S is for snowstorm, o-sooji & sayonara 2014!

I wrote I’d do it someday.

Today, in the spirit of wrapping up 2014, seems a good time.

That’s the view from my new studio apartment (new = one month):


And the same view today:


A powerful storm’s cutting a swath across parts of Arizona and Las Vegas. It’s our season’s first snow. Most people hear Arizona and think scorching desertinsane furnace heat … butt-ugly sprawling Phoenix infested by gangs and illegals and truly horrible dangerous people from Mexico and users sucking off America’s system.

Well, perhaps the last one isn’t first in the minds of folks who don’t know Arizona! Nonetheless, all true all the same. Southern Arizona is the primary scorcher. Heading north brings temperate to cold climates.  Flagstaff, for example, in the northern reaches gets serious snow and chill. Ski country. CROWDED ski country!

In expectation of the storm, I completed errands yesterday so I don’t have to drive anywhere. Here’s why:


Not my driveway rather a reasonable facsimile. Mine’s slightly steeper and involves one sharp precise turn — all the while backing out of a car cover! Thanks but no thanks. Much as I wanna hit the gym’s pool, I’ll pass. Today.

New Year’s Eve means one thing to me: o-sooji. The Great Cleaning.

On this day in Japan, folks are cleaning their homes from top to bottom — windows too! They’re sweeping their porches at their homes and businesses. Workers are cleaning out their desks — and being PAID for it! They’re polishing their cars and placing pine decorations on grilles. In days of yore, they paid off all debts so to enter the new year with a clean slate.japancardecorate


o-sooji1Not every single person in Japan of course but those who stay true to tradition are doing so.

As an Asian trapped in a Western body and with some 10+ years of Japan living under my belt — and skin — I adhere to their traditions at New Year’s Eve. As a so-called neat freak … OK, it’s true though I see absolutely nothing freakish o-sooji2about it! … my place is spotless or pretty damn close all the time. On occasion a few things like boxed files need tidying up, newspapers the recycling bin.

So if you saw my place, you’d laugh when I say I’m gonna do Japanese o-sooji! “Of what?!” you’d say! Yet o-sooji I shall! It’s about honoring and partaking of the tradition rather than actual need.

Once those 15 minutes are finished — haha — I’ll continue the glide into 2015. Not literally hopefully! I mean, there’s that awfully steep snowy driveway to negotiate if I head out to nearby Whiskey Row for pints at my favorite pubs, the Courthouse Square and trees wrapped in rainbow Christmas lights glowing brightly.

Midnight brings the Boot Drop: Prescott’s version of the Times Square shindig with a lit-up Western boot instead of enormous sphere.

With my winter wardrobe, including leather fur-lined snow boot stored in another state that I’m sorely missing now, I’m less than uber-excited about standing around in the white stuff and 19 degrees in “normal” garb for the midnight drop.

whiskeyrowbootdropOn the other hand, I do so want to be there, particularly this being my first New Year’s Eve as a Prescott resident. A year ago, I made the 2-1/2-hour drive from my town of residence, I wanted to be here Just. That. Much!

Now I live here! Yey!

So will play it by ear as the day unfolds and storm subsides. If I do opt for the boot drop will be sufficiently warmed-up and I don’t mean strictly clothing layering. 😉

Well, it’s 1:18 p.m. Still in my PJs. Time to brew another cuppa java, switch into my “work clothes” and get my o-sooji on.  Sayonara for now.


Lovely sky & trees! Until it’s a puzzle.

It’d be a novel way to make money, that’s for sure!

Doing puzzles.

I love puzzles! Seriously, if I could get paid doing ’em, well, I’m sure I’d go punchy, cross-eyed and stir-crazy after eight hours of staring at ‘n’ puttin’ together the pieces day after day.

But I do love ’em!

Been a long time since I’ve been in a place and had the space for puzzles. Now that I just purchased a table — a thrift store workbench, actually, an interesting story, that — the space & place are arrived!

I was all excited for my first puzzle in a few years. Soon after finding none of any appeal at the Goodwill, I was told the most amazing thing by someone:

You can get ’em at the library!

