Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grammy Orbs

Ah, the holidays!

Last night I made a Christmas CD that I've been using as background music for the past 24 hours of my life. Good times, good times. I'm quite proud of my compilation, although the four different versions of Carol of the Bells (Hark, Silver Bells) may be a bit much for some. What can I say, it's my favorite Christmas tune. Also on the mix is the Hallelujah Chorus, some Tchaikovsky, a bit of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and a lot of Manheim Steamroller. Like I said, good times are being had.

In other holiday news, I brought the Grammy Orbs out of the basement today. We are shamefully behind on our decorating this year, but I made a big push today and now all that's left is to put ornaments on the tree (rigging up the lights - the second thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me - wore us out). There's a bow at the top of the tree with a God's eye I made when I was in grade school, and one or two other ornaments made it before we crashed.
No Grammy Orbs on the tree yet, but they'll get there tomorrow.
What? You say you've never heard of Grammy Orbs? Gasp!
My great-grandmother used to buy those cheap foam Christmas balls that are covered in colored thread. Then she'd decorate them with beads and ribbons using more pins than a voodoo priestess. Being an elderly retired woman living along with not so much as a house cat, she had a LOT of time to make orbs. Each year her four children would receive boxes full of Grammy Orbs (which would proceed to be passed on to their children). A few years into the hobby and we had orbs coming out our asses.

Since Grammy Evans visited our house every year for Christmas, we had to start getting creative with the orbs. There simply wasn't enough room on our 8ft Christmas tree for them all! (We should've just built a tree out of the orbs.) We hung pine rope from the doorways, decorated and strung it with lights on the outside windows and doors, dangled Grammy orbs from the inside doorways. Grammy Orbs hung from chandeliers, rolled across table tops, piled in baskets. If ever there was an orb not displayed, she'd know. She seemed to remember every one she ever made, and on a few occasions asked to see a certain orb (always a different one, always one not out) "Oh my gosh!" My grandmother would exclaim, "How could we miss this entire box of orbs? We'll have to put them out at once!"

For the record, I always loved the Grammy Orbs (except for one particularly gaudy pink one). The rest of the family, eh, not so much. Maybe it was the stress of having to be so creative decorating with them. It was more of a joke around the family, "Did you get your gift from Grandmother yet? *snicker*)
Still, there was a deep love, if not for the orbs, than for Grammy. She passed on some years ago, but her orbs still decorate the house at Christmas time. Not as many, but Gram has kept her favorites and dumps them out of a box into some baskets by the door each year exclaiming, "There mother, there are your orbs!" I love the orbs because they are a memory, they may not all be beautiful, but the thought is.
It is the thought that matters.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Traditions

As promised, the much anticipated Christmas Stories post I've been promising for a whole two posts...

The house I grew up in was huge, and not just to a grade-schooler, although that certainly added to it. There were six bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, a huge kitchen, dining room, study, sun room, living room, day room (I think some of these names were engineered simply for distinction), hallways, stairwells, even a secret passageway here and there. So, living in this mammoth castle, it was only natural that everyone would convene at our house for Christmas. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grand-parents, Great-grand-parents, People I didn't even know the names of, or my relation to them. Holiday pictures showed four generations. Pull out beds, cots, and sleeping bags appeared from hiding places and cubby holes I never knew about. There were always people on couches and often people on the floors.
Christmas eve I was sent up to bed as early as the adults could manage (because Santa won't come if you're still awake), while downstairs the annual Egg Nog Party ramped up. Sometime around midnight stockings would be stuffed before heading off to bed.
I kept the radio on all night to listen for "Santa Sightings." One year, my uncles and cousins went running round the house in three feet of snow ringing sleigh bells for me. I never woke-up. Poor Matthew came down with pneumonia before New Year's thanks to the escapade.
Christmas morning started at about 3 a.m., after maybe four hours of sleep. I'd run into my great-grandmother's room and ask if it was time yet. She'd say, "No! Go back to bed!" A few minutes later I'd return. "Is it time now?" "Let people sleep!" "But what if Santa's come!" "I haven't heard him yet - go back to bed." A few more minutes later. "Have you heard Santa come yet?"
After a few years of this, my Mom finally wised up and started heading me off before I could get to Grammy's room. Around 6 or 6:30 it was finally time, I had bugged everyone enough that they'd given up hope of me (and consequently them) falling asleep again. Grammy and I each grabbed a strap of sleigh bells and went through the house ringing them in people's ears and shouting "Merry Christmas!" until they got up.
There were a few years, when I was old enough to understand and young enough to believe, the family cut out big Santa-prints and little elf-prints out of paper and laid them out like a Family Circus cartoon. They came from the chimney, of course, then Santa would go to the cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer), then the tree, then a hop on the logs and back up the chimney. The elves were a little less focused in their efforts. They chased each other around the dining room table, hopping on the chairs, and finally walking across the table itself. They often scaled the presents like little mountain climbers trying to reach the top of the tree. One year, they stopped at the fridge and left a partially eaten slice of cheese on the floor. My Gram was so angry about the food on the floor (it would attract mice!) that she didn't notice the dishwasher the elves had left her.
After chasing elf prints (you had to follow every trail to make sure one wasn't still in the house somewhere), gift unwrapping began with stockings. Everyone had their own seat they sat in every year for Christmas. Mine was the best, Mom and I sat on the cushions in front of the picture windows. There was a heater under the seat and I was right next to the tree. It's a wonder my wrapping paper massacre never caught fire being piled up right in front of the heater.

