Sunday, December 30, 2007

# 91 - Now and Then

Then: Alcohol lubricated the libido.

Now: Alcohol puts the libido to sleep.

Then: Make the music so loud we can’t talk

Now: Can you turn that down a little?

Then: Meet at a friend’s house at 6pm for a few and noshing.

Now: Meet a friend for the early bird special at the golden coral.

Then: Drink ‘til you dance like Fred and Ginger.

Now: Watch the Ball drop if you can stay awake that long.

Then: Pay $100.00 for party reservations; dinner included.

Now: $15.00 for a DVD of Dr. Zhivago; leftovers for supper.

Then: Two bottles of Dom Pérignon.

Now: Two 4 ounce glasses of Asti.

Then: Your parents listened to Guy Lombardo.

Now: You listen to Guy Lumbago.

Then: You woke up late and felt like you’d been run over buy a Mack Truck

Now: You meet friends for brunch and talk about the “good ol’ days”.

Then: Went to bed at 4am.

Now: Get up at 4am to empty your bladder.

Then: Wrote a list of New Year’s resolutions with expectations of success.

Now: Make sure my will is up to date.

Then: I didn’t like New Years Eve parties.

Now: Still don’t like New Year’s Eve parties.

Now and then it’s good to look back before you plan ahead!

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Friday, December 28, 2007

And a fine morning it is too!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Inspiration is a color!

What color do you see?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse ; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that ST. NICHOLAS soon would be there ; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads ;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name ; "Now, DASHER ! now, DANCER ! now, PRANCER and VIXEN ! On, COMET ! on CUPID ! on, DONDER and BLITZEN ! To the top of the porch ! to the top of the wall ! Now dash away ! dash away ! dash away all !"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot ;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes -- how they twinkled ! his dimples how merry ! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry ! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow ;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath ; He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself ;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread ; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings ; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose ;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT."

Clement Clark Moore

Sunday, December 23, 2007

#90.... Holiday Memories

Some times holidays are holy days. Other times holidays are days where we take a break from the mundane, day to day chores of living. At this time of the year, for some, many I hope, a holiday is both a celebration of a holy day as well as a break from our daily living.

Those breaks are reasons for extended family to connect for a time, usually a day, and have a feast of some sort to renew the knowledge of each other and to remember times in the past when we chuckled over faux-pas, shared pleasant happenings, ie the joy of living and being together, and just plain sharing and creating new memories.

As the days and years go by traditions are created with each get together and the recreating of these traditions become as crucial to the holiday as the holiday itself.

What to serve at Thanksgiving dinner is never a problem. We'll have what we've had for the past 60 years, and the sixty years before that. We''ll have Aunt Nellie's pumpkin pie, Aunt Mildred's Date bread, Grandma's meat pie, And great grandpa's dandelion wine that uncle Fred and then cousin Carl has continued to make from the original recipe crafted 400 years ago.
Turkey! Turkey you ask? Of course there'll be turkey, and it'll be cooked in Aunt Nellie's roasting pan that she inherited from her mother and we've cooked every turkey in since.
How about something new? Ok, how about "Chelle's" pis-pudd?

Will we get an artificial tree for Christmas this year? Nooooooooo!!!! comes the cry from across the miles. We've always had a real tree. It won't be Christmas without a real tree.
Where's the ornament I made in 1st grade, it's always the first one we put on the tree. Will there be a Tavern Puzzle under the tree this year? How about a Tom Clark gnome, or a special coin set. Who knows? Only Santa knows!

"Mom" where are the Christmas albums?" We want to see the picture of us standing on the stairs in those goofy Christmas hats that dad took.

"What can I get for my brother? He's got everything!"
"Make the brazilnut bread that your mother always made for him, You know he always loves that"

Let's not forget The sending of Christmas cards; the chance to touch a special someone that you rarely see but want them to know that you still think of them and to those you see frequently but want to extend a toast to them in the season of giving.

Occasionally new things are introduced but rarely are the old habits laid aside.

