Dixie Peach: November 2008

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Top Five - Part VI

It's First Advent Sunday, all my Christmas decorations (minus the tree) are out, our city's Christmas market is open and it's the last day of NaBloPoMo.

Here's are the last of my favorites.

Favorite Snacks
1. Popcorn
2. Nachos
3. Chips and salsa
4. Chex mix
5. Cherry tomatoes with pepper

Favorite Breakfast Foods
1. Bacon
2. Biscuits
3. Grits
4. Waffles
5. Scrambled eggs

Favorite Things to Buy
1. Sock yarn
2. Lipstick
3. Books
4. CDs
5. Candles

Favorite Albums
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
2. Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen
3. London Calling - The Clash
4. Who's Next - The Who
5. At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash

Favorite Scents
1. Peaches
2. Lemons
3. Cinnamon
4. Ocean
5. Fresh cut grass

Favorite Animals
1. Koala
2. Dolphin
3. Dogs
4. Tiger
5. Penguin

I hope y'all have been taking notes. There could possibly be a quiz later.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Top Five - Part V

Finishing off the month and finishing off NaBloPoMo with the last weekend of lists of favorites.

Favorite Cartoons
1. Bugs Bunny
2. The Flintstones
3. Penelope Pitstop
4. Scooby Doo
5. Road Runner

Favorite Christmas Songs
1. O Holy Night
2. Silent Night
3. Petit Papa Noël
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Leise Rieselt Der Schnee

Favorite Cookies
1. Toll House
2. Snickerdoodles
3. Peanut Butter
4. Pecan Shortbread
5. Lemon Wafer

Favorite Card Games
1. Rummy
2. Spades
3. Hearts
4. Poker
5. Blackjack

Favorite Childhood Books
1. Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Charlotte's Web by E .B. White
3. Stuart Little by E. B. White
4. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
5. Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Favorite Sandwiches
1. Club
2. BLT
3. Peanut butter, banana and mayonnaise
4. Bacon, egg and cheese
5. Tuna

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Shuffle - No Fluff, All Business Edition

Completed socks!


Yarn stuff:
Pattern: Tidal Wave
Yarn: Regia Galaxy Color
Colorway: 1555

Time's a wastin'. Let's get to shufflin'!
  1. Live To Tell The Tale - Nightwish
  2. Love Is Noise - The Verve
  3. Bound - Christopher Jak
  4. Untouchable - Glenn Tilbrook
  5. Glad All Over - The Dave Clark Five
  6. Alex Chilton - The Replacements
  7. Bikini Girls With Machine Guns - The Cramps
  8. Books From Boxes - Maximo Park
  9. (Now And Then There's) A Fool Such As I - Raul Malo
  10. Jack Ass Ginger - Poi Dog Pondering

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Idle Curiosity

I wonder how many NaBloPoMo participants have posted on their blog for today, "Happy Thanksgiving!" and called it a day?

Whatever that number is, add one more.

Regardless of whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving today, I hope your life is filled with an insane amount of blessings. So many that it defies counting.

Anyone got any leftover sweet potato pie for a homesick Mississippian in Germany?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

While You Digest Your Turkey Tomorrow

...or anything else you may ingest, especially if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving on that particular day - why not whip up a tacky holiday sweater? No actual knitting required, just the ability to be as gaudy as possible.

And admit it. You've owned at least one of your own holiday sweaters, complete with frolicking reindeer, garlands of holly and creepy Santas.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Breaking From the Norm


I made an Advent wreath today. I had one that I'd bought about a year after I'd moved to Germany but it got all ratty and I hated to find the right candles for it. Little stump candles that couldn't be but so tall and so wide and I got all freaked out when they burned down too low. I have a healthy fear of house fires. Instead I wanted an Advent wreath that used tea lights. You see, aside from the fire hazard thing, using regular stump candles, or tapers if that's what your particular advent wreath takes, means that the candles will be uneven from week to week. You light the first candle and you have the choice of either using it for just a little while and then blowing it out and therefore having successively uneven candle lengths from week to week or replacing the candle with a new one each week when the next candle is lit. As I'm a bit of a freak for symmetry, the uneven candles drive me nuts. Tea lights? Always even. Light it and burn it until it's empty. Throw in a fresh one the following Sunday. Heck, burn it every day - no uneven candles!

Uneven Advent candles are what passes for a worry in my world.


Yesterday I found this little arrangement. Just the metal tray with the candle holders. The tray is deep enough that I could fill it with any number of little doo-dads - greenery or beads or pine cones or whatever strikes my fancy. I could change its look every year if I choose. And it takes tea lights. Excellent find!


Today I went to the One Euro shop (where, natch!, everything costs just a euro!), got some plastic miniature balls (prediction: someone will Google "plastic miniature balls" and become sorely disappointed when the conversation is about Advent decor) and some little felt cut-outs, found in my spare bedroom closet some fake spruce garland that I could cut a couple pieces from and in a couple minutes I had a new Advent wreath.

B got all balky about it because it's not all "wreathy". He called it "cake pan-y". I considered acting all put out and insulted but instead have adopted the attitude that it is innovative and instead of being traditional I'm being visionary. And symmetrical.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Time For My Annual Addiction

Christmas Tiles.

B found these online about eight years ago and got me hooked ono them. When it gets to be Thanksgiving time in the US, I start playing Christmas Tiles.

Back when B first found this game he didn't wear glasses but he needed to. He couldn't really see the tiles clearly so he made up his own names for the pictures on the tiles. The mittens became the upside down heart. The blue gift became the blue diamond. The snowman became the light bulb. The string of lights became the chunky necklace. The elf wasn't just an elf but became instead the evil elf. The sled was renamed the ladder and the ice skate became a semi-automatic pistol. Because, presumably, nothing says "Merry Christmas!" quite like a semi-automatic pistol. My favorite picture interpretation? The fireplace with the stockings hanging became the wrinkly faced old woman looking out of a window. You have to love that sort of imagination.

