a bit of pre-Thanksgiving

Francis: “Sing to it, it likes to be sung to.”
Eliza: *singing* “There once was a lass I used to knooooooow…”
Bug: *singing under her breath* “It’s just a piece of doooough….”

Because yes. They are singing to pie dough. According to Francis, the pie dough “needs to be loved” as you make it. Apparently pie-making is a magical process, one which requires the utmost concentration combined with a loving touch and–

Eliza: *singing* “And at last I seeeeeeeee the liiiiiiiight…. Okay, sing something new to it.”
Me: “When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s–”
Eliza: “No, he hates it. He liked my other singing better.” Now she has started singing in her Mother Gothel voice… “Rapunzel knows best, Rapunzel’s so mature now– And, the crust is done.” (to the pie) “I’m glad you were finished under Mother Gothel’s hand.”
Me: “This has gotten progressively creepier.”

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

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

Things that Begin with the Letter B (part two)

Part 2: I actually forget what started with B at this part. Best friends? Black Friday? Brain cell loss? 

So then, it was Wednesday. Which meant… ELIZA WAS HOME!!!!

Actually, it meant I was at work for most of the day, stuck there with the knowledge that Eliza was within walking distance (erm, if I reeeeeallly liked walking, that is). Everyone was saying “Happy Thanksgiving” to each other, and I wanted to say back, “Happy day before Thanksgiving, a.k.a. the day I will finally see my friend in real life, a.k.a. ISN’T LIFE BEAUTIFUL DON’T YOU JUST WANT TO HOP IN CIRCLES!” But I restrained myself. Be proud of me. (I did do that thing where you jump and click your heels as I went out the door, though.) I jumped in the car and said to Mom, “Go, go, GO!”
Mom: …calmly clips a coupon. “Hang on. I’m almost done.”
Me: “Gah!”
Then I finally got to the DHF’s house, and knocked at the door. That’s when I heard a thud and PoorBill talking loudly and slowly, and I looked through the window to see the DHFs carrying a couch down the stairs. Bug let me in through the back, and then Eliza came from putting the couch down (I guess they were making good use of having their Krypton Girl home) and we “mauled” each other as Poncho would say. This involved me being squeezed so hard I thought I was going to have a bruised rib.

Well, the DHFs were/are in a state of home-interior transition, so we were all put to work holding pictures up to the wall for approval, handing screws to PoorBill, etc. I also did a lot of jumping around. Just saying. Bug and I went crazy, re-enacted Star Wars and invented “crab attack”, which we decided is the part of Star Wars that you didn’t see, and which we spontaneously broke out into for the rest of the time I was there. At some point all of the excitement died down and– just kidding, I don’t think that ever happened.

And the next day was… Thanksgiving!

So, we got up and made some apple pie. We (well, actually Eliza) had made sweet potato pie (I know, I know! It shouldn’t even be mentioned to people who don’t have a piece in front of them, that was very cruel of me) the night before. Everything was tra-la-la; we were expecting Grandma Vegas to show up in the afternoon, followed soon after by the rest of my family. But then I got the call. (dun dun dun)
It was Mom. Poncho, apparently, had strep. Also Dodge had a similar ailment. So it would just be Grandma and Grandpa Vegas and my dad who would be joining us. They arrived with turkey and other food, and as we waited for the stuffing to finish cooking, Eliza had a little chat with Grandpa.
Grandpa: “So, I hear you’re dating. That’s not good.”
Eliza assured him that her “beau” (as I call him… I am still trying to think of a good blog– or real life!–nickname for him) is a good fellow.
Grandpa: “No, all boys are bad! I know. I was that age once and–”
Grandma: “Ah-ah, don’t even go there.”
Grandpa: “Well, I’m just saying.” Then he made sure to ask all the right questions. Including, “Is he Irish?”
Eliza: “No, I don’t think so. He does have Italian, though.”
Grandpa: “Hardheads! I know all about that. My wife’s Italian.”
Grandma: “Yeah, and I’m right here.”
And, the ultimate question from Grandpa: “What kind of car does he drive?”
You have to understand that this is the question in Grandpa’s mind. As a retired Chevy worker, he won’t even let foreign cars park in his driveway. (I don’t know if Fords are allowed. Maybe only if you let him say “F-O-R-D: Fix Or Repair Daily” every time you come over.)
Eliza: “I don’t know.”
Grandpa: “You don’t know!?!”
His closing advice was “Think with your head, not with your heart.” (But I’m not so sure he ever listened to it himself…)

We ended up having quite a lovely Thanksgiving, even though this has been The Year of Holiday Catastrophes (the Mother’s Day Dog Disaster, the drama surrounding Halloween… I’m thinking of getting my family a bomb shelter for Christmas at this point.) Oh, and after my family left (and I stayed behind, hehe), the C’s came over! Which was wildly fun, and involved mad hairdos and an improvised play. Then it was time for Black Friday.

