Thursday, December 28, 2006

Round Robin

Last Saturday, seven-eighths of the sister cousins assembled for our Little House/Sex and the City pre-Christmas flirtini party. After some eating, drinking, catching up and viewing of videos on Tiffany’s laptop, we all hunkered down on the living room floor and began a long-overdue project--sorting and doling out Grandma’s jewelry.

Grandma had a lot of jewelry. Some of it has monetary value, some has sentimental value, and a whole lot has neither. Everything was all jumbled together in trays and Ziploc bags and little boxes—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pins and rings, as well as a pair of cufflinks, two fancy pens in velvety cases, and a pair of somethings that Tiffany identified as shoe buckles.

We sifted through piles of pieces that nobody recognized until, every once in a while, someone would gasp and say, “Oh…” Then they’d hold up the coral ring, or the Christmas tree pin, and we’d reminisce about the dress she always wore with that one, or how she’d wear that pin to church every Christmas Eve. A lot of the things we'd forgotten that we remembered.

The whole collection had been in my uncle’s basement since we cleaned out Grandma’s condo six years ago. My sister Meghan told us that when she picked up the boxes last week, she opened the biggest one, and when she met with the unexpected scent of Grandma’s perfume inside that box, she burst into tears. I knew what she meant. I have a little quilted coin purse that I carried around for months after Grandma died for exactly that reason. It’s in a drawer now, but it still smells like her, faintly.

We started by passing around the bangle bracelets. They took several trips around the room, and everyone ended up with a few. Then we did the same with the rings. If something looked particularly valuable, or if more than one person wanted it, we set it aside for later. But because we all have different tastes and different sized fingers and wrists, for the most part, if somebody found something they thought they’d wear and that fit, it was theirs.

Hours later, we had only divided up about half of the collection, but by then it was nearly 1:00 a.m. and everyone was tired. We put the valuable and contested items back into the box, along with the pieces that nobody was particularly interested in. We’ll have to come back to those the next time everyone is in town. Maybe next Christmas.

And even though we hadn’t planned it, the following night at my parents' house on Christmas Eve, the DemiGoddesses and I each had on one of Grandma’s rings. Molly and Betsy jangled with her bangle bracelets. And both Meghan and Shanna were wearing her earrings.

And we all looked fabulous.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All I Want For Christmas is a Humping Dog USB

Yeah, scratch the TiVo and the Wii. Just tuck this under the tree for me, please:

Humpy Holidays Everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2006

I’d Do Much Better on the Amazing Race

My Dad’s birthday was last weekend, and my sisters all pitched in to buy him an “American Girl” Barnes & Noble gift card, because darned if they weren't all out of the ones with the assault rifles and the NRA logo on them. But I went my own way and gave him a Watersmeet Nimrods T-shirt to wear the next time he visits Upper Michigan. Because I am by far the coolest.

While we were at my parents’ house for the birthday festivities, somebody found a drawer full of old photos of the DemiGoddesses from back when they were all little and cuddly and adorable (sniffle), and from the family trip we all took to England and France in the spring of 1999. I found one of those so particularly horrifying that I had to ask out loud, “Who’s the cow on the left? MOOOOOOOO!”

Of course, the cow was ME.

And that photo was taken three years before my Great Weight Loss of ’03, when one of the inspiration tools I relied on to keep me motivated was another photo, a black and white shot taken by my cousin Tiffany at Christmas 2002, of me sitting on a couch with some other family members. Or, more accurately, me taking up waaaaaaaay more than my fair share of the real estate on that couch. Ouch.

Remembering that photo reminded me that it’s Christmas time once again, and how nice it is to be so very toned and HEALTHY these days. Except for, um, those cookies with the pound and a half of butter in them that are all over my dining room table. The ones that I nibble on every time I pass through that room (many, many times a day). And except that my exercise bike has pretty much served as a coat rack for the past several weeks, and my hand weights are buried somewhere behind the gifts under the Christmas tree.

If I don’t get my act together, by next year I’ll be right back in bovine-land, so I resolved that as soon as the holidays are over, I will consume nothing but water and the occasional cup of hot tea for the entire month of January.

Later that night, we all gathered ‘round the TV to watch the Survivor finale, which reminded me that there is no way I will ever hold to my resolution, because unlike Yul and Ozzie and Becky, I am not a Goddess who can function for any length of time without food. And while Yul without a shirt makes excellent eye candy:

(Yummy.) cannot live on washboard abs alone. In fact, as my children will tell you, when my blood sugar starts to get low, I become one ornery Goddess.

