Friday, November 28, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

I'm a sucker for Christmas, always have been. It's the spirit of things that I enjoy, and I've posted on that previously. However, I also like the change in the season. The snow falling gets me in the spirit of the season. We've had a couple of snowfalls, but the 2nd one left nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Now it looks like Christmas. Well, mostly. The warm temperatures the past couple of days have meant that there isn't a lot of it left. Still, it was lovely while it lasted. I like snow. I don't mind shoveling, but I'm not that competent at it. I like sliding, skating, walking in it. I look forward to it. At least you can get out in it, not like rain!

So, being in spirit of things I started a gingerbread house last night. Technically I had to start several days ago: researching online to find just the right house, spending a couple of hours drafting up house plans and printing them, an hour cutting out the plans, next evening mixing the dough, rolling the dough, putting the dough back in the refrigerator because it wasn't cool enough and broke too easily.

All this over the last week culminated with rolling, cutting, and baking the house pieces (complete with stained glass windows) last night. I think I counted 19 pieces plus 4 gingerbread men, 6 mini gingerbread men and 4 gingerbread stars. At some point this weekend, I hope that my daughter and I will assemble and decorate it. I'm looking forward to it, as is she, but not too sure what I'll do with it later. After all that work, I won't want it eaten, and by the time Christmas is over, it won't be edible.

Oh, well, yet another sacrifice in the effort to ensure happy holiday memories for myself and kiddies. In all this is my second attempt to produce a gingerbread house. Many years ago, probably at least 16, I spent a week fashioning one I saw in a magazine. I was quite proud of it and gave the completed house to my mother-in-law on Christmas eve. The next day, we showed up for supper only to find nothing left of the house but the peppermint patty walkway! My brother-in-law's dog had eaten it during the night. I can laugh about it now, but at the time.....

So, decorations are up, some presents purchased, baking started, season well underway. I'm as happy as I get for the time being. Now, if I could just win the lottery!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Milestone of a sort.

Howe's Life? has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In the News

Things like this make me furious: Why are idiots like this allowed to carry on with their lives?,0,2331815.story Why do a bunch of fundamentalists have to get involved with others' lives? A family is what you make it, not just a mother and father and 2.5 kids!!!! They are trampling on the rights of others.

Reading the news just ups my blood pressure.


New President

So, the fever is over and Obama is the new leader of the US. That's a relief. Not that I was worried. All indications were that McCain had lost this shortly after picking Palin as a running mate. Seriously, if you don't put more thought than that into choosing the other half of your platform, how much thought are you going to put into running a country?

One thing struck me, though. In interviews at various conventions around the states, Democrats were often hopeful, cheerful and generally concerned for the welfare of their rights and their country. Republicans, on the other hand, were more concerned with the fact that the leader of the other party was black, a Muslim, a terrorist and often shouted things like "hang him" or "socialist" to Democratic demonstrators at their rallies. Sad, really.

But then again, I couldn't really see past Palin's religious fundamentalism to even wonder if they had a sound platform. Of course, she actually is a fundamentalist as opposed to Obama's imagined terrorism activities.

So, I imagine we'll have a couple of weeks of election post-mortem and then perhaps things will be back to normal.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Time Flies Even Faster

Wow, it's November already!

My 18 year-old complains on a regular basis that time moves too quickly and she can't quite believe it. Imagine how she'll feel at my age? Not that I'm old. Heck no!

I'm looking forward to Christmas and all that it implies. I love the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, cutting down and lugging home the tree, baking, visiting, parties, the whole shebang. I particularly enjoy the fact that you can wander around downtown and most people are smiling, talkative, cheerful, and embody that sense of "hustle and bustle" from the classic "Silver Bells". It really is my favorite time of the year.

And, truth be told, it has nothing to do with religion. At least on my part. Sure, people have been "celebrating the birth of Christ" but it's evolved into more than that in this micro world. Religions other than Christian erect trees, decorate their homes and exchange gifts. But it seems to have more to do with appreciating your own family for a change, and hoping for peace and goodwill regardless of religious beliefs.

How often do we take our family members for granted throughout the year? Christmas is my time of the year to think about my family: what gift could I pick for them that they would enjoy? It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be thoughtful. I don't think it's all about excess; that is just so much marketing. But, to show your love and appreciation just once, unselfishly, throughout the year is not asking too much. And a wish for peace and goodwill goes with every gift.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some Days You Just Want to Stay in Bed

I spent part of last evening arguing with my husband over paranormal bullshit. He believes in Reiki and a higher consciousness and I believe in paying attention to the here and now and if there's anything else, then prove it to me. I believe in rationality, he feels I need to have my mind opened. Needless to say, it doesn't make for a good night's sleep when you go to bed pissed at the other person in bed.

So, I wake up tired and the alarm hasn't gone off because of a power outage; it's raining (mixed with snow) when I head to work; the office is freezing because we're in a makeshift room with only one small heater; and to top it all off, my sister sends an email basically trying to make me feel like a selfish over-spender for wanting to do a gift exchange among my siblings for Christmas.

