The Ubiquitous Christmas Card Post

So, I'm about to order Christmas Cards, and in trying to get an accurate count, it would help if I knew who actually wanted Christmas cards from me.

(Warning: they are likely to include a scary, icky, NEWSLETTER, if that makes a difference.)

If you are as mad for snailmail (in general) and greeting cards (specifically) as I am, or just want to be able to fill the back of your door with lots of cards this holiday season, please reply with your real name &snailmail address even if you think I have it.

Note: By “Christmas Card” I mean “holiday greeting card,” really. While I celebrate Christmas I respect that many of you celebrate other winter holidays. It's all good :).

Comments are screened, of course.

Material Things

I haven't done a survey in a while, but it seemed like a Wednesdayish sort of thing to do, so I've stolen this one from Chinook Wind.

WALLET: Brown embossed leather with a half-sun shaped detail clip to hide the magnetic clasp. Picture thingy is full of memebership cards and one ancient picture of Fuzzy. Holds too many receipts and too little cash.

HAIR-BRUSH: Two, both from Aveda. One is a wide, rubber-bristled paddle brush that is great for long straight hair. It's almost like a smoothing brush, but softer, for tender human scalps, the other is a metal-bristled brush great for detangling. I use them both.

I have a SoniCare I never use, mostly because the buzzing freaks out my sinuses. For actual use? I think the current one is a Reach model. It's purple.

I'm a simple person when it comes to daily glitter. Just my wedding band and engagement ring.

Yes. I wear white cotton anklets whenever I'm in sneakers, and the rest of the time? I have a drawer full of trouser socks, and funky socks that color coordinate with every outfit, except that the lime green ones disappeared. At home, though, I mostly wander around barefoot.

PILLOW COVER: We generally have five pillows on the bed. Of those, at least two always match the sheets, and if the others don't match, they coordinate. Yes, I have a linen fetish. This should surprise no one.

BLANKET: The handmade quilt a friend brought from China for our wedding is the blanket that makes me happiest. Cotton. Pretty colors. Thick enough to make me feel warm, but the cover always feels cool to the touch. Aside from that? The Nautica cotton bedspread that coordinates with my Oxford stripe sheets is thick and lovely.

SUNGLASSES: Whatever was cheap, until I had LASIK. Now? Maui Jim's. This is the first pair I've managed to not lose.

UNDERWEAR: Cotton, usually French cut or high cut, always color coordinates with my outfit. Never underestimate the value of pretty underwear.

SHOES: For sneakers, I love Ryka's, although I think my current pair is from Reebok. Otherwise? I swear by my two pairs of Ecco soft suede Oxford flats. They're like work-safe sneakers, that's how comfortable they are. When at home? A pair of $7 black thick-soled thongs, if anything.

None right now. When I do have my fingernails polished, it's generally a French manicure, or just clear or pale pink, because I have small hands and bold color makes them look smaller. On my toenails, however, I prefer OPI red.

HANDBAG: Several years ago, I bought this canvas compartmentalized thing meant for holding a Franklin planner. I never managed to put the planner in the bag, and have been using it as a sort of purse, because it has pen holders, key hooks, and lots of little compartments. (I like compartments.) Someday I will own a grown-up purse. Maybe.

KEYCHAIN: A round loop that has the car fob, and little card-swipe things for Curves, PetCo, PetSmart, Albertsons, and Blockbuster. I have way too many little car-swipe things.

COMPUTER: A home-built desktop in silver and green, with a 3.06 Ghz processor a gig of RAM, and various other cool things. Also, I added a mod-light to it, so when the lights are off the green panel glows even greener. And the computer I'm on right now is a three-year old Vaio laptop in dire need of replacement.

FAVORITE TOP: A forest green mock turtleneck. It's my best writing shirt, and it's amazingly comfortable.

FAVORITE PANTS: I work from home, so I live in comfy knit pants and sweats far too much of the time, but when I go out? There's a pair of multi-pocketed jeans I really love right now.

SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER: Aveda's clove shampoo and rosemary-mint conditioner, most days, hair detoxifier and cherry almond bark conditioner, every week or so, and Infusium 23's leave-in hair repair spray (the stuff with the consistancy of water), because it's just amazing stuff.

PERFUME: I almost never wear any, but I like Clinique's Happy.

Last CD played was the Dresden Dolls cd that the Creativity Elf sent me.

CAR: Forester. Forester Gump.

IN THE FRIDGE: Many many containers of nonfat Yoplait and bottled water, leftover chili, cheese, apples, yams, chicken meant for tonight's dinner, three bottles of apple cider, salsa, cream, sour cream, ricotta, pasta, pasta sauce (pesto and marinara), a partly used box of Pomi, and half a container of non-fat organic milk. I think.

