Thursday, December 21, 2006

this is smartypants's wife

Smartypants (oh, I mean smartinof4steve) has been as busy as a bee between work, getting presents off to his family, and being very nice to me, Mrs. Smartypants. Today he has meetings from noon to five pm, and the minute he gets home, we're hopping in the pre-packed truck and heading to my family. He's blue about not seeing his family this Christmas (so please, call us at my mom's house all weekend long), but on the to-do list he emailed me this morning (such a smartypants), he said to take pictures of our Christmas tree before all the presents under it got packed.

I'm going one step farther and posting these pictures. This tree was stolen from the side of the road in the dark. It's decorated with cranberries, handstrung by moi, silver-frosted pinecones, Smartypant's gingerbread cut-outs, and candycanes. We're very proud of it.

Merry Christmas everyone! Traveling mercies and much love to all.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Our pooches have a strange fondness for stuffed animals. It was something we neglected when we first got here, but on our weekend shopping expedition, we bought them a pair of early presents. They love them.

(I stand by Gund, generally, as the only brand with decent stitching to stand up to excited gnawing. However, there was a monkey that had the perfect long, sturdy arms and legs that Shadow loves, (Dido is an ear girl), so we're giving Dezi a try.)

Tonight I was tossing Dido's stuffed bear from the couch, and watching her bound merrily across the room to retrieve it. I had a sudden recollection of sitting in the loft of John's apartment, him downstairs on the couch, and us tossing Dido's bear back and forth as she raced up and down the stairs.

Good times.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The first weekend of Christmas

What a lovely weekend.

Let's start with my dear Alexe.
Every now and again I get to fall in love with her again. Our Sunday night was spent with her sitting at the kitchen counter stringing cranberries, listening to the Christmas cds she's been on the prowl for since last week. She finally found some at the library. She started spray painting the pine cones she's been collecting, but when I kicked her project off the kitchen counter, (I was choking in the fumes) she gave that up.

I've been in the kitchen most of the evening, baking gingerbread cut-out cookies, a spice cake, and three loaves of banana bread. (Alexe hates the smell of bananas, so every time our bananas get ripe enough to smell like bananas, she tosses them in the freezer, and goes out to buy more green ones. By the time I get around to a baking mood, there are dozens of them.) I also made dinner, a chicken coconut curry dish Nicholas taught me to make, and sauteed green beans. (hey, I'm great too.)

Alexe decided this was our Christmas weekend. We went out on a mission Saturday morning to buy presents for all 20+ people on our list, and get a Christmas tree. We spent the first half of the day with me sick to my stomach as Alexe pounced on various almost-worthwhile presents; me arguing that we didn't need to wing money around just because we set an arbitrary deadline, and her losing in bits and pieces her Christmas cheer.

Then we stopped to get a tree. Alexe asked the friendly fellow how much the trees were, and he straight-facedly replied "$77". And it was my dear wife, not me, who said, "Holy crap!". He instantly dropped to $65, but Alexe pronounced she wasn't prepared to spend any more than $20, and headed back to the truck.

We went home for a snack, grabbed a saw, and with a new united front, set out to find ourselves a free tree. In case a local friend of ours is reading, we won't go into specifics, but we have a delightful little tree, christened with candy canes and the miles of strung cranberries.

But many other things have happened this weekend.

We found a new place to live, an old victorian in Water Valley, that is owned by some California transplants, (he was Frank Raines classmate at Harvard Law, all you fannie folk) who bought it for their parents, and their parents won't leave California. They're happy to rent it to us on a month to month, and they want next to nothing for it. Beautiful tall ceilings and equally tall windows, hardwood floors, character. But, the kicker: I gave them a call after Alexe found the add in the paper and pestered me all morning. As I was chatting away with the woman, she said, "Did your wife write that piece in the paper last week?"

Alexe now has a regular column in the local paper, and a reputation that precedes us into neighboring counties.

We had a relatively successful time on the shopping front, though we're a bit lop-sided in our coverage. My dearest has been in a baby-lust phase for the past, umm, long time, so Jenny's four adorable daughters will be getting all sorts of little treats.

