stars and angels gave the sign

Hello from the time warp that is Christmas. Seriously, the day before Christmas Eve (Mom calls it Christmas Adam), Christmas Eve, and Christmas (or Christmas Day One, as I call it) felt like a whole week all by themselves. There was cleaning, decorating (I made paper chains and stars, and the stars still haven’t made it up…), church-going, and then on the night of Christmas Eve, feasting and gingerbread-house-making. Also Dad read us “The Night Before Christmas”, as is traditional. Or not.
Dad: “When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but–”
Poncho: “A chocolate cow. HEHEHEHEHEEEEE”
Dad: shakes head sadly, muttering, “Blasphemy.”

Yep, that's the gingerbread house. You either think it's cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven...
Yep, that’s the gingerbread house. You either think it’s cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven…

Oh yeah, and the dead Lego people in the background… The battle of Helm’s Deep spilled over. Because that’s what Poncho got for Christmas! He opened it with much excitement, and Dodge and I just looked at each other and I said, “Can we play?”

Anyway… Christmas itself was laid-back, with us basically taking turns laying on the couch with the television tuned into sleep-inducing nature shows, or new video games, or movies. I never got a nap, though, because right as I fell asleep it was time for dinner. Which was ham.
Ham, my personal nemesis.
Well, one of them. Because if ham was the mayor, Canadian bacon would be vice mayor, and why did I use mayors as an analogy. I do not know. What I’m getting at is, ham creeps me out.
Grandma: “Aren’t you going to have some meat?”
Me: “I don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “You’re a vegetarian!?!”
Me: “No… I just don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “So you just don’t like pork, huh?”
Me: “I like pork. Just not ham.”
Or Canadian bacon. But I did not mention that.
Next Christmas I think we should have catfish instead. At least one for me. (And if catfish was the mayor, corn muffins would be vice mayor and mashed potatoes would be secretary of state–)

Oh, and everyone seemed to like the presents I got or made for them, which made me happy. I was overly excited to give gifts to people. Probably because I’m about as good as keeping secrets as mashed potatoes would be at foreign affairs, so I would have just burst out “PONCHO I MADE YOU A NARWHAL” at any minute if I’d had to wait longer.

That’s kind of all I have to say about Christmas (so far, that is…). I mean, I ought to have more to say, or some touching words, or something. But nope.

Right now Mom is watching the news, and they were showing snowfall stats for different cities.
Mom: “Way to go, Little Rock!!! …I’m so happy for them.”

I’m happy for us too, that we had snow. The news tried to make it sound like it was going to be a deadly blizzard, and even the library closed early. It wasn’t a blizzard. It was more of, uhhh, normal snowfall amounts for this region.
But that’s probably not as fun to say as “SNOWPOCALYPSE!” so, yeah.

(on the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me–)
That’s all for now…
~Pen

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rage against the dying of the light(s)

Driving through Dad’s old neighborhood today…
Dad: “That’s where I went to elementary school.”
Me: “Wow, that’s an intimidating-looking building.”
Dad: “Willie’s Workhouse.”
Me: “Haha! What’s the real name of it, isn’t it Wilbur Wright?”
Dad: “Wilbur Wrong.”

So, you guys. The Christmas tree is up and lit, after the Lighting Fiasco, which went like this:
Dad set up the tree. Then he and Poncho were supposed to put the lights on. So they did. Then they turned the lights on, except… the lights didn’t work. They took the lights off. Then the lights did work. Then they put the lights back on.
Poncho: “If they don’t work again, I’m quitting the lights for all enternity!”
Mom: “I am so sick of everyone quitting lights for all eternity.”
Then only half the lights worked.
Dad: “Maybe we should test to see if the tree is really fire-retardant.”

Then today we went to the store and bought new lights (well, Mom and the boys dug through lights, I perused the ornaments, which I determined were incredibly cheap-o, and also would be easy to make if I liked them). Then we came home and Poncho put the lights on the tree again, but only halfway and it looked like a net thrown over the tree. Then, finally, Mom helped him weave the strings of lights into the branches, and it was finally done.

