Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11-30-11 End of day

I glimpsed out the window and saw how pretty dusk was toward the southeast. But I was too busy to get outside or even to the back of the house. So I missed this.

11-30- End of month

This is my End of Month look all day.

This is now. (Click on him for full effect)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

11-28-11 Elf on the Shelf

I've seen these around for a few years, but as I was describing it to Sam (when we saw the commercial for the Elf on the Shelf movie, naturally, since the book has been such a smash hit) I realized this thing kind of disturbs me.

I just don't get the warm fuzzies from the idea that my Christmas tradition is to bring a spy into the house to threaten my kids that, if they're naughty, the Elf will be reporting it to Santa, both nightly and in great detail.

And, if I'm understanding correctly, this only happens from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The other eleven months? OPEN NAUGHTY SEASON!

Maybe I'm missing something. 

11-29-11 Sleigh Ride

I've been holding off with the Christmas music on the blog, at least trying to hold out until December 1 when all bets are off.

However, today, taking Sammi to school, picking her up, and back again, we heard four different versions of Sleigh Ride, two of them back to back, on the radio.

I wondered, if you lined up every recording of Sleigh Ride, how long would it take to listen to them all (*assuming you could without going mad) without a repeat?

Now, the blog is not called Wandering for nothing. I do tend to get a crazy thought and follow it windingly until I find something else sparkly to catch my attention.

So, I looked it up.

There are 101 recorded versions, the first coming in 1949, the high point in 1959 with five different artists releasing a version, and the most recent in 2010, which begs the question, where are the 2011 Christmas albums?

Assuming an average playing time of 3.58 (from my small sample of 8 versions, the shortest being  Bing's version at 2:44 to the longest award going to Al Caiola's Sleigh Ride jazz medley at 6:17), that's 363.58 minutes of Sleigh Ride, or just over 6 hours of listening to hear them all.

ASCAP named it the most played Christmas song of 2010, despite it never mentioning the holiday once in its lyrics, exceptions being where the artist changes "birthday party" in the bridge to "Christmas party." Heathens.

annnndddd.... how did I not know Chicago recorded a version?

Make that 9 versions of Sleigh Ride in the iTunes library ;)

11-29-11 Childhood Sounds

NPR's "Sciency" Blog by Robert Krulwich ran a piece today called "What I Still Hear" that included the sound of an 8mm projector:

which, oddly enough, does ring in my memory but which I also heard just recently when Dad purchased one on eBay so we could watch and discover what was on the few reels of old home movies that had never been included in the video conversion from the 80s. One of the reels has us on our street on Kirkdale decked out for Easter in our finest (read: ugly) 70s clothing. That alone was worth the price of admission and Mom has promised to get them digitally converted soon.

And on our next trip, we're firing up the projector to watch these:

I have the most vivid memory of a bedspread hung up in my room when I must have been about 4 and Dad setting up the projector, that noisy thing that you had to wait eons for him to thread and get ready, just for it to play 2.5 minutes of film before you had to rewind and start the process over.

There was no sound. Well, except for the sound of the projector.

The Disney Mystery Film is, surprise!, a clip from Zorro. I recall he is in a bar with an upstairs balcony he's swinging from. And that's about it.  I can't wait to see it again. Same goes with Mr. Magoo. It's been 35 years since I've seen either of them.

The Disney films, of course, I got to see at the theater when they came back every 7 years, before purchasing them, first on VHS, then DVD. I haven't converted to BluRay  ... yet...

But these particular scenes are etched in my memory because of the silent shows.

The Snow White clip is of them having to wash up before dinner. I always waited with great anticipation for Dopey to fall in and spit soap bubbles. I remember loving Bambi's getting twitterpated over Filine and getting his antlers stuck in the cherry blossoms of the tree and turning so red when she licked his cheek. Monstro the Whale terrified me. But the favorite, by far, was Cinderella: her terrible stepsisters ripping at her dress, her stepmother's evil eyes, her flight into the garden where the magic appeared.

When I saw them in theaters, it was almost jarring to hear the voices and the music swelling. I knew Bippity Boppity Boo by heart because of my album (listened to endlessly) but putting them together was just sensory overload.

If you mute the speakers, imagine the projector sound and really jumpy film, it's still not the same:

11-29-11 Coffee Corner

I am nearing perfection of the coffee corner. Thanks to Dad, I now have a restaurant-quality warmer  upstairs and have taken to making a small batch for Bob unflavored that he can take to work, and then whipping up a pot for me after he's headed out that is spiced with cinnamon to sip on as I work all morning. This means I can use my wonderful Victor mugs without having a constant return to the kitchen, since they only hold about 4 ounces at a time. Like the enlarging waistlines of our era, coffee mugs have expanded over the years as well.

