Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'll Be in the *Zone* Today...

...the Twilight Zone.

Today begins the annual New Year's Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-fi channel, and buddy, We'll Be There.

When I was growing up, my mother deemed TZ as "too scary" for us young'uns. But my sister was older, and it was one of her favorite shows. And sometimes she let me watch it on the Upstairs T.V.

Now, this was a very special tv. My father was one of the original techno-geeks, and loved to get new gear early in the game. He purchased this tv on the very first day they were for sale in our town--my sister's fifth birthday, November 21, 1953. The story goes that all he could get on it was one station, with the Today Show, the Evening News, and a few prime-time things. Through the years I wondered if he had really bought it on the very first day, until a few years ago, when an announcement came on: "WKJG-TV 33, celebrating fifty years of broadcasting--November 21, 1953-November 21, 2003." So, there you have it.

Daddy bought a color television when there were very few programs telecast in color. I still remember the blurbs: "A CBS production, presented in Living COLOR." And, of course, you all know the NBC Peacock--his feathers used to pop out one by one, color by color. Our new tv was a beautiful maple console. Mother would put something on a doily on top. Daddy climbed on the roof to put the best antenna he could find.

Well, the old black-and-white found its way upstairs to the room I shared with my sister. And, come Twilight Zone/The Outer Limits/Saturday Night Creature Feature time, she'd let me watch with her. Even though she wasn't supposed to. Older sisters *are* good for some things!

I still remember the night we Got Caught. We were watching a movie called "The Killer Shrews" (this movie was actually on just last week on TCM, but I declined to watch it--it has barely a one-star rating...) and we heard Mother coming up the stairs. Jan told me to play like I was asleep. I thought it was going pretty well until Mom discovered I was still wearing my glasses.

Oops. Janet got the Cord Taken Away. This is the equivalent of taking your teenager's cellphone away. Mother put the TV cord up on the refrigerator for a week.

And Janet wouldn't let me watch the Twilight Zone with her anymore.

I've carried the scars ever since. So, today, the TV will be running the TZ marathon, at least until Alvin Fernald sneaks some football game or another in.

By the way, I still have a part of that television. The plate glass front of the screen sits on my dresser, keeping photos safe. But, alas, the cord is gone forever. But that's okay. I have a cellphone, and nobody can ground me from it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I *Think* We Might Be Back to Normal...

...but I'm by no means sure.

The ice storm was a tad more serious than first described. First reports were that 2000 homes were without power--eventually 120,000 customers were in the dark. That, folks, is more than half of the people in our city. Many of those were "out" into the fifth and sixth day. This combined with windchills one day of thirty below zero. Shelters were opened north and south in the city. Many retailers were closed on the weekend before Christmas. Our church, which survived the first onslaught, succumbed on Sunday morning. It is on the same grid as a cluster of hotels, filled with refugees from their own homes--a double whammy. Some people, returning to their homes days later, found the effects of frozen water pipes. Happy Christmas Eve!

Yet, we all know how blessed we are. Though we did not lose power (and none of our in-town children did, either), we had resources throughout the city, had we done so. Neighbors and friends opening their homes. A really good chance to Slow Things Down.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve service at church, and a quiet morning at home. Johnny Tremain and Lily came over Christmas mid-morning, and Don Quixote, as is his custom, made cheesy omelets for all. Violet went home at noon, which was a good thing, as another freezing rain/ice episode followed. This slowed things down slightly, for the after-Christmas sales, but we were treated yesterday (Saturday) to sixty-three degrees! So now, all the ice is gone, and only the memory of our glassy-iced world to remember it by.

Today (Sunday) we had the Christmas choir/children's choir/dance thing scheduled for last Sunday. It was really quite nice, focusing on Christmas "after the fact," with nothing else to fight for our attention.

Tomorrow? Gathering up a couple of medical receipts to finish out our insurance account-thingy (where they take money out pre-tax for medical expenses) before the 31st. Planning menus (and throwing the vestiges of multiple parties that are "growing" in the frig away). Laundry. Maybe the library.

Oh, how I love Normal. When I can find it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ice Storm

My God is Awesome.

We are at the end of an ice storm, here where I live. The gorgeousness of iced trees and fences belies their danger: I see large branches over two of my near-neighbors' sidewalks, broken by their very heaviness. The news (which I can hear thanks to electricity) says that 2000 homes in our city are without power. I am safe and snug here in my home, coffee in hand, at least for the moment.

The temperature is rising, so it is only raining now. I went outside to see if I should salt the sidewalks, but it's raining too hard. I was meditating on the awesome-ness of the weather, when I saw a streak of lightning, followed, of course, by the rumble of thunder. A thunderstorm in the midst of an ice storm. In December!

The weatherman predicts, as is often the case on a day like today, Wind later on. The blessed wind that will dry much of the watery sidewalks, before below-freezing temperatures again tonight. All the schools are closed today, a day early for the Christmas break.

Just meditating on the awesome-ness of a God who loves us more than we could ever know. So He sent a little weather to encourage us to slow down, "look up," and say Hello.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spoiler Alert: Forget-me-not and Lily, Turn Away NOW.

