Archive for December, 2012

Greetings from snowy northeast Pennsylvania!

I had a wonderful Christmas. After a seamless flight on Christmas Eve, it started to snow just minutes after I arrived at Mom’s house. We had another wonderful Christmas Eve, full of the usual laughter and fun (I am related to some darn hilarious people). On Christmas morning, we had snow! I can’t remember the last time we had a white Christmas, and it was very lovely (although most of it had melted by mid-afternoon). We went to my step-brother’s home for breakfast and to exchange gifts with his family, and later on we visited my step-sister’s family before a quiet Christmas dinner at the farmhouse. The last few days have been wonderful– spending lots of time with my mother,aunts, and cousins; enjoying the company of people I deeply love but live very far away from. Last night I went out with my longtime friend Jen  to the local sports bar/watering hole, where we spent five hours catching up, laughing, and talking about everything under the sun (we’ve been friends since kindergarten!).

…and it’s all about to come to an end. I have mixed feelings about heading home on Monday. On the one hand, I can’t wait to see my husband, our cats and our sweet home. On the other hand, I’m not ready to leave my Momma just yet; plus I feel like I haven’t seen everyone I wanted to see/done everything I wanted to do. There’s also a little anxiety about the flight (I have a verrrrry tight layover in Atlanta– a little too tight for comfort) and about the rapid-fire pace of the following few days. I get back Monday night (I hope) (if all goes well); Tuesday I have to finalize/burn all of my recital music, go to a meeting to submit all my recital music choices, rush home to cook New Year’s dinner, then get all my dance stuff together to go back to work the next day (so I guess I better choreograph somewhere in there, too). I know Monday and Tuesday are holidays, but it’s going to be an afterthought.

TL;DR: I’m not ready for vacation to be over. Wahhh wahh wahh, woe is me.

(Disclaimer: It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to have two whole weeks off for Christmas break. That said, it’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to. yuk yuk yuk)

Anyway, I’ve been posting pictures on my tumblr site throughout the break; so feel free to click over and enjoy pictures of snow, chickens, and such. 🙂 I’m off to enjoy my last 38 hours in my homeland– please wish me luck for the journey back (I’ll need it for sure in Atlanta).

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Christmas Eve Eve

Two days before Christmas, y’all!

The original plan was that I would fly to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, have a few days to prepare/shop for Christmas with my Mom, and return to Houston two days after Christmas.* Unfortunately, a minor emergency occurred on Wednesday morning and threw a huge wrench into all those plans. Luckily, the emergency was resolved and everything is okay (sort of– one of us is going to need invasive surgery after the holiday, not sure if that still qualifies as “okay”)… but my vacation plans had to be re-tooled. The only flights that were within our price range were on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

While I’d already done all my shopping/wrapping for Craig, I had been holding off on buying gifts for my family members until I got to Pennsylvania. With that no longer an option, I hit the stores Thursday and Friday morning  in search of Christmas presents for my family members. I wish I could have gone Christmas shopping with my mom! Especially since I am not a super gift giver, and she could have helped me pick them out (I think I did all right by myself, though 🙂 ).

Friday was the first official day of “winter” and the darkest night of the year, so that night I went to Long Night, Joyous Light: A Winter Solstice Happening. We wore glow necklaces and carried flashlights and glow-sticks and down the streets of Montrose and around the Menil. We also got to see (and critique) all the different light displays (and we saw a baby owl, too!). It was very fun!

(On Friday I also baked cookies. Lots and lots and lots of cookies.)

Saturday I wrapped Christmas presents:


This morning I got up early to purchase the last two gifts… and a huge roll of bubble wrap.


First, I carefully wrapped each present in several layers of bubble wrap. Then, I dragged out my husband’s gigantic Marine Raider duffle bag and began to pack the presents in.

When I say "gigantic" I'm not joking-- I can fit my whole body in this thing.

When I say “gigantic” I’m not joking– I can fit my whole body in this thing.

