Dear Holiday Diary, The concept of time escapes me…

Dear Holiday Diary,

I sat down this morning for the first time in weeks. My butt was like, “What are we doing? We’re not sitting in a car driving to town to Christmas shop. FOR GOD’S SAKE. WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT, DO WE?” Switching gears after pushing myself for weeks is harder than you think. My brain still isn’t wrapping itself around the fact that it’s Christmas Eve and I may actually be ready and can enjoy it this year. That would be a first. Although, I’m not there yet. There’s lots of time for human error. I’m more human than most.

One thing I would LOVE for Christmas is the ability to know how long each task will take leading up to Christmas day. Wouldn’t that be a great app? It would calculate the time it takes for transportation, shopping, sending personalized greeting cards, decorating, and preparing meals, to name a few of the tasks on my list. It always takes me twice as long, so I end up stressed and behind schedule. Why is that? I feel like I give myself plenty of time. I must be super slow when I do things. I do get distracted easily by sparkly things. There are lots of sparkly things around these days. Like yesterday, when I walked to a shop on the Pearl Street Mall, I just had to take in the Boulder Court House light display and then window shop down the block a ways until I realized I should drive to my next destination a mile away to save time.

Twice, I spent hours hoofing around in stores to purchase gifts I couldn’t find online only to find them on super sale the next day. GAH! At least returning those items didn’t take very long. I’m not sure an app could predict that.

Being an optimist has its drawbacks and can be very hazardous to time management during the holidays. When illustrating my Christmas cards, I only remembered the times when the ideas and likenesses came easily. I didn’t create popup cards this year. That eliminated days of cutting and pasting. I planned on two hours a drawing. I thought I’d get the cards done in two days. Ha! They took so much longer than expected.

It would have helped if I had an idea in mind. Instead, I used a technique for writers’ block. I started sketching without an idea and hoped for a burst of light in the darkness of my cavelike cranium. After a few drawings, the lightbulb blew up in my head. You know that sound that makes you jump when it pops right above you?

Being a slow learner can be frustrating too. Printing them became a nightmare with my antique printer for a lot of reasons. The drawings were too big and the printer’s plantain was super small. After redrawing them to barely fit, I placed my left hand on top to raise the lid with my right and shut it off, EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME!

Baking and cooking recipes include the amount of time it should take, but for some reason, it always takes me longer. Maybe it’s because I tend to double or triple recipes. I don’t adjust for the time it will take to bake six dozen cookies instead of two. Other times, I don’t wear my reading glasses, add too much of an ingredient, and then have to adjust the entire recipe. Starting over would take less time.

Someone recently asked me if I recreate all of my swags and decorations every year. Nope. When I carefully take them down, I label them so they easily go back up the exact same way. Not this year. I must have been extremely sleep-deprived and angry-faced. Nothing was labeled. It was as if I stuffed them in a box to be donated. I had to redo everything! I would enter my own category to the app. Time for decorating: Four hours to two full weeks.

No concept of time Christmas decorations

I would definitely turn off the app on Christmas day. Being adults, our family rises much later than those who Santa visits. We start with coffee and cinnamon rolls. By the time the last sleepy strangler arrives in the kitchen for their first cup of Joe, it’s after 9:00. For some reason time slows. My quiche always seems to take two hours in the oven. The full court press to get the brunch out stretches through the morning while we work in slow motion. We finally peek in our stockings at noon!

But there’s a time for the frantic frenzy spent racing against time and there’s the time for cocooning. I should have been a set designer. My hope is to create a warm place where everyone relaxes in a twinkling Christmas atmosphere from your wildest dreams. The house is decorated to the nines. (Nine what? Ninth floor? Nine gates of hell? Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall? I never understood that expression.) The shopping will be done and the presents will be wrapped, even if stuffed in a gift bag at the last minute with the wrong name on it. We will go to church on Christmas Eve. Christmas will arrive. We will enjoy every minute of our holiday, no matter what we went through to prepare for it. Okay, so nothing is perfect and we can’t be happy for hours on end, but I will count my blessings and try to live in the moment..

Merry Christmas! May the time with your family and friends be more memorable than the crazy month preparing for it.

Are you planning on enjoying the holidays or are you still in a last-minute frenzy?

My Christmas Card Drawings Revealed

In three days Christmas will arrive whether we are ready or not. Three days! I’m psyching up for my last lap around Boulder for holiday gifts. I need to bake my annual cinnamon rolls and make a list to hit the grocery store. The good news? The illustrated Christmas cards are done and in the mail. YES! I’m always relieved when this tradition is complete.

