Curious as to how often professional writers stare at a blank computer screen waiting for some…..any…..words of interest to come tumbling out, I did a quick Google search. (As much as I worry about how much Google knows about my social habits, my religious beliefs, my political leanings….I have to confess that there is hardly a question that a person can’t have answered through Google!!). I found a website devoted to “overcoming writer’s block”. Here is the one sentence that jumped out at me, “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” What??? Am I not supposed to worry about being interesting enough, entertaining enough, thought-provoking enough???? Reading on, the article further states that sometimes what blocks the mind is taking oneself a bit too seriously, as though something awe-inspiring must be formulated. The remedy then is that one should let go of that mindset and to simply start jotting down the ramblings and nonsense inside one’s head, and eventually some idea will catch fire and a pattern will emerge. Really???? Dare I try, given the vacant state of mind in which I currently find myself? Perhaps it is my OCD mindset, but over the past two months, as I have entertained the notion of discontinuing the blog, something keeps nagging at me to continue logging onto Diaryofanut awaiting some sort of miracle inspiration!!!! Hold on……..I think I feel a tiny burst of those “ramblings and nonsense” that Google promised would catch fire!!
Now let me see………..where was I when I concluded the last entry?? Oh yes, it was my TBT (throwback Thursday) post…..do you see the pattern here??…….I had to resort to posting an old entry because I was a.) too lazy b.) too overwhelmed c.) too “serious” d.) all of the above! LOL Well, if this blog is ever going to get published, I suppose I should let the “ramblings and nonsense” begin to spill out by recalling the many faceted month of December, and leave it to you, the reader, to circle a.), b.), c.), or d.)!!!! Shout out to Jennifer…..you will let me know if I am using too many !!!!!/?????/…….? (hover over or click pictures for captions)
On the first Saturday of December, Tommy and Maria once again hosted the Clark adult gag gift Christmas party which never fails to produce a variety of occasionally useful, mostly hilarious, nonsensical and outrageous gift selections. As the above photos attest…..this year did not disappoint. The one “white elephant” gift that seems to keep on giving is the gift that has been making the rounds the past ten years or so. When the “gift” was first opened years ago, we all broke out into hysterical laughter…….all that is, except for our “make it a good one” (this is how she would suggest to us that her evening “cocktail” be made) Aunt Evie!! She was scandalized by our behavior as we all tried desperately to not be the holder of the “gift” at the end of the game. You see this Olan Mills photo of our family…..all thirteen of us…..taken in the late 70’s is the one and only picture that I know exists of me sporting a curly-haired perm (gag!!!!). Truth be told, most of us resembled the cast of the Brady Bunch, or the Partridge Family or maybe Eight Is Enough, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, Aunt Evie (God rest her soul) thought that it was a beautiful photo and was mortified by our good-natured mocking of the picture. To make things even more interesting was the stipulation that the holder of the gift at the end of the game had to promise to hang it in a prominent place in their home the entire next year. Cousin Jan was the gracious recipient last year and given her childhood dream to declare herself to be a member of the Clark family household (where there was never a dull moment), she chose to commemorate this childhood desire of hers by cutting out a picture of herself and inserting it right onto the family photo!!! Ha, ha, ha! Aunt Evie…..I hope this year you were laughing right along with us :).
The very next day it was the Schultheis’ turn to celebrate Christmas…..and celebrate we did……a “small” contingent of 100 or so offspring of John and Rita, along with several cousins thrown in for good measure!! A huge thank you to Linda who works for the Columbus Parks and Recreation and arranged for us to have the entire Whetstone Rec Center at our disposal, allowing the multitudes of young ones the opportunity to use the gym and the game room while the rest of the gang entertained each other with stories of Christmases past, as well as catching up on a year chock-full of life changing events. Once again, Richard reprised his annual role of appearing as Santa. Unfortunately for Richard and all of the believers, as the family has grown so has the wait time of the little ones who know that Santa’s bag holds a very special gift for them. I would have to say that as the pictures testify….they were as good as gold (oh, and Richard too!). John and Rita’s marriage of self-sacrifice, devotion, faith and love will forever resonate in the laughter and love of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren affirming the old saying that “children are proof of God’s opinion that the world should go on”.
