Monday, December 31, 2007

Circle Game

Image
I decided to reuse this picture because I have been working on this entry for a long time now.
Photo by: Suna
And the seasons go ’round and ’round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on a carousel of time
And go ’round and ’round and ’round in a circle game
—Joni Mitchell

This is the time of year to reflect on what has happened. What, if anything, have I learned from my experiences this year?

  • Life can be very painful. Even the good times can hurt.
  • Things never go like you want them to. Even things you do to avoid hurting others (or, at least, minimize the damage), can end up hurting them more.
  • It’s better to get things out in the open. If something disturbs the harmony of the house, delaying the disturbance does not make it go away. Cleanse the wound quickly before it festers.
Of course, I already knew all of these things. So that brings up my final ovservation:
  • Even though you know something, your mind can still trick you into repeating the mistake through optimism. I knew that, too.

So, what would I change about the last year? Not really anything. I have always believed that even the icky parts of life shape who we are. We need pain to appreciate its absence. We need joy to survive the pain. The Wheel of Fortune is the most beautiful card in the deck. I still try to cherish all of my experiences—even those that hurt.

Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are promise made to yourself, usually without the wherewithal or sometimes even the intention of keeping them. Here are mine for the upcoming year:

  • To do my best to be happy and help others be happy
  • To achieve a balance between work and life
  • To work on making a charitable reaction to any stimulus my first one

These were written by columnist Lynn Ashby. I like them:

  • In the coming year I shall never read any newspaper story that contains the names Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Karl Rove unless followed by “was indicted.”
  • Not to watch a TV channel that only tells me what I want to hear, that whatever the problem, it is someone else’s fault. I must think outside the Fox. (I wish everyone would try this one.)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bird on a Wire

This owl danced for us as we walked back to Dad’s house.
Like a bird on a wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.
—Leonard Cohen

Once we got moving, things went much better. The trip down to Dad’s was smooth sailing. Traffic was light, and we made really good time. We got there before noon in spite of not getting up until after I had planned on leaving. On the way down, we passed some interesting sights:

  • A Christmas tree made out of old tires—painted gold and decorated
  • Christmas tree made out of round bales—painted green and decorated
  • Kids out playing on the street with their new toys
Dad watches the Cowboys lose.

Dad was in good health and spirits. He seemed really glad to see us and expressed how much he really likes Suna. We ate lunch at Aunt Di’s. Dad and Suna cleaned their plates. I couldn’t finish my usual order, and that is a good sign that I’m continuing to change my eating habits.

Back at the farm, we watched the Cowboys play poorly and lose. We went for a walk back to the stock tank. Once you get used to the emptiness of the countryside, you start to notice the biodiversity that is recovering now that more farms are retuning to grazing and pesticide use is declining. We saw lots of birds and got covered in floating spider webs.

AppraiserMan built a deer stand right on the property line. He and his son were watching the deer in distant field, but the animals were too comfortable where they were to come any nearer. He said that a few days before he had sighted some wild hogs walking right up to the stand. But when they got to where he had a clear shot, they scented him and ran. Too bad. They do a lot of damage to the habitat.

This is a good spot.
Photo by Suna

I had a really good time fantasizing about where I would site a house. But I will probably never build there. The local flora keep my sinuses in an uproar most of the year. Even in the winter, my sinuses were burning and my eyes were watering by the time we got home.

Photo by: Suna
Motion blur by me not stopping completely

On the way back to the house, I noticed a big fire on the horizon. We kept checking in periodically as we walked back. It continued to grow until it was truly frightening. Dad said it was 20 or so miles away, and he is a pretty good judge of distance. He has spent most of his life on that farm. When we left, we verified the distance, just for our own comfort. It was at least a few miles south of Yorktown, which is nine miles from the farm.

On the way home, I took Suna by the Christmas light display that Cuero sets up in the city park every year. She was really impressed by the community effort (each display is designed and maintained by a local business, charity, or group of individuals) it takes to put on such a display (more than a mile of individual creations) in such a small town. My favorite remains the sea monster swimming toward the paddle wheel boat, both of which are set in the lake so their lights reflect in the water.

It seems that just getting out of the house and doing something really improved our mood. This is something to remember when we start getting grumpy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Time Passages

Al Stewart wrote many of my favorite songs.
Photo Soucre: AlStewart.com
Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn
Don’t know why you should feel that there’s something to learn
It’s just a game that you play
—Al Stewart

I am back-posting Friday’s Feast. It’s really 2 January as I write this, but I’m dating it for the right date. I would like to say that I was late because I was thinking really deep thoughts or carefully considering my answers, but that would not be honest.

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: Name two things you would like to accomplish in 2008.
  • Become solvent again
  • Have a nice wedding
Soup: With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?
There used to be a character named Ernest. Not only do we share a name, we also share many personality traits. My favorite quote: “Imagine all these young bucks going around trying to re-invent the wheel. Don’t they realize I re-invented it years ago?”
Salad: What time of day (or night) were you born?
11:45 AM. Just in time for lunch. Explains my life-long struggle with weight.
Main Course: Tell us something special about your hometown.
It has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the country. Lots of chemicals.
This is a picture of my home town taken last Thanksgiving.
Dessert: If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?
I thought about this one for a while before deciding on Al Stewart, my favorite song writer. He was too literate to have more than a couple of commercial hits, and even those were out of sync with what was going on in the music of the day. You may remember “Year of the Cat,” “On the Border,” or “Time Passages.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And So This Is Christmas

Who could want more for Christmas than a big pair of shiny balls.
Photo by: Suna
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
—John Lennon

Well, it is the best Christmas I can remember having for a long time—even if I did wake up at 04:30. I went into the media room and read until everybody else got up.

After yummy cinnamon rolls for breakfast, we opened our presents. The kids seemed pleased with the presents I got them, and I loved what they picked out for me. Beccano got me a “My Little Cthulu” figure (like the one in the link, but red [orange]) with two little victims and an “I’m made of meat” T-shirt. TubaBoy got me a cool book that explains all of the new mystic crystals, manufactured and otherwise. Suna really out did herself. I don’t remember ever getting so many presents—not even when I was a kid. They were all little things that showed a lot of thought, which made them all better.

Big smiles are what it’s all about.
Photo by: Suna

This was also the first Christmas I remember where all of the clothing I got was in the right size. X2’s parents used to buy my clothing gifts in her size, while mine bought her clothing gifts in my size. It was funny, if occasionally stressful.

Now that I know how we do Christmas in this family, I’ll do better next year.

Grateful Monday on Tuesday, Again

So thank you all: Suna, Beccano, and TubaBoy. This has been a great year because of all of you. I am so grateful that I found you all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nostradamus

Ah, the more it changes, the more it stays the same
And the Hand just rearranges the players in the game
—Al Stewart
Do parallel universes line up in a series of infinite minute variations?
Original Painting ©1997 by Slawek Wojtowicz

So last night, I visited the parallel universe where X2 and I split long before I met Suna. In that place, we had never left the coast, and I was still earning my living through manual labor. I think I was still working at the Rice Factory. I know my boss at the Rice Factory, Old Easy, was in the dream and much older than he had been when I knew him.

(This was the second time people from that place—and Old Easy in particular—have appeared in my dreams recently. In both, they were older than when I knew them and their personalities had aged, too. That’s what makes me think I am slipping through to a parallel universe.)

It was interesting to note that X2 and I had the same problems as we had in this universe and the same results. The only difference was that I was alone, too. It was a much sadder place for me—not only because I was alone, but also because I knew I had wasted a lot of potential by staying on the coast.

This dream started me wondering. How much are we shaped by our experiences? How much do we shape our experiences? And how much do we simply shape our perception of our experiences?

Without everything that has gone before, would I still be me?

Photo by: Suna

Grateful Monday

So that brings us to this week’s Grateful Monday. I am grateful for everything that has happened to me in this universe. Things could have turned out much worse. I still feel that I have wasted a lot of potential and that I should have done more to help other people. I fantasize about joining the Peace Corps or something like it when I retire, but …

But even the icky stuff in life shapes us and makes us better people. So I am grateful for all the good times I’ve had—and for all the bad times, too. I hope I am continuing to grow and become a better person than I was.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I’ve Got a Light

I’ve got a light and it shines in me
It shines in the eyes of a little baby
—Joyce Poley

Today was the pre-Christmas service where the adult choir backed the children’s choir. I played guitar.

The kids sang pretty well, too. You can see Suna in the background. I am well hidden.
Photo by: TubaBoy

For the most part, the children was hilarious. I won’t talk about Spoiled Brat, who tried to untie the backdrop. There were enough problems with props without her help, thank you. For one thing, the Star broke in rehearsal. I think they got it taped back together for the service.

Suna read a really cute story about the tallest boy in first grade. Beccano became a last minute donkey. All the kids—even SB—were extraordinarily cute.

All in all, the event came off well. There were laughter and tears in the audience as they watch the little ones sing and cavort. The music sounded good from the back of the stage where I hid with my guitar. And watching the little ones having fun and still being so serious was touching.

Don’t tell any one, but I think I’m actually looking forward to next year’s pageant.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Deck the Halls

Happy Suna celebrates yule.
Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
—Traditional

Tonight we celebrated our first Yule as a new family. Suna describes what we did really well. I just wanted to add that it was touching. I hope we can all fulfill our goals for the year ahead. I am focusing on balance.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Yule Party

I work my job all the way to the weekend
Call all my buddies, ask where you been
Let’s get together somewhere, seven o’clock
Wanna pop a top, pop a top
Wann go, wanna roll, wanna rock it
—Phil Vassar
Cosmopolitans are yummy.
Photo Source: Swank Martini Company

Today was the last working day before the Holiday Break at ALE. After work, Suna and I went to a non-ALE event at a former co-worker’s house. It turns out that she is a neighbor and only lives a few blocks away.

It was a really pleasant time, thanks in part to the fact that she makes really excellent Cosmopolitans. I never got her exact recipe, but she told me later that she doubled the alcohol in one of the standard recipes.

There were a lot of old friends whom I had not seen in a while. There were also a couple of people with whom I keep in contact, as much as The Hermit keeps in contact with anyone. And I met another German person whom I had only heard about before—actually I think she is authentic instead of descended like me.

The excitement of the party came when the firetrucks, ambulance, and police flew past. Something had happened several houses down, but we never did find out what. Suna was just relieved that it was next door to one of Beccano’s teachers, not there. When we cleared out (a little later than the party was scheduled to dissolve, only one fire truck remained.

Friday’s Feast

The official Friday’s Feast was off for the holidays, but Sam made up her own:

Appetizer: What is your first thought upon waking in the morning?
I don’t usually have a thought first think in the morning. After grumph, my initial inclination is to reach for Suna. Then I realize how badly I have to pee.
Salad: Of all of the “alternative” therapies available, which is the one you have most trouble believing actually works?
Hmmm…all of them? I don’t put much stock in mainstream therapies either. Good health comes from the balance of mind, body, and soul. Anything that fails to address all three is suspect in my book.
The current cover of my favorite mag.
Photo Source: Shop Notes
Main Course: Name something that you never told your childhood friends because, at the time, you were totally embarrassed about but now are not so afraid of.
I know this sounds like the W defense, but I really can’t think of anything. I find hiding things to be more trouble than it’s worth. I may not always volunteer information, but I have tried to live transparently. When I peed my pants, I didn’t tell everyone, but I didn’t do a Nixon either. If you want to know something about me, ask.
Dessert: If you could subscribe to one magazine and only one, what would it be? (It can be out of print if you need it to be.) And do you subscribe to it now?
The only magazine to which I currently subscribe is Science News, and it is a leftover I will renew because Suna likes it. I also like to read the subscriber-only articles on the web. I’m not a magazine person.

That said, the magazine I really want to subscribe to is Shop Notes.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It’s Still rock and Roll to Me

This is the guitar I chose to play for the choir. I usually dress better than this in public.
Photo by: Suna
It’s the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It’s still rock and roll to me
—Billy Joel

This post is an update on the music scene at The Hermitage. Suna and I participated in two separate rehearsals over the past two nights.

Trey Bone

As you already know, I am now the semi-official guitarist in residence for Trey Bone—the vocal trio that Suna and some of her friends have worked in for almost a decade. I love their harmonies and try not to detract too much from the sound.

I am not really confident in my singing right now because my voice seems to be changing again. And since their harmonies are so tight, there usually isn’t a note left in my range. All this means that I’m not even trying to sing with them. I think they are probably relieved, even if they would not admit it.

So we practiced Tuesday night, and we sounded really good. We are even talking about trying to land a couple of gigs other than the annual freeze out at the race track.

Choir

Last night was the final rehearsal for the Christmas pageant. This year, the Christmas service features the children’s choir, with the adults backing them. I am also playing guitar for this one because only one of the pieces has an official tenor part, and they all have guitar chords above the piano part. Most of the tunes are really easy, and I would be able to memorize them if we had a couple more practices.

After the rehearsal, we had a baby shower for Cute Young Couple, the newest members of the choir.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Survival

Today was the day my nephew-in-law, who is older than I am by a couple of years, went under the knife for prostate cancer. I spoke to my niece, Sweetness, on the phone while he was still under, and she called me back after he was in recovery. The surgery lasted almost seven hours, but the prognosis is good—and that is all that matters.

He should be able to go home by Wednesday, which is the same day the test results will tell us if the doctors got all of the cancer. If not, they can probably wipe out the rest with radiation. But I am hopeful that he won’t have to deal with that.

Grateful Monday

So that is what I am grateful for: good results in bad situations. I am grateful for Sweetness, who deserves so much better than life has dealt her.

Sweetness, I love you. I meant it when I said don’t forget to take care of yourself over the next few weeks. You promised, and I’m holding you to it.

PS. No picture and no poetry today. Nothing seemed appropriate.


Friday Update: The surgery was successful. The labs showed that they got all of the cancer, and he can return to work without chemotherapy or radiation.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Enchantment

The little bumps on the rock in the background are people.

We slept in a little again, despite not noticing that the alarm was set. It went off at 07, but it was inobtrusive enough that I slept through it until Suna asked me to turn it off. It sounded like the sound powered speakers make when a cell phone is left near them. I kept wondering if we had left a cell phone on the computer, not really thinking that we keep the speakers on it muted.

After the continental breakfast that was most forgettable, we headed out of town to Enchanted Rock. We hiked around the inner loop trail, which took us near the summit but not quite there. Suna has posted some of the best of the pictures of the trip in Flickr.

Once again, we took the scenic route.
Photo by: Google Maps

After the hike around the rock, we wound our way home through Llano, Bertram, and Liberty Hill. It was a pleasant trip. We got home to find that TubaBoy had been successful in learning to drive a stick.

The only down side to today is that Suna seems to be suffering from what may turn out to be an ear infection. The left side of her head is hurting worse as the day progresses. I may try to apply some heat later, if she continues to hurt…if she lets me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Road

Santamaria’s Muscat was excellent. This Table Red hints of smoked meat. Amazing.
When a dusty road
goes nowhere
it gives you
time to think

Today started slowly. We slept in before getting up to pack for the trip. We left about the time R got in for his visit with the kids.

We made it to Fredericksburg about 13. We ate lunch at Chili’s. I have been hesitant to eat at Chili’s before because looks too much like a TGI Friday’s. (I didn’t link to Friday’s web site because it tries to take over your computer with excessively hostile Flash code.) But I have to admit, it was one of the best burgers I have eaten in a very long time—smokey flavor and juicy without being messy or greasy.

We stayed at a fairly new Best Western, built with an interesting Texas-rustic style. They let us check in early. So we had plenty of time to wander around all of the interesting shops downtown. We managed to buy a few extra little Christmas presents without breaking the bank.

But the best thing was stopping in at a little wine shop, Texas Vineyards and Beyond. There we met Martin Santamaria, the vintner of Santa Maria Cellars. He asked us about our taste in wine and then poured samples of several bottles. We talked about how Suna, Martin, and most craftsmen are more comfortable making things than selling them. The we bought two bottles, which he signed with “Merry Christmas.’

Actually, the best part was after the shopping. Suna said she had never been to Kerrville before—except for the Folk Festival, which is held out of town. So we drove the 22 miles to look at the town. Kerrville has become a depressingly bland town as it has “modernized.”

This is roughly the route we drove today. Not the most direct, but we had not seen this territory in a while.
Map Source: Google Maps

We drove down 16 and then took the road to Ingram. Ingram has retained much of its character. It is still a unique little town with idiosyncratic shops and sights. The we went on out toward Hunt. Not far past the Dam Store is the corner where some old friends make a living with yard furniture. I was so glad to see that the business was still there, that I pulled in to show Suna some of the things on display. We circled through the drive. As I pulled back onto the road, I saw Jack making his way toward the display on bicycle, so I pulled into the drive of the Dove’s Nest. The house where Jack and Jennifer live was named after Jack’s mother.

Once they recognized me—the new truck threw them, not to mention the fact that we fell out of the blue completely unannounced—they invited us in. We had a very pleasant chat for about an hour. Then, not wanting to impose, Suna and I headed back to Fredricksburg for dinner and a quiet evening alone.

