Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Last Company Christmas Party

Over the past 42 years we’ve attended our share of office Christmas parties. At least, they used to be called “Christmas parties.” These days, in keeping with political correctness, we are invited to “holiday parties.”

A number of these parties we felt obliged to attend. A few were downright uncomfortable for us. I think of one, in particular, where the goal of a great number of the party-ers was to drink themselves into oblivion, passing through several other states on their way there, including the wearing-of-the-lampshade state. Others have been tedious, with speech after speech; award after award; power-point presentation after power-point presentation.

To be fair, there were also some memorably fun company parties; those at George Fox University come to mind. Nice folks, interesting talk, good food, no booze, and . . . they called them “Christmas parties!"

We went to Dan’s company party last Friday night. It was a catered dinner, held at the Balloon Fiesta Museum. (That was the party where I kept coming up short on silverware for the next course - but that's another (embarrassing) story.)

This afternoon I went to my office party, which was at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This was my LAST company Christmas party! It was nice. The setting was pretty. I only had my cell phone, so the picture, above, isn't that good, but you can tell that it had a nice, warm, inviting feeling and was decorated beautifully. Great food, too.

At the end of the festivities, they announced (as is the custom at almost all of these parties) that anyone who found a red sticker-dot on the underside of their chair could take home one of the poinsettias. I looked, and saw a sticker. I tried to peel it off, but it was adhered solidly to the manufacturer's label on my chair. Finally I was able to tear off about two-thirds of the sticker, only to find, once it was out in better light, that it wasn't red at all, but orange! It must have been left there from some Halloween party where they played the same game. The emcees felt sorry for me, I guess, because they let me turn in my shred of an orange sticker for a poinsettia. "It's close enough to red," they declared.

That was nice. Since we won't be here for Christmas, and since all of my decorations are already moved to Temple, I haven't bothered to decorate for the season. Now, we have, at least, a nice splash of Christmas red!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Finish Line Is In View!

It took some effort - a number of failed attempts to sign up online, by ourselves, and two trips into the Social Security Administration offices across town - but as of today, our applications for SS retirement benefits have been officially filed. That's one more giant step toward our goal.

Yes, the finish line is in view, in the sense that we are finishing up our careers that began back in the late '60s. But I really prefer to think of it as a START line, since we're also starting a brand new, exciting stage of life together.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Blew Into Town Yesterday

Dan, Tim and I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day together, at my mom’s home in Carlsbad. To make it easy on everyone, we purchased the entire meal from a local meat market, Keller’s, so no cooking had to be done in Mom’s kitchen. I was a little leery, not knowing how good the dinner would be, although Keller’s has a good reputation locally. There was no need to be concerned. Everything - from the roasted turkey (mixed dark and light) to the freshly made mashed potatoes and gravy; from the sweet potatoes and stuffing to the hot vegetable dish; from the cranberries to the pies – was delectable. At Tim’s request, I did make a big bowl of our family-favorite pasta salad, but that was easy, and lent an air of tradition to the table.

None of us being football fans, we didn’t find much worth watching on TV. Instead we broke out the electronics and taught Mom how to play Angry Birds. She was slinging those birds at the pigs and their teetering shelters, like a pro, in no time! The rest of us found watching her expressions and listening to her giggles more entertaining than playing the game ourselves.

Go Nanny Go!!!

On Saturday morning we left Carlsbad. Tim drove Dan back to Albuquerque; and I headed east, to Temple. We try to check on the house once a month or so, and it was my turn. We were also expecting delivery of our washer, dryer and refrigerator, so I needed to be there for that.

The wind was blowing when I left Carlsbad, and by the time I got to Hobbs, I was in the midst of a full-blown sand storm. It only got worse as I continued west. At times it was a complete brown-out, with zero visibility. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic at all, but I decided that pulling over and stopping was a bad idea, because of the possibility of being hit from behind by some similarly-blinded driver. So I continued on, making fair time when I could see the road ahead of me, and creeping at a snail’s pace when the road disappeared. Adding to the challenge were the galloping herds of tumbleweeds, playing Frogger with me on the road. Some of them were as big as Smart Cars, so could have done damage if they made contact with my car. At Snyder, TX, things began to improve. The wind continued, but with more ground cover the sand tended to stay where it belonged (on the ground) instead of in the air.

Late that afternoon I arrived in Temple. The first thing I did was pull out the clean bedding that I had brought with me and make up the guest room bed. (We sold all of our master bedroom furniture, so I would be sleeping in the guest room.) It felt strange - even a little spooky - that night, sleeping alone in a new house, which was empty for the most part. But by the second night, it was feeling more like home. I felt bad that Dan didn't get to share the experience of spending the first night in our new house.

On the other hand, Dan wouldn’t have been a happy camper when he tried to take his shower the next morning. For some reason, the water heater breaker refused to stay on. An electrician came and looked at the breaker box, thought he saw the problem, fixed it, and left. But by the next morning, the breaker was flipped again. They've assured us they'll have it figured out and fixed by our next visit.

Sunday was nice. I attended worship service at the North Side Church of Christ, where our friends, the MacDonalds, are members. Afterward I went to lunch with them and to their small worship group.

Wednesday morning I locked up the house and headed back west. I only drove as far as Lubbock. Strangely, I got sick almost immediately after arriving at the hotel. I was so glad I was THERE instead of on the road! After a good night’s rest, I was feeling well enough to make the rest of the drive home to Albuquerque. But when I came out to start the car that morning, I was greeted with an ugly surprise. I had unwittingly parked under a tree "owned" by grackles, and they spent the night "bombing" my car -- talk about ANGRY BIRDS!

All the way home, I was tuned into the weather reports of howling winds and impending snow for New Mexico. The wind gusts were pretty beastly, but I was thankful that no snow flurries developed. Albuquerque continued to experience strong winds all night. There were a lot of damaged roofs and downed trees. The wind has died down today. We haven’t seen any snow, yet, but it’s still in the forecast.

I'm glad to be home. But I'm missing my "other" home.