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Nothing like a little conversation with my dear ex-roommate to inspire a little blogging.  Especially since the majority of the conversation was spent comparing our various symptoms.

“Yeah, let’s have coffee and I can hack up a lung for you.”

“Oh, I hacked up a chicken cutlet the other night, so don’t feel like you have to put yourself out for my sake.”

“Do you have the thing where you feel like you might do deep internal damage every time  you cough?”

“No, mine’s more in my head now.  I couldn’t really breathe until I’d hacked up that cutlet, and suddenly there was a lot more room in there.”

“Well, gotta go, I’m dripping on the cell phone.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve been spending most of my time (apart from reluctantly going back to work so I can save the rest of the sick days for times when I’m not even fit to make myself a cup of tea) on the couch watching an English miniseries called To Serve Them All My Days.  That phrase has yet to appear in the miniseries, although I’ve only got one of thirteen episodes left.  It’s got a deliciously low-budget look and spoilers on the back of each case, and I can’t tell if it’s any good or if it’s just this cold, but I’m enjoying myself enormously and my fingers twitch to turn on the final episode.

When I was a kid, I would meticulously document all my Christmas presents in my diary.  I liked to leave things out under the tree to be admired at leisure.  Now, I like the things that get put to use immediately.  Like this year’s #1 gift, the hot water bottle (my old one, a purple fish, started to leak).  I crawled into bed last night with tea, Emily of New Moon, the hot water bottle, a cough, the chills, and my brand-spanking new ipod.  (It’s already been dropped in a cup of coffee, so we’re well aquainted.  Now I just need to get some books on there, because how much do I love the idea of going for a walk and listening to a book?  So much.)

Eh.  I don’t remember what else I was going to say.  I want a vacation.  I’ve stolen an exra day off work with being sick, even though it means I no longer get holiday pay for yesterday (no calling in sick the day before or day after a holiday at corporate job).  Which, I understand why they do that, but I AM sick.  I’m not about to go to work and stand out in a freezing cold warehouse while I try not to hack up a lung.  It’s not my fault that I succumbed to this cold as soon as I had a day off.

At least I’ve got my hot water bottle.

It’s dark and raining, there’s a chocolate sour cream bundt cake cooling on the counter, a pumpkin spice bundt cake in the oven.  When it comes out, it’s time to go to my parents’ for potato soup and then church.  The dishes are done, the needles have been swept out from under the tree, and my cup of Earl Grey is steeping.  It’s time for some old family photos.

This one just kills me.  It’s the only picture I’ve seen where my dad and sister really look alike (although she is, thankfully, mustache free).  See?

And as though my grandmother’s hair weren’t tall enough in that photo, check this out:

And lest we leave my brother out, here’s one of Dad that screams “Joe.”

Lean in close and you can hear it.

We’ve also got my grandmother’s diary (see bouffant photos above) which she wrote in occasionally, mostly in 1934, her freshman year of high school.  It was a world full of the weather, skating, dances, and card-playing, with remarkably little else.  Of course, that’s understandable once you find the entry where her mother (top photo, right hand side, lived to 94 or some similarly remarkable age) wrote a little note to her “dear dear little girl” who she’s so proud of for finding time to write in her diary.  Just, you know, keeping tabs.

My dear roommate and I have this little thing going on.  We don’t talk about it.  See, we almost never see each other these days.  Here’s what happens.

Remember the Christmas elves?

The guy on the right is the really beat-up one.  He enjoyed a brief life as the family dog’s chew toy.  Each of my siblings and I have one, and somehow I ended up with two this year.  Okay, that’s a lie.  The nice one was in my bag of ornaments.  I stole the scary one because I knew my roommate thought they were creepy.

I left him in the living room.  I came home to find him in my bed.  I left him on her dresser.  Found him in the kitchen.  Left him chilling.

Found him in a compromising position.

Left him in the cabinet above the sink.   When I got home from work last night (no one was home) I’d forgotten about him.  I open my closet to hang up my sweater, and there he is.  Dangling from a hanger.

Where oh where shall he be next?

(Which reminds me, I need to take a picture of my brother’s Day of the Dead sculpture in his new Christmas sweater.  Here is last year’s outfit:


You should all go out and read Life as We Knew It.  It’s gripping.  I had another late night reading the second half because I had to find out what would happen.  I’m warning you, though, that you might start thinking like this as you read about the characters rationing their food supply.

I’ll have a little salad for dinner.  I should only have half of what’s left and save the rest, because fresh greens are really scarce.  Don’t even think about getting anything else out of the fridge, because if you eat it now, you’ll regret it later.  

It’s frightening to think about how ill-prepared we are to deal with lack of electricity (let alone if food production halted completely, crops wouldn’t grow, etc.) and how much we take for granted.  Not like that was necessarily the message in the book, but that’s what it made me think of.  How would we survive in those circumstances?

Some of the peripheral characters were a little flat, but really, overall, it just sucks you in and doesn’t let go.

Now, I really must start thinking about Christmas gifts.  And, um, do some baking.  And, oh yes, get out of bed.

