Dixie Peach: December 2006

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'd Do It Again

I believe it's true that the older one gets the faster the years go by. Forty years ago a year was a quarter of my life. Now a year seems to be over before I can even get used to writing the correct numbers.

Still this year was pretty good for me. By chance and coincidence I made a new friend. I was able to meet in person two lovely ladies I've gotten to know through their blogs. My sister and her family came to visit B and me for two weeks. I enjoyed the World Cup and would relive the joy and good feeling of those weeks forever if I could. I taught myself to knit socks and spent the following months buying an obscene amount of sock yarn. I even rode a big ferris wheel for you!

And throughout the year my friends and family have been wonderful to me and I am even more crazy in love with my husband than ever before.

If you've been reading here through 2006 then you'll know that not every day was perfect and there were plenty of days that it was downright dull around here but if that's the price I have to pay for the really good days then it's worth it.

I can only hope that 2007 will bring me as many happy days.

I wish for you and those you love a joyous new year filled with love, good health, contentment, success and peace.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Last Chance Edition

I seem to be ending this year in much the same way I started it - staring at my Christmas tree and wishing someone - anyone! - would come take it down and put it away. I am thoroughly over Christmas this year and am more anxious than usual to remove all traces of it.

Bixente the iPod is ready to shuffle for the last time in 2006. Hit it, baby.
  1. Black Betty - Tom Jones
  2. Shower The People - James Taylor
  3. I'm The Man Who Murdered Love - XTC
  4. Fool In The Rain - Led Zeppelin
  5. Down By The Water - P J Harvey
  6. Night Pat Murphy Died - Great Big Sea
  7. Wonderwall - Oasis (Oh Zoe!)
  8. Kein Mann für eine Frau - Roger Cicero
  9. Son Of A Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
  10. My Doorbell - The White Stripes
Hope y'all have a restful weekend before the New Year's Eve festivities. Me? I'll just be knitting and wondering why this tree ain't down yet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hidden Talent

I came in to the livingroom holding four tangerines.

"What would you give me if I suddenly began to juggle these four tangerines?"

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I said. If I suddenly began to juggle all four tangerines, what would you give me?"

"You mean juggle them for real and not just let them all drop to the ground?"

"Yeah! Real juggling. Real live go ahead and book me on the Ed Sullivan Show juggling."

The Ed Sullivan reference went unnoticed. It's hard when you grow up in vastly different environments and your pop culture references often do not connect with one another.

"I'd give you 100 euro."

"100 euro? That's it? That's all you'd offer me if I could suddenly juggle four tangerines at once?"

"You want more?"

"I thought sure you'd offer me diamond earrings or a mink coat or a new car! 100 euro? 100 euro is what you should give me if I suddenly did something just semi-ordinary. Juggling four of anything at once is a pretty daunting task. Hell, I have my doubts that I could toss up one tangerine and catch it before it falls to the floor. Spontaneous juggling four tangerines should get me a whole yarn shop worth of yarn!"

"No, for that you'd have to do something that borders on the impossible. It's within the realm of possibility that you could suddenly juggle four tangerines."

"Like what?"

"Have all the laundry hamper completely empty - everything washed, dried, folded and put away."

I stand a much better chance of suddenly juggling four tangerines. While peeling them.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Most Popular

There was a pitifully small window of time in my youth when I had the money and the freedom to go out and have as much fun as my legs and my liver could stand. I didn't often go out during the work week - I evidently still held onto that "school night" mentality - but on Thursday you could find me at the mall buying new outfits - or at least pieces of them - to be worn on Friday and Saturday night when I'd join my friends at various clubs for drinking and dancing and the typical stuff a twenty-two-year-old gets into.

I was married a few months before I turned twenty-five and stared down a lot of years where going out and having rowdy fun came to a screeching halt. My first husband, nicknamed "Velcro Ass" by my dear friend Susan because of his lay-on-the-couch-as-much-as-possible lifestyle, just wasn't the rowdy fun type.

Ex-husband and I were good friends with our next door neighbors, John and Mary (not their real names but you having to read an alphabet's worth of initials to hide various identities gets old very fast, doesn't it?) and we did things with them quite a bit. Mary was sensible and while she liked fun, she wasn't as free to cut-up as John was. John has a younger brother, Kevin (I'll let you guess if that's his real name or not), and when Kevin would visit he and John would go out and get silly and as often as not Mary would stay home because their brand of silliness wasn't her thing. Their brand of silliness was exactly my thing and I'd get invited to tag along with them. Often it would just be to a local bar to drink and play trivia and watch Kevin chat up the waitresses but there was one memorable night that pretty well got me banned from hanging out with John and Kevin for good.

My ex-husband was out of town for a week for a hunting trip and Mary was out of town with the kids visiting her family. John had been down in Florida for business and Kevin had joined him so they could play golf in John's spare time. They were due back on a Friday night and the plan was for me to meet them at the airport and then drive into DC and do whatever struck our fancy.

After work I changed and drove to the Metro station in order to take the subway to the airport so I could meet them at the airline lounge and by the time I arrived John and Kevin were already loosened least Kevin was. We gathered up their bags and golf clubs, watched Kevin fall, golf clubs and all, down an escalator, bailed the car out of long term parking and made our way across the Potomac to find a place to continue our adventure.

I was crammed into the back seat so I wasn't even paying attention to where we were going - all I knew was that we were somewhere in NW Washington, DC. The car was parked, Kevin extracted an obscene amount of cash from an ATM and we were in search of a place for us to light.

