45 years

Jun. 17th, 2017 03:50 am
mellicious: "I'm bored. Episode 1 bored." (Buffy quote - bored)
 Forty-five years ago this week (it was Flag Day, that's the only reason I remember the exact date still) I had heart surgery to fix a heart murmur I was born with. I was 12. I saw that it was Flag Day this week and I did the math and came up with that rather staggering number - 45 - and so I also noticed it tonight on MSNBC when they said that the Watergate break-in was 45 years ago this week. I didn't remember that, but then it wasn't big news at the time, either. It only became big news later on. But that means that happened while I was in the hospital recovering - I was really bored sitting in the hospital for a whole week, at least after a couple of days when I started feeling better. I remember that well. I don't specifically remember watching the news, but everybody watched the evening news back then (usually referred to as "watching Walter Cronkite" the way I remember it) and it's possible I did. I do think I knew about that break-in pretty early on.

But that might just be in my head. I do know I remember being mad about the Watergate hearings being all that was on on the TV - this was during the summer, I'm assuming that was in 1974. And I remember Nixon resigning and I know I knew the basics about it at the time, at least, but it's hard to be sure how much of all the stuff that happened in that two-year time period I really remember from the time it was happening and how much I learned later, from All the President's Men (both the movie and the book) and so forth. I do think now that all of that may be a lot of the reason I'm so interested in politics today, though.
mellicious: Retro Houston Astros logo (Astros - retro)
It's baseball season! I don't know if people who know me online necessarily know what a big baseball fan I am, because the "peak" of my baseball fandom happened before I even had a computer at home. (I think I inherited my dad's old Compaq in the fall of 1999, that was my first home computer. Little did he know what he was letting loose there.) I used to go to about half of the Astros home games in the last four years they were in the Astrodome; I probably went to about 200 baseball games total between 1996 and 2000. (Often with Rob or with friends, but also often alone.) Once they moved to the "new" park in 2000 it became a much more expensive hobby - I can't imagine any circumstances other than, y'know, winning the lottery under which I would see live baseball that much again. (If I was rich I would buy a townhouse near the ballpark and season tickets.) So I gradually went to fewer and fewer games, but we still watch a lot on TV. That's partly because it's just so much more expensive to go to games now, but it's also just life circumstances. In those years I had a day job and Rob had a night job, so I partly went to the games rather than sit at home alone. In the late 90s you could walk up on game day, especially on weekdays, and usually get a single in the field boxes behind the plate - it was $25, which is what an upper deck seat costs now. (Or if I was feeling broke, the good upper deck seats were only $7.) Rob started out not a baseball fan at all and I would drag him along some of the time, and he would eat his way through the games, pretty much, but he gradually got more interested. (I realized this was happening when he started asking me questions about double-plays and such.) By the time the Astros traded for Randy Johnson in the second half of 1998 he was really into it, too.

I'm partly thinking about baseball because I made a comment on Twitter over the weekend that baseball is one of the few things tying us to an actual TV any more. You can get MLB.tv but it still blacks out home games. We haven't figured out a way around that one yet.

(Rob also watches that goofy channel that shows all-old-TV-all-the-time, but there's bound to be some sort of substitute for that.)

Let's see, we watched a couple of episodes of MST3K, and I think that was the only thing I watched on Netflix over the weekend. MST3K was pretty good. Rob used to watch the old MST3K a lot more than I did, so he said it was taking him a while to adjust to the new robot voices, especially. I thought the skit parts of it hadn't quite jelled, maybe, but the jokes during the bad movies seemed just as funny to me as ever. (The first movie is a 1961 Danish (Danish?!?) monster movie called Reptilicus and it is just the most MST3K movie you can imagine.)

And in the middle of the night last night I watched the new Doctor Who. (U-verse was down all night Saturday night, which is the kind of time when I start thinking about whether we get our money's worth out of old-school television.) I liked "The Pilot" a lot. I liked Bill and I liked Nardole and I liked the Doctor more than I have a lot of the time in recent seasons. (I love Peter Capaldi but I think his doctor is either harder to write for or the scripts have just gone down in quality generally. Or maybe both, but I don't have the sort of DEFINITE OPINIONS on this question that a lot of people do.) This episode managed to be simultaneously very creepy and quite funny. Also, while I pretty much expected to like Pearl Mackie as Bill, I really liked her much more than I thought. And I liked the way Bill was clearly gay without anybody ever having to label her as such. SO refreshing. (Admittedly, that might have been why they announced it quite loudly ahead of time, so not too many people were surprised. I only float around on the edge of Doctor Who fandom, though, so I don't know how much flouncing around about it is going on over there.)

