but we enjoyed tasty foods, and the most important gift--the gift of family.

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Kathy's daughter Karen and her son Brandon

On the third day of Christmas my angel gave to me a lovely afternoon with my mother, a delicious roast beef dinner, the funny antics of a puppy, and the start of a great visit with Jeri.

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On the fourth day of Christmas my angel gave me to me 8 hours in the car with Walt, Jeri and Dexter, lunch at the Burger Queen and part 1 of an old Michael Connelly audio book.

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On the fifth day of Christmas my angel gave to me an evening with the Sykes family, with Tom, Laurel and Brianna, a honey-baked ham, lots of laughs, a few gifts, and a chance to hear Jeri play the violin.

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On the sixth day of Christmas my angel gave to me a low key, laid back Christmas with Grandma Sykes, dinner at the assisted living facility, and lots of laughs around gifts in Grandma's apartment.

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On the seventh day of Christmas my angel gave to me a chance to spend another evening with Bri and her parents.

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On the eighth day of Christmas, my angel gave to me a bonus hour with Brianna, watching her play with her new toys before we headed north.

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On the ninth day of Christmas, my angel gave to me a beautiful day of solitude. I didn't get dressed, didn't do anything but sit and catch up on things that had been recorded on the DVR while we were gone.

On the tenth day of Christmas my angel sent to me a package from Australia, with fun things like the tissues pictured below (she finally admits it's all about me for a change!) and the calendar she's made to raise money for the Kangaroo Rescue for which she works. It was Christmas all over again.

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On the eleventh day of Christmas, Christmas was finally over and I will be headed back to work, reviewing Xanadu.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Meme

Explanation: I am catching up on missed sleep from the time in Santa Barbara and have pretty much done nothing but sleep and post photos from the week on Flickr (see link at left). So here's a Christmas meme, because I haven't done a meme in a long time, it seems.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I've never gotten the hang of gift bags. Everybody else's always seem so retty and mine seem to...blah. But I do enjoy wrapping gifts. Lately, just paper with nothing else, but if I had to I can wrap a pretty good looking package

2. Real tree or artificial?
We've always had a real tree--at one time we chopped down our own. But at this stage in my life an artificial tree sounds pretty darn good.

3. When do you put up the tree?
For the past two years, we haven't. The joy went out of it when Paul and David died and all the other kids were living away from home anyway.

4. When do you take the tree down?
In the days when we did put up a tree, we always took it down on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Love it! Don't usually buy it because it's so rich, but offered a cup, I will happily partake. I remember the first time I ever had it. My father made it from scratch. I have yet to find any egg nog as delicious as that one.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
It should come as no surprise that it was my first camera, a Brownie Box camera, which my parents gave me when I was 10 years old.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Walt. It's a real challenge to buy him something he'll actually use. Even things I think he'd like--and which he may actually like--frequently ends up under his bed for years, unused. Though he has used the GSP that I got him last year.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Peggy, for two reasons. First, I think I know what she likes and second, she lives 9,000 miles away so if she hides it under her bed or throws it out in the garbage the next morning, I live in blissful ignorance.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. My father made the stable when I was little and I still use it. It has an angel that attaches to the top of it. She's holding a sign that says "Gloria in excelsis." When Jeri was little, she decided that the angel's name was Gloria.

10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
I used to mail out >200 cards a year; now I design a web page Christmas letter and e-mail people a link to it.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Miracle ond 34th Street, the original with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood. That movie still makes me believe in the "real" Santa Claus.

13. When do you start shopping?
December 26. Seriously. I shop all year for Christmas gifts.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Very rarely, though I did it this year (now everybody will wonder if they got the recycled gift!)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.

16. Lights on the tree?
Of course, but I hate putting them on (because my mother always insisted on putting them on herself and was very particular about how they should be placed). That's why I like the idea of a pre-lighted artificial tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"Silver Bells," the Bing Crosby version.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I'm not thrilled at traveling at Christmas. I loved it when all the family came here and we had those big Christmas dinners. But with Bri living in Santa Barbara, I can see that traveling at Christmas is going to become the new norm.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
The last few years we had a tree we had a big gold Santa Claus on top. Of stars or angels, though, I prefer angels.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Again, I liked the kids all waking up and opening gifts Christmas morning, but now we do it in the evening. This year, on Christmas eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The hype, the commercialism.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
My favorite ornament was an old one that had been my grandmother's. It was the face of a woman and it was my job to always put the "face ornament" on the tree. I was very sad when it broke, but preserved it in a memory box that I made for my parents one year.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year?
The same thing I want every year: world peace and a clean house.

