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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.

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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’.
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.

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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

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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.

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I was calmly reading a review of what seemed like an interesting book, The Fear Factor, about the abnormal lack of empathy that characterizes some humans, so that they have no compunction causing pain and terror to their fellow beings. The author, Abigail Marsh, a psychologist and neuroscientist, goes into the subject and has an interesting thesis to offer. However, she then opens up into a more general discussion of human behavior, and I was charmed by the following quote:

"Describing the extraordinary evolutionary change that enabled mammalian mothers to feed their young with milk, she writes: “Imagine if you one day discovered that you could shoot hamburgers out of your armpits at will. That’s basically how incredible lactation is.”

HAHAhaha! That certainly livened up my morning commute! I kept my arms firmly DOWN at my sides, in case any errant hamburgers might be squirting out.

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Burglar, banker, father

My father loved the poems of Emily Dickinson; quoted them often, so that those poems are twined in the hearts of his children. One of them was in my mind yesterday.

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!

The mother of a close friend of mine died recently, and it was a sad bad time for her. For me too, not that I knew her mother so well, but that she was a part of my life, as the parents of your friends often are.
In the midst of life we are in death.
But in the midst of death we are in life!
Yesterday I got two joyful messages from two friends–both new grandparents, both so happy to welcome this new soul to the world. These two new humans were born on opposite sides of the Atlantic, both are hale and hearty, and both bring such happiness to their families.

Welcome, little ones! And farewell to the woman who had lived on this floating world for so long, almost a hundred years.

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