I sketched my family skiing and boarding on the slopes, but I didn’t get into it. Then I drew Danny hanging an ornament on the tree. When I cracked up laughing, the decision was made.

As most of you know, I’ve created popup cards for the last few years. My internal conversation over whether to cut and paste this year, turned into a raging argument. I really wanted to make it a booklet, but I didn’t have time. After printing out a few boring black and white cards to give to friends at a holiday lunch, I settled on a compromise.

I added a tinge of color to the last illustration and ran the cards through the printer a couple more times to add borders.

Ted Strutz guessed what my family is doing and won one a Christmas card! Way to go Ted! He blogs flash fiction for the Friday Fictioneers on Ted Book and slice of life photography on Ted Book Daily Pics. Be sure to check out his blog.

Yep. We are decorating the Christmas tree, but it’s a little on the wild side.

So here’s the scary part. The big reveal…

2016 Christmas Card

 

Happy accidents during Christmas

 

2016 Christmas Card reveal - illustration

It’s all about happy accidents.

We all experience them throughout the holidays. We run into old friends at celebrations or make new ones while looking for dog coats at Petsmart. We may think of the perfect gift while searching for something completely different. It seems like good stuff happens when we are putting out that positive vibe.

It’s all about recognizing the beauty around us and keeping the meaning of the season in our hearts. Keep counting your blessings!

The #Blessed Projects were a happy accident.

I needed something to pull me out of a funk one day, so I made a list of my blessing. The blues faded like the fog in Scrooge’s cemetery. I had to share the idea and the #Blessed Projects were born. If you need something to uplift you, look no further. Click on the link above. There are many to choose from. Make sure to check out Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli. I failed to link her fantastic #Blessed Project when I posted. Another happy accident since she is featured here today.

Another illustrated card is finished. Onto that last-minute Christmas shopping, oh, yeah, and then wrapping everything. *yawn* I still have three days…

Have you experienced any happy accidents lately? Are you feeling blessed or stressed?

Win a Handmade Christmas Card!

It’s time to guess and win a card!

One of my Christmas traditions is to draw a family Christmas Card. It’s almost done. I’m toying with adding something to the last drawing. Yes, there are three illustrations this year. No popups. Whew! I had to draw a line (pun intended) to save my sanity. A couple of years ago, I spent close to 80 hours just pasting them together.

Last year, I made a modified popup.

tobogganing Christmas Card

Christmas Card 2015

I’m having a hard time with my “no cutting or pasting rule” for the year. I look at these cards and their so much prettier than a plain white one. I still have time to assemble something, don’t I? Maybe not.

The card from 2014.

christmas card with tree punch

illustrated christmas card

Guess what we are doing in this year’s card. Leave a comment and win!

Merry Christmas!

 

31 Days…

31 days...

31 days. Slanted October light slices through the trees, casting shadows that creep across the withered landscape. Trees groan when wind claws brittle leaves from their branches. In shades of gold and blood-red scarlet to tawny brown they pirouette and spiral high in the sky, then sigh in resignation and finally rest upon the ground to rot. The same cool breeze touches my skin with icy fingertips sending ripples of shivers along my backbone. I wrap my arms around myself for warmth.

31 days. Each one of them a transition. Summer’s finale explodes in a burst of color. It’s the landscape’s last farewell to a fallow season of frenzied production. While plants prepare for months of rest, winter gathers its strength. It flexes with every stolen minute of daylight. You can feel its looming presence in the gloam of night while it waits, its cold breath on your neck.

31 days. The lengthening darkness brings back memories of spooky tales and giggles shared in youth. Corn mazes open along the highway. Crowds gather for haunted historic tours in cities and towns alike. Haunted houses advertise creepy adventures created to thrill and incite shrieks. Many long to recapture the feeling of fright night. We may buy a pumpkin to carve on Halloween night.

31 days. October 1st is the beginning of the end of the year. Only three months remain. Then the holidays will arrive with high expectations. They require planning and preparation, inducing stress. But October’s expectations are low. It’s a simple month. A month of enjoying walks while leaves crunch underneath our shoes with the acrid smell decomposition in the air. A month of enjoying the harvest, apple cider and pumpkin-spiced everything. A month of watching birds flock up and take flight in undulating shapes while geese fly in arrows pointing south. It’s a month of golden lighting and brilliant sunsets. Sometimes snow flies in an early winter surprise.

31 days. It’s time for scary movies, psychological thrillers, Hitchcock, Poe and King. The tingles race across our arms as our heart’s rapid pace quickens. We may have seen these films many times, but the best diabolical villains will still steal our breath once more. We may watch in terror or for amusement, but most of us will watch at least one of them. As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, we get into the haunting mood.

