Sunday, January 30, 2011

EMPS: Garbage Decoration Day?

For the first time ever, I forgot to do the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot last week! Every time there has been a Monday Photo Shoot, since John Scalzi started it in the days of AOL Journals, I've always, always done it. Until now. Ah, well, the streak is broken. But that won't stop me from doing this week's EMPS!

The theme is Garbage Day, and so I photographed the red trash in the kitchen this afternoon, before and after I emptied it. But that's a little boring, and John would not be pleased to see our trash on display. So instead I've dug into my archives for some photos I took at Reid Park in the summer of 2009.

There was a time, after Tuffy died and I was laid off from Beaudry RV, that I was going to Reid Park every day with Cayenne and Pepper. The dog park was there, of course, but after a while I started rambling all over the main park with the dogs, exploring and taking pictures.

One feature of Reid Park that always fascinated me was the use of painted 50-gallon(?) drums as trash cans, all over the park. In the dog park area, they were used for cleaning up after the dogs, but elsewhere they were positioned by picnic tables, outside the rose garden and so on. They were all labeled Reid Park Zoo, even though these were outside the zoo itself; and they had all been obviously been decorated by children. One wonders whose idea it was to enlist kids at the zoo for this project: "Now, class, today we will be painting garbage cans." Not that I'm knocking this. I actually think these are kind of cool! As you can see, they are all ecologically themed.

Actually, I once decorated a trash, nearly thirty years ago. I photocopied the cover of an LP by The Clash, did some cutting and rearranging so that it said The Trash, and used clear contact paper to attach all this to a green trash basket. We called it the Clash Trash, and had it for quite a few years before it got, well, trashed.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Round Robin: This Bird Has Flown; Goodbye to the 6

The latest Round Robin Challenge: Goodbyes, was assigned by our good friend Carly on the occasion of her retiring from co-hosting the Round Robin Photo Challenges. I was a little stymied trying to come up with something appropriate to the theme, until I looked in my January 2011 folder of raw photos. Ah. Perfect!

In late March, 2005, a kid in a 1965 Ford truck totaled my 1997 Saturn. The Saturn dealer didn't have another Saturn I could afford, but they did have a 1994 Eagle Vision. I'd never heard of this kind of car, but I bought it. For about five years it was my good and faithful car, my conveyance to numerous adventures and a source of endless amusement with its outside temperature thermometer. But in 2010 I had to put over $2,000 into repairing it - and that's without fixing the broken interior door handles, the warped panel over the airbags, the worn out paint, or the car stereo that shorted out years ago. When early this month my repair shop told me it had sprung numerous transmission leaks, I knew the time had come to say goodbye to my 17-year-old Eagle.

So on Tuesday, January 11th, after several days of research and test drives, I bought a 2001 Kia Optima. Hey, it's only a decade old, and doesn't look half its age. I've already started having adventures in it, including two trips to Phoenix and some hairy mountain driving.

But later on the night I bought the Kia, I went to open the trunk, only to discover that the key in my hand was the one to the Eagle. Oops! I drove back to the Kia dealership, which was closed by then, hid the key in the glove compartment, and took the opportunity to take a few final pictures of the Eagle - in effect, to say goodbye.

But of course, that's the least of the goodbyes that took place in Tucson, Arizona this month. As I sat in a car dealership on Saturday morning, January 8th, my congresswoman met with a small group of constituents in a Safeway parking lot across town. You know what happened next.

With all the focus on Gabby Giffords and her remarkable survival and recovery-in-progress, I think there's a danger that the rest of the country is already starting to forget about the six people who died that morning. Tucson has not forgotten. Thousands of us attended various memorials and funerals to say goodbye to those six people, whether we personally knew them or not.

I never met any of the six, as far as I know. But I have been to one of the places where Tucsonans have gathered to remember, to pray for the living, and to say goodbye to the fallen. Here, too, much of the focus is on Gabby, our fellow Tucsonan who has become a symbol of hope. But many of the signs refer to the fallen, and candles have been lit to their memory:


Now let's go see what or whom everyone else is bidding goodbye!

Linking List
as of 12:39 PM (ET) Saturday, January 29th 2011

Carly - Posted!

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Monica - Posted!
Shutterly Happy - The Photo Blog

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Kelley **Welcome, New Participant!**
Silent Serenade

Analee **Welcome, New Participant!** - Posted!
sugar and spice and everything gneiss

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

mga gihuna-huna

Peg - Posted!
Who Can Discover It?

Vicki - Posted!

Julie - Posted!
Another Chance Ranch

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weekend Assignment: Private Tours, Cheap!

My Dad was in town weekend before last. Guess what we did together:

Weekend Assignment # 354: Tour Guide
Do friends or relatives from out of town ever visit you? If so, do you take them sightseeing? Where?

Extra Credit: What is the most interesting place you ever went sightseeing while visiting someone else?

As I mentioned in a previous post, mid-January was a busy time for me. Not only was my Dad in town, but I had to replace my car, with all that entails, and work at both St. Michael's and St. Matthew's, both of which were getting ready for their annual parish meetings.

So getting quality time in with my Dad was a tricky thing to do. I'm afraid he got stuck sitting in a room at St. Matt's for a few hours on Friday, the same day I had to rent a car for a few hours so my "new" 2001 Kia could be worked on. (But that's another story.)

But Jason at St. Matt's gave Dad a personal tour of the church campus, and Friday evening, I took Dad to see the display of candles and signs and such outside Gabby Giffords' office, and then to Nimbus Bistro, a restaurant owned by the Nimbus Brewery, our local microbrewer of ale. It was so noisy I could hardly hear hear a word Dad said, but he sat next to John and they apparently heard each other well enough to have a conversation.

Rather than take Dad straight to his hotel afterward, I took him for a stroll in Trail Dust Town, as you can see in an entry I did for the Round Robin later that night. (Scroll down for the pictures!) This was apparently a Western movie set built in the early 1950s, but now it's sort of a fun touristy place to take out of town guests for steak, chocolate covered strawberries, a gunfight show and a kiddie train ride. Dad is a sucker for trains, so we took the train ride.

Saturday morning I had to work at both churches, but in the afternoon Dad and I had lunch at a nice little restaurant I hadn't tried before. Then I took him out to see the Boneyard, where hundreds of old planes sit out their retirement. I had hoped to take Dad on an actual bus tour, but it only runs weekdays. We ended up at the Pima Air and Space Museum, where Dad had been once before, probably at least fifteen years ago. He didn't remember the prior visit, so it was well worth going again.

After the museum I took Dad to Babad Do'Ag Vista, just a few miles up Mount Lemmon highway, and waited about ten minutes for sunset. I hadn't filled my gas tank, and Dad got nervous when it showed E for Excellent, as the family joke goes. But I pretty much coasted down the mountain and there was no problem at all. We had dinner at Kon Tiki, a place John and I both love as a midcentury relic (the food's good, too).
A gate at Mission San Xavier del Bac shows a traditional Tohono O'odham maze.

Sunday after church we made my usual stops, and then headed down to the Historic Depot downtown, where Wyatt Earp shot Frank Stanton in the aftermath of the OK Corral. The Transportation Museum was half an hour away from closing, but we made a whistle stop tour of the place, with Dad trying to out-guide the guide until the docent gave up and helped someone else. Lunch was at the historic Hotel Congress across the street from the train station. We missed John Dillinger Days at Hotel Congress, where the gangster once stayed, by a week.

From there we took the freeway down to Mission San Xavier del Bac, a few miles south of Tucson on I-19. I explained that Father Eusebio Kino founded the place centuries ago but that it was built much later, by the Franciscans. I showed off the saint statues in real fabric (silk?) clothing, and explained about milagros, little charms attached to the statue of a saint as a prayer for a loved one's healing.

We took the scenic route back, following Ajo Road to Kinney Road past Old Tucson, and drove the steep, scary drive up over Gates Pass just before sunset. The scenic outlook at the top was so crowded with cars that I could not park there at all. So we went on to A Mountain, also called Sentinel Peak, for the very scariest driving I know of in Tucson. On the way back down I got this picture:

The reflection isn't a lake; it's the roof of my car!

And that, aside from another dinner out and the drive back to Sky Harbor Airport the next day, concluded our whirlwind tour of Tucson. We didn't get in Old Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Colossal Cave or Sabino Canyon, but Dad was impressed with all that we did cram in, and my many factoids presented as we drove or walked around. He suggested, half-seriously, that I find a van and a driver and hire myself out as a Tucson tour guide!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekend Assignment # 353: Fame (What's Your Name?)

