Oh Look, 2017!

It is 2017. I’m going to have to get used to that. 2016 is gone.

For part of my job, I work with text that will be sent out a month or two in the future. (Sometimes more than that.) As a result I’ve been using the numbers “2017” for a few months now. But having the actual year here is something else. It’s supposed to be 2017 in the future, not now. But it is now.

Since it’s the future, are we supposed to have flying cars and hover boards? We have “hover boards,” but they don’t actually hover. And cars may fly down the highway, but we sure don’t have flying cars. In fact, car technology hasn’t changed much in decades. Look at computers and phones. Big changes. Cars not so much. There are better computers in cars now, though, so I guess that’s something.

The holidays were busy here, and then just in time for Christmas I got sick. I’m not sure if it was a cold or the flu, but I had a fever one of the days so, maybe flu? I felt completely yucky.

I planned to blog and do many other things, but then all of a sudden I felt like doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and occasionally groaning about how terrible I felt. I felt bad for my family as plans got changed, and I became less fun and more blobby and possibly smelly too.

I’m feeling better now which is a good thing for all of us, I’m just a little bummed because it’s already 2017 and there were things I wanted to get done in 2016 that are still undone. 2016 is gone. I kind of want a do-over, but no not really. New year. New goals.

But a recap of the last bits of 2016:

We got a cute, fresh-cut tree. No artificial tree for us this year. But I nearly threw our beautiful little tree off the balcony as I tried to saw a bit off the trunk to keep it fresher. It was a challenge. I don’t think I used the right tool for the job. I tried to use a tiny saw that’s supposed to be used for PVC plumbing pipes. I should have asked for help, but at that point I was determined. I would not let that tree defeat me. I would do it myself. I finally got the job done, then asked Dave and Sara to help me get the tree into the tree stand. (I was short on patience at that point, and our metal tree stand is kind of a pain.) We got it all done, and we love our tree.

Tree trunk

Tree

I caught our squash-eating, balcony-visiting squirrel actually on our balcony. He’s a chubby little (not so little) critter. His girth is no surprise after all the pumpkin he ate.

After spotting me, Mr. Squirrel fled to the nearby tree which allowed me to see how exactly he’d been getting on the balcony in the first place. He was using one of the thin branches as a sort of bridge from the larger tree branches to our balcony railing.

So I trimmed that skinny little branch off the tree. (The saw was handy from the Christmas tree.)

Chubby Mr. Squirrel post-escape.

Now, I feel a little bad about sawing off Mr. Squirrel’s bridge. I hope he doesn’t run across it like it’s still in tact and then meet with an unfortunate accident when the former bridge ends before it gets to our balcony. I didn’t want to hurt him, just discourage his marauding… I’m going to assume he’s okay. Squirrels are smart, right?

For the first year since she was two years old, my daughter did not sit with Santa at the mall and get her photo taken. I’m a little sad about this. That little girl is gone. She’s a teenager now, so I can understand it’s probably not cool to do the Santa thing these days (especially since it ended up on TV last year).

Plus, I swear they gouge us more for photos every year. This year there’s a single package deal, and it costs $40 dollars. This seems excessive especially when I’d practically have to force my daughter to sit on a strange man’s lap to get the photos taken.  (Oh. That sounds bad. And, yes, she could have sat on the chair next to him. We did that one or two of the years.)

Anyway, it is still tradition and Santa. So in order to make myself feel better about the end of this chapter of our life for now, I took us to the mall to look at Santa. (That way my daughter could still change her mind too.)

When we got there Santa was on dinner break. So we shopped a little (or tried to) and then stood around waiting for Santa to get back. We were like Santa groupies waiting by the entrance. (Maybe not so much “we” as me.)

I wanted to see Santa and say “hi.” After 12 years of pictures with him he should know us, right? He should know us from all the other zillions of people who visit him, right? (Okay, no.) But he’s Santa. He knows when we are sleeping. He knows when we’re awake. He knows when we are at the mall, for goodness sake?

My daughter was much more logical about it. We saw Santa. She was done.

Deep down inside I really wanted one last photo of my daughter with Santa at the mall, but I didn’t want to wait in a line or take up any of Santa’s time or pay the $40 for a small pack of photos.

So while Santa was on the first floor, I guided us to the second floor where there was a nice view of Santa. (The second floor was also handy because then Santa’s security team was much less likely to see us.) I wasn’t really sure if we were allowed to take our own photos of Santa, but that’s just what I wanted. It seemed to solve a couple of problems, so I went for it.

I was able to take a photo of each of us with Santa in the background. Santa didn’t know I was taking a photo of him with us. (Or did he?). Does this seal my fate as a Santa groupie or worse yet, a Santa stalker?

To be fair, Santa is so far away in the photos that we can barely get away with saying it’s a photo of us with Santa. He’s tiny. He’s like the size of an earring. Here I am with my earring-sized Santa in the background. I will not further embarrass my daughter by posting the photo of her. She’s sweet for putting up with me.

Me and tiny Santa.

So next year, maybe we’ll just cut to the chase and take photos of ourselves wearing actual Santa earrings. That’s probably a better idea. I’m sure security won’t mind. I’m pretty sure my daughter will like this plan a lot better too.

Also at the mall, we spotted this lovely ensemble. I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be. Are real women supposed to wear this? Women who have cold hands? Women who want to hatch ostrich eggs in their pockets? The greens behind her head just add to the strangeness. Hopefully, this is one of the things that will be left behind as we move forward into 2017.

Mystery outfit with small child hovering in the background (top right). Huh, maybe we do have hover boards now.

Just before the new year, we went to see Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie. In the past, I’ve often been one of those midnight/opening night moviegoers for Star Wars movies, so waiting was foreign to me.

Since we already waited to see the movie, we aimed for the early showing, so we could get a discount rate. We showed up on time and everything.

Then we waited and waited for the movie to start. Finally, about a half hour after the movie should have started, a theater employee told us that they wouldn’t be able to show our movie that morning. So then we had to wait at the service desk to get refunds or tickets to another showing that same day. It could have been sucky, but …

We really wanted to see the movie that morning if at all possible. We’d already purchased popcorn and the overpriced-oversized beverage to match.

It ended up working out well because we got tickets to the very next showing which happened to be 3D. And on top of it, we got free passes to an additional movie for our trouble. I can’t complain about how that worked out.

We even liked the movie! There are some fun nods to other Star Wars movies (blue milk, Obi-Wan, and more). It shed a new light on Star Wars: A New Hope. It was a tiny bit long, but overall moved along well, and all three of us enjoyed it.

I’m hoping for more experiences like this in 2017 — movies, time with family, blogging, writing, and so much more. (Maybe less Santa.)

Have a happy 2017!

 

I’ll also add that this can be for WordPress, Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Gone.

 

And copyright 2017 Deb L Kapke.

The Snowy Village Saga

I once saw a snowy village of epic proportions.

By snowy village I mean a set of decorative miniature Christmas houses made of porcelain and resin arranged into little (or large) towns. You can see these houses in stores this time of year. The brand I see most often is Lemax.

The quaint little houses are embellished with wreaths and holiday lights — all set aglow by a small light bulb nestled inside. There are wee trees and playful accessories like animals, sledders, snowmen, ice skaters, and boutiques to help bring the village to life.

One day (many years ago) a woman, who was a client of the company I worked for, invited our company to her home to see her snowy village in its full glory.

Prior to our visit, we’d heard of the snowy village through the grapevine.

The woman often named a house in the little town for somebody she knew. She tried to tie the little structures to friends or family members. A red house was named for someone who had a red house in real life. Flowers and extra plants for somebody who gardened.

The houses were set up on little streets in little rows. There was a forest section and a graveyard section.

It had been an honor, a statement of fondness and loyalty, to have your “own” house in her snowy village.

One day, as legend goes, an employee left her company on not-so-great terms. So his “house” was yanked from the happy little rows of homes in her snowy village. His privileges had been revoked.

Rumors of the snowy village, and its rules, had spread and there was talk and pretty soon everybody had heard of the snowy village (and what could happen to your house).

