Showing posts from December, 2009

13 Fine Things About Me

A few days ago, I explained why I no longer make New Year's resolutions. One reason involved the demotivating effect of contemplating all my imperfections. Today I decided to make a list of things that I don't need to improve on. I feared that I might not reach thirteen. But they came pretty quickly:

1. My sense of humor
I got it from my father and it's sustained me through hard times. It also makes my daily life a lot lighter.

2. My coding skills
After 40 years of computer programming, they are almost second nature. And I still enjoy it.

3. My loyalty
My definition of friend is a lot more conservative than MySpace's. But I'm there for those I love.

4. My playfulness
According to my granddaughter. She didn't use the word "playfulness", but she did mention a large number of informal games that we play: snatching jelly beans from her belly button, claiming her security blanket (tiki) is mine, singing silly songs ... the list is endless. I'…

Surprise or Fear?

Seconds after this photo was taken, fright overtook surprise and my granddaughter burst into tears. She wouldn't mount another animal, but loved riding on a bench seat in this old restored carousel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Although she enjoyed petting fish at the aquarium and taking her first train ride, the carousel and adjoining fountains were her favorite spots on this vacation. And they certainly were the least expensive!

Alcohol Rates . . .

high in New Year themed clip art. I was searching for some clip art for my website. I found Father Time, the New Year's baby, fireworks, confetti and music. But the predominant theme was alcoholic beverages.

I guess that's not very surprising. Just a reflection of what's happening in real life. But it is scary. The New Year holiday ranks high in the statistics for highway accidents. Even higher when the holiday becomes part of a weekend. Fatalities increase when alcohol consumption is involved and it is involved in the majority of New Year's accidents.

Don't Drink and Drive is a fine motto, but for this holiday, it doesn't go far enough. Don't Drive makes far more sense. Inconvenient? Perhaps. But you can't become a part of those statistics if you stay off the road.

How does your life rate? Enough to get those errands done before the holiday? Enough to try something different? Twenty years ago, I made a decision to see the new year in at h…


I won't be making any New Year's resolutions this year. Truth be told, it's been years since I have made one. No, I haven't reached that elusive plane of perfection. Still plenty of room for improvement here. But it won't be starting on New Year's Day. Tempted to join me? Here's 5 reasons not to make New Year's resolutions.

1. It's a bad time to tackle anything new.
We're still celebrating the season. Why not enjoy it? Resolutions can really distract from the festivities. I had a friend who resolved to stop smoking. Fifteen minutes before the clock struck midnight, she left her guests to party on, went into her bedroom, smoked her last cigarette and cried. Happy New Year? To her credit, she did kick the habit. But did she have to miss her own party to do it?

2. It let's you off the hook.
You decide to lose a few pounds and start a diet. You go out with some friends a few days later and kill any diet progress that's be…

Animal Rescuers

We have always loved our pets. Never turned away from an animal in need. But we went a bit over the edge yesterday. Yeah, I'm blushing as I relate this silly story.

Have you ever heard of SuperPoke Pets? It's a nifty little web application that let's you adopt a virtual pet, name it and care for it. You are awarded coins for various activities, such as caring for other folks pets in addition to your own. Then you can use these coins at the Pet Shop and buy all sorts of extravagant things for your pet. Various rooms and settings for them to "live" in, furniture, toys and clothes. You can adopt one pet per email address. Needless to say, if you have multiple email addresses, you can acquire a sizable family of pets.

We adopted several pets and had a lot of fun with them. But caring for them proved to be quite a time consumer. In the midst of moving last summer, there just wasn't enough time to care for all of them. So several accounts were removed an…

Many Happy Returns

My granddaughter wanted to go to the store today. My daughter explained that this wasn't a good day to go anywhere near a store. When asked why, she explained that this was a day when lots of people liked to exchange the Christmas gifts they've received. This just raised another question.

Why do they want to exchange their gifts?

I don't have an answer for that. I've never participated in the manic exchanges of this day. I don't even understand them. Love it or hate it, I want the gift that I have been given.

Admittedly, there are very few that have fallen into the hate category. Perhaps the most disappointing were some exquisitely wrapped and very expensive gifts that I received from a friend one year.

We had exchanged gifts for over twenty years. Each year we decided on a day that would be set aside just for us. We'd begin with a special event - a movie, a Christmas concert, or a dinner out. Then we'd spend a couple of hours next to the tree. …

The Best Of Times

I still remember the year we got flying saucer sleds for Christmas. Those wonderful saucers were made for flying through mounds of powdered snow. No runners to get bogged down in the white stuff. Perfect for the hilly fields of New Hampshire that were already hiding under a couple feet of snow. I don't remember what was in my sock that Christmas, I don't remember what I got from my grandparents. But under the tree were 3 shiny metal saucers with red bows. My brothers and I could barely be persuaded to partake of Christmas dinner. As soon as possible, we raced outside and spent the rest of the daylight hours flying down the white hills.