Weekend Assignment # 353: My Fifteen Minutes
Andy Warhol famously said that in the future, everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. Have you had yours? For purposes of this assignment, "fame" includes public speaking, amateur plays, any tv or radio appearance, being a face in the crowd as a movie extra, being mentioned in someone's autobiography, etc.

Extra Credit: Given the opportunity, would you want to be famous for more than fifteen minutes?
Let's see. In chronological order, here are my brushes with, well, if not fame, then momentary media exposure:

In 1965, I appeared in two scenes in my mom's musical revue, DeManleyville '65. My doll Tootles and I shared the role of a doll that came to life at midnight to dance with a physically disabled girl. I also came on stage to cuddle with some wlocal actress while she sang about "the curve of baby's cheek." I was eight years old.

In about 1976, several of us from the local Star Trek club, STAR Syracuse, appeared on a local radio show that was usually about old time radio.

In 1981, somebody had me autograph a copy of Relix Magazine, for which I'd written the cover story about John Lennon.

A couple of times in the 1990s, I appeared on panels at Doctor Who and Quantum Leap conventions. The highlight was when I got to interview a Doctor Who guest star live on stage. In that same era, I co-wrote several articles for Starlog.

In 2005, I got to read a poem I'd written on our community radio station, KXCI.

None of this is in any way significant, except possibly to me. But yes, I'd like to be moderately famous, in one specific area: as the author of the bestselling Mâvarin novels. If I'm ever going to make that happen, I need to get serious again about writing, revising and submitting them.

Folks, I've been really, really busy for the past week, what with buying a car, working at two churches as they prepared for their annual meeting, and driving my visiting Dad about 500 miles in five days. But I'll try to catch up with everyone's blogs in the next few days. Thanks for your patience!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Today's Aspirations, Courtesy of Dr. King

From Gabby's Place

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
--from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963


TUCSON – Pia Carusone, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, released the following statement on the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:.

Today’s national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is an appropriate time to focus once again on the need to work peaceably to improve this nation that we all share and love.

As Dr. King wrote nearly 48 years ago in his powerful “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

As Congresswoman Giffords continues to recover from her injuries and the other families affected by this attack begin to heal, it is important that all Americans honor the Rev. King’s memory by following his example of service to their fellow human beings.

This can be an essential part of the healing process that Tucson, Arizona, and our nation must undertake as we continue to struggle to recover from the tragedy of nine days ago.

We will recover and emerge a stronger community unified in its commitment to Dr. King’s message of nonviolent change.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

EMPS: Gateway to Memories

Carly wants us to photograph a gateway for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, actual or metaphorical. As busy as I've been with two jobs, buying a car and my dad's visit, I haven't gotten over to Reid Park to photograph a gateway to the dog park or the rose garden, and frankly a picture of my own back gate (above) is a bit yawn-worthy. Metaphor it is, then. For what it's worth, this could be a gateway to freedom for the dogs - if we ever unlocked it while they were in the yard! This would not be a good thing.

But I took my dad to the Pima Air and Space Museum today, very much as an afterthought. It was 3 PM when we arrived and they closed at five, but it didn't really matter. Dad was mostly only interested in one exhibit, a gateway to many old memories for him.

The 390th Memorial Museum isn't museum #390 in a series, collect them all, or in memory of a deceased ordinal number. It pays tribute to the history of a particular squadron in the 8th Army Air Corps (I think that's right) that flew in a B-17 bomber in World War II. My dad was a navigator for the 15th Army Air Corps, stationed in Italy. On this seventh mission, his sabotaged B-17 lost one engine after another, and he had to bail out over Czechoslovakia. After capture by farmers and interrogation by the Gestapo, he spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft One.

All the time I was growing up, I knew very little about my dad's World War II experiences. That changed today. Standing near a plane very like the ones he'd flown in, Dad told his story to one of the docents at the 390th Museum, and again to a visitor whose father had also been in a B17 and also ended up a POW. This man was very interested, and suggested further resources online for Dad to both give and receive more information about the history of Dad's squadron. And I got to hear, for the first time ever, about two of my Dad's missions - the disastrous first one, in which the lead plane was shot down and chaos ensued, and the seventh one, the failure of which was probably caused by a group of Italian POWs when they were meant to be building an airstrip.

