Friday, December 26, 2008
Anyhoo, the article linked me to a website rallying to save Snowzilla. I especially liked this page, that documents a protest held by other snowpeople in the community. How genius is this? :-) Go ahead, look around. Enjoy yourself. I did...
Thursday, December 25, 2008
"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, best wishes for an environmentally conscientious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
Also a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country), and without regard to race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.
This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."
The second greeting came from my fellow blogger, Michael, from Always Going, Going, Going On Beyond, on his own blog to his readers. I believe it is the perfect offer of a holiday wish, and it is the way I would want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. It is such a simple wish of peace, and he simply says it better than I ever could. Linked with his permission, please enjoy this Simple Wish, and may peace, happiness and the spirit of the season find you today.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
After leaving, I had to call my sister and tell her I just about kicked some lady's ass in Wal-Mart. I told her the story, and she said she'd have helped me. So I had to give her crap about why she wasn't there to back me up. She countered with reminding me that I've not been there to back her up a few times, either, and wondered why it is we keep trying to get into fights in Wal-Mart - which, of course, is a whole other story. Thankfully the conversation picked up my spirits, and I decided Sweetpea and I could use a little Christmas fun. We had already made gingerbread men, though they have never quite made it to the decorated stage:
And decorating the house had already been done. I admit, I may have gone overboard, since I had the room this year to not only display all of my Christmas Bear collection along with the tree, but also my newly-acquired Christmas Village handed down by my mother-in-law:
So I thought the next best thing would be to do our nails - Christmas style, of course! What did I choose? Candy cane, of course!
Unfortunately Sweetpea could not hold still long enough for me to get a shot of hers, but she had snowflakes on her beautiful little girl press-on nails. It was just what the two of us needed to raise our Christmas spirits!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
As I opened the inner door, I was immediately greeted with a rush of warm air pungent with the mixed smell of dental tools and potions, and the nearly overwhelming smell of women's perfume. Though it was of indiscernible brand, it was not altogether unpleasant. Just entirely too intense and overpowering. Nice cologne. Must you marinate in it? I quickly checked in with the receptionist and then turned to find a seat in the small waiting room. The room has maybe a total of ten chairs in two rows, each row against a wall on either side of a large fireplace. There were two other people in the room, each one sitting in a different row of chairs, both of whom were sitting one chair in from the end of the row. Why is it people feel they must sit in a row of chairs in such a way that the next people that come along have nearly no way to maintain personal space and sit away from them? *sigh* I chose to sit on the end of one of the rows, closest to the fireplace since it was so cold outside, with one chair between myself and an older woman, probably around mid-70's, already seated. As I walked past her to get to my chosen seat and began to sit down, I realized the overpowering perfume bank was coming from her. Of course by that time it was too late to get up and move again without letting on that I was moving because of her for one reason or another, so I stayed put, tried to hold my breath and prepared to write out a list.No sooner had I sat down, than the woman began talking. It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking to me. I turned to look at her and saw that the smell was not coming from her, but from the multitude of white perfume sample cards spread in her lap, piled in her hands and spread out on the chair between us. She must have had 50 of those cards. You know the kind. You walk through the banks of cosmetic counters in departments stores, and pick up these little white cards with the names of perfume on them. Then either you or the perfume people (as I choose to call the people working with the perfume samples) sprays the card with the scent named so that you can sample them without having 100 different perfumes sprayed on your clothes until the scent lines are literally and visibly wafting up from your body like they do from Pepe Le Pew.
As I turned to look at her, she reached out to me with her right hand, shoving a sample card directly in my face and under my nose. "I just can't decide. What do you think of this one?" She spoke to me as if we had been friends for years, and I had sat there specifically to help her choose some new perfume. I had no idea what to do, or what to say. Other than having perfume shoved in my face, the forwardness of this woman was a bit of a shock to say the least. But, I didn't want to be rude. So, I took the card from her, smelling it at a little bit further distance than shoved up against my nostrils, and told her I thought it was a nice smell. Truly, it wasn't bad. Not my taste, but then the perfume wasn't for me.
I thought this would put an end to our conversation. Instead, when I handed her back the card, she immediately shoved a second card in my hand. "What about this one?" I honestly couldn't hold back the grimace upon smelling the second card, and she chuckled, "No good, huh?" She continued to hand me sample cards, until the smells all began to mingle together in my nose, and I could no longer tell them apart. During this time we carried on a pleasant conversation, about the different scents, and what kinds of smells each of us preferred. She was quite a nice lady, and I got the impression she was just really lonely. I finally gave her my suggestion of which of the perfumes to chose for which she had samples. It was about that time that the hygienist came to the door to call my name, and I bid her goodbye. I walked to the back actually smiling about the experience I just had, my mood lightened considerably, and wondering once again how these things happen to me.
