Disaster Date

Two people were standing at the edge of a parking space, looking like they had locked their keys in their car. Completely oblivious to the world, they peered inside the car window with hands cupped around their eyes as we gently pulled into our parking space.

The man finally became aware of us. He smiled as he dramatically pretended like we hit him. I rolled my window down and said, “I wasn’t sure you noticed us.”

He replied, “I noticed you. By the way, I’m John Morgan (a famous local attorney).” Of course, he wasn’t, but he was thoroughly entertained by his own comment. The woman – not so much.

At this point I’m trying to roll up my window so I can get out of my car and he is leaning inside of our car laughing. He obviously was enjoying himself more than the rest of us were. I raised my window and squeezed myself out past him while Bob quickly came to my side of the car. I thought to myself – this guy thinks he’s funny; I’ll show him funny.

“So,” I asked, “are you two breaking into this car?”

“Oh, no, no, we’re on a date,” he said.  Then he asked us how long we had been married.

“Nearly 39 years,” we answered.

That blew him away. He was so impressed that we were out on a date together after being married for such a long time. He waxed on and on about the importance of dating each other all through marriage. He pulled out his phone and showed us a picture of a couple he had just met at Publix. They were not friends. He met them and took their picture.  I guess that makes them strangers of his. He asked us to guess how long the couple in the picture had been married. (Seventy years, if you’re interested. None of us were.)

We told him that our relationship with Jesus was the thing that made our marriage successful. Then he told us about his church and warned us not to visit it or we would never like our church again – all this while chucking. The woman never said a thing, probably because it’s hard to speak when there’s never a quiet moment.

One of the Most Famous Disasters in History – The Sinking of the Titanic

Then came the kicker. He proudly announced, “This is our first date. We met on www.lookingforadatewithsomeonewholovesmeasmuchasido.yikes.”

I asked this quiet young lady if she would like us to stay with her. I told her that we have a daughter, and we would look out for her like our own daughter if necessary.

At that the man said, “Well, if this date doesn’t work out, maybe I could meet your daughter.”

After the shock wore off, I said, “Our daughter is married and has four children, but if she weren’t – no. No way whatsoever.”

If this guy had any hope of a second date, I think that went down with the ship. Maybe we should have hit him with our car. It would have spared that poor young lady a really awkward conversation. On the other hand, when she’s with her friends and they are sharing disaster date stories, I think she has a real shot at winning.

Noah

I saw the movie Noah and can’t pass up the opportunity to review it. You may be thinking – what kind of movie review can I give that would be consistent with my blog, Life on the Lighter Side? So, I have come up with a list of all the “light” moments of the movie.

Here it is:

1. Uh, let me think. There must be one somewhere.

2. No, nothing light about that.

3. Sigh…  I don’t recall any light moments.

This is not a light subject. The story is about God being grieved with the corruption and violence on the earth and His plan to use Noah to build an ark to preserve mankind and animals.  Judgment.  Redemption.

The film is based on scripture, but it is fictionalized, of course. Without a doubt, creative license is used. There are no first-hand accounts of how the ark was assembled. By now (spoiler alert) you probably know about the “rock people” that helped Noah. These creatures didn’t bother me at all. They made me think of the scripture from Luke 19. After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowd was joyfully praising God in loud voices. Some Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke his disciples. Here’s Jesus’ reply from Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I know it’s a stretch, but I couldn’t help but think that if stones would cry out praises to God, God could make them into creatures to build an ark with Noah. God is all-powerful and creative, after all. Of course, He also could have sent angels to help or He could have spoken pieces of the ark into place.  He could have given Noah the strength of ten Noahs, plus one.  He has so many options!

The part I really didn’t like about the movie was the depiction of Noah’s and God’s relationship. I wanted to see more that reflected this. Genesis 6 tells us that Noah walked with God and that makes me say, “Wow!” I do appreciate the difficulty of capturing that on film, especially by people who admittedly don’t walk with God. Of course, movie producers and directors have their own level of power, and I don’t expect any scriptural accuracy at all, but the lack in this area ruined the movie for me. Okay, ruin may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean (or do you?).

