Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping Up Christmas

This will be the last of my Christmas posts, although I may do an Epiphany one, but I wanted to share a couple of things before we say our final goodbyes to Christmas 2009.  It has always bothered me that Christmas ends so abruptly after Christmas Day; every year I try to drag it out a little.  I ponder the "Twelve Days of Christmas" concept, and try to find a way to bring it into my life more fully.  But the world has other ideas, and it's difficult to swim against that flow.

Another thing that's been bothering me lately is that many of the songs associated with Christmas are actually WINTER songs, and have nothing especially to do with Christmas.  I wish these songs were played all winter long; maybe then we could collectively celebrate this wonderful season a bit more, instead of dreading it as soon as Christmas is over.  I mean, winter's just started, for crying out loud - let's enjoy it.  Let's single Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, and Baby, It's Cold Outside all winter long!  Anybody with me here?

Anyway, for those of you who asked for my Eggnog Cheesecake recipe, here it is.

You'll notice I crossed out the shortbread cookies and toasted hazelnuts ingredients and replaced them with Pecan Sandies.  I did this because I've never been able to find hazelnuts that weren't still in their shells, and I'm lazy.  The Pecan Sandies work just fine.  This year is actually the first time I've done the toasted hazelnuts because someone brought me a huge bag of shelled ones, and I'm telling you - it wasn't significantly better.

And just for the Postman, here is the Bourbon Fruitcake recipe, taken from Jeff Smith's wonderful book, "The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas."  I know there's some scandal associated with Smith, but I still adore this book, and him.  May he rest in peace.  Whatever he did or didn't do is not for me to judge; but I can judge him by his writing, which in this book is quite inspired.

Don't forget that you can click on these photos to enlarge them if they're difficult to read.

I'd also like to share a poem by W.H. Auden, called "For the Time Being:  A Christmas Oratorio."  This poem closes Smith's book, and that's where I know it from.

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes--
Some have gotten broken--and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school.  There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week--
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted--quite unsuccessfully--
To love all our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.  
                                                        Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed.
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable 
Possibility--once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep his word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.  
                                                       But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays.  The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this.  
                                                       To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly 
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened.  Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering.  So once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."

They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine.  In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance.  The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon;
When the Spirit must practise his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, that, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

May you have a fruitful and joyous new year,
and in the words of Jeff Smith,

I bid you peace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Of Messes, Masses, and Ships

Christmas this year, like every year, was messy. But it's a mess I'm learning to surrender to. In the imperfect and often sloppy, can be beauty and joy.

We made a mess of gingerbread cookies early in the season. They didn't look like the cookies in the Christmas books, but they were fun to make and eat. Even my 16-year-old's ubercool boyfriend helped.

One of my goals this year was to make a photo calendar for the relatives, but with the messiness of end-of-semester insanity at the same time as Christmas preparations, it didn't happen. I kept trying to get everyone in the same place at the same time to take one good family photo with a Christmas theme for the December page. The day when I finally managed to gather everyone, Eliana was tired and fussy. After about thirty (wasted) shots, these were the only two that came out anywhere near presentable.

But by the time I actually got these on my computer, there wasn't enough time to get the calendar out by Christmas and I was swamped with other things, so the project was abandoned. Oh well, maybe next year.

Because June Amber had to work on Christmas Day, we decided to have our big dinner on Christmas Eve. But I also knew that my beloved's mother was coming to town on or shortly after Christmas Day, so I bought a prime rib and a turkey. Well, actually, two turkeys, since it was buy one, get one free. We had the prime rib Christmas Eve.

In case you're not familiar with the paper crowns, they come out of Christmas "crackers," which are sort of like toilet paper tubes wrapped in shiny paper of various colors. (You can see a silver one in the above photo.) Everyone at the table holds an end of one with one hand and an end of another with the other hand, so that a chain is formed around the table. Then everybody pulls and they make a terrific popping sound as they come apart. The contents of the tube - which consist of the paper crown, a really bad joke on a small piece of paper, and some small plastic item like a whistle or a tiny yo-yo - then go flying everywhere.

It is mandatory to wear the paper crowns throughout dinner and to tell the lousy jokes. The weirdest joke this year was "What do you get when you cross a cow, a sheep, and a goat? A milky baa kid." If anyone at all gets this, please explain it to my unenlightened family. Poor Justin was quite disturbed and spent most of dinner trying to figure it out.

For dessert we had my famous eggnog cheesecake.

The Bourbon Fruitcake I made is behind the candle, but you don't want to see it, I promise. The whole top of it stuck in the pan, so it's, well, messy-looking.

I had been making a very conscious effort to "go with the flow" this Christmas, and not be attached to things happening a certain way, but the one thing I really was determined to do was walk to Midnight Mass at the San Francisco church. However, by 11:15, having just finished dessert a half hour before, and Eliana still up and cranky, the exhaustion set in and I began the process of talking myself out of it. I put Eliana to bed and was reading her stories when I heard the church bells begin to ring. I squelched the yearning that arose and went back to reading about the Christmas mice who get a present of cheese from the cat. Just then, Justin came into Eliana's room and said he'd take over so I could go. I hedged, but he looked me tenderly in the eye and said, "The bells are calling you."

This was my second time attending Midnight Mass here, but my first since I moved into the neighborhood. There was something liberating and exciting about walking over there by myself late at night. I used to attend Midnight Mass at a cathedral in Baton Rouge, and this one is so different. The cathedral mass was decidedly "high church" with the Gregorian-type music and much solemnity. In this mass all the songs were in Spanish and accompanied by a single acoustic guitar and a mediocre lead singer. The combination of this with the traditional Catholic incense and liturgy gives it a strange combination of high church and low. And then the priest is Scottish. I can't begin to explain the incongruity of the Spanish music and the Scottish brogue, but it works, and is lovely, and somehow holy spaces are created in the disparities.

After the mass, we all walked out through the courtyard, which was lined with luminarias. The statue of St. Clare was circled by them. In the parking lot was a series of small bonfires, and people were standing around them wishing each other a Merry Christmas. I walked home at peace with the world, my heart full of love, pondering the pettiness that often holds that love back. Earlier in the evening, when I was preparing to serve dessert, I had a moment of self-pity because everyone had disappeared and left me to do the dishes, and now here I was serving an elaborate dessert, and no one seemed to even care enough to be there. Unfortunately, I dumped this negativity onto Justin (who was the only one who WAS there), effectively pushing him away for the rest of the evening. As I thought of this, I resolved to be more magnanimous and selfless with those I love.

The house was quiet and dark. When I entered my bedroom, I was greeted by an overpowering scent of essential oils and the sight of Justin and Eliana sprawled out asleep on the bed. Apparently, they had somehow migrated from her room and he had fallen asleep before her, because she had gotten into my essential oils and poured out the entire bottle of cypress and most of the ylang-ylang. She also had found and torn open the little gift I had carefully and beautifully wrapped for Justin earlier and had planned on giving him after Mass.

I felt devastated and angry with Justin for allowing her to do this. All that waste of time and energy and money and scent. But I firmly turned my heart back to what I'd been feeling before I walked into the room, and heroically refrained from losing it. However, in the middle of the night, Eliana woke up and was fussy, and in my sleepy haze, I was grumpy and said something mean to Justin. The next morning, I knew he was hurt and I regretted my harsh words. We avoided talking about it though, putting our personal mess aside to engage in the glorious mess of opening presents.

Later, however, I was sad and discouraged that it's so hard to be kind and loving, and that often when it feels like Justin and I are getting closer, I succumb to a negative emotion and express it in a way that drives him away. Sometimes I feel like a failure, and it's so frustrating to fall into the same stupid mindless destructive habits when I've resolved to change them. At times like that, it just feels overwhelming, and it's hard for me to get back to the perspective that it's a work in progress, a practice, and there will be failures but that's ok. Consequently, I spent most of Christmas afternoon in tears, feeling like I'd "ruined" everything (a lifelong issue for me). Why do I waste so much time making mistakes?

But somehow this emotional spilling was also cleansing. That night, Justin made an awesome stew with the prime rib leftovers and we had a cozy and satisfying evening, lazing about in the messy living room watching the movie, Elf.

So my lesson this Christmas, my big epiphany, is as follows. There are basically three things you can do with the ongoing wastefulness and messiness of life:
  1. Spend most of your time and energy focused on cleaning up messes and regretting making them.
  2. Ignore them.
  3. Transform them into something beautiful by perceiving and attending to the beauty that's already in them.
The first one is the default state for me. Or, more accurately, it's the default state I tend to think I "should" be in. In reality, the second one is equally my default state; I tend to go back and forth between the two. Which is why my house is usually either completely messy or spotless.

I've been reading Karen Armstrong's memoir, The Spiral Staircase, which I won't summarize here, but there is a scene in that book that is relevant to this discussion. After having lived a life of rigid order and discipline, Armstrong goes to board at the house of a family who are very loose and somewhat radically liberal in their lifestyle. She describes the house as being a complete mess, utterly disordered, but she finds this liberating. She says the state of this house reflected "a cheerful disregard for appearances."

In church this past Sunday, the pastor said something about how God doesn't care about how we look on the outside, and I thought of Armstrong's expression. Could it be that God, too, has a cheerful disregard for appearances? The scripture related to the pastor's comment was from Colossians 3, when Paul advises in verse 12 to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." The point is that these are the qualities that give order and peace to our lives, not outward appearances.

When I apply all this to the messiness of relationships, it helps me to remind myself that although there will be mess and waste, these are just "appearances" as long as the qualities listed above are the ongoing focus and goal. Is wrapping paper "wasted" because it's tossed aside to reveal the gift? Was it a waste of time to make all those gingerbread cookies because they were gone in an hour? To take all those "useless" family photos? Was Christmas afternoon wasted because I spent it crying? The answer is No to all of these, if I cheerfully disregard the appearances of waste and focus instead on the spiritual qualities that were shared or expressed or taught.

The third method of dealing with messes and waste came clear to me a couple of days after Christmas, when we went out to visit Justin's mom and her boyfriend at the Earthship they booked for their stay in Taos. (If you're unfamiliar with Earthships, click here.) The basic premise of an Earthship is that they are houses made from as many recycled materials as possible and designed to be extremely energy efficient and sustainable, entirely off the grid.

Linda and Bob stayed in the Phoenix Earthship which has a jungle behind the living room, where banana trees, flowers, and even vegetables are grown.

The walls are constructed with tires, and old glass bottles are used to decorate and filter light through walls.

I'd heard a lot about Earthships, since I live in Taos and the first Earthship community was here, but I'd never been inside one, and was stunned by the beauty and attention to detail.

I tell you, it was just like being in Rivendell. Imagine being in a house where everything feels handmade by a master artisan. That's a TV screen above the fireplace/waterfall.

There was even a strange spiral staircase, and I could see my reflection on its walls.

To take what appears to be waste and turn it into something like this Earthship is downright inspiring. It gives me hope that what is wasted can be redeemed and messes can be transformed into beauty and order. And when it comes to relationships, this experience has given me a new guiding metaphor. Instead of regretting or ignoring their messiness, I can work on turning them into Earthships.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Present for My Parents

  My mom at Christmastime.  Notice the clothespin reindeer necklace.

The older I get, the more I realize what wonderful parents I have.  Sometimes I read or hear of other people's childhood horrors, and it really drives home for me how blessed my childhood actually was.

