Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas, Sissel, and MoTab

We arrived at D&J's on Christmas Eve. We stopped at a corner antique store on the way in and bought a few children's books for Junior. Pete's Dragon, The Secret of Nymh, and Peter Cottontail were among the titles we finally decided on, although there were many other good ones. I put back Puss in Boots - I think I only picked it up because I like Puss in Boots in the Shrek movies. I don't even know the original story.

Dinner at the Melting Pot was delicious, although I am sure it was far more frustrating for me than for Dan, Julee, and Mari. My batter kept falling off, my ravioli stuck to the bottom of the pot, the pot was crowded with all these stick-things, and all the main courses were oily, probably due to the fact that we were cooking them in oil.

But the food was still delicious, and the cheese and chocolate dips were heavenly.

Christmas Day arrived pleasantly. Mari was already up and Dan was hammering away at something downstairs (rocking chairs on the front porch). We took some pictures and opened our presents. We ate a delicious breakfast of homemade biscuits, gravy, and other stuff, and after presents, Dan and I watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas performances from the last few years.

Renee Fleming's voice was beautiful. Audra McDonald's was rich and deep with feeling. But the one that blew us away, that I wanted to listen to over and over, and that gave me chills was Sissel. When she opened with In the Bleak Midwinter, our eyes were riveted on the TV screen. Her voice was so clear and so solid - it was breathtaking. Her next Norwegian numbers were equally beautiful, if not more so. We sat mesmerized, spellbound, each time she sang. Her voice floated and danced on top of the rich and deep currents of music sung by the choir. I was amazed at the size of the choir and its precision, and I was blown away by the way Sissel's clear and perfect voice complemented the richness of the choir.

Honestly, I do not think I have ever heard such a beautiful voice, or such a beautiful combination. It's no wonder the CD is #1 on Billboard's classical chart and has been nominated for 2 Grammy's. FYI, although you may not know who she is, you have definitely heard Sissel before, since she sang some of the haunting numbers in Titanic.

Well, after watching some MoTab, we ate a delicious lunch.

We watched A Christmas Story and relaxed for a while. Then we watched a few SNL Christmas skits, and although they were funny, I think they detracted from the beautiful Christmas I had enjoyed to that point.

We talked a lot, and towards the end of the day, we pulled out the Thanksgiving puzzle. We made some good progress, and hated to leave, but work calls...

What a great Christmas! Next year, it won't be quite so quiet since both of our families will be slightly larger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why don't I have a cat?

Why don't I have a cat? Because cats poop. Every time I see a cute cat, my heart melts. They're soft and cuddly and do their cat things. But I am not a fan of litterboxes, so we will never have a cat unless we have a pet door so it can go outside and do its business.

The same is true for dogs of course - about pooping outside, that is. In the dirt, not the lawn.

I like dogs, too, although they don't tug at my heart like cats. I don't know why.

Also, cats leave fur around, which wouldn't be too much of a problem for us, because we keep things pretty clean (and Mari's Christmas present will help with that, wink, wink). But Mari's dad is allergic to pet fur, so we're reluctant to get a non-hypoallergenic pet.

Mari also points out that Dan is allergic to cats, but I told her he would be offended if we failed to buy a cat on his account.

At any rate, no pets until after the baby.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gesu Bambino

This sunday I was able to fulfill a dream of mine - to play Gesu Bambino.

When Mari and I were engaged and I was at an internship in Germany, I had more time on my hands than I was used to, without a computer to play on. So I decided to learn to play the recorder. I had this Nordstrom Christmas CD with a bunch of great instrumental versions of Christmas songs, and my favorite was Gesu Bambino, performed with a soprano recorder, and alto recorder, and a piano.

So I bought a nice wood recorder and learned to play the soprano recorder portion of the song, note by note. But I haven't been able to find another recorder player, or more specifically, an alto recorder player, until this year.

When I found out that our ward clerk, Bill Hanton, played the recorder, I talked to him about playing together, and he sounded interested. The only problem was, I only had the CD to go by, and Bill, like most people, needed written music. Also, the music isn't available online, and I wasn't able to contact the composer. So I listened to the CD and entered the notes into a program.

