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Long ago

In my past life, things were different in terms of holiday groupings. I have family. I have a different family now. I suppose there will be a family legacy passed on to others with good wishes and love. Groupings change. Nothing is absolutely known about the future in the present. Looking back retrospectively there is bittersweet memory. I miss family who are no longer with us. I am grateful for the time we were together. I am happy for the future in which I am living. Change is part of us. My secretary used to say that I would always say, “Something always happens.” Aptly, nothing stays the same. With lemons, be prepared to make lemonade. Bittersweet is the operative word here.


Group hug

We did it! We did! We managed to have Christmas in five locations! We are the seniors. They are supposed to come to us? Ha! We were in fours states. I believe we achieved a state of grace. (How about, altered state?) It was work. It was fun. Our parents were bystanders. We are not! Bring it on! We did.

We have an extended family. We managed to catch up with multiple family groupings this holiday. It’s been nutty. Covid and whatnot has conspired to make it hard. In a mere moment plans changed. I was so punchy I did not know where or to whom half the presents were destined. At every stop I was inaccurate. I had packed for groups that broke up and met as different parts in different places. Confused? You bet! We were sleeping in one spot and cooking in another. At least I got a haircut and changed shirts. There were a lot of moving parts. Fun? We all had a good time. We must have had fun for me to still be writing about it a month later. All that I can attest, looking back, it was easier to herd cats!!

Epilogue: Omicron is among us. We did not escape unscathed. Members of the extended family pictured herein caught it and were tested positive. So far, all are fine. Those shots really work. Or, we are just plain lucky. My (neurosurgery) department motto was always, “Better to be lucky, than good.”

PPS: All is well. We were, indeed, lucky!


Perfect

The quest for the perfect gift is serendipitous at best. You would never guess and can never quite guess what will be a hit. Certainly, capturing the moment of surprise and joy is just as fraught. Sometimes a moment passes too quickly to capture. And, sometimes, you catch the moment perfectly. Certainly, the joy is apparent. It makes me smile as I edit. Have you seen the new plant based food? There is something disingenuous in making fake meat. Either you eat meat or you give it up for … broccoli. You simply can’t have it both ways. ??? So, fake bacon? It was enough to make me an instant vegetarian! The moment? Everyone had their phones out. I reached for my camera/flash. One shot. That was it. One chance. Perfect.


Christmas, umm….

Well, I hesitate to say, “Hell.’ It seems oddly incongruous to use the term in the same sentence with Christmas. Christmas hell? We are on the last leg of extended Christmas. We have been to Speonk, Elkins, Hurricane, and West Chester (not, in that order). Don’t ask. We did not make it to the Rocky Mountains. No mailboxes were illustrated in this post. (It was too humiliating.) Let’s start with dinner. Jane was late to the restaurant. She and Lee had hit a mailbox in the dark. Hit?! She ran over two (count ‘em!!) posts and crushed the mailboxes. Crushed!! And, her car would not start. She killed the (car) battery too. A very neat trick! Look under the tree. See, a couple Xmas stockings? No?! Yeah, missing. We never did find them. (Number?) Two?! Next, Jane’s toilet overflowed, and, kept, overflowing, as in, it just kept filling…up!! Up!! Help!!! The trash basket beside the toilet has holes in the bottom. What the…?!@#?$!! Yeah, yeah, needless to say I had taken my socks off but was still standing in ankle deep water. Don’t laugh… too hard. We lost stuff too. It went missing, or, who knows? We travel with a hot water bottle. Low tech, but, it saves the day in some houses we stay. The item (victim) other is a Sherlock game. Ha ha. Some of the cards went missing from the game. Sherlock!? Jane simply lost (a deck) of the game. Did she ever? (have/play with a full deck?). Oh my!!!… some days you just can’t make this sh*t up. Yes it was the Xmas from …. Note: no mailboxes were permanently maimed in the making of this post. Crushed, yes. Did I mention Lee overflowed the toilet – blocked the drain all the way out to the street…. ? The toilet filled because Colleen’s shower upstairs was filling the bowl. Oh! Yeah??