I'm a little old for the elf-prints (just a little), but we still ring bells every year. Two years ago, I was staying with my mom for the holiday and she and my little brother burst into my bedrooms bells ringing and camera recording while I was getting dressed. Apparently, mom hadn't told me to wait a minute over the sleigh bells.
I never did make sure she destroyed that tape - she distracted me with presents. Damn.

Happy Holidays to all! May you relive your childhood this magical season.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

From a Videographer's Diary

Another day, another dollar; fifteen hours on showshoes and I wish I had pie.
- From a Maine Trapper's Diary

That was yesterday. Eleven hours spent standing at a camera filming the Cancer Research Classic basketball invitational for a live webcast.
I came to realize that standing still for hours on end hurts much more than walking for as many hours. Or maybe it's just that walking provides a distraction from the pain. My apologies to the players, but after half a season filming college games, high school level was not incredibly interesting to me. Less so because I had neither affiliations or interests in any of the schools participating. I will say that the last game, between two preparatory schools was interesting. Of course, that was partially do to the consternation of the color commentary over name pronunciations. (Our heartfelt apologies to Mathang, but we tried to go with phonetic pronunciations.)

The long day was made bearable by lots of caffeine and two six-foot party subs. The snow fell outside, but we were warm and protected, albeit weary. I didn't win the 50/50 raffle, but wasn't too upset since the money went towards cancer research. The letdown came at the end of the day. The volunteers had been told they would be walking home with a fresh new Benjamin for their willingness to stick it out a day after final exams ended. After the broadcast ended, we were informed they'd cut us a check sometime next week.
The pay that would make all the pain and endurance well worth it was being postponed. Although I was disgruntled, this is not a huge deal to me. I probably would have done it for free (but don't spread that along to my boss). I feel a little worse for my companions, one of whom was planning on Christmas shopping with that money, another who caught a flight back home to Philly today.

I made it home late, and disheartened. The cat needed fed, the dog needed out, and I needed chocolate. I went for the turtle sundae pie in the fridge, only to discover it was ice cream and should've been kept in the freezer. I would've gone at it anyway, but I was too exhausted to bother with a bowl and spoon. Instead I got a glass of cold milk and the cookie jar and made my way to the study to check e-mails while the puppy ran off his energy in the yard.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a package on the coffee table. I wasn't expecting anything, but Dorchester had send me an ARC (advanced reading copy) from one of my favorite authors! (I won't name names for fear of my life, but this book isn't for sale until February.)
It made up for my aching back and the legs that had lost feeling below the thighs. I sat at the desk with the opened cookie jar in my lap, happily munching on chocolate chip cookies dunked in the glass sitting between me and the keyboard, and e-mailed a quick thanks to the author.

It had still been a long day, and I still needed a soak in a hot tub, but all in all, the book was better than pie.

(P.S. Entertaining Christmas has been postponed due to residual exhaustion, check back later)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Where have I been? What have I been up to?

Unfortunately, the answers are right here, and not much. Still plugging away at school. I'm trying to devise an independent major so I'll have more room for electives because being a double major barely leaves me room for core. I've become very interested in philosophy this semester and may minor in it if I can be certified for the independent major.
I'm looking into careers to keep my fed and sheltered while I pursue my writing. If anyone either knows, or knows someone who knows what is entailed in editing or literary agency, drop me a line. I'd like to stay near the writing profession, since it's where my interest lies. Or better yet, how does one become a professional book reviewer? Anything that pays me to read is a good job.

Thisbee In older news, I got a puppy. Thisbee, bless her soul, had to be put down last summer when she went into kidney failure at the amazing age of 21.

Boston, my remaining kitty, was raised by a dog and growls, chases her tail, guards against intruders, fetches, and all around acts way more like a canine than a feline, so I thought a dog would make a better companion for her than another cat.

Also, Gram was very picky about what kind of cat I was allowed to get. No white, not even if it also had black. She says white cats are crazy. No cats from my Mom. (Mom lives on a farm and has a new litter running around every month, it seems, but my mom has very bad luck with cats. All of hers get some disease, like FeLV, and need to be put down.) Gram decided she would accept a striped cat, but it had to be orange, or brown like Thisbee. Black and white stripes were a no.

Ironically, even though Gram didn't want me to get a dog, she had less rules about what I couldn't get for a dog. She didn't want a big dog. That was her only rule. I didn't want a hound dog (because of their baying howl).

After a month of touring the local pounds, I came home with this:


Yes, he's so cute and tiny. It didn't last (not the tiny part at any rate). His previous owner dropped him off in run sometime in the night with a female pup we assumed was his sister. No note, just a bad case of fleas and tics. Frontline cleaned up the pests and after a week of no one claiming him, I brought him home and named him Tarent. (At the pound, they called him Jack, which just made me think Captain Jack Sparrow because this was just after Pirates 3 hit theaters. Plus, I'm not a big fan of giving animals common people names.)

Boston, not happy about Tarent
The pound guessed he was 4 months old and a Cocker Spaniel mix (even though his sister looked like a coon hound). The vet pegged him at 3 months (he's now 9 months old), and he's nearing the 50lb mark, not your typical cocker size. The vet thinks he's more setter. I think he looks more like an English Setter, but with shorter fur and snout. I no longer have to bend over to pet his head, and he's now strong enough to pull me off a curb when we go for walks. The cat, by the way, NOT happy about the dog. They're learning to get along, though. Tarent likes to play "poke the kitty" where he jumps back and forth jabbing paws at her. Boston, in return, likes to chew on Tarent's legs. I guess it works out evenly.

I'll try to be a more vigilant blogger. For the holiday season, my next blog will have an entertaining story about Christmas tradition in my family, but for now, I bid you adieu.

Later Days!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Since my last post I have...

  • Gotten a laptop (WOOT!!!)
  • Taken four exams
  • Failed two quizzes
  • Passed four quizzes
  • Attended two tutoring sessions
  • Started working out (as in weight lifting between classes - although why I thought I had the spare time is beyond me!)
  • Written at least 10 papers
  • Turned in at least 15 projects
  • Started playing intramural soccer (again, no idea why I thought I had the time to spare)
  • Written three articles for the school newspaper
  • Skipped 4 classes
  • Ached in more muscles than I knew I had
  • Attended 3 dances and a toga party
  • Consumed 2 alcoholic beverages (is that all?)
  • Been evacuated from a building because of a fire alarm 3 times
  • Missed 1 off-Broadway performance I'd really been looking forward to (SPAMALOT)
  • Bought a ticket for Oedipus the King (this Thursday)
  • Had a dream all the boys in school had a crush on me
  • Almost got fired over a damn Pony Party
  • Have read at least 8 books (probably more)
  • Won a book on the Midnight Hour blog (Dark Protector)
  • Watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" (which I bought in a 3 pack of Charlie Brown holiday DVD's around Christmas last year & just now got around to watching)
  • Started craving the Thriller video, it's my Halloween addiction
  • Have read countless other blogs, but rarely had time to comment
  • Found time (and this amazes me most!) to work on my own book, which I decided needed an entirely new beginning *sigh*
  • Found out all the horses grew their winter coats in just 5 days of my absence
  • Attended 3 soccer games, one which ended in a fight very hockey-esque, only with fans running down out of the stands and jumping the fence to join in
  • Took a "Mock Field Sobriety Test" with special goggles that make you feel drunk

This is all that's coming to mind at the moment, but I'm sure there were at least a handful of other items of note.

Life is busy with school, and work on the weekends. This is a rare weekend off. I spent yesterday at the gym, and am spending today acutely aware of my thigh muscles.

Currently reading: Midnight Moon by Lori Handeland - it's been in my TBR since it came out about 2 months ago & I'm finally getting around to it. I've actually only gotten as far as the prologue, but it's awesome. I think I may have a reader's crush on Lori's voice.

