Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve celebrations

It's been 365 days since most of us made resolutions we hoped we'd stick with. And today, the time has come to re-prioritize what it is we hope to accomplish. These wacky celebrations might just help.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day. Okay, so it's not really a holiday; it's merely an observance. According to, some scientists do not make the adjustment, but if they do, it's either made on this day or June 30.

Today is also Make Up Your Mind Day. I imagine it has to do with making resolutions for the new year. I never really suffer from not being able to make a decision, but I imagine there are many who over analyze everything and can't make a conscientious decision. It's a good thing I never over analyze.... ;)

Need some peace (and quiet)? Universal Hour of Peace Day affords people the chance to encourage peace around the world. World Peace Meditation Day also lets people around the world channel their energies for world peace.

Today is also Unlucky Day. You might be unlucky if you didn't follow through with all those resolutions you promised you'd stick to around 365 days ago, but I don't like to think of any day as unlucky. A southern tradition for New Year's Eve is to eat black-eyed peas at dinner because they bring good luck and prosperity for the new year. So if you think a streak of bad luck might be stalking you, load up on black-eyed peas. Pronto!

And finally, New Year's Eve celebrates the commencement of a new year and the ending of another.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 30 weird holidays

You have to appreciate the people from They have created so many unique holidays. Today's features dried out pine trees. Yes, the one that is sitting in your living room that you put up the day after Thanksgiving and probably haven't watered since mid-December. Be careful, because today is Falling Needles Family Fest Day. A pine needle stuck in the arch of the foot isn't exactly a reason to celebrate in my book, but hey, maybe it will motivate you to take down the dried-out conifer.

For all you foodies out there, December 30 is the day to honor a baking staple. It's National bicarbonate of Soda Day, better known as baking soda day. Actually, the chemical compound isn't just used for baking. It can also keep the fridge or freezer smelling fresh, whiten and brighten teeth, and put out fires when you pull the pin on a fire extinguisher. Now that's a multi-purpose product!

The Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute calls December 30 its day of celebration. I'm not entirely sure of the significance of this day; I'm not entirely sure who came up with the idea. But I am sure, in my mind, that since tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and most people think about all the things they didn't accomplish this year, they are making plans to change their lives and stick to resolutions or accomplish something.

December 29 holidays

The clock is is Tick Tock Day. Just another holiday brought to you by those fun-loving people at It's time to take control of your life and do things you've being dreaming about doing, but just haven't made the time to do them.

Today is also Pepper Pot Day. This thick soup consists of beef tripe, vegetables, and peppercorns. Reportedly, when Washington and his men were at Valley Forge, there was little to eat, and this soup was concocted to feed the troops.

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28 weird and wacky celebrations

It's National Chocolate Day, although other sources also said Monday was National Chocolate Day. What to do? Eat chocolate on both days.

No Interruptions Day. Yeah, right. Like I can make it through....excuse me. I have to help feed calves and I'll be back as soon as I'm finished. Yup, that's a typical interruption here on the farm. I can't imagine a day without an interruption. Either I need to run and get parts, run and catch cattle that have escaped from the pasture, or run and fix something to eat or drink.

National Card Playing Day. This is one of my favorite memories from growing up. After a big family get together and lunch, my grandparents, aunts, and uncles would gather round the card table and either play bridge or mean game of 10 point pitch. Cards have an interesting history; they were invented in China. The International Playing Card Society offers a thorough history.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reasons to celebrate December 27

Several reasons to have some wild fun today.

First, it's National Fruitcake Day. This might be one gift that you want to regift. Fruitcake originated during the Middle Ages. The fruitcake began as a holiday and wedding tradition. Once dried fruits started arriving in Europe from Mediterranean trade routes, Europeans started adding the dried fruit to cake batter.

During the 1700s, fruitcakes were baked at the end of a successful nut harvest and saved and eaten at the kick-off of the next year's harvest.

At one point, fruitcakes were banned from Europe because they were considered "sinful." From the mid1830s - 1900, fruitcakes gained in popularity once again. Even Queen Victoria would refrain from partaking of the hard, fruity cake for a year, thinking it showed restraint on her part.

An English wedding custom was for unmarried guests to take a piece of fruitcake home and place it under their pillow. Supposedly, the guest would dream of who he or she would marry. What a fruitcake of an idea! :)

If you are hoping for snow and there isn't any chance in the forecast, you can celebrate Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day. Maybe it's just a good way to keep the kids occupied during holiday break.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day after Christmas madness and celebrations

If you live in England, Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, you'll be celebrating Boxing Day today. I didn't know much about this holiday, but it appears that the celebration began with good intentions.

Boxing Day began in 19th-century Britain, under rule of Queen Victoria. During this time, the day was known as St. Stephen's Day. It gave the upper class a chance to give cash or other gifts to those of lower classes. Check out additional information about the holiday, including two theories of how the day received its name at Kaboose.

Did you know that for nearly 20 years, the candy cane only came in one color? Do you know which color? Today is National Candy Cane Day. You can find out interesting trivia and the history of this holiday staple at Candy USA!

If you didn't get the present you really wanted, then just whine about it. After all, today is National Whiner's Day. The true meaning of this celebration is located here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Husker Parody of former coaches

Thank goodness they are gone.....

White Christmas

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know
where treetops glisten and children listen
to hear sleigh bells in the snow.
Today, Christmas has been filled with snow. On our way to grandma's, the sun was glaring off the white blanket that coated the countryside. And on our way home, big flakes blasted against our windshield, making visibility virtually non-existent for nearly ten miles.
Tree tops glistened with the new dusting of white powder. I didn't hear any sleigh bells, but the current snow looks fluffy and light; maybe sledding will be a possibility tomorrow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
For the first time in about 10 years, I mailed Christmas cards on December 1. It felt like a miracle! Wishing for all days to be merry and bright shouldn't just be a holiday sentiment. Bright, sunny days - literally and metaphorically - keep most of us sane and positive. And a white Christmas might not always be possible, but it certainly gives it festive mood.
Happy Holidays

December 25 & reasons to celebrate

All three of today's reasons to celebrate go hand in hand, although one of them is certainly a good attempt at humor during the holiday season. That's what makes bizarre holidays interesting, right?