It was the best Christmas ever.

My mother also remembered that Christmas.

There was no money for Christmas. We were fortunate that your dad had found employment after losing his job when his father's business collapsed. But it was an entry level position paying less than half of what he had earned. He moonlighted when he could find…


When I moved south, I dumped most of my belongings. Some to friends, some to charity, some to trash. What I kept fit into my subcompact car. Among those things were my Christmas ornaments.

I don't have any insights into this behavior. Sure they had memories attached. But so did many things that I ruthlessly discarded. It wasn't the cost of replacement, there was little monetary value. I just knew that I wasn't going to throw them away.

An online course for a graphics software package led to my favorite retirement pursuit. Given my love of ornaments, it's not too surprising that I've spent a fair amount of this holiday season creating virtual ornaments.

I have no insights for these either. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. But today I'm giving you a peek at my virtual ornament obsession. You may love them or you may hate them. No matter. I'm not going to throw them away.

Let It Snow

I grew up in northern Vermont where snow was almost a constant.  Spring waited until May, followed by a brief summer and briefer fall.  By October, snow regained it's rule. Roads that were snow-blocked for days and drifts as high as power lines were common parts of that winter experience.  Some  loved it.  They strapped on their skis or climbed onto their snowmobiles and went out to enjoy their winter wonderland.

I hated that white stuff.  I had no interest in winter hobbies.  I hated wading through it, shoveling through it, driving through it.  I don't claim to be a fast learner.  I spent most of my first half-century coping with it, accepting it.  Until the November day when I climbed on a plane headed for Georgia.   The world was white and the temperature was 6F, when we took off.  Two hours later, I arrived to fall leaves and temperatures in the 60's.   Sure I'd known it was warmer in the south, but the concept had seemed surreal.  Reality arrived that day.  Six mo…

Paper Or Plastic?

Sorry, that's not right.  Cloth or Disposable?  No that's not it either.   Real or Artificial?  That's the one.

Interesting how simple decisions can turn into major debates for some folks.  Paper or plastic was an easy one for me.  The plastic ones have handles and that beats  bags breaking out of my hands on rainy trips to the car.    Cloth or disposable was settled by the pediatrician.  The disposables put an end to my baby's diaper rash.  But real or artificial is a decision I still struggle with.

High on my childhood memory list are trips through our woods to pick a Christmas tree.  About a week before Christmas, my dad would take my brothers and I on the quest.  Acres of sweet, heady pine trees drenched in clouds of pure snow defined the search area.  The perfect tree was always an hour away.  My brothers and I would point to this one or that  But Dad said we should keep looking.  Just when we thought we could walk no  longer,  he'd point to a tree.  We'd …

The Dog's List

"What do you want for Christmas?"

How I dread that question. As the requester waits for a response, my mind goes blank.  A couple of ideas flit by.  One is too much to ask for, another is too trivial.  What do I want for Christmas?  Why not ask what I want from life?  You've got the same odds of getting a response.

Our dog has no trouble with questions like this.  No, he hasn't written his own list, but I know just what it would say:
Iwant a promise that I will never be left home alone. Take me with you or don't go.I'd like some new SB's. You know how fast they wear out. (SB stands for Slobber Ball. A tennis ball that has been carried around in his mouth for so long that it could hydrate a few deserts.)A coupon reedemable for daily fetching sessions.And another one to let me skip bathes.A few opportunities to escape from the yard. I treasure the opportunity to crash a backyard barbeque or take a dip in an algae ladden pond. Guess it goes without saying th…

Love It, Hate It

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas:

I love getting cards and news from family and friends.
I hate sending them.

I love the brightly decorated stores.
I hate the long lines and the broken budget.

I love the brightly lit tree and the warm vibrant decorations that fill the house.
I hate the boxes and clutter that precede and follow it

I love listening to the Christmas music on the radio.
I hate listening to Christmas Shoes and Pretty Little Dolly.

I love the look of excitement and belief on my grandaugher's face.
I hate the thought of the last minute mail she will send to Santa. You know, that overpriced and unavailable toy that she's suddenly decided she should have put on the list she wrote two weeks ago.

I love the wonderful smells of all the traditional Christmas recipes,especially the Christmas cookies.
I hate where those cookies are headed - my waist, my hips, etc., etc.

I love that pretty covering of white snow for Christmas day.
I hate that I'm unlikely…