I Miss Christmas

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It may seem kind of funny to say it on December 19th, but I miss Christmas.

It’s just six days away and there is time yet to feel the entire joy and ho-ho-ho of the season, but honestly, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

It is the nature of the work I do that December is an incredibly busy month. This is not just at my current employer but has been true across the entire span of my career.

Ramped up work and steep deadlines mean it becomes awful hard to plan and decorate and celebrate and feel the joy that is the holiday season.

It’s hard to feel much more than incredibly damn cranky, to be honest. The kind of tired and cranky that not even a Captain Morgan spiked egg nog can fix.

When I was a kid, I used to love Christmas. Ok, sure, every kid loves Christmas, but for me it wasn’t about the presents. It was about the magic.

I loved the ritual of pulling out the box packed with ornaments and greeting each one like an old friend before hanging it on the tree. (This is still one of my favorite parts of the holiday, by the way.)

I got into the prep and planning for the baking that my mom and I would do. Sugar cookies with colorful frosting. Biscochitos. Mom’s divinity fudge. Cinnamon rolls. Tortillas to go with posole. The windows would steam and the house would smell heavenly.

As it got closer to Christmas, I’d begin the prep work for luminarias. The dirt, folding the bags, making sure my mom got the right kind of candles.

Sometimes we’d pile in the car to go see the lights. We’d drive slow down good blocks so we could take in all the lights, the crisp air outside tinged with the unmistakable scent of burning piñon logs.

Then home for some nog, mom might light a bunch of candles and put on soft Christmas music and I’d look out our big picture window to the world outside and dream.

My mom had this funny little candle, something she had bought from Avon and it only came out at Christmas. It was very fancy, gilt gold on the outside and red on the inside and some holly berry spice something fragrance to the candle. If I close my eyes I can still place the scent because that smell was so very Christmas to me. That along with our advent wreath and a few other candles put a soft flickering glow to my world and made me calm and peaceful.

As the years passed by and I became an adult, I tried to keep my own Christmas traditions alive including baking, having a real tree on which to hang all of those ornaments from my childhood, and lighting a bunch of candles on Christmas Eve.

New traditions came along as well, like looking for a fun white elephant gift for the office party and finding a pretty dress or two to wear to friend’s parties.

But over time even this has changed. Very few companies do holiday parties anymore. My current employer is so uptight about the various cultures and religions of the people who work here that they barely acknowledge that a holiday is forthcoming. And even if they did, there wouldn’t be any holiday party during these times of budget austerity.

Most of my friends now have kids and they are focused on family things, which is fine. It just means no more grown up parties to attend.

Then there was that fun holiday break in which to rest, recoup and get ready for the new year. That’s also a thing of the past. We don’t get any time off next week other than Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I could take vacation, but I blew what I had in my vacation balance on my trip to New York (and it was totally worth it).

This year the twelve days of Christmas will entail no partridges or pear trees, but a lot of Karen a leapin’ to get work out the door before the 31st.

I wanted to make cookies and bought the ingredients only to remember that my mixer is in a box in our storage room and I don’t even know which box. The Good Man said he would disassemble the storage room to help me find it, but I decided no. Too much work.

It should be said here that we’ve lived in our place for a year, but I work so many damn hours that unpacking boxes on the weekends just feels like more work. And so it goes…

It seemed like I felt the happy holiday feeling, really and truly, for a little while during our trip to New York. It’s awful hard to look up at the tree in Rockefeller Center and not feel the holiday spirit. But that time in New York is like a little bit of encapsulated perfection, not just about the holiday joy, but in many ways.

And then we came home and my nose went back to the grindstone and the willingness and want to and give a damn just sort of frittered away.

We have a real branch wreath on our door and a real tree in our house and somehow I just can’t summon up the joy and peace and magic of the holiday season.

This makes me sad.

I know that I’m the one that has to make the holidays bright. The spirit of Christmas lives inside of me, and it’s on me to bring it into reality.

But somehow this year I just can’t find it. Maybe next year.
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.
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(I just reread this post from last year. Evidently a holiday lament is my new holiday tradition. LOL on me.)





Memories of Christmases past. I made these mints, a family tradition, just last year.




Met A Childhood Friend

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Was sorting through all of the photos from my recent trip to New York when I found a set that I wanted to share. In fact I’d meant to share this a couple weeks back but I just got lost in the back-to-the-real-world on top of the hectic pace of the hellidays.

