Childhood Revisited

My Earliest Memory

And how appropriate for the season!

A permanent traumas was averted

Entertaining guests. Permanent trauma averted.

Harken back to a slower, quieter time:  the mid-20th century, an age without digital cameras, when it took a few months to fill up the roll of film and get it developed.

Christmas day:  One 3½-year-old went to bed the night before, thinking of Santa Claus on his rounds, and worried she wouldn’t be able to sleep for all the excitement.

But I did fall asleep, which made the night pass more quickly.

As usual, I was the first one awake Christmas morning.  But I had orders not to go downstairs until my parents and older brother woke up.  It’s amazing that such an unruly, difficult child would obey.  But Christmas was special, and waiting just prolonged the happiness.

When the time finally came, we rambled down the stairs.  The (colored) lights were twinkling on the Christmas tree, and several presents which hadn’t been there the night before beckoned us.  My mother put on a pot of coffee for the grown-ups, but we kids didn’t need any additional stimulation.

One medium-sized box was the last to be opened—a Jack in the Box!  I put my face close to the lid and turned the handle.  A familiar tune played.

All around the Mulberry Bush
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought it was all in fun.

It’s the devil!  Right in my face! 

…goes the weasel.

It scared the living daylights out of me!  I began to sob and continued for an indeterminate amount of time.

Eventually I calmed down and took a closer look.  It wasn’t the devil, it was a clown.  In my defense, though, it was a pretty ugly clown.  And a little scary, especially when one’s face was just a couple inches away.

Turns out it was a pretty good present.  I played with it for hours that day.  Not too many months later, the clown’s felt hat had been torn off, but the music still played, and the clown still popped out on cue.  It continued to entertain me for a very long time.

When I look back, I’m always amazed that, even at that young age, I knew about God and the devil, and the true Christian meaning of Christmas.  It’s something we tend to forget in this modern era of materialism and over-commercialism.

[This post was written in response to a prompt from your friends at’s Daily Post.]


Fall Housekeeping

I’ve been trying to write (i.e., blog) every day, but since the fall tv season has begun, I’ve been spending all my time at SciFi Chick(s).  (And I’m still behind!)  More importantly, I’ve been trying to read more blogs, especially those dedicated to writing.

Along the way, I’m trying to clean up both here and at SciFi Chick(s).  (This being a continuation of the Overholt Overhaul.)  I’m sorting through my categories and tags (now that I kind of understand how tags work), weeding out the duplicates and developing some consistency.  At first it was crazy daunting, but I’ve come up with a manageable approach by doing a little bit each day.

I’ve also updated my links, taking out the dead links and adding some new ones that I really like, including a whole section on writing.

The one new non-writing blog is one I found yesterday called Fresh from the… (oven and television).  I thought about putting it  under “Awesome Stuff,” but that category’s mainly for help with WordPress.  What I love about Fresh From The… is the way it’s organized.  It’s divided into two main topics (baking and television) in a way I’ve never seen before; plus the top menu and the rest of the sidebar are interesting and easy to follow.  And the writing is delightfully clever, with a dry humor that’s right up my alley

Kudos to Jen,  the author!  Man, I wish my mind worked like that.

The Write Stuff

The Writer’s Center‘s fall schedule of courses (and newsletter) arrived last week.  Every season I go through the schedule and indentify several courses I’d like to take.  This season is no different, except that I might actually take a course this time.  Now that I have some time, a-once-a-week trip to Bethesda, MD (approximately 60 miles round trip), is doable.

I took a Writer’s Center course a few years ago called “Writing from Life”  and  enjoyed it tremendously.  During the course we wrote several essays about various topics from our life, including favorite people, events, food, and more.  (I had planned to post the essays here, but never got past the first one, which was a bit too fan-girlie” and embarrassing.  Perhaps if I can get on a writing schedule, I’ll get the others posted.)

My  goal is to write a memoir about my parents.  (In fact, the reason I started blogging was to tell my nephews and niece about their paternal grandparents, whom they never got to know very well.  But along the way, it turned into a hodge-podge of posts.)  I grew up with stories of the Great Depression and World War II.  At the time, I thought their experiences were the norm, but it turns out my parents’ stories, are as unique and interesting as they were.

Sunday Seven # I’ve lost track

Seven Random Thoughts

  1. So, where have I been?  Somewhere I mentioned February was  going to be a bitch.  It was.  The boss was overseas, which meant I was the boss.  And all of my March blogging time (what little there is of it) has been managing the yearly Supernatural March Madness contest.
  2. Almost 2 weeks ago I fell at the gas station (tripped on the gas hose as I was trying to step over it).  The head made contact with the cement and the first thing I noticed as I got up was the blood all over the white blouse I’d worn only twice.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad.  I never lost consciousness and was never dizzy.  It’s just that head wounds bleed a lot.  I did need a few stitches, though.  The scar has healed enough I don’t have to put a band-aid on it to go out in public.  What has been the most difficult are the muscles I pulled.  My chest and side are slow to heal.  They seem to be manageable now, but I have to remember to take the motrin even when I don’t think I need it.
  3. I knew I should have gotten a pedicure this weekend.  It’s going to be 80 degrees tomorrow and my toes are not sandal worthy yet.  And I just bought 4 new pairs of sandals.  (Hey, I’ve been wearing the same 2 pair for too many years now, so I think I deserve them!)
  4. The temperature in Clear Lake, IA (which is in northern Iowa, i.e., most Minnesota)  has been warmer than Alexandria, VA for the past few days.  This is good news, since I’m thinking about retiring there.
  5. Francesca, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo was ok, but I’m not going to read any of the other books.  It was extremely graphic (violence against women) and the ending went on forever.
  6. I do recommend the novels of Olen Steinhauer.  I listened to 36 Yalta Boulevard (his 3rd book) in the car, and was encouraged enough to check out his first book from the library.  This also happened with Boris Akunin.  I listened to his first novel The Winter Queen (read by Campbell Scott, an actor I’ve always liked—and the son of George C.) and read a couple others.  Of interest to my Supernatural friends, the original title of The Winter Queen was Azazel.
  7. I have a new interest/obsession/crush/whatever, the Syfy show Merlin.  I’ve always loved the Arthurian legend, and this is a novel take on it.  The season finale is next Friday, and it looks to be really good.  Last season’s finale was fabulous. I never did write a separate post listing all the things I loved about it.  I think I’ll spend the rest of my Sunday afternoon watching the season 1 and 2 Merlin DVDs I just bought.

