mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (retro-style holiday lights)
I'll get around to doing the last Music Advent post sometime this week, but one of the videos was "Careless Whisper" and that just makes me sad all over again about all these people dying this week. Then I looked at the phone earlier and there was a breaking news e-mail about Debbie Reynolds being rushed to the hospital, and so it was like, aaand here we go again.

It occurred to me that I didn't mention much about gifts in my last post. As I've said before, Rob and I are terribly pragmatic about gifts. We usually give each other some small surprises but we pretty much pick out the larger gifts so as not to waste money on stuff we don't want. (He gave me some nail things, for the surprise, and I bought him an Ohio State shirt that I had found on Amazon.) We got a couple of nice gifts from my cousins - a pair of those large stainless steel travel mugs (my cousin actually apologized because they were Sam's Club brand and not the name brand, and I said, "Honestly, I don't care at all about that, I like them") and a very pretty wreath that I can put out on my balcony. And my aunt gave us gift cards, as she nearly always does. I gave all the females who are old enough to wear makeup little gift bags full of sample stuff - everybody really seems to like those. I also gave some Star Wars stuff, which of course also goes over well. As for me, my big gifts were my planner - I like Erin Condren's and they are not exactly cheap - and I got a Kindle Fire when they were on sale on Cyber Monday. (I had a regular Kindle - in fact I' on my 3rd one, I think, but I'd never had the Fire.) (Rob wanted - and went and picked out for himself - a weight vest. To each his own.)

We went to see the Pixar movie Moana this afternoon - I knew it was supposed to be good, and it was - and on the way home we went down this street with a lot of big houses to look at the lights. In particular this one house has a gigantic oak tree in their yard that is completely covered in blue lights. Something about it is just mesmerizing, I love it. Also it always makes me happy when people still have the lights up the week after Christmas. There's something depressing about it when all of the decorations disappear on the 26th. (I do think it's fair game to take stuff down closer to New Year's because I know a lot of people have to go back to work right after the 1st. I don't insist they stay up until Epiphany or anything.)

We are watching one episode of Stranger Things a day. I figured out that this will get us finished on Sunday, just in time for Rob to go back to work on Monday. Some of the episodes have big cliffhangers, though, and sometimes it's really tempting to just keep going. But so far we haven't. (Episode... I mean "Chapter" 4 - they don't call them episodes - is called "The Body" so I think you've gotta say that's a direct Stephen King callout there. I also still think it's very reminiscent at times of early Spielberg - the thing where the lights kept going off and on reminded me a lot of Close Encounters - with a big heaping dose of X-Files and maybe even Twin Peaks. All of those are good things as far as I'm concerned.)

Holidays

Dec. 27th, 2016 12:16 am
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (retro-style holiday lights)
I'm off all week - it's not actually holidays for me, technically, because I'm part-time and I don't get paid if I don't work. But we'll manage, financially, and I can't say I'm unhappy about the break.

We went to see my aunt and my cousins yesterday, Christmas Day, and came back today - which is Boxing Day, other places, but nobody calls it that here. It really should be called Returns and Gift Cards Day - although I admit it's not terribly catchy - because that's what an awful lot of people do on the day after Christmas, right? You return what doesn't fit, etc, you maybe buy some Christmas junk that's marked down (I used to do that a lot but I don't as much as I used to), and you spend the gift cards that people gave you, often on newly marked-down merchandise. However, we didn't do any of those things today. We got up (terribly, terribly early, by my standards), we went to my aunt's and had breakfast, and then we came home. Rob went to the gym after we got home; I played Marvel Heroes for a while and then went and took a nap, because I only got maybe 5 hours of sleep last night. And then when I got up we watched another episode of Stranger Things and then the Doctor Who Christmas special, which luckily taped because I set it in some past year and it always remembers. I do love U-verse for that (although we are plotting to get rid of the TV portion of U-verse if we can figure out how to make that work - I'm not really sure it's doable at this point but I'll report back if we make any progress on that).

I guess I should back up and talk about yesterday. Oh, no, actually I'll back up to Saturday night (or very early on Christmas morning, really) right after I posted the previous entry. I did paint my nails - the color is Twinkle Lights, if you want to know. I do really like it but it was a bit difficult to get opaque. Between coats of nail polish, I was messing around on the internet like I always do, and at some point I went back into Marvel Heroes and my inventory panel was suddenly chock-full of stuff. Presumably this was a Christmas gift of sorts from Gazillion (who runs the game), although there were two of everything and Col said today that the rumor yesterday was that the doubling-up was a mistake which they just decided not to try to rectify. It was all these different kinds of gift boxes, and I was determined to sort it out before I went to bed, and I felt like it took for-freaking-ever. There was lots of good stuff in there, so I'm not exactly complaining but it did stress me out for a while there. I did still get to sleep at what for me is a decent hour, because I knew I had to get up by 10 or 10:30, so we could get to my aunt's house in time for a late Christmas lunch.

I had talked to my aunt on Friday and I told her that we were leaving about 11, and she said "but it'll take you three hours!" and I'm not sure where she came up with that number, but we made sure to time ourselves because we were sure she was wrong. We started out the door at 11, actually pulled out at 11:15, and got there at 1:30 even with a brief stop at Buc-ees for a bathroom-and-cold-drinks break. so it takes, what, actually about two hours flat, driving time. (Of course there wasn't all that much traffic, on Christmas Day.) I had told her if they got ready to eat and we weren't there, not to wait, and they didn't. We got there right when they were finishing up. I was trying to decide if it was rude not to get there on time, but since they won't actually ever set a fixed time it's hard to work up much guilt there. There were actually still a couple of people lingering at the table and we just fixed plates and joined them, so it was like Christmas dinner, act 2, more or less.

I'm not going to try to distinguish too much between my various relatives, because there's too many of them, but basically, this group of people is composed of my aunt, who is actually my aunt-by-marriage (my uncle died about 15 years ago), my two first cousins who are in their 40s, their four children (between them), and the family of the oldest of those four children (husband & three little girls). (I always just say "my aunt and my cousins" - obviously some of them are actually first cousins at a remove or two,)  Plus there was my aunt's father, who is 103 and not in particularly good health (although he's hanging in there very stubbornly) and his caregiver. He is still living at home but he broke his hip and now has round-the-clock care as of this past year. (I can't imagine what costs them, but he's pretty well-to-do so I assume he can afford it.) The caregiver just joined right in with everything like she was part of the family. This is all a pretty extended family, I imagine you're getting that from this description if you've read this far, and so it has expanded and contracted to include a variety of people over the years. We usually only see them this one time of the year, but they always seem happy to see us, and it's sort of the last remnant of Christmas that we much participate in.

We normally go on Christmas Eve, stay one night, my aunt ritually complains that we don't stay longer, and we normally go on home late in the afternoon on Christmas Day just the same. This year, since we had to work on the 23rd, we begged off coming until Christmas Day. I enjoyed being home on Christmas Eve, as I said in the last entry, but I'm not sure if the logistics will work out to be able to do that every year. (We'll worry about that starting 11 months or so from now.) Anyway, people came and went, we opened gifts, we watched movies at my aunt's house ("Elf" and "Enchanted") and then Rob & I & a couple of the younger ones went down the street to my cousins' house to spend the night, and we watched more movies ("A New Hope" - which I hadn't actually seen in years, I decided - and part of "Avatar" before we finally collapsed. (To connect around to what I said earlier, I got about 5 hours of sleep, woke up at 6am and never did go back to sleep again. I finally gave up and started setting up my new paper planner that I got as one of my gifts.)

It was a pretty good Christmas, overall.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (retro-style holiday lights)
Well, the junk first of all: If you went to movies a lot in the '80s, like we did, this is a stupendously easy quiz. (A 50-question quiz that 11% of people get 100% right can't be too difficult, after all.) (I did have to guess on a couple, but they don't even make guessing terribly hard. I am kinda the queen of the educated guess.)

We went to see Rogue One again (still love it) and ate lasagne and watched the first episode of Stranger Things. That was our Christmas Eve. Honestly, it beats most Christmas Eves cold, at least the ones of recent years. Tomorrow we have to do the family stuff. I've washed my hair and I need to do my nails and I'm sure I'll think of ten other highly-important things I have to do before bedtime. I can't much make myself care, though.

Stranger Things was pretty awesome, although more of you probably know much more about it than I do. (Does that sentence make any sense at all? I'm not sure, but I'm leaving it like that anyway.) We finished Jessica Jones yesterday (also awesome) and I told Rob that we could watch Stranger Things next if he wanted before we go on to Luke Cage. I don't know that Rob knew anything at all about it, but *I* knew that he would love Stranger Things, it's totally right up his alley. (Speaking of '80s.) It's very, um, early Steven Spielberg crossed with Stand By Me. Or something like that.

Col and I played Marvel Heroes for a while. He is playing Luke Cage and is surprised that he likes it. I liked Luke too (not to mention that he's stupendously hot in Jessica Jones, but I hadn't seen that yet when I was playing him) so I'm not too surprised. Oh, having seen Jessica Jones TV now, I realized suddenly what she's wearing in the game, the other day - it's the "Jewel" superhero outfit that Trish is seen in the series trying to get her to wear. She's been standing talking to Ben Urich in Avengers Tower since I've been playing, and I always wondered what the hell that was she was wearing. (I believe you can also play Jessica as a team-up but I haven't tried it; I'm pretty sure she's wearing something else in that incarnation. And Ben Urich in this game is a younger-looking white guy, in contrast to the older black guy who's in the first season of Daredevil. Reconciling all this now that I've watched half - exactly half - of the existing Marvel Netflix stuff is kind of weird.)

Also (still on the Marvel Heroes track) I spent some money on costumes last week and I now have the girl version of Thor and a couple of Christmas costumes (Daredevil and Squirrel Girl). I'm probably going to feel like I wasted my money on Christmas costumes later but I really like the female Thor. There are actually two female Thors; the other one is Jane Foster (who I think becomes Thor for a while in the comics?) but the one I'm using is the Earth X version, which I really know nothing at all about. She says something about Loki having tricked her into the new body (but she also says she kind of likes it.) Either I read somewhere or Col told me (I have no idea which) that this version, or maybe both versions, won't let anybody call her Lady Thor or anything like that; she's just Thor, still. That's about all I know about that, although I'm interested that they bothered to do two different female voices for Thor. He has a buttload of costumes, too (although not as many as Iron Man) - some of the male ones might have "enhanced" (aka different, rerecorded) voices, too, for all I know. I haven't paid much attention. But I tried playing regular Thor with the default costume and I stalled out about level 30-something. So I was hoping that the different take on Thor would propel me along, and it has - well, I'm still not all that far along in story progression but she hit level 60 tonight, so that's definitely an improvement. I'm not sure why it makes that much difference, exactly, but apparently it does.

OK, that's enough for tonight. I need to go do my nails. Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, or other holiday/nonholiday of your choice. Or Christmas Eve Gift, as my grandma used to say. (Family phrase of unknown origin; I think I end up explaining that one pretty much every year.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Calvin - not fair)
We're almost a week into December and I've barely said a word about Christmas. I did mention having made paper chains and of course I mentioned Holidailies and I mentioned Music Advent, but actual Christmas or gifts or anything? Not really. We do have plans for it but I can't say I'm feeling enthusiastic about it, and I guess that's why. I'm looking forward to Rogue One more than I'm looking forward to Christmas. (I think I said basically the same thing last year - or rather I said that the day we went to see The Force Awakens I felt like a kid at Christmas, which amounts to more or less the same thing.)

Christmas is when I miss my mother the most, for one thing. I try not to dwell on that because I'll be a big bawling mess in no time if I do, but it's true. My mom was very childlike in her love for Christmas, and she liked getting gifts and I enjoyed buying them for her. (She liked giving them too and of course I enjoy getting them, as well, but honestly I loved picking out gifts for her more than anything else. She and I spent so much time together in the last ten years or so of her life, especially, that I always could figure out stuff to give her.) I enjoy buying presents for Rob, too, but it's not the same, somehow. Rob and I are both very pragmatic about gifts and we either pick out gifts for ourselves or we give very clear hints, at least. I think it comes of not having much money for most of our lives together. And I've given up even trying to buy gifts for my sister because for many years she wouldn't have anything to do with Christmas at all, and now she works for a luxury department store (I usually avoid saying the name of it anywhere public, but it's based in Dallas and it used to put out a famous Christmas catalog, you know the one) and anything I could buy for her of that sort she can buy for herself at a discount. I used to send her jewelry that I'd made and stuff, but now I just send her a handmade card and have done, because I can't figure out what else she might want.

My parents have both been gone for a number of years now, but this is the first Christmas Rob has been parentless. Last year he went to Ohio at Christmas because we knew his mom was going downhill fast, and it was good that he did because she died in early January. (And he ended up going back up there for the funeral right in the middle of the Snowpocalypse, remember that? I didn't even go with him, mostly because I freaked out at the very thought of flying... but all that's really another story.) Anyway, all that plus the awfulness of 2016 in general makes it real hard to get into the Christmas spirit, that's what I'm saying.

We are going to do what we usually do at Christmas and go see my aunt and my cousins, who live a couple of hours away and who are the last remnant of my mom's side of the family. Usually Christmas is the only time we see them, most years. Because of Christmas being on Sunday and the fact that we have the whole next week off, we have to work the evening shift on Friday the 23rd like we normally do on any other Friday, and so I told my aunt that we weren't going to try to come on Christmas Eve and we would just come up on Christmas Day. It seemed simpler. Usually we go up there Christmas Eve and it's just a long afternoon of hanging out doing nothing much. I think I'll llike this new way better, actually. And I'm going to try real, real hard not to let a word of politics come out of my mouth.

