Monday, December 21, 2009

Who me, rushed?

Can’t believe it’s just four days until Christmas? Me, too, and it happens every time, even when I think I've been paying attention.

And this year, due in large part to my do it later day planner, I really haven't been paying attention. This planner allowed me to spend most of 2009 on the meticulous upkeep of my ability to ignore and postpone even the major issues. Actually, now that the year’s practically over, I’m glad I did most of it later or not at all, because it didn’t feel worthwhile at the time and I’m still having difficulty taking any of it seriously.

The last minute Christmas shopping’s no exception; seems like the closer it gets to that Friday morning deadline, the easier I become to please, and the stronger my desire to just buy something, already, and get back home. Not having really any excess cash this year only helped speed things along, and I’m proud to say that other than a few last minute stocking stuffers, I think I’m finished with the shopping.

I was particularly pleased with this year’s selection for my mother-in-law. We all have at least one nearly impossible to buy for person on our holiday gift list, don’t we? That certain someone for whom purchasing a present is mandatory, but about whose personal tastes and preferences our knowledge is relatively nonexistent, and hopefully can remain a pristine and intact unopened door in the house of life. Last year she bought me a sweater covered with jungle animals, each one sporting a crystal necklace, and it’s in a similar spirit of giving and warmth that I’ll be offering her the holiday tart burner with snowman slide. Will she like it? Do I care?

By the way, the little tarts are sold separately, and taste delicious once they’ve been properly burnt. Shown here: cranky cranberry flavor, which I thought seemed ideal for my special someone. Feels great to be just about done prepping for this holiday!

Monday, December 14, 2009

You're the top

Our family has never been the type to do anything conventionally or to play by rules. Don’t get me wrong—we’re not completely outside the realm of what’s considered normal—it’s just that we’re never quite solidly in normal’s court either. I cannot remember a single holiday where our tree had anything as traditional as a star, or even anything lit-up, as its focal point.

And last year’s post-holiday clean up was also pretty typical: I’ve got this habit of putting various personal belongings in plastic bags and dropping them off at Goodwill as a lazy woman’s method of housecleaning/hoard-resistance. Then I waste many subsequent hours wondering where these things are.

Result: an additional holiday decorating issue arose the other day: we need a new Christmas tree topper. (Not really, I thought, but better half trods a more well-worn path and was insistent). So, we went to the closest Kmart and had at it, giving up at least ten minutes of hard-earned free time. I voted for this cthulu holiday decorations topper. It incorporates both red and green and works on any sized tree. My vote was overridden, though, and I was not surprised.

Better half lobbied vigorously for this topper with Spock. Yeah, I had to agree, the Vulcan salute with its “live long and prosper” aftermath, is a perfectly sound sentiment for this time of year, but I just couldn’t feel the love. I was ready for a tiebreaker and/or an immediate trip back home.

A few sulky moments ensued, but then we both found this lighted rock ice triple candle topper right in the check-out aisle, and—really, need I say anything else? It was just over the top enough. One of my coolest friends saw it and gasped, “Good gaudy, Miss Maudie!” and I knew I’d hold on to this baby for at least a few more years.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Maketh Merry

Our time-honored methods of dividing the chores left holiday decorations firmly in my court yet again this year, which meant the theme (eat, drink and be merry, minus the “eat” part) remains largely unchanged. Let’s face it: anything that gets you through a few days of enforced family fun-n-intensity is worth a certain amount of hoopla and hullabaloo. I hung the serene yoga diva Christmas ornament in a prominent place, near Joyous Julie, who’s sure to provide refills on demand. Umbrella drinks and yoga: such an excellent pairing, I didn’t mind the lack of any actual tie-in to Christmas, or any other December holiday.

The wine elf trio turned out to be excellent company for Wine Santa, although I never knew the elves were actually Claus family members. Living at the North Pole and spending all one’s spare time in the manufacture of toys clearly results in a certain amount of in-breeding, a great deal of facial hair and a smattering of alcoholism. It’s par for the course.

Finding this set of wine-themed Christmas ornaments on the same shopping trip (different store) seemed almost magical. And then, finding a great wine sale on the way home from the mall made the entire venture seem cosmically-driven, meant-to-be and practically worthwhile.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Matters to me

You know how sometimes you start paying attention to a certain topic and before you know it, you're finding it everywhere? It’s kind of like how if you start looking for blue cars, you’re going to see a lot of blue cars. Or you look at the clock one day at 2:12 and then that number combination recurs in other arenas. This is one of life’s more enjoyable phenomena; when it happens to you, be glad you noticed. Don’t get spooked out, it's all good. Maybe someone’s trying to get your attention for very specific reasons, or maybe it’s just a big coincidence.

In any case, my focal topic in the past few days has been methods of optimizing brain health (let me guess, you were expecting something much more lowbrow, and 99% of the time you’d have been right!). What I’ve already learned is that when you start thinking about your brain as well as with it, the results can be truly amazing as well as strangely serendipitous and uncannily unctuous. Example: this morning I made the mistake of doing a little holiday shopping and had a (meant to be?) rendezvous with this brain food, winner of a coveted creative child toy award and “ideal for networking your right and left brain.”

Enjoying its metallic sheen, hoping for something with the consistency and frangibility of mercury, I picked it up only to discover it was much more like my thinking putty than anything as volatile and erratic as mercury (or a brain). Hoping I’d made at least a few successful neural connections, I returned it to its place on the store shelf. Wonder if I should have made this purchase? Think it could stand in for duct tape in certain emergencies?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

After the boys of summer are gone

It’s almost winter, and you’ve probably been enjoying the first few airings of your warm-weather wardrobe. Kind of nice to wear long sleeves again, to need a jacket when stepping outside, walking briskly in order to generate enough body heat to stay comfy-cozy after all those months of heat and humidity. It’s always refreshing at first, kind of like that initial snowfall.

You might be tempted to believe that your best friend, the dog, would also enjoy an extra layer or two. But unless you live in an extremely cold climate and have one of those really frou-frou ultra-sensitive lap-dogs, you can probably reconsider. Don’t forget, someone’s wearing a coat 24/7 and it works better than yours.

Jasper, our product model, is not only uncomfortable in his sweater, he’s somewhat emasculated by its hint of lavender, as well as the subtle touch of argyle. He’s smiling only because we’re holding a large morsel of food in the air. Yes, of course, we gave it to him. He deserved it after this modeling session.

And although he’s slightly more at ease in the laid-back hoodie, he’d still prefer canine nudity, as would virtually every dog. This time we picked up a stick and pretended we were about to throw it, but as soon as the picture was taken, Jasper was rolling around in the grass, trying to remove this article of clothing.

For some reason, maybe because they’re used to collars, dogs don’t seem to mind a bit of jaunty neckwear quite so much. Pepper enjoyed this handsome scarf both as an accessory and a chew toy, and he was the star of the dog park that day. Still, he made it patently clear that if given a choice he'd never wear it again.