In the meantime, Dad put a string of lights up outside, and I made approximately 40 feet of paper chain. I would have kept going, but my fingers started to give up the will to live, and I was also hoarse from singing along with endless Beatles. (which I am still listening to now.)

During the Tree-Lighting Fiasco, Mom instructed me to put on some music for Poncho as he lit the tree… So what did I put on but “Please Please Me”? When Mom came back into the room, she gave me a look.
Mom: “What is this.”
Me: “The Beatles are always appropriate.”
Mom: “They are not Christmas music.”

Hey, the season’s supposed to be joyous, right? Well, there you go.

So, anyway, there is some tree-related news… This is probably the last year that we’ll use this tree. It’s lasted over fifteen years, and its condition is what Mom would call well-loved. Of course, after the Fiasco, the boys are begging for a pre-lighted one, but Mom has a specific vision that must be carried out, and the main tenet is: The lights must be multi-colored, not all white. I totally understand this because our tree is so eclectic. It’s basically a mishmash of all of our lives, past and present, all of our likes and phases and yes, even craft projects– including a blue snowman that Mom made in third grade. We don’t decorate the tree, we barrage it. And it’s kind of awesome.

Poncho, looking at the (finally) lighted tree: “Awesomesauce.”
Me: “You did not just say ‘awesomesauce’.”
Poncho: “Naaaaar-whaaaaaals!”
Me: “Okay then.”

Yours till the fire lights,
Pen

It’s beginning to look a lot like… an utter failure on the part of nature to deliver an actual winter.

All I want for Christmas is SNOW.
I will aslo accept:
slush,
sleet,
brooding gray clouds,
marrow-clenching cold,
or a combination of the above.
So, yeah, hint-hint, you guys. Better get cracking on that, because so far it pretty much still looks like October. It’s already St. Nicholas Day, didn’t you know. (And I already snarfed the chocolate coins I found in my shoes this morning. I can’t control myself around those things. Shiny! Tasty! We must have the precious!) 

Hey, speaking of preciouses, I finally got my hands on Reached, the sequel to the fab book Matched (I am pretending Book Two never happened. Although it did help me learn something about myself: I can’t handle guys with issues. Sorry, I just don’t get the whole brooding + depressed = attractive thing. I mean, Rochester has issues, and he can be brooding sometimes– partly because that’s just his face– but he’s also teasing and independent and he doesn’t give in to melodrama. And seriously, if a guy in a GOTHIC NOVEL doesn’t do melodrama, then what the heck is your problem, Ky and that soldier guy and Arthur Clennam who I secretly love anyway?)

Ahem. Back to what I was saying… I finished Reached today after getting it last night. (Basically, I behave the same way around shiny new books as I do around shiny coin chocolate. Omnomnom.) It was not as good as Matched, which I obviously expected, but it was much more like Matched than book two was. So it made me happy.
It was also so good, good, good to sink my teeth into a book that’s not a classic, that’s not an “adult” book, that’s not something I want to nitpick or something I grabbed out of desperation. I just let myself enjoy this, you know? Classics can be enjoyable, but they require work to get through– I don’t mean “boo-hoo, they made me think!”, I mean “ouch my brain why why why are your sentences so wordy, Dickens?” Time and the evolution of the English language makes reading some classics hard. (To use Jane Eyre again, I initially rolled my eyes at that book every time it said “unclosed” instead of “opened”. But then I got into it, and I loved it so much, and also Eliza wrote a poem inspired by it that used the word “unclosing”, and I just couldn’t hate it after that.) I think some people believe that “easy reading” is for wimps or lazy consumers or the uneducated mass market or whatever. But you know what? Writers work so hard to write well, to make everything correct and clear and beautiful. They forge the same sentences over and over until it’s perfect. And then– they make it so you don’t see those words that they worked so hard over. They make it so that you see only the story. It’s hard to make it easy.
Plus, wouldn;t you rather puzzle about the meaning of the story– and by extension, the meaning of life!, says the hipster on my left shoulder– than the meaning of a sentence?