This year we added something new to our traditions for Christmas: Santons

In the fall of this year we took a holiday/vacation to France. We visited the Provence region and met a blogger friend and her family; Corey Amaro.
During our stay, Corey introduced us to French flea-marketing. D. was beyond delighted, and during one such browse she discovered these little clay figurines depicting French folk from all walks of life. Corey explained to her that these were called Santons and they were products of Provence and were used for creating Christmas Scenes depicting the birth of Christ.
"During the French Revolution, a ban on religious expression halted the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and churches were closed. The clever people of Marseilles outwitted the ban by replacing the religious figurines of the Nativity with everyday people of the village. They began by using people as members of a public nativity. From there the idea came to make the clay statues representing those people who had participated in the manger scene. The main idea was people giving a gift of their labor to the Baby Jesus."

One of the traditions in our home began in 1995, when I purchased, as a gift for my wife a Stable and creche starter set manufactured by an Italian company; Fontanini.
Every year I purchase 3 or four additional pieces and give them as gifts to D.. Currently we are at 40+ pieces, not counting this year. Well ,that is if there are any forthcoming this year.
She may have to make do with the addition of the French connection; the santons of Provence. Some were purchased at a flea market in Provence, two more were found at a Brocante in Paris, and two very precious santons were parting gifts form Corey.

Now every year when we celebrate the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, we will add our French Santons to the creche and remember the new friends we've made in France.

Corey and rel sitting, D. and French husband standing. Dinner at Chateau Nans des Pins.

Here's to New friends and new traditions!

To all who pass by here; may all your holiday memories be full of love and kindness, and may your gifts bring broad smiles to their recipients.
Thank-you one and all, old and new, for making our lives all the more richer!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Regular visitors to this blog may recall the photo of last years Christmas center-piece that I posted this past weekend. The one that I was to leave at the flower shop of our friends, Joe and Jane Basta. This I did, and when Jane said, "when do you want to pick this up rel?" I said that Wednesday the 19th would be good.

On the evening of the 19th (yesterday) when D. arrived home from her job, she asked where the center-piece was. "Oh poop," says I, " I forgot all about it!
No problem, I'll stop and get it tomorrow." Which as you can see I did and the girls a t Basta's did a superlative job of refreshing our center-piece; do you agree?

Now I want to tell you a story about something that happened at my place of employment yesterday:
If you don't already know, I'm a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) and I administer anesthesia in the local hospital. There are four other CRNAs beside myself and One anesthesiologist.

Because an operation can be a daunting experience for anyone and perhaps even more so for children, I try to add a little color along, with a smile, a kind word and always assurances that I'll take good care of you, and keep you safe while you are in my care. I'm an infamous jokester and tease, always with the intention of lightening your mood. A large number of patients who pass through my OR are either friends, parents of friends, or children of friends. And after being here for thirty+ years, I'm beginning to see patients whose mothers I gave anesthesia to when they were born. I digress, that's a story for another day.

Rarely do I wear the OR scrubs provided by the hospital. I have a large assortment of various colored scrubs in black, navy, green, maroon and salmon. In addition, I iron patches of cartoon characters and such on the front pocket as well as the yoke in the back of my scrub tops. All of this, of course, is to add to the distraction I try to provide.

Yesterday I dressed in a forest green scrub outfit with a huge yellow smiley face on the pocket. On my head I wore a bright red bikers do-rag, and under my scrub top I wore a long sleeve matching red Under-Armour shirt. Festive and seasonal, this attire attracted numerous comments as to my looking like an elf.

My assignment yesterday was to be the rover in the morning; help the CRNA in the tonsil room by starting the IV's after he had gotten the patients asleep, give breaks, and do any interviews that came up. My cases weren't scheduled to start until after lunch.

Your a five year-old, going on six, little girl being wheeled away from your parents and down a long corridor surrounded by strange looking big people who are going to put you to sleep and cut your tonsils out. Hmmm

Now you're transfered to a cold hard bed and everyone is coddling and cooing you and trying to make you think that this is going to be a piece of cake experience. You try to be accommodating and smile and answer their innocuous questions, but hey, nothing has happened yet, so why not?

Then off to your right you notice a new stranger has come into the room and he is standing by your bed all dressed in green and red looking like a giant Christmas elf.

He smiles at you and says "hi, I'm Bob the elf. I'm one of Santa's helpers. My job is to go around and visit people who can't get to the Mall to see Santa in person. He has asked me to see all the kids in the hospital and find out what they want for Christmas. What is on your list?"

You think and think, but because you've been caught off guard, you have forgotten what you were going to ask Santa for.

