By William Shakespeare
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness every where!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.
I accomplished three things today: I got the laundry folded, I rearranged the video/DVD shelves to make room for recent gifts, and most importantly, I got the remainder of the holiday cards written so that all 80 of them (not counting those in packages going to relatives) could be stamped and mailed! Just as significantly, I got it all done with a migraine, which I suspect was triggered in part by eating too much salt on my birthday weekend, but mostly the weather fronts coming through the area in the past day -- storms Sunday night, ice Monday morning, barometer falling. The post office was absolutely mobbed, but I got lucky: after about 15 minutes, they opened a line just for people who needed stamps. I couldn't use the machines because I needed postage to Canada and Europe, but I managed to get the stamps relatively quickly compared to the many people waiting to send packages, and I stamped the cards right there in the post office so I could send them today.
Laundry-folding movie for the week was It's Complicated, which I found depressing instead of complicated, even though it's supposed to be a comedy. I didn't like the constant digs and awful characterization of Alec Baldwin's wife; the film was absurdly sympathetic to him, a two-time adulterer who just can't find a woman who understands his needs (read: is willing to make it about him all the time), yet insisted on a traditional "selfish homewrecking bitch" attitude toward his successful and reasonably friendly second wife (Steve Martin's character, too, called his ex a whore, even though from what he said, there was no cheating before she left him). But I was also bugged by the fact that even people in ostensibly good relationships lied to each other constantly -- the daughter's fiance trying to "protect" her was particularly galling, but it was obvious that the younger generation (none of whom was terribly believable) got all their values and neuroses from pretty immature adults.
Speaking of family trauma, I read Paul's aunt and uncle's holiday letter and discovered that their older son and his wife -- who got married a few months after we did, have three kids, and have always seemed to have a great relationship -- have separated and are getting divorced, which is even more depressing. My kids, at least, both had very good days: older son received an official acceptance letter from Purdue (which US News and World Report ranks eighth for undergraduate engineering programs, tied with Cornell and above Penn), and younger son received the Canon 60D he bought with his Chanukah and dog-walking money, so he took a lot of photos. We spent the evening watching the Ravens-Texans game, which went well for Baltimore, and I'm delighted that the Giants beat the poor Favre-less Vikings since anything that's bad for the Eagles meets with my approval. Here are some photos from the Great Falls Studios holiday show on Sunday, including Jody Marshall on hammered dulcimer: