Thanks to the snow finally retreating into some filthy piles of slush and melt-puddles JB insists on tracking all over the house, while barking, “What? I DID wipe my boots!” whenever I point accusingly at the prints (the man would claim to have wiped his boots even if there was a half-crushed, still-living Gila monster on the bottom of his tread, angrily waving its — I don’t know, tentacles or antennae or whatever the shit Gila monsters have — clearly proving he’d skipped the vital Scrape All Dirt, Mud, and Venomous Creatures from Thy Boots Before Entering the House rule), my mom and aunt were able to come over today for Christmas Part II, and here’s the thing, I love my family very very much, but can anyone explain . . . well, THIS?


I can’t say for certain that I’m being punished for the many years of obnoxious behavior, Manic Panic hair dye, and tongue piercings, but WITNESS THE EVIDENCE. Come on!

Well, Riley is of course in love with his new keyboard, and when he’s not banging on the keys he’s oddly mesmerized by it. Turn on the auto-music function and he just kind of trances out, so perhaps this will turn out to be the very best holiday gift of all. Child getting underfoot, demanding to know why the lights are on or NOT on, requesting a pen for nefarious purposes, or doing the annoying new thing where he calls me not Mommy but MOMMM in a teenagery tone of voice? I’ll just whip out the Sedative-Synth and set it to “STFU FOR 5 MINUTES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD”.

Naturally, Dylan is a fan of the intriguing toy, too.

Although, the box it came in is nearly as much fun.

In other news, it’s That Time Again, where I trot out the same old end-of-year questionnaire. I believe I originally copied it from Gwen’s website in 2004, and I’ve been answering it ever since. Some of the questions are a bit silly, but it’s still kind of an interesting way to recap your year and compare to years past.

So you should embrace this thrilling ritual, because in the wake of the holidays I’m sure you have nothing better to do than answer some long-winded quiz, right? Here are the questions:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

14. Where did most of your money go?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

22. What was your favorite TV program?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?

27. What did you want and not get?

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

35. Who did you miss?

36. Who was the best new person you met?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I’ll post my own answers in the next few days, and if you’d like to participate on your own blog, I’ll link back to you. Once you’ve posted your entry, send me an email ( with a subject line like “New Year’s Quiz”. Include your info, laid out like this:

Linda at All & Sundry

So I’ll need your name, the specific url to the entry where your answers are, and your blog’s name. Catfish? If you could HTML-ize it that would rule extra hard, but it’s okay if not.

[Update: I’ve linked your entries here, and I love you guys but I won’t be adding any more because I need to eat food and use the bathroom and pay attention to my children again and stuff. Go check them out!]

If you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to post your answers in the comments here — I’d love to see as many of your answers as I can, because I’m . . . well, nosy as shit. But in a caring kind of way.

Christmas at our house was a resounding success, except for the part where we lost power for several hours and the generator refused to work. Oh, and the little matter of JB’s mother having to make an emergency visit to a hospital in Salem during their drive home because it seemed JB’s father was having himself a heart attack.

Thankfully, it was determined his heart was okay, and that the sudden onset of illness was likely the culprit of stomach problems, so . . . hey, who wants a holiday meal at my house? Anyone? Oh, now, there’s just a small chance of experiencing chronic, terrifying levels of discomfort after eating my food! HAVE ANOTHER COOKIE THEY ARE FILLED WITH EXCRUCIATING PAIN.

We all had a very frightening and sad afternoon yesterday while waiting to see what the doctors said, and I can only imagine how stressed out JB must have been. He got the call — at the point when everyone was still thinking heart attack — while we were puttering around Fred Meyer, and when he gave me the news it was like — I don’t know, like being in a horror movie where the music swells with dread and the previously cheery displays and fluorescent lights are suddenly garish and unspeakable. Like taking a step, and the ground just falls away.

When we lost our electricity on Tuesday night — with that startling shoonk! sound of everything powering off at once — there was a lot of chaos involved with soothing the kids, digging out candles, and taking turns angrily kicking the generator and calling it a useless piece of dogshit, and after that there wasn’t much to do but double up on pajamas and go to bed in the dark. It was hard not to think how close we all are, really, to everything we take for granted just being . . . gone. What do you do when there are no lights, no heat, no hot water — and pretty soon the stores run out of food, and the gas stations are empty? If Seattle can essentially be ground to a halt by a snowfall, how about a major earthquake? Rainier erupting? A bomb? Nothing seemed too farfetched, lying in my bed staring at the ceiling, the house oddly silent without the hum of the heater.

Then, JB’s dad. The phone call, the subsequent confusion and worry.

Everything important in our lives can be taken away at any time. The people we love, the facilities we rely on. It’s the sort of thought that makes me understand on some deeper level why religions exist. I don’t share the beliefs, but I share the desire for comfort in the face of these truths.

So: I suppose I had a few different thoughts about Christmas this year, reflecting on that which is invaluable. Toss out the gifts, turn out the lights, but leave us our loved ones and let us be able to take care of them and keep them fed and warm and safe from harm. That’s all we want.


(JB: ready, in case we need to skin an opossum and roast it over candlelight or something.)

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