Then, one fall, I receive an email from my brother, inviting me to read his blog.
I found out a blog is a web log, a kind of diary or journal written on the Internet.
On Sunday, October 1, 2006, www.kelloggbloggin.blogspot.com was born.
The first post that day was titled, Kellogg is my Paris.
In his post, he writes about what he wants to accomplish through the writing on his blog.
I want to pay homage to this town, this valley, but I do not want to romanticize it. Even though my best friends are from Kellogg and even though I love this place like no other, I know that it was, in its heyday, a place of criminals, abuses, corporate heartlessness, poverty, and recklessness. It was also a place of honor and unpretentious love, without self-congratulation. I am going to tell stories, write poems, review books, write essays, publish pieces I've already written, explore life as I understand it. I will try to understand the world through my exploration of the place that, for me, is the world: Kellogg, Idaho.
As my brother, who goes by the moniker Raymond Pert (our father's name) has written and shared his writings over the past two years, he has not only paid homage to our hometown, and explored his world, but has also opened up his world to me.
My brother has always been a bit of a mystery to me. With a nine year age gap between us, it didn't seem like we ever shared that much in common. Through my little sister eyes, he was the big brother who always teased me, called me names, and gave me a hard time.
When I was eight years old he graduated from high school, and the following fall went to college. In my eyes, we were in living in two combined, but very separate worlds.
A few years later he married, and eventually moved to Oregon.
After the move, we were lucky if we saw one another once or twice a year.
From a distance, I saw my brother marry, divorce, date, break up, marry again, divorce again, and marry again.
I saw him go through many transformations throughout the years. He was college student, grad student, purple-clad vegetarian, college professor.
He was always a bit of an enigma to me.
Then I watched as our father's death shifted his way of thinking, and brought him back to his roots.
And, through his writings these past two years, I have come to understand we have much more in common. Through years of being separated by age, geography, time and space, these are no longer barriers to our relationship.
I have come to understand what makes my brother tick.
I have learned his strengths and his weaknesses, and how he is able to write about both.
His writings about his struggles with depression have helped me better understand the struggles I have gone through with depression in my life, and the lives of my loved one.
Seeing our family through his eyes has opened my own eyes.
By the one small act of making the decision to start a blog, Raymond Pert changed the dynamics of our family forever. Raymond Pert, Inland Empire Girl, our mother and myself are closer than we have ever been.
The following February of 2007, my sister and I created our own blogs. And through the posting of our thoughts on our blogs, it has made it easier to laugh together, cry together, and come to understand one another in a fresh way.
We have come to understand and appreciate each others view of the world, our different talents, and our occasional tirades.
The fact we are separated geographically in three different states is no longer a barrier to our relationships.
Because the written word has drawn us together, and we are learning to share who we really are, and are being loved and accepted by one another. And this is very liberating for all of us.
This reminds me of a quote from my favorite author:
"Wherever there is unity in diversity, then we are free to be ourselves; it cannot be done in isolation; we need each other."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet
Happy Birthday, Raymond Pert!! Thanks for continuing to share yourself with each of us, and helping bring each of us out of isolation to learn to need each other.
This is the way some people on the continent of Africa tell one another Merry Christmas.
This year, we chose to pick some food from some different countries in Africa to eat for our traditional Christmas Eve meal.
It was delicious, and I enjoyed trying the new recipes.
Here is what was on the menu:
Appetizer: African Red Dip With shrimp
ATA SAUCE WITH SHRIMP
An appetizer from West Africa
Soup: African Beef and vegetable soup NKRAKRA
Salad Tomato and Green Pepper salad
Moroccan Garbanzo Beans with raisins served with rice
Main Dish—Fish baked with Tomatoes and Spices
MTUZI WA SAMAKI
A main dish from Kenya
Dessert--Sliced Oranges with dates
I enjoyed each part of the meal, and loved learning how they celebrate Christmas in different countries in Africa.
Here are some more of PKR, The Princess, Z2, Kiki Aru and Grandma Mary and Silver Valley Girl enjoying Christmas Eve.
You will find my sibling's posts about A Christmas Carol by Raymond Pert here and Inland Empire Girl here.
My book that I am choosing How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
As I thought about this book, and read it aloud this morning to my two dogs, it got me thinking about a post that has been rattling around in my head for about a week. My friend Beez over at Blog My Rabbit wrote a post called Bah, Humbug! .
His post reflects on the struggles he has with the Christmas season, and the expectations that come with this time of year. I encourage you to read this thoughtful post he wrote. You can tell it comes straight from his heart, and I am sure it will get you thinking about your Christmas beliefs, as it did me.
I love Christmas. To me, it is, and has always been a very special time of year. And, as a Christian, the celebration of Jesus' birth is an important part of this time of year, but I don't think that is the most important part for me. Because Jesus' is a part of my life every day of the year. I don't need a special day to commemorate his birth. I celebrate Him each and every day through my personal relationship with Him. I enjoy focusing on Jesus' birth, but I don't think that is the only reason I enjoy this time.
