Bring Me That Horizon

Welcome to jennyweber dot com

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Home of Jenny the Pirate

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This will go better if you

check your expectations at the door.

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We're not big on logic

but there's no shortage of irony.

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 Nice is different than good.

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Oh and ...

I flunked charm school.

So what.

Can't write anything.

= Jennifer =

Causing considerable consternation
to many fine folk since 1957

Pepper and me ... Seattle 1962

  

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Belay That!

This blog does not contain and its author will not condone profanity, crude language, or verbal abuse. Commenters, you are welcome to speak your mind but do not cuss or I will delete either the word or your entire comment, depending on my mood. Continued use of bad words or inappropriate sentiments will result in the offending individual being banned, after which they'll be obliged to walk the plank. Thankee for your understanding and compliance.

= Jenny the Pirate =

Hoist The Colors

In The Market, As It Were

 

 

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Columbia Cemetery

To read my articles, click HERE! And don't forget to subscribe.

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Contributor to

American Cemetery

published by Kates-Boylston

A Pistol With One Shot

Ecstatically shooting everything in sight using my beloved Nikon D3100 with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR kit lens and AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G prime lens.

Also capturing outrageous beauty left and right with my Nikon D7000 blissfully married to my Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D AF prime glass. Don't be jeal!

Dying Is A Day Worth Living For

I am a taphophile

Word. Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Great things are happening at

Find A Grave

If you don't believe me, click the pics.

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Dying is a wild night

and a new road.

Emily Dickinson

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REMEMBRANCE

When I am gone

Please remember me

 As a heartfelt laugh,

 As a tenderness.

 Hold fast to the image of me

When my soul was on fire,

The light of love shining

Through my eyes.

Remember me when I was singing

And seemed to know my way.

Remember always

When we were together

And time stood still.

Remember most not what I did,

Or who I was;

Oh please remember me

For what I always desired to be:

A smile on the face of God.

David Robert Brooks
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 Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

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Keep To The Code

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You Want To Find This
The Promise Of Redemption

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 1

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it, have never known it again.

~ Ronald Reagan

Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Not Without My Effects

My Compass Works Fine


Daft Like Jack

 "I can name fingers and point names ..."


And We'll Sing It All The Time
  • Dream With Me
    Dream With Me
    by Jackie Evancho
  • Danny Wright Healer of Hearts
    Danny Wright Healer of Hearts
    by Danny Wright
  • Dreams
    Dreams
    by Neil Diamond
  • Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs From The Stage
    Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs From The Stage
    Syco Music UK
  • A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981)
    A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981)
    Sony
  • Bach - The Complete Brandenburg Concertos / Pearlman, Boston Baroque
    Bach - The Complete Brandenburg Concertos / Pearlman, Boston Baroque
    by Johann Sebastian Bach, Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque, Christopher Krueger, Marc Schachman, Daniel Stepner, Friedemann Immer
  • Lead With Your Heart
    Lead With Your Heart
    by The Tenors, The Canadian Tenors
  • A Musical Affair (Amazon Exclusive Version)
    A Musical Affair (Amazon Exclusive Version)
    by Il Divo
  • Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
    Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
    RCA
  • The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion
    The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion
    by William Voegeli
  • The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
    The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
    by James Trefil, Joseph F. Kett, E. D. Hirsch
  • The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems
    The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems
    by Emily Dickinson
  • Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems
    Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems
    by Harold Bloom
  • On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
    by William Zinsser
  • Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
    Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
    by Steven Milloy
  • The Amateur
    The Amateur
    by Edward Klein
  • The Closer
    The Closer
    by Mariano Rivera
  • Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion
    Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion
    by Theresa Burke with David C. Reardon
  • Where Are They Buried (Revised and Updated): How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy
    Where Are They Buried (Revised and Updated): How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy
    by Tod Benoit
  • Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
    Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
    by Frederick Buechner
  • The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry (Chapel Hill Books)
    The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry (Chapel Hill Books)
    The University of North Carolina Press
  • Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
    Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
    by Andrew Breitbart
  • 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
    11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
    by Paul Kengor
  • Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
    Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
    by Tom Jokinen
  • Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits
    Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits
    by Matthew Rolston
  • Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
    Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
    by Todd Harra, Ken McKenzie
  • Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman
    Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman
    by Robert L. O'Connell
  • Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book
    Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book
    by Alexandra Day
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
    by Lynne Truss
  • The American Way of Death Revisited
    The American Way of Death Revisited
    by Jessica Mitford
  • In Six Days : Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
    In Six Days : Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
    Master Books
  • Architects of Ruin: How big government liberals wrecked the global economy---and how they will do it again if no one stops them
    Architects of Ruin: How big government liberals wrecked the global economy---and how they will do it again if no one stops them
    by Peter Schweizer
  • Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave
    Grave Influence: 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews That Rule America From the Grave
    by Brannon Howse
  • The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
    The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
    by Thomas Lynch
The Courage Of Our Hearts

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Easy On The Goods
  • Waiting for
    Waiting for "Superman"
    starring Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee
  • The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    starring Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, Rod Taylor
  • Bernie
    Bernie
    starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey
  • Remember the Night
    Remember the Night
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, Sterling Holloway
  • The Ox-Bow Incident
    The Ox-Bow Incident
    starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe
  • The Bad Seed
    The Bad Seed
    starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden
  • Knuckleball!
    Knuckleball!
    starring R.A. Dickey, Charles Hough, Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield
  • Dodsworth
    Dodsworth
    starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Mary Astor, Kathryn Marlowe
  • Act of Valor
    Act of Valor
    starring Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
  • Deep Water
    Deep Water
    starring Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst
  • Sunset Boulevard
    Sunset Boulevard
    starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark
  • Penny Serenade
    Penny Serenade
    starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Edgar Buchanan, Beulah Bondi
  • Double Indemnity
    Double Indemnity
    starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather
  • Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    starring Gary Anthony Williams
  • Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Passion River
  • It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    starring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
  • Stella Dallas
    Stella Dallas
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley, Barbara O'Neil, Alan Hale
  • The Iron Lady
    The Iron Lady
    starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head, Alexandra Roach
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    starring Peter Sallis, Anne Reid, Sally Lindsay, Melissa Collier, Sarah Laborde
  • The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    starring Red Balloon
  • Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck
  • The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland
  • My Dog Skip
    My Dog Skip
    starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Kevin Bacon
  • Sabrina
    Sabrina
    starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport
  • Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, John Loder
  • The Trip To Bountiful
    The Trip To Bountiful
  • Hold Back the Dawn [DVD] Charles Boyer; Olivia de Havilland; Paulette Goddard
    Hold Back the Dawn [DVD] Charles Boyer; Olivia de Havilland; Paulette Goddard
That Dog Is Never Going To Move

~ JAVIER ~

Columbia's Finest Chihuahua

Simple. Easy To Remember.

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One Word, Luv: Curiosity

Thursday
Dec182014

Baby gifts


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There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost -- how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wide as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
to an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

= G.K. Chesterton =

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Merry Christmas
Monday
Dec152014

Signed, sealed, delivered: It's me and it's mine

Always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate.

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So you won't believe what I'm about to tell you. But I can prove it.

My black-hearted pirate self has been thoughtfully and humorously rendered, caricature style, in an intricately-detailed custom-made hand-carved figure so marvelously authentic, so brilliantly wrought, that upon receipt of same into my hands, it became an instant heirloom.

A classic, as it were.

When the undertaker closes the lid on me? My kids will fight over who inherits this.

Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.

To avoid confusion -- and a potentially irreparable rift in the family -- I shall amend my Last Will and Testament immediately, bequeathing said objet d'art to the Columbia Museum of Art, which institution shall likely display it in a permanent collection devoted to local noodles.

There, for all of posterity, not only those who survive me but the public at large may view and marvel at this extraordinary creation.

Allow me to explain how it came to be.

For several years -- practically my whole blogging life -- I have read and enjoyed the blog of one Mari Bruins of Allendale, Michigan.

Reading My Little Corner of the World is a delight because of the friendship I treasure with its owner, a kind and special lady whom I have never had the honor of meeting in person but who, for several reasons, is important to me nonetheless.

Those fortunate enough to have become acquainted with Mari through her blog have seen many instances of the enormous God-given talent of her husband, Bob, in the area of wood carvings.

He makes furniture and stuff too. Yeah. Bob's skill is not confined to whittling, no matter how elaborate.

In his meticulously-kept woodworking shop, I do believe Bob Bruins could make just about anything except maybe an atomic bomb.