Little did I know that was just the beginning of my adventure at the dentist. I sat in the chair and endured the normal routine, answering all of the questions as best I could, with the exception of "how often do you floss?" This question I attempted to tactfully avoid, since somehow I don't think Jeff Foxworthy's answer of "When was the last time I flossed? Ummmm....YOU did it!" would be acceptable. As the hygienist flossed along, she came to one space between two of my molars where the floss suddenly snagged. On what, I had no idea, but I was sure I had had nothing sharp to eat recently. She managed to pull the floss free without causing me too much pain, only to find that the snagged floss had been utterly shredded. She exclaimed "what in the world is that?!?" and began examining my teeth with her face inches from mine, peering determinedly into my mouth. She came to the conclusion that one of my fillings must have a rough edge on it, and asked "is that one of ours?" Of course my answer was that I had no idea. I have so many fillings in my teeth from so many years of lots and lots of cavities that it's a wonder I don't set off the metal detectors at the Court daily just by walking within 15 feet of them. Of course all of those fillings had come from multiple dentists, and I have no idea which of those might be "theirs". She said she would inform the dentist that he needed to check that spot out closely, and finished flossing the rest of my teeth with a new string of minty floss, all the while telling me she couldn't believe how non-chalant I was being about that problem. She said it would have driven her nuts, and that would have been the first thing she ranted about upon stepping one foot through the door. I just smiled and said nothing, knowing that I couldn't very well tell her that I hadn't complained because I had no idea the problem existed.
Soon the dentist came to examine my xrays and my "problem spot". Luckily the determination was no cavities, and I could continue on with my regular dental routine. He then took a piece of floss and wedged it between my molors, extracting it with the same shredded result. He determined that one of my fillings had set with a rough edge that was catching the floss, he was going to need to sand it down. Um, wait a minute. Sand?!? He read the look on my face and told me not to worry, it wouldn't hurt a bit. He then told the hygienist to get him a piece of gold such-and-such a millimeter with a so-and-so grit something or other. All I heard was "grit". He was truly referring to sandpaper! The hygienist disappeared briefly, and reappeared with something that looked remarkably like Christmas tinsel, except it was gold. He slid the tinsel between my teeth and began to pull it back and forth like a two-handled lumberjack's saw. The result was something akin to the feeling of rubbing a real pearl against your teeth - not painful, but annoying to the point it would make you grit your teeth together. If I wasn't already laying there with my mouth wide open, I probably would've done just that. He only sawed away with the tinsel for a few minutes, and then once again tested the spot with the floss. The result: intact floss. Ta-da! My favorite part? I now get to tell people that I have had to have my teeth sanded!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So, I gave in and braved Black Friday this year. Actually, I wasn't given much choice. My sister was supposed to have worked that day, and we had planned to go out shopping later in the day. However, with my grandma's passing and funeral scheduled for that afternoon, we figured there was no way we'd get to go shopping at all that day if we didn't get up and go early. And early we went. We were standing outside of Wal-mart, in line, by 4:45 a.m. That's right. Me, who HATES mornings, actually crawled out of bed at 4:00 a.m., on a day off, was ready to go by 4:30 and was standing in the freezing cold and wind at 4:45 WITHOUT ANY COFFEE. Because in that town, the only Starbucks doesn't open until like 5:30 or so. It was HILARIOUS.
So there we stood, in line, waiting, exasperating our colds that we were beginning to suffer from, and trying to remember why exactly we thought this was a good idea. We had our list of items we wanted to get while we were there. And it started to snow. Of course. So I just couldn't help myself. I said to my sister, in my loudest obnoxious voice, that I was terribly disappointed in us for contributing to the commercialization of Christmas! Of course I wasn't really serious, but I did get several chuckles and a few surprised looks from our fellow curb-sitters. Then, while we were STILL waiting, we watched a couple get out of their car and walk up to join several people they knew ahead of us in line. And it made me angry. Not at the fact that the couple was line jumping, because, let's face it, I had no intention of plowing over another shopper in order to get my hands on a $15 (normally $25) Crayola Light Brush (cool as they may be). No, what made me angry was that nestled against the woman in a baby carrier, covered with only a thin blanket and whatever small clothes it was wearing, was a small baby, probably no older than 2 months old. Outside, in November, at 4:45 in the morning, in Wyoming, in the howling wind, freezing temperatures and falling snow. Nice parenting. Really. Upon hearing my gasp, my sister turned to me and gave me that "I don't really want to get in a fist fight this morning, so keep your trite comment about what a terrible mother she is to yourself" look, and I bit my tongue.