I should probably explain the above picture because it directly relates to an event of the second weekend of December. Of course, I will assume that you all know exactly what it is, but the question may linger in your minds about what in the world is an apron doing in my kitchen?!!!! I do hope you take note of the fact that while it fits perfectly into my black and white fashion scheme….it does not, however, fit right into my domestic scheme!!! So here is the story, which I hope I can re-tell without going into a long saga (you all know how boring I can be when I drone on and on!!). It is an established fact that I am only semi-retired, employed four half-days/month by two extraordinarily kind and patient and generous periodontists….Dr. Ira and Dr. Lori. Over the past four years that I have worked for them, I have come to know that a lot of thought, effort and expense goes into the annual office Christmas party. That being said, this year, Dr. Lori planned not just a party, but an “event”!! We are never told exactly where the party will be held as Lori loves to keep us in suspense and so this year our clues, which we receive only a few hours before, directed us all to first, a restaurant bar where we had drinks (did you know that McCormick and Schmicks don’t serve Riunite Lambrusco???) and where Lori and Ira presented us each with an apron. Our next stop was Sur La Table….a kitchenware store which sells not only unique and high-end culinary tools, but also offers a distinctive dining experience by hosting events whereby the guests are given the opportunity to prepare their own meal under the culinary guidance of a very knowledgeable chef. It was great fun….I discovered cookware I had never before had the pleasure of laying eyes on (LOL) as well as learning, among many other things, the proper way to break off asparagus stems and the proper method of searing and cooking a thick steak until it was so tender it melted in my mouth!! I must confess however, that not only does the apron looks as clean and beautiful as the day I received it, my grandchildren continue to check all of the sell-by dates when they are looking for something in my kitchen to eat!!!! Can you even imagine that???
I honestly do not know how any of us ever got all of the decorating, baking, shopping, and wrapping done for the holidays because the Clark family also celebrated the wedding of Erin and Casey on the Saturday before Christmas! Mind you, none of us were complaining as weddings give us all another chance to be together, to share in the joy and happiness of adding yet another member to our family. One regret for me, is that Casey has missed out on knowing Crick, especially since the two of them would have shared so much in common. Casey is an outdoors kind of guy….you know the type that doesn’t mind a bit of mud, dirt and grime….he has a wealth of knowledge about cars and their engines (something Crick certainly never shared with any of my family members…..wink, wink….ha, ha, ha). He has even invited me to attend a “dirt track race” where he speeds around a track seeing how much dirt he can stir up in which to cover the fans…..I suppose this is done so that the fans can feel as if they have actually participated in the race…..personally, I think that the whole experience could be made more attractive if the organizers would simply seat the fans in an enclosed glass dome!! But then, no one has asked for my opinion…..right Casey??? I haven’t made it to a race as yet as I am worried about getting my hair all messed up, but now that he is actually family, I guess this will be the year that I make the ultimate sacrifice!!! (a personal “bubble” would surely ease my pain….what say you Casey Fritz?)