The big elf with the big smile says, " What is the one thing of everything on your list that you want the very most?" He continues, "I'm 606 years old and my memory isn't as good as it was when I was five, so I can only remember one thing from your list."

A big smile spreads across your face as you remember; and you say outloud very clearly, "I want a plush pony named Butter scotch!"

"Ok!" says the big elf, "let me write that down here and I'll get that request to Santa this morning."

You feel really happy that you had this chance to get your wish to Santa and you hardly notice that the other man in blue has put a plastic thingy on your face and it smells like bad, but you don't care because the big el...f is going to tel SSS

I started her IV, after she was asleep, and she didn't flinch one bit; being well anesthetized.

A few hours later, when she was leaving the ambulatory unit with her parents she spied me, and while she waved goodbye she whispered, "did you tell Santa what I wished for?"

I nodded in the affirmative and gave her the thumbs up sign.

Oh yes, unbeknown to her, I did tell her parents what it was she wanted and lo-and-behold it had already been purchased!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

# 15
"This Season"

the Beginning
a cats-eye view

When I was younger...
a lad of twelvish, say
The season started on
Thanksgiving day.
I prayed with all my heart
For snow to fall in
Great abundance.
First for play...
Castles, forts, and such.
But also for the
The chance to cling
to the handle of a shovel.
The chance to earn a pocketful of
Change, and dollars.
Money with which to purchase gifts
For mom and dad,
Jeff, and Jule.

The season was less for me
Without the abundance of whiteness.
It was the essence of the season.
It ushered us, slipping and sliding
Gleefully into the season...
The season of imagination..
Of snow angels, snowballs,
Skating, skiing and
hooking cars*

Walking to Mrs. Patchin's
Two feet of fluffy
Blanketing the ground.
The flakes of snow, silver dollar
Falling so thick and fast,
Drifting lazily in splendid profusion
so as to make me blink..
And my imagination,
My dreams, came in matching profusion..
Filling me with swelling emotion.
Cradling her gift,
Bought with my own shoveling money.
The first gift of the season
Was about to change hands.

There would be other
Gifts and such.
Midnight mass, and the Christ child.
Christmas trees and eggnog....
Toys and clothes and games.
But only one first gift.
The one that starts the season...

Merry Christmas Mrs. Patchin
Where-ever you are.

* Hooking cars. This was a time before road sand and salt. Bold souls, such as my friends and I, would hide between or behind parked cars and wait for a car to pass by. Then we would sneak out in a crouch and grab on to the passing car's rear bumper and let them pull us along, our feet sliding smoothly over the hard-packed, snow covered roads.
One caveat was ever present: scout the area to be sure there were no bare spots along the route. ;)

The snow would get so hard that we could literally ice skate in the streets. Many an impromptu hockey game was conducted in the middle of Oak Street!
the Finish
24 hours later
and five+ hours of shoveling.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dance #89

In February of 2003 our entire anesthesia department took a vacation to Costa Rica; wives and girl friend included. (That would be 3 wives, one GF.) One of the places we visited was the Arenal volcano at La Fortuna. We stayed in the area a couple of days and in the wee hours one morning we did get to see the volcano erupt. While we were there, there was some kind of local fair, carnival or shin-dig of some sort going on in La Fortuna so the eight of us went to town to party. The two main Cerveza producers in Costa Rica each had a tent set up and each tent had a dance floor. Now, let me tell you the Ticos, as the locals a referred to, love to drink beer and they also love to dance. At the first tent we joined right in the party and were cheered on from the locals. Now mind you, the males among us are a pretty sad sight when it comes to dancing. As is frequently the case with American men; they have limited dancing skills. Growing up we used to go to dances and the boys would stand along the periphery of the gym and ogle the girls while they danced with each other. They, or at least I, never tried too hard to learn how to dance. We lived for the "slow" dances so that we could snuggle close to a current crush and just shuffle our way through a rudimentary two step.
Later on in my high school years I did try my feet at some semblance of a jitterbug, and to this day can still cut a rug if I've imbibed enough cerveza or vino. In addition I was an excellent limbo performer and I did win a twist contest once. Yeah, so there!

Make no mistake, I'm no dancer and I was never more embarrassed by that fact than when we mozied over to the second beer tent. Every Tico there was dancing almost every song and the men were out there and they were awesome dancers, each and every one. So much so that I refused to dance anything but slow dances, which were few and far between. Those Tico fellows put us to shame. They did however ask our ladies to dance with them and the girls held their own pretty well.

