Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Do You Mean Your Apple Doesn't Have A Jacket?

My folks aren’t big on tradition. In the last few years, though, we’ve started a Christmas practice of drawing names and buying a gift (with a $30 limit) for that person. Part of the impetus for this system was to simplify the shopping . Also, we figured that the money we’d spend on the other gifts could go to charitable causes (we used to pool this but now everyone’s on their own).
The number of names in the drawing is small: my parents, brother, and me. The ceremony happens at the end of the summer, when we write names on slips of paper and choose our Christmas destiny. Often we have to draw more than once because someone will choose his or her own name (this is not a terrible destiny, but not in accordance with the rules).
Another Christmas surprise: a Wii! My
brother teaches our Nana how to work it.
I should clarify, too, that my grandmother Hazel and all pets and cousins’ kids are all fair game for presents and not in the drawing.
Although one year my brother forgot whose name he drew (three cheers for the all-purpose gift!), and one year I lamed out and just got my mom some face cream, 2010 proved that we’ve hit our gift-giving stride.
I drew my brother’s name for the first time and enjoyed picking out gifts under $30 that would be practical but also whimsical. The winner? An apple jacket and a water-bottle cozy shaped like a shark, of course. How has he made it through 2.5 years of college without them? What if your apple gets cold? How better to keep the contents of your bookbag from bruising its delicate flesh?
My dad had my name and bought me a Camelback running pack. I’ve had my eyes on these for years but have toughed it out with my dorky fanny pack/water bottle accessory.
Very late this Christmas morning I woke up with leaden sinuses. I was going to skip a run with my childhood friend Desiree, who was in town for the holidays. But I’m glad I popped a Sudafed and some Aleve and went for it. She, her fiancĂ©, and I ran on a snowy path that was almost deserted. And then we sat at my parents’ kitchen table for nearly two hours, drinking coffee and eating chex mix and clementines. Much of my life I would classify, in the argot of Facebook, “it’s complicated.” But there’s a pleasure in falling back into step with a longtime friend (I’m careful not to say “old” because she and I are the same age). I’m grateful for my new friends waiting for me in Spokane. I’m also freshly aware of how there’s no substitute for knowing someone for decades.
(You’ll forgive me, dear reader, for my abstract thoughts. In the last 24 hours I’ve been introduced to Wii and watched Inception for the first time. It's been an expansive holiday!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Professor Zephyr

Past the train and the dinosaurs was the face of a white-haired man exhaling a blue, three-part breath. I assumed he was a disembodied Old Man Winter, but I also liked thinking of him as Professor Zephyr or Icy Zeus.
Some of the light arrangements in this Kentucky park are more readily identifiable with the holidays: for example, a teddy bear, an enlargement of the holiday bear I had as a kid, whose plastic heart on his lapel would flash red in time with the music he played. Some lights are a bit more of a stretch (an LED-light two-tier fountain).
Near the park, two elves and Santa stood on the sidewalk nearby until they climbed into their red Jeep Cherokee.
Dickens poses next to a groovy new bag I bought
from a Spokane crafter. The bag tag is a cookie
recipe from an old cookbook.
My folks and I were going to drive past the nativity scene, reindeer, train, and lonely menorah, but we decided to walk instead. In less than two weeks, I’m teaching a course on pilgrimage for my school’s Jan term. Walking is on my mind. 
“It is solved by walking,” wrote Saint Augustine. I repeated this my mom this as we passed the ice rink and illuminated snow flakes.
I like that the “it” could be a lot of different things. Could be my brain fog of the last few days. Could be the trough of pork enchiladas and a vat of queso dip I ate for dinner.
Mom and I walked arm in arm while my dad and brother sped ahead.
I haven’t been home since July. My parents have strung the porch and living room with lights and fashion-forward shiny metal trees (one spiky white, one purple and blue ribbon). The seven-pound dog has outgrown last year’s Santa suit. In winter, my mom wins the Thermostat War, so the house is much toastier than my quirky, antiquely- and many-windowed apartment in Spokane.
Yes, it's true I don't have any holiday themed photos.
Dickens is chewing on a card I bought from Maggie's
cool collection.
In Sheets family fashion, no one had a camera on them when we sauntered around the park, so you’ll have to imagine the down-home splendor.
I am behind in reporting some of my latest acquisitions. At a recent arts-and-crafts show in Spokane, I came away with a lovely card made by writing, craft mogul, and blogger, Maggie.
And previous posts attest to my deep and abiding affection for bags, so I couldn’t help take this one home with me. Molly, mastermind of UhOhGo, made it from vintage fabric found by her mom, an art teacher. She had a bag in a similar shape made from a blue Hawaiian shirt (the shirt pocket formed the bag’s inside pocket!). In the shortest, gray days, though, I can't resist a splash of orange and yellow.
Where would this blog be if we didn't have Dickens
to try out all the merchandise?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heat Wave Burning In My Heart

