84) Post-Holiday Vacation

December 28, 2006

Earlier in the Day:
What a great time to be on vacation. Yesterday Lizzie and I spent the first day in months just hanging out at our house… reading, eating, writing our holiday cards, doing just a few chores around the house, and remarking all the way how nice it is to just hang out. Our lives, as everyone’s I think, are so busy, it takes five days to get to one where nothing is planned or has to be accomplished. And even then we are behind on some things: I finished up packing and mailing a Hanukkah/X-mas box to Johnny in Hawaii, with a few small wrapped up things (and some cookies). Mailing boxes to Hawaii is like sending ‘em oversees… You can send them “regular” mail, which will take SIX WEEKS, or special mail, which takes 4 to 6 days and costs twice as much.

About cards: I have always sent out holiday cards to a list of friends and relations. Over the years the list has grown and shrunk but I have always sent out some cards. These cards have reflected in some way either my thoughts or my view of the world. My parents sent out cards and the ones I remember are the ones with holiday pictures of me and my brother in some sort of holiday scene meant to show the recipients how much we’d grown, I suppose. As I moved out of the house and went away to college I remember coming home for Christmas and spending some part of my time looking through all the cards from friends of my parents’, reading their X-mas notes or those catch-you-up letters with holly boughs drawn on the edges. So, naturally, when I moved on with my life I continued the tradition of sending out cards. My first cards were to friends from high school who had moved away from Ft. Bliss with their parents, like Chuck and Robin. These cards were left-overs from my parents’ cards. Then, as I moved out on my own, I sent cards back to EP to my friends, like Dale and Anita. There are some people on my list now that have been on there since the ‘70’s, like Dale and Jan (now); the Parkers (the girls come home for Christmas and my card is at their parent’s house); Lynn, Richard, and Nancy. Mostly these cards were PEACE-related. When I left for graduate school in 1977, I added all my friends (considered family) from my hippie years (Cliff & Skinny and Albert are still there, as is Connie and Edna, and Steve & Nicky). For a number of years I sent Leanin’ Tree cards featuring works by cowboy artists of cowboys coming home at night to their ranch houses all alit with yellow windows and blue snow on the evening ground. And now that email is the preferred system, I have found some other old friends and added them to email + the professional and post-graduate school people. So, over the years there have been lots of people I send cards to, and of course, there are people who send cards to me too. But, me thinks this is changing.

Liz and I were noticing that fewer people are sending cards now-a-days. It seems we used to get lots of cards (enough to string across the ceiling of our living room) and over the years we’ve gotten quite a few less. Now, either we are less popular (a distinct possibility since we’re not as “cool” as we once were - our kids will vouch for this fact), or people are all as late sending out cards as we are, or… people aren’t sending out as many cards as they used to before it cost .39 cents to mail out a card. According to the Census Bureau* Americans will send more than 1.9 billion holiday greeting cards this year. Since there are 300 million people in the US, that’s about 6 cards for each of us. We got about 20 so that means we are more popular than the average bear. And, it still seems we’re getting less than usual. President Bush sent out 1.4 million himself, according to the Washington Post**, but we are'nt on that list. Some people warn that the holidays season is a waste of paper, and thus trees… so, I guess that in the future we will receive less paper cards than now. Some say that all communications in the future will be electronic and that all books will be plastic… as in discs. That’ll be strange… although I find myself sending out more and more electronic cards, or at least brief messages with holiday pics attached. Those are the easy ones. The fun ones include choosing an appropriate card for the recipient, double stick taping a picture inside, adding a brief note about our yearly challenges or awards, and addressing and stamping them to go in the mail. I always like stacking them up and shuffling through the envelopes, picturing the recipients holding them and looking at the postmarks. For a number of years now I haven't had to buy any cards because there are half-used boxes of cards from years passed and I only wonder if anyone recognizes they might get the same card several years in a row.

Today I cut back the roses and lantana in the back herb garden, shoveled up puppy poop, and put a new latch on the back gate, which Shayna and her friend, Maddie, already left open yesterday, letting Chelsea out to bark at invisible marauders in the creek. She didn’t run off but stayed right by the back porch barking her head off. Brave dog.

El Milagro: I’m Reading two new books that I got for gifts: Marion Winik’s new book of essays; Above Us Only Sky, and Michael Walker’s Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood, which I took and read for an hour or so today. Crystal cannulated me today, quickly and efficiently. I was the last person in on my shift, making me the last person to leave at about 8:20 pm. There’s a new guy (patient) I hadn’t mentioned. He is a slightly portly guy about my age who has tattoos from his head to foot and for awhile after he started I thought he must be some sort of guru or holy man. His bald head has these zig zag stripes from front to back that look reminiscent of Tlingit tattoos. His cheeks have swirls on them and even his nose is tattooed. His chest and arms down to his wrists are tattooed a solid dark navy blue and he has stretched his earlobes so they dangle down about 3 and a half inches. This guy looks like he must have been led to this body art through meditation or some sort of shamanic vision. Several women, who I took to be his devotees visit him and sometimes rub his feet. One of them is quite young and pregnant and the other is older but just as attentive to the man with the tattoos. So fianally I ask Herman what his story is, and it turns out he is a tatoo artist, not a holy man. One of the women is his young wife and the other must be her mother. And I was just about to prostrate myself in front of his chair and ask him for the answer to life’s tribulations. So it goes. (Usually, I think I know the answer anyway.) It’s just that when you see a person like this tattoo guy you think he must know something you don’t.

Notes: On Tuesday, after spending three days in Dallas eating holiday foods, I weighed in at 75.4 and out at 72.1 Kgs., losing over 7 pounds in dialysis! Today I came in at 74.6 and left at 71.8 Kgs.
*Census Bureau retrieved online at:
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_ editions/005870.html
**Washington Post retrieved online at:

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