TELEVISION: Living room, bedroom, my office, Fuzzy's office. No, we're not addicted. And actually, we don't watch that much tv.

STEREO: Mostly, we use our computers, or I use my Zen.

TELEPHONE: We have those Siemens wireless phones where you can have just one handset plugged into the wall, and four extensions, though, we only have two extensions. We have a conventional wired phone in the bedroom. And a fax in my office.

CELLPHONE: Motorola v400 (I think?). It's cute and effective and has a camera and I haven't managed to break it or lose it yet. I have Cingular as a provider and I love them to bits.

Surveys are an excellent waste of time, but I really should be getting ready for my interviews so that I can afford to buy more clothes and shoes and electronic toys, and, and, and. (Really, I'm not that shallow, it's just fun to pretend sometimes.)

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Shadows and Storms

I woke to the sound of wind so forceful that it sounded like the crashing of ocean surf, and I wanted to float on waves of sleep for far longer than I actually did. I love listening to the musicality of wind: the rustling of leaves, the ripples of the water in the pool, the jingling of the windchimes, the hollow sound of the air as it passes over the cracked open windows, and the creaking of the house, as if, shiplike it's being tossed on invisible seas.

This afternoon when I left the house via the front door to check the mail, wind grabbed the storm door from my hands, then slammed it closed with so much force I thought the glass would shatter. It didn't, but the noise scared Zorro, and the force of the wind was so strong that Cleo, bouncing against the door with all her might, could not push it open.

Still later, as I sat on the couch sipping cool water and eating re-heated chilli, I looked up at the window and thought I saw a gecko. Thinking it odd, as geckos are generally only out at night, I walked to the window, and found that what I was seeing was the imprint of two gecko-forms intertwined, so detailed that the eye-bulges showed, in the dust on the screen. I was so amazed by the form I forgot to be embarrassed about how dusty my windows are. I considered taking a picture but the light would have obliterated anything that wasn't lost in reflections.

Tonight, the wind continues, and it will lull me to sleep very shortly, I hope, so that I can be well rested for tomorrow.

I wish sweet dreams to all, this evening, and a pleasant coming day.

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Middling Monday

Monday mornings are always a toss-up. On the one hand, a bad Monday sets the tone for the week. On the other hand, a good Monday is a great surprise, but may not last. My Monday has been sort of…middling.

First, I woke up to wispy fog and cold air. It got pretty toasty this afternoon, but I was chilly until noon. Guess maybe we didn't REALLY need to leave the a/c on ALL night after all.

Then I had an IM from a friend telling me he was going to personally kick me in the ass if I ever again tell him my writing sucks (that's paraphrased, except for the kick in ass part), and hey, the piece I'd originally said was desperate for editing and extremely raw was posted essentially unedited at Moron Life. The piece itself is called NaNo NaNo…, and it's a humorous look at NaNoWriMo. You should go to the main Moron Life site though, because there's tons of funny stuff written by people who are way cooler than I am. Also, they have videos and other cool stuff, and it's really important to support independent artists.

The afternoon was marked by a phone interview with the branch manager of a local wholesale lender. They're on the other side of the Metroplex from where I live, but the drive would be worth it because the job is pretty cool. Also, said branch manager has the same first name as me. She's asked the regional VP to give me a call tomorrow, so, please keep the job wishes coming. While I do have a gig with a company that does home-based customer support, for the month of December, I'd much prefer the wholesale gig, even if it is all corporate. (Hey, it's not just a job, it's an excuse to totally revamp my wardrobe.)

Friday we're seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the Dallas IMAX theater.
Tuesday we leave for Missouri, and Saturday come back. (The dogs are spending the time from Monday night to Monday morning kennelled with their vet, for less money than I spent on candy at World Market. I'm seriously impressed by this. Being very smart dogs, they know this already, and are practicing their brattiest behavior. Fuzzy may be scarred for life because of it, in fact. Or not.)

The evening ended with me nearly ruining chilli, and being taken out to buy cake and a peppermint mocha, which I'm still slowly sipping. I want to write, but instead I have to fold too many clothes to even believe.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow the furnace repair dude comes, so I can't even sleep late.

Although, at least my sorting record is unblemished:

be sorted @

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Glass Seahorses and Savory Crepes

We were a couple with a mission this morning, although, in my haste to get from phase one of the mission (breakfast) to phase three (shopping), we sort of skipped over phase two (leaving a deposit at the kennel). I've left them a message though, explaining I hadn't realized they were only open til one on Saturdays, and that Fuzzy would bring a check on MONDAY. I don't think it'll be a problem.

