Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12/31/12 New Moon New Year

It's been 19 years since the New Year has coincided with a New Year.

And it's been 19 years of spending New Year's Eve with the Twilight Zone Marathon since it debuted on Sci-Fi.

Not sure what that means. 

But there it is.
Friday, December 27, 2013

12/27/2013 the darkest evening of the quincentennial

Tonight will be the darkest night in 500 years. 

Of course, it's almost new moon so the color you're going to get on the little slice of light isn't quite what they've got pictured.

In December 2010, while we were at Disney World, there was a lunar eclipse at the full moon on a totally clear night in Florida when we just happened to be staying at the Magic Kingdom until close at 3:00. This was the best shot I could get. (But consider that it's shot hand-held with just a 200mm focal length lens . . . it's not bad).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Christmas Roundup

Christmas Eve

(Sam had just said these were long enough to be booby pants.)

 Continuing the series, this year Sam drew me as classic Pooh and Piglet (her). Piglet has been tagging the walls at an unnamed but not liked high school, artistically in a Van Gogh stroked tree under the stars.

Now that Sam's both working and driving, she did all her own Christmas shopping

New hoodies for all

One of Sam's employee 50% discounts put to good use.

She also bought Bob caped Bazinga socks. Which he will wear.

 also from Sam, a new yoga mat, which I will always share with Evan

us, the dogs, and Ralphie on a quiet Christmas Eve

Cue Christmas Day at the Saltsmans

the dogs do not understand me having a ball and not throwing it

from Mom and Dad. I graduate with honors. 

Mom found Bob a pop-up book from, wait for it . . . The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Believe it or not, this is exactly what he asked for. 

And Sam's tastes ran a little more expensive: new digital art drawing tablet

Birds, and snowmen, and chocolate covered cherries for Mom

but for Dad... 

Mission Accomplished!

Let's eat.

(Note the giant jar of spiced apples strategically placed.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12/24/13 Christmas Eve Gift

Tally so far:
Nick, on his way to the bathroom and back to bed
Mom (via text. It's 2013. It counts.)
And everyone who reads my Facebook feed. 

Score! I'm sure the presents will be pouring in momentarily.

Poking around the internet, it would seem that this is a strange Southern custom, but it is, indeed, a thing.

You can click here to read people's memories/variations/locations of this game.

Mammammy played this game ruthlessly with me, her only grandchild. Perhaps the vigor and outright glee with which she routinely got me each year stems from her lack of other victims. She was particularly sneaky after I turned six and she was living with us. I might be half groggily wandering into the kitchen in search of breakfast, hair askew, rubbing the crustiness from my eyes, and there she'd be, popping out from the pantry door to my right as soon as I passed the doorway, shouting, "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!!" Then she'd have to start a load of laundry for my pee'd pajamas.

No place was safe on Christmas Eve morning. 

And I was never clever, or committed, enough to set my alarm to try and beat her at her own game. She was up before dawn all year long, and the glee of her getting me was a much better payoff than turning the tables. 

That is, all but one year

I must have been twelve or thirteen that year, on the cusp of being (read: attempting to be) too cool for my own good, but not quite there yet. For some reason that Christmas Eve morning Mammammy was distracted or preoccupied, but she wasn't lying in wait for me. I mean this quite literally. By the time I was ten, I was conditioned to creep around like a hunted animal. I could've used the mirrors-around-corners trick to move around the house on Christmas Eve morning and no one would blame me. 

Right outside my door was a laundry shoot, with a little rectangular door slot  at waist level to pop dirty clothes into, and a larger door beneath to pull them out. I'd used this little space to win countless hide and seek games when I had friends over, but I was getting pretty large for that spot now. Nevertheless, after doing my morning toothbrushing etc, and not being caught, I heard my grandmother talking in the other room and realized I had the advantage. I squashed myself into the laundry door and waited. And waited. I began to think she must've gone back into her room instead of down the hall to spy on whether I was ripe for the picking. 

But no. Christmas Eve miracle. Here she came.

I could hear her right in front of the laundry door, at my door, peeking in, so I shot my hand out the small top door to poke her and shouted "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!!!"

I'm lucky it didn't kill her.

She staggered backwards, screaming, hands in the air and then clutching her chest, the stack of towels (probably a clean load from the laundry she was putting away) flying into the air.

I'll never forget the look on her face, some slow motion mixture of shock, then fear, then dawning understanding. Seeing my face grinning from ear to ear as I was peeking through that slot probably helped.

And we both laughed until we cried. 

Good times.

This morning, as Nick emerged, I shouted "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!" at him and he just looked at me puzzled and maybe slightly alarmed. 

Sorry, mammammy. I have failed you. This may be a tradition that fades into the sunset with us.

Apparently, getting misty and nostalgic is a thing I do on the blog every year. A few favorite posts from years past:

2011 Childhood Christmases Past

2012 I got even more carried away and started posting old Christmas stuff year by year in a countdown to Christmas. 
1974 and 1974
etc, just search AMOOXP top right for the rest!

Monday, December 23, 2013
how is Christmas Eve tomorrow??
Friday, December 20, 2013

12/20/2013 Winter Solstice Blessings

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

© Jan L. Richardson
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Robert Frost Revealed

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom. 

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

12/19 December, you've always been a problem child

The afternoon has settled long and heavy on my shoulders
The winter's light feels different on my skin
It doesn't seem to strike as far below the surface so
I have to conclude that shadow won't let it in...
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

summoning Christmas cheer

I'm not in the most Christmas-y mood these days. Between the compressed time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and travel, and company, and curtailing most Christmas shopping in lieu of the Disney trip, and very cold weekends in between, its been late and little in the Christmas Cheer department around here. There's plenty going on in the background that isn't worth mentioning, too, but suffice to say, I wasn't feeling it. 

Yesterday, I stared at the half-dead pre-lit tree in my loft, giant chunks of it no longer lighting, and no ornaments. The plan was to wait until Nick got home (Saturday) and decorate together, but then the lights started going out. Literally and metaphorically. And everyone was busy. And here it sat. Sigh.

So last night, my family did their part to get me back on the Christmas track.

First, there was the baking, which I was half-heartedly pulling out the ingredients for, just because I refused to have a Christmas where there were no Snickerdoodles. 

And then Nick insisted on putting on the Bat cowl and doing it with me.

The Dark Knight is not exactly known for his jolliness, but Nick as the Dark Knight is pretty hysterical.

He snapchatted several hilarious clips, but of course I can't have them because they're snapchatted instead of recorded. You'll have to take my word for it, watching him talk in his Bat voice about finding the eggs (of Justice) and beating the batter and rolling out cookies, "This one's for Alfred. And this one's for Robin.  . .  And the Joker doesn't get any!!" got us all giggling.

A few pictures of Baking with the Batman for posterity have been saved.

Nick insisted Bob put on the '66 cowl to start, but that didn't last long.

Nick, however, was committed to making those cookies.

He's serious about his Cream of Tartar

Afterwards, we strung up lots of extra lights around the dying tree and pulled out all the ornaments and a whole lot of silly.

the parts of my heart that walk around outside my body

Got lights on the house this weekend, scaled back and simple, but still pretty (and blue!)

and even Katy says, "God bless us, everyone."

12/17/13 Full Moonset

oh, for a sharper lens...


the set effect (it jumps around a bit because I can't stand still)