Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

dark beer
sparkling juice
salt-n-vinegar chips
pepperoni sticks
Danish blue
paintbrush cookies
cinnamon buns
strong coffee
...yup, it's Christmas.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

We've gotten past the holiday preparations: tonight we light the last Advent candle (the white one) and go to Christmas Eve services. Then we come home and hide presents for the kids to find in the morning.

I love Christmas.

So I'm listening to Diana Krall, The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Field, the Choir of King's College, The Sixteen, Sarah MacLachlan, and Bing Crosby; I'm remembering fondly being cloistered from the cold and dark, sitting near the roaring woodstove. I remember sleepless Christmas Eves, Gwen's Santa costume, and Shan sleeping next to the tree.

I remember one Christmas morning when Shan got the present she wanted so much (won't mention what it was, for fear of embarrassing her): it was exciting, even for me.

I remember cinnamon buns with cherries and raisins for breakfast.

I remember one Christmas in particular, when it started to snow as we were eating turkey. I remember playing in the snow under the streetlight on Twillingate.

I remember Trev coming to stay a few days shortly after Christmas. That was one of the best Christmas presents I ever got.

And of course I remember kneeling on the beach one Christmas, and Ames said "yes".

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quick Hello

Haven't written much of late, so I thought I'd shoot a quick update or two.

The biggest news is that a friend: a younger guy who used to work for me, who learned Unix from me; lost everything in an apartment fire last weekend. I suppose everything is a slight exaggeration: he was able to grab one pair of pants and a cell phone on his way out. But everything else: wallet, pets, important documents, birth certificate, drivers license, Social Security card, credit cards... all that stuff is gone. He saved one pair of pants and his cell phone.

Those aren't really an indicator of his priorities: he stayed too long in the apartment trying to save his birds, dog, and cats. When he realized he was about to die, he managed to stumble out the door, grabbing a cell phone on the way out.

Obviously he's devastated, and with good cause. So if you think about him, he needs all the help he can get: praying is good. I'm trying to figure out what else I can do for him, as are all the people he knows around here.

My youngest has a fever: that's the annual "It's Christmas! Let's get sick!" tradition we've built over the last several years.

I've only made a single batch of Stollen this year: this weekend is time to make Stollen, Almond Puff, and Paintbrush Cookies. We're a little behind on the Christmas stuff this year, but with good cause: we've taken time out to celebrate Advent this year. So while we're a little slow to gear up for Christmas, we've taken a long time to contemplate the Lord's imminent return. I think that's a good trade-off.

With that in mind, I've been listening to Approaching Christmas: Songs and Music for the Season of Advent a lot. It's a collection of Advent carols: "On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry," "Lo, He comes with clouds descending," and so on. Excellent album.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Good timing

I was driving home from work a week or so ago, and I saw a guy walking down the sidewalk, hand-in-hand with a three or four-year-old girl. And I couldn't help but see the look on his face.

If you don't have daughters, you don't know the look. In fact, only really men get the look: it's pretty much reserved for daddies. It's the smile you get when you're walking with your little girl and she's chatting about something or other, and you have an irrational happiness from being around your little girl. I suppose there's a little pride mixed in there too.

I have three little girls: they're not so little as that little girl was anymore; but they're little girls. I've personally smiled that smile many times. I know it well.

So this guy and his little girl were walking down the street: not the worst part of town, but far from the best. I assume they had just gotten off the bus, although I don't know that for sure. But the way he was dressed, the location, and their mode of transport all combined to indicate they weren't terribly well off. I could be wrong, of course.

I've often wondered why people have kids precisely when they're least prepared for it: young, inexperienced, and generally poor. That's changing somewhat as people are starting families later---and we certainly started younger than most---but it's generally true that having and diapering babies is for the young. And the young certainly seem to be least prepared to deal with that sort of thing.

But when I saw that guy's face, it suddenly struck me that the timing is perfect: an obviously poor guy in a less-than-desirable part of town doesn't have a lot to cheer him up. A pretty, chatty little girl is perfect.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Well, Charlotte's ridiculous weather continues. They're predicting record-breaking heat today; Monday it was 80 F. That's 27 C for all you Canadians.

You can't enjoy eggnog and hot chocolate in this weather: mojito and margarita seem more appropriate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


We have an arrangement with our kids. It goes something like this: if we're in a restaurant and the server gives us an unsolicited compliment on the kids' behaviour, they get dessert. Dessert is not necessarily gotten at the same restaurant, although it makes it easier to keep tally when it is: sometimes we really need to get somewhere on time, or the dessert selection isn't worthwhile, or something. But there is dessert in it for the kids whenever a server compliments their behaviour with no prompting.

This arrangement has served us well, but it has started to get expensive: the kids have started to rack up the compliments, and it's harder and harder to keep tabs on what I owe them.

Which, I suppose, is better than the opposite problem.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


We were out the other day, and decided to stop and eat at Subway. Nothing special: just some sandwiches to provide fuel for the day. It was fine, but the staff was a little on the thick side. My ten-year-old told me "I don't want to come back here. The people working here are not over-burdened with intelligence."