Merry Christmas, you fine upstanding readers of mine!
In honor of the day, I thought I would post one of my favorite images of the holiday, the Christmas Market at the City Hall in Vienna, Austria.
I used to love wandering through the crowds here, smelling the mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and candied almonds. It was feast for all the senses.
However you mark this day, if indeed you celebrate Christmas, I wish you all the best, and I thank you for reading my little scribblings.
I'll be taking a little blogging break through the rest of the week to recharge my batteries and relax with family, but I'll be back on Monday with something to warm the cockles of your hearts.
All the best to you,
I'm proud to announce that my cool coworker and friend Greg, in collaboration with several other writers, has just published a collection of essays on wandering the woods and paddling the waters of Minnesota (and other lovely, unspoiled locales).
In addition to being tall and handsome, Greg is a remarkably thoughtful and articulate chap, and he writes beautifully about his love of the outdoors.
Even WG--a total tenderfoot nelly queen who has been in a canoe once in his life--bought a copy. So if you have any outdoorsy tendencies at all, go ahead and fork out a mere $12 to acquire a collection of essays and poetry that are actually worth reading.
You and I know that most of what gets published in this world is total crap. How about rewarding some people who write with real feeling and artistry?
Kind of a revolutionary concept, isn't it?
PS. I had to look it up, so I'll save you the trouble. Eskers are "long, winding ridges of stratified sand and gravel which occur in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions of Europe and North America. They are frequently several miles in length and, because of their peculiar uniform shape, somewhat resemble railroad embankments."
Between Christmas shopping for my niece and nephews and choosing a gift to donate to a work toy drive, I have recently spent quite a bit of time in the toy aisles at Target.
Wading through the sea of Dora the Explorer paraphernalia and chintzy movie-related crap like Spiderman "Spray-Web in a Can," I found myself thinking back to my all time favorite Christmas gifts, the ones that made me squeal with girlish delight.
Here, in no particular order (sorry, Scott R.) are some of the all-time best presents I ever received:
- A fully functional kid-sized sewing machine with a foot-pedal bobbins, and little spools of thread. "No more sewing by hand," I exclaimed...
- Spirograph. So trippy...
- A battery-powered mini-blender, with dull blades not suited for work more demanding than making chocolate milk. I soon broke it by filling it with baby-powder in an ill-advised attempt to create a tornado. A grinding sound, a whiff of hot plastic, and that was that. No more blending.
- The Dark Shadows board game. Good vampiric fun for a boy of eight. I have a picture of myself playing the game with my grandma, who must have wondered what sort of odd grandson she had on her hands.
- The Six Million Dollar Man doll (action figure) with the bionic eye that one used by peering through the aperture in the back of his head. Sometimes, he and Spock used to, um...wrestle. Spock was much shorter, but he often came out on top.
And then there were The Gifts that Got Away: the toys I craved with every fiber of my being but never received.
- First among those was the iconic Easy Bake Oven. As if my mom hadn't already bought me every gay gift under the sun--why wasn't I allowed to have my own oven?!? I have since given one to my nephew. He hated the pink, but he loved the gift.
- The Bigfoot action figure from the Bionic Man series. Every superhero needs a nemesis, but my Six Million Dollar Man never got to fight with the Bigfoot doll he deserved. That's why he had to wrestle mini-Spock (who wasn't even in his weight-class) and Donny Osmond, whose purple socks ended up around his ears after only seconds of battle.
What were some of the best gifts you ever received? (I can't be the only one who had a Donny doll...)
I was out late (for me) carousing in downtown Minneapolis last night with some friends from my department, and consequently I didn't have time to devise a lovely essay for you.
I hope I you will be mollified by a hot serving of Wednesday Better Than Coffee.
Back to our regular programming tomorrow...
Well, after six or seven trips to the vet, three keratotmies, and more than two weeks wearing that dorky plastic cone, Hudson's eye was finally declared fully healed this afternoon.
Darren and I are extremely relieved, because we didn't want to board him over Christmas if he wasn't better, and we can't really to bring him with us to Wisconsin, because Darren's parents have a cat that drives Hudson absolutely mad. (As in constantly, whining, never sleeping, and ceaseless searching for the cat, who detests Hudson.)
But, more importantly, we're just so glad that Hudson's eye is finally better and he can go back to his normal, happy dog existence. He was amazingly cooperative with wearing the cone, and he put up with us smearing antibiotic salve in his eye three times a day, but he was mopey and unhappy, because life was just a pain for him.
Now he can curl on up my lap like he's supposed to.
It's a Christmas gift for our whole little family.
As you may recall, I almost never go to movies in the theater, because I don't like paying $9 to be surrounded by ill-bred noisy yokels who ruin the entire experience for me. So, I had not yet seen Spiderman 3.
I wasn't missing much.
Spidey 3's plot and writing were jarringly stupid, in much the same way that Superman 3 took a well established, likeable film franchise and turned it buffoonish and embarrassing.
There were too many villains, too much overacting, and way too many scenes in which the CGI animation looked like something from a first generation Xbox.
I'll admit that I did enjoy the moments when Tobey Maguire goes all Chris Gaines with his lank black hair and a few enjoyably caustic lines. However, when I want to watch a man in eyeliner nimbly dance his way across the tables in a bar, I'll watch Purple Rain. (And Prince didn't need special effects for his dancing.)
And Kirsten Dunst? Don't even get me started. "Wooden" is far too generous a word for her phoned-in performance.
In 2004, shortly after my mother passed away, Chris Isaak released a really wonderful Christmas CD, simply called Chris Isaak Christmas. In addition to his stylishly cool arrangements of Christmas classics, Chris wrote several new tunes for the collection. One of them, Washington Square, has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.
Holidays can be hard when you miss someone you love, and even though this song is written from a somewhat different perspective than my own, it perfectly captures the way I felt that first Christmas without my mom, and how I still feel each year at this time.
Here's a clip of Chris Isaak and his band performing Washington Square. It always chokes me up a bit, but that's okay.
That's pretty much how Darren and I felt on Sunday, the day after our big Christmas brunch.
The event appeared to be a smashing success. Our friends and family certainly ate, drank, and were merry, and because Darren and I had hired two young men to wait on our guests and tend the bar, WE were actually able to relax and enjoy ourselves, too. It was a Christmas miracle! (Well, one that cost us $200, but a miracle just the same.)
It's as I've long suspected: it's WG's birthright to have a full domestic staff at his disposal. It felt good. It felt right.
In past years, Darren and I have run ourselves ragged keeping plates full and coffee and mimosas flowing. This year, by contrast, I actually got to chat with my guests, and every few minutes a handsome young fellow came by with a fresh drink for me. It was heavenly.
We had about fifty guests file through, all told. The first arrived around ten in the morning, the last left about 5:00 that afternoon. A few people we had hoped to see were no-shows, but the house was so full we didn't realize that until we were tidying up after the party and reviewing the events of the day. Once the last of our friends headed home, we cleaned for about an hour before collapsing in exhaustion on the couch.
Sunday we awoke to do more cleaning, and then, with the pressure of the brunch behind us, we enjoyed watching a matinee performance of A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, though I found myself starting to doze at several points. It had been a long two weeks getting ready for our big shindig.
Now we can shift into low(er) gear, write our Christmas cards, and do some Christmas shopping. We have no more big parties on the horizon, so none of the guest bathrooms are likely to be cleaned again for some time.
So, the Christmas Brunch of 2007 is history. (And I forgot to take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word that it all happened.)
Japanese? Visiting the USA? Be prepared!
But what if it's THREE men, or a gang of prison-escapee lesbians?
PS. This little gem comes to us courtesy of my pal KS in Leibzig. Danke, Püppchen!
Tomorrow morning Darren and I are hosting between fifty and sixty people for our annual Christmas brunch. (I know the word "annual" is redundant, yet somehow I feel I need it anyway.)
Are we insane? Perhaps. But I've never claimed to be playing with a full deck. (If I say that in Kelly's voice, it sounds dirty.)
Are we spending a heap of money on the party? Oh yes. More than I am willing to contemplate at the moment.
But this brunch is our biggest holiday tradition, and from the response we get from our friends and family, we know it has become a tradition for the people we invite each year, too.
This year we cast an extra wide net, and I invited my entire department at work. Many of my coworkers have accepted, which is both cool and somewhat alarming, because it added about twenty-five guests to our total.
I bought a copy of Martha Stewart Living on impulse the other day at Home Depot, and she had five tips for throwing the "perfect" holiday party. I forget what tips four and five were, but I was amazed to find that I was in sync with the first three:
Yes, WG will have STAFF this year. We've hired two waiter/bartenders to help us out, and I'm really psyched about being able to relax and talk to friends while someone else makes sure the coffee, mimosas, and bloody Marys keep flowing. I just need to let go and not try to micro-manage. If the cookies go out on the Santa plate that I had intended for cheese, no big woop.
I'm just going to relax and enjoy.
So that's the plan.
Now I'm off for one last round of shopping, and then there's cleaning, and some planning to do. Watch for pictures of the brunch on TMZ and Perez Hilton.
Last year I knitted my poor fingers to the bone cranking out felted mittens like a madman. This year I decided that I would take on two, possibly three knitted gift projects and no more.
I figure I have enough to juggle right now preparing to host sixty people for Christmas brunch this coming Saturday--I don't need to have a stroke while casting on for a cabled scarf.
I was working on two gifts, and that seemed about right. Then a coworker of mine commissioned me to make a pair of felted mittens for his wife. I love getting (reasonable) knitting requests, so I was happy to oblige. I'm nearly done with the first two projects, so one more shouldn't send me over the brink.
Of course, my own knitted projects don't count against the limit on Christmas knitting. So I might start a pair of socks for myself after this weekend, when my time frees up a bit. Socks hardly even count, anyway.
Beyond that, I'm holding the line. Honest.
Maybe it's because my mom's maiden name was Kelly (and she almost gave me "Kelly" as my middle name), but I can't get enough of our shoe-loving friend.
Here she is in another video, in which she covets her neighbor's top.
I think we've all been there, haven't we?
The other day when Hudson came home from his doggy daycare, his right eye was all puffy and squinty, and he seemed like he was perpetually winking at us. He also kept rubbing that eye, so we knew it was bothering him.
We took him to the vet the next day, and as it turns out, he has a fairly long (but fortunately not deep) scratch on his eye that he must have picked up while roughhousing with another dog. Our vet gave us some antibiotic salve, an anti-inflammatory/painkiller, and (alas) the dreaded Elizabethan collar that will prevent him from rubbing his eye while it heals.
This is the first time Hudson has had to deal with one of the plastic cones, and he's not loving it. Here he is, looking cute and forlorn this morning.
He's tolerating it quite well, all things considered, but he has no conception of why he can't get through the small spaces he normally navigates without problem.
When he gets into a jam, I swear he gives us a reproachful look that says "Why, why have you done this to me?"
We'll all be very glad when he's healed up and we can ditch the collar.
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