Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am declaring a truce in honor of my mother's birthday

My mother was born 99 years ago today. Happy birthday, Mom.

My dislike of secular Christmas music is no secret. And I'm not even talking about music wars between Maddy and Mickey.

This is just too fun and I enjoy it a lot.

Of course, if most of what is pumped into the airwaves in December were as well performed as this....

h/t to Michal Anne on FB

--the BB

Dear President Obama:

If not now, yesterday would be good.

--the BB

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Tanya Baum!

I name all my Christmas trees Tanya so I can sing to them, "O Tanya Baum!"

Those who read this blog a year ago may recall that I bought my first artificial tree then discovered that it was defective and had to return it, late in the season with no replacements, thus ending up with no tree.

I got another one this week, not as splendiferous in stature and quality of false needles, but Tanya was swiftly assembled and illuminated and stands proudly in the living room. I still need to add the red glass balls and cookies but that is the accomplishment of the evening.

That and lying on the couch comme une pomme de terre and watching part of Rachel Maddow, sleeping through whatever was next, and ending with a mindless comedy. I needed to chill and have done so. And now, to bed.

By way of follow-up on office decor, I got the background landscape done for the Nativity scene today. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are there now along with several sheep. Monday I will add more vegetation, livestock, shepherds, and angel. There will be more photos next week.

¡Sweet dreams, my mischievous mapaches!

--the BB

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Winter Wonderland" or "Kindergarten 101"

A wreath made from cutouts of all our hands.

As I said last evening, calls to the help desk are few this time of year.

Please note: no calls were neglected and we provided our own supplies for the following decorations. All this has been done between calls over the past two weeks.

A rare item not made by hand: the door Santa. Snowflakes and the three-dimensional star, however, were hand made.

By day's end our stockings were hung on the fireplace with care.

It is like working in a slow motion snow storm. The air currents make the snowflakes move gently. It is actually rather magical and is basically what got us going on this major kick.

The snow scene in the window. It started when I drew a snowman. Then a snowwoman. Then the snowchildren. Then the brick house and the walkway thereto. And I could not rest until the whole scene was sketched in. One deer is on the window wearing a pilgrim hat left over from Thanksgiving. Click to see detail. And then their are the reinducks (see below).

Small rubber ducks are handed out in the department as prizes for this and that. One of our coworkers used pipe cleaners to make antlers for nine of the ducks and put a red nose on one. VoilĂ : reinducks! Another colleague, realizing that ducks fly in V formations, arranged them thus and they now fly over our snow scene. On, Dasher! On, Dancer!

A gift-wrapped door. Yes, lots of paper chains were made also.

Although premature, we are ready for Kwanzaa.

And we have been keeping Chanukkah after our fashion. Every large flame has been put in place with the blessing in Hebrew recited aloud.

Over my desk, of course, is the Virgin of Guadalupe. Each rose drawn and colored and cut out.

Our corner of this three-section suite was looking a bit naked. Today three of us collaborated on this three-dimensional tree made of green wrapping paper. Notice the presents under the tree.

There is more to come but most of it is done now. Judging is next Tuesday. May I say this? We had better win!

I would also say this. We work well together and have had an enormous amount of fun doing this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Senate bill, as it stands, is just wrong

"Is it a bailout for the insurance industries?" "It certainly is, it contains everything the industry wants, and it's been stripped of things that the industry didn't like, so it absolutely is a big gift, a big bailout to the industry."
--Wendell Potter, former CIGNA executive, speaking of the Senate HCR bill

Adventures in a mock winter wonderland

Starched shirts picked up at the cleaners? Check.
Antihistamine supply renewed (inexpensively)? Check.
Fridge restocked with large blocks of sharp cheese (a staple)? Check.
And another four pounds of butter (it's the holidays)? Check.
Supper of chicken salad on awesome multi-grain bread? Check.
Artificial Christmas tree purchased? Check.
More decorating materials for the office? Check.
One hundred pounds of playground sand? Check.
One hundred brown paper bags? Check.
Ninety-six votive lights? Check.

All in all, a productive trip home from work.

The last three items on the list are for luminarias (or farolitos if you're from Santa Fe instead of Albuquerque). We want to line the walkway to the church on Christmas Eve. I have half that many bags and candles for my own house on Christmas Day, to welcome guests for dinner.

The last few weeks of the year are a very slow time at work. If historical patterns prevail, things will ramp up in January. So we have turned our slow moments into decorating the office. There is a major winter wonderland theme going. I don't know how many paper snowflakes the ten of us have cut out in the past couple of weeks but a host of them hang from the ceiling, slowly moving in the air currents and thus evocative of a slow motion snowfall. I cut out eighteen of them yesterday afternoon alone.