One day we were treated to a field trip to see the village up-close and personal.

The ostentatious snowy village covered three banquet tables in her expansive kitchen. The village alone had more square footage than my entire real-life kitchen has today.

There were raised, snowy hills with skiers. There were landscapes and moving parts that came alive with the push of a button.

While I had no interest in having my own Christmas village at the time, it was fun and entertaining (in multiple ways) to see the make-believe town with all its joy (and missing houses). It was a bit of an oddity, but the idea grew on me (of villages, not yanking houses).

With the passing of years, I could see appeal in setting up our own, much smaller, Christmas village.

We can make a scene in a happy little town where I never need to vacuum the floor, empty the trash, or do the laundry to have it look pristine and well-kept. I can decorate an entire house with holiday trimmings by simply removing it from its box and plugging it in.

We do not name any parts or buildings after anybody in particular. But we like things that we can related to —a reminder of something we’ve done in the past.

Our newest addition is a mini Christmas tree sales lot. It reminds us of purchasing fresh-cut trees, and the time my daughter volunteered at a tree lot. We get a splash of instant holiday joy.

This week, I discovered that I can buy Lemax brand village items for a lot less.

Lemax products are often clever, but the paint is not the highest quality. It varies a lot (sometimes the little people have lopsided eyes). Most of the figures are resin, not porcelain. And I think all the pieces are made in China. So they shouldn’t be expensive, but prices have climbed over the years.

Our local Michaels craft store had been our go-to shop to see Lemax Christmas (or even Halloween) Villages. There are several Michaels stores nearby. But we’d limit buying to times there was a good sale or we had a good coupon (or those rare times when it’s possible to use a coupon on a sale-price item).

This week I saw that both Sears and Kmart carry Lemax. These stores aren’t as close to home, but their everyday prices are often less than Michaels sale prices.

Take the new Snow Angels figures for example. At Michaels they are $13.99. With the usual 40%-off, sale price that becomes $8.40. With a coupon and a sale price, on a very few days I might be able to squeeze that down to $5.60. At Sears the same item is a regular price of $6.99, and the Sears website currently lists them on sale for $3.49. Michaels, I’m disappointed in you!

Somehow, I feel much more holiday joy gazing at Snow Angels that cost $3.49. I think I’ll use our own full-size Sears and Kmart shops for future little Christmas village purchases. Maybe, I’ll yank the Michaels village store out of our options for now.

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt was Ostentatious.

This blog post is also for NaBloPoMo, Day 19.

It Would Be Mythical

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Mythical.

A few months ago I could have gazed to the future and fancied that one day, one glorious day, the Daily Prompt would be mythical. 

I knew today was different when I awoke. My head felt …. 

And so this sunny November day — it is the day of the mythical prompt. 

And it is a Friday which makes it even better. 

I have a sniffle and I ate too much yesterday, but I won’t let that stop me from making use of this mythical opportunity. This won’t be the last. 

Daily Prompt: No, Thank You. Dangerous Ice Cream.

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is No, Thank You.

It asks: If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

There are lots of words I wouldn’t mind hearing, or seeing, less often.

Some people use the same expression over and over. At one point, when I was a kid I said “super” to everything I liked. Now I tend to say “cool” or “awesome” — twice the variety!

Books sometimes repeat the same phrase or words over and over.  

Spoken or in print, I cringe at too much swearing. Though it works well for some characters and stories. But in many cases if every other word is a swear then the words lose some of their power for when you might really need a good swear word. Like if you’e having an unusually sucky day or slam your finger in your car door.

If I’m super mad, I feel better with a good swear word or two. Sometimes three. It doesn’t happen often. I think it would lose some of it’s therapeutic benefit if I swore all the time.

Let’s say I had a friend named Polly and every day she says, “Where’s the fu***** ice cream?” If she says it again today then I would assume things are good with her. 

But if Polly almost never swears until just now when she comes in where I’m about to dig-in to two scoops of rocky road and says, “Where’s the fu***** ice cream?” Then I’m going to have a pretty good idea that either Polly had one spectacularly sucky day or that there’s something very wrong with the ice cream and we must dispose of it immediately before it injures someone.

