December 30, 2005
posted by soe 12:07 pm
Instead of telling you about the lowlights of the Christmas holiday (about which I’m able to laugh already — only five days out!), I thought I’d tell you about the highlights:
Best impromptu moment
Dad and I went to the evening Christmas eve service to enjoy a nice mixture of readings, sermon, and music. After the offering had been collected, the minister told us to sit down, went to begin his next reading, and burst into laughter. The associate minister stood up and then the minister came back to the pulpit, saying he needed to share this with us. Apparently there had been a bit of a typo in the program and the wrong chapter had been written down, giving us a genealogical rundown (all those “begats”) instead of talking about the shepherds.
Mum had made eskimo cookie dough, so I made the cookies — and then ate 90% of them, leaving only three or four cookies in the tin when I left.
Mum and Dad gave me a rocking chair, hidden, of course, in plain sight where my mother’s rocker normally is. It’s black and has a comfortable seat and rocks properly. (What’s with rockers that stop halfway through the rock? Don’t people actually rock in them after they’ve built the prototype?) I’m very excited to start my next knitting project in it because I think the rocking rhythm speeds up the knitting process.
After opening the bell and tea that Jenny gave me for Christmas, I discovered the ribbon had fallen into the gift bag and had been hidden under all the tissue paper. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was there on purpose — because there was a ring attached to the bow!
Rudi gave me two knitting books and three skeins of yarn for Christmas. The best part of this gift was when he proudly bragged that all three skeins were from the same dye lot. How cool is it that he knows to look for that?
My family put up with a lot this Christmas and they did it because they love me — and Rudi. And I am a very lucky girl.
December 29, 2005
glitter dust, errant cards, and new jersey
posted by soe 12:28 pm
I meant to write a special Christmas edition of Three Beautiful Things, but instead took the holidays off. So I offer this to you today, intead:
1. Mum spent the holidays running around dusting off various surfaces again and again in the aftermath of a construction project that sent swirls of dust blowing through her house. But Christmas night, her hutch was covered once again with a fine layer of dust. But this time it was glittery dust blown down from the silver Christmas tree in front of the mirror.
2. A few Christmas cards did not find their way to the Burrow this year: one because my cousins didn’t have my address and two because the post office did not want to recognize “The Burrow” as an official address. But the cards found us instead at Turkey Ridge before we left to head home again. So we got the good fortune to have cards delivered to us at two locations!
3. The route we take through New Jersey on our drive from the Burrow to Turkey Ridge takes us through a number of neighborhoods, particularly around Newark. In bad years, the people in these neighborhoods do the holiday justice with their Christmas lights. But in good years (as I thought this one was for light displays), they went above and beyond. For a state that the rest of the Northeast ridicules for its ugliness ( and let’s face it, the area around the Turnpike is), New Jersey sure knows how to do Christmas decorations up right. Rudi and I point them out to each other: “Look! Christmas!”
December 28, 2005
top concerts of 2005
posted by soe 4:59 pm
The Christmas holiday was exhausting, so I’m going to take another day or two before doing a roundup. In the meantime, I thought I would offer you the concert highlights of the year instead:
- U2 (October — MCI Center, DC)
- Elvis Costello & the Imposters and Emmylou Harris (July — Wolf Trap, Virginia)
- Crosby, Stills, and Nash (August — Wolf Trap, Virginia)
- Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (July — New York) (Particularly the sets by Brave Combo, Crooked Still, and Dar Williams)
December 22, 2005
photos, an understanding boss, and coincidence
posted by soe 9:43 am
In our final pre-Christmas issue of Three Beautiful Things, we offer these up for your enjoyment:
1. Our friend Phillip gave us some beautiful gifts over the weekend — photos he took himself, mounted and framed. Rudi’s is of a D.C. bike race; mine is of Butterstick.
2. Maria, my boss, had no problem letting me work from home today so Rudi and I can head out a bit early this afternoon. I know myself and know that no matter how much I tried to get to work on time this morning, I wouldn’t have if I’d had to shower and dress before I left. The ability to work in my living room in my bathrobe lets me be on time and productive.
3. The Christmas package to my brother was mailed by the online shipper and I’ve been tracking it via the internet. The Post Office emailed me yesterday to let me know of its progress and my breath caught in my throat — it had been misdelivered to someone in Nevada! But then I realized it was just a weird coincidence — it was routed through a town in Nevada that shares our last name (minus a silent “a”). How freaky — but oddly wonderful — is that?
December 21, 2005
posted by soe 10:36 am
Well, things are definitely in a better place this morning than where they were over the weekend (and far better than where they were last week when I was filled with despair).
Despite a few wrong turns during last night’s shopping trip (don’t you hate it when you get on the Metro heading the wrong direction and don’t notice it until you’re in another state?), I am nearing completion on the mass accumulation of gifts. Olsson’s was very happy to get my business last night, and I hope those of you who receive their wares will be pleased, too.