It wasn't my idea to first go into the strip club. I wish I could remember the name of it but I do remember it was the one that former DC mayor Marion Barry would frequent in his "Bitch Set Me Up" days. I also remember that the strippers looks sort of used and shabby. Luckily my request to get the hell out of there was granted.

I'm not quite sure how long it took us to get there - there was a lot of walking by clubs and bars and sticking our heads inside and then moving along and I think we were walking in circles - but we ended up at Sign of the Whale. I'm not even sure if that bar is there anymore since I haven't lived in the DC area in a long time but at that time it was a sort of frat boys/girls that like frat boys hang out. I'd been in there a few times before but not since I actually dated frat boys so I wasn't really up on the place except to remember its brick walls, wooden floors and narrow area. There was a fair amount of patrons already there (by now it was about 10pm) so we went in to do further damage to our livers. A DJ was there playing records - mostly oldies party music - and it wasn't long before we sort of took over the place. Kevin, used to Manhattan watering holes where he's well known and loved, was the ringleader.

Now this was a bar. A tavern. A pub. It's not a dance club. They didn't even have a dance floor. It's not that dancing wasn't allowed - there just wasn't any real room to dance, that is there wasn't until John, Kevin and I decided that dancing was just what this place needed. While the DJ played the likes of Build Me Up, Buttercup and Summer In The City we found the widest open space in the joint and proceeded to dance.

Suddenly we were like the superstars of the bar. Everyone there loved that they could dance if they wanted and we three became very popular dance partners, people surrounding all three of us. Free drinks were coming our way at a furious pace and it was as if everyone wanted to be seen with us. Us. Two bankers and a customer service agent for a power utility. No one famous or powerful in a city filled with the famous and powerful. Just three people who were drunk enough to not give a shit about the rules and who were willing to have a great time.

And we did have a great time. We danced and drank and talked - well, shouted above the din anyway - and reveled in being the focal point of the place. I was like the queen bee surrounded by a hive full of drones. John and Kevin always were the life of any party but I wasn't used to it and it felt great. For that evening I was ten years younger and I was having fun without worrying about...well...anything. I could have all the fun I wanted without any single girl angst.

By 2am we'd lost Kevin to some poor girl who'd succumbed to his smooth talking ways and John and I left without him. As we left the DJ thanked us for making the whole night and proclaimed that it was the most fun he'd had in there since he started that gig. We found the car, John drove me back to the Metro station where my Jeep was parked and I followed him back to our respective homes. And as a cautionary note to this tale - please people, do not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. I did that night and it was a stupid, stupid thing to do. I've not done it since. If you've been drinking at all, just don't drive.

The next day found me with a vicious hangover and a husband who returned home to find me in that state. He wasn't very sympathetic about my condition and while it was painful to go through the day trying to minimize its impact, it was worth it. It was worth it all to have the memory of that night. In the coming years when my marriage was at its worst and I was feeling worthless and depressed, the memory of that night could still make me smile. It still does. I suppose it doesn't matter how many years have passed - it still feels good to remember a time when you were the most popular person in the room. When you were in demand by everyone. When everyone wanted to be you.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Come and Gone

The day before Christmas Eve my MIL arrived out of breath to report that the elevator wasn't working - it was stuck on the first floor with the door partially open. I live on the second floor, which in my building means I'm actually up on the fourth floor since there are shops and offices in the lower part of the building. Certainly a time to be thankful that we don't live on the seventh floor.

Since one can't be sure that the elevator failure has been reported B called the emergency number and was told that it had indeed be reported and they'd get someone out there to fix the elevator right after the Christmas holidays - in other words, Wednesday. B thanked them, hung up and reported to me what he'd been told.

You know B's been a quadriplegic for over twenty-three years now. You'd think he'd remember that tiny detail. You think he'd really remember it when he's reporting a broken elevator. I couldn't believe he just swallowed waiting until Wednesday for a repair of the one thing he definitely needs should he need to get outside. The one time it's okay for him to play the cripple card and he doesn't mention it.

My rather vocal protest encouraged him to call the emergency repair number back and they said they'd have to check to see if it would be okay for them to come out the same day since it involved a handicapped person being in the building (meaning they would have to see if the rental company would pay extra) and a short while later the repair dispatch called back to say they'd send out someone as soon as they could. Two hours later we had a working elevator.

And that's why I didn't have to drag boxes and bags and crates of Christmas stuff from my MIL's apartment to my apartment via a whole lot of stairs. And that's why the rest of the building didn't either. Yay for my rather vocal protests.

The rest of the holidays were as I expected. The apartment looked lovely, the food was delicious, B's aunt was obnoxious and his uncle was boring. We got some nice gifts, the packages from my family didn't arrive in time for Christmas and everyone and their dog has called us.

All in all it's been a good Christmas. And I can now play with my new laptop computer with no feelings of guilt.

But I wish the Christmas market was still around. At least the fish.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Fourth Advent Edition

Christmas preparations are now strictly centered at home. The shopping is finished and now I'm left with baking cookies, finishing the wrapping (okay, starting the wrapping but we don't have much to wrap anyway) and getting my apartment clean for Christmas Eve company. I'll probably take a break to wander downtown to see the holiday shopping crowds, happy to know that I don't need to be there and if it gets overwhelming I'll just walk up the street back home.

