Sunday, November 29, 2009

Real or Fake?

Definitely real. Always has been and always will be real. I must be a minority because most of the people I know have fake Christmas trees. But I grew up with real trees, sometimes ones we cut ourselves and sometimes as tall as 13 feet. The house we lived in when I was a teenager was three stories with the main living room on the second floor that had a vaulted ceiling. After going out with my father and sister to hike through two feet of snow to find the perfect tree, cutting it down, dragging it to the car and driving it home we had to pull the tree up to the second story deck and in through the sliding glass doors because the tree would fit through the front door and up the stars. Then we had to get out the ladder and tie the tree to the wall so it wouldn't fall over. These days it's just me and since I live on the third floor, when I get a tree it's rather small.

Small is okay but I guess I associate the smell of pine with Christmas. Yes, you have to buy a new one every year and it can be a little messy with pine needles all over the place but for me I will always have a REAL Christmas tree.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the Couch

There is a local Connecticut magazine that has a regular feature called “On the Couch” which poses the question, “Do you think the furnishings and object in a room reveal much about the homeowner(s)?” Well, I think the answer is yes so here are some of the things I think my home reveals about me (and some of you will probably already know this about me).

My Bed – I love my bed. I got it (and a new headboard) about three weeks ago and that is now where I can usually be found when I’m home. I’ve always had a night stand and it’s always had three things on it: a radio alarm clock, a lamp and books, books and more books. I want to get a new lamp but have you seen the price of lamps lately? And what you can’t see is that there are more books and a few rogue magazines on the floor next to the bed.

My Refrigerator – This reveals the one thing that I collect: refrigerator magnets. But they are not just any magnets; they have to be ones showing places I have visited. So I have everything from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to the shores of Cancun, Mexico; Blarney Castle in Ireland to the Louver in Paris. And one of the best presents I ever got (thanks Nancy!) is that Underground cookie jar sitting on top.

Fireplace Mantel – The two features I love the most about my apartment is my vaulted ceiling with skylight and my fireplace. I love having a fireplace (a real fireplace that burns real wood). And, as you can see, I also have a fireplace mantel. I knew right away what I would put there. . . photographs. There are photos of me and my sister when we were young, photos of me and my dad and photos of me, my mom and my sister. I also have my two photos of me and Michael Ball (prized possessions – a story for later). The print over the fireplace is one I got at Hobby Lobby of a restaurant in Paris. When I went to Paris 10 years ago I tracked down the restaurant, which was supposed to be rather famous, but it was all closed up. I do have a photo of me standing in front of it though.

So what does your furnishings say about you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stop the Music!

In the past couple of days I have been in two department stores and do you know what I heard? Christmas carols! It’s the second week in November and they are already playing Christmas music! UGH! So now I am determined not to set foot in either of those stores until at least December 1 (okay, maybe after Thanksgiving, depending on the sales this year).

Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas music. I really do. But I like it around Christmas time! If I have to listen to Christmas music two months before the actually holiday (TWO MONTHS!) then by the time Christmas actually comes around I’m sick of it. Sick, sick, sick of it!!!! I couldn’t even image working in those places. Two months of listing to the same music, day after day after day. In my humble opinion, when you start to celebrate something too early by the time the actual holiday comes around it’s not as special.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leave It All Behind

I think about doing that every so often, especially after several days of be subjected to “stupid” people everywhere I go. I won’t bore you with specifics of who “stupid” people are because you probably already know and have also been in contact with them. Well I had that thought again last night as I watched a PBS show called Islands of Britain ( The host, British TV actor Martin Clunes, is traveling to a bunch of islands in Great Britain and started with the most northern islands, north of Scotland which include the Shetland Island.

The population of these islands vary from one (yes, Stuart Hill is the only resident of Forvik Island which is 3 mile by 5 mile, and independent from the rest of Britain, with its own flag, and Hill is in the process of designing its own currency – his web site is to 22,000. And while these islands are rural (no shopping malls, McDonalds, Starbucks, movie theaters or Barnes & Nobles) they are also remote. For example, Shetland Islands are 313 miles from Aberdeen, Scotland which is the closest metropolitan area. And most of that journey is by ferry. That is a long way to go for a Starbuck’s.

And while the more populated island don’t lack in basic amenities (electricity, plumbing, cars, phones and the Internet) I suspect that the residents have to get any supplies that aren’t “basic” (like food) from the Internet. I could do that with probably one exception, clothes. I definitely need to try those on before purchasing.

So while these islanders seem to lead peaceful lives (Saturday night is going to the community center to drink and listen to your neighbors sing and play music) there is still the practicality of earning a living and that’s my problem. I’m not a farmer or a fisherman. I am not a doctor or a plumber. I don’t possess any skill that would be a necessity to a community, so unless I was an established writer or had a “work-at-home” job that I can do remotely, it might not be that easy.

So I guess for now I’ll stay in my Denver suburb with a population of over 140,600, where I can drive to the nearest shopping mall that seems to be a Mecca for “stupid” people.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wasn't I Just Here?

That was my first thought when I walked into work this morning because it seemed as if I had just left. I have a very average job, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour lunch break. My hours aren't really flexible (except when there is a special circumstance). To be honest, I don't "love" my job (I don't think many Americans are that lucky). I don't jump out of bed every morning excited to go to work (I'd much rather stay in bed). Don't get me wrong, my job is okay. I have a really good boss and a really short commute (about 10 minutes). But for me my job is just a job, a way to pay the bills so that I have food in my stomach, clothes on back and a roof over my head.

The company I work for is an international company. It has offices in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Americans seem to work a lot more than most everyone else in the world. In Australia standard vacation is four weeks per year (I get two weeks). Public (government) employees receive five weeks of annual leave. And they work 38.5 hours per week. In France the average work week is 35 hours and they get five weeks of paid leave a year. In Denmark (Forbes recently rated Denmark the happiest country in the world) the standard work week is 37 hours and they get a month vacation (30 days).

Maybe I need to move to Denmark. Or I just need a vacation.