Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chirstmas Eve Blatherskite

Carl and I have quite a few Christmas CD's. Like everyone else, we have our favorites, but there are always discs that have songs on them that you just can't stand. For instance, on the fifth Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD Chip Davis took his beautiful Christmas Lullaby song and wrote lyrics to it, and then had Olivia Newton-John sing them. I can't STAND Olivia Newton-John (aka Olivia Neutron-Bomb) thus the instrumental version of the song is all but ruined for me. Another song I can't stand is Stevie Nicks' version of Silent Night on our Very Special Christmas CD. If there was a prize for the worst butchery ever done to a Christmas song she'd have won it.

But the one song that really grates my cheese is I Believe in Santa Claus sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. What especially torques me off is the lyric line "I believe there is a God somewhere although He's hard to see." Every time Dolly sings that line, the girls and I say, "Open your eyes and look around, stupid!" Sheesh. God isn't hard to see: you just have to want to look for Him.

I mean, I see God all the time. I see Him in the night sky, when all the stars are out and the air is clear. I see Him when I watch our daughters playing their trombones in band. I see Him when our three cats are cuddled up on the couch together. I see Him in my husband's beautiful blue eyes, especially when Carl has that "I really love you" look on his face. When I stop to consider where I might be now and what I may have become if God hadn't put Carl and me together I can see how God's plans work out for the best. I see God in the brush-strokes of everything I've ever painted, and it's very humbling to know that He has provided me with a wonderful talent. God is everywhere - from the tiny little molecules of DNA that make us up to the Earth that we all live on. He's there if you want to see Him. And what better time to look for Him than that time of year when we celebrate the birth of His son Jesus? God's not hard to see if you open your eyes, your heart and your mind and really look. He's there. I know. I've seen Him.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


When we went home to South Dakota for Thanksgiving, we spent time at Carl's brother's house. Carl's niece brought a kitten in from the barn, and it ended up cuddled in my lap. A little while later I swatted at something, and discovered that the kitten had fleas and they were migrating onto my sweatshirt. Carl and I ran outside and got the shirt off of me, and Carl's sister-in-law put my shirt in the washing machine and cleaned it for me. To paraphrase an old saying, "If you cuddle up with barn kittens you'll get up with fleas."

This is a paraphrase that Barack Obama would be wise to consider. I mean, in his past he has had close, friendly dealings with people who are in serious trouble with law enforcement. Rod "Blago" Blagojevich and Tony Rezko are names that are infamous. How is it possible that Mr. Obama can hang around with these guys and not have their sleaze rub off on him, unless he's clueless and naive, in which case he shouldn't be president? (Not that I voted for him.) Oh, yeah, and Bill Ayers, too. I mean, Barack's resume has some real losers in his reference list. And the news media has documented this, and the brave ones actually broadcast it.

But I feel bad for my various relatives who live in Illinois. Mostly I feel for Kathy and Sam, my sister and her husband. Sam used to work for the State of Illinois, and the trickle-down corruption of Illinois politics haunted him during his entire tenure. He retired as soon as he could and now works in the private sector, but the crap they had to endure was overwhelming. Now they're being oppressed by the Illinois judicial system. They're basically being forced to deal with a legal matter longer than I think is necessary, and they're not getting any help from the court. One of the court officers they had to deal with is (in my opinion) a radical man-hating feminist who published a report that was basically a work of fiction. It was so full of bull that they immediately challenged the report in court, which just makes the process linger longer and longer and longer. They have a strong, solid case, but they can't seem to get it in front of a judge. It's frustrating, maddening and completely unfair - Kathy and Sam are two of the most decent people you'll ever meet, and they deserve better. But it all starts at the top. The people who work under the governor see what he gets away with, and if he can so can they. That attitude is passed down throughout the system to the point where if you want a certain job promotion, it'll cost you "X" amount of dollars. Or, if you want a contract to work for the city, county or state, you have to know whose palms to grease and by how much. Corruption is ubiquitous in Illinois and it's the citizenry that suffers. I wonder if the "machine" built by Richard Daley in Chicago can ever be completely dismantled. I hope it can be, and if possible I'd love to help. I'm pretty handy with a Sawz-all.

Meanwhile, those of us who are outside of Illinois watch Blago's unfolding soap opera with increasing disgust. He comes off as narcissitic, arrogant and imperious, and I hope the Federal government throws the book at him and gives him the maximum punishment. And I can't help but wonder about Barack Obama. I mean, he was in tight with these people. Hopefully he didn't pick up any of their fleas. I don't know who we could get to wash his sweatshirt.

I sure ain't gonna do it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What A Week!

Let's start with Monday. The kids didn't have school, so Carl took the day off to do some things around the house. I screwed up his plans by having truck trouble. Then the weather got nasty. However, Carl and I still went to my company's Christmas party. The main roads were fine going home, but the two-lane road that leads to Atkins was a sheet of ice. So was the street in front of the house. Fortunately Carl is a good driver and kept us out of the ditch.

That brings us to Tuesday. School was cancelled and I stayed home with the girls. With the weather, my truck problems and a recent adjustment made to Mary's pump, we figured it would be better if I stayed put. But - if life gives you snow days, bake cookies! Hannah helped me, and we made Hilda's sugar cookies, chocolate crackles, seven layer cookies, and lebkuchen. Carl paid me the ultimate compliment: he said my lebkuchen was just as good as my Mom's!

