And a little of our hot henchman in non-holiday (or hallucinatory) mode:
And no, I am not talking about Richard Armitage. My husband Benny and I have been together for more than 27 years now. It really has been a case of ”for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.”
No matter what, he was, and is, and always will be my sweetheart, my best friend, my soul mate.
Today is Valentine’s Day, which we observe with cards and small gifts. It’s not a big deal for us. As I said, he’s my sweetheart and I am his, and we try to show that to each other throughout the year.
Every morning before he leaves for work, I get a sweet kiss and an “I love you,” always a good way to start one’s day. I know a kiss and a warm embrace will be mine when he returns home.
On an early summer’s evening, I might find myself the recipient of wild roses he has stopped and picked from the roadside on the way home. In many ways those ruffled pink blooms are more beautiful than the most elegant florist’s creation.
He definitely spoils me, but not by lavishing me with big, expensive gifts. It’s not just that we can’t afford them; it’s simply not the way he operates, and that’s fine by me. Better the small, thoughtful gestures throughout the year than 364 days of being ignored, taken for granted or ill-treated with an attempt to make up for it all on the 365th.
The other night, I asked him if he wanted to split the last slice of rum cake. “No, I left that for you. Because you like it so much.” He smiled indulgently, adding in a sweet, teasing tone, “Because I love you.” It’s a good man who’ll give up the last slice of moist, fragrant, delicious rum cake.
I battle a chronic health condition that leaves me feeling pretty rotten more often than I care to say. This week, he came home from work to find me shivering beneath the covers, aching all over and unable to get warm.
“Well, no wonder, you’ve pulled things loose from the foot of the bed and you’re getting drafts, you whirling dervish,” he said, gently chiding me. Pulling off the quilt and comforter and throw, he carefully re-arranged everything, tucking in the covers even as he playfully threw them over my head. “Not dead yet,” he said cheerily, quoting from one of our favorite movies, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
“I’m feelin’ bettah,”I chirruped in return. Soon I was warmer and cozier, but not just from the covers. The hearty kiss he gave me helped, too, and the knowledge that no matter what, I was truly loved and cherished. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
365 days of the year.
- How sweet! Valentine’s Day quotes (abcactionnews.com)
- Amazing DIY Valentines Gifts for Your Sweetheart (fatwallet.com)
- The Top 10 Worst Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas Ever (mamapop.com)
- I’m Single and I Don’t Hate Valentine’s Day… Anymore. (tarapook.com)
That’s the Ardent Armitage Aficionados, in case you were wondering. Happy New Year from me, Richard and some of the ChaRActers–hope you enjoy this quick little vid. Benny and I are listening to the distant sounds of fireworks and are about to watch the giant Moon Pie drop down in Mobile, our port city to the south and the place where Mardi Gras was first held in the New World (Yep, even before New Orleans).
Ah, the Commodores are singing Auld Ang Syne now as the laser light show, fireworks and ticker tape cannons go off. I just wished my sweet hubby a better 2013 . . .
- Moon Pie Drop to Feature Commodores (wkrg.com)
New Year‘s Eve is almost here in LA, and it’s already arrived for some of you. And I am hoping you all have a wonderful beginning to the new year, and a wonderful year to come.
Party animals that we aren’t, we plan a quiet one here, probably cuddled together, watching the countdown on TV. When we were growing up, Sister S and I used to pilfer a little of our dad’s Christmas libations to celebrate the New Year (Mogen David kosher wine, concord grape, was the drink of choice for this Southern Baptist, who largely limited his imbibing to a little Christmas cheer and a cold beer or two during haybaling season each summer).
We’d pour it in a couple of our parents’ crystal champagne glasses and feel terribly elegant and slightly wicked. When the clock struck twelve, S and I would toast one another and clink our glasses together ever so carefully, just to hear that lovely ring.
Many people here in the South believe you have to start the new year off with the right foods. Traditionally, black-eyed peas and howl jowls (aka pork cheek) are believed to bring you good luck in the year to come. Add in some type of greens–collard greens the most typical choice–for prosperity. It IS the color of money here in the U.S. And you’ll likely want to add some cornbread. Not for good luck or riches. Just because peas practically demand it.
Left: A sign sighted in North Carolina. Right: A plate promising prosperity and luck in the new year, with black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens.
I have a confession to make. I don’t really like black-eyed peas all that much. No, I don’t have to turn in my official GRITS (Girl Raised in the South) card. I love peas–I just prefer a different variety. Mama and Daddy raised pink-eyed purple-hulled peas every year in our garden, and these, firmer and slightly sweeter than the black-eyed variety, were, and are, my field peas of choice. Are these peas and ham or bacon any more or less lucky than their black-eyed, hog-jowled counterparts? I don’t know. I just prefer the way they taste.
Above, the afore-mentioned purple-hulled peas, the photo courtesy of Alabama’s own Auburn University. NOT the school I support.
Anyway, this year will soon be gone into the annals of history. Christmas is over and Santa is back at home, resting up after his oh-so-busy night. And he, like many of us, has a few companions who enjoy cuddling with him. I don’t think it’s too late to share this charming image with you:
- Black-eyed Peas: Food for a Happy New Year (hispanicbusiness.com)
- New Year’s Day Southerners Traditional Foods: Collards, Pork and Black-eyed Peas (sunnysidelane.org)
It’s now past 12 here in Lower Alabama and Christmas morning has officially arrived. Alabama was the first state in the U.S. to make Christmas an official holiday. We have always loved our celebrations here–families gathering to feast from sideboards groaning from the number of dishes upon them, houses decked out festively, people decked out just as festively in their Christmas ties and appliqued cardigans. We like to do it up right!
Small town Christmas parades, folks getting out at night just to drive around and enjoy all those pretty lights . . . church pageants with children sporting tinsel halos and cardboard wings, bathrobes and yarn beards. Even if they fluff their lines, it doesn’t matter. They delight us.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed, happy, healthy, inspiring year to come. And Happy Hobbit-viewing to our friends Down Under as TH arrives in theatres for Boxing Day!
Over the weekend I learned my great-niece had named her elf on the shelf “Angie.” Well, I do have elf shoes version 2.0. And as is the case with any proper elf, I do love Christmas movies and TV specials. I thought I would share some of my personal faves (I wonder what RA’s favorites are?) In no particular order, here we go! Merry Christmas, everyone.
“The Bishop’s Wife“ (1947) Cary Grant exhibits plenty of urbane charm and sophistication as the handsome angel Dudley assigned to a stressed-out bishop (David Niven) and his dutiful wife (Loretta Young) who is feeling a tad bit neglected, Her husband caught up in building a new cathedral, is battling spiritual doubts and toadying to those with the cash to make the grand new cathedral a reality. Cary, of course, has to teach the bishop to get his priorities back in order. Cary’s angel also develops a very down-to-earth crush on the lovely Loretta. This comedy-drama has a great message with solid performances by the three leads.
”Nativity!“ (2009) If you’ve ever wondered what Martin Freeman would look like in his own little tie and cardigan ensemble, then be sure and check out the charming holiday flick, “Nativity!”
Freeman plays Coventry primary school teacher Paul Maddens, a man who’s gone sour on Christmas and love after being dumped by his girlfriend Jennifer (Ashley Jensen) a few years earlier. And now he’s assigned by his school’s head teacher to take over the school’s annual Nativity play, a task he proved woefully unprepared for in an earlier attempt. He gets a new teacher’s assistant, Mr. Poppy (Mark Wootton) a large, gregarious and possibly sub-normal fellow who grates on Madden’s every nerve. And to top things off, his old drama school chum Gordon Shakespeare’s tony school always manages to steal the limelight with their amibitious holiday productions. What’s a poor beleagured primary school teacher to do?
Put on a spectacular show–and promise everyone Hollywood (in the form of his former girlfriend, who is now a producer there) is coming to Coventry to film it! Or–are they??
The children in the film are not professional actors, but students casts from a local school. They are absolutely dynamite and steal my heart every time I watch this. Lots of laugh-out-loud humor and a couple of teary moments for me. A really lovely little holiday treat.
Another RA connection (outside of TH co-star Freeman) is the fact Pattison’s College, RA’s old performing arts school, is also located in Coventry. And see if you don’t spot someone who played a role in North and South, too.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Avoid the inferior remake and stick with the original (non-colorized) version with the delightful Edmund Gwenn as Chris Kringle, a genial little bearded man. After filling in for an inebriated Santa in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Kringle insists he is the real Santa Claus. But can he convince young skeptic Susan (played by a young Natalie Wood) and her mother (the lovely Maureen O’Hara), a widow who insists on telling her daughter the absolute truth–that all those fairy tales and “let’s pretend” is a load of twaddle. Gwenn, sporting his own whiskers and with a genuine twinkle in his kindly eyes, is one of the best screen Santas ever.
