Monday, December 23, 2013

A Toast To Christmas, The New Year, And To You, My Dearest Readers

"...All seem to say
Throw cares away.
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old,
Meek and the bold."

Happy, happy Christmas, Dearest Readers. I hope you made it to your Holiday serene and relaxed and ready to celebrate a lovely time with those you love the best.  And I look forward to my own Christmas, doing the same and then spending another year with all of you. 

Cheers to you and to 2014!
Nance and all of the Dept. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Little Holiday Happies

Dearests, I know this is Holiday Crunch Time, and that many of you are In The Midst.  I am as well; today is Present Wrapping Day, and I will not quit until every single one of them is wrapped or giftbagged or concealed in some way by snowmen, candy canes, Santa heads, or some combination thereof.  That is my vow to you.

I did, however, promise St. Patsy that I would update you all on a little item:  the Tradition Of The Wheat continues.  My sister Susan and her husband Paul discovered that the food for their boys' pet hamsters has a high volume of wheat in it.  One night, they all sat down and spilled the box and began the painstaking task of picking out the wheat kernels.  St. Patsy conveyed them safely to her place at my brother's and set them in their shallow bowl of water to sprout.  The planting was successful, and each sibling will get a pot of wheat with a candle on Christmas Eve, thanks to Zach, Jacob, Susan, and Paul, and of course, Cleo and Hipster.

Certainly that does not count as a Christmas Miracle, but perhaps we can count it as a small Christmas Blessing.

I'm also counting the four days of temperatures in the forties and fifties (!!) as a Christmas Blessing.  That streak means a smiley goodbye to our five inches of snow, the gutter icicles, and the icy spots on the deck, porch and driveway.  What a spirit lifting sight the green grass is.  How lovely to go out shopping in just a blazer and scarf.  And, in a burst of Non-NEO Climatological Whimsy, we actually had a sunny day or two! I felt renewed.

In spite of the latest research by Science that my cats don't love me, and despite the fact that menopause is causing me to store all my wine in a spare tire around my waist all of a sudden, I am still counting small happies daily.  It's not that difficult to do.

Have a lovely, calm-as-possible, happy Run-Up-To-Christmas.  Take good care of yourselves and each other.  And for my Readers who are not Christmas Celebraters, sit back and enjoy the show.  As you know, it's always a good one.  Let that be one of your little happies.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unloading My Cerebral Slop So That I Can Achieve Navidad Nirvana

Some Skull Scraps are skittering about, threatening my Holiday Organization and my Christmas Zen, so I thought I'd unload a few of them here.  How are all of you doing with your Holiday Preparations?  Are we downsizing and common-sensing?  Have we redefined our Holiday Philosophies?  I can't wait to hear!  Anyway, on with the Cranial Clear-Out!

Rick's company Christmas party was a little while ago.  It was a very
nice get-together at a local restaurant. His boss is so genial, and his coworkers are friendly and fun.  We ordered off of the menu--so cheffy and seasonal; I had fresh-made pasta--and the bar was open for the evening.  Unfortunately, at one point, one of the guests suddenly slumped forward in his chair, eyes closed, and he became unresponsive.  His wife, who said nothing like this had ever happened before, was paralyzed with terror.  Everyone talked at once, all trying to help, and it was a circus.   Finally, I grabbed a napkin, dipped it into my ice water, and started to press it against his wrists and forehead as well as the back of his neck.  I bent low, and in my Teacher Voice, I started asking very direct questions, addressing him by name.  I asked him where he was, what day it was, and who the President of the United States was.  He answered each one correctly.  I then asked him if he took medications for high blood pressure, then diabetes.  He said no.  Still, however, he was slumped and his eyes were closed.  I concurred with others that there should be a call to 911.  As I continued to apply a cool cloth, I overheard two other guests talking.  "Is she a nurse?" asked one.  "No, she's a teacher," responded the other one with a confidence and reassurance that made me smile.  She might have said, "No, she's Batman."  Happily, the stricken guest, after a night in the ER for tests, is back at work, but he has been scheduled for a stress test and more bloodwork to make a final determination regarding diabetes. 

Help me out here.  Is it just me, or is this package of men's underwear really...ambiguous and sort of winky winky nudgy nudgy?  I mean, when you have the words POUCH, JOCKEY, PACKAGING, and FIT on a bag of men's undies, you cannot tell me that I am the only one who is standing there in Macy's thinking...Those Thoughts.  Is this really a serious pack of underwear?  What exactly is "Same great Pouch fit"?  I asked Rick and he said he had no idea.  Then again, this is not his brand or type of undergarments.  And why is Pouch capitalized like a proper noun?  Is that an anthropomorphic name for men's genitals?  So, say a guy wants to have sex; does he say, "Honey, come to bed and say hi to Pouch"?  I'm telling you--this sack of underwear is taking up a lot of my time.

Tuesday night I was preparing dinner--another Nance Original--and it involved a lot of chopping and cutting. In the middle of quartering a Brussels sprout, the knife slipped and sliced deeply into my little finger, right at the tip on the side.  Holy crap, did that thing bleed like hell.  Of course I was home alone.  I applied pressure with a paper towel and held my hand above my head and ran to the bathroom.  Do you know how hard it is to try to open a box of bandaids and then put one on with only one hand, all the while trying to keep the cut hand elevated?  It is damned hard.  And bloody.  AND--do you know how hard it is to type with your left little finger all bandaged up and sore?  Do you KNOW how many words have A's in them?  Too effing many is how many.  I should have had stitches, but since that requires a visit to the hospital, that would be a NO.