Shadow is currently out chasing deer. She's come back every other time, so I'm not too worried.

And my foot hurts, but the swelling has gone. Less swelling, more hurting, actually. Every time Alexe sees it she tells me to send it back to the underworld where it belongs. (The x-rays said nothing was broken, all you worriers.)

I thinks that's mostly it. We have a new stack of books from the library sitting across the room that I'm looking forward to. Alexe wrapped a bunch of presents and put them under the tree, and the Christmas music is still playing gently. Dido is curled up on the couch next to me, with only the slightest hint of pig shit left from this afternoon's walk. (We found a whole hillside of white clay out in the woods on our walk, molded in the neatest run-off patterns.)

We have a place to move to in the new year that we like, and that will allow us to leave as soon as we find our farm.

And we'll have a guest room from here on out. Kay?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

More on the Ouch.

I have injured this body of mine before. Once, the same foot I'm currently complaining about was caught by the back end of a 4 ton forklift. Those things steer from the rear, which means you need to keep your eyes open when they come whipping around a corner. It rode up my ankle and left some crazy bruises.

Come to think of it, that same foot was caught by the rear wheel of a car as I stepped out the back door a bit prematurely.

I had a nasty mountain biking incident in Alaska, which left me with more gravel and stones on my left side than skin. (One of the stones that lodged in my ribs was rude enough to go through my favorite t-shirt.)

A rollerblading incident did me the same favor, but to my legs.

I've never broken a bone.

Seems I've squeaked out of a near bone break this time also, but my goodness, it doesn't look happy.

Apologies for the visual display below, but I had to share.

Monday, December 4, 2006


I was so pleasantly thinking of telling you all about the wonderful Christmas parade we attended tonight. In this small town of 14,000, there was the most charming parade. Five full marching bands, one with 20, yes 20, tubas. Not plastic marching ones either, full ice cold brass on a very chilly Dec. evening.

Then there were the many military youth programs that went marching by. (I saw the four man Civil Air Patrol color guard and had fond memories.) The ROTC and other military branches had masses of youths marching in formation. Then there were all the cheer leading squads, each with probably 40 members, dressed in dresses that severely challenge the age of consent in these parts. (Remember, it was so cold my dear wife abandoned the parade for the warm of the bookstore, even though they were throwing more candy than I ever saw in all the Hartland, VT old home day parades combined.) There were classic cars, fire engines, tractors, and lots of floats. It just kept going and going, with the square and the streets leading in and out packed with happy people, both the parade walkers and the watchers waving back and forth to each other, shouting Merry Christmas, and scattering for candy.

I couldn't quite contain my excitement when I saw Smarties raining down on the front row, and must have yippeed or something. Of course I was mature enough not to dive to my knees and scramble for them. (I only did that for the tootsie rolls, and only after my wife had abandoned me.) But a grown teenage boy, complete with scruffy face hair and an adolescent girl to impress, handed me a handful of those Smarties. I was very touched.

And this is what I wanted to share with you all, one more joy I have discovered down here.

But then we scooted over to the First Baptist gym, where I play basketball with some fellows from work and that church on Monday nights. Alexe came this time, (her record is one show, one skip, and now one non-playing attendance) and she did some inconsistent cheering. I had a lot of fun, playing some decent games. Most of my focus is on getting up and down the court somewhere not too far behind whoever I'm guarding, and that usually provides enough amusement to keep my mind off who's winning.

Since Alexe will most definitely point this out later, she was asking to go home, and I insisted on staying for one more game. The local season is coming up, and the guys from work and I need to start playing as a team. So we set the teams up, work chaps against church chaps, and had a good game going.

Then I went up, I came down, and my ankle went POP.

Very, very loudly. And my goodness, does it hurt. I could have sworn it was broken. My first thought was, I just broke my body. I've never broken my body before. But oh, the pain. I was dragged off the court so the game could continue, (good fellas) and watched my ankle swell as a friend ran for ice. I was still marveling at the amounts of pain when a nice fellow came over to sit with me and told me about the dread of hearing the POP, of feeling it in realms where you aren't supposed to ever direct your conscious thoughts.