It changes in an instant: Plan B

Minute by minute, plans change. ??? The Christmas virus! Who had it? Who got it? Covid! Omcron! Damn! Jess’s household had a run of the Christmas flu. It was a family secret, not so secret. We knew but ignored it until… we could not. Not going, going, ah!!! Christmas plans dashed. We got Part I; but Part II???!!! Oh my! There were tears! Crocodile tears!! Unhappy wife. 😦 By the end of the day we had a new plan; after several more revisions. There is a Plan B. Who knows? Will we make it? We’re gonna try. The windows in the house were done (secret!) with Jolly Ranchers. (Lisa was so proud of her ingenuity.) I have never seen nor eaten one (jolly rancher). And, I am signed up to do a lot of driving. I feel like Santa on his delivery. Hey! We are (delivering)! By the end of this post – happy wife – happy marriage. Pfewf!


Time flies

…second day, different year…. How fast they grow! Darn! I just got newborn shots… and it’s time for another birthday. Time has passed so quickly! Slow down! I want to savor the moments. It is indeed a wistful feeling to watch little ones grow. I like ‘em when they are small. Colleen likes ‘em older; they are more interesting. I like ‘em when they are little and just getting used to the wonders of the world. No matter what, they just grow up soooo… fast. There is no going back. I will just enjoy, for as long as I can. Oh, and, don’t forget the camera. Cute? You bet. Happy birthday!


Almost… oops

Colleen is so understanding. There is no competition. She’s a “good” person. No jealousy. Oh sure, there is protectiveness. Am I making sense? Another birthday! I love that iPhone sends balloons when you type it. Happy! I did not miss yours – birthday. It just took a moment to realize I almost passed it by. Have a great day!


NKA

Lives out of backpack, gathers no moss, do I, admire or regret? If you carry all your belongings in a backpack, you are exactly opposite to Colleen and myself. We are happily overloaded with clutter. What to say? It’s easy to shop presents. Get nothing that won’t fit into an already full backpack. Dave’s already Noa’s favorite uncle. I was gonna say, ‘only uncle’ but, that ain’t true. Prodigal son? Not strictly. But he sure has a lifestyle only a few can imagine. I worry, all the while wishing him the best. From my vantage, we all put aside worry, this day.


Mixed blessing

I had the dubious fortune of visiting my old ornaments. Separated but not entirely lost in the divorce, they are remembrances. Jules and I reminisced over their (she and David’s) favorites. There was a horn; every year they vied to place this on the tree. They took turns; year by year they remembered who had put the horn on the year before. Colleen and I have a tree. Ours has a mix of old and new (memories). She brought ornaments from WV. We bought ornaments. New memories and new traditions are now part of me. Old and new, it’s something that makes you think hard at this time of the year.


Circle Game

It’s a completely foreign sight to see your grown children reading to theirs.

…We can’t return, we can only look
Behind, from where we came
And go round and round and round, in the circle game… – Joni Mitchell

Mice or mouse? Twas’ the Night Before Christmas – “…not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” The concept of mice or mouse, or, are they their names, plural vs singular, ah, that is the question?? Did it matter? Every night I read to “my” kids, and, Jules would stop me right here, without fail! “Which is the mouse? Which is the mice?” Without fail, we would pause. I gave my explanation. Jules expressed her doubt and confusion. We could never quite communicate our thought. It persists even now. Mice or mouse? It tugs at my heart to see my kids all grown up. A new dress? – universally beloved by little girls.


We got out alive

Xmas with the “ex.” It’s not that bad. Lisa likes Colleen better (than she likes me). No, this is the Part I story of Christmas, a game the whole family can play! It goes like this: Each Christmas someone goes down with some calamity. The most frequent is illness. The Christmas flu!! Yup, we got it in one of the homes this year. So, all plans changed in an hour. There were many tears and regrets. Covid is amongst us. But, this was the plain ole Christmas flu. Therefore, all parts subsequent to Part I changed. We will still get to all destinations – WV, OH, and so on. It will just happen in a different order and at different times. Ha ha! We made it past Part I. Everyone lived. No presents! No more!! Jules admonished sternly! Too much! I am guilty. Yes, I am! But, it ain’t a present if it’s not wrapped. (It says right here in the rules!!) Christmas cookies! A new holiday tradition? Nope! … an old one being passed down a generation. The best of all? Dave arrived home. Jules says it is the first time we have all been together since the wedding (hers).


Staff

It is said that we are just “staff” to our cats. Ha! They certainly have free reign. Free range? Do as you (my cats) will. They are, for the most part, careful to step around all things breakable. Only Willow has a tail that has a mind of its own. He knows how to walk about with chaos in his wake. Have I ever considered that we might have one cat too many? Nope.


Gnome for the holidays

Gnomes were all the rage this year. We got some. Carol sent hand knit free trade ornaments. “They” got their own little tree. Yes, spinners have their own special wreaths. Air plants – here’s a new take for Xmas. Santas? Our mantle is full. Carolers? Colleen admired them. They are $$$. I like a bargain. We found these at an estate sale for $. Ok! Then, I/we could not find them. Nope!! I looked high and low, but, not behind the milk! Nope! I was even wondering if I left them in the estate and forgot to take them home. ??? of course!! Colleen found them while she was looking for something else. (not behind the milk!!) … we have a missing yoga mat… not any little mat, it’s a 6×8 foot mat. How does a mat that size go missing??


Black plate

In the Walmart parking lot: The black Delaware license plate is an old one reserved for the early settlers of Delaware. You can get one at auction or by inheriting one. Yup, Delaware, Sussex county, Republican, asshole. Really!? And, you left your window open. I’d have liked to have poured a bottle of root beer into the front seat. Some people walk around as though there are no vindictive Democrats left in the world. But, without too much trouble, we know who you are and how to find you! Yeah, you should be looking out your rear view mirror.


Positivity

The original post scheduled was too negative. (It comes later today.) Instead for a while, focus on the humor of family. Colleen has two ditzy sisters.

dit·zy: adjective – (informal)- silly or scatterbrained (typically used of a woman). — herein, used in the most loving of ways. (they don’t tune in to my posts…)

Ha ha. I got the best one (sister) though there are times… Let’s be positive and say Colleen is nearest my age. (no, not ditzy, either) Enough! No names please. One, who is unnamed here has eyes bigger than her stomach. Or, rather, I goaded her into ordering a Shepard’s pie off the menu. It arrived, bigger than her head (and her stomach). Close your eyes and pretend she ate and enjoyed it all, (instead of taking it home to discretely trash it later). Eyes? Yes, she, still, ordered dessert, too!

It’s summer! It’s the family gathering of Colleen’s extended clan (at our house!). A good time is had by all. I get to watch and be endlessly entertained. The smiles are simply priceless. Happiness. Family. Joy. … and Shepard”s pie.


Too little time

Too many stories. We are lucky. A picture can tell a thousand words. I prefer to be succinct. Pictures!

Colleen says I look at people (women) too much. Things have changed. How do you come to work? Really!? Mom always said wear clean underwear. If you come to the trauma ER, they cut your clothes off you. I’ve seen some pretty fancy underwear (shredded). Just wondering…. Another sunrise? I am so fortunate to see another. It’s a gift. The Turkish plate? It’s totally out of character and out of sync to everything else in the house. It fits right in. Nope, we are not in need of a bed pan. I don’t see an old “set” every day. Likely, I will not again. Everything is disposable now. Yes, the times are changing. I used to go to work in suit and tie. In my last job, I simply lived in scrubs for four straight years. A tie and jacket came out of the closet only a handful of days.


Making up for lost decades

We met when we were eight years old. We then orbited in proximity for five years. I knew Colleen (back then), though we remained not much more than acquaintances. We lost track of one another for nearly five decades. And now? We’re trying to make up for a lot of time. Does accumulating stuff help? … a lot of stuff? I would not know. We just go with it. One Santa, two Santa… one leads to another and another. You would think we were an old married couple. Well, old yes; together, not nearly as long as we will be from now on. If I had one wish….


