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Category: Personal

Special Delivery 1

This Christmas, my mother gave my brother and I complete sets of something that my great-great-grandfather (my maternal grandfather’s maternal grandfather), Jarvis A. Wood, wrote every Christmas for the last several years of his life.

They’re little booklets in ivory covers, about half the size of a mass market paperback and perhaps forty pages thick. The words “Special Delivery” are embossed on the front, along with hashmarks in later years to mark the volume number.

The first one, which I’m looking at right now, is printed in red and green — mostly green, with lovely use of spot color. Inside the front cover there’s a little sketch of a tag, inscribed “Tag! You’re it!” It’s also signed, by hand, “Uncle J.” Turn the page, and there’s the title page in front of you. A photograph of the author is glued to the left hand page.

If you’ll allow me the liberty, I’d like to share some of his writing with you. I find myself struck by his eloquence, and his turn of phrase. He was a minister, and worked in advertising, so perhaps his skill with the word is not entirely surprising. The year is 1912; it’s Christmas. Turn the page again.

Have yourself a merry

I am enjoying a little post-festivity relaxation; of late, I’ve desired more alone time, so this is working out very well. Mom’s headed back home to beat the storm, and my brother and his wife are relaxing at their place, two doors down from me. Whoops, he’s come up to borrow DVDs and play some Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Sadly, the game does not provide Christmas music; I was hoping, but then again, it’s not as if I ever told my Playstation what the date is.

I am deeply pleased with my gifts this year. My brother got me this coffee table (or at least, that’s what I’m going to use it for); also, a tremendously cool calendar. Be sure to look at the detail shots, and note that it has birthdays for all the major figures in the field.

I think today of all days, Population: One gets pictures. Follow the link to find my brother and his wife (all together: “Awwwww.”); the Christmas tree; and my mother’s clever Lincoln Log set that comes in a ballpoint pen (my gift, and I am smug). They are clickable, if you want the full monty.

Happy holidays.

Passages

My grandmother, Zoe Warner Durrell, passed away this morning. I’m going to talk about it a little, because I want to say some things about her and this is a place where I talk about that which is meaningful to me.

It was very peaceful. She had just moved into the home of my Aunt Zoe and Uncle Jeff, leaving her assisted living home; everyone was very happy about that. My father had spent Thanksgiving with them all. Everyone in the family had spent some time with her in the last year or so. She’d been ill since last winter. When my father called me this morning, it was not shocking.

Grandmama was a matriarch in the classic sense. She had always had a firm vision of what the family should be, and let us know when we slipped. Not in a bad way. There’s something to be said for firm guidance, and I am happy to have inherited my concepts of politesse and nobility from her. We’re preppies, albeit rather lapsed ones in my generation. I don’t say this very often, but I am proud of my heritage.

She lived through amazing changes. I am embarassed to admit that I’m not sure of her exact age, but then, it would be wrong to talk of it in public in any case. She’d seen most of the last century. The world never baffled her. In this past year, she’d gotten an email device, which she was happy to use with assistance. It’s easy to forget how much the aged have seen, but Grandmama was not one to be underestimated.

She and Grandpapa lived well and graciously. He was a publisher, originally in New York and then on a smaller scale in Kennebunkport. I know of fewer more noble occupations. I hope to follow in those footsteps, someday. When she moved to North Carolina, after he passed away, she donated her Kennebunkport house to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.

I am told that her memory was slipping, towards the end. It must have been difficult for her. She was exceedingly lucid when I visited her last spring, which is precisely what I would have expected. She was an author, not terribly prolific, but it’s another aspect of her that impressed and influenced me. In any case, she died content and happy that her family was doing well.

I hope that I’ve lived up to her standards. I hope that I continue to do so. I will miss her terribly.

Dreams

I want to open a movie theater. That’s not a new thing; I’ve fantasized about it for a while. Not a first run theater, or even a first run art house; I want to open up a quirky little theater that shows second run movies of quality (whether that means Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys or Matrix) and retrospectives of directors and actors I like and so on. There’s no evidence this would make money, mind you.

I want to attach a little bookstore to it. With a coffeeshop. Someplace to hang out after the movie, or before the movie, with a good stock of genre books. I sort of want to make it one of those dinner theaters, where you can order a pizza and bring it into the theater and sit on comfy chairs, but I’d have to find out whether that’s anything close to cost-effective.

I think it’d be really cool if you could come in for brunch, order a nice omelette, and eat it in the movie theater at no extra charge. Do an 8 AM and a 10 AM showing of some classic black and white. Or, hm, maybe a program of short flicks would be better.

I’d want one big screen, in the kind of space that you can use for concerts if you want, and one small 35 person screening room.

Dreams.

