Archive for December 2008

Everybody else is doing it: Our picks from 2008

Tuesday, 30th December 2008. Filed in Monday mixtape4 Comments »

It’s not Monday, but it’s a mix.

Everywhere you look, it’s a roundup of the best of 2008. So last week, Crunchy husband and I cranked out a CD of good sounds from the year. It was slapped together so it would be done before Christmas. I think we are both surprised how it came out. There’s a lot of clapping involved, which is never a bad thing.  To us, anyway. Not sure how the neighbors appreciate it, but they always call us the quiet ones in the corner, so…

This mix will no doubt evolve over the next couple days with all the music we’d waited ever so patiently for Santa to bring. Most of which he didn’t bring because he and Mrs Claus each forgot to check the Amazon wish lists, so we wