I have a new blog for 2012 – Assignment 35.
In honor of the 35th anniversary of my move to Denver, I’ve adopted a random set of assignments which involve the number 35.
See you over at the new place.
Posted in Blogging, Books, City, Culture, Current Events, Denver, General Suz-ness, Good things, Life and death, Movies, Music, Travel, tagged 2012, blog, blogging, books, Denver, Movies, music on January 7, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
I don’t really hate Christmas. Although I think I already said that it’s not Christmas I hate, just the gross commercialized culture of excess and frenzy that comes with it these days.
So, it happened again to me this year. The annual miracle of the Christmas spirit. Right on schedule, the morning of December 24. I had no more gifts to buy, but some left to wrap. And errands to run.
I cranked up some favorite Christmas music. My favorites change a little. This year the most played Christmas song on my iPod is this one:
Followed by “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” featured below.
With the music going, I felt my old cold grinchy heart start to warm and melt. Sang along to the iPod, practiced singing harmony to “Silent Night.”
Hopped into the car, with iPod music blasting, practically danced around Costco. Sang to the checkout staff and thanked them for working Christmas Eve. They must be trained to deal with crazy people; they were unfazed.
Was it me? Or were most people I saw in Costco on Christmas Eve *not* all stressing out this year?
Home again, had fun wrapping the presents, all for the little kids in the family. Was sure I wouldn’t make it in time to join the family at church, even called to say so. Figured as I headed out for their part of town that I’d hope to find a coffee shop nearby open, to sip and read for a while till they could get home and let me in. But the magic of Christmas slipped the old Subaru right down the freeways and into the church parking lot to a space across from the family’s van, and ushered me into the church two minutes before the service started. Everybody squished down and made room for me in the row.
So I got to have my annual misty-eyed Christmas Eve service experience at their church, which really piles it on and surpassed itself this year. I think the only thing left is to actually bring in live animals for the manger scene, so I wouldn’t miss next year’s service for the world. Despite the lingering cough from my recent sickness I sang pretty well, and cried during the final candle-lighting in the darkened church. And managed not to splash candle wax around when I blew out my candle afterward.
Nice eats and gift exchange back at the cousins’ after church. Four little kids, two sets of young parents, their grandparents on their dads’ side, two great-grandparents, and assorted loose cannon cousins. Including moi. So many gifts that expressed the love and involvement all these people have in each others’ lives, along with lots of giggles, laughs and squeals among the wrapping-ripping. Some of which was from the kids. A toy horse was the gift of the night for one of the girls, a toy rifle for one of the boys.
After the gifts, the electric Christmas tree lights were turned off, room lights doused, and the little candles in heirloom German silver holders on the tree branches were lit, for all of us to enjoy for a few minutes. That’s what trees looked like way back when.
Christmas day, after Jasper got a nice walk, I worked a morning shift as a volunteer hospitality ambassador at the airport. Lots of family reunions, Santa hats, people with antler headbands, hugs, smiles, even people thanking me for being there. Basically as a talking directional sign – yesterday I was mostly at the spot where people ask directions to their baggage claim carousels. There being 19 of them, I don’t have every single bit of info memorized but fortunately it’s not too hard to steer them the right way. And they give us a cheat sheet too.
Then it was home again, to rest my feet for a while. Then back out to the cousins’ for a nice dinner with most of the family. A quiet time to chat and laugh with the people who’ve known me all my life, or whom I’ve known all their lives, as the case may be. And they put up with me anyway. Bless them.
Long live Christmas. I hope you all had some miracles too, especially the miracles of comfort and joy.
From this morning’s newspaper, life advice from Trudy Strauss. She’s not rich or famous or on Youtube and I haven’t bothered to google her. The column (printed in full below the fold) told me all I need to know. Here’s the gist:
It’s all about being positive.
Attitude really is everything.
Make good friends.
Try to be tolerant and open-minded.
Happy 93rd birthday, Trudy. And thank you.
I’ve been busy offline the last couple of weeks. This morning I visited some favorite blogs for the first time in awhile. I felt a touch guilty heading over to Go Fug Yourself - after all, it’s pretty snarky and I’m trying out this Complaint Free World thing. Which doesn’t work if I get all snarky.
Silly me, why did I worry? That’s where I learned about the Dewey Donation System. Getting kids’ books into libraries and thus into the hands of kids. Kids who may not have a bunch of books – or any – at home.
Decisions, decisions. It’s not whether I’ll donate, it’s when and what and to whom.
I posted the other day about how an alert waiter in Colorado Springs recently prevented a woman from being victimized - by a drug placed in her drink by her date while she was away from their table.
Yesterday I read another story about the good deeds of restaurant staff. Details here and below the fold if the link has gone dead.
You can bet your rigatoni that I’m likely to have lunch or dinner at one of the Pulcinella Ristorante locations sometime soon.
November is a tiring month for me, and I’m always glad when the 29th is over. Although the sharp grief is past, I can’t forget it’s the date when my dad died – much too young – suddenly, after a heart attack. Many years ago. Sometimes when I think about those days it feels like a few lifetimes ago.
And I like a lot of Christmas music.
Allow me to highly recommend some:
Cindy Horstman’s two CDs: Christmas Harp and Christmas Harp 2. Utterly beautiful solo jazz harp. I’ve had these CDs for years and have never tired of listening to them. I’ve given more than a dozen of them as gifts. Right now I’m importing them into my iTunes library so I can take them with me on my iPod.
Baroque at Christmas. “We were going to do Brahms or Beethoven for Christmas, but we’re BAROQUE!” – Scarlet Rivera & Tommy Eyre with The Newport Chamber Orchestra. I found it in a bargain bin somewhere; it’s a fine companion for the season. Traditional Christmas carols alternate with less obviously “Christmas” music, in a satisfying combination.
Winterlude - Instrumentals for a Contemplative Christmas. One of a series, I think. Another bargain bin find, certainly not elevator music but very good quiet-times listening.
And any CD you can find with the original rendition of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. And rousing choral versions of Joy to the World, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, and the Hallelujah Chorus. Although probably not all on the same CD.
Wishing you all the joys – contemplative, heartwarming, and just plain silly – of the season.
Denver Post editorial writer Bob Ewegen is my favorite Republican newspaper columnist. Who, I’m sure, the people in charge of the GOP these days wish would just die. Because he’s rational, compassionate, smart, and can think for himself. His column today is posted in whole below the fold in case the link doesn’t work.
Having bought nothing yesterday, I’m happy to read this:
For years, I’ve cringed at the pagan festival of Greedmas, which kicked into high gear yesterday as “Black Friday” lured consumers into big box temples to separate them from their cash and max out their credit cards.
A long time ago, this season was known as “Christmas.” But it no longer honors the message of Jesus.
Lest we forget, that message was reported by a far better journalist than me, by the name of Matthew:
For I was hungry and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger and ye took me in. I was naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me. I was in prison and ye came unto me. Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of these of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Sadly, the least of our brethren are mostly ignored during Greedmas — they don’t have credit cards
Thank you, Mr. E.
As reported in the Denver Post, this kid has the right idea of networking:
Marisol Tanguma is a little girl with a big heart who understands the power of networking.
On Tuesday, Courtney Tanguma, 4-year-old Marisol’s mother, told the Castle Rock preschooler that the Denver Rescue Mission was in need of donated turkeys to feed homeless people. “I asked her how many turkeys she thought we should buy for the rescue mission,” Courtney remembered.
When Marisol replied 50, her mother laughed and said, “We can’t afford 50 turkeys.”
“Mommy, you know we have lots of friends,” Marisol replied.
It was about noon when she and Marisol began e-mailing friends and relatives asking them to contribute what they could toward “Mari’s great turkey mission.”
By 4 p.m. they had pledges of $445.
Marisol and her mother drove 50 turkeys to the Denver Rescue Mission.
Happy Thanksgiving, Marisol.
Because late last night, the fifteenth day of Rocktober, 2007, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game at Coors Field. Which means: THE ROCKIES ARE NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPS – AND PLAYING IN THE WORLD SERIES!!!! And if we weren’t at the game, we were probably awake at home, taking it all in via TV, radio and/or the net.
Fourteen years ago, on Good Friday, 1993, the Rockies played their first home game. At the old Mile High Stadium; Coors Field wasn’t built yet. In the bottom of the first, the first Rockies batter (Eric Young) stepped up to the plate and hit the first pitch thrown to him – into the stands, for a home run. (more…)
You have to love Niecy Nash on Clean House. Always turned out bandbox-spiffy from head to toe. Just the right sass and attitude. Never at a loss for a well-turned phrase. Strict as a spinster schoolmarm with those homeowners drowning in their clutter and mess who cling to their junk – even after they’ve let a TV CREW in because they want help.
