The big wrap up

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 17, 2016 7:44 PM

A storm blew in last night. Earlier in the evening, the winds had been strong, so strong that we had trouble keeping the grill lit. It continued until we went to bed and through the early morning hours. Right after 2 am, the winds became even stronger. We had the window open in the bedroom, the cool air nice but becoming too cold. We listened as the wind chimes whipped and clanged. The howl of the wind through the desert is an eerie, almost ghostly thing to listen to. Frightening and mesmerizing all at once. Soon enough, the rain began, pinging the glass of the skylight and then the windows of the bedroom. We tossed and turned, trying to sleep, but the noise of nature was deafening.

At 3:30, I finally got up and closed the window. It muffled the sound but didn’t eliminate it. We both drifted in and out of sleep. The occasional clang and bang of something outside would jar us suddenly awake and we’d both whisper “what was that?” Neither of us wanted to get up and investigate. One of the chairs on the deck just outside our bedroom took flight and slammed against the railing, coming to a rest upside down. I wondered how the furniture on the main deck was faring, if the pillows on the couches had been swirled up into the atmosphere and deposited somewhere down amongst the cactus. At 8 am, the other chair on our bedroom deck slid across to join its mate and I woke up from a deep and restless sleep. I was in the middle of a not very good dream, and it took me a minute to get my bearings. Riley was curled up on his bed at the foot of ours; Kevin was gone. I hadn’t heard or felt him leave.

He brought me coffee after I called out to him – “Kevy?” – and thus the day began.

It was still cold, though the winds were more respectful. A blanket of cold fog hung over the valley. Kevin didn’t work outside today as he often does on Saturdays. We had actually discussed it last night in front of the fire. We have guests coming next week, and there are things we want to do in the house. His time would be better spent inside than out. As it turned out, he couldn’t have worked outside anyway. All’s well that plans well. 

As he busied himself doing things like painting the television insets above the fireplaces, replacing lightbulbs, and getting the fireplaces ready, I finally got some Christmas cards ready to send. I don’t send many these days, mostly just to family. To all my friends and colleagues, I usually do a fun electronic message. How modern of me. 

After that was done, and before I started work (because even though it’s the holidays, clients still want their stuff), I decided to also wrap some presents. I have things that need to ship and because I am once again and forever behind, it’s going to cost me a fortune. This happens to me every Christmas. I always have good intentions. Those intentions never seem to make it to realities. Oh well. 

I organized according to what was going to who (whom?), pulled the wrapping paper rolls from the closet along with the new batch of to/from tags I bought yesterday, and wrapped. I love to wrap presents. I find it soothing, and pretty. I’ve always felt this way. One of my jobs in high school was in a pharmacy in town that had quite a gift selection. At the holidays, I became the de facto wrapper because I liked it and I did it well. 

My mother called the other night to ask me if I could come home and wrap presents for her. I used to do that every year when I lived at home or came home for Christmas. I haven’t done that in a long time. As nice as it would be, travel is too difficult at the holidays, and so we stay here. She even offered, teasingly, to pay my airfare if I’d promise to wrap. We laughed and then talked instead about what everyone was doing on Christmas day. 

Today I boxed my gifts for sending. I put some under the tree. There is more to do, there always is. But I made progress. And then I started back to work. It was a Saturday spent living it out loud from the wee hours and on through the day.

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live out loud

And so I'm offering

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 11, 2016 7:54 PM

Possibility. Hope. Joy? I have decided that these last weeks of the year are going to be filled with cheer. Yes I know that rhymes. But I'm feeling strangely poetic this morning. And I love the holidays.

I have been filled with anger now for a month. I know I'm not alone. My anger fluctuates between seething and settled. There has been hatred wrapped around my heart and it hurts. I have never felt this way. I don't anticipate that it will go away anytime soon and not for years. But I have come to realize that I need to find somewhere to put it, at least for these last weeks, because I love Christmas. I love the spirit of it, no matter how fleeting.