25. Describe how you would celebrate the holidays if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.
Pay for everybody to fly here and stay in a good hotel, if they want. Get one of those Brannigan's turkeys that The Psychiatrist used to give me each Christmas, have someone come in and clean the house for me so I don't go through Mom's Christmas Crisis, cook and serve dinner to everybody, have someone else clean up afterwards, and spend my evening watching the kids do an Egg Nog Gala again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I know how Dexter felt. We got to my mother's house around 7 and he raced back and forth, back and forth, leaped in the air, chased his tail, jumped up on the couches, down onto the floor, into my lap, back onto the floor, up and down the hall, and then out to the kitchen to get some water.

Our day had started early, with Joe's big pot of oatmeal, then Alice Nan decided to call Nora, in Ireland, so we could all talk with her. There is no such thing as a brief chat with Nora. We all gathered around the telephone to get all the latest family news.

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But Jeri and I had an important date with Ms. Brianna on the other side of town, so while the others continued to listen to Nora, Jeri and I waved goodbye and slipped out of the house, neatly avoiding "Hour Baur"

Brianna was happy to see Dexter again.

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She cried when Mommy tried to get her to put on her new tutu and show us how she can dance, but she was very excited to show us how she can throw the pink football that she got from Santa.

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(She also has a number of football terms in her vocabulary, like "touchdown," "first down," and a few others)

We got back in the car and drove as far as San Luis Obispo, where Dexter had a rest stop and Jeri and I got lunch at the Apple Farm, one of my favorite restaurants on the road to Santa Barbara.

As we drove up the road, we listened to music that some of Jeri's students had submitted for a competition. It was fun listening together and discovering that for most of the songs we both had the same idea. Some were very good, a couple were very bad and most were kind of middle of the road. But the time passed quickly.

In Gilroy we stopped for gas and another rest stop for everybody, then back on the road for the last leg. We took the back way into San Francisco, since I'd heard a radio report that there was a bad back-up to the Golden Gate Bridge. We made it all the way to my mother's with no bad traffic at all.

By the time we stopped at my mother's, we were all ready to get out of the damn car for awhile! It was just so funny watching Dexter's glee at realizing that he wouldn't have to stay in one place and that he didn't have to wear a leash in this house, as he did in Alice Nan's house after he peed once.

We stayed for dinner and then Dexter and I got back on the road yet again. This time Dexter had to ride in the dog crate, but after protesting for a few minutes, he just did what he'd been doing all day--went back to sleep.

It was hard to tell who was happier when we got here to Davis, Dexter for finally being free, free, FREE! or Sheila and Lizzie for having us home again. Lizzie just lay on my chest and kept sighing. She and Dexter also played together for a long time--I think they were even happy to see him back home again!

Tonight I will sleep back in my recliner and I intend to SLEEP and make up for all the sleep I missed this week.

It was really a very nice Christmas, but it's oh so nice to be home!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Channeling Paris

I'm feeling like a fat Paris Hilton these days. I seem to constantly have a chihuahua either under my arm, on a leash, or in my lap.

Jeri has been doing great things with Dexter, training him to sit and stay. He's very good at sit, and sometimes good, sometimes not at "stay." But she has done in a couple of days what I have not done in three months, so my hat is off to her for what she has accomplished.

When there is no one to ride herd on him here in the house, he gets put outside, but it's really too cold for a partially hairless little dog to be out there too long, so soon I have him back on my lap again, which is fine when he's ready to settle down, but when he wants to be running around, it's not fun for either of us.

I suspect we will all be relieved when he is back in the car headed for Davis again! It sounded like a good idea at first to bring him, but it probably would have been better to have looked for a different foster home for the week.

In the afternoon. Walt, Jeri and I took Dexter over to visit with Grandma. It was her first opportunity to meet him and he seemed to get her seal of approval.

At about 4:30 we went downtown to "Harry's Plaza Cafe," a place far more elegant than its name would imply.

We were meeting Tom, Laurel and Bri there for dinner and Bri was in rare form, playing peek-a-boo with me behind Tom's beer glass...

...and posing for lots of pictures...

...and then checking to see how they turned out.

