27 December 2007

A Very Merry Day

I wasn't much in the Christmas spirit this year. A couple big changes in my life in 2007 meant things were going to be a little different, and I'm afraid part of me was dwelling too much on those changes. Also, one of my biggest joys of the season is singing along to Christmas songs while driving in the car (madrigal Christmas music, anyone?)...but due to a lingering bronchial infection, my voice wasn't up to it. I sounded pitiful, when I was able to make any sound at all.

In the end, the season was very merry and bright, however. Going to worship on Sunday morning and again on Monday night really catapulted my mood in the right direction, even though my voice started acting up again by the time I got to the third hymn on Christmas Eve. Mom and I left church and met our friends (family, really) for the annual Christmas Eve dinner. Mom and I have participated in this dinner out since I was in elementary school, and it's been going on a little longer than that. For probably 30 years it was always at a restaurant in a hotel in downtown Louisville, but that ended a few years ago. Since then we've been a wandering group in search of a restaurant. This year we ended up at a Chinese buffet! But we still had a great time. I look forward to that meal every year.

Christmas day was equally magical, though it was just Mom and I celebrating at her house. You might think two people wouldn't make it very merry, but it does make it very relaxing...none of the stress of lots of family with different ideas of what should be done when. We lounged or slept until late morning, opened gifts, had Christmas brunch at 1 p.m. (including green eggs and ham...literally), and then decided on a marathon DVD session with "Nero Wolfe."

Earlier in the day Mom and I had talked about Christmas memories that stand out in our minds, and reminisced together. As I stumbled home that evening, laden with so many wonderful gifts and good food, I realized that this Christmas was one that will stand out too...full of surprises and reassurance that all is merry and bright in my little corner of the world. May it be so with you as well!

14 December 2007


folderol \FAHL-duh-rahl\ noun
1 : a useless ornament or accessory : trifle *2 : nonsense
Example sentence: Cherie dismissed the tabloid article as useless folderol.

Did you know? Hogwash. Claptrap. Hooey. Drivel. Malarkey. English is rife with words that mean "nonsense," and "folderol" is one of the many. Though not the most common of the words for nonsense, it's been around since 1820 and is still heard today. "Folderol" comes from "fol-de-rol" (or "fal-de-ral"), which used to be a nonsense refrain in songs, much like "tra-la-la." The oldest recorded instance of someone "singing folderol" occurs in Irish dramatist George Farquhar’s 1701 play Sir Harry Wildair, in which a character sings, "Fal, al, deral!"

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Every day I get a "Word of the Day" email from Merriam-Webster. Today's is listed above. Most days I read it, even when I know the word's meaning, just to read about the etymology of words. I mean, I did take Latin for 3 years, and this is one of the few times that I'm likely to use that learning directly!

Today's word really hit home, however. It's getting close to Christmas (I'm no longer panicking, as I've made a significant dent in purchasing presents in the past few days), and there's certainly a lot of of ornamentation and accessorizing going on these days.

More importantly, there's a lot of nonsense around me recently. Mostly this is work-related. Our long legislative session starts on Jan. 8 and we're in full bill drafting mode right now. Sometimes being a bill drafter is a thankless job. There are a lot of bills that we draft that never see the light of day because the legislator decides he or she doesn't want to file it and make it public. That happens a lot. Then there are those bills that the sponsor is very enthusiastic about but you know for political or practical reasons that the bill won't ever be heard in committee. For those raised on Schoolhouse Rock ditties, and you know who you are, you know that getting out of committee is the first step on a Bill's journey to becoming a Law. So you get this assignment to draft some complicated piece of legislation and you know that this bill will never make that journey.

But just in case we get too cocky about knowing what's going to happen, each session it seems that some piece of legislation that you never in a million years thought was going to go anywhere, much less become a law, actually moves through the process and gets enacted. So despite the sometimes thanklessness of the job, you also always do your best job you know how, no matter what the odds seem on that document ever seeing the light of day, much less ending up codified in the statutes. (And trust me, even some of those are hogwash, malarkey, or folderol!

So tra-la-la and fol-de-rol and Merry Christmas to all!

10 December 2007

What Do You Mean There's Only 15 Days Left?!?!

Surely it can't be December 10th. I'm still wondering what happened to October, much less November! I can't already have missed 1/3 of December. It's just not possible.

Life has been just way too busy recently. I vaguely remember it being mid-November I I was telling myself to just get through December 1st. By that time Mom and I would have travelled to Arizona over the Thanksgiving weekend, I would have attended my conference at the Arizona Biltmore (and finished my small speaking role), and hosted a slew of my friends at my house for an after-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving meal, turkey and all.

All of that happened. Mom and I had a great time traipsing around Arizona (Phoenix to Jerome to Sedona to Flagstaff, back to Sedona and Phoenix, to Tucson and Tombstone, and again back to Phoenix to drop Mom at the airport). Jerome is a great little town literally sticking off the side of a mountain. Sedona is beautiful and ritzy. The drive between Sedona and Flagstaff is breathtaking. Flagstaff brought back good memories of when we were there 22 years ago or so. Tombstone is stuck in its O.K. Corral past and proud of it. Tucson is the perfect size city, I think...while very Southwestern, it also reminded me of Louisville - very user-friendly. And that's despite all of the downtown interstate exits being closed for construction. Phoenix is just big, and bigger. But after dropping Mom off I did go and enjoy Taliesin West, which was the perfect preview for staying at the Biltmore, since Frank Lloyd Wright was a consultant on the project and his influence is evident throughout the facility. The conference went really well, too.

Less than 24 hours after my plane landed, the turkey was ready (there's a very funny story about the bird, but I'm not going to humiliate myself to all of the web, even if only about 4 people ever read this), and Lisa and I welcomed people in for a formal dinner. Thankfully it was a potluck, because we got to eat a lot of very good food and have a lot of laughs. The house hasn't quite recovered yet, but it was well worth it. What started out as me whining about wanting a real Thanksgiving meal (all the way back in July) turned out to be a great night of fun and food. Thanks to all who came and made the evening so much fun.

So things were supposed to slow down once the party was over. Except that I forgot that I had to organize an out-of-town meeting for my legislative committee members. So before I had a chance to do all of my laundry, I was repacking my bag on Tuesday to go to Fort Campbell U.S. Army Base on Wednesday and Thursday. My staff and I didn't roll into Frankfort until 9 p.m. Thursday night...UGH! It was a long trip for being less than 36 hours long. And I promptly came down with the crud in time to spend most of the weekend trying to recuperate from it all.

And now it's December 10th. I'm going to try to not stress (too much). I'm thinking Christmas cards are just not going to happen this year. Lisa's already decided not to put up a tree this year, so at least I'm not the only one going "Oh well, maybe next year." Tomorrow is the gubernatorial inauguration here, so I get the day off from work (having all those parking spaces is more valuable than having us try to work while festivities surround the capitol building). I'm going shopping and hope that I manage to take care of several people's gifts. I've got to, because with session starting on Jan. 8th, I'm finding it hard to find another good time to take off work and get more shopping done.

For all of you who are feeling a little stressed out there, my sympathies. Who knew there were only 15 days left until Christmas. I certainly didn't! Good luck!