One of the days that The Good Man and I were in New York, I requested the chance to spend a few hours in the New York Public Library as I was still rap-tap-tapping away at my NaNoWriMo.

The Good Man indulged me and I had some time to sit in the Great Room and write, which was both fun and inspiring and is something I will never forget. The Good Man went exploring as I worked because there is much to see in that amazing library.

That was when The Good Man stumbled across something interesting. It turns out that in the basement of the NYPL, there is a children’s books section, and in that area there is a display case containing several stuffed animals, but not just any stuffed animals.

In the case are the original stuffed friends that were the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh. These toys belonged to Christopher Robin Milne, the author’s son.

The toys were brought to the United States in 1947 and remained with the publisher of A.A. Milne’s books, which then donated the stuffed animals to the New York Public Library in 1987.

In this photo, from left to right, is Lottie the Otter who shows up in a more modern Winnie the Pooh book sanctioned by the Milne estate. Then we have Tigger, Kanga in the back, the small Piglet, then Eeyore and finally on the far right, the man himself Winnie-the-Pooh.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


Turns out the stuffed bear was bought at Harrods in London as a present for Christopher Robin’s first birthday.

It also seems that this stuffed bear is named Edward. Who knew that ol’ Winnie-the-Pooh was really a very posh Brit bear? I did not.




This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


This Winnie-the-Pooh looks much different from the Disney-i-fied version that we all are used to. This Mr. Pooh has very kind eyes and a pettable nose.

But still no pants.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


I was pretty excited after seeing the original Pooh gang. It was like meeting a group of celebrities.

As a writer it was pretty cool to see how inspiration can turn into a rich and beloved story.

Combined with a marathon writing session and then seeing Charles Dickens’ pen and inkwell, it was quite a happy literary day for this little ol’ writer.




All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




At First I Was All….

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So. You know. The life of a writer. It goes something like this:

Write something brilliant.

Submit it.

Wait.




Get a pile of rejection letters.

Feel bad about the world and my place in it.

Drink.

Work up my courage.

Write something else and submit it.

Wait.

Get another pile of rejection letters even larger than the last.

Yeah.

And then….

Someone finally says, “Ok, we’ll take it.”

Woo hoo!!





Thass right, for the past year and a half I’ve been writing and submitting my heiney off and finally I am back in print!

Well, online print but so goes the way of the literary magazine. (If online is good enough for Newsweek, it’s certainly good enough for me)

And so without further ado, the link to my fabulously published essay in Wild Violet:


Merit Badge by Karen Fayeth


Share it with your friends, family and strangers!

And do a little happy dance with me!

Shake it, shake it!






Waiting .gif found here and woo hoo image found here.



Places I Would Rather Be

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Today I found an unexpected hour in my day. My new hire of just three weeks told me that he feels comfortable taking a regular weekly meeting off my hands. He said he had it covered and that I didn’t need to attend.

I almost wept with utter relief. This is what I hired him to manage, but this progress is so much faster than I’d expected.

Hooray! Early Christmas gift to me!!

And so I could have used this found hour to do some other work or get caught up on email. Instead I decided to flake off.

Best and highest use of my time, in my humblest of opinions.

So I skated over to the Google News page to see what’s doing back home in New Mexico. That’s where I came across the Southern New Mexico fishing report.

Listed in today’s report are some of my favorite lakes in Southern New Mexico, and some of my favorite places to be in the whole world.

As I read down the list I sighed and wallowed like a lovesick schoolgirl.

Bill Evans? Oh have I had some amazing times night fishing there.

Caballo Lake? So pretty.

Elephant Butte? Always a fun time and a crazy amount of boats on that lake.

Quemado? That’s where I was supposed to go earlier this year and wasn’t able to. *cry*

Oh muh lord. Here I sit while the rain pours outside. I’m tapping away at my work computer and feeling low and definitely not putting a worm on a hook and sipping a beer and watching the clouds float by on a clear New Mexico day.

Uh oh, here it comes…waves of homesickness crashing on my shores.

In related news: The husband of my best friend works for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. He’s the guy in charge of Southern New Mexico fish. All of ’em. He has days at work that go something like “I put a boat in at Caballo, sent some shocks into the water, counted the stunned fish and then went home.”

Basically, the guy fishes for a living. And then writes a few reports.

It may be the greatest job in the world, or at least in the top ten.