Don’t even need a library card. Though of course I have one. Whenever I move (a lot!!), I arrange for a new library card way before the driver’s license!

A sign at the puzzles shelves reads: “Take One Leave One.” So I did. Had none to leave; no worries, I’ll return whatever I borrow.

Details. Colors. Things happening. A scene with appeal.

My keywords for a puzzle.

Oh, and size. Size matters. My table isn’t all that large. A 550-piece puzzle exceeds my table’s limits. After crammin’ ’em side by side like sardines, I was layin’ ’em on the window sill off to the side! Pieces were dropping to the floor. Not ergonomically comfortable or relaxing “puzzling.”


A 500-piece puzzle is about right. It engages and challenges the brain for a good while but doesn’t commit ya for life.

A 300-piecer would be my minimum. One day, with the right table, I’d go up to 1,000. A girl can dream. 🙂

Since it’s the season and I do loooooove detail, I went with a lively Christmas scene. A 550-piecer. Which I completed in two days! With two work shifts thrown in there!

How’s that possible, you wonder?

You don’t sleep! haha

Seriously. As a nocturnal creature, being up ’til 3-ish is par for the course unless there’s reason to be up early. Once I start puzzling, though, I can’t stop! I think one more piece. Plug it in. Just one more piece. Then I’m gonna stop. Really.  Plug in another. Then another. 

Hours later, I’m lookin’ at the clock, wincing. It’s 5 in the morning.

Hence while puzzling, it behooves me to recite: Just walk away.

So with no further ado, the Christmas Time puzzle done in two days:


I quite like the scene but it was a bitch, uncomfortable ergonomics and window sill aside. How so?

See all that foliage? Foilage is tedious.

See the sky? Tedious.

Minute differences in shading especially in upper right corner made it a bear. Is this black? Royal blue? So subtle were the shading differences that I was like a scientist in a microbiology lab, under a bright light, peering into a microscope discerning different pathogenic forms of Escherichia coli.

Anyhow,  it was fun (though I wasn’t as charmed by it as other puzzles). It’s ready to go back to the library:



And a new one begun. Maybe one with a little less microbiology lab, a little more buzzing pub!

That daily prompts duo: Dumb and Dumber

Wanted to. Really did. Write on today’s daily prompt.

Took a look in anticipation.  Hindsight. Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.

Uhhhhhh, no. My first post is no longer. On a blog site (Vox) that no longer exists. Bye-bye to that first post circa 2006 and loads more writing. Poof! Gone. Vanished into cyberspace, never to be seen or read by human eye again.

My first post on WordPress too is so long ago, on an entirely other blog, a relic amongst the blogosphere’s bones.  Whether I could even unearth it is dubious.

Truthfully, why would I want to? Why would I want to go back and rewrite my first post or any other? What’s the point? The purpose? What’s to be gained? Like a photograph, writing (for me) captures a moment. An experience. A feeling. A viewpoint. A sensation. A thought or 10. A contemplation or 20.

The words are on record. The moment recorded. I wouldn’t muck with a personal blog post any more than I’d change the coloring of a dog or the funny-shaped ears of a child. Such things are what they are and as they are. Let them be.

So a sucky prompt, in my book. 🙂

There’s hope still!

The WP daily prompts page offers another option for those prompts we may find uninspiring, silly or just stupid. It’s called “view a random prompt” button. I’ll take that spin of a wheel …

Sweet 16. When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

Ugh. Who comes up with these?!

Like the “rewrite your first post” prompt, an act of resurrecting ancient past. None of us is who we were a year ago, five or 10 or 20 or 30 years ago or 41 in my case.

What I thought life would look like when I was a teen is telling on certain levels and irrelevant on others. I was 16! While my life experience by that age was …. hmmmm, what are the words …. far more extreme, traumatic, unloving, painful, cruel than most … it was the experience of a 16-year-old living at home! I hadn’t yet experienced an iota of what I’d come to experience years and decades later!

