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Did you ever have one of those weeks where nothing you wanted to get accomplished seemed to get done?

I've barely had time to visit Daily Kos this week. How's everyone doing? Major Meta? General Drama? Corporal Chaos?

I'm afraid it's just going to be a fairly generic open thread this time. I haven't even been paying attention to politics.

The usual disclaimers apply. This is a community open thread diary. It's being posted to the Street Prophets group but we've no membership requirements in the comments. All are welcome to join in, relax, have a cookie. You don't have to react to my blithering; it's an open thread. You can decorate the comments in your own style.
So, as the year winds down are you all wound up?


Ah, that's better.

I was just digging through my Photobucket bucket and realized that I hadn't shared a single photo from my little world at Christmas. I've been at this bloggery business for several years now and yet I haven't posted any pictures of my city of Prague all dressed up in her Christmas finery.

Thinking about what makes this season in this particular place special for me and I start to ponder things like how to take photos of the smells of frankincense, mulled wine, hot mead, mildly charred chestnuts, warm sugary, cinnamon and almond smells, candles, walnuts, or the greasy smell and sizzle of a sausage. Those are the market stalls for me. I barely look at what they're selling; I'm too busy smelling.

Maybe next week I'll manage some photos... maybe next week will find a few quiet hours.

Czech Christmas carols anyone?

The snap, crackle and pop of real vinyl!

I remember learning to sing some of those songs in Czech class. Some will probably be familiar to you. Chances are though, if you're not Czech, you won't know at least half of them. While running around downtown today accomplishing nothing I heard both Czech and English carols and, curiously enough, a bit of Frank Zappa. I suppose there's a point where people get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again-- especially with every store playing them from sometime around the end of October.

Learning to sing Czech songs with my family has really helped me feel at home here and yet I hardly ever sang with my family as a child.

Hearing certain songs can trigger some strong, happy memories--

I like how things are hooked together in my brain sometimes. Just the connections themselves can make me smile-- like listening to Boston's first album or Robin Trower's "In City Dreams" can make me remember the taste of burnt peanuts candy and pictures from Howard the Duck comic books.

Often the memories are of people that I've known, loved and lost.

I suppose I'm looking forward to some of the running around with my family the next few days. Visiting with friends and taking a walk together in the wooded valley near us. Practically each day between now and New Year's Eve has something planned. Busy, busy, busy ...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Well, okay-- because you're a guest, but I'm not allowed to have any of these cookies until Christmas.

    In the meantime they'll be out on the balcony getting nice and soft-- the way folks around here like their cookies.

  •  And don't forget the Kos Katalogue! (5+ / 0-)

    Hop on over to the Kos Katalogue group page for diaries with updates on the Secret Santa campaign to get some gifts to some kind Kossacks.

    I myself am still scrounging and begging for folks to donate something to help send a gift to Spirit of Life. I keep hoping to sell some more stuff you know.

  •  I got snowed on on my way to work. (5+ / 0-)

    It's too warm for much to stick and what little did is probably gone by now, but it was definitely snow.

    I'm off work next week and the one after.  I finally found two weeks in a row I could take without causing problems.

    I didn't do my berserker baking this year.  I think next year I will enjoy it.

    Another two and a half hours and I can leave.  I have to drop by a friend's office before I leave campus entirely, and that hardly counts as business.  My boss told me to go ahead, and have a nice vacation.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 01:35:52 PM PST

    •  Berserker Baking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maudlin

      That would aptly describe what happens to my kitchen whenever I'm doing the cooking.

      My Favorite Female does the majority of the cookie baking each year although we all lend a hand at various points in the process. I managed to bake a triple batch of the cookies my mom used to bake.

      We don't have any snow here in the big city. It was beautifully blanketed up north in the foothills of the (low, green) Giant Mountains weeks ago. But we usually spend Christmas at home and it looks like a green Christmas again this year.

      I even got rained on last night.