I don’t like too much repetition of any word or words — particularly swear or cuss words. But I wouldn’t ban any of them. It would sensor expression. It’s akin to book burning.  

Even the worst of swears might save someone from a batch of dangerous ice cream.

Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster Time

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for August 22 is, Green-Eyed Monster

It asks: Tell us about the last time you were really, truly jealous of someone. Did you act on it? Did it hurt your relationship? 

I’m sure I’ve been plenty jealous of a person recently enough, but I can’t think of anybody very specific. At this point of my life, I find that I’m more jealous of situations and circumstances than of specific people.

For example, I’m pretty jealous of people who have lots of free time. I’m jealous of people who travel cool places. I’m jealous of people with larger homes and places to grown things. I’m jealous of people who are good at keeping their homes clean and organized. Sometimes my daughter has a hard time focusing, and takes forever to get homework done. I mean a long time. So I’m pretty jealous of people who don’t have to deal with this very often. I’m jealous of people who are more organized than I am.

In a way it all comes down to time. I’m jealous of people with more time and who use their time better than I do. I wish I used my time more effectively.  I can often look back and think, “Wow, I could have done that so much better if only I did xyz back then.” It’s like I can see it clearly when I look back, but when I look forward my organizational skills can get kind of mushy. So do I act on my jealousy? Maybe. I am acting by striving to use my time better. I’m striving for efficiency. I’m striving for a better here and now. That’s good for all of us.

Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for August 21 is: Red Pill, Blue Pill

It asks: If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

If I had to make this choice permanently, I would never give up food. But if I could choose this as an option for certain times of the year or even just certain times of the day then I totally would.

I’ve come close enough to giving up food on the days that I drink meal replacement shakes. Some days are so busy. I still want good nutrition. I feel a lot better when I get something healthy in me. I drink meal replacement shakes and sometimes eat protein bars for breakfast or lunch. That happened a lot this summer and last. So a pill would be helpful when I’m short on time.

But drinking meal replacement shakes has made me realize that there comes a time when I just miss chewing. It doesn’t even have to be a steak or a gourmet meal — just chewing something. It could be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Chewing is part of the satisfaction of eating. And when I do eat a really good meal, oh my god, that can be heavenly! It feels like holding my breath, and finally getting to breathe again. The flavors are elevated over and above what I’d experience if I’d been eating regular food all the time.

I can only imagine meal replacement pills would be similar. I definitely don’t drink meal replacement shakes to relish their flavor or texture. Some of them are just not pleasant. A simple pill and a glass of water would bypass that and be quicker too. But I’d never want to do it all the time.

High Noon, Bye Noon

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for April 5 is: High Noon. It suggests, “at noon today, take a pause in what you’re doing or thinking about. Make a note of it, and write a post about it later.”      

Noon of any weekday I’m usually at work. While this prompt came out on a Sunday, Easter Sunday, I didn’t see it until Monday morning when I decided to check out the Daily Prompt with the hope of re-starting a regular habit of blogging. 

So at noon, I thought, “here it is – noon.” This is the time of day when thoughts of lunch pop into my head. I don’t actually eat lunch yet though. In Westerns it would be time for a showdown, a suspenseful gunfight. Skill and speed. One man left standing. Thinking of lunch seems pretty darn pedestrian in comparison. Will I need to watch out for that sandwich! How fast can I down that salad? Those potato chips can be sharp! And then the clock moves on to 12:01.

Upturned Noses and Glasses and Buns

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Upturned Noses which asks:

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

I like to try a lot of different foods, so maybe I’m snobbish about that. I don’t quite understand people who refuse to try something new. “What do you mean you won’t try the eel scaloppine with fried mealworms in peanut butter sauce?”

I can probably be snobbish about tea and maybe mead and some kinds of food. Except that, really, I’ll still drink or enjoy just about any kind.