This will give you an idea. Just imagine a dance floor full of folks like this doing their thing.

Needless to say, when it comes to dancing, I'm more of a watcher than a doer. One of the draw backs to living in rural America is the paucity of amenities such as nearby dance classes.

Even at this time of year I'm relegated to observing the Sugar Plum fairy and her exquisite dance, or going up to the canal in Ottawa and watching the ice dancers! Oh yes, I can skate, just no dancing on skates. ;)

Perhaps I could move to Australia and meet up with Matilda?

Looks like my kinda dancing! ;)

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ten days 'til Christmas day. There's lots of things to be done and this weekend is a good time to wade in and get the lion's share of the shopping, baking, and decorating done. Of course it's also the time that the parties are happening. Last night we went to the Village gov't Christmas party because D. is a member of the planning board.

Today the National weather service is predicting a major winter storm for our area. The prediction is for 14" - 20" of snow to fall between 0300 Sunday morning and 0700 Monday morning. A real Nor'easter'. Yesiree!!!! My oh my, a real winter snow storm, yippee! After last year's snowless winter I'm really looking forward to this. I know, I know that makes me a certifiable nut case but hey I was born and raised in this neck of the woods and I love winter. If I didn't, I'd be moving to a warmer clime. Late me restate that; I love winter with snow! So we knew that today was the day to get to town and get the chores done so that when the storm hits we can hunker down and stay inside and off the roads. We'll decorate the tree, I'll do the Christmas cards, listen to my 6000 Christmas cds, while D. gets her baking underway.

Tonight we are going to another party, this one at the Wright's spectacular gala. I'll try to remember to take some pictures of Bonnie's magnificent Christmas trees. Yes, I said trees. She has a tree in every room; decorated, like right out of a house and garden magazine. They really are beautiful and if I stay out of the wine long enough and keep my lips sealed for a bit I'll get some pics to share with you later.

So, anyway, back to the impending storm. This morning I was a little slow getting started; my head was in a state of painful confusion from over imbibing in the vin rouge last night. Now before you get all indignant and such, remember that three glasses of wine is over my limit. So I dillied (or is that dallied?) longer than usual this morning. D. was ready to motor to the 'burg before I had shed my jams and showered or what-have-you.

Good, so now on with the story. Usually around the holidays one or more unusual things happen to shed a aura of comedy to the retelling in days and years to come.
Before She left, D. dragged the remnants of last year's Christmas center piece up from the cellar and left it on the table right next to the door. Then she called up to me while I sat computing and waiting for the aspirin to kick in and asked if I would mind dropping the the center piece off at Basta's to be refurbished. Since Basta's is always my first stop shop for Christmas shopping I agreed to do this. About a half hour after D. left, I was ready to make my own departure. The temp outside was 3 degrees F. so I made sure to dress in the appropriate warm duds. I grabbed my camera and stuck it in my pocket and simultaneously ascertained that my mitts were in the pockets. Good to go says I to no one but myself. I opened the door, turned the lock from the inside, closed the door and sauntered up to the garage. Upon my arrival at the man door to the garage I reached into my left hand coat pocket to retrieve the key ring containing the garage key, only to find that no such key ring was present, Worriedly, I tentatively reached into my right hand coat pocket to see if my car keys were there-in. All the while knowing that all my keys were in my dress coat that I had worn last night to the village party, and said coat was lying behind locked doors in the closet.

rel had locked himself out of his house and didn't have a spare key. Well, isn't that a fine how-do-you-do?
There is a spare key to the garage in a secure hiding place, so I did get into the garage, which thankfully is heated. I called D. with my cell phone hoping that she had dallied in the Post Office, perhaps had stopped to get gas and met John Perretta at the windmill and he had talked with her for a "few minutes" and that some how she wouldn't have gotten that far from home yet. Yeah, right; she was 14 miles away in the middle of Walmart just starting her shopping. "Try Lynnette, she has a key," says D.. "Ok" says I. Over I go, knock and ring the doorbell and the dogs answer. I wait a few and surmise that perhaps Lynnette and Andy have gone shopping and have taken Andy's truck. I then take a walk to the post office and purchase the requisite amount of stamps for my Christmas cards. On the way home, I notice that Andy's garage door was open, so I beeline back to their house and voila, they are home. In fact Lynnette had been home when I went over the first time, but she was just getting out of the shower and by the time she made it down to the door I was gone, gone, gone.

