Archive for December, 2010
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
From our home to yours, we wish you a blessed Christmas Day!
Can’t let these holiday headlines pass by without sharing:
From the Drudge Report: AIRPORT SHUT DOWN – BY STUFFED CHICKEN
All you anti-Drudge types out there can finally rest assured that this item proves Mr. Drudge is committed to serious journalism. From the full story in TheAdvertiser.com we learn that Louisiana’s Lafayette Regional Airport “was briefly shut down as authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to contain a frozen chicken and a head lamp”. Always good to know our trusty TSA employees are investigating the big threats…
And, courtesy of Angie (where does she find these things?) a link to the Three Swingin’ Chicks blog http://threeswinginchicks.blogspot.com/2009/01/chicken-sweaters.html and this catchy post title:
which goes on to describe how senior citizens are knitting sweaters for chickens (except that it’s in the UK so they’re called jumpers, which I know because I vividly remember that bit in Bridget Jones Diary where Colin Firth is made to wear a perfectly horrid one sporting a giant reindeer) Here’s the video:
The birds in question are rescued battery chickens, meaning they are the one or two-year-old hens routinely “discarded” (I wonder if that’s the term they’ll use when the death panels kick in for all of us whose Social Security checks have become an inconvenient truth…) by commercial egg farms once their most productive laying abilities have ended. It’s a sad agribusiness reality but since it’s the holiday season, we’ll just be happy for those UK chickens who are now warm and cozy in their jumpers.
Hope you find exactly what you want under the Christmas tree!
On the front end of what is forecasted to be a five-day rainstorm. The rain commenced around 2 am last night. I know this because I was awake at 2 am. And 3 am, 4 am and 5 am. All I really want for Christmas is some sleep.
And maybe a moat. Three unsolicited visits this week from neighborhood dogs, each a very near miss insofar as chickens being toast. Victoria was coming back from a walk with Chloe and Soho when the neighbor’s new Australian Shepherd puppy bounded up and decided to pay a social call. Victoria frantically dialed my cell phone asking if the chickens were in. Which they were, by a hair. I had just closed the gate to their pen a moment earlier.
Until the next day, when said puppy made another run for it. Once again, the chickens just happened, by the hairs of their chinny chin chins, to be secure.
Day three the stakes were raised. Luckily, I was cleaning the coop and Hope and Autumn had just strolled over to shake me down for treats, when I glanced up from my work and saw a GINORMOUS German Shepherd, I mean, this guy was the size of your average pony, standing in the breezeway hallway, not ten feet away from me and the hens. ACCCKKK!
I clanged open the gate to the pen and shooed the girls inside, which was easier said than done since they, being chickens and not noticing that the sky was about to fall, had their tiny minds on treats and their m.o. is that they don’t go in the pen until the sunflower seeds are thrown. I know you will all forgive me for the tiny kick I gave Autumn on her tail feathers – desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
Of course, then I was still standing there alone, facing down the biggest dog with the biggest teeth I believe I have ever seen. Being of sound mind, I skeedaddled. Only to come around the side of the house and see Giant German Shepherd #2 standing in my path! Truth be told, neither dog seemed all that interested in me, as they were both clearly sniffing out identity of the Colonel’s eleven herbs and spices for that chicken dinner they were hoping to enjoy.
The dogs eventually departed, and while the CE continues to nix the moat idea, he did call someone to come out and get our entry gate working.
Of course, now that the gate is closed, the chickens won’t deign to come out of the coop in the rain, contrary creatures that they are. Little do they know that on any given day, they’re just a step away from being McNuggets…
Note to self and anyone else who might be listening: not such a great idea to go gallavanting around the country until halfway through the Advent season…I mean, it’s not like elves show up and do all the work for you.
Except that sometimes they do.
I don’t know how we can be so incredibly fortunate to have such wonderfully elvish friends. We arrived home to a house so clean it appeared that the carpets might have been raked (some combination of Dave and Paz on that one), a cheese and fruit plate awaiting us in the kitchen and fresh flowers in our bedroom (Victoria!) and everyplace we looked, wreaths were hung, mantels were decorated, and Santas smiled at us from every corner of the house.
The animals were all beautifully cared for in our absence - lots of fun walks for the dogs (thanks, Pamela and Victoria and Marie Christine!). Birdie gave us a little scare by injuring his leg (I’ve told him over and over again, no ju jitsu or ballroom dancing in the cage at night!) but seems to be recovering nicely. (Many thanks, Lori, Dan, Lauren and Chadd, for putting up with his troublesome and feathery little hindquarters!)
And Hope looks plump again – her feathers are growing back nicely, although she is still a bit wanting in the tail section.
After being away nearly three weeks, we are struck by the sheer number of tasks that must be done on a daily basis to manage hearth, home and herd here. We are deeply and humbly grateful to everyone who pitched in to keep it all going.
Now I just have to find someone to cover for me in the Christmas readiness department. I’ve already missed my Christmas card deadline, so we’ll be sending New Year’s greetings this year. Gifts will be fewer and much further between. We haven’t even begun to discuss a date to get the tree. It seems like the entire merrymaking operation is already too far behind to catch up.
Wherein, perhaps, lies an opportunity. I’m giving serious consideration to just hunkering down and focusing upon the Reason for the Season. I have a book called Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas that sits untouched on the shelf eleven months of the year, and sometimes, I confess, for all twelve. This year, in my utter failure to meet the expectations of the material, perhaps I will have some success with the spiritual.
A book I don’t have but which sounds like a great gift (hint! hint!) is Praying Advent: Three Minute Reflections on Peace, Faithfulness, Joy, and Light by Joan Mueller. The product description reads: “For many Christians, Advent and Christmas is their favorite season, yet they find themselves overshadowed with shopping, preparations for Christmas, unexpected snow and ice storms, holiday parties and endless other distractions. Although the tree might be decorated and the presents wrapped, Christmas sometimes simply falls upon us, our souls feeling woefully unprepared.” I think she’s talking to me!
I find the mystery of and the promise inherent in the birth of Christ to be soul-fulfilling, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I did a web search to come up with alternative readings for my non-Christian readers but it came up woefully short. If you’re feeling charitable and open-minded, I suggest a reading of Mere Christianity, the great classic by C.S. Lewis.
And if you’re not, would you mind, instead, going out and doing all my shopping for me?
There was an item in the New York Post this week about an Australian fellow who hosted thirty of his closest friends and family at his wedding – to his Labrador retriever. ”You’re my best friend and you make every part of my day better,” he declared in reciting his vows. Makes sense to me.
On the other hand, this might be stretching it: the new Barkley Pet Hotel and Day Spa in Westlake Village, CA. We visited one day a few weeks ago and were alternately thrilled and horrified by what we saw.
Just in case you think I’m making this stuff up, here is the web site address: http://www.thebarkleypethotel.com/ And it’s not just California excess. There’s one in Cleveland, Ohio in addition to the Barkley on the West Coast.
Lest you think our own pooches have been less than pampered in our absence, fear no more:
35 degrees here in NYC this morning. There’s a faux Thanksgiving parade going on in front of our building, complete with balloons and extras lining the streets. Apparently for an upcoming Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy film. You heard it here first. Happy weekend!