Sunday, December 31, 2017

Aimless

I had a Christmas List (which was a combination of goals and stuff). In the past I've made lists of resolutions (both for the holidays and the new year). And I made 'to do' lists all the time. Posting every day on Holidailies was not included on any of these. Not this year certainly. Probably not in the past. It was something I tried to do once I'd signed up. Failed a couple of times this year, though. Like yesterday.

Yesterday was actually a pretty nice if not productive day. I goofed off working puzzles and watching TV and we walked to have lunch and buy YAB (yet another book) on South Congress. In the evening we walked to Rainey Street and attended a party for New Year's Eve Eve. A warm-up to the over-hyped day that included drinks but no champagne toasts. There were snacks and a lot of friends to visit with. Met a few new people, too. One who swore she knew me from somewhere.

We were home by 10:30 including the walk back. The weather is turning sharply colder today, but yesterday it was still tolerable. For the earlier walk, I was in shirt sleeves at one point. A sweater and jacket and a muffler kept me toasty in the evening. We are going out tonight, to return before midnight, and I think I'll riffle through the extra closet for my overcoat. The temperature promises to be close to freezing and the wind gusty. We are only walking about five blocks, however.

One of the things on my 'to do' list, amidst the tax forms to work on, our business checks and bills, etc. is making display thumbnails for the slides I digitized for my aunt. This has made me sort of sad and nostalgic on her behalf. She is in a retirement apartment, tethered to an oxygen source. Fluid has to be drained from around her lungs three times a week. But here she is, on the left, greeting her two older sisters (next to her) and another woman after they landed in their PanAm plane. Dressed in suits and hats for travel. The aunts are gone now. She was in Hawaii in the Navy. I'm sure the woman on the right was a Navy buddy.
Time does fly. And 2017 is fast-disappearing. I need to shower and get ready to go out tonight.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Almost Done with The Holidays

Soon I'll try to gather all the Christmas characters up from their places on the apartment shelves and I'll take down the displayed Christmas cards. (By the way, I ended up sending 81 cards and receiving 42, not counting businesses and charities.) Some cards will go into recycling, along with family letters and such. I'll save a few with the Christmas things. The tiny tree will go into a box along with the tiny 'ornaments' (really little tiny rubber critters and such).
The puzzle is disassembled and in the box. Although I did leave as many pieces intact as possible since someone expressed a desire to own it and frame it "in the Beatles room." Ah, collectors.
Now just have to get it to them so it isn't taking up space in our abode. 

I have already started on my end of year tax and financial duties. That taints the holidays for me, but I feel worse if I don't get started on it.

We have dinner at an old favorite restaurant tonight with a friend. Fonda San Miguel in our old neighborhood has been the scene of many a great meal, serious libations, and great conversation. We'll visit with the owner tonight we hope. Tomorrow night is the eve of New Year's Eve. Some friends have claimed the day as a party. Weather permitting we'll walk to Rainey Street for that one. New Year's Eve we will entertain a friend at our downtown club for some drinks, apps, dinner, and music before coming home a few hours before 2018. On New Year's Day, we plan to go to one of those New Year's Day come and go parties. We were invited to two, but rather than try to make both we will only go to the first one. We used to have one at our house long ago. Bloody Marys, blackeyed peas, sausage, other snacks. I used to have a guestbook and also this book we trotted out for this party where people wrote resolutions, predictions, hopes, and dreams. I wish I could find those. I bet they are stuck in some box in the storage cage.

But, then, it will be Tuesday. Life will be back to normal. Won't it? I'll be adding taxes to my usual duties. I'll be planning a trip to New Orleans and maybe New York and some other places in the Northeast. And another year will rush by. I used to visualize the year's calendar as an almost oval that was sort of wide and flat on the bottom (that was the three months of summer) and a little flat at the top (the weeks of the holidays). The months unfolded counter-clockwise from the top. This made January through Spring sort of a plunge downwards. Still seems right to me somehow.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Collecting 101

As you go through life, there is an acquisition curve. You want things of all sorts. The advertisers encourage it.You particularly want things if, growing up, money is a little tight and you don't get everything you desire.

Some of us collect things. Maybe bendable, posable figures with an emphasis on Christmas, particularly Santa. Maybe we collect barware and glassware. I've also collected world globes. That collection was mostly given away to a charity garage sale. I collected construction toys. (Only the Erector Set I got when I was nine remains.) I collected Legos. (Most went to my great nephews and, by now, have undoubtedly moved on from there.) I collected other old toys. When we moved into our downsized apartment, I figured I could keep some of the bendables. They stored easily. The Christmas ones would make a whimsical display for the season.

A lot of people collect things and become major experts on them. I am not so driven. But I did notice a few things about the bendable toys. Today, they are all made in China. But old ones were made after WWII in Japan and even Germany. If you were to find some cheap bendable Santas at a store today, there's a good bet they would not be carefully painted. Compare the two toys below. One has a flesh-colored face and even a sprig of green on his cap. His boots are black. The other got a minimal swiping of white and black.
Also, in collecting you go for the rare. The ones that are a little different. A Christmas Tree or Reindeer. A different take. Rarity makes for a collectible.

But at the end of the day, collections are cool because you have a lot of similar objects.

And it's time, I think, for all these guys to disappear into a box in the storage cage. It's only the second time in nine Christmases that they've made an appearance, I think.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Unmet Obligations

Hmm, yes, I was supposed to write in this blog every day, but, alas, I didn't make it a priority, did I? Oh, I wasted Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day on other things all right. We finished our jigsaw puzzle on Christmas Day. It was a secondhand 1000-piece affair depicting that iconic Beatles album cover. These things are real time-wasters and I only allow us to do them once a year. As I mentioned last time we spoke (on the 23rd) jigsaws have many lessons to teach, especially when worked on by more than one person. There are the different approaches: looking for a particular piece outlined wholly or partly by the partially-finished puzzle vs. picking up a piece and looking for where it might go and what pieces it might go with. There are the different tolerances for spending time with the puzzle: hours intently assembling a section as opposed to walking by occasionally and finding a fit and walking away. There's the grabbing of the box top with the completed picture by the various participants. This puzzle had the picture top and bottom but the top, while bigger, was partially obscured. In this house, we assemble the edge first. I sorted the pieces a little while doing this. At first I forced some pieces into the wrong places and thought pieces were missing, but finally figured it out. One loses oneself in the puzzle and it drives out the worry about everything from posting to Holidailies to starting to worry about taxes. I think this is why people do them in ICU waiting rooms, nursing homes, etc.

Christmas Eve was busy with our new traditions. We visited the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar to walk around and look at some booths selling various oddments and to hear Christine Albert and Chris Gage do a set.
A collage from old circuit boards at the Christmas Bazaar.

Chris and Christine on stage.



Since I'd climbed to the top of Doug Salm Hill last year on Christmas Eve, we made it a tradition and did it this year, too.


Things looked different last year before new buildings were rising:

We continued with our Christmas Eve traditions by stocking up for staying home on Christmas Day. (Two trips to Trader Joe's: one to buy eggs, bananas, salad greens, sourdough bread; and one to buy flowers and Guinness.) We met two other couples for dinner at Second Bar and Kitchen. Then we went to one set of Jon Blondell's Christmas Eve show at the Elephant Room. Our friend Butch Miles was in our group and sat in for a couple of tunes.
Christmas Day we did not leave the house. We worked on our puzzle, read papers, worked crosswords, watched the documentary about Roger Ebert ("Life Itself"), and watched "BBC World News" which always calms me in today's awful news cycle (I think it's the accents). The day withered away. I have no idea what else I did. I never took off the sweatpants and old T-Shirt I slept in. 

Boxing day (the 26th) we didn't give anything to the help. (Who would that be? The concierges, maintenance guys? Already contributed to their bonuses.) But I played tennis. The day was drizzly and cool and cloudy. The hard courts were unplayable. Only one other clay court had people having some fun. Later the day turned a bit more bitter. There was a fiercer wind from the north and more drizzle. We didn't venture far. A couple of blocks north of the apartment to Austin Wine Merchant for a Boxing Day Tradition of tasting Siduri Wines. Then a couple of blocks south of the apartment to see a movie. ("Call Me By Your Name.") Then one block north again later to our 'local' (the bar at Fixe) to meet a friend for an early supper and drinks. Home to vegetate with mindless TV and newspapers and, finally, a few pages of my current book before sleep. 

Today I started tax season by preparing stuff for the CPA for our Subchapter S Corp and mortgages we own. The looming taxes spoil the holidays every single year. FFP has been working on our charity deductions spreadsheet for weeks even though we won't be able to file a personal tax return for months because of late K1's. I'll spend lots of time between now and the 1040 filing worrying about it. Ah, well, there's always a spoilsport. Death, taxes, health, finances. It's always something.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

All I Want For Christmas

Earlier in the month, I wrote an email to FFP with a sort of facetious Christmas list. But it was also kind of true.

  • Some nice bar soap.
  • A French word-a-day calendar
  • A drive to Dallas to see Anna again give her some pictures I scanned (or show them to her electronically). We can go some off day after Christmas or New Year or ?
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle (I have one I think)
  • Put together a Lego (have it)
  • Get all the newspapers out of my stacks (will require time and dedication)
  • Have a couple of nice meals (Lenoir? Counter 357? Wu Chow?)
  • See some movies at VC or Alamo and watch some vids (Giant? new Crown?)
  • Go to some jazz shows
  • Do our annual visit or visits to Armadillo Bazaar and see Christine or ?
  • Go to Headliners or Austin Club for drinks
  • Do some more clean-up, clean-out of closets, cabinets, storage, etc.
  • Some long walks on days nicer than today
He has a gift bag for me. It's from a boutique on 2nd Street called Mercury. I'm sure it has some nice soap in it. Am I becoming an old lady or what?

He bought me a French 'Daily Phrases and Culture Calendar' at BookPeople. It's not wrapped or anything. It's here ready for my use. He also got me Sam Shepard's "Spy of the First Person" which I later said I wanted. Maybe I'll read that on Christmas Day. Nothing like the last work of a dying man on Christmas Day. Or New Year's Day perhaps.

The drive to Dallas is still pending. Some of my cousins promise to be around for my aunt and I've been watching the weather.

The puzzle (a secondhand one someone gave me) is out of the closet and coming together. He stayed up late last night working on it. Jigsaw puzzles have many lessons to teach (especially when worked on by multiple people!). 

I have a complicated Christmas Lego. I thought it would make a great decoration, put together. Might be too late on that. Next year!

Maybe I will conquer the newspapers on Christmas Day. Love having time to make it through all the Wall Street Journals, New York Times and our local rag, The Austin American-Statesman. 

We've had a few nice meals, but not at the suggested restaurants so far. We've already been piling in movies. Saw "The Darkest Hour" and "Wonder Wheel" at the Violet Crown. Have streamed and watched some movies on DVD. Maybe we'll get to "Giant" on Christmas Day.

We saw a set of jazz with friends last night and will do the same tomorrow night. We plan to go to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and see Christine Albert and Chris Gage tomorrow at noon. Then dinner and the Christmas Show at the Elephant Room for more jazz.

He made reservations to go to the Headliners Club for drinks and dinner on New Year's Eve. We'll do the ringing in at home.

Wouldn't it be nice if I cleaned out some more stuff? Well, at least I haven't acquired too much this holiday season.

We've had some nice walks when the weather permitted. More to come I'm sure before the 'holidays' are officially over.

Meanwhile, my niece sent some actual presents. A book of crossword puzzles, a couple of fun books,
 a page-a-day calendar of strange facts and these shoelaces that you just slide tight and they can never come untied. I'm fearful of losing the exercise I was getting bending over and tying the laces on my hikers. For some reason, they came with these round laces that seem to come untied even when I double knot them. I tested them out today. Perfection! I'm easily pleased.

Real physical presents don't matter. It really is the thought that counts. FFP said all he really wanted (bearing in mind that he already bought new pants, a new leather jacket and I forget what else for himself) was a new floor lamp by his reading chair. We shopped (buy didn't buy) for one today. (FYI: no one is shopping in furniture and lighting stores!)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Missed a Day Again

Well, yesterday was busy. Yeah, that's my excuse.

Today's picture is my Dad at a Christmas celebration at my in-laws' house. We no longer have to entertain with elderly parents because they are all gone. (Last one six years ago.) But the season and our lives can be busy.

So, yesterday I played tennis. Good to get to do that in spite of the holiday looming. One gal couldn't make it and got a sub and she was a lot of fun. When I got home, I started on a project to make thumbnails our of the 89 slides that I had digitized for my aunt. I didn't get too far with that because I was distracted by other things. Then I had to have some leftovers and salad for lunch. It was necessary to lay a base because we were going to be confronted with a bunch of Mexican food. We went to a memorial party at a Mexican restaurant in the early afternoon for our friend's son who recently died of a heart attack. There were margaritas (too early) and a Mexican buffet. We had water and talked to our friend and his wife, to the widow and to a few other folks. We said the things you say that don't really do any good. We came home. I might have fiddled with the jigsaw puzzle I've set up for holiday fun. (It is secondhand and, I think, missing a few pieces if trying to get the edge together is any indication.) We got the mail and there were three holiday cards. But I was winning because I'd already sent a card to each family. There was also a 'thank you' note for a gofundme donation for a dog's surgery. It had a cute dog picture on it so I put it out with the holiday cards. I might have worked a crossword puzzle. I donned a red jacket (festive) and we drove a short distance through traffic to go to a holiday party at a house where the folks put up all these lights and characters and have a personal trail of lights. We talked to friends. I drank water and had one of those iced holiday cookies. (A Christmas tree. A Jewish couple joined me in selecting the tree cookies. She said, "This is the only Christmas tree I'll have.") There was a buffet. Of Mexican food. I eschewed that. When we got home, we went to our favorite bar and I had one Manhattan and fried chicken with kale slaw. I gave myself a gold star for passing up two Mexican buffets. Have I mentioned that I have conquered food? For some reason, I find it easier than ever in the holiday season. Don't I? I hope so. The fried chicken was a smallish portion which and I shared a little bit with FFP.

And, well, our holiday continues. I have to get showered and dressed and go to the annual holiday party at our downtown club. (It is always over the noon hour on the last workday before Christmas.) There are Bloody Marys (I plan to have one) and there is a buffet that usually includes tamales, shrimp, etc. We will visit with friends and then come home and rest up for (wait for it) a Feliz Navidad party in the early evening! Yep. We will go. I am not made of stone. I'm having the buffet of, no doubt, Mexican Food. We have to drive so FFP won't drink and I probably won't either (see Bloody Mary above), but we plan to leave the party a little before the finish and come home and go to a jazz club and meet four friends. Perhaps I will have a Guinness or two at the club. Well, party, party, party. We have a big day planned for Christmas Eve, too. A music thing at noon at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and dinner and back to the same jazz club as tonight with some friends. The good news is we have nothing on Christmas. We plan to make a breakfast and maybe snacks later. (I'm thinking of trying a recipe for Welsh Rarebit aka cheesy toast). We might mix some drinks or open some wine. Or I might put some amaretto and Kahlua in a coffee. We will read the papers and our books and fiddle with the jigsaw. We will watch old movies on TV or some Netflix. We like to pull out 'Giant' and watch that. Christmas scene is amazing.

Well, that's sort of the plan. Maybe I won't miss writing again. And maybe I'll find time to read some more of the offerings in Holidailies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

And The Holiday Continues

Yesterday I finished putting out my collection of Christmas decorations (mostly bendable posable Santas, reindeer and such). Our next door neighbor brought over a bottle of wine and we bought some take-out and sort of celebrated. That will probably be the only person who visits while we are decorated, but so what? I popped the leaf on my dining table, too, and got out a jigsaw puzzle. We got a few more cards in the mail yesterday and today and I had sent one to everyone except one family. One was returned for a bad address and an email exchange got the database updates (and the card off to the right address). I sent one to the family I'd neglected. It's interesting but from my survey the other day these two were received.
  • I knew this guy in college. He and his family (kids must be in their twenties?) send a card every year. Hopefully, they haven't moved. I'm going to send one. One kid had a baby. One joined the fire department and then decided to go to nursing school. The bottom floor of their house got four feet of water in Harvey. I do like those annual letters.These are the only people I know of who got flooded and I have several relatives in the area.
  • I can't believe they keep sending me cards. I worked for the man in the family over 15 years ago. Wonder if that address is still good? Not sending a card. Maybe they will stop this year! This family did send a card. Picture with kids. Son is taller than the dad who is a tall man. I've been getting these cards since these kids were toddlers. Maybe next year we will fall off the list!
I have now sent 80 cards and received 25 if you don't count the ones from charities and businesses and such. 

We are going to the visitation for our friend's son now. And then maybe make it to a holiday concert. We've been juggling holiday events and get-togethers. When we took off for our walk earlier, I noted that we'd been sitting around for much of the morning. FFP said he had had to take care of a lot of things. Turned out he was talking about social stuff. Making reservations, telling people when we'd meet up. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I Wish I'd Paid More Attention to Mythology

I am attacking my problem with sloth. It was next in line after gluttony. I think I conquered that in the last few weeks. (Oddly, I do better with my eating and drinking during the holidays than other times.) However, I still allow myself to work the crossword and Ken-Ken in The New York Times before I do much of anything else but make coffee in the morning. In today's crossword, there was a 40-down answer 'Atropos' which was clued 'Fate Who Cuts the Thread of Life.' I did not know this. It's Tuesday and I expect a little easier ride. Plus every time there is a question about Greek mythology, I think of a little drama from a Junior High English class. We were studying all these myths and there was to be a test. I thought it was a very useless study. After all, these were silly beliefs of the ancients. I liked that teacher, and if I'd realized how much that study would matter vis-a-vis word origins (I loved words) and literary tropes (I was starting to love literature) I would have been happy to learn it. I flunked the test, but the teacher, who also liked me, I think, told my mother to make me study it and retake the thing. I got a better grade. But there was a block there still to retaining stuff about these myths. Now I wish I'd learned it all much as I wish I'd learned the Christian Bible, the myths of my own tribe. And not just to do Crosswords and excel at home yelling at Jeopardy. I really think it's useful to know what people once believed and, for that matter, what they believe now. I tell myself I'm going to read the King James Bible and Bullfinch's Mythology. But I probably won't do it. By the way, the Roman equivalent of this Fate is Morta.

And while I'm off on this tangent I remember this same teacher giving us an assignment to make a poetry notebook. We were supposed to copy poems out of various anthologies she made available. I didn't mind doing this one so much and typed up my notebook very neatly, carefully selecting the poems.  But I couldn't resist putting a unique touch on it and the last one in my notebook was this:
Crowds may cheer
But never fear
They also jeer
And rarely hear what is intended
Or recommended
These uncivilized masses
English classes.
I think I got an A on the notebook.  And I do think she noticed. I may or may not have put 'by Anon.'

Monday, December 18, 2017

The One Thing That Connects Us All

Yes, I know I didn't write anything yesterday. Yes, I know. Holidailies has 'dailies' right in there.

At least I'm still here. Did you worry that something had happened to me?

At our age deaths of people we know come frequently. The parents' generation is pretty much exhausted. My dad had five sisters and a brother. He and four of his siblings married. (All one time, no divorces.) Of the twelve people, siblings and in-laws, only my one aunt remains. She was the youngest of all and is 86.

This year we lost a friend to complications after an accident. He was 46. He left behind a partner. We lost another friend at 85. He left behind a younger partner. The husband of a cousin of mine (she died young of breast cancer seventeen years ago) was found dead by one of his twenty-something sons recently. He was in his late 50's I'm guessing. Then we found out the son of a friend was found dead by his wife of an apparent heart attack. He was 48. Our friend lost his son's mother fifteen years ago. We visited with him and his current wife last night. It brings up the question: "Why are we still here?" Everyone dies. Why hasn't it been me? Oh, I'm still relatively young. But people my age, high school classmates, for example, are dying. I read the obituaries to see if we know anyone but also just to see how long people got and what took them (if the answer is there).

Knowing death will come is important. I worry about what I'd leave behind for FFP. What tasks I do for the family housekeeping and finances that I haven't thoroughly explained? What personal effects would lose their meaning and lurk in closets and storage and on my bedside to magnify the.grief? When I lost my parents their belongings looked so forlorn. There wasn't anything worth much but disposal was painful.

I need to plan for the time when I won't be here. It actually comforts me that I won't always be here. But I worry about not leaving things in a tidy bundle when I'm gone. I don't want to be any trouble in my inevitable disappearance. We all die. But first, we experience over and over when others pass.

In 2010, my dad left this tableau in the bathroom by his sink, went to bed, went into afib and had a stroke. I kept the watch in my car for a long time, until the battery ran down because the clock doesn't work in my car. Then I think I threw it in a donation bag.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Get Those Cards Out!

It's only nine days until Christmas and so not much time to have my Merry Christmas card arrive before Christmas (or the end of Hanukkah). Why did I print 'Merry Christmas?' So tribal. Dang. Also, if it said 'Happy New Year' then it could arrive, well, anytime in January.

So, OK. I'm going to comb my list and get some ready to mail today (if I beat the mailman to our condo) or Monday at the latest.

Thoughts while combing the list in my database, upon looking at particular entries:

  • I can't believe they keep sending me cards. I worked for the man in the family over 15 years ago. Wonder if that address is still good? Not sending a card. Maybe they will stop this year!
  • I haven't heard from them since last Christmas, but I'd like to communicate with them. I'll take a chance on the address. Met the guy at my job, too. We shared an interest in fine food and wine.
  • I'm always saying that we should get together. She's so much fun. They are always coming downtown so maybe we will some time. I'll send a card. Met her at work, too.
  • That's the half of the couple that we sort of lost in the divorce. But she sent a card last year. Nah.
  • Well, hmmm, I think they split up and I haven't gotten a card from either nor do I know an address so...no.
  • She has health problems. Almost a shut-in? Sent a card last year and probably appreciates cards. Gee, I wonder if she's still at that address? In fact, is she still alive?
  • I knew this guy in college. He and his family (kids must be in their twenties?) send a card every year. Hopefully, they haven't moved. I'm going to send one.
  • This is the daughter of a friend from college. She has sent a card for years. A couple of years she sent the makings for Hoppin' John. I don't think I have her mother's address. The mom and dad divorced. Actually, they were both friends in high school, too. I think my friend moved here after she retired but I'm concluding that from Facebook. Ok, why not, send a card. Man, I hope they haven't moved.
  • Friends of Dad's really. But they keep sending cards to us. Nah.
  • These guys were moving I think. I'll wait for a card from them. They always send one. It is always a picture of them.
  • This couple's house was so close to the Santa Rosa fire. A mile away I think. (I actually compared the fire maps to Google maps.) Wonder if they are still there? They sent a card last year, but I'll wait. Met them through a friend. I'll see her this holiday and must remember to ask about them. We met up in France on a trip. We toured Normandy and then later met in the Alsace for a meal. On different trips, I think.
  • A lesbian couple (not that none of the above were) but I just say that because I think last year's card was exuberant about being married. And there was a last year card so...I'll send one.
  • Daughter of a cousin and husband and three kids. They sent one last year. Do it.
  • Dad's friends, but they were so kind to him that I owe them big time. Hmm...did they already send me one this year? I don't think so....
  • Friends we get together with all too rarely. Yeah, send it. They sent one last year.
  • I have known this woman since I was a tiny kid. They sent a card last year. Hope they are still OK.
  • We did a lot of stuff with this couple when they lived here in Austin. They live in Henderson, near Las Vegas now. We visited LV once and had lunch with them. They sent one last year. Yeah, OK. They've had some health scares. Hope they're OK. 
  • What is a good address for these people? Masybe they'll send a card.
  • This couple used to send a real card and were almost always first (after the Thanksgiving cheaters anyway). This year they sent an electronic card. But, in their defense, they did spend a few days stranded in Bali because of the volcanic eruption. So, yeah, send it.
  • They sent one last year. They invite us to lots of parties. They have a cute kid so hope they send a picture although...Facebook! So, send it.
  • They are downtowners like us. Last year they sent a card. Don't think they always do. But let's do it.
  • Single, true crime writer. Know address is good. Sent a card last year. Yup, do it.
  • Elegant New Jersey couple. Sent a card last year. Know they haven't moved. Do it.
  • Friends since Junior High. She married for the third time a couple of years ago. They moved (from Portland) to Central Oregon. I like the new husband a lot. I was in her first wedding. Less said about that guy the better. Never met the second husband. He died of a heart attack some years ago. They sent a card last year so, of course, send it. (I see them in Portland almost every year. Even this year when they weren't living there any longer.)
  • These people send a multi-page, multi-generational biographical extravaganza. They also give a themed party once a year that we have attended (and been delighted to get an invitation to) but, this year, decided maybe we didn't want to continue going. They are very rich. They are very prominent socialites. Oh, well. Send one.
  • I play tennis with this person. Did she just hand me a card last year? Or mail one? Hmmm. Think I'll pend this one.
  • Met this young lady at a local film non-profit before she took off to make her fortune in NYC. We met up with her a few times there. Now she's married. Not sure of address although got a card last year. Pend it, too.
  • This gal works for a non-profit we support. At least she did. Have a home address and it says they sent one last year. Pend.
  • This couple used to live here in an apartment near us. Moved to Dallas to be near grandkids. Sent us one last year. Yeah, sure. Another Jewish family. Should have just printed Happy Hanakkuh as well as Merry Christmas.
  • Love this couple. They sent an electronic one last year. Oh, well, mail one.
  • Our favorite curmudgeon. We have to travel to see him because he doesn't travel far from home and no trains or planes. We usually send him some money. Better double check to PO Box. He confirms via email and done.
  • Our travel planner (who has also accompanied and taken care of us on a couple of trips). She doesn't send cards I don't think, but hey we love her so much. Send one and say so.
  • Nice couple, met through a non-profit. Expect a card with grandkids pix any day. Sure, send them one with us vaguely reflected in a Christmas ball.
  • High-powered lawyer and her husband. We know them from many common charities. My records show they sent one last year (replete with family photos, I think) But don't show that I sent one. Lazy record keeping or did I just not do it? Just saw on Facebook that they were headed to Vietnam but are having airline problems.
  • Best friends ever. Did we really not exchange cards last year? Send them one.
  • Another social superstar couple. Bit older than us. So sweet. I played tennis with the lady a long time ago before she quit playing. Expect the multi-page, multi-generational booklet card any day. Send it.
  • Met this gal in Germany in 1993 or so. We've kept up with Christmas cards and I'm friends on Facebook. Weirdly, a good friend of mine introduced me, but she hasn't kept up with her. Think I'll pend this one.
And so it goes. But my energy for it flags. Maybe I'll do a few more tomorrow. And continue to wonder who cares. By the way, I received one today with the sentiment I guess I like best: Peace. It was the only one I received today. And I already sent one their way so winning.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Nutcracker