It's Christmas and all that implies. Food, family gatherings, presents, spending too much money, eating too much food, being polite to relatives you dislike. It seems these days, the real reason for the season is often overlooked.

It wouldn't be a proper Christmas dinner without pie. Not just any kind of pie. It's National Pumpkin Pie Day again. This round dessert receives honors two times throughout the year. It's good, especially with a dollop of whipped cream (fresh from the dairy barn).

Today is also A'phabet Day or No L Day. Get it? No L. Good word play!! Of course, we can still say We wish you a merry Christmas (because there is no L in any of those words).

Monday, December 24, 2007

December 24 celebrations

National Eggnog Day. A traditional holiday drink, sipped with or without rum. I imagine Santa might like a cup after shimmying down the chimney. Or maybe he's tired of it after his whirlwind round-the-world tour.

National Chocolate Day. I have conflicting data, again, about this holiday. Some places say it is today; others say it is December 28 and 29; and another states it's in October. Well, I guess if you need a reason to celebrate, it might as well be a chocolate celebration. And that probably would work any day of the week. By the way, I making cherry mash bars to honor this celebration.

Christmas Eve. A time of reflection, filled with family, food, and noise!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

December 23 wacky holidays

It's National Pfeffernuesse Day. If you don't know what a pfeffernuesse is, it's a spicy cookie that's a German tradition. You can find a very good recipe here.

Today is also Roots Day, to honor genealogists around the world. My mom is "big" into genealogy and has conducted extensive research into our family's background. She also helped a lady from the Omaha area research her background, and boy oh boy, what a story!

In the mood for popcorn? Popcorn Popping Day is today. I'm wondering if it's today because it would be the perfect time to string a popcorn garland for the Christmas tree. Or maybe you should pop some for popcorn salad for tonight's dinner. Or perhaps just pop some for a treat during football games.

And finally, celebrate Festivus, a pop culture holiday that actually got its beginnings on Seinfeld. The inventor, an editor for Reader's Digest, had a son who wrote for the Seinfeld show and the holiday surfaced on TV in 1997. Festivus includes the "airing of grievances," where you let people know how they've disappointed you throughout the past year. After dinner, there's a wrestling match, and if you pin the host, the holiday is declared as being over. A search at google reveals over 850,000 sites dedicated to this unholy holiday. There are even Festivus Poles.

Friday, December 21, 2007

She's Finally Graduating!

It seems like a long 5 1/2 years, but when I look back on that period of time, I think there have just been so many events that occurred during this time frame that it seems like it took a lifetime.

Here's my reason to celebrate on December 22. My oldest daughter is graduating from UNL. And this momma couldn't be any prouder!!

There was a semester at another school in Lincoln. I think it was good for her to experience that, even though I never saw that college as a true fit for her, her personality, her ambitions. And then a transfer to UNL, which turned into a very good move.

During these 5 1/2 years, there was a wedding, four funerals, a part-time job that meant full-time hours, a paid internship that turned into a full-time job, induction into the Sociology honorary, and a myriad of tailgate parties.

Plus things I'm sure a daughter doesn't want her mother to know.

But I must say that this is a milestone I'm happy to take part in.

December 22 celebrations

It's December 22 and I have a personal reason to celebrate today (more on that in another post)!

It's Abilities Day. I couldn't find any factual information about this celebration, but I'm wondering if it's a time for individuals to celebrate what they have, can or will accomplish. Some people reach mini-goals every day and don't realize how it affects the big picture. And then again, I could be wrong. :)

National Date Nut Bread is a fitting tribute to the holiday season.

Winter begins today with the winter solstice. It's the shortest day of the year. So that must be why UNL scheduled graduation for today. Ha!

Of course, most of us all hope for World Peace. And today is World Peace Day. I found conflicting dates for this event, but one says that World Peace Day occurs on the Winter Solstice each year. Kind of yin/yang thing.

It's also National Haiku Poetry Day. Isn't that a big redundant. Haiku is poetry, so is it really necessary to have poetry included in the day's title? This is one of my favorite forms of poetry to teach. It's creative and can be about anything, although the ancient forms focused on nature.

December 21 celebrations

Many reasons to celebrate today!

Forefather's Day was established to honor the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth. Seems they have a big celebration there. According to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, the landing didn't have Christmas feel to it. In fact, the Pilgrims did not believe in Christmas. Funny how that has evolved into the biggest cash-generating holiday!

National Flashlight Day celebrates the invention of the flashlight in 1898. When the product was displayed in the 1899 Eveready catalog, "Let there be light" graced the pages. The invention of the device has an interesting backstory. You can read about it here.

Humbug Day is the genius of Just another reason to vent frustrations during the holiday season.

It's also Phileas Fogg Win a Wager Day. Some people won't understand the literary allusion, but Phileas had to make a trip around the world in 80 days to win his wager. I'll wager there are people who still won't know what novel this is from. Or who wrote it. You can't fool the old English teacher.

And finally, it's Underdog Day, although there are some sites that report this is to be celebrated on December 17. My sources say it's today. And this isn't to honor that cute little white dog, donned in a red cape, that can fly through the sky.

No, Underdog Day is a celebration for those unsung heroes; the people who do just as much work but receive little attention. Good information about literary underdogs is located here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20 wackiness

There are a few interesting, some yummy, and one strange celebration for December 20.