“Christmas Vacation” (1989) What can I say? Cousin Eddie. The giant Christmas tree. The squirrel. The millions and millions of Christmas lights. The Jam of the Month Club. The SWAT team. Holiday madness with the Griswolds. Good times.
More to come in another post. Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve (Christmas Day) wherever you may be!
Wet, tousled-haired Santa with that come-hither look. Me likee.
Of course, Glamour Guy always makes a stunning Santa!
Thanks to pho.to for the sketch Santas and pizap for the other sexy Santa fanart. ‘Tis the season to be stirred! And for friends Down Under for whom it is already Christmas Eve, hope Santa RA brings you all your Christmas wishes. Mmmmwwhhhaaaaaa.
I put this together last night and took advantage of my sister’s wi-fi here in the big city to upload it. I hope you’ll enjoy the festive images, winter landscape and the talents of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. A Very Merry Christmas to one and all!
First thing this morning, streaks of pink and orange crossing the sky, a touch of frost on the grass. It’s cold and I am bleary-eyed from too little sleep.
Time to go and fetch a Christmas tree, a real one for the first time in years, and the first real tree that wasn’t purchased for charitable support of some sort. Nothing shipped in from a Christmas tree farm. Just a home-grown number.
I pull on a lightweight sweater and my jeans and put on my Elf Shoes Version 2.0.–red hi-top Nikes with one glittery green lace and one green-and-white-striped lace. I grab my newly washed red fleece cape with the hood–yes, call me Not-so-Little Red Riding Hood. I’m still cold so I grab my sequined Santa hat and pop it on my head. My husband walks by as I adjust it in front of the bathroom mirror and gives me a look.
“You don’t have to get glammed up for this, you know.”
“I know. Got to wear something. Figured I might as well look festive. ‘Tis the season and all that.”
Even with the cape, I am chilled. I grab a sweater. Of course, it is a Christmas cardigan, with festive appliques and embroidery. You can’t see it under the cape, but I know it’s there. I tug on my black knit gloves with the soft chenille cuffs and I am ready to go.
We drive up and down the dirt road in our Jeep, windows rolled down to check out what’s available, heater blasting to take the edge of the morning chill. We’re looking for a cedar.
“Right size–oh, really lop-sided.”
Benny points and grins. “How about that one?”
It’s a sprout. A little better than a Charlie Brown tree, but not much.
“I think we can do better than that.”
“This one’s nice.” We get out to inspect it. It’s full–very full. Not sure it will fit into the alloted space in the living room. And I honestly don’t want something as big as our artificial tree. FMS body is demanding I scale back.
Back into the Jeep, our eyes peeled for other candidates. Finally, we decide on one. It’s not perfect, but it will work, its size much more manageable for me. Benny cuts it down with an old hand saw. I hold the saw for him as he lifts the tree to place it on the rack atop the Jeep.
“This was Daddy’s, wasn’t it?” He nods in the affirmative as we tie it down with a bungee cord.
I remember hunting for Christmas trees back in my childhood and smile as I look at the saw with its slightly rusted handle.”Daddy never cut down the tree we chose. He knew better . . . and there was always a huge bald spot. Never failed.”
Fast forward about 12 hours. Benny helps me sort through the lights and find working strands. I’d always gone for white lights in the early days of our marriage. But Benny recalled the colored lights of our childhoods so warmly and wistfully. I’d bought colored lights a few years ago–and one strand of genuine Noma Bubble Lights just for him to enjoy. Very retro.
We have–lots of ornaments. I love Christmas and collecting Christmas items of all sorts. We’ve had a 7 1/2 foot artificial tree in the past, very full, with lots of branches.
Everything won’t fit on this smaller, wispier tree. And with its slightly assymetrical look, its homeliness and fewer, more delicate branches, it seems to me myfaceted beaded garlands, opalescent glass spheres, delicate angels and other breakable ornaments should stay put in their boxes. They are made for a showier tree.
This year it will be starched white crochet snowflakes, comical clothespin reindeer, cross-stitched ornaments made by yours truly, Olde Worlde cloth-covered styrofoam balls, handkerchief angels . . . a homey, homely, handmade sort of Christmas.
Well, except for one thing. We cannot find our angel tree topper. We try out one of our old-fashioned Santa figures but it’s just too heavy.
What to do?
Just had to glam it up a little, you know. ‘Tis the season, y’all. And now my tired old body begs for a hot shower with some lavender vanilla body wash to help me relax. Hoping for sweet dReAms.
Now I wouldn’t leave you without some Armitage beauty, either. ‘Tis always the season for THAT.
- The Royal Roots of the American Christmas Tree (history.com)