I’ve grown, changed, evolved, become wizened and wise. I’d hope that the School of Life would have that intended effect on everyone (though am well aware it doesn’t).

So I’m tossing out this prompt on the basis of stupidity. And banality.

The person who wrote and suggested it sounds desperate for a prompt. Probably thought it was cool. Would make people think. It doesn’t. Not me anyhow. It’s lame because it does not take into consideration the valid points cited above. Not a one.

It’s lame.

Goes to show that when ya take a spin of the wheel, ya never can tell whether you’ll hit a jackpot or lose your shirt. Perhaps the next spin of the wheel of prompts will be a win.

Meanwhile, to finish on a positive fun note, I’ll pull a card for the day from the Mermaids & Dolphins deck:

Pay AttentionPay Attention

“Notice repetitious signs and your inner guidance as this can yield valuable information.”

Hmmmmm, intriguing!


As above, so below. And so the noisy couple goes.

You could say a fellow blogger {ahem} prompted me to do it. Dip my toes back into the Daily Prompt pool.

I write wherever my focus and attention take me. And with so much happening in my life {when is that not the case it seems} that requires therapeutic writing, creative / off-the-cuff writing, of which daily prompts are a part, has been relegated to the back seat. Understandably.

Don’t misunderstand. I could certainly turn anything into a creative piece! Take my noisy neighbors above. Please!

Talk about fodder for a tale of imagination! Imagination has no boundaries! I could write a thousand stories on the obnoxious and self-absorbed and disrespecting Clomp & Clack Couple above and once those were done a thousand more!

I could write, saaaaay ….

1. Ms. Clack wins the lottery. Or at the least a sizable jackpot. She decides now’s the time to see the world and take that cruise to the Bahamas she’s long wanted. They move out, terminating their lease early and thus penalized. Doesn’t matter, she’s loaded now. They’re gone, off to see the world! They vacate the apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

2. Mr. Clomp’s sister in Madison, Wisconsin falls ill. Family obligations require his presence. He doesn’t wanna go but does. Ms. Clack tags along.

Mr. Clomp goes to a bar in Madison to drown his woes. There, comfortably tipsy, he encounters a woman from Vietnam. Slender, petite, smooth radiant skin. Her tight floral silken Vietnamese dress only heightens her allure!

He falls hard for her. For a night. Perhaps it’s the beer goggles speaking. Perhaps it’s fate. He doesn’t know. Things get steamy. In bed he convinces himself it’s love. Or at the very least a mind-blowing lust to be consumed again and again and again.

Things get complicated. Ms. Clack learns about the tawdry encounter.

They return to their apartment. Talk ’til midnight or the cows come home. Whichever occurs sooner. Decide to move back to Madison, Wisconsin, for family support and couple’s counseling. They vacate the apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

3. Ms. Clack severely twists an ankle. Mr. Clomp’s told her once if he’s told her a thousand times that she needn’t wear those high heels, she’s beautiful and sexy in loafers or barefoot. But she’s never listened to him on that point. She’s a girl and she does girly things.

The doctor wraps her swollen purple ankle in a cast. Tells her to take it easy and stay off the ankle for at least a month.

She doesn’t listen. She’s taking out the trash, two crutches tucked into her armpits and heavy trash bags in each hand. She missteps. Takes another fall. Shatters part of a collarbone.

Doctor’s ticked off. “I told you to stay off it,” he admonishes. Her inner bitch shrugs it off. Mr. Clomp’s pissed too though. “You never listen to what any man tells you. This always happens. I need my space. I need to think. I’m gonna stay in a motel for a while.” He packs his bags.

Ms. Clomp can’t stand being alone. She’s NEVER done it and has no intention of starting now!

She joins him at his motel. Everything’s sexy and cool for a week. Then Mr. Clomp’s feeling way too crowded. Packs his bags a second time, saying: “I really need to think things through.” Heads off to Iowa to stay with his brother a while. “Alone,” he tells Ms. Clack.