First, it's Mudd Day. Now, I didn't know what this was all about. You see, here on the farm, we have a lot of mud. I mean a lot. But this day isn't to honor dust blowing in the wind or the wet, sticky kind that the kids track in.

Instead, today is about Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated a disguised John Wilkes Booth after he shot President Lincoln. Mudd spent four years in jail for treating Booth.

Today also brings honors to Sacajawea . She made many sacrifices during her journey with Lewis and Clark, but if it had not been for her presence, the explorers would not have been able to converse and make gains with other Native Americans encountered along the way.

National French Fried Shrimp Day. If I have to tell you to get out there and get some shrimp..... I've always considered shrimp to be something for a special occasion and I don't make it very often at home. I like cajun shrimp, coconut shrimp, beer batter shrimp, grilled shrimp, shrimp and pasta..... And I also like my Bubba Gump Shrimp Company apron!!

Go Caroling Day is today. Why not get out of the house and brighten someone's holiday season by singing a few Christmas carols. I was considering this earlier: what's my favorite Christmas carol? O Holy Night stands out, but I also like The First Noel as well as Angels We Have Heard on High. Silent Night is a classic, but I'm going to say my favorite is O Holy Night.

Today kicks off International Language Week. I would like to learn French, and sometime in this lifetime, I am going to do it and not just say I would like to. Italian seems romantic and fun also. Another language I think would be helpful to learn is Latin. Some of the larger high schools in Omaha are teaching it again. If you can master the latin prefixes and roots, you can figure out any word's definition. At least that's what I've been told.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19 fun

It's Look for an Evergreen Day. Most people probably have put up their Christmas tree already. I said 'most.' I haven't. We just don't have a lot of room, and part of my decorations are here; part are at the south farm in the Quonset waiting for our addition to be completed so I can store them. Anyway, I do have a average size fiber optics tree that I'm putting up today. Oh, and I also have an evergreen-scented candle, so at least it might look and smell like Christmas here.

Oatmeal Muffin Day. So, all you muffin lovers, whip up a batch of these treats. You'll be doing yourself a healthy favor since oatmeal is good for you.

And then you can do something unhealthy, unless you use moderation, and indulge in National Hard Candy Day. My favorite is the little white and red peppermints or starbursts. Second on the list is a lemon drop. And third would be a butterscotch disk. The peppermint soothes the stomach, and I find that it curbs the appetite.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December 18 holidays worth noting....

One week til Christmas. Do you have your shopping completed? I haven't started. Call me a procrastinator. I'll get it done though because we don't have our family Christmas until December 29!!

On to today's holidays that are wacky, bizarre, or just a little bit strange.

It's International Migrants Day. This is a U.N. sanctioned event. On this day in 1990, the U.N. adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Hungry? Why not celebrate National Roast Suckling Pig Day. I have visions of a Hawaiian beach, a pig, complete with apple in its snout, roasting on a spit above an open fire. No Jack Frost nipping at our nose.

If you prefer sweets to meat, then Bake Cookies Day should make you jump for joy. I baked some yesterday, but I'll probably make more Christmas cookies today. I'm thinking peppermint shortbreads.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A good writing exercise - Fear

A prominent writing magazine recently ran an exercise to help generate ideas for writing. Simply list your fears.

The exercise is more difficult than you might imagine. I wrote the first two fears right away, and then for the next couple hours, I'd work on other projects. When a fear surfaced, I'd add it to the list. My list isn't that long, but it does come full circle, which is interesting to me.

What do I fear?

Failure. Could be the first-born syndrome. Could be perfectionism. Could be a lot of different reasons, but I don't like to fail at anything. People learn from mistakes. Trust me, I've made my fair share, but if I'm going to do something, then I plan on doing it right and going all out to experience success.

Dying young. Many reasons why I think this. Obviously, Patrick died at age 39. My oldest daughter's twin brother died before they were born. Young lives are lost for ridiculous reasons, and it makes me wonder who they'd be today. Like the song from Kenny Chesney. Part of this fear is that there are so many things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime, and I haven't even started to make a dent in my list. But genetics are on my side. I told my kids I would live to be 100. Positive attitude is a first step.

Not having enough money to get by. This stems from a lot of difficult times with Patrick and then losing everything when he died. I try not to live outside my means. I've never felt a "keep up with the Jones" attitude. After losing Patrick, people told me that God would provide. And I think that is true at all times. There's a plan for us and even though it's constantly in the back of my mind, I don't dwell on it. What will be, will be.

Losing the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can't imagine a life without Scott. But once you've gone through a tragedy, I think you get into a mindset that something negative will happen again. Even if you keep a positive outlook, I think this animal is stored in the recesses of the brain, waiting to claw through.

Snakes. I don't despise all snakes. Just most of them. Little garter snakes don't bother me. But this summer, there was a pretty darn big one slithering through our yard. I wouldn't walk through the lawn for days. Then I got over it.

Spiders. Ok, certain spiders. Grand daddy long legs don't bother me. Neither do little wolf spiders that usually surface in the spring. But tarantulas? There's something grotesque and hairy about them that makes my skin crawl.

Heights. Mainly, I have a fear of falling. I can get on an airplane and be how many miles above land and that doesn't affect me. But being exposed on something that's a ways off the ground - sometimes even a ladder -scares me. I'm afraid of falling. Which I think relates to fear number 1 as well as the final fear, which is:

Rejection. I'm not sure it's a fear. I don't like it. Who does? Everyone experiences it at some point. I worry about not being 'good enough.' I guess that's the real fear: not measuring up, which goes back to number one on my list.

December 17 bizarre reasons to party

Need a reason to celebrate something weird, wacky, or just plain bizarre? Here are three official holidays for December 17.