In closing, I need to tell you that Bob and I went with another couple from church to see the film.  We had differing views of it.  Bob thought the movie was terrible.  I thought it was okay if you took away the fact that it was supposed to be about Noah and pretended it was an action flick about some guy building a boat to avoid a flood. Our friend liked it and even applauded at the end.  That said, I guess you shouldn’t pre-judge what your reaction will be.

Here’s one of my favorite “theologians” telling the story of God calling Noah to build the ark.  Enjoy!

 

 

I Really Don’t Know What I’m Doing (and it doesn’t bother me too much either)

I’ve just had it confirmed that technology has left me behind. As a side note, I’m not surprised. Here are a few examples.

We have a Wii. We have this primarily because my husband and I love to play Tetris and Doctor Mario. Of course, like any self-respecting adults, we say we have it for the grandchildren. No one believes us. It’s probably because we are so darn good at those games. Bob and I frequently play World Championships of the Day to see who will be the reigning Master of Doctor Mario. I couldn’t tell you who has the title right now, not because I’m modest if I won or upset because I lost. It’s because I never remember. I should write it down. When we were younger we did keep a running tally, but now we have gone beyond those childish ways. Look how we’ve matured!

I didn't even attempt to set up this controller

It’s nice to have an uncle around to set things up.

Last weekend our grandsons who are six and seven were staying with us. I had the extreme challenge of setting up a different game for them – not only a different game but one that used a different controller. This proved too much for me. When one of my sons came home he helped me with my dilemma and delicately mentioned that the Wii is outdated technology. Ouch. The truth hurts. Another of my sons said he only has to tell his x-box to turn on and it does. That’s the kind of immediate obedience I always wanted from my kids!

Then there’s the whole TV thing. Everyone has a different cable provider or uses a satellite dish or hooks things through a gaming system. There are like nine controllers sitting around any given living room and they all mock me. I remember having to walk across the room to turn on the TV. Yes, all the way across a room! The only thing that remotely resembled a TV control for me was my little sister.

So now, I have a daughter who has no cable or dish system. She has a computer hooked up to her TV and a two-year-old daughter who hides the mouse. There is no sense in even trying to watch TV there.

As I mentioned, one of my sons has an x-box that is voice commanded. I don’t think it recognizes my voice and I am a little afraid I’ll mess the whole thing up. After the TV is on, will it tell me what to do? Actually, that would be helpful.

Another son has a dish system. He has step-by-step written instructions for me so that I can watch TV. It’s still challenging. When I was trying to turn it on for my grandsons, one of them asked me, “Do you even know how to turn the TV on?”

Well, I did it. I proved him wrong. It took me ten minutes, but I got that TV on and left it on for the remainder of my stay there. Why tempt fate?

 

I Feel Like a Princess (sort of)

I am a not-so-old, pretty princess. How’s that for self-affirmation?

This is not a sudden realization. It’s a quote from my eight-year-old granddaughter Ella. Let me back up a little.

I picked my grandchildren up from school for my daughter one day last week. Ella and her younger brother and sister were in the backseat. Mia, who is ten, was up front with me. When I have my grandkids, the pressure is always on to do something other than just go home. I decided to go through the car wash. This is literally a cheap thrill for them (and it gets my car cleaned).

Afterwards, we headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee for me and donuts for them. (All right, who am I kidding? I wanted donuts, too.) Somewhere along the way, Mia told me something she had noticed about me. Something that I would just as soon have no one notice about me. Thankfully, it was just an observation about the way I look – at this season in my life, I can deal with that.

“Well,” I explained to her, “When you get older your body does weird things.” (How is that for the understatement of the year?)

Now, Mia loves me like crazy and about this point she likely realized she was treading on shaky ground. She said, “Oh, Grandmom, you don’t look old. You look like you’re in your forties.”

With that, Ella commented, “No, she looks like she’s in her thirties!”

“Wow,” I said, “that makes me practically your mom’s big sister. That might be taking me back a little too far.”

Ella replied, “I don’t know, Grandmom, but I think you look like a not-so-old, pretty princess.”

We left it there. It doesn’t get any better than that.

And, while I’m on the subject of my grandkids, as I write this I’m at my other set of grandchildren’s house while my son and his wife are away for a few days. It’s a school day, so we were up early. My seven-year-old grandson cuddled up on the couch under a blanket and asked if he could watch a show.

“Does Mom let you watch a show before you go to school?” I asked being fairly certain of the answer.

“Well, Grandmom, you’re in charge now,” he replied. They sure learn how to work the system early!

Growing Old is not for the Faint of Heart

“When we’re old, we’ll be new friends again.” There are lots of cartoons and greeting cards that offer good-natured joking about getting old. Sudden realization: I joke about what I’m afraid of.

Bob and I were recently reminiscing with some friends of ours. Many of us are in the position of caring for elderly parents or simply having elderly parents who are still on their own but benefit from living close-by us. One particular friend (we’ll call him Danny, because that’s his name) was reminded of a memorable 40th birthday party that is now a little too close to reality for him (and us) now that he’s in his sixties.

We weren’t there, but the descriptions were quite vivid – nursing home theme, doctors in white coats, people with memory problems, a dirty-old-man in the group, food that you didn’t need to chew, wheel chairs, etc., etc. They had a great time welcoming Danny into his forties, you know, the decade right before it all goes downhill and life is over. Seriously, it was all in good fun (at least that’s what they told me, but I don’t know if I trust their memories).

photo credit: Wikipedia

Fast forward over twenty years. Now we are watching some of our parents in that same scenario only it isn’t quite so humorous. It’s reality. I have blogged about this in the past and told you how caring for Bob’s dad has challenged my sense of humor. There have been times when I have been like Darth Vader. I’ve gone over to the dark side. Those were the times that made it difficult for me to blog about Life on the Lighter Side. I thought about starting a separate blog and calling it Life on the Darker Side, but that was a little depressing. And, I didn’t want to be responsible for drawing people to the Dark Side.

Through the ups and downs I have been acutely aware that there is within me the lighter side. Yes, Young (comparatively speaking) Anderson, there is some good in you yet. I can feel it. But the good in me is not of myself. I am thankful to Jesus that he is in me. He is the light of the world and that light abides in me. That is great news. His light dispels the darkness. I know he prepares my way before me so that helps me not to be afraid of the future (or the present for that matter).

So here’s what prompted me to share this with you. This year has been one of great difficulty for Bob’s dad, who turned 91 in January. He spent a week in the hospital in January and then five weeks in a nursing care facility for rehab. He has come through this with, in our opinion, flying colors. That is why the news we received from his assisted living facility, in which he has resided for the past 2 ½ years, was so difficult. By law he had to be reassessed before going back to his home. The assessment was not positive. They denied him. The doctor over his ALF was the same doctor over his nursing home. This left us in the lurch.

He took the news with a mixture of courage and disappointment. I believe his words were, “That stinks.” It does.

That threw Bob and me into a search for a new home for him. Because his mind is pretty sharp, we didn’t want to put him in a nursing home. But, because his body and eyesight are showing the wear of his 91 years, finding an assisted living facility was going to be challenging.

The main reason for his denial at his former home was he falls a lot. We do mean a lot – he fell 22 times in the four months that ended in December. To his credit, he is an excellent faller. I guess because of all that practice. He never once hurt himself more than just a bruise or scrape. But, the main thing about ALFs is that the resident needs to be safe behind his own closed doors. We made changes for him to make him safer. We presented these to the powers-that-be. Ultimately, we cannot argue with them. We can only disagree with their decision.

