Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Christmas”

It Could Have Been Worse…No, That’s Not True.

TWO WEEKS IN TEXAS. LET ME TELL YOU. It is a lot like two weeks inside a cement mixer filled with marbles…and the odd brisket…and every microbe in the known universe.

For the entire two weeks my sinuses were in a war of attrition. There were no survivors. My head geysered more extraneous fluid than the Johnstown Flood. I predict that the stock in the company that makes Kleenex will soar like a rocket.

Two weeks in any one location can be a challenge, but spend those weeks in close illness sharing proximity with a couple dozen other people can be a true purgatory experience.

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There’s No Place Like Home After The Holidays

 

We are just back from Texas and our Annual Christmas Extravaganza and Food Riot. Everything went well. There were about 28 people around that tree – just like last year. Next year we anticipate the number to be at least one baby higher. The little ones from last year are a year older, bigger, and more frantically active. Two Twin Two-Year Olds in Non-Stop Motion. Picture a crowded room and in the middle of it is a Perpetual Motion Machine on Overdrive.

Katie, bar the door!

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Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

 

christmas

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

Christmas Eve – Brace Yourself

Christmas Eve – one of the most magical days of the year – if you are a child. If you are an adult it is a night when you are exhausted, frustrated looking for those darned scissors, and suffering from paper cuts.

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated, gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and that bottle of Christmas cheer is getting low.

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Throwback Thursday from 2017 – “A Head On Crèche”

Throwback Thursday from 2017 – “A Head On Crèche”

ISN’T CREATIVITY A WONDERFUL THING? At this time of year the Muses are just busting through the doors and inspiring people in all sorts of ways.

I wish they would stop that.

Every year people with Inspiration, but no talent, go down to their local Crafts (No relation) Store armed with a credit card and an idea. What they “create” is then foisted on the rest of us.

I will now present a collection of the Christmas Season’s crop of horrible bad taste masquerading as Art. In absolutely no particular order.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2017 Weird Nativity Scene Art!

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Gift Wrap This

 

HAVE YOU FINISHED YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING YET? If you have I raise a glass in your honor. Please understand that “Finished Shopping” doesn’t mean getting a bunch of Starbucks Gift Cards on Christmas Eve. Serious shopping means getting down into the trenches at The Mall or the big Wally World type stores. “Shopping” isn’t shopping unless you’ve had your feet stepped on at least twice and had a possible gift ripped from your hands by a wild-eyed, liquor-fueled, grandmother. Shopping in The Mall isn’t complete until you’ve seen some little rugrat puking all over the Temp Agency Santa Claus.

Ahhh, the Holiday Season.

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It’s That Time Of Year

IT’S GETTING COLD OUT THERE. The leaves have fallen. That can only mean one thing: It’s Catalogue Season!

This time of year the Mail carriers get a real workout. Their backs have to be up to the task of carrying several pounds of catalogues to every house on their routes. The eyes of Chiropractors all over the country are lighting up in gleeful anticipation. I fear the day that Amazon decides to publish a catalogue.

For the last few weeks our mailbox has been filled to overflowing with slick paper catalogues from places all over them map. They send ‘em out and I dump ‘em into the recycling bin. I suspect that the only profit goes to the printers and to the models who pose wearing the ugliest fashions ever made. I don’t fall into any of those categories. I’m just a Consumer.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Attention Shoppers!

Throwback Thursday From November 2015

Attention Shoppers!

Black Friday Gif

 Boo!

There, now Halloween is officially over – the Pre-Season, if you will. It is time for the professionals to take the field. We are into the Big Time, Serious Holiday Season.

When we move past Halloween and we are down to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year it becomes time to put away the cutesy costumes and put on the armor.

At least that’s the way a lot of people see it. The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving is Training Camp with “Black Friday” being the kickoff of the game where it is eat or be eaten.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More

But Wait! There’s More!

infomercialI WAS SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE the other morning, minding my own business and eating some grapes, when I turned on the TV and came in halfway through an Infomercial.

The format is always the same – one guy and one gal acting as if their conversation is completely ad libbed. Sure it is. These mini-dramas are scripted out by a team of advertising copy writers who try so hard to be creative. They fail every time. Most of the time these actors sound like they are just coming out from under heavy anesthesia.