When I really think about it, I believe it is all the traditions and special time with family and friends that go along with this time of year. I was fortunate to have a family who had many traditions growing up. Some of these traditions tied us to our past, and some my parents started on their own. Now my family has started some of our own traditions that we carry on each year.
It is these things that I enjoy about Christmas. Some has to do with putting up decorations, especially the ornaments on the tree, and remembering the stories behind certain ornaments. And looking at my Mom's ornaments on her tree, and seeing the same ornaments hanging on the tree that were there my first Christmas back in 1963.
My family started our own tradition back in 1990, the year The Princess was born. On Christmas Eve, we would pick a country and prepare food from that country, research about their Christmas traditions, and sometimes incorporate some of those traditions into our own.
This year we have chosen several countries from the continent of Africa, including Morocco, Kenya and Ghana. (I will share more about our dinner later). Past countries include England, Germany, Greece, Russia, Thailand, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France, Mexico, Italy and a Native American feast.
And all these traditions help build family memories, which are very important. Yesterday the girls hauled out old home movies, and the Ghost of Christmas Past visited us as we watched past Christmas celebrations, some in Glendive, some in Meridian, and some here in Kellogg.
And I can enjoy it, even if family is scattered all over the country. IEG and her husband will be in Washington, Raymond Pert will be in Oregon, and his wife and kids are gathered in New York. Our family along with my mom will gather here in Idaho. And even more family is gathered in Meridian.
So, how does this all tie into the book? The Grinch observed Christmas from the outside. To him, all he saw was the toys, and all he heard was the
noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
and he also didn't like it when
the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
And they'd FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!
And THEN They's do something He liked least of all! Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
So the Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea, and decided go steal Christmas from all the Whos by dressing up like Santa Claus and taking all their presents, decorations, trees, and food...
It was quarter past dawn... All the Whos, still a-bed, All the Whos, still a-snooze When he packed up his sled, Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
The Grinch thought by taking all these things, that he would stop Christmas from coming. He thought the noise he would hear that morning would be BOO-HOO!
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow... But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn't be so! But is WAS merry! VERY! He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!
At that moment The Grinch realized Christmas meant more than just presents, and food and toys. And then the Grinch experienced a transformation..
And what happened then...? Well...in Who-ville they say That the Grinch's small heart Grew three sized that day! And the minute his heart didn't fell quite so tight, He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast! And he... ...HE HIMSELF...! The Grinch carved the roast beast!
Christmas is about celebrating love, and relationships, and caring about one another. That is the final noise the Grinch heard that made his heart change.
And it is nice, if even for a brief time each year, that we take some time to focus and celebrate these things with one another. We take time to tell people thank you and it often gives us an excuse to let them know they are appreciated, something we often don't do the rest of the year. Christmastime almost gives us that excuse to do nice things...and changes our focus for a few brief moments.
My prayer is each and every one of you gets a chance for your heart to grow three sizes this holiday season because of the love and caring of those around you.
Because whether you believe in the baby born in the manger is real or not, the message proclaimed that day can live in all of our hearts each and every day...
She called right before my friend KM arrived for a visit, and so KM said she would go on this adventure with me.
My friend was visiting her son, and thought she may have left an appliance on so she called to see if I could go check on her house, and see if the appliance was on or off.
She told me she wanted to call someone who wouldn't think she was too stupid and who knew her well. That was a major compliment in my book!!!
So off to the adventure.
She gave me some directions.
Go up her stairs.
Go across the lawn and find an upside down cone.
The key is under this cone.
When opening the door with the key, pull on the door, and press the button on the door.
Check on the appliance. Ah look, the house is safe. The rice cooker was unplugged.
I called my friend and gave her the good news. Now she could relax and can enjoy her holiday with her family.
KM and I secured the premises, and we were on our way.
My list is getting checked off as well. That is why I haven't been on here in a couple of days.
Got Christmas cards ready to mail...check.
Got Christmas goody bags put together for friends..check
Got plates ready for Cookie Exchange...check
Went to work (No Snow Day...Rats!!) Delivered some goody bags...check
Went to Book Group...Had wonderful lunch, conversation and cookie exchange...check
Home alone in the evening...enjoyed a bit of quiet time...check
Did some house cleaning...check
Christmas program dress rehearsal...check
Drove to Post Falls for Kiki Aru's Basketball game...check
Did some shopping in CDA...check
Went to Tristin and Josh's wedding...The Princess was a bridesmaid...check
Made Hot Buttered Rum mix...check
Did some house cleaning...check
Sunday School Christmas program performed...check
Finish preparation for Christmas party...check
Hosted Christmas Party...check
Watch old home movies with daughters...check
Took one dog and four cats to vet for annual exam...check
Get organized for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners....check
Still to do today...
Finish up Christmas shopping
Go over dinner plans with Mom
Take Mom shopping
Have niece and family over tonight who are visiting from Nampa
Relax with the family
We'll blog more later....
Snow Wish--I Think It Came True