It seemed like we'd been standing there forever when they finally opened the doors. My legs were so frozen through my jeans, I had difficulty getting them to move. Which was just as well since from my view point I was able to see the horde of crazed shoppers burst through the front doors shoving each other out of the way and running like heard of stampeding cows. You know those scenes you see on t.v. news reports about the crowds bursting through doors on Black Friday? They're all absolutely true. I didn't believe it either, until I saw it. And this took place in small town Wyoming! Once my sister and I finally made it through the doors, we started down the aisle picking up purchases as we went. In the process I got my heels run over three separate times with shopping carts, and my sister witnessed a fight. That's right, an actual fight. Another thing you hear about happening on this most important shopping day of the year, but never really believed happens. It does. As it turns out it wasn't actually a fist fight. It was two women yelling at each other over one hitting the other in the back with her shopping cart. Then, as we made our way to the electronics section, I took the cart and tried to proceed through the section while my sister went and tried to find the gifts she was hoping to get for her husband and my mom. I finally gave up trying to get through, and "pulled over" into an empty side aisle to wait for her. As I was standing there, the din of the crowd was suddenly overcome by the sound of two shouting voices. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Every person in the immediate area literally froze where they were, and all conversation stopped. No one moved. No one spoke. I don't think anyone breathed. And that is saying a lot, considering the crowd was so dense, people were shoulder to shoulder, cart to back, nearly nose to nose. There, in the middle of the ocean of bodies, were two women screaming at each other. I never did quite figure out what they were fighting over, since they just kept saying something about "how could I shove in front of you when I've been behind you the whole time" and the like. But let me give you a picture of these women. One stood about my height, 5'6". The other, was at least 6', if not larger. She appeared to be the aggressor in the situation. The two were standing only about 6" apart, the shorter woman craning her neck back to look the taller in the face. I was waiting for Tall Girl to pick up Shorty by the scruff of the neck and the back of the pants and toss her into the $5 DVD bin. Now along came Mr. Wal-Mart Manager. Mr. Manager was maybe 5'2", if he was a foot. He actually had the ca hones to wedge himself between the two angry women and politely ask the two to break it up. I swear, I thought I'd fallen into a Warner Bros. cartoon, it was so ridiculous-looking. After three tries, and having to raise his own voice, the women went their separate ways.
My sister and I managed to eliminate a huge number of gifts from our shopping lists, and Christmas is officially on its way. I may even brave Black Friday next year, for no other reason than the sheer entertainment value.
To me this is a huge travesty. I understand that in all reality there was no hope for her. Her cancer was terminal from the day they diagnosed it. This I get. But haven't these doctors seen enough to know that a little bit of hope, founded or not, can go a very long way in helping the ill? Had her doctor simply given her some small shred of hope, she may have survived to enjoy life a bit longer, and feel like she was going out with a fight. Instead he took that from her, with just one sentence. And to have the woman I knew just give up like that, and lose her will to fight, is a tragedy all in itself.
But, there's no longer anything that can be done about this. She is gone, and I hope someday I will get to meet her again. Her services were held the day after Thanksgiving, giving a very appropriate meaning to Black Friday. She chose to be cremated, her ashes spread in her rose garden, as that is the place she most loved to be. This was difficult for me, as the cremation did not really give me the chance for closure. I have simply had to accept that the last time I saw her, just before Halloween, was my final goodbye to her. Her funeral was a Catholic funeral, preceded by a Rosary. I have to say I was quite disappointed in the funeral. Now I've been to Catholic funerals before, and, let's just say it, they have a tendency to be quite impersonal. I understand, it's part of the religion and the choice of the family. It is what it is. However, this funeral was the least personal of any Catholic funeral I've ever been to. They said little about Grandma herself. The one personal mention of her was the mention of her love of her garden. That's it. The funeral did nothing to help me with the closure I was looking for, because it simply felt to me as if I was attending a church service. Nothing more. So, because I don't feel like her final farewell really did anything to tell those in attendance about my grandma, I'd like to share a few things about her here.
Grandma was not actually my real grandma at all. She was my Dad's stepmother. But, that never stopped me from loving her as if she were mine by blood. She was as much my grandma as she could be, and I loved her as such. Grandma was an amazing woman. Truly amazing. She was so strong, one of the strongest people I've ever known. She was strong in mind, in heart, in will. One of my favorite things about her was something that was also the least favorite thing of others. She had a tendency to tell it like it is. She never hid her feelings from you, and was always upfront and honest. She never talked behind your back, but instead would say what she had to say right to your face. To me this was an endearing quality, since I don't like games and admire people who have the courage to say what they think. Unfortunately, this was something a lot of people didn't like, and the cause for some people to simply not like her.
Grandma was an awesome gardener and an even better cook. It pains me to know that I will never have the opportunity to eat her cabbage rolls, cheese or apple strudel, pateetsa or homemade pickles again. Even if she did give these recipes to someone else before she died, it will never be quite the same. It's difficult to duplicate a recipe when you're being told "oh, now you just add some dill until it looks about right".
Grandma was a faithful Democrat (though we don't fault her for that :-) ) and a faithful Catholic. She worked for the Superintendent of Schools until she retired, and after that went back to school to earn her degree. Unfortunately that was something she wasn't able to finish before her death. Though I have no doubt that given the time, she would have achieved her goal. She shared my taste for tea pots and cross stitch, and her shining moments were when she was discussing a subject she was wholly passionate about. As it turned out, this was something she saw in me as well. My favorite memory of her, though there are many happy memories, is the look of pride upon her face when I stood up at a school board meeting and strongly argued against the forcing of high school students to pay for parking passes. A small thing, to be sure, but the look on her face told me she was as proud of me as if I had taken on the fight to end all fights, and won. She was a wonderful person, taken from us entirely too soon. She will be missed.
Rest now Grandma, and know that you are loved and will be sorely missed. We could never replace you, and you will be remembered.