Bixente the iPod's ready for the holidays as well and ready to give you his last holiday music shuffle - and this time he's doing it country style.
  1. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Vince Gill
  2. The Angels Cried - Alan Jackson & Alison Krauss (sob!)
  3. Christmas Cookies - George Strait
  4. Come On Christmas - Dwight Yoakam (complete with a bottle with which you can drown your sorrows)
  5. Away In A Manger - Johnny Cash
  6. Christmas in Dixie - Alabama (heart crushing, homesickness filled, boo-hoo sobs!)
  7. Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy - Buck Owens
  8. Joy To The World - Tammy Wynette
  9. I Only Want You For Christmas - Alan Jackson
  10. Country Christmas - Loretta Lynn
How I'd love to be home this Christmas - my oldest brother will be there along with my sister and other brother. We haven't all been together since my father passed fifteen years ago. We'd love to be with B's cousins in Australia as well. We got a Christmas package from them today filled with fun trinkets and lots of love as well. We're very blessed to have lovely families.

May all who celebrate the season have a safe, joy-filled and serene Christmas. Hope Santa's good to y'all. I'll be back after the Jolly Old Elf has made his visit.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Haiku Blogging - Christmas Edition

As if Thursday haiku blogging isn't enough for you, I add in the spicy mix of the holidays.

Or maybe it was just some leftover Chex Mix.

Star atop my tree
Crooked, straighten you again
Now dove flops over.

Lift's busted again
Drag shopping bags up the stairs
Next time buy less stuff.

Cookies left to bake
Iced sugar. Snickerdoodles.
Eat with ice cold milk.

Homesickness starts up
My family's so far away
Call them lots and lots.

Dance to Christmas tunes
Rudolph and Little St. Nick
And Santa Baby.

Now all wrapping's done
Boxes stowed under the tree
Wait for Weihnachtsmann

Last Advent shuffle
Friday, last holiday tunes
Is your favorite there?

You'll find out tomorrow.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You Should Have Seen My Husband Smile

...when I told him about my latest knit-along/join-up/stunt/challenge. It's one that's designed to save money and get a mess into order.

Here's the point where those whose eyes glaze over and drool escapes from the corner of their mouths whenever I mention knitting interest in knitting doesn't match my own are excused from further reading. Even you, Mr. Fab, although I know you consider reading my knitting posts a sweet, sweet excercise in masochism.

Sue's blog - Sue the spinner, weaver and prolific sock knitter - turned me on to this challenge thrown down by Wendy - Knit From Your Stash 2007. The basic premise is simple enough - in 2007 don't buy yarn and knit what you've got already in your stash.

Naturally there are guidelines. You can't have willy-nilly stash knitting you know. Here are the guidelines proposed by Wendy:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 - a period of nine months.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? Do you think we are made of stone?.

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn we may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card - we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that it's too easy for me because 90% of my knitting is socks. "What kind of challenge is that?!", you cry!

That's why Wendy is encouraging us to change the guidelines to fit our personal needs. To that end, here are the guidelines I will be following:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through December 31, 2007 - a period of twelve months. I'm going to make mine go longer due to the exceptions I'll be making for myself. Plus my husband is going to ping me in the head if I don't stop buying yarn.

2. I will not buy any yarn during that period with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn counts 3/4. I am not allowed any additions to my sock yarn stash until 75% of my current stash is gone. Also I must have used up non-sock yarn stash equal to one completed project before being allowed to buy more sock yarn.

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that I really and truly do not have the yarn for I may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If I am knitting something and run out of yarn I may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. I get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card - I am allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. I am allowed to gifts of yarn.

4. I am exempted from stash-only knitting any time my friend, Laura, is visiting me from the U.S. but my yarn purchases cannot exceed yarn for more than one project or two pairs of socks (I'm telling you people, Laura is like a sock yarn pusher!). The "Get Out of Jail Free" card cannot be used in conjunction with a visit from Laura but if I have already knitted 75% of my sock yarn stash, I may freely buy all sock yarn I want.

Seriously, B was practically giddy when I told him that I would be knitting up my stash. And it shouldn't be too hard for me to stick to this considering I have sock yarn in my stash already for about 20 pairs.

Plus you just know I'm going to go buy more sock yarn before the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Want to Know How Stupid I Am?

You're fixing to find out.

B and I have already bought my MIL's Christmas gift. She wanted a new floor lamp for her livingroom and since I didn't know exactly what she wanted in terms of style I took her with me, she picked it out, we took it home, put it together and Merry Christmas!

Still B and I wanted her to have a little something to open at Christmas but couldn't figure out what. She doesn't need or want anything and it took a lot to get her to decide on the floor lamp - that it could be our gift to her. We then figured that we could give her a gift card to the local mall. It's good in all the stores and she can buy anything from groceries to clothes to lunch with it. Wrap it with a box of nice chocolates and she'd have a treat waiting for her under the Christmas tree.

I absolutely will not go to the mall if it's after noon so I got up this morning and headed down there first thing. The gift cards are sold at the information desk and there was a good size line there. I reckon a lot of mothers-in-law are getting gift cards this year. So there I was standing in line and a woman behind me said "Excuse me. Are you getting a card for 50€ or more? I have one and now I want two smaller cards but you can't exchange a gift card for a gift card. Would you like to buy this one from me and just give me the cash for it so I can buy the smaller cards?".

