debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Mr. Miles)
I have decided that the writer of The Twelve Days of Christmas was obsessed with birds. After all, one sees a partridge, hens, calling birds, turtledoves, geese a-laying, and swans a-swimming. It's possible also to include the pipers piping in the festive bird count. Honestly, through day 7, the only non-bird gift is FIVE GOLDEN RINGS.

Christmas has been good to me in most ways this year, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but it's mostly been rather depressing and anxiety-inducing. Some of that has been health stuff, both mine and the wife's. There were a lot of cancelled trips and disappointments. For example, we planned on going to four lights displays, but only got to one. Therefore, I hereby resolve that next year, I will go to the following displays, come hell or high water:

1) Zoo Lights. This year was the first time it was free, and we didn't get there.
2) Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park. Stay in the car! It's warm!
3) Lights at Mormon Temple - I heard about this one just this year, and apparently it's fabulous.
4)Hampden Christmas lights in Baltimore, always a good time.
5) Garden of Lights at Brookside Garden - this is the most expensive one, and the only one we got to this year. It's also the only one that runs until the end of Christmas, because the people there have a calendar. (Their summer butterfly festival also runs through the fall equinox; these folks are no one's spoilsports.)

I hope you all have had a happy Christmas. Tomorrow night, I'm making a festive meal: chicken pot roast, some kind of tasty beverage, and possibly (!) cannoli for dessert.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
After I wrote that last entry, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized what I have. I felt much, much better.

When I got home, I found all three of the items I bought with the amazon.com gift certificate I got for Christmas/Yule from [livejournal.com profile] melebeth. Hooray!

Miles adores his new food. I hope this means he's going to gain a little weight and the sores on his body will go away. It is really worrying.

Life is very good.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
My original intention was to record this Christmas season in its entirety here, but that proved difficult this weekend. Yesterday, we rinsed the henna out of my hair. My hair looks amazing. It's got a rich reddish brown color instead of the dull brown that it had turned because it's been going grey for the past several years. It's also very soft. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and A. were happy with their work.

We finished watching Swing Time, which contains a pretty horrifying blackface sequence. (A. and I fast-forwarded through the worst of it, but not all - F.A. retains the blackface after the performance sequence is over, since in the plot he rushes straight from the stage into a situation he's trying to avoid). After that, we picked S. up in Gaithersburg and went to the mall to get presents for A., her sister, [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird, and [livejournal.com profile] efbq. We waited to take A. with us because we wanted her to choose something for herself. Teenagers, after all...

I also had my first experience with Rita's, which was fantastic. A. chose my flavor - a mixture of black cherry ice and vanilla custard. Yum.

We then took S. to have linner with [livejournal.com profile] fafou and her newish girlfriend at The Cheesecake Factory. The newish girlfriend is cute and shy and has a sense of humor, and we all rather liked her. We had a relaxed and funny waitress who also made the evening fun. We took S. home after that, and [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird came to pick A. up and bring her home. We gave him his present at that point, which he liked, and we all opened Christmas crackers.

Today, after church, we set the house up for a small but lively group of children. Our guests were: [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's niece E., who is just 6; my nieces A., 12, and L., 8; my nephew D., 11; and J. (3) and H. (1), who are the daughters of some good friends of mine whom I have known for almost a decade. We gave the kids snacks - apples, carrots, spinach dip, cheese, crackers, and corn chips - and talked for a while. Then the kids got to cut out and decorate gingerbread cookies. As usual, we were left with a lot of leftover cookies; the kids always make more than they actually want to take home. They wreaked destruction in the guest room (Legos really do go everywhere) and cleaned it up very nicely. We gave them each a Christmas cracker (they swapped the toys until each kid was satisfied) and sent them home happy and tired. It was fun.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
We slept late yesterday. Then we had bread pudding, watched silly TV, and took a nap before picking up A. We let A. drive us back to Wheaton and went to Starbucks and Giant. Then we headed straight to Brookside Gardens for the Garden of Lights. It was well worth the $20 per car. We saw the model trains as well as the amazing lights display. They had a thunderstorm in lights, complete with lightning flashes and a rainbow.