Since we (especially FFP) have been involved with Ballet Austin for about twenty years we now have a tradition of seeing their production of "The Nutcracker" each year. It's very festive what with the party scene, the snow scene and the music that screams Christmas because it's on every other car and jewelry commercial (and, really, is delightful music). FFP saw many of the productions from the wings in his years as a VIP Mother Ginger wrangler.

The picture above is from 2005 and is Karen Kuykendall dressing up as a VIP Mother Ginger. (May this Austin Legend rest in peace.) New costumes were purchased a few years ago so the costume has changed. Tonight FFP will don the new costume and ride the skirt portion on stage, propelled by stagehands and with children dressed as bonbons lurking underneath. The bonbons will emerge, he will try to upstage them with his 'moves' (but their proud relatives in the audience will ignore him) and he will be wheeled off. He's done a turn on the skirt twice before (albeit with the old costume). During his VIP wrangling days, one didn't show up, pressing him into service when I wasn't there. One time he did it in a dress rehearsal for some reason. Anyway, I'll be there for his triumph tonight with some good friends. The ballet and the music and all the little kids in the production and in the audience in their Christmas outfits will make it seem like Christmas. Won't it? He is sitting on the other side of the office now watching people do moves on the skirt.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Connection Time

I've already posted a picture of the holiday card I had printed. It's a vague one. A bit of a joke and a reference to our habit of taking reflection pictures. Last year's card was more straightforward.

So far we've received 15 cards that weren't from businesses or non-profits. I've mailed 29 cards out. I 'replied' to some of the ones received. I anticipated others. (She will send a card for sure, hasn't moved and there will be a cat on the card, a cartoon cat in holiday garb; he will send a card, probably with a painting or nature scene and nothing to do with the holiday celebrations and I owe him a 'thank you' for dinner the other night so I'll enclose that; she will send a small card and inside in neat handwriting will be a description of the last years travels---I met her at work in the '70's, have not seen her in person since.)

I mailed one card to France. One card had a $100 bill in it. (I straight away sent my aunt a card. You are never too old to reap the rewards of being one of the nieces or nephews.)

As I go through my list my heart goes out to the people who've split up or lost their partners. I wonder if some of these people have moved and, even though I'll probably send a card I'll wait until they send one to check the address. I always check the addresses to make sure my database is up to date and is accurate. I'll even insert the extra four digits of the ZIP code if it's on their card. However, I don't print labels any longer. I hand address the cards. And I write something even if it is "Happy Holidays" inside in my shaky longhand.

People like to get mail. I do. Of course, I always hope that the cards I get are from people I already sent them to! And that I remember who the heck they are and why we know them. (There are people in the database that I am at a loss to tell you how they got there.)

It's really time to get busy sending more of these out. Can't believe Christmas is 11 days away. But I'm sure I'll get fewer than I got last year (45) and send fewer than I did last year (50+).

Sometimes I save the stamps off some of the envelopes. This, too, is lost with ecards and email greetings. Heck, in 2014 I used stamps to make handmade cards for some of the people.

Well, I better look through my list a bit more. Oh, that guy. He always sends one. Hope he's still at that address. We exchange cards, then maybe an email, threaten to get together every year. And we never do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In the Spirit of the Season

I went to the storage unit (in our high rise parking garage) yesterday and pulled out a few more Christmas-themed, bendable, posable (collectible) figures. So they keep popping up around the apartment. They make me smile when I look at them. 

The bar area (we have a little glass cabinet in the living room where we store glassware and such and a few bottles of this and that mostly just for display) keeps getting more Christmas cheer.

This area holds our tiny tree with tiny silly critters plus some lego Christmas things and some cards I saved from prior years because I really liked them.

A few holiday cards have come our way, too, and they are scattered around on display. Some are on the screen (which is in a corner by the front door so that you don't just see a stool, vacuum cleaner, ladder and luggage rack that we often store in that area). A couple of bendable Santas are holding up the stockings. FFP's is from the fifties made by his mom and mine is from the seventies before I moved to Austin, made by my mom or maybe my sister. Other cards are on the phone nook just to the left.

All this stuff cheers me up somehow when I see it. I spend a lot of time in our condo some days. Yesterday, I went out to play tennis and then ran a couple of errands (camera store to pick up slides I had digitized and thrift store to dump a few things). I spent the rest of the day in the apartment. I cleaned, I did some things on the computer, I read, we binged some of "The Crown." Yeah, so if you are going to be cooped up in a space, it might as well be whimsical. Sometimes when I'm dusting I take 'shelfies' of the many bookshelves in this place with the whimsical artifacts and books.

