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A Pickle Story December 14, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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It’s in the single Fahrenheits this morning, and I was bracing myself to walk to the PO, and Tim offered to walk with me, and it was in fact bracing out there, and I went to my box and turned the combination, and I pulled out the mail, and I looked at the overstuffed envelope, and I saw the return address, and I told Tim that in all likelihood I was going to be tearing up a little, because this is what happened:

pickle 1

pickle2

pickle3a

pickle4

pickle5

pickle6

This is one of the best presents I’ve ever received. Thank you, thank you, Helen! (As if I weren’t sentimental enough about you!)

 
 
Two notes on the accompanying text (aka Figure 3): I apologize for having cut off a bit there on the right during my expert photography. I think you can figure out what it says. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed refluffing the pickle.

Jesus Cookies December 13, 2013

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Last weekend, folks from the neighborhood Protestant church stopped by to deliver a plateful of cookies and invite us to their Christmas pageant and Christmas Eve service. They were very nice, did not try to save us, and said twice, “You have a lovely home.”

When a neighbor friend dropped by later, she saw the plate and called them Jesus cookies.

I always feel bad that these people try so hard and that I am not going to respond to their invitation. I can’t consider going, because once you show up, you won’t be left alone. Showing up will give them hope for something that is not going to happen, and it opens a door that will be knocked on again and again.

Or at least that’s my suspicion. And that suspicion is part of what keeps me from attending a Christmas Eve service or a children’s Christmas pageant. Which is kind of sad. Maybe.

It must be tough trying to run a church in the allegedly least-religious state in this country.

A few of the Jesus cookies were kind of good. Some were simply sugar bombs held together by some sort of delivery system: flour, butter, icing. Most of these are cookies I would never reach for in a world of choices, but now they are in my house, and I reach for them.

Uh oh. Is that a metaphor? Is their plan working? What’s in those cookies?

Pray December 12, 2013

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Increasingly, this word falls into the category of words I’m afraid to use. Sometimes I’m afraid to use a word because I’m not completely sure of what it means. Other times, I’m afraid that the person hearing the word will not understand what I mean.

Pray is fraught with peril.

No doubt I’m more aware of this because of Facebook: so many people asking for prayers, so many people openly announcing that they are praying for other people. This is heavily true farther south, in my mid-Atlantic region of origin. My high school BFF and I look at each other in wonder: When did these people [typical drug-using, horny teenagers] become so religious?

I am not against supporting others in their time of need. With friends who understand, I will note my “prayer equivalents”—to the more religious, I may use a phrase like positive energy or good vibes. I don’t love these alternatives.

Occasionally, I’ll cave and use pray (and accept that some people may jump to a false conclusion).

The other day I checked out Webster’s to determine how accepted nonreligious usage of the word is. The first definition, of course, is “to speak to God especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something.” No surprise there. But then we have “to hope or wish very much for something to happen,” followed by “to seriously ask (someone) to do something.” I am so down with the second one. Maybe that’s enough justification for me to use it.

The thing is, I practice the first definition too, just not to God. More to the gods. I give thanks nearly daily to the gods of my various body parts and systems. When they work, I need to be grateful. I try to remember to thank the gods for the roof over my head, the food on my table, and the fuel in my oil tank this winter. I pray to the gods to take care of my friends who are going through a hard time—job woes, financial issues, illnesses, and often, lately, their parents and friends dying. I would also call what I do a way of sending focused, positive energy into the universe, sometimes asking the universe for an outcome or, more accurately, hoping that my bit of energy will help to produce that outcome—because I wouldn’t say I’m actually expecting the universe to “answer.”

The gods of all my friends are real, of course. Any energy or belief system you create becomes its own reality as you respond to its existence. If you’re Christian and that belief system includes God and Jesus, then God and Jesus are real, because look! Their existence is making you act a certain way. (I have particular ideas about how Christians should act, of course, and the few I know about who read this blog get my completely unnecessary-not-trying-to-be-patronizing stamp of approval. There are, however, other Christians, etc., with gods/beliefs/actions who piss me right off.)

