A plus

I don't know how to spell the sound effect that goes with this posting, but imagine choirs of angels and ascension to heaven... because that is how I feel.

I tinkered with my Christmas toy, (the not-so-fun part of installing drivers and getting the hardware and software communicating, calibrating settings, testing, etc.) And finally, I made my first "cut" -- this letter "A." I needed an 'a' for this page I just made prior to getting the cutter. (The rest of the word "april" is cut by hand, the time consuming way.)



My big Christmas gift arrived today.
I am on page 22 of the user manual, and forgot to eat two meals. I don't think that has ever happened before. (Either thing.)


merry craftsmas

Our cats' favorite holiday is coming to a close. They love climbing the tree and batting the glass ornaments off the branches, unwrapping the presents with their claws, climbing into empty boxes, and chasing scraps of crumpled paper around the house. (Here is a picture of Kazi trying to look innocent.)

I made everything mostly from scratch... even clumpless gravy from the ham drippings! The gravy was surprisingly good with a sweet touch from the honey glaze. I made most preparations in advance so that it all threw together in about 1/2 hour. Everything was as delicious as it was beautiful. A major accomplishment. (I even crafted the centerpiece.) I'm kind of proud of myself here, and not abashed about it at all.
This little John Deer tractor is one of the new ornaments we got to start our emphasis on the tree being a story of our lives. It reminded me of trips to look at tractor stuff with my dad when I was little.

Above: Mark with some of his movie-buff booty... second only to his love affair with books.

Above: Another new ornament that speaks to the special relationship we have with our kitties... how much they mean to us, and how we love and pamper them.



Mark and I went to AZ for quick holiday hello. I helped decorate the family tree - I wanted to hear the back story on each ornament... we found an old photo of the tree in the early 1970's and tried so see how many ornaments from the picture were still on the tree.

And one of my favorites - we watched old 8mm family videos - Mark repeatedly falling on his 18-mo-old face trying to run downhill... and skating a half-pipe when he was 11... (a reel we thought was lost.) Pretty amazing.



In a rare moment, I must confess that I am REALLY a big fan of the T.V. show "LOST."

At first, it was a guilty pleasure that I would try to conceal... like my mail order catalog fetish, or my love of soft socks and patterned paper.

But, I have been watching season 3 on DVD - and have noticed something new. This show is not just a pithy soap opera. It has deep and meaningful subtext, philosophical parody and satire. And the characters are far from generic stereotypes.

Check out the wiki if you don't believe me. I particularly enjoyed the list of character references (many names are pulled from famous thinkers during an 18th century battle of ideas: free will/social democracy ergo American Revolution vs. Calvinists pushing for social morality/Socialism & Royal Decree - as well as other fine moments of revolutionary thought.) Very Shakespearan - with the difficulty in pinpointing which group are the savages...

And I never really noticed show much literature is mentioned. (Or that it is always Sawyer reading whatever he can get his hands on.)

Thank you, TV land, for making one good show. If only you could figure out how to reproduce it.


2 years

I took Friday off and we went to Sea World for our anniversary. It was a very nice to have the whole day and just play.

This all white Beluga Whale was one of our favorites. So large and graceful, I could have watched this one swim all day.

I petted the sting rays and touched a starfish and some kind of plant grabbed my finger and suctioned it. I also threw slimy fish at the seal.

We were one of the first people there and had a few minutes alone with Baby Shamu. It was very cool, because it seemed like she was playing with us.
The shark walkway, penguin habitat, and eel cavern were other faves.
Much fun.



My friend asked me to help her make a scrapbook for a Christmas gift... so the past few days, we have been churning out an elegant little book.

Nancy is a prodigy. Here are a few of her layouts. Keep in mind, this is the first time she has ever done this. I'm jealous of her gift.

Here are a few of the ones I made. I love that Nancy's taste pushes me to streamline my layouts into simple and clean.




family tree

I was going to respond to McKay's question in a comment, but I really had meant to say more about our tree. I think I got interrupted and just posted quickly in order to do something else without completing my thought.

As I was saying, we decided that this will be our last "pretty" tree... because we got in a conversation about the trees we had growing up and how each ornament had a story attached to it. As a collective, the tree held the family history. "This one was from that time we went to Yellowstone," or "I made this when I was in the third grade."

... and while my tree is lovely... it doesn't have our story. We decided that from now on, we will collect ornaments on our travels and during our life that mean something... and our tree will be an eclectic collection of our stories... it will be colorful and imaginative. But it won't be a Macy's Tree.

I think it will probably still be just as pretty, just in the sense that we think our life together is beautiful.

As a first ornament toward our story, I want to buy a melting clock to commemorate our trip to see the special Salvadore Dali exhibit at the local museum.



This holiday, Mark and I decided to intentionally consider what traditions we want to have in our holiday home. We agreed that this will be my last attempt at an "Aunt Reta / Martha Stewart" tree.

We will have tamales on Christmas Eve (McCowen standard), Orange Sticks (Dad's C's legacy) and an orange at the toe of the sock (Mom C's legacy), and a ham dinner Christmas Day. (Even though this year it will just be dinner for two.)

What are some of your traditions?