Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adios 2013

As Barry Manilow sang, it looks like we've made it.  We've survived long enough to once again celebrate Hogmany.

Hogmany is the name for the Scottish end of the year celebration.  It's a party, it's fun, so it is obviously not indigenous to Scotland.  Most likely, wandering Norse tour guides searching for warmer winter cruising happened upon the south of Scotland not long after a winter solstice. Believing they were in Miami, the Norse donned masks to protect their fair skin from the harsh Florida sun and like the local Floridians, took to drink.  Masks, drink....lasses. Word got back and the annual migration and bacchanal became custom. The crazy Norse never knew they weren't in the US.

The new year festival is as ancient as the hills.  While custom and tradition have evolved, Hogmany celebrations derive from human's need to occasionally let loose.  Deep within the DNA of humans everywhere is the need to break the solitude of work during the dark cold months, restoring mental health to those who live close to the land.  The Church of Scotland, which for over 400 years gave Christmas celebrations a miss, reluctantly turned a blind eye to a holiday celebrated on a state holiday.  

My family, a bit farther west, never needed such a flimsy excuse to celebrate.  They partied just because God gave them Guinness.  The masks and lasses were a lagniappe.

Celebrate hard my friends, you've earned it,  we'll leave the light on for ya.  AND WATCH FOR DEER!!!!!!

Happy end of 2M13 and welcome 2M14.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Fan Mail from some flounder

From The Straight Dope message board. The thread is illuminating.

The Death of Bullwinkle

You may have heard that Bullwinkle the Moose was found dead. And a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the mysterious circumstances of the moose's death.

Most people are aware of the fact that the moose was found crushed to death by a 16-ton anvil dropped from a great height. And of course, everybody was certain that the moose's live-in companion (and isn't that an interesting euphemism?) a certain hyperactive flying squirrel, was the most likely suspect.

But further investigation revealed a number of things. First, JPL did a computer simulation and determined that a flying squirrel could not achieve airspeed while carrying a 16-ton anvil, so that cleared Rocket J. Squirrel.

But the coroner reported that the expression on the moose's face showed absolutely no fear, so obviously the anvil hit him unexpectedly, or he was completely trusting of the circumstances -- which could implicate Rocky after all. The expression on the moose's face was the biggest smile ever seen on a Toon.

Clutched in the moose's baseball mitt -- which he always wore when he caught Rocky -- was a tiny statue of Krishna. The religious significance of this is not immediately clear; neither is the eyewitness report of a rabbi on a pogo stick rapidly leaving the scene.

So...if we summarize the clues in Bullwinkle's death, what we have is: wee Vishnu, a merry crushed moose, and a hoppy Jew near.

Toad- who does in fact know better

Sunday, December 29, 2013

KC lights

I was in Kansas City Saturday sharing a late Christmas with granddaughter Liz and her family.  On the way out of town I detoured across to town to visit some of KC's world famous holiday light displays.

On a whim I drove down our old street to see how the neighborhood was fairing. Their spirit caught me be surprise.  My former neighbors appear to be in the holiday mood. I wish I could have lingered. (Driving while photographing may not be a great career move for me.)

Except for the grinch who now lives in our old home.


Friday, December 27, 2013

The wager

You can teach old dogs new tricks, if the failure to learn is high enough.  Two years ago my bride gave me an IPAD for Christmas.  I reacted badly, hurt her feelings, was first in the return line the next morning and wrote about it here. Since, I've learned to smile and say thank you when receiving gifts.  I now deal with unwanted prizes later, alone.

We have 2 televisions in our latest renovation project.  The big one resides in Mrs. T's office.  It has all the bells and whistles, digital this and digital that. It never shuts off.

My TV rarely turns on.  We've been together a long time.  In spite of the large number of channels offered my little black box and I have settled on 9 and forgo the remainder. I only watch one anyway and that infrequently. To paraphrase an an old Mercedes Benz ad "we don't have digital anything." We're happy, comfortable and like most old couples settled in our ways.  The only problem is that I feel like I lose an IQ point each time I watch.

I was sharing this news at our a holiday bash when it was suggested I do something about it.  I agreed and we wagered whether or not I could go one year without watching television.  I accepted the challenge, with one exception (Sherlock is returning soon) and only later found I had been tricked.