My grandmother used to make a thing called a puzzle ball. I found a pattern for it here. I never understood the "puzzle" part of the puzzle ball, until I started to put one together. Here you have twelve strawberry-shaped pieces, all alike:
Next, you have to put them together so they end up in a spherical shape. I have never put pieces together with safety pins before:
But, by golly, that means you have solved the *puzzle* part. When you sew the points together, you get this cute thing:

And won't they be just the thing for Christmas for eight- and nine-month old grandbabies?

Friday, December 12, 2008

MacGuyver Acting All MacGuyver-y

My son MacGuyver and his girlfriend Tiny Dancer came in from out-of-town yesterday, to do a little decorating. Now, I call him MacGuyver here on this blog, because he can fix anything with a paper clip and a rubber band.

Besides all of the fun Christmas stuff going on, he did something for me that I so, so appreciate: he fixed up the tv in the basement so that Alvin Fernald could put ALL of his video game stuff down there.

This was no small operation: not only is the basement tv analog (rendering it useless as of February 9, 2009, I'm sure all of you know), but it is also *not* what we used to call "cable ready," and, in fact, doesn't even use a remote. MacGuyver and Alvin went to Radio Shack to get this and that, and fixed it up, but Alvin has to *click* the dial to station number 3 to begin play.

Ah, the bliss of not tripping over control cords and the "guitar" from Guitar Hero. Not having to listen to the droning music on the "setup" modes.

Later we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner--yum. [and then shopped in the store and spent too much money...], then to Wal-mart for Christmas lights--somehow they disappeared since last year. I couldn't find even one strand in all of our Christmas boxes.

Later last night, we cut out fleece stockings for Mac and Tiny Dancer, and I whipped them up on the machine. I showed T.D. how trim them with a buttonhole stitch, which she will finish at home. It was a rich, full day.

Today: Put lights on the tree so we can decorate it! Hop on over to a brand-new Wal-mart where, rumor has it, they will have gasoline for 99 cents all day (I'll let you know on that one...though Joe Hardy bought gas there on Tuesday for $1.23...). Begin gathering patterns for handmade toys and dolly clothes for the grands. Mail a package for my sister.

Guess it's back to normal 'round here!

Update: Gasoline at the new Wal-mart was $1.39. However, gas went up all over town to $1.79 (from an average of $1.45 or so) OVERNIGHT. So I guess driving across town to save FORTY CENTS A GALLON was worth the trip!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Emergency Cleanup: Aisle 5

I have been putting off cleaning the "peanut butter" cupboard since summer. (do y'all call it the peanut butter cupboard? Everybody I know does...) On the top shelf is the baking stuff such as food coloring, sprinkles, birthday candles, and coconut. (okay, so I found three ancient half-bags of coconut up there--even when I clean this cupboard, sometimes it's only the first and second shelf....) On the middle shelf we find tea, dried beans, and jello and puddings. Bottom shelf: peanut butter (natch), sugar bowl, odd keys, and SPICES.

Spices crowding a two-tier twirly lazy susan thing. The ones that fall off and fall behind, keep it from twirling. Behind the peanut butter and sugar bowl, cans and jars that won't fit on the twirly thing, as well as baggies of "bulk" spices that I've accumulated.

Well, the situation had been critical since summer. Odd things would fly out at me when I opened the cupboard: I just shoved them back in and went on my merry way. Until two days ago...

...Avalanche. That's all I'm gonna tell ya'.

Here is a photo of what burped up outta there:

I stopped counting at 70 cans, jars, and baggies. SEVENTY.

Included in this array were four cans and three baggies of nutmeg. Hoarding for the next Y2K, I guess. Three cans of cream of tartar. Now, I make homemade play-doh like the rest of y'all, but Come On. But: the spices I use most, I had only the jar I knew about, half-full. Except for the cinnamon--I had to BORROW cinnamon last week from a neighbor. I did find two, Full, jars of that.

I also consolidated all the boxes of birthday candles. And, you know the "number" candles? Well, you could conceivably use two of the same number--Charming *did* turn 44 a few years ago. But I had three 5's--unless I'm planning for someone to turn 555, I can get rid of one of those, right?

So, what happened then? Well, I threw away some old stuff. Somehow, the cans that were so old that they don't have a barcode, I couldn't bear to throw away. Symbols of a kinder, gentler time, you know? (I promise, I WILL deal with those. Pretty soon.) I kept one full and one opened can of nutmeg, as well as one of the cream of tartars. I took all the extras (as well as Eleven Boxes of Jello I didn't know I had) and packaged them up for Forget-me-not and Lily.

So I put the cupboard back together, and, as you can see, it is still packed pretty full:

And, it wasn't a perfect job. I'm so jealous of Jen I could spit nails.

But at least I can begin my holiday baking 1) without the fear of flying spices hitting me in the head, and 2) knowing that I actually probably don't have to buy any spices!

Just my little contribution to a Frugal Friday!