I guess I should go find some sort of little gift for my cousin's three granddaughters, who are in the sort of 5-10 y.o. range now. I think I have enough stuff to go around for most everybody else. (I'm doing the same thing I've done the past several years for all the female people old enough to wear makeup, and making up little gift bags out of Sephora samples, etc., which they all seem to love. I'll have to take a picture of the pile of stuff I have - I haven't remembered to the last couple of years, but it's usually pretty substantial.)


(I put the "it's not fair" icon up there because I dislike the tone of this entry - I feel like I'm being childish. And I'm not as depressed as it makes me sound, so don't freak out about me or anything. I was tempted to just delete it but I'm not.)

Holidailies - blue
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
I believe I used the phrase "up in the air" regarding our holiday plans before, and well, now they're really up in the air, because barring weather problems, Rob is going to be in Ohio on Christmas morning, and is coming back home later that day. Rob's mom is apparently sliding downhill fast (she has Alzheimer's) and Rob's brother is worried about it enough that he thinks Rob should make another trip up. So he's going on the 20th and coming back on the 25th. We made the reservations tonight and the plane fares really weren't as outrageous as I was afraid they might be. I'm not sure how much of an emergency it really is but if it was my mom, I wouldn't want to take chances with that. It works out pretty well because he only has to take a couple of days off work, and then he's still got the whole week off after that to be on holiday. I can still do... whatever it is we end up doing with my side of the family, and I don't kid myself that Rob is going to care that much about missing that. And then I can go pick him up on Christmas night.

(We had a string of years starting in 1999 when my uncle was in the hospital over Christmas, and ending, I guess, in 2006 before my mother died, where just about every holiday season got disrupted by somebody's serious illness. That's why I wrote that in the title. But, y'know, there's not much to be done about that.)

So Rob was off today and I had a doctor's appointment, and I started to offer to change the appointment, and then I realized that the doctor's office is right by our favorite little Chinese restaurant, and so instead I kept my appointment and Rob met me at the restaurant afterwards. And then we actually went to the mall, which we hardly ever do, especially in December when it's so crowded. We figured a Monday would be the least-crowded you could get this time of year, and I think that was true, in that we actually were able to find a decent parking space, but it was still pretty crowded. We picked the end away from the brand-new wing, but there were still lots of people around. (The new two-level parking garage was already open, which probably helped with the parking. I had had some vague idea that it wasn't finished yet.) We wandered through H&M and into Sephora, and a friendly Sephora employee saw us looking at Nest perfumes and showed me the last remaining Black Friday Nest gift set, which was three small rollerballs of three different Nest fragrances for $10. I snapped it up without even worrying about which fragrances were in it, because if I don't want them for myself, I can always use them for stocking stuffers.

But that was the only thing we bought other than coffee. We browsed Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works and I heroically refrained from buying any more candles, which are always one of my weaknesses. I do want to see the new expansion eventually, but I can stand to wait til the holiday rush is over for that, and we didn't venture down that far today. It was a big mall already, even before this last expansion. (They were building this mall when I was in high school. I could pretty much name you the expansions and the changes in the major tenants over the years. It started with Joske's, Montgomery Ward, and Sears - Sears is the only one still there. Joske's got bought up by Dillard's, and M.Ward went bankrupt, what, years ago now.)

2015holibadge-blue.gif
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (madness)
My plan for #musicadvent (I'm using the hashtag because that name came from Twitter) was to start with the first year I can remember at all, which is 1963. If you didn't see any of this last year, the idea here is to pick one song a day, a different year each day. Last year it started in 1989 and worked up to the present, year by year. It turns out that the person who came up with the idea last year had a similar idea to mine for this year - or possibly that's what they were actually doing in the first place, if they're young. (Added: actually she may have gotten the idea from me, at least there's a tweet I missed at the time that makes it sounds like it. I wasn't sure.) In any case, this year the rule is to start with the year you were born and then work onward from there. Because I'm not good at following rules and because I was born in 1960 but the music of the early '60s mostly bores me (and also because I largely came up with this idea in order to have an excuse to talk a lot about the music of the 80s, and starting earlier would mess up that plan), I've decided I'm going to come up with something for 1960 today - I have no idea what, right now - and then tomorrow I'm going back to my original plan of starting with 1963. (The plan for the LJ/Holidailies part of this also includes plans to talk about what I remember about those years and such, and since I don't remember 1960-1962 at all, that wouldn't work for that, either.)

OK, I have looked at the Billboard list from 1960, and I'm going to go with the #1 song here, because it illustrates oh-so-well why I'm skipping ahead: it was "Theme from A Summer Place" by Percy Faith. I went and listened to 15 seconds or so of it, and I swear my blood pressure started going up. I'm going to link to a YouTube video in case you don't know the song offhand, but I can't even bear to embed it.

If you're younger, you may not understand why I hate this song with quite such a fiery passion. Well, of course it pretty much objectively sucks, too, but that's only part of the reason. I grew up on a steady diet of The Percy Faith Orchestra and Mantovani and all that kind of thing (which nowadays is not even anything you hear on elevators, but it's pretty much where the term elevator music comes from). My dad, especially, loved that stuff. My mother had slightly cooler tastes, for her era - by which I mean she liked Elvis, at least - but she didn't care about it enough to try to overrule my dad. The only radio station my dad would listen to was KODA, which even nowadays is "Sunny 99.1" and still annoys the crap out of me, although it doesn't play Mantovani any more, of course. (Actually it's one of those stations that switches over to 24-hour Christmas music sometime in November, and you know how annoying those are.)

You notice I was all neutral about it in the first paragraph and I just said it was boring, and then I actually listened to one of those songs and I was like omgplznoooooo in about two seconds. So much for neutrality. Anyway, you get the idea, I think. Like many things in childhood, I had this shit crammed down my throat, and even in middle age I can still get worked up about it. So I think that's enough said, right?
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I was thinking on the way home tonight about where we spend Christmas. Rob was reminiscing about a Christmas long ago when one of my cousins was a teenager and it was at "my dad's house" - so he said. This had to mean my mom AND dad's house, before they got divorced, since the cousin is on my mom's side of the family and anyway, we never had Christmas at my dad's after they were divorced. Honestly we never had Christmas terribly often there before that, either. But that was mostly because most years, we went to my grandparents' house, on my mom's side. I know we had Christmas at our house at least a few times - there was a year that I remember laying in bed (then as now, I was pretty much an insomniac) and watching my parents put out the "Santa" gifts - there was a clear line of sight between the front bedroom, where we slept, and the living room, and apparently nobody stopped to think that either of us might be awake. I don't think my parents understood how bad a sleeper I was. (For one thing, I think I thought that I was doing something wrong by staying awake, or at least they would think so, so I didn't say much about it.)

That was at the house we lived in when I was a kid, though. The house that Rob was talking about was the house on the bayou that my parents moved to after I was in college. They lived there for about 10 years, until they got divorced, and then my dad lived there for quite a few years more, although I can't remember exactly what year he finally sold the house - but we never had Christmas there in those years, I know that. In fact I hardly ever saw him on Christmas Day after the divorce. Mostly he spent Christmas with whatever wife or girlfriend he had at the time, after the divorce, and we went on going to our grandparents' house on the other side, like always, until my grandparents both died. We rarely ever spent Christmas with my dad's mother, even when we were young - as you may have already figured out - but usually we would go there at some point, on the way home from the other grandparents'. It felt a bit like an afterthought, quite frankly. (Even my dad liked it better at the other grandparents' house, we all knew that. His mom was not really a fun person, to say the least. She was a good cook, though. We didn't spend the night but we always stayed for a meal.)

We did have at least one Christmas at the bayou house, though, and one Christmas at my sister's house, a few years later, and a few times we went to my uncle's house at least for Christmas dinner, too. I'm sure there were a variety of factors that figured into this that I don't really remember any more. I remember some discussion about keeping my grandmother (probably both of them, really) from having to do too much work. But the outcome of that was that we kept celebrating Christmas just like we always did, we just made sure everybody else did most of the work.

I'll never be able to remember all 50 years of Christmasses, and nobody would want to hear about all of them if I could! But I can't come close. It's interesting to try to sort it all out in my head, just the same.

Santa

Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:32 pm
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
I was thinking vaguely about doing another Christmas quiz that I saw, but I'm feeling entirely too lazy. (Actually I feel a little light-headed, which had better not mean that I'm about to get sick again. This time of year you never know.) But the quiz had a question about Santa, and that reminded me of this:
Visit to Santa, mid-60s
I think this was probably 1966 - at least my hair matches the other pictures from that year - and I do not look really thrilled about seeing Santa. My sister (the blonde one) looks a little intimidated, too, and she's usually one of those people who lights up any time there's a camera nearby, so it's possible that something else was going on to draw those odd expressions out of both of us! (Look at her body language, that's what I'm looking at. Like maybe Santa's squeezing a bit too tight, or something. I just look kind of bored.)

(We have other Santa pictures somewhere from other years, I'm pretty sure. This is just the one that made it onto Flickr.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas light gif)
Because I have mentioned this topic several times this month: I was surprised to see the Crown Princess in port in Galveston today, since I thought Princess Cruises were not coming to Galveston. Maybe wherever they're going to go in LaPorte - which is inland, up the Ship Channel - is not ready yet. But it was definitely here for today. (In fact, if it's on a normal cruise ship schedule it's probably gone by now. They usually leave around 4 or 4:30, far as I've ever been able to tell.)

It's quiet at work today, but not quite as much as I expected. Really not much more so than any Saturday has been lately. (Hospitals do have to keep functioning through the holidays, after all, though, so campus is never completely deserted, even on Christmas.)

I've been going gradually back through my old LJ entries and fixing keywords (and icons, which also got broken somewhere along the line) - it's interesting to read through those old entries. The keyword I was fixing today was "news" and some of those entries are a bit perplexing to read now. I was talking about current events to an audience who presumably knew what I was talking about at the time, and I didn't always bother to explain to any great degree (or sometimes at all). And most of the links don't work now, of course. Most of it I remembered after thinking about it a while, but there were one or two that I had forgotten about completely.

I also found a reference to the movie "Hollywoodland" which I had completely forgotten the existence of. I had to go look it up before I remembered what it was at all. I vaguely remember it now, but only vaguely. The George Reeves thing, yeah, but what actually happened in the movie? Not really. And yet I quite liked it at the time.

Oh, last night I found About a Boy in the $1 section of OnDemand, so I watched that. I remembered that I liked it, although not a lot about it, either - and Rob also wandered through and got interested, so he's going to have to come back & watch it later. It's a 2-day rental, so if he'll remember to do it we don't even have to pay another dollar. It really is a pretty good movie - it holds up better than a lot of Hugh Grant's movies. (Also, the "boy" of the title is one of the mutants of "X-Men: First Class." I would never have figured that one out without IMDb. He doesn't look much the same at all. And Natalia Tena is in it! - she did actually look the same once I stopped and looked at her, although she was 15 or 16 at the time.)

I did finally talk to my aunt. We are having Christmas dinner at my cousin Brittany's new house, which of course I haven't seen. She also has a new baby which I haven't seen either. (I'm pretty sure I never sent a baby gift, either, come to think of it. Darnit.)

(Yes, my cousin is much younger than me. I use "cousin" extremely loosely to refer to a bunch of first cousins and cousins-once-or-twice-removed and people who I have known all my life - or theirs, anyway - and usually don't stop to figure out my actual relation to. They may or may not be actual blood relatives, but they're all cousins as far as I am concerned.)

Come to think of it, I read the book of About a Boy once too - Nick Hornby wrote it. I remember that it was not quite so heart-warming but y'know, Hugh Grant movies of 10 years ago were required to be heartwarming, it was like a law or something. So not surprising.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas light gif)
I seem to be somewhat in denial about the onset of Christmas. I have done some things - for example, I dragged out the wreaths a couple of weeks ago, and put them on both the front door and the balcony door. (I like both my wreaths - the balcony one is battery-operated and twinkles merrily every night. I like to watch it, and this is its fifth December on our balcony, so I think you have to say we got our $30 worth out of that purchase.) And I put the big long string of LED lights across the balcony railing, as well. My apartment complex is way into the holiday decorating, and since our balcony is the ONLY one visible from the street, I feel compelled to do my bit there. And I have done part of my cards and have been gradually working on the rest. And I bought Rob some gifts.

But... there are a number of things I haven't done, either. We discussed putting up the tree and sort of abandoned the idea, because it's a pain and we don't have a really good spot for it. I did put out a couple of decor things, so I made a token effort there. I haven't called my aunt and asked about what I should bring - or (hell!) even told her that we're definitely coming, now that I think about it. (I really, really need to do that one, now that I think about it.) I haven't done anything about a gift for Rob's parents. They're at the point where it's really difficult to get them anything they actually want, but I do try to at least make an effort. I'm going to have to think up some last-minute something, there. Although, man, with mailing issues I'm cutting that one close, aren't I? I haven't wrapped presents or gotten any kind of token presents for my aunt and my cousins or any of that, although all of that is stuff I usually do at the last minute, too. But I'm working this weekend so even getting out the door on Monday is going to be a bit problematic. I really do have to do some of this stuff, and some of it had best be TODAY or at least tomorrow, while I still have a week to go.

Hell, now I've worked myself into a bit of a panic. I'm not sure that's helpful. But knowing me, I'll have pushed all this to the back of my mind again in 15 minutes, anyway.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (HP - Phoenix)
(The title is by way of a trigger warning, I guess. You can't say I didn't warn you.)

I was sitting in the bathtub earlier, thinking about what I was going to write an entry about - I was thinking about Livejournal keywords, to start with, but that will probably be a topic for another day, because my thoughts wandered then to my most-often-used keywords. I suspect that my actual most-often-used keyword might be "meme" although I haven't checked to see what LJ says (and the whole topic of memes might also be another topic for another day) - but certainly a couple of them, over the years, have been "family" and "mom." (My keywords are sort of partially broken, which was the original topic that I was thinking about - but that also means that the keywords you can see at the side of my page now are not necessarily reflective of what I was using back before they were broken.) I don't think I started using "mom" as a keyword until the last year or so of my mom's life, anyway, but if I had been using it every time I mentioned her over the years, it might be the top keyword hands down.

Background, for those of you who don't know this stuff already: my mom and I were really close. We made quilts together. I went over to her house just about every Saturday for many years - usually we had lunch and went shopping a bit and then worked on quilts, that was the normal itinerary, anyway. And well before I started journaling online, in 2001, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then in 2004 she was diagnosed with a different cancer (which might or might not have metastasized from the first one - that's never been clear). The second one was a brain tumor - I wrote a whole entry about the tumor one year as my introduction to Holidailies, which is partly why I assume that a lot of people know this story already. (It was an attempt at dark humor. I'm not real sure how successful it was.) Anyway, the brain tumor worsened kind of abruptly in the last part of 2006 and she died in early 2007 - and then I spent most of that year and into the next dealing with her estate, so that's another year-plus of mom-related entries. It's probably only after Hurricane Ike late in 2008 that I stopped talking about my mom constantly, one way or another.

My dad actually had cancer, as well, and it eventually killed him too, or so we think - he died last May of what was probably complications of prostate cancer. If you are a cancer patient and you die, it's assumed that the cancer killed you, not surprisingly, and autopsies are not routine, so nobody is really sure. My dad and I were not particularly close - his appearances in LJ tend to be more of the venting variety - and besides, by the time he was diagnosed, my mom already had the brain tumor and mere prostate cancer just could not compare. Back years ago when he had multiple-bypass surgery, I rushed to his side and hung around the ICU for days and all that kind of thing, so it's not that I entirely didn't care. But when you have a job and are 100 miles away, it's hard to hang around the hospital for months and years of radiation treatment. Both my parents were more into "years" territory there, and I didn't actually hang around for my mom's either, although I did go up to M.D. Anderson with her a few times. Luckily both of them had spouses/partners who were willing to shoulder the burden of the daily stuff, or I don't know what I'd have done. (I do have a sister, who was in another city altogether and was no help there. That's another topic that came up often in those years.)

So actually this is my first Christmas as an "orphan" - a 50-year old orphan, but an orphan nevertheless. I haven't spent Christmas with my dad for many years, and my mom has been gone for a surprising number of Christmases now - this will be six, I guess - so it doesn't make all that much difference, in an immediate sense. But it's still weird, no matter how old you are.


Added: I mentioned writing about my father in order to vent, and there's certainly a lot of that, if you poke around (some of the venting entries are still friendslocked but others are not), but I feel like I have to point out that I did my fair share of venting about my mom, back in the day, too. I adored her, but she was still my mom and she sometimes drove me crazy, as moms tend to do.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
I know it's not the most important thing about Christmas, but the first thing I want to talk about is that my cousin shellaced my nails (shellacked? I dunno). I have been somewhat less nail-obsessed lately than I had been in a while, but this has woken that obsession up just a bit, apparently. For those of you - probably most of you - that don't know what that means, it's sort of the latest thing in nail polish. I think it was this color that she used (but she didn't pay that much for it because she's a licensed cosmetologist and all that stuff - but I think she said she paid $15 a bottle for it, which is still a lot, and it's not a very big bottle, either). Anyway, the deal is that you set it with a UV lamp and it goes on very thick and shiny and hard and it's supposed to last a long time, that's the idea, anyway. I am not entirely convinced about that, but it really looks good, at the very least. That's really why I let her do it, because I wanted to know if it really lasts long enough to be remotely worth it. It didn't really take any longer to do than a regular manicure, because the drying time is built in - and with somebody else doing the painting, you can paint one hand while the other one is stuck in the UV thing, so it goes even faster. (Although I am too cheap to pay for manicures, not to mention the fact that I just don't want anybody messing with my cuticles - little quirk of mine - so even if I bother to go out and buy all the stuff for it, I will still be doing it myself, anyway.) So that was my "unofficial" Christmas present from my cousin, and I'll try to remember to report back on how it lasts!

As far as the actual Christmas festivities... well, my cousins have children of various ages, and some of THEM have children, so there was a lot of coming and going between the various sets of parents and grandparents and such, and there was one pair of children I never did see at all, but at least I managed to see most of the extended family, anyway. (My aunt is now a great-grandmother, which I still find kind of freaky.) The children I did see all behaved very well, and it was quite a pleasant couple of days, overall.

I'm not really talking about presents, that much, because I already had most of mine - SWTOR was one, technically, because it was pretty expensive, and I also have a new printer which I haven't even hooked up yet. (And there's all that Stampin Up stuff I bought lately, which I would like to be able to count as a Christmas present because I feel guilty about it, but really it's not.) Rob got a couple of surprises for me - a Dr Who video (it was a Pertwee one, I forget the name), and "The King's Speech". His surprises are almost always either DVDs or jewelry, and this year it was videos. He's pretty good at picking both, really. I got him a t-shirt that I found on Etsy that said, "Danger ZOMBIES Run" which he really liked. (I think it's on my Pinterest account, if you know where that is, but otherwise I'm feeling too lazy to go look it up.) I'm glad he liked it because it was fairly expensive by the time I paid shipping and everything. And he got a whole bunch of comic book anthologies, and a couple of videos - one was an old Warner Archive movie that I can't remember the name of. (It had James Farentino in it, and it may have been an old Movie of the Week, I'm not sure. He loves those. -- And yes, as you may be able to infer from all that, he told me what to buy.) Oh, yeah, and the other one was Fright Night (this years' version - he of course already has the old one) - I said that one was really a present for both of us, because I liked that one too.

(Okay, I talked about presents more than I thought. Oh well.)


mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (winter trees)
(Middle of the night, last night) I need to go to bed, because I have to get up relatively early, but I can't quite make myself go to bed. We are having lunch with my dad tomorrow - I haven't seen him in nearly a year, I think. I talk to him on the phone occasionally but that's about it. So I'm simultaneously sort of looking forward to and dreading this lunch, all at once.


(Later) I got to bed and got a reasonable amount of sleep but I feel sort of crappy, still. But then I have felt sort of crappy for days on end. I think I have sort of a low-level sinus infection going, or something like that. I've had earaches and sore throats sort of sporadically - they come and they go. I've been through most of a monster Sam's-Club size bag of cough drops already. But I think it's gradually getting better.

It's almost noon and I'm waiting for Rob to get back from the gym so we can leave. It's raining outside, again - it's been raining or raining with sleet and snow mixed in (that was in Bryan on Christmas Eve) or something of the sort off and on for days. (The kids were excited about the snow even if it WAS mixed with rain - it was funny.)


(Even later) I did feel better this afternoon, and to balance out the karma, or something, my voice disappeared. Well, not completely, but everything came out as a croak all day. Still, it's better than feeling bad.

The afternoon didn't go too badly. We had Chinese food and watched a movie, which is much preferable to attempting to have a conversation with my dad. (The problem there being that my dad doesn't really have conversations, at least not for more than a couple of minutes at a time. After that, he gets excited about some subject or other and he stops hearing you, and just orates. It never fails.) The movie was 8 Below, which is about sled dogs; it's a Disney movie, but not one of those ones where the dogs talk. I had actually heard halfway decent things about it, so I was happy to watch it. (Spoilery thoughts about the movie below.) I don't know if Rob really wanted to stay and see a movie, but considering, as I said, that we hadn't seen my dad and his wife in a year, I felt obliged to stay a while. So we watched the movie and played with their dog - who, probably not coincidentally, is a husky - and whiled away the afternoon. It was well after dark before we left.

I didn't have a very good present for my stepmother, and I felt bad because she made us a really nice afghan in very pretty colors that I really like. (And it's not too heavy, which is the problem I have with many afghans.) I'm gonna have to attempt to make up for that at some point, although we have the excuse of my unemployment for bad gifts, this year. Come to think of it, I don't even know when her birthday is, and they've been married for years now. Which probably tells you a lot about my relationship with my dad, right there. I had a couple of books from Half-Price for my dad, which he seemed to like. I always buy my dad the same sort of books - stuff from the history section, about WWII or the Alamo, mostly, or sometimes about the space program. If he's tired of them he's very good at hiding it!



spoilers, seriously )

2004

Dec. 29th, 2009 10:43 pm
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Happy NY - sparkly)
There was a Holidailies prompt from a couple of weeks ago to talk about the holidays 5 years ago. It took me all this time to write it up, but here it is:

2004 was a memorable Christmas (and year) to me. I don't really have to think about it much to recall it, because it was completely unlike any other year. First of all, it was the year it snowed in Galveston on Christmas Eve, and we completely missed it. One of my friends said that they had gone to church and they came out and it was snowing, and it was like being in "White Christmas" or something. And of course the chance of a measurable snowfall in Galveston on any day at all, much less Christmas Eve, is miniscule. So it figures that we weren't there.

We were in Austin, visiting my sister. Rob and my mother and I drove up there, and I remember that I had made some Christmas mix CDs just for the occasion, which were basically crafted just for my mom - I put a lot of old stuff on there, Louis Armstrong and Judy Garland and such, and I remember her saying that she really liked the music and there was even some she didn't remember having heard before. (It might have been the Louis Armstrong version of "Winter Wonderland" that I'm thinking of.) I'd almost forgotten that my mom wasn't supposed to drive at the time, which was one reason she was riding with us - although we probably would have done that anyway. She had had seizures a couple of months before that, and had had a biopsy, and by Christmas we already knew that she had a brain tumor and that the prognosis was not all that good. (I think the oncologist told me, when I pressed him, that patients with a tumor like hers typically lived 3-5 years. She lived a little more than two.)

It wasn't a bad Christmas, but it was a deeply weird one, as you can imagine. In fact there was even more to it than that. Both my mom and my sister were supposed to have surgery right after Christmas - brain surgery for my mom, and a hysterectomy for my sister. My sister and her husband had just moved to Austin with their teenage son, and were still adjusting to that. Or not adjusting so much, because I don't think we knew at the time that my sister was intending to leave her husband, and was only waiting until the surgery was over to do it. We knew that they were having trouble, but not that things were so immediate, I think.

The house that they were living in in Austin was an interesting one - it was sort of a patio home, but a big one, and it was right up against a creek (Shoal Creek? I'm not sure). I remember that they had a big, pretty cut Christmas tree, but it didn't have any decorations on it. I think my sister had been too busy getting the house straightened out to worry about decorating specifically for the holidays. (Remember that this is the same sister who has pretty much refused to have anything to do with Christmas in the five years since her divorce. But I never have been sure exactly why.)

Let's see, my nephew is 18 now, so he was 13 (going on 14) then. He is a nice kid. I don't really remember that much that he did or said that Christmas, really - I was all centered on my mother, mostly. I do remember all going down in the gully and scrambling around for a while. It was really, really cold and I remember seeing icicles on the rocks over the roads around Austin, but it didn't snow.

We came on Christmas Eve, and went home on the 26th. On Christmas afternoon, my nephew and his dad left and went to visit the other side of the family outside Houston. I remember being terribly relieved - I think we thought that my brother-in-law was acting awfully weird, and so we were happy that he was gone. We were always on civil terms with him and in fact we still are, but we've never had anything much in common. He thought I was flaky and I thought he was pretentious, so we did really good to be civil to each other all these years, I guess!

I even remember where we went out to eat: we went to Cheesecake Factory on Christmas Eve - it was the first time I had been to one - and on the day after Christmas before we left, we went to the original Chuy's, down by Zilker Park. Both of them were mobbed. I don't remember much about Christmas dinner itself, though. My brother-in-law usually cooked the turkey, so he must've done that, but I don't much remember that part.


Oh! I remembered one more thing - my car got broken into the night before we left, in Galveston. Maybe I didn't lock it, because the window wasn't broken, but somebody got into the trunk and stole some food and CDs and stuff. The food was stuff I was taking for Christmas, but we scrambled around and replaced most of it, and the CDs were actually mostly homemade CDs from TUS people, so they didn't have any particular commercial value, but that also made them a bit irreplaceable. (Although people did make me copies of some of them later.) I told myself that whoever would steal food out of my trunk on December 23rd was probably hungry themselves, but I'm not sure I believe it. I think some people just think that Christmas is a fine occasion for theft. Anyway, there were no presents in the trunk, so it sure could've been a lot worse.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (winter trees)
We are back to playing LOTRO again (Lord of the Rings Online, that is), since we finally exhausted the available quests in WoW. (Come to think of it, I need to go into WoW and cancel my monthly billing plan, before I forget again, or I'm going to keep getting charged $15 a month indefinitely!) While we were gone, they did a big update in LOTRO and changed a bunch of stuff. There's a new expansion, which is Mirkwood, but we're not likely to see it any time soon since it's a high-level area and we don't have any characters that high. Actually they raised the level cap, too, from 60 to 65. My highest character is 45, and actually we haven't even been playing the highest ones since we got back, we've been playing my "champion" (like a warrior), who is an elf, and Col's minstrel (LOTRO's version of a healer). I can't even remember for sure if Col's minstrel (who is named Loere) is an elf or a human - I think elf. Elves and humans look awfully much alike in LOTRO, except elves are a bit taller and have pointy ears which you can't see half the time anyway. I think they should have made them look a bit more different!

Anyway, those characters were around level 30 when we got back and have gone up several levels since then. Col has another character who he plays when I'm not around, who is one or another of the warrior-ish classes which I never can tell apart, and who is progressing even faster since I was gone for two whole days and Ceir got to play a lot while I was gone, apparently! Col and I both are given to more or less inventing our own names, if you're wondering where all these names come from. He has Loere and Noere and Ceir and Cleia - that one he's used in other games - aaaand one more that is escaping me right now. I have Anerulias the elf-warrior (who I usually just refer to as Ana) and Ceinnwyn the minstrel (she's human) and Zaina the hunter, who is a hobbit, and then I have two more I rarely play - Meleuriel, another elf, and Fineldir, a male human. I hardly ever do male characters and Col never does, but once in a while I do get the urge to try one out.

I usually just make up names by combining bits of things, like, well, Ceinnwyn is supposed to be from Rohan so she gets the "-wyn" suffix like Eowyn, and I think I just thought the "Cein" part sounded sort of generally Celtic. "Meleuriel" was because I usually have a character named Mel-something, and the '-riel" part is another bit of Tolkien-ish name. And so forth.

There are actually four races in LOTRO - elves, humans, hobbits and dwarves. Dwarves are male exclusively - I'm guessing that's because Tolkien was coy about what female dwarves look like. The joke that's in the Two Towers movie about female dwarves looking just like male ones, beards included, is straight out of canon, but it's in an appendix somewhere, as I recall, and it's just given as sort of a rumor - Tolkien just kinda says "nobody really knows." Which is kind of annoying, really, but what can you do. So anyway, Col won't try dwarves out at all, and I did try one once, but I never played mine and I finally deleted him after he stayed stuck at level 6 for a couple of months, because looking at him was annoying me, for whatever reason.

Another new thing that came in with the expansion was "starter horses" or what we refer to as "poky horses" because they're very very slow. But they're faster than walking and you can get them a lot earlier than you can get a regular (non-poky) horse, and they're not all that expensive, either, so I've been getting them for all my lower-level characters (which is all of them except Ceinnwyn, who is the level 45 one). Horses also have names, which they didn't have before - apparently starter horses default to being named Barley, and Zaina's starter pony was named Silver. (Ceinnwyn's horse had a different name which I can't recall at the moment, but it was something botanical.) I didn't think much of Barley as a name, so in a fit of silliness I changed Ana's horse's name to Malt, at least until I get a better idea.

(Interestingly, I actually had an Uncle Barley, although he died when I was little and I don't remember him too well. He was an uncle, or actually great-uncle, by marriage - he was married to my grandmother's sister Ethel. An awful lot of those old-fashioned names have been coming back into style, but I haven't heard of anybody naming their child Barley just yet!)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
This was the Holidailies prompt for yesterday:
Tell us about an odd-but-beloved holiday tradition you or your family celebrate.

And I wasn't intending to write about ours because I was sure I had written about it before, but if I did it's gone - at least, I couldn't find it on Livejournal, so if I did it was on Diary-X or some other mysterious place, no idea. I checked every Christmas Eve or thereabouts back as far as my LJ goes - which is 2004, although really I didn't move over here full-time until 2006 or so, I think. And it's a Christmas Eve tradition so that's when I would have thought to write about it. It's the only weird holiday tradition I can think of in my family - so I guess that means I get to tell this story again, after all.

It's not really so much a story, anyway; it's just a thing. This little random thing that I've never heard anybody else anywhere mention as a family tradition, so I don't know where it came from or anything about it. It came from my maternal grandmother, as far as I know, and I would guess that possibly it's Czech, because my mother's family was from there, except that it was the other side of the family that came over from Moravia - that is, my mother's father's side, not her mother's. My grandmother didn't pick up on any other Czech family traditions that I know of, so I can't imagine that she would have just picked this one up and run with it. It's a mystery.

Well, anyway, all it is is this: on Christmas Eve, my grandmother and mother would go around kissing/hugging people (they did primarily stick to family members) and saying "Christmas Eve Gift!" Because - I guess - the kiss was the gift, you see. It got to be this family joke. And now that both of them are gone, my sister and I say it to each other, and maybe to Aunt Linda and some of the cousins, because they're the only ones who know what the heck we're talking about. It's this weird little stranded tradition, and it's sort of sad and sweet and funny, all at once.


My parents, 1960 (which would also have been my first Christmas)


Note: apparently I was asleep, or something, when I looked to see if I had posted about this before. There's a much more concise rendition of the story right here, from last Christmas Eve.

mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Halloween kitten)
You gotta watch out for those Canadians. (via [livejournal.com profile] iainpj )

(This was written yesterday - I'm telling you that so I don't have to fix all the references to what day it is!)

We just got back from a field trip to Target and Office Depot. Amazingly, I spent more at OD than I did at Target. (Usually I walk in the door at Target and $60 or so is gone. Boom.) That was mostly because I bought printer ink, though. I am still printing out those pdf's for class so I'm still going through black ink like crazy. All we got at Target was a few things we actually needed, like PowerBars and trash bags, and some Halloween paper goods - paper towels and napkins - because I am a sucker for such things and Target always has them this time of year to enable me with. (With Skelanimals on them, this year! I may die from the cute.) (Also, I'm really embarrassed to admit that I like anything you can buy at Hot Topic, as is apparently the case with Skelanimals, but there it is. It's really not the first time that's happened, either, to tell you the truth.)

Speaking of Halloween, the skull necklace is finished, I'm pretty sure for real this time:
Another necklace picture... )


I'm eating leftover pesto pasta from yesterday - we took Art out to dinner for his birthday (which was last week, but he has children who actually expect to see him on his birthday and everything) and he always wants to go to the same Italian place so he can have his baked ziti. Since it's also my favorite Italian place and maybe Rob's 2nd favorite or something - he thinks their marinara sauce is a bit too sweet - we had no objection whatsoever to that. (I did not, however, order the World's Best Calzone, because I've actually lost a tiny bit of weight and I'd like to continue that. The pesto pasta is not exactly terribly low-cal but I figured it was better than the calzone there.) (I didn't think of this at the time I ordered it, but that pesto pasta was also my mother's favorite entree - I took it to her in the rehab hospital a couple of times, even - and yesterday, as it happens, was also my mother's birthday.) I didn't ask Art how old he is, and I have trouble keeping track, but I think he's 87.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (UT tower)
I am kind of groggy but I am bored and not yet sleepy enough for bed. We'll see what I can get out before I crash.

I am spending the night at my aunt's house, but I am primarily here to go to the bank in Normangee tomorrow and turn in the bank stock certificates with my mother's name on them, and get new ones with my name and Paula's instead. It required coming up here a day ahead of time, since the bank has the amazingly old-fashioned hours of 8-2 - isn't that where the term 'bankers hours' came from? Since there is no way in hell I'm liable to start out from Houston and be able to get there by 2:00, I am here in Bryan in order to get a head start on things in the morning. At least I'm closer, and hopefully my aunt will wake me up at a reasonable hour. She usually does.

I went to a bead shop on the way up (Antiques, Beads, & Crafty People, in Pearland), and signed up for two more classes - wire wrapping and peyote stitch. I doubt that I will ever really do any major projects with peyote stitch (which involves seed beads) but I wanted to know the theory. And then tomorrow on the way home I am going to swing by another bead store on the far side of town just to check them out.

I am also going to go visit my mother's grave, since her headstone has been installed since I was last there. Hm, should I take flowers, do you think?
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Las Vegas sign)
(The, uh, less coherent part is here.)

I wasn't sure whether renting a car in Las Vegas was really a good idea, but I would absolutely do it again - besides, I still want to go out to Red Rocks (or whatever that place is called) and we didn't get around to it this trip. We had a little bit of trouble parking at the Golden Nugget, which makes sense since it's downtown and it was Friday night and there were a lot of people at Fremont Street. And I had a bit of trouble navigating here and there but it's not like you can't see the landmarks from most places in Vegas. Parking turned out to be free just about everywhere, which I didn't expect. (The Golden Nugget does charge, but not for guests; noplace we parked on the Strip did.)

We got in so late Friday night so we didn't do anything except go to the hotel and check in and collapse. The Golden Nugget is nicely remodeled, and they're in the process of building another tower - which I certainly hope will include more parking, since we had to go from bottom to top to bottom of the parking garage twice before we found a space. I was happy to see that downtown looks just like it did nearly 25 years ago when I first came to Las Vegas, although frankly I think more places than the Nugget could stand to do some remodeling. (All I care about preserving is the exterior, really.) My sister Paula and her boyfriend Dave were already there when we got there, but they had been walking around all day and had gone up to their room by the time we finally arrived.

When we finally saw them at breakfast Paula was flashing that ring around - it's a big wide ring and I wasn't immediately sure if it was intended to be an engagement ring, but it was. They had already been talking about marriage in December when I was there so I wasn't terribly shocked. Dave is a nice guy and seems much more grounded than most people she's dated, so it's not like I disapprove. They haven't known each other all that long, but as I said yesterday, she's doesn't seem to be any hurry about things, anyway.

They had already been to a lot of different casinos, but Paula said she hadn't been to Paris so that was where we went. I've been there enough times that I had stopped thinking a lot about it looking different from other casinos, but it does, and she loved it. It's true that every other casino does look pretty much alike, as far as the actual casino goes. We wandered around and gambled a bit, and then we went up the Eiffel Tower. I was the only one who had done it before. (Paula has been to Paris, the real one, a couple of times, but didn't go up the real tower, either - she said the lines were too long.) Rob had some pretty serious vertigo on the way up, just like I did the first time. It didn't bother me so much the second time. Everybody was ok once we got up to the top, though, even though we could feel it swaying, which I don't remember noticing the first time. I sure wouldn't want to go up there on a windy day!

After that we walked down to Margaritaville and had late lunch/early dinner - it was about 3:00 by then. We had to wait in line for a good while but we goofed around in the gift shop, which was a fairly interesting place even if you're not a Parrothead. (I really wanted to buy a t-shirt that said "Yes I am a pirate" - don't ask me why that appealed to me so much, but it did - except that I really don't wear t-shirts so it would be a big waste of money, and I wasted enough money gambling that I didn't have much budget left for junk.) The food was pretty good and the drinks were better. The place was hopping and noisy but it was fun.

That reminds me that I can't really say I saw much sign of a recession, overall - although I'm sure most people were paying considerably less for their hotel rooms than they would have a year or two ago, and of course that's having a big impact on the casinos' bottom lines. But people were sure eating and gambling and buying stuff like crazy, as far as I could tell.

The other place we went before we went back downtown was the Rio, where none of us had been before. And it wasn't all that impressive, except for having the cheesiest cocktail-waitress outfits, by far. (And some of them climbed up on podiums and danced, from time to time, too, so I guess they were doubling as sort of go-go dancers, as well as waitresses.) There were sure a lot of people there, though.

That was enough walking that I was starting to have blisters on my feet, by then, so we went back to the hotel and regrouped. I put some neosporin on the blisters and changed shoes, and that gave me enough of a second wind that we were able to go down and see the light show on Fremont and wander in & out of a couple of the casinos down there. I had thought I would want my coat down there after dark but I hardly ended up wearing it at all. It really didn't feel that cold. We did win a little money gambling, Rob and I both did. (He ended up about $100 up for the weekend and I was probably nearly that much down, overall, so hopefully we came out even, or a bit better.)

So that was Saturday, and I've already talked a good bit about Sunday. The only thing I didn't mention was that we were still on the kick of checking out off-Strip casinos, so we did go spend some time at the Palms Sunday before we left. We liked it better than the Rio. It seemed a bit more upscale (although it had just about the most penny slots I've ever seen anywhere) - and it has a movie theater inside, which is something I don't think I've seen anywhere else.

It didn't seem like we walked as much as we did on the last couple of trips to Vegas, but I'm still exhausted today. Actually I just don't think it's possible to go there without walking a lot - unless maybe you're a star and can have your limo pull right up at the front door. (And even then, it's still an awful long way across some of the casinos!) Even with driving ourselves around, well, they don't put the self-parking anywhere convenient, that's for sure!
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Las Vegas sign)
I posted about the lack of weddings, but I failed to say that there is in fact an engagement, a very official one, this time, with his mother's diamond ring and the whole bit. Paula seems to be in love but she is a bit reluctant when it comes to the actual marriage - which is how it should be, as far as I'm concerned. Why hurry?

We got along well with them, all weekend. We didn't spend every minute with them but we mostly moved around together, generally - we would separate and pick a new meeting place for a half-hour or an hour at a time, but we were basically with them all day yesterday and a chunk of the day today. We were supposed to go eat brunch fairly early and then we were going to go drop them off at the airport - I didn't mind, it's not far - and since their flight was earlier than ours then we would have a little time to kill before time for us to go. That was the plan. What happened was we got up early and did our stuff and got dressed, and then I called Paula at 9:00 and she was still in bed and they had ordered breakfast in bed and were planning to go back to sleep and furthermore that they had decided to stay until tomorrow. (I found out later that this was because Paula wasn't feeling well, but they didn't say that at the time.) So we decided that fine, we were hungry and we were going in search of food and furthermore in search of a breakfast buffet. The Golden Nugget's buffet was under renovation and noplace else downtown appealed - they all seem a bit seedy - so we drove back down to the Strip. To the Luxor, actually, whose buffet I had been to before and liked, and I also figured they were better set up for big crowds than TI, which is the other one that we thought of. (As near as I can remember, the basic brunch menu is very similar, between the two.) (People who were at TUScon - wasn't the name of the buffet at the time - nearly five years ago now!! - wasn't it "Pharoah's Pheast"? Well, no longer. it's "More" and their slogan is something like, "Less is not more. More is more." I roll my eyes every time I see it.)

I am sleepy and you are only going to get scattered bits and pieces out of me. One thing is that sunset is still very early in Las Vegas in January - 5:00, it's starting to be twilight; by 5:30 it's dark.

The weather today was lovely - about 68 this afternoon and bright and sunny. We had to figure out how to turn the a/c on in the rental car. (Which was a Pacifica SUV because we got in late Friday night and all the midsize cars were gone.)

In the fast-food line at the airport, the woman behind me was telling her friends about how she had been arrested the night before. She was not particularly young - didn't appear to be the party-girl type, let's say. But apparently there was some drunken hooting and hollering in support of the Arizona Cardinals, and she seemed to feel that if she had been been hooting and hollering for a different team, it would have gone over better. (There was discussion of what her husband would say, and then inevitably, somebody said, "Well, what happens in Vegas...")

Ok, I give up. I will try to write something more coherent in the morning when the drugs wear off.

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