Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

There is always something sad about the new year's arrival.  I hate good byes.   Good bye 2011, hello 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Doing Your Good Deed Keep This in Mind...

"It is not necessary for eagles to be crows."  Sitting Bull

This year our little yearly adopt-a-family project was expanded and taken over by J's work place.  We didn't mind because that meant that instead of a shift putting in together it was the entire place working together which meant we could put food on the table and gifts under the tree for more than one family.  It was great in theory until someone decided to give themselves a public pat on the back.

I don't know who called the media and I don't want to know.  The damage was done when that picture appeared in the paper.  Two of our families disappeared when it was time to deliver the food and gifts.  No one wants their poverty splayed across the front of the paper for all to see.  Now those kids have to go back to school and face their classmates taunts.  

Needless to say I am livid.  When you go about bragging, going on and on to your friends about your charity work, when you want the world to know you are helping out those poor people on the wrong side of the tracks, you are taking away the dignity of those you are helping.  So when doing your good deed keep this in mind: it isn't about you.  

Merry Belated Christmas : )

Friday, December 23, 2011

Festivus: A welcome relief.

Today is Festivus.  We celebrated Festivus for the first time last year.  It was a difficult time because we lost Paw on Dec. 1, and celebrating a holiday that just screamed, "Voice your frustrations!" felt right.  So instead of all that rush, bustle, and joy, we spent the evening at a bar in Algiers with some friends and dropped all thought of Christmas.  It was great.  So this year, I'm going to recommend that y'all give Festivus a shot; stop the Christmas madness and take a day to breathe.  It will do wonders for your spirit.

How to celebrate Festivus?  Go here:

I've got my unadorned aluminum pole out front and center and looking as tacky as possible. : )

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sinterklaas Weirdness

I'm terrible.  I have been looking for a moment to put something up on this blog for the past two weeks but between all the Christmas programs, volunteer work, shopping for my mother, a new baby, (not mine), some lost cats, (not mine), and a graduation, I plead exhaustion.  Okay on to Sinterklaas...

     My nieces are Dutch/American and as a result celebrate a Dutch Christmas on December 6th.  In the Netherlands Santa Claus, aka Sinterklaas, brings gifts on December 6th; December 25th focuses on the religious aspect of the holiday.  For years I've heard of Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Piet from my sister and the kids, but this year was the first time I was present for the event.  So I thought I'd share, but be warned that the Dutch holiday involves some racial controversy. You can read about the holiday in detail here or go with this one if you like sarcastic humor.

     Sinterklaas comes to the Netherlands in a boat from Spain to deliver gifts to children with the help of the Zwarte Piet, elves covered with soot from chimneys.  Instead of reindeer, Sinterklaas has a horse and apparently in my sister's household, he knocks on the door when the gifts are delivered.  There is some inconsistency with the Zwarte Piet soot from chimneys and the knock on the door thing.  I don't know how that is explained, I just go with the explanation because making sense isn't always my sister's thing.

     Anyways the kids left their shoes with an apple for the horse and an empty sack at the front door and waited for a knock.  We had a traditional supper of pannenkoeken,  which are somewhere between a crepe and a pancake.  Sis said in the Netherlands they would have them with chicken and mushroom sauce on top.  After supper the kids sang a song welcoming Sinterklaas, (there is also a goodbye song), and suddenly a knock came when Sis had gone to take out the garbage.  Like magic the sack was full of gifts and poor sis must have just missed seeing Sinterklaas.  I admit she looked really out of breath coming in through the back door.  Chimney is better, less exorcise involved.

 Pannenkoeken with bacon.  There was also apple and plain as well.

You can imagine my discomfort when I saw the sack sitting out by the front door for all to see; I was waiting for a knock at the door alright and not from Sinterklaas.   Creeps me out. 

The niece goes nuts for that Hagel stuff.  Puts it on toast.

On the right is the pancake mix and on the left is,  translated, American fry sauce.  It's mayonnaise although they say it's not.  When I wanted to use ketchup on my fries some of the Dutch were shocked, they thought we used mayonnaise.  That yellow tube to the far left?  That's the mayonnaise.  

Oma's Christmas card with those traditional tiny ginger cookies  pictured at the bottom.  Chocolate Zwarte  Piet figures were included in the package of chocolates.  The Zwarte Piet were freaky, but the chocolate was excellent.

To continue to weird me out, was the wrapping paper.  There was Zwarte Piet on everything kid related.

     Because these kids also celebrate Christmas US style, the Dec. 6th, thing is kept small.  There were gifts of fritessauce, ginger cookies, peppermint, pannenkoeken mix, gold coin chocolates, and some small toys.  I got a wire head massager.  The Dutch food was sent by the kid's Dutch oma.  The older one in particular misses living in the Netherlands so getting the Dutch stuff made her really happy.

     I know that this just looks outright racist, and if I didn't understand the mindset of these people I'd agree.  The Dutch don't think in terms of racism as we in the US do.  The big thing in the Netherlands is something called, nationalism.  They are very proud to be Dutch and base their prejudices upon being Dutch.  For example. you can be black and be Dutch, (no problem), and you can be white and not Dutch, (problem).  If you are not Dutch, you had better be working on being Dutch, (accent, clothing, attitude, in other words total assimilation), or you are going to get a lot of disapproval.  The Dutch did not have Jim Crow laws, the KKK, or Al Jolson, these people honestly see the whole Zwarte Piet thing in terms of being Dutch not as an act of racism.  How do you feel about it?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Louisiana Renaissance Festival 2011

Hip Hip Huzzah we had magical lights, powered by magic of course.
     I admit that I fall somewhere between being a nerd and a geek and so I do nerd/geek related things such as participate in the tomfoolery known as ren faire.  In case you didn't know, I love to be in costume/garb and I love history, so ren faire is a natural fit.

     This weekend we loaded up the tent and headed out for our annual ren faire camping trip.  We didn't have time to do the big Texas Renaissance Festival, (TRF), camping thing, so we tried out the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, (LRF), campground instead.

Great garb.  In ren world it's called garb not costume.  When you camp at ren faire,
you will see women and men working on their garb, sewing boxes sitting at their feet. 

Hand to hand combat is my favorite;
 these guys put a lot of work into learning and perfecting their fencing technique.

Everyone eventually heads for  the jousting; it's a must see at faire.
     I've been to LRF every year since 2002, but this was my first time camping over night because I'm a "weekender" meaning that I live close enough to go home after closing cannon.  TRF doesn't offer electricity so LRF offered up the opportunity to have fairy lights!  Next year we're doing a fairy camp and I will plan accordingly.  Yup, we will be camping at the home faire again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Dream Closet Bittersweet Milestone

     Oops, it's been a while since I've hit this blog.  In my defense I have been busy.  I took this past week and am just about finished with my, "The Dream Closet."  I could have waited and posted a picture where it is all nice and neat with those clear plastic boxes which are part of the final phase of, "The Dream Closet."  I could have waited until I put in the baseboards, or tidied up the shoes and clothes, or put that one hanger right, or put away the drill, but I couldn't.  Anyways, this is a much more realistic rendition of the average Joe's closet isn't it?  (Just say yes and go along with it to make me happy.)

It looks a mess now, but when I get done...  Oh, who am I kidding? 
     We have a little house and before Katrina the closet was a little 4x2 ft. pain in the neck.  The closet extended two feet beyond the door so I had to reach blindly for my clothes.  We went from a 3 bedroom to a two bedroom just to have, "The Dream Closet."  She's a 6x9 footer and I love her.  She is my reward for living in a FEMA trailer without one single closet for roughly two and a half years, (Oh that's a sordid tale of waiting on flood maps, SBA, and a group of sorry ass contractors, but I'm focusing on the closet goodness here).

     It was not cheap; I've been buying components here and there since 2008.  It was not easy.  I purchased shelf hangers from a different company because they were on clearance sale for less than half the price of these people, $3 versus $8.  Going cheap meant extra work.  I had to cut down 26 shelf hangers and six rods.  All were metal and all were cut by hand with a hacksaw.  I wouldn't be surprised if my right bicep is a couple of inches larger than my left after this week.  This installation is not for those who haven't learned that no corner is truly square, that no floor is level, and that the quickest solution isn't always the best solution, although whacking something with a hammer is still the best solution.  Sometimes.  

     Whew.  That makes this two rooms and one closet, (almost), completely done.  It kind of makes me sad for now I've got something to lose, whereas before I had one partial closet system and an unfinished closet.  I'm just one hurricane away.  Sigh, I'm not going there; this is supposed to be a good thing, right?  Right.  I'm gonna have some pie to celebrate.

One year ago today Paw, (my FIL), passed away.  Perhaps that's why I'm feeling wonky.  I miss Paw.  Once at one of our many doctor visits the nurse said to Paw, "It's nice that you and your daughter are so close."  I was shocked because I didn't think we came across as being, "close."  Paw and I looked at one another and he turned to the nurse and said, "yup."  I miss Paw.  I miss Paw.  I miss Paw.