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Solstice Solace--Dec Jan 2003-2004


it's too cold. i'm serious. this is New Jersey; it's 4 degrees. and i don't mean celsius. i don't even want to know what minus degree celsius that is. when it gets below 10 degrees celsius, i quit. the point is, this is New Jersey. it doesn't get this cold here very often, and this is the first i know of it here in a decade or something. it's just plain wrong and it needs to stop now. i moved here from Michigan to be warmer in winter. yeah, i knew there was winter here, but not Michigan winter.

Michigan! take your winter back! we don't want it!

well i don't have time for much updating right now, as the countdown to moving has begun. and i haven't even called the cable company to see about updating the connections there, so there may be suffering to deal with if we don't have online service right away. aack.


yeah, i'm a bit behind. it was an unfathomably bad weekend, and i needed the rest of the week to begin to recover. however, i have things to say at the moment. so here i am.

i have these brothers. by that i mean that my parents gave birth to other children besides me. they're getting on in years, one just turned 45, i presume, by which i mean last time i heard things were well with him, and so one can reasonably expect his birthday came and went earlier this week with him alive and well. and the other one is 47. he wrote me an email the other day; i get one every few months or so, to say all is swell and happy new year and so on.

my older brother Bill lives in Quebec. he has lived in or near Montreal since 1974. therefore, my memories of him in our home are scant and really sort of odd. i know he had some teen troubles. and also he became a vegetarian as a teen, which wasn't all that common then. i remember some of his albums, and his homemade "sunshine granola," and wayward hair, which was golden brown, but getting darker with the years. he had, and still has, one of the brightest smiles you'll see. he smiles with his eyes, and his whole countenance, that is, when he really means it. and you can tell when he doesn't! i know that hasn't changed.

i did a page last year for my dad's birthday, naming things that remind me of him, in honor of his influence on me. Bill's influence on me didn't reach much past my 9th birthday, but there are some things i can mention that are still a part of who i am now. they or something related to them are all contained in the links to the right.

so okay, here's a top ten list in honor of my brother Bill. thing is, it's an odd list, as some are songs that i associate with him, some just around at the time i was old enough to notice him living at home, and a couple i think of when i picture him now.

Shining Star--Earth, Wind & Fire
Spirit in the Sky--Norman Greenbaum
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes--Crosby, Stills and Nash
Incense and Peppermints--Strawberry
Alarm Clock
Brother Louie--Stories
War--Edwin Starr
Miss You-Rolling Stones
I Just Wanna Stop--Gino Vanelli [heh.]
Over the Hills and Far
--Led Zeppelin
Mama Rosin--Zachary RichardAllons


okay, there are a few people and things i need to address soon, in the nascent 2004. i never got to Roger Miller or Nick and Nora Charles. and then i was going to fawn over Jimmy Stewart for awhile. well. i will be getting to all that, but first i want to address someone i've never mentioned here in the ol' blog; Jim Hutton. i think i was maybe a teenager when i had a bit of a crush on him, and by then he had died, unreasonably and unfairly at the age of 45. but i'm not sure when i first noticed him, whether at age nine while watching Ellery Queen, a super good show that only lasted one season because it was, you know, super good. and smart. or it might have been earlier when as a young child, i discovered silly romantic comedies of the 60s. (mmm, James Garner.) and of course i had a major crush on his son Timothy for years. i still think he's very cool, and made a perfect Archie Goodwin, if not exactly as Rex Stout had us visualizing him in the books. but Jim, well, i think he deserves a little notice too, and i'm gonna give him some now.

Jim Hutton was 6' 5", yet he didn't look gangling. it did add to his youthful air, though. you can imagine a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Dean Jones, right? only he was better looking than either one of them, in a lovely boy-next-door sort of way. anyway, i figure he was underrated and this is evidenced by the marginal TV movies he appeared in after Walk, Don't Run, which is the best film i've personally seen him in. as a bonus, there's a fun scene with George Takai/Sulu in it!

but then there was Ellery Queen; an NBC TV series that aired in 1975. oh, i remember how excited we were to learn that it was being made, as my mom and i were huge fans of that detective genre. it only lasted for 22 episodes, but it was smart and fun and way better than the ripoff Murder, She Wrote which began airing a few years later. poor Angela Lansbury.

anyway, Jim Hutton died of liver cancer in 1979, at age 45. just a few months later, his son won accolades for his role in Ordinary People, which is quite a good movie, though i can't stand watching it now. that's pretty sad. the death, not the me not watching a movie part. and Tim Hutton seems to have the same trouble with fame; people know him as good, yet he's not really on top of any list, is he? but he rocks my heart forever, just for getting Nero Wolfe on the air, and helping to make it one of the finest, classiest and most enjoyable TV series ever. his dad would have to be way proud of that.

besides Walk, Don't Run, Jim Hutton films to watch include Where the Boys Are, Never Too Late (there's a tiny Tim appearance in this one, plus ever-so cute Connie Stevens,) Hellfighters (which is rather bad, but you get to laugh at John Wayne in it,) and maybe Psychic Killer, if you're like me and love a chortle at "psychological thrillers" of the 70s. he knew how to be cute and creepy at the same time. how could you not love that?

this picture is from the 1959 Twilight Zone episode "And When the Sky Was Opened" isn't that a great lower lip?

Desert Island Top Twenty, 2003 Edition

in no particular order...

*Comin' Home, Baby-Mel Tormé

*Witchcraft-Frank Sinatra

*Lazy River-Bobby Darin

*I'm Beginning to See the Light-Bobby Darin

*The Girl From Ipanema-Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

*Danke Schöen-Wayne Newton

*Cry Like a Baby-Dean Martin

*Ain't Misbehavin'-Eartha Kitt

*Sway-Dean Martin

*Mas Que Nada-Sergio Mendes

*Soul Bossanova-Quincy Jones

*Halo-Depeche Mode

*Personal Jesus-Depeche Mode

*Strangelove-Depeche Mode

*The Only One I Know-The Charlatans

*Ask-The Smiths

*November Spawned a Monster-Morrissey

*Lullaby-The Cure

*Knee Deep-Funkadelic

*Come and Get Your Love-Redbone

there are just too many, really, to choose definitively. sigh....


it's been a spectacular day. i was pretty sure it wouldn't be. less money than ever
before for the children's gifts. but they didn't seem to mind. it was
a mellow day, and not terribly cold out. i fed them well. this afternoon
we wandered through our new (eh, it is 40 years old) house to sort of
make fun of what needs to be done to it. but i felt all right about it
all, especially after i noticed the clock hanging over the window above
the kitchen sink.

this clock came with the house. in fact, it looked even a little older,
but i'm pretty certain the house wasn't built before the early 60s. anyway,
i've wanted a kitchen that looks like 1958 for awhile, and when i saw
that clock it just rocked my world. it's massively ugly. but i have to
keep it! it's a sign, you know? my inspiration piece.

so then i came home, hung out in my kitchen while playstation time began.
i just got some funny cleaning urge, and was scrubbing pots and bowls,
got ham ready, pan in the oven, and then i got the hilarious idea to pour
Coke over it, like old people do--no way, as it turns out, that i could
afford the piece of beef i wanted--so i sent someone to the gas station
for a 20 oz bottle. then i poured the remainder into a big tall glass
and topped it with rum. listened to disc three of The Velvet Lounge box
set; life is just okay when Joe
is singing.

cut fresh pineapple for supper, mixed peppermint extract into vanilla
ice cream because this area with the amazing variety of cheeses and olives
and so forth never has peppermint stick ice cream at Christmastime! sometimes
i don't know about the east coast. but whatever. i tinted half of it green
and swirled it all together. and now supper has been enjoyed by all, i'll
offer dessert shortly, but for the moment, i sip more Coke with rum and
listen to my all-time favorite cd: Songs
For Swingin' Lovers
, by Frank Sinatra. i love this feeling.


tonight is the dark before the solstice, which happens this year at something like
2 in the morning. we won't have a whole event this year for several reasons.
but i'll light some candles later, and bake cookies tomorrow, by way of
celebration. and we have some holly, rosemary and pine strewn about the

on wednesday we'll eat brisket, latkes, and cranberries, instead of the usual Christmas
Eve lasagna, just for a kick. haven't decided about Christmas day yet.
usually it's ham and beans.

for me, this season is all about the food.

here's some solstice information and great stuff here; essays, art and photographs.

here's info about Newgrange,
where there is a 5 thousand year-old tomb with an entrance that is only
illuminated at the winter solstice sunrise


i was all prolific with the poetry-writing for the first half of the year,
as i recall. it seems so long ago. last few months, almost nothing. i
have two phrases in my head that roll around, maybe they'll end up together.
first, "setting ice on fire," or a variation. also the phrase
i hear from time to time, "feed the need." of course i didn't
invent that, but i want to use it somehow, and probably in combination
with the first one.

the other thing on my mind is my garden. i potted a lot of plants to bring
with me when i move in January. but i'm concerned that the erratic temperatures
have been a problem for them. it was 60 degrees today. and they've been
frozen a couple of times. they would have been safer in the ground; however,
i couldn't know whether i'd be able to dig them up. i figure the st. john's
wort will be okay, but i don't know about the artemesias, lavenders, and
whatever else i had a big pot for. i brought
a few in the house, but those all died. everything dies in here except
and bamboo,
cause you really have to go to work to kill those kinds of plants, right?
but my hardy
, that live just about everywhere; in poor soil, drought conditions,
you name it? they never survive in here. in my new
house, i will have a plant room. or at least a big plant area with southern
exposure. plus an enclosed porch, also on the south side. so that should
be better.

here's where you can see the cookies and things i make at Christmas. there
are every year ones and some years when i have extra money and time

it was a very good year


1. Hot Spiced Viennese, from the coffee beanery
~this is the best franchise coffee drink you can get.

2. Miss Silver mysteries, by Patricia Wentworth
~they are out-of-print in the U.S., but i've found five of them so far at used bookstores.

3. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
~yeah, after awhile, the episodes are all the same: straight guy goes from unbearable schlump to quite tolerable, but still shaves wrong. however, there's smart eye candy a-plenty, and sometimes that's all i need from TV.

4. O2GO drinking water
~i don't know if it does what it says it does; i've always just preferred distilled water, and now i can have it flavored, yet not sweetened. i particularly like cranberry and peach. people ask, "why pay for water?" well, when you're away from home, and thirsty, it's often the best option. and better 89 cents for tasty water than 1.50 for pepsi or frappuccino.

5. method cleaning products
~they're simple, work well, and smell good.

6. Reach Access Daily Flosser
~just what took them so long to figure this out? this thing is awesome.

new discoveries made and old loves renewed...

7. Ultra Lounge cd compilations
~these came out a few years ago, and i tape-recorded some that were available at the library. but tapes don't last long around here, so this year i was happy to finally be able to buy a couple of the cds. there are several more i'd like to have, so 2004 promises to be a swinging lounge year, also.

8. Finding Nemo
~yay! Ellen DeGeneres is funny again! i always knew she'd get the funny back once she got over that boring public self-discovery drama. and this whole movie is exquisite, in every detail except one. but it was minor and maybe you didn't notice or think of it as i did.

9. Television Without Pity
~ this is a great website at which i could spend hours. professional writers do weekly summaries of TV shows that are hilarious and often more entertaining than the show itself. and usually, the worse the show, the better the recap. and there are recaps for some shows no longer being aired, which are fun for reminiscing.

10. Passions
~it's completely impossible to explain about this show. i love it despite its awful self. but i don't watch broadcast reality TV or sitcoms, so i have nothing for which to apologize.