Now, I'm a fairly economical person. I don't spend hundreds on designer boots when I can go to Zellers or Payless. I don't spend myself into credit debt over Christmas. The most I've ever done is skipped paying the hydro for that month so as to have a few extra dollars. I give to the food bank, to various community organizations (police, legion, etc.), and assorted other donations throughout the year. In the past, my usual purchases would include some major "toy", some clothes, boots/coat/mitts, and some smaller items and stocking stuffers for my kids as their Christmas gifts. However, my sister seems to feel that we should forgo Christmas in our own homes so that some less fortunate family can have a better Christmas. Not quite seeing the logic in that, myself. No Christmas here, so there can be Christmas there. Right!

Anyway, it irks me to no end to be criticized for my own opinions yet others feel they have the right to spout theirs on a daily basis just because my opinions most often contradict what may be popular opinion at the time. It's enough to make me want to go home and crawl into bed with a good book. Sometimes I think the hermits of the world have it right!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things I'm Reading

Had a very lazy day on Monday. Even though the weather was so nice that I should have been outdoors, I spent the day reading. I've been pointed onto Jodi Picoult as an author and I really enjoy her books. They have that not too deep/not too light balance that makes for great reading on lazy days. The most recent, which I've just finished, is Second Glance. It's about ghosts, which I don't believe in, and eugenics (can't say as I believe in that either) and was a very interesting read. I enjoyed it, and I'll probably search out more of her books.

I'm also reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkings. It is very interesting, but I am taking my time with it so as to try an absorb some of his arguments. He makes some very good points, and on occasion I have to defend my athestic position and I need all the help I can get.

I've just started reading Roger Sudden, which is a period piece, and I'll need to read a little more to decide whether I like it or not. So far it has piqued my interest, but I'm really not sure what the storyline is about other than a wayward son, in the time of King Charles, heads to the new world to seek his fortune. We'll see how it goes.

Then of course, there's the news. A person can always find things of interest in the news. It's wonderful to have access to so many news sources online now. Tends to balance out the opinions a person has access to. These are some of the stories I've most recently read:

All in all, an interesting weekend. The election is over (thankfully) and maybe we can find something uniting to focus on.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Ahh, weekends.

There are few things better than a long weekend with a promising weather forecast.

It's finally Thanksgiving weekend, and it's a fairly big deal in my family. This year marks the 19th year of an annual family wide gathering of my mom's family. Each year we rent a local hall, decorate and set the tables for approximately 50 family members. In my mother's family there were 7 kids (6 of whom still lived in the same town) and, together with their children and grandchildren, the family total is around 66 people. Of course, not everyone can make it every year so numbers vary from year to year.

Over the years the event has been refined somewhat. In it's original incarnation, mom and her two sisters would buy the groceries, cook the meal, serve the meal and do the dishes later. I mean, that's what happens for most every other holiday meal, so this followed the same pattern. A few years ago, one of them got wise. Now, no one can say they're stupid women. I mean it only took about 10, 11 years to figure this out: they were doing all the work, and the men and "kids" weren't doing much to help out. So, they issued a proclamation. They would still get groceries, but the next generation of women were to be responsible for the cooking and serving, and the men had to do the dishes. As a veteran hater of doing dishes, and actually enjoying cooking, I was good with that.

So, for the past few years we go to the hall the evening before and set up tables and chairs and decorate. Then, day of, we peel potatoes and veggies and set out pickles, S&P, etc. in the mornings and generally get the meal ready. Everyone shows up about an hour before supper is to be served to share some family time with everyone. After supper, we watch the men stagger about the kitchen bumping into each other (although, it's getting better in there) and settle down for some evening entertainment. Typically that would involve family members or family friends with guitars, and lots of drinks for everyone. Standard end time is usually 2am or better, with hangovers present for the next morning clean-up.

In the last couple of years, we tried adding things to make this more of a full-day event. A couple of years ago we had skits/songs after supper wherein my sisters and I (and a couple of cousins) made up a song about our get togethers and did a little skit making fun mom and her siblings. You probably had to be a family member to appreciate it, but it was Hil-lar-ee-ous!!! Another year a cousin organized an Amazing Race! That was great fun, and worked up an appetite for turkey! Last year after supper we played Jeopardy with most of the questions being about the family, a couple of thanksgiving categories, and a couple of general categories. Also very good for a laugh.

The plan for this year is another amazing race for the afternoon, with a song/skit after supper. We've hired a Karaoke guy for the evening entertainment and the whole day promises to be a blast. I can't wait. I loves me some Karaoke.