So it was that, years ago upon marveling at pictures of Bob's wood carvings displayed and discussed on Mari's blog, I may have mentioned that I sure would like to someday own a pirate carving.

As in, wouldn't it be neat if Bob carved a pirate that I could maybe buy, if I could afford it? Because I don't know what it costs to commission a Robert Bruins original carving, but if it isn't a lot, it should be.

I promptly forgot all about the whole thing. Until last Friday night.

That's when I came home to find a box on the floor beside my desk where TG had put it after retrieving it from beside the front door, where FedEx had put it.

I could tell by the return address that the package had originated from a business in Allendale, Michigan. A business where, from reading his wife's blog, I know Bob Bruins is a manager.

Still, you could have blown me down with a feather when, upon unwrapping the box and a second box contained within the first box, my own pirate self in effigy emerged.

A hand-carved Jenny the Pirate standing approximately ten inches high, with a plate affixed identifying said treasure as such.

An original signed Robert Bruins art piece. My very own original signed Robert Bruins art piece.

I was a touch overwhelmed. TG and Erica were present when I opened my gift and honestly, their peals of laughter told me that Bob and Mari Bruins had pulled off a major coup.

So naturally I summoned the two miscreants on me pirate cellie and we had a conference call in which Mari revealed amid much chuckling on all sides that she'd never forgotten my stated wish to own a Robert Bruins carving in the form of a pirate.

And at some point in time this now quickly-waning calendar twelvemonth, Mari suggested to her beloved that this be the year when he created said pirate.

Bob chimed in, claiming he enjoyed making the pirate so much (using a photo of me to approximate my eyebrows, my rouged cheeks, my red-lipsticked lips, my black hair, my large-ish nose, and my curmudgeonly gaze, if not technically my normal wardrobe), that he was amused to the point of laughter multiple times during the process.

Robert Bruins is positively an elf! Aided and abetted by his sweet but cagey wife. She/they may be pirates same as me.

But don't you love my pirate attire, non-standard for me as it is? The coat, the crossbody belt, the red vest, the white ruffled blouse? Also I am sporting gold pirate swag on each hand. 

Jenny the Pirate's sword is magnificent, and the hat -- well. Pirate perfection.

You'll notice the boots, clearly of well-traveled genuine leather, a must-have for any pirate worth his/her salt, and the wood planks on which they are poised -- the deck, no doubt, of a beautiful boat. Ship.

Uh-oh. One or two pieces of eight seem to have escaped from the pirate's well-stuffed parcel of pelf.

Apparently there's a leak.

Even so, never shall I be without my effects. And the whole thing has that wonderful wood-and-varnish smell. I love it to the entire ocean and back.

When you have a moment, check out Bob's website By His Hands: Caricature Carvings by Robert Bruins.

So named due to Bob's giving all the credit to his Creator for the talent in his own hands.

In fact, Bob places a minuscule but significant handprint somewhere on each of his custom creations.

A special card affixed by a bit of twine to my pirate's leg reads:

When God formed man he figuratively left his hand prints on his creation. Genesis 1:27 says we are made in the image of God, reflecting his attributes and ways.

"By His Hands" carvings are the outcome of the creative gift God has given me. The mini hand print you will find on my pieces is there to give credit where it is due, to God alone.

Indeed. 

Jenny the Pirate's tiny symbolic handprint is strategically placed on its shoulder, where I most often need gentle nudges in the right direction.

As it should be.

Ever shall this magnificent and unique gift be displayed with love and pride in my home.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Bob -- you're a diamond, mate -- and Mari too. I may be a black sheep and a really bad egg, but I'm a truly grateful pirate.

Now bring me that horizon.

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Happy Monday ~ Merry Week-Before-Christmas

Wednesday
Dec102014

Christmas :: It is what it is

Last week I promised to share the results of the Audrey/Dagny photo shoot with you this Monday, and I did. You may see those photos here.

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I've got Christmas music blaring -- here in the family room through hidden speakers and outside on the deck, emanating from our speakers that look like rocks.

You're welcome, neighborhood.

My large main Christmas tree is sparkling a few feet away. A second Christmas tree twinkles in the kitchen.

Christmas presents are scattered beneath the Christmas trees.

The front of my house is decorated with Christmas lights, Christmas greenery, and a pointedly Christmasy door ornament.

There are Christmas cards waiting to be addressed.