Thankfully, we found a new ALF that agreed to take him in on a 30-day respite, but only for him to stay in the memory care wing. It has double the staff and would give them a chance to evaluate him before considering moving him to the other wing.

Before the big move, Bob and I took his dad back to his old ALF to say his goodbyes to his friends there. We wheeled him in to the sound of cheers from the staff. “Dale’s back!”

They were shocked to find out that he was not coming home. One by one nurses, techs, and kitchen staff came by to hug him, give him a quick back rub and say how sorry they were. They hugged us, too. I cried. We have come to love those people. They had become his family and they loved him.

Dale had a best friend there, Peter who lived across the hall. Peter’s wife died in December. Dale was encouraging him to write his memoirs. We gave Dale and Peter some time to talk. Both men were vets from WWII. Peter was in the RAF. I loved hearing his British accent and his stories were fascinating. I could see why Dale wanted him to write them down. It was a privilege to witness their friendship in action and oh so difficult to see them say goodbye.

Dale and Peter

Dale and Peter

By March 31 we will know if Dale has found a new home or if our search will continue. Meanwhile, we visit a lot and we hope. He knows what’s on the line here, and he is toeing that line with all the might that one would expect from a WWII vet.

Give Me Some Space

Personal space is a very American mental structure. Please allow me some space to explain. When I get in line to go to the movies, I’m careful not to stand too close to the person ahead of me. That space is theirs, psychologically speaking. I don’t want them to feel crowded and I appreciate the same consideration. When I go into the theater, I don’t sit directly next to anyone unless the theater is packed (no matter how much fun I think it would be to mess with a person). That buffer area is part of personal space.

The first time I went to Europe I found myself getting annoyed at how people cut in front of me while I waited in line. It was like I wasn’t even there. This happened several times before I realized that by European standards, I wasn’t in line. Being in line in Germany or France meant you could feel the breath of the person behind you on your neck. I think this is why the early explorers crossed the Atlantic. They needed some elbow room. It also could explain why four out of five Europeans where neck scarves. So now I’ve learned – a line in Europe does not have any open space. You find the end and wait up close to the person ahead of you, all the while hoping the guy behind you doesn’t let loose with a sneeze. If you want open spaces, go to Montana.

Parking spaces are another thing we Americans have over Europeans (except maybe in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Costco on the weekend). When Bob and I first visited Europe we made the rookie mistake of renting a car (a mistake we have repeated each trip). Our final day of that particular trip we were in Zürich, Switzerland. We had a few hours to see the city before catching a plane home. Bob was prepared. He printed out maps and directions so we would have them in English. The maps were easy to follow, but unfortunately they often led us to the wrong place. I can tell you from experience that there are a lot of dead-end streets in Zürich. Finally we decided to pull over and get directions, which sounds simple enough except evidently Zürich city planners don’t believe in parking spaces. We looked for one all over the city and finally found one at the airport rental car return. We parked and took the shuttle to our hotel. We’ll see Zürich another time (by bus).

Storage space seems to be another American construct. We’ve traveled through eight different countries in Europe, and I have never seen a sign advertising storage units for rent. In all fairness, though, I do not read signs well unless they are written in English – with the one exception of “degustation,” which means “wine tasting.” We stopped just about every time we saw this sign. We visited lots of vineyards, drank lots of wine, and saw no storage units.

In Orlando you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a storage unit facility (or a Starbucks). In case you are reading this and you are from Europe, a storage unit facility is a place where one rents a covered, sometimes air-conditioned space to store the things that have been purchased which don’t fit inside of your house or apartment. These things are so special that they cannot easily be parted with, yet they also cannot be tolerated in the home in which you actually live. Some brilliant person came up with this concept so that we can keep and purchase more stuff than ever thought possible, which is the American way. It also was a good use of the excessive amount of parking lots all over the city, which is why Europe will never have storage unit facilities. Of course, if you go backwards through the history of storage units you will probably end your search with the creators of the hit A&E series, Storage Wars. These guys are brilliant – talk about foresight.

Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica)

Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica)

On my recent trip to Paris I had the opportunity to challenge a woman’s personal space. We were at Montmartre, the artsy area on the highest hill that overlooks Paris. Aubyron and I stood in front of Sacre-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) taking in the view of the city and enjoying the music of a harpist who performed on the steps there. It was the kind of moment that you couldn’t adequately capture with your camera but we were compelled to try anyway. I walked around the top of the stairs shooting pictures from every angle and then came back to Aubyron who was trying to photograph the harpist. She had been attempting to get that picture for five minutes but was hampered by a woman who had put down roots on the step about four feet from the musician and directly in line between him and Aubyron. She seemed to be in her own world and content to stay in that place for the rest of the day. Aubyron was about ready to move on, sadly giving up her picture when I jumped in and said I’d take care of the situation. I left Aubyron with a puzzled look on her face, walked down the steps and stood next to the woman. Now when I say next to the woman, I mean very, very close to her. She looked at me with confusion and I smiled as I planted myself in her personal space all the while feeling a strange mix of being very American and very European.

The brunette is the woman who stood there so long.  Aubyron snapped this picture just as she started to leave.

The brunette is the woman who stood there so long. Aubyron snapped this picture of me just as she started to leave.

After a few awkward moments, Aubyron took this picture.

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A picture worth waiting for

I suppose we should have given up on the picture or just asked the woman to please move over a little, but I saw no fun in that; and I was fairly certain she wouldn’t have spoken English anyway. Quite honestly, it was an impulse. An impulse that gave us one of our favorite memories from our trip and no doubt gave that woman a funny story about the strange American that crowded her on the steps.

Stupor Bowl

When we watch a TV show from our DVR, we fast forward past the commercials. A half-hour show takes 22 minutes to watch, less if you go past the show’s opening and closing credits. It’s great.

I don’t know what we were thinking, though, when we decided to watch the Super Bowl that way. We set up to record as usual, and decided we would start the game at 6:30. Our family arrived just as the official botched the coin toss, which was one of the more interesting plays of the entire game. Then we watched the Seahawks score a safety and the Broncos collapse on the field never to be fully revived.

If that weren’t bad enough, we found ourselves faced with a dilemma – we didn’t want to fast forward past the commercials. They were the only saving grace of the night. On hind sight, we should have watched the commercials and fast forwarded past the game, but that seemed wrong.

Not quite a Seahawk, but a still a hawk

Not quite a Seahawk, but a still a hawk

Our granddaughter, Ella, who is eight, was surprisingly excited about watching the game. I never knew Ella cared about football, but she found in this game something to love. She was excited that her two favorite animals were playing – horses and birds. I think Ella will make an excellent wife one day with that kind of outlook.

So, to sum up the game, Seattle won by a lot. Denver lost its dignity. Birds beat horses. I think the Doritos Time Machine Commercial was the best.

Europe Part 7 – Fun in France, or, I’d Rather Be Called a Pig in Paris than Anywhere Else in the World

20140122-132043.jpgIf you have planned a trip to Europe, you probably have been warned of pickpockets and scammers. These warnings are appropriate. One morning as we were walking to the Musee d’Orsay, some space opened up between Aubyron and me and Bob and Joe. As Aubyron and I looked ahead we saw a woman try the ring scam on the guys. I was so jealous. I wanted to have a scam attempted on me. I felt like my Parisian experience would be incomplete without one.

I was explaining this to Aubyron when it happened. The same woman walked toward us, bent down and scooped up a gold ring which she found right in front of us. I was so excited! I did what you’re supposed to do and walked past saying a simple, “No,” without making eye contact, which is the Parisian way. My heart was racing as I checked another experience off my list.