*whimper*

In case you are near a beautiful New Mexico lake today and need to know if they are biting, here’s today’s report courtesy of the Silver City Sun News:


*Bear Canyon: Trout fishing was very good using homemade dough bait, Power Bait, salmon eggs and worms.

*Bill Evans Lake: Trout fishing was fair to good using garlic cheese, salmon eggs, Pistol Petes, Power Bait, and homemade dough bait. We had no reports on other species.

*Caballo Lake: All boat ramps have been closed and will remain closed until such time as water levels rise and is deemed safe for launching. Fishing pressure was extremely light this past week and we had no reports from anglers.

*Elephant Butte: Fishing was sporadic. A few white bass, crappie and black bass were caught by anglers using jig and minnow combinations and spoons. We had no reports on other species. The water was murky and the surface temp was in the low 50s.The Monticello, Dam Site and Rock Canyon boat ramps remain closed due to low water conditions.

*Escondida Lake: Trout fishing was fair using homemade dough bait, Power Bait, Pistol Petes under a bubble and corn salmon egg combinations. We had no reports on other species.

*Gila River: Water flow on the Gila as of this past Monday was 62 cfs. We had no reports from angles this week.

*Glenwood Pond: Trout fishing was good using Power Bait.

*Lake Roberts: Trout fishing was good using rainbow and red Power Bait, garlic cheese, homemade dough baits, salmon eggs and worms. We had no reports on other species.

*Percha Dam: The water was low and fishing was slow for all species.

*Quemado Lake: We had no reports from anglers this week.

*Rio Grande: Water flow below Elephant Butte as of Monday was 3.4 cfs. Trout fishing was fair using worms and Power Bait. We had no reports on other species.

*Snow Lake: We had no reports from anglers this week.

Source





This is a New Mexico fish, but from way up north at Navajo Dam



Image from FunFix.com.




Old Tradition, New Problem

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The human animal was made, for better or worse, with a pretty good capacity for both memory and a lot of nostalgia. That may be what separates us from other species.

For me, almost every holiday over the course of a year has a tradition. Something, usually food related, that I feel I must do or ingest in order to properly celebrate. The connection usually relates to something that happened when I was a kid and having that food, the preparation, the tasting, the memories, evokes good memories for me.

I’m very driven by food related memories.

Examples include Cadbury eggs at Easter, a hamburger over a grill with burned edges for Fourth of July and a big pile of stuffing with gravy on top for Thanksgiving.

Getting my drift?

And then there’s Christmas. There are plenty of happy food memories we all have at Christmas. For me it’s tamales (how much do I miss living in New Mexico where neighbors and coworkers would give me tamales at the holidays?), Biscochitos, and mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls

And there is one more thing I really love in the month of December: Egg Nog.

Oh lord how I love Egg Nog.

I don’t generally like fluid milk, but add the cream back to it and I’m totally on board. I mean, egg nog is basically milk, cream, sugar and eggs with some spices. That’s it.

You wouldn’t normally tip back a container of full cream and glug glug it down…except at Christmas where a spicy glass is like a mother’s hug. I can drink glass after glass of the stuff.

Totally unhealthy, but what the hell, it’s the holidays! Wooo!

Oh wait.

Yeah, one small hitch. I’ve recently developed a wee bit of lactose intolerance.

When I cried to my doctor to fix it, he simply chuckled and said this happens to a lot of people as they age.

Awesome. Thanks, pal.

I recently read a great article in the Australian online magazine, “The Peach” where the author speaks bluntly of her lactose intolerance.

I found one paragraph completely describes how I feel about it:

Lactose intolerance is very much bowel related which makes it an awkward allergy. A peanut allergy can make you go into anaphylactic shock, sure, but you won’t crap your pants in the meantime. A bee sting can make you swell up like a pumpkin, but here’s hoping you won’t let out a giant fart on your way to the emergency room. There are so many life-threatening allergies out there, so I am extremely lucky to have one that simply makes me bum-sick…

Source.

Yeah. But still…..

Lactaid is certainly helpful, but it’s a very imperfect solution. It makes the issues less, but does not alleviate them entirely.

Which means after slugging down two glasses of Egg Nog for dinner last night (not with…FOR) about an hour later my darling spouse was treated to some rude behavior from my lower digestive tract.

Just don’t let my chestnuts get too close to that open fire, if you know what I’m saying.

And I think you do.







Image by -rentnarb and downloaded royalty free from Deviant Art.