I predict two things if you play Christmas Tiles. You'll become addicted to the game and will call me the devil for getting you turned on to it. And you'll adopt B's names for the tiles.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Top Five - Part IV

Let's just continue on with the movie theme.

Favorite Movies Adapted From Books
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Schindler's List
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
4. Gone With the Wind
5. The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite Comedies
1. This is Spinal Tap
2. Raising Arizona
3. Animal House
4. M*A*S*H
5. Breaking Away

Favorite Christmas Movies
1. Love Actually
2. It's a Wonderful Life
3. White Christmas
4. Miracle on 34th Street
5. A Christmas Story

Favorite Classic Actors
1. James Stewart
2. Gregory Peck
3. Henry Fonda
4. Paul Newman
5. Cary Grant

Favorite Classic Actresses
1. Teresa Wright
2. Bette Davis
3. Katharine Hepburn
4. Myrna Loy
5. Judy Garland

Favorite Movie Songs
1. Over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz)
2. Mrs. Robinson (The Graduate)
3. Cabaret (Cabaret)
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Meet Me in St. Louis)
5. Edelweiss (The Sound of Music)

Favorite Detective Movies
1. Chinatown
2. L.A. Confidential
3. The Maltese Falcon
4. Seven
5. The Silence of the Lambs

Movies I've Seen Most Often
1. Gone With the Wind
2. The Wizard of Oz
3. Rear Window
4. It's a Wonderful Life
5. The Best Years of Our Lives

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Top Five - Part III

Let's make it an all movies edition.

Favorite Westerns:
1. The Searchers
2. True Grit
3. Lonesome Dove (yeah, mini-series, but I'm making the rules today)
4. Silverado
5. Rio Bravo

Favorite Gangster Movies
1. Godfather I & II
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Goodfellas
4. Casino
5. The Departed

Favorite Sports Movies
1. Pride of the Yankees
2. Bang the Drum Slowly
3. North Dallas Forty
4. Field of Dreams
5. Bull Durham

Favorite Hitchcock Movies
1. Shadow of a Doubt
2. Rear Window
3. Rope
4. Lifeboat
5. Dial M for Murder

Favorite Courtroom Dramas
1. Twelve Angry Men
2. Witness for the Prosecution
3. Judgment at Nuremberg
4. The Caine Mutiny
5. Anatomy of a Murder

Favorite Disney Animated Films
1. Beauty and the Beast
2. Bambi
3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
4. Fantasia
5. Pinocchio

Favorite Ghost Movies
1. The Others
2. What Lies Beneath
3. Sixth Sense
4. The Shining
5. The Haunting

Favorite Musicals
1. West Side Story
2. Oklahoma
3. Chicago
4. Oliver
5. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Well Earned Bliss Edition

Here's one of my favorite feelings in the world. It starts with a day where I work myself into a stupor. You know those days - the ones where you spend the whole day moving or cleaning out your garage or working in the garden. Maybe you do all your spring or fall cleaning in one day or you detail your car. It can be a day where you take the entire day to put up your complex collection of holiday decorations. Or it's a day where you paint your living room and two bedrooms.

I've had one of those days. Fridays are usually busy for me but today was crazier with catching up on laundry and doing some neglected housework like cleaning the oven and getting the high traffic areas of the carpet cleaned up along with the regular stuff. And of course B always needs care and attention. I'm finished for the day and now I can look forward to that lovely feeling.

It's the feeling you have when you're finally able to get ready for bed. Face washing and tooth brushing is finished, jammies are on and bed is there just waiting for you to crawl in. You're so exhausted that your eye has a twitch and your legs are achy and jumpy. You slide between the sheets and almost at the moment you settle your head on the pillow you fall asleep. Peaceful, dreamless sleep where nothing disturbs you all night and morning finds you in bed in the same position as when you fell asleep. That's the feeling I'm looking forward to experiencing tonight.

Just one thing left to do. Time to shuffle.
  1. Only The Lonely - Roy Orbison
  2. Lovin' You - Jazzamor
  3. Like Dylan In The Movies - Belle & Sebastian
  4. Tempted - Squeeze
  5. My Oh My - Slade
  6. This Old Heart Of Mine - Rod Stewart
  7. She's A Beauty - The Tubes
  8. This Is Your Life - The Killers
  9. Seven Spanish Angels - Willie Nelson & Ray Charles
  10. Serpentine Fire - Earth, Wind & Fire
Sleep tight, y'all.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Non-Stop Delight

It's been such a fun-filled and pleasant day here in the Peach household. I can barely contain how full of joy I am and please, please give me the immense honor of sharing my happiness drenched day with you!

After a restless night of listening to the winds howl and the rain pound on the windows I was finally able to fall asleep somewhere around 5:00am. My neighbor's daughter, knowing instinctively that I would certainly not want to start my day with more than two hours of sleep thoughtfully awoke me at 7:00am by playing her piano. How kind it was of her to play the same eight bars of music for twenty minutes straight!

Once my sunrise concert was over I was able to once again fall asleep for another two hours. When I awoke I could see that it indeed was a lovely day outside with bright sunshine streaming through my living room windows. As I had an appointment with my hairdresser this morning I quickly showered and dressed and by the time I was ready to leave the weather had changed. Why have gorgeous sunshine outside when I could be treated to more rain? Mother Nature herself must have sent it to me personally because she knew I'd enjoy strolling in it while going to my car. And I can barely express how thrilled I was when I remembered that I'd left my umbrella in the car! Why I was shouting with glee at the very thought of it!