Today I finished a snow scene in the window. It began with four snow people. Then a brick house. Then the walkway to the house. Then more snow and trees and bushes. Finally mini-snowflakes in the sky. I am taking the camera in to work, so you will see the result.

Each day we add a paper flame to the paper menorah in the glass doorway.

Today I also drew, colored, cut out, and applied twenty small roses to a print of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Tomorrow I will prepare a kinara for Kwanzaa. I am thinking a little Stonehenge for the Solstice.

Any ideas of graphics for Ramadan?

Finally I will put together a small Nativity scene. I don't believe in mixing church and work but we are being as equal-opportunity as we can here.

There were See's foil-wrapped chocolate balls today. Heaven. One thing I miss about California is See's candies. Anyone who wants to ship me a box of See's Nuts and Chews, I will give you my address.

On the down side, there was secular Christmas music in the background, but more softly than yesterday, thank goodness. And when I left Home Depot this evening, blaring into the night was Jingle Bell Rock, on the top of my loathed music list. I could not get in the car and drive away fast enough.

No Advent meditations here. But fun.

--the BB

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Straight to the frigid realm of Lake Cocytus

The United States Senate has produced enough bullshit in 2009 to fertilize crops across the nation for the next several decades.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if they just admitted that they all work for the health insurance companies? We the People have never mattered in their calculus. We kid ourselves if we think otherwise.

I am not too happy with Article I. Section 3 of the Constitution tonight. Which is to say: emotionally I want to jettison the Senate altogether. Now that's an emotional response, not a reasoned argument, but I think y'all can see where my gut is coming from right now.

Put another way, I feel about Lieberman, Snowe, Baucus, Reid, and the Rahmster right now the way I feel about "Jingle Bell Rock" (which I had to listen to three thousand times today at work). Toss them in Lucifer's mouth in lowest ring of the Inferno with Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.

Oh, wait, those three betrayed their benefactors. The Senators have served theirs very well. They just have not served the American People.

Ship them to hell anyway.

My theology is better than this. Politically, however, I am eager to see these people voted out (in Rahm's case, fired).

And no latkes for Lieberman this year!

--the BB

A Christmas prayer from Bishop Marc

Dear God, the troubles of our world have left many of us speechless. We don’t know how, in the numbness around jobs lost, illnesses we don’t have the resources to cure, a planet imperiled by the accumulated effects of our greed, and the seemingly endless presence of war and violence, to say our prayers. We are lighting candles, though – in our Advent wreaths, quietly, in side chapels of our churches, in our rooms where no one else but You can see. The candle flame is our prayer, wordless but filled with meaning, with petition, hope, and faith. And the candle flame is your answer to our prayer. You lighten our darkness, O Lord. Amen.
--+Marc Californiae

Monday, December 14, 2009

Distressing reports from Uganda

All my enemies whisper together about me *
and devise evil against me.
Psalm 41:7 (BCP)

Andy Towle reports:
An article appearing in The Guardian over the weekend reports that the death penalty and life imprisonment provisions in Uganda's "kill the gays" bill as it has come to be known, have not been dropped, as Bloomberg reported last week.

The President and Senators Grassley, Coburn, and Feingold have spoken against this bill. Even the Vatican chimes in, not mentioning Uganda but the timing is suggestive:
"As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person. As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth."
Genocide is genocide and the ignorance, deceit, and cruelty behind this proposed legislation is staggering.

Must the road to Uganda be purchased once more with blood?

--the BB

Don't get me started

Rahm To Reid: Give Lieberman What He Wants
--headline at TPM

Wake up, people!

...the fact is that climate change is going to affect large numbers of people in a fairly short period of time. And those people are going to move somewhere and cause dislocations and wrenching social change all across the planet. It's not just about driving a Chevy Tahoe or the price of gasoline. It's about starvation, migration and war.

There is a reason the Pentagon pays attention to climate change.

--the BB

An update on Mother Sandra

Word from Mother Sandra:
Dear friends,

Just to let you know I have just returned home from a hospital stay from this past Saturday to today. I was tested from stem to stern and even though it was as first thought I had pneumonia after complete testing I was given a clean bill of heath along with an Rx for an antibiotic that was begun when it was thought I had pneumonia.

So I am writing from home and I feel good and I feel even stronger that before. So, thank you for your ongoing prayers as I continue to heal.

Vaya con Dios,
Prayers for her continuing recovery, without mishaps or setbacks, and a return of strength and energy.

--the BB

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jesus has a few things to say

Woe to you American Christians! You say I'm the "son of God" and yet you bully the defenseless in my name.

Frank Schaeffer has posted an awesome "Open Letter from Jesus to 'Christian' America." I commend the whole thing to you.

--the BB

Nefesh B'Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob

h/t to Padre Mickey who highlights that "Oy" is just "Yo" spelled backwards.

--the BB