OK, well, I didn’t mean to go into a rant there… See what literature does to my brain?

Anyway. Hmm.

Oh, yes.

So, the other night we were watching “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because it was on TV. By we, I mean: Dad, Poncho, and me. We were kind of sitting there in quiet bemusement, because the movie is so weird. I never noticed how weird when I was a kid (I always liked “The Little Drummer Boy” better, anyway), but, okay. Everyone in the movie is mean, especially Santa Claus, and Rudolph’s mom doesn’t even have a name. (Also the snowman is a Communist, according to Poor Bill.)
Then Mom came in towards the end of the movie, right when there’s a big snowstorm and they’re going to “cancel Christmas”.
Me: “So this is the movie that started that idiocy.”
Mom: “I don’t know if they started it, or just jumped on the bandwagon.”
Santa: “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Mom: “So basically, Santa’s a total jerk to you until you have something he needs.”
Rudolph: Of course” (or whatever he said to the affirmative)
Mom: “Jeez, Rudolph has some boundary issues. He should’ve been like, ‘Screw you, Santa!'”
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA”
Later…
Mom: “I’ve always felt that way about that movie, and I’ve never been able to express myself.”
Me: “Well, it’s true. I mean, Santa never has a change of heart in this movie. He gets fat, but he’s still mean. Also do you find it weird that Rudolph’s mom’s name is literally Mrs. Donner?”
Mom: “Yeah, kinda…”
Me: “And only the boy reindeer can fly, apparently? I mean, do not tell me that all of Santa’s reindeer are supposed to be boys. There’s girl names in the song. You know Dasher and Comet and Cupid and… uh…”
Dodge: “Well, they all have antlers.”
Mom: “Girl reindeer have antlers, too!”
Dodge: “No they don’t….”
Mom:
Dodge:
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
(Can you tell that “later” meant “after midnight”?)

Well, then I went to help “Saint Nick” get a certain present ready. It involved funneling fake snow into a glass ornament. The brand of artificial snow was called Rainbow Snow. But I mis-read it as “Raining Snow”.
Me: “Look, mommy, it’s raining snow outside! Ahahahahahahaha–”
Mom: “Har.”

Yeah, if only it were raining snow…

Yours till the snow flakes (DO YOU HEAR ME UP THERE! I SAID SNOW!!!),
Pen

Christmas Adam

You know, because it’s before Christmas Eve! Mom told me that last night.

I can hardly believe it’s so close to Christmas. With moving and all that, Advent went by as a blur of purple and what?-already?-pink. But the tree is up (with a new piece of tape on the stand, as is traditional), the lights are lit, and the gifts are wrapped. I bought the last of mine two days ago… Example number five thousand and one of how I am a procrastinator. I always want to find the Perfect Present to give people. Something unique! And cool! Yet useful! Soooo, yeah. Luckily Mom knows of all cool stores ever and was also willing to drive me there even in her slightly stressed mood. We went into the first one, where I got __________ for ______, but did not find anything else. Then we went into a ____ store so I could look for ______, but did not find any, so then as we got into the car…
Mom: “Oh my gosh. Ohhh my gosh. We’ve been in like a ton of stores and you haven’t found anything!!!”
Me: “Um. We’ve been in two stores, and one of them was like a fake Hallmark. And I actually did buy something. So… be calm.”
Mom: “Oh. Right.”
So then I kept doing my impression of her freaking out, which made her laugh, and I found the rest of my presents in the third store we went to. All was well.

It even snowed this morning, and there was a GORGEOUS first snow last week which actually stuck and was awesome and cool. I took a walk through my new neighborhood in it, and got a bit lost. I was going to follow my tracks home, but the snow was falling rapidly and I didn’t really want to go the same way I had come. The unknown was calling me! Oh, and I heard the bells ringing from the nearby church, which gave me some idea of which direction I should walk in. I eventually made it home… Though at one point I was a little afraid I would be doomed to become the Lost Soul of Serborn, doomed to wander suburbia forever in search of home.