I had my hair colored today and I wish I had the right words to describe how absolutely tickled I was for my hairdresser to wash my hair wearing stiff rubber gloves. As she rubbed my scalp and at the same time tore hair out at the root I could only think of how fortunate I was to have such stimulating scalp massage!

The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful. I went grocery shopping and was able to get a parking spot directly in front of the door. The store was practically empty, I found all that I was looking for in the store and didn't need to wait in line at the check out. Completely unremarkable things. Utterly boring. And then it was time for the high point of my day.

Around 5:00pm I needed to walk to the post box to mail some DVDs. If I could mail them before the post box was emptied at 6:00pm then I'd likely get new DVDs delivered on Saturday. No matter that it was again raining outside. That wouldn't be a problem at all! Why it was my fate to walk three blocks to the post box becuase I had once again left my umbrella in the car.

It was steadily pouring rain as I fetched my umbrella out of the car and began to walk down the street. And Mother Nature, somehow knowing that I'd need some resistence exercise, sent strong gusts of wind that insured that I'd need to hold the umbrella with both hands. That tricky wind threatened to tear the umbrella from my hands a time or two and once it flipped the umbrella inside out but I laughed delightedly at the howling wind and shouted strong words to it to express exactly how I felt about it's playfulness.

Once I had deposited the DVDs in the post box I turned towards home. When crossing to the next block I had to wait for a walk signal and when a car speeded through the intersection and splashed water against my legs I shouted the same words of excitement to the driver that I had complimented the wind with.

I passed by the state opera house and city library and crossed over to the block where my apartment bulding is located. The wind and rain, obviously trying to thrill me beyond measure, was picking up as I started down the last 150 meters to my flat and as I rounded my building a particularly playful gust caught my umbrella, nearly dragging me to the ground in the process, and then proceeded to not just turn the umbrella inside out but tear the rod away from where it attached to the cloth and bent half of the umbrella ribs in half. Broken umbrella! Gusty winds! Puking rain! Oh world, envy me!

My rapture didn't end there. My hairdresser, likely knowing that I'd be drown late this afternoon, had gooed up my hair good and proper by using on it a glob of mousse the size of a baseball and after stying it, sprayed my hair with enough hairspray to create another hole in the ozone layer. Once I'd returned home from my happiness filled trip to the post box and my hair had dried to the texture of cement I could finally attempt to drag a comb through it to break apart the glued together strands and further delight my already overly stimulated scalp.

Now tell me about the best part of your day.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feeding a Weakness

If history is my weakness then historical photographs are like a drug to me. Part of what I find so appealing about history is how it's the story of people. Even the powerful and famous were still people and ordinary people can affect history as profoundly as the powerful and famous. Photographs only enhance the experience for me.

Life magazine has been able to take current events, photograph them, and with their publication practically insured that they'd become a part of history. I would guess that many of us would associate certain famous photographs with historical events. We think of events like man landing on the moon or the San Francisco earthquake or the end of World War II and can conjure up in our minds a famous photograph.

Google and Life have teamed up to put Life's photo archive online. All those famous people. All those famous events. All those ordinary folks who have helped shape our history. Now you can go online and in one place view them all. Millions of photographs.

Now if I could only get someone to bring me my meals so I don't have to pry myself away from them.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bon Appetit, Kiddies!

Over the weekend in Germany it's supposed to snow, at least a little, even here in the flatlands. Predictions of snow prompts me to make a list for me to stock up on needed supplies at the grocery store. Not the standard milk-bread-toilet paper stock up but instead I like to bake when it's lousy weather outside so I have to make sure I have all I need for baking.

Cakes are good but there's something about snow and cookie baking that goes together. Toll House cookies are my favorite cookies but I often save that for Christmas baking because chocolate chips and American style brown sugar are hard-to-the-point-of-impossible to get here. Brownies are another favorite but B is allergic to nuts and I personally think brownies without nuts are dull. The best choice for snowy day cookie baking in my home are snickerdoodles. They have no nuts, they're easy to make and they're B's favorite cookie. I introduced him to the world of snickerdoodles when I first moved to Germany and he became a fan immediately.

I have four distinct memories of Kindergarten. The first is my Kindergarten teacher, Miss Wickie, telling Andrew Campbell that he looked like a drunk in our class picture. And he seriously did! I haven't actually seen that picture in nearly twenty years but it's burned into my mind. The second is Miss Wickie telling some boys stacking up some huge wooden blocks to not stack them so high because they would fall and hurt someone. Not thirty seconds later the stack did fall and hit me on the head and it didn't hurt a bit - but I pretended that it caved in my skull because those bad boys had not been listening to Miss Wickie like they should have and I could get lots of attention if I acted like I was injured. I learned manipulation early in life. The third distinct memory I have is being outside at recess and I could see my mother down in the parking lot talking to some lady. Miss Wickie called us back into class and as I was running I ducked under a jungle gym bar like I always did except this time I didn't duck down far enough and I slammed my forehead into the bar full force. Knowing my mother was down the hill from the playground I ran back and could see my mother driving off in our Chevrolet Biscayne stationwagon and screamed after her "Mama! Mama! Come back!" and she didn't hear me. Cosmic repayment for the hit-with-the-blocks incident? You be the judge.

The fourth distinct memory I have was being selected one day to pass out the milk and cookies at snack time. The cafeteria lady had delivered the cookies and milk about ten minutes before and I could see that they were snickerdoodles. I was so excited because we almost never got snickerdoodles for snack time. One of my favorite cookies and I was going to get to pass them out to everyone! Wouldn't it be terrible if something happened to prevent me from carrying out my sacred milk and cookies duty? And not two minutes later I had to go to the nurse's office to wait for my mother because as I was getting up to pass out milk and cookies I threw up.