But back to the mission. My NaNo-pal Aisling has been recommending a local restaurant, Cafe 'n' Chocolat (which is technically in Pantego, but only by like, half a block), for a year now, and we finally managed to get there this morning. I think I'm in love. From the outside, it looks like any other restaurant in a strip mall, but inside? It's a comfortable tea room scented with Belgian chocolate. I was expecting a menu of scary things dripping in grease, but they're proud to announce that they don't cook with any, and to ask if you want butter or oil added to your food. The menu is a blend of breakfast specials, healthy sandwiches (I'm glad someone in Texas has a source for sprouts, because neither grocery store in my neighborhood sells them), and sinful dessert crepes and Belgian waffles. I was tempted to try Crepes Suzanne, which involve chocolate and orange liqueur, but I was good, and had something with actual protein instead, the savory crepes that were on special. (The filling was swiss cheese, ham, portobella mushrooms, and asparagus.) Fuzzy, of course, had the strawberry waffle – which was covered in fresh strawberries. I did have hot chocolate, and he had hot cider, but the check was still under $20, and the food was delicious. We're going back so I can try the dessert crepes. Or the breakfast food. Or, or, or. Well, it's only 12 miles from home.

After that, we headed to Dallas, intending to go to the World Market at Mockingbird & Lovers Lane (note: Californians know this store as Cost Plus, and it's the most dangerous place on earth. Even more so than Barnes and Noble.), but when we were almost there, we realized we hadn't made the kennel deposit. Oy. So, we turned around, and raced back to Grand Prairie, only to find the kennel closed. Argh.

Undaunted, we drove to Fort Worth, because I realized that there was another World Market there, and we could ALSO get the pictures that we had taken, framed for our parents, for Christmas, at a place that Rana had recommended. From the framing shop we went to World Market, where I bought candy for the nieces and nephews. (In a departure from being The Book Aunt this year, we are giving each of the five kids $20 and a stash of chocolate – the latter guaranteed to piss off their parents. We'll probably take them all to see a movie while we're in Branson, as well. Maybe Zathura.) This year's haul includes chocolate Santas, the non-religious version of Hanukkah gelt, stuffed animals carrying chocolate for the girls, chocolate poker chips for the boys, Ghirardelli chocolate squares, candy corn in Christmas colors, and, oh, yes, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. If they don't all die from sugar shock, I'm sure they'll enjoy it.)

I'd finished with the candy selection, when I turned around and came face to face with the Ornament Rack, and then I nearly cried, because I was in the store shopping with Fuzzy, who hates to shop, and doesn't 'get' my love of Christmas decor, and my mother is in another country, and these trips used to be our mother-daughter ritual, and I haven't seen her in a YEAR. Retail therapy helped a little. I took home one wooden Santa, for my collection, two glass seahorses (red and purple), a glass mermaid, and a glass “rubber ducky” with a Santa hat, and a box of six glass candy canes. I also called my mother as soon as we got home, to tell her all about it. (While I was at it, I ALSO purchased Christmas plates and napkins, which will be used on December 10th, for dessert. Oh, and crackers. The kind you pull, not the kind you eat.)

From there we went to Fridays for a quick lunch/dinner/whatever, and then home for a nap. And after THAT, we went to the 10:00 showing of “The Legend of Zorro” in Cedar Hill, which I enjoyed muchly.

It's now nearly two, I should have been asleep half an hour ago, and, oh, yeah, I never did manage to have any coffee today.

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The dogs revolve around me, around my feet, like satellites around their mother planet. To them, I am the center of gravity, the sun and the moon, and hey, I also feed them. Eventually, they settle into sleep, Cleo in the bed and Zorro on a pile of papers and a bubble-wrap envelope (empty) that once held a gift from a friend in Canada. I wonder if he chooses the specific piles of paper with a sense of meaning, or if he just wanted to be close. There's a second dog bed not a foot from his nose, but he eschews it, preferring the envelope and the floor.

* * * * *

Earlier tonight, while trying to determine the weight of shirt that was required for a trip to Starbucks and Boston Market, I stood in the moon-lit back yard in a black bra and sweatpants that are frightfully frayed, but oh, so comfortable, and watched the clouds being pushed across the sky. They were moving across the moon so rapidly that, staring up at it, it seemed the moon itself was moving and the clouds were stationery. If the breeze hadn't lifted my damp hair off my neck, caused a delectable thrill to go down my spine, I'd have stayed there indefinitely, staring up at the sky, becoming dizzy and dazzled.

* * * * *

Walking into Starbucks today, I was greeted by a fesitval of silver and red, for the Christmas cups have arrived, and with them all the cute things that go with the season, including these tiny little cookies that come in four flavors, and the return of gingerbread. Christmas is my favorite season, but I wish they'd wait til Thanksgiving to foist it on us, even so.

* * * * *

I am pleased tonight because I've almost reached 7,000 words in my Na-Novel (which isn't bad for two days' work), and because other ideas are germinating. A pleasant surprise came in the form of the total I'll have to spend to kennel the dogs over Thanksgiving, since they can't come to Branson with us. I was expecting something around $400, and the total is less than half of that.

* * * * *

I am fighting the urge to add Christmas songs to my Zen Micro before Thanksgiving, but I'm in the mood to sing them, even if it is early.

* * * * *

Target has these amazing snowflake dishes appropriate for all of winter, not merely Christmas, and I plan to purchase two or three sets as soon as a) I've started a new job, and b) we're back from Missouri.

And on that note, I'm going back outside to watch the moon.

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Finally Friday

Somehow I've been waiting for this week to end even though there's really no reason it matters, since I'm still working from home at this point. Cultural conditioning? You tell me.

I scrapped my entire NaNo project (all 1200 or so words of it) and began anew with character sketches shared with friends late Tuesday, and actual writing last night. I'm about 5,000 words into the project, and still interested, and happy with the groove I'm in at least, and I know that somehow, I'll finish on time. I always do.

My ear hurts. I don't like that at all.

Phone interview today generated an in-face interview on Wednesday. I'm a little nervous, but since I have a holiday-cash-generating job lined up for December (which I can do from home as well), I'm not really stressed.

I finished The Historian and posted about it, and am now reading Julie and Julia, which is delightful, but is all bout cooking, and so I'm hungry while reading it, which is never a wonderful thing.

I've got more to say, but I'm feeling sluggish and sleepy, so, I promise to be interesting later.

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The Historian

The Historian

Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova is obviously a fan of both European history, and Bram Stoker's Dracula, and both of these interests are thoroughly intertwined in her first novel The Historian.

Written from the point of view of the unnamed female narrator, who is sixteen during the bulk of the events in the novel, it is a tale of three parallel chases, one in 1972, in which she is involved, one just before her birth, and one before her father was even in school himself, and led by the man who would eventually become his mentor. Along the way, paths cross and deviate, love affairs end mostly tragically, and the reader is guided on an historical tour of Eastern Europe, that leaves one craving goulash and wishing for a pocket full of garlic.

The object of the chase, is, of course, Dracula, who is depicted as a blend of Stoker's undead Count, and the real Vlad Tepes.

The author, like Stoker (though I suspect in his case it was unintentional) even leaves the way open for a sequel.

If you liked the original Victorian novel, this book will appeal. I warn, however, that while the story is compelling, the language is a bit stilted – it reads very much as if the author was a contemporary of Stoker's, and not a 21st century Yale graduate, though, the somewhat stylized language does fit the tale rather well.

Consider The Historian a must-read for any real vampire fan.

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West Wing – Live

Does anyone have, or know anyone who has, a tivo'd copy of the PACIFIC feed of Sunday's live debate episode of The West Wing, that they'd be willing to stick on a disc or otherwise transfer?

We saw the East Coast feed, of course, but, the show was largely improvised, and there are a few of us here who would love to compare.

Productivity and Presents

I wish I could report that I’ve written scads on my NaNovel, but I haven’t even touched it. Instead, I’ve been clearing my desk, so to speak, and finishing other projects. Projects that involve the receipt of cash.

So far today, I started a loan package for one of my clients, made a flyer for another (I love making flyers. Does that count as resume fodder for my writing resume, do you think?), and set up an interview for a part time job doing customer service from home. Why the latter? Because I realized when I just didn’t connect with the interviewer on Friday, that I don’t really WANT to go back to corporate America, I just want a little more cash coming in the door. So, this job, hopefully, will allow me to put writing first, and still do Mexico loans with my mother, and yet not feel like I’m not contributing enough to the household. This year is one of the first years EVER that Fuzzy is making more than me, and I’m just not accustomed to it. Time for a paradigm shift, I guess.

And then there were PRESENTS. Clay, who shall hereafter be known as the Creativity Elf gifted me with a much-desired book (The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less), and a cool cd, though the latter came with an assignment, of sorts. But, you know, in a good way.

And then, I’ve started researching my next piece for the place I’m contracted with, and have an idea for a piece I plan to submit to All Things Girl, and… and… and…

Well, you get the idea.

I’ve had no fewer than three people tell me this week that I need to submit more things to paying markets, so we’ll see. In any case, I’m in such a good groove that I’m looking FORWARD to our upcoming Missouri trip.

No, really.

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