Clean Air Day. Personally, I think every day should be clean air day. But it's not about me. It's about the environment, and after perusing several websites, I get conflicting data about today's celebration. Most show that it's a week-long celebration in June. Some California cities honor it in May. So...considering that it's snowed here and the landscape is a brilliant blanket of white, it certainly smells clean here. Except for the 50 calves in the pasture behind us. :)

It's also Wright Brothers Day. In 1903, Wilbur and Orville took to the skies. This day commemorates the first successful mechanically-propelled flight. Officially proclaimed holiday.

And if you like french toast or pancakes or well, if you like the taste of maple, then here's the day for you: National Maple Syrup Day. Now, the Native Americans were the first to tap the tree and boil the liquid into a thick syrup. Test your maple syrup knowledge at yumsugar.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Send those Ducks back to the pond

Way to go Husker Men's hoops team! Yesterday, the Huskers beat the #16 team in OT, 88-79. Plus the game was at Qwest and not at Devaney. Awesome! Alex Maric and Ryan Anderson had great games.

It's nice to see other people get pumped up at NU bball. There are those who think Creighton is the top men's program in the state.

But lookout, bluebirds. The second-year sheriff in Lincoln is proving that NU has a program worth watching.

Speaking of watching, why wasn't the game on FSN, as stated in the Omaha paper. We have Dish Network, and granted, we only get 2 of the oh - 30 - Fox Sports Network channels. But I kept going to those two to take a look at the game and guess what. It wasn't on. What's up with that?

Reality, Fiction, Nicolas Cage, and Quantum Physics

About six years ago, I read Timeline by Michael Crichton. It's a story about a group of historians who are employed by a billionaire techie who utilizes quantum foam wormholes to transport people between the past and the present. They go back in time to the 1300s, and naturally, it's a race to see if they make it back to the future.

The book was made into a movie, and like I've mentioned before, when I read, I formulate the cast in my mind, and my cast included Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Nicole Kidman, and Orlando Bloom. Hey, I can dream, right?

Anyway, the whole quantum physics realm interests me. I've heard other speakers on the topic suggest that there are really two worlds and we exist on both. It doesn't mean we are doing the same thing on both; the suggestion is that the real me is on one world and the quantum me is on another.

That thought leads to this question: What if there is a parallel plane co-existing next to us, and we are there, too, making different decisions and leading a different life. What if that world is reality and this world is fiction?

Certainly gives reason for pause. What if, on the other plane, my circumstances are completely different from the life I now lead? If I saw a glimpse of that life (reminds me of the Nicolas Cage film The Family Man), would I be satisfied with what I have now or would I want the a shot at the glimpse?

Do you notice a "Nicolas Cage" theme here?

I think it's an interesting concept that most people (or as my kids would say, a normal person) don't consider. Most of us are too busy with the tangible: the sporty car, the big house, the white picket fence, the 2.3 kids, and the designer dog who gets hauled around in a purse. Many people live beyond their means. And I'd venture that most of them are not happy.

Instead, maybe we should focus on the intangible: love, understanding, and acceptance, just to name a few.

I wonder what my other self on that co-existing plane thinks. At this moment, is she sitting at a computer, blogging about the same thing? No. I bet on that alternate plane, she's married to Nicolas Cage.

But that's okay. I have my own Nicolas Cage right here. And this is reality.

December 16 Holidays

Two interesting reasons to have fun today.

First, it's National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day. The National Confectioner's Association lists dates to celebrate your favorite candy. I like chocolate, but as I grow older, it's seems like my cravings for it have diminished to only once or twice a month. That's good, but I think the damage was done years ago!! :)

I can remember when we were growing up, we would usually make Christmas candy either the first or second Saturday of December, depending on the basketball schedule at school. (I grew up with two teachers, so....) Anyway, it was a family, all-day affair. I would always make fudge and cherry mash bars, my sister would make sugared peanuts, dad would make chocolate covered cashews, and mom, well, I think she just supervised. No, she helped me make divinity.
Then at dinner, either my sister would make Japanese food or I would make taco pizza. Fun times!

Chocolate covered strawberries are a favorite. I took the girls to a place in the Poconos; I think it was called the Pocono Candy Factory. Awesome chocolate (dark and white) covered strawberries. The covered pretzels were pretty darn good, too!

It's also Barbie and Barney Backlash Day. I think the name for this holiday says it all.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why didn't Danny Woodhead get a Hesiman Invite?

Danny Woodhead, who was a standout at North Platte High School and went on to earn some of the top honors in college football did not receive an invitation to last weekend's Heisman ceremony. And I'm wondering why.

The Chadron State College back ran for more yards than any player in the history of college football. Let me say that again. Woodhead ran for more yards than ANY player in the history of college football. In four years, he ran for 7.962 yards. That's six hundred yards more than the previous record.

He also ranks second in career all-purpose yards. He has 109 career TDs, which ties the NCAA record. Plus, he scored 654 career points, ranking him 2nd in that category. And for the second season, Woodhead was named to the AP Little All-America first team.

So tell me why this outstanding football player didn't get asked to NY last weekend? And more importantly, why didn't he win?

Oh, that's right. He doesn't play for a Division IA school. No, he was passed over by Nebraska when they Billy Blue Eyes was at the helm. Instead, Woodhead chose Chadron State and made it fun to watch football.

Even one game was televised on NET this season. Unfortunately, it's the game Woodhead got injured in shortly after kickoff.

It's a shame that if football's highest honor is supposed to honor the best player in all of college football, Woodhead was ignored. Obviously, he deserved to be invited and given serious consideration. After all, his name is etched in the record books.

December 15 Wackiness

Yummy! Have a lemon cupcake today in honor of National Lemon Cupcake Day. Don't you just enjoy food holidays? It's the perfect push to whip up something tart yet delicious! If you aren't into baking, but maybe into scrapbooking, here's a cute greeting card for you to make for Lemon Cupcake Day.

It's not really a holiday, but Gone with the Wind premiered on this day in Atlanta in 1939. Classic, classic, classic!