  •  Exhausted! (7+ / 0-)

    It has been a long week. I had to get Reid to the Doctor for more tests today. He isn't keeping his diabetes under control. I now have my Pocket PC issuing a reminder every evening at 7 to tell him to take his insulin.

    Did a massive cookie bake yesterday. Wrapped and mailed out of state today. Still need to do the people here for gifts. Plus I need to plan the rest of dinner. And my niece needs to get stuff to me if she wants it wrapped by Christmas. I can't figure out how one family has so many wrapping challenged people in it. Or maybe because I do it so well they are pretending they can't wrap.

    Going to work on art tonight.

    And this is why cat's have such an attitude problem. ;-)

    Why Cat's Have An Attitude photo WhyCatsHaveAnAttitude2_zpsef46b534.jpg

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 02:46:25 PM PST

  •  I like that Trower release (5+ / 0-)

    classic lineup & sound.
    all the songs are cowritten with vocalist Dewar,
    except the cover of Further On Up The Road.

    It opens with Somebody Calling

    "this house believes in skyscrapers"

    by anodnhajo on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:00:40 PM PST

  •  Busy week (3+ / 0-)

    Finished up the kids' school work for the year, they're off officially on vacation for 2 weeks. Quilting got done, at least what had to be done by this weekend. The baby quilt I'm still working on but I have to get out and get more thread first because I ran out of the color I need. I'm hoping to get my mom to run me out for that tomorrow while she's here, she usually asks if I need to get anything.

    Cookies got baked between yesterday and today. I have 9! 1 gallon ziplock bags of cookies on my counter, and three smaller ones put aside for other people in my fridge (including Santa).

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 03:05:44 PM PST

    •  Wow! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Maudlin

      that's a lot of cookies!

      I'm still hoping to find a bit of time to bake a small batch of cookies-- I want to bake something spicy. I think I'll just improvise though. Just a basic rolled sugar cookie dough like I use for my traditional cookies. but then I thought I'd split the dough in half and add vanilla and orange peel to one half (like my recipe calls for) and add a variety of spices (maybe a spoon of cocoa) to the other half. Roll out both halves, place one on top of the other and roll them up tight, like a carpet. Then I'd cut off little circles from the ends to make little swirled cookies. Been a few years since I made cookies like that.

  •  Dobry den, Marko (2+ / 0-)

    I just learned that while watching a show about an apartment hunt in Prague on TV. :-)

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

    by Ooooh on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:13:23 PM PST

    •  Dobré ráno, Ooooh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maudlin

      A show about an apartment hunt eh? I've done that a few times here. Once for myself, once for my father, and once for a friend.

      I can see how that might make an entertaining TV show.

      There's a wonderful Czech film from 1978 about exchanging apartments back under communism called "Ball Lightning"-- where, through brilliantly organized yet delightfully chaotic circuitous logistics, 12 apartments are traded in one day. One of my favorite movies of all time.

      •  Been away from the computer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx

        So too late to leave you a cookie. :(

        I have to confess I like the house hunting and rehab shows on HGTV. The rehab shows are pretty much ads for household products, and still I like them. But I really like the International House Hunters show, which was where I saw the Prague apartment hunt. All the shots of the city made me think of you, and I enjoyed seeing the street vendors and so on.

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

        by Ooooh on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 01:03:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  S'alright, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ooooh

          I've got boxes and boxes of cookies.

          I'd be curious to know the details of where in this city they were looking. Did they have a price limit? And so on... Just curious mind you; I'll sleep fine without that information.

          I remember enjoying shows like "This Old House" once upon a time. I do a fair amount of my own house reconstruction work some days.

          •  Hmmmmhmmm...Rolls eyes around (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marko the Werelynx

            looking in head for answers. They looked in several locations around town, but wound up picking a place near the center of the city, tram went right by the building they rented in, and there were street vendors quite close to the building as well. IIRC the budget was somewhere around 2800 to 3000 dollars US.

