Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree

So, this weekend marks the resurrection of our Christmas tree. A few years back, after practically choking the Electolux to death, Hubby reluctantly agreed to purchase a pre-lit perma-evergreen.

Tho' I'm wildly anxious to witness our home's transformation, I tend to view the process almost like one does a root canal. You'd guess after all these years, I'd relax. Yet I can't shake the misguided notion that our display should resemble a store-front show-stopper. Highly improbable, given my chromosome-lacking design skills.
(You see, this season marks but 4 years together as husband and wife .. and yes, the individual who formerly co-signed Hubby's income tax returns is an artist.)

It's become a joking matter now, but 6 years ago when I was a relative "newbie" at the resort -- and no-one knew quite what to do with me -- my boss assigned me the task of decorating not one, but 4 very public Christmas displays. I'll never forget the kind-hearted engineer who responded to my call for a ladder, and found me close to tears: "Oh Glenn, I'd rather be scrubbing toilets!" I wailed. He just smiled: "Well, that could be arranged." I had to laugh. (And tho' it didn't turn out as awful as I feared, it should be noted that I've never again been asked to decorate our Lobby tree!)

A few flashbacks ...
Although my folks never fell for the aluminum, color-wheel phenomena, we did succumb to "pink angel hair" ... that I loved, but left us scratching our arms for days!

Most poignant? My Real Distress after spotting the near-frozen, homely specimens not chosen, leaning forlornly against the 7/Eleven on Christmas Day. (50-some years later, I'm still prone to get a lump in my throat.)

For a period prior to our coming together, my bachelorette condo sported a beautiful, albeit small, Hallmark specimen. Uncrate n' plug-er in. No fuss, no muss ... pass the eggnog!

For reason that are still unclear, the olde-family ornaments from my mother's home disappeared shortly after her death -- together with the tree skirt she stitched with such love. And for that reason, a few years ago I studied eBay offerings and discovered the Perfect skirt, described as having been "loved by our family for generations." What a pedigree, eh?!

Oh, I know in my head everything will come together. We'll "ooh" and "aah" and reassure one another that this year's tree is the best ever. The ornaments won't match; there's no theme ... but I like to think it represents the best of our borrowed and blended family. In fact, I might wander over to eBay now, to try and discover another "previously loved" bauble needing a good home!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Year of the Dog

...or, How I Spent my Summer Vacation.

Today is "black dog's" 13th birthday. (I think. Could be his 14th.) What's the equivalent ... 91 human years? Although he still romps and grins, B's mush has turned snowy white; his legs appear arthritic.

Recently when B became seriously ill, Hubby and I came to peace with the idea of saying, "Goodbye, God-speed." Despite our love for our dogs (or, should I say because of it), we'll not allow him to suffer. But, like the mythical Phoenix, he bounced back from surgery, displaying what the vet called "an amazing will to live." So be it.

And, while I'm inclined to pamper both dogs, I've not actually thrown either a party. (Sing "Happy Birthday" and toss an extra piece of cheese their way? Well, ya!) Realizing this may well be B's last holiday, I've insisted we take him on an excursion to PetsMart.

Now as some of you know, this is the same animal that nearly cost me my leg earlier this year. Love knows no reason, OK?

Originally destined to become an "assist dog" (no, I've no idea what happened), B eventually happened into our childless, quiet environment. Certainly, his voice and stature are enough to give any wanna-be thug second thoughts ... yet, he's a southern gentleman with a sweet disposition -- 99% of the time. Realizing that he's Totally Intolerant of high-pitched noise or sudden movements, we always obey leash laws and confine him to a back bedroom if the grandchildren visit.

Friday night, late May. I'd retired early, only to get the thirsties a little while later. Not paying much attention, I padded to the kitchen ... spotted a gargantuan insect scurrying across the tile ... and instinctively S-c-hrieked! Launching backwards, I collided with B, who'd been following silently.

Pressure, incredible pressure. Looking down, I realize B's teeth are embedded in my calf. The next few minutes, a kaleidoscope of chaos: "OMG, I think this is bad; would you grab me some towels?" "No, wait. C just pooped on the rug." (where did that come from?) "Never mind, let's get you in the truck; I can see your muscle. Now!"