It was a bit loud in there and I was having a bit of a hard time hearing her and so it was taking me a couple seconds to catch on to what she was talking about. I thought "Eh. Okay. I don't need the envelope they put the card in." and so I gave her a 50€ note and she gave me the card and I got out of line. I stopped and put the card in my wallet and could see the lady still standing in line.

I was about out of cash then so I started to walk to my bank's ATM machine that about 50 meters away and while walking I remembered something that my friend, Chelle, mentioned a couple weeks ago. There seems to be some scam in America for those gift cards you take from a rack in places like Walmart or Target and you have activated by the cashier. People write down the numbers of unactivated cards and then wait until that number gets activated and then use someone else's gift card without them knowing it.

And then the light dawned and it was about five minutes too late.

What if that lady sold me a bogus gift card? I know the card must have been activated because it had the sticker on it that the cashier puts on the card once it's activated. This mall's gift cards are not out in the open - they're with the cashiers behind glass and I think it would be impossible to steal one and swipe it and get the sticker on it without the cashier knowing it. Still, what if this card was all or at least partially used? They're different than the old mall gift certificates on paper where you'd just get change back in cash once you redeemed it at one of the shops. Now you keep using the card until the amount is used up. This lady could have bought a card, used it while buying Christmas stuff, got back in line, sold it to a dimwit me, taken my 50€ and bought another gift card to do the whole thing over again.

Well shit fire and save matches.

I didn't know what to do then. One thing I didn't want to do is give this thing to my MIL. I can see her at some boutique buying yet another jacket (my MIL is crazy for buying jackets - she has one for every two degree variance in temperature), handing over the card and them telling her it's empty. I can just see me explaining that one. And I also wasn't relishing the idea of coming home and telling B what I did.

So I took my cash, crisp and hot from the ATM, and bought another 50€ gift card for my MIL. I suppose I could have given the card the lady sold me to the cashier to check to see if it was still good but at that moment I was so mortified at how damned ignorant I was that I couldn't face doing it. I could just see me explaining "Well ya see, there was this lady behind me in line and since I look like I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday and by my actions I can see how one would think that...". I'll just keep the potentially bogus one for myself until I happen to go shopping for something at that mall and see then if it's valid or not. That way if I got completely ripped off no one will know. Except me.

And now you.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Obligatory Christmas Tree Photo

Ever since the one year I didn't unassemble Christmas tree and merely threw a sheet over it and wheeled it into my spare room I've taken a boatload of good natured shit from my friends and family over it. Deservedly so. Therefore to prove that I have not made the same error I take a photo of my tree each year.

And you know they still need convincing.

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A tip for those who must still put up their Christmas tree: Don't begin at 9:30pm, put the tree in the stand and add one string of lights, stop and call your sister and an hour and a half later when you hang up, pick up where you left off. It's for certain that it'll be nearly 2am before you finish and the longer the decorating process takes the less you'll give a damn whether you've grouped too many snowmen ornaments together.

Of special interest to Sari.

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My Christmas decorating is not complete until I have my Sock Monkey Santa on the tree.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Third Advent Edition

I hinted yesterday that I might go down to the Christmas market and bring back some photos for y'all but I got rather tied up with grocery shopping and laundry and taking a fierce, fierce nap. Five o'clock rolled around and B and I were watching a show about Christmas markets and Magdeburg's was featured in a short segment. There was a lovely view from above the Christmas market, most certainly taken from the giant ferris wheel.

"Wow. I really should have gone down there to take pictures."

"You still can. Go right now. Won't take you but an hour or so."

That was all the incentive I needed so here's Magdeburg's Christmas market in pictures.

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This Christmas tree isn't at the Christmas market but is instead at the end of my block.

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On one side of the streetcar stop you see this.

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And that's the department store on the other side.

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Mmmmm...that's the place to get the tasty, tasty fried fish.

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And this is the place if you want ham and kale and fried potatoes.

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Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like fried liver from the Liver Hut!

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That's more like it. Grilled bratwurst.

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Give me a hot one with ketchup, ladies!

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You're sure to find something for your sweet tooth here.

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Rides are a big part of the market.

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So are craftspeople selling their wares. This man makes wooden marionettes.

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Games are popular as well.

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This is Magdeburg's Rathaus (city hall). It's not easy to see but up on the balcony in the center was a brass quartet playing Christmas carols.

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Every moment the market square filled with more people.

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This is the giant Pyramide at the far end of the market. Is there an English word for this thing or does everyone do as I do and all it "That thing that whirls around from the air current made by the candles underneath"?

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Inspired by the show I saw this afternoon I thought I'd get on the giant ferris wheel to get an ariel photo. doesn't seem too big.

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Oh. Well. It's quite a bit bigger when you get up close to it.

Now I'm not exactly afraid of heights. Tall buildings don't bother me and I actually like driving over high bridges but the combination of height and riding in something that sways in the breeze wasn't a comforting thought. I got closer and watched it for a while and had a conversation with myself.

"Get on it."
"Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week."
"Do it today. It'll be cold and rainy next week."
"Look! There are old ladies and toddlers on this thing! Stop being a big baby and get on it!"

I wasn't going to let old ladies and toddlers get one over on me so I bought my ticket and jumped on. Since I was alone they put me in with a Hulk-like guy and his girlfriend. I only hoped he wasn't the type to be an ass and make the gondola spin around. I may can handle height and swaying in the breeze but I can't have spinning added into the mix.

But I did it. I braved height and swaying and potential spinning to bring you this:

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There's a whole lot of happiness down there.

Bixente the iPod's going to risk all to bring you the third week of Christmas music. Shuffle for Santa!
  1. Merry Christmas, Baby - Bruce Springsteen
  2. The Holly & the Ivy - Natalie Cole
  3. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
  4. Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord - Boney M.
  5. Good King Wenceslas - Blackmore's Night
  6. Zu Bethlehem Geboren - Roy Black
  7. Bizarre Christmas Incident - Ben Folds
  8. Pretty Paper - Roy Orbison
  9. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  10. The Christmas Song - Julie Andrews
Have a great weekend. Do something daring.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Points of Points

Hey - Lisa digs my dots.
  • First, my heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement with this deal with my mother. Speaking to her last night was important in that I was able to hear that she's not balking at the idea of assisted care living. She seemed relieved more than anything.
  • I think B's has taken some time to process this whole situation with me coming up with extra money to send to my sister each month for my mom. He's a planner and likes to carefully consider everything when deciding on something (read: he's German) and I think he's beginning to accept it all.
  • This morning I went over to my MIL's to give her back a pile of food storage bowls that seem to collect at my apartment. She brings over stuff for us to eat - often it's just easier for her to cook for all of us than for her to cook for just herself - and the plastic bowls stack up. While I was there I sort of blurted out all that was going on with my mom and I'm afraid I got pretty emotional about it all. My MIL, who is normally rather stoic (read: she's German) was up in a flash to hug me. It freaks her out a little if I get to crying. Later in the afternoon when she was at my apartment she mentioned that she got the bill for the car insurance. She's been paying it but since she now no longer drives we're supposed to start paying it. My MIL said "It's for X euro but I'll pay it so you can have some extra money to send for your mom so she can get set up in the new place.". The longer I'm married to her son, the more I see what a great woman she is and the fact that her son is so wonderful is proof of that.
  • You know my MIL is really crazy about my sister. Maybe that's the reason she's kicking me some money for my mom.
  • I'm kidding! My MIL really is terrific. And she's making me potato salad this weekend. The only potato salad I'll eat is hers and mine.
  • Regular readers of my blog know that I'm rather needle phobic and tend to turn into a whiny baby whenever I have to get an injection or have blood drawn so it may surprise you to find out that when having blood drawn for my quarterly H1Ac test I looked down while the doctor was changing blood vials. Needle sticking out of my arm! Just sticking there. Just stabbed into my flesh and sticking out of my arm! Hmmmm! Why's everything getting all swirly around me and everyone sounds far away? Why, I believe it's my cue to faint!
  • I'm glad I didn't actually faint and I began to feel better when I looked away again. Had I actually fainted I'd have pitched forward and while it would be bad enough to hit my sofa table and crack my head open, chances are I would have smashed into my Christmas coffee set and that would have pissed me off for sure. I love my Christmas coffee set.
  • Proof that I am easily entertained: I get addicted to playing Christmas Tiles every year.
Christmas music shuffle tomorrow. Maybe even pictures of our Christmas market if I can remember to bring a camera with me. Every time I go there I forget the camera.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lagging Behind

This is post number 700. Let's get a little woohooo! over that, shall we?

Now I love the Christmas season - all that preparation and anticipation and excitement. I love it so much that by the time the actual day rolls around I've pretty well had my fill of it and I can then concentrate more on the spiritual aspect of the day. That being said, I'm having a hard time getting revved up to the level I should normally be at this far into the season. I'm not feeling all Scroogy or something - I'm still enjoying it - but I'm not whipped into quite the froth I should be.

Example: I broke the lighted picture thingies I have for my balcony windows - one was in the shape of a star and the other in the shape of a Christmas tree. Normally that would have sent me out at dawn the next day to replace them but I haven't made a move beyond throwing the old ones away and probably won't either. And I just don't really care.

Some of this is stemming from the fact that my sister is having to move my mother from her seniors apartment to an assisted care facility and it's going to be pricey and us four kids will need to chip in extra to make it work. When you read "us four kids", that actually means "just my sister and I because we can't count on our two brothers being terribly reliable". Coming up with what my mom needs without putting my own finances in jeopardy concerns me some but I have had a piss poor relationship with money in the past so it brings up bad memories. Luckily I am married to someone who is very good with money and who keeps me from going off the deep end. Anyway, there's the money thing but moving my mom to assisted care is concrete evidence that she's getting worse. You know things are only going to get worse when you're talking about Alzheimer's disease but getting the cold, hard proof is still sobering. Still and all it's also a relief since my mother isn't eating properly and isn't administering her medications correctly. She gave herself so much insulin on Saturday night that she went into insulin shock. I was always worrying about her falling or burning down her kitchen or anything else that a frail, diabetic woman with Alzheimer's can get into. Now she'll be where someone is checking on her throughout the day and taking care of all her meals and making sure she has the proper medications at the proper times. I think I really just need to get used to the idea of it all, have some faith that it'll work out and just watch my spending so I have more to contribute to my mom's care.

It's the change that's doing it to me. I'm not big on change - aside from moving to foreign countries - so when I'm hit with a big one it takes me a while to get it all down and in the meantime I'm just not as jazzed about other stuff. It'll pass though. It always does.

