Saturday, December 31, 2005

Up late and can't sleep

. . . so thought I'd sign on and post a few thoughts.

It's funny how you get attached to people you've never met.

Over the years I've been active online, I've developed some unique relationships with people from across the globe. A few have come and gone, much like face to face relationships. You meet, you exchange niceties, exchange information, maybe spend time together, but you eventually move on in your respective lives. Just another part of life's experiences.

Yet, I wonder about the individuals that I made a connection with on the 'net, no matter how brief. I wonder about Susan in New York who gave me a great recipe for Zuppe de Pesce that I still use and the person who introduced me to the writing of George Gissing. I wonder what happened to the guy who helped me through debugging my first internet virus. I wonder about the early members of TBF like Holger and Tobytook and Dawn. Do they still remember me as I remember them? I guess we were just ships passing in the night -- to see each other from a distance, perhaps exchange messages, but ultimately continue on our respective journeys, never to be seen or heard from again.

Sad, in a way, but still part of my totality, so I guess it's okay.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Post-Christmas notes

It's been a lovely Christmas - a nice blend of family, food and activity. We had Christmas eve dinner at my sister's and Christmas dinner at my house.

My sister (or more precisely her husband, since he does most of the cooking) normally doesn't 'do turkey'. She says it's too much work and bother. (She'd rather come to my house for turkey dinner because we love turkey and all the trimmings and have it at least two or three times a year.) Well, this year, she decided to try one of those pre-stuffed, de-boned frozen turkeys. It even comes with a package of pre-made frozen gravy. You just take it from the freezer, put it in a pan, stick it in the oven, roast for the designated time, and voila - turkey dinner. Well, it looked kind of like turkey - in a sort of rolled up, white/dark meat with brown stuff in the middle kind of way. It tasted kind of like turkey - in a didn't taste like chicken or duck sort of way. But, I'm sorry sis, it didn't seem like a real turkey dinner. I'm not ungrateful because there were plenty of other goodies, but next time stick with the duck and chicken.

On the 28th, we had family and friends over for a 'games night'. Nothing fancy, just simple food -- lasagna, salad, garlic bread, wine -- and good times. We played mah jong before dinner and board games after. We had such a good time, it was past midnight before I even looked at my watch. Playing cards and board games at family get-togethers is somewhat of a tradition in our family. I remember playing mass solitaire with my cousins - everyone yelling, laughing and flinging cards across the table. Absolute bedlam, but so much fun.

I've stuffed myself silly with turkey, wine and chocolates. As a means of preserving my self-esteem, I'll wait until the new year before stepping on the scales to survey the damage. Actually, it shouldn't be too bad because I've been trying to stay active and keep portions moderate. It's all the extras of wine, desserts and chocolates that will tell the tale.

Our Christmas day:
We get up early, put on some coffee and open our presents in front of the tree and fireplace. We do this in our housecoats and pjs (sans makeup - heaven help us if we ever get a high-maintenance person in the family). Sons don their Santa hats and nobody worries about how they look as we snap pictures of each other opening gifts. It seems that, over the years, we've all become more attuned to each other and the gifts now are truly a reflection of both giver and receiver. It's really a warm, wonderful part of our Christmas day. Later, we make breakfast and spend a leisurely day together while the turkey is roasting.

Other family members and guests arrive in the early evening and we have a traditional turkey dinner followed by conversation over coffee and dessert.


Roast turkey
Herbed Stuffing,
Giblet Gravy and Cranberry Sauce

Mandarin Salad with Toasted Almonds
Ambrosia Salad
Stir-fried Asparagus
Wild Rice with mushrooms
Orange-glazed Yams

Mango Mousse Cake
Assorted pastries

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Clearing out the trash

The past two days, I've been going through the house, room by room to do a general clean-up before getting out the Christmas stuff. Having just gotten back from vacation, it's been hard getting back in the swing of things.

We have a lot of books and paper in our house. Books, magazines and paper are piled on every conceivable counter, shelf and flat surface. Bookshelves are double-stacked and crammed to overflowing onto the floorspace in front. Papers and books march inexorably up the side of our front hallway stairs. Part of this comes from having avid readers in the house, part of it comes from having full-time college students who leave both completed work and works-in-progress everywhere, part of it comes from a spouse who doesn't know how to throw out, well, anything. So, it occurred to me that the house needs more than a simple tidying.

I started pulling out textbooks and manuals that haven't been looked at in years, magazines that are twenty years old, stuff on the tops of shelves and closets that haven't seen the light of day since I-can't-remember-when. Aha! We don't need that old desk either. Or that old foam mattress. What about the computer desk in the corner? It's just piled with old games and disks. It hasn't had an actual computer on it for at least five years. And what about those old drapery tracks? Admittedly, I went a bit nuts.

Then I thought, what am I going to do with all this stuff? The solution came to me in a blinding flash! I remembered a coupon that came in the mail from a company that would "Remove your Junk". They even recycle the recyclables and donate stuff that's reusable. Much to my surprise, I actually 'found' the said coupon in my mail basket. I looked up their website and, as of today, booked a pick-up time for early next week. Now, all I have to do is get the junk ready.

Weird to do this just before Christmas, but it seems right - even a bit exhillarating. Liberating, in fact.

Friday, December 16, 2005

My father died one year ago.

It's probably no coincidence that I was away on vacation for the anniversary of his death - though at the time we booked our trip, it didn't enter my mind on a conscious level.

Now that Christmas is approaching, I'm still not in a festive mood. Not depressed by any means, but just not in the flow of making lists, decorating, etc. that I usually am. I'm one of those people who usually gets their shopping done by the first week of December, then sits back and enjoys the season. This year, I haven't even made a list!

I know I'll have to get cracking because my sons keep asking when the tree is going up. Now that their exams are over, they've even offered to go help me pick it out and bring it home. Funny. It doesn't matter how old they get, they still like the traditional Christmas they grew up with: presents in the morning, breakfast and coffee while we admire the tree, trying out new games or doodads we received, the smell of turkey roasting, the arrival of friends and relatives for the evening meal and pictures around the dinner table.

Nine more days. Writing about this has me a bit more motivated, but I wonder if it will ever be quite the same.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ever get the feeling you're not wanted somewhere? Or feel you've outstayed your welcome? That's how I feel. So despite my tendency to embrace all and blather on and on as if it matters, maybe it's time to pull in the reins. It's time to remind myself that not everyone is interested in my opinions. Hence, I shall try to keep my more personal scribblings in this space for those who find them.

This blogging business is still an experiment for me. I've kept personal journals on and off for years and I've shared some reviews and writing on my website (which is woefully out of date), but this is the first time I've tried free-form, stream of consciousness journalling in such a public manner.

There is, of course, the problem of revealing too much and leaving myself open to scorn, dislike or indifference. Should I care? No. Why bother? Well, over the years I've discovered and met some of the most interesting, intriguing and, at times, puzzling people on the 'net. I've also discovered that the only way to get beyond the banalities, in-jokes and raunchy humour is to put the real me out there for all to see. Those who respond, will respond. Those who don't, won't.

I'm not saying it's the way for everyone. For some people, the internet is a way to try on different personas or to act out the more outrageous parts of their personalities in an arena where it won't come back and bite them in the ass (at least most of the time). I'm not one of these people. Maybe it has to do with age. I've done and seen all the games-playing I want to see or do in my lifetime. I know it's inevitable in our society, but I prefer to avoid it if possible.