There is Christmas wrapping paper and various related accoutrement sitting at the ready to be flung around Christmas gifts large and small.

In my email sit Christmas wish-lists that I requested from my children.

The Christmas menu is planned and although the Christmas food-foraging list has not yet been committed to paper, it soon will be.

And that reminds me: I still need to go Christmas shopping.

That's because it's Christmas.

Not merely a season. Not just another holiday. Not winter solstice. Not winter break. 

Christmas.

It is Christmastime.

Have you gone abroad -- at school, to work, to the marketplace both real and virtual, even to church, in some cases -- looking for Christmas and been offered, instead, all manner of lame, diluted euphemisms?

Worse yet, have you been indirectly shamed into not mentioning it by name? Have you bought into that particularly vile tentacle of political correctness?

Like most people, I've loved this time of year ever since I was a little kid with more nonsense in me than actual awareness of the significance attached to such events.

We didn't go to church so I was dumb as a box of hair when it came to what lots of things really meant.

So what was special about that early spring Sunday? Dressing up (maybe) and a basketful of jellybeans and chocolate bunnies. The thirty-first of October? Dressing up (certainly) and begging enough candy to rot both my own teeth and our dog's.

The fourth of July? Beach time. Mosquito bites and sparklers. The fourth Thursday in November? All manner of edible treats particular to that day, especially when we went over the bayou and through the woods to my grandmother's house in Baton Rouge.

Christmas? Getting stuff. Presents. Some Sanny Claus thrown in for effect.

Wait. Is there more?

As I learned when I was a young teenager, there is more: The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. It's a day on which we celebrate not what we can get, but what He freely gave.

Yet as years pile upon years, it seems the world is more determined than ever to mark the month of December with observance of anything and everything but the Baby born in a manger.

On Sunday morning I was getting ready for church, which I do upstairs, in a bedroom across the hall from our guest room. One of my offices, as it were.

There's a TV in the guest room so I flicked it on and turned to the DirecTV channel that purports to play music of the season. My ears were eager for O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and Away in a Manger.

An hour elapsed in which I gradually became bathed, perfumed, hosieried, robed, powdered, mascaraed, coiffed, bejeweled, shod, and gloved. And I accomplished same all by me onesie, my lady-in-waiting having weekends off.

It was while reaching for a lightweight shawl and turning off the TV, preparing to join my TG and go to church, that I realized: In an entire hour of "seasonal" music, the only mention of anything non-secular had been when Alvin and the Chipmunks enjoined us to give thanks to the Lord above because Santa Claus comes tonight.

Shopping was mentioned, and being home for Christmas, and seasonal depression, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and it being cold outside, and letting it snow, and rocking around the Christmas tree, and walking in a winter wonderland, and dashing through the snow, and long winters' naps and road trips to visit relatives, and Santa Baby, and Mommy kissing Santa Claus, and jingling bells and mistletoe.

Baby Jesus never made the playlist. No room for Him there.

Later I complained to Erica about it. She replied that she was having a hard time getting any clerk in a retail setting to say Merry Christmas back to her when she first said it to them.

Forget them ever saying it first. If that happens to you, I hope you'll tell me about it, because I'm pretty sure it's forbidden by most if not all store managers, for an employee to offer that greeting to a customer.

But that is not all. Now, someone saying it back when the customer says it -- which I do each and every time I shop during December -- becomes a notable event.

Now, I haven't been Christmas shopping yet (except online) so the opportunity hasn't presented itself.

But that very night TG and I swung by a major retailer so that I could pick up, among other items, Christmas cards and Christmas boxes (in which I plan to put Christmas presents to arrange under the Christmas trees).

And when we checked out, I said Merry Christmas! to our very efficient and pleasant cashier. It was latish; I'm sure she was tired and ready to go home.

But I got the biggest smile. Merry Christmas to you! she said. And it made my heart glad.

I'll stop soon -- you have that to look forward to -- but not before I make a solemn promise, both to myself and to you and to whomever else may be remotely interested:

I won't spend money on Christmas presents, swelling the coffers of retailers who aggressively promote the spending of Christmas dollars at their outlets, if said retailer refuses to acknowledge that what this spending and celebrating is all about, is Christmas.

All they have to do is use the word! In print in their advertisements and throughout their store. And verbally: Say it! Say the word Christmas. Say Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays. Because the word Christmas contains the name of Christ, without Whom there is no reason to say it at all.