Other books I've read lately: A Dream of Stone and Shadow by Marjorie M. Liu in the anthology Dark Dreamers. I was admittedly skeptical of Marjorie's ability to pull off a novella. Not because she isn't an incredibly awesome writer, just because she packs so much action, and drama, and foreshadowing into her novels, I didn't see how she'd be able to condense it into a smaller work. She did an incredible job, however. Anyone who used to swoon over Gargoyles (I think they still show re-runs on Toon Disney) should check this book out. If you're not reading Marjorie yet...what the hell is wrong with you?

Primal Heat, by Susan Sizemore. I love her prime stories, but this one seemed lacking somewhere. I finished it off in just over a day. She's usually a quick read for me, but I felt like I needed more content this time. Still, a good book, and nice & sexy.

Cover of Night, by Linda Howard. I'm a HUGE Linda Howard fan, but this one just didn't do it for me. Seemed like it took a little too long for the story to start, and then it was over too quickly. Also seemed like not everything was tied up at the end. I was a little frustrated by this one, but still looking forward to her next release.

Touch a Dark Wolf, by Jennifer St. Giles. Sexy werewolf-esque story. Interesting premise. I'm looking forward to the continuation of this series, but the first book seemed like it could use more depth, although I did enjoy the read.

Full Moon Rising, by Keri Arthur. This is one of the books I received in Atlanta. She's an Aussie author and the book revolves around weres & vamps & the rules they're governed by in this somewhat futuristic society. Interesting idea. I really enjoyed the book, but the end left me a tad pissed off. I'm waiting for the sequel to see if the issue is resolved.

Well, that's all I have time for now. Sorry I've been so lax in posting, but thanks for still stopping by. Hopefully the intervals won't be quite so long in the future. I just got through midterms, so with any luck things will be a bit more relaxed until finals.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Long-Weekend Plans

As if writing isn't already enough of a self-imposed hell, I caught wind from Marjorie M. Liu's blog about the Three Day Novel Contest.

Obsessive? Yes.
Compulsive? Probably.
Crazy? Without a doubt.

Still, it sounds fun in that insane-sorta-way most authors seem to view the world. I'll be working at the stables all day, but the idea of super-gluing my ass to the computer desk for 72 hours holds a hint of merit to me.

When all other motivational tactics fail, delve into insane-self-torture tactics, I suppose. To any taking the task on, good luck. May your muse be a chatter box and may your coffee be black.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


For some unknown reason, this has been popping through my mind a lot lately, and Jaye only seemed to reinforce the thought with her post on slogans today, so I figured I'd give in to the urge to blog it.

Do we all know how the names Cook, Carpenter, and Smith originated? Surnames based on profession. So what about unprofessional surnames? Let's pretend all surnames originate from either a person's job or personality. What would you surname say about you?

My surname is Basham
1. professional boxer
2. person with rather violent outward tendencies

Any interesting surnames you've heard that make you wonder?

(Anyone who doesn't feel comfortable posting their surname may either just post the profession/trait, or use surnames they've heard)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Puritanical Indentured Servitude

Props to Mignon for supplying the idea for the title.

Surprisingly, my so-called indentured servitude was not as bad as I'd imagined it would be. It was a few degrees under sweltering with humidity about 10% under sauna level, but at least we weren't hit by the severe thunderstorms forecasted.

The "paintball" group turned out to be a spin-off from D&D. We were greeted by a "witch" in some none-too-appealing garb, who politely informed us they'd be running around the property wailing on eachother with foam swords, but to just ignore them because we didn't exist in their world...unless we were monsters trying to attack them (which I rather fancied the idea of).

Ms. Witchy was actually an alum of my University, which seemed a slight embarrassment to Ms. Ditz. She threw a few satchels of birdseed at us ("spells") and was ready to depart when a Knight in Shining Armor strode up. We heard the clanking from a ways away and one of the girls commented, "Wow, he looks hot." She'll never live that down, even though the man was likely more than twice her 18-years-of-age and she meant "sweaty in all that armor" not "wow his sword is long."

Sir Knight allowed us to wail on him for a bit with his foam sword, saying it was good practice for his upcoming "duel to the death" against two ogres. Nothing personal, but my money would be on Shrek & Fiona. Especially if Donkey was there.

The majority of my group (apart from the 2 instructors) are 18-year-old freshmen who were a little harsh with comments about how they "wouldn't be caught dead running around with a foam sword fighting Ogres in their forties." I was a little pissed that the instructors didn't back me up in my comments of, "everyone has little quirks and odd hobbies - it's not like they wear that garb to work. They've been very nice to us and not been disrespectful to us in any way (with an unvoiced 'we should return the favor')" Matter of fact, Ms. Ditz was among the girls making comments about "crazies" and "weirdos."