I am done with other people’s shopping. As is Rudi. Hopefully the givers will be just as happy as the recipients.
I am generally happy with what I’ve bought. It’s definitely less than in previous years, but I think they are gifts my loved ones will appreciate and will get use out of. (And, if not, my feelings will not be hurt if they regift their presents to others who will appreciate them more.)
I am ahead of where I normally am with baking. Often the baked gifts get made Christmas morning. That will not be the case this year.
There are still some holiday cards that haven’t gone out. Those of you who haven’t received them live on the East Coast and I’m really hoping they go out in tomorrow’s mail. You might still receive them before Christmas, but, if not, they’ll arrive on Boxing Day and that’s good, too.
We still don’t have a cat sitter lined up — an oversight on our part. We’re working to remedy that.
We leave in less than 30 hours for our drive up north. I still believe it’s possible that we could be mostly ready to go by the time we need to be in the car.
This week definitely holds a sunnier outlook than last week.
Update: Rudi’s coworker Monica says she will be able to look in on the cats on Saturday, eliminating the one real source of stress remaining. Many thanks, Monica!
December 19, 2005
i bought presents, but not yours
posted by soe 12:16 am
I think this is what I’m going to tell people when they ask how my shopping is going. Sadly, it’s probably true. Rudi’s grandmother? Taken care of. The rest of you? Um … no.
But I have made a great deal of progress on everyone else. There are ideas and pieces of presents bought/made for the rest of you. And, frankly, I still have six days. That’s more time than I need to research and write a 20 page paper. Frankly, that’s more time than it took me to write the $100,000 grant I applied for.
So I shouldn’t be worried, should I?
No. And neither should you.
December 16, 2005
wish me luck
posted by soe 7:53 pm
I’m going to try to do a whole season’s shopping and baking all in one weekend with a holiday party (and maybe some pool) thrown in for good measure.
I’ll try to surface periodically to let you know how it’s going, but I make no promises…
December 15, 2005
lessons, expressions, and sleeping through the night
posted by soe 11:15 am
It’s been a roller-coaster of a week, with most of it feeling like I was heading down a big hill screaming my head off (or wanting to, at least). These are the weeks when it’s hard to find the beauty — and probably the ones where finding them is the most necessary:
1. I went to a mass held in Facundo’s memory at Catholic University this morning. The priest gave a nice sermon about how in the literal darkness of winter, the Advent candles are lit to remind us that there is light in the world and that that can be translated into the more figurative light of love within the darkness of our grief. He also said that when looking back no one says they would have preferred not to have loved a person in order to avoid the pain of grieving. These are good lessons for me to keep in mind, as I am prone to dwelling more on the depth of the darkness and less on the love that makes the darkness worth slogging through.
2. Phillip was really excited about getting to see Butterstick. When he talks about him, he gets a little kid expression on his face that expresses pure joy.
3. Since getting sick last week, I haven’t slept terribly well (which impedes getting better). But last night I slept through the night without coughing myself awake (or being awakened by Jeremiah dumping stuff on my head from the shelf above the bed). Can recuperation be far behind?
December 13, 2005
posted by soe 6:55 pm
Dirge Without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, –
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our friend, Facundo Montenegro, died yesterday from lung cancer. He was a young man, and this loss is a sad one for all who knew him.
A year doesn’t seem like an especially long time. I saw Facundo a year ago. He seemed fine.
I don’t understand. I don’t want to understand. But I do want to understand. I want this to be categorizable into some neat little box that will enable me to put it away on a shelf where I won’t have to contemplate it suddenly in the middle of the night or when I’m thinking back on a fun day. I want to be able to say that if only this had happened or that hadn’t happened, his early death could have been avoided. I don’t want people to just die. I want there to be a reason.
When I was small, I saw a movie in which two children died. Why, I sobbed to my father later that night. Why did they have to die? And he explained why. That’s the nice thing about literature — characters aren’t allowed to die willy-nilly. There has to be a purpose to furthering the plot or the character development of your protagonist. It can be the result of choices the character has made. But there’s an unspoken bond between the author and the reader that there is, in fact, a reason for each death.
That’s the problem with real life. There’s no agreement. We try to pretend that there is one, that people just don’t die for no reason. There has to be a purpose. A graspable, understandable cause for the untimely demise of a loved one, anyone’s loved one.
But there isn’t. And that’s so hard to get my arms around.
Facundo, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to wish you well on your final journey. My best wishes and intentions hurry after you along the path you’ve taken.
And my grief remains here to bind me to the others who have been left behind in the shadow caused by the absence of your immense light.
posted by soe 11:07 am
Saturday morning Rudi and I awoke early and headed up to the National Zoo to wait in a line.
A line to see a bear.
A cute, cuddly baby bear…
That’s right — it’s Butterstick time! (more…)