She says "Grandma" and "Grandpa" quite clearly now as well as things like "Auntie Nan, Uncle Phil, 'niners, touchdown, short stack" and "antidisestablishmentarianism" (sort of!).

As for the food, my lamb was to die for and I even broke down and had a Manhattan beforehand.

We have one more night to get through (I hope I sleep) and then tomorrow Jeri and I head home again, her to my mother's house and me back to my recliner, where I can finally let Dexter run free again.

It's really been a very nice trip down here, but next time we'll do it without dog!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Whoville

With our celebration with Bri already over, we had a very quiet, simple and lovely Christmas. It started with a family breakfast. Jeri helped finish cooking Joe's "green eggs and ham" while Walt fried last night's mashed potatoes.

We all gathered around the breakfast for a leisurely breakfast--even Dexter.

Everybody else went to Mass at the Santa Barbara Mission. I opted to stay at home and take a nap, which I sorely needed, since I'd been awake much of the night before, coughing. It was a good decision!

Around 4, after Jeri, Walt and Joe had gone on a walk, we went over to Maravilla to spend Christmas with Walt's mother. In retrospect, it was like spending Christmas in Whoville after the Grinch has made off with all the goodies, when all the townspeople discover that the true meaning of Christmas doesn't come with expensive gifts.

We had about an hour to visit with Alice before going to the dining room for dinner. Then Alice Nan got some lipstick on her, Jeri brushed her hair, we got her in the wheelchair and headed for dinner.

There were so many of us, they gave us the private room that we have always referred to as the "mafia room" because it's usually occupied by a group of women who look like Mafia wives. But tonight it was all ours.

It was a four-course extravaganza which started with "coconut crusted shrimp satay with mango salsa," followed by (for me) lobster bisque, Chateaubriand with pepper sauce...

...and ending with something called "Dark Chocolate Ecstasy Cake."

We went back to Alice's apartment and shared gifts. With the economy in the shape it is and how it has affected everyone, there were no flashy gifts. Instead everyone had used his or her imagination to give something inexpensive, but meaningful. Jeri had chosen wonderful cards for everyone, including one that played a Christmas song when you opened it, perfect for a grandmother who can't see.

Alice Nan had bought a taste of Santa Barbara, getting local food items--salad dressing, wine, cookies, and a jam that looked suspiciously not from Santa Barbara. For her mother there was a little plate with a simple design on it to use when she eats her afternoon cheese.

The fun was in the opening and discovering how the giver had chosen to handle a low cost gift. The fun was in the giving, the opening, and the laughter that accompanied it.

Old, familiar family stories were repeated and laughed about. I revealed a hitherto hidden talent nobody knew I had -- I'm pretty good at identifying what's inside the chocolate covering on a Sees candy, a skill Jeri is very indignant I have been hiding all these years (passing along such knowledge could have saved her from biting into not one but TWO coconut candies she thought were something else).

To prove my skill, I successfully identified a Sees candy with a chocolate filling for Norm. Everyone was very impressed.

I thought that surely there must be an iPhone app for identifying candies by the designs on the top of each type, but this appears not to be the case...if anybody ever develops one, let me know!

We spent an hour or so just sitting in the tiny room talking, laughing, and having a good time...and proving that holidays are about getting together with people you love and enjoying their company. That is enough "gift" for anyone.

Jeri and I left to come home and feed Dexter. Walt, his brother and sister waited until the attendant has gotten their mother ready for bed, then they sat with her, said some prayers together, talked about what a nice afternoon it had been, and told her good night.

This has been a very nice Christmas, both nights.

Friday, December 25, 2009

God Bless Us, Every One

As I write this, parents and children all over the world are busy tracking Santa's flight on NORAD. For us, however, Christmas is now a memory...but a nice one it is too.

Alice Nan and Joe went off to work in the morning. Walt and I set up Archie and Edith computers and vegetated for a few hours.

Walt and Jeri went off to Maravilla to visit grandma. Walt and I decided to give my cough one more day before inflicting it on his mother, but when they came home, we went to the store and then home to wait for Norm, Tom, Laurel and the star of the show, Bri, to arrive.

Bri's hair has grown a lot since I last saw her and my surprise was how curly it has become.

She was kind of afraid of Dexter, so we put him outside for awhile.

When we let him back in, he seemed to sense he shouldn't jump on her, so they made friends...and then it got to where she wanted to hug him all the time, so I put him in the crate to protect him. I think he was relieved because we didn't hear a peep out of him the whole night!