I was adopted at 13 months old by Michael and Joyce Carpenter; I was their first child.  My biological mother was nineteen and single when I was born. I know a few other bits and pieces that the adoption agency provided, but this was back in the days of closed adoptions, so it's not much.  Apparently, she was a bit of a flake (something I may have inherited), because she left town without signing my release papers, and they couldn't track her down to get them signed until I was six months old.

People have often asked me if I'd like to find my biological mother.  I've thought about it, but don't have a driving urge to do so.  I think this is largely because for me, my adoptive parents ARE my parents.

There was never a time when I didn't know I was adopted.  I remember the book my parents used to read to me about an adopted family.  They would hold me on their laps and tell me I was special because I was CHOSEN.  I never felt weird about being adopted; it was just a natural part of who I was.

Mom, Dad, my brother Scott, and me.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been in a childlike mode lately, and this includes thinking about my childhood, especially our Christmases.  At the Quiet Day I attended last weekend, one of the participants talked about how sad she used to get at Christmas because of the way her family was, and it made me realize that a big part of why I get happy at Christmas is because of the wonderful childhood memories I have of past holidays.

My favorite Christmas picture ever.

This makes me feel very grateful toward my parents, and in turn, has led me to consider all the many things I have to be grateful to them for.  They have supported and nurtured me in so many ways over the years.

My parents always told me that I was intelligent and could be anything I wanted to be. They offered me the opportunity to participate in all kinds of lessons and activities:  figure skating, ballet, acrobatics, Brownies, squash, tennis, swimming.  They sent me to summer horse camp every year.  My parents observed my love of writing at a young age and encouraged me in it.  They surprised me by getting some of my poems published in our neighborhood newspaper, The Willowdale Mirror, when I was in second or third grade.  And now, almost four decades later, they are avid readers of my blog.

My father is originally from Birmingham, England, and he's got the dry wit to prove it.  He's excellent at crossword puzzles and he's a passionate gardener of both flowers, and fruits and vegetables.  He's happiest when he's out in the garden with sweat dripping down his face.  He's also an amazing tennis player.  He could have been a professional, and even played against Arthur Ashe once, in the Davis cup.  In my parents' house, there is a series of photos taken by a Toronto newspaper of him playing in a tournament.  But he chose not to pursue professional tennis, primarily because he wanted to always be sure he could provide for his family.  He used to love to play board games with my brother and me, and he read to me every night before bed.

 Dad reading to my oldest daughter, June Amber.

 My mother is the kind of person who makes friends in the grocery line, and can network and get things organized and done more competently than most people I've known.   When I was obsessed with the band, KISS, she called for tickets, and even though they were officially sold out, she somehow managed to get us great seats by being friendly with the ticket agent.  Then she actually took me to the concert.  (If you know anything about the band, you'll understand why this was no small thing for a woman whose favorite musicians were John Denver and the Kingston Trio.)  She never worked when I was young, because she wanted to be home with her kids, and she baked some kind of amazing dessert almost every night.  (Mom - I NEED your recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake!  I tried to make it the other night and it failed miserably.)  She used to hand-sew my Halloween costumes, throw elaborate themed birthday parties for me, and take me to all kinds of museums and gardens and parades.

Mom and me at the tennis club.

When I was a teenager, I thought my parents were boring and stuck in their ways.  This attitude lasted longer than I care to admit.  But I now realize that it was their practicality and commitment to domestic sustainability that has allowed me to grow and flourish in my own less conventional ways.

I can't even begin to tell you how much financial support my parents have given me.  As a single mother with four children and an inconsistent ex-husband, I've turned to them many times for help, and they've ALWAYS provided it, no questions asked.  This help has allowed me not only to survive, but to live according to my deepest values of being available to my children, and pursuing creative endeavors that don't necessarily pay as well as a "real job" - establishing myself in the ways I feel called to rather than being forced to work exclusively at a job for which I'm not suited.

There is no way on earth I can possibly pay my parents back for all they've done and continue to do for me and my children, which is why I'm writing this post.  Because what I CAN do is write, and it is largely their support that has allowed me to pursue this essential part of myself.  For this I have the deepest gratitude, and I want the whole blooming world to know it.  

 My beautiful parents.

Merry Christmas, 
Mom and Dad!

I love you both

more than you know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hurray! For He is Good in Nature

One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been 'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime, also known as the Huron Carol.  As a child I adored this carol because it told the story of the nativity as though Jesus had been born Native American, or as they say in Canada, as a First Nations person.  Even at a young age, it inspired my theological imagination.  There is something that rings very true for me in the idea that Jesus could have come to any culture at any time and had the same effect.

I found this nativity scene on the Virtual Museum of Canada's website.  This piece is housed in the chapel of the village of Huron-Wendake, near Quebec City and  was created to interpret The Huron Carol.  Click  here to read more about it. 

Photo by Pierre Soulard
After living in the U.S. for a few years, it suddenly occurred to me one Christmas that I hadn't heard this carol in a long time, so I did a little research and discovered that it was the first Canadian Christmas carol, originally written in 1643 in the Huron language by a French Jesuit missionary named Jean de Brebeuf.  It was then translated into French, and in 1926 into English.  The English lyrics, while beautiful, are quite different from the original Huron ones.

I found a line-for-line translation of the Huron into English here, which is charming in its simplicity.  The Wise Men ("elders") come and praise the Christ child by "greasing his scalp many times" and saying, "Hurray!  For he is good in nature."  But even the English lyrics are respectful enough to Native culture that they have been used by various tribes.  For instance, I found one website with a translation from the English version into Mi'kmaw.

Here is a beautiful rendition of the carol, with a mixture of Huron, French and English lyrics.

Jean de Brebeuf had a deep appreciation of the Huron culture.  He wrote a set of guidelines for fellow missionaries on how to deal with the Huron, emphasizing understanding of and respect for their ways.  Apparently, the Huron respected him as well.  He lived among them for only a few years before he was tortured and killed by the Iroquois in one of their raids on the Huron.  Reading of how he was flayed to the bone and then doused with boiling water as a mockery of baptism, I was haunted for days.  They cut off his lips because he would not stop praising God as he underwent this unspeakable torture.  They also ate his heart because they saw that he was a man of courage and strength.

And then I ponder this line in the Huron Carol, when the Wise Men say of the Christ child, "Let us show reverence for him as he comes to be compassionate to us."

I just can't seem to get away from this theme of violence and compassion.  For one thing, I keep reading other people's posts that touch on it in some way, highlighting some aspect that I had not considered.

This is such an adult theme, so serious.  Frankly, I'm weary of it.  The Christmas season is upon us, and my heart is wandering toward happiness, as it always does at Christmastime. 

It recently struck me like a bell that the reason I love Christmas so ridiculously much (and I have been ridiculed for it) is because it enfolds me in a fairy tale that is real because it's a complete and intense sensory experience.  A feast for all the senses at once.

I once had a boyfriend who introduced me to the joy of lying under the Christmas tree in the dark, looking up through the colored lights and branches.  If you lie there long enough holding hands, occasionally sitting up to sip your eggnog, with carols playing on the stereo, and a crock pot wafting the scents of orange, cinnamon, and clove through the air, the spirit of Christmas envelops and possesses you.  The resulting feeling of comfort and joy is not to be underestimated.

For me, the story of the birth of the Christ child is satisfying and enchanting.  It's a story I can immerse and find myself in, and each year it takes on a new meaning, a new direction to explore.  This year, I am entirely focused on the earthy, sensual, childlike qualities of Christmas, both in this story and in all the traditions and stories of Christmas that I know and love.

The humor of the Nativity story is striking me this year.  What kind of a goofy God would have His Holy Self born in a pile of dirty straw surrounded by a bunch of livestock?  I can only imagine what the Wise Men must have felt after traveling all that way, thinking they were going to meet a powerful political leader in his palace or something.  It's just downright silly.  And very, very messy.  Who would have made any of this up?  It's too irreverent for anyone of faith to come up with.

What I'm getting from contemplating all of this is primarily that by being born into the messiness and sensuality of the flesh, it is made holy.  What else do I need to know?

Eliana, my two-year-old, is my best teacher right now.  What in the world is more chaotic and messy and full of delight than a two-year-old?  When I watch myself responding not-so-gracefully to that chaos at times frequently, I always realize, however dimly, that it is my heaviness, my fears surrounding survival and control and self-preservation that lead me to respond that way.  And then I want to escape.  I want "alone time."  I want order.  I want things to be pleasant and smooth for say an hour or two.  I want a break.

So I've been planning an Advent Quiet Day with my friend Cathy, which happened today.  This is a day set aside to gather and focus spiritually through prayer, silent periods of meditation, discussion, reflection.  I was in charge of leading a reflection on John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  And what I found myself saying was, "We're not here today for a brief escape from the messiness and chaos of life, but to learn to receive it as a gift and experience it as children."  Eliana doesn't care if her face is dirty, if the ornaments are on the tree or all over the floor, if Miracle on 34th Street plays all the way to the end. 

I suspect we all just take ourselves too damn seriously.  (Well, except for Entrepreneur Chick.)  Advent is called a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child, and it's generally considered a solemn time of self-reflection and repentance.  But what is the real purpose, and what can this preparation possibly be for but  joy?  How does one prepare for joy but by lightening the load?  What is there to repent for but the heaviness and fear that make us forget to receive life with childlike wonder and delight?

Maybe Christmas was God's way of saying "Lighten up!"  Maybe it's about being so filled with joy that someone has to cut off your lips to get you to shut up about it.  Maybe the idea of being "saved" by Christ is largely about the sanctification of incarnation, with all its senses, its messiness, its ordinariness, its awkwardness.  And its joys.

I find myself returning to the idea of compassion with new eyes.  Karen Armstrong, author of the Charter for Compassion, says it's about the willingness to enter into another's experience.  Jean de Brebeuf's, for instance.  The Iroquois who killed him.  But it can also be entering the unfettered delight of your two-year-old.  Or even looking into the face of the Christ child and seeing your own.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


One of the reasons it's taken me so long to post this is because I couldn't come up with a good title.  I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to titles.  I love coming up with names for things, whether for blog posts, cats and dogs, or potential band names.  I've come up with so many great band names that then go right out of my head.  I really should write them down.

And speaking of titles, I have a couple of new ones in my life, which is why it's getting harder for me to post regularly.  One of my new titles is "Board Director."  I joined the board of Taos Youth Music School, an after school program my son participates in.  (Think "School of Rock" - it's awesome.)  Another new title is "Quiet Day Coordinator."  My friend Cathy and I are planning a quiet day at our church which will occur next Saturday.

I've had the title of "Instructor" for a while now, but at this time of the semester, I have the additional title of "Paper Grader."  Oh boy.  I've already attended two grading sessions for the exit essays with the other English instructors, and will attend two more next week, in addition to grading all of the final papers for both of my classes.

A title I've had off and on for years, but am now actively pursuing again is "Self-Employed Writer & Editor."  I've started a business called "Illuminated Manuscripts" which offers professional writing and editing services. My slogan is "We'll polish it until it shines." Here's the logo I designed:

I just got my first contract with UNM-Taos to write grants for their campus expansion!  If you need anything written, edited or proofread, let me know.

Thanks to the Postman, I also now have the title of "Superior Scribbler."  Thanks, Postman! 

So the rules of the game are that you're supposed to:
  • Thank whoever nominated you for it...
  • Post, paste, or patch the award's image onto your own blog...
  • Tell your readers seven things they don't yet know about you...
  • Pass it along to seven more bloggers...
  • And notify them personally when you have done so.
Ok, so.  I've been thinking about these seven things.  There are so many odd and unknown things I could share, some negative and some positive.  It's hard to narrow it down to seven, but here goes:

1. I am a follower of the Eat Right 4 Your Type diet., and have been for almost a year. My blood type is O positive.  I've heard a lot of arguments against this diet, but it's worked great for me, not just in terms of weight loss, but overall health and sense of wellbeing.

2.  I smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, Drum brand.  The last of my nasty habits from the good old days of debauchery.

3.  I can tell you what year a book was published within five years by smelling it.

4.  I love to make collages.  Here's one I made for someone after I posted  here about needing to show thanks to certain people in my life:

5.  I've had some really nutty jobs.  Years ago, I did Tarot readings for LaToya Jackson's psychic line.  I also did singing telegrams for a while, but got fired because I sucked so bad.

6.  My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFP.  It used to be INTP - I'm pretty borderline between Thinking and Feeling.  It changed after I had kids.

7.  As a kid, I was obsessed with the band, Kiss.  My mom took me to the concert at Maple Leaf Gardens when I was 10 or 11.  Destroyer was my favorite album.  I had 43 Kiss posters up in my room, and threw a yearly birthday party for Paul Stanley.  I dressed up as him for Halloween once.

Now I'm supposed to give this award to seven other bloggers.  This is the hard part, because I'd like to award every blog I follow.

1.  The first blog I'd like to award is Whatever else my life is also this dazzling darkness.  Rebecca has been a major inspiration in my blogging (and spiritual) life lately.  She lives in Alaska and loves snow.  She's an amazing photographer and writer, and reading her blog always brings me a feeling of peace.

2.  Dan Gurney at A Mindful Heart gets the next award.  Dan is a kindergarten teacher - he's taught at the same school for 29 years!  His blog is a wonderful mixture of spiritual insight and challenge and simple appreciation for life.

3.  Jennifer at One True Self is an amazing woman.  She has an aura of childlike wonder and innocence, but has worked very hard in her life to retrieve that.  And now she expresses it in her blog in the most honest and moving and helpful ways.

4.  Kat and Bet at The Bobwhites also get my vote.  I came across their blog via the "Next Blog" button (and this was when it still took you to a totally random blog).  These ladies live in different states but grew up together. They blog about everyday things with humor and linguistic dexterity, and they also present wonderful recipes.  You would not believe some of the things these ladies have cooked and baked.  You should definitely check out their gingerbread houses.

5.  Even though the Postman beat me to it, I have to offer this award to the lovely, stylish, savvy, feisty Entrepreneur Chick, whose blog and emails have offered me major encouragement as an entrepreneur.  She's also frequently hilarious and highly entertaining.

6.  I recently discovered Dreamfarm Girl.  This woman is a splendid writer.  Her blog covers a lot of territory, from the minute to the cosmic, but she manages to work it all together in a very satisfying way.

7.  I have to give this award back to the Postman.  His was one of the first blogs I started following, and I still just adore it.  He will always have a very special place in my blogging heart.  I love his wit and style, and his immaculate vocabulary.  His blog is quirky; it covers aviation, cocktail reviews, and strong opinions on a number of things ranging from samurai warriors to cartoons to snack foods.  An entertaining, insightful, humorous, and often informative read.  I never thought I'd learn so much about aviation - and like it! 

That about wraps it up.  Which reminds me.  Now I get to also carry the titles of "Gift Wrapper," and right now I'm going to be "Holiday Baker."  I'm making some truly decadent Bourbon Fruitcake today.  Well, starting it today, anyway.  It actually takes two weeks of soaking in brandy before it's done.

NO FRUITCAKE JOKES!!!  It's my blog, and I'm banning them.  I like fruitcake.  A lot.


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