5 furniture placements ago- note the dog on each end of the couch

It had been predetermined that I was in need of a new viewing appliance, which was at that time sitting at my challenger's awaiting pick up.  Christmas morning I was whelmed.

the black hole

I smiled as I unpacked the box, later I smiled as I installed the beast with each of our 9 analog channels, and later I smiled when it turned off.  The bet is still a bet, it's now day 3.  I love my new toy.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day
Good King Wenceslas looked out 
On the feast of Stephen, 
When the snow lay round about 
Deep and crisp and even;

On this Feast of St. Stephen, the first christian martyr we give thanks and homage to the retail clerks who made our holiday shopping possible.  Few things are more difficult than dealing with frenzied people. Holiday shoppers are often irrational zombies in search of white blackbirds or 5 of the single most coveted item on every kid in the universe's list to Father Christmas. It's a wonder the clerks don't go postal.

What I find difficult to understand is why consumers are so quick to rail on the unfortunate few who can actually help. On three occasions when I actually visited stores in December I found an abundance of tired, overworked retail clerks who were more than willing to help, while on several occasions I found the clerks of an entire department store in cahoots to stick it hard to their masters. "That box looks crushed, let's take an additional 25% off" I was offered.  On another instance clerks offered to hold an item for me for several days because it was going on sale.  Underappreciated troops will extract their revenge, and bend over backwards to assist anyone displaying an ounce of human kindness. To them I say THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

To the soulless bastard who invented the "let's stay open for the last 100 hours for Christmas" strategy I hope he finds his job outsourced.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to each and all my friends.

Toad and Mrs. T

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Today we celebrate Mondraniht, Mother's Night, a feast once held to honor the female gods and mother Earth in ancient German, English, Scandinavian and cultures.  Mother's Night was the flip side of the Yule or winter solstice

What the Mondraniht celebrants did we will likely never know, but no less an authority than the 8th century English monk The Venerable Bede, the Father of English History,  wrote in The Reckoning of Time that

"...began the year on the 8th kalends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, "mother's night", because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night."

Church practice was to usurp local festivals converting them into opportunities for Christian teaching.  The patriarchal church fathers abandoned Mother's Night.  Honoring their Savior's mother (and all women)  the night before his birth might have changed history.

Whatever your beliefs, enjoy the wonder of the season, be of good cheer, and have a Merry Christmas. Thank you for being here.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Milk and Cookies? Although it is Festivus

The holiday's are not all milk and cookies.  Bad things happen to good families during this otherwise festive time.  I stumbled upon 2 bits of information this weekend that wowed me out of my comfort zone.  In the spirit of Festivus I'm sharing so that perhaps, we can reach someone in need.

The first thing I learned was that more Americans, Brits and likely Canadians too die during the Christmas holidays than any other time of the year. We can blame weather, automobiles and stupid for some of the deaths.  Old age, infant birth and drink for others.  The greatest killer is most likely depression in all its forms.

The second thing I learned came from a Tumblr post I saw, featuring a 2007 Craig Ferguson monolog. The clip is shown above. It's long but necessarily so.  

Craig's monolog dwelt on 2 issues.  The first issue was a decision on his part to redefine what for him comedy, especially what was broadcast on HIS program, was.  At the time of the monolog Britney  news was the rage.  She was going through a rough patch, and Craig felt personal attacks on the defenseless were unconscionable.  This led to a segue on his alcoholism, his decision one Christmas Day to kill himself that afternoon and what saved his life.

Every family is less than 9 degrees of separation away from depression and/or addiction.  Blessings to the few that escape it, more so to those who have triumphed over it.  If I've hit a nerve watch the vid.  Pass it on, maybe you'll save a family.

Happy Festivus, may you triumph during the feats of strength.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Telegram to President Lincoln

On December 17, 1864 Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and his army were nearing the Georgia coast. Four days earlier, his troops had overrun Fort McAllister, a Confederate fortification built to defend Savannah against naval attacks. The city of Savannah was next.

Sherman sent the head of Confederate forces in Savannah, Lieutenant-General William Joseph Hardee, a letter suggesting that Hardee surrender the city immediately. As quoted from Sherman's letter, "Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures."

"Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused." wrote back Hardee.  Hardee instead chose to retreat, leading his troops out of the city on December 20, leaving the locals at the mercy of the Union army which then captured the city on December 21.

On December 22, 1864 Sherman sent the following telegram to President Lincoln. “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also about 25,000 bales of cotton,” signed Wm T. Sherman, Maj. General

Friday, December 20, 2013


This weekend while you are locked away wrapping last minute holiday gifts and frantically searching for the television remote, pause one moment and give thanks for Steve Wozniak, even if you do not Apple. 

Shortly after the dinosaurs moved away, Walt Disney invented television with 3 or 4 channels and something called UHF and said it was good.  And so it was until Ted Turner invented cable television with 30 channels, called it the next best thing and gave his blessing.  Ted's thumb in the eye to Walt came packaged with a remote television channel changer. A man could could sit back in his favorite recliner and change channels to his heart's content without getting up.  The remote changer was so cool no one except Woz noticed it was wired to the cable box. 

When Woz was through designing Apple I, II and Macintosh computers he left Apple and hung his own shingle on a company called CL 9.  CL 9's claim to fame was that they developed and in 1987 brought to market the world's first programmable, wireless, universal television remote.  While never taking credit, the brains behind their precious gift to the world was former blue box builder Steve Wozniak.  Hardly a grandmother since has tripped over a TV remote cable.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas Correspondence

The joy of the winter holiday season is found in the repetition of cherish classics. Thinking of Quentin Blake reminded me of his work with JJ Norwich. I hope you enjoy.

I first heard this in the car radio from the local classical music station. It was one of those recordings I had to hear the end of. Mrs. T was giving me the "are you coming in" look yet still I sat. The recording became so popular that to stop the phone calls, those remembering pre FM rock and roll may recall their stations doing this, the station would announce when they would replaying the broadcast.

My station changed owners and formats so I have missed my fix, and have been unable to source the original. The recording of course is The 12 Days of Christmas, Correspondence". I have a copy of what may be the original essays by JJ Norwich, but frankly I have found so many variations, I am unsure of the original author, so for now I'll go with Norwich.

The story is thus:

My dearest darling Edward, Dec 25
What a wonderful surprise has just greeted me! That sweet
partridge, in that lovely little pear-tree; what an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you, and thank
Your deeply loving Emily.

Beloved Edward, Dec 26
The two turtle-doves arrived this morning, and are cooing
away in the pear-tree as I write. I'm so touched and
With undying love, as always, Emily.

My darling Edward, Dec 27
You do think of the most original presents! Who ever thought
of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all
the way from France? It's a pity we have no chicken coops,
but I expect we'll find some. Anyway, thank you so much;
they're lovely.
Your devoted Emily.

Dearest Edward, Dec 28
What a surprise! Four calling birds arrived this morning.
They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly --
they make telephoning almost impossible -- but I expect
they'll calm down when they get used to their new home.
Anyway, I'm very grateful, of course I am.
Love from Emily.

Dearest Edward, Dec 29
The mailman has just delivered five most beautiful gold
rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly! A
really lovely present! Lovelier, in a way, than birds, which
do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived
yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I'm afraid
none of us got much sleep last night. Mother says she wants
to use the rings to "wring" their necks. Mother has such a
sense of humor. This time she's only joking, I think, but I
do know what she means. Still, I love the rings.
Bless you, Emily.

Dear Edward, Dec 30
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door
this morning, it certainly wasn't six socking great geese
laying eggs all over the porch. Frankly, I rather hoped that
you had stopped sending me birds. We have no room for them,
and they've already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant
well, but let's call a halt, shall we?
Love, Emily.

Edward, Dec 31
I thought I said NO MORE BIRDS. This morning I woke up to
find no more than seven swans, all trying to get into our
tiny goldfish pond. I'd rather not think what's happened to
the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds, to
say nothing of what they leave behind them, so please,
please, stop!
Your Emily.

Jan 1
Frankly, I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight
milkmaids? And their cows! Is this some kind of a joke? If
so, I'm afraid I don't find it very amusing.

Jan 2
Look here, Edward,
This has gone far enough. You say you're sending me nine
ladies dancing. All I can say is, judging from the way they
dance, they're certainly not ladies. The village just isn't
accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless viragos, with
nothing on but their lipstick, cavorting round the green, and
it's Mother and I who get the blame. If you value our
friendship, which I do (less and less), kindly stop this
ridiculous behavior at once!