Gone is the snow hump down the middle lane of First Ave! Gone the icicle outside my window!
It's a Spokane heat wave.
I didn’t even need my puffy coat tonight on my way to the evening service at Holy Trinity. Night church is not a new thing for me. I grew up attending church Sunday morning and night, and youth group on Wednesday nights, as well as the twice-yearly revivals (which would usually involve church every night that week). 
Now Night Church is a way to squeeze in some Advent fun if for some reason (say, brunch. Thanks, K!) I can't make it to venerable Morning Church.
By the way, I like the idea of a special “Night Church” song (sung to the tune of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” or Liz Lemon’s “Night Cheese”).
And you’ll have to admit, dear reader, that I haven’t indulged in much church stuff. I know this is supposed to be a blog about thrifting. (AndiIn my last post, I rocked out with the photos. It appears I’ve lost my photo mojo. But I bought some cool handmade loot at Artfest last Friday on campus, especially a rad knit hat, and a bag from vintage fabric. Pics forthcoming.)
Anyway, the material is often a gateway to the spiritual.
Such as: the stars inside Holy Trinity’s sanctuary. They’re asymmetrical bundles of branches that look like they’ve been scribbled above the altar then strung with lights.
And a girl who couldn’t have been more than two or three years old, in pigtails and a fabulous pink velour sweatsuit. She really held it together through the service, and as a reward she helped the priest blow out the candles.
The priest and I talked about how the long nights make one think heavy thoughts and eat heavy food. There’s some psychological health in the liturgical year. I can’t muster up much jolly feeling right now, but Advent is mini-Lent. Jollity not required. The heavy thoughts are just fine as we approach the shortest day of the year, when light is at a premium.
Toward the end of the service the priest asked us to join hands as best we could with our neighbors as we recited the Lord’s Prayer. My right neighbor’s hand was rough, and it shook a little.
My left hand doesn’t always know what my right hand doeth, but at the end of the prayer I gave both neighbor hands a little squeeze before we righted ourselves again toward the altar.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Dash More Photo, A Little Less Text

In the beginning (of this blog) was the word.
My blog is still quite young, still trying to get a sense of its identity. Yes, Thrippie is at the helm, but where is she going? Does she have enough citrus to ward off scurvy? And do the stripes of her sailor suit make her look like a ringed potato?
As I apprentice in the art of the Blog Post, I wonder about such things as: How much text is too much? How many tangents can one Post hold?
I must admit, in my study of the art of Blog, that I love blogs with thoughtful text but also with good pictures: pictures of food, pictures of crafts, pictures of clothes, all of it.
As the semester draws to a close, I also sense that every teacher-type person I know is up to his/her armpits in grading.
So, it's seems like a fine time to back off of the words a little, and catch up on photos of my Thrippie Accoutrements. Enjoy!
Dickens the cat poses with the festive tablecloth I found at the Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store in Spokane.
I bought a small, narrow table from Target to use as extra prep space when I'm cooking, and this tablecloth
transforms it into a serving space, too, when the party gets started. It's not really supposed to be a kitty
platform, but I'm not good at setting boundaries.
This photo looks a little bit Wicked Witch of the West,  but I wanted to show my biker boots from
Buffalo Exchange (which I wrote about in October) and my H&M sparkle knee socks from my friend Erin!
I wore these (under many layers) to a coffee shop yesterday, and I felt tough and festive. One perk about being disorganized is that you have the pleasure of being reunited with your own treasures! The sparkle socks still had their tags. No more! Now theyare mine forever. And it's hard to beat the feeling of a fresh pair of sparkle.

Permit me one more photo of Dickens. He's starting up a nap next to the bring marimekko bag I found at a Goodwill near campus. I've been riding the bus some mornings to work, and a bright floral tote feels like a fine way to defy winter gloom.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Age of Asparagus

One of my colleagues gave me a Christmas ornament this afternoon. He said he usually thinks of ornaments for professors with young children (and showed me the corresponding fire truck and school bus models). But he saw this glittery bunch of asparagus tied with a red ribbon, and he thought it would fit in with my office menagerie.
I told him it was perfect! A gift for my inner child! Green stalks with pointy hats look like the evergreens out my window, or the Christmas trees around town, but surprise: asparagus!
It’s the season of gifts. I walked to the mall on my way home and had a barbecue bacon cheeseburger (with those onion straws, too!) from Cruisers in the food court. The cook accidentally made it a double. “It just tastes extra good,” he said when I picked up my tray.
I sat alone in the food court and stared at a TV and the convection currents of people buying movie tickets. 
Dickens the cat investigates my pink Christmas tree. He doesn't
much care for asparagus in real life, so I think the ornament is safe.
I'm finding that given the choice between a good photo without
cat, and a blurry photo with cat, I will still choose blurry with cat.
Downstairs, a line formed outside the gated Nordstrom's. Santa posed for pictures with well-dressed kids at the base of the four-storey Christmas tree. A quartet in Dickensian period dress (hoop skirts, top hat, all that) sang like mute figurines: I couldn’t hear them over the mallish din. 

On Wednesday morning, I received a gift of a different sort. My spoon was poised over my oatmeal when I spied a police car cruising up and down my street, flashing not its red-and-blue but its traveling amber light.
Muffled messages squawked from the police cruise, as if the teacher from Charlie Brown had been a dude: Wonk ha wonk a wonk.
The flashing amber light ran its track as though along the edge of a marquee.
Was there an armed robbery on my street? Was The Man seeking a fugitive?
Wonk wonk…must move car…
Oh, no.
My car was snowed in while I was gone for Thanksgiving, and I figured I’d dig it out come April.
The police officer saw me chipping away at the snow mound at least half the size of my car. I was wearing a rainbow hat and my deer in headlights/little lost lamb/ woman on the edge look.
Rod, the snowplow driver, also witnessed my tiny seesaw motions with the shovel. With one swipe of his mighty blade, he scraped away the glacier in front of my car. 
“You don’t even need a push,” he said. 
Not only did I not get towed, but I didn’t have to spend half a day digging out my car.
Thank God for Rod.