Morning updates

Saturday morning, I went to the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown with my brother. Not bad, cool atmosphere. The bacon was a touch cold, always a minus. I wasn’t blown away by my omelette. Ben’s pancakes were great — I think it’s more of a sweet breakfast spot, and I’m kind of a savory guy. Good coffee.

This morning I hit the S&S Diner on the advice of many. Didn’t have to wait for a seat, yay! I had an excellent salmon hash and a solid cinnamon roll. Which came with butter. That’s decadence. I dunno if I’d make it a regular thing but the food was damned fine.

Coastal waters

This is deeply irrelevant, but I woke up at 4 AM to do server maintenance this morning and posting on irrelevant matters beats a sleep deprived anarchist rant any day. This is sort of where I used to live; you can make out the Food Town where I used to shop at the top of the picture. Lousy supermarket but excellent roast beef. There’s a hill right behind it, which you can see at the left of the Food Town. I lived up there.

The site this comes from is an exhaustive photographic record of the coast of California. A rich guy with too much time on his hands and a helicopter has taken a lot of photos. Amazing world.

Oi oi oi eggs

I spent much of the weekend on my quest for the perfect weekend breakfast. Much of the mornings, anyhow. I’m not quite mad enough to have breakfast at 8 and then follow up with a brunch excursion at noon, but I do take my morning breakfast pretty seriously. While I was unemployed, it was one of the only activities that got me reliably out of the house and in contact with people.

I scored immediately in the “cheap and close and tasty” category, down at the Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square. I went in, I got seated at the same table as a nice couple, I established that it’s OK and I’m not invading personal space and it’s just a cozy restaurant. This is actually kind of a minus since I like to linger over coffee and my book, but no big.

Then, when I’m ready to order, a waitress came over and asked if I’d like hot cereal or fruit. Well, I wanted a bacon omelette, but she explained that this was bonus food. Bonus food! Good deal. I got the hot cereal and ordered the omelette. Said cereal was cream of wheat with a ton of cinnamon on top. Just about perfect for a winter morning.

The omelette came with an enormous plate of bread on the side. I actually wasn’t sure it was for me until the couple next to me got their own enormous plate of bread. Four pieces of toast, a muffin of some kind, a croissant, and an apple turnover thingie. Amazing. Apparently there’s a bakery out back, and they have some sort of deal where they’ll go to hell if they don’t bake every hour of the day, and they get rid of the extra by feeding it to us. Or so I imagined.

So the food was good, and incredibly cheap — $7.35 for the whole schmear. The menu wasn’t super-extensive and it was certainly crowded. Still a total win, just on the basis of price and convenience and quantity. I’ll go back.

The Rosebud Diner was not quite as good. More expensive, and the chorizo omelette really didn’t rock my world, and I had to sit at the counter — which I don’t mind but I like to have the option and it really kills the sitting around drinking coffee aspect of the breakfast. Also the menu didn’t have anything beyond the usual breakfast fare, which is OK but since the Neighborhood Restaurant satisfies that, why would I wanna drive down to Davis Square?

At this point, I need a decent medium to high end place where I can get an omelette with pesto in it. My journey continues next weekend.

Come on and

One of the things I’ve come to terms with is my gadget habit. It’s there, I can control it, it’s fun giving into it once in a while. Right now was not the optimal time to do that, but I did anyhow. Thanks to EBay, I got myself a nifty analog video converter. What will I use this for? I have no idea. It just offends me that there’s a type of media in my apartment which I can’t convert to digital form. I can scan books and pictures, I can rip my CDs to disk, but I can’t turn a stupid videotape into Quicktime? Totally unacceptable.

However, now that I’m about to have it, I’m seriously tempted to put together a little video with Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” for the soundtrack and clips of tag team wrestlers breaking up pinfalls for the video.

Rack 'em up

I got a magazine rack for the bathroom the other week, continuing my headlong rush into domesticity. (Today I got rugs. There’s no end to it.) Right now, it’s a very sad magazine rack; it’s populated with a handful of Sports Illustrateds, and a Macworld. They’re pretty limp, since it’s a sizable rack. I’m kind of fascinated by the process of populating the rack. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s going to look pretty pathetic until I get it around half-full. I bet Martha Stewart has a way around that.

Fortunately, it will populate pretty quickly. When I moved, the Post Office kindly let me know that there was a service which would do all my magazine address changes for free. I called ‘em, and they knew about Dragon Magazine, so that seemed like an excellent deal. After they got a list of my magazine subscriptions, they took advantage of my generosity by asking me if I wanted to subscribe to two magazines for a low low price.

I had been wanting Analog and Asimov’s again, so I said sure. This apparently earned me a couple more magazines. Um. Sports Illustrated and Macworld, sure. This earned me more magazines. Quite the unexpected little bonanza. I think I wound up with two or three more magazine subscriptions (all for the same low, low single price!) and I’ll be damned if I can remember what they all are.

But they do keep coming. So I have faith that the sad little rack will fill up.