We went to Silver Diner for dinner and then came home and put henna in my hair while watching The Gay Divorcee and Shall We Dance (half of it; we were tired, so we went to bed while Fred and Ginger were dancing, shortly after The Way You Look Tonight).

Today, more fun!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Happy new year, everyone.

I worked today. There were few students, but I hope the ones who were in class got a lot out of it, for all that.

I've been thinking about 2009 as a year ever since [livejournal.com profile] melebeth mentioned something about its not being so good.

She's right. I started the year with a sprained ankle that acted like a fractured ankle. There have been health problems for me and mine - everything from cancer to bad teeth. There have been emotional upheavals. There have been family upheavals. There was even a fire.

Still, I will say that some things have gone well. I've continued to learn just how valuable my friends and (extended) family are. I've learned, too, just how strong the support of my Family-of-Choice is. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and I have drawn closer together, and (not coincidentally) I have grown a lot less emotionally dependent on her. I have been lucky in many ways. I still have blessings to count when anxiety tries to keep me awake.

Tomorrow, we will continue our Christmas celebrations with [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and [livejournal.com profile] efbq's oldest, redheaded child. (Though I suppose, at 16, she is almost not a child anymore!)

Tonight, we have a clean house and Christmas carols on the stereo, good food, and cute cats. We are going to have a quiet and relaxed New Year's celebration with just the five of us (two humans, three cats). That is my favorite way to mark the change of the year. I feel good about this. May 2010 be a year of blessings and favors, joy and goodness for everyone who is reading this.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
It was really nice to see [livejournal.com profile] papertigers at the end of work today. We cleaned the house - I took the wrapping paper from Christmas morning out to recycling, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers cleaned up the dining room table, and we collaborated on the kitchen and the living room.

Last night, we watched Holiday Inn while we ate our pie.

I'm still having a lot of difficulty processing Thanksgiving weekend... and the 32 years that came before it. I want to thank you all for your kindness and support. Holidays are fraught with family associations, but I can honestly say that we are having a lovely Yuletide.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Today, I went to jury duty at 1. I stayed until 4, mostly sitting in a chair alternately reading and being bored. Also, I have the Cramps that Took over the World. Also also, one of the books that I got with [livejournal.com profile] melebeth's Yule/Christmas present (amazon gift card) has shipped, and we got a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my second set of parents in California.

We are having sweet potato pie for dessert. YUM!!!!!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
This morning, I was exhausted, but I managed to get myself out of bed and to Liturgy. I had been up late on facebook IM with my cousin L., who was wondering if I was speaking to my father. I explained the situation to her; her father is my dad's brother, and makes my dad look even-tempered, so I knew she'd understand. She both understood and approved, but in the course of the conversation, we went over some very difficult subject matter. I had another nightmare last night (they are slowing down, though!) and really needed some renewal in the morning.

When I got home, we had a nap. Then I finished making maaro e liddi, which I did a pretty good job on overall, except for forgetting the salt (it had an effect, but not a disastrous one). We ate it and went to meet [livejournal.com profile] silk1 and her husband and their daughter E. (yes, the same E. who turned six a few days ago) at the National Zoo for Zoo Lights, which was much better than it was two years ago (there were at least five times as many lights and an additional open animal exhibit). E. loved the displays and was particularly enthralled by the Reptile House.

We came home and had scrambled eggs with cheese, toast, and hot chocolate. We also opened our presents from [livejournal.com profile] silk1's family. I got two Auntie Mame books! What fun!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I was cooking maaro e liddi and I set the kitchen on fire (hot oil makes quite a fire). The flames licked the ceiling all through the dining room. We were very lucky; the only thing that caught fire was a potholder hanging by the stove. The ceiling is blackened in the kitchen and dining room and part of the hall. The stove hood was burned out and all the wiring melted. The cabinets above the stove are somewhat blackened, but none of the tea sets were harmed.

