Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas unwrapped...

Before Christmas arrived, my Canon XTi accidentally fell about 18" from the coffee table onto a rug...and in that short distance hit at just the right angle to shatter the LCD screen and, so it seems, jostle some sensors. Unfortunately on this model, all display and adjustment data is displayed on the screen only, and below is all I see besides 'black' from inactivity...

It shoots and downloads, but I'm always playing with exposure adjustments in multiple categories, and it's current 'setting' is both unknown and not ideal. I have to manipulate the images a good bit in post-processing, and even then it yields only mediocre results. In the greater list of things money needs to go towards, looks like a replacement body is waaaay down that line.

Thank goodness for the little silver Canon S2 I had repaired last year! While not at all the professional digicam as the big (broken) one, it does a very good job and will have to be my 'bud' for a while to come. With that said, following are some pics from Christmas morning at mom's, where my brother's family was staying after driving down from Boston. They were 'victims' of the snarled flight conditions from the Dec. 18/19 snow storm, canceled flights, and finally chose to just drive down as it was quicker and cheaper.

Twins William and Ellen (aka Willie Boo and Ellie Sue by me!) are ~2.5 years old, fully mobile and talkative...and believe me you with Molly thrown in the mix there were at times energy levels that were making the needle sit on the edge of the gauge! Bottom line was a good time was had by all, even with the 2.5" of rain that fell Christmas Day.

Yours truly with William who's wearing a bear backpack I gave him and his sister...

Ellen was in full princess mode with her tutu and fairy wand...

...and there are the two most precious gifts of all...along with Molly's squeaky porcupine that Mercy eventually confiscated and mined the squeaker out of!

Eeegads but it's been cold of late here and only getting colder as the new year rolls in on refrigerated freight cars. I can only hope that before too long it warms up nicely if for no other reason than to ease people's pocket books from their heating bills.

Speaking of bills, it is rather unsettling to consider that sooner as opposed to later there will be no free TV airwaves. That possibility continues to loom darker and bigger, with Fox Network leading the way the end of this week....at least in terms of yet another showdown at the "NOT" O.K. Corral. Cable companies pay networks so much per viewer channel, and the networks keep demanding seriously steeper rates. Fox has demanded a new 'sum' from Time Warner that, if not paid or some higher level agreed upon, will pull their plug at the last second of 2009. Comcast now owns NBC, and I know they won't be far behind.

Do cable companies give in to demands or fight back? Like our current elected officials in Washington, there seems to be very little true compromising going on in the network-cable battlefields. It's capitalism and greed and power struggling at its finest...and we're only watching the trailer of the blockbuster 'features' yet to come. Joy of joys. *SIGH*

Stay warm, all y'all! This too shall pass....yeah, right....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May all who read this have a blessed day, remembering blessings can come in many, many guises. Click on the puppy below to be taken to a cute video of a dog's Christmas wish...

Happy Ho Ho, Y'all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas poem for 2009

'Twas the night before Christmas,

when all through the hills

not a creature was stirring

thanks to the 16-24” of freakin’ snow!

The stockings were hung

by the chimney to dry,

they were all soaking wet;

no dry ones, I sighed.

The puppies were nestled

all snug in the bed,

while visions of rawhides

danced in their heads.

With Molly chewing a kerchief,

and then on my cap,

I’d just settled my achin’ back

for a short winter's nap.

When out on the roof

there arose such a clatter,

I laid in the bed as

I knew what was the matter.

I opened the blinds

just to see a big flash,

snow ‘bergs falling off the roof,

just missing the sash.

The moon on the breast

of the week-fallen snow

constantly reminded me

that this snow was going to

be around a loooooong time.

When, what to my wondering

eyes should appear,

but a snow plow on the front

of a big green John Deere.

With a little old driver,

so worn out and weary,

I knew in a moment

it must be Joe Leary.

More rapid than snails,

his chained tires they came,

and he whistled and shouted

but I couldn’t really hear him because

the tractor made so much noise:

No, I’m serious…I couldn’t

hear a damn word he said…

As dry snow that before

the wild winter storms fly,

when he met with an obstacle,

lifted his blade to the sky.

So up the steep road

to the house he did creep,

with the sleigh full of ice melt

and chains, a supply he did keep.

And then, in a twinkling,

I heard on the roof

the prancing and pawing

of reindeer hooves?

As I drew in my head wondered

if I’d had too much of

Aunt Jenny’s egg nog,

up the driveway Joe came

with a waddling jog.

He was dressed all in polarfleece,

from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all soaked

from being in the elements

longer than he’d like to remember.

A big bag of salt he

had slung on his back,

and he wearily said,

“Where do you want it, Jack?”

His eyes--how they watered!

He had ‘some’ and tottered!

His cheeks were like roses,

his nose like W.C. Fields...

or Dean Martin...or Brooks (Foster)!

His droll little mouth was

drawn up like a pucker,

and the beard on his chin

was like any road-haulin’ trucker.

The stump of a cigar he

held tight in his mouth,

smoldering while he mused

how’d we get so much snow

so early here in the South?

He had a broad face

and a little round belly;

lots of Twinkies and cola,

and biscuits with jelly.

He was chubby and plump,

but I didn’t care,

and I laughed when I saw him,

with his fly-away hair.

A wink of his eye

and a twist of his head

soon gave me to know

this guy’s gonna need some

professional help real soon.

He spoke not a word, but

went straight to his work,

dropped the bag of salt,

then turned with a jerk.

He slipped on the ice

and fell down on the ground,

and giving a nod he was okay

up on the tractor he bound...kinda.

He fired the engine,

to the pups gave a whistle,

and away he did lumber

like a three-toed sloth missile.

