Monthly Archives: December 2008

Disney holiday memories

Happy sigh… I was there for all of this.  I saw it and I wish I was still there.

Did you see the paper cutout during the Osbourne lights that was 2nd row in and third from the right?  That was me.  LOL!


Childhood books

My parents, not to mention my brother and sisters, read to me as a kid.  It was the start of my love for books.  One of my favorite pictures of my dad is me sitting in his lap as he’s reading to me.  When my siblings had kids of their own, back out came the books.  I read a lot to my nieces and nephews too, many of the books were the sames ones that were read to me.

I was talking with people at work and some of my other friends, discussing what books do we remember.  It’s amazing how remembering them brings back such great feelings, like a feeling of wonder and magic that stays inside, just waiting to fill you again.  In fact, today at lunch, I saw a Dr. Seuss book and read it.  I had the biggest smile as I saw so many of my “old friends” again.

Dr. Seuss was of course HUGE! I can still quote from some of the books.  “Big A, little a, what begins with A?  Aunt Annie’s alligator. A…a…A …”  “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.”    My mom told me that when I was little, I would tell people that I’d read them a book, and I’d read Hop on Pop.  The truth was, I had memorized it, but wanted to be like the grownups, reading on my own.  “Mulberry Street” was one of the books when I was “bigger” and reading to myself (on top of begging people to read it to me too).    Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Horton, the Lorax…. so many wonderful books.

I wanted a purple crayon like Harold’s so bad!!  I wanted to draw airplanes and forests, friendly animals and stairs that went up and up and up! Remember when he made a whole city?  Including a police officer?  He went to the North Pole in one adventure and the stars in another.  He drew his own circus and artwork in his room.  Lucky, lucky Harold!

Good ol’ Max.  I not only remember “Where the Wild Things Are”, but I remember Max being in an animated special with music done by Carol King.

How many kids can go to an island of monster looking creatures and actually become their king?

Max could.

“… and made him a king of all  wild things.”

You go, Max.

I actually had Christmas cards a few years ago that had Harry and his Christmas sweater on them.  I sent them only to people who I knew would remember Harry.

I loved Harry.  I used to have a bunch of his books.   “Harry and the Sea”, “Harry the Dirty Dog”, “Harry and the Lady Next Door”…. he was a great dog.

In this one, I remember he finally unravels the sweater he hates and a bird uses it to make a nest, making them both happy.  Then he gets a sweater he looks, one that has his exact spots.

When I was older, my sister Terry got me Paddington Bear, and would take me to the library so I could read each one!

For some reason, I always remember his first story, the one on Guy Fawkes day, and the one where they build a snowman around him the most.

Frederick….  what a great book and, sadly, not one that a lot people seemed to have read – or read to them.  The artwork is…. breathtaking and the story….

“But Frederick,” they said, “you are a poet!”

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, “I know it.”

…I can still hear my sister Terry’s voice reading that last line….

Is it really a HAPPY new year?

I have to say a few things first.  My friend Steve Allen needs to stop reading right now and if my friends John Ames is reading, he might want to do the same.  And I’m putting up a warning in general: it’s not a happy post, at least not the second half.

That being said, I really wonder if us putting a new calendar on the wall and watching a very expensive crystal ball drop is going to mean a happy New Year.

I know some good things have happened this year and will in 2009.  Before people tell me about count my blessings, the glass is half full, and a positive outlook will make the sun shine, I’ll say it for them.

  • I found a lump in my breast; I was luckier than many, it turned out okay and I just have to have regular tests.
  • I have a job.   It’s a sucky job; demoralizing, a career killer,  and having no future whatsoever, but some people would take that now.  I’ve been in their shoes four different times; I know how they are feeling.
  • I have my husband and we want to make a better life for ourselves, including the behavior that we can control to improve the things we can.
  • We had a wonderful vacation with so many good friends.  It was days filled with laughter and warmth.
  • I have my house and my car.  Some families, having lost their jobs and with an ever increasing economy going down the drain, are homeless now.
  • I’m pretty healthy.  My friend Marla is not.  And because she has no health insurance (like so many millions of Americans, her job does not provide it and she can’t afford it, especially since her illness makes it impossible to work most of the time, so her paycheck is the same amount of a Starbucks cup of coffee.), her trying to get well causes laughter in the medical community.  But her trying to get some kind of supported health care makes other Americans call her a bum and a loser.
  • I have friends like Marla and Eowyn who say I changed their lives for the better.
  • I’ve been able to help with some wonderful organizations.  Oasis found homes for some animals and rescued others; I was part of that.  I help a Humane Society chapter by doing their website, getting the news out about their animals that need help.  And some friends and I gave donations to charity as our gifts to each other this year.
  • I became a member of All Ears Net.  This may not mean much to some, but I’ve met people and see the emails from others on how we provide a wonderful light in dark days or help a family get relief on a trip when they need it most.  Plus, I’m in a group of extraordinary people who not only make me feel welcome and are so much fun, but are inspirational.
  • I have three furballs who make me smile.  And cuddle close when I’m hurting.

So I haven’t forgotten the lectures and sayings about “Gray skies are going to clear up.  Put on a happy face!”

Now here’s the other part of reality.  It does exist and can’t be ignored.

That’s my mom.   You can guess what she is celebrating:  Happy New Year – 2008.   And it was going to be a great New Year.  She was turning 80 and had wonderful plans for her birthday.  She was also going to take a paddleboat cruise on the Mississippi and hoped to take a scrapbooking cruise.  She would have a new great-grandchild on the way.   She had started new projects and had wonderful goals.  Her cardiologist would tell her how great she was doing and she had no worries with her health.

Instead, on June 29th, 2008….