This may be my favorite picture of her of the night. Laurel wanted her to wear the headband that went with the dress, but Bri insisted on putting it on all by herself.

Dinner (honey baked ham) was delicious and there is a story about the side dishes which will eventually be a video after I get home!

Bri was Santa's elf and passed out packages, helping everybody open his or her gift.

Jeri had bought Bri an old family favorite story book, "Caps for Sale" and Bri immediately plopped herself in Jeri's lap so she could read the book for her.

Bri finally started feeling sleepy, so it was time for jammies and then on to home.

I took Dexter out for a walk, hoping he'd poop (he did--as soon as we got back home again. Sigh.), Walt and his siblings went to Maravilla to say goodnight to grandma, and Jeri & Joe decided to try to make beautiful music together. Jeri took a class learning to play the violin and when I finally get this video posted, after I get home, everyone will have to remember that she is a professional musician on the saxophone, clarinet, and flute!

Let's just say she's not going to be on any concert stage with the violin, but it was pretty amazing what she can do. The violin itself belonged to Joe's great grandfather and it tickles him that someone can (sorta kinda) play it.

As I sit here in the darkened room (Walt's brother Norm is sleeping on the floor just a few feet from where I am), not a creature is stirring, not even Dexter. I am about to go let visions of sugarplums dance in my head, even though for all intents and purposes, our Christmas has already taken place.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before the Night Before

As I write this it's the night before the night before Christmas and we are nestled in around Alice Nan & Joe's Christmas tree, eating Christmas cookies and trying to keep Dexter from stealing food.

It was a Dexter kinda day. First, Jeri and I took Dexter on a walk around the lagoon near my mother's house and he saw his first ducks.

When we got back to the house, there was a cat approaching. The cat took stock of this little pipsqueak on a leash and decided to torment him by settling in just out of reach.

It was time to pack up and head to Santa Barbara, so we said goodbye to my mother

...and we turned our sights toward Santa Barbara.

Dexter was so good on the ride down. He alternated between sleeping in my lap or sleeping in Jeri's.

And when we stopped for lunch at the Burger Queen, he very nicely peed for us.

Jeri has been working on getting him to sit and stay and he's actually learned very quickly. He sits on demand unless the ground is cold. He had been sitting so quickly and so willingly all day until we got to the Burger Queen. I finally decided it was because he didn't want to sit on cold concrete, so I got a towel out of the car and put it down and he sat right down. I guess if you have a hairless butt, sitting on cold concrete is not something you want to do!

So anyway we're here, Walt and Jeri have gone to visit Grandma Sykes, we've had a lovely spaghetti dinner and are sitting around chatting and will soon all go to sleep. Let's see how Dexter sleeps in this house.

So far he's been a delight to bring, even if I do live in fear of his soiling Alice & Joe's new light tan carpet!

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Thoughts about Christmas

1. I miss the sound of little kids waking up to sneak in to check out the Christmas tree.
2. I miss having any of our kids around at Christmas at all.
3. I loved the Egg Nog galas
4. Christmas isn't Christmas until Bing Crosby has sung "White Christmas"
5. Why don't more people send e-Christmas letters?
6. Having an excuse to buy gifts is terrific
7. I feel guilty that there is so little "Religion" in my Christmas thoughts
8. I do love looking at all the houses decorated in lights
9. Another excuse to make pumpkin pie
10. I loved those years when we squeezed 24 people into our tiny family room and shared Christmas with so many people from around the world.
11. There is nothing quite like Christmas carols played on a kazoo (fortunately)
12. I don't like putting up a tree for just Walt and me
13. I like decorating; I hate un-decorating

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Christmas Miracle

At 5:30 a.m., I felt so awful, I decided that I was going to stay home. I also felt I was up for the day, since I'd slept so long. But it just sounded so good to crawl back under the quilt for awhile, so I did and amazingly slept 3 more hours and woke up feeling 100% better. So I decided I was not as sick as I feared and I would join the family for Christmas after all. I decided it was a Christmas miracle.

With that decision having been made, Walt went off to Sacramento to get Jeri. She loaded up the car with all of our suitcases, the Christmas gifts, food, and Dexter paraphernalia and we were finally off, leaving Sheila and Lizzie behind.

Dexter rode the first half of the trip to my mother's in Jeri's lap, but then switched to my lap and finished the trip with his head buried in my arm.