Give me a snowy day baking snickerdoodles and I'm five years old again - head injured and throwing up.

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Monday, November 17, 2008


I don't drink coffee - tea is what I love. I've tried being a coffee drinker but it just didn't take. I simply don't like the taste of coffee unless I've got an enormous amount of sugar and milk and flavorings and everything else that can drown out the actual flavor of the coffee. If I've got to put enough junk in it to completely mask any trace of coffee flavor, why bother? Life's too short to drink every morning something that repulses you.

Since I'm not a coffee drinker I don't have personal experience with this but I'm guessing that true coffee lovers go through the same thing I go through every morning. I get up and after my morning routine is finished and I have breakfast prepared I sit down and finally have my first sip of tea. And without fail it's like I'm suddenly able to breathe.

I could be having the worse morning in the world. It could be cold and dark and raining outside. My hair could look like the Wreck of the Hesperus. All the wrongs in my world are, if not corrected, are at least soothed with that first sip of tea.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Top Five - Part II

You asked for 'em, you got 'em. Reader Interaction, how I love thee!

Cheesy Songs of the '70s (picked for pure cheese quality alone):
1. Run Joey Run - David Geddes
2. Half Breed - Cher
3. The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace
4. Crazy Horses - The Osmonds
5. Convoy - C. W. McCall

Favorite Places I've Visited:
1. Colonial Williamsburg - Williamsburg, Virginia
2. St. Paul's Cathedral - London, England
3. National Museum of American History - Washington, DC
4. Peabody Hotel - Memphis, Tennessee
5. White House - Washington, DC

Favorite Foreign Language Films:
1. Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire)
2. Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern)
3. Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief)
4. Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie)
5. 8 femmes (8 Women)

Favorite Department Stores:
1. Bloomingdale's
2. Neiman Marcus
3. KaDeWe
4. Lord & Taylor
5. Nordstrom

Favorite Southern Cities:
1. Memphis, Tennessee
2. Savannah, Georgia
3. Williamsburg, Virginia
4. Oxford, Mississippi
5. Nashville, Tennessee

Favorite Presidents:
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Thomas Jefferson
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Theodore Roosevelt
5. George Washington

I'll take more suggestions for next week's lists.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Top Five - Part I

It came to me in a vision. A man on a flaming pie said "It's NaBloPoMo month. Your monthly theme is favorites. You love lists. For your weekend entries, make lists of favorites.".

Genius inspired by a man on a flaming pie only happens once and only to someone like John Lennon so I'll be honest. The laziness that invades me body and soul on weekends has suggested to me that weekends for the rest of NaBloPoMo will just be lists of my top five favorite things. It's cheesy and meme-y but far superior to getting to the last five or six days of the months and running completely dry for things to write.

Favorite TV Sitcoms:
1. M*A*S*H
2. The Dick Van Dyke Show
3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
4. I Love Lucy
5. Seinfeld

Favorite Flowers:
1. Magnolias
2. Violets
3. Gladiolas
4. Tulips
5. Lily of the Valley

Favorite Pies:
1. Peach
2. Chocolate Cream
3. Key Lime
4. Lemon Meringue
5. Sweet Potato

Favorite Holidays:
1. Christmas
2. 4th of July
3. Thanksgiving
4. Halloween
5. New Years

Favorite Sports to Watch:
1. Soccer
2. Baseball
3. Biathlon
4. Figure Skating
5. Team Handball

Favorite Vegetables:
1. Tomatoes
2. Okra (even boiled okra)
3. Spinach
4. Green Beans
5. Kohlrabi

Favorite Beatles Songs:
1. A Day In The Life
2. She Said, She Said
3. Here, There And Everywhere
4. Norwegian Wood
5. I'll Follow The Sun

Favorite Martin Scorsese Films:
1. Goodfellas
2. Casino
3. Taxi Driver
4. The Departed
5. The Last Waltz

Feel free to comment and give me some suggestions as to what lists of favorites you'd like for me to do.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Awesome Awesomeness Edition

I love lists. I like making them and I really love reading them. When I was a kid we had a battered copy of The Book of Lists that I read over and over and I swear it was between that book and the World Book encyclopedias I read at every opportunity that launched me on my love of trivia. If there's a list of top anything - books, TV shows, movies, songs, film villains, whatever - I'm going to find it irresistible. Even if I find someone's shopping list left behind in the basket I'm using, I have to read it.

I make a list of songs here every Friday and it's that list that led me to getting a fabulous treat this week. Jane's a regular reader that gets a kick out of the Friday Shuffle and she sent me a book, 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon that's right up my alley and involves two things I love - music and lists.

The book is a massive list but not one that you may expect. It's not a list of the greatest pieces of music in the world. There some pieces listed that I imagine some, if not many, would consider not all that great and there are pieces that I imagine many people find brilliant that aren't listed. It's not a list of the most popular. Some of the pieces included are things you may never have heard of by people you've never heard of. I think it's better to describe it as a list of music that you need to experience in order to fully know the scope of recorded music and all it can offer.

It's just the sort of list that makes it a pleasure to read. It's in alphabetical order so there's not automatic preference inferred and that makes it perfect for casual browsing. Flip it open anywhere, read for a few minutes and then continue on with your busy day. Each entry gives a bit of insight as to why that selection is included and what one should listen for when hearing it. What I've also enjoyed is that included in the list are artists that you seldom see mentioned on other lists or are artists I liked but were never really mainstream popular and I'd forgotten about them. It was such a nice surprise to flip through and find an entry for The Incredible String Band (my brother had an album of theirs that I liked a lot but I haven't thought of them in probably thirty years) and one for Ofra Haza (I don't know anyone but me who listens to Ofra Haza). I'm enjoying this book tremendously and I'd recommend it for anyone who is a music lover, especially anyone who loves a wide variety of music and always wants to learn about more.

