Monday, November 30, 2009

Hello Turquoise Tuesday!

Sing this one to the tune of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." Try to sound like Perry Como. It's fun. Really.

Monday, November 23, 2009

George's Slide Show of What's New

Here's a sneak peek for the week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's Condominium We Go

How I spent my weekend, as seen in a slide show.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Little Angel Who Could... But Didn't Much Want To

Clarissa was a very happy angel. The bells had rung. Clarissa just received her wings and halo. Her task: to rescue a hard-working postal carrier from the brink of suicide...

...after Victoria's Secret catalogs magically multiplied in his bag.

Clarissa was floating around, finally enjoying what she believed to be a richly deserved vacation. She was heading down to Cabo to show off her wings and spin her halo.

She figured when she returned, she could take on new, more glorious tasks. She's finished with the postal worker. Surely the next job would be with a princess or a saint or maybe the head of a major auto maker.

That's when the call came in on the halo-phone. "Your mission, and you'd better accept it," began the Head Angel, "is to bring Christmas to a sad worn-out purse."

"A purse?" Clarissa objected loudly. "I'm an Angel First Class. Why do I have to help out a purse?"

"One. Because the purse has been good and kind its entire life. It always held spare change for the homeless. A soothing hard candy for the person coughing during silent meditation. A kleenex for a sneezing child. A poop bag for a passing poodle."

"That's all very nice," Clarissa interrupted. "but I-"

"And Two," said the Head Angel, "Is because I said so."

"What if I don't want to?" asked Clarissa.

"Then kiss those wings and that halo hasta la vista, babies!" said the Head Angel. And that was that.

Clarissa sat down on a nearby trash can lid to ponder her dilemma. The purse, probably through the machinations of the Head Angel, appeared at her feet. But how was she supposed to bring Christmas to a tired old purse? And could she do it on the way to Cabo?

Reluctantly, Clarissa hoisted the bag. A few of the seams were unraveling. It was worn in patches. But the zipper still worked. Clarissa peeked inside. Yep. It still held poop bags and spare change and candies and kleenex.

Clarissa checked the tailwinds. She could still reach Cabo by nightfall, if she just finished Mission Handbag. Up ahead, they were lighting the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Clarissa had an idea. With a turbo burst of speed, she rocketed over to the tree... and hung the handbag upon it.

From the heavens above, a voice rumbled down, "I DON'T THINK SO!" Her halo did a shake, and tilted over one ear.

Clarissa took that as a sign from El Angel Grande. Quickly she removed the purse and paused to consider her options. Perhaps she had placed it badly.

Emboldened with her new plan, this time Clarissa flew the purse to the very top of the tree. With one hand she removed the star tinkling there. With the other, she balanced the sad old purse.

"CLARISSA!" boomed the voice again.

Clarissa sighed with exasperation, removed the purse, and replaced the star. Maybe she could just give it to someone who would love it. Quickly she scanned the crowd. And what to her wondering eyes should appear... but a pickpocket, busily working the crowd. Surely a pickpocket would give a good home to a tired old purse.

She swooped down and, with her own pickpocketer's stealth, slipped the purse over the pickpocket's arm.

At the moment, the woman whose pocket was being picked felt the movement. Turning around, and realizing that someone's hand was in her pocket, she snatched the purse off the pickpocket's arm and smacked him with it until he saw stars. The pickpocket turned and ran, shouting, "As god is my witness, I'll never pick pockets again!"

Clarissa viewed the whole scene pondering. Was this enough? Had she brought Christmas to the sad old handbag? Surely it felt a useful part of society again.

But there was the voice. El Numero Uno Angel. And he said, "Nope. Not good enough."

The woman who had seized the purse, meanwhile, was checking it out. Where had this purse come from? Where did it belong?

"Lady," said Clarissa. "it's not that hard. Check the wallet for some ID."

So she did. And there was an address, not too far away. The purse could easily be returned to its owner. Clarissa, hoping this would count as an appropriate angelic act, was only too happy to take the purse there. It was, after all, on the direct path to Cabo.

Quickly she reached the apartment in question. Through the window she saw a young woman happily decorating a tree that had surely come from the Charlie Brown Christmas tree lot.

Clarissa looked at the purse. "Is this what you want for Christmas?" she asked. "Is this all about going home?"

The purse seemed to nod. But is still looked kind of sad. Clarissa pondered again. When she felt sad, she always liked dressing up. In fact, she was looking forward to trying out all sorts of new halos and vestments in the milleniums ahead. And in Cabo, she was planning to shop for a new angelic swimsuit. Perhaps the purse just needed a little Christmas bling.

So with her angelic powers, Clarissa began to decorate the purse. She added a hard candy and a sterling candy cane, for all the candies the purse had distributed. She added a Christmas star of sterling silver, and a sparkling tree of sterling silver which was a tiny version of the tree at Rockefeller Center. Not wanting to decorate with poop bags and kleenex, she added a green crystal, and a bead of red and green. Then she added a bead to protect the purse and its owner from the evil eye. And finally she added a tiny Christmas tree, much like the one being joyfully decorated inside.