[livejournal.com profile] papertigers wanted me out of that kitchen. I cried out, tried to get the cats, and then rushed back in once the flames had died down, first to turn off the gas, then to extinguish the potholder using a blanket.

The fire department came; three firefighters walked through the kitchen checking for potential or actual flare-ups. They apologized for tracking oil through our house; we looked at them as though they were from Mars and told them that we had mops. Apparently, panicky people vent on them a lot. My reaction is more one of pleased relief. We are going to bake some gingerbread cookies for them, and decorate them as little firemen and fire trucks.

Now, [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and [livejournal.com profile] efbq are bringing their family over here. We are in need of some soothing - and we were going to have to see them over the holidays, anyhow, because they are [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's Parents of Choice, as well as very cool and Christmasy people.

I am still assessing my physical and psychological state (this happened a little under an hour ago). Nikki is on my lap, trying to comfort me. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers did not lose her temper or need to be taken to the hospital for asthma. I have not yet had a panic attack. On the whole, I think we dealt with the emergency as well as most people could. We are clearly in good hands.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Christmas dinner. Lots of people, kids running around, far too much food, and conversation with the proverbial relatives you don't know. It reminded me a lot of the T. family (my maternal grandmother's family) Christmas Eve event - food like crazy, kids like crazy, relatives you don't know, and an off chance of getting an odd (by which I mean strange) gift or two. It was a taste of my family as it has not been since Uncle Nino and Aunt Mae were still alive... and this wasn't even my birth family (or Italian). I loved it.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Merry Christmas to my coreligionists!

We watched The Polar Express last night, which was a busy but nice expansion of the book. Afterwards, we went to Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan Jonah has moved to Washington for good and all, so he was there, and gave a very nice sermon about "the winter Pascha," as he called it, talking about how the Resurrection changed not only our perspective of Christ's birth, but also of much that came before it.

We got home at around 2:15 a.m. I took a short bath; this has become something I can't not do, part of the daily routine that is focused purely on making me feel good (this bath is not for washing, just for sitting in hot, sweet-scented water for a few minutes). We left peanut butter bars and iced tea for Santa and granny smith apples for the reindeer, along with a thank-you note.

We did not wake up until 8 a.m. Even then, we spent a moment snuggling before we got up. I made coffee (which had been set up the night before). I put on Handel's Messiah (Academy of Ancient Music version, for the geeky among you who are interested in knowing). We got our coffee and opened presents. Under the tree, I got:

From [livejournal.com profile] papertigers:

ear buds and a memory chip for my phone, so I have a replacement for my iPod
a very soft robe

From Santa Claus:

The Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers Collection, Volume 1 (Top Hat!)
Star Wars/Transformers Crossover Darth Vader
Foundation, Mercedes Lackey's new Valdemar novel

From Santa for both of us:

humidifier (thank God - we have needed one for at least a month)

We opened our stockings (I got: Yoda and Luke Skywalker action figures, complete with accessories; a warm hat - I didn't have one; a Tangle Jr.; and lots of candy) and went back to bed. We got up again at 11 and made a brunch of French toast and sausage, along with more coffee. An excellent Christmas so far, peaceful and relaxed. My next move is to bake a peach pie (we could not find any rhubarb).

On schedule for tomorrow: More Christmas fun.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
We spent an hour last night and an hour today clearing snow from the car and parking space. Part of the problem was that we didn't have anywhere to put it. It was fun shoveling all that snow. Despite the late start liturgy, I didn't manage to get to church (it's pretty far for this kind of driving). I did manage to make promised Christmas treat gifts for [livejournal.com profile] tostita and [livejournal.com profile] obscurerichard and their family (and some extras for us). Tomorrow, though, I'm going to build a snowman and slide down the hill. All this in addition to making a really good sauce and home-made ravioli, plus pie, for Yule. I have wrapped [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's presents already, so that's good.

