Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven random things about me

My niece Jennifer has "tagged me" in the blogging game of "Seven random things about me", so here goes...

1) I shoplifted a lollipop from a convenience store when I was 5. I still remember my mom's eye's in the rear view mirror when she looked and saw it in my mouth.

2) I played saxophone from 5th thru 9th grade. I was horrible. Canadian geese would land nearby to see what was wrong.

3) My grandmother died 7 times when I was in high school.

4) I took a job at Boeing when I was 22, thinking I would stay there until I found my real career calling...24 years later, I'm still there.

5) I hate Styrofoam.

6) I used to work at Cape Canaveral Florida and have been on the Space Shuttle launch pad ( just days prior to launch) several times. Oddly enough I was allowed into this highly restricted area despite my history of lollipop theivery. The FBI security check somehow missed that.

7) Whenever my wife goes into the bathroom I like to stand outside the door and say "What are you doin?" Ooooooh, she hates that. It just never stops being funny to me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Two Sides of Christmas

When it comes to decorating for Christmas it's a little like Martha Stewart vs Larry the Cable Guy at the Hughes household. Suzie (my dear wife) prefers a nice clean look - all white bulbs on the tree and the ornaments get an annual review to see if they are still worthy of going on the tree. She does a nice job of creating "tasteful" Christmas themed displays that look like they came right out of the Martha Stewart catalog (see pictures). I would describe her Christmas decorating style as "Tastefully Minimalist".

My decorating style on the other hand could be described as "Trailer Park Chic". I'm in charge of the outside decorating, which currently features several "inflatables". I like these blow up things because 1) They are super easy to set up and 2) I don't have to get up on the roof (I hate heights). When selecting inflatables I am drawn towards ones that just scream "tacky". Right now we have a "SpongeBob Square Pants", a "Snowman" and a "Santa in Sleigh, being pulled by two Pink Flamingos". The latter is a new addition this year. I didn't tell Suzie I got it and I set it up prior to her getting home from work. When she walked in the house I said "What do you think of the new display?" and her one word response was a decidedly disapproving "Nice...".

The other thing I do is a "Christmas Village". This miniature Christmas town began well over a decade ago as 3-4 buildings on a 2' x 2' board and has now grown to cover a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood with 9-10 buildings, a train set, a mountain, a flying Santa, lighted trees, bumper cars and dozens and dozens of villagers. Now by most accounts this village is pretty darn cool, but where it veers into tackiness is that I let my boys use it as their personal play's kinda like Santa's village meets Halo (an ultra violent video game). Years ago I gave up on trying to keep the boys away from it. The temptation is just too great for them so each year after I set it up I say "Okay, now PLEASE be careful and don't break anything" and as soon as I walk away and am out of their view I hear the familiar cry of "Christmas Train of Death!!" and the villagers are randomly selected for sacrifice. At some point invaders from another galaxy or pirate ship or from the dark side of town start showing up in the village. The kindly residents of the village do not stand a chance against these predators and everyday brings new carnage.

Now I am not a particularly religious person (that might be a bit of an understatement) but this morning I think I witnessed something akin to divine intervention. After Suzie had left for work I was sitting in our living room sipping a cup of coffee. I was enjoying the silence before our boys woke up all rested and ready to re-attack the village. As I was looking out our front window at the deflated inflatables (they are on a timer - the snowman looks really cool when it deflates) I noticed that a dog that belongs to one of our neighbors (a cantankerous German Shepard named Emma) was trotting happily around our yard with a stuffed snowman in her mouth - a snowman from a display that Suzie had so artfully put outside on a small table on our front door stoop.

Emma (the dog) first showed up at our house a couple of years ago after Suzie's grandmother "Emma" had passed away....Emma (the Grandma) was a sweet but cantankerous old gal...Emma lived in a trailer...Emma would love Santa and his Pink Flamingos...There's little doubt in my mind that if Emma could somehow come back to earth - she would come back as a cantankerous snowman stealing German Shepard.