I feel like I'm forgetting something else that I watched that was worth noting. If I remember I'll come back and talk about it later!
mellicious: blinky lights (holiday lights gif)
I forgot to say that this came from a Holidailies participant named Pearl (who I don't think is anybody I was acquainted with previously, unless she's disguised herself well). I always feel like I have to do at least one of those during Holidailies. So here you are. I'm sure I've answered most of these questions before, but the answers tend to change from year to year, anyway.

1. Do you know what you want for Christmas already?
Hmm, yes and no. I know what I'm getting, for the most part, and I'm happy with that. I couldn't think of much that I really wanted. I think it's maybe part of getting older, that THINGS don't matter so much to you? I dunno.
2. Have you done any Christmas shopping yet?
Yeah, I'm done, basically. I started buying stuff early. (Lots of Star Wars merchandise passing through this house; I figured that was a proven winner, especially this year.)
3. Do you like Christmas?
I'm somewhat iffy about it these days because it feels now like it belongs to a religion that's not mine. But I was brought up celebrating it so I still have a tie to it. And I adored it for most of my life.
4. At whose house will you celebrate this year?
Probably my aunt's, although it's still up in the air. (I told this tale a week or so ago, so scroll backwards in my journal if you really want to know!)
5. Is there someone in your family you are not looking forward to seeing this Christmas? If so who, and why?
Eh. I have so little family left that I treasure them all, even the ones I didn't always care much for!
6. Do you decorate the tree early, or late?
We don't have anything up yet except a wreath on the balcony, so I guess we're on the late side.
7. Do you use tinsel?
I'm kind of nutty about tinsel. I don't use the old tinsel icicles, though, if that's what this is referring to - can you even buy that any more? (I'm probably dating myself by even asking.) Tinsel garland feels kind of old-school tacky now, too (it's the fat kind I'm thinking of, if you know what I mean), and I don't really use that any more, either, if I ever did. But I have a whole tinsel tree, now, actually. We quit putting up a green tree (fake or real) because it was too much trouble.
8. Do you own any antique Christmas bulbs?
Real ones? No. I'm fascinated with them, though; I have jewelry in that shape, and Christmas cards decorated with them, and stuff. (If I remember I'll put my icon up for this!)
9. Do you put a star or an angel on the top of your Christmas tree?
I've had both at various times. As I said, I don't really do the kind of tree that you have to decorate these days, so it's not an issue any more.
10. Do you hang stockings?
We have them (with our names embroidered on them and everything) but we live in an apartment so we don't have a mantel or anything to hang them on.
11. Do you drink eggnog?
Ugh, no.
12. Have you eaten a candy cane this year yet?
Actually yes, because one came in a box in the mail (with some nail polish, I think it was) and I ate it. I'm not that much of a fan of candy canes that I go out and buy them especially to eat, though.

2015holibadge-blue.gif
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas bow)
First, a dose of old-school holidays, if you haven't seen this one already:

It's supposedly actual K-Mart in-store music from 1974. (I say "supposedly" but I can't imagine why anybody would fake such a thing, and it certainly sounds right. I don't remember that particular K-Mart jingle but that doesn't mean it's not real.) I've been listening to this off & on in about 5-minute chunks because that's about all I can stand at one time. It's nostalgic and horrible, all at once.

Okay, so for Music Advent, we are at J, and for that I wanted Jolie Blon' - although I actually ended up using a version called "Sweet Jole Blon'" so I cheated a little. It may be a standard, but not even the spelling is standardized.

I don't know how generally famous Doug Kershaw is (the link is to Wikipedia, and I suspect the answer is "not very"), but I have a longstanding interest in cajun & zydeco music so I've known who he was for years. He's such a genuine Cajun he didn't even grow up speaking English. (He's 79 now; I doubt that that's very common today.) He's from Cameron Parish, which is the far southwest corner of Louisiana, right across the Sabine River from Texas. That's major swampland.

For K, I had a couple of possibilities (in fact I may do an entry later about the things I didn't pick) but I had - for some reason - Steve Martin's "King Tut" in my iTunes collection, and I eventually went with that. I'm just going to link to the original version, because it wouldn't display in Twitter and I bet it doesn't display here - that's on NBC's website. It's from season 3 of SNL, which is when I was in college so I probably saw it when it first aired, live. We used to always watch SNL unless we were out somewhere, I know. From YouTube, though, here's a live version that's only slightly later. (Although it lacks Martin's funkier costume of the SNL version, not to mention the dancers and the SNL band in full regalia.) (As I recall, Martin did a comedy tour in his heyday where he wore the white suit through the whole thing, so that's probably where this came from.)

(I was initially confused about why he suddenly says "Henry Winkler!" in the middle because I wasn't paying attention to the guy holding the piece of scenery, but he is indeed back there.)

For L, I did Genesis' "Land of Confusion" - which is a song I've always liked, but I mostly picked it because it has an entertaining (if somewhat creepy) video full of puppets:


(And I just posted my M video but I'll get to that next time.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
1970 was when the Jackson 5 were a new thing:

This is not the same video (although it's the same song) that I posted for Music Advent - I got my versions mixed up and the one I posted is a truncated version of their 1970 Ed Sullivan performance. I believe the longer Ed Sullivan one is out there, but I've lost the link.

One year (it might have been 1970 or it might have been later) I got a little portable cassette player for Christmas - not a Walkman, mind you, those didn't exist yet - and some cassettes to go with it, and one of them was the Jackson 5. Actually my memory is that I also got "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" which didn't come out until later, so I'm not sure. I may just be conflating two different years, though. Anyway, I liked the Jackson 5, but I wasn't obsessive about them or anything. I was obsessive about The Partridge Family a bit, and only the fact that I have other songs I want to talk about today and tomorrow may be saving you from getting a Partridge Family song. (I'm not sure about 1972 yet, we'll see.)

The teen idols when I was the age for that kind of thing were David Cassidy (of the Partridge Family, not to be confused with his brother who came later on), Bobby Sherman (who sang but was also on the series Here Come the Brides which was very popular at the time), Donny Osmond... and I'm sure there were some others that I'm forgetting. Davy Jones of the Monkees has to be thrown in there, too - that Brady Bunch episode where Marcia has a crush on him didn't come out of nowhere. Michael Jackson was also in that group to some extent but I read somewhere that the fan publications would not put a black performer on the cover at the time the Jacksons first became popular, so the Tiger Beat magazines in my head don't feature him. (Like many instances of racism at the time, I was completely unaware of that.) I loved David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman and I do remember loving Davy Jones when I was younger but not so much the others. I thought Donny Osmond was cute but I never liked The Osmonds' music that much. I think it was more age than race with Michael Jackson, for me - he was only about a year older than me and I just didn't see him as a sex symbol, then or later. Donny Osmond is about two years older than me; David Cassidy was about 20 when he suddenly became a teen idol and Bobby Sherman was closer to 30. Apparently I liked my men older! (Oh god, here is the motherlode of teen magazines. Jack Wild! - I know I had a huge crush on him at some point. And clearly Bobby was the big thing that year.)

In other happenings that year - I went and found this entry from several years ago where I talked about joining the choir in school, which happened in 1970. (I talk there about the difference between church choir and school choir, and the fact that you didn't have to audition for church choir, but I don't really have much memory of auditioning for school choir either. I think there was an audition but it was really just to see if you could carry a tune, and that was about it.) Actually I don't really remember choir all that well in elementary school, but then we only went once a week. I have a lot more memories of school and who was in my class and such, starting in 5th grade, but I think it's partly because many of them were the people who went on to be in choir with me for a number of years, and some of them were my best friends for several years.

I didn't talk about teachers. One thing that happened in fourth grade was that my teacher's husband died very suddenly over Christmas break - I think he had a heart attack. (Remember that my mother was a fourth grade teacher, too, at the time, so she was friends with all these people. But that would have been a big deal in any case.) My fifth-grade teachers were Mrs. Andrews and Mrs. Armstrong, who were both somewhat older ladies, as I remember it. (My mother would have been 30-ish at the time. I imagine that these two teachers were more like the age I am now, fifty-something.) Fifth grade was the first year we had more than one teacher; in sixth grade I think we had three, not counting the things you only went to periodically like music and art. We thought that made us very grown-up. In fifth grade one teacher taught language arts and the other taught science and math and social studies, but I am not completely sure which was which.

It's funny, I have a very clear picture of one classroom - I'm pretty sure it was Mrs. Andrews' and I think she was probably the one that taught English - but I can't visualize the other one. I can remember my 3th and 4th grade classrooms pretty clearly, and even the ones before that in a vaguer way. It's probably just because once we started having many classrooms I can't remember them all. I remember two of the 6th-grade rooms but not the third one. And after that I know I don't remember all of my junior high rooms too well.
mellicious: blinky lights (holiday lights gif)
Well, I was sort of saving this until closer to Christmas, but I don't seem to feel like writing anything else right now, so here you go! Some variation of this seems to float around every year, but I ganked this one from azurekitty, I think. (My way of doing this kind of thing is to copy it, delete the other person's answers and then let it sit for a day or two so I'm not just regurgitating their answers, hopefully! Which is why I also sometimes forget where I got them...)

1. Eggnog - Yay or Nay?
Nay - can't stand it. It's gross. (Don't worry, you're allowed to disagree with me. Just because I think it's gross doesn't mean you have to!)

2. Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
Really, I didn't used to think twice about it one way or the other. But nowadays, well, this is what the "War on Christmas" has done for us - every time somebody says "Merry Christmas" I wonder whether it's a greeting or a political statement. (This is especially true if it's a business we're talking about.) It's funny, though, "Merry Christmas" still pops out of my mouth sometimes - it's what I was brought up with, I guess. In writing I'm much more likely to say "Happy holidays" without even thinking about it. Kind of strange, but there you are.

3. Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions? Share them, if you'd like.
We say "Christmas Eve Gift!" to one another, along with a hug and/or kiss. I guess that's the gift, see. Also my grandmother (who is gone now) used to always try to open a gift on Christmas Eve, even though we don't do that in my family. That was a tradition, too - everybody waited for her to do it (and I suspect she knew that perfectly well).

Other than that, the tradition is that the grown-ups sit around and drink and the kids play games and squabble. (That's just what everybody does, right?) And we have some sort of casserole or something for supper that isn't too much trouble to prepare - we save the big meal for the next day. But you're allowed to dip into the desserts so everybody still gets utterly stuffed anyway. Some years we have gone to the carol service in the past, but the last time we went it turned out to be contemporary and not real carols at all, which infurated me. So I am on strike there unless somebody guarantees me the real thing.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I think maybe I'd have to go with some of those real old-time Christmas carols on this - "Angels We Have Heard on High" maybe.

5. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My mother pretending she heard the reindeer bells, when we were little. We got so excited.

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, I guess, even though I am not especially a Bing Crosby fan. (My sister and I particularly like to make jokes about the "Sisters" number.)

7. What's the best gift you've ever gotten? What about the worst?
We had a discussion on Twitter the other day about toothbrushes as a bad gift. (It began with talking about giving toothbrushes at Halloween, which is a whole different matter.) I think it was when I was 17 that we were on a trip and my mother wrapped up toothbrushes and gave them to my sister and me as gifts. We both thought that was very silly, although I suppose we should have been more gracious about it. (We were 17 and 16, it's not an age where one tends to be gracious about things like that.) I know we got some other gifts that year but that's the one I still remember. On the other hand, we were in TELLURIDE. SKIING. That was a damn good gift, right there. So maybe that year was the best and worst all wrapped up in one.

8. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Only if there are kids around, which in recent years there haven't been. The kids presumably go through this ritual at their own houses.

9. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real?
I'm a natural skeptic, I stopped believing when I was 7 or 8. I pretended I did for a couple more years, though - I was afraid if I admitted it I wouldn't get presents any more!

10. Do you go caroling?
Not in years. In high school I was in choir and we did actually go around and carol at people's doors in the old-fashioned kind of way. Even in the 70s this seemed pretty retro and a lot of people didn't seem to know how to respond.

11. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Yes, but mostly not anybody terribly interesting. Seems like back in high school, a million years ago, some boy that I thought I liked did kiss me, but I don't even remember who it was any more. That's sort of sad, I wish I remembered!

12. Who would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I dunno, Karl Urban, maybe. Sadly, I can't even think of a particular celebrity crush to mention right now.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (seasons)
I'm "of a certain age," as they say - which is to say, middle-aged. I'm a little over 50, and what that means for this purpose is that I remember the Bond movies of the 60s, but not clearly. By the time I was old enough to have more than a vague idea of what the Bond movies were all about, Bond was into the Roger Moore era, and he just never really appealed to me. Plus I thought those over-the-top plots of that era were stupid. So to sum up, I've just never been a huge Bond fan, and Rob - who is a little younger than me, just under 50 - doesn't like the Bond movies at all, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. (I don't know if the age thing makes any difference whatsoever - but it might, a bit. The two-and-a-half year age difference between us is nothing when you're 50, but back when we were kids, it was a lot. I don't remember the Sean Connery movies well, from back then, but I imagine I remember them better than he does! Although actually I doubt that either one of us were allowed to see them in the theater, if it came right down to it.) But anyway, I was intrigued enough by the reactions I was seeing on Twitter that I basically dragged him in with me to see Skyfall, and the fact is, we both enjoyed it. It's well-made, and it's really not a "traditional" Bond movie at all in a lot of ways, which for us is more of an advantage than not.

I didn't really read the reviews before we went, because I figure it's better in most cases if you can manage not to be spoiled. I read reviews of movies I'm not sure if I want to see, not the ones that I do. Skyfall would normally have been one of "unsure" ones, except for the aforementioned Twitter mini-reviews, which mostly were entirely non-spoilery things like "AWESOME!!" It was the sheer volume of those that caught my eye - nearly everybody on my Twitter list had things like that to say about it. So I decided I wanted to go, and I told Rob that if he would go with me to Skyfall on Thanksgiving Day that I would go with him to Lincoln on Sunday. (Which was not exactly a compromise, quite honestly, since I wanted to see that too. But it was enough to get him to cooperate, anyway!) I didn't read reviews of Lincoln, either, and I didn't actually realize what it's about - I think I expected more of a general Lincoln biopic than it actually was. But I like politics, and that's really what it was about, so I enjoyed it.