I still have so many things to tell you about my terrific trip to Gettysburg.  We had an outing every single day, and sometimes more than one.  You know, I've been going to Gettysburg for more than forty years.  And one of the things I love about it is that it isn't afraid to change.  Oh, the historic preservation is astonishing and thanks to a very involved core of the citizenry, more and more land is regained by the land conservancy and kept from developers.  I don't mean change like that.  Gettysburg will always love and revere their history, and they constantly fight to preserve it.  I mean change as in perspective and truth.  When I first went to Gettysburg, it was all about battle strategies, generals, and casualties.  Into the seventies, it changed its perspective to peace and became more about Lincoln.  Now, Gettysburg focuses on the townspeople, the people whose lives were invaded by a war they didn't fight in, but one that came into their lives and changed them anyway.  It highlights the lives of women who were suddenly nurses, black citizens who had to live in fear of becoming slaves and being shipped south, and German immigrants who were accused of being cowardly and disloyal.  It also gives child visitors a look at the way children of the town helped out even though they were frightened.

One stop in Gettysburg was at a gallery called Lincoln into Art.  I met the artist, Wendy Allen, and she told me a little about her work and her gallery and living in Gettysburg.  She paints Abraham Lincoln.  He is her subject, her inspiration, and her livelihood in town.  It's really quite amazing.  She paints in a variety of styles: Pollock, Van Gogh, a sort of Mondrian with the words of the Address, even some Impressionist influence can be seen.  So many of her portraits had a singular feature which captivated me--the eyes.  She does Abraham Lincoln's eyes so that they convey the gentle melancholy of the man.  Visit her website here.  Incredible.

I wandered among history and, at times, became quite lost in it.  Yet, oddly, I felt quite comfortable among the relics of the Past as if it were sort of a homecoming.  It's hard to explain.  Certainly much of it had to do with a familiarity of having grown up with the battle and its lore since forever.  Being with my aunt and uncle, both gracious hosts and history enthusiasts, had quite a lot to do with it, too.  Still, I cannot discount the real affinity I feel with Gettysburg and what happened there and how much the people now work to preserve its legacy.  My family there--especially my cousin Mark--are all involved in the land conservancy project.  It's heartening.

Speaking of family there--allow me to end with a bit of a commercial.  Ann's items--or Purdy Sew 'n Sews--can be shipped Priority Mail in time for Christmas.  FREE!  But don't dilly dally.  Not to impose upon your New And Improved Relaxed Christmas, you know. But...even we don't have Forever.

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

My Past May Become A Present For You: An Announcement

One of the best things I saw on my Gettysburg vacation was my cousin, Ann.  We're just a couple of years apart--she's younger than me--but once we hit our teens, we never really recaptured the closeness of our youth.  At that point, Ann gravitated more toward my sister Susan, who was a couple of years younger than her, and I wandered off, probably to read or be serious or something.  I don't blame her.  I recall a lot of bossiness, generalized snottiness, and overall being kind of a pain in the ass, to be honest, all by Yours Truly. What happens to some of us when we reach our early teens?  Must we become insufferable?

Ann remembers all the good parts, like all those summer days we spent eating dill pickles (a shared obsession) on Grandma and Grandpa's front porch in their glider, pushing it back and forth and back and forth, then letting it coast like we were riding it.  Other days, we'd go to The Lake, and when we weren't swimming or drinking Kool Aid from the brightly colored aluminum glasses, we were sitting at the big table in the cabin making our own paper dolls with dozens of outfits for any occasion.

Because Ann lived far away from northeastern Ohio, I didn't see her very often.  Sometimes Grandma would go visit her, and the time they had together proved Golden.  Ann would watch for hours while Grandma sewed or pieced together a quilt, lured by the colors and patterns and textures of fabrics.  Sensing a kindred spirit, Grandma taught her to hand-sew some scraps of bright cloth together.  Years later, in seventh grade, and long graduated to machine sewing, Ann made her first outfit, a red and white, very seventies pantsuit.

Of course, I didn't know any of that.  But I do now.  So...why am I telling you?

When I reconnected with my cousin Ann, I discovered that she is a talented artist, especially with textiles.  Her sewing is now her art.  She makes one-of-a-kind articles with incredible design details.  She sews every single day.  Her favourite spot is her workshop, where the hum of her sewing machine soothes her.  And even though she creates something every single day, it still tickles her to know she made it.  It's her idea made real.  That fact never ceases to make her smile.

She has many pieces--functional items--that she would like to introduce to the marketplace, and I'm happy to say that she is opening up a temporary shop here at the Dept. of Nance.  You'll find her initial offerings up for sale by clicking the tab marked Purdy Sew 'n Sews.  Right now, you'll find clutch purses and personal organizers/portfolios.  She makes quilts, purses, bags, pillows, and many, many baby items as well.  Do I know what might be added next? No.  Does she?  Not until the idea grabs her.

Check my sidebar for the Purdy Sew 'n Sews logo for an email link if you have any questions for Ann.  Maybe this will help you with your Christmas Shopping, even for yourself.  At any rate, scroll up top under my blog title where the tabs are and click Purdy Sew 'n Sews.  You may get inspired yourself.

Ann and I reconnected, and this venture was born.  So was a new, more mature relationship.  Thank goodness I grew up.  And thank goodness she waited for me.

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