what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
We had a lovely holiday. It's a rare Christmas that it's just the two of us so we made the most of it. I didn't do much decorating--just got a few of our decorations out and emptied a shelf of the bookcase and we re-created the annual altar to the Great God Book (we started decorating a bookcase instead of a tree back in 1988 when we didn't have enough money for a tree, though every once in a while we do get a tree despite my guilt. A local store called Chubby and Tubby--yes, really--have trees for $5, though they're frequently a little two-dimensional. Anyway, this year we passed). Instead of fully decorating the bookcase, I draped the garland around the archway between the living and dining room. Happily, a string of lights was still wrapped around that from last year's altar. Cards are perched along the mantle above the fire and atop the other bookcases. I put up the Mrs. Claus hanging that my late grandmother made many years ago--I think my sister has Mr. Claus--and the pull-a-string-and-waves-his-jingle-belled-arms-and-legs Santa is hanging at the front door, and our plastic Santa is in his traditional jail cell in the front door look out (our door has this strange little cage that opens so we can see who's on the doorstep--it reminds me of the one that the guard to the Emerald City uses in The Wizard of Oz movie.
Anyway, our house looks quite festive inside, though we don't have any lights outside.
We slept in Christmas Day--the cats even let us. Well, as long as we got up to feed them at the usual time. We were actually finally woken up by Jim's father and stepmother phoning us. After talking to them, we got up and Jim made espresso and we ate welsh cakes (let me know if you want the recipe for these--they're our family's traditional Christmas treat) while we opened our presents.
The big present we were hoping to give each other was a CD-RW. Unfortunately the one we ordered had no software, manuals, or paperwork, so we have to send it back and reorder one. So, most of our presents for each other were small: books, that sort of thing. My surprise for Jim was supposed to be a typing table (they are really hard to find these days! I was amazed). I ordered one from a place in Missoula, Montana (where we lived for five years during and after graduate school), and unfortunately they had to phone about the order and left a message on our voicemail that Jim heard, so he knew what I was getting him. Sigh.
The most silly thing we got for Christmas--actually a tie, both are things that Christina sent from Taiwan to Maddy and Zach: a hello kitty wand with flashing lights, and a grinning tiger nightlight, which no lie, Maddy rubbed against and turned on this evening. She must like it.
The most useful thing: a new teapot from Chuck and Bob.
The prettiest thing: A white stone that an artist from Taiwan painted using the natural marks in the rock, from my mother. Or maybe some cards my friend Jan got me that come in a lovely tin.
The ugliest thing: a demon that Christina found in a bazaar in Indonesia. This thing is evilly ugly--his strange face end with big square teeth and his tongue hangs like a clapper. Not sure where we're going to put it. Very fun and strange.
Our friends Chuck and Bob came over to exchange presents in the afternoon, and we ended up inviting them for dinner. It felt a little odd eating roast beef in front of vegetarian guests, but they enjoyed the pasta I'd made for Christmas Eve dinner, and we had a lovely afternoon and evening, and Chuck helped Jim put the typing table together. Jim's typing a form right now as I type. Yes, we do find a typewriter useful in our lives, for envelopes that won't go through our printers, forms, etc. I use my typing table as a hold all table, and for my sewing machine (which I don't use nearly enough--I have mending chores to last me an eternity).
The full moon truly was beautiful, even though the weather was foggy. Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day all were sunny and beautiful. I love sun in winter--it has such a unique quality to it because of the sun's angle, and it's rare here in the Pacific Northwet. The bits of fog have been lovely, too, but the sun! Well, we all needed a dose of Vitamin D (I'm especially fond of sun because it makes my grey hair shine and become something more than just old folks' hair. The closest I will ever be to being blonde, even though as a child I was very light brown.) Shine on. We're on our way to Victoria on Friday for a family reunion over New Years' so next week's entry will be late. Happy 2000, everyone!
In other news, we went disc shopping and I didn't buy a thing. Most music I'm interested in right now just doesn't appear in the shops.
I've also been listening to a bunch of MP3 files I downloaded to see if I want to order discs by the artists involved. There are several I'm seriously thinking about. I love MP3 samples because it means that I can listen to songs that interest me intensively and get caught by them enough to buy the albums (or toss the files if they don't interest me). It's as though I can focus my own radio station.
And I have a full album's worth of material by one European band, Shelleys Raven, that couldn't get a record contract and so they made their album available on the web as MP3 files.
Jim got me speakers for my computer as a Christmas present. Makes the MP3s more pleasant listening.
I won't keep any MP3 files for albums that are available for purchase, though, that's just not fair to struggling bands. If I like the music enough to keep listening to it on my computer, I like it enough to buy it.
Since then I've been slowly making my way through Louise Erdrich's The Antelope Wife which I'm really enjoying, but it's so richly written that I can't (and don't want to) race through it. I totally can understand why the judges awarded it the World Fantasy Award. I'd thought I was tired of Louise Erdrich's novels, but I'm loving this one. More about it once I've finished it.
2. I'm not sure, but this might have been the time when one of my favourite kinds was trying heroin. It totally unnerved me, because I'd always thought of heroin as something people in movies and the newspaper took, not someone I knew and cared about.
3. For the rest of my life. I was terrible at that job. It's the same place I started doing switchboard at when I was 14, but I had only worked Saturdays and had gotten to expect not to have to do much but answer the phone. No work ethic at all. Lazy and spoiled.
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