She’s pouty, spoiled, pissed off and bummed. Convinces herself that she’s none of those things but the most loving partner he could ever have and screw him for not appreciating her. She lets him go. He takes off like a caged dolphin released back into the wild sea. They vacate their apartment. Peace is restored. Win-win.

See, a million ways to write characters in a story and out of your life!

As for the Daily Prompt, when I began this post, inspired in great part by livingonchi’s daily contributions, I’d intended to participate. Answer to the prompt: Clichés become clichés for a reason. Tell us about the last time a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush for you.

Somehow turns out I didn’t “need” it after all! That writing about the fucking obnoxious noisy disrespectful Clomp & Clack Couple above was more fun. This time.

Though if forced to build from that prompt, I’d say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Perhaps more.

A bird glides in the air. Free. Silent. Graceful. Perches perhaps on a finger then takes off again to live peacefully, unencumbered.

All that two noisy neighbors do is ruin it for everyone else.

Thus a free bird in the hand is worth two neighbors in the bush. The Australian bush. Far far away from disturbing any other living soul.

etheric note to 3D neighbors

I’d write it if I could.

Correction. Deliver it. Slide it under their door perhaps. Or deposit it in the mailbox.

Delivering it, however, would be wrong. Inappropriate. It’s not the right course of action.

However! I can still write it! Yey to writing and my two hands and brain that make it possible! Here goes.

Thank you so so much for being away at the holiday! It’s because you were away that all around enjoyed peace and silence for the first time in a month since you moved in.  Your absence truly made Christmas serene and restful. Thank you again.

Christmas: kind … future: forging.

The paint’s barely dry on Christmas and thoughts are already turning toward New Year’s.

My first Christmas in Prescott, the town I love and increasingly call home in the state I too love and already call home. Arizona.

Three words: joyful. connected. blessed.

A fourth word for good measure: peaceful. The noisy upstairs neighbors are away. The result: the first peace that the apartment and I have known in a month of being here. Can’t describe how WONDERFUL the quietude and their absence are! Part of me wishes they’d never come back, though of course that’s not realistic. I can breathe again. Silence is golden. Truly.

Whatever I did and wherever I was, it was going to be a good Christmas by virtue of being in Prescott. It was made WONDERFUL by good company. Good food. Good conversation. In my new place with a view so wonderful and worth sharing. It’s the first Christmas with another(s) over at my place in a guesstimated 21 years! I’ve come through some intensely dark dark dark times.

This year the tide turned. I witnessed it with my own eyes! A glorious joyful Christmas! Would not change a thing.

As the holiday gives way to New Year’s, I can’t but contemplate desires, wishes and goals for 2015. What’s in my heart for the new year? I don’t make resolutions per se. I do however think it important and worthwhile to reflect on such matters as the door of one year closes and the next opens.

I’m already there. Not in 2015 — obviously not! There in way of awareness of heart’s messages and spiritual compass. We’re still in 2014 so mum’s the word as far as a blog post. 🙂

Speaking of mums and nurturing and intuition and other motherly words (if one’s blessed with a good mother, that is), I’ve long enjoyed the tarot card drawings over at longeyesamurai’s blog.

With nurturing a theme in 2015 — that much I will tell! — I’m inspired in part by my longtime blogging buddy (all the way from the days of Vox yore!) to draw a card for the day from my longtime and currently favorite deck, Magical Mermaids and Dolphins (by Doreen Virtue).

{shuffle shuffle}

The day’s message is:

Break Free

Break Free 

“Try different ventures and experiences as a way to grow and learn.”

Uh-huh. Spot on

a man & his dog, a burger, mixer & Goodwill stranger: linked.

Move over, monster in Walmart*! There’s motherly kindness in this world too.

*see post prior

A story to be shared. If it uplifts your spirit in this stressful holiday season or instills or renews faith in the power of paying it forward, all the more meaningful.

A couple weeks ago while pulling into Walmart, I pass an indigent man and his dog sitting in the adjoining In-and-Out Burger lot. I buy a double-double burger and fries and include in the bag a bottle of beer from a pack I’d just happened to have purchased at Trader Joe’s.

