Dixie Peach: December 2008

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Creepy. Quirky.

One of the first books not written for children I ever became fascinated with was a book my family had about US presidents. It was published by National Geographic (my father was big into National Geographic) and the book had lots of pictures. Portraits and drawings and cartoons of all the men who had been presidents up until that time - which meant the book only went up to Lyndon Johnson. Before I had even started kindergarten I was quite familiar with what our past leaders looked like - and their wives as well. Over the years, especially once I'd learned to read well enough to read a book like that, I would pull that book off the shelf and pour over it. And once I learned to read I was a bit disappointed to find out that Eleanor Roosevelt had not been a president but had only been married to one - the extra attention paid to her in the book fooled me.

I credit that book with starting me on my fascination with US presidents and the US presidency in general. I've read all sorts of biographies of presidents and early in life I learned to name all the presidents in order. Even now when I have trouble falling asleep I name all the presidents in order. I can tell when I'm starting to get sleepy because I'll forget who the thirteenth and fourteenth presidents were (Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce - likely I forget them because they were forgettable as presidents. Fillmore was never even elected president and Pierce just plain sucked at the job). My passion for the presidency expanded to a fascination with presidential trivia and then to presidential assassinations. The combination of the two - presidential assassination trivia - is practically intoxicating to me. No detail is too obscure or weird for me.

My friends have learned to accept my somewhat macabre interest. My husband has learned to actually embrace it. The US presidency isn't something he learned much about during his education so anything I have to say about it is new and interesting to him and if I'm talking about the assassination of a president, he's even more interested. It's politics and true crime all wrapped together. And as proof that my husband indeed knows me, as one of my Christmas gifts he bought for me Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.

Sarah Vowell is proof that I am not unique in my fascination and interest in the assassination of presidents. In her book she takes various road trips, sometimes dragging her somewhat reluctant friends along, to visit various museums, landmarks, cemeteries, parks, and in the case of the place where John Wilkes Booth was killed, a roadside shrine as she writes about the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield and William McKinley. In short she did what I've done myself - in the case of Lincoln, that is. I have taken advantage of the years I lived in the Washington, DC area and have visited lots of the landmarks involved in the assassination - Ford's Theater, the Petersen house where Lincoln died, the Surratt tavern in Maryland, the Surratt boarding house in DC, and about 20 years ago a took a tour where you travel the escape route of John Wilkes Booth. She pokes around, asks questions and in general makes road trips involving the murder of heads of state sound fun. And to me it would be fun! That's my kind of road trip! Going to see an exhibit showing a bit of John Wilkes Booth's thorax is something you wouldn't have to even dream of talking me into doing. Just say "John Wilkes Booth's thorax" and I would be grabbing my purse. Sarah Vowell's writing about these offbeat trips is interesting, relevent and rather funny. It's part history lesson, part pilgrimage and I am all envious that I wasn't with her when she made these little jaunts to see the (sometimes literal) bits and pieces that make up US history. It was comforting in a way to know that there is someone else out there who shares my quirky interest and for whom no detail is too minute.

And just in case Sarah Vowell Googles her name and finds this post, let me say this to her: I'm with you. John Wilkes Booth was undeniably handsome and would it be wrong to me to say that Lewis Powell was kinda hot? I mean for a guy who slashed up a secretary of state and all.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Petty and Petulant

Kinda like Martin and Lewis.

I was thrilled for my kin but I couldn't help but feel a little butthurt and envious and homesick that when I called over to my sister's house last night, everyone was there. All my siblings, my mother, my nieces and nephews, my favorite aunt and cousins. All family reunion-y and I was 5,000 miles away.

I, however, did not take my pissiness to a higher degree. I did not secretly celebrate that my brother's oldest son wasn't there either. You can't be secretly happy that someone else in the family was missing all the fun when the reason that person was missing is because he's in the Navy. Even Petty and Petulant draws the line somewhere.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Shuffle - One For The Road Edition

Christmas this year was nearly perfect. Only nearly perfect because it's hard to be thousands of miles away from beloved family and friends but I have no real reason to complain. I was spoiled with lovely gifts, had many lovely things to eat and drink, have a warm, comfortable home and the ability to call the US for 1.4 cents a minute. Score!