Jan 3
As I write this letter, 10 disgusting old men are prancing
up and down all over what used to be the garden, before the
geese and the swans and the cows got at it. And several of
them, I have just noticed, are taking inexcusable liberties
with the milkmaids. Meanwhile, the neighbors are trying to
have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.

Jan 4
This is the last straw! You know I detest bagpipes! The
place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse, and a man from the council has just declared it
unfit for habitation. At least Mother has been spared this
last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an
ambulance. I hope you're satisfied.

Jan 5
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you
that with the arrival on her premises at 7:30 this morning of
the entire percussion section of the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, and several of their friends, she has no course
left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent you
importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the
return of much assorted livestock.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
G. Creep Attorney at law.

Another variation was penned by Irish essayist Hugh Leonard and is read by celebrated Irish actor Frank Kelly. This is for #1 Son. I think he will prefer the Irish version. I'm coming to believe that I do.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Carol

“The Dye is cast: The People have passed the River and cutt away the Bridge: last Night Three Cargoes of Tea, were emptied into the Harbour. This is the grandest, Event, which has ever yet happened Since, the Controversy, with Britain, opened!”

From John Adams to James Warren, 17 December 1773

I. A Christmas Carol 

Boz began the story in the grip of "a hideous cold that has taken possession of me to an almost unprecedented extent...at this moment I am deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose, green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints and fractious in the temper".  Dicken could not afford to to let illness slow him.

Beginning in 1837, Charles Dickens's novels were serialized in monthly installments,  The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickelby.  As successful as his writing was, Boz worried about money.  As a fallback he studied law, although never practiced, and created a weekly magazine which he wrote in its entirety, publishing The Old Curiosity Shop, and Barnaby Rudge in its pages. By 1843 he needed a break and arranged with his publishers to spend 6 months touring the US in return for a monthly stipend to be repaid by his travel writings and next book, "Martin Chuzzlewit".

The autumn of 1843 were troubled times for the Dickens household.  Martin Chuzzlewit and the travel book did not sell well,  Mrs. Dickens was pregnant with their fifth child, household expenses were greater than planned,  Boz was paying off his father and brothers debts, while he was in debt to his publishers.  His sole recourse was to write a successful book, quickly. Charles hoped to become rich, to earn a thousand pounds, which would see him through.

He began writing in mid October and completed his ghost story, A Christmas Carol on December 2nd.  It went immediately to the printer and was first published on this date in 1843. The book was a commercial success, selling out its 6000 print run almost immediately, a second edition of 3000 copies soon followed.  The Christmas Carol was not a commercial success however.  By the end of 1844 Boz only earned 726 pounds, far less than the 1000 pounds he anticipated.


Monday, December 16, 2013


Sir Quentin in his studio

Today is Sir Quentin Blake's 81st birthday. Think back to your childhood story books.  Your mind slips to the illustrations first.  It is hard to separate the story from the drawing.  The story alone is hardly memorable, while a story with pictures jumps to life. 

Still active after all these years

Quentin was the artist behind Roald Dahl's best works.  It is Quentin who brought the BFG to life. The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie are merely words on a page without Blake. It was Blake who illustrated JJ Norwich's  earliest Christmas Crackers.


Looking back through the mists of time I certainly did not appreciate N.C. Wythe's Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe illustrations at the time as much as I did my children's story books in theirs.  I feel gyped. Things were not ALWAYS better then.

Happy Birthday Mr. Blake, may you live long and prosper.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Baby Names

Your name says little about you but it speaks volumes about your parents. Children's names are clear markers of parents hopes, dreams, aspirations, education and political leanings. It's why most common name studies are so closely watched by many soon to be parents (or more likely mothers).

This year's official tally (using social security data)won't be released until May, however The Baby Center has jumped in with their most popular list based upon reporting families. Not quite the same but there will be a great deal of overlap.

I remember "The baby name book" sitting on my wife's nightstand for several years. I doubt I ever flipped through it's pages; somehow our children were named, and we've a defendable story for each. The chapter on "do names matter" in Freakonomics was my entry into the American baby naming ritual.