Walk up to the man, offer the meal with instructions to please share with his dog and use of my bottle opener if needed (it wasn’t).

About a week later, I’m at the Goodwill. COMPLETELY overstressed by holiday crowds and most of all the grind of noisy upstairs neighbors and constantly bad home situations.

I’m in line with a portable mixer (particularly for seasonal baking). Lady in front of me has a load in her cart. Stress is eating me up, my impatience is full tilt, my irritability sky high so while waiting I put head in hands and recite the serenity prayer in my mind time and time again.

When I look up, the clerk’s handing me the bagged mixer and the woman in line’s saying “it’s all paid for.”

“What? No,” I say “I’ll pay for it.”

“All paid for,” she says, smiling. I thank her profusely and depart, her blonde hair and smiling face the last things I see.

This town is unlike any other place for me! This kinda stuff happens so naturally here. A meal and beer for a man and his dog is returned as an act of kindness from a Goodwill shopper.

Paying it forward. Small random acts of kindness rise like leavened bread, multiply and are returned at times and in ways you could never see coming.

Every time I use that mixer, I’m going to remember the experience, think of her and be in gratitude for the gift that keeps on giving.

Peace on earth & earplugs for all!

So yesterday in Walmart there’s this kid SCREAMING bloody murder. SCREAMING and CRYING for 15 minutes with the lung force of a Maria Callas. No offense Maria.

You could hear it clear across the other side of the store — a football field-sized supercenter no less! I literally plug up both ears, flee the opposite direction from the scene of the crime and hasten out asap!

After checking out, I think: “This is an bloody-murder-type anomaly. I’ve got to investigate.”

Follow my ears to the source of the screaming — not difficult to do — thinking: “Please let it be an overtired 6-month-old infant in a carrier.”

No such “luck.” A 6-ish girl in partial princess getup. No surprise there.

And either her mother or young grandmother in black tights & heels. Tears are rolling down the girl’s face as she’s ear-bleeding SCREAMING she wants THIS. She wants THAT.

I stand at the scene watching. Say nothing. Expressionless face. Sometimes that speaks more loudly than words. Bearing witness to the monstrosity unfolding.

The mother looks up, sees me watching. Says nothing.

She’s tugging at the girl’s hand in a futile effort toward the exit. The girl, heels dug in, is resisting. Keeps SCREAMING, pointing to some item at the checkout stand (likely candy): “I WANT THAT!! I WANT THAT.”

Mom: “I’ll get you that if you stop screaming.”

Right. I come thiiiiiissssss close to stating: “That’s right. Reward the child for her screaming.”

Mom finally gets the girl, who’s now been shouting relentlessly for a good full 15 minutes, moving toward the door.

Just in the knick of time. I’m standing there, incredulity dripping from my brain, thinking: “I’ve NEVER seen anything like this in a store.” I’m ready to pull out my phone and begin filming.

End of story: Despite bloody-murder screaming, there’s zero abuse of the child. A call to child protective services is unnecessary.

A call to adult services to protect us from our self-created monsters, yes …

‘Tis the Christmas season. Peace on Earth? Perhaps one day.

Peace in a store? Not a chance!

… and the gift is delivered from on high

There’s one every Christmas season. Happens without fail. I don’t go looking for it. It comes to me.

This year, amid generous stress that’s taking a toll, particularly on health, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed by much, I wondered whether it was gonna happen.

Maybe it won’t. Maybe it can’t.

But it did happen.

It happened about 20 minutes ago.

The song of the season. Courtesy of Pandora.

Every year, there’s one carol that plays on the radio that just deeply resonates. Sings to me like no other to that particular time, space and place of my life, internal and external.

It’s one carol that no matter how often I hear it in that particular season, I won’t tire of it or switch the station.

Quite the contrary! It’ll bring me to extraordinary pause — nee, complete stillness. It’ll cause me to weep. Every time.

Even if I’m driving. I’ll remain responsible, alert and attentive to the road and all on it even as the floodgates of emotion are opened and tears roll down my cheeks like streams of melted snow. I sop ’em up with napkins and stay responsible on the road even though inside I’m a total puddle.