Everyone has their own thing they do for fun. I wasn't about to make snide comments about a group of people who had been perfectly nice to us, even let us wail on them with swords. Although I will say this, I had an unresistable urge to quote Monty Python. In particular, "We are the Knights who say NI!"

So psyched about my trip up to Pittsburgh to see Spamalot, but that's a story for another night.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New Student Disorientation

Or maybe it was orientation? Only thing I'm sure of is I took the long way back to my car and didn't even realize until turning back to the short cut would've been longer than the scenic route.

Today I learned the Alma Mater. It was lead by the head of the English department, who will probably end up being my advisor. She's a jovial woman with a wonderful singing voice and a bright red mullet. In fact, two of the professors who spoke today sported a Mississippi Mud-Flap. Doesn't do much in the way of my attempts to convince dormers that we local commuters are not inbred hicks running through the woods with guns in lieu of any better pastime because inebriation has left us impotent.

Speaking of hicks with guns. (what a segue) Tomorrow we're volunteering to clean up a local girl scout camp. That is, we're being forced to volunteer, so I think it counts more as slave labor, but it gives us one of the 16 health credits we need to achieve before graduating.

My FYS instructor is a tad ditzy. I'm not sure what her exact role at the University is, but I have gleamed they don't find her competent enough to teach a real class. She may be an alum.

Anywho, Madame Ditzy was speaking quite exuberantly about our forced-volunteer work tomorrow. (as a side note, I have nothing against volunteering, I do it quite often, but I prefer to choose when and where - I was supposed to be at work today and yesterday, but Thursday I stumbled upon the knowledge that all First Year Students must be present Fri & Sat....or suffer the horrid consequences...I guess) (sorry, went off track again - back to the point-) Apparently, she imparted, "there is a group of locals who have rented out the site and will be running through the woods trying to shoot eachother." Anyone seen Deliverance? I could nearly hear the banjo pickings in my classmates' imaginations. Not to worry, however, because they'll be in a different area than us. One suddenly pasty freshman asked if we would be provided protection against stray bullets. "Oh, no!" Madame Ditz assured her, "They're not using real guns....oh, guns are real....but the bullets aren't? Something. It's a game - that's why they're shooting eachother."

As much as I was enjoying the looks of terror, I didn't want to be the only one from my class to show up for Egyptian Slave Labor tomorrow, so I supplied "paintball." *sigh* "What fools these mortals be."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hard Riding for Hardly a Rider

Horse Lover's Camp is over. Can I get a *woot!*? It's almost odd not having the little ratkins scampering all over this week. No teary-eyed pre-teens coming up to me and stuttering, "Um....Cody caught a baby rabbit."
File under "Reason's I'm going to hell" - I did get slight enjoyment over telling the girl it was probably too late to do anything for the rabbit. Don't get me wrong, I felt bad for the baby bunny, but the girl was an irritating brat.

The volunteers have been persistently asking me if I'll be returning to my dream job of hit-woman now that I'm going down to part-time at the stables. I can only assume they have work for me by the frequency of their curiosity.

Last Sunday, to celebrate the end of camp, we had a party for the three staff members and ump-teen-something volunteers. We were supposed to chill out, eat some food, play horsey games (like stable style Jeopardy). Instead, I nibbled some snacks, then was dragged around by an exuberant 11year-old as we played a trivia scavenger hunt game. We're given a note card with a question on it, which will lead us to another note card with a question on it, which we need to look-up the answer to (if we don't know it) so we can receive another note card with a question on it. I wasn't thrilled with the cycle of running back and forth across the acreage when this was supposed to be a day off.

After the savager hunt, we went riding. I love riding, but I'd been told we wouldn't be riding that afternoon, so I wore a cotton tank with a bra built in, ala-WalMart. Not the best support option for a double-D girl riding a horse who likes to trot.

As much as I do enjoy riding, I don't get to do it very often, and I rode hard for someone not accustomed to it. My boobs hurt. Every woman there came up to me afterwards and said I was a braver woman than they. Bravery, stupidity - funny how often those two can be confused. I also feel like I've been doing splits. No more cantering for me for a while. I did go down trail today, although I think I lost my kneecaps somewhere out in the woods.

Got me thinking how people think they're in shape, even people who exercise every day & stick to a rigid diet. If you're not accustomed to certain things, your muscles will let you know the next morning. Muscles you didn't know you had, and had certainly never thought of working out before. It's been a while since my thighs have had a good pounding, but I guess now I'll just be in better shape for the next time I get into some rigorous sex. Or cantering. Whichever.

Any muscles you were recently reminded of that you rarely use?