Using data collected by the state of California, the authors of Freakonomics reached the following conclusions: "As a mother becomes better-educated, she’s much more likely to give her boy or girl a popular name, and much less likely to give her an uncommon or unique name. And one of the statistics that just leaps out at us about this that is amongst African American mothers with less than a high school degree, 36 percent of them give their daughters a unique name. Now, the statistical probability that you could give your child a name that nobody else would have is really kind of remarkable. And if you think about it as an act of imagination, it’s pretty astounding."

So what are the most popular baby names for 2013?
For boys:

Jackson (up from 22 last year), Aiden, Liam, Lucas, Noah, Mason, Jayden, Ethan, Jacob, Jack


Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Mia, Ava, Lily, Zoe, Emily, Chloe

Not one of those names was ever in consideration for my children.

PS: For those keeping score, author, raconteur,  polemicist Christopher Hitchens died two years ago on this date.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The halcyon days

According to myth, created by those who never ventured far from the Mediterranean Sea, the Halcyon Days, which begin today (one week before the winter solstice) and which end 2 weeks later, are the weeks when storms never appear.  It is snowing outside my window.

The legend states that the brave sailor Ceyx and his bride Halcyon while much in love, chose unfortunate  pet names for each other, he called his bride Hera (Zeus's wife and the goddess of women), she referred to her lover as Zeus (the primary god).  Their sacrilege proved fatal for Ceyx, when according to Ovid, Zeus threw a thunderbolt at Ceyx's ship, killing all aboard.

Disguised in a dream, Ceyx appeared to Halcyon to tell her of his fate.  In her grief, she threw herself into the ocean and drowned.  The gods taking pity on the young lovers raised them from the dead, and to hide them from Zeus, transformed the couple into birds.  Kingfishers (genus Ceyx) specifically.

These 2 weeks are supposedly the time when the kingfisher lays her eggs on the beach.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

yule goat

I enjoy learning the history, evolution and variety of what are now the Christmas holiday celebrations. The ancient pagan celebrations may have been folded into orthodox Christianity but the old ways haven't died. We still celebrate Jul, simply in a modern form.  The ancient customs feel  familiar, we've only forgotten why.

Christmas while once officially banned in Puritan England and New England, yet its celebrations lived, albeit underground, just as it had been for millennium. I was unfamiliar with the story of the Yule Goat until I found this passage from the Nordic Thoughts blog. I hope you enjoy it.

The Yule Goat
"The Yule Goat's origins might go as far back as to pre-Christian days. A popular theory is that the celebration of the goat is in connection to the Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnj├│str. It is also known that in old agricultural Scandinavia, one of the the last sheaf of corn bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things ‘julbocken’ (the Yule Goat).

In Sweden, people thought of the Yule Goat as an invisible spirit that would appear some time before Christmas to make sure that the Yule preparations were done right. Objects made out of straw or roughly-hewn wood could also be called the Yule Goat, and in older Scandinavian society a popular Christmas prank was to place this Yule Goat in a neighbour’s house without them noticing; the family successfully pranked had to get rid of it in the same way.
During the 19th century the Yule Goat’s role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule Goat"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boston Charlie

Many thanks to all and sundry for your support of Jess and her goal to win the ACM photo contest. Competition is stiff, but the votes are not counted until midnight the 15th. If you haven't voted please do so here

2.    Pogo

Walt Kelly was always in top form during the holidays. My favorite holiday tune is Pogo classic Boston Charlie.  Mrs. T doesn't not believe there was ever a Boston Charlie Christmas song.  She won't see this , but perhaps you remember the tune but have forgotten the words.

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
-Walt Kelly- Pogo

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

3. The Onion: 
  "Black guy asks nation for change" -The Onion

Tomorrow the last print copy of the Onion goes to press.  From here on out it's a digital world.  You can bookmark this page for your regular fix.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maroc her socks off-Please

Lost by Jess

Earlier this year our buddy Jess spent several months studying in Morocco. She wrote about her experiences here  .  Jess is a spirit of the world, and I'm certain that this will not be her last extended stay.

The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) annually holds a photo contest for the best photo submitted by a member of this year's Off Campus Study program.  The photo above, "Lost" by Jess was the winning entry from her college, and now it is part of the ACM Photo Contest, and needs your vote please.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Unperceived Wisdom

Daily Mail photo

Moving into our new neighborhood I laughed each day as I watched an elderly neighbor "walk his dog". The dog was in a sling, dog's back to man's chest, while the gent shuffled down the road.  One day we met while doing the rounds and he explained that at his age getting tangled in a leash could be fatal.  The joke was on me.

The pups and I keep a regular morning and afternoon walk schedule.  I am usually the only guy out, but we run into the same group of women and their pets on our tour. We're gradually becoming accepted by the group and we've grown from dogs sniffing each other and brief hellos, to full introductions and exchanging neighborhood gossip.   As the weather has become colder if someone on their return trip cautions about ice on the way, the women tend to take an alternate route. Not me.

Although it is completely oblivious to me, subtly I am being taught how better to care for myself.  I've yet to learn.

Last night, Mrs. T asked if I, while she prepared dinner, would go to the store and pick up the missing ingredient.  Out the door in a flash, 2 seconds later I hit an ice patch and found myself laying in the street, thinking I should get up, wondering if I could.  My inventory diagnosed only a bruised ego and sore back, so gingerly I picked myself up and carried on with my expedition.

When I got home, dinner was pushed aside, and a pot of soup was on the boil. I was looking worse for wear and for a bit of sympathy as I inquired why the change of plans, learning that while I was out Mrs T's BFF phoned with the news she had broken her leg.  Chicken soup fixes everything.

In the mean time, I'm fine but sore, maybe this will be the year I learn to pay attention to my surroundings, or  else become a snow bird.

Toad, d' sore

Friday, December 6, 2013

Silent monks

Thanksgiving's arriving late this year has put me off my game. We've a number of holiday traditions to squeeze into smaller space, so I need to catch up. Today's replay is becoming one of my holiday favorites. You've watched, Burl Ives Rudolph one hundred times, another airing of the Silent Monks on a cold, St. Nicholas morn will do us all a world of good.

Even after a dozen airings it's still pretty funny.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

From Martha To Ernest

Mislaid during our moves, the stars aligned in time to help me locate my stash of John Julius Norwich's Christmas Crackers in time for the holidays, and while I do not believe in coincidences, a day after visiting Nancy Gellhorn's St. Louis neighborhood I came across this snippet of a letter Martha wrote to Ernest, reprinted in the 2011 edition Christmas Cracker.

28 June 1943

I wish we could stop it all now, the prestige, the possessions, the position, the knowledge, the victory: and that we could by a miracle return together under the arch at Milan, with you so brash in your motor cycle side car and I badly dressed, fierce, loving, standing in the street waiting for your picture to be taken.  My god, how I wish it.  I would give every single thing there now is to be young and poor with you.  As poor as there was to be, and the days hard but always with that shine on them that came of not being sure, of hoping, of believing in fact in just the things we now so richly have.

I bet many agree with Martha's sentiments. The early struggle, the belief in yourself and your partner's future, is often more fun than having arrived.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Last night of Chanukah


geeks of doom photo

Since I hadn't visited Chuck in a while I knew that you hadn't either.  As busy a he is writing, directing, and producing several of the nation's most popular sitcoms, he still find time most weeks to publish a vanity card laying out what's on his mind at the end of most of his shows.  Mostly we can't read that fast so we ignore them but they are often worth looking back on.  We left off somewhere around 400, 408 could easily be skipped. The complete archives may be found here. 


I've been told that if you change your mind, you change the world - or at least the way you experience it. Let's take a moment to examine that. The presumption is, if you thought the world was a hostile, ugly place filled with awful people doing awful things, that is what you'd see. Your mind would naturally seek out confirmation for its preconceived ideas (e.g., if you're intent on buying a red car, as you go about your day you'll see lots of red cars). If, however, you were able to sincerely change your mind and see that we are all God in drag, that we are the conscious aspects of a perfect universe which had to create us so we could bear witness and stand in awe before its loving magnificence, then that is the soul-shaking reality you'd be greeted with each and every moment of each and every day. In other words, it is entirely our choice as to what kind of world we live in. With a simple decision, we can suffer in the darkness or play in the light. We can be angry, frightened and enslaved, or loving, joyous and free.

I know. It's a toughie.

Enjoy your visit.