Lights! Action!

Thanksgiving is done.

Now it’s onto Christmas.

I hate the shopping, but love the trees and lights.

I would much rather spend Christmas Eve walking my neighborhood looking at the light displays. You know, the overstuffed Santa, the flashing Rudolph, the twinkling rooftop sleigh.  Christmas4

I especially love it when an entire neighborhood pulls out all the stops and goes mad with their decor, each neighbor outdoing the next. We knew the holiday had begun when Ernie, our neighbor at the end of the street, came out in his overalls and climbed a ladder. Within a few hours his house was a show stopper. Every leaf, shrub, climbing vine, and even his porch was ablaze with twinkling lights. At that was just the beginning. Then he pulled out his assorted reindeer, different size stars, and multicolored lights for the roof and the trees for the front of the house. By the time he finished, and it took him all day with the help of many of us, we stood back waiting as he dashed inside the garage and flipped a switch. In an instant his home was transformed into a winter marvel. We applauded.

One year, inspired by Ernie, my children decorated the hedges with a zillion flashing lights. The driveway looked like an airport landing strip at night.

My neighbors across the street, new to this country, want to make sure they’re embracing the holiday correctly. Icicle lights hang all around the roof, a Christmas tree blinks through their living room window, the front door wreath plays Frosty the Snowman, and poinsettias line the driveway. Oh and their yellow lab wears a red collar with jingle bells.

New to the Christian season this year were several hundred Ferguson protesters that attempted to prevent the tree lighting in downtown San Francisco last Friday night. Fortunately for the tourists and locals in town for Black Friday shopping, the police held them back and the ceremony went off without a hitch. But let me tell you it was tense for a while. The box stores were holding their collective breath hoping beyond hope that nothing would interrupt the shoppers’ hypnotic frenzy for the best deals.

It was raining this morning when I came in on the train. My water streaked window distorted the red, yellow and green from the traffic lights creating a Pollock-like painting in holiday colors.

My first gift of the season.

Calvin says, “Aren’t you waxing poetic today. The only streak I saw was a white-tailed rabbit disappearing down a mud hole.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Zooey Christmas

My sister and her husband gifted us with a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo over the holidays.

I’m not much for zoos because I feel sorry for the cooped up critters and spend my time not enjoying them, but plotting their escape.

This zoo, however changed my opinion.

It’s small, well cared for, and the animals seemed if not content, peacefully resigned to their habitats.

The highlight was feeding the giraffes. The docent gave me a handful of lettuce leaves, and told me to offer them to Michael, the alpha giraffe who was at the railing following my every move. Michael was three stories high, wore an apricot-brown colored coat, with liquid brown eyes, and long dark lashes. I offered him a lettuce leaf, and in a blink, Michael rolled out a very long grey tongue, and with the dexterity of fingers, grabbed the leaf, rolled it into his mouth and chewed.  IMG_1952

It was a real tongue and cheek experience.

He consumed the leaves in a nano-second and never said thank you.

The snow leopards were my next favorite, but they had just woken up and were in no mood to be sociable. Or maybe they’re always that way. True introverts who only want the comfort of their cave.

The penguins were the most gregarious, honking their way through their morning bath, as were the two red amazon parrots squawking from their perch as they preened each other.

I did feel sorry for the two elephants. They could have benefited from a good book or a stimulating conversation.

The flamingos ignored us and bent their necks into their wings and went to sleep. But that’s what flamingos do, especially in Vegas, decorating people’s front yards.

There was an enormous grey-headed vulture, the size of a small car, in his cage with a docent who was cleaning his habitat with a broom and dust pan. She moved, he loped, following her like a shadow all around the cage. We named him Hitchcock.

I’ve never understood why zoos don’t have a pet purchase policy. I would have emptied the place out. Except for Hitchcock. I don’t like stalkers.

Calvin says, “Pity. Hitchcock and I would make a great team. I’d find the rabbit, he’d take it from there.” beagle

I Picked Up a Little Something Yesterday

I left the office yesterday to stretch my legs. There’s something inhuman about sitting in a desk chair all day long. The experts tell us that sitting for that length of time everyday is what makes us fat. So I shoved myself out the door and took a walk.