Whimsy is always good, I think. I took a moment to look around yesterday after I dropped stuff off at my favorite thrift store. (Top Drawer in Austin, benefiting Project Transitions which provides housing and services for people living with HIV/AIDS.) They'd apparently received a donation of some masks. They used this one to dress a mannequin.
 It made me laugh. Especially because one of the slides I got from my aunt and had digitized is this one:
Yeah, when I fished it out from all the sunsets, beaches, lava flows, lighthouses and pictures of my aunt and her friends and relatives, it was simply labeled 'Alfred Hitchcock, Oahu.' I thought, "What, the heck?" and called FFP over to look through the loupe at it on the light table. Life is interesting, isn't it? Just pay attention.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Desire

Christmas sights and sounds always thrilled me: the carols, the decorations, the lights, iced cookies, a big family dinner with homemade rolls and pies and turkey giblet gravy. I was raised in the Christian tradition of baby Jesus: Christ is Born! and maybe the church or even the family will try a live nativity scene. But let's be honest. I wanted stuff, too. There wasn't a lot of stuff in our lives. That's me with a doll dressed in jeans and T-Shirt (an attempt to get me to like a baby doll). Obviously, I got a hat and gun. The homemade jeans and shirt might have been handed down.

These days I'm a skeptic about the Savior's birth, but I try to recapture the thrill of decorations and lights, mostly by co-opting the decorations in stores and hotels and people's outdoor light displays. I'm too lazy to do much decorating although this year I've trotted out my bendie Christmas figures, my tiny tree and a few things to scatter around the apartment. I try to recreate the excitement of getting and giving things with FFP by asking for a few things I could easily buy myself. He gets to shop for clothes, have a massage, etc. Business as usual but we say "that's for Christmas."

It all falls a little flat, though. The thrill is not there. We have what we want all the time, really. We give money to good causes, but nothing really captures the (admittedly selfish) thrills of old times. Plus, I'm retired so there isn't even the thrill of time off like when we were in school or worked.

When I was going through my aunt's old slides, I found this one. She is a twenty-something I'm guessing and she looks like she got a bowling ball. I don't think the thrill was gone for her.

Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly OK with not really wanting or needing anything and realizing how lucky it is to have reached this place. I'm OK, too, with having lost any special meaning surrounding the holidays. But I won't say that there isn't a little depression that creeps in around the edges. The holidays should provide some kind of thrills whether it's religious, family gatherings or festive feeling. All the ads are promising it. But I know it won't come and that's something.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Staycation

That's kind of a brilliant wreath, I think. Makes me want to make a wreath out of some of my bendable Christmas figures. This was on display in the lounge of the Hotel Ella. We just finished spending two nights there (Saturday and Sunday). We buy local hotel stays in charity auctions. I suppose we should use them for out-of-town guests, but you have to be flexible about dates so we use them to explore local hotels. This one is partly housed in an old mansion on MLK Boulevard. They added a parking garage with an event space on top and a separate building with rooms where we stayed.

I really enjoyed the whimsical wreaths on display there. Others were less 'Christmasy' in their theme like this food one:
We enjoy going around to hotels to look at decoration. Staying in the hotel allows one to review hotel things. How is the shower? Bath amenities and towels? Bed and linens? The comfort of sitting or desk area? Accessible outlets? Wifi? TV and channel choices? Coffee maker or coffee available near the room in morning? Ostensibly we do this because we are thinking about putting up visitors in the hotel. But really we are just critics at heart. 

One fun thing about the outing was that we walked back and forth to the hotel with our backpacks and a roller bag. The hotel is about seventeen blocks away. We've walked to other hotel staycations as well (The Four Seasons and the JW Marriott), but they've been a bit closer. I can't remember if we walked to the Van Zandt (near Rainey Street), but we may have done. We also walked back to the apartment yesterday morning to get our Sunday papers and let FFP eat his ritual oatmeal. Sidewalks aren't great between here and there but we managed. We also walked over to Bates Recital Hall on the east campus on Saturday to hear a symphony and choral concert the UT students put on. Getting in the exercise was great. (It's been clear and cool all weekend so that was pleasant walking.) 

We ate dinner both nights at the hotel, one in the bar and one in the dining room and had brunch there, too. The food was pretty good. We saw people we knew both on staff and dining guests. We had drinks as well. The package we bought had a coupon for the dining room as well. 

Staycations change one's perspective briefly and concentrate one's attention apart from the distractions of the apartment. But it's good to be at home with our coffee maker, computers, etc. It's not like 'real' travel when one will be gone for enough days to have to think hard about what to pack and all that. I figure the hotel gets some attention from us (and a bit of money in the dining room or bar), the charity gets cash and we get a tiny adventure. When I was a kid, I loved the idea of staying in a hotel or motel. We didn't get to do it much, however, because we usually camped on vacations. When I started working and had some money for personal travel and then had lots of business travel, I found out a lot about hotel and motel stays. Not all of it was pleasant. But it was always part of an adventure. Maybe I'll write more about those adventures in subsequent days of Holidailies.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Travel, Half a Century Ago

I bet if you go to Hawaii now and go to a luau for tourists, there will be islanders and maybe a pit. But what I love about this old slide is the tourists with their outfits and their giant flash cameras with exploding bulbs. Well, maybe for tomorrow's entry I'll get back to my own 21st Century life, but I'm currently on a staycation. More on that later.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Santa Arrived

When I sorted through some slides my aunt had saved all these years I found some of a Christmas she must have spent with her sister (the mom of, at the time, two of my cousins). One shot was of the Christmas tree after Santa had visited. A bike for the older one, dolls, little dresses and other toys. When we are kids we have such high hopes for Christmas. We anticipate getting the perfect gifts from our list. We used to scour the Sears Christmas book to dream about that really wonderful toy. Even though there were no people in this one, I had it scanned. I imagine the little girls rushing in to find their loot. Now when I was a kid only the bike would have pleased me. Dress? Meh. Baby doll? Meh. But these kids look like they were well-pleased in this photo:

I wonder how (and if) they remember this Christmas/

Friday, December 08, 2017

Nostalgia

I'm not doing too well with the Holidailies thing. Today I was going to talk in depth about holiday cards, gifts or decorations. But I keep getting distracted. Yesterday I was going to do something more than the 'oops I didn't really post yesterday.' But I didn't. I had to catch up on some financial stuff, I read the newspapers and we drove through blowing snow (really, but it wasn't quite freezing so that was good) to a dinner party and it ran sort of late. I've been sending out holiday cards to a few people and to people who send me one.Today, I sort of worked on the puzzles a long time and then we took a walk on the chilly, sunny day and had an al fresco lunch. Then we had to go to the bookstore and buy presents for ourselves. When I got home I was going to write some more, but I got a few holiday cards in the mail plus I got the images from some slides I had scanned and started downloading them.

