Archive for the ‘decorations’ Tag

12-10-2015 Journal– A Korean Christmas Story!   1 comment

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I’ve talked a great deal over the years about my experiences while serving in the Army. As with any young man or woman serving outside of this country, being away from home and family during the Christmas season for the first time is difficult.  In my case I was not only away from family, I was in a non-Christian county that seemed to be more than a little primitive to me.

Their religion was primarily Buddhist and the Christmas holiday meant very little to them. They at times pretended to understand but that was motivated entirely by their desire to make money from visiting Americans.

At the time I was stationed in an area that was primarily populated by rice farmers living in small villages that dotted the northern countryside. There were no paved roads and most villages only had electric power for a few hours a day.  For those of us from the United States it was like traveling back in time a hundred years.

I was living almost full time in a local village and actually had my laundry taken to a local river where it was beaten on the rocks with wooded paddles and soap.  That certainly took some getting used to for me.  My Korean friends seemed totally befuddled by the entire Christmas holiday bro-ha-ha and sat silently as I tried to explain it to them. They were interested in my stories of Christ and the Magi, but the virgin birth story had them all silently giggling a little.

Regardless I was determined to have a Christmas celebration so I asked a few of my them for their help in putting up a Christmas tree.  They agreed to help but weren’t exactly sure what I was up to. As that project was progressing I had a little old mama-san ask me through an interpreter why would any sane person put a tree inside their home. I was hard pressed to answer her because I didn’t know the reason either. They continued to humor me as I explained other peculiarities that they couldn’t quite grasp.

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A week or so later with two Korean friends I hiked up a nearby mountain near a small Buddhist temple to find a tree. We ended up dragging back the sorriest looking bush you could ever imagine, set it up in my hooch, and started to decorate it as best we could. There was a hand-made star on top of the tree (my doing) and a number of pieces of charcoal tied to the branches with twine (their doing). I never had that fully explained to me but it was what they wanted to do. It had something to do with good luck or good pregnancy or something. Since we had no electricity they suggested placing candles in and around the tree but I nixed that immediately. The last thing we needed was to burn down my hooch and a portion of the village when a little, dry, and nasty looking tree, bust  into flames.

I had some GI decorations I made from C-rations that looked stupid as hell but they loved it. Later we ate most of the decorations and drank a bottle of really cheap brandy that I’d brought along for the occasion. I presented them each with a small gift of candy and got a little kiss on the cheek from everyone.

I was still a little homesick but that weird little celebration came to mean a lot to me over the years. It was cozy, friendly, and more than a little strange but it was also genuine. They forever became part of my extended family because they’d made an effort to help get me through a very difficult time. Christmas, the holiday, had very little meaning to them but they realized how important it was to me. 

I still wonder to this day if any of them have fond memories of that night and think about it occasionally. I also hope that all of my comrades-in-arms who are away from home this Christmas are lucky enough to find some friends like I did.

Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

14 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT TIL THIS ONE

12-06-2015 Journal– Red & Green Insanity!   Leave a comment

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‘Christmas Eve in Maine.’

How is your holiday season progressing?  Are your preparations ahead of schedule or behind? Is your Christmas tree real or artificial? Are your kids driving you crazy yet? Has your alcohol consumption increased progressively with the holiday pressures?  All really good questions but as we all know they’re rhetorical. 

The drumbeat of Christmas is getting louder each day. I go to sleep thinking about what I’ve accomplished that day and wake up thinking about all of the stuff that I still need to accomplish today.  I am so full of Christmas cheer I could scream out loud.  After rereading this paragraph I think I discovered something else I must be full of.  You get my drift, right? I’M LOSING IT MAN!

Here is my kitchen table as I found it this morning:

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Trust me when I tell you the entire living room and family room look exactly like it as well.   I’m knee deep in Christmas and there’s still 18 shopping days left. It could take us until sometime in February to repack all this stuff and I can’t wait.  At least the damn cat seems to be enjoying himself:

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I haven’t had my breakfast yet but since I can’t eat in the kitchen I may retire to the deck and eat there. That’s right, the sun is shining and it’s still warm enough to sit outside and have breakfast. It’s madness I tell you.

Even Mother Nature appears confused by the weather. I took a stroll around the property yesterday  for no other reason than to get a little sun on my pasty white body.  I found this lonely little flower in the side yard. One stupid dandelion that’s decided it’s really not December but April. I can officially say this is the latest I’ve ever seen any flower growing and blooming.

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‘The all-time dumbest flower on the planet.’

I’d like to continue on with this post but I’m getting the evil eye from my better-half. It’s time to get back to my Santa duties. Everything has to be just perfect for the grandsons when they arrive (in two and a half effing weeks). Sorry about the language but all these red and green colors are finally getting to me or maybe it’s just my requested Christmas aneurism finally showing up.

I hope someone tells Santa just what a good boy I’ve been this year. He owes me big time.

11-16-2015 Journal– X-mas Insanity Begins!   Leave a comment

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This post will probably be confusing for some of you because there isn’t any rhyme or reason behind what I’ll be writing.  I’ve been very busy of late with a lot of little stuff that needs to be handled before the holidays officially arrive. Just keep your hands and feet inside the car, this ride may get a little bumpy.

My life has changed dramatically in the last month due to my elimination of  live cable television.  I’m happy to announce that I haven’t watched more than ten minutes of commercials, ads, or television shopping channels for over a month.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of streaming and I’ve been able to locate and avoid those few channels that still insist on running commercials. It’s truly a game changer.  I have more freedom to watch what I please when I please and no scheduling of my time in order to watch a specific program.  No more waiting for commercial breaks to make  bathroom runs, I just hit the pause and Ta Da.  I also like watching what once was an hour long show in 43 minutes, minus all those damn commercials.  Life has gotten seriously better.