I immediately recognized the guy part of the infomercial pair. That is his picture up top. I’m sure he came to Hollywood with the dream of being the next Spencer Tracy or Vin Diesel. Instead he has landed the plum role of “The Guy” in about 47 different infomercials over the years.

So much for Art.

In most of his infomercial gigs he portrays a guy who is mildly stupid and needs to be enlightened by “The Gal” about the earthshaking benefits of whatever trashy product they are selling. I can’t believe he is really that dense. If he was that thick between the ears he would never have survived so long. He would have been distracted by a shiny object and wandered out into traffic or died horribly in his own apartment because he ignored the warning to, “Don’t try this at home!”

He must be a better actor than I’m giving him credit for – or he has an off-screen helper who keeps him fed and away from potentially dangerous home appliances. I’m not sure.

My point being –

This poorly acted and written infomercial that I chanced to bump into while eating grapes, on July 16, 2015, was showcasing the ease, importance and beauty of Outdoor Christmas Lighting so I could turn our home from simply being a boring “baby poop yellow” into a neighborhood shocking light show that would scare the neighbor’s dogs and probably be visible from space.

This infomercial went a bit farther than most by having “unpaid testimonials from satisfied customers.”

They showed the exterior of a house that looked as if it was being invaded by Smallpox pustules that could crawl around over your siding at will. It was spooky.

When they interviewed a woman who claimed to be the home owner she seemed not only overjoyed, but seriously overdosed. Lord knows what she was seeing. She sang the praises of the lighting gizmo that did this to her house, exclaiming how much she enjoyed having strangers come down her street and drive slowly past her home. In most neighborhoods that kind of activity would generate phone calls to the Police.

To me it all looked like a prelude to a drive-by shooting.

OK, so this was just another infomercial for yet another product that I neither want, need or would take as a gift. I didn’t stop eating my grapes and I didn’t dial the toll free number at the bottom of my screen.

But wait! There’s more!

As I sat there watching this thing, that only needed Tap Dancing Zombies to make it worse, the one and only pertinent fact finally wormed its way to the surface of my consciousness:

It was July 16th for cryin’ out loud!

Why were these Morons of Marketing running this infomercial in the middle of Summer? It is 86 degrees outside, I’m wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and the dog next door is trying not to die from heat prostration.

Who in their right mind would be buying Christmas lights on July 16th?

Maybe the actor playing “The Guy?” He seems to be downright enthusiastic about the whole idea of turning his home into an eyesore. But, then again, he is getting paid to do this gig.

Now, this may seem callous, but here goes.

I hope that this actor’s parents are deceased. I say that because I hate to think that they would be watching this infomercial and have to endure the anguish of realizing that they paid a bloody fortune to send their boy to the Yale Drama School for four years and this infomercial is, very likely, the peak of his career. If they weren’t already deceased, seeing this infomercial might be enough to warrant the removal of any sharp objects from their home.

Their home – the one WITHOUT the friggin’ ugly Christmas lights infecting the neighborhood.

The Play’s The Thing Wherein I’ll Catch The Conscience Of The King

SOMETIMES I AM MY OWN SANTA CLAUS! I hadn’t planned on it. It just happened as a byproduct of finally doing something I should have done ages ago.

My desk usually looks like Dresden after World War Two. Calling it a pile of rubble is generous. It had reached the point where I didn’t know what was stacked up there. Anyway – the other day I was looking for a small pocket knife that I know had been on my desk at some time in the past. I was rooting around when I saw something that was held together with a rubber band. It looked like a bundle of plastic cards. I gave up on the knife. It will work its way to the surface at some point, but the plastic cards had my attention for the moment.

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Throwback Thursday from 2016 – “Flying To Texas Can Be Fun”

 

Throwback Thursday from 2016 – “Flying To Texas Can Be Fun”

monorail catA LONG TIME AGO in a galaxy far, far away I grew up in Western Pennsylvania on the edges of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Most people refer to them as the Amish. That is an oversimplification of course. There are a large variety of “Amish” communities and sects – each with their own set of rules.