Which leads me to the picture above and the title of this post. My aunt, my dad's youngest sister, is 86 years old She's downsizing as fast as she can. She had some 35mm slides and I told her I would take them and go through them and maybe get some scanned. I spent a long time with the loupe and viewer and took some to a camera store for high-resolution scanning last week. The one above was taken in Hawaii in the fifties. She was in the Navy and stationed there. When I went through the slides I had this rush of nostalgia for when I was a little kid and my aunt (who is barely 17 years older than I am) was my idol because she traveled around in the Navy. Anyway, nostalgia is a great time waster, I find. And that's one of many reasons I'm behind on everything else. But isn't that a fun picture?

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Oops...where did yesterday go?

I'd like to tell you that I missed posting yesterday because my holiday cards came in the mail. That would be a lie although they did come. I only sent out two yesterday to 'reply' to a couple of the ones I received. No, yesterday, was a day so cold and rainy that I didn't go out. (FFP went to an interview, two grocery stores, the deli downstairs and the dry cleaner four blocks away.) I tried for most of the day to conquer the newspapers threatening the place with a hoarders license. I didn't clearly win that either. Onward. I'll try to post again today. Holidailies ought to be daily after all!

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Social Networking

Social media? Important way to get news? Huge time waster? Essential to keep up with friends and family? Way to spew your own particular political views by sharing the real or fake news? That's my facebook profile above with a few photos it displays when you click on that.

Social media, for me, is really Facebook and Twitter. And I send tweets to Facebook. I do have a Google+ account because I use Google Apps, but I never look at it. My Instagram account has one picture (of tacos).
Yep. I never go there. So I usually only see Instagram pix (and tweets for that matter) when they are shoved to Facebook.

I don't need social media to get news. I get phone alerts from the AP, NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, etc. I take papers. And sometimes get around to reading them.  I watch the news on TV. I listen to NPR when I'm in the car. 

What I'm really looking for with social media is the passing parade of people being people. Getting sick, getting well, not getting well, having children, sending those kids off to college, traveling. It is fascinating to see what a theater critic in California is saying or the high school classmate who lives in Las Vegas or San Jose. Getting travel pictures from the couple who is older than us and travels to exotic places. It is instructive to hear about moves, new jobs, retirements, hobbies. I like seeing what movies and shows people are seeing. I find their snarky political swipes instructive (of who they are and what they are feeling) even as I zoom past them. And I love seeing the pictures people post of their meals and drinks. 

I try to add something to the mix that might be a little different. I share stories (from real news outlets) that are not what we read every day. I take walks and post random photos along with the path drawn on a map. I do take pictures of my drinks (especially the Manhattans) and attractive food. I occasionally ask for advice from the hive mind.

Yes, I probably waste too much time on these feeds when I could be accomplishing something. But it's really all about how you use it. And I don't think I followed any links to stories pimped by Russians. And one can waste time in so many ways these days. Sometimes I look at social media, watch TV and try to read the papers all at once. It doesn't really work, of course. 

Blogging (well, WEB journals) were sort of the original social media. Or newsgroups. Whatever. You'd blog and comment on blogs. You kept up with people all over the world.

Here is one thing that does bug me about social media. We go to an event and we are having a conversation and someone starts talking about the things we have done and posted. Then they admit that they never post anything themselves. Is there any way to get them to shut up telling you what you have done? ("You take all these long walks." "You were in Dallas.") Could they at least talk about what they've been doing when you meet in person since they (think) they already know all about your life?

Monday, December 04, 2017

My Body is a....

...temple? Uh, no, I don't think so. I abuse it with fatty food, salty food, alcohol. I don't smoke anything, though. Haven't in years and years. I used to do all the medical paperwork for my dad in the last years of his life. Sometimes they would ask: "Have you ever smoked?" I would mark 'yes' and then for 'year quit' put 1945.

No, my body is a laboratory. As is yours. It is a small clinical trial of one participant lasting for, well, however long it lasts.

I have become aware of this especially since I retired and since I have long passed menopause.

I am a medical nihilist. The last gynecologist I had that I really liked (he retired) told me this was what I was called. I resist admitting anything is wrong that won't improve (or at least stabilize) and not kill me.I resist medicine. I take the occasional Phenylephrine or Diphenhydramine. In as small a dose as possible. To fight off the allergies. I had a flu shot this year. Not for myself, but because I have read enough to think that I owe it to the rest of you who aren't in my clinical trial. The herd effect. I don't take any supplements or vitamins. I don't really avoid or swear by particular foods. (I am doing a small experiment not eating anything with chickpeas at the moment, however.)

Some of my aversion to medicine, doctors, and hospitals comes from only having two disorders in my life of any significance. One with no real cure but no life-threatening consequences either; and one with possibly life-threatening consequences that was misdiagnosed over and over. Then, of course, there was my mother's final illness, misdiagnosed (or ignored) for a few years but hopeless in any case. And, oh the hours I spent with my dad trying to get a bleeding disorder straightened out that might have been caused by over-treatment of prostate cancer many years before. All those hours around doctors' offices and hospitals, even if for someone else, ought to count for paying attention to health care. And the 2010-2015 journey with my husband through some scary health stuff ought to earn me a 'get out of jail free' card for having to do stuff for myself.

I sometimes get aches and pains that I can't quite explain. I don't often get a diagnosis unless it's from the Web. I just wait for it to go away. Amazingly, it often does. I've had injured knees and worn various drug store braces for weeks or months on the tennis court. I've had painful hands for about fifty years. Not always but occasionally returning and plaguing me for weeks. I've had digestive distress that always righted itself, often without a single OTC drug. The surgery for the one disorder that almost did me in left scar tissue in my gut. I sometimes that this gives me difficulty if I stress too much.

So I run my little one-person lab to see just how long this particular person with my unique physiology can march along upright. I also conduct little observations of body weight, general health, etc. along the way. Trying to match up what's eaten and what expended, examining my mental motivation about food and my particular body status. Observing what hurts and what doesn't.

All this data means nothing to you, of course, or anyone else. One day the lab will shut down and I'll die or sink into meaningless dementia, observed by others. As they say, 'your mileage will vary.'

I was looking all over for this photo from one of my dad's hospital stays to illustrate this entry. Finally found it:


Sunday, December 03, 2017

The Puzzle Addiction



I might have mentioned that I have a couple of addictions. Opioids are a popular one now. Alcohol has been around for a while. I've never even dabbled with the former and I make sure to quit drinking every few days to see if I can. But I am addicted to puzzles. And the coffee I drink when I work them.

It's possible that I wouldn't get up in the morning except for the satisfying feeling I know will come when I get a cup of coffee and settle into my chair with a puzzle. I start each day with the ones in The New York Times. If it ended there it would be nice, but the six-days-a-week Wall Street Journal has them, too. And the local rag (The Austin-American Statesman) runs several syndicated ones perhaps because it's the only reason some people take the papers these days. I mostly work crosswords, but also Ken-Ken (I like the way the little logic puzzles unfold in Ken-Ken.) The NYT only runs Ken-Ken and a crossword except on Sunday when there are others that I don't touch in the magazine as well.