And so I'm offering a temporary cease fire. The cease fire will continue through January 1, unless, of course, the other side does something so horrific that I have to return fire. I am not completely convinced that it will happen but I'm trying.

I'm offering myself if not regular readers a respite, however brief, from my diatribes. It's exhausting being this angry all the time. Though I know it's also cathartic. And it shows that I have passion, that I care. That we, collectively, care. This is not about sour grapes and hurt feelings. No, this is about fear and disgust and despair for where many of us perceive that we're heading as a country. Backwards and into oblivion, and irrelevance. When the guns and ammo of the most powerful nation on the planet have been placed in the hands of a petulant toddler, it can't end in anything other than a tantrum.

When I was little I was prone to tantrums. My mother used to walk away from me as I lay on the floor of a store, kicking and screaming, beating my fists, face red. I was 2. It's what 2-year-olds do. Imagine the destruction I could have wreaked with missiles available to my clenched little fists.

And so I'm offering a day, a week, two to listen to my favorite music, a surprisingly small portfolio of songs done in a myriad of ways. I'm going to turn up the volume - except when it's Barry Manilow or the Carpenters - and I'm going to make merry. Dammit.

I'm going to eat and drink and spend time with my husband and dog, with friends. I'll talk with my family and wish we were all together. I’ll miss my kid. I'm going to wrap presents and place them under the tree. I'm going to sing badly.

My sister's tree; my sister's photo

And so I'm offering this simple phrase, sung by everyone from the late, great Nat King Cole to the not so great Clay Aiken. To kids from one to ninety two. Although it's been said many times many ways. Merry Christmas to you. To me. To all except he who will not be named.

And so that’s what I'm offering. Let's celebrate. Let's live it out loud while we still can.

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The tradition of New Year's Day

by Lorin Michel Friday, January 1, 2016 6:00 PM

I'm not entirely sure when it started but I remember a New Year's Eve many years ago, maybe as long ago as 1998 or 1999. In those days we sort of celebrated New Year's. I say sort of because we'd always did lobster and we'd always had at least one couple over. Often times it was Roy and Bobbi. We'd buy the lobsters locally. Kevin would cook them. I used to cook lobster by the crate when I was in college and it never bothered me. It started bothering me when Justin came into my life.

It always freaked Bobbi out, having an entire lobster on her plate. She didn't like the eyes. Kevin used to fabricate tiny paper sunglasses and put them on her lobster. I'm not sure it mitigated the issue but it sure made it funnier. 

On that particular New Year's Eve day, we woke up to pouring rain. Torrential. It was lovely even though we knew we had to go out to get the lobster as well as other stuff. I remember that we also needed to go to Costco; I don't remember why. I do remember that we were in no hurry to go out so we grabbed the remote, snuggled down under the covers and watched The Twilight Zone.

Every year, SyFy runs a marathon of the quintessential science fiction series, one I had never watched until that morning. I had seen snippets over the years; it was often running on late night. For some reason, the sound of the rain, the dark gray of the day, the warm of the covers made watching episode after episode after episode of the creepy, moralistic black and white show the perfect way to wile away the morning. Eventually we had to get up and go out into the wet cold, but a tradition was born. 

Every New Year's Day I de-Christmas the house. The Byers Choice Carolers, my beautiful collection, get carefully put away for the year. I take them all down from where they are in the great room and put them on the coffee table. I pull out the cases I keep them in throughout the year and I pack them according to height (some are taller and need the taller case). This takes a surprisingly long time. Once they're done, I tackle the tree. As it's artificial it comes apart in sections and requires two big boxes. I take off the lights. This year I put two birds at the top so naturally I'll remove those; also the ribbon I wrapped around it because I didn’t know where my ornaments were. Everything will get boxed and carted out to the garage. 

This year we had a wreath that I need to de-light. The wreath is fresh so it will get tossed. There is also a small lighted tree on the hearth. Justin sent it last year. That will get collapsed and boxed, as will the big Santa my mom and sister bought me years ago, and the Karen Didion wine Santa that Kevin bought. All boxed and put into the storage unit in the garage (except the Carolers - they stay in a closet in the house) 

Then I clean. Then I put back the various objects I had to move to other places to make room for the Christmas stuff. The house will once again be back to normal, ready for the next 11 months before I re-Christmas the house.

All day, as I go about my task, I'll have The Twilight Zone marathon on. I'll mostly listen and occasionally glance up to see what star who wasn't yet a star is starring. I love the juxtaposition and the symbolism. Christmas meets Rod Serling. I bet there's at least one episode of weirdness that will show just how odd and strange it is to have the pseudo horror of The Twilight Zone and the complete magic of Christmas in the same room. That's a celebration I'd watch, and will, all this New Year's Day. 

A theory on why I never get enough done in a day

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 17, 2015 7:39 PM

Nearly every night I say this to my husband: “I am forever amazed by the sheer amount of sh!t I don’t get done in a day.” It’s the kind of phrase that is simply a statement, not meant for discussion. If it was a question, it would be rhetorical. I am forever amazed. I am also forever amazed that it seems to happen almost daily. The frequency of my not-getting-doneness has increased exponentially. 

I said it last night as I was shaking my head. I was practically muttering, like an old person walking down the street looking down at the sidewalk, talking to herself incoherently. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like an old person mostly because I’m not sleeping well and not sleeping well can make a person feel ancient. Kevin was walking from the kitchen to his office. I was at the other end of the bar, looking at my never-ending to do list, shaking my head in disbelief, knowing that I wouldn’t sleep again because I’m not getting enough done in any given day. He stopped. He turned. He came back to the bar and placed his hands on the edge, like he was at a lectern.

“It’s more than amazing,” he said. “It’s disgusting. What do we do all day that enables us to never get anything done?”

We started talking about what it is that allows us to start work at 7 am and work through until at least 6:30 pm, with a short break for lunch, and still not complete enough to make us feel accomplished come quittin’ time, a time in this house which is a bit of a misnomer because we don’t ever truly quit until it’s time to go to bed. 

So what is it?

It could be that there's too much to do. It could also be that I haven't been sleeping well which leads to interruptions in concentration also known as brain fog, a malady made even worse because of hot flashes. Power surges. 

Perhaps it's that I'm easily distracted. Ooh. Shiny! Or that we get pulled into different expected and unexpected projects. Yesterday the expected project was the installation of our solar system. We knew that it was happening, hence the expected, but there were still conversations we needed to have with the installers, things we needed to move, to approve. It took up at least 3 hours of our time. Today it was getting Lorin a new computer. Best Buy was having a flash sale and since I’ve been considering it for some time, we thought now might be ideal. It was the best price we’d seen on the MacBook Pro that I want. But it takes time to discuss and to make the decision. Do we really want to spend the money? Should I try to limp along with my current machine which admittedly has issues? And then, after the discussion had worn down, there was the time it took to buy it, even online. There's a process. You have to create an account, enter all of your pertinent information, decide which card to use. Do I want it shipped or should we go get it? What about software?

There are any number of reasons why each day ends without me feeling especially accomplished; with me repeating the same tired phrase. All of the above are good and valid. But I have a theory. I think the real reason is this:

I’d really rather be sitting in my Adirondack chairs, enjoying the view and living it out loud.

A little Christmas cheer

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 6, 2015 7:37 PM

Yesterday, I officially began decorating for Christmas. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I don’t like to do it until Thanksgiving weekend, and last weekend we were away. So yesterday, I pulled out the two boxes that held our new, as-yet-unseen Christmas tree and started spreading the cheer.

For years, we’ve had an artificial tree. I bought it when Justin was in high school and worked at a place called Do It Center. It’s a smaller, more civilized version of Home Depot, much like Ace Hardware but not as complete. I got a discount because my kid worked there and they had a pretty decent selection of Christmas trees. We always had real trees. Both Kevin and I grew up when getting the Christmas tree was an annual family pilgrimage. We didn’t traipse off into the forest like they did on The Waltons. We went to a Christmas tree farm. They have Christmas tree farms in California, too. It’s a little strange the first time you visit one if you’ve grown up in the Midwest or North East. Searching for and cutting down a tree in shorts and a tee-shirt? Who knew that pine needles could be so itchy.