Betcha making some sugar cookies shaped like stars and Santas and angels would perk me up. Watching White Christmas while decorating them would get me into full tilt Christmas frenzy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Things That Keep Me Up at Night

Why is Jingle Bells a Christmas song? Winter Wonderland? Let It Snow? Frosty The Snowman? Sleigh Ride? All of them are good songs but why are they associated with Christmas and why can't we play them in January or February? Those are the real snowy months anyway.

It's been a slow, slow day in the Peach household.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Think of the Dots as Christmas Ornaments

I'll come up with anything to rationalize a bulleted list, won't I?
  • I had high hopes of putting up my tree this weekend but I couldn't motivate myself to getting started. It's not the actual tree assembly/fight with the lights/unwrapping and carefully placing each ornament on the tree that's got me hesitating but is instead the prep work before that part, namely rearranging half of my livingroom to fit this tree. Lamps to move, houseplants that need an appropriate place to stay for three weeks, finding the right extension cords - bleh. That's the part I can't gear myself up for.
  • The lo-mein I ate for supper tonight? Particularly unsatisfying. In fact it's rather like I ate something that looked like Chinese noodles but was actually made of lead.
  • And while I was walking home from the Chinese restaurant with my cartons of lead lo-mein - well, I just wish you could have seen me. It's been raining for hours and the part of the sidewalks that are actually paved with smooth tile instead of concrete are slicker than owl grease. All I could think about was my wonky left knee buckling under me and losing my balance to the point where my feet slip out from under me and I'm sprawled on the ground and left unconscious when the lo-mein strikes me in the head. To avoid that I walked that part of the trip at approximately the same speed a snail after too many bong hits might propel himself.
  • If I don't get finished with these socks I'm going to cry. Of course it would help if I sat myself down and knit on them more than fifteen minutes a day. I'd consider it a victory if I could just get the leg of the second sock finished.
Maybe that's a sign for me to go knit. At the same time I can think about where I'm going to stash my big yucca palm so my Christmas tree can take its place.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not What It Seems

Last night B was dying to have some smoked ham, kale and fried potatoes from the Christmas market. I'm not a huge fan of ham and I am not keen on kale either (I'm more of a spinach girl) so I told him that I would get fish for me to eat and bring back his supper to him.

I am crazy for the fish at the Christmas market. Big pieces of filet dipped in batter and fried to a crunchy, golden brown. So crispy and delicate tasting and with a bit of remoulade on it it makes a fine sandwich when it's tucked in a lovely roll. It doesn't, however, travel too well and so when I get a hankering for fish I eat it there while it's still all hot and tasty and then get something else for B and bring it back to him.

I suppose the mild temperatures have inticed lots of people to visit the Christmas market. Every day I'm down the street far enough that I can see into the market square and it's always full of folks and being that last night was a Friday night it was really jumping. I wove my way to the nice Dutch ladies selling the heavenly fried fish and when I got my sandwich I moved to a corner where I could eat without getting in anyone's way or having them run me over. And boy, was this sandwich good. The roll was slightly cold but the fish itself was hot and crunchy and delicious and I was having a hard time not making the yummy-food-humming noise. I had a napkin wrapped around the sandwich but with the remoulade squishing around and getting on my face I had to use it to keep wiping my mouth less I look like the subject of an old joke:

A woman drives to an auto mechanic and complains that her car is leaking fluids like crazy. The mechanic tells her that he's going to have to take a look at the car and that it'll take about an hour. The lady says she'll leave the car with him and return later.

The hour passes and the woman returns. The mechanics spots her and says "Well I do know one thing. I know you've blown a seal."

The lady hastily wipes he mouth and says "Oh no - I only ate a ham sandwich!".

Anyway I ate my sandwich and watched the crowds and when I finished I wiped my mouth, threw away the napkin and went to the stand that sells the ham and kale. There was a bit of a crowd there so I had to wait for a few minutes to have my food dished up and wrapped for me to carry home. Lots of people were around me - some eating their suppers, some waiting in line, some standing and talking with others. I got my food, wrapped it in my cotton shopping bag and made my way through the crowd back to the front of the market and back out onto the street. I dodged and wove my way though people and they around me, smiling at one another if we happened to get into that dodge 'em dance you do when you shift to the same side while trying to pass. Making it out of the market square I decided I'd walk home instead of jumping on a streetcar to ride up one stop. It was still fairly mild out and I could get home before B's supper cooled off too much.

As I got into my apartment building a woman pushing a baby stroller called to me to hold the door. She came in the building and we got into the elevator together and she got off one floor before me, smiling at me and saying goodbye as she left.

When I got inside my own apartment I put B's food in the kitchen and then went into the bathroom to wash my hands and brush my hair. That's when, to my horror and shame, I noticed it.

On the underside of my nose, pretty much right between my nostrils, was a blob of remoulade looking for all the world like a wayward booger or a glop of snot.


I don't know how many people I passed while at that market. And then there was the lady selling me B's food. And the people on the street as I walked home. And the lady visiting the people that live below me that I let into the building. Dozens and dozens and dozens of people who looked at me and now think that I have no ability to clean my nose properly.

I haven't sworn off the lovely fried fish nor remoulade but I do know one thing. Next time I'm asking for an extra napkin.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Second Advent Edition

I was standing near the street market today around noon chatting briefly to the building supervisor for my apartment building when we saw a Kindergarten group (in Germany Kindergarten is like pre-school in America and the kids can be anywhere from 3-6 years old) crossing the streetcar tracks and cutting through the street market and shops on their way back to their school. There were about 30 of them with teachers around all sides keeping them herded together like sheep. The kids were in lines of four, all holding hands and they were just adorable. It went well until they came up to a bike stand that sits just before a beauty shop. It was out in this more-or-less open area pretty much in the path of the children.