We are going to be having a Very African Christmas. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers requested maaro e liddi (which I will serve with more veggies than typical, because I have access to them, whereas most Africans do not). I am going to make some bissap to go with it because I found dried hibiscus flowers and I love bissap. She will make sweet potato pie for dessert (I, of course, will compose the crust). Not exactly your traditional turkey and stuffing, but I think it's a meal we will both enjoy very much.

We haven't decided whether to go to midnight or morning Liturgy on Christmas. That will depend on other people's plans and the weather. At any rate, it's shaping up to be a lovely, quiet holiday at home.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Today, I had my students write letters to Santa. I then typed them in to an "email Santa" program. They will have replies in two days. A few of the best letters (not edited, with initials used instead of names, school name and email addresses removed):

Dear Santa,

I'm Thai. I born in Thailand. In Thailand, we don't have Christmas Day. 25th December is a normal day for my country but, I know you when I was young. I know you from some movies and some books. There are tell me about your story. For long time, I belive Santa's a real. I waited for a gift from you every year. I have my sock under my bed; There for, Santa's give me some gife for me. But it never happen. May be, because I'm Buddist. This year is the last year that, I wait a gife from you. Mr. Santa

Sincerely your
T.


I particularly enjoyed the hostile tone of that ending. The next one is another funny, "I'm not Christian, who the heck are you?"-type letter:

Dear Santa,
Hi Santa, I'm B. I am from Mali. Mali is West Africa. I'm student in [school]. I'd like to met you, because I never celebre chrismas. My teacher and my classmates talk about you. I would to know, if really you do something. I want to give you my email: me@malien.com . I think chrismas is spacial day for Christians. As my first time to celebre chrismas with christian, I would to know too. Think you and see you leter. bye-bye.

Sincerely
B.


The next two made me feel warm and Christmas-y.

Dear Santa, I'm writing this letter to say thank you for this year because was a very happy year for me. I came for here and now i'm learning English and this is very important for me because next, I want to go to university here. My family and me are healthy and happy and this is the most important things. But now, I'm just a little beat sad because I will stay my Christmans with my mother only. I apreciate my life, my parents, my friends... and I will hope that next year to be the same or better. I don't need any gift because my life it's a gift. I love everything to be happy!
Thank you!

O.A.L.


Read them out loud and they'll make more sense; a lot of students write phonetically, according to their own accents.

I saved the best for last.

Dear Santa,

This year was very busy for me and I worked a lot, but I like my job. You know I work with children like you. I have the school in Brazil for poor children and the majority don't have nothing for the Christmas. Fortanetly, I can to give the education for them. I think this a great gift! Because, usually the children stay on the street and don't make nothing for their education. Now I have 130 children in my school, next year I will have 160 children. Fortunatly I have two fundation for help us, but I think is better have more fundation, because every year I open my school for news children the children love the school. they stay there all day. Every day I prepare a little party for Christmas and you every year go to school. Last year the party was great! This year the children wait for you again. Really, the children want receive a lot gifts, because in their houses don't have. For me I want to receive more help to my children and I hope this next year have good work again and have good time with my son and my hundsman. My son wants to receive a little car. Can you give for him? I hope so and I hope everything is good for you!

Thank you and
Happy Christmas.

C.

Ah! Here is my e-mail:
c@schoolinbrazil.org


Nothing can top that.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Yesterday we took down the Christmas tree and all the decorations. Taking down a Christmas tree is always interesting, just as putting one up is interesting. The ornaments remind me of so many times in my life. There are some that I made or was given as a child. Others we made the year that we had no ornaments and no money to buy any. Some were gifts from Myra's friends. Others were gifts from my friends or coworkers. There are candy canes, which we add to every year. We have them in peppermint, strawberry, cherry, and chocolate mint flavors.

Yesterday I also got called back on two job applications. One is teaching English conversation from home to students in China (via Skype). The other is a tutoring job based in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan). I interviewed for that one today; it's an interesting position, and one that I would have jumped at at another time in my life.