The alto recorder part was pretty easy to write, but the piano part was very hard. I'm not a great musician, and I had a hard time picking out all the notes. But eventually, I was able to pull out enough notes that it sounded very good and very close to the actual music. I wasn't able to get the music to Bob Hoover (our pianist) until about 3 weeks before our performance.

Well, we performed yesterday in church, and it was very good. We had one glaring mistake, but I didn't mind in light of the whole performance. That's just part of being an amatuer, I think. I loved it, and was just glad to be able to play with Bill and Bob after 6 years of dreaming.

Now I'm hoping to find another recorder player, and maybe we can perform as a recorder trio. I really like practicing, and I love having variety in the types of music I hear at church.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Huck Rising

Although I liked Huck in the early debates, his recent rise in popularity is extremely disturbing to me. And while I don't think he'd be a good president, that's only part of the reason. The main reason is personal: Huck is riding a wave of anti-Mormon sentiment among evangelical Christians, and he doesn't quelch it. In fact, he makes every effort to court evangelicals through their shared faith, rather than their shared Christian values.

Huck, himself, will never say anything overtly anti-Mormon. The "Christian leader" reference in his recent commercial , which I believe was a thinly veiled differentiation between his Christian religion and that of his main rival in Iowa, Romney ("not Christian"), was as close as Huck will get. But the rhetoric coming from Huck supporters is starting to get to me. It makes me wonder why I stick with a political party whose members insist I'm a member of a cult that disqualifies me for public office-or at least the highest public office.

Interestingly, Huck had this to say in a recent NY Times article:

"It was time when I realized that a lot of people, evangelicals, had sort of been pushed aside, had been considered as almost disenfranchised citizens," Huckabee said. "They were to go to church, pay their taxes, and shut up and just be happy with what was going on, even if it violated everything they truly believed in."

The irony is bitter, since now I feel I am being disenfranchized by Huckabee on the basis of my religion.

Now, I support Romney. I would love to see what he would do with our federal government. I think he would have an open and efficient government and would make wise choices. Still, I understand those who can't trust him because they think his conversion to pro-life and the change in rhetoric regarding homosexuality are too fresh and timely to be sincere. That's a perfectly reasonable reason to oppose Romney.

But when voters attack Romney's religion, I get angry. Because I don't think I want to be a part of a party of religious bigots, but I don't think I want to be a part of a party that supports widespread abortion. And I'm definitely not a libertarian.

Essentially, I'm left without political representation. Is this how democrats felt during the Bush years?

I said I don't think that Huck would make a good president. The reason the religious attacks are more important to me is that the presidential election will come and go. Someone will win, and I'll survive. But my political party will stay around after the election is over. Do I stay in the party of bigots, do I jump ship, or do I somehow try to influence my party to shed its bigotry against me?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Decorating for Christmas

So I went to put up our Christmas lights on Saturday. I started by the garage because that's where we're going to plug them in, and ran them along the roof. We're about one string short of covering the whole front roof, so I'll have to buy some more.

So I went to try to plug them in, and realized that the Christmas lights had a non-ground outlet and our extension chord had a ground pin.

So I got a ground/non-ground adapter, only it had one large prong and one small (like many appliance plugs). Our Christmas lights have two small prong holes.

So I filed down the adapter prong until I had two small prongs. Then it hit me.

I put up the Christmas lights backwards. I put the female plug by the garage and the male at the opposite end of the house.

Ay ay ay.

Wild Times on Sioux Ln

So we were playing a dice game with Keith and Mary Ann Wonnacott (sp?) and Steve and Dion (sp?) Farnes. You rolled two dice in a cup and looked at the dice. You could call out the numbers on the dice in either order ("6" and "1" could be "16" or "61"). Or you could make up a number. The next person had to then either challenge you or take the cup and roll themselves. The trick is, the number they call out must be higher than the number you call out. (and doubles are higher than any non-doubles number; and a "1" and a "2" automatically wins).

So here we are all rolling and Steve shook up the cup, peeked into it, and shook it a little more. We laughed for a good long time at that, since you have to keep whatever you roll. Plus, he's our ex-bishop, so his "cheating" was especially funny. To be fair, he said one of the dice was an edger, so he was trying to make it lie flat.

Mari and I weren't any good at bluffing, so Mari was out pretty early. I was lucky, because I rolled well enough that I didn't have to bluff.