As soon as I came out of the building I saw a woman carrying a white, fluffy dog. She was across the street, and from where I stood the dog looked like a stuffed animal because he didn’t move. She carried him like a baby. I walked down the hill and she crossed the street and we met at the corner, where an exercise class at the Cardiobarre was happening. She stopped and showed him the class through the window. The dog, a Bichon Frise, sporting red shoes and matching coat, seemed quite happy being held and shown bodies bending in ballet routines at the bar.

“May I take your picture?” I asked as I approached her.

She stared me down a second and said, “No.”

That was a first. People on the whole are narcissists and usually say yes.

“I’ll let you hold the dog and I’ll take your picture,” she said.  Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 2.53.41 PM

“That’s even better,” I said.

She placed the pooch in my arms, I gave her my phone and she clicked.

“Thank you,” I said handing back the warm and compliant beast.

“He’s a service dog, you know. He has 78 matching outfits for work,” she said.

Calvin says, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in a get-up like that. I’d be the laughing stock of all the rabbits out there.” beagle

Christmas is a Spirit

I was out on the streets of San Francisco on Black Friday.

I know. I know. I must have been crazy.

But I wanted an experience.

I’ve never seen so many hordes in one place, except maybe at a ballgame, but then that’s expected.

This wasn’t normal.

I was in the center of town where all the department stores were.

Wave upon wave of humanity came up the streets, speaking different languages, all with one intent – to pounce on the deals.

I noticed many policemen, too. Most were on foot, a few were in patrol cars, and then two showed up on horseback.

The horses were enormous, well groomed and kept.

They walked up the hill where I stood and stopped at a red light.  photo (9)photo (11)

The tourists leaned over the curb and snapped a million pictures.

Not to be outdone, I stepped into the street and took some close-ups.

The horses posed for me.

One even smiled.

How did those cops manage that?

Calvin says, “They’d get special treats for showing their teeth. Works every time.” beagle

The Aftermath of Christmas

The day after Christmas

when all through the house

are remnants of dinner

and a very upset mouse.

No cheese and no crackers,

pate or foie gras,

I’ll settle for chutney,

and that curried fried rice. photo(9)

But what you have left me

is a gastronomical disaster

of goat cheese and cranberries

and that horrid fried platter.

I’ve combed through the pantry,

the sub-floor and sun-room,

the out-house and attic,

there’s nothing but boredom.

It’s been years of tradition

the day after Christmas

leftovers are left

for me and the missus.

But no, not this year,

I was not on your A-list,

overlooked and forgotten,

I’m left working the room.

I see wisps of string cheese

still in a twist

just like my insides

and my brainier bits.

This is a kill-joy,

a letdown for sure,

remind me to tell you

if you do this again,

I’ll be packing my bags

and leaving for sure.

Calvin says, “A rhyming mouse? Are you serious? Where is the little bugger so I can swallow him whole.” beagle

I’m a Material Girl

It’s countdown to Christmas. Yes, I’m using the word Christmas.

The stores are twinkling with lights.

The bell ringers are waving. Ringing is against the law now.

That was one of the sounds of Christmas that just departed. photo(161)

The beggars are begging, the singers are singing, and the fiddlers are fiddling.

I wonder what they’ll outlaw next.

But the shoppers aren’t shopping. They’re just looking. And buying online.

That’s what I did this year.

It made it so much simpler. But boring.

I go into overdrive when pushing into a mob of women to get to the cosmetic counter.  Or ripping a pair of shoes out of another woman’s hands and buying them. The word glee comes to mind.

Let’s not forget the parking lot assaults for a parking space. That’s all out war.

And the juggling of bags, boxes and purses draped from your arms and shoulders that make you look like a shopping cart without wheels.

It’s the sights and sounds of Christmas.

It’s the festive delights of materialism.

Don’t go shopping without it.

Calvin says, “Christmas shopping. Just the thought makes me want to snarl my teeth and bite a Santa leg.” beagle