The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The post holiday blahs

The worst thing about holidays is the let-down. Not on the day itself, but within a day or two afterward, when the radio stations stop playing holiday music. Neighbors stop burning their light displays. Some people take down their Christmas trees. Those of us who love to rekindle the magic of the season of our youth during this time of year, realise that we are, as the Buddhists put it, the sound of one hand clapping.

My energy is at an all time low. I'm feeling burned out from the lead up to Christmas. I've cooked, decorated and cleaned. I have no plans for New Year's Eve.

This is when Dan comes to the rescue. He tells me that I have to pick out a Christmas movie to watch. We have an extensive collection of Christmas DVDs - one that would make the American Film Institute proud (despite the fact that there are three or four classics that are missing from this collection at the moment.)

I don't know if watching a Christmas movie four days past Christmas is going to cheer me up much. What cheers me up is the fact that Dan knows how disappointed I am with the experience of viewing the holidays from the other side of the divide. A little sympathy is the cure for many ills. I'll grab a DVD off the shelf and I think I'll light some candles and break out the eggnog, as well. For him as well as myself.


posted by Melanie O. at 6:52 PM - 1 comments
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Christmas memories
When I was little (and even now), our Christmas tree was really important to me. I don't know why this is. I've always loved trees in general - to make tree houses in, to swing on their branches, to hide under the low lying ones and enjoy the shade in summer - trees have always been special to me. This is probably why I don't think I could live in a well developed metropolitan area. Not unless I can afford a large estate with a lot of trees on it.

At Christmas, for a few years, our family would do the traditional thing and go to a tree lot and cut down our own tree. My dad actually did this the old-fashioned way: with an axe and hand saw. By the time I got to be 12, he had tired of that, and we started to buy trees from tree lots. It wasn't as meaningful, but at least we had a real tree for Christmas.

One year, things were a little grim. It was Christmas Eve and we still didn't have a tree! I was frantic about it and begged and pleaded with my dad to get a tree. Of course, just about every tree lot in town was sold out, but there were a few dried out and barren trees outside the local grocery store. Most of them looked as if they'd been cut down several weeks earlier. Someone had spray painted them in the hope of selling them at the last minute. We were one of those last minute customers.  My dad and I came home with a tree that was spray painted pale pink. We paid $8 for it. Funny how I still remember that detail.

The pink tree was pretty bare on one side, but we turned it to the wall and decorated it, and it did fine for us that Christmas Eve and for a few days afterwards. Fortunately, it didn't catch fire. One can only imagine how flammable it was, all dried out and spray painted!

I think my dad felt bad about not getting a tree until the last minute that year. Soon afterwards, he joined the Lions Club and was selling Christmas trees from the Lions Club lot in the freezing cold.  As for the old axe, I don't think it ever chopped down another tree.

Wishing you all much happiness this holiday season and in the new year.


posted by Melanie O. at 9:37 PM - 3 comments
Monday, December 14, 2009
Terror at the mall

When I was younger, I used to love to go to the local shopping mall. I could get out of the house, get some exercise by walking from one end of the mall and back, and see things along the way. I think those days are gone forever. In recent years, a visit to the mall is like a visit to the sixth level of hell.

I have taken to making my own gifts as much as possible, for the holiday season. This includes DVDs of things I've done and seen over the past year, jewelry, and cards. But some things, basic things, can't be done this way.

Dan and I needed to do some shopping over the weekend. We needed groceries, mailing bags, and other small items that are best purchased in discount shops. We need to go to the *gasp* .... MALL.

The first hurdle to any trip to the mall is, of course, finding a place to park the car. During any time of year this can be a challenge, but doubly so during the holiday season. We brought our water bottles and walking sticks with us, as we knew we'd be parked at least a mile from the mall entrance. We circled the lot like vultures, waiting for an empty spot. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, we spied one! Dan pulled up, ready to take the coveted spot, when he realised why no one was parked there. There was a 4 WD vehicle with bull bars pulled too far forward, taking up a portion of the spot, which would have positioned the front end our car into the traffic lane. No wonder it was empty!

Finally, we found a spot and prepared ourselves for the obstacle course that was then the treck to the mall's front entrance. We dodged cars and families with prams. More about the prams later. Slightly battle scarred and thirsty, we walked into the mall. We'd made it!

We had four stops to make. Four stops through the Santa photo set-up filled with parents, kids, and grandparents waiting to have a shot with the Big Guy. Four stops past the crowds of tired and irate adults, screaming toddlers and loud teenagers, while, all the time, muzak versions of Christmas songs played over the PA system. I couldn't get out of there soon enough.

