Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I've been sitting on this for several weeks, aNd I haVE A big bandaGe on my left pinky.

Good evening!

Gee! Been sitting on this one for about 2 weeks. I figured I'd post it. It's not complete. It ws written there, here, everywhere. Sorry for the confusion, but I don't hve time to fix it, and I am missing my left pinky aT THE MOMENT.

Yeah, it's been a while. Life seems to move on at a feverish pace, while I do my best to keep up with the lesson plans and progress reports that seem to creep up behind me and bite me in the ass. School keeps me busy, and I find myself running around in circles with issues and politics that the BOE throws upon us, the people on the front lines of the battle for education. I spend a lot of money on school supplies, which in New Jersey, were supplied to the schools. Most teachers charge for things like pencils, dry-erase markers (low odor, of course), plus the other things that kids seem to use to practice their magic disappearing acts. And why must we use the low odor markers? That was always the best part of the markers!

Thanksgiving was very enjoyable. We went to the church, where we ate way too much. We all had a great time, and I helped with the clean-up. Somewhere, someone told me that life is a series of checks and balances, and I'm trying to get ahead in the score. Either that, or it's how my parents brought us up. I should say "OUR" parents brought us up.

The Christmas season is fast approaching. If it weren't for the fact that my brother is living with me, there would probably be no Christmas decorating here at home. But leave it to Devin. The Christmas tree is already out, ready to be assembled (we have a tree with lights on it), the ornaments and decorations are ready to collect another season of dust. Oh sure, we'll do some entertaining, so there will be people here to enjoy the dusty old decorations with us.

Mom and Dad are preparing their annual Christmas letter. You know -- that dreaded 2-pager from people you hardly know, who talk about their medical problems, brag about their kids and whine about the state of our country. Mom usually writes the updates on the family, while Dad throws in his sarcastic humor at our expense. You know what I'm talking about. One of Dad's classics was "And of course, Devin moved in with Jeff. And all hopes for grandchildren are being flushed down the toilet!" Double entendre intended.

I must say, though, that people always enjoy receiving our Christmas letter. I've laughed pretty hard at some of the ways my dad can twist what Mom puts in there. So what the hell!

I know what they'll be saying about us. They're proud of us, how we've followed our dreams. I'm a teacher; Devin is a financial planner. I get by on Walmart clothes and Dollar General; Devin buys wide-screen HDTVs, riding mowers, appliances, and of course, top shelf liquor at only the finest establishments. It makes me glad he's my brother.

I'm still driving a Malibu, while Devin has broken through the traditional family bubble, branching out on a limb to buy a Ford Fusion. I must say, it's nice!

But we are getting into the Christmas spirit. We've already made our plans for heading back home for Christmas. Yes, again, I referred to that house where I grew up as "home". Going from a Euro plush king to a slightly used twin doesn't bother me one bit. When I get home at Christmastime, I still wake up and look out the window. The thought is still there. Maybe it snowed, and maybe school's closed. It doesn't even matter if it IS Christmas vacation. I still check. There's something about snow, especially on Christmas Eve, that puts the cherry on top of the sundae.

In the past few years, some of the family traditions have carried on. Mom and Dad wait for me (now Devin and me) to get home before we put up the tree. There's a story in so many of the decorations that adorn the tree. And of course, the last thing to go on the tree is Kimmy's angel. I've probably told about how Kim would get on Dad's shoulders, and she'd put that same angel on top of the tree. It doesn't matter whether it's been 15 years or 50 years, our Christmas tree isn't a Christmas tree until Kimmy's angel is put on top of the tree. That has become Devin's job.

Maybe it's a little crazy to some, but when we hang the stockings, we still hang 5 of them. But in all honesty, there are some years, more hectic years, when the stockings weren't put up. Grandma made them for all of us.

So now let's get into the Christmas spirit.

This reminds me of one Christmas when I was about 10 years old. Dad was putting up the lights on the house. He got smart a few years earlier, and put those little hooks all around, so the lights would go up more easily. Well, it seems that somebody did some painting outside, and some of the hooks were upside down, filled with paint, or just plain missing. What a Christmas scene! You've probably seen similar movies of people putting up the lights. It's usually snowing, there are a few inches on the ground, and the world is a big ho ho ho place, with strangers greeting each other with a cheery "Merry Christmas." Well, it was more like a sunny day in the 50's with no sign of snow. We 3 kids were in the house, blowing the dust off the ornaments, and we heard the jolly verbal excrement that has made my dad the legendary Mr. Christmas. "Merry fucking Christmas!" I heard him exclaim as he swore out of sight. Kim covered her ears while Devin (about 7 at the time) and I tried to stifle the laughter. "Ho ho ho, bastard!" Oh, it went on. Mom finally went out to see what the hell was wrong after Dad's final bevy of scatterling: "I'll stick THIS up Rudolph's ass!" "THIS" was in reference to the Santa hat that Mom insisted that Dad wear, just because it's Christmas, now flopping in his sweaty face, caused by the sun reflecting off the bay window. And retelling this story had Devin laughing so hard, he pissed his pants. Yes. He was 17 years old at the time.

The robins are here. I looked out this afternoon and there were literally dozens on the lawn. Some were singing in the trees. They ignore their cousins, the bluebirds, which are all used to us.

More coming when I caN type.

Have AA good evening!


  1. Sounds like things are going well which I am glad to hear. Thanks for sharing those stories. Take care of that Pinky!!!

  2. Kimmy's angel and 5 HAVE to do it, and you should or it just isn't Christmas! I sure wish I had found the box (in storage) that has my share of our old family ornaments and all the Christmas decorations that my mother had made. Oh well, next year, next year. I LOVED having my own tree for the first time in my life...but I wrote about that in my blog. It remained a wonderful thing to have done and now is the week I am supposed to de-decorate it and dispose of the tree, but I just can't quite do it yet. The drier the tree got, the prettier the lights got, since the foliage was "lessening" around them. Since everything else was multi-colored, I used just plain "white" lights, to be somewhat reminiscent of snow or ice, and I think that concept worked.

    The string of lights that I put on my balcony were actually purple lights, which I bought at a Hallowe'en store. What I wanted was something to advertise to kids that there was candy within (not every apartment in this complex is welcoming to kids), but the store was out of jack-o-lantern lights or orange lights and only had purple. Well, lights are lights, and I realized that I could use them for Christmas, as well, even though, for Christmas, I prefer multi-colored lights. But I figured this color was pretty (and it was) and I could leave them up all year and turn them on for other occasions, since the color was "non-specific", such as if I had a party or maybe ate dinner out on the balcony. I see now that it was a good idea, so those WILL stay up (but unplugged until I want them on again).

    Continued next comment

  3. Comment, part 2:

    My big project for winter break (besides Christmas) was finally making my stereo/TV wall-unit, something I had "tabled" for about a year and a half. But I am so loaded with energy these days that I just keep on doing things. It was (of course) harder to do than I had thought, but I am really quite pleased with the results (me and my dangerous circular saw!). Maybe I'll write a blog about it.

    Speaking of your bleeding pinky, I finally learned the hard way why my father always got mad at me if I showed up to help him around the house barefooted or wearing thongs. He always made me go back and put on shoes, "like a man". In my own apartment, I wear next to nothing (unless the binds are open), and I feel like I just can't wear shoes in the house when I am working; this is not me "being Japanese" or "frou frou" ("don't track dirt in the house!"), not, I am just more confortable not wearing a lot of stuff, especially shoes.

    But, cutting lumber for this wall unit, how many things fell on my bare feet! The corner of one cut 6' board fell right on my big toe and began a gush of blood that truly had to be staunched. Shoes, yeah, STEEL TOED ones would have been good! So, okay, Dad, you were right. I still didn't put any shoes on, though; I just worked with a great deal more care. Well, the circular saw (my first one ever) also demanded that. Fortunately, I am a total amateur, which is a good thing, safety-wise. I understand that the more expert one is, to riskier what they are doing is. For a beginning like me, it isn't POSSIBLE to be cocky! So, it would take me about 20 minutes to plan, measure, set up, measure, measure, clamp, measure, and finally execute EACH CUT (I had about 30 of them to do).

    Concluded in next comment

  4. Conclusion to comment:

    What else, oh, the "difference" in economic lifestyles between you and your brother (which was probably more of a joke than actuality, but I am sure there was SOME grain of truth in there), I hope most of that is from his investment success rather than the fees he charges! But if he has had economic success these days, then he's probably more a genius than we originally thought! I mean, does ANYBODY really know what to do? I am doing all the WRONG things, because I don't know WHAT to do, so I don't do anything. "All" my money (I put that "all" in quotes because I'm not sure that a large word like "all" belongs on there) I have simply left in a US stocks index fund, a corporate bonds index fund, gold, and cash (pretty evenly divided among those four), the cash in a stupid savings account that, I kid you not, pays me a grand total of a HUNDRED DOLLARS A YEAR in interest! ) Honestly, ten or twenty years ago, that would have been more like $10,000 a year. Oh, and my mother gave us all annuities, that most "advice" given to me was to get rid of that, but my mother gave it to me so I am hanging on to it. Does sentiment have a place in ones investment plans? Well, I guess not normally, but if someone like my mother was behind it, I listen to her. I wish I had listened to her more. Dad, too.

    But my point is this...American stocks were supposed to be terrible, bonds just as bad, there are those who hate gold, and cash, fiat currency that it is, is supposed to go to nothing. About all I know to attempt to do is KEEP as much of it as I can, and if successful, that's a plus (but WHERE do you "keep"it?). And, by golly, everyone else I know keeps LOSING money, but I think, by my doing nothing, I have come out a little ahead. Nothing to retire on, though. Not that I was planning on retiring. Not now, maybe not ever. Anyway, your brother would probably freak out, though. "He is doing WHAT?!"

    So, good to see a blog entry from you. I loved the line, "snow put the cherry on top of the sundae". I tried to take a drive up to the mountains beyond Los Angeles to crunch around in the snow, but the road I chose ended up being closed, so I gave up on that idea.

    I thoroughly loved 2011 and am sorry to see it go, but here's wishing for a fantastic 2012, which I hope you have!

  5. Oh but I can't stand bizarre mistakes typos, etc. No matter how many times I edit....