What is the square root of eggnog?

It’s always around this time of the year (December 20th, to be exact) that my brain goes into this bizarre auto-hibernation cycle.
I can’t hear “Jingle Bells” or “Merry Christmas, Darling” by the Carpenters simply because my brain refuses to latch on, refuses to release the adequate amount of acetylcholine needed to make my synapses “see” the connection.
Maybe it sounds Grinch-like, but it’s not.

Around every corner lurks some crazy bastard that thinks I should be incredibly happy, that I should embrace the “wassail ‘n eggnog” mentality of a holiday I’m still trying desperately to understand.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t understand it, maybe I’d enjoy it more but sadly I cannot.
I don’t watch much TV but when I do I inevitably see a Kay’s Jewelers commercial and I’m pretty sure that ‘every kiss begins with Kay’s’.
Ughhhh.
Hey Kay’s! I’m holding some wicked mistletoe over my yuletide ass.
You guys can start there with a big, wet smooch.
Gag me with an unrealistic, smarmy and overtly utopian commercial.

Avaricious companies like this prey on the materialistic and compulsive nature of nincompoops foolish enough to believe that some diamond-studded placebo will make all their holiday dreams come true.
My God, what unadulterated bullshit.

There is a major reason for my somewhat apathetic attitude towards the holidays and maybe it’s because I’m just beginning to understand that it has little to do with shiny and expensive things.

But there will always be another commercial, another misguided Christmas song and another 100 reasons for me to hate the things that society thinks will make my holiday grand.

I’m thinking that maybe that’s okay.
And I might just make it through another Christmas without the help of Kay’s . . .
As far as the answer to the square root of eggnog, maybe it’s 42
Though I may have to ask Sarah’s roomate, Kat . . .
I hear she’s pretty good with math.

~m

Some Children See Him

It was many years ago on a Christmas night that I paused to look in on our girls before I went to bed. They were sleeping and hopefully dreaming of sweet things.
At the time, we’d put a radio in their room so they could drift off to dreamland to some soft music.
Though this Christmas night was very long ago, I remember it vividly.
As I turned to make my way to our bedroom, my ears soaked in whatever was playing on their radio.
It was a beautiful solo piano piece.
Standing there mesmerized, I realized I had goosebumps up and down my arms.
(a rarity for me, musically speaking)
This song, whatever it was, was something special.
When the song finished, I went back downstairs and called the radio station in Boston and actually spoke to the (obviously) lonely DJ.

“What was the last song you played? That solo piano thing?” I asked.

“Yeah, man . . . wasn’t that beautiful? It’s called, “Some Children See Him”, by Dave Grusin.
It’s off the first GRP Christmas Album. Nice stuff.”

I wished him a Merry Christmas and told him he’d just made my holiday.
I think he liked that.

Fast forward to tonight.
I’m sitting on the train listening to my Ipod when this song comes on.
It’s James Taylor singing Some Children See Him.
Goosebumps, folks.
The sad realization came to me that I never really ‘listened’ to the song.
Tonight was a very different story.
Hence, this post.
Here are the lyrics . . . (much nicer if you have the tune to listen to)

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of golden hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, oh . . . they love Him, too

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

For me, the holiday season can be summed up in the very last line of the song:
‘Tis love that’s born tonight’.
Christmas has very little to do with gifts, Mistletoe, jingle bells or EggNog;
there’s so much more that we may never see or feel simply because we’re all too busy Christmasing the way we “think” we’re supposed to, the quintessential celebrations we unknowingly try and mimic based on oh so many HDTV and jewelry commercials.
Yes, some children do see Him but it’s through eyes that understand the true nature of the Christmas holiday.
It’s never been about ‘the stuff’.
It’s about offering your soul, granting forgiveness and selfless acts of the heart.
I pray that my eyes will see Him for who He truly is.
I pray the same for the commercially blind living in this surreal marshmallow world.

~m

Recipes of the heart

It was a cold, brisk November night several weeks ago that Pamela and I went out to dinner (a rare occasion), not an expensive “date” by any means; a burger and a shared salad along with a few Shipyard Pumpkin Ales which were quite good, one or two and you’ve had your fill of this delicately spiced brew.
Maybe it was the up and coming holidays that turned on the “memory” faucet for me but for some reason I began thinking about my mother. (big surprise, huh?)
When I think about her, I really miss talking to her.
I wonder if that feeling will ever stop?
The two just go together, I guess.

It was no surprise that I found myself on Sunday afternoon making a big pot of Beef Stew, a recipe that I adopted from her.
The simple act of cooking something she used to make brings her back to me, in a quiet and introspective kind of way.
She’s almost standing next to me in the kitchen and to be honest, I love it.
Strange, huh? Not really.
After Thanksgiving dinner, I found a great seat on our “way too comfortable” living room couch and joined my daughters while they watched “Ratatouille”, the Disney flick (and a real good one at that).
I’m not giving anything away regarding the movie but now and then souls and memories intersect for reasons unknown.
This simple children’s movie spoke to me deeply.
Sheesh. It’s Dizzney.
Go figure. (one scene in particular)
Should you ever care to watch it, maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from, maybe not.
I’ll just say that special dishes are such a beautiful and lasting thing in terms of our deepest fields of memory.
Our minds literally refuse to forget the special foods we ate and loved as children.
They bring us back.
Way back.