The year I bought the artificial tree was the year Kevin was doing his best Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation. I have no idea what set him off but he was grumpy “as all get out” (a phrase he loves to use) and wouldn’t go with me to get a real tree. I wanted to start Christmas. I love Christmas. So I said “fine,” the kiss-my-ass kind of fine, and off I went to Do It Center where I picked out a very nice six-foot unlit tree. It came in one box. I brought it home, and proceeded to set it up. Artificial trees are actually very easy to set up and look pretty real. The biggest issue was fluffing out the branches, especially the first time one sets up a tree out of a box. The branches are all mashed; all stuck together. They have to be unfurled in order to make the tree look full.

We had vaulted ceilings in the Oak Park house so Mr. Scrooge eventually built me a platform so that we could raise the tree up about two feet. It also gave us more floor space since the house wasn’t very big. It was a good system and worked for years, including last year.

But this year, in the new house, we have 18-foot ceilings through out. The house is an open floor plan. Even on a two-foot platform, the Do It Center tree would be dwarfed. It would look like a shrub. So last year, right after Christmas, I went online and started researching taller trees. I figured it was a good time to get a good deal and I was right. 

I did a bunch of research. I wanted one that was tall, but not all the way to the ceiling. I didn’t want one that was too fat – normally the taller the tree, the wider it becomes – but I didn’t want it to take over the room. I wanted it to have presence without being the only presence. I chose what was labeled a narrow fir. It’s about 12’ high. Fits perfectly into the corner of the great room, nestled between two walls of glass. I put it up last night. It took hours. There are six parts, from two boxes, that needed to be connected, from the base to the top. Then all of the branches needed to be unfurled. The tree is so tall the base is on wheels. 

Christmas decorating has officially begun now in earnest. The tree is up, with lights. I have to find the ornaments. My beautiful Karen Didion Santa that Kevin bought years ago is on the hearth, my much smaller Fabriché Santa is on the couch table, and the big Santa that my mom and sister got me years ago, who is the height of a small child, is standing near the tree. 

Tonight, the Byers Choice Carolers come out. Christmas has come to the hill and I’m cheering it out loud.

At the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, February 17, 2015 8:57 PM

The city of San Francisco is built on a hill so that it often appears to be rising out of the fog. Its streets are steep and treacherous, its people all seeming to still have a bit of the Haight inside. The Haight is Haight-Ashbury, the notorious drug scene at the intersection of the 1960s and 70s. It’s a liberal bastion, this city, but also historical and stunning. Situated on the Bay across from its nastier cousin Oakland, San Francisco is home to high finance and technology, rich cultures of art and food, and the fog. The north shore of the city, in Pacific Heights, is where the famed Fisherman’s Wharf is. Fresh seafood comes in daily and it is exquisite. Off the coast and to the east is Treasure Island, to the west is the famed Alcatraz prison, now a tourist spot. Further still to the west is the arching Golden Gate, crossing the entrance to the Pacific.

In the middle, tucked between highways 80 and 101, on the Bay side, is Union Square, one of the world’s premier shopping districts with a huge collection of retail stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and salons. And in the middle of Union Square, near where the cable cars run, at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell is a Macy’s Department Store. To most, it’s a typical Macy’s, with numerous floors filled with fairly nice merchandise for women, men and children. There are shoes and jewelry and perfume counters. There is makeup and skin care. It’s a nice store, and it definitely occupies prime real estate in the area that first came to be known because of the pro-Union rallies held before and during the Civil War.

At Christmas time, it is decorated like all department stores. Santa has a North Pole office where he sees children. And it has the most glorious window displays in the country, at least to me.

Now I realize there are still 310 days until Christmas, according to the Christmas clock but I’m already counting and here’s why: dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.