I was just so thrilled that Jane would go to all the trouble of sending me this book but it didn't stop there. She actually knows the author, Tom Moon, and she had him autograph the book for me. Tell me that's not cool! Tell me that's not oozing awesome awesomeness! I swear, I never cease to be amazed at how wonderful and generous and kind people are. I'm always so knocked out by folks to do great things for me for no other reason than they enjoy it. Thanks, Jane!

All this music talk is making me itch to let Bixente the iPod do his thing. Go, boy.
  1. Sex Fire Religion - Edguy
  2. Ertrinken - Die Toten Hosen
  3. Do You Wanna - The Kooks
  4. Turn The Page - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
  5. Take Back The City - Snow Patrol
  6. Anchorage - Michelle Shocked
  7. Closer - Travis
  8. A Minor Incident - Badly Drawn Boy
  9. Falling Into Place - Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers
  10. This Is Us - Emmylou Harris & Mark Knopfler

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Favorite Part of My Day

I could see them as I walked down the street from the bakery. One was one of my neighbors who lives on one of the upper floors. She's got two little toddlers and one baby who's less than a year old. The other was a friend of hers who lives in a nearby building - she's got a baby and a little girl of about two. They were standing and chatting in front of the entrance to my building while the toddlers were wandering around them on the sidewalk.

I said hello to the ladies and let myself into the building. The front and sides of the lobby are all glass and when I bent down in front of my mailbox to empty it something caught my attention. Still bent over I lifted my eyes and saw the little girl on the other side of the glass. She was in a sweet little pink outfit, her head haloed in curly brown hair and her deep brown eyes were fixed on me. I smiled at her and she rewarded me with a big smile back. Feeling silly, I made a little face at her - wrinkling my nose a bit - and she laughed. She returned the favor and made a little face at me and then we both laughed. It went on and on back and forth, exchanges of silly faces and giggles until finally I had to straighten up before I got stuck in a permanently hunched over position. That's when I noticed the ladies, evidently attracted by the laughter, had strolled over to watch me and my new little face-making friend in action.

I gave them a little smile that said "You caught me," and they gave me back a little smile that said "Ohhhh yeah,". And then I gave them a little sheepish wave, another wave to my curly haired friend and scooted myself into the elevator.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


About ten minutes ago I went to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. The light switch for the kitchen is actually outside the kitchen door so I was still in the hallway as I turned on the light. Suddenly there was a crazy bright flash, a very loud pop and I'll admit that I squealed. Rather loudly.

Okay, it was a full out scream. A scream so loud that it startled the hell out of B and out of the corner of my eye I could see his right arm flail around uncontrollably from the shock of it all. And I nearly wet my pants. I dashed into the bathroom to make sure that I actually hadn't and as I was banging repeatedly on the light switch for the bathroom with no results I realized that there was no power on that side of our flat.

Turns out one of the high intensity bulbs in the overhead kitchen light burned out as I switched on the light and it tripped the breaker for all the lights on the west side of the flat. The breaker was reset and the lights came on. No actually pants wetting took place.

What would qualify this as a favorite? I just thought I'd give you your favorite goofy mental image for the day.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Never View It Dubbed. Trust Me.

I should probably be embarrassed to admit this to y'all but I've watched Gone With The Wind in the neighborhood of seventy times. I guess such a statistic should be kept more accurately but when you get into numbers like that for a four hour film, I guess a little inaccuracy is to be expected.

I never watched the movie until, I believe, I was in high school. I loved it though - loved the story and loved the way it was filmed. And the costumes are irresistible. Clark Gable as Rhett is the quintessential rogue and Olivia de Havilland as Miss Melanie defines how a lady should be. And Vivien Leigh? She doesn't just act like Scarlett O'Hara - she is Scarlett O'Hara.

I have favorite lines from that movie and reciting the dialog along with the characters is easy. It should be after 70+ viewings. Hattie McDaniel as Mammy has some of the best lines ever and it wouldn't be a proper viewing of this movie if I didn't say along with her at the proper moment, "He'll be comin' to Atlanta when he gets his leave, and you sittin' there waitin' for him, just like a spider." She more than earned her Oscar with that one line alone.

If there's any statistic more embarrassing than the fact that I've viewed Gone With The Wind around seventy times is the fact that ten of those times occurred in five days. I had a terrible case of the flu and I was at home from work for a week. Each day I would wake up around 8am and I'd pop the cassette into the VCR. My prized 50th anniversary edition. I'd watch the movie (admittedly I may have drifted off to sleep for a few moments - I did have the flu), take a break for an hour to eat some lunch and rest and then around 1:00pm I'd start the film all over again; The End coming up on the screen just as my now ex-husband would be rolling in from work.

I don't watch it as much anymore - in fact I haven't watched it in about three years. Admittedly it's probably not the most politically correct or historically accurate film in the world but what really draws me in is the detail and the effort that went into making that movie. It's a big, lavish, dishy melodrama that lets you lose yourself completely into the story. And what probably draws me in most is how interesting a self-centered brat who needs a smack upside the head can be.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fantastic When Blended Together As Well

Red velvet cake
Merino wool
Iced tea with lemon
Puppy bellies
Christmas decorations
Arrangement of red and white flowers
Line dried sheets

Some of my favorite things. Things I think about when I need a smile. Tell me some things that are tops on your list.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

All Grown Now

Twenty-five years ago today my brother's oldest son was born. I remember my mother calling me at work to say that he'd been born just a few minutes before and that after supper we'd troop down to the hospital to see him for the first time. I was so excited to finally have a little nephew and I spoiled him as much as my brother would allow.

John was an adorable baby. Fun to play with and such a sweet natured little guy. My father, who was not always the most emotionally available guy in the world, was crazy for him. He was crazy for his other two grandsons who were born when he was still alive, but the relationship he had with John was special. The worst punishment that John could get was for my father to be cross with him for any reason. Having his granddad disappointed in him for any reason upset him no end.

John is the reason I believe that our behavior and mannerisms are more directed by genetics than by environment - at least in his case - because John acts just like my father in so many ways. He was only eight years old when my father passed away and still he has so many of his traits. John is quiet and reserved and has an air of determination about him. Not a bit idle or flighty or vague in his intentions. His mannerisms and way of speaking are just like my daddy's. He's very devoted to his family. Honor and integrity mean a great deal to him and like his grandfather John joined the US Navy. While my father went into engineering and worked on submarines for most of his career, John is a corpsman and is attached to a Marine platoon. And just like his grandfather, John's service to his country is important to him and he does his duty unfailingly, espeically when his skills were put to the test while he was on a tour in Iraq. And he's so handsome. That sort of handsome that makes women turn their heads when he walks by but like his grandfather, he doesn't pay it a bit of attention.

There's a lot of things about the relationship I had with my dad that I wish I could have changed. There were things about my dad that I wish were different. I hated the way he was sometimes and I wish I could have expressed to him how much I wanted to understand him better. But no matter how much my relationship with him was a failure in some ways - failures that were both my fault and his - I'm so grateful that he had a great relationship with John. I think those early years of John's life was spent with my dad when he was, well, perhaps not his best but at a time when his worst years were behind him have helped make John a wonderful young man.

Happy birthday, John. Your Auntie Baba is very proud of you.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Not That I'm Obsessed

I first read it 1975 but I don't really remember my initial reaction to it except to say that I liked it. Then in 1978 I read it again and loved it. I wasn't like the main character but I understood him. His sarcasm, his wit and even his feelings of disconnect resonated with me. I was a bit unfocused myself at that age, easily frustrated and easily bored in school.

The next year I read it again. And the following year as well. After that it became a tradition for me. When the Christmas season would roll around - that time of year chosen because it's the time of year in the book - I would pick that novel up once more and read it.

This year will mark the thirtieth year in a row that I've read The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. The book I have now is not the same copy I originally read, but it's about twenty years old and is well worn. The cover is cracked and has a water ring on it from a glass having been set on it and the pages are yellow and threaten to fall out at any time.



Yeah, I know I should fix the photos and make it fit all tidy but laziness will win out.

Now it takes me not more than a day to read. Holden's sarcasm and goofy observations still make me laugh. The things that drive him crazy tend to be things that drive me crazy. And I can still remember what it was like to be his age and feel like everything around me was pointless bullshit and the world was crawling with phonies.

I think the reason why I first loved it and why I still loved it is because I first discovered it as a teenager. I believe it's probably rare for an adult to read it for the first time and find Holden to be anything else but irritating. But I still see him as I did when I was a teenager and maybe the reason I re-read his tale every year is to remember how I was back then. To remember how I was and in what ways I've changed. And in what ways I haven't. I know that some of my ways of speaking come from Holden.

My sixteen year old nephew, Sam, called me a few weeks ago to tell me that this quarter one of the books he had to read was The Catcher in the Rye. Sam's known for years that one of his Auntie Baba's quirks (I am never called Aunt Kim or Aunt Dixie - always Auntie Baba) is to read that book each year and he was anxious to tell me that he'd finally read it himself. I was gratified to know that he liked the same parts I like and laughed at the same spots that I do but I wasn't surprised. My sister always says that he takes after me so much that it's like having me around all the time.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Angels Among Us Edition

I believe that angels exist. I don't believe they're people who have died and have gone to heaven. I don't believe they've ever been people. What I believe is that they are messengers and helpers of God. And I believe that angels are all around us. They don't interfere in our lives unless God instructs them to - otherwise they observe us and can hear our thoughts. They hear our thoughts without judgment and perhaps without even full understanding of them because they're not human and never were human. They can't add to it their own interpretation of our thoughts because they have no similar personal experience with which to relate. However I think angels can pick up on our emotions and I believe that they have a way to comfort us or let us know that we are not alone in the world.

The film Der Himmel über Berlin, known in English as Wings of Desire, is about angels on Earth. However instead of the film being about people whose lives are touched by angels, it's more about angels whose lives are touched by humans. In the film we see that they are indeed all around unseen by humans (except, it seems, they can be seen by children) and while they see us living our lives they can't experience life. One angel seeks to change that. If you've seen City of Angles you've seen a remake of Wings of Desire but there are few similarities between the two films.

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. It's like a love song. A poem. It's a tapestry woven from the lives of the humans observed by the angels we get to know. Watching is sweet and comforting, like rolling a warm caramel around in your mouth. It's not one of those films where the moral is "Life is sweet/short/good so you'd better appreciate it." The lives we see aren't necessarily good or fulfilling or even worthwhile, but they're being lived and experienced and it's what the angels, who are eternal, can never experience.

I've only watched it in German (and I always watch it with the subtitles on because the thoughts you hear from the humans can be a bit whispery and indistinct) and I would highly recommend that if you watch it that you watch it in German. It's really made to be experienced in original language and I think the segments with Peter Falk wouldn't have the same impact if you weren't watching it in German. And if you've gone through life thinking that German is a harsh, aggressive sounding language, you may be in for a surprise. You'll hear how delicate and lovely German can sound. Here's an example - don't worry, it won't spoil any of the movie for you. This movie is all about the journey, not just were it ends up.