Let's be honest: If His name sticks in their throats, my debit card sticks in my wallet.

Because although the season definitely does have to do with the start of winter, with invocations of Santa Claus, with spending money you don't have to buy stuff people don't need, with ice skating and hot chocolate and mittens and jingle bells and twinkly lights and sappy movies, with gingerbread houses and greenery, with snowmen and reindeer and bulging sleighs, with sugarplums and nutcrackers and traveling home for pumpkin pie, and with folks being simultaneously happier and sadder than usual, none of those things are the main message.

Certainly the parties and eating too much and drinking too much, the use of the sacred holiday of Christmas as (another) excuse to imbibe and indulge, is not the point.

Christmas celebrates the birth of the Savior of the world (even if He was not born on December 25th).

No matter what anyone says (or doesn't say), no matter how thoroughly the purpose for celebrating Christmas -- and even the word itself, offensive as it is to some -- is suppressed and ignored and covered with glitter that's not even close to being gold, they'll never succeed in changing what it really means.

And no matter how much red you wear or how blue you feel or how silver the bells or how much white you dream of, those things won't get you to the heart of Christmas.

But even that is okay. Do you want to know why? Because in the end (as at the beginning), it is what it is.

No amount of turning a deliberately deaf ear and a stubbornly blind eye, of making a point to ignore the reality of Christmas, or the Christ of Christmas, will alter the eventual outcome, which He has planned and for which He was born.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

= Matthew 1:23 =

I pray this Christmas we will listen for that beautiful word, and say it both reverently and with joy, and savor it both on our tongues and in our innermost selves.

I plan to pursue and promote both its lovely timelessness and its eternal relevance, practicing forgiveness for those who don't understand and gratitude for those who do.

That is all for now.

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Merry Christmas

Thursday
Dec042014

Don't say cheese. Say honey.

As you know I meant to take a bunch of cute candids of the grandkids over Thanksgiving.

I envisioned a perfectly sharp and heartrendingly adorable photo of the four of them smiling into the camera, all faces wreathed in joyful abandon, nobody frowning or looking at the ground.

I'd planned to caption it Merry Christmas! For you.

That didn't actually happen. I cooked for two days, and then we ate -- sort of, if you don't count the throwing up at the table incident (no; not me) -- what I'd cooked, and then it was too dark to take pictures.

And I was too tired anyway. Instead, to relax I went outside and installed multicolored lights on the porch railing. I love the seamless segue from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

But on the next day -- Friday -- we all embarked on a planned photo shoot to take the annual Christmas card picture of my daughter Stephanie's family.

This is something TG and I did each year when the kids were much younger: around Thanksgiving we'd go somewhere local and pose up and someone would be pressganged into snapping our picture and I'd pick the one most flattering to me, and we'd go with that one for our card.

I insisted on said arrangement for lots of years -- favoring many eager recipients with an updated picture of our branch of the Weber clan just in time for Christmas -- before, around 1995, finally giving up.

That's because whenever I would suggest it was time to capture the annual family photo, TG would begin acting as though he'd rather be kicking a radioactive can on Pluto.

Miserable. He doesn't like posing for picutres. And it shows.

Consequently it has been awhile since all of us -- if you don't count a couple of casual snaps taken over the last decade or so -- appeared all together in any sort of posed portrait.

So I packed up the tripod and the Nikon D7000 and the remote control so that I could operate said camera without being behind it, and we set out for downtown Columbia.

It was a very cold day, highs only in the mid forties, but there was considerable sun so naturally we scheduled the shoot for late afternoon.

The light, don't you know. There's love in the air at that time of day.

My grandchildren -- all except Dagny -- served as standard-bearers for the time-honored tradition of wearing classic argyle, which I thought was all kinds of cute.

Melanie and Allissa got new pale-pink tights and new black dressy shoes for the occasion.

I am prejudiced but I think the Bixlers are the cutest little family. They love being together and it shows. My son-in-law has never balked at posing for the Christmas photo.

But it's no pose when I tell you that everybody had a good time. It was cold and we worked fast, but there was merriment in the air. (I don't do Black Friday; I only do the First Day of Christmas.)

We'll pose up again in a few weeks when we all gather in North Carolina to celebrate our Melanie's tenth birthday.