In case you don’t know, the premise of the ring scam is that the scammer finds the ring near the scammie. She asks you if it is yours and you say it is not. The kind-hearted scammer tells you that it’s not hers either. She shows you a mark that indicates it’s gold and since it must be worth something, offers for you to take the ring and sell it. Of course, she suggests that you give her a wad of your hard-earned cash as a way of splitting this amazing find.

I found it hard to believe that anyone would actually fall for this. Doesn’t everybody read Rick Steves’ Tourist Scams and Rip-Offs in Europe? Aren’t we all suspicious of everyone nowadays?

20140122-131625.jpgHours later as we crossed a bridge and headed back home we came across this same woman. (Evidently scammers have long shifts.) I saw her pull a middle-age couple into her scheme. The wife was obviously being duped while the husband stood back trying to assess the situation. We went a little past them, and I looked over my shoulder and saw she still had them in her clutches. I made a wide U-ie and circled back gaining the husband’s attention. “Be careful. It’s a scam,” I mouthed to him and turned back to catch up with my family.

He moved in, took his wife by the arm and walked away. I experienced the same exhilaration I had that morning, which came in handy because now this woman was following us. I wasn’t afraid. She was a tiny woman and I felt like I could take her, but it still kind of gave me the willies. I wanted no part of a brouhaha while crossing the Seine.

I didn’t understand everything she said, or should I say every name she called me, but there were definite slurs mixed with words that are universally insulting. She made it clear that she was mad that I had kept her from earning money. How’s that for irony? She called me a pig and sushi, which must be more insulting in French than in English. And that unspoken French rule of no eye contact – that was out the window.

But, c’est la vie. I love Paris! The city makes you feel so alive.

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Europe Part 6 – Paris

Time to go to Paris! As I mentioned, Spain was delightful – not only the amazing scenery but the people. They seemed to have a real zest for life, which was on full display during our plane ride out of Barcelona. The back of the plane was filled with a group traveling together. They broke out in song as they took their seats. When we touched down at Charles de Gaulle Airport, the pilot announced our safe, on-time arrival. The back of the plane erupted into cheers – quite a rowdy, fun group.

We made our way through the usual airport routine, boarded the RER (France’s rapid transit system), and headed into the City of Light with our son and daughter-in-law as tour guides. In strict contrast to our plane ride, you could have heard a pin drop on the RER. This was also the case every time we rode the subway, unless a musician popped in for an impromptu concert. People don’t look at each other on the subway. The typical smile or nod of the head that is customary in Orlando is not readily observed in Paris.

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When at last I set foot on the streets of Paris, I paused to take it all in. Emotion welled up inside me. It was a little overwhelming. This city of romance, art and history has quite a reputation. I wanted to absorb the city, to remember the sights and sounds, to feel the rhythm of it all. I was in Paris. Yeah, baby!

I didn't want Paris to fly by too quickly.

I didn’t want Paris to fly by too quickly.

The first order of business was to get to Joe and Aubyron’s seventh-floor apartment. We walked for about 20 minutes along the streets of Paris, dragging our suitcases behind us. I knew what was ahead of me and I was not afraid. After all, this trip had been a walking trip. We literally walked for hours every day. I walked down the Rock of Gibraltar for goodness sake. I could handle the 124 stairs winding their way up to Joe’s apartment. I would do this. It was the moment I had trained for.

We opened the huge, green doors to a small, dark lobby. As if the staircase sensed our presence, the lights came on (either that or they were on a motion sensor). There it was looming large before my eyes. My Everest, my white whale – the oldest, windiest stairs I have ever dared climb. Up we went. I knew to pace myself. Nobody had to be a hero here. No records to break. Simply complete the climb. By the fourth flight I was feeling it. I handed my suitcase off as I feigned interest in the view from the window.