There's one last chance to shuffle for 2008 so let's get to it. Bixente, do your thing.
  1. One Day Like This - Elbow
  2. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song - Fleet Foxes
  3. Keep Me In Mind - Little Joy
  4. Frankie's Gun! - The Felice Brothers
  5. If He Should Ever Leave You - Tom Jones
  6. Intervention - Arcade Fire
  7. Tonight I Have To Leave It - Shout Out Louds
  8. Love Is Like A Butterfly - Dolly Parton
  9. Cash Machine - Hard-Fi
  10. Windy - The Association


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weep. Weep for Me.

I think I got a little cocky. It's December 21st and since it's a mere few days before Christmas I think I got a little cocky. Let down my guard. Started feeling invincible and it caught up with me.

Late this afternoon I was changing B's shirt. We were listening to the music channels on our digital TV service, specifically to the Christmas music channel - all Christmas music for all of December. All I wanted to do was change B's shirt, a process I can do in sixty or seventy seconds, and then I was going to change the TV to watch the evening news. There I was, up to my elbows in husband, completely vulnerable and helpless to defend myself when it happened.

I heard the opening notes of Last Christmas.

What could I do? Throw down my husband? Leave him half strangled in a tee-shirt while I dove for the remote control? It wouldn't have done any good anyway. As spry as I may be, I had no chance to ward off the whiney, breathy voice of George Michael pissing and moaning about his old love who dumped him and who wouldn't, George?

I was so close. So, so close. Up until then I had been freely walking through the Christmas market, untouched by Wham! In and out of the mall and department store and grocery stores, completely Wham! free. I was nearly to the Christmas season finish line when I was assaulted. Assaulted in my own home. Wham! waited until I was helping a handicapped man - caring for my quadriplegic husband - to sneak in and catch me.

Shame on you, Wham! Shame on you.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Just Around the Corner Edition

Please, let me be the ninety-jillionth person you've heard utter the words "Yikes! Christmas is next week? It's coming up so fast!". Actually I keep going back and forth between "Holy crap, Christmas Eve is Wednesday and I still have stuff to do before then!" and "Oh pooh - Christmas Eve ain't until Wednesday - I still have plenty of time to do everything."

Some things that have cropped up for me lately:
  • I got a notice from the post office that a package from the US is waiting for me at the customs office. I'm fairly certain it's my Christmas gift from my sister because she said she sent me something from Amazon. Only problem is that she had it sent from and not or so that means I'm probably going to have to pay customs on it. If something is sent to me directly from the seller it doesn't count as a gift so that means I have a lower value limit before paying customs than if it were sent directly from the person giving the gift. I also didn't get the notice until ten minutes before the customs office closed for the weekend so on Monday morning when I should be doing holiday baking I'll instead being driving to the other end of town to bail my Christmas present out of customs jail. Now let's all wish for the giving spirit of Christmas to be with the customs agent so that he lets me slide and I don't have to pay a customs bill that's the equivalent of my weekly grocery bill.

  • Some thoughtful person, obviously someone who knows just what I find to be amusing and knows my sort of entertainment, kindly left under my windshield wiper an advertisement for a "porno karaoke" event to be held at a local club on Saturday night. It's karaoke! It's porno! It's two treats in one! What would porno karaoke entail anyway? Do they show porno flicks and you stand up in front of the crowd with a microphone and provide the moaning and panting? Do you get up and perform pornographic acts while singing Hit Me With Your Best Shot? I'm very tempted to go down to that club on Saturday night. Not to find out what porno karaoke is but to find the person who put the ad on my windshield. It rained this morning which soaked the little card advert. I found the ad after the rain had stopped and the winds had dried the card to the windshield and I spent ten minutes trying to scrape it off with my thumbnail. Finding the person responsible and beating him with a microphone while he moans in time with the music is what I'd like to do but I realize it wouldn't be in keeping with the spirit of the season.

  • I can't figure out my holiday baking schedule. If I bake this weekend I'm afraid that we (read: I) may end up eating all the cookies before the holiday. If I wait until Tuesday to bake then I'm afraid I may be terribly busy that day and the baking won't get done at all. The solution may be to bake on Sunday and then lock them away, giving B the key.

  • I've made it all the way to December 19th and I have yet to hear Last Christmas. Suck it, George Michael!
Time to shuffle.
  1. There She Goes Again - Beat Farmers
  2. Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  3. Cold As Ice - Foreigner
  4. Sub-Rosa Subway - Klaatu
  5. 3's & 7's - Queens of the Stone Age
  6. Language City - Wolf Parade
  7. Eddie's Gun - The Kooks
  8. Dear Sarah - Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
  9. Cult Of Personality - Living Colour
  10. Gravity Fails - The Bottle Rockets

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lottie's Home

Last fall when I went to Mississippi to visit my family my sock monkey, Lottie, came along for the trip. My friends adore her and she's gone home with friends to visit with them for a while.

The most recent visit was with my friend, Ashley, in North Carolina and I am happy to report that Lottie had all sorts of adventures including horseback riding and a parabolic flight.

Years ago it was common for fashionable young ladies to spend a year abroad with a beloved auntie and that's pretty much what Lottie's been up to. Finally it was time for Lottie to come home to me and Ashley asked how to get her here. I replied that she should tuck Lottie in a box and send her that way and while it was a perfectly logical answer, Ashley felt bad about putting Lottie in a box and trusting her to the US and German postal services. I'm more than half convinced that if she wasn't up to her neck in work Ashley would have bought a ticket to Germany and delivered her to my doorstep in person.

As it was, Ashley was truly the doting auntie and when Lottie arrived yesterday I found that Lottie had been supplied by Ash with her own custom made clothes.

Lottie arrived dressed in a smart-looking travel outfit:


Note the sweet little sock monkeys on her blouse and how the monkey in the center is lined up exactly on both sides of the blouse:


And her little twill trousers even have their own snap closure and teeny tiny zipper:


For more country-style outings Lottie has a pair of figure-flattering overalls and cotton blouse:


Note the decorative stitching on the straps - the same stitching can be found as well on the cuffs.


Lottie shows her American patriotism and sense of whimsical style with this fun summer dress:


And she's the picture of elegance in this ivory gown:


It's been over a year since Lottie's been home and I've missed her terribly. And now we may have to make a trip together to the Christmas market.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Each Year The Same

We've reached the part of the preparations for Christmas that I dread. Not the decorating or the shopping or the wrapping of gifts. Instead I dread the package delivery service and grocery shopping.

Considering that I live overseas from friends and family and that we do most of our Christmas shopping online, the package delivery folks come by here a lot. We're now at the point in the season where packages come virtually every day. And as nothing is perfect, I can't always count on the package delivery folks coming at the same time each day. If one day a package arrives at 10:30 and I'm expecting another to come the next day, I can't bank on the second one being delivered at 10:30. The person who normally delivers packages to my building is a lady and she's seen me in every state of dress, my hair in curlers, with wet hair, with dust rags and mops in hand - she's even seen me without my eyebrows penciled in. The only other people allowed to see me without my eyebrows penciled in are related to me by blood or marriage. Of course waiting for packages to come cramps up my morning schedule and it's only a matter of time before I get it wrong and she comes to bring me goodies while I'm in the shower deep conditioning my hair.

Tomorrow I'll have to do the last big trip to the grocery store before Christmas. I have my list made but it doesn't stop me from fearing that I'll forget something and either have to venture to the grocery store on Christmas Eve morning to get butter or avail myself of a gas station mini-mart. Or even worse, the mini-mart in the train station where a half pound of butter will run you in the neighborhood of $4. And all grocery shopping - anything that requires me to use my car, really - must be complete by noon. 1:00 at the very latest. Else I risk not having any place to park when I get back home because all of the parking in on my street fills up fast once the Christmas market opens. I'll be running the gauntlet of getting to the grocery store and back before it's too late for me to get a parking space but not going so early that I miss package delivery.

After Christmas my frustrations will change. That's when it moves to getting rid of the cardboard boxes that once housed all the things that were shipped to me and dodging fourteen year old boys with New Years firecrackers.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Three Hours and Three Hundred Swear Words Later

...I can present to you this!


I believe it turned out pretty well considering I was drinking apple martinis and eating cashews while putting it together.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Drive By Shuffle Edition

Holiday preparation slump seems to have subsided and I'm fully in the throes of the Christmas spirit. Most of my shopping is finished - all the overseas gifts have been bought and shipped and all that's left is the easy shopping...something for B and a little something for my MIL and Gerd. Stuff I can grab any day early in the morning when the shops aren't so mad.

Otherwise this weekend it's a fairly full schedule. There's some organizing I need to do in order to get furniture and houseplants rearranged to fit in our Christmas tree and then the actual putting up and decorating of the tree. I'm already planning in my mind how I want to do the garland. I have pearl beads that I use for garland each year. B insists that I use the pearl garland. It's one of his favorite parts of the tree decor. For the past three Christmases I've been using with it gold ribbon - the sort edged with wire, it being put on the tree in a rather casual, oh-look-some-gold-ribbon-just-happened-to-blow-around-the-tree sort of way but this year I believe I'll skip the ribbon and do double strands of the pearl beads. Just a little insight to the things I think about during the course of my day.

Must dash. I've made a pitcher of apple martinis, pulled out a bag of pretzel sticks and now I'm going to cuddle up with my husband and watch a Christmas movie. White Christmas I believe. Let's shuffle.
  1. Baby Let's Play House - Elvis Presley
  2. Joy Ride - The Killers
  3. In The Morning - Razorlight
  4. It's A Shame About Ray - The Lemonheads
  5. The Right Place - The Derailers
  6. Heaven Sent - Hinder
  7. You're A God - Vertical Horizon
  8. Heavy - Collective Soul
  9. Promise Of Summer - Jackopierce
  10. Thing Called Love - Bonnie Raitt

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I'm at that point in my Christmas preparations where I'm losing some of my enthusiasm. I liken it to when I take a road trip. I love the first part where I'm all excited about embarking my trip and I'm anticipating all the fun. I love the end where I reach my destination. However about halfway into the trip I begin to lose my initial enthusiasm. The scenery isn't catching my attention and I'm tired of nasty highway rest stops and I can't get shit on the radio that isn't Oak Ridge Boys-ish or a farm report. It passes soon enough but in the meantime it's hard not to just pull over and say "Screw it!".

I'm now down to the boring, on-the-verge-of-being-annoying Christmas shopping. The stuff I need to pick up for our doctors and B's physiotherapist and assorted extended family. I always feel quite clueless when doing this bit of shopping. I set out hoping to be inspired by seeing some sort of clever gift idea but usually end up buying something that just won't be out-and-out embarrassing to present them. Today it was shopping for our family doctor (Two silk scarves and a box of Lindt chocolates. My prediction? She'll regift the scarves but eat the chocolates.) and for B's dermatologist (A bottle of Vueve Clicquot champagne) and all I could really think about is getting home and curling up on the sofa because right now my stomach has been extra wonky. I can't even drink tea without it giving me stomach cramps. I don't have time for sofa curling though because I still need to do some gift shopping, have to get groceries, and find somewhere to store my yucca palm so I can get my Christmas tree up. I hate that yucca palm. I'd saw it in half and chuck it in the biodegradable trash bin except my MIL bought it for me for my birthday three years ago. Stupid tree. The leaves are always stabbing me.

It's just the mid-season whine mixed in with a hefty dose of stomach virus. By the time the weekend rolls around and I decorate my tree and completely plan out my Christmas baking I'll be more enthusiastic. Hope my stomach gets better soon though because for every day I have a wonky stomach I am missing an opportunity to have crispy fish as the Christmas market.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Envelopes of Cute

I love to get little goodies in the mail. When I was a kid I'd get all charged up when the Christmas Seals would come in the mail for us to stick on the backs of Christmas cards. I liked the free address labels too. I even got a thrill out of the teeny tiny red pencil that would come in a solicitation for Time Magazine.

Today I was showered with treats in my mail. The first envelope was from my friend, Karen.

A few weeks ago I'd made a comment on a online forum she and I both visit that what sucked about voting absentee is that you don't get a groovy little "I voted!" sticker to wear all day long. Karen, not wanting me to miss out, offered to send me hers. Still on the wax paper and everything.


Isn't that a scream that she sent me that sticker? I collect campaign buttons (I have one for every Democratic candidate going back to Jimmy Carter) so this will fit right in with my collection. Then for an added treat she sent me this bracelet:


Karen's sister, Ginni, bravely battle breast cancer for over ten years until she ended her fight in April, 2005. For many years now Karen has worked hard to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research and this bracelet was for the Race for the Cure team in Ginni's honor. Ginni was someone who taught me bravery and dignity and strength and grace and so having this bracelet to remind me of her and to remind me of how Ginni lived makes me very happy.

My other envelope was also from America. I participate in some sock knit-alongs where I have to complete at least one pair of socks each month. In one of the knit-alongs the names of those who complete socks for that month are entered into a random drawing with knitting goodies as the prize. My obsession with slavish devotion to commitment to sock knitting paid off when I won this:


Perfect since I'd been looking for orange sock yarn. With the sock yarn were these:


Stitch markers. They're great to have so you can place one between stitches in your knitting to remind you to do something like an increase or decrease when you come around to the marker or they can demarcate pattern repeats. You didn't get that, did you? Okay. They're great because they're pretty and cute.

And that's what I've always loved best about little goodies in the mail. The cuteness of them.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Low Motivation Edition

There's been a bit of can't-be-arsedness here this week. I'm not bored but I'm not feeling very adventuresome. I go thorough my daily routines and all but my need to break out and discover something new has waned.

But I haven't been completely lazy. The following is what I could be arsed to do this week.
  • Clean the gunk out of my bathroom drain. I almost have to have a pep talk and a shot of tequila before embarking on this task. I have long hair. I love my long hair. But my long hair being anywhere but on my head skeeves me out no end. Having it stuck in the drain mixed with other assorted crud is skeevier still. I get less skeeved out watching surgery on those medical shows.

  • Win for B 8€ on an online game site. Showing off my mad trivia skillz again.

  • Order for myself some new pajamas. Because constantly hitching up my pajama bottoms due to their elastic waistbands being completely shot rather defeats the purpose of wanting to wear comfy jammies.

  • Go to the Christmas market every day this week. Sometimes to just pick up something for supper (ohhh my sweet, lucious, crispy fried fish!), sometimes just to grab a cup of cocoa and sit and watch the folks until my rear grows numb from the cold.

  • Figure out how I was going to knit the sock I'm working on so that it'll fit my somewhat chunky leg and then narrow down to fit my more normal sized ankle and foot.

  • Go through my Christmas music and remove stuff from Bixente the iPod that I'm just not too nuts about.
Speaking of my little sweetheart, Bixente, it's time to shuffle.
  1. Feels Like Music - Tom Jones
  2. Papa Loves Mambo - Perry Como
  3. No New Tale To Tell - Love and Rockets
  4. Our Love - Rhett Miller
  5. Scary Old World - Radney Foster & Chely Wright
  6. For Your Love - The Yardbirds
  7. D Is For Dangerous - Arctic Monkeys
  8. Watusi Rodeo - Guadalcanal Diary
  9. Tired Of England - Dirty Pretty Things
  10. Shakin' - Eddie Money

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Low Profile

"What's with you?" you say. "Think you can post for thirty days straight and then just duck out of sight? That's not the way it works 'round these parts, missy!".

It's just that I've been keeping myself under the radar. Catching up on the knitting I've gotten behind with. Trying to finish an excellent book that I'm enjoying but can't seem to find enough time to read. Getting my Christmas decorations up and getting this cluttered flat straightened up. Trying to figure out what to buy for B's doctors and therapists for Christmas.

And I've been trying to avoid hearing the Christmas song I hate most in the world. I don't even want to mention which song it is because that would be like summoning the devil but you'll know it when I finally do hear it. The scream rising from my throat is bound to be heard all over the world.

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