Of course, each year brings the realization that we're not getting any younger. As a family, we've been extremely fortunate with regards to loss of family members. Over the past 19 years, I've lost one young cousin to an accident, our two oldest family members (great-aunt and uncle) to the ravages of time, and my dad to cancer. Each year with such a loss is a tear-filled supper. This year marks the first year one of my mom's siblings will be no longer with us. My uncle passed away from cancer earlier this year and that will make this dinner very difficult to get through. Each year another uncle will highlight the family ups and downs and what we should be thankful for. He will have a difficult time this year now that his brother is one of the downs. We're a very sentimental family, so there will be a lot of tears around the family table. And yet, we wouldn't have it any other way. When you love hard, you cry hard.

All in all, it's a great event. Family home from everywhere, good food, good fun, singing and carrying on, 4 generations involved and getting along, a long weekend and good weather. What more can you ask for? Here's hoping everyone's weekend will be as fun.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time Flies

Here we are moving quickly towards yet another holiday. While part of me is thrilled at the prospect of a long weekend, another part of me still bemoans the fading summer. Eek! How did it get to be October? I didn't do nearly enough pool-side lounging with good books or nearly enough getting outdoors just to soak up summer heat. Living in Canada, I figure we have to take advantage of every warm, sunny day to soak up enough memories of daylight and heat to make it through February. Oh well, autumn days can be amazing too. There are days when I feel very much like Calvin of "Calvin & Hobbes" fame. Calvin doesn't want to go to school on sunny days (too nice out), rainy days (should be in bed with a book) or snowy days (too much fun in the snow), so he feels a Judge should mandate school only during hazy humid days in August. I concur, with the addition that I'd be convinced to work the odd dreary day in January as well.

Even with work taking up too much of my spare time, I did manage to spend some quality time with my daughter last night. While she's 18, she does have moments of where her inner 10 year-old takes over her personality. So, after several years of doing nothing, last night we decorated the house for Hallowe'en at her request. She dug out the decorations, got sentimental over some created by her and her brother in Kindergarten, and listed the items I needed to purchase to complete the look (apparently the house won't be compete without some carved pumpkins and a monster sized spiderweb). We danced to Abba while hanging decorations and chatting about her college courses and friends. We even spent several minutes laughing over old photos looking for one in particular of a past Hallowe'en. Within a single year, time flies so fast it's hard to keep up. Within a lifetime, it flies even faster.

Looking at pictures of my daughter as a 2 year-old, I wanted to pick her up an smother her with kisses and hug her just to hear her laugh. I really miss that kid. I know she's the beautiful young woman sitting beside me, but there is something in my mind that can't quite bridge the time gap that brought us to this point. I was quite surprised by the feeling, to be honest. I can't quite reconcile myself to the fact that this time next year she'll be living in a dorm completing her 2nd year of university (or living with her boyfriend in an apartment) and my house will be mostly empty. My son, as a 20 year-old, is mostly living on his own, but still stocks his larder from my cupboards and frequents the supper table as well. To that end, I see him fairly frequently, I just don't have to yell at him to pick up his clothes and do the dishes.

When I'm feeling particularly introspective, I contemplate how my mother must have felt. That sort of thinking can have your mind running in circles, I tell you. Oh, well. Until another day.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Interesting Reading

After reading the following,, I'm a little more certain that there's no great designer in the sky. If a group of monkeys can figure out money with a little help, obviously evolution can push a species in that direction. Especially a species with an even more evolved brain.

To be honest, I suppose I'm a 99% athiestic-leaning agnostic. It's things like this that keep upping the percentage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I really don't enjoy politics

IMO, it would be great if government were different than politics.

Our current government is in the throes of a national election including all the assorted political maneuvering that goes along with it. Obviously you can't please everyone, but you would think that for the sake of a country an agreement could be reached without resorting to lies, innuendo and spin doctors. I realize that the literal definition of liberal and conservative dictates that the parties political agenda be polar opposites, but surely there's some common ground.

I can't even make up my mind which way to vote. I'm sort of leaning in a liberal direction, but the thoughts of putting the party that supported Jean Chretian in power disturbs me. Of course, Brian Mulrooney still leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. And I have socialist leanings, but I'm afraid that I'd be wasting my vote in voting NDP. Same goes for the Green Party. Unfortunately, we're left with sound bites to base our vote on.

Of course, it would be even better if religion didn't have anything to do with governing. But, that's another post.

Scarily enough, the American election bothers me more than ours. Sarah Palin strikes me as a pathetic bid on the part of the republican party to score votes with women. However, no women I know are going to vote for someone who feels that we need to go two steps back for women's rights.

My only consolation is that in another month, this will all be over. Well, at least the media circus will be over.

Opening Salvo

Where to start?

Blogging is one of those things that I've thought about for awhile, but just haven't quite gotten around to until now. Blogging begs the question "who wants to read about you're life anyway?", but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. As my brother-in-law pointed out, putting your personal details out for the public is for egos that need to be stroked. Not sure if that is what this is, or not, but one should always try new things. Don't want to get staid in my doddering years.

I've started this on a bit of a whim, so I believe I'll close my first post so that I can put a little more thought into my second.