Few things make me as happy as being a whirling dervish in the kitchen. In the past four days, the following things have emerged from our kitchen:
I think the reason I don't see more films (and I'm counting DVDs here) is threefold: (1) I don't have too many unaccounted for multi-hour stretches of time, (2) when I do there are other things more interesting to me than watching a screen (since work involves a screen of a different sort) like talking to people or fiddling around, and (3) I have a short attention span. But in the last week or so we've watched an unprecendented (for us) number of movies:
We have a lot of crap. Having crap does not make me happy but neither does throwing out perfectly functional things. We routinely take bags of items to the Goodwill and now I'm discovered yet another (ingenious) outlet for stuff needs a home more loving than we can provide: Freecyling! When I last checked there were over 16,00 people in 148 cities freecycling away. You simply sign up and then offer things for free (or note something you want for free). Just this week I offered up a perfectly fine, though aging, computer monitor and within ten minutes it had been claimed. Within 48 hours some nice people picked it up off my porch. Not only did I add a few credits to my karma account but but our house now has an extra five cubic feet of space.
UPDATE 12.28.03: My offer of three gallons of used wine corks was snatched up in eight minutes. Who knew? It's the power of Freecycling. Get with the program.
Christmas has always been the central holiday in my family and I have only good memories that go along with it. There’s just a warm loveliness about Christmas in the home in which I grew up, which is not limited to the annual Christmas Eve Open House.
The decision not to go south for Christmas always brings a measure of guilt, but also relief the whole increasingly nasty to and from travel experience. Our families don’t create the Christmas stress, it’s the getting to our families and shuttling between them in a holiday proscribed temporal window that does.
Plus this year I’ve been cranky. There, I admitted it. So when it came time to prepare our own home for Christmas I drug my feet at first. Dia suggested that “We could wait until the day after Christmas like we did when we were in grad school and get a tree for free!” Which prompted a debate as to whether we had ever done that because I recalled that we actually got the tree on Christmas Eve. In fact, I vividly remember taking a bus to Wallingford on Christmas Eve and getting a tree for free only to have to figure out how to get it home. I tried to get on the Metro bus with the tree but they would have none of it, and so I dragged it the mile or so home, feeling deeply in the Christmas spirit and installing it in my grad school bachelor pad, an apartment I remember most for the sheets of water that would pour into it whenever it would rain (not that happens often in Seattle). It was 1992. As typically happens when Dia and I have a dispute, we were both right. The day-after-Christmas Christmas tree showed up, I think, in 1994.
So we bought a tree just before my mid-December birthday and wedged it inside Heddy the Honda, and I cleaned the Christmas tree stand that came with the house (I found it the sub basement the year we moved in: score!), sawed off a hunk of the trunk, and voila! Christmas tree. We pulled boxes out of the garage labeled “Holidays” and uncovered a treasure trove of ornaments we have each, together and separately, collected through the years. We do this every year we stay in Seattle, but I forget. The assortment of baubles, some of them bought by us, many of them gifts, more than a few made just for us summed up the connections and experiences that make Christmas more than a consumer/Christian celebration for me. There, on our tree, was a representation of the community of people we love.
NOTE: I'd planned to link here to a page with pictures of all of our ornaments ranging from Dia's whacky waterskier, to little glass magic muschroom, to the Santa carved by my dad, and so on and on. Only problem is: can't find my damned camera. Check back, uh, next year.
Today is Winter Solstice, which marks the shortest day and longest night of the year: Sunrise was at 7:56am (that must be why I slept in) and sunset is at 4:21pm.
Or as say in Seattle: "Yippee! The days are gonna start getting longer!" In other meteorological news, the weater wags are predicting possible snowfall on Thursday so we may just get a White Christmas.
We’ve started to think seriously about selling our house (or as we often refer to “our damn house”). It’s not a bad house by any stretch, but we’re confronting the realization that it’s too much for us to handle. Full disclosure: Dia’s already come to this realization and I’m moving steadily in that direction. Buying our house was an amazing thing: We have a yard! We don’t share walls! We don’t pay rent! We can have a garden! But the truth is that our yard is an unkempt mess, we gardened far more when we lived in an tiny apartment and tilled a P-Patch, and owing a house isn’t the only way to avoid paying rent. I’m still getting comfortable with the sharing walls thing.
This weekend as we were strolling around Belltown we decided to check out a new condo/loft named The Klee. Now let me make it clear that I have no intention of living in any building that tries to build cache by naming itself after a dead artist. That kind of marketing is just too transparent for me to be comfortable with. (Though if there were a Joseph Cornell Building I’d consider it). I didn’t particularly care for the floorplans and generated all sorts of resistance to the very notion of making such a move. But now I’m reconsidering. We could be a one-car family again, have a view, have a gym downstairs, be in walking distance of downtownness, cut my commute to minutes by foot, have high ceilings, have electrical, plumbing, and heating systems that were installed within the past 50 years, have two bathrooms (or even one and a half!), never again deal with lath and plaster walls, and have a few large spaces instead of too many small, cramped ones.
I would have to give up grand notions of having a workshop and a garden that didn’t reside in pots, but these desires are unrequited in our current abode. However things break, this is all goodness. The notion of selling our house requires us to spring into action to do things to make the house sellable: paint the exterior, get someone in to help us figure out the yard, and make repairs that have so far defeated us. Until we make the leap we will do nothing but improve our current situation. And then there’s this aspect which was uncovered during our impromptu condo walk-through:
Mark: But there’s not enough room for even half my shit!? Dia: Exactly.
A superb tradition of my workplace is “R&R week.” For two weeks each year things slow to a crawl as all employees take off either the week before Labor Day or the week before Christmas as a free week of vacation. The other fifty weeks of the year are high-speed controlled chaos so this tradition serves to provide a rhythm adjustment that helps restore sanity and mitigate fatigue. I take my R&R in the summer (conveniently the week of Burning Man) and so I’m in the office this week and next, collecting thoughts, shredding stacks of paper, and getting to those things I never have time to get to. It’s a godsend, particularly since the last couple of weeks have been off the hook as you might have guessed by the dearth of postings and the lack of any Christmas packages or cards with my return address in your mailbox. This is an annual occurrence so don’t be alarmed. Much like the concept of birthday month, I view Christmas as marking the midpoint of an end-of-year zone of giving and greeting. Of course this maybe simply be a self-serving rationale used to cover-up poor planning and time management, but for now I’m calling it a “tradition.”
Whether he can get elected reamins to be seen (and of course he'll need a Southerner on the ticket to have a shot), but Howard Dean's use of technology has been breathtaking and inspring, and as this article argues, foreshadows the the decline of traditional party control over Presidential elections.
For all Dean's talk about wanting to represent the truly "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," the paradox is that he is a third-party candidate using modern technology to achieve a takeover of the Democratic Party. Other candidates -- Joseph Lieberman , John Kerry, John Edwards -- are competing to take control of the party's fundraising, organizational and media assets. But Dean is not interested in taking control of those depreciating assets. He is creating his own party, his own lists, his own money, his own organization. What he wants is the Democratic brand name and legacy, its last remaining asset of value, as part of his marketing strategy.