Christmas followed the wedding, Joe Baird’s birthday immediately followed Christmas, Jennifer’s birthday followed Joe’s. A Nana night with pizza, bowling and arcade games was followed by a New Year’s Eve limo ride to see the Christmas lights, which was followed by the family gathering for New Year’s Day and the OSU bowl game (which ended in a victory for the Bucks but a busted tire and rim for moi……street curbs and I have a bad relationship!!). I suppose you have noticed the picture of “Teddy Baird” who managed to defy the “dreamcrusher’s” dire warning to Stephanie who has been, and continues to be, the family master of bringing crazy, funny, warm-hearted, occasionally maddening, often chaotic moments into the lives of those around her (I swear that she is an unusual combination of Crick and her Grandma Clark!!). I know that all of you animal lovers are questioning why I, the designated “dreamcrusher”, would want to argue against Stephanie getting a dog for her family. Well, here’s the deal…….unlike her sister, Jennifer, who has LOVED animals since she was a toddler and whose affection for dogs has never wavered, Stephanie was always a bit apprehensive and somewhat intimidated by dogs, and I was concerned that the idea of a cute little puppy was just one of those Christmas whims that would soon lose its appeal once the hard work of puppy-training reared its head. I am therefore, pleased to say that Teddy has so far endeared himself to everyone and has become quite a happy addition to the family (don’t ask Joe though as Teddy has already cost them an arm and a leg what with the addition of an electric fence and an unexpected visit to the vet ($$$) resulting in several prescriptions to cure a poor little puppy illness!!). If Joe happens to complain, I simply remind him that if the iguana that Stephanie brought home from a carnival (Stephanie has never met an arcade game that she could refuse to attempt to conquer!) had not escaped when Joe and the boys took him for a “walk” this past fall, then there would not have been the need for a replacement “pet”!! LOL The grand-kids and I also (minus two-year old Ryan) took in an evening of bowling, pizza and arcade games during their Christmas break. I warned the kids that I could give very little bowling instruction, given that back in the day when I was a freshman at Ohio State and took bowling as a phys-ed requirement, I could only eke out a “D”!! And yes, that is pathetic, isn’t it???……but is it my fault that after 12 weeks I could only manage to advance from an average score of 65 to an average score of 100????…..I think my “white privilege” must have failed me! (oh dear, I just couldn’t resist that little political dig…..it’s just how I roll!! LOL) Anyway, I took maybe five quick snapshots of them before we left and in every one of them, there were only two who resisted showing any emotion for the camera………Sam and Luke…….apparently too cool to appear to be crazy happy!! Ha, ha, ha. I threw the picture in of Mayce that was taken this fall at her pre-school….the photo cracks me up because there are times when we actually wish we could post it on social media to see if there were any takers!!! Now, now…. you know that I am just being facetious, I love her to pieces, but you can ask any family member and they will attest to her frequent metamorphosis from sweet, happy, cheerful, funny, and adaptable to sullen, stubborn, petulant, disagreeable and obstinate! Sometimes, when Mayce’s “transformation” (oops, another political buzz word!) starts to take place, I can hear Crick muttering in my head “deja vu, MM”!!!!
Speaking of the devil (wink, wink)….I am reminded that we also celebrated what would have been Crick’s 68th birthday on January 6th. As it has become somewhat of an annual ritual, the grand-kids re-enacted the graveside tribute of releasing helium balloons (Shhh….pretty please don’t report us to the EPA!!) into the sky. It was their idea to add to this tradition by either writing on the balloons or attaching a brief note recalling a favorite Papa memory or saying. It brings me great joy and comfort to know that they are eager to continue this heart-warming ritual, as in those few magical moments as we watch the balloons take flight up toward the stars, we are all once again reunited. Just before Christmas, a season that is always, always, always a mixture of bittersweet memories, I discovered a Corrie ten Boom poem which speaks to how our life seems to unfold in real-time, rather like viewing the backside of a tapestry. Our lives often appear to be nothing more than a jumble of thread—tangled, frayed, occasionally knotted, and seemingly random. Nothing really makes sense. Is it any wonder that we often lose heart, and want to give up, abandon our commitments and our dreams and hopes for the future? But things are not always what they seem. It’s only when you turn a tapestry over that you see the art: the rich colors, the texture, and the patterns that can make a tapestry a thing of astonishing beauty. Similarly, if we are living in relationship with God, we will recognize what it is that He is actually “weaving” into the fabric of our lives. We will know, especially as I have these past five years, that nothing happens by accident. No “thread” of experience…good or bad…is wasted. He offer us peeks at His glory that gives us the courage to soldier on for, as Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him“. When the circumstances of our lives tempts us to give up hope, we just have to remind ourselves that we are simply looking at the backside of a tapestry. And the One who is weaving it all together, knows precisely what He is doing.
P.S. Had to include this picture text Stephanie sent me the other day……proof that it is my very own family who instigates my political rantings which cause everyone’s eyes to roll, followed by a mass exodus of every person within hearing range!!! ba, ha, ha, ha, ha