And, as a calling card, she added a small angel that looked remarkably like Clarissa. The handbag gave a sigh of contentment as Clarissa set it on the doorstep and used her angel bell to signal its presence.

Then, with a wink of her eye, and a nod of her head, she fired up the turbo boosters and headed to Cabo. "Because," she reasoned, "Everyone has their own version of the perfect Christmas."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Hanukkah Story

Once upon a very long time ago (roughly 2200 years ago) there Greek king ruled over the land of Judea and over all the Jews living there. As you can imagine, this went over as well as, say the British ruling over the colonies, or the U.S. ruling over... wait. We won't go there.

One of these Greek kings ~ Antiochus Epiphanes, to be exact ~ told the Jews that they could no longer pray to their God or practice their customs or study the Torah. Instead they needed to worship the Greek gods. As a reminder, a statue of Zeus was installed on the altar in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The Jews were very unhappy about this. So Judah Maccabee and his four brothers organized a group of rebels who became known as the Maccabees. Because they believed so strongly in their cause, the Maccabees were steadfast and took on armies who were bigger and stronger than themselves. (Another recurring theme in history...)

At one point, when they faced huge battle near Beit Horon, Judah told his army to have faith: God was on their side. (This is a rationale that has been used by many and should, perhaps, be a reason for unity rather than divisiveness between different groups... but we won't go there now.)

It took a long time ~ 3 years ~ but finally the Maccabees drove the Greco-Syrians out of Judea. Finally they could reclaim their temple in Jerusalem. They scrubbed it and removed all the Greek statues and symbols. When they finished, on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, in 164 BCE, Judah and the Maccabees rededicated the temple.

There was just one problem. It seems that, when the Greco-Syrians were there, they had ruined the special oil used to light the menorah. There was just one vat of the oil left, and that was only enough for one day. It would take a week to make more purified olive oil.

That's when the miracle occurred, if the Maccabees succeeding against huge armies didn't count as a miracle. When the Maccabees lit the menorah, it didn't burn for just one day, or even two days, or three days. It burned for eight days, which was enough time for the newly purified oil to be ready.

And that is why the Hanukkah Menorah has eight candles, plus the shamash, or helper candle that is used to light the other candles.

And that is one reason why Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days.

If you're wondering about the dreidel (sevivon in Hebrew), it's a toy but it's about miracles, too. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top. Each side is printed with a Hebrew letter. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means "A great miracle happened there." This refers to the miracle of the oil that took place in the temple in Jerusalem.

The Chai symbol seen on the bracelet is the symbol for life. In Hebrew, the word chai (חַי) spelled by these two letters means "living." It is related to the term for "life," chaim, and also appears in the slogan "`am yisrael chai!" (עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי, "The people of Israel live!",).

The Hamsa, or hand, is often used as a protective amulet by both Jews and Muslims. There's surely a lesson in there.

There's also a peace dove on the bracelet. You all know what that's a symbol for. And that's the end of today's lesson.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Celebrate Good Times (WhooHoo!)

A slide show with a cat's (and bird's and dog's) eye view of the newest creations:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Shortest 60 Days Ever

I worked on the listings all Monday, stopped for lunch, and went back to work on the listings. When they were done I started on the newsletter which I send each week to my faithfuls, AKA Bracelet Buddies. I’ve been increasingly frustrated that the pictures don’t show up on some, and everyone’s looks different, no matter how carefully I put it together. Several people recommended, and network solutions recommended them, and I kept hearing about them on the radio. They’re supposed to have a 60 day free trial.

From what I could determine, though, I would only be able to have 4 graphics in each, and I send pictures of all the new stuff, and 4 wouldn’t be enough. Not wanting to waste a single second of this free trial, I emailed and asked about that. They had a rep call me and we worked out a solution; I can self-host as many pictures as I want.

So today, I uploaded my photos to photobucket and then went on to start my free trial. First problem was putting in the email addresses. I have them as a list, with commas. They needed enter after each of the (161) names. Took a while, but I did it.

Then I struggled with their format, and making my banner stretch. Got rid of stuff I didn’t want, tweaked some more stuff, and slowly and gradually started putting the newsletter together. It was not fast and easy, but I suspect in time it could be.

About an hour in, it logs me off. So I logged in again and got an error message saying my free trial had expired and I wouldn’t be able to send any more email messages. ANY MORE???? Hello! I haven’t even sent one yet!

So I called. Apparently it’s free for 100 names. So all I had to do was ditch 61 contacts. Which seemed like a very bad idea, from a marketing standpoint. By then I was in too deep to quit. So I signed up for the basic package. I managed to finish my newsletter, fluff it up and send it out. And, though it took forever, I keep telling myself next time it will be faster and easier.

That’s when someone asked me if I’d tried mail chimp. Apparently with that you can have 500 subscribers and send out 3000 emails a month free. Forever.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Here Comes Santa Claus... and the Turkeys... and Hanukkah Harry!

A sneak peek of the week: