Category Archives: Stories


This is hard to write, but I’m thinking my troop of baboon friends can help me out.

I am not a Christian, but I love Christmas. I can massage almost every Christmas tradition into something meaningful for my Yuletide/Solstice beliefs.  I love the feeling of hope and redemption that comes with the season.  I love having a tree filled with lights and ornaments, I love making gifts for my friends and loved ones.  I love baking holiday cookies, I love cookie exchanges.  I love getting cards and reading people’s newsletters.  I love holiday movies (although I will admit I like older stuff better than current films) and I love holiday music.

For decades I have listened to my holiday CDs at the office during December. For many years I played them using my computer but these days I have a little teeny radio/CD player.  I tend to the more traditional music; Mommy Kissing Santa Clause and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer aren’t in my collection.

This past week I began to bring in my CDs and (as always) I said to all the folks who sit around me that if the music bothered them to let me know. In fact, just this morning, two of the folks who sit on either side of me chimed in on what to play next.  So it was shocking to me when my boss emailed me in the early afternoon that someone had come to her and complained about the music.

I’m broken hearted. Not because I have to use headphones or ear buds to listen to my music.  I’m broken hearted because someone who sits nears me, someone who has worked besides me for YEARS (we haven’t changed seating arrangements in about 4 years) thought it was better to complain to our boss than to stop by my cube and say “Hey, I’m having a bunch of calls today, can you turn your Christmas stuff down?” or “I’m having a really stressful day and your music is distracting – do you have ear buds?”  It’s completely disheartening to think that anybody who knows me even remotely would be able to imagine me getting pissed off about something like that.

I feel like a balloon that’s been stuck with a sharp pin – deflated and completely spiritless. I know it’s just one person, but I’m having trouble shaking my doldrums.  Nonny is coming next week and I have a serious list but right now I don’t feel like doing anything but sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I’m not even in the mood to go downstairs and make hot chocolate.

How would you cheer up an unwilling Scrooge?

Black Friday / Tree Friday

While America now knows the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, for the last couple of decades at our house it’s been Tree Friday. For many years this was the day that Child and I headed out to chop down a tree for the holidays.  These days I head down to Bachmans (they have a 25% off fresh trees on Black Friday and they are really close by).

In fact, it was 7 years ago on Tree Friday that I got my nickname from Jacque. Dale had written that day a great bit about Black Friday and used some Shakespearean language to get us going.  My bit was:

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the north and Hansen Tree Farm is the sun.

Open up, fair Tree Farm and await the crowds
Who, already stuffed and sleepy from yesterday
Swing saws and other implements of destruction.

Jacque came up with Verily Sherrilee that day.

So what about you? Taking part in Black Friday shopping?  Online purchasing?  Just taking it easy?

The Best Laid Plans

I have written before about a friend of mine at work who is delightfully  goofy and funny. She loves to play practical jokes on people, and she recently told me about one that didn’t go quite the way she had planned.  She has a bit of guilt about this one.

Several year ago, my friend somehow obtained a  realtor’s sign advertising an open house.  In the dark of the night, she planted the sign in the front yard of a couple with whom she was friends. The next morning, the wife of the couple was awakened by people wanting to view the home for the open house.  She was, understandably, perplexed.  My friend was not aware that the couple was having serious marital problems. When the woman  saw the sign, she immediately jumped to the conclusion that her bastard of a husband was trying to sell the house out from underneath her.   No amount of denial on his part would satisfy her outrage.  When she vented to my friend about the incident, my friend confessed all, but the woman wouldn’t believe her.  The couple eventually divorced.

When have your plans not worked out?


Twilight Time

Have you ever been waking up in the morning and hear the phone ring, then become fully awake and realize you just imagined it? If so, you may have experienced an auditory hypnagogic hallucination.

In August of 2015, Dr. Laurence Knott of the UK wrote:  “Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, tactile, auditory, or other sensory events, usually brief but occasionally prolonged, that occur at the transition from wakefulness to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wakefulness (hypnopompic). The phenomenon is thought to have been first described by the Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in 1664.[1] The person may hear sounds that are not there and see visual hallucinations. These visual and auditory images are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.”

And Wikipedia describe it this way:     “Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep in humans: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.” As you can see, there are several other “conditions” mentioned, that I don’t have the time to explore here.

I love what is sometimes called the “twilight time” as I drift off to sleep, and frequently have little vignettes play out before my eyes. Rather than thinking of it as a medical condition to be “treated”, I often wish they would last longer.