31 days. I’ll prepare for Halloween night by decorating. I’ll pull out my dead guys to freak out the mailman and hang spider webs in the hall. Lights will be hung in haphazard lines outside the house and pumpkins will sit on the doorstep. Once again my kitchen will be transformed. The strobe light and fog machine will be at the ready. It won’t be long until little goblins come to call.

31 days. On the 31st, I’ll don my Morticia Addams outfit, paint my lips and eyes. I’ll tee up scary music and turn up the speakers. Bags of candy will sit in the three-legged kettle near the door. I’ll peek out the window and wait for the doorbell to ring.

31 days. The month will end. We’ll lose an hour and our days will plunge into darkness. Winter will come. From a blaze of color to dazzling white, we’ll all adjust to another season as the year comes to a close.

But for now, I’ll enjoy October’s 31 days. I hope you will too.

What do you enjoy about October?

 

Fear of Earworms on America’s Birthday

flags at front door

Usually, I’m totally psyched about America’s Birthday. I’ve always looked forward to the 4th of July, but this year something is lurking in the back of my mind.

I am very afraid.

It all started a few weeks ago. I had an earworm. That’s not unusual. Many of us have experienced a song that got stuck in our heads, sometimes lasting for days on end.

You wake up and it starts. Later that morning, you hum the tune while in the car. The same song pops into your mind while taking a shower and at that point you may sing along.

Days later, the earworm becomes obnoxious. It torments you.  Attached like a shadow, it won’t let go. It makes itself at home. It finds a fold of gray matter, dons its headphones and tunes into one song. It smiles and stretches out. Then it does the unthinkable. That dang worm presses, REPEAT.

Most earworms don’t bother me. I’ve had old church hymns stick in my craw even though I hadn’t heard these particular songs for years.

fear of earworms on america's birthday

This was different.

I have no idea why this particular song stuck in my small cranium, but it did. Maybe I heard it sung during the NBA playoffs or the beginning of a Rockies game while flipping through channels. I don’t remember.

The Star Spangled Banner became my earworm. No lie.

Right????

It became so ridiculous, I started singing the goofy lyrics we made up when kids to make it more fun.

“Jose, can you see?…”

I know! While on our Epic Road Trip, I tuned into Pandora’s pop music list and it finally disappeared. Whew!

Now it’s the Fourth of July. I’ll actually hear it sung several times today. The thought of it seeping back into the dark folds of gray matter and stretching out like a parasitic house guest, makes me cringe.

It’s not that I don’t like the song, but I’ve probably heard it in my head a hundred times in the last few weeks. I’m over it.

I’m not sure how I’ll cover my ears and my heart at the same time. I might bring noise-canceling headphones.

This video is safe. It’s instrumental. Ha!

 

Happy Birthday, America! I hope you all have a safe holiday. Cover your ears, just in case.

What was your worst earworm? How did you get rid of it?

Click for more adventures on my Wild Ride.

Random Acts of Chat – He was kidding, Roxy

Funny photo man with dog and comic bubble

With several California trips on the horizon and a vacation in Vancouver and Whistler planned for the end of July, I had to scramble to book a kennel for our Bichon, Roxy. I’m not sure what the price per day is in your area, but it has gotten expensive here in Boulder. My husband, Danny, didn’t grow up with pets, but I know deep down he loves Roxy. Today, his love must have been buried just a little deeper.

After catching up with other blogs, I chatted with Danny about our vacation plans:

ME: I can’t believe how expensive the kennel has gotten.

Danny looks up from reading the newspaper and we lock eyes.

ME: It’s going to cost $33.00 a day to board Roxy and that’s with a 25% discount for booking her for more than five days and another percentage off for being a frequent boarder.

DANNY: That seems like a lot of money.

ME: I gotta believe it’s like fifty bucks a day to board a dog. That’s super expensive.

Danny stared at me while pondering. I imagined him calculating the cost of boarding Roxy over the next year.

DANNY: We should leave her at the kennel and get a new dog when we come back from vacation.

I laughed until my cheeks hurt.

Don’t worry, Roxy. He was kidding. 

Will you be boarding a pet this summer? Is it expensive where you live? Are you going on any vacations? Want to board Roxy for us?

It’s Official! Wild Tags

Wild tags

After five years of writing for Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride, it’s official! They’ll see me coming now… Wild tags for a Wild Rider.

Would you ever buy vanity license plates? What would yours say?