            It was an American family with a husband who was transferred to Prague. They had three teenaged kids, they weren't looking at cheap apartments. The place they picked was actually two units, an efficiency and a two bedroom apartment connected by a common door. They also looked at a 5 BR apartment more on the outskirts of the city with a killer rooftop terrace that had an incredible view.

            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

            by Ooooh on Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 03:25:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, one of THOSE families-- (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ooooh

              <rolls eyes in feigned exasperation>
              Oof! $3000/month... I suppose, for a really big place that might be fairly reasonable but I can't imagine being able to afford it myself; not with any sort of normal employment. We'd have to be upper management types and we'd farm the kiddies out as street vendors.

              Interesting solution though-- attaching two units.  Czechs are somewhat used to having to share smaller apartments.

              Incredible views are all over this city though. The rivers have carved out bluffs and hills everywhere.

              To give you a better idea of the price they were paying-- the categories for rental apartments, by price, on one of the most popular Czech classified ad sites, end at ">$1000"

              That friend I mentioned earlier ended up with a nice, small place for about $600 with absolutely no view to speak of-- tiny brick paved courtyard and the roof line on one side and a steeply sloping patch of grass cuts off the view out the other side. It's built into the side of one of those bluffs-- but atop the bluff is Prague Castle. He's living right on the stairs.

              Y'know, the Czechs don't count bedrooms when they write their descriptions of apartments. The system is to count each enclosed living space separately; discounting halls, closets, toilets and bathrooms. The kitchen is handled separately. Take for instance my apartment-- it has two bedrooms, a livingroom, toilet, bath and a kitchen. The two bedrooms and the livingroom plus a separate kitchen: 3+1

              When I knocked out a doorway between the kitchen and the livingroom it became reclassified as: 3+kk -- which indicates the kitchen is now just technically a kitchen nook, kitchenette essentially a "kitchen korner" (kuchyňský kout).

              •  That's really interesting, thank you for sharing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx

                I suppose one of the reasons I like those international house hunt shows is I really like seeing how people in other places live.

                The best part of my first visit to Austria was meeting and visiting my niece's friends in their flat, and then getting to meet and visit friends of theirs. In succeeding visits I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay with them. So actually staying in an Austrian neighborhood with the local inhabitants has been one of my best travel experiences ever!

                BTW You hit the nail on the head, the husband in the house hunt show was an upper management type. But not everyone in their house hunts is looking at the high end. One of the funniest things to see is Americans looking at flats in places where it is customary for tenants to supply their own kitchen, they are SHOCKED. :-)

                There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

                by Ooooh on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:58:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I've been lucky to travel to a few countries (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ooooh

                  and stay in someone's home or apartment. Japan, Germany, Denmark, France and, of course, the Czech Republic. All of those countries included two or more cities. Japan was extra cool-- stayed with my brother in his suburban apartment in a fairly large city and visited his bride-to-be's parents out in the country and her siblings' families in other parts of the city and nearby towns. I completely agree with you on how special it is to be able to stay with the locals-- after all, why travel thousands of miles just to sit in a Hilton hotel, get your morning cup of coffee from Starbucks, lunch at McDonald's and dinner at TGI Friday's...

                  That's a pretty drab adventure.

                  Hey, tonight-- for a change we'll go out to the Irish Pub.

                  Well, maybe... if I ever get to Dublin.

                  •  Japan (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Marko the Werelynx

                    Hired by a Japanese company in the mid '80s I was sent to Japan for a month of training.  Working in a Japanese factory was an incredible experience, talk about East meets West. Yikes!

                    If you ever saw the movie Gung Ho it was maybe a little over the top portrayal of the cultural differences we dealt with in the work place, but it gives a very good idea.

                    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

                    by Ooooh on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 12:44:13 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I was there in the mid '80s too! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ooooh

                      My spring break plus an extra week in 1986. Spent the whole time exploring Kyushu. I got the grand tour.

