Sleighbells Ring, Are You Listening?

News from the hinterlands. Kari and Jon, who live in the northernmost outpost of the Empire, were housebound on Sunday due to something I only dimly remember – a blizzard. We don’t get those here in Paradise. Our valley seems to be protected in some way from that particular bit of dramatic meteorology.

internet-acquired (stolen) photo of blizzard in Duluth MN

The old-timers here in Montrose will tell you, if you are unfortunate enough to be trapped in a room with one of them, about the times where it snowed so fast and hard that they had to string ropes between the bars so that tipplers could hang on to them and thus move about safely and not become lost in the storm.

But those days seem to be behind us. Of course, if you are telling weather stories here in Colorado you must state the altitude before you even begin. What’s true here in the Grand Valley at 5900 feet is very definitely not applicable to Silverton, at 9000 feet, and has nothing whatever to do with the scene at Vail Pass, which is at 10,600 feet.

Robin and I are coming up on our eighth winter here in Colorado, and have rarely been inconvenienced by snow. Really, the only time it figures in at all is when we are contemplating travel, when of a sudden it can be a big deal. It’s those mountain passes that pose the hazards. To go east we need to check out what’s happening at Vail Pass, the Eisenhower Tunnel, and Monarch Pass to see if traveling is even a possibility. To go from here south to Durango would mean crossing three passes if we attempted to take the Million Dollar Highway (of course this is only theoretical, since there is no bleeping way that I would travel that road in the wintertime no matter what the weather conditions were).

But we do miss one thing about blizzards. When you are stranded in your own home, and driving anywhere is not an option, there is a unique sort of fun knowing that no matter what, no one expects you anywhere, and you couldn’t go there if you wanted to. So you sit down where it’s warm and look out the window at the chaos, perhaps wrapped up in a blanket while you exult in being safe and alive and warm and in a place where there is no snow drifting down the back of your neck.

And if the storm comes up while you are having people over for dinner and they can’t get home … it’s the best thing ever … a blizzard party! The evening vibe changes completely when we all realize that we are staying over night at someone else’s home and we didn’t bring pajamas, a toothbrush, or a change of clothes.

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Yesterday I dug out the holiday playlist on my computer, which contains somewhere over 300 tunes culled from the world’s holiday musical literature, and started out on my annual listen. I only bring this music out after Thanksgiving, I listen to them for no more than an hour a day, and quit when December 25 rolls around. Discipline is my middle name.

They are a mixture of old and new, some I have there only because my parents used to play them when I was a child. Mom and Dad didn’t own a lot of music, but one set of 78s was of Perry Como doing Christmas his way. I have that same album, I think, but in digital form. There is Johnny Mathis (from my adolescence) singing in his unique voice. Joni James, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Willie Nelson, Enya … on and on. It’s all the musical equivalent of comfort food, for me.

I ran into one definite sign of seniority this morning. I was checking at the iTunes store to see if there were any modern holiday songs. I opened up one collection and there was not a single artist that I recognized. Not one. It would appear that keeping the playlist from becoming hopelessly dated is no longer a reasonable thing to attempt.

Ah well, three hundred isn’t a bad number to rummage through, and who knows? Maybe next year Lil’ Nas X will come out with a terrific holiday album. At least I know him.

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The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell slogs on with its sordid tales. I have to admit that I am only scanning headlines and not reading the articles any more, having decided that the justice system doesn’t need my input in this case. There’s really nothing new here, history is full of stories of predators and victims when it comes to sex. The difference here is the wealth of the perps and the scale of the transgressions. The sellers and packages of the “news” long ago learned that the crimes of the rich are way more interesting to their customers than those of we poor schlubs toward the other end of the economic scale.

So if any of us were involved in a Jeffrey Epstein-type operation in Schenectady NY it might make headlines for perhaps a day or two, and then the story would be relegated to the back pages, even of the papers in Schenectady. In places further off, it would quickly disappear altogether.

But isn’t endlessly re-reading the details of the sexual exploitation of these young girls further exploitation? Beyond a certain point, a point we passed long ago in this story, you could think of it as a form of soft-core porn.

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I may have mentioned these guys before, but it’s the Christmas season and they fit in quite nicely. The Smallbone brothers, Luke and Joel, make up a Christian pop group called For King and Country. One of their concert numbers presents the venerable carol “The Little Drummer Boy”in a very dramatic form. Bombastic, even. But stirring, as in musical theater. See what you think.

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