I'll make sure to get plenty of sweet pictures of double-digit girl, our precious Melly Belle.

Meanwhile be patient until Monday, when I share with you the results of my Christmas card shoot with Audrey and Dagny. To tide you over, there's a sneak peek on my Instagram if you care to look.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Thursday ~ Merry Christmas

Tuesday
Dec022014

Guest poster: Dagny a/k/a Daggybug

Wot? Wait a second. December second?

It's not November no more? That means it's Christmas!

Yay my first Christmas! Outside the womb, that is. Wow guys. What a concept.

I wonder if my presents will bring as much joy to me this year as my presence has brought to others this year.

I seriously doubt it.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Tuesday ~ Merry Christmas Everybody

Tuesday
Nov252014

Not magic, but far from tragic

Nobody has asked me what I was so busy whipping up in the kitchen on Saturday.

But even in the absence of nudgings, goosings, coaxings, and arm-twistings, I am prepared to disclose the details of my weekend culinary activities.

You may recall that for several years I walked the earth oven-less.

Short story. Not remotely riveting for all its brevity.

Suffice it to say, I compensated surprisingly well -- just think Crock-Pots, lots of them -- but now that I have a brand-new oven, I jolly well use it.

As a matter of fact scarcely a calendar day elapses that I don't fire up my feisty, shiny new oven, prompting me to wonder more than once:

What did I ever do without an oven?

But the question is rhetorical. What I did year after year was, I made do.

What I did not do was, I didn't bake my annual dozen-or-so loaves of banana-nut bread, with a few pumpkin loaves thrown in for the sake of variety.

This sort of thing has been a tradition for me since time out of mind.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas when one remembers certain family members, friends, and acquaintances, and feels compelled to give them a little something to enjoy in the festive holiday mood, a loaf of homemade banana-nut bread is a brilliant solution.

Also the way I do it, it's absurdly easy.

That's because I go semi-homemade.

And this being the season of sharing, here's my recipe:

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SEMI-HOMEMADE BANANA-NUT BREAD

1 box Pillsbury Quick Bread (or generic brand) mix, banana (or pumpkin) flavor

(IF you use PQB brand in banana flavor, below are the exact directions. If you use another brand or make the pumpkin kind, read the box.)

(On second thought, read the box anyway.)

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil (I have used both canola and olive, the light-flavored kind)

1 cup water (I use buttermilk, or whole milk, never water, but you can)

1/2 cup (or more) walnut pieces (optional, but necessary if you're going for banana-nut bread)

1 fresh ripe banana, mashed (optional but if you want it to be like mine, don't leave this out)

Mix everything together well but don't overmix. I beat the eggs first but you don't have to.

Spray your loaf pan (glass works best) with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in 375-degree oven for 45-50 minutes. I lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top for the last 5-10 minutes so the crust on top doesn't burn.

Test with a toothpick or cake tester. It's done when only moist crumbs emerge.

Cool, then wrap in foil to keep fresh.

If you make pumpkin bread instead of banana, use a generous dollop of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) in place of the mashed banana.

You can also just as easily make muffins from this recipe. Again: For exact directions, read the box.

I make these breads two-at-a-time. It takes twice the ingredients but only one (big) mixing bowl and exactly the same amount of effort, and then you have a loaf to give and a loaf to keep. Or two loaves to give. Or keep.

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While I was making bread on Saturday, I also made cranberry sauce from scratch.

No Crock-Pot will made to feel irrelevant or superfluous on my watch.

This is another impressive recipe that is ridiculously simple to make, but elegant either as an addition to your holiday table or to give away jarred in a cute bag along with a freshly-baked loaf.

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HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE

2 packages FRESH whole cranberries (12 ounces each)

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup light (or dark) brown sugar

1 cup fresh (not from concentrate) orange juice

1/2 cup water

2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 cup sweetened DRIED cranberries

1 Tablespoon lemon (or orange) zest

In a Crock-Pot, mix together the FRESH cranberries, the sugars, the OJ, the water, and the grated ginger.

Cook on HIGH for three hours or so, until the cranberries have popped open.

Uncover, stir, and cook for 30 more minutes.

Unplug Crock-Pot. Add sweetened DRIED cranberries  and lemon zest. Stir well.

Over the next several hours, allow the sauce to cool and thicken. Stir often.