Bixente the iPod is ready to give you another treat. Time to shuffle.
  1. Born Into A Light - Ryan Adams
  2. Geraldine - Glasvegas
  3. Least Complicated - Indigo Girls
  4. Veronica - Elvis Costello
  5. Back On The Chain Gang - The Pretenders
  6. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
  7. Grounds For Divorce - Elbow
  8. Joker And The Thief - Wolfmother
  9. Hands Of Time - Ron Sexsmith
  10. Think - Aretha Franklin

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

While Watching the News on TV

"I like it when your hair does that. When you wear it up and a long piece falls out and slides around your neck and falls over your shoulder. It looks like a strand of silk.

I love moments like that. Those moments when I fall in love with him all over again.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Favored Dots, With a Light, Fresh Scent

I was awake until well after 5:00am because if history in the United States was being made last night I wasn't going to miss it. Suffice it to say that today I'm running on adrenaline and English breakfast tea. A perfect excuse for reverting to a bulleted list - one of positive things going up to out-and-out favorites.
  • So. That election, huh? Pretty exciting stuff. Even if President-elect Obama ain't your guy, you can't deny the history that was made. I alternated between tears and straight out mouth gaping astonishment that within my lifetime I saw an African-American elected president. What I've loved best about this election are the feelings it has renewed in me. In that great feeling that we Americans do our best work when we're given incredible challenges and long odds. That we're perserverent. That we have shown times in the past where our desire to unify in a common cause or goal transcended our differences and we're being given an opportunity to do it again. Since Barack Obama first became known to me I knew he was a speical sort of man but when he announced his candidacy for president I didn't throw my support his way until I had learned more about him. And what sold me on him most is the idea that we can aim for high goals and reach them if we unify. That the United States is one nation and the things and people that seek to divide us and put us into this group or the other are not going to keep us from reaching those goals. That we can achieve and we can make things better for future generations. I haven't felt this hopeful and optimistic in a long time and I'm hoping it's going to continue to grow and deepen.

  • My obsession of knitting socks every month has paid off. In one of the knit alongs in which I participate there is a drawing to win a hank of sock yarn - if you finish a pair of socks within that month your name goes in for a random drawing. Dixie got lucky in October.

  • Since I was staying up all night anyway I killed some time by hand winding some center-pull balls of yarn and flipped through one of my pattern books to decide on which pattern I'll knit for November. I found tucked within the book a sock pattern. Evidently I had used a pattern I'd found online and had printed off a copy without copying the name of the pattern so this is a pattern I've knit before but I don't know which one it is. So what the hell? I'm just going to knit this sock and see what pattern it turns out to be.

  • Too tired to write more. Must crawl into bed, bury my face in the pillow and get high on the lavender scent.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mark This Day

I've always been crazy about museums. Museums are among my favorite places in the world to be. I feel fortunate to have lived for many years outside of Washington, DC where I could often visit the Smithsonian and other museums in the city. I've seen the dinosaur bones and the giant bush elephant and the Hope diamond at the museum of natural history. I've seen the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1 aircraft that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier with and a moon rock at the Air and Space Museum. At the National Gallery of Art I've seen exhibits by Georgia O'Keefe, Rodin, the old masters of Europe including Rembrandt and Vermeer and when I was a teenager I saw the treasures of the tomb of Tutankhamun the first time it toured the United States.

My favorite museum is the National Museum of American History. No matter how many times I visited it, I never grew tired of seeing its exhibits. All aspects of American history are shown there from America's earliest days to inclusions of modern pop culture icons. It all tells the story of who we are as a people. When I'd view representations of the American story I would think, "This is me. All of this makes up who I am. I am descended from these people. I'm here because of an ancestor who fought in the Revolution. I come from people who arrived on the shores of America and eventually moved further west and south. My forefathers survived the Civil War and endured Reconstruction. The farmed the land, they fought in wars, they worked to make their dreams come true. They are history. I am a result of that history. We are all a result of that history. It was their lives but it became their legacy and put us on the paths of our destinies. I am so proud to be from these poeple,".

And today as Americans choose their next president it is impossible to ignore that history is going to be made today. We're either going to have our first African-American president or we're going to have the first woman as Vice President. We're doing something that may have seemed impossible or even unthinkable to our ancestors. But we're also doing something that is going to be remembered by us until the end of our days and will be remembered by those who descend from us. One day they may look at a museum exhibit representing today's election and think "This is my history. I come from the people who made this happen and I am proud to be from these people,".

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Monday, November 03, 2008

But I Know One Thing...

There are a lot of songs that I love that remind me of specific events or people. Then there are songs that I love so much that I remember the first time I ever heard them.

The first time I ever heard The Mayor of Simpleton by XTC, I was driving home from work - I'd left at about 4:30 and I was going to drive by my parents' house to fetch something before going home. I was in my 1980 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup truck listening to the radio - DC101 - and traffic hadn't gotten into its nightly snarl yet. It was overcast outside and still cool even though spring was a few weeks away and Easter would be at the end of the month.

The Mayor of Simpleton came on the radio and I fell in love with it immediately. Before the song could even stop playing I got off at the exit for Fair Oaks Mall and by the time it was over I'd parked and was running inside to buy the tape. By the time I'd arrived home I'd learned most of the lyrics.

In the song a man tells his love of how he's not very bright but the one thing he know is how much he loves her. It's sweet and romantic without being sappy and that may be what I love best about it. That and the bass line. Colin Moulding plays a bass line in this song that makes me swoon. It makes me wish I could play the bass so I could play this one bass line. I always was a sucker for a melodic bass line and this song has the best.