I occasionally do a Sudoku but really there isn't as much fun logic and they are just sort of a slog. I fall into a Jumble here and there but anagrams aren't a strong suit of mine and the puns are such groaners. There is a scene in that movie About Schmidt where, after Schmidt retires he is working a Jumble. There may be some line about trying to answer the pun before unscrambling any of the clues. Or maybe I read that somewhere else. Makes me laugh anyway because I never fooled with those until I retired which I did the year that movie came out.

It's hard for me to toss the papers until I've made some attempt at the puzzles I like. When the paper piles are really threatening safety around here, I'll cut the puzzles out and put them in a folder I'll never look at again to get myself to throw the rest of the paper away. Sometimes, though rarely, I'll take a few of these along on a trip with a long plane ride.

On Sunday our local paper runs an LA Times puzzle. I like this one. (And the answer is in the same section so minor cheats are readily available.)  I sank into this one today just to try to analyze my addiction. What is it about puzzles? Why can't I quit them?

I enjoy completing them. As seen below I make a few missteps. (I cheated a bit in frustration, too.) I scratched over a few letters entered in error. But. I feel a little satisfaction from finishing, seeing it completed, getting the punny theme. And, often, I learn a new word. In this one: agouti (any of several short-haired, rabbitlike rodents of the genus Dasyprota, of South and Central America and the West Indies, destructive of sugar cane. This was just clued as 'rabbitlike rodent.' Yesterday in a puzzle I learned the word idioglossia. It means the private speech of a child or children in close contact such as twins. (As it was clued.) It can also mean a condition of garbled speech. Just as agouti can also mean a bar pattern on the fur of certain rodents. I feel like if I learn a word or fact every day that I'll stay alive or something. I know the puzzles aren't truly productive, that it's unlikely I'll need these words or be able to recall them if I do. I want to cure this addiction. But first, I guess, I must admit that I'm powerless when I see a grid.



Saturday, December 02, 2017

Tennis

Yes, I know it's Holidailies and I have to eventually get around to writing about the season. But I've been wanting to write about tennis for a while. And I played today so I thought it would be a good time to write about it. I didn't wear throwback tennis wear or play with a wooden racquet but there was a wooden racquet tournament going on so I snapped this picture of our head pro at my club dressed and equipped for the occasion.

I play three days a week usually. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Usually from 9 until we finish three social sets. The constant companion in these games (she usually misses only two or three times a year) is an 86-year-old woman. We play social doubles according to rules she's established. Over the years I've played other social games (singles and doubles) and casual leagues. I enjoy watching tennis. I like to read about tennis and have a small collection of classic books on the subject.
I also like to occasionally reread a John McPhee two-article from the New Yorker, published in 1969 about Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner called "Levels of the Game." It was also published as a book which I don't believe I own. Maybe I should own it. (And, by the way, David Foster Wallace's annotated copy of McPhee's book is housed at the Harry Ransom Center at UT.)

While I love tennis, I wouldn't say I'm addicted to it. I would say I'm addicted to puzzles, coffee, and cheese. Maybe other stuff. I'll get to addictions as a topic this month. Have a need to explore that, too.

I restrict myself to watching mostly Grand Slams on TV. But I do watch many hours during these four two-week periods. I'm happy to take a vacation and skip tennis while gone. But it is something I wouldn't like to give up entirely. Playing these regular games gets me out of the apartment, outside and moving a bit. (I wouldn't really call it exercise. But I try to trot after the ball both when it's in play and not. And there is at least some bending and stretching.) I enjoy looking at the sky, observing the weather. (Something I also enjoy during walks, another favorite activity.) I enjoy seeing glimpses of activity around the courts, seeing an occasional hawk fly by or peacocks wandering from a nearby park. I enjoy observing the foibles of the ladies who play with me, both to win points against them (Don't like your backhand? I'll try to hit to it.) and just to observe their habits. There are the ladies who always foot fault (we give that a pass in our games). There is the lady that stands mere inches from the service court when her partner is receiving. On changeovers, I enjoy hearing about things I don't have in my life. Children, Bridge, mahjong, debutante dances, Sorority and Fraternity activities. The latter two are for the kids as well. We don't play with really young people. We play with some ladies younger than I by around twenty years, though.

Tennis, as casual as my play and attention to the sport is, remains one of my favorite activities. I hope I never have to give it up.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Welcome Back to the Stacks

It's December 1. I haven't posted on this blog since January 1. I was participating in Holidailies then and I'm doing it again this year. Who even writes blogs these days? Well, a number of people do, I suppose. So far, thirty-four have signed up for Holidailies. And we are loading a picture a day (with a brief bit of verbiage most days) on Austin, Texas Daily Photo and have been for over ten years. But the Visible Woman? She's been invisible.

I think about writing (either in a blog or a private journal or maybe working on the memoirs and novels in my head). But, when I'm not at my computer, I think: I'll just 'conquer this pile of newspapers' and then I'll go in there and write or even just write on my phone or iPad which are right beside me often. When I'm in my easy chair (as I too often am these days), a little table is to my right. (See above.) There is a coaster (barely visible) for my coffee or water. And, too often, there is that teetering pile of newspapers. I don't want to toss them into recycling until I've checked out the contents. Also, all too often, the first section I pick up has an especially intriguing article. That happened today. I allowed myself to look through the NY Times Arts Sections for today (there are two on Friday) and to try to work the Ken-Ken and crossword. (Couldn't quite finish the latter.) Then I determinably started through the pile beginning with yesterday's papers. This special section, a part of a series on end of life, caught me right away. I had to read it to the end. I had to find it online. Not just for the permalink for this entry but to view the pictures on the computer.

And the stack of newspapers is hardly diminished. And all the rest of today's Times, the local rag (The American-Statesman) and today's Wall Street Journal are piled on the dining room table where my husband has perhaps rifled through Op-Eds, obituaries and some sports.

But today I have decided to write something. A first Holidailies entry of the season. I intend to blog every day through January 1. But if you read the article above and ponder the story of the Japanese woman with her auto-biography typed up, ready to probably be incinerated when she dies, you may wonder why any of us write anything. And yet we persist. And, yes, I still intend to conquer that pile of papers (and another one set aside in a basket across the room) and a pile of magazines. Return and see how I do and thanks for reading.