Transfer to a glass dish with tight-fitting lid and chill in refrigerator overnight.

This is an extremely sweet-tart sauce best enjoyed sparingly.

Serve cold beside the turkey and dressing, or, to give as a gift, put a cupful in a pretty jar with some frilly embellishment or other.

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So that's what I've been up to and I'll bet you're busy fixing a bunch of good stuff in your kitchen too.

Meanwhile things are taking brilliant shape around here, which basically involves me reminding TG for the third time to get the Christmas stuff down from the attic, and working hard to retain my festive mood while de-tangling last year's strands of Christmas lights.

All of my babies will be here for Thanksgiving. Won't you have fun looking at the pictures?

Speaking of pictures, tonight TG and I will (very carefully) remove the table-top glass and prop it off to the side so that I may rearrange the photos and add more.

As yet Baby Dagny is not represented there, a situation that must be remedied before Thursday.

Also I'd like to work in several more recent pictures of my other three littles, and a few shots of Andrew in and around the KC-135 and his unit.

Everything is in a state of flux but soon enough the dust will settle. Best relax and enjoy the ride.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Tuesday ~ Happy Thanksgiving Week

Monday
Nov242014

Martha was never even in the building

On Saturday I was in the kitchen, preparing various homemade goodies, when I began mentally concocting a Thanksgiving centerpiece for our dining table.

The family are all arriving on Wednesday; everything must be festive. 

I already had some real fake flowers (they're not really flowers but let's face it, neither are they figments of the imagination) that, for a few falls past, augmented by real fake leaves and ferns, adorned our front door.

Having tired of that arrangement, this year I put up an appropriately autumny wreath purchased for twenty dollars at a local retailer.

Thirty seconds to cut off the tag, throw it onto the door, and you're done.

As a bonus feature, the birds won't nest in a wreath as readily as they used to camp out on my door-bucket flower arrangements. I don't think.

Although -- here's  a tip -- the red-white-blue patriotic flowers that filled my door bucket last summer were free from nests because I added a pinwheel. Birds don't like shiny things, especially when the shiny things move.

You're welcome.

So anyway those "flowers" were chilling upstairs in one of my many offices and I decided to haul them out.

Having done that, I went to the cupboard and retrieved a teapot that doesn't often see the light of day.

And I gathered up six bottles from my hoarded, steadily-growing collection of vinegar empties: four bulbous beaker-like Star and two bell-shaped Pompeian.

(An acquaintance who once told me she could out-Martha-Stewart Martha Stewart with one hand tied behind her back, her feet in cement, and without turning a hair, taught me that odd numbers please the eye whereas even numbers generally do not.)

I may not be able to lay a finger on the hem of (either) Martha's garment, but I can count.

Six is even, though, you may be thinking. Yes. But seven is odd. Remember the teapot? Do keep up.

Having assembled all of that stuff, I got some scissors and proceeded to turn the stalks-of-three flowers into individual flowers.

Ouch. That maneuver is tough on the aforementioned fingers. Perhaps I need a Martha-Stewarty tool for hacking through the stems of real fake flowers.

At any rate I now have a glassy flowery lineup marching down the center of my eighty-four-inch table, the one plastered with treasured photos and topped with yet more glass.

For Thanksgiving dinner I think I'll group the vinegar-bottle vases on the buffet and let the teapot go solo, flanked by candles.

So ... spiffy or iffy? You decide.

Should you find the result of my burst of creativity to be tacky, however, kindly keep it to yourself. Audrey came over and made a strange face in its direction; I'm pretty sure she was trying not to laugh out loud.

If you like it though, feel free to steal my idea in any fashion that suits your fancy.

It's all I have to bring today.

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It’s all I have to bring today —
This, and my heart beside —
This, and my heart, and all the fields —
And all the meadows wide —
Be sure you count — should I forget
Some one the sum could tell —
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

= Emily Dickinson =

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Happy Monday ~ Happy Thanksgiving Week

Friday
Nov212014

Well done, son

Congratulations are in order to Senior Airman Andrew Weber.

Several weeks ago, Andrew embarked on an arduous course of study that, upon its completion in early December, will result in his promotion to Staff Sergeant.

His father and sisters and I are very proud of his achievements. More than that, we are grateful for all that this sweet and dedicated young man means to our family.

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Happy Friday ~ Happy Weekend

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