holiday gifting frustration

I generally don't make a big deal out of the holidays. There are some things I like about it: hearing from distant friends, eggnog latte, lots of slack time at work. The one thing that causes some uncertainty at times is the habit of exchanging gifts.

I sorted this out with Ian* years ago. He doesn't like the Christmas holidays, as when he was four, his parents disappeared on a four-day bender in mid-December. His grandmother found him eating berries in the back yard. He ended up with Child Protective Services and then to an awful foster home. So he doesn't like to do anything that reminds him of Christmas, and I haven't any problem going along with this. (He always remembers my birthday as well.)

Gift stuff for the immediate family is pretty easy as we don't spend a lot. I admit I still overspend on the nieces, but am unapologetic. And at least one brother usually remembers my birthday. 

Things get complicated in the office.  I don't give out cards or little gifts, but others do. So I try to compromise by bringing in food to share. 

Obviously I can't buy anything of substance for The Cub*. I was hoping to buy him dinner but his latest visit didn't allow for this. He came up for a visit two days ago and is headed home today.

Yesterday I mentioned that the 22nd was my birthday (I wanted to take the day off but too much fuss is being made at work). His reaction was to give me $60 so I could have my nails done. He also mentioned it was for "my birthday and Christmas". This grated when I was a child, and hearing it again after decades reminded me of this. But how was he to know?

I found myself not knowing how to respond. Yes, I was being hopelessly bourgeois, but the truth is that I had hoped he had picked out a small and inexpensive token of affection to present to me. I thanked him and decided not to violate the Illicit Relationship Paradigm.

But last night he began showing me some nice Finley shirts online and I began to wonder if he was going to perhaps buy me one, even though I'm 99% sure he was planning to buy one for his wife, not me. 

Perhaps I should concentrate on other things for a while.

* See The Usual Suspects at right.


a historical junking find

Last Sunday I went by to visit Rachel and other cat ladies at the Sunday adoption venue. We don't market these like we should, but then I've been able to update our Petfinder and other listings online, so that's helped the feline exodus.

The pet store is next to a large, smelly junk shop. It rarely has anything I want to buy, and is full of elderly, moth-eaten taxidermied creatures that creep me out. But sometimes I spot something interesting, like this picture.

Here's a close-up of the signature:

It took me a while to figure out the names, especially Sec. Miller as I initially thought this said Sue Miller. And was that Billy or Betty Wells? I put it on my Facebook page and a collective-obsessive friend promptly identified the artist and the subject.

The artist was/is Betty Wells, a well-known courtroom artist. I nosed around and found a book of her art at Amazon.com.  

The Sec. Miller was/is a former Secretary of the Treasury, G. William Miller.

I still haven't had time to figure out why he's been drawn as being awakened by a phone call. I'll post if I do.


new debt, new temptation

Recently I realized I'd heard nothing from the hospital where Ian* had taken me during my awful vertigo attack. Since it had been several weeks, I was beginning to wonder if they'd lost my paperwork. But my insurance company sent me a bill earlier this week, so now I'm thinking the delay was because they were concocting a multi-page, itemized bill.  

Even with my insurance picking up 100% of some items, I still owe various bills that add up to just $1,100. Waah.

What really pissed me off, though, is after a three year absence, Agent Provocateur brought back the Whitney style I'd lusted after - only after they discontinued it. I never buy their stuff as it's overpriced, not that well-made, and only for skinny girls. But I really liked this style. Different, edgy, and with more than a bit of kink gene thrown in.

An email announcing the return of the Whitney collection arrived in my email yesterday. I'm not even going to look at the prices.


 * See The Usual Suspects.


Life is good

Even though the weather is crap - rainy and getting colder - I'm in a cheerful mood.


  1. The vertigo seems to have disappeared, thanks to last week's treatment. Thank you, Egle. (The physiotherapist Egle was/is so pretty that I kinda had the hots for her, especially when she put her arm around me during maneuvers.) Now I am hoping the Cub* will visit soon, although December is probably not an ideal month for mischief.
  2. After much nagging, my mother has been moved into a much nicer room at the long-term care facility. She also has her original roommate Jeane back, which is more good news as they both have relatively slight dementia. And they like each other. The facility has also introduced a musical therapy program.
  3. My friend Elizabeth* accompanied me to the John Cleese/Eric Idle show last Friday night, which was very funny. And I think it cheered Elizabeth to go out for some entertainment. She's been depressed the last few months and I was concerned.


After the Friday night show, we ended up talking about our college days and how much trouble we got into. It eventuated that neither of us got into serious trouble, but we both enjoyed occasionally pranking others when we were living in dormitories. 

My favorite prank was shower-related. It was pretty easy - all I would do is go into the bathroom, remove the shower head, insert one chicken boullion cube, replace the shower head and wait for a victim.

When someone began to use the pranked shower, the warm water would melt the boullion cube and make them feel all greasy. Of course, they would assume that continuing to shower would remove the greasiness and chicken smell when it was making it worse. Some people would stay in the shower for quite a while before they figured it out.

Med school students all enjoy pranking the freshmen, usually during cadaver dissections. But my favorite is when one of her fellow student's fathers - a doctor - arranged with a professor to prank the entire class on the first day of school by pretending to be the professor for the first two minutes.

Of course, the fake professor outlined a study course that terrified everyone. He began by describing a reading list that nobody could possibly complete, and ended with a statement that only about 10% of the students in the room would be able to pass all of the courses and become doctors. Elizabeth said that one of her friends literally began to cry during the prank. 

* See The Usual Suspects.


Kill me now, part 2

I just spent about 15 minutes trying to describe the plot of the movie Dr Strangelove to three colleagues. Two out of three were over 30.

It seems that you have to be pretty damn old to have seen this movie and to appreciate the black humour.

Something I've always wondered about is why actor George C Scott didn't do more comedy, although he later claimed that Kubrick "tricked" him into playing Buck Turgidson in this manner: