Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’


Just in case you needed to know where Santa was, NORAD tracks Santa and gives up to date reports on his location. You can also tie in Google Earth for real time tracking.

Emily just spoke to the very nice people at NORAD who told her that Santa is on his way but in Africa right now.

Not exactly a Christmas story

I spent the day hanging out with my nieces and nephew. Most of the time involved playing in Emily’s “house” in the magnolia tree out front. There was a weird discomfort for me about that. See, though I acknowledge that it is a superior space for a pretend house, as a child I never, ever played in that tree.

Not after the incident with the turtle.

I’m not sure how old I was, but probably between five and eight simply because I was doing what Emily was doing today. I was “exploring” or playing house. This magnolia tree is great for that because it’s actually a single large tree surrounded by a crowd of magnolia saplings. They grow so slowly that it doesn’t look much different from when I was little.

I remember pushing through the tightly bunched trunks and the waxy feel of the leaves. The slender branches feel like cinnamon sticks. It is dark and quiet in the center of the grove, even at noon. I step over a branch and my bare foot comes down on a dead turtle.

This is my first scream of abject terror.

The turtle’s shell had collapsed so that the inside is visible. I remember trying to run out of the grove, but the branches were so tight that I couldn’t push through. Robby, my grandmother, came running out of the house and made everything safe somehow. Later she said that she’d known that I was really frightened and not just pretending to be upset because of the way I’d screamed.

This is a very sharp memory for me and this is the place that my niece wanted to play with me today. I’m a good thirty years older than I was, but I had so much dread going in there today, even though I know, I know that the turtle skeleton is long gone. I kept trying to find reasons for the Scientist Fairy and I to go play someplace else, but after the expeditions to discover dinosaurs and to throw parties, we kept coming “home” to that blasted magnolia grove.

She’s got no idea how much affection I was demonstrating by playing with her there .And you know, it probably wouldn’t have been as weird and uncomfortable if I weren’t trying to remember what it was like to be her age so that I could play with her.

Such a Halloween story, eh? It was like a nightmare before Christmas in real life. Other than that, today was lovely. We baked and did other Christmas prep. Rob has made eggnog.

Driving and Christmas Radio

Today was largely relaxing, except for our outing to buy Christmas presents. We borrowed Dad’s car and drove to the mall to pick up some things. Now, you have to bear in mind that this is really the first time either of us has driven since moving to NYC six months ago. We’re really used to being pedestrians at this point in our life, so rather than driving from the strip mall to the main mall across the street, we decided to walk. Traffic was icky and it was less than three blocks away.

Except that Chattanooga apparently has a thing against sidewalks. There were none.

Strangely, one of the lights had a pedestrian crossing button, to get the traffic light to change color, but no crosswalk, no crossing signal, no sidewalk on either side. Just who were they expecting to hit the button? Drivers just didn’t know what to do with us. I felt far less safe walking than I did driving. I’d forgotten just how intense the car culture is after living in NYC and Portland.

Meanwhile, I’m probably not going to be online much the next couple of days, so may I offer you some old-time Christmas Radio. This includes such gems as the original cast recording of It’s a Wonderful Life.

In which I receive good news and swoon.

I suppose that I should be reporting that we made it safely to Chattanooga, which we did.


This email was much more exciting.

I’m contacting you to inform you that Rich Horton has selected one of your stories, “For Solo Cello, Op. 12,” for Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, scheduled for February release.

To which I can only say, “Merry Christmas!” and then laugh and dance.

Fun with Jonathan

Hmm…. which to tell you about. Tempest Build, Day Four or that I actually had a social life?

We’ll go with social, because that is rarer in these parts.

Friday night, our friend Jonathan invited us out with him to see Aimee Mann’s Christmas show. Now, I sort of vaguely knew who Aimee Mann was, but not really. I was exhausted and left to my own devices would have stayed home, but I like Jonathan and this was a really nice thing that he did for us. So I leave the studio with all its tentacles and head to midtown.

The show was in the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center, which is a gorgeous space. Turns out that Aimee Mann does a variety show, with guest musicians, comedians and a little mini-mockumentary. It was so much fun. I had a blast and was really glad that Jonathan had invited us.

Yesterday was all Tempest, all the time.

Today, we went to Jonathan’s tree-trimming party. He does this fun thing where he hangs Polaroids of his guests on the tree. Lots of good food and interesting conversations. It felt really, really good to take the day off.