Cat Herders across the country: round up those Himalayans and Persians and celebrate! This celebration, along with other interesting-if-not-a-little-wacky holidays, were devised by a husband and wife team from Pennsylvania. Check out there information - and read newspaper articles about the couple - here. It's pretty interesting and pretty amazing!

Bill of Rights Day was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The document is on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C. Makes me want to write a new Nicholas Cage and National Treasure script that involves the Bill of Rights.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ten Days Until Christmas

There are ten days until Christmas. And unfortunately, I'm just not feeling ho-ho-ho-jolly this year.

Sure, I have a lot to celebrate: my writing career is going strong, I'm in a solid relationship, my family is healthy, my daughter graduates from college next week.

But I just can not get into the seasonal festivities. I keep thinking that maybe, if we had a Christmas tree, I'd be in the mood. Or if I would put out all my Christmas decorations, I'd be festive - or at least the rooms would be. I haven't started shopping.

If there were more room in our living room, I would put up a tree. And the same goes for the decorations. And shopping can wait until after the actual Christmas holiday because both of our families aren't celebrating until the weekend after.

So what is really bothering me about Christmas? It's just so darn commercialized. I saw Christmas stuff in stores back in September.

And some people expect a present.

And that's not what the holiday is about.

Isn't the intent the giving and receiving of Christ? To give and receive in our lives, however you want to interpet that. And that doesn't necessarily mean tangible items. Can't we be happy that we are all healthy and together and just fore go the endless barrage of gifts that it seems I have to buy? I don't mind purchasing gifts for family; that's different. Plus, I know I'm going to receive practical presents from family members because we all seem to make a list of what we need and we stick to it. At least my side of the family does. I think Scott's family does, too. We're practical people! We don't expect lavish, frivolous gifts! (Of course, something decadent might be ok!! :) )

But it's the friends, or in some instances, acquaintances, who hand you a small token of the holiday season and look at you, questioning where their gift is. Ummmm, I barely know you, but I appreciate our budding friendship, so isn't that enough?

I'm not trying to take over the lead role in a Dickens story. The ghosts of Christmas past, future, and present don't need to hang out by my bedside or in my office to show me that I'm being a scrooge. Because I'm not.

I do like Christmas - the family gatherings, the carols sung together in five-part harmony (even if it's the redneck version of the 12 Days of Christmas), the bountiful buffet table supplied by all of the good cooks who grace my family, the reminiscing and missing of events and people.

I just don't like the commercialized "spend all your money and pay for it later" attitude that most retailers seem to have. If that's the attitude most people have, society will be paying for Christmas Christmas, when the never-ending cycle of meaningless and thoughtless gift-giving begins once again.

December 14 holidays

Today, there is one lone celebration. It is National Bouillabaisse Day. A French favorite. I'm not sure how I feel about fish parts and shellfish cooked with garlic, orange peel, leeks, onions, tomatoes, and celery. I don't particularly enjoy eating fish, although I do like shrimp and clams. But I have a feeling the soup would have a definitely 'fishy' odor to it, and I'm not sure I would be able to eat it.

No, if I want French soup, I want some French Onion soup, homemade, of course, with a crusty piece of garlic bread with a glob of cheese on it soaking up the broth. Now, that, is soup.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13 celebrations

Today is Violin Day. The violin is one of the sweetest sounding instruments. It can take on a funky tone, like in Charlie Daniel's Devil Went Down to Georgia or it can be hauntingly melodious, like in a classical piece. I had a student last year who played the violin and accompanied the school choir. He was very good and it was interesting to see how the other kids reacted to him. That's not something you see every day at a small rural school.

It's also National Cocoa Day. To celebrate, I'm sipping a cup of fat-free cocoa, with a few marshmallows. I'm also going to whip up a batch of cocoa snickerdoodles. They are quite delicious!

Some sources say today is Ice Cream Day. Now most people celebrate this the 3rd Sunday in July, but some sources also say today is ice cream day. Personally, it's too chilly here to enjoy ice cream right now. But if I had to eat some, I would prefer Rocky Road.

December 12....A Day Late and....

Weird holidays...for, well, actually they were celebrated yesterday....but my day was the day from &*(^&*(^ so....I'm getting to it today.

National Ambrosia Day. Good stuff. I made a good one at Thanksgiving that had orzo, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and whipped cream. Everyone enjoyed it.

Gingerbread House Day. Always thought it would be fun to make one. But I am not sure if I have the patience to put one together. Plus, it would probably end up being more than a house; it would be an entire village.

Lady of Guadalupe Day. Important to Mexican religion. She's the most beloved religious and cultural icon.

Poinsettia Day. I just wrote a feature article for Rural Electric Nebraskan about the history of poinsettias and the industry in Nebraska. Red is the favorite color, followed by pink. The plant, which in its native state resembles a shrub, was discovered by Joel Poinsett. So, guess how the plant got its name?? And for goodness sake, pronounce the plant's name correctly: poin * set* e* a.

National Ding-A-Ling Day. Beware the crazy people! (note my whisper for the next line) They're everywhere! There are actually Ding-A-Ling clubs across the United States.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December 11 fun times

It's Tuesday, so things are picking up a bit from yesterday! Four celebrations grace today.

Read a New Book Day. Now you know since it has to do with reading, which is formed from writing, I will celebrate this day to the fullest. And after investigating, there is conflicting information. Some sites say it's not just today, but the entire month of December is Read a New Book Month. Others say the celebration is in September. But it shouldn't matter, should it? Everyone needs to read for enjoyment. It's a good stress reliever. And, like I think I've mentioned before, I like to visualize the book as a movie - true to the script - and pick who should star in my version. Right now I'm reading a YA novel called Open Ice. And when I'm finished with it, I'm on to another YA novel entitled Spanking Shakespeare. They are for reviews on Curled Up With a Good Book. Besides the box of books I have to review, I also have a list - 10 pages long and in alphabetical order - of books I want to read. So many books, so little time.

International Mountain Day offers an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints of mountain development, and to build partnerships that will bring positive changes to the world's mountains and highlands, according to Mountain Partnership. I live in the Nebraska mountain range known as the Nebraska Sandhills. Wonder if that counts! Viva la Sandhills!!

It's also the birthday of UNICEF. A great organization that promotes equality and offers a voice for children around the world.

And for all you foodies, it's National Noodle Ring Day. I'm not sure if it honors just noodle rings, like those you find in soups, or if it's a celebration of all things pasta. Anyway, check out this educational sheet at Teacher Vision.

Monday, December 10, 2007

H = R/E

According to Jodi Picoult in her novel Nineteen Minutes, happiness = reality divided by expectation. It's interesting to see a mathematical equation of sorts put to an emotion.

Today, when I was on the phone with a friend, she asked me if I was happy with my decision to "retire" from the classroom, move to the farm, take the next step in my relationship, and spend the majority of my time writing.

I didn't even have to think about it.

The reality of retiring from the classroom: I don't miss the long hours associated with the way I expected my classroom to work. As the head of the department, I had expectations that I wanted to implement, but the truth is, those expectations equaled long hours. And after awhile, I just got burnt out. Especially true after Patrick passed away. School and my close friends became my life, and eventually, I tired of being at work 24/7. And then, I met Scott.

The reality of moving to the farm: I help if he asks me; otherwise, it's just not my thing. (Except for driving the big tractor across the field. I kind of like that!) And he respects that. I use the wrong terminology most of the time. I think calf #763 has pretty, almond-shaped eyes. And it took me a bit of time to remember that we live 16 miles from town, so if I have to run errands, check the refrigerator before I go to make sure there is milk, bread, eggs, etc. because I'm not running back to town for one item. :) It's peaceful. It's quiet. And it's home. Plus, a beautiful Sandhills sunset adds to it!

The reality of the new relationship: This is the healthiest relationship I've ever had. There is mutual respect and understanding. We laugh at each other and with each other, but never in a mean or condescending way. We tackle obstacles together, which is the way it should be. Maybe it's because both of us finally grew up. The only thing I know is that he told me he "knew" from the moment we went out the first time that we would be together. And I have admitted to him, it took me about three weeks to realize it, but I can not imagine him not being a significant part of my life.

The reality of being a writer: It's hard work. Not the writing part; that comes naturally. It better; otherwise, I made a poor choice. My best friend keeps telling me I'm a good writer - I should do it for a living. The hard part is for people to realize that if I'm in the office, I am working; if the phone rings and an editor asks me to get to Lincoln within the next three hours and cover something, I go; if I send out 13 query letters, my chances for publication increase. And eventually, I'm going to hook the big one. And I'm not talking fish!

The reality is this: My expectations of all four elements, divided by reality, has produced happiness. What more can I ask for?

December 10 fun

It's a slow day.

It's a Monday.

Only two noteworthy celebrations today. First, it's Human Rights Day. Celebrate universal human rights. A worthwhile event, definitely. Today's the 57th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights of working individuals to collectively bargain for better wages and health care benefit, and safe workplaces. Think about people who work in underdeveloped nations, working for pennies a day for long hours. It's an injustice that must be eradicated.

It's also Nobel Prize Day. It's 6:30 CST, and I still haven't heard who won. This is an award that truly matters, so why isn't there a televised broadcast of the award ceremony, where we get to hear each winner thank everyone who's helped him or her along the way. And then, when he or she has spent too much time, the orchestra can strike up a chord and that will let the winner know time is running out. I'm partly being honest and partly sarcastic here (about the orchestra), but why don't we get to celebrate this honor? We watch the Academy Awards, the People's Choice awards, the Heisman Trophy crowning, the Nickelodeon awards. Why not the Nobel Prize?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

11 Nebraska Towns - Best Places to Raise Kids

The November 16 issue of Business Week lists the 50 best places to raise kids in the U.S. Nebraska led with 11 towns. Interestingly, I've been to all but one of them at some point in my life. And, interestingly, one of the towns is only 20 miles or so from here.

So how did BW come up with these places? First, the researcher looked at the number of public and private schools in the area and the reading and math scores from those schools and how they stack up against the State's average.

Then, the researcher looked at the cost of living. BW lists the criteria including food and beverages, cost of repairs, insurance, mortgages, rent, etc. Now, I have to admit, the town near me that made the list probably does have a low cost of living to an extent. But there isn't a grocery store. In fact, the closest store is 22 miles. Sure, there's a mini-mart that has overpriced groceries that will do in a pinch. But wouldn't that make the cost of living escalate?
And I know the rent/mortgage situation is low; we own a house there.

Another category is cultural and recreational activities. Hmmm. Cultural meaning relating to Nebraska and the sand hills? Or cultural meaning something refined? That's a stretch, in my opinion (for the town nearest me), but it's interesting because in the other towns listed, I know they have active organizations that "create" events. Or they are close to an area that offers entertainment.

Crime rates were also taken into account.

For an aerial overview, click here. The slide show offers a "look" at the town and pinpoints on a state map where the city is located. Only problem I see is that several of the pinpoints are pretty inaccurate. It shows Newcastle by Lincoln. In actuality, Newcastle is in the northeastern range, near Sioux City. And Waverly appears to be by Grand Island, but hey, I guess the actual slide of the town is what's important. There are some interesting comments on the post page also. Nebraska towns and rankings include:
  • Davenport - 44
  • Arlington - 41
  • Loomis - 39
  • Oakland - 38
  • Diller - 37
  • Newcastle - 36
  • Petersburg - 32
  • Bartlett - 22
  • Lawrence - 17
  • Waverly - 6
  • Arapahoe - 5

December 9 holidays

Let's start the day off with something delicious by celebrating National Pastry Day. I'd like a Napoleon from the Verdigre Bakery. Or a kolache would hit the spot too. This Czech bakery, located in small town in Northeast Nebraska, makes the finest pastries around. And they'll ship them fresh to your front door, so take a look at their site.

Day of the Horse is celebrated to remind people of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States. It's a Congressional resolution, so that makes it an official celebration. My grandparents had horses, three of them, and when I was young, one of the first things my sister and I, along with our aunt Joyce, would do was saddle up the horses and go for a ride. Very relaxing!

National Children's Memorial Day remembers all children who have died. Sponsored by Compassionate Friends, many communities hold ceremonies and light candles.

Weary Willie Day. An actual holiday? Seems it is in remembrance of comedian Emmett Kelly, who made the character famous, and was born on this day in 1898. Honor the act of clowning (around). Hey, if you're ever in Nebraska, check out the Klown Doll Museum in Plainview.

And finally, it's Christmas Card Day. I'm celebrating this day because I actually got my cards mailed out last Tuesday! That's a first for me. For the past, oh, 10 years, I have either handed them out at our family Christmas or I haven't sent any because I've been too busy or haven't had any energy to get them done. It is possible that I got them done early this year because there was a special announcement in the Christmas letter I included. Or maybe it's just that I sat down and made the time to get them written.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Let it snow

Granted, it is December and there probably should be snow on the ground, but I prefer November's mildness to the flakes of white fluff raining down from the sky.

Snow brings images of ice, icy roads, drifts, cars buried in blanks, cars in the ditch, individual flakes drifting toward the ground, winter's gloominess, thawing roads, and eventually, mud.

Snow also produces wildlife, at least here in the foothills of Nebraska's Sandhills, foraging for nourishment. Rabbits, deer, pheasants, prairie chickens - all searching for food and shelter. Kind of like their own journey to Bethlehem, but this inn - the great outdoors - offers some relief.

Snow provides moisture for this blow-sand laden soil we are blessed with, which will hopefully produce a bountiful harvest during next year's planting season.

Snow means late-start school days, cancelled or postponed school activities, shoveling until your back aches, muddy boots inside the front door days.

It's beautiful, clean, and pristine. And when the sun shines against it, a thousand flashbulbs explode across the prairie.

December 8 is....

International Shareware Day. In honor of computer programmers and software specialists who design such wonderful programs for us to use.

If you're more into food than computers, then celebrate with a delicious treat. Today is National Brownie Day. My grandma made the best brownies. She used Hershey's chocolate syrup. I'm sure they didn't have any calories in them. :) They were amazing! I also like Rocky Road Brownies. Basic brownies with a "frosting" of chocolate chips, peanut butter, marshmallows, and peanuts. MM MM MM!

Take it in the Ear Day. Can't find any significance for this holiday, although one site hoped it wasn't a typo! I'm going to determine that this day means LISTEN to people, take in their messages, and process the information before responding. Hey, this should happen anyway, but most people simply hear what is going on and do not listen to what is happening.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Need a Reason to Celebrate? December 7 is....

Fire Pup Day. Yup, today is the time to honor those cute little pups who assist firemen with their duties. Visit your local firehouse and give the dog a bone.

International Civil Aviation Day. Established in 1994 by the IACO as the 50-year anniversary of the organization. Both the Canadian government and the UN sanction this celebration. The main purpose is to generate worldwide awareness of the importance of civil aviation in the social and economic development of States.

I've always thought it would be fun to learn how to pilot a plane. Until it's time to land. Then I'm not so sure I'd want to have total control.

National Cotton Candy Day. Usually a treat associated with summer and fairs and the circus, today's food celebrant is this sugary treat. Originally called fairy floss, cotton candy received a name change in 1920, according to Candy USA! Makes we wish for summertime. And considering that we have six inches of snow dusting our lawn, I want it to be summer now!

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy.

Letter Writing Day. Letter writing is a lost art. In today's hi-tech world, letter writing is considered old fashioned. Maybe that's why I enjoy writing letters. And I don't mean typed letters that are sent to the masses, like the Christmas letter I mailed in this year's Christmas cards. No, I mean a handwritten note that lets someone know you care enough to take the time to write and share open dialogue with them.

When we cleaned my grandma's house, we found all the letters my dad had sent to my grandparents. We even found the letter when my parents told my grandparents that my mom was pregnant with me. Very cool, and I wish we would have saved them. Letters are a wonderful primary source that can be used for research.

Dec 6 celebrations

December 6 is a time to celebrate! Well, for some people it's a cause for celebration.

Miner's Day. I salute these people who risk their lives to travel into the depths of a dark, cramped, and dangerous mine. It's a dirty job and I would not like it. I think about all the mine cave-ins I've seen in the last 10 years. Scary. But the people who do this for a living deserve more. Of course, today could also be a celebration for the gold miner's who traveled across the wilderness over 150 years ago, looking for a pot of gold. Or at least a gold mine.

National Pawnbroker's Day. Interesting concept. Someone needs to sell something. You take it to a pawn shop where you get a small amount of the item's actual worth. And then the pawnbroker puts the item for sale for a large sum of money, making a nice profit. Ah, the American Way. Isn't free enterprise great?

St. Nicholas Day. This is the anniversary of the death of St. Nicholas. In countries where St. Nicholas is prominent, this is the day of gift-giving for the Advent season.

National Gazpacho Day. A tasty treat on a hot, sultry summer day. Cold vegetable soup.
But it actually is quite good.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gunman kills 9 at Omaha mall - Crime & courts-

Gunman kills 9 at Omaha mall - Crime & courts-

This is terrible news out of Omaha. What is happening in our state's largest city?

