Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh Christmas Branch...

...oh Chrismas Branch...nothing aggravates me more than hearing Christmas music before Halloween. Unless it’s seeing all the Christmas stuff out in the store, right next to the Halloween stuff. Ugh!! And I swore, I swore, that I would not play Christmas music in my store until Halloween had passed. But I caved, cause I’m weak. I played it….and ever since have been infected with the Christmas spirit. I had to play it cool and try to hide it, because I’m aware that it gets old if you start too early, but it’s almost Thanksgiving, so I guess I can come out of the closet!

I’m thankful for Christmas, for some intangible reason I can’t explain. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way. I’m not religious, and I don’t have a lot of money to blow on the presents I’d love to buy for everyone. But Christmas makes me happy anyway. Here are some of the things I love about the Christmas season;

The music. I love all of it, religious and secular alike. I especially love “O Holy Night”, and Handel’s “Halleluiah Chorus”. And of course all the traditional ones we all grew up with…back before it was not politically correct to observe Christmas in school.

The decorations, in all their tacky, cheesy, glitzy splendor. huHt!

The Nutcracker. To me it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Nutcracker. I had the LP of the London Symphony version when I was a kid and I would play it all year. I still have it, but it’s in pretty sad shape! I know all the music by heart, never get tired of it, and I have to watch it when it comes on TV. In fact I was in Wal-Mart with Preston a few weeks ago when what should I see on the huge wall-o-TVs but highlights of a new Nutcracker performance coming on PBS next month. I stopped everything and stood hypnotized as Preston waited for an answer to whatever question he had asked me, which I didn’t hear, until the commercial was over. I’ll have to check out to see what THAT’s all about! Which brings me to:

PBS. Besides the Nutcracker, there are loads of other great things that air during the Christmas season! Also:

The Food Network. OMG, I don’t even cook a lot and I am fascinated by Emeril, Paula, Rachel, Martha, Giatta, and especially Alton Brown. I don’t really watch the Food Network during the year, but when Christmas rolls around I always check out whatever holiday shows are on.

Wrapping presents. I love to wrap. The main reason I wish I could afford to buy more presents is so I could wrap them.

The annual V&M Construction Christmas party. Our band has been invited to play at this party for the last 6 years, and were able to make 5 of them….number 7 is coming up next week. What a great bunch of people, and so much fun! They feed us, they dance for us, and then they pay us. Ya want better than that???

My Christmas tree. Last year we didn’t have much of a tree, we were not in a happy place. The year before we had spent Christmas eve and day trying to comfort our poor dog who we had to have put down the day after Christmas. It was horrible, and anyone who thinks that losing a pet is not a big deal is heartless. Anyway, last year we were not in a Christmas-y frame of mind, but this year I want to have a tree again. I miss the piney smell, the lights, and the tacky gold garland.

I’m thankful for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I know it's 2am....

...but I haven't been to sleep yet so it's still Tuesday to me. So today I want to write about how thankful I am for my parents. I inherited so many things from Sparky and Papa that make me what I am...creativity, resourcefulness, sense of humor, an abiding respect for people who work for a living, and lots more I can't think of at 2am. Sometimes it's impossible to tell from which side I get any particular trait. Also I got a streak of sheer bull-headed swamp yankee stubbornness that has served me well at times and at others has been a trial. Thanks a lot for giving me that, you know who you are.

I guess from Papa I get the conviction that there has to be a way to solve any problem, if you just poke at it long enough. He also gave me the pack rat gene, which it has been my lifelong struggle to exorcise. No luck there, yet, but the fact that I am trying ought to count for something.

And of course Sparky endowed me with her sewing ability, for which I am eternally thankful. What in the world would I be doing now if I didn't know how to sew? I really have no idea. What Sparky did NOT pass along to me was her patience. Sparky is probably the most even-tempered, patient person there is. She also has what amounts, in my eyes, to a superpower; the superhuman ability to keep her mouth shut. I can't seem to do that. I have a birth defect; I was born without a filter. Whatever's in my head at any given moment usually comes blurting out of my mouth before I can stop it. I suspect that maybe my siblings got the patience, especially my sister, and there was none left for me. But I'm thankful that Sparky at least always gives me something to aspire to there.

Oh yeah, and my sweet tooth. You're both guilty of passing that little gem on to me, thanks a bunch.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving is almost here...

….and so this week I am going to try to write about the things for which I’m thankful IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. I say “try”, because I keep procrastinating and forgetting to come back here and write. Very busy, no available brain cells. Anyway, so what am I thankful for? There are a lot of things for me, I really am very blessed in life. I’m going to start with my band, since we had practice last night and it’s fresh in my mind.

My band, which is now called Stillpoint. It’s changed many times over the years, but I’m really excited about this current incarnation—more so than I have been at any time since we first formed and were 5th Element. I have to say we were really, really good. But all things must change, for the better or for worse, and although we’ve been pretty good and not-so-good at different times over the years, we have never been quite as good as what we were when we first started. Until now.

The two constants over the last 13 years have been, of course, me and Preston. I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to find a great drummer and as good drummers are hard to find, I married him so that he couldn’t get away. No, seriously, I’m so lucky that we can do this together, not only because he’s good but because I’ve seen the hassle that people tend to have when their non-musician significant other is at home going, “you have to go to practice AGAIN? How long are you going to be? How come you don’t want to stay home with me? Do you HAVE to do this?” It can’t be easy to have to make that choice. I’m thankful I’ve never had to make it.

Which leads us to Kevin, who doesn’t seem to have that problem since his wife works nights and isn’t home anyway. I’m thankful for Kevin…a nice, normal, funny, seriously talented guy with no overinflated ego or drama, plucked from the sea of bozos, posers, and pretentious assholes haunting the local musicians’ classifieds. How lucky was that? He said, “I’m just a rhythm guitarist” but really, he can play leads with the best of ‘em.

And then there’s Joe. I’ve known him as long as I’ve known Preston, and we’ve been playing music with Joe for so long, it’s like we’re related. How hard it is to find someone who can play, has that big voice, and is easy to get along with, you have no idea. Believe me, I’ve tried, because every few years he gets tired of the whole band thing and decides to retire, but then he misses it. Luckily, this time he was missing it just when I needed to fill that position in the band (again). For that, I am also thankful.

So my band the first thing I’m thankful for. There are just so many good things about this band that make me so happy to be playing….Preston’s drums in “Good Times, Bad Times” make me wish the song was longer….when Kevin comes in with the signature riff at the beginning of “Crazy on You” it’s just too cool…Kevin and Joe trading leads at the beginning of “I Just Want to make Love to You”…Joe and I harmonizing on “Moondance”…Preston getting us all going in between songs with Led Zeppelin tunes we don’t play (yet!)…Joe’s solo in “Man in the Box”…Kevin’s solo in “Flirting with Disaster”…the stupid, lame 12-year-old bathroom humor that never fails to crack me up even when I'm going "eeeeewww!"...I could go on and on but you get the idea. Tune in tomorrow, when I’ll be going on and on about something else!