The date of the community’s founding determines some of the rules. Many will not use a technology that came about after the founding date. That is why some groups will not use motorized vehicles while other will. Some will use telephones, others will not.

Last week while we flew to Texas I saw something new. Passing through the Indianapolis airport I saw an Amish family heading toward baggage claim. This was the first time I had heard of Amish flying. “Must be a new community.”

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Wrapping Up The Holidays.

 

   TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “We have returned”…from Texas that is, and we are now going to reconquer Terre Haute (That’s French for “Hey! This ain’t the Philippines.”).

Christmas and New Years in South Texas (Sinton – Population about 5500) should be relatively warm – mid 70s or so, but not this year. There were days in the 30s and 40s and always damp. It felt like we were living inside a Styrofoam beer cooler. Then we had to return to Indiana to be greeted with minus 9° degrees. I haven’t been warm since July.

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Alexa: The Singing Hockey Puck 

 

THERE’S A STRANGER IN OUR HOME. Her name is Alexa. She is not very big – maybe about the size of a hockey puck. And she never shuts up.

I do admit that Alexa only speaks if you address her by name, but once she starts she likes to hear the sound of her own voice, synthetic though it may be.

Alexa is an “A.I.” – an Artificial Intelligence persona created by Amazon that verbally connects you to the Internet. I’m not yet completely convinced that this is a good idea. Why? Because…

Alexa is a “Know-it-All.”

And we all know how much fun those people can be to have around, Artificial or not.

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Reblog Special: From ‘The Whirly Girl’ – “How I Spent Christmas Night.”

Today’s posting is a reblog from “The Whirly Girl. Her post,” How I spent Christmas night” is one of the wittiest and flat out funny things I’ve read in a looong time.

A direct link to her blog:  https://thewhirlygirl.com/2017/12/27/how-i-spent-christmas-night/

 

 

: how I spent Christmas night :


With a laptop stuck in my pants.

You might think I’m kidding; I’m not. See, I decided Christmas was an ideal time to do laundry. I’d have the laundry room all to myself; it’d be a wonderfully peaceful place, maybe even offer a little redemption (what with the washing of stains and all), plus I could jam to any music I pleased. I’d not only complete a chore, but dance in the process.

I cheerfully sorted my clothes into two loads — whites and colors — packed them into laundry bags, grabbed the detergent and fabric softener sheets and a handful of quarters. Then, although it was slow to dawn, I realized I’d no third hand to schlep the laptop safely. So I did what any self-respecting genius would do: I stuffed the laptop into the back of my pants. Not only was it a tight fit, it also looked ridiculous, a problem easily solved by pulling my shirt over it. Tada, and off I toddled.

How did I get to be so smart, you wonder. Well, it comes from a lifetime of being single — you learn to invent new and unorthodox ways to manage on your own. I can, in fact, haul impressive quantities of household goods hither and yon, things like groceries, cleaning supplies and appliances. I can also fall off  ladders, trip circuit breakers, mow lawns, paint ceilings, shuttle furniture like a plow horse and look completely ill-suited to every task.

The laptop in the pants trick is just the latest example of my do-it-yourself inclinations. Except, this time, I couldn’t do it myself. After loading the washers, I couldn’t get the laptop out, it was trapped in my pants. I couldn’t wiggle it out; I couldn’t yank it free; I couldn’t pull or push; I couldn’t sit down or breathe, either.Turns out, it’s impossible to get a good hold on anything behind you, especially something with no handle wedged inside a waistband. I twisted and contorted myself into unnatural positions seeking a better angle, but to no avail.

I was forced to admit defeat and seek assistance. My go-to responder, the office, was closed. The halls were deserted. Even the parking lot was empty. I was certain I’d die, felled by a laptop cutting off my breath and my circulation — my hips had long ago gone numb. I leaned against a wall to rest.

