29 December 2010

Feast Day of St. Thomas á Becket

Ah, there's the alarm! I shut it off, lay in bed a few minutes, then got up and...

...wake up in bed? Oh, bother. I only dreamed I got up. It's not like I really overslept; it was only 8:18.

Did some vacuuming and washed two loads of clothes. Between drying one and washing another I went to BJs. I wanted to get ham for New Year's dinner, and I needed Prilosec, and we needed loretadine and Mandarin orange cups. There were two coupons, so I got some Nathan's "lil smokies" and mini egg rolls for the party, and also picked up toothbrushes and some baked chips for James' lunch. They didn't have any multipacks of black-eyed peas, which James must have for the New Year, so on the way home I stopped for them at Food Depot and also got some pineapple for the ham.

Spent the afternoon dubbing off the various Christmas things I wanted to keep: the gingerbread special, The Real Story of Christmas, the Santa special, and the Prep and Landing short. In the meantime, I cooked some pork ribs in the crock pot, with teriyaki, soy, and black sauces, sweetened with a little maple sugar and syrup. Later I dubbed off European Christmas Markets and the Keeping Up Appearances Christmas special.

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, edited by Otto Penzler
These mystery short stories were commissioned each year by Penzler as a gift given to his customers, now collected in this volume; each of the stories required to take place at Christmas and have part of the action take place at Penzler's famed Mysterious Bookshop. Some of the stories are straight mysteries, others involve just desserts; predictably, many of the mysteries involve books, book collectors, or book manuscripts. There's even one about revenge, and another from the point of view of a sociopath. I generally enjoyed the lot, although, sorry to say, my least favorite story was by S.J. Rozan, whose Lydia Chin mysteries I really enjoy. Other favorites were by Lawrence Block, Ed McBain (a very sad ending there!), Thomas H. Cook, Michael Malone, Mary Higgins Clark, and of course the merry wordplay of Rupert Holmes. A bonus for mystery and Christmas fans.

The Night the Stars Sang, by the publishers of Guideposts
This is a collection of anecdotes, stories, and poetry collected by the inspirational magazine "Guideposts," with Victorian "scraps" and photographs of Christmas decorations and snowy scenes for illustrations, and beautiful illuminated music sheets as chapter title illustrations. It is prettily done and features a novelty, a map of the road Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem and what they would have seen along that road. In the final section there are some Christmas crafts for children as well as some traditional and non-traditional recipes. Plus it has a story I hadn't read in years, Grace Livingston Hill's "The Story of the Lost Star." My copy lacks the pretty cover, but it detracts only slightly from the delightful interior.

The Best of Christmas in My Heart: Volume 2, Joe Wheeler
Wheeler has been publishing these compilations of old Christmas stories and modern anecdotes and stories he has written himself for many years; I have the four Doubleday compilations and a few of the original volumes, so I was reluctant to buy either one of these "Best of" volumes for fear of getting repeats. The first one did contain mainly stories that I had, but to my surprise, there was only two repeats, "The Littlest Orphan and the Christ Baby" and "The Real Christmas Spirit." I prefer the old stories to the couple of inspirational "Chicken Soup for the Soul" type tales that have wandered in this volume, but anyone who places an Albert Payson Terhune story in a book already thick with the spirit of Christmas is fine with me.

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