But I heard him exclaim,

'ere he drove out of sight...

(Well, again, with that tractor’s

throaty diesel I really couldn’t

hear him at all, but I THINK

it was something like….)



Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't mean to "Kramp" your style, BUT....

I was watching early morning national news when they ran a blurb on a European Christmas tradition I simply hadn't heard of. Word has it the 'darkest' version of this 'tradition' can be found in Austria...and I decided to enlighten myself about.....


Lovely looking chap, eh? The tradition of Krampus can be traced back over thousands of years, predating the time of Jesus. We know that the celebration we have since westernized into Christmas was at first a pagan ritual celebrating the Winter Solstice (which comes in today at 5:47p Eastern, by the way).

And 'westernized' we have, Christmas. We know Santa Claus had nothing to do with the Jerusalem manger scene, which is the basis for this holiday (except in Roark Bradford's wonderful book 'How Come Christmas')...in fact, Christmas is a blend of both religious and pagan tradtions melded into one big celebration, as much as some groups want to claim it all as theirs alone.

Here, our red-suited, white-bearded Santa knows the moral side of all of us, and is not beyond putting a lump of coal and maybe a few choice sticks in the stockings of those that have been miscreants. But in Europe, they like to scare the Hell out of the children...literally.

The night of December 5 is when the Krampus wanna-be's come out in force for torch-lit parades. Be it Austria, Bavaria, Germany, and some other countries, Krampus is the Devil-Santa that accompanies Saint Nicholas on his rounds, threatening to weed out the bad girls and boys and take them away from home, eventually tossing them into the pits of Hades.

While I firmly support the idea that many a spoiled brat and badly behaving child would do well to have the Hell scared out of them (maybe their parents, too?), it is a bit discomforting to watch news clips of little kids screaming in fear as parents let these Krampus critters pick up their kids and temporarily carry them off for 'effect'.

There are a few Krampus celebrations held in such expected places as San Francisco and New York City, as followers blend Halloween with big-time gift giving...I don't know about you, but I think I'll stick with my sedate memories of the jolly old man.

Ya learn something new every day. Happy Ho Ho, y'all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: 12th

(NOTE: some pics enlarge when clicked; you also may need
to refresh your page if some pictures are missing)

On the twelvth
day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me....

Twelve hummers 'humming'

Eleven Skypers skyping

Ten Cords* a-keeping

Nine MD's lancing

8 knaves a-bilking

Seven Swamis sitting

Six beasts a-playing

Five olden beings

Four 'hauling' nerds

Three drenched men

Two fertile loves

...and a cartridge in a bare tree.


* Cord was manufactured between 1929-1932 and 1936-7, along with two other great classics, Auburn and Duesenberg.

There you have it, my 12 Days of Christmas is now complete, and not to be repeated, I might add! My brother and his family are slated to fly in from Boston, but the bodacious winter storm may impact airport travel. Ugh for everybody having to deal with this weather, especially stranded motorists who run out of gas with nowhere to go...and this the last full day of fall!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: 11th

(NOTE: some pics enlarge when clicked; you also may need
to refresh your page if some pictures are missing)

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me....

11 Skypers skyping

Ten Cords* a-keeping

Nine MD's lancing

8 knaves a-bilking

Seven Swamis sitting

Six beasts a-playing

Five olden beings

Four 'hauling' nerds

Three drenched men

Two fertile loves

...and a cartridge in a bare tree.


* Cord was manufactured between 1929-1932 and 1936-7, along with two other great classics, Auburn and Duesenberg.

Impressive snow totals up in them thar hills...24" in Robbinsville, 17" in West Asheville, 15" in East Marion, many 15-18" readings in Haywood County, 11" in Morganton, and some locations continued to pick up light snow overnight. More snow showers in the forecast today and Sunday, with the strong potential for another wintry system pulling in Christmas Eve. Oh yeah, and it's not even officially winter yet...

The flip side were a number of new daily rainfall records set towards the coastal areas. Wilmington got just under 2", Charleston over 3"...and in other southeastern cities they are looking at the wettest month on record, period. Crazy rain amounts, though a lot has fallen in drought stricken areas. No more.

My silly little adventure down the 12 Days of Christmas lane comes to an end tomorrow. I hope you've enjoyed tagging along...I certainly enjoy using my creative noggin just to make sure it still works from time to time.

Have a fun and safe weekend, all y'all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: 10th

(NOTE: some pics enlarge when clicked; you also may need
to refresh your page if some pictures are missing)

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me....

Ten Cords a-keeping

Nine MD's lancing

8 knaves a-bilking

Seven Swamis sitting

Six beasts a-playing

Five olden beings

Four 'hauling' nerds

Three drenched men

Two fertile loves

...and a cartridge in a bare tree.


"Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

Well, maybe not frightful, but definitely problematic. A winter storm will be impacting holiday travel starting today and into the weekend up the mid-Atlantic. Here in NC, the temperatures at their coldest are running very close to 32 degrees, so the forecast is akin to walking a tightrope. One wobble one way or the other will make the difference between very little to a whole lot in the fluff department. Rain and sleet are supposed to mix in at times, so not a pretty simple snow. Not even close. Places like Blowing Rock could well get over a foot of snow by the time all is said and done.

The other interesting feature in the models is another similar storm coming in Christmas Eve...who doesn't dream of a white Christmas? Alas, my niece and nephew will be down from Boston, staying at mom's, so I don't want to have a really big travel issue, either. Still, I can't remember having a white Christmas in the past few decades. Wow, makes me feel ancient to say it like that!

11 Pipers Piping are up tomorrow...check back to see my modernized twist on this one...