My sister Meghan is exactly the same way, and we agreed that neither one of us would ever last a day on Survivor, unless they changed the ultimate goal of the game from being the last one voted out to being the first person to hack all the other contestants to bits with a machete. Then we would totally win.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've Shaken Them All

A bunch of gifts mysteriously appeared under my tree today. A happy surprise, yes, but not a single one of those packages is TiVo or Wii or Johan Santana shaped, which means that there had damn well better be a pony hidden in the garage somewhere.

Just sayin'.

My gifts have all been bought and wrapped, the cookies are baked, and snow is finally in the forecast. Enough with the prep work already. Bring on the Christmas.

The first of the sister-cousins, Shanna, arrived home yesterday. Tiffany, who thankfully was not blown away or crushed by falling trees during the recent killer windstorm in Seattle (she also assures me that Cupcake Royale is safe, and thank heaven for that), is due in on Saturday, and preparations for the second-annual flirtini party are well underway. This year's theme is "Little House on the Prairie Meets Sex and the City."

The invitation pointed out that there were four Ingalls daughters, there were four girlfriends who regularly met at that coffee shop in Manhattan, and there are four sister cousins in each of our two families. And that cannot be mere concidence.

We have been instructed to wear our best sunbonnets and Manolos, and I'm told the menu will include salt pork, corn bread, and Chinese takeout.

I'm sure it will all make perfect sense once we've had a flirtini or two.

P.S. For those of you who have been up nights wondering if the Goddess is a real or artificial tree person, please note the needles on the carpet.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And Yet, They Look So Cheerful

It's been a very sad few days in the Goddess household.

For months, the DemiGoddesses have been looking forward to the arrival in March of their new baby brother (I am not pregnant. The Ex's wife is.). But now it's looking like this baby was not meant to be.

In spite of all the animosity there has been between the Ex and I, my heart is breaking for him. And for the Demis.

When we got the news on Saturday morning, there wasn't much to be done except pray and wait for someone to call with updates from the hospital. So we went ahead with the baking we had planned, and it helped, a little. Something in the purposeful creaming of butter and sugar, in the application of colored frosting and sprinkles, was a comfort.

We kept on baking, right through Sunday, when it seemed like there might still be hope. And just this afternoon, after the latest news was about as bad as it could have been, the Demis finally finished decorating the last of the cutout sugar cookies.

That photo shows only a portion. The dining room table is full, and there are more in the freezer.

And still, we're really, really sad.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

I’m wearing red today, and so is DemiGoddess the Elder. When she reminded me this morning that today is World Aids Day, and informed me that she and all her friends had made plans to wear red to school, I was already wearing a red sweater simply by coincidence. I was simultaneously proud and embarassed to have been educated by Ms. Elder's clearly superior social conscience. But I think my red sweater still counts.

The magnitude of this epidemic seems overwhelming, but there are lots of ways we all can take action to help alleviate some of the suffering caused by HIV/AIDS in the world. Below are a few links to some of my personal favorite non-profits that already working to make a difference:

Mother Bear Project

Make a bear. Make a donation. Or, for the holidays, sponsor a bear for $10 in someone else’s name, and receive a thank-you letter that you can present to that person as a gift. The website also has knitting kits for sale for $15, which make great gifts—the kit includes yarn, handmade needles, a pattern, a tag, and a brochure about the Mother Bear Project. One knitter gave them to her whole family, even the fellas, last year, and wrote a great story about what happened afterwards, which is posted on the website here.

Open Arms

Open Arms delivers meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, both locally in Minneapolis/St. Paul and in South Africa. Their website includes volunteer opportunities, information on the World AIDS Day Beaded Artwork sale that is happening in downtown Minneapolis tomorrow, and links to make donations. They help distribute Mother Bear Project bears in South Africa.

Arm in Arm in Africa

This is another Minnesota-based group that works to alleviate suffering, improve conditions and create opportunities for changing the cycle of poverty and disease in South Africa. They also partner with the Mother Bear Project in distributing bears to HIV/AIDS impacted children.

World Camps

World Camps provide fun and educational camp experiences for HIV/AIDS affected children in developing nations. They distribute Mother Bear Project bears to the children in these camps, and the thank-you notes I received a few months ago were from kids who had received my bears there.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
--Robert F. Kennedy