Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday's Frustrations

So today is Friday, December 11th. Only two weeks until Christmas, and I just started by Christmas shopping! Oh, boy, what a mess. Since I hadn't even bought our Christmas cards ( I intended to order them in November, but NaNo got in the way), I went to the only Hallmark store within 30 miles. Not only was it crowded, but it had only a meager supply of boxed cards. Another lady and I vied for the best place to look at them on the one shelf that was left, and she won. Shoot! She finally left, two boxes of cards in hand, and I was left with an even more sparse collection to select from. I picked up two of the best that was left, which isn't saying much. My husband is less than impressed.

My next stop was at one of our lesser stores for shopping. Perhaps I should say, one of our ONLY stores for shopping. Unfortunately, our small county was hard hit with the economic recession, and the two nicest stores went out of business. Thus, we are left with Target, Kohl's, Wal-mart, etc. Nothing to get excited get as frustrated as I was today, and then you might get very excited!

First on my list was my son. Because of his profession, he doesn't wear a uniform, but does have to wear a certain type of clothing at work. I found the kind of shirts he wanted, but they were all short sleeved, and he needs long sleeves. So I went to the next person on my list, who was my husband. Found the kind of shirts he likes, but...only in long sleeves, and he wants short sleeves, even in winter. G R R R ! If those two could just get together...

The day continued along those lines. I did find some of the things my daughter-in-law wanted, so I aced that. My grandson? Forget it, he's a teen-ager whose tastes change as often as his vocabulary. We're giving him two brand new $100 bills in a pretty wrapped box, a Starbucks card and a phone card, so he is taken care of !

My granddaughters also get money, and I've promised my daughter a painting for her and her new husband, so at least I don't have to shop for them.

I came home tired and frustrated. Why are MEN so difficult to buy for? Explain that to me, and I'll take you out to dinner ! In the meantime, I have to go out again tomorrow. Double G R R R !

One good thing happened, however. I enrolled for my second novel course at ICL, and got the pick of my instructors. She is interested in historical fiction, has published a couple of historical novels, and I think will be a good match for me, and the historical novel I've been working on for the last 3 years. My first novel is now at a publisher's, so I'm playing the waiting game to see if it gets picked up or not.

If I get a chance to blog tomorrow or Sunday, I think I'll find something more interesting to write about than my present Friday Frustrations !

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Early Morning Visitor

Our Corgi, Dylan, woke us up this morning about 5:30. He was sitting up in his crate, growling low in his throat. At first, I suspected an intruder but the alarm had not gone off, so I realized it couldn't be a person. That left a bird or an animal. My husband was too sleepy to get up, so I did. I let Dylan out of his crate and together we tiptoed out to the family room. I pulled the drape and turned on the patio light. Nothing stirred. Dylan grumbled again. He turned around and went to the front door.

I couldn't open the front door with the alarm on, and I was hesitant to turn it off. So I opened the blinds in the dining room and peered out into the darkness. The wind was blowing, and since our outdoor/indoor thermometer read 29 degrees F., I knew it was bloody cold out there! Besides, I didn't see anything moving. Until...
a rose bush moved ever so slightly. Then I saw a pair of eyes staring steadily into mine. If we had still been on the ranch, I would have thought...Coyote!...or maybe even...Cougar! But no cougars here on the outskirts of our small town. Always coyotes, just didn't seem right.

Dylan growled again. The thick hair on the back of his neck and around his broad chest was sticking straight up. Uh oh. Whatever it was out there, he didn't like it.

It was black as a raven's wing outside. However, my eyes were getting accustomed to the darkness, and the rose bushes were becoming slightly more distinct. I saw the one closest to the front door move again, and when it did, Dylan growled more loudly. He could smell or sense the being out there, even though the door was still closed.

Okay, I had to do something. For one thing, I was freezing, and for another, my curiosity was getting the best of me. So it was either go back to bed and get warm, make Dylan stop growling ( good luck with that), or...turn off the alarm and open the darn door! I chose the latter.

I told Dylan "Quiet!" as I carefully opened the door. His little body quivered against my leg, but he stopped growling. I stood for a moment, with the icy wind whipping my pj's around my legs and wondering how I could be so stupid as to open that door. Then I heard it. A strange little cry, half growl, half scream, muted but coming from under the rose bush. Dylan pushed against my leg, and again growled low in his throat.

The sound came again. Oh, all right! I made Dylan 'stay' and stepped out the door. I crossed the sidewalk to the rose bed, and gently ( and shakily) pushed the leaves aside. There, on his back with his long red bushy tail caught among the heavy thorns of the roses, lay our resident fox. His black eyes stared at me, and he yipped quietly. He was unable to move.

I was shaking with the cold so much I could barely move my hands, but somehow, I managed to pull the largest stems of the rose bushes apart, thoroughly cutting one finger on the nasty thorns in the process. It only took a minute or two, but it seemed like an hour at least. Then, I lifted his tail free. He immediately scampered up and away from the bushes. But then a strange thing happened. He stopped midway down the sidewalk, looked back at the door, and yipped. Dylan made a sound that was almost identical. The fox looked at me, and disappeared into the early morning gloom.

I closed the door, shivered my way into the bathroom to treat my lacerated finger, and finally returned to bed. I was cold as an Artic snow bunny, and when I tried to cuddle up to hubby, he was not too enthusiastic! After a few choice words from him ( not repeatable here) which basically meant, Where have you been, you're turning me into an icicle, I eventually got warm and fell back asleep. The story about the fox would have to keep until breakfast.

Resident fox? Yes, in the community where I live, there has been a family of red foxes living here for about 20 years. Of course, the orignal parents are gone now, but their offspring keep breeding and/or bringing friends and spouses in to their large den, and seem quite content to continue to live here. We seldom see them, but often enough to know that they are still with us. This fox was large, so he was probably one of the papas.

Dylan is a Corgi. Corgis are descended from foxes. I believe the exchange this morning between the fox and Dylan was somehow an acknowledgement on the part of the fox of two things: a kind of 'thank you' for Dylan knowing he was out there and waking me up, understanding on both their parts that somewhere along the line, centuries ago, they were related.

A wild and a domesticated animal communicated with one another. Isn't it amazing that civilized peoples of the world fail so badly to communicate with one another?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Is Coming!

Christmas is coming! Are these words to strike terror in your heart, or do they make your heart sing?

For me, it is a combination of the two. I hate Christmas shopping! Of course, I'm one of the few women I know who hates shopping of any kind for any reason, and having to shop for gifts turns my blood to ice. I use the Internet to shop online as much as possible, but inevitably, children or grandchildren give me their lists with items impossible to find except in...STORES. I don't like crowds, consequently my claustophobia kicks in, especially if I'm waiting in a checker's line with impatient and impolite people pushing and shoving behind me. I don't like finding just exactly what someone asked for, only to discover it is the wrong size, by the wrong singer, or not Blue Ray...whatever that is. So...guess who puts it off as long as possible? You got it! Here it is, December 7th, and I've yet to start. I'll be impossible to live with by Friday.

On the other hand, I love Christmas! I love the decorations, the pagentry, the enticing smells coming from all the kitchens in the homes I visit. I love decorating our house: my husband made a 1/2 life size Nativity set, with angels, the three Wise Men, two camels, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and the Manger. It sits on our front lawn from the first weekend in December until the weekend after New Year's. We have lights shining on it, and a blue light spotlighting Mary and Joseph as they knee beside the cradle holding the Baby.

Every year I spend almost a week baking for my family and friends ( no writing !). I paint a gift card individualized for each person, line a Christmas basket with festive paper and ribbons, and pack each one with cookies and candy. On the ranch, my husband and I would load up the saddle bags and ride our horses to each of the neighboring ranches to deliver our goodies. Now, we walk or drive to our friends' homes. I miss riding the horses. I miss seeing them with their bridles decorated with miniature battery-run lights, and the Santa hats I made for them perched between their ears. I miss the not-so-happy looks they would give me as I put their hats on, but they never shook them off. Ah well...that was a different life.

Do you remember in the late '90s and early 2000's that Target had a large stuffed and dressed snowman that was their Christmas "symbol?" I have six of those 'Snowden's' as they were called. My daughter-in-law told me about them and she and I competed to see who could buy them all the quickest! She won...she has 7 of them, I only have 6. But these 6 come out every year, and grace the beam above the built-in console in our dining room. On the console sit 3 of my 16 Santas. These are 3 large Santas that were handmade by artisans who lived in small towns along the Ohio River, where my husband and I traveled down on a barge about 10 years ago.

My other 13 Santas sit in various places in the living room, family room and dining room. Joining them are 3 Christmas dogs, one reindeer, two moose ( meese?), a giraffe, 1 small talking Tigger, 1 very large, silent Tigger, and 8 "teddy" bears of different sizes and colors. All represent Christmas in some foreign country, by the way they are dressed.

The sounds of Christmas come from the many DVDs we have of carols and music from Christian nations around the world. We seldom have anything else going on during the day except for the music filling our home and our hearts. In the evening, we try to watch as many of the Christmas specials as possible on TV. Our hearts are full, and sometimes, so are our eyes, at the beauty, the graciousness, and the words that invoke all that Christmas, and the birth of Jesus Christ, is supposed to mean.

Perhaps, in today's world, it is politically correct to say "Happy Holidays," but I celebrate all that Christmas has ever meant, long before politics got involved. So I will continue to say Merry Christmas, and hope sincerely that all to whom I say that, truly have a happy and merry Christmas.