The stairs were angry that day - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli

The stairs were angry that day – like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli

With each floor the stairs grew narrower and less level. I refused to let them defeat me. I would plant my suitcase firmly in that apartment and call it home for the next week.  The way it really happened was, I planted my four-wheeled suitcase on the floor of the bedroom in the apartment and it rolled across the room.  Such is life in a Paris apartment.

The sense of achievement I felt as I entered their apartment was only equaled by the exhaustion of the climb. I did it. Now, let’s go back downstairs and see the city.

We actually went up and down those stairs three times that first day.  The motivation of seeing more of Paris was enough to get us going.  Joe took us on a walking tour of the city that gave a great overview.  We passed Notre Dame and saw the Eiffel Tower from the Seine River.  I was captivated.

Not the Arc de Triomphe, but it was beautiful

Not the Arc de Triomphe

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Locks on the Bridges are common and considered a nuisance by the city

Locks on the Bridges are common and considered a nuisance by the city

This picture captures the way people think of the locks. Bob is interested. Aubyron sees the romance of it all. Joe is disappointed that people defile the bridges.

After a long day, we head back home. Here’s the image that was in my head that night.

Good Night Eiffel Tower.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Good Night Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Au revoir!

Christmas Wrap-Up

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season. Our Christmas was wonderful. Bob’s dad, my parents and my brother were with us on Christmas Day, as were all our kids and grandkids except for our son and daughter-in-law, who are still in Paris. They did visit us by video chat. We passed them around the room on my iPad for everyone to share a few minutes together.

There were a few unusual or noteworthy things this Christmas Season.

1. We decorated the inside of the house early this year. It was complete before we left for Europe back on November 15. I did not want to return home on December 1, jetlagged and worn out, with that task ahead of me.
2. Our first weekend home, we decorated the outside of the house. We scaled back – no lights on the roof so we (meaning Bob) didn’t have to do any climbing. The mandatory outdoor decoration is my Christmas moose. He is made from grapevines and stands proudly in our front yard with his head swaying back and forth as he greets passersby. This year, however, the lights on his antlers didn’t work. In the dark it looked like a headless moose – not too Christmassy. We never got around to fixing him, but as we walked into the house the evening of Christmas Eve, we noticed he was fully lit from antlers to tail. That’s right – it was a Christ-moose miracle.

Christmas Moose

Christmas Moose

3. I saw Santa Claus shopping at Costco on December 23. Further proof that Costco has the best stuff.
4. On that same Costco trip, I was nearly run over by a man texting while driving a motorized shopping cart. Makes you wonder how he ended up needing that cart to begin with.
5. While waiting in line at the grocery store I heard the elderly woman behind me quietly singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It struck me as funny that out of so many beautiful Christmas carols, this was the one she was singing. She must be a grandmother.
6. I did a photo Christmas card, which I have never done before. One of the photos was us posing with a monkey in Gibraltar. I mainly did this for my relatives who live out-of-state and figured it would be the only card they received with a picture of a live ape surrounded by family. This checks another thing off my bucket list.

Pictured left to right - Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

Pictured left to right – Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

7. I successfully made two new recipes for our Christmas meal. This is very unlike me on both counts – trying something new and having everyone like it.
8. There is one day out of the year that I can count on Bob being totally exhausted. That day is Christmas Eve. He hits the wall around 10:00 every Christmas Eve night without fail. I typically have crazy energy on Christmas Eve and am constantly amazed that he doesn’t. I’ll be getting stockings out to stuff and putting gifts under the tree and he will be down for the count. This year, however, Bob stayed up all the way until 10:30. That may have something to do with #9.
9. The stockings were stuffed and 95 percent of the gifts were wrapped by December 23.
10. Dena’s oldest three children painted a statue of whales for Bob’s dad. Dad is almost 91 and legally blind.  He has a collection of carved animals, which he has acquired from all over the world. He was holding his gift and trying to figure out what it was. The kids told him it was two whales. He strained his eyes and asked, “Are they doing something obscene?” Another classic Grandpa quote.

On that note, I wish you a Happy New Year!

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