Long story short, a stranger did, finally, come to my rescue. Oddly enough, she didn’t seem surprised or incredulous or the least bit curious, she acted as if pulling a laptop out of someone’s pants was common practice. I adore people like that — the ones who don’t get all sniffy when confronting stoopidity.

copyright © 2017 the whirly girl

Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “I’d Like To Know The Rest Of The Story”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

I’d Like To Know The Rest Of The Story

deer eating popcorn

 

GETTING OLDER IS NOT for sissies. It takes guts and imagination. But it also demands that, as Dirty Harry Callahan hissed in one of his films, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

I know that I can no longer play golf like I used to, and that is a blessing, because I was a terrible golfer. People always claim that it is such a sociable game. Well, the way I played it I was always off by myself somewhere. So – No more golf, no great loss.

A lot of the things that I can no longer do, I really don’t care about: golf, tennis, tap dancing (scratch that. That’s a lie. I never tap danced in my life).

I have had to use my imagination to add things into my life that give it spark and entertainment value while eliminating the need for special equipment – This blog being one of those things. Another being high-impact people watching.

Being a writer, in one way or another, I have always been a people watcher, but now I do it with the enthusiasm of Michael Phelps looking for a fresh bong.

This trip to Texas has presented me, the people watcher, with a target rich environment – The Airport!

Ain’t no place better for people watching than big city airports.

 This trip has us wading through airports in both Indianapolis and Houston.

Just recently, on Christmas Day, I witnessed literally dozens of people who had decided to travel while wearing antlers. I assume that, if I came back to the airport in July, the numbers would fall – I hope.

I saw one fellow who looked like Santa, wearing a gaudy Hawaiian shirt, standing in front of the Arrivals/Departures monitors, looking decidedly undecided. Mrs. Santa was nowhere in sight. She may have been out antler shopping in the gift shop.

I can understand that airports can be bewildering. But, Santa? After circling the globe in one night spreading joy and happiness to billions?

Must have been some righteous Jet Lag for the old guy.

 He should have brought along an elf or two to help him out.

While Santa and the Antlered Ones made for an interesting visual diversion, it was while we were waiting to board in Houston that I heard the following announcement come over the Public Address System.

“Will Mr. Johnston, please return to the Ticket Agent Desk for Southwest Airlines. You are in Houston – not Dallas.”

Now, I’ve gotten a bit confused myself, at times, but even Santa couldn’t top that poor fellow.

I wish that we could have waited around to see how this all played out, but our flight was boarding. We knew that we were in Houston and that we were going Corpus Christi. Mr. Johnson could not confidently, say the same.

I bet his antlers were too tight.

Merry Christmas! 

 

Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

A Head On Crèche

 

ISN’T CREATIVITY A WONDERFUL THING? At this time of year the Muses are just busting through the doors and inspiring people in all sorts of ways.

I wish they would stop that.

Every year people with Inspiration, but no talent, go down to their local Crafts (No relation) Store armed with a credit card and an idea. What they “create” is then foisted on the rest of us.

I will now present a collection of the Christmas Season’s crop of horrible bad taste masquerading as Art. In absolutely no particular order.

Read more…

I’m Not Good At Shopping

BLACK FRIDAY HAS PASSED and the Christmas Shopping Season has begun for most people. I try to hold off until December. I don’t like to do all of that while I’m still dealing with the effects of all that turkey.

“SUI” – Shopping Under the Influence SUI – it also sounds like somebody is calling the hogs. Disturbingly appropriate.

Like gazillions of other people I have started doing most of my Christmas shopping online. It’s easy. It’s economical – no driving all over town. And I can do while sitting there in my underwear. That is something I would never do while at the Mall – again. (Just kidding there)

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Life Happens On The Road

 

BACK TO TEXAS – FOR THE TIME BEING. We have been home for Thanksgiving, but we will be lining up for flights heading south again for Christmas.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.

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No, No, It’s Too Soon

HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? I HAVE. It has already started – the Christmas Shopping Season/Frenzy. The Ads are already showing up on TV.

Ye gods and little fishes! We just had Halloween!

I’m going to have to put fresh batteries in the television remote unit because it’s going to be getting a real workout. It just eats up those batteries when I have to hit the mute button several hundred times a day. I’m not opposed to the ads I’m just not ready for the repetitive onslaught that is to come. I don’t need to see the same ads over and over again, day after day. I really don’t.

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