Truth told, keeping a record of each song, its year and where my life was at would be remarkably revealing.

There’s always just one line or two in the carol that grabs my attention … that reverberates, shining like the North Star, bright like no other star, guiding me in my etheric journey.

One year, the carol that resonated like no other was “Little Drummer Boy” and with it a particular lyric that radiated like that star. That’s a longtime favorite anyhow. Granted, some renditions are far better and more moving than others. Still, I never tire of it.

That year, I couldn’t get enough! I was like a starved child aching for a slice of bread.

Another year it was “Oh Holy Night.” Again, the song in general and one line in particular. It brought me to my knees. It made me weep every time. And the single lyric that struck the deepest chord is one I remember to this day. It became woven into my being.

Bet I listened to that 100 times that season! Cranking up the volume in the Subaru where I’ve listened to vast carolings on the radio or library CDs indeed.

This year … well, I’ve just discovered this season’s song:

“Oh Come Ol’ Ye Faithful.”

Like I wrote, I never know year to year what it’s gonna be. It just happens. Like being touched by an angel’s wing. Not to sound hokey or corny or Hallmark-y. That’s the closest description I can offer.

So there I was, newly risen for the day and still in my PJ’s at noon. {Hey, I’m a nocturnal creature so cut me some slack! 🙂 } Past my second mug of coffee. Toodling about in the kitchen, laptopping, Pandora’s “Mormon Tabernacle Holiday” station playing in the background.

{Don’t get me started on the Mormon Tabernacle choir! That’s deserving of its own post, anon.}

Boom! It happens.

About 1/3 into the song, activity ceases. Stillness drops like a curtain in an old-time movie theater. The theater lights switch off. The internal light switches on. I stand. Still. It’s just me and … the angel … delivering the message … for me .. in this time and space … in song.

Glorious awe-inspiring song.

I listened. I knew that was it.

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”

I didn’t recognize the singer’s voice — or name on Pandora’s screen. I bookmarked it and when the song was over, I resumed my activity.

Yes, the season’s carol is just that powerful.

It stops ALL the world’s noise.

And very very intense noise it is right now as seemingly the entire world’s stressed out, in a rush, sucking up the Christmas commercialism and consumerism through a straw like they’re oxygen themselves.

(They’re not; not for me anyway. Matter of fact, I stay as far from that as possible; however, it’s impossible for me NOT to feel and sponge it all in, everyone’s rush rush rush buy buy buy. Sad.)

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”

I feel an obligation to mention that I’m not a religious person. Far from it.

Neither am I a faithful person. Truth is, for me, the conventionally-understood “f word” is not of four letters, rather five: faith.

The Word and my greatest challenge in this lifetime.

And thus I have been tapped by the angel’s wing.

I know not who he or she is. I’ve not “met” or had an official introduction to this Being that I’m aware of.

Yet I know, with unexamined and unequivocal certainty of mind, body and spirit, that he/she/they exist. They gift me with a presence and a song each year.

Perhaps … just perhaps … that is faith … singing.


My oh my, talk about Christmas cards on the fly!

Like sinking into a hot tub

Like walking barefoot on fertile thick grass.

Like the scent of cinnamon-spice cookies baking.

Like the exuberant yapping of a puppy.

These things and more are joy. And they are peace.

Last evening for the first time in weeks at my new apartment, I returned home around 7:30 rather than 10-ish. The reason: a gut feeling that the landlord had addressed the issue of excessive noise with the neighbors, that the cacophony was at last abated and harmonious co-living could begin.

I was right. The noise volume was nothing like it’d been the past month. The TV wasn’t blaring, neither the stereo. He didn’t march through the apartment like a Russia soldier trudging through snow. She didn’t shriek as much as usual. Things above have definitely quieted down.

And thus with civility in the place of intrusions and reasonable quietude in the place of furor, I could complete my task at hand, the true reason I’d come home and needed to be home: my Christmas cards!