Can I get any Australian bloggers to carry out an assassination mission for me?  There’s this professor, and she really shouldn’t be allowed to teach.  It’s been a long time since I’ve checked off those “very poor” boxes on a teacher evaluation, and oh, did it feel good.  The latest?  I asked her two time sensitive questions in an email.  She responded to one and then went on Christmas vacation.  Thanks, thanks a lot.

In other news, I was the person in the game aisle at Tarjay carrying on a cell phone conversation about goat reproduction.

I started Life as We Knew It and stayed up past 2 am reading.  Okay, that isn’t as wow as it sounds because it was already past 1 when I started, but still.  It’s damn creepy.   Just look at the cover.  I’ve got to show this to my mom, who once had a dream where the moon was slowly coming closer and closer to the earth.

In other news, my family laughed itself into hysterics on Saturday night (the occasion being my father’s 55th birthday).  As is the way with hysterics, it’s no longer possible to remember what was so funny.  Suffice to say there were tears running down my cheeks and I felt like I needed to be breathing into a paper bag.  Then my sister got out A Christmas Carol and started reading it.

I put together an album of old family pictures (from my dad’s childhood) for him, so look forward to some stunning photos as soon as I bother to download them.  I’ve been on computer strike since maybe Thursday.

  • I am irrationally irritated with the person who has disc 4 of the Up Series (35 Up) out overdue – because I am the next hold and dammit, I want it NOW. TURN IT BACK IN, LIBRARY SCUM. That’s probably not a very charitable thing to say since I have disc 5 checked out and am planning on keeping it out overdue if 4 doesn’t come in before Friday.
  • One Good Turn is in transit. Sweet library victory. I suppose this balances out the Up Series fiasco. Maybe Library Scum was in line for OGT and the library gods had us change places.
  • The problem with graphic novels is that it’s so hard to stop once you start. So easy to turn page after page after…I’m reading American Born Chinese for the mock Printz whatsit and I don’t know what my Opinion of it is other than that I find it dangerous to pick up. Also, I don’t find it following a predictable trajectory which is refreshing.
  • Have you read A Drowned Maiden’s Hair yet? Why not? It’s going on my Top 5 Orphan Stories list pronto. It’s got seances, orphans, slightly wicked old ladies, a deaf-mute, and the beach.

Last night I stayed up until I’d finished Case Histories.  It did not disappoint.  One of those books where you are figuring out little clues along the way, but as with Behind the Scenes at the Museum, it still hits you at the end – the unveiling, as it were, of the secret.  I just read an interview with Kate Atkinson where said that it wasn’t until she got to the end of Behind the Scenes that she figured out what it was that Ruby had lost.  “I knew she had lost something, and I knew it was something incredibly important, and she didn’t know what it was.”  So, if you haven’t already, get on the Kate Atkinson bandwagon.

Naturally, the first thing I did after closing the book was open up my laptop and put One Good Turn on hold.  I was disappointed to see that twenty-something people were ahead of me in line, but I figured that’s the price I pay for waiting until I’d finished Case Histories.  When, duh, I knew I’d want to read the sequel.

This morning I checked my holds to see how many free spots I had, and transfer over more of my “to read” list.  Miraculously, overnight, I moved up to #5.  I know how the library works, and that is pretty much impossible.  It’s not like the county just added 20 more copies – there are 22 people in line after me.  22 people do not put a Kate Atkinson book on hold in less than 10 hours.

Clearly, I am favored by the library gods.

  • I created a website.  With eleven whole pages, handcoded, and a table, also handcoded.  I feel irrationally proud of this.  I know, I know, you’re dying to see it – but it’s password protected (at least, I think it is).
  • Tackled the art of book reviewing for aforementioned website.
  • In the process, remembered how much I LOVE Octavian Nothing (inordinantly).
  • Participated in a perhaps groundbreaking game of rock-paper-scissors in an online chat session with my group members.  At stake?  Who had to write the introduction and conclusion to our group paper.  Rock beat scissors.  We then decided the conclusion should be: “In conclusion, none of us wanted to write this paper, which led to a game of Rock Paper Scissors to assign responsibility.”
  • Yet again did not manage to go to my parents’ and dig out my Christmas ornaments, leaving the (free!) tree in a startlingly near-nude condition.
  • Wanted to swallow whole Case Histories (I love that cover), but resisted.

Well, it’s about time.  My high school finally started giving back to me.

My roommate’s boyfriend just happens to have been in my graduating class, and he just happens to work at our high school.  This weekend just happened to have been the annual holiday gala event, which he just happened to slave over.

Dear Roommate and I just happened to need a Christmas tree and boyfriend/former classmate just happens to drive a truck.  So we just happened to call him and ask if we could use it for tree-carting purposes.

He just happened to be cleaning up from the holiday gala, and there just happened to be an abundance of trees that they were trying to get rid of.

So we drove over to the Doug Fir Burial Ground (lined up in neat little rows awaiting interment) and picked one out and saved him from a fate worse than death, although he did have to be separated from his brother Doug, and his cousin Doug, and his uncle Doug…you get the idea.

Free Christmas tree!  No strapping it to the roof of my car!  No headache, no fuss, and a tour of the new school library thrown in for free!

Now I just need to dig out the ornaments.

But really, it’s about time that high school education started paying off.

December 2006

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