We drank the Muscat this evening with some severe snackage; we were still mostly full from the burgers. The Muscat was a light, sweet wine, as you would expect from these grapes. It is very fruity, and I would certainly like to buy a few more bottles, if not a case.We are saving the sweet Table Red for a meal closer to Christmas. It is a really interesting blend of flavors that hints of smoked beef. I was really impressed.

The Night the Lights Went Out at Christmas

This isn’t the black dog that put out the lights. But she would if she could. The cords might be tasty.
Photo by Suna
Hear that midnight rooster crow
Well I’ll have one more before I go
But Honey, don't turn out the light
’Cause I think I’m in the mood for love tonight
—Robert Earl Keen

Last night, I came home from work hungry for my favorite Mexican restaurant. Beccano had already left to spend the night with a friend. TubaBoy and his friends had not yet arrived. So we waited.

I finally decided to call TubaBoy to find out when he and his crew would arrive. “We’re in the driveway,“ he said.

So they came in, and we left. The night was already cold and misty. I backed the truck out of the drive and turned around in the cul-de-sac.

As we pulled up to the stop sign, a large black dog appeared in the headlights. He was exploring the neighbor’s yard across from the end of our street. He jauntily approached a tree wrapped in Christmas lights and lifted his leg. As he jumped away from the tree, the lights went out.

Suna and I both laughed. “I bet he’s thinking, ‘That’s the first time a tree ever bit me!’”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bears

I have seen bears in Arkansas. I just hope to not make their acquaintance this weekend in the Hill Country
Photo by: Hummer Guy
So meet a bear and take him out to lunch with you
And even though your friends may stop and stare
Just remember that’s a bear there in the bunch with you
And they just don’t come no better than a bear
—Townes van Zandt

Job prospects for Suna seem to be looking up. She had a couple of calls today. I am focusing on keeping mine happy so that they do renew my funding after the end of the fiscal year.

We are also escaping for the weekend, leaving her car with R to give TubBoy lessons in driving a standard transmission vehicle. Suna gave him one but says she had trouble with patience. I have never tried because he always has “better things to do” on the weekends—like go to debate tournaments or hand with his friends.

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: Make up a word and give us its definition.
Obtusology — the study that seeks to find meaning in the proclamations of our current president. See also, lost causes.
Soup: What is currently your favorite song?
I am pretty fond of John Fogerty's "I Can't Take It No More." He says some things about GW that I wish I had said.
Salad: What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?
A job for Suna. Of course, I would be happy if a more permanent job for me appeared, too.
Main Course: Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
I've never really been a scent person. The smell of an outhouse reminds me of my grandparents' farm. The smell of rosewater reminds me of Suna.
Dessert: Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?
The guys on ESPN who do Monday Night Football. They seem to forget that we are watching the game, not them. Commentary is one thing. What they do is something else.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thank You for the Music

What would life be without a song or dance
What are we
So, I say, thank you for the music
For giving it to me
—Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
Three members of Trey Bone play with a drummer at Live Oak UU Church
Photo by: John Montgomery

Tonight was the first rehearsal for Trey Bone since we played a couple of songs at church in October. It went really well, almost as if we had been playing together recently. Suna and the guys harmonized so well that it sent chills down my spine. Would that I could sing that prettily.

We are using the same set list as last year, with the addition of a couple of songs. One thing that’s nice is that we’ve slowed down some of the tunes to a more reasonable pace. There were a couple that I felt as if we were racing through. Slower, they sound really good.

Grateful Monday on Tuesday

OK. I’m a little late getting my Grateful Monday post. My dear reader knows that this blog often post a few days or weeks behind. I have enough deadlines at work to feel the need for them in my recreational activities. Humph.

Anyway. Today I am grateful for music. I love the feeling of hitting the notes with everyone—losing yourself in something larger than yourself. I love being able to play or sing or both and have the music just flow through me without thought.

Listening to a really good performance sometimes brings this transcendence, but playing…

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pearl

Image
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that when you trade freedom for security you end up with neither.
Photo Source: Planet Hiltron
And ev’n so be their doom, themselves have thought
Who, past the living, warr’d upon those dead
Who, being dead, yet spake thro’ that they wrought—
So fierce their hate against the soul they dread!

