Date Archives December 2014

One the master, one the apprentice



Napodog’s desire for the things others have never wanes, be it food, toys, random pieces of paper, socks, musical instruments, or the magic detrius found at the bottom of a purse or garbage can. Sometimes it’s impossible to discern what he actually wants, you can just barely hear him grinding down your willpower and your sanity over whatever else it is you might be doing. A former roommate called these his “whisper whines”. I’ve taken to automatically lifting him up to my bed every night just to stave off the pathetic cries–I know this is basically giving in to dog terrorism, but frankly, sometimes it’s just easier to let him win.

The Lights of Christmas in Warm Beach, WA

Over one million lights twinkle at The Lights of Christmas in Warm Beach, WA. Having seen a number of places tout the one million number this year, I have to assume that one million is the “stop counting” point for everyone. What I don’t know is how anyone can bill themselves as the largest light display if everyone sort of throws up their hands after the one million mark.  I need to know which is actually the biggest without doing any tedious counting myself. I must see the best, the biggest! GIVE ME YOUR DATA!

Ahem. It’s hard not to feel the holiday spirit when the night blazes bright around you, strains of music hang in the air, and all around is your fellow man filled with wonder and delight. We buy a grease-spotted paper bag filled with piping hot doughnuts crusted with cinnamon sugar and kiss the sugar off each other’s lips. A choir sings carols, conducted by a woman whose elaborate arm and body movements look like nothing so much as airbending.  Children labor as “elves” in a real workshop, and if you have cash, you can hang their fruits on your tree. One eyes me suspiciously as I take photographs. A gift shop hawks Santa-themed wares, including some cheerily painted on gourds. Trees shine so brightly that I have to turn away, dazzled, as the image hangs on my retinas. It’s a festive sort of pain.

One of the attractions at The Lights of Christmas is Bruce the Spruce, their talking Christmas tree. You may not know this, but approximately 98% of your time waiting in line to talk to a tree is spent panicking about what in the hell you could possibly say to a talking tree, and this panic is exacerbated when you overhear him asking other people to tell him a joke. Immediately, you will forget every joke you’ve ever heard, except for the ones that are entirely inappropriate to tell around children, and even then, you’ll only recall scraps of the lamest vaguely dirty Dad jokes, all the while moving ever closer to the front of the line. When my turn arrives, I manage to squeak out a question about whether he was the only talking tree and if he was “pining away” for friends, to which he responded with no fewer than three puns in a row, including bidding me farewell with “Cedar later!” I felt a deep and abiding shame that I had been beaten at wordplay by a tree, and spent the rest of the night constructing ever more contrived puns and sad jokes. Why shouldn’t you be afraid of a talking tree? Because his bark is worse than his bite. What did the talking tree do after he said his first word? Take a bough. What did the talking tree do after he was getting too big for his beeches? He went back to his roots. Why doesn’t a lumberjack make a good bedmate for a talking tree? He spends all night sawing logs. What does a talking tree wear to Warm Beach? His swimming trunk. What’s a talking tree’s best friend? A dogwood. …There were more. So very many more. I stopped counting at one million.

Little Italy Festa in San Diego, CA

little italy sign

grape stomp contest sign

grape stomp contest


3d wine chalk

audrey hepburn chalk

bela lugosi

chalk art san diego

chalk masquerade

classical chalk

cupid and babe

dog mosiac

garlic goiter

giant chalk drawing

holy family chalk drawing

italian fest chalk drawing

italian greyhounds with spaghetti

lady and the tramp

lemon mosaic

luigi chalk

mangia celesti chalk

mario mosaic

mona lisa chalk

natalie portman

stallone chalk

venetian mask

water lilies

On my most recent trip to San Diego, it was really important to me to maximize the amount of time I spent with my dad, so unlike non-family trips, I didn’t have every day planned down to the minute. Instead, I played it by ear so we could do whatever the group found most appealing. As it turned out, Little Italy Festa was that weekend, so the four of us made an afternoon of it. This year marked Little Italy Festa’s 20th anniversary, and they did it up right with chalk drawing competitions, bocce ball, live music, cooking demonstrations, and tons of dining al fresco. I can’t emphasize it enough: this is an opportunity to eat as much pizza as you would like in the street while waiting in line for more pizza. It’s like a dream come true! I am not making this up: after we left Little Italy Festa, we went out for more pizza. Because while the street pizza was decent, it didn’t compare favorably with the prospect of Lefty’s, which, with its perfect thin crust, zesty sauce, and spicy sausage, is a taste of my hometown. The grape stomp contest was highly entertaining (the young girl won, which surprised me, as I believed that she was have been at a disadvantage owning to her smaller stature) and the only thing that could have improved it would have been if there was a freshly-foot-squeezed grape juice guzzling competition immediately afterward. Visitors were encouraged to vote on their favorite chalk art, but I couldn’t decide. I loved how many different takes there were on Italian culture, and found it both sad and beautiful that they are impermanent by their nature. It was a reminder to appreciate things while they last.