Okay, it's a weak metaphor. But that seventy-year-old plane led my dad and me to a new place in our relationship, with me finally encountering a part of my dad's past that had previously been locked away.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Round Robin Challenge: I've Always Wanted To Photograph...Again!

Our latest Round Robin Challenge: I've Always Wanted To Photograph... was first suggested by Steven, former cohost of this meme and ace photographer of the late, lamented(sometimes)photoblog). I don;t think I had anything in particular in mind for myself when I assigned this topic two weeks ago, except, perhaps, to try again for an adequate photo of the moon.

But tonight I was out and about with my Dad, who is in town for the weekend for the first time since 2005. On a whim, I took him for a stroll in Trail Dust Town, a touristy fake western town on Tanque Verde Road that dates back to the 1950s. When I got my first Canon digital camera in March 2005, the first place I took it was to Trail Dust Town in the late afternoon. I hadn't yet charges the camera battery properly, though, and it soon stopped working. I've always wanted to photograph the place again, with a newer camera and working batteries.

The back entrance to Trail Dust Town. From My Tucson

Trail Dust Town is a fascinating mixture of the ostentatiously fake and silly...

...and real artifacts of a bygone era. Probably some of what looks genuinely old dates back only to when a movie was filmed here in the early 1950s (I'm assuming this really happened), but even that is impressive in a Roadside America, kitschy sort of way.

I love old tourist attractions that aren't up to modern standards of flash and realism, and don't really try to be. For example, nobody would accuse the man in the ticket office of the small gauge train depot of being "realistic!" The place is also plastered with reproductions of old posters, photos, advertisements and newspaper clippings.

The architecture is mostly typical fake Old West, but there are a few genuinely nice old buildings in a more upscale style.

And the place features a healthy dose of humor, some of it rather subtle.

Now let's go see what other Robins have always wanted to photograph!

Linking List
as of 1/15/11 at 3:30 AM MST

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin


Sweet Memories

In My Dreams I Can Fly...

Mommy's Treasures

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Work of the Poet

Sarah **Welcome, new participant!** - Posted!
Sandpit Diaries

The ScrabbleQueen Knits, Too

A quick note - my dad is in town for the first time in five years, and on top of that I'm working at both churches later this morning. My updating is likely to be spotty, and I may not make the rounds until Monday. Please help me out by leaving a comment here once you've posted. Thanks!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weekend Assignment # 352: Busy Season

For Weekend Assignment # 352: Winter Work, I asked,

Weekend Assignment # 352: Winter Work
Now that the new year has begun, most of us are back at work, with only a few holidays to look forward to over the next several months. Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere wake now to cold, dark mornings, and may see little or no daylight on our morning and evening commutes. What is this time of year like for you? Are you more productive in the bleak midwinter, less so, or neither? What is the weather like where you are, and do you enjoy it?

Extra Credit: Are you still working on unfinished business from last year? 

For quite a few years now, excluding the ones in which January found me unemployed or nearly so, this has been my busy season. When January hits, accountants and many bookkeepers are faced with such "year-end" tasks as generating W-2 and 1099 forms, solving the arcane mysteries of correctly booking accrued payroll, and beginning the process or tracking down last year's errors and proving that the resulting numbers are the correct ones. This year I'm working on two or more of these tasks at both St. Michael's and St. Matthew's, and trying to nail down a reasonable 2011 budget ahead of our parish's annual meeting. Oh, and I also bought a car last night to replace my beloved Eagle Vision, which had developed multiple transmission fluid leaks. And tomorrow I drive up to Phoenix to pick up my almost-88-year-old Dad, for a really badly-timed 4-day visit!

But at least while he's here he's likely to encounter some of the best weather in the country. We've had some cold nights, including some that dipped below freezing; but the days have generally been in the fifties and sixties. I think this weekend we're expected to get back into the seventies. January sometimes gets winter rain, but I'll be surprised if Dad sees any of that, so no snow on the mountains. Frankly, winter is most of why people move to Tucson in the first place. I much prefer January in Tucson to January anywhere else I've lived, from Syracuse to Satellite Beach, Florida. Well, okay, I mostly just visited Satellite Beach, where my mom lived for many years, but you get the idea.