Which was really still Thursday in my opinion.

I mean, I know it started at midnight, but this entire thing felt like one neverending day. Anyway, we went to Kohl’s. Waiting in line outside, we talked, and did weird voices, and Eliza and Bug started singing something that I can’t even spell onomatopoetically (nor can I spell ‘onomatopeotically’ itself, don’t judge) and dancing. Then the line moved! Then we got in! Then we ran upstairs and went straight to the shoes area, where Bug snatched a pair of boots, tried them on, and decided yes, all in under four seconds. I stood with one foot on the box and pretended to be Napoleon (or someone like that) while Bug looked for more shoes. Then we went on to the rest of the upstairs, and then downstairs, and then all in squiggly lines. We tried on a few items (yes, we did, despite it being against Mom’s “Black Friday Rules”), and then stood in line for what did not feel like such a long time, and then we were out of there. My big purchases?
A pair of tights. Also a shirt.
Wow!

We went home and fell asleep for five hours, and then we got up early to go to a resale shop and Goodwill. (I know, wow again! We also wished that we could pop into a couple of used-book stores. All during Black Friday I kept yelling, “BLACK FRIDAY: SHEETS!! YAAAAHHH!” Or “SOCKS!! YAAAAHHHH!” or whatever else we ended up getting.) After that, we all took a nap in the sunshine upstairs.

Oh, and then I had to go to work.
Yeeeeahhh.

Having Eliza back, and hanging out and talking (oftentimes about Little Dorrit, which has risen way, way above and beyond obsession status, believe me– Bug and I have decided that it’s eaten our brains, and we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll probably spend the rest of our young lives talking about it) (so much so that I could not even wrap up this post without mentioning it. Jeez Louise.) and being crazy and being together… it was just so good.

Whew. That was a long post.
Yours,
Pen

sparrows in the holly bush

Well, I don’t have much to say, but it’s been FOREVER since I blogged and I hate to be away so long.
So.
Here I am.

So much has happened between Christmas and now that I feel like I have to catch up. Christmas was awesome, obviously, and New Years was extremely lame (Mom says we need to come up with a new tradition– I vote for playing games because…) my birthday was SUPER FUN and it involved going to the park, eating delicious food, being with my friends, and playing Spot It with my family. Grandpa kept shouting “whale!” for the dolphin, and it was so fun playing games with everyone. I also got a birdfeeder for my bedroom window (no birds have found it yet even though some sparrows live in a holly bush literally five feet away).Oh, and we had cookies.

Being seventeen is waaaaaaay more enjoyable (so far) than being sixteen. I don’t know why; I just felt like at sixteen there were somehow all these societal expectations– driving, working, being a grownup yet a typical teenager. I hated telling people I was sixteen! But now, I’m seventeen and I feel like the pressure is off– if I’m not driving now I must be waiting until eighteen and the same with everything else. I’m in an in-between age where nothing in particular is expected of me and I love it. (Perhaps that is why I loved being fifteen as well…. So nineteen must be my next fun age. Hm.) I feel like I have the freedom to “stretch” and evolve at my own pace and not rush into things just because I’m now old enough for it.

I wish I could vote, though. (Not that citizens get to vote on anything important [cough, SOPA/PIPA].)

The other main thing that I have been doing lately is writing. I am so excited about the way that White Funeral is shaping up. It’s different from the original in many ways, yet I feel like it’s closer to the original concept. Things haven’t really changed, it’s just that I understand them better now. So things that I’m adding are things that I feel were in the original, just not fully revealed or explored. I’m really having fun unveiling things, and feeling like, “oh, that’s what I really meant when I said that”. Sometimes I think my subconscious writes and I just try to follow along.

Oh, and one more thing: I taught my dog Lily to speak! (I mean bark on command. If she was really holding conversations with me I would have mentioned it earlier.) Anyway, she does the trick perfectly… unless other people are watching.
Me: “Dad, watch, I taught the dog to speak.”
Dad: “Wow, she learned English? When did that happen?”
Me: “Noooooo… You know what I mean.”
Dad: “She does that too much already.”
Me: “No. She’s a good doggie! Lily, wanna treat?”
Dad: “Too much noise…”
Me: “Lily! Lily! Sit. Good. Speak!”
Lily: ………. *tail wagging*
Me: “Speak!”
Lily: …………*staring hungrily at treat*
Me: “Lily, speak!”
Lily: ………. *squirms*
Me: “Speak, Lily! Speeeeeak!”
Lily: “woof-BARK!”
Dad: “Wow. Amazing.”
Lily: *sneezes on me*
Me: “Thanks…”

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.