Do you experience any sort of hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep?

Slogging Through

In a comment yesterday, Renee mentioned slogging through War & Peace and being glad she had seen a film version first.  So now I have to tell MY War & Peace story.

I worked in the book industry for many years, in the now defunct B.Dalton chain. Back then (and I assume now as well) publishers did not want to pay to have mass market printing (small paperbacks) returned to them.  It was cheaper to reprint than to pay for the shipping.  In order to return mass markets we stripped the front covers off the books and sent those to the publisher for return credit.  The strips (books with their covers stripped) were then disposed of at the individual stores.

Although strips were routinely destroyed, it was a perk of working at the bookstore that you were allowed to take strips home for free, as long as you didn’t get caught selling them or even giving them away. For many years, most of the books I read were coverless.  Once when really purging the shelves, we ended up with strips of several classics, including a few copies of War & Peace.  I took one home that day and after a few months, put it in the bathroom with my various magazines for casual bathroom reading.  Since the strip was never going to go on my bookshelf, after every 10-20 pages, I would rip off the pages I’d finished and toss them.

It took me almost a year to read War & Peace this way and as the year went by, the book got skinnier and skinnier!

What reading material do YOU have in the bathroom?

It’s Just Not the Same

Today’s post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

Occasionally, I start writing a comment on the Trail and my comment gets so long that I think I should just make it a blog of its own. So here goes. This started out as a reply to the 11/7 Old Favorites post from BiR.

Something that happens quite a lot, is that I “discover” something in its early stages, when it’s free-to-inexpensive, and easy to get seats to. Then it grows and grows, until it’s expensive and you have to get tickets well in advance or buy a whole season if you want to get in at all, and finally it’s out of my price range and a long term commitment.

Two examples are Talking Volumes and the Music at the Zoo concerts. I know that if they hadn’t grown, they probably would have been gone long ago, but I liked being in the little group who appreciated what they did and the way they did it and that they appreciated everyone who was there and we knew it.

In the early years of Talking Volumes, they had 5 or 6 events per season and they were spread out between about September and May. Now there are 4 or 5 and they all fall between October and early December. Too much, too close together. It feels like a job to go and they commit a lot of seats to huge book clubs. It’s just not the same.

When my sister and I started going to concerts at the Minnesota Zoo, tickets were $12-$15 and the hard wooden bench seats were labeled for approximately 20 seats per row (that’s an arbitrary number as an example, I’m not sure of the actual numbers). Several years in, prices started going up but all the seats were still the same price and if you purchased early enough, you could get one of the boxes at the top of the amphitheater if you purchased all 4 seats in the box. You had a good view and a chair with a back. Then one year they renumbered the bench seats and a row that formerly had 20 seats, now had 25. Fine if everyone on the bench had a 12-inch or narrower rear-end, but pretty cramped if there are even 1 or 2 plus size folks in the row. And prices continued to rise. My sister started getting the standing room only passes which was a good deal and it was easy to decide at nearly the last minute to take in a show. Now, when you buy a SRO pass, you have to choose your concerts when you buy the pass. None of this is terribly out of line, but when you started when it was simple, spread out, and cheap, it’s just not the same.

I hope to discover some new start-ups to support until they price themselves out of my range. I did hit on a promising one with daughter #2 last Saturday. She lives in Lakeville and had spotted an interview with Lorna Landvik interviewing Lakeville’s own Loretta Ellsworth at the Lakeville Area Arts Center. Tickets were free and since we are big Lorna fans, she asked if I’d like to go with her. It was fantastic! The book Loretta had written (Stars Over Clear Lake) takes place partially in the 40s and features the Surf Ballroom. We were expecting a Talking Volumes-type event, which would have been fine, but this far exceeded our expectations. First, a chorus from a Lakeville high school performed a variety show of WWII-era music. They came out in different size groups, ranging from 1 to 20 members and almost all of them were excellent and all of them were well-rehearsed, enthusiastic, and charming young people. Then came the interview which was good and made you really want to read the featured book as well as Ellsworth’s earlier, young adult novels. Then, there was an excellent concert by the Hoplions Westwind Swing Band. They played a rousing set of big band, 40s tunes that was excellent. Great musicians and singers and a fun playlist. It was a wonderful show and we will keep an eye out for others like it in Lakeville, until they get to popular, too much in demand, and too rich for our blood.

 Anything just not the same for you anymore?