Yep. A whole damn TV network crew. Poking their cameras into the nasty garage and junk-littered bedrooms. And still these people can’t part with their precious “collectible” crap. But I digress.
Niecy gave me my favorite phrase this week: Mayhem and foolishness. (Used by bizzy, better than I’ve done, but still.)
So much mayhem and foolishness in the news today, I don’t know where to start.
Seriously. I’m rethinking my longtime early morning routine - reading the daily newspaper with the TV or radio news on in the background while sipping my coffee and scarfing down breakfast. I could get crazy if I pay too much attention. If this trend continues, I’m going to start using words which really don’t add much to informed civil discourse on any subject.
HT to Bizzy for blogging this. Which reminded me of the email I got the other day from the Denver Film Society inviting me to watch Live Earth in big-screen comfort on Saturday. I checked the DFS website and didn’t see any reference to it, and looked again at the email, which doesn’t say that the invitation is limited to DFS members. Hmm.
The email says the show is free, and you’ll get free popcorn and reduced prices on soft drinks, if you bring your own “eco-responsible reusable popcorn bowl” and glass, respectively. More from the press release/email is below the fold.
From the National Archives, respectfully submitted for your reading pleasure and thoughtful contemplation, by this native-born US citizen with a strong Anglophile streak. Don’t forget to click “continue reading,” look through the “Facts . . . submitted to a candid world” – and see if your eyebrows raise just a teensy bit at any point.
[**waving hi to my Brit friends!** ]
The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; (more…)
Wisdom in a column printed in today’s Denver Post Style section, along with Ask Amy, the daily horoscope, TV schedule, and the comic strips. The author, Natalie Constanza-Chavez, writes:
This I know: I have no gospel to spread, and I am quite proud that I am sure of very little.
I believe language is powerful, especially poetry, that words can be weapons or gifts, that healing is always possible, and that we are each more holy and worthy than we think. . . .
I believe that we are complicated and at our best, we know it, and that trying to reduce things to black and white usually makes us stupid.
Wonder and amazement are necessary, and the ordinary can be profound.
What do I know? That a clouded leopard lives in the heart of Borneo, stalking monkeys and young bearded pigs for sustenance, and that for more than 100 years scientists thought they knew it to be the same species as the mainland clouded leopard. They were wrong.
I’m looking forward to more from this lady. The full column is below the fold.
You know what’s so funny and sad about us human beings? . . . We are constantly torn between the all-consuming desire to be loved and the terrifying fear of being known. Deep inside we don’t believe the two things can exist together, that if anyone really knew us, they would surely never love us, so we spend our whole lives concocting this wonderful, plastic shell that we fight like madmen to keep pristine. But eventually the plastic cracks and what is inside is a raw, quivering mass of imperfect humanity that has always been lovely and precious enough for God Himself to love.
*Although the title suggests a book about marriage, it is the name of a traditional American quilt pattern, and the book is a crime novel.
A sweeping tip of the hat to author Annie Dawid for her generous act: she bought a case of stainless-steel travel mugs and handed it over to the operator of her local coffee shop in Westcliffe, Colorado. Which was the start of something good. Customers are happily passing up styrofoam to-go cups in favor of reusing the travel mugs. Since Dawid got the ball rolling, many more of the travel mugs have been put into service.
Officially it’s a big city, but like all cities it’s more like a collection of villages. Case in point, from the October 2006 edition of Insight, published for and about employees of the City and County of Denver:
The quick thinking actions and caring of Public Works Department employees Bob Baca and Teresa Maestas played an important role in saving the life of a Denver resident.
The rest of the story is below the fold: (more…)
Bill Clinton came to town yesterday.
More specifically, Former President William Jefferson Clinton came to Denver to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial to the victims of the 1999 Columbine High School attack.
But, really, Bill came back to town. Bill, who believes his number one job was always “father” and number two was whatever else he was doing – including being President (ah, Bill, would that you coulda remembered that in some of your more eventually famous weak moments in, er, personal situations).
Bill, the sitting President who came with his wife to meet with the Columbine community shortly after the tragedy. Bill, who promised to help them raise the funds for the memorial.
Bill, who has kept his promises to the families of Columbine High School. (more…)