Buuut then I heard very familiar barking, and realized I was right around the corner from my house.

Humans: 1. Cul-de-sacs: 0.  

Right now Dodge is pretending to spy on me from the other side of the Christmas tree, and Dad is listening to cats meowing Jingle Bells.

Yep. It feels like Christmas now… 

The other night I had a dream in which I was talking to my mom, and I said “Hey, tomorrow is Thursday.” But she said,  “No, tomorrow’s Christmas!” and I shouted “YAY!” and did a happy dance. I think I’m aging backward this year. :)

In that case, YAY!!! CHRISTMAS!!!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Love,
Pen

Humbug.

I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind at the monent, several of them which would be good for a blog post or a poem, but alas, they have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. And not only that, but they are not the least bit jolly or merry or even lighthearted.

It is not fair that just because it’s a few days until Christmas, I can’t write about those things. It’s enough to make a person hate the lead-up to Christmas (because I still can’t hate Christmas, I mean come on).

How come that is, eh? My brain does not work in holidays or themes or one mood at a time. My brain does not conjure nice poetry about Christmas coming (although it has in years past…), or about winter, or anything like that. No. Instead, today, it got a few good ideas that involved nothing short of poison, conspiracies, moon phases, and housing developments. 
In short, nothing to do with Christmas. 

But still very intriguing matters that need written about. 

Humbug.
-Pen

it’s Christmas time in the city…

and everywhere else too.

The final phases of putting up and decorating the tree are done. Pretty much everything is ready, though I am still trying to find a few presents for people. Etcetera, etcetera, ho ho ho.

Every time I see wrapping paper that says Ho Ho Ho I mistakenly think it says Ohio.

It is still snowing off and on. I love it, and today after Mass I saw a huge flock of Canada geese grazing in the field beside the church. They all raised their heads when I walked by, crunching ice. Then when I made goose noises at them they resumed ignoring me and allowed me to watch them eat, annoy each other, honk, and walk around. Their steps actually made noise on the frozen grass. Somehow, when I could hear them walking and hear their feathers flapping, it made them seem actually real and alive. Not that I didn’t know they were before, but it just struck me that way.

Hmmm. I don’t have much to say, but I am posting anyway because it’s been too long.

Oh. Well, a few adventures have occured:
Dodge pulled out one of his “mostly loose” molars yesterday and showed it to me;
We got season 2 of Dr Quinn Medicine Woman;
I taught myself weaving and am learning how to make patterns;
I am teaching myself a bit of guitar;
I had a halfway OK time at HSYM tonight;
I am currently reading a book called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which is actually quite good;
and… I think that is all for now. I am in desperate need of some poem-writing…

Love,
Pen

Nice Holiday Traditions

Dodge: “Come here come here come here! Look!”
Me: “Huhhh?”
Dodge: “Okay, you stand behind that wall, and watch the stairs…”
I looked at the stairs, and Dad was standing at the top of them, looking down. The box containing the fire-retardant tree was balanced at the edge of the upstairs landing, and Dad had a mischevous grin on his face…
Me: “NO. You wouldn’t.”
Dodge: (evil laughter)
Me: “It’ll break!”
Dad: (evil laughter)
Dodge: “One, two, three, GOOOOOO!”
The tree fliew down the stairs in a spectacular flip! And Poncho screamed as the box landed at his feet.
Me: “Oh my…”
Dodge: “We did it last year too. It’s a tradition.”