For the past 28 years (this will be the 29th annual), the Macy’s holiday windows for the Christmas season feature homeless animals who need to be adopted. Each year, for nearly three decades, the Union Square Macy’s teams up with the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to feature dogs, puppies, cats and kittens at play and taking well-deserved naps in holiday-themed windows. Each year the theme changes, but the windows always incorporate animals. The spaces are temperature controlled and safe, and give plenty of opportunity for window watchers to watch. SPCA volunteers are also on hand to answer any questions, and to monitor the hopeful pets. They’re also rotated frequently. Any animal not adopted during the day goes back to their bed at the no-kill shelter for the night.

The tradition began in 1986 when Gump’s Department Store was the first to offer pet adoptions at the holidays. Soon after Macy’s – the flagship store of Macy’s West and in San Francisco since 1866 – and the SPCA began teaming up for the holidays. To date, they’ve adopted more than 4,000 animals, 343 last year alone. They also raised over $100,000 in donations. The long-term goal is to generate enough support and education to help end animal abandonment in the city by 2020.

I didn’t know any of this until today when I stumbled on the story. I love San Francisco – it’s one of my top two cities in the country, along with Chicago – but when Kevin and I go, we don’t tend to do a lot of shopping. Instead, we walk and we go to galleries and great restaurants. Knowing this about Macy’s makes me want to shop there. The fact that it’s one of my favorite places in the country is also a plus. Maybe next year at Christmas, you’ll find us at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell. Maybe we should book our trip now. After all, there are only 310 days left.

Only 358 days until Christmas

by Lorin Michel Thursday, January 1, 2015 7:59 PM

It is the first day of a brand spanking new year, one that is all shiny and filled with possibility and light. As such, it is the perfect day to say “out with the old, in with the new.” Old ways of thinking and new ways of changing. Old downers and new uppers, if you will. It is also my annual de-Christmasing, something I actually look forward to.

I am, as regular readers know, a bit of a Christmas nut. I love the music, I love the movies, I love the decorations, the festivity and the cheer. I even love the shopping as long as I don’t have to leave the house. Each year, on Thanksgiving weekend, I begin the decorating process. I make my husband hang lights outside. I put up the tree and decorate. I put up any other inside decorations I want to put up, including my Byers Choice Carolers. I put Christmas music on the stereo. I am a happy little Christmas clam.

As the month of December roars along, I purchase and wrap presents. Some go under the tree; others get shipped. I enjoy the season, I welcome the cold. I even do Christmas cards.

Then Christmas day arrives and it’s wonderful. The day after Christmas we go wine tasting. And then the week sort of meanders toward New Year’s Eve. By the time that rolls around, I’m done with all the celebrating, if not the joy. Don’t get me wrong. I remain filled with fa-la-la-la-la and all that jazz throughout the year. I am, as Ebenezer Scrooge finally decided, filled with the Christmas spirit.

Sort of. Except when I’m pissed at traffic, or clients, or the world in general.

On New Year’s Day, therefore, I de-Christmas. It’s a tradition and a process. I start by bringing all of the decorations I need to put away into one central location, like the eat-at bar in the kitchen. I take the lights off the tree, as well as any ornaments (which I haven’t actually hung in years so that helps). I go to the storage area and retrieve the myriad of boxes that I need in order to put everything away. I box my big display Santa, a gift from my mom and sister years ago. He’s the size of a small child and stands in the corner. I box my Karen Didion wine Santa, a gift from my husband several years ago. I take the other smaller wine Santa off the table, and the one from the top of the tree (no angels in this wine-soaked house), and put them away. I take the wreath off the front door as well as any lights that have been strung outside.

One by one, things get boxed and put away. Sometimes, like this morning, I do all of this while listening, for the last time, to Christmas music. It’s like the last hurrah.

The season has come to end. We celebrated the beginning of the end last night when snow started to fall around 10:30. It was the perfect way for the Christmas season to finish. We had hot chocolate today and toast, just like I used to have when I was a kid and we had a snow day. As I looked around my de-Christmased house, which always seems oddly empty for the first few hours after everything is put away, I was struck by two things: There are only 358 days until Christmas, and 332 days until re-Christmasing.