Going from a Black Russian a few hours earlier to morphine ... bad trip. A slow night in the E.R., it seemed that every med-type on duty paraded through to peek and offer an opinion. 4 days later, I was finally paroled from West Valley Hospital (only after my threatening to "go Postal") ... contingent on my agreeing to another 2 weeks home-health care. You see, throughout the whole ordeal I never experienced any real discomfort; and no, I refused their goofy Viocodin after just one day. (Baaaad stuff.) Gimme my caffeine, my nicotine, I'll be Just Fine, thank-you-very-much. Oh. And may I please just go back to work?

In the ensuing weeks, B rarely left my side. And, God-bless those folks, orderlies and MD's alike, who asked in all sincerity, "Is your dog doing OK?" (The only time I wept, it was fear of him being taken away.)

Sacrifices? So, I won't be wearing shorts in public -- that's actually a relief since I've been self-conscious about my varicose veins for years. Too, I won't lose sleep over my decision to divorce a couple so-called friends who kept making unsolicited comments about "Cujo" and questioning our decision not to put him down. In fact, one person opined that B bit me because he's "jealous of you taking away his father"! Hey, you're welcome to your opinion, but please, just go away.

So, this Thursday I'll be sure and include thanks for B's long life and the fact I still have two legs that might not be so pretty, but they get me where I'm going! Meanwhile, I've got a date with a big black dog at PetsMart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

11 Seconds in Dallas

Those of us of a certain age are never at a loss to remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the Terrible News out of Dallas.

Forever young ... never mind that sweet Caroline is now 50. Her image (and John's) are indelibly etched in our minds eye.

But what about the babies Lee Harvey Oswald left behind? Sometimes I wonder, whatever became of those two innocents?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Over the River n' Through The Woods

Giving Thanks

I'm tickled to join Kelli and friends today, to participate in her Giving Thanks Celebration week. Thanks for having us over, Kelli!

So, here's the scoop from our spot in the desert:

Hubby's due to confer with his daughter any day now re. who gets to host this year's Thanksgiving feast.
My bet's on Daughter ... hers is the most central locale, plus she's less inclined to stress than if they wind up schlepping their brood to our place.
6 years now, I've been privy to this tug-of-war ... and I'm still awed at her ease, both in the kitchen and hosting the multitudes.

Ah, I'll never forget the look on Hubby's face our first year together. I asked, "So, where would you like to go for Thanksgiving?"
Go out for Thanksgiving?!? He regards me as though I'd suddenly sprouted 3 heads.

I'm serious. Deep roots; my father's voice: "Lum and I both work hard all year. I'm not going to ask her to spend her holiday in the kitchen!" After all, it was just the 3 of us; our nearest relatives lived thousands of miles away.

So after carefully researching the travel sections, we'd pack our bags for a brief getaway. Choice of dining was also critical since none of us were fond of turkey (i.e., limited holiday menus). More echos: "I think I'm going to be thankful for a steak this year."

As an adult, I've been curious to learn of others' holiday traditions. For instance, a friend once shared stories of his annual "Orphan Thanksgiving" -- he and his wife would invite co-workers who had no nearby family nor means to travel. Then, with a chuckle he'd add: "This year we're going to be thankful for ribs!".

Now, Hubby is a marvelous cook and thoroughly enjoys himself in the kitchen. This is Fortunate, being I've never prepared a bird in my life ... and honestly don't yearn to learn. Give me the clean-up detail any day!

Though I'm still not fond of turkey, I've come to realize that Thanksgiving isn't so much about the choice of entree as it is us all putting aside any petty differences and being together, bumps, warts n' all.
Just in case, I'll be sure to eat a big breakfast beforehand!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We anticipate each year's Fountain Hills Festival of the Arts like children do Christmas morning ... and yesterday didn't disappoint! Set in one of my favorite spots of the Valley, our enjoyment's not so much about procuring a treasure, but simply strolling, people-watching, and of course, eating! This year we opted for the crepes -- a startling departure from Tom's BBQ (traditionally my weakness).