Now I am a little bit of a Civil War buff. Back in the early 90s when the Ken Burns thing came out, and then the Gettysburg movie, I got interested enough to wade through all three of the Shelby Foote books - which I highly recommend, if you're interested, but you need to be really interested. (A far lesser bar, if you're interested but not interested enough to put yourself in for a couple of thousand pages, is Foote's Shiloh novel. Or even better, the Michael Shaara novel that Gettysburg was based on, The Killer Angels. They are both extremely readable, without requiring any particular knowledge of the subject.) Then after Foote, I read an awful lot of other Civil War books as well - I actually considered going back to school to study this stuff, at one point. The only real tangible evidence of all my acquired knowledge is this little mini-summary of the first part of the war, which I still think is pretty good for something I wrote off the top of my head one night. (The reason there's no part 2 was largely because the war in 1863 gets a lot more complicated and got beyond the scope of what I could write without doing research.) So all this is by way of saying that I know a lot about Lincoln, in general. But I honestly didn't know much about the fight to pass the 13th amendment, and I enjoyed it. (I know, I keep saying that. But I did.) I don't know how much you'll enjoy this movie if this is not a subject that interests you, but it's another well-made movie, and the packed house we saw it with seemed to really enjoy it, too. And they surely can't all be Civil War buffs.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Happy NY - gif)
This decade sucked.

Aside from the ways in which it sucked generally (y'know, 9/11, Katrina, a near-depression), it sucked for me personally. I came up with the name the Lost Decade last year, when we were evacuated for the storm, and I said *if* those bad things happened, then I was gonna call this decade a wash. And guess what, they all did.

Here's the thing: I started out the decade by having a midlife crisis, a bad one. I was massively depressed and acting out in ways I don't even want to go into. Then in 2001 my mother got cancer. Then in 2004 my mother got cancer again - completely unrelated to the first one, apparently - and passed away in 2007 after two and a half years of struggling with a brain tumor. (Somewhere in there my father got cancer, too, actually, but that one got completely eclipsed. He's fine, and I don't really even count that.) Then it turned out that she made me her executor and I sent a good bit of time for the next year and a half dealing with that, the money issues and cleaning out and selling her house, and moving into a bigger apartment so we could house the stuff of hers we ended up with.

And then came the cherry on top of what was already a bad decade - just about a couple of months after we got the house sold and started seriously thinking we were wrapping up the estate, Ike hit. We were "displaced persons" for several weeks, and came home to find out our  apartment was flooded and we had to move. Two months later, I lost my job, also because of the hurricane. I needed to hunt for a job right when the economy was bottoming out - I stopped getting paid in January, although thanks (somewhat ironically) to the money from my mother's estate, I was able to opt out of immediate job hunting, and instead I've spent the last year as a student, of all the unexpected things. Hopefully all that will be resolved soon - more or less just in time for this kidney stone of a decade (TM Doonesbury*) to end.

I should say that there were good things about this decade; it wasn't all bad. Most importantly, there was my marriage, which started out on the verge of collapse and ended up really good. But viewed as a whole? It still sucked. (And don't you dare tell me that at least I inherited money, unless you want violence.)


And oh yeah, the "10 years ago" meme reminded me that I forgot about my even more lovely start to the decade: 10 years ago today, I was at the funeral of my beloved uncle Ted. And my grandmother, who was 89, died a few months later.


*That was Trudeau's epitaph for the 70s, as I recall.

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!" (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!" (buffy quote - flawed design)
erythroblastosis fetalis
A grave hemolytic anemia that, in most instances, results from development in the mother of anti-Rh antibody in response to the Rh factor in the (Rh-positive) fetal blood; characterized by many erythroblasts (red-blood precursor cells) in the circulation, and often generalized edema and enlargement of the liver and spleen; sometimes caused by antibodies for antigens other than Rh. Synonyms: congenital anemia, hemolytic disease of the newborn, Rh antigen incompatibility.


I was reading about this the other night after we were discussing Your Medieval Death, and it occurred to me that this might have been my sister's medieval death - not mine - since I am the older child of an Rh-negative mother. In case you've never heard of this, what happens is that an Rh-negative mother develops antibodies to the Rh factor with the first (Rh-positive) child, but the antibodies don't attack that first child, only subsequent ones. Actually, until I read about this in the other class, I had forgotten all about my mother being Rh-negative, but once I remembered that, I also remembered some discussions about this - apparently the drug that you take to prevent it (which I believe is called Rho-GAM or something to that effect) already existed in 1961, so my sister was born without incident. -- Well, without incident regarding Rh-factors anyway. There was the hurricane, but I've talked about that story before.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (lotus)
Somebody on my Facebook friendslist posted this, and I got interested and wrote a bunch of stuff. (As usual, I'm not tagging anybody but I would be interested to see the answers if you feel like doing it!)

1) When was your wedding day?
May 2nd, 1987

2) What day of the week was it?
Saturday (and like this year, it was Derby Day)

3) Did you get married in a church?
No, we had both the wedding and reception in my parents' back yard. They lived in the country at the time and it was a big back yard - room for tables and a gazebo and all kinds of stuff.

4) How many people in your wedding party?
Three - Rob's dad was the best man and my sister was the maid of honor and my cousin was a bridesmaid.

More wedding stuff here! )

26) How long have you been married?
Twenty-two years. It blows my mind.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - Mr Darcy)
I haven't been specifically doing the "happy things" list the last few days, but I was aware of it, and all my entries have contained something that made me happy. The pictures I've been scanning make me happy. The idea of going to Las Vegas next month (and mostly for free!) makes me happy. That picture of me wearing a crown made me particularly happy - it's funny, I remembered that picture but I had completely forgotten about the crown. (I suspect that it was a Sunday School thing - it might have been regular school, too, but Sunday School was particularly prone to resort to the silly arts and crafts projects.) The thing we did this afternoon made me happy, too - fighting the crowds to go shopping, even though we didn't have anything we particularly had to buy. I don't know why, but it's not Christmas if I don't get shoved around in Macy's (or some department store, it doesn't have to be Macy's) for a bit.

It also feels pretty Christmassy. A white Christmas isn't what I expect, after all - the only one I've ever seen is once when we spent a Christmas in Telluride. And it didn't actually snow that day, even; there was just snow already on the ground. But it's plenty cold here, for my taste. Yesterday it was 80 but today we were wearing our heavy coats. We are suppposed to have a near-freeze tonight.


We were discussing the concept of a "Jewish Christmas" in my comments a couple of days ago, and actually that Christmas in Telluride was the closest I've ever come to one - we had to eat Chinese that day because it was the only restaurant that was open. I don't think we got the movie, though! We were staying in a condo but I guess my mother didn't want to cook. Maybe they didn't realize everything would be closed. (I don't remember what I ate, exactly, but I think it might have been the first time I ever had Chinese food, even though I was already in college at the time. I grew up in Alvin, Texas, remember. We hardly had any restaurants at all, and certainly not Chinese.)

I also remember that my mother had dragged toothbrushes - among other things - all the way from Texas to put in our stockings, and my sister and I were really indignant about it. She had a different idea than we did of what constituted a reasonable stocking-stuffer - I think she was a child of the Depression when it came to things like that. (Although she was too young to remember the Depression; she was born in 1938.) We weren't all that well-off when I was growing up, but we weren't nearly poor enough to think that a new toothbrush was a special treat.

In fact, the kind of affluence that let us spend the holidays skiing in Colorado was a pretty new thing to us, at that time. Both of my parents always worked and that in itself made us better off financially than a lot of people, back in those days when it was still pretty unusual - but it wasn't until my dad quit teaching school and became a commercial fisherman that there was really money for luxuries like ski trips. (I'm not recommending commercial fishing as a secret path to financial freedom, though. I hear it ain't what it used to be. Just ask my dad.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Default)
ark poster

I found this poster rolled up and damp in wreckage of our apartment, and it wasn't in too bad a shape so I let it dry out and scanned it as best I could. (It's bigger than my scanner, so this isn't quite the whole thing.) This is the place I lived in grad school. I know some of you know what a "cooperative" means in this context, but in case you don't: it really is pretty much self-governed, mostly by committee, in the case of a big place like this one. There are elected committee chairs and director and treasurer and so forth. Each resident has at least one assigned job, like sweeping the hall or helping cook dinner or taking minutes at board meetings. I think everybody was supposed to do four hours of work a week. I loved living there and got really into all the governance stuff - I was on the board of directors and later was treasurer, and finally ran for director (somewhat against my better judgment) and ended up losing by one vote, which was probably for the best.

The Ark is still around, but nowadays it's called Pearl Street Co-op. (Scroll down and there's a lot of pictures. It looks like the common areas have been remodeled, but the rooms look about the same.) I heard, a couple of years after I had left, that things got really chaotic there and that it finally got so bad that they shut the place down for a semester. So it's not really surprising that when they re-opened it, they gave it a new name. I think "The Ark" went perfectly with its old hippy-dippy reputation - which believe me was well-deserved.

Oh, and before this place was the Ark, it was a girls' dormitory which catered to sorority-girl types. Farrah Fawcett is supposed to have lived there in the late 60s.


(I don't know if you guys have been enjoying these nostalgia-themed entries, but I've been enjoying writing them. As long as I keep scanning pictures and so forth, especially, you will probably keep seeing them!)

mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Vote)
From [livejournal.com profile] nonelvis :

1. Stop talking about politics for a moment or two.
2. Post a reasonably-sized picture in your LJ, NOT under a cut tag, of something pleasant, such as an adorable kitten, or a fluffy white cloud, or a bottle of booze. Something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS.
3. Include these instructions, and share the love.



kittens!

I think I posted this one last year sometime, but I don't care, because I like it. And, kittens! And also because I posted about my grandma yesterday and that made me all nostalgic again.

My grandma's name was Maedelle. I am not completely sure if it was originally Mae Dell, and it just got squished together over the years, or if they named her that from the beginning. That name definitely belongs to that East Texas school of double names, in any case, which has mostly vanished nowadays. (I always remember that for years she had a hairdresser, a woman, whose name was Cecil Rae.)

Maedelle was a bit of a character. When she died, in 2000 - age 89 - my cousin Pat wrote a piece for the local paper detailing some of her eccentricities. One was their house, which rambled all over - you had to go down a few stairs, for example, to get to what Grandma called the "sleeping porch" - which may have originally been a regular porch, but by the time I became old enough to remember had been enclosed. Come to think of it, I'm sure it was originally outside, because I remember that for a long time there were still windows on the inside. My grandfather was (a) very low-key and (b) adored her, and so he pretty much let her do whatever she wanted. Later the porch my sister and I are standing on here also got enclosed, as an add-on to the kitchen.

She loved to cook. She was a great cook, in a very country, fried-food-heavy sort of way. At my grandparents' house, the big meal of the day was what they called dinner and which was at what most people nowadays would call lunchtime. I remember "the men" coming home at noon for dinner - I guess it must have been the men who worked for Papa selling tractors. Then Grandma put the leftovers in the oven where they stayed all afternoon (yeah, I know, botulism and all that, but I don't remember anybody ever getting sick) until they were warmed up again for supper.

I suppose the meals when we were there were probably bigger than usual, but what I remember was that there was always a helluva lot of food. More than one meat, several vegetables, rolls, dessert. Usually there was this thing called "congealed salad" which I always hated, but which was jello mixed with whipped cream or sour cream and fruit or nuts and then refrigerated until it, well, congealed. And, oh yeah, cakes and pies and cookies, always. She always left batter in the bottom of the bowl for us when she made cakes. And I still can't see a chocolate meringue pie without thinking of her, to this day.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (KoL PrufRock)
We had the alternative station on in the car just now until they started playing too much rap for my taste - I guess I'm too old for rap or something, I've just never gotten too into it - so then we switched to the 80s station and they were playing something other than Journey and Billy Joel for a change - instead they were playing Billy Idol:



I started looking up music videos when I got home and I guess I was getting that video mixed up with this one (it makes much more sense with this song, I have to admit):


(Note: both these videos have been removed, but I think it was "Rebel Yell" and then "Dancing with Myself")


And then right before we got out of the car they were playing this:



This one gave me 80s flashbacks even in the 80s - well, that's not right, it made me homesick, that was what it was. The first time I saw it we were in Ann Arbor at some co-op thing and we started screaming (oh hush, I was 22 or so) because it was all filmed in Austin and part of it was filmed in our neighborhood. I know there are a number of Austin people on my friendslist, so they'll know what most of this means, even if nobody else does: at the time, I was living at The Ark Co-op (which I think now is just called Pearl St. Co-op, or something) and we had just bought a dormitory called Taos, at 26th & Guadalupe, and we were renovating it to become a co-op, which it did and has been for, well, an awful long time now! So anyway, that Burger King is the one across the street from Taos - although looking at it now I have no idea how we knew that. But at the time we were sure, and I imagine we were right, since we were spending a lot of time at Taos even before some of us moved there. I don't know if all those other places are still there - The Posse? or for that matter, that Burger King. It was the last time I went by there, though.

Vinyl

Dec. 5th, 2007 09:39 pm
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Mel - snow)
Before I go on with the story about my musical career (so to speak), a digression. I've had music on the brain a bit, ever since I started talking about this, and I started thinking about records. (Talking about Waterloo and vinyl records the other day may have had something to do with this tangent, too.) I started trying to remember what records we had at this time, and especially if I had any classical music. I'm not at all sure that I did - at least, not until I was in high school, maybe. We didn't really have easy access to a lot of records other than the pretty limited selection at the local discount store - I can't remember the name of it right now, but it was sort of a proto-WalMart kind of place. My hometown didn't get a Wal-Mart until considerably later. That's the place I remember buying the first records I really picked out myself. If you look up the hit songs of those years - 1971 or 1972 - the ones I was buying were pretty high on the list, probably. I had "Joy to the World" on a single (the Three Dog Night song, I mean, not the Christmas one) and I know that some of the first albums I bought were an America album - "Horse With No Name" was really big that year - and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I can't remember having any classical music until later. I bet if that store had any it was of the "Beethoven's Greatest Hits" ilk; it seems like there was a series of albums like that that used to always be around, anybody else remember those? I think maybe the first classical albums I bought came from Austin, actually - we used to always go up to UT for State Solo & Ensemble contest when I was in high school, and there was a store at Dobie Mall that we used to buy records at. (That one was Record Town, I'm pretty sure - because it was still there when I lived at Dobie in the late 70s.) I had a Rachmaninoff album, I know, although I don't remember when I got that. Remember I said that Van Cliburn had big hands? I'd recognize the cover of this album if I saw it, because the pianist - a woman - was sitting in a chair with her hands hanging down, and hers were huge, too. Not big all over, but really long. I believe I found that slightly depressing, because I have pretty small hands, and I figured this didn't bode well.


mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (me - age 4)
When I was in 5th grade, I joined the choir at school. I didn't want to - I wanted to be in the band. My mother made me do it. She said I'd like it. And at my school, for some reason band didn't start until 6th grade, but choir started in 5th. I had already started taking piano lessons a year or so before, so it wasn't much of a stretch to think I'd like it. And I suppose I had sung in the kids' choir at church, too, although I barely remember it. Just do it for a year, my mother said.

I never did join the band.




Holidailies

So, Austin

Dec. 3rd, 2007 12:01 am
mellicious: just your basic burnt-orange longhorn silhouette (Longhorn)
I went to Austin saying that the main thing I wanted to do - besides see my sister, of course - was shop, but we didn't actually end up getting any shopping done to speak of. Saturday we started out to shop, and I'm still not exactly sure where the whole day went, but the only place we actually went shopping was Waterloo Records. We did go see my nephew (and his dad), which is always nice. He is almost 17, which seems unbelievable. Pretty nice kid, though, on the whole.

I didn't realize that it'd so long since I'd been in Waterloo - when we walked in I realized that the last time I was there, most of the records were still on vinyl. I do think I'd been in the "new" location once, maybe, but most of the time I was in Austin, they were over on the other side of Town Lake, further down Lamar. Or maybe I hadn't been in that store at all - when did they move, anyway? I know they were there by the time I started coming to Austin more often, the last five years or so, at least. Before that I came so seldom for a long time that I'm not sure of anything.

We ate lunch at Hut's - which hadn't changed a bit in 20 years - and dinner at El Arroyo, as I said before. That was a new place to me, but it was really good, and it was nice to get to talk to [livejournal.com profile] anjea, when my sister let us get a word in edgewise. Luckily (well, sort of) she went for a couple of long smoke breaks. (I've been trying hard not to say anything about her smoking. I don't think it'd do any good.)

I told Anjea that the worlds were colliding because she met my sister, who of course calls me by my real name, while just about everybody I know online (except possibly [livejournal.com profile] karen_d) calls me Mel, even if they know perfectly well what my real name is. I never quite know what to tell people when that happens. When I meet the "online people" in person, they always say, "Well, which one do you want to be called?" and then I get all indecisive. I guess really, I'd just as soon be Mel. As I've said many times, I don't like my real name very much anyway. If we move to Austin when we retire - as we've been saying for a couple of years we're going to, and retirement for us is not all that far away  - I may be tempted to just change my name. Not legally, because legally my name is already a mess - but I might just start calling myself Mel in general. I dunno, we'll see, we still have a good while to go, and I may feel differently about it by then. But it seems like that would be the best time to ever do it, if I decide I really want to.

My sister is trying to become an artist - by which I mean, one who actually makes money at it. She's always had a flair for design, and an original style, and she has developed a technique which does seem to be something a bit different, so it does seem like there are possibilities in this. I've only seen a couple of the pieces she's made to sell, but I really like some of them quite a lot. She's supposed to send me pictures and if she does I'll put some of them up. She has a website up already but she keeps saying it's not finished so I guess I shouldn't link to it yet.



I don't have to go in to work til after lunch tomorrow - if I wake up in time, I may go see if they can color my hair in the morning. I've never been in there in the morning, but surely they open by 10 or so, I would think. That ought to be enough time. I have big old gray roots that are driving me crazy - and it's only been two months since I got it done, I don't know why they look so bad already!


Holidailies 2007 

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