We unloaded all the stuff here and in no time, Dexter was being spoiled rotten by my mother, because it's the thing she does best!

I had changed him into his Christmas outfit and he was very cute. I'm not sure it does the work of keeping him as warm as his sweater, but it was the only Christmas outfit left when I went shopping. He'll only wear it twice and then it will be donated to the SPCA dog clothes box.

I remembered to bring the fixing for brie en croute that I had forgotten to bring to the Cousins Christmas party and it was very tasty. Dexter was very interested and he and Jeri had a discussion about the difference between dog food and human food!

Jeri also decided to teach him how to sit and found him a very quick learner.

In no time at all he was literally eating out of her hand and sitting every time she looked at him!

We had a nice chicken dinner and then Jeri wanted to play 65, so we did. I won a game, my mother won a game and Jeri was the only person who won the boob.

When the game was over, there were fruit tarts that I had picked up at the bakery in the morning. I had felt so rotten last night I just couldn't bring myself to cook anything, but these were very tasty.

Christmas, Stage 1, was a big success! I am very thankful for my Christmas miracle!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Dear

In this Christmas of misadventure a new wrinkle has arisen and I'm not sure what is the right thing to do about it.

I don't know if I'm sick or not.

I've been coughing a lot and sneezing a lot (I usually cough and sneeze for allergies, but this seems excessive). The cough is a dry hacking, "nonproductive" cough that seems to sit between my throat and the upper part of my lungs. It's not a bad cough, but it's definitely a cough. I have a hint of chills--but it could just be that it's cold in here.

Walt's sister just got over an illness and doesn't need to be exposed, if I am sick.

Walt's mother was just released from the hospital and somebody as prone to pneumonia as she is certainly doesn't need to be exposed, if I'm sick.

And the very last thing I want to do is to give any sort of illness to Bri, Tom or Laurel. I would never forgive myself if I did that.

But I'm not sick enough to be really "sick." It could just be because Dexter kept me awake so much last night. It was one of those nights when I just wanted to sleep on the couch and instead of curling up inside my knees, as he always does, he insisted on draping his body over my hip, which meant that as he fell deeper asleep, he would gradually slide down until he fell on his head on the floor. I'd pick him up and put him behind my knees again and pretty soon he was climbing up to my hip once more. I couldn't convince him to sleep in any other position, so we finally moved to the recliner, which my body really didn't want to sleep in. I did eventually fall asleep, but perhaps the late night activity just wore me down.

Our annual order of oranges that we have been buying from a local choir for the past 20 years or so arrived two days ago and I've been od'ing on vitamin C as a result. And drinking lots of fluids. I also took a long nap today.

Jeri and I were going to go out shopping for boots, her Christmas present from us, but I decided not to go wandering around downtown this afternoon.

The only thing we actually did was to drive out to the cemetery and leave a little Christmas tree on the boys' grave.

This whatever-it-is is the sort of thing that will either be gone tomorrow or be a bit worse and if it's a bit worse, I know from experience that it will probably be two weeks or more before I'm completely over it.

The problem is that we need to leave tomorrow. The plan is to drive to my mother's for a Christmas dinner with her and from there to Santa Barbara the next morning. The plan is to be there until the 27th. At that time Walt will decide if he's going to stay down to be with his mother for a bit longer or come home with us.

If I don't go, Jeri will have to drive to Davis, so I can get the car back. Her plan was to have me drop her off at my mother's house so they could have a visit and then spend her last day with her friends in Oakland.

I guess I'm just going to have to count on the angels of Christmas to make this thing go away. I would hate to miss Christmas with the family, but I would hate worse being Typhoid Mary and leave Santa Barbara riddled with my germs.

In the meantime I'm going to try to get a lot of sleep tonight, keep downing the Vitamin C and fluids and just hope that whatever this is will have run its course by morning.

Jeri stayed here for dinner and then Walt took her to Ned's for the night. I made a ham casserole and Dexter was very interested. I call this photo "Delusions of Grandeur"!

Delusions.jpg (34113 bytes)

I'm convinced that he's convinced he can actually reach the food on the counter.

Hold the good thought. I don't want to sit home eating leftover ham casserole for Christmas while everybody else is playing with Brianna.

If I actually do go off with the family, I don't know where or when I will have internet access, so postings might be spotty for the next few days--or I might luck out and have internet access all the way.

Or I might just be sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.