The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Whether you live on my side of the planet or in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying real heat on the beach or in your yard, show us your take on warmth. You can go from the literal (saunas! scarves! steaming cups of tea!) to the figurative (the embrace of family members coming together for the holidays, the look of affection on your pet’s face, or even just a photo with a particularly warm color palette, no matter its subject matter). (For more information, go here.)
And Mlle. Renee was snuggled in the warmth of her bed.
While visions of dog treats danced through her head.
Since this is Christmas Eve … a renowned magical eve … I figured my photo post for today would be exempt from the usual wordless state of posting. This is because without the accompanying Christmas Story, the photo would have no meaning at all.
Let me begin by saying that my mother was the original Mrs. Clean. In other words, her house never was dusty or out-of-order. This was a miraculous feat considering she was raising three sons. But every Christmas she would begin a full house cleaning that would take an entire week. This always started with washing all of the windows in the house … inside and out. Taking down and washing all curtains and drapes and then ironing and rehanging all of them. Washing and waxing all floor surfaces, and then cover the now clean surfaces with newspapers. (This was back when newspapers were printed using hot type instead of today’s offset printing and the ink did not rub off or smudge any surface that the paper touched.) And finally ended up by dusting and polishing all wooden furniture with Old English Scratch Remover/Furniture Polish.
I am not the housekeeper that my mother was, and occasionally I don’t get around to washing the dinner dishes until the morning after. But I usually do attempt to keep a somewhat bachelor-style tidy house. (Mlle. Renee is the one who always leaves her toys lying around on the floor.) This year I decided to give the house a first class mom-style cleaning from ceiling to floor. And frankly, I wore myself out doing it. I had to empty my new super-sucker vacuum six times just sweeping the wall-to-wall carpeting. (Mlle. Renee has big dirt catching paws.) To complete the cleaning process, I even went into the basement to look for mom’s bottle of O.E.S.R./F.P. — and surprisingly not only was it still there, it was still usable!
So I brought it upstairs, found an old cotton sock and started working on mom’s antique dark stained end-table. (I know it is antique because it is three years older than me.) Since I hadn’t polished the table in a number of years, it took a lot of work to bring it back to full luster.
In a place of honor on the table there are two historic mementos. The bride and groom from the top of mom and dads 1937 wedding cake, and the picture of my mother that my dad carried in his wallet for over 25 years. Mom took it out when he died and carried it in her prayer-book. When she died eight years ago I took it out and put it into an antique picture frame and added it to the table as a tribute to her. Yes, I guess I’m just old-fashioned and sentimental.
It was a very wet and rainy winter day, and I spend a good part of the day working in the warm kitchen bringing my stamp collection up to date for the year. Surprisingly, I discovered a number of US postage stamps that most people in the country probably have never even seen this year.
This was a special die-cut souvenir sheet showing a large $1 Circus Poster stamp and two 50-cent Circus Wagon stamps.
And while you might have seen the special BATMAN stamp issue showing the Caped Crusader as he looked at four different stages of his crime-fighting career …
… did you know that the four different circular Bat Signals are also valid postage stamps?
There were stamps honoring celebrities, citizens, flowers, birds, butterflies, flags and historic events. And all are available at your local post office and online at the USPS Store at https://www.usps.com/
Too much information on a single stamp.
So support our Postal Service, buy some stamps of your choice and surprise a friend with a real mail card or letter. It’s a totally personal way to let them know you’re really thinking about them.
And in case you’re wondering, the above sunset occurred at Fort Riley, Kansas. Please note that I spent two winters there many years ago. The solstice is also when a lot of people celebrate ancient pagan traditions like burning the yule log, hanging mistletoe over the doorways and decorating the Tannenbaums. The early Christians incorporated these traditions into the celebration of Christmas and they are still around today.
And as you sit around this week listening to all those familiar Christmas songs, remember that the top ten most popular Christmas songs were written by composers or lyricists who were Jewish.
10. “The Christmas Waltz,” (Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne)
9. “Silver Bells,” (Jay Livingston and Ray Evans)
8. “Winter Wonderland,” (Felix Bernard)
7. “Santa Baby,”(Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer)
6. “Sleigh Ride,” (Mitchell Parrish)
5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” (Buck Ram and Walter Kent)
4. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” (Irving Berlin).
3. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,”(Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne)
2. “The Christmas Song – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” (Mel Tormé and Bob Wells)
1. “White Christmas,” (Irving Berlin) And did you know that Bing Crosby’s recording of this song is the best-selling single record ever.
And yes, Virginia, Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks) is also on this list along with The Little Drummer Boy, Sleigh Ride, Jingle Bell Rock, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays, Do They Know It’s Christmas and Have A Holly Jolly Christmas.
So, we owe a lot of our Christmas traditions to a lot of people who weren’t even Christians. That’s why I share my Christmas love and joy with everyone I know during the holidays! Though I don’t have many pagans on my list of close friends these days.
So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!
Personal side-note: There is one song on this list that still makes me teary-eyed whenever I hear it today … it is I’ll Be Home For Christmas. And that’s because my Grandmother had five of her six sons serving overseas in the military during WWII, and she would break down crying whenever she heard the song on the radio.
This is a date sequence that will not happen again until January 2, 2103 — 01/02/03 … a day I think I’m going to miss.
Anyway, I arrived at the holiday decorated building shortly after it opened on Saturday morning because I was going to see the six-hour Live In HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s classic production of Wagner’s Meistersinger von Nüremberg in three acts with two 45-minute intermissions.
As you can see from the photo is was a classic full-scale production that totally filled the Met’s stage. And it was glorious! It’s easy to watch a six-hour production when you’re sitting in the comfortable seats of the Art Museum’s Farrell Auditorium with stereo surround sound and high-definition video projection. And there’s lots of leg room between the rows of seats!
And I got through all three acts without dozing off! It was a total experience of a lifetime! And as I walked out of the museum (at five o’clock) I was even able to get a photo of the Museum in its after dark illumination.
Despite what you might have heard on the national news recently, Saint Louis is a beautiful and friendly place to not only live, but also to visit.
And everyone is welcome here!