30 December 2010

New Years Resolutions

This first one I ever stuck to was when I was in college and vowed to not have any carbonated beverages for a year.

This years will have something to do with diet, swearing off something. probably something about exercise. And i would really like to finish the Koran, which i've been working on since last year. Saturday we burn the hat again.

Tomorrow we are hosting a New Years eve party. It will be the first one I have been to as an adult. When I was a kid I thought this was something all adults did, wear funny hats, drink champagne, kiss someone at midnight. This one will be a little milder. 12 aging Minnesota protestants will sit around for a few hours and play board games and talk about the weather. It's embarrassing.

29 December 2010

Me and my passport

I did not go outside the US until I was about 30, when I attended a conference in Montreal. Did not make it outside North America until well into my 40's. I never would have expect a year of travel like this, but mainly for my own archive, the list of places traveled is below. The US places were about two thirds business and the rest family stuff. The international trips were all business but fortunate I was able to include family, Rob to Hong Kong and Seoul, Robin to Cyprus, the whole family to Barcelona.

In North America: St. Louis, New York, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Chicago, Helena MT, Las Vegas, Toronto, Philadelphia, Wilmington, New Orleans, Little Rock, Boston, Charlotte, Columbia SC, Greensboro, Charlottesville, Chicago, Atlanta, Roan Mountain, Chicago, San Francisco,  Fort Worth, Waco, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Columbia SC, Keswick VA, Boston, Winnipeg, Kansas City, Little Rock, Charlotte, Columbia SC, Richmond

Elsewhere: Hong Kong, Seoul, Amsterdam, Cyprus,  Buenos Aires, Rio, Sao Paolo, Santiago, Lima, Barcelona, Paris.

Another day with Delta

Yesterday afternoon I boarded a plane from Richmond to Atlanta, two hrs late. The cabin door closes, my phone rings. Who is it? It's Delta, calling to let me know my plane is taking off late. It would be funny if it wasn't so stupid.

28 December 2010

In the twelve days of Christmas

We are now in the twelve days of Christmas. That traditional time between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the wise men. To most of us Christmas is over, but in olden days the celebration and days of worship were just starting. Imagine hearing someone exclaim, "Happy Christmas!" on January second. Even if you returned the greeting, you would think they were a bit off, or eccentric at least. Christian tradition says otherwise. It says these are the days to ponder those first proclamations about the birth, the visit of the Magi, the angelic host, his worship by the shepherds, and the first visit to the temple before the aging Rabbi Simeon. Proclamations that ring down through the centuries.

Our Christmas this year was spent in South Carolina. Not a large group, eleven of us. We spent it enjoying our company, eating wonderful food from ancient family recipes, arguing over minor points of board games,watching a bowl game or two, and in my case...sleeping through movies. Christmas eve was spent at a Baptist service and a Catholic mass, reflecting a coming change in the composition of our extending family. We witnessed firsthand the wonderful unity of all Christianity and the senseless divisions that must grieve the one whose birth we are celebrating. Below is a picture of St. Joseph's in Columbia, where we worshiped.

There were other changes that reflected the passing of time and generations. Rob and Laura drove from St. Louis, retracing a trail his parents first took when they were engaged. A simple act but a beautiful sign of his commitment to Laura by helping cement her place in our family. Caroline's news of college acceptances and plans added another big element of change. Because our children are now adults, every event carried the possbility that "this might be the last time". Such as when all the women gathered around the piano and sang as my mother played Christmas carols and old hymns. They must have sang for a solid hour. It was the high point of our days there.

The bookends to our trip were evenings spent in Charlotte with Kevin. A snowfall on the last day of our visit added an extra special Christmas feel to his home. He makes certain it is always is a very welcoming place, no matter what hour of the day or night his family arrives.    

This will be a Christmas remembered. Happy Christmas.

22 December 2010

Winter Solstice

About 715 this morning I looked out the front window and saw a full moon shining down on our snow covered neighborhood. I quickly slipped on my boots and tramped through the thigh-deep snow to a fir tree in our back yard, where I took this picture. I should have used a regular camera rather than my blackberry, but still not a bad shot.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." ~Andrew Wyeth

19 December 2010

Diamond Dust

This morning was clear and sunny, for the first time in several days. The temp was around zero and as I stopped at a traffic light I saw thousands of tiny ice crystals, much smaller than snowflakes, sparkling in the air. At first I thought it was a breeze hitting a snowbank and throwing flakes across the roadway. But the more I looked the more there was nothing to account for this.... a clear morning, frigid temps, something strange and beautiful in the air.

I researched this oddity online and found that "when condensation nuclei are present, diamond dust may form at temperatures just below minus 20oC (0 oF). At such temperatures, the water vapour in the air spontaneously forms ice crystals which slowly settle earthward. When these falling crystals are caught in the light, they sparkle like gemstones, a weather condition known appropriately enough as diamond dust."

The phenomena was followed by hearing passages from the Messiah as I walked into church. A great way to start this last Sunday before the nativity of the Lord.

12 December 2010

Twin Cities - The Big Snow

Last night we were supposed to host a Christmas party for about 60 people. Nature intervened with a snowstorm big enough to collapse the roof of the Metrodome. The party was cancelled but rescheduled for tonite. We ended up with a smaller group due to the normal conflicts but in the end the party was probably more enjoyable for the hosts.

I got out the snowblower a record five times from beginning to end of the storm, to keep the driveway and sidewalk clear. High temp today was 4, but that special Christmas warmth seemed to be everywhere. This is a shot of the front of our house right after the party. The ice lanterns were made by Robin, I lit the candles and cleaned off the walk.

Although it was a little disappointing that weeks of work and decorating did not get to be used to their full potential, the house looks great and will be a special place for all of us over the next few days.

07 December 2010

What I learned today from the president and congress

The message from my president and my congress, as per the recent tax related announcements....

No citizen will ever be asked by this president or this congress to make a sacrifice of any fashion, except perhaps to die in military service.

We do not take responsibility for fiscal matters.

If we give you money you will think we are governing.

04 December 2010

Our Home in December

About 8 inches fell last night. This was the white fluffy stuff that is both beautiful and easy to snow blow off the driveway.