So, that bag is packed, my carry-on is packed, I need to double-check my suitcase and then I will be ready to leave the house at 7:00 tomorrow morning. The stockings are filled, Craig’s present’s are wrapped and under the tree (by “under” I really mean “propped up against,” but whatever), and there is enough home-cooked food and baked goods in this place to keep him busy for a few days.

Time to finish packing. Then I’ll pour some wine, turn on some Christmas music, and enjoy the rest of Christmas Eve Eve with my husband. Merry Christmas to all!

*I’m traveling solo again this year– Craig has to work. 😦 I made him promise to come to PA next year!

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About five seconds after I learned of the horrific events at Sandy Hook elementary, I started seeing the anti-gun messages flood every social media outlet imaginable. “THIS is why we need gun control! We need to get rid of the Second Amendment! ALL GUNS ARE BAD! No more guns, for anyone, ever!”

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that was the gist of it. While I don’t disagree that our current arms laws leave a lot to be desired; “getting rid of all the guns” isn’t only Not The Answer, it’ not even possible.

Guns have been manufactured, bought, and sold in this country for centuries– both through legal and illegal means. You cannot get rid of them; they are already here and they are everywhere. The people that have them are sure as hell not giving them up– you’ll get their weapon when you pry their cold, dead fingers off it.

Some folks says we don’t need less guns, just stronger gun laws. That sounds good in theory…but I have to tell you something. I know you guys don’t know this, and I think it’s good to pass on knowledge; so I’ll share this little tidbit of information with you. Are you ready? Here it is:






Did you get that? You should probably print it out, and keep it for future reference. You can make laws until you are blue in the face, but that’s not going to stop anyone who doesn’t respect those laws. If guns become illegal, they will still be bought, sold, and used– just as they are now. Do you understand? Okay, great, let’s move on.

* * *

While “no guns at all” isn’t the answer, neither is “more guns.” What’s more dangerous than one gun? More than one gun! Especially in a crowded setting such as a school, movie theater, or public meeting in a parking lot ( I recall reading that a man present at the 2011 Tucson shooting had a CHL and a gun on him at the time, but he didn’t fire because there was a crowd, and he didn’t want anyone else hurt or killed). If a lone gunman can kill close to thirty people, imagine what carnage two, three, or more gunmen would cause– especially in chaos (which is what happens when someone opens fire on an unsuspecting crowd). Even if you’re a really good shot; when there’s mass confusion and a bunch of people running and screaming ….

* * *

In the aftermath of such a horrific, senseless tragedy, everyone is looking for answers. It’s human nature– when something awful happens, why try to figure out what we can do to make sure it never happens again. I don’t pretend to have those answers– but I can tell you that trying to “ban guns” is going to be an exercise in futility, and it’s not going to prevent another shooting.

* * *

If you want my personal, non-professional opinion (and I’m sure you don’t, but I don’t care), I think less glorifying of violence in the media and more focus on identifying and treating mental illness would be a good start on smashing the cycle of violence.

* * *

Edited to add: I want to make it clear that I’m not a gun nut. It bothers me that in most states it is legal to own a machine gun but not a joint; or that Kinder Surprise eggs are banned but automatic assault rifles are A-OK. I’m just irritated that people think banning all guns is the answer to our gun violence problem (or, worse, that arming everyone in the country will somehow result in fewer gun deaths).

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F—ed Up Friday

My heart went in my throat this afternoon, when I read about the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school.

“Heartbreaking” is the only word I could come up with. Those poor, innocent children! They had their entire lives ahead of them! And even worse than that….they died in terror. Good Lord, now I’m crying again.

I can’t stop thinking about those parents. Parents who woke their kids up this morning and got them ready for school, not knowing it would be the last time. Parents who have Christmas presents that will never be opened and stockings that won’t be filled. Parents who ere given the precious gift of a child only to have it ripped away from them, senselessly and violently, after all too short a time.

It’s even more obscene that such a thing would happen during “the most wonderful time of year;” a month that’s supposed to be all about joy and family. Now families have been destroyed and “joy” feels like a four-letter word.

My heart aches for all the family members, the students, and the staff who were affected by today’s violent events. Cloud Cuckooland is morning right alongside you.


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As I write this it is 12:12pm on on 12/12/12.

Granted, this little line-up has occured twice a year, every year, since 1:01A on January 1st, 2001… but it’s the last time it’ll happen in our lifetime, so people on Facebook are pretty excited about it.

Anyway, I’m going to the gym.

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This is the last week of dance classes for the year 2012. It’s also the week of Christmas Open House, where friends and family come in to observe classes and the students present a short dance piece.

My class presentation today went well! It was a primary class with ten students. We started the class as usual with their warm-up and “barre,” then presented their dance (a two minute diddy of “Jingle Bells”). The girls did a really nice job– they stayed together and (mostly) were on the same foot; and were overall very adorable in general. I occasionally made asides to the parents, explaining the purpose of a certain activity or exercise (and managed to do so without breaking the flow of class, yay for me). The kids did well, and the parents were happy– one mother came to me afterwards and told me that I “really commanded [the students] attention” and she was very pleased. *smile, blush*

… I have three more primary classes this week; may they all go so well.

* * *

My older students have their class presentations on Friday, so I actually got to give them class tonight. They successfully performed their Christmas ballet twice this past weekend at a church pageant, so they got to waltz across the floor and work on allegro (we’d been spending the last 30 minutes of class on rehearsal). Overall, it was a good night’s work.

* * *

On the way home I stopped at Kroger to get dishwasher soap. When I started home again, my car…would not.

Of course, this could not have happened after work, outside a building full of people who are familiar to me. Nope, a strip-mall parking lot in an unfamiliar neighborhood 20 minutes from my home was the perfect spot for my battery to decide it Had Enough.

Luckily, the Kroger manager found an employee who had jumper cables and helped me out. Within ten minutes I was thanking her profusely (also thanked her with my wallet, as you do) and on my way home again.

My car battery still needs attention (and some Coca-cola), but that is tomorrow morning’s problem.

In the meantime: Be well, do good works, check your battery for corrosion.

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After seeing numerous quaint pictures of them on the internet, I decided to build our Christmas tree out of books this year.


I’d been a little slow on the uptake of decorating this year– while I decorated the living room the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it was an entire week before I did anything else (like hang lights, or wreaths, or decorate any other part of the apartment), and I’d been slowly getting out decorations as I went. This past Monday, with Craig gone most of the day, I decided it was the perfect time to tackle the “tree.”


First I re-arranged the living room, gave it a good vaccuuming, and started lugging books out of the bedroom. I used the same pattern as Mary Murtz— I started with a circle of seven larger books, arranged spine out in a flower-petal shape, then began stacking and overlapping; using some flimsy pillows in the center to keep the books from sliding in. Most of the books I used were hardcover and/or at least 1″ thick; but in a few places where they didn’t stack up just right I used some smaller, flimsier paperbacks to take up the extra space (those guilty-pleasure/nostalgic Fear Street books I picked up a church rummage sale last year worked great for that).

Instead of making a taller, skinnier cone, I opted for a shorter, stubbier one– namely because I thought a tall, skinny book tree would be too easily knocked over by cats; but also because it was my first try at a book tree and I wanted to play it safe. I guess you could say it’s more of a shrub than a tree, but whatever. It still makes me smile. 🙂

I wrapped it with some of those big old-fashioned Christmas lights and placed an angel on the top. When Craig got home I told him “Look, I got us a Christmas tree;” and he laughed and clapped. He loves it!


A few words about fire safety: We only leave the lights plugged in for a few hours at a time; always when both of us are home. Every so often I will walk by and check to make sure the books aren’t getting too hot; or to gently move the light string. I think next year I’ll use the tiny lights, since they don’t seem to get as hot.

The whole project took about an hour to complete, and it is such a joy to look at. Happy holidays!

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