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So said Scrooge, but as we know, he was persuaded to change his mind.
I own that the prospect of this mighty holiday–looming like one of those gigantic inflatable Santas over poor shrinking December–is always somewhat daunting. But one bravely perseveres!

SPEAKING of giant inflatable figures, one of my more exuberant neighbors has placed not one–not two–but FIVE of these festive items in his front yard. There is a Jovial Polar Bear, a Genial Snowman, a Cheery Santa, a Frisky Reindeer, a…uh, memory fails me…oh yes, A Festive Tree. With Colorful Presents under it! So there they are, lined up in military precision by the front porch, bestowing their celebratory beneficence on passers by, and enlivening my walk to the bus stop.

Thus inspired, I ​succumbed to the shameful allure of a ridiculous holiday trinket: Star Night Laser Shower Christmas Lights. This device, placed in the front yard and plugged into an electric outlet, will play an array of glittering lights over the house–ludicrous to one’s good sense but ineffably charming to the eye. The eye which, the instructions ominously warn, must NEVER be directly aimed into the beam of the laser –which beam must moreover, NEVER be aimed at the sky in case of blinding the pilot of an incoming airplane! Nothing ruins a festive holiday evening like a huge plane crash with hundreds of people dead, so I am very careful not to point the device at the sky.
And now, a pleasant perusal of holiday baking recipes! With eyes undimmed (as yet) by magical laser lights.

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I know many of us–well, some of us–well, a few of us–are eagerly anticipating The Last Jedi (#8 in the Star Wars Saga)! I have recently learned that it is A THING for eminent personalities to don the white helmet and march in step with the storm troopers–and among the throng will be none other than Princes William and Harry!

​Perhaps THAT will change your mind about being such a pointy-headed snooty snob on the topic? NO? Me neither.

Housekeeping

Ever striving to be a responsible householder, I decided I MUST have an attic fan, to keep the attic from overheating. WRONG said Google–why, that would be blowing all your expensive cooling and heating out the window. No, what I needed, I discovered, was INSULATION: just like putting a cozy hat on my house, keeping all that warmth and coolth inside.
NOT, as it turned out, an inexpensive undertaking.
Quite the reverse, as it turned out.
However, I bravely engaged to do my bit in saving our precious fossil fuels, and stayed home on Wednesday to welcome the enterprising insulators. But then, a setback–what did I want done with the stuff stored in the attic? ‘Oh, it’s just a few empty boxes’, said I airily–‘please to pile them in my bedroom and I shall throw them out’.
HOW WRONG I WAS.
When I ventured upstairs, I was horrified to find a MOUNTAIN of boxes, piled floor to ceiling in my bedroom. Not just boxes either–also in the heap, a trunk (neatly labeled with the previous owner’s name), a rusty bike rack, old chairs, dingy milk crates, framed pictures of surpassing ugliness….

​I could not possibly transport all this debris. Nor would the county’s bold garbageurs agree to take it all. ​
Comrades, I called a hauling company as soon as the insulators had left!
And then sat down to do a little job which my boss had suddenly demanded. BOTH computers failed for various reasons, and a little job that should have taken a few minutes took and hour and a half. But did I complain? Well, yes of course I did.
At which point, the hauling truck and 2 beefy young men arrived. Clumping upstairs to view the Vast Heap of Shame, they were appropriately awed by its immensity, and gave me to understand that having lunched previous to coming, they felt they had the strength to tackle the job. The one youth modestly confided that he had eaten a dozen boiled eggs as his first course, followed by an entree of chicken (in a balsamic sauce). The other admitted to a mere foot-long Subway sandwich–and gravely added that he had counseled his colleague to mention the eggs, as explanation of any subsequent vomiting that might occur.

What innocent lambs they were, I thought–sounding more like boys of 10 than men of 20. However, they managed to cart away everything, I wrote them a HUGE check, and the house and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then I went off to my dentist appointment, where the dentist was so pleased to have an opportunity to try out his new diabolic teeth cleaning device, the one that shoots out needles of piercing spray at great force.
When I came home, I found I had no energy left to do anything else.
So tiring, this housekeeping business.

Discussing the weather

The animals were gone, the skies were empty of life, the waters were poisoned, and where paradise had once beckoned now desolation ruled, and it was all by our own righteous will. ‘The last pair of politicians fell with hands around each other’s throat, trailed by frantic toadies and professional apologists looking for a way out, though none existed, and soon they too choked on their own shit. ‘As for us, well, we leaned our bloodied pikes against the plinth of the toppled monument facing those broad steps, sat down in the wreckage, and discussed the weather.’

From The Crippled God, by Steven Erikson

Returning to work after a charming Thanksgiving break, I find that we are approaching the end of 2017–LORDIE! What happened? How could one year fly by so quickly?