My only drawback now is the creamer, which is, of course, an absolute necessity. Taken out of the shot for its ugliness is the cold pack that the little creamer pitcher sits on. It's the gel pack sent home with the wisdom tooth surgery that stays cold out of the freezer for hours and is still soft, the better to squash your pitcher into, which works great but is terribly ugly. I need a tiny little "cooler plate" to match the big warmer plate and I'd be set, both coffee-ly and photogenically.

11-28-11 return of the turkey

You know that scene from A Christmas Story, but here it is again...

And, because they cut out the best line... Ralphie's older self, narrating, then says, "The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!"

Um, yeah. It was kind of like that. 

Thursday night after long naps and football, we start to look for the turkey leftovers and . . .  they.are.GONE.

Somehow with 11 people we put away a 20 pound bird without enough left over to make a single sandwich. Next year I'm bringing back-up turkey.

So we went home with nothing but a chess pie and spiced apples which, in the grand scheme of things, are really the two most important leftovers there are.

And last night, one turkey breast, a can a green beans, one sweet potato, and some stuffing later and we had ourselves a feast fit for the apples.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My Sunday Musical Interlude
Saturday, November 26, 2011

missing LOLcats

Somewhere along the way, a few of my favorite LOLcats have left the internets, at least their icanhascheeseburger home, and in order to get them onto the pinterest board, they're going to have to reside here.

11-26-11 Tree Trimming

We'd saved trimming the tree until Nick could join in. So tonight, before he headed back to school for the last stretch of a week of classes and a week of finals, we broke out the ornaments.

Sammi poses with her collection thus far: Disney, Harry Potter, and Pirates are the bulk of her choices

I had uninvited but always welcomed company for my picture, which is mainly Peanuts, Winnie the Pooh, and Larry and Bob ornaments:

Nick has one Simpsons, the rest Star Wars from his youngest days, and all football thereafter:

And Bob is super hero and Star Trek heavy:

Ta-da, let the 2011 ChristmasK season officially commence.

11-26-11 Going home

Much love to Bob and Nell for another lovely Thanksgiving.

We headed out this morning in the high wind gusts of 60 mph. For hours it was us against the wind.... and the tumbleweeds. When the land is as flat as this:

 means there is nothing to stop the blowing of those Texas tumbleweeds into your car, over and over again. They seem to aim for you intentionally.

See them all, blown into the fencing? They're just waiting for the perfect moment to break free and attack.

Once we were in New Mexico, the tumbleweeds let up and we hit the snow blowing across the road instead.

And, finally, after hours, the first glimpse of the promised land comes into view:

Ok, well, at least my promised land. Sammi can't decide whether she wants to live in Oregon or New Mexico, Nick can't wait to return to Texas, and Bob would probably prefer to live in Dumas on the wind-swept plains, or maybe the back waters of a Louisiana swamp. But, at least for a little while longer, I get everyone here still, in the land I love. 

11-25-11 Closing out the Texas Trip

Friday evening on the way to dinner, if you squinted right the clouds almost looked like mountains in the distance.  And overhead as we got out of the car a thousand ducks flew in formations and the night sky was filled with their quacking.

The food was so good that I neglected to take any pictures until the sopapillas.

After dinner, we drove around just a bit. I love the small town lights.

I remember seeing the light poles decorated in Mexia when I was a kid.

And afterwards, I took Sammi over to the Wilson's for the night and got a little Diablo love.

all in all, a great post-Thanksgiving night :)

11-25-11 Amarillo (aka Whataburger and the Cadillac Ranch)

No trip to Texas is complete without the 45 mile journey to Amarillo for Whataburger. It's the only time this year I get one, although Nick's more frequent trips to Texas keep from being quite as deprived.

After lunch, despite the rain and wind, everyone humored me with a trip to the Cadillac Ranch.

Bob Sr. booked it back to the car right after this picture. 

Bob and Nick took up some of the abandoned paint cans and left their own marks. Note the stance is an attempt to avoid the paint fly back from the high winds.

And, just because it seemed a most unusual place, here is Nick's Cadillac Tebow.

Long live Frankie and Linda.

11-25-11 Albert's

If you travel through the northernmost roads on the Texas panhandle, odds are you are going to make it through Dumas, since it's pretty much the only road out of the state around there. 

And there are a couple of things about Dumas to note: 

1. Although I cannot fathom that there is a run on hotels on the northernmost, wind-ravaged flat plains of Texas, there are TEN very new, very large hotels on the approach from Amarillo 

2. And just past those, you will find a very old looking diner called Albert's, whose parking lot is always full, and whose seats are often filled by both the locals and the truckers.

This is pay dirt.

Albert's diner decor:

The flat screen is probably the only addition in the past decade.

So, of course, the food is basic, and really good.

The special was eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits and gravy, and country ham. (Half a pig of country ham as it turned out...)

After breakfast Mom and Dad headed home for Colorado. We, however, had a date with Whataburger...