I adore good tea — perfect jasmine green infused with the scent of actual blossoms, not just added flavoring. That’s snobbery talk right there. A Greener oolong that has matured into a delicate floral or a darker robust oolong from Taiwan. Yum! New Darjeeling you think is great? I’ll try that too.

I like a good basic mead — Chaucer’s the kind we can get at our local Renaissance Festival and elsewhere is certainly enjoyable. Fox Hill Special Reserve which is made with a darker honey has a bit of bitterness and a lot of depth. Some Redstone Mountain Mead can be impressive too. It’s real mead made in small batches — some can be bitter and some wonderful. They even date the batches, so you’ll want to get more of the same date if you like a batch. That’s mead for a mead snob for sure.

Unless I’m allergic, it could poison me, or it’s a dish that exhibits unusual cruelty, I’ll usually try any kind of food. I read about a Japanese dish called Ikizukuri where live fish is sliced and served still moving. I think I’ll avoid that, thanks.

But I do love to taste a variety of new things! I love gourmet dishes that have the perfect balance of flavors, colors, and textures, but I also love hot dogs from gas stations that have been roasting on those metal rollers for hours thus reducing water content and enhancing flavors. You do not know a good hot dog if you turn your nose up at those things. So maybe that’s makes me a hot dog snob. Is it wrong to have a hot dog with my beautiful jasmine tea? Maybe. The darker oolong would probably be better with hot dogs.

Time for a One-way Street

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is One-way Street which asks:

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

Aren’t we already riding a giant time machine of sorts? I mean it’s fairly sequential and analog, but we are moving through time and space – sometimes faster or slower (usually inversely proportional to how much we like where we are). The only difference is that we can’t really skip over chunks of time forward or back. We’re locked into a sequence – now must happen before the future and after the past. Future and past touch at this single point.

I’d have a seriously hard time choosing which I’d want to jump to – the future or the past. Presumably which ever machine I choose means I must stay in the time period it takes me since the directions say that machine goes in only one direction. So I can’t return from wherever or whenever.

I’d not want to go far forward. I might miss my daughter growing up. I don’t want to miss any of that. Too far in the past and I risk the same.

I’d love a time machine that could skip back small amounts of time – a few minutes or hours, seconds even – avoid car accidents, evacuate dangerous areas before earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanos, attacks … Maybe jump back a couple of hours to get more cleaning or organizing done because it always takes longer than I want it to. Always!

Going forward in short spurts seems kind of pointless. What, avoid long lines at airports and amusement parks? Seems like a bit of overkill and a waste of technology.

So OK, I guess I do have my answer. I’d get the time machine that goes back in time, but only use it for super short little trips back. It’s not that I want to live in the past — but it would be nice to have a few do-overs for those times that important mess-ups happen in a matter of seconds.

Life In Transit

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is In Transit which asks:

Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?

Sometimes I feel like all of life is just one big transportation station or terminal. We’re all movin’ on through. It’s not a stationary place or at least shouldn’t be. We may have an extended layover in certain places or phases of our lives, but if you stay for too long you risk losing your connecting flight or bus or next phase of life. That’s not really traveling efficiently, right?

As we’re all on a journey of sorts together, I feel like there’s a certain amount of bonding that can happen with our fellow travelers. People give advice or I’ll offer help back. Some people are just fun to talk to. A knowing laugh from a fellow passenger can brighten a crummy day. Many keep to themselves.

There are some who are constantly too loud and don’t know when to stop. Some who put their needs in front of those of twenty or more others just because they want to make sure they’re not cheated somehow. And in the process everybody else gets cheated of a little peace. Those folks are annoying. But, really, if you don’t let them get under your skin they can be entertaining too. I think that’s the real trick. These folks are helpful to remind me how awesome some of the other people can be. There is value in that. I’d have to say that some of my most valued life lessons were from the people who hurt me or bothered me most.

You might ride a train with a woman who has 100 barrettes in her bundled mass of hair and try to figure out if that is, indeed, a large band-aid sticking out from the right side of her sculpted locks. Is it art? A knowing look and a smile from the couple two seats behind her tells you that they too wonder a few things. Then you arrive at your stop and move on.

Previous Older Entries