It was no surprise to me that the beef stew came out as good as it did.
The simple act of re-creating a recipe my mom once made me feel so good.
Maybe she had more to do with the end result of the beef stew than I did.
I like to think of it that way, anyway . . .

~m

ps.
My mom’s beef stew recipe is up for grabs for anyone that wants it.
If there’s enough interest, I’ll post it here at S&M.

Which one would you stuff?

The next few days will find me laboring in the kitchen.
Not a great time for blogging.
I’ve had a few great ideas over the past few days but they won’t see the blog until sometime next week.
Please be patient.
I may be around, I may not.
But don’t get too excited.

A Happy Thanksgiving!

to all of my readers!
Be safe, be well and damn you if you’re frying your turkey.
Sommmm’ bitch, I’m jealous!
Talk to y’all in a few days . . .
Peace, Out
~M

ps. as far as which one I’d stuff?
Guess it all depends on how many people I’m trying to feed.
Later, folks

8-ball

When I was a little boy and needed an answer to the multitude of questions life threw in my path, I would ask my mother.
She was an all-knowing, mystical 8-ball in human form, I didn’t have to pick her up and shake her for a reply.
And I didn’t get “Signs point to yes,” or “Ask again later,” or “Outlook good,” as a response. I got advice on the inner machinations of the female mind, sticky social situations, manners, clothing – it didn’t really matter; my mother had an answer for virtually everything and I could never quite figure out how she got so damn smart.
But she was.
It’s evident now that she didn’t have some predictable icosahedron spinning around in that head of hers like the ubiquitous manufactured 8-ball.

It’s frightening how many questions have pig-piled their way into my brain since she got sick. They never stop coming in, a veritable hailstorm of unanswerable queries.
I get to a point these days where they get mentally filed for future processing.
There’s no other way, right now.

Last Sunday morning (the last day of my week off), Pamela and I took a ride to my mother’s grave.
It was a beautiful, crisp-as-a-new-fallen Macintosh fall day with abundant sunshine and a slight breeze, the aroma of burning leaves from someplace nearby oddly reminded me of frankincense.
We sat on the rose granite bench bearing my mother and father’s names and retreated to our own respective ‘quiet places’, both of us pondering some considerable ‘life thoughts’.
I’m thinking about the approaching winter and how I’m going to get the coal we need to stay warm. And I’m thinking about the fast approaching Christmas holiday and how we’re going to stand up to all its financial and emotional stresses.
I know Pamela is thinking the exact same thing; Christmas? . . . not again?!?
Something’s gotta give, and soon.
Pamela spotted a new gravestone off in the distance and got up to go and see it and I followed her.
It was a fairly elaborate jet black headstone with two smaller stones on each side.
This was the resting place of a 10 year-old little girl named, Victoria.

She died on December 21, 2005.

We stood there staring at the stone, both of us shedding tears for a little girl we didn’t even know, silently wondering how in God’s name her mother and father got through the holiday season and we began saying prayers . . . for all of them.
And here we were thinking we had it rough with our three beautiful, intelligent and loving daughters that we could go and hug anytime we wanted.
Damn, we were so incredibly fortunate.
We walked back to my mother’s bench and sat down taking in the endless miles of cerulean fall sky.
I couldn’t help but feel that my mother had found yet another way to give me an answer to a question I’d yet to ask.
We drove home in a very different mood. And our life was good.
We just needed to open our eyes to see it.
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to remember to cherish all that I have . . .

~m

Four

Here’s to hoping everyone has a safe and happy holiday.
Watch out for those drunk next door neighbors setting off fireworks.
Actually, while you’re watching them, take some video.
It could pay off in spades down the road.
Later gators,

~m

* also got a Rockin’ Blogger Award courtesy of Bella
It came with this awesome Beavis and Butthead gif image
Thanks, Bella!

Father and Son

When we were father and son, the living was easy
More for me than it was for you, I’ve no doubt
Life changes and some boys grow into good men
while others mysteriously transform into wildfires; uncontrollable and dangerous but strangely beautiful, leaving in their paths of despair, black and charred earth

But sometimes, from that black ashen ground springs new life, emerald green, capable and bursting with hope

When we were father and son, little did we both know just how unprepared we were for the roads that lie ahead of us
But somewhere along the way we found the wisdom and grace to simply take care of one another, you and me

And we moved mountains, you and I
When we were father and son

 

And though I know you’ll never read this,
you mean the world to me, Dad
Happy Father’s Day – Mick

 

To Dads everywhere ;
May you be surrounded by all the people and things you love in your life.

~m

Umbrella Man

Pamela,

You’ve never given yourself enough credit.
Maybe you never will, that’s so much ‘you’.
I read stories on a daily basis in the newspaper about mothers that are abusive, selfish and downright diabolical and it makes me wonder if our daughters know and intrinsically understand just how fortunate they really are.
Even though you’re not my mother,
I pray for the compassionate and loving light that glows softly
from inside you; a beacon that perpetually shines on our three beautiful girls.
Though the journey is occasionally rough when the rains are falling hard, know that I will be where I’ve been all along . . . by your side.
I’m that crazy guy holding the umbrella with the omnipresent wad of crumpled Kleenex stuffed in his pockets.
And believe me, that crazy guy thinks the world of you.

Happy Mother’s Day,

~m

{written inside my wife’s card}
*To all mothers visiting Smoke and Mirrors:
I wish you a day filled with rainbow smiles and all the love your hearts can hold.


*Mom, I’m thinking of you today.
And yes, I still miss you . . .
~mick