Wednesday the girls had a two hour delayed start to school. Carl covered that, and I went to work...very carefully. He and I had traded vehicles for the week so he could observe mine, so I was quite cautious with Carl's pickup, especially on the railroad overpass. I almost wrecked his truck last year on that bridge, so I'm really leery of it. But all went well which bring us to...

Thursday. All was well until I got home. I hurried to put dinner on the table, then Carl and Hannah took off for Van Horne. Hannah had a concert at a cathedral that night, and Carl went along and taped it because I couldn't go. I was obligated to help with setup at the Legion for the ACC Christmas party, and Mary had Girl Scouts, so Boo and I stayed in town. However, I wish I had gone with Carl and Hannah, because Mr. Hayden (the high school choir director) invited audience members to join the Concert Choir in singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, a song I dearly love to sing. Mr. Hayden said he wants to make this a tradition, and I hope he does because I want to sing with them next year. But I got super stressed out, trying to get everyone fed and out the door, plus Carl wasn't feeling good so he laid down for a little bit, and with trying to get Mary's carbs added up and her pump going and so on and so on, I got overwhelmed and started stuttering. That happens sometimes, when I get a brain overload. My speech center shuts down and talking becomes difficult. It got better as the night went on, but apparently the stress chemicals in my brain didn't dissipate completely which takes us to...

Friday. This was the first night of our congregation's Living Nativity, and I had to get the girls up to the church and get them fed (some ladies bring in dinner) and because there were problems with the setup outside Carl couldn't come in and help me, so I was working with Mary when I was needed to help put costumes on people, and I went into overload again. Fortunately the girls were able to help me by finishing sentences I couldn't quite get out (they've done this before) so by the end of the evening I wasn't stuttering nearly as bad as I had been. The Living Nativity continues tonight, which brings us to...

Saturday. I had signed up to help at the high school with the Madrigal Dinner setup, so Carl took the girls to the ACC Christmas party and I went to Van Horne. I had a blast!! They needed someone to make the table-tents that mark who sits where, and I ended up doing that. I had some help (thanks Abbey and Kelsey!) and they turned out pretty nice. However, next year I plan to take our laptop computer and portable printer and make the table-tent cards using Power Point. Much easier, neater and faster. After I finished with the cards I did various other odd jobs, then left after I retrieved my tools. I had taken my tool kit into the school with me, and my screwdrivers and pliers managed to migrate around the room to wherever they were needed. But when I left I stopped at the convenience store and got a Diet Mountain Dew, and it had a Buy One Get One Free cap, so that just topped off a great day. Tonight we go back to the church building and do the Living Nativity again, then of course tomorrow is worship service, after which we'll go home and try and catch up on chores. Busy, busier, busiest.

I love my life!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Blatherskite

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone. We spent our time in Chamberlain, South Dakota, and we had a great trip! We got to see most of Carl's family on Thursday, and Friday night we went out to his brother Loren's for pizza. Also on Friday the girls and I went shopping in downtown Chamberlain (all three blocks of it). We had fun going from store to store. It wasn't quite the same as going into downtown Davenport with my grandmother, but it was nice, leisurly, uncrowded and friendly. The Chamber of Commerce has a "parade of lights" on Black Friday, and as part of it they have a drawing. During the day you go from store to store getting a card punched, then after the parade you turn in your card for the drawing. I had a card, but we didn't go back into town for the parade. We figured that Carl hardly ever gets to see his family and it's more important to spend time with them than to go to a parade and hope I win something. Carl did spend the day with his Mom while us girls were shopping, which was nice. Although, now that I think about it, I wonder what they were talking about....

Anyway. The weather was spectacular for the end of November - Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the skies were clear and the temperatures were in the mid 40's. That only made the shopping more pleasant. Saturday when we had to go home, though, was another story. It was cloudy, windy and cold. We stopped in Mitchell at the Cabela's store, and running from the truck to the store was nasty. But we managed to find what we wanted there: three pairs of flannel lined jeans for Mary (ladies size four!) and a pair of insulated black bib overalls for Hannah to wear out "in da snow". Mary needed jeans to wear with the new cowboy boots she got in Chamberlain. I told her she couldn't wear the boots with the sweatpants that she favors, and since she doesn't like regular jeans, we got her flannel lined ones because they're so soft inside. So, mission accomplished. Going home, though, the weather got worse. We ran into drizzle and mist in Minnesota, and by the time we got to Mason City, Iowa, it was snowing. It snowed almost all the rest of the way - it finally quit halfway between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. Needless to say we had to slow down because the roads were getting slick, and it was really late by the time we pulled into the garage.

The snow chased us home. When we got up the next morning we had three inches on the ground. Then the wind picked up and started drifting it, thus leading to a two hour school delay for the girls today. Ick. I hope this year isn't a repeat of last year, when there was a delay or cancellation at least once a week from mid-December to mid-March. The girls ended up going to class for an extra week in June. Ew!

Anyway. Now Thanksgiving is past, and Christmas is coming. I really don't know what to get the girls this year. I know what not to get them: Mary hates Hannah Montana and High School Musical and stuff like that, so I avoid those things. Hannah dislikes anything to do with sports (except for the marching band at football games) so no sports stuff for her. Neither girl wants a video game console (we still don't have one) and the shopping trip in South Dakota filled in their clothing needs, so I'm kinda out of ideas. The girls aren't much help - if you ask them what they want they roll their eyes and say "I don't know!" So shopping is a challenge. But actually, I like a good challenge.

Bring it on!