My apologies for boring you with these ramblings. I imagine these thoughts have been building not so much in light of the Christian aspect of the season, but more out of concern for those whose light is fading and the people who are tending to them. Maybe here I can say that I am praying for those people, and you will know what I mean.

The Star December 11, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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It is two days til Santa Lucia.

When I was very young, a family friend of Swedish background would have a predawn Santa Lucia breakfast. I hated getting up so early but loved the warmth and sweets and candlelight.

Three times, I got to celebrate Santa Lucia in Verona. And because of that, every December I am nostalgic and yearny for all things Italy and the star in the Piazza Bra.

Today I found this video of the star and the piazza and the holiday stalls and the food, taken just last year.

Waiting for light…

The Things I Do for Helen December 10, 2013

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blurry, alas

blurry, alas

tree2

tree3

tree4

No L December 9, 2013

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for Jenny

Ornaments, years boxed, each with a story to whisper or roar, hang now from fragrant tree branches amidst white shimmer. One or two are new.

What I Hate Most About December December 8, 2013

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Health insurance open season.

Pickle Plea December 7, 2013

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I don’t remember how many years ago Helen made pickle ornaments for one or two blog friends, and I don’t remember for sure who those bloggers were. I was envious. I wanted one.

But because I haven’t put up a tree in four years, I forgot about it until recently—and it’s a little late to be asking for a pickle this year.

Helen commented on my recent post that “An ugly pickle would look even uglier beside these beauties.” I’m not sure if she’s downplaying the pickle generally or perhaps excited at the enhancement of ugliness, which could really showcase the piece.

Either way, I hope that before next year’s Christmas season, Helen might send me a pickle ornament. As incentive, I will attach here a photo of my BFF Buddy Gigi putting a pickle on my head in April.

picklehead

Catalogs December 6, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Even though they take up lots of space, even though they arrive in droves and the postmistress has to leave a yellow card in my PO box to let me know that there is too much mail to possibly fit in such a small space, even though they mean the death of trees, even though they are the face of the aggressive capitalism that is the USA, even though it is almost politically incorrect to say it—I love catalogs.

And it’s not just because they keep a roof over my head and food in my mouth, which (being married to a catalog art director), they do.

And it’s kind of silly, because truth be told, I don’t buy all that much from catalogs, what with believing nothing will fit me anyway and being too lazy/cheap to deal with returns.

But I love them. I love to flip through their glossy pages. I love the not-staring-at-a-screenness of them.

I want to look like an Athleta model, or one from Title Nine. I want my life to be like that—all outdoorsy and fit. I want to pull off that perfectly presented casual look of the skinny Sundance women who can throw together a little something almost trustfundgrunge for merely hundreds of dollars per outfit.

Maybe someday I’ll order some stuff, play dress-up in my bedroom, send back everything that doesn’t work. Maybe.

But for now, I’m just looking, thank you.

Buntingdoodle December 5, 2013

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Last night I went up to Laura’s for our weekly trashy-TV date. Laura has been making felt bird ornaments for a craft exchange. They are fantastic. She and her daughter, my BFF Buddy Gigi, made a special one for me. I stayed in the kitchen with my eyes closed and Gigi brought it to me from the living room: an indigo bunting! It’s perfect and one of the best presents I ever got!

I got a woodcock ornament too, and after I ate dinner with the gals and after Gigi did FaceTime with Daddy (who’s on a business trip) and after I read Maple Syrup Season to Gigi before she went to bed and after I got hugs and kisses and after Laura and I watched our trashy TV, I headed directly to the still-undecorated Christmas tree in my own living room and placed the indigo bunting upon it, followed immediately by the woodcock (aka the timberdoodle), my tree’s first ornaments.

indigo bunting

indigo bunting

woodcock

woodcock