I made wonderful plans and goals to improve myself and my life in 2008 too, to undo the problems that I’ve caused myself and do what I can to make the world a little better.   Instead….

Well, instead, it wasn’t a happy new year.  The bads outweighed the goods.

Life is not fair.  And it is not easy.   Many, many times, it’ll kick you in the head.  Sometimes, something like this photo comes along and teaches me that lesson for real, instead of as an abstract thought.  My nephew is in the hospital; he has no health insurance either, so he can’t get the surgery he needs to fix the damage to his hand so it will work.  My brother-in-law just got out of the hospital, he also has permanent damage to a hand that means he doesn’t have full use anymore.  Another nephew was just pushed of the house by his wife.  People I know are afraid for their jobs or, even with jobs, don’t know how they’re going to make it.  My friend Marla is still ill.  My friend Steve just lost HIS mom; my friend Margie lost her best friend, her sister, 3 weeks ago.  The list goes on and on.

The economy is really hosed and the job market is terrible; it’s going to take a long time, longer than 2009 to get improvement.

So I hope it will be a happy new year in 2009, but I just wonder if it will be.

Christmas village: Dickens, Disney, and beyond

When I first moved out on my own, I picked up some inexpensive holiday village houses.  I actually put a set on lay away (remember lay away?), and then tried to add a house or some item to it.    It was pretty traditional.

When John and I got married,  someone gave me a couple Disney pieces, which was wonderful, and then we also bought some of the Simpsons village, and from there,  things exploded.  Especially fun was John would wait until I was done setting it up and for creativity to strike to add his own touches.  Each year, he puts in something as the mood strikes him; I never know what it’ll be.  One year, it was the Beatles in their Yellow Submarine; another year, it was Mr. Spock, then a giant otter, and another was a nativity with an American flag for the goofballs who act like Jesus was white, American, and Protestant.  Some of these things stay, others are just for that year.

So now, the village is not only large, it’s eclectic and I love it!  I have a little backstory for the whole thing, even its oddities.  We have four new pieces this year!

Here’s photos of it.  Some are from 2007, followed by updates for 2008.  If you mouse over the photo, its title will show up. If you want to torture yourself with the village backstory,  see the full photos on Flickr.

I’m baaack!!

We had a fantastic vacation, but unfortunately, we got sick when we were home with severe colds.  It even interfered with our holiday plans.  We couldn’t see John’s family on Christmas Eve which we hated having to give up!  But we felt so bad, we could, at most, get up for about an hour or so.  We couldn’t do the drive and the dinner.  Sniff…..

My sister-in-law sent us pictures from her cell phone of her son Connor holding up a sign saying Merry Christmas and her daughter Kylie all dressed for Christmas, coming out of a present!  That helped.

We didn’t even get our outside decorations up after we got home.   John did put a red light bulb in the socket by the door; he calls it the Red Star of Christmas.

John:  It’s a story in the Bible.  ‘And verily, a red light did descend on the place, so the shepherds could find–

Me: The whorehouse.

John (laughing): Exactly!

We did have a nice Christmas night; we had dinner then drove around looking at Christmas lights.  It was a beautiful way to spend the night together…. before we had to go back to swigging cough syrup with an Ibprofen chaser.

I haven’t even been online, so I’m waay behind on email.  Thanks to everyone who followed our vacation blog!  I’ll be posting pictures and a trip report very soon (I hope).  Meanwhile, here’s just a handful of pictures, taken by the PhotoPass photographers:

You can also look at this slide show from our Capture the Magic, the photo scavenger hunt, team.

And an extra one of John getting mugged by another team for his temporary Disney tattoo:

I’ll be catching up with everyone.  Promise!

Finish that overpacking! And then tuck me in!

It’s been so busy this past week, getting things packed, having the show, and trying to do SOMETHNG done for Christmas.  I made myself nuts and had a good, old fashioned freak out — modernly referred to as an anxiety attack — when things were falling apart.  But after I got a hold of feeling out of control, I also realized I had done the usual imagining things a certain way, and freaked when the picture didn’t match anymore.

Basically, it means we NEED a break!  What a crappy year this is and we have to get away.  More than anything, I’m looking forward to being with John, relaxing in Fort Wilderness with the dogs, and having laughs with our friends.  I want all the perks that we hope to have, but let us get there and back safely, and I will be happy.

Oh, and eating a lot.  And our golf cart. And an internet connection…  And if win the free vacations for life….

I’ll see you back here on the 21st or so!

Update on vacation blog

First, thank you to everyone who voted on the vacation blog designs!  I appreciate the feedback.  I decided to go ahead and do a blog for this trip, because I had gotten excited about it.  If you are someone who prefers Twitter, both blogs – this and the vacation one – feed to my twitter account so you’ll see posts there.

The votes were close when I added the ones from here to the ones on tagrel.  So!  I went back to the design board and combined the best elements from both designs into a new one.  You can see the results on if you’re interested.  If you do go to see it, please scroll to the bottom to see the footer graphic.  I think it turned out well!

Our friends, Gary and Carol, are setting up a wi-fi router; the last time we talked about, I was chipping in on the costs and hopefully having Internet on the trip!  That means I can post more AND hopefully have the webcam, at least for every once in a while.   I’d really like to get people on our Fort Wilderness Lights and Dogs tour on the webcam!  You’ll see a link to the webcam page on the blog in the right hand column.

Like last year, I’ll post live from my phone with text, photos, and video. So you’ll have that to see if nothing else while I’m away!

And really if nothing else: I can feel Steve Allen cursing me already.  And I love it!  (He also has every reason to curse; when he was on vacation, he called us from Trails End Restaurant, one of my hubby’s favorites.  John said, with all due manly fondness of course: “Jerkoff”.)