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December 29, 2009

Jogging the Synapses

I had to return a gift to the music store today after work. The dreary overcast afternoon followed me inside where I found myself surrounded by the heavy sound of anti-music blaring and tattooed help being confused about my return voucher at checkout. Zillions of new and used CD's at great prices clogged the shelves. Movies, records and who knows what else could be found. I limited myself to the Jazz section.

I was returning a new David Benoit disc that skipped and repeated on my machine. Traded it for another one of his, a Wes Montgomery and a 1989 Spiro Gyra collection, and had to fork over another $5, but it was worth it. The thing is, I'm not really a huge fan of music anymore. It comes in spurts, I guess. Right now, having been awash in Christmas music for the past four weeks, a change is good. I'll listen to the radio at work - a totally varied mix of Classic Christian, Classical, Smooth Jazz and a slight dash of Country (usually can't get through one whole song, though).

But it's the old stuff that is the best: Simon and Garfunkel, earliest Joni Mitchell, Beatles, some of the Beach Boys --- that era of real melodies, real harmonies and real words. I just can't listen to the new stuff. Sorry.

December 27, 2009

Angel In A Box

There is still hope for America's "yoooot." Bored with the Nintendo DSi and all her other toys, Angel spied the empty dishwasher carton in the living room and her creative juices started to flow.

First, she asked me how to spell, "garage," then made apropos signage to post on it. Then she used clear plastic to cover the window she'd made in the bottom (now turned on the side. She attached a strip of cardboard to make a latch for the sliced off bottom (now the garage door). Then she parked her new little scooter car in it. Then she added three battery powered candles for lighting and she was all set. But there was more.

The box wasn't big enough for both her and the car. Out came the car, in went the girl. I asked her to pose for a few pictures. Still the tomboy with the cutest smile, the flash did a wonderful job of imprinting those bright retinal shocks on her darkened space. Blink, blink!

She's out with her dad today in another box--- shooting ducks from a duck blind for the first time!

December 26, 2009

A Gift for Barb

Wow! It was a real day off Saturday, complete with a one-man installation of Barb's big Christmas gift --- a new, first-rate dishwasher. It was time for our twenty-two year old, 85 decibel Kenmore to leave the nest with a swift kick.

Some of you know all about this handy dandy DIY project where you have to go out and buy a replacement kit for the water connector, new water line and electrical cord. No biggie, thankfully. Everything went well until I was ready to attach the new drain hose to the sink. Uh oh, the new one is too big! So, after perusing the options and alternatives, I stole the old hose from the old dishwasher to see what I could come up with. Fit the sink perfectly, but didn't fit the new hose without cutting off an inch of the end, forcing it into the new end and clamping them together. After a test, no problem, so I'll keep an eye on it and see if it holds. Hey, it's only water!

This unit is beautiful and I feel a little guilty for getting a $1049 washer for only $426. Then subtract another $50 for a P.G.&E. rebate. The salesman gave us a special deal when the unit we wanted wasn't in stock/discontinued. Thanks, Danny!

Now I feel a bit guilty. It's so quiet you can hardly hear it running, only uses a little water and a little electricity and was so cheap! The Lord knew Barbara Sue deserved something special this year. I can wait another year or so before I get a better camera.

Now, where did I put that Ibuprofen?

December 25, 2009

Exit December

It was a full day, starting with coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and the usual table banter. A bright, clear and frosty morning was within reach outside, but the cozy warmth inside felt better. It would be a non-stop affair for at least one person: Barb, who cooked, cleaned, opened her gifts, cleaned up, cooked again, cleaned up again . . . and finally got to sit down and have a piece of her wonderful pumpkin pie.
Yes, the little woman is the greatest invention yet, and I'd be lost and starving without her. Besides, there would be no one around to pray for me, encourage me, or kick me in the pants every once in awhile. Thank you, Lord, for having mercy on this old buzzard.

Last night's maudlin fare (Jimmy Stewart and Danny Kaye) churned the usual laughs and nostalgic nudges, while today's deluge of annual holiday movies provided background entertainment and music during the paper crunching, computering, texting and eating stocking stuffer candy. No sports. Only enough news to hear about the latest Terrorist attack (we need to start capitalizing that word).

One of Angel's gifts included a block of cement like grit that hid a number of amethysts and white quartz rocks. Bang, bang, bang went Angel's silver hammer - until I replaced it with my 50 year old Grandma Skinner special, a wood handled miniature that suited her perfectly (and got the job done a lot faster!). This is a part that she loved to play - the little archaeologist. She also had a block of cemented sand that had the skeleton of a T-Rex in it. More banging on Ginnie's old table! All cusioned so it wouldn't scratch the wood, though.

Christmas Legacy

Back in the late 40's and early 50's, my dad worked for his father-in-law on 13th Street in Paso Robles as a refrigeration man after working on 12th Street at Orcutt's Market.

His creative bent can be seen in this icy Christmas tree he designed for the shop window at Cockrell's Appliance. His metalcraft (and woodworking) skills followed him along in life and he continued to make brass craft into his late life.

We can leave a number of different legacies for our kids to remember. Creativity, character (or lack thereof), ability to give unconditional love, a smile, a laugh, an 'I love you.'

Your life will soon end, but your legacy will survive. What will you leave?

"And Jeremiah lamented for [King] Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel . . .  Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD, and his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah." II Chronicles 35:25-27

December 20, 2009

Christmas Quandry

Within the circle of Evangelical Christians exists a perennial tension between "too much Christmas chaos" and "putting Christ back into it." These believers feel that the season of celebrating the birth of the Messiah would be better served by somehow relating all holiday trappings to something spiritual, thus minimizing anything that would "take one's eyes off of the real reason for the season."

I would posit the argument that without the secular trappings, the spiritual celebration would all but cease to exist. Why, you ask? Let me tell you.

Remove the tree, Santa Claus, the gifts, the decorations, the Christmas cards, the warm fuzzy feelings, the big family feasts and replace them with a sermon on Christ's birth. Remove the Ho-Ho, everything will soon become Ho-Hum for most folks.