Need to know

We live in a conservative neighborhood. Let’s go Brandon is a curse against Biden. Another pick-up truck was traveling down the road with curses like, “F adam schiff.”

I daresay you drive with this on your car and your ID. That license plate is not too hard to trace. We know who you are. Should you worry? At least, I would think twice about it. If you are an asshole, you should be circumspect at how much you told people what you are. But then again – idiots.


oh, Canada!

Another random stroll through the catalog… I came across a biker on the road with a French road sign (Sortie). Oh!? Canada! Did we really eat in this place? Pop-up store in a truck? Gee, memories fade. My pictures are the anchors. I have forgotten a lot of stuff. This would all be lost without a record. It was not memorable? Enough?


Once upon a time

Once upon a time Amelia, the dove, hatched a clutch of eggs in Jule”s window box. Several more generations of eggs followed and hatched. Imagine, it was 5 floor up in NYC, hardly the place to raise a family of doves. Several years later there was a reunion of the extended dove family on my 6th floor deck – one time only. It was poignant and priceless!

I have seen Gates, a one-time art installation in Central Park. I flew over the Verraznno Bridge during the NYC Marathon. I got to shoot at the US Open. I have been to Patriot Day in Boston. Why did the turkey(s) cross the road? Um, I don’t know either. Puffins??! Cute?! I got seasick three times unsuccessfully never seeing the birds, before I got this shot. The dragon – New Orleans – mardi gras, I was there to see the warehouse housing the trappings of the celebration. Walter Mitty had nothing on me.


Highlights

It seems the beginning of my catalog has some highlights – shots over the years that were “keepers.” At least that is my opinion. They were pretty much unplanned shots that turned out surprisingly well. You may readily disagree. I like them. A very early effort was the child at a street market in London. The shot in the pool was a blurred image – wrong exposure, nice shot. Moonrise? It ain’t easy without adjusting the exposure. Motion blur (waves), moon detail, not bad. Wedding? I was a guest. It was a “grab” shot. The couple enlarged and kept it as a highlight. Panning – I learned with a San Francisco cable car. Reading about it is one thing; I gotta do it in order for the lesson to stick. Candid family? There are shots, and, there are shots that make you laugh out loud. Exhausted? Or, no turkey, please! Jules did not cook the meal… What else to say? I simply stuck the camera out the window and pressed the shutter once. Surprise!


Eh?

If you don’t get it? You must be dumb, or, a Republican. ‘Nuff said. Someone is finally speaking up for the “rest” of us.


Years later… pink juicer

This is a tale. Ha! Colleen saw a pink juicer a long, long time ago. We have been to many antique stores since (years!!). We have never seen another. I presume she did not buy it when first seen, because it was too $$. Oh! The waiting! Don’t they sell them? They sure don’t make any! I caved. This past autumn I went on eBay. Voila! Delivered! Done! Ah! She said I was so sweet! We haunted antique stores this Christmas for Santas and other such Christmas bargains. This shop, we almost did not go into. It was the end of the day; we were tired; and, how many antique stores can one wander into? Damn! Sitting pretty! Right there on the shelf! A pink juicer! The price was reasonable. It was almost surely coming home with Colleen at about any price! And who knew there was a pitcher that went under the darn thing?

You win. You lose. We have not lost… any cats. And we are pretty much safe with ornaments (too)… so far. We got some retro ornaments. Nice. It’s nostalgic. Ha! I/we never had ornaments that looked like this when we were kids. Bargains. One Santa was a little as a $1. I made the Santa blocks. Ok, “V” is for Victor. The other letters? Dave? “U, K, B??” Huh?! And where is “C” for Colleen? I’m in deep trouble if she figures out the names of old girlfriends?! For, now I will stick with the glow of that “found” pink juicer!


Tone Deaf

Idiot. Is there any other word? Worse? Agreed. Flaming stupid idiot? Tweet, tweet! You cannot tweet anymore. He – 45 – was persuaded that January 6 was not a good day to hold a news conference. Hmmmm, does he have a brain? Ah! You guessed! I’m not a fan nor supporter. The distaste is palpable a year later. Lock him up!!