Twelve Days of Christmas

I sometimes tell people that I had a Norman Rockwell upbringing. Our Christmas tradition explains it. For over fifty years, my extended family gathers at Woodthrush Woods, the house that my dad’s parents built, for Christmas dinner. The number of guests ranges from 20-35 people, and we hoot and carry on. First Robby (my namesake for Robinette), and now my mother cook a enormous meal and trot out the good china and set a fine table. Multiple tables, actually, at this point.

After dinner, we all pull our chairs into the living room, and sit in a big circle. One of the cousins goes to the piano, while we pass out songbooks. Then we sing. We sing Christmas carols and call out the page number of the ones we most want to hear. I tend to ask for The Holly and the Ivy, because it was Robby’s favorite, and I miss her. At the end of the night, the last thing we do is sing the Twelve Days of Christmas. Dad divvies up the parts, so each day is taken by a different group. We get sillier and sillier as the song goes on, trying to act out different parts of the song. The maids a-milking can get pretty funny, I’ll tell you.

Eric James Stone just pointed out this version of the Twelve Days. What do you think, Mom and Dad? Care to try this Christmas Eve?

Christmas thought for the day

“When I can’t sleep of a night, I count my blessings. I’d rather do that than count sheep.”

–Grandma Jackson, Christmas Day 2006
101 years old

Merry Christmas!

Me, the Christmas Tree and my bikeI finally managed to get a Christmas tree yesterday on my way home from work. I’d tried to find a place that had a tabletop tree and finally gave up. I went back to one of the places I’d visited before and purchased a regular tree and had them cut it down to a three foot tree. We then wrestled it into the pannier of my bicycle.

Although I’m brightly reflective, the tree obscured my rear light. I unclipped the light from the bike and attached it to the top of the tree where the star goes. I wound up having to bike side streets because the tree stuck out far enough from the bike that it was thwacking parked cars as I rode along.

It’s now decorated with a nice assortment of presents under it. We’re going to sleep in tomorrow and enjoy a day of rest.

May your Christmas be as joyous.

Christmas 2006

Reading Aloud: Singing while sick

I have a mild cold that I picked up from the germ factories that come aboard the boat to meet the Cinnamon Bear. It’s not bad, just a scratchy throat and fatigue–although I suppose the fatigue comes from other sources. Anyway, we carol as people are boarding. I enjoy this even though I’m scantily dressed in a fairy costume. What’s interesting about the way my voice functions when ill is that I lose my mid-range.

My speaking voice drops, but usually my head voice stays more or less clear. I can’t blend the two ranges at all. Now, this is a problem if I’m trying to belt Christmas Carols, (which uses the chest voice and blending) so I dealt with it by jumping up to my upper end and avoiding the midrange. So here’s me, speaking a couple of steps lower than normal, and then singing high soprano because that’s the only sound I’ve got reliable available. It’s useful to know how one’s voice behaves when sick.

Next time you have a cold, I want you to hum through your range. Start at the low end and hum up to the high end, then back down. Now, with me, my voice drops out on the way up the scale, and then comes back again. On the way down, I have more notes. It usually happens this way for me. I’ve been able to use this to compete, perform or audition by either picking pieces that fit the “sick” range or by adapting the work that I doing.

For a reading, I pitch my narrator higher than usual, to get above my dead zone. I save my suddenly deep low end for the male characters. It’s the only time I can really do a convincing male voice. I’ve always wished I were an alto because of that. It seems like it would be sooooo much more useful for voice work.

What does your voice do when you’re sick?

Feeling better now

I had planned on going to see Christmas from Home 1941 last night, as it was my only chance, but about 6:00 realized that I wouldn’t make it unless I took a nap. I did wake up from the nap in time to go. I was just dizzy with fatigue and decided that it was smarter to go to bed for real. I slept from 7:30 last night until 6:30 this morning.

Now I’m unpacking and getting ready for our Christmas party tomorrow.

Christmas shopping

Okay. This was the coolest thing in the world, for me. I went to the bookstore to pick up Christmas gifts for my family to save me the cost and hassle shipping them to Chattanooga. With one exception, I wound up selecting books written by people I know. I like all of these people, and have been very happy for their success, but I turned into the total fan-girl in the books store. Two years ago, I don’t think I knew any novelists.

Sadly, I can’t tell you which books they were because my family reads the blog and I’ve already tipped my hand that most of them/you are getting books this year.