Happy Christmas Eve

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 24, 2014 8:38 PM

It’s a beautiful day in the desert as I write this, 55º with a slight breeze. It seems both impossible and completely plausible that today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas. Such is life in the desert southwest. I have become used to it and yet I always hope that there will at least be clouds. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but Christmas always seems more Christmasy when there is weather.

Today is filled with a lot of nothingness. Luckily all of the shopping has been done, the presents are wrapped. Even the shopping for food has been done. I will make a big pan of manicotti, Kevin’s favorite, then put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow. It’s always better if it has a day to sit. Tomorrow I’ll simply put it in the oven; I’ll make garlic bread and a salad.

Tonight at the Arizona Inn

This afternoon we’ll go for a walk, then do a bit of wine tasting. Tonight we’ll go to the Arizona Inn and sit in the library. It’s so terribly civilized, cultured. Each year they do a gorgeous Christmas tree with thousands of lights and ornaments. We’ll sit in front of the fire and sip a glass of fine red wine as music plays softly in the background. Afterward, maybe we’ll stop at Pastiche, one of our favorite restaurants. There isn’t much open tonight, but they are… until 9.

When we return to the house, we’ll have more wine. Some stuffed mushrooms, some additional munchies. We’ll listen to music; put a movie in with no sound. We’ll enjoy the season.

It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. We’ll be leisurely and open presents. We may have mimosas. It’s the only time of year we do that, and it makes the day that much more special. It’s supposed to be cloudy and perhaps rain. Rain and cold makes it, somehow, more festive though not more joyous. The joy comes regardless. It’s the joy of giving, of sharing, of laughter and the season. I’m a sucker for this season and all that it brings. The music, the gifts, the decorations, the movies. This year it also brings our good friends Roy and Bobbi. It’s the first year we haven’t had Justin, but we’re making a new tradition and spending it with friends instead. Next year, we’ll be in the new house. It will be another special year.

This Christmas Eve, we’re celebrating a beautiful day, and a fun evening to follow. We’re going wine tasting. We’re cooking. We’re enjoying. We’re watching and listening.

And we’re wishing everyone a Happy Christmas Eve.

25 days

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 1, 2014 8:45 PM

Once upon a time, the countdown to how many shopping days until Christmas started around the first part of December and progressed at a frenetic level until it became like a countdown for a rocket launch: Uh oh, 5. No, 4. OMG, 3. You are so screwed 2. And fuggedaboutit 1. Now along comes Overstock, a website that I’ve been frequenting lately because I’ve been able to find some amazing things for the house at equally amazing prices. They have a Countdown to Black Friday 2014 clock. As of right now it says:

26 days : 14 hours : 33 minutes

I love this time of year and can I just pause right now to be among the first to wish you, dear readers, happy holidays. I’ve written before about my love of the season, how I adore the music (as long as it’s more along the jazzy side) and the movies. I love the weather; I even love shopping, something I don’t love at any other time during the year.

But a countdown clock to Black Friday? Come. On.

This is why many get disgusted. The commercialization of Christmas and the holidays in general gets more and more out of control every year. The build up becomes such that you almost can’t help but be let down when Christmas day rolls around and everything is over by 2 pm.

Years ago, my mother used to get very into Christmas. She would spend so much time preparing for the holidays. Shopping, baking cookies. She even used to do her own Christmas cards. She loved to decorate the house, and especially loved to decorate once we moved to New England where more traditional exterior lights are not just the norm, but dictated by town ordnance. In New England, and especially in Amherst where my mother lives, everyone puts white candle lights in their windows. Rarely do you see lights strung along the rafters, but if you do, it’s done in good taste. Those lights are often white as well. Wreaths made from the fallen bows of pines and wired with pine cones that have also fallen adorn the doors. It’s very Normal Rockwell. You half expect to see a horse drawn sleigh going through downtown.

What you actually see are Volvos and Range Rovers, with lots of horses under the hood.