Something happens to people when they shop at the mall. The bright lights and lack of clocks anywhere make people slow down to half speed. Tasks that should take 15 minutes, take an hour. We went into our local discount store for mailing bags, sunscreen, and a Christmas DVD. We came out with five DVDs, two pairs of pants, four shirts, Christmas cards that we don't need, and the giant size of sunscreen. I should be hooked up for sunscreen until 2020.

The worst part of the trip? Parents with Prams (PWPs as they now shall be called.) I don't know why, but some PWPs use their prams like Moses used his arms to part the Red Sea. More than once, I've had pram wheels run up my heels by a parent who was in a hurry and had no idea how far forward from their body the pram reached.  I think some parents use their prams like snow plows, or people plows, scattering human casualties through the mall, on sidewalks, on trains. People go flying like bowling pins. I cringe in terror whenever I see a PWP behind me.

After three hours in the mall, I was ready for a Valium and a lie down. Dan wasn't in much better condition. I think I may have even opened up eBay on my computer and kissed the screen. Dan retreated to his workshop in his garage (I call it his garage because there is nothing in there that remotely belongs to me) and disappeared for two days. I hear he's having therapy.

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posted by Melanie O. at 9:52 AM - 2 comments
Monday, December 07, 2009
Exterior illumination

It's that time of year again. Time for festive decor, including mood lighting. This includes the outside of our house as well as the interior.

Dan and I have an agreement - I can decorate the inside of the house, and he has reign over the outside of the house. This weekend, we both worked on setting up the exterior lights, including decorating the patio where we have Christmas dinner. The patio is considered to be shared territory, so we both work on that one.

We're getting reputations as the Aussie Griswolds. Our next door neighbor teases us about our electricity bill (which with the new LED lights isn't that much higher than normal.)  The only problem? It's summer time here, which means it's not really dark until 8:30 or 9:00 pm. The strings of lights and plastic ornamental items get bleached and brittle in the hot sun. I can understand why exterior lighting isn't as big a thing here as it is in the northern hemisphere. But it's just not the festive season without them.

Growing up, we never had lights on the outside of the house, and in Australia, my husband says it just wasn't the thing to do. In recent years, however, we've seen more and more outside lights and we're having a ball joining in! I bet in a few years, we see outdoor lighting tempered for the Australian summer.

I can't wait!


posted by Melanie O. at 10:16 AM - 0 comments
Thursday, December 03, 2009
The Anniversary Rose

This morning, my alarm went off way too early. I woke up at 2:30 am and didn't fall back to sleep until about an hour before my alarm went off at 5:25 am. I was a train wreck.

Dan's usually up at the same time and passed me in the hallway to give me a hug. "Happy Anniversary," he said. Our anniversary? What day was it?

"Give me a half an hour to wake up," I pleaded.

So, we both finished getting ready for work. I heard Dan out on the back patio rummaging around. Dan is always puttering around outside.

A little later, I was in the kitchen to open up one of the windows. Dan loves to do fry-ups in the morning, which leaves the kitchen smoky and smelly. While I was opening the window, I surveyed my rose bushes. They grow along the perimeter of the patio. I was looking for a pink rose that I noticed was about to bloom. I wondered how far it had opened over night, but I couldn't find it. Still half asleep, I shrugged my shoulders and finished getting ready for work.

Soon, Dan was out the door and off to work after a kiss goodbye, and I went to get my bag as well to make the mad dash for the train.

There, on the kitchen table, next to my bag, was a rose and a card.

It's been ages since Dan gave me a card for anything. This was special. He remembered our wedding anniversary, even though I couldn't even remember what day it was while still in the throes of a sleep cycle.

And then I noticed. The rose. MY rose. Dan had cut it from my rose bush. The rose bushes that I'd been cultivating for years. It was the first pink rose of this season. And Dan had cut it. I was mortified!

I called him and thanked him for the card and teased him about the rose. His reply? "Well, none of the neighbors have rose bushes."

"Well," I responded, "if you're going to steal a rose, it may as well be from me."  And then I went back to read the card again. Dan had written a little personal poem for me.

I told some friends what happened and they laughed. I hadn't the heart to tell Dan that my kids used to do the same thing for me on Mother's Day, except they'd steal flowers from the neighbors' gardens.

Dan says his purpose in life is to annoy me and to amuse me. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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posted by Melanie O. at 9:44 PM - 6 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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