For nearly twenty years it's one of my all-time favorite songs - a close to a perfect pop song as I've ever heard.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'd Need Sixteen Lives To Do It All

The Dictator Princess (who, by the way, may have the best online name ever) has challenged me to a meme (hush now - let me finish telling you what it's all about before the eye rolling starts) and as it fits in my monthly theme of favorite things I am happy to meet her challenge.

Ganked from her blog because it cracked me up:

McCain has 8 homes in the U.S I thought it was 13 but whatevs. You have to pick eight places you would like to live. List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

As Dictator Princess lives in Switzerland she's upped the ante and on her blog listed eight places in Switzerland and the US I shall give you the same twofer - with Germany instead of Switzerland.

Germany first:

1. Schwerin. It's the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and having my friends and family try to remember and pronounce that (they're already having fun with saying Sachsen-Anhalt) would alone be worth the move, it's a very pretty city. Small and managable as well. And they have a lovely castle on a little island.

2. Berlin. Parking there is atrocious and it's enormously spread out but I love the feel of Berlin.

3. Potsdam. For living purposes I likely would prefer Potsdam over Berlin. Jump on the S-Bahn and you're in Berlin in about 20 minutes. All the fun of Berlin without the hectic feeling.

4. Wernigerode. When I think of fairy tale towns - the king's castle on a hill way above a charming little town - I think of Wernigerode because that's what it has. There's really a castle up on a hill above the town. The city hall alone makes me squeal because of all it's adorableness.


5. Munich. How could I resist the lure of Bayern-Munich home games?

6. Nuremburg. How could I resist the lure of the most famous Christmas market in Germany?

7. Heidelberg. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

8. Freiburg. It's usually the warmest place in Germany.

And in the USA:

1. Olive Branch, Mississippi. Now normally I'd have said Memphis but I no longer think I could bear to live in Memphis itself. Still, I love Memphis (and would move there if I had the ability to live in the Peabody Hotel) so what could be better than to live over the county line (and state line) from Memphis? Olive Branch is the alternative. Close to the fun of Memphis without having to deal with the hellish traffic every day.

2. Washington, D.C. When I say DC I don't actually mean in DC. I like having an actual senator and voting member of congress, thanks. I mean living in northern Virginia where I lived before. Fairfax county, Prince William, Loudoun, Fauquier counties - all of them would be acceptable to me. Arlington and Alexandria are a bit too close in for me. Maryland is out of the question. All the traffic and overdevelopment would be worth it to once again be that close to the Smithsonian museums.

3. Savannah, Georgia. Atlanta tempts me but Savannah is more my style. I am in love with its parks and squares.

4. Charlottesville, Virginia. A gorgeous area of Virginia. And I love Mr. Jefferson.

5. Miami, Florida. Hilda lives there. And there's plenty of seaside to fill my needs. And of course, there are the Cuban sandwiches.

6. Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'd love seeing that impossibly blue sky every day.

7. Williamsburg, Virginia. I have always wanted to live there. I still have not forgiven my ex-husband for turning down a chance for us to transfer down there when we both worked for the power company.

8. Oxford, Mississippi. Lovely town. University events. Not too far from my hometown. The ability to just live in the bookstores.

I won't tag anyone but do feel free to give us your own list. Especially useful for you NaBloPoMo folks who may run dry one day.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Popcorn Only Made it Better

Yesterday being Halloween reminded me of how I would look forward to seeing the It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown special on TV each year. When I was five years old I'd been in a froth all day to see it and on the evening it was shown I fell asleep on the sofa and didn't wake up until the closing credits were on the screen. I was crushed and I tearfully asked my mother why she didn't wake me up to see the show and she only replied that she thought I'd rather sleep. Had she lost her mind? How could she not know that seeing that show was the most important thing ever? I dreaded going to kindergarten the next day where all my friends would be talking about seeing Charlie Brown and I'd have to admit that I'd slept through it.

Christmas was another time when I'd look forward to special cartoons. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I considered the Frosty the Snowman cartoon to be a bit lame but I would not miss seeing it.

But of all the annual aimed-at-kids shows I had to watch each year the one I looked forward to most - the Holy Grail of kid programming - was the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz. I'd see commercials for it on TV and I'd be marking the calendar.

On the day it was shown (usually on Sunday nights if I'm not mistaken and always on CBS), I would count down the hours. I would have everything done - my bath taken, my hair washed, my homework done, my clothes laid out for the next day - so that nothing would interfere with my favorite movie. My siblings and parents knew that on that night the television (at that time we had only one) was under my control.

And while it was on I was glued to it. I knew every word to every song and my lips would move along noiselessly as they were sung. I mimicked the Munchkins and became appropriately spooked by the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys. My family didn't have a color TV until I was about eight years old so until then I had no idea the Wicked Witch was green. Actually I had no idea that most of the time the movie was in color until finally my friends at school got color TVs and mentioned it.

The next day my friends would sit at lunch and over our sandwiches talk about how great The Wizard of Oz was and how it was the best movie ever. It was perfect and yeah, that Willie Wonka movie was pretty neat too but Willie Wonka's factory wasn't nearly as great as Oz.

Now I have The Wizard of Oz on DVD and I expect that most kids have it on DVD. Kids can watch The Wizard of Oz every day and watch The Great Pumpkin in February and watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town in August if that's what they like and as a child I probably would have envied the ability to do that. But there was that delicious feeling of anticipation that was nearly as good as watching the program itself. It's that same sort of feeling kids get just before a big holiday or their birthday or summer vacation - those annual events that you look forward to for so long and it makes you savor that special time even more thoroughly. Perhaps the eight year olds of today would feel sorry that my eight year old self had to limit my viewings of favorite shows to once a year but I feel a bit sorry for them having a little bit less to look forward to.

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