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)
I love Freecycle. I love, love, love, love Freecycle. You don't have to haul your things out to the thrift store. You get to meet the people who need and want your old things. You get, really, the double pleasure of giving things away and having fewer things. It's wonderful.

We have been using Freecycle a lot lately, as we are moving on Thursday to a much smaller place.

It's Mothers' Day. Today after church, I brought Myra an azalea (actually two azaleas, one pink and one white) for us to plant. That way, two of our earliest-blooming spring plants will be hers and we'll have a nice show on the patio. I also brought bacon and biscuits and blood orange Italian soda, so we had a nice little brunch at home. We spent a good part of Mothers' Day at the Old Country Buffet in Gaithersburg because S., C., & Z. were there, along with a moderate portion of the V. family in general. Several were out-of-towners. It was a good time. Z. learned my name; we drove them home since their hotel is near where we live, and at the end of the night, I said, "You're going to go to bed with Mummy and Daddy now," and Z. replied, "And [ profile] papertigers!" She started to doze against my shoulder and was quite reluctant to let her mother take her. I tried to steal her, but they're going to the hospital for S.'s radiation tomorrow, and C. needs to have her baby with her, understandably enough.

I did not call my mother, but this is only unusual in the sense that I am with [ profile] papertigers (who always made me call my mother in years past). Before that, I never called my mother. My mother vocally scorns Mothers' Day as a commercial holiday designed to force people to spend money.

Overall, a nice break from the endless round of packing stuff up. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Last night: Got to church just a bit late for the 10:30 blessing of baskets. Stayed in the basement for the 11:00. [ profile] papertigers brought a double batch of her amazing mac and cheese and the church ladies were pleased. After the baskets were blessed, I hid mine above the coat rack because we didn't have time to go back to the car before the beginning of Nocturnes.

Or so we thought! Nocturnes actually ended 15 minutes late this year, and the rest of the "night" cascaded from there. When Metropolitan Jonah knocked on the door of the church and asked, "Who is the King of Glory?" three times, and each time the other clergy replied, "The Lord of Hosts!", and on the third time the lights to the church came on, [ profile] papertigers turned to me and whispered, "Protestants don't do anything this cool." I found that sweet, somehow.

We ended Liturgy a good hour later than it ended last year, and with about twice last year's crowd (to be fair, it was a bit cold and drippy last year). The new choir director had the choir singing some of the melodies I remember so well from childhood, including the Extopostilarion that reminds me so much of K.R.'s wonderful soprano, and the Theotokion that we did together a few times, with me taking the alto part (for once, the part with all the beautiful ornamentation).

Metropolitan Jonah is interactive in ways that are unexpected if you are cradle Orthodox. For example, when we sang "Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ," he came out and conducted the congregation - rather expertly, at that. Someone - perhaps him, perhaps the director herself - also decided that all of the most important hymns had to be done both in English and Slavonic. When we finished the Our Father in Slavonic and I was waiting for the priest to chant the ending, suddenly the choir was singing it in English. (I only know the first few words of the Slavonic, but I'd prayed along anyway). After Communion, when I gave her antidoran, [ profile] papertigers gave up and crept downstairs for the remainder. We finished a good hour and fifteen minutes later than last year.

A few fun things happened downstairs at "breakfast." For one thing, Fr. J. came down to bless the food, and after the Our Father, he sang, "Lord have mercy Lord have mercy Lord have mercy... I guess I'll bless." (OOOPS! We were supposed to sing "Father, bless"!) A roomful of exhausted people giggling at 4 a.m. is something to experience. There were meat pies and cheese and spinach pies and lamb cooked over a spit. [ profile] papertigers and I also had fun hanging out with a flirtatious priest and a highly competitive egg-smashing twelve-year-old, but we went home fairly early. Even so, it was 5 a.m. before we were in bed.

Today it was dinner at my unofficial family's. Four generations of women (not all of us, just a representation) and girl children sat around a table talking and laughing and telling stories. The lamb was cooked magnificently. I introduced them to cheese Pascha. A good time was had by all.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
We've been trapped in the house, more or less, since Friday afternoon. We went out to CVS (about a half block away) on Saturday; I've shoveled snow (and enjoyed it tremendously); there have been games and movies; we built a snowman; we even had an "I'm sick to death of being shut in"-type fight.

For the past week or so, I've been contemplating asking [ profile] papertigers to marry me - asking sooner, rather than later. True, her engagement gift was not perfectly complete, but I've been working on it for two years now and it has been exceptionally hard to track down Nikki Giovanni for the purpose of autographing a book. Today, I decided to simply do it. I've been snowed in with [ profile] papertigers (and the kittens) for five days, and neither of us has killed each other - in fact, we still love each other a whole lot. So after we briefly discussed DC marriage and what we would do if we got married, I simply went into the bedroom, got the book, hid it behind my back, ignored the trembling in my core, and asked her to marry me.

She laughed for a bit first. Then she said yes, and I immediately felt much better.

[ profile] scooterbird, [ profile] efbq, and their girls spent part of the afternoon squealing at us, as is their right. It was a happy thing. After all, if I have to get snowed in, there's really no one I'd rather be snowed in with than [ profile] papertigers.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Last night, for the Festival of Water (feast of the Baptism of Christ), we ate, appropriately enough, fish.

I love having a festival in the middle of the winter that is about, of all things, water. People have such fun with it. There are blessings and splashings and laughter. I'm sorry to have missed the church service this year - but I am going to try to go when our clergy bless the Tidal Basin this month. In some countries, people dive for a submerged crucifix. Yes, dive. Outdoors, in January. Hooray!
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 gift certificate I got for Christmas/Yule from [ 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. [ 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, [ profile] scooterbird, and [ 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 [ 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 [ 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: [ 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 [ 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. [ 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 [ profile] scooterbird and [ 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 [ profile] papertigers at the end of work today. We cleaned the house - I took the wrapping paper from Christmas morning out to recycling, [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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.

[ 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, [ profile] scooterbird and [ 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 [ 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. [ 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 [ 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 [ profile] tostita and [ 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 [ profile] papertigers's presents already, so that's good.

We are going to be having a Very African Christmas. [ 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

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: . 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.


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!


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.


Ah! Here is my e-mail:

Nothing can top that.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I am feeling stressed to the breaking point. We dressed the tree today (artificial tree, but a very nice one - this is its fourth year and it shows no sign of letting up any time soon). It snowed. We spent most of the day with friends. We watched White Christmas, which I had never seen before (though I had seen Holiday Inn).

I have mostly found relief today via snuggling. I've been taking a lot of baths lately. Hey, at least I'll be clean. A lot of things seem to be falling in pieces at my feet. I'm scared to death, but I know that I will find something new when the debris is cleared away. Getting to it is scary and painful and fills me with self-doubt, though.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
... have all been fed by the man with the knife. (Thanks to Matt Gould for those lyrics.)

I am home.

Grandma was glad to see us. Now my wonderful cats are glad.

The rest was a truly terrible ordeal.

More when I feel that I can write about it without bursting into tears, going on a murderous rampage, and having a panic attack, all at once.

Final Day

Nov. 25th, 2009 06:46 am
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I woke up this morning at 5, unable to breathe. I got up at 6:30. I still can't breathe. However, I did have an interesting dream that one could speak an entire language by spitting watermelon seeds.

Lots to do today; we're leaving tomorrow.

✓go to Target for charger
✓buy cat food
✓make cat food
✓clean litterboxes
✓fill cat water
✓clean stove and counters
✓finish packing
✓print airport and car confirmation
✓print mapquest directions

Then I think we're taking off for Baltimore, though I'm not sure where we're staying tonight. We're out bright and very early tomorrow morning. *sigh* I hope I sleep, because I'm going to have to drive quite a ways after we get to L.A.


debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)

January 2011

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