Later…

Dodge was beginning to actaully build the tree, when he noticed that the stand was not in the box. Meanwhile, Dad was lying on the couch with a footlong piece of floss in his mouth. (Don’t ask.)
Dodge: “Where is the stand?”
Dad: “In the box.”
Dodge: “No it’s not. It must be upstairs.”
Dad: “Well, it’s supposed to be in the box.”
Dodge: “Well, it’s not.”
Dad: “Well, it should be.
Dodge: “Well, it’s not.”
Dad: “I’m not going to get it.” He started to play guitar using the floss as the string, pulled tight from his front teeth.
Dodge: “You are such a child.”
Dad: “Am not. Ow, I think my tooth is loose now.”
Dodge: “Hmm.”
Dad pretended to sleep, leaving his floss hanging out of his mouth. Daisy came along and smelled the minty flavor… and started to chew on one end of the floss.
Dad: “Ehhhhhhhhhh! Ehhhhhh!”
Dodge: “I’ll save you if you’ll go get the stand.”
Dad: “EHHHH!”
Dodge (takes the floss): “Go now or I’ll drop it on your face.”
Dad: “I’m going, I’m going!”
He finally got the stand… It is quite beautiful…

Dad: “Hm, I think it needs more tape.”
Dodge: “Really?”
Dad: “Yeah, I put a new piece on every year. It’s a tradition.”

What a night. Phase One of putting up the tree is now complete.

Calloo Callay!

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Bethesda is having Mass tonight, but unfortunately Mom and I have Girl Scout investiture. :/ So we had to go to church yesterday night. It was actually really nice though. It was freezing, first of all, and very dark becuase the stupid sun sets at like five o’ clock– but anyway! Coming into the parking lot I could see the stained glass windows glowing all pretty, and then the whole church is kind of like a dome, and the lobby/entrance part is just glass, doors and walls and everything is just glass. So it looked like there were no doors or outer walls, like it was just open, becuase of the dark and the brightness of the church. When we went in, it was nice and warm, and there were not a ton of people because most probably would rather go tonight. (Or they’re being naughty and not going at all….) Inside, the stained glass was just black becuase there was no light coming in. Poncho was like, “Huh?” so we had to explain the whole phenomenon to him. The Mass itself was good, not as great as it would’ve been if it had been the Besthesda Mass, but still. I liked it. Then Mom bugged me and kept asking why I liked it so much, which kind of drove me crazy. Do I need a reason for everything? Sigh.

I’ve been trying to prepare for Christmas more and more. I still need to get the gift together for Saturday, when my writer’s group (heart heart heart… seriously, I’m forever looking forward to writer’s group meetings.) has their Christmas party. We’re going to eat pastry and snacks during the critique session, and then we’re having a white elephant gift exchange and just hanging out. I don’t know exactly what I’m giving, but I have quite a few ideas. All of them are pretty good. Just thought we’d be clear about that. :P I am also going to make those awful-for-you-but-so-yummy Pillsbury Christmas cookies. I would make home-made cookies, but I think I’ll keep those up my sleeve for the January meeting becuase it’ll be on my actual birthday and I want to make them my birthday cookies. :) Soo yeah just going to use those stick and bake kind. Gimme a break, peeps! I can’t always be home-made! I have my sanity to consider… and the fact that those cookies have Rudolph on them. Who can resist???

Poor Bill hates Rudolph. Well, maybe not Rudolph personally, but you know that stop-motion movie with Kris Kringle and the wizard guy and then at the end the reindeer eat magic corn to make themselves fly? Yeah, he hates that movie. We were singing all the songs just to annoy him. “Put one foot in front of the other! And soon you’ll be walking cross the flo-o-orr!” Et cetera. Poor Bill. Poor, poor Bill. ;P

Poncho (who is supposed to be doing school right now) has just given me a re-enactment of how Qui-Gon Jinn got “stabbed by a double lightsaber like THISSS!!!” Then he did a bunch of jumping around. Which reminded me that we went to see Star Wars IN CONCERT!

Yeah, I know. Totally the BOMB! Except, you know, the crowds and stuff. But we didn’t have to sit in crappy seats and even though we were still far away if you closed your eyes it sounded like the orchestra was right in your face! It was really cool. Even though I am such a non-Star Wars nerd that I didn’t even know how to spell Qui-Gon Jinn. I had to ask Dodge for his trading cards. Plus I always need to have him explain the movies to me. But then at the concert I felt smart becuase I was sitting next to Mom and had to explain things to her. :D

Yep, lately my days have been both frazzled and frabjous. Mostly frabjous, though. :)

Peace,
Pen