Tuesday, December 29, 2009

yule be glad you did

Wrapping paper, food and everything eggnog. Now that the end of the year is quickly approaching the endless lists appear to close out the year, and at the end of this week, a decade. No one seems to have coined the right catch phrase for the last ten years yet. Think of what has changed since the ball dropped in Times Square and people waited for the year 2000 to cause mayhem with computers and ATMs. People horded food and money in anticipation for Y2K to cripple systems that wouldn't recognize a year that did not begin with '19.'

What did the word google mean in 2000? It certainly didn't earn a capital letter yet. 'Text' referred to words in a book and not something that could fatally damage a relationship. I and M were two letters that only appeared together with an apostrophe sandwiched between them and not yet another way to stay in constant contact with someone. Now try this. Google the word kindle and see what you get. Not the definition of a word that involves emotion but an electronic device to read without the hassle of an actual book. Advancements? Depends on who you ask.

I have a picture of a group of friends who came over for the first season finale of American Idol in May 2002. We had wine and panini and a huge tossed salad with the first bit of lettuce from the garden. There were different opinions on who we thought would win and if we could have put our younger selves through such intense scrutiny as entertainment. The picture was taken with a camera that had film that was developed at the drop-off kiosk at Costco that disappeared several years ago when I looked to develop my latest rolls and was informed by some surly woman that "everyone uses digital cameras now." I wrote on the back of the picture 'Sam, Di and me watching American Idol.' Apparently, I had the forethought to scribble 'reality tv' in parentheses because I might not remember what the genre was. Now the television listings are filled with anyone willing to let the cameras roll and capture the range of behavior for their fifteen minutes of fame. A father in Colorado led the local police to believe that his son was accidentally carried away in a balloon in the hope of recharging the family's chance at a reality show and a lovely looking woman in a sari, along with her husband, crashed a White House dinner. Why? She was being considered for 'The Real Housewives of DC.' At this rate kids are probably going to question Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny earlier in childhood because none of these characters have their own reality shows so they can't be 'real.' "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Did you catch his show last week when Mariah Carey visited him in the North Pole and let everyone know when her new album would drop?" Take a trip back through the last ten years. Think back to when the Food Network had food and MTV had music. Really.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

tell tale squirrel

I am paranoid every time the tree branches scrape against the window. The reason is because I had not one, but two crafty squirrels find their way into the house last month. I was standing at the kitchen sink watering and pruning some plants when I heard scratching noises which seemed to be coming from inside the wall. I shut the water off and stood there following the sound as it made its way further along what seemed like an endless Habitrail in my moss colored walls. I was trying to figure out if I was indeed hearing what I thought was an animal tunneling through the walls of the kitchen when the dog wandered in and tilted his head to one side. Then he reared up on his back legs and let out a bark like only a seventy five pound mutt can give when protecting his damsel in distress. That's my boy. Once the husband was home there were no noises anymore and he tried to reassure me by selling the 'it was probably the trees against the window' story but my faithful friend and I knew better. That night and the following morning I kept thinking that I was periodically hearing the scamper of something in the walls. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have crafted the scene any better.

Calling exterminators was like trying to close a real estate deal. "We will come at night but you'll have to pay double." "We'll set a trap but no one can come to check it until Monday" because my squirrel showed up on Friday. "We'll come if it is in the attic but not a wall." One of the exterminators nonchalantly suggested simply taking down the wall.

The next day Alvin the chipmunk, or whoever was in there, was back and now it sounded like it was actually in the cabinets. Or maybe it spent the night and was just now making a late start to the morning. Either way it was 'check out' time.

I woke up the dog who was curled up in his favorite barrel chair and got him to reluctantly come with me to the other side of the house. He was curled up in a room adjacent to the dining room and kitchen and this had the potential, after chasing many a squirrel up a tree in the yard, to be the one that didn't get away. I closed the wooden and glass paned door to the dining room and placed the call to the husband at work to get the ball rolling with the exterminator and he assured me once again that there was no way this persistent critter was going to get into the house. As he spoke I got to see who was making all the racket as a squirrel appeared to look through the glass paneled door. It took one look at me and then frantically started to dart about the dining room. This is when it pays off to have nice neighbors as I got mine to stop raking leaves and come and help me show this bushy tailed intruder the door.

Squirrel number two came in through a hole in the drain pipe above the windows in the den. Fortunately, when he was out gathering nuts we were able to plug the hole and we have not heard any more suspect scratching. As I rounded our corner in the car yesterday I passed a squirrel who never made it to the other side of the street. I wonder if it was one of the guests in the walls? Well, he won't be going anywhere now. The complete opposite series of events of an Edgar Allen Poe classic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

if i don't see you have a great holiday

'Tis the season for the ubiquitous 'hey, if I don't see you have a great holiday.' There are some people that I want to point out the fact that we both know we won't see each other again before the holidays so let's go ahead and commit to the good wishes here and now. Holiday decorations can reflect much about the resident dwellers. Some people favor simple boughs of greens and some haul out the holly and then some for the biggest and brightest display they can pull together. There is a mammoth house on my route home that had a truck of workers milling about taking Christmas decorations bigger than the workers themselves down a wooden ramp on the back of a delivery truck last week. There were displays of lights being strung in tall pine trees, dancing ballerinas twirling on their bases, battery operated figures skating and a sled that could easily accommodate the portliest of Santas. There's no place like home for the holidays and the bill for the workers to create the festival of decorations outside. I pulled in the driveway and I could hear my dog barking at my neighbor who was on his roof hanging sparkling lights from the porch with his aluminum ladder leaning against the house. Just the way it ought to be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

eye of the tiger

The file for 'you can't make this stuff up' just got another entry. It does the work for you. Tiger Woods' clean living image was forever tarnished when word of the dreaded 'other woman' surfaced after his wife's heroic attempts to extricate her husband from the driver's seat of his crumpled SUV by smashing the back window of the vehicle with one of his golf clubs. Before you could say 'fore' the affair to remember became something else all together with the 19th letter of the alphabet. "Affair' became 'affairs'. Plural. Millions of dollars from NIKE rode on Mr Woods' perceived perfect image and their three word slogan of Just Do It. He certainly lived up to that part of the contract. Maybe a better slogan for the kids would be Just Do It; Or Not.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

fork in the road and the stuffing

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. It is a holiday I enjoy because it is simply about taking a moment and giving thanks for who you are with and what you have. It is an idea that everyone might benefit from more than once a year. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is the official kick off of the holiday season and the day can be drastically different from one year to the next. One year the parade participants are bundled in layers to fight the biting chill and the next year they almost have to fake being cold on the floats dressed in hats and scarves sailing down the parade route and balmy breezes.
The parade took a turn this year and headed down Seventh Avenue instead of Broadway. It had something to do with the balloons and the handlers. All the characters seemed to do well all these years minus one unfortunate year with the Cat and the Hat and a lamppost gone wrong. But time marches on and I noticed that one of the teeny bopper boy band heart throbs was texting as his float passed by. These times they are 'a changing.