                      I've never seen the movie "Gung Ho". I remember hearing about it when it came out but seem to have missed it entirely. I'll have to check it out some day.

                      I never really had a strong sense of culture shock while I was there. I just sort of bobbed along like a leaf on the river and let myself get swept away by the current. My brother did a fantastic job of immersing me in the culture. And he did his best to find things to surprise me. He began by taking me out to a little diner on our way back to his apartment from the airport. He showed me the plastic replicas of all the food but said that he'd pick something out for me. What arrived was a tall glass filled with a toxic looking green liquid and scoops of what appeared to be vanilla ice cream. And indeed, it was vanilla ice cream-- my brother had ordered me a float. The surprise was in discovering that the bizarrely colored liquid was cream soda. I knew from then on that it was going to be an incredible two weeks.

                      •  I remember on one outing (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Marko the Werelynx

                        Some of my co-workers bought bottles of soda that had a very unusual shaped glass bottle with a funny shaped neck that had a glass ball in it. The ball acted like a kind of check valve, no back wash into the bottle. :-)

                        On another weekend outing, they took us to a saki brewery first thing in the morning to sample the wares. We hadn't even had breakfast yet!..hic

                        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

                        by Ooooh on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 08:25:44 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Ha! what a way to start the day... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Ooooh

                          Hic!

                          That bottle sounds cool. I don't remember seeing one of those.

                          Most mornings my breakfast was a bowl of rice with a raw egg and a dash of soy sauce-- sometimes with a crispy sprinkling of dried fish and seaweed. Perhaps some fruit. Maybe a bit of pickled radish.

                          I remember eating a pomelo for the first time while staying with my brother. He of course let me peel it by hand-- quite a struggle with that thick, thick peel. The peel he then tossed into the ofuro and the scent was delightful. Yes, my brother even taught me how to use his Japanese bathroom properly. Made perfect sense, first you wash then you get in to soak. Saves so much water! And I don't think I'd ever had such a hot bath in my life...

                          My brother's apartment was also the place of my first encounter with a squat toilet.

                          •  Oy! Squat toilets (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Marko the Werelynx

                            I'm afraid if I had to use one today I'd get down there but never be able to get back up again.

                            BTW I probably should give you a heads up, I called you out  here. :-)

                            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

                            by Ooooh on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 06:52:45 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I've been checking edrie's profile (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Ooooh

                            for new diaries lately. Nice to get a bit of good news.

                            I've been trying to remember all the places I've encountered squat toilets. I don't think I ever saw one in the US. I know when I was staying in Paris with my cousin-in-law in his tiny, subdivided attic space apartment the toilet in the hall that was shared by the other apartments was a squat toilet. It was a ridiculous apartment (much of it I couldn't even stand upright in) with the toilet and bath out in the hall but the location couldn't have been cooler. If you opened the little skylight window and leaned out over the roof a bit you got an unusual view of the side of Notre Dame cathedral. Being neighbors with those amazing gargoyles was worth putting up with a squat toilet I thought.

                            I'm sure there have been others over the years but I can't seem to recall exactly where they were.

                            I do remember being told once that squat toilets were called "Arabian toilets". My greatest concerns when using them were always keeping my clothing clean and not losing my balance...

                          •  I've had enough of squat toilets (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Marko the Werelynx

                            To last me a life time! And since Japan, I have avoided travel in places where I was pretty sure I'd find them. Some parts of the world are strictly arm chair travel places for me...well, these days, more and more of it are that way. Flying is a pain in the arse and everytime I get the urge to go someplace, it leaves as soon as I think about flying there.

                            Back to toilets though, I've chided people I was traveling with because they were angry they had to pay to use a toilet in a German train station. For cryin' out loud, an attendant wiped down the entire stall after every user, and if they'd even glanced at a travel book before leaving the states they would have known to expect it. Bet 'cha didn't know free toilets were a god given right in the US, did you? ;-)

                            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

                            by Ooooh on Thu Dec 26, 2013 at 12:23:19 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

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