Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ho Ho Ho! Happy Holidays, Darlings!

This is going to be a rambling sort of post today, so if you've a mind to, get a glass of wine or cuppa of whatever turns you on and settle in for a read and pictures!

First up, the 2015 Christmas tree, TA DA!

2015 Christmas tree.
If you're at all familiar with me, you know that I'm a "more is more" type of gal, so this tree is an absolutely, positively restrained exercise in Christmas Tree Austerity, darlings.  Well, other than the white with sparkles feather boas I've used as garland.  But last year's tree was much gaudier, I swear!  This year, I only used about 20% of the usual ornaments and decorations I put on my tree.  It was put together in record time, and I only purchased twelve new ornaments this year -- all birds, in keeping with my "feather and friends," and I splurged on some faux pearl garland I've been wanting to add for years -- can you see them -- I'm in love!  Oh yeah, almost forgot - I also bought crystal branches to use as my tree topper this year, too.  Another splurge :)

You can see just how restrained (dignified and classy?  Nah) I was this year in comparison to last year's tree:

2014 Christmas tree.
You can see that 2014's version had a LOT more stuff on it -- hardly a bare green spot to be seen.  I'll probably go back to this kind of look next year, LOL.

This is my fourth Christmas without Mr. Don.  I miss him fiercely and it doesn't get any easier with the passage of time, but I'm still here and he's not, so I soldier on as best I can. It's just not as much fun as it used to be, that's the truth.

Mr. Don's trinkets go on the tree every year - the Nefertiti pin (which represents yours truly, a gift from Don -- he found it on a sidewalk outside his walk-up flat in Montreal, LOL) and his McLean clan kilt pin, which I place around the silver heart with the pretty organza ribbon.  Here is the 2015 arrangement:

I'm looking up at him.  I figured it's high time, since if there is a Heaven (which I don't believe in, at least, not the concept that is shoved down our throats by established religions), Don is probably there busy talking the ears off everyone around.  When he was alive, I always put my Nefertiti counterpart higher up so that she was looking down at him, like Juliet in her balcony :)

This year, as part of a much needed living room revamp, I cleaned out all of the cluttered knick-knacks and collectibles from my curio cabinet collected over the past 30 plus years or so (so proud of myself for sucking it up and finally doing that) and now it houses my small collection of chess sets/pieces:

A not very clear "before" picture, taken in October 2014, a few months
after I moved here to this smaller retirement home.

"After" photo, taken December 24, 2015, but the new
arrangement was done in early July.

The sets on the top two shelves were gifts:  a Thistle and Rose set of pieces (but no pawns) from a former co-worker who had collected them when travelling on a British airline back in the 1970's, and a replica of the Lewis chess pieces were a departing present from a colleague of mine when I left Officeworld in 2002.  The third set is a made in Mexico alabaster board and turned pieces that I played many a game on with one of my grand-nephews.  The bottom two shelves hold a set of pieces that I bought unfinished from Amazon and painted black and white (with the intention of someday pairing the pawns with my black and white Rose and Thistle set), and the bottom set is wood, made in Poland, that I purchased many years ago from Napoleon's that was an east side establishment for many years (unfortunately went out of business) -- it was a chess lover's delight.

My favorite set is the Thistle and Rose -- my close-ups never turn out so here is a nice clear pic I found on the internet:
From Bonhams auction catalog 2011.

I've written about the Thistle and Rose pieces that were gifted to me a couple of times here before; if you're interested in the details do a search to find the posts (too lazy to put them here for you).

I love how the sets are show-cased in the curio cabinet; none of them is particularly valuable, but they are all priceless to me :)

Caught myself in the mirror reflection of the curio -- hello, Jan - twins, eek!

This has been an extremely mild December, one of the warmest I remember in a long time -- here it is, Christmas Eve, and while we did NOT get the thunderstorms that were forecast for after midnight last night (yesterday hit a high of 56 degrees F), today at present it is 45 degrees F after a "cold front" came through and while it was sunny this morning (I walked last-minute errands, including a visit to the liquor store to stock up on wine -- one cannot have Christmas without a goodly supply of wine), right now it has clouded over, but the winds have died down (we had gusts of over 50 mph last night into the morning hours).

But despite the mildness of temperatures for this time of year in southeastern Wisconsin, I've turned into a positive freezy-cat since the last of my hot flashes disappeared earlier this year (although I still get night sweats) after menopause finally decided to wrap itself up (it started in 1998, for Holy Hathor's sake!)  I didn't notice it during the summer, but I sure do now.

Since retiring and not giving a fig how I dress when I'm home except to be comfortable, I've taken to wearing long sleeve turtlenecks underneath sweatshirts or sweaters underneath a thick cableknit cardigan, and I'm STILL cold!  So, today was delivered an "original Snuggie as seen on TV!"

AS SEEN ON TV! Grey Leopard Snuggie

Well, it isn't exactly what I was expecting.  I eagerly took it out of the box and it looks like it would fit a person 7 feet tall with arms down to his/her knees.  Hmmm...  No zipper either -- how the heck am I supposed to keep it closed?  I don't know why I ever thought the thing would have a zipper.  Not even a tie belt though, geez.  And while the picture on the box shows a lady wearing a Snuggie that appears to have cuffs, mine has no cuffs and the ends of the arms look like something Dumbledore would wear - at least 18 inches wide.  All that is missing is a pointy hat and I'd look like a midget version of him without the wand and long grey hair and beard.  Of course, Dumbledore would never be so gauche as to appear in a grey and black leopard print fleece.

A few days I saw an older story at Huffington Post, about a little girl who feeds crows and how the crows took to bringing her "gifts."  That reminded me of my own precious small collection of crow offerings from over the years:

Jan's crow offerings.  I also had a bone, but it was stolen right off my patio table at my former home,
probably by a squirrel on the same day I found it and the bracelet in my back yard near
water dishes I put out over a long hot dry summer in 2012.
The beer bottle caps appeared this summer from my crop of new neighborhood crows -- they appear to be either poorer than my former neighborhood's crows or else they are just cheapskates, ha.  Although I should give them credit -- there were a lot of beer bottle caps all discovered on one day while I was out cutting the grass.  I kept three rather than fill up my crystal trinket box with them, LOL.  These new neighborhood crows don't appreciate that I have champagne taste, but maybe they figured since I dress like an old babba, beer bottle caps are good enough for moi.

All in all, my collection, while impressive in terms of rather large objects (the blingy bracelet for instance), is nothing compared to what the crows have brought to the little girl over the past four years or so:

Little Gabi's crow offerings.  Photo from story at Huffington Post.

Afterwards, Gabi's family was sued by neighbors pissing and moaning about all the birds she was feeding pooping and leaving peanut shells around their million dollar homes.  Talk about frigging Scrooges!

Which reminds me, my favorite rendering of that Charles Dickens story ("A Christmas Carol") is on Sling TV tonight at midnight -- it is the 1970s version starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.  I also have a video version starring Patrick Stuart (Captain Pickard) that was also extremely well done -- I'll pop that in for a viewing after it gets dark.

Speaking of which - darlings!  I totally MISSED the Winter Solstice, Holy Hathor!  What is this world coming to when I miss something like that?  I noticed just today it is getting lighter out earlier and the days are lasting longer, YIPPEE!  Then it hit me - SOLSTICE!  Since I keep my Christmas decorations up until the end of January so my house is filled with festive lights every night during the worst part of winter here, Winter Solstice is VERY important in my book -- and I missed it.  Perhaps I will ask my doctor to do a brain scan when I see her in the spring for my semi-annual visit, maybe I am in early stages of dementia or the dreaded Alzheimers.

I sure won't miss the Christmas Full Moon, though.  The last one was in 1977 -- I would like to say I remember it but I don't, and back then I would not have appreciated its significance anyway.  I was too busy working full time and going to college at night and dating dating dating, more boyfriends that I could count.

But that was then, and this is now, and I'm more a babba than a babe, alas.  Last evening, while we had a temporary clearing before the really strong winds hit later last night after a day of fog and pouring rains in dead stillness, I saw that gorgeous full moon as it rose in the east over Lake Michigan.  The skies are clouded over now, I may not see it tonight, but I will know it is there.

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas.  To those of you who don't celebrate Christmas but have other festivities around this Solstice time of year, happy Yuletide celebrations.  To everyone near this end of the year, may 2016 bring us all peace, love, happiness and prosperity.  May the Great Goddess make it so.  The sky is pink and purple in the west, time to sign off and celebrate my peaceful, quiet Christmas Eve.

Smooches, darlings!

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