College friends and The Big Chill

One of my favorite movies is The Big Chill, a 1983 film about a group of close-knit college friends who gather 20 years later for the funeral of one of the friends. In the movie, Alex (we never see him onscreen, except for the jagged lines of suicide on his arm when the mortician is preparing his body) has slipped away from the group, and each of them is left wondering how their friendship with Alex diminished and why they didn't foresee what led him to commit suicide.

William Hurt's character, Nick, reminds us that "...a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don't know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It's not surprising our friendship could survive that. It's only out there in the real world that it gets tough."

Today, while I was perusing the World-Herald, I read a story about one of my college friends who I competed with in forensics. We were dramatic duo partners for a couple meets when I was a freshman and he was a senior. We did "I Bring You Flowers." He was fun to work with, and he definitely carried our duo since he was a much better actor than I could ever be. Dan had a good sense of humor, too, and it was a positive experience during the speech season.

But after graduation, he went his way, I kept competing and stayed busy with school, and life interrupted the friendship. It was almost 10 years before I saw him again, at a speech meet, and by that time, the college friendship had changed into simply exchanging pleasantries.

And I'd see him at meets throughout the year, and always at State Speech, where his team won 13 consecutive championships. He was amazing; he demanded perfection; and he will be missed.

On Tuesday, Dan lost his battle with cancer. Even though I knew him for nearly 30 years, a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time. It was easy back then. It's only out there in the real world that it gets tough. And it's out there in the real world that friendships disappear from the horizon and evaporate into memories of a scared freshman and a confident senior who forged their way through common interests and let it slip away.

December 5 is....

Today's celebrations include
  • National Sacher Torte Day
  • AFL-CIO Day
  • Bathtub Party Day
  • International Volunteer ay for Economic and Social Development
  • National Communicate with Your Baby Day
  • Special Kids Day. Isn't every kid special?

Catching Up On Food Holidays

Ever celebrated a food holiday? In December, 19 days are designated national "whatever the food of the day is" day. I'll play catch up through today and give you some ideas.

December 1st - National Pie Day. To select a favorite pie would be difficult. It depends on the season. (I'm having deja vu and think I wrote about this day earlier.)

December 2 - National Fritters Day and Eat A Red Apple Day. Combine the two and have National Eat a Red Apple Fritter Day. I guess that's a possibility.

December 4 - National Cookie Day. I like cookies. They remind me of my Grandma Larson. She made the best cookies. Ok, she actually made the best everything, but her chocolate chip cookies were yummy! So soft and moist. I remember when I was little: our neighbors were over and their daughter and I had a cookie eating contest. I ate 19 of grandma's chocolate chip cookies. They were good, but I had a terrible stomach ache the next day. Probably the sugar overload.

December 5 - National Sacher Torte Day. I understand that this has been the most famous cake since 1832. Then why haven't I ever tried it before? Maybe I will whip one up for Christmas. It sounds good: chocolate cake, apricot jam filling, and dark chocolate icing.

Weird Holidays for December and the first week of this wintry month

I know I'm tardy with this week's weird holidays. I've been battling a case of walking pneumonia and I haven't felt like doing much of anything. But I'm back, and I'll be better than before. So.... I'm going to do this a different way from now on.

December 1 - 7 weekly celebrations feature....

Cookie Cutter Week. That's one' of my goals this year: to actually make and bake some Christmas goodies, including cookies. I just found a recipe for some yummy butter cookies and chocolate snickerdoodles, so I will try those this week.

National Aplastic Anemia Week. I'm anemic, but I don't suffer from this disorder. It doesn't sound like much fun.

Tolerance Week. Something everyone should practice.

Recipe Greetings for the Holidays. I like to prepare new things for the holidays. Last year, I made a cute Christmas tree appetizer using the small rye bread slices, deli roast beef, cheddar cheese spread, and pecans. It was a hit! I'm not sure what I'll make that is "fun" this year, but I'm sure I can come up with something!!

National Handwashing Awareness Week is Dec 2 - 8. Yes, a week that definitely needs to be dealt with! Ever since I suffered from salmonella poisoning last spring, I've been a handwashing fanatic! Not that I didn't wash my hands prior to that, but now it has almost become an obsessive-compulsive thing with me. Better to be on the safe side. At least that's what my mom always said.

Clerc-Gallaudet runs December 3 - 9. These two significantly contributed to education for the hearing impaired.

Operation Santa Paws kicked off December 1 and runs through the 22nd. This observance began in 2001 and attempts to locate homes for homeless dogs. Now, I'm a cat person. They make you work for their affection. But dogs are still cute.

December is also the month for

  • Bingo's Birthday. I like Bingo. I know alot of people probably consider it an "older person's" entertainment, but it is fun. Plus, if you're lucky, you can hit the jackpot!
  • Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Education. I won't even attempt potty humor here. I promise.
  • Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Month. Check your credit report. You really should. When I checked mine, I found several discrepancies of addresses where I'd supposedly lived. Interesting.
  • Learn a Foreign Language Month. I want to study French. Cool accent!!
  • National Drunk and Drugged Driving Month. It's easy. Just don't do it.
  • National Stress-free Family Holidays Month. Stress-free holiday. Isn't that an oxymoron of some sort?
  • National Sign Up For Summer Camp Month. The kids go away and the parents play. Is that the concept? I always enjoyed summer camp. A week away from family and a chance to meet new people.
  • National Write A Business Plan Month. If I didn't write, I wouldn't mind a running a catering business.
  • National Tie Month. A man dressed in a tie always looks classy!
  • Safe Toys and Gift Month. A big issue this season considering all the toy recalls.
  • Spiritual Literacy Month. I found various explanations of this celebration, ranging from celebrating the literal meaning of the Scripture to honoring spiritual literature.
  • And finally, Take A New Year's Resolution to Stop Smoking. Enough said.