By the time Christmas afternoon appeared, she would start to get down. By evening, she’d be depressed. The Christmas’ never quite lived up to Rockwell’s imagination. She finally came to the realization that no one lives like a Rockwell painting, and from then on, she’s been fine.

We have long set our own traditions. Living out west, we’re rarely with family so we’ve made our own west coast family and it’s populated with our closest friends. Justin has always been home, and we always have a lovely Christmas morning, and then usually go to Roy and Bobbi’s for dinner. The next day we go wine tasting. It’s a way to extend the holiday.

This year, Roy and Bobbi are coming to spend it with us. We’re so excited. It will be a new tradition; one we hope to continue.

And at Thanksgiving, all of us are going to Paso Robles to go wine tasting. This is a new adventure, too. For years, we always had Thanksgiving at our house, where all the “stray dogs” – people who didn’t have family, or who had family they didn’t care to be with – would come. This year, we leave on Thanksgiving morning to drive to the Central Coast of California. Have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, and start wine tasting on Friday and Saturday. It will be Kevin and I (and Cooper), Roy and Bobbi, and Diane and Gene. The perfect holiday.

So we won’t even be around for Black Friday. Overstock’s clock will continue to tick down (26 days: 14 hours : 16 minutes) and rather than frantically shopping, we’ll be enjoying good friends. In 25 days. And on Black Friday, we’ll make it Red Wine Day. That’s living it out loud in holiday style.

A growly bear Christmas

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 26, 2013 12:07 AM

Guest post by Cooper

I got up really early this morning, even for me. It was still dark. I don’t know what woke me up but once I’m up I need to get out of my kennel and stretch and shake. Sometimes I get up on the bed, after first putting my cold nose on mom’s nose. That’s the way I know she’s really awake cause she says Cooper! Dad took me out and then I came back and got up for a nap. I guess I got up on the wrong side of the kennel though cause every time mom moved, I growled. I don’t know why but I did and she kept telling me to shush and that if I didn’t settle down. She never finishes that sentence when she says it. I guess she thinks I can finish it for her.

If I didn’t settle down then she’d make me sleep there all day. That’s what I think.

I didn’t settle down but I didn’t get to sleep there all day either because I found out it was Christmas. I kind of knew something was going on because there was a tree in the house and mom kept playing all this special music and then there were boxes under the tree and a round tree on the front door that lit up at night. I know it was at night because when we went for a walk in the morning it was just this round tree, but when we went for another walk and came home at night it was lit up.

Dad kept talking about Santa Paws coming to visit. I don’t always like it when people come to visit, especially if I don’t know them though mom and dad both say I’m getting better. I don’t like guys in uniforms and I heard that this Santa guy wears a red uniform. I wasn’t sure I’d like him if he came to the door. Turns out he comes down the chimney. Now I stood in front of the chimney this morning and I looked and I thought, how does anybody fit down that? Plus we had a fire last night and I know that fire can burn, especially if you’re in fur like me. Santa’s uniform also has fur so I didn’t think that was a good idea.

Me and Santa Butt

When we came out this morning, there was nobody else here but Justin – I really like Justin. He can come visit any time – so I figured that Santa didn’t come. Then I got some new toys and one was a Santa Butt! I looked at dad like, is this the Santa you were talking about? He just laughed.

I got to have some new cookies that my Aunt Khristan sent and that Justin gave me. I like cookies a lot. I watched everybody open their presents and laugh and talk. I was right in the middle, under the table so I could see everything, from where I was by mom’s feet. She pushed on me once or twice, by accident and I didn’t do growly bear because I only do growly bear when I’m on the bed. Don’t know why. It just seems like the place to do growly bear.

But one time, I was in front of the fire and mom came over to pet on me and I gave her a little growly bear and she laughed and said Merry Christmas, growly bear. And so I growled again.

Then I went and got my Santa Butt to chew on because dad said nothing says Christmas like a Santa Butt and since I didn’t get to meet the real Santa his butt is the next best thing. At least that’s what I think. 

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