Eureka!!! I'm in the house and retrieve the keys and am on the road with only a half hour delay.

I gave my dilapidated Christmas past center piece to the girls and arranged to pick up the refreshed version next Wednesday, the 19th. Joe, the proprietor, ascending the cellar stairs into the shop, espies moi and exclaims; "Bob, I want to thank you. Since Jane has started reading your blog she doesn't have time to pester me." Jane comes out from the back and tells me that yes, ever since Marion had given her my blog addy she has been a regular reader. What a nice surprise that was to hear. Although in retrospect I should have known that Bonnie would have shared it with Marion and so on and so forth. We chatted long enough so that the girls had ample time to Christmas-wrap my purchases and saved me the trouble of doing it Christmas eve. And since I'm on call both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that was an enormous favor and helps de-stress my Christmas....Thanks girls!
The next stop was Hackett's and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but my wife and the editor of our local newspaper. My dear wife asked me to take her to lunch right there in the store's cafe. After a delightful repast she left for home and I did some additional shopping.

On my return trip home I stopped by a neighbors house to snap a pic of his two snowmen and yes I did hum Frosty while I was there.

And then I sang Oh Christmas Tree as I retrieved our live and disproportioned tree from the back porch and brought in 'round to the front and dragged it through the front door and into the living room:
We'll leave it standing in the corner to thaw out in hopes that the branches will droop down (they never do) and fill in the inevitable bare spots that are inherent with live trees....and isn't that what makes them special? Hey at least I didn't pick one ten feet tall for a eight foot ceiling, and hasn't that been done before?

Now I'm off to make myself presentable for Bonnie and Dick's party.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Morristown teen is runner-up in CMT competitionUpdated: 12/11/2007 7:52 PMBy: Katie Morse

MORRISTOWN, N.Y. -- Morristown students counted the seconds until the winner of the CMT competition was announced.Macy VanArnam came in second place and took the news like a true champion.
"You know what? I'm ok. You know, if I win or lost it's been an amazing experience for everything, and coming in second place, you know, that's nothing to shake a stick at, so I'm very excited and I'm grateful to be here, so I'm completely satisfied,” said VanArnam.
She performed for her classmates and thanked everyone for their support.
"I totally credit the small town for, you know, everybody knows everybody, and everybody is pulling for everybody. You can fight with your neighbor and argue back and forth but at the end of the day you know we're going to stick together," VanArnam said.
Teen takes second place in national competitionMorristown students counted the seconds until the winner of the CMT competition was announced.
Even though Macy isn't headed to Nashville quite yet her friends and family who gathered in the gymnasium today say they couldn't be more proud of here, and they know that fame isn't far away.
"To us she's number one in our books. No matter what she's still going to be number one. I mean, she's done so well for herself and we're all really proud of her,” said friend Sarah LaBarge.
"She took the news very, very well, and I knew she'd be o.k. either way, so it's, I can't just say enough good things about her. You know, we love her and we're proud of her and excited to see what life has in store for Macy,” said mom Carly VanArnam.
And the second-place announcement hasn't discouraged Macy at all.
"If anything, it's encouraged me. Because it's given me a small taste of what that life could be like, and if anything it's encouraged me,” the teen singer said.
Encouraged her to keep chasing her singing dreams.
Macy will be at the Morristown Fire Hall between one and four on Saturday thanking the community for its support.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

“The Moment”

The moment lasted for two weeks:

Grandpa reading to the girls.

Choosing a piñata for Hailey's Birthday.

Grandpa and Bria on the trampoline;
Grandpa broke his little toe. ;)

Hailey whacks the "Tinker Bell" piñata.

Grandma and "evil eyes" Crystal Lilly.

Birthday overload!

Petting a StingRay.

Building sandcastles under the fantail of the USS Lexington on the Gulf of Mexico.

Crystal falls asleep while grandpa reads her a story.

The Nap after Thanksgiving diner!

Computer geeks write to Santa.

Hailey falls a sleep in Grandma and grandpa's bed while reading.

The Moments pass so quickly!