Oh sure, there were a couple of Musts: First stop, a visit with the amazing Don Schimmel. (Hubby gently reminded me, if I bring another of his pieces back, our home's going to resemble a gallery!). Next, the folks at Greyhound Rescue and Arizona Guide Dogs ... awwwww, I'd take 'em all!

Last but not least, homage to my real-time Hero, Joe Arpaio.

We resisted the pink handcuffs, but did come away with a new pair of pink boxers for Hubby and an oversize t-shirt to complete my own sleep set. (Hubby quips, "Now you have some uppers to go with your lowers!")


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hot Fudge Sundae

Lucky ducks!!! ... 'twas my gut reaction to televised accounts of last week's blizzard in the Dakotas. Hubby just shakes his head.

Originally from the Midwest, his recollections of winters in Chicago differ enormously from my own "Currier & Ives" childhood in the Rockies ... think snowbanks that literally crunch underfoot.

If you've not figured out, Winter is my absolute favor-ite season!!! (Please don't ask, what are you doing in Phoenix?)

Ours has become a familiar joust: (Me) "Could we book our trip to Chicago this January?" (Him) "You wouldn't last 48 hours!"

Finally getting around to the point of this piece ...
Contrasting our recent overnight lows, my spirits have skyrocketed. Since I leave for work at o'dark-thirty each morning, I've been able to indulge in the "ice-cream sundae" effect: wait for my car's engine to fully warm, crank the heater and blower to max, then roll down the window. Right side toasty, left side brisk -- viola, I'm a hot fudge sundae!

OK, I don't particularly enjoy being Really Cold for extended periods. Rather, it's a delicious anticipation of becoming warm again -- whether it be a long hot shower, a hot buttered rum or simply huddling under layers of down quilts. All that's missing is a roaring fireplace ...can't have it all.

So here we are, approaching "the most wonderful time of the year." (Thank you, Andy Williams.) Having compromised earlier this year and keeping our home's thermostat at 80, I've informed Hubby that I'll break his fingers if he even tries to engage the heat. Stay tuned ....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vroom, vroom!

Those boys and their toys (aka NASCAR) are back in town!
'Suppose I've a passing interest in the sport -- gotta dig those all-American, clean-cut faces! -- but not enough to correctly match names with numbers, much less sit still and watch.

Tho' we'll not be attending the races, and there's little likelihood of running into Jeff Gordon at the local supermarket, I've a nagging question: Do these men ever experience difficulty -- amending their driving habits once they're off of the track, commuting with the rest of us? I mean, if doing 200 m.p.h. comes naturally, wouldn't 65 or 70 feel torturous?

And given their superior reflexes, wouldn't it be a kick to have a pro driver along for the Monday-Friday commute?

...just a silly thought. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

3 days after the fact, I've pretty much abandoned the notion of moving to Canada ... 'never much cared for the taste of my own sour grapes. Besides, hubby hates cold weather.

So, I'm loitering at the dealership, waiting for my car's release from rehab. Then, my eyes are drawn to a gi-normous American flag wafting lazily outside the lounge. Sure, it's edges are seriously frayed; it could use a warm bath. Nevertheless, I'm mesmerized.

Things are tough these days, ya. On a personal level, absurd and unexpected medical bills have exhausted our savings. Still, we're so blessed to live in a country where opportunities erupt every day ....and recovery's not only possible, but Probable.

You know, I recently overheard someone refer to the Great Depression; and that this generation (vs. our parents and grandparents) isn't strong enough.
............Wanna bet?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A few days ago I received an audio clip that left me shaking my head. A (presumed) reporter went to Harlem interviewing potential voters, asking if they agreed with Obama's policies. The irony was, each policy was actually part of McCain's platform! You guessed it: to a person, they wholeheartedly agreed. It gets worse! When asked, "do you agree with Barack Obama's choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate?", their approval was unanimous.

.... which begs the question: Does anyone else agree that competency (intelligence) tests should be administered before granting someone their voter's registration card? Heck, I'm not aware of any card-carrying driver who didn't have to take a driver's license test! Isn't the future of our nation equally important?

I'll attempt levity a little later. Right now, color me saddened.