Turns out I most likely have a sprain. He did this last week, and was playing with us today. But his whole foot is bruised, down to the toes, and he's wearing a brace. (He put in the effort to consult a physician, so I'm not bothering with emergency rooms tonight. We'll see how the morning treats me.)

My darling wife dragged me to the curb, brought the car around, and helped me to the couch. She brought me water, I was parched from before the POP, propped my leg up, set the ice on it, and handed me my laptop so I could complain in a masculine way. Here you can't hear the whine in my voice.

Now she's waiting to help me up the stairs to bed, and she's not to pleased that we got home after 10. I'll let you know how long it is before she starts in on the "I told you we should have gone home." I won't count the one she said minutes after it happened.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Slow on the uptake.

Sadly this applies to so many things for me.

But the most recent: the internet, and this blog.

I started this blog for those of you who I contacted, in hopes of lowering the amount of time we would have to spend catching up when next we get to visit. I kept it from people who I see more regularly, and who I would rather not have to watch my thoughts around.

Think co-workers and boss.

However, I didn't put that much thought into actively maintaining anonymity. So when I tooted my own horn last week and pasted an article that included my name, as well that of my current employer, I didn't think that much about it. (Except how cool it was to have such a thing.)

Turns out the tech-savvy folk I work with have nifty google-webcrawlers that automatically notify them whenever the company is mentioned.

I don't have a propensity for slander, or even for sharing negative thoughts that might linger in my mind about my fellow creatures. I don't think. I did a quick scan of previous posts when I learned about the additional audience members, and found most things here are relatively benign. So no worries.

But I feel I've lost some freedom. Like being told that I will absolutely never be allowed to ride a giraffe. Sure, it's unlikely the desire would have come up, but now that I know I can't, I miss it for some reason.

To reclaim a semblance of control over this tiny corner of the interactive boob-tube, I'm going to take the same approach to this blogging as I do to nudity in my own house. (or rented flimsy townhouse, as it were.)

If you are looking in my windows, I'm not responsible for what you see.

No farm yet. But a television.

Yesterday Alexe and I spent the morning walking around the grounds of what could have been our dream farm down here. 30 acres, old two story farmhouse, several out buildings, and very quiet. There were lots of problems with it: for starters it wasn't for sale. We had our eye on it through the spring and summer, but our plans to move down South didn't solidify until after it had sold. So we were propositioning a gentleman who had bought it three months ago, and since had started a massive renovation. I tracked him down through the assessors office, he hadn't returned our calls. So I called a real estate agent who had been showing it over the summer and asked him to make contact. Lesson number 1: people working on commission often have too much investment in their own interests to be pleasant additions to most anything. This fellow decided to insist on a 4% cut form the current owner, which immediately made any offer we came up with less inviting. That 4% was for a phone call and a Saturday morning walk. Grr.

Anyway, we liked it, even though it was mostly gutted, had no kitchen, and there was an expansive view of the ground from the front door looking in.

We offered too much. And luckily were rejected. But there was a few hours between those two events, and my stomach churned through them all. I've discovered I have instant buyer's regret. I discover this every few years.

We did end up purchasing a new television last week. Alexe saw a sale at Sears, and we scooted over to have a look after work. We bought it, and in the time it took to get it out to the car, I was close to nauseous. So we crossed town to compare prices at a different store, and went home with 2 televisions. Set them up side by side, fiddled for a while, and returned the one we bought first.

I was still considering returning the one we kept, but this morning I mistakenly put the receipt in the collection plate. I thought it might be a sign.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Blessed am I, or less poetically, I am blessed.

My darling wife made and and delivered hot minestrone soup to me for lunch today.
On a day that was hectic, by any standard.
And in between beaming with pride and giving me kisses, (and confessing the dog beatings that were oh-so-deserved), she personally laid the cheese over my steaming bowl of soup.

I am so lucky.

Busy weekend coming up. Work and play. I might graduate to new pictures posted here, we'll see.