The better-half’s birthday has come and gone and was a great success. She loved her gifts, the wine, and that big, fat, medium rare T-bone steak. I tried to be as romantic as possible and I think I pulled it off rather well.  Here’s my lame attempt at a table setting on our crazy retro dining room set.

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I’d like to officially thank the cow that made the ultimate sacrifice for our meal. Tender and soft as marshmallows washed down with a semi-sweet Merlot.  Yummmmm!

I’ve been diligently working towards having all things Christmas, purchased, wrapped, and hidden away by Thanksgiving.  That will free up my time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be the better-half’s decorating slave. First the tree, then the lights, then tinsel, then motorized talking and singing toys scattered throughout the house.  I can only pray that my first gift will be a noise-cancelling headset. 

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Here’s some bad news. Last night I was strong-armed into watching the first Christmas movie of the season.  That’s right, a Christmas movie on November 15.  Please just shoot me now.

Three days ago I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Mall. It was a typical mall trip which bored the hell out of me. I ended up sitting in the middle of the mall surrounded by herds of screaming kids being chased by their parents. Thank God for my Kindle.  The best part of my visit consisted of my standing near a small kiosk and allowing a really hot young lady to place heat packs on my neck. I let her go on and on with her sales pitch and finally walked away without making a purchase. My neck felt a lot better and so did my morale. thBVIZQLLU

I have a few more gifts to wrap today and I think I’m  be totally finished with Christmas preparations.  With that goal being met I think I’ll then deserve a tall, cold, and refreshing Gin and Tonic later this afternoon. 

I hope your holiday craziness isn’t too overwhelming.  Before you know it 2016 will be here and we can start preparing for next Christmas. Are we all insane or is it just me?

09-21-2014 Journal Entry-Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!   Leave a comment

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Well to continue the story as I promised in the last post, we (my better-half and I) were in dire need of pumpkins.  Why, I honestly don’t know but we can’t live without them apparently.  We especially need to find those ever so illusive white pumpkins which are just ghostly enough to make Halloween worth celebrating.  After checking prices at Walmart and Lowes the decision was made to go elsewhere so as not to feel any more extorted than normal.

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These days the prices continue to climb on just about everything. The love of the almighty dollar leaves little regard for us customers and with the advent of the big box retailers the days of lower prices at roadside stands are slowly disappearing.  The farmers no longer try to beat the prices of the larger stores but are certainly happy to match them.   That translates to an end of bargain prices for all of us.

Fortunately if you want to spend the time and effort there are still a few farmers who’ll sell their wares at a decent price, collect their profits, and retain their customer base.  It’s one of those places that we headed to after our drive to Kennebunkport and the southern coast.

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As we arrive at the farm there are piles and piles of pumpkins and squash of all sizes and kinds.  These folks cultivate just over a hundred acres every year and they always seem to have excellent results.  They actually sell a large portion of their products to local school districts for the kids lunches.  I’ve always been a firm believer about "buying local" and supporting the farmers in our area and it’s folks like these that make that happen. They also give me an excellent place to take incredible Fall pictures. Here are a few.

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My better-half made her purchases of an assortment of orange and white pumpkins with a promise to return and pick up a few cornstalks and a bale of hay or two.  She feels the need to reassure me that we’re almost ready for Halloween and the Fall season.  I’m so relieved.

11-29-1012   1 comment

Frigid cold last night and a very thin blanket of snow covering everything this morning.  I walked outside for a few minutes and the air has that snap in it that I miss so much sometimes.  When I can feel my nose hairs freezing and my face being chapped by the cold wind.  These are some of the insane reasons I thoroughly enjoy Winter.

The thing I really don’t enjoy is the garbage that’s frozen to my driveway after a rather sloppy pickup by the local trash company yesterday.  I needed a freaking ice pick and a shovel just to break it’s hold on the asphalt.  Another of life’s little annoyances to kick you in the butt and to help you forget just how sentimental and emotionally sloppy your becoming over a little cold air and a brisk wind.  I worry about myself a little when I begin waxing philosophic about weather changes.

Maybe it’s just this junior league hangover I’m sporting this morning.  A few too many glasses of a reasonably good Chardonnay will do it to you every time. 

I’m being forced by the passing days to complete my Christmas shopping but I can’t seem to get motivated about the holidays thus far.  I’ve been avoiding the crowds and the all of the Christmas related decorations and music just through a total lack of interest.  I’m hoping for a minor miracle that will somehow infuse me with that hard to find spirit just to keep my better-half happy.

I may be forced to surprise her when she gets home later today.  I’ll unpack that beautiful eight foot fake Christmas tree and get it set up for her.  I’ll need  EMT’s standing by if I do because the shock might kill her.  But . . . If I’m foolish enough to set up that tree then chaos will certainly follow.  Before she goes to work tomorrow there will be boxes of ornaments, strings of lights, and dozens of feet of tinsel awaiting me. “You were so sweet to put up the tree for me, how about finishing the rest of the decorating today?”.   I may have to take a short break, have a coffee, and then have my freaking head examined.  Why in Gods name would I do that to myself.  Wait just a second . . . .

. . . . OK I’m back.  I went away for a while to a happy place where my inner voices told me to shut up, forget the damn decorations, and stop being stupid.  Thank God for them.  I’m getting in my car and taking my camera to  begin another search for a few of those elusive Kodak moments anywhere but where Christmas music is playing.

FA, LA, LA, LA ,LA . . . .. LA ,LA, LA, LA!