You could just tell that it has been drilled into these kids over and over that when they're out together on the street going somewhere that they are to hold hands and not let go for anything because when they came to the bike stand they just sort of walked into it. Some would try to raise their arms to get over it but it was nearly as tall as they are and they'd get tangled up. Some just sort of clanged into it and stood there very confused as to what to do next. The teachers and aids were running to each group telling them to walk single file by it or trying to disengage little arms from the bike rack and honestly, the whole thing was comical. Stuff may get in their way but by golly, they weren't going to let go of one another's hand!

All the adults around observing this look at one another and smiled. It didn't slow those little ones down one bit - they got over their obstacle and then went skipping merrily along, laughing and chatting and holding hands. You had to smile when you saw such dedication to a single purpose.

Bixente the iPods single purpose this month is to shuffle up some Christmas tunes. Go boy!
  1. Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
  2. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
  3. Merry Christmas Baby - Chuck Berry
  4. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Ella Fitzgerald
  5. Mary Boy Child/Oh My Lord - Boney M.
  6. We Three Kings - Blackmore's Night
  7. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
  8. Stille Nacht - Roy Black
  9. Up On The Housetop - Gene Autry
  10. Driving Home For Christmas - Chris Rea
Have a fine weekend. Hold tight to those you care about.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Don't Tell Santa

My new Christmas-gift-from-B laptop is here and I'm using it. Right now. Right this very second.

I'm just testing to see if I like it and then I'm putting it back into the box. Honest. I'm even going to wrap it. Elaborately.

You're scoffing at my words, aren't you?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Open Letter


I suppose it's silly to write a love letter to a corporation but I do love you. I love how you save me lots of stress and headaches during the Christmas season.

While I've been an Amazon shopper for years - you were the ones to send me books in English when I first moved to Germany without it being a huge hassle - I started to take advantage of shopping with you for Christmas gifts for my family in the US a few years ago. You see until then I used to spend a few weeks shopping for my family and then I'd spend time finding a box to stuff it all in and then spend time taking it all to the post office. And the postage to send it to America was almost always more than the contents of the box. Most of the time the package never got there in time for Christmas. The final insult was when I sent a large box to my family that had inside some expensive gifts and a couple hundred dollars in cash (yeah, I know...don't say it) that was never delivered and never returned to me. A $600 mistake.

Now I go on your website and I pick gifts for my family and friends. Books, CDs, DVDs, household items, bath items, home accessories - you have just about everything. I have the items shipped directly to them and if what I'm ordering is in stock, they get it within a few days. I save so much money on postage I can buy them nicer gifts and if the dollar is especially weak against the euro, I save even more.

Here it is, December 6th, and all of the Christmas shopping for my loved ones in the US is finished. I can now relax and know that their gifts won't end up stolen by some theiving bastard somewhere between Germany and North America waylayed and lost forever. Christmas shopping for my overseas family is actually fun again.

I love you, darling Amazon. But can I say you really charge way too much for giftwrapping services? I may love you but I'd rather send a nekkid gift than give you $4.99 to shove it in a gift bag. I won't hold it against you though.

Hugs and kisses,


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Scary Thrills

My fascination with true crime stories began early.

By the summer of 1969 I was seven years old and was already an avid news watcher so I was right there to see Walter Cronkite tell of two mysterious, brutal nights of murder in Los Angeles and later on the capture and dramatic trial of Charles Manson and his followers. I don't claim that I understood it all but I distinctly remember seeing Manson's face on my TV and having it scare me.

Years later when I was eleven or twelve years old my friends and I would talk about the Manson murders and also talk about the Zodiac killer in San Francisco. The Zodiac killer seemed to be even scarier because while Charles Manson was creepy, he was at least in prison. No one had ever caught the Zodiac killer.

By the time I was thirteen my friends and I had begun to pass around a beat-up copy of Helter Skelter and we'd all report on how it was keeping us awake at night. By then the drama of Patty Hearst's kidnapping had become familiar news to us and we came to one conclusion: California can be one scary-ass place.

A few years later the Son of Sam killings started and I was fascinated by the twists of that case as well. Like the Zodiac killings from a decade before this one featured weird letters to the newspaper. It was almost surprising to find that the killer was some pasty white fat guy.

By then I began to read all sorts of books on famous true crime stories and even stories about lesser known but equally as scary murders. They were repulsive and fascinating to me at the same time. It's almost like riding a roller coaster. It's scares you and you dread screaming like a banshee but the fright it gives is somehow thrilling. You get close to the crime and search for any sort of meaning and motive without being too close. All of them - Black Dahlia, Lizzie Bordon, the Boston Strangler, Leopold and Loeb, the Clutter family, and so on still fascinate me.

It's hard to say that any one case is a "favorite" because it's hard to call any slaughter of a human being a "favorite" but I have read a lot of books about Jack the Ripper. Once when I was married the first time I had bought a new Ripper book that had lots of graphic photographs. I don't know why I would do such a thing but I began to read the book when my ex-husband was out of town for a week. I was never very comfortable with being home alone and the Ripper book wasn't helping. Late one evening while reading I decided to look at the photographs and too late realized my mistake. The photos frightened me so badly that I shut the book and threw it on the floor. Then I picked up the book and put it on the dresser on the other side of the room. The book and its horrible photographs was still to close to me so I moved it once again. In the end I couldn't bear to have the book anywhere near me so I took it into the garage and put it in a box up on a high shelf.

And I still slept with the lights on.

No matter how many sleepless nights they give me, I still read true crime stories. I've read virtually every story on Crime Library and many I've read more than once. This drives B crazy because many nights I'll stay up late reading about some really horrible murders and be completely engrossed in the tale and then jump a mile and shriek like a little girl when he calls my name and every time he says to me "Stop to read the creepy stories! They make you creepy too!".

I don't know if they make me "creepy too" but they do make my heart race a little. It's as close as I ever want to get to a real life crime - having it only as black and white print.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Nickel and a PopTart

That's what I'm offering to anyone who wants to come over here and throw out these dead-ass geraniums currently making my balcony a temple of tacky. I'd like to decorate the balcony and make it a festive, Christmassy temple of tacky.

I'll throw in a cookie warm from the oven, too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Prep Work

It's been a weekend of domesticity and pain relievers.

I have no idea what I've done to my left knee but that bad thing hurts when I walk or if I touch it an I'm starting to walk with a limp. Of course climbing up and down a stepladder while washing windows didn't help but I cannot, in good conscience, put up decorations for Christmas on filth encrusted windows. Plus it was rather amusing to watch the people on the street yesterday while I was on window washing duty. There's public parking on my street and the amount of jockeying for the few available parking spaces so folks could get down to the Christmas market was a sight to behold. A word to the wise, people - have a little patience with one another while getting in and out of the parking spaces. Y'all are gonna crack each other's fenders and your Christmas spirit will ruined.

My MIL was here today and she went down with me to the basement to get my boxes of decorations out and upstairs. I could have probably done it alone but #1 I was afraid my knee would buckle on me while on the stairs with boxes (there's one flight of stairs down to the basement - the rest I can do on the elevator), #2 I didn't want to make trip after trip from the back of the basement where my storage area is located, and #3 I don't like to go into the basement alone at night. Or in the day, for that matter. Don't get me wrong - in reality, my basement is perfectly safe. It's beind a big, locked door. Unlike the basement in my former apartment house, the basement here is quite clean. Everything is painted all white and while there are rodent bait boxes around, I've never seen a mouse or rat there (can't say that about my former apartment where a rat once literally fell from a duct above my head and landed on the grocery carrier I was pulling behind me - I believe my screams are still circling around out in the galaxy). I've never even seen a spider in our basement. I've never even seen a spider web. Still and all, I don't like being down there. It seems almost too quiet and too clean. Add to it that it's like a labyrinth down there with its winding passages and my over-active, true crime story fueled imagination goes into overdrive.

Anyway the decorations are back upstairs with me and now I've got the dilemma of how I want to arrange the decorations. I don't know why this is difficult for me each year. I know what decorations I have. I know what my cabinets and tables look like. Why can't I figure out how I want to arrange the decorations without having to switch it all around for about three days after I first set it up? You'd think after all this time I'd do it from memory but every year I fiddle around and fiddle around until I get it just right.

I'm beginning to think that I'm merely playing at being annoyed at the fiddling around and deep down I enjoy it. Any excuse to mess around with my Santa collection.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

C'mon. Who wouldn't want to play with that fat man?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Shuffle - First Advent Edition

Well, first advent Sunday is not until this weekend but close enough.

I headed out shopping this morning and took with me a plastic box with which to carry my groceries in the car. Popped the hatchback and let it raise up and began to toss in my grocery carrying supplies when I banged my forehead on the corner of the hatchback. Hard. See stars and raise a goose egg hard. I take comfort in the fact that no one was around to see me crack my head and let out a string of bi-lingual curses.

I have to stop dragging ass during the week, especially now that it's the Christmas season, and do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays or Wednesdays because late Friday morning is a piss-poor time to do it. Unbearable amount of people were shopping and today it must have been Clueless-Men-Get-50%-Off Day because that's what I was surrounded by.

And if that wasn't enough torture, the very, very first Christmas song I've heard in a store this season (I don't count the Christmas Market) was Wham!'s Last Christmas. I can't figure out why this is not merely a popular Christmas song in Germany but the most popular. It's a song about a guy obsessing over a break up he had year ago. Get over yourself! Have an eggnog, toss around some tinsel and forget that bitch!

The afternoon saw me taking the not-right laptop back to the delivery service company so it can be returned. While I was out I decided to go to the vegetable seller at the street market for some potatoes and found the guys bagging up kohlrabi and cabbage and potatoes for old ladies and singing along to a very loud Johnny Cash CD. I wanted to kiss them for it. Somehow it made my bruised forehead, clueless grocery shopping men and the nerve grating ability of Wham! fade into the distance.

Bixente the iPod has been reloaded and is a full time Christmas music playing dude until after the holidays. And you can bet your bottom dollar George Michael's voice will not be heard.

Let's shuffle Santa Style.
  1. Emmanuel - Blackmore's Night
  2. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
  3. If Every Day Was Like Christmas - Elvis Presley
  4. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como
  5. It Must Have Been Old Stanta - Harry Connick, Jr.
  6. What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')? - Louis Prima
  7. Poor Little Jesus - Percy Sledge
  8. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
  9. O Christmas Tree - Mario Lanza
  10. Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming) - Melanie Thornton
Y'all have a good weekend. I'll be dragging out the decorations.