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: I’m sure we have all added a goodly score to burnish our fabulous resumes over the year! I for one have not only become expert in hose-mending and crib assembling, but also can now triumphantly identify which circuit breaker on my antique electric service panel controls the oh-so-temperamental stove! A learning process which involved switching the wrong breaker first–and doing this, shamingly, many times– thus bringing the entire house electronic system to its knees. Which leads to another shining accomplishment: rebooting all the electronics! I am VERY expert in that now.

A follow-up discovery that I have made is that whatever little task you decide to do–whether replacing a malfunctioning device or mending a sweater–there will always be an unforeseen task that must be completed first without which you cannot proceed–and usually, it involves a trip to the hardware store, thus ensuring that hours will be spent on a task which one had lightly assumed would be done before lunch.

And as we enter the festive holiday season, let me remind you about a VERY Important Seasonal Accomplishment: Wise Storage of Christmas Lights. It’s no use blaming the eggnog, the raucous children, your latest video game–this task must be done well, or there will be tears and vituperation next year. A trip to the hardware store for the appropriate storage devices is usually necessary.

Names

​​
I am drawing towards the end of the horrifying and addictive series that has had me transfixed for months now–and how I dread that moment, hearing the narrator say, “The End. You have been listening to…”

This author, Steven Erikson, has a way with names–during the stories we meet hundreds of characters, with such fine names as Whisky Jack, Dujek Onearm, Icarium, Anomander Rake, Karsa Orlong, Toc the Younger–all with​ ​
complex ​histories and family; is it any wonder there are so many of the books, with each one going into such detail, such stories.

So in this last book (Book TEN, if you can believe it) we come to the final last battle, Armageddon as it might be, and the valiant Brys Beddict is ​battling Brother Diligence, a Forkrul Assail​ ​(=​ ​terrible non-​​human creatures​ ​who can enslave humans by using their voices)​. ​But Brys has within him hundreds of names, the names of forgotten gods, whom he had promised to honor by remembering. And he confronts the monstrous creature and speaks the complicated ancient names of the lost gods: …

‘”Saeden Thar, Lord Protector of Semii, Haravathan of the River People, Y’thyn Dra the Mountain of Eyes, Woman of Sky above the Erestitidan, Blessed Haylar Twin-Horns of the Elananas, Horastal Neh Eru SunBearer and Giver of Crops in the Valley of the Sanathal, Itkovas Lord of Terror among the K’ollass K’Chain Che’Malle of Ethilas Nest…’ And the names rose unending, flowing through Brys Beddict’s mind, one after another. ‘Tra Thelor of the Twin Rivers, Sower of Spring among the Grallan. Adast Face of the Moon among the Korsone…’ All the forgotten gods…” ​ ​

Brother Diligence​ ​is overwhelmed, overthrown.

Mr. Erikson was an archeologist and anthropologist before he turned fictioneer, and he studied many a lost civilization whose gods died with them.​ There are many elegiac moments in the books,​ ​steeped in sorrowful remembrance of things past.

 

Cultural Event

I’m sure you are all familiar with college theater, which can be surprisingly good–and of course, surprisingly horrid–but which is always available, and very grateful to the wallet. I just attended such a show–of the surprisingly good variety–and during the perhaps a TEENSY BIT long fund-raising spiel that preceded the show, the worthy dean mentioned that tickets for the show cost less than parking at the Kennedy Center. Well of course, MOST things cost less than parking at the K Center, but still, I see his point.

The show was at the Hartke Theater, of Catholic University, where my parents used to take us back in the stone age–they were ever on the lookout for thrifty ways of introducing their children to culture. For more expensive shows, they chose one amongst us on a rotating basis. (I will never forget that black day when the grim chore of child sacrifice to culture fell on me and I experienced Handel’s Messiah for the first time. A quick perusal of the text had fostered the comforting illusion of brevity—HA! A vile trick! I was outraged to discover that having once sung whatever it was–they went and SANG IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Hours and hours passed by. The infant Hope fumed.)

So now, some 60 years later, my kindly nephew and his family invited me to see the Hartke Theater’s boffo version of Kiss Me Kate, that grand show. I had seen it at the Shakespeare Theater a couple years ago, and this show was actually more fun, if of course less professional. Fine singing, good sets, and if some of the costumes were heinous, I have seen worse. (Though perhaps not MUCH worse than the fairly ghastly attempt at a cod-piece which possibly was meant to be humorous but which covered the groin like a frontal diaper. Spare my blushes, Catholic University!) However, nothing could be more garish than the costumes of the original production.

One of the songs has aged badly, alas, and is something of a trial for modern audiences-gamely performed by the charming young singers, but they must have had inward misgivings:

I’m a maid who would marry
And will take double-quick
Any Tom, Dick or Harry,
Any Tom, Harry or Dick.
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick!

Which brought to mind a VERY NAUGHTY SONG by Frank Zappa which I will not sully these pages by quoting but will just add a teensy link. I always liked Frank Zappa–what might he have accomplished if he hadn’t died so young!

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