On my way back to the Metro from that interview, I saw Subdeacon Ambrose. We stopped and chatted for a moment; he said he hadn't seen me in church, and I replied that I wasn't there because my leg is going bad again. Yesterday it started feeling twinge-y and a little numb. Again. *sigh* I definitely wasn't up for standing on it for an hour and a half.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I should be depressed. No, really. Poor Corvy (short for Little Red Corvette; she's our cherry-red Saturn sedan) was sick this week. We still have bills to pay. I am worried about all of this, and I think I'm coming down with something to boot. I got three hours of sleep last night due to muscle pain - despite aromatherapy, a hot bath, and medicine. BUT...

We are going to Los Angeles for Christmas!!!!!!!!! This was my parents' idea of a birthday present. No idea how they are doing it (frequent flyer miles, I hope, have something to do with it). I haven't seen my godsons in person in two years - they'll be 7 in November - and I haven't seen certain of my family members in many ages. I am so excited that it's even making me less anxious. That has to be some kind of minor miracle. At any rate, I'm treating it as such, and I'm grateful.

Oh, and Cincinnati has got to stop following me around. It's awfully mobile for a geographical location I know relatively little about.

Oh Tired

Dec. 26th, 2007 09:19 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
We had a lovely though exhausting Yule and Christmas. For Yule, we took my parents to Baltimore and gave them the treat of their life - broiled crabcakes, purchased in Lexington Market. They loved it, and loved wandering the city. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers is a great guide to Baltimore, having grown up there, and it's really such a friendly and unpretentious city in general that it's hard not to like it. On the 23rd, they treated us to the Zoo Lights display at the National Zoo. It was incredibly fun to run around the zoo in the dark, looking at the lights and the animals. Many of the animals were more active than I've seen them during the day. It was particularly wonderful to watch the sloth climbing around, and have a zookeeper explain the sloth's physical structure and habits. We went to dinner afterwards, which was nice.

On Christmas Eve, we sat around listening to music and playing cribbage and Apples To Apples. Santa Claus was treated to a snack of fudge and really great bourbon, and the reindeer enjoyed water and really great apples (the patent for the apples is owned by a nearby small family farm). After opening our gifts, we went to church, where (luckily for us - we were about 15 minutes late!) the Metropolitan was present. This lengthens the service by a good bit (after all, we have to call him Despota several times, or he's not officially there) and meant we got there in plenty of time for the Epistle reading. We then hung out with fellow-parishoners for a bit, perused the parish bookstore, and went home to read, play games, pet the cats, and prepare dinner.

Today was my mother's 50th birthday. To celebrate, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and I took both my parents to Old Town Alexandria. She loves old architecture. We perused bookstores, coffee shops, and Turkish and Ethiopian specialty shops. We would up at the Gadsby's Tavern Museum, and lunched in the current tavern. It was cold and rainy, so we took my parents to see the Potomac and then to National Airport to catch their airplane to Punta del Diablo, Uruguay.

It's funny how tiring it can be to have one's parents constantly about. I'm very tired. We had a good time, but I'm glad they aren't always here. I am frightened by my similarities to my parents. I also hate how they treat me like a 3-year-old sometimes, instead of someone who just turned 30. Witness my mother's way of thanking all the people at church for being so good to me, as though I needed a great deal of looking after. *sigh* I guess one pays a price for the stability that comes with having a family. ;-)
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
It's snowing. I got a snow day - my afternoon classes were cancelled. I've been cleaning the house, doing some Christmas set-up, and listening to carols. The snow is so beautiful. I wish it would stick around, but I know it won't. Rain is predicted for Friday.

Still, waking up in my girl's arms, and then seeing the snow on the ground, having hot apple cider from the local farmer who has a little shop up the street, looking at the lights on the (as yet untrimmed) Christmas tree, and having time to cuddle with Nikki, that's what qualifies as a good day to me.

St. Nicholas Day is tomorrow - one of my favorite celebrations, mostly because I love the special feast-day tropar (which is a song about the life of a saint or a feast day).

Happy Hannukah to all of you out there celebrating the Maccabee rebellion. May the lights shine a little brighter in every house tonight.

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January 2011

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