Batting .ooo

TV is not my friend.

Since I hadn’t watched any Supernatural during the repeats, I decided to speed-watch “Appointment in Samarra” last night prior to tuning in to the new episode.  I finished the repeat late (which I like to do so I can fast-forward through the commericials), and what do I get for my troubles?  Nikita!  *pffft*!  Worse, because the cable guide still said Supernatural, my DVR recorded it.  Bah!

At least SyFy had the decency to note that Merlin was being unceremoniously usurped by Being Human, so the DVR didn’t fire up.  (And they did a mini-Merlin-marathon on Tuesday, so I got to watch some season 1 episodes I’d never seen before, including the series premiere.)

I watched the premiere of Being Human last week, and honestly, it’s not very good.  I swear the only reason it’s a hit is because of Sam Witwer, who gained a following on Smallville a few seasons back.  Because really?  The other two lead actors are pretty crappy.  At least Mark Pellegrino adds a bit of class.   (He seems to have put on weight since his Lucifer days on Supernatural.  I guess blood has a lot of calories.)

I suppose I shouldn’t be bitchy about Nikita or Being Human.  After all, I scoffed at Supernatural for its two Pretty Boy leads until I actually watched the show and found out the Pretty Boys could actually act.

So, no new tv episodes for me last night.  Poop!  😦  Instead, I went to bed and read some more of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So the evening wasn’t a total bust.

Secret Santa strikes

I was very lucky in this year’s Secret Santa drawing at work.  The fellow who drew my name knows me pretty well.  He gave me a bottle of wine (reasonably good wine, too), some books on CD (which he’d burned from his extensive collection), and his business card (which got lots of laughs).

Oh yeah, our Secret Santa ended up not being very secret because instead of putting all the presents in one pile, everyone just gave their gifts directly to their recipients.

I’m only bringing it up now because it’s apropos.  The CDs I received included a copy of the book  Freakonomics, plus 2 bonus CDs, “A Chakra Meditation,” and “Why Blog” (or some such title).  I started listening to “Why Blog” today.  So here I am now, all fired up to blog.

And for once, I can think of at least 3 or 4 things to write about, including 1) tonight’s scifi double header with a new Supernatural and a new Merlin airing back-to-back; 2) a great title for a book I came up with from watching “Pioneers of Television” on PBS; 3) why I’d password protected my January goals, and 4) all the different directions my blog could take.  Hee.  Heck, I could probably have made a “Sunday Seven” out of it.

Instead, you’ll just have to make do with this post.  😀

Sunday Seven #4

[You thought I’d forgotten all about this, hadn’t you?  I just couldn’t think of anything for a long time.  Now I’m (sort of) full of ideas.]

I am so sick of this cold weather!  Yes, I grew up in Iowa where 32 degrees is spring-like; but we adjust to a warmer climate much more quickly than a colder one.  So, instead of a Sunday Seven about my favorite holiday foods, or about seven goals for 2011, here’s…

Seven Reasons I Hate Winter

  1. Cold weather aggravates my eczema.  I get red blotches that are so noticeable, people ask if someone’s hit me.  And my skin actually hurts.  It was so cold and windy when I woke up on Tuesday, I couldn’t face the half-mile walk from my car to the building, so I called in “sick.”
  2. The dry, heated indoor air plays havoc with my skin and sinuses.  (I’m fighting a headache right now.)  Humidifiers in the bedroom help, but…
  3. Filling and maintaining the humidifiers is just another housekeeping task I have to do.  (Yes, I truly am that lazy!)
  4. Driving in snow.  Yes, I have an all-wheel-drive vehicle (and I know how to drive in snow).  But that doesn’t help the other drivers
  5. Getting bombarded by the snow trucks.  In case you hadn’t heard, it snowed in the DC area last Thursday.  Coming home, three salt trucks came on the freeway just seconds before I passed the interchange.  I managed to drive past one (getting a direct hit of salt on my right side), but couldn’t get past the others.  I got a second direct hit when the third one passed me again to meet up with the other two. (See Note 1 below)
    • By the way, the trucks drive in formation, one in each lane abreast of each other so that you can’t pass them.  And just to make sure, they’re accompanied by another vehicle (with red flashing light) that cuts you off if you try to pass.  (I didn’t try that, being a moderately sane driver, but I watched as someone else tried it.)
    • Oh yeah, I also used up all the windshield washer fluid for my rear window.  So now I have to figure out how to refill that.
  6. Getting the car washed just added one more item to my list of weekend projects.
  7. And lastly, it’s friggin’ cold when I step out of the shower.  I hate that!

Note 1:  Pay attention to the use of passed and past.  Using them incorrectly is almost as big a pet peeve of mine as the misuse of then and than (which aren’t even close to each other in meaning).