I make my own cards. Been doing it for decades. Can’t remember the last time I even bought a box of cards.

My sister too makes her own, as did my dad when he was here. We’re the “freaks” in the family when that “family” is defined as my mother’s side.

They’re the conventional sorts. The sort who buys boxed cards. The sort who’d place those ghastly family photos where everyone’s well dressed and the two dogs are donning red stocking caps on the cards.

And then insert those equally ghastly family update newsletters. “Johnny Junior’s 8 now and growing just so big and he just made the basketball team and we’re thrilled. Little Denise, now 5, has a voice that soars and she just got a seat on the church choir and we’re just thrilled.”

Booooring. Banal. Bah Humbug!

Making Christmas cards is work. It’s a labor of love. I never know from year to year what the card’ll be. The theme, art medium, materials or photograph (which I take).

Sometimes, I don’t know ’til like a week before Christmas!

Like this year!

That’s cuttin’ it way close.

Usually my creative mind begins percolating, toying with ideas, about a month before Christmas. Sometimes I scan aisles at crafts stores for notions and I don’t mean needles, threads, tape measures and pin cushions, the stuff of sewing notions.

Not that I haven’t incorporated stitchery into my cards. I have!

Anywho, the Christmas spirit this year has been up and down, hit and miss, “in flux.” No doubt due to the extraordinary stresses of moving and the first month under the unceasing cacophony from the Clack & Clomp Couple. Enough to send even the calmest person to the funny farm. Or the pub.

In truth, I had a photo all picked out for the cards. Had even done the sizing and tweaking and all those things in preparation and saved a template.

Then at the 11th hour, I changed my mind.

I liked this other photo better.

Then comes the easy part — or hard part, depending on one’s perspective. Writing the letter.

Now, I assure you, any resemblance between my holiday writings and standard banality is a big fat jolly ho-ho-ho NO!

When I seated myself at the laptop yesterday, I had no idea what I was gonna write. I knew only this: I HAD to write then and there. No procrastination. No excuses. Reason? The ONE package — the ONE and ONLY gift I send each year — is to my son in another state. One. That’s it.

With his gift goes the card and holiday letter. And yesterday was Do Day. Get his package into the mail to-day in time for Xmas arrival. Just Do It.

So, with absolutely no plan, concept or forethought, I sat myself at the computer and began writing.

Sometimes writing under pressure works against ya. You get blocked. Your tongue is leathery thick, your pen is sucked bone dry of its ink. The writing is stilted and stupid. Even if it’s really not, it FEELS like it and so it’s all the same.

Then there are those times — rare though they may be — when the pressure works to your favor. The clock’s ticking. Christmas came WAY too fast. The clerk at the post office is waiting. So you sit down and the words just flow. Flow flow flow flow flow. The ink well’s full and the tongue’s keeping pace with an experienced marathon runner.

I got lucky yesterday. Because the words did flow. I was able to complete the letter and the card. Assemble everything into a single package wrapped with the brown paper of a grocery bag. Hasten to the post office at 4:30, a half hour before closing. Braced for an hour’s wait.

Boy was I disappointed. Pleasantly so. There was a line of like only eight people! Fortune smiling upon me for sure! I got his package in the mail. Overpaid on postage but there’s no avoiding it. Left and celebrated the successful completion of card-letter-mailing with a beer at the pub!

There’s just one flaw in this otherwise rosy scenario. Due to the time crunch, I didn’t review and edit the letter to my usual meticulousness and high standards. Upon later review for dispatch of same letter to other family & friends, I discovered a sentence here and there that wasn’t up to snuff.

Therein lies the danger of writing Christmas cards on the fly. The words don’t always land in their ideal location.

I got those all fixed for the others who’ll receive the letter. And a small number it is too so don’t go thinking I’ve got tons of friends pantin’ for my pieces. I don’t.

Still, it niggles my brain, less-than-perfect writing in a holiday letter. But as in everything, there’s a silver lining. The letter doesn’t extol Johnny Junior’s basketball skills or Denise’s divine singing talent.