It has snowed in Tucson in winter, maybe once every five years or so; I think it was closer to once a year a quarter century ago. That picture in the graphic above shows my Eagle being snowed on during one such night, shortly before I drove back to work for a near all-nighter. How's that for drawing together the threads of this rapidly unraveling post?

And oh, yeah, I have plenty of unfinished business to attend to, mostly lots of accounting stuff and house cleaning. So what else is new? I'm also in the home stretch of a silly one-story-a-day Doctor Who marathon that started last year, and falling behind. The events this week in Tucson are much more compelling and important than watching my favorite tv show. I just wish I had more time to cover every activity that requires my attention right now, from professional responsibilities to family ones, and the need to join the country in reflecting on what happened last weekend, what it means to us as a country and the best way to move forward. It seems clear now that Jared Loughner had no coherent political philosophy, and reacted far less to any politic figure than to his own inner demons. I don't think it helps the country for people to demonize each other, but this young man apparently managed to demonize his local member of Congress all by himself. The question now is, where to we go from here?


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Fear and Loathing and Gabby

I was cooling my heels at a local car dealership this morning (my Eagle Vision has about had it) when John called on my cell. He had been caught in a traffic jam on Oracle Road near Ina on his way to work. He saw helicopters in the air and cops arriving to divert traffic, but didn't know what had happened at the Safeway until a few minutes later. All day I've been hearing from people around the country, wanting to make sure I wasn't at that particular Safeway today. As it happens, it's half an hour from "my Safeway," but about five minutes from where John works.

Gabrielle Giffords at a September 2009 town hall. Photo by KFB.

Poor Gabby.

I got the car dealership (owned by a prominent local Republican) to switch the showroom tv from a football game to Channel 13, KOLD. At first they just had a crawl about the shooting of my Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, over a Phoenix auto race. Soon, however, they went to continuous live coverage, which lasted for the next ten hours at least.

Gabrielle Giffords is a Blue Dog Democrat, a moderate who is well liked by everyone from President Obama to Governor Brewer. When I saw her at that town hall meeting in the fall of 2009, she struck me as a very patient, level-headed, caring adult who listens to the concerns of all of her constituents, and tries to gently educate when she can. She isn't a liberal or a firebrand by any means, but she is someone who really does try to find common ground, perhaps too much so as far as my personal politics are concerned.

Yet this moderate, described as kind and caring by Republicans and Democrats alike, was absolutely villified in the last election season, painted as a toxically liberal legislator who was personally responsible for all the ills of the world. Check out some of the campaign signs made by the 2010 Jesse Kelly campaign:


This is just one of a series of misleading, fear-mongering signs made by Jesse Kelly's 2010 Congressional campaign against Gabrielle Giffords. It implies that 1) Gabby personally made the health care bill go through by some nefarious means, and that 2) "Obamacare" is a terrible, onerous thing. Yes, she voted to end exceptions for pre-existing conditions, to stop insurance companies from dropping you when you get sick, to let your kid stay on your insurance until age 26, and to cut the Federal deficit along the way. Good for her!


This one implies that the voter's personal Medicare benefits have been cut. This is pretty much the news from opposite-land. The bill cuts waste, not benefits, and helps seniors in the "donut hole" on their prescriptions. Kelly was a much bigger threat to Social Security and Medicare than Giffords.


Here's another one. Republicans supported the Wall Street bailout too at the time - and most of the banks have paid this money back with interest. Wall Street is far from blameless, but the bailout turned out to be a necessary and reasonably effective investment in stabilizing an economy in crisis.

There were more, but I don't have pictures of all of them. You get the idea. Voters were led to believe that Gabrielle Giffords was personally out to ruin their health and their finances, when in fact she was dedicated to the opposite. The rhetoric was so extreme that it has inspired extreme reactions from members of the lunatic fringe. Last year, someone smashed the glass door of Gabby's office with a brick - or something. Neighboring Congressman Raul Grijalva, far more liberal and outspoken than Gabby, had a gunshot and a suspicious package at his office.

And now this. The main suspect in the shooting seems to be pretty delusional, but the form of his delusion is mostly political. Who knows whether the killer (Gabby lives, but six others are dead) was influenced by the hateful and violent words and images that have made their way into recent political discourse? Who knows whether he was partly inspired by Sarah Palin's map with crosshairs over 20 "targeted" Congressional districts, including Giffords' CD8? Who knows whether he attended Jesse Kelly's campaign event that included the opportunity to shoot off a semi-automatic weapon? (A web ad promoting this event said, "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.") Who knows whether the shooter believed that "Obamacare" was part of a grand mind control conspiracy, and that Gabrielle Giffords was part of it?

Perhaps none of those things had an impact on this 22-year-old alleged killer, or anyone else involved in the shooting. Nevertheless, this political climate, in which a high profile Senate candidate spoke of "second amendment remedies" in case Republicans and tea party candidates didn't win, and gun-toting protesters appeared ready and willing to "water the tree of liberty" with blood, seems exceedingly likely to incite actions like this. I've been worried for over a year that sooner or later, someone was going to be shot, out of a sincere but crazy belief that such an act was right and necessary. I'm just shocked that it was Gabby who took the first hit.

She surely didn't deserve this. Nobody does.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

EMPS: What I Did Over the Holidays

Yay! Carly's back with the EMPS!
Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #106: Whatcha Been Up To?
Welcome Back folks! It's been a while since we last shared our photography with each other, so let's get acquainted again... shall we? It's an easy assignment for our first one of 2011! Simply show me what you have been up to, in terms of your photography, since we last shared an assignment last September.
Extra Credit: Show us the one picture you felt you could have done better with.

Frankly, I haven't been getting out that much with my camera, except for the The Round Robin Photo Challenges photo shoots. Yes, I take the occasional picture of Tucson weather or the dogs, but generally, if I didn;t post something here, then it probably wasn't worth posting.

One exception, and apologies in advance for being such a one-trick pony: I've continued to try to document the going-on at St. Michael's, not all of which have made it into the RRPC, the WA or even the St. Michael's blogs and web site. For example, the Thursday morning before Christmas, I did my best to photograph the annual ritual known as the "greening of the church." Here are the best of those photos:

I still can't get very clear photos in the church because of the light issue, but I like this particular shot for all the activity in it.

In case you haven't guessed, the Greening of the Church is when the Altar Guild volunteers put up the decorations in preparation for the Christmas Eve masses. The main decorations are lots of artificial evergreens...

...and lots and lots of live poinsettia plants.

And here, by request, is one of the less successful shots. If I'd taken the time to get the tripod out of the car, I might have managed to get a good photo out of this.

The Greening was far from the only church event I've photographed lately, but I've already shown you photos from many of them for the RRPC. One thing I haven't posted yet is the result of my photographing what we jokingly call the "10 PM Midnight Mass." This consists of the Lessons and Carols at 10 PM, followed by the High Mass, which carries on past midnight. I almost always end up carrying a torch or crucifix at this Mass, and therefore tend not to get many photos during the services themselves. This year, however, I got to sit down in a pew for once. Problem was, I was still so caught up in working on my brother's Christmas present that I dashed off to church without my purse and therefore without my camera. I rushed home and grabbed both, returning about 10:10 PM. Here, to avoid overloading this blog entry too badly, are just two photos from that night:

Proscovia and another acolyte light the candles on the altar. The crèche scene is a handmade one, which the children at the 5 PM Christmas Eve Family Mass help to set up in front of the altar each year.

Music is always a big part of the main Christmas Eve service. My friend Kevin is in the choir now, albeit not visible in this photo. This year the service music was the Christmas Mass In C (Coronation Mass) by Mozart.

Be sure to check with Carly's blog Ellipsis each week for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot. Welcome back, Carly!


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Weekend Assignment: What I Was Doing New Year's

Weekend Assignment # 351: What Are You Doing New Year's?
Where do you typically spend New Year's Eve? What are you usually doing when the big moment arrives? Will this year be as usual, or are you doing something different?

Extra Credit: To the best of your recollection, have you ever managed to keep a New Year's resolution for more than a week?

I'm trying to post this from an email, because Blogger won't load my New Post window properly!

Every year, pretty much, John and I do the same thing. We do our separate activities, usually in our respective offices, until nearly midnight. Then I bring out some kind of fake bubbly (this year it was sparkling apple juice with pomegranate,), and John has...whatever, the same thing or beer or brandy. We turn on the tv, watch the ball drop on tape because it happened two hours before, kiss, talk about Dick Clark, and go back to what we were doing before. Exciting, huh?

The fireworks plan fizzled.

This year was no exception. I did try to vary it a little, but to little avail. John bought me some low-risk fireworks for Christmas, which have only recently hit store shelves in Tucson, having been banned except for professional use since before we moved here. It turns out, though, that it's legal to BUY them in Tucson, but it's not legal to USE them in Tucson. We live in the city limits, and besides, it was cold outside. So they're still sitting on the end table in the den. Darn it.

Similarly, I wanted to find some other decent tv choice for ringing in the new year. After all, midnight happens all over the world, and midnight in NYC is a rerun by the time we see it in Tucson. Can we not see New Year's celebrations from somewhere else? Phoenix? Denver? Aspen? Disneyland?  Disneyland is an hour behind us in winter, but still. But no, tv offered poor old Dick Clark, or NBC's version of the New York celebration, or a few other choices involving musicians of approximately zero interest to us. Okay, NBC then. John noticed that the camera work was better on NBC, but still insisted on our getting a peek at Dick Clark to see how his health is holding up. We wish him well, but I find it very sad to watch him now.

The only really big exception to our usual pattern, in all the years we've been married, was the midnight that turned 1999 into 2000, the fake millennium celebration that predated the real one by a year because we all like round numbers. We spent it at Disneyland. It was extremely crowded, but we got free hats and glow sticks and there was a great Son et lumière show on the Castle and other buildings before the fireworks, plus a giant clock and repeated playing of a rather fun Disney CD of stars including Time Curry singing Disney songs. John hates crowds, and had a miserable 20 minutes trapped in the middle of a mass of humanity while trying to get a good picture of the Castle; but otherwise it was a great night.

I'm not sure about the resolutions question. I think we managed to Atkins together for about a month once. John is doing the same now. As soon as I use up some stuff in the fridge, I hope to join him in this endeavor in 2011.


Karen Funk Blocher
Accountant, Blogger, Writer
(not necessarily in that order)

P.S. Firefox still won't load this edit window, but Chrome will. Hmmm....

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Round Robin: New Stuff for the New Year

Happy New Year! We're celebrating with the latest Round Robin Challenge: Something New. The topic was suggested a year ago by Kathy of Through the Viewfinder, and this seemed like a great time to use it. Here are my newest offerings:

First up, here's the church where I work and worship, St. Michael and All Angels. The building is over 50 years old, but what's that on the upper wall? Someone built a new ladder two weeks ago that complements the adobe style architecture. It leads to the roof above which a brand new Episcopal flag is flying, replacing one that was worn out.

The low-hanging clouds that partly obscured the mountains on Wednesday afternoon dumped a layer of new snow overnight, as seen from in front of my house on Thursday afternoon.

Although it's been the fourth warmest December on record in Tucson, the last few nights it's been about as cold as it ever gets here, as low as 25 degrees F. Go ahead and laugh, northeasterners, but I'm not used to Syracuse weather any more! Last night I sat in front of the tv with a bathrobe over my sweatshirt over my clothes, and wished for a pair of gloves. After a pot luck at St. Michael's early Friday evening, I stopped off at Walgreen's and bought some gloves, and a fleece throw to cover myself with while watching tv on a cold night. And oh, yeah, I bought a Charlie Brown doll that plays the Linus and Lucy theme. I'm probably going to give that to a friend of mine, Kevin, who played the lead in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown back in high school.

Partly because of the problems we had finishing my brother Steve's Christmas present (which I finally mailed today), and partly to take advantage of post-Christmas discounts, I didn't get John any calendars for 2011 until tonight. These probably aren't as cool as a Simpsons calendar or a calendar of vintage travel posters, but they were only $2.00 each.

I got a nice check from my dad for Christmas, and spent part of it on a new edition of one of my favorite Doctor Who stories. It arrived on Thursday.

Now let's go see what's new with the other Robins!


Linking List
as of 1/1/11 at 10:30 PM

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Linda - Posted!
Mommy's Treasures

Day One

Sweet Memories

Halie - Posted!
My Memoirs

Mary Tomaselli - Posted!
Work of the Poet

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Ruth - Posted!
The ScrabbleQueen Knits, Too