Today is the sixty-seventh anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii—a reminder that there are always people who are willing to use violence to take what they want, and violence is sometimes necessary to protect yourself. The difference between then and now is that the violence then was a nation-state acting against another nation-state. Today’s violence derives from savage cowards who use violence randomly to try to force others to kneel.

What a wonderful thought! Let’s move on to something less depressing

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: What was the last game you purchased?
Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls IV. I played it a couple of times. The Beccano took it over, even though he already had a version for one of his game boxes. I never really understood or followed it. I much prefer the Diablo franchise.
Soup: Name something in which you don’t believe.
Fate or Destiny.
Salad: If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?
I think I would prefer a non-celebrity. Celebrity requires too much ego, and non-celebrities seem aflicted enough with that vice. So if I could choose, I would choose a mundane boss.
Main Course: What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Gee! There are so many! I guess that it’s not as easy to find work as it was when I was younger. I knew that intellectually. Now I know it in my gut.
Dessert: Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.
It is a large room done in soft colors. There are windows at one end, but most of the light is indirect. Even the windows face north. The walls are lined with well-stocked bookshelves. The floor is hardwood, but there are rugs to soften the noise and keep the feet warm.

There is a small sitting area near the windows. Just a couple of chairs. There is a larger sitting area in the center of the room—a couple of couches, a table, and maybe a chair. Music is always available here, but there is a television and a DVD player, too. At the far end of the room is a writing desk.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Talking in Public

I don’t know what this picture is, but it illustrate this topic nicely.
Source: Dave Pollard’s blog on Conversation
In silence listening, like a devout child,
My soul lay passive, by thy various strain
Driven as in surges now beneath the stars,
With momentary stars of my own birth,
Fair constellated foam, still darting off
Into the darkness…
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1807)

It’s cold today, so I was taking my afternoon walk around the inside of the building. In the security-hyperconscious time, people continue the ancient the ancient tradition of conducting private business in public places. OK, so the company cafeteria is not as public as a Damascus café, but still!

I wandered over to the Pepsi machine, thereby more than undoing any health benefits from the walk. I was amazed by how much people relied on the din to cover their conversations—even though they had to raise their voices to be heard over the ambient roar. In those few minutes, I could have gathered juicy intelligence on business practices, marketing strategies, and technical specifics.

But that’s not the frightening thing. As the machine dispensed my carbonated high-fructose corn syrup, I realized how many of these conversations happen in restaurants and taverns all over town. It’s like hiding but not encrypting a wireless signal: “Obscurity is not security,” as the Internet security pundits say.

Good thing I don’t take notes.

Grateful Monday

I am glad that my current boss doesn’t treat me like my former management treated contractors. While I don’t feel like “part of the team,” I really don’t want to. I am treated like a professional, and I try to act like one. I try to deliver more than they expect, but I don’t take ownership of the problems their rush to completion creates. It’s almost my dream job, just without security or insurance.

But someone once said, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tannenbaum

Suna pauses on the way to church and the Yule Fest.
Ach Tannebaum, ach Tannebaum, du bist ein edler Zweig!
Du grünest uns den Winter, die lieben Sommerzeit.
—Melchior Franck

Yesterday, Suna, Beccano, and I bought a live tree. It is a Douglas Fir, not a real Tannen. I don’t think Tannens grow in the US. If they do, they certainly are not available in Central Texas.

This is the first time I have bought a live tree (other than rosemary) in decades. Last year, I helped Suna decorate the artificial tree she had used since the second year she was in this house. That fake tree met the dump earlier this year.

Today, we spent most of the day after church decorating the tree. After we finished that, I spent some time stringing outdoor lights on the redbud—the first time I have ever strung outdoor lights in my life. That I can remember, anyway.

I have always been fairly Scrooge-like when it comes to Christmas. Something about all those nasty people pretending to be nice for three weeks a year just turned me off. Not to mention the excess commercialization of the holiday: this year some stores were playing Christmas songs in September.

So why am I suddenly “in the spirit?”

Celebrating Yule while everyone else celebrates Christmas may have something to do with it. Trying to be a better person than the one I had become also plays a part. Finally, a generally more positive environment helps, too.

After the main service, we went to the the Yule Fest. That included lunch and a vendor fair. We were able to get a couple of Yule gifts. They won&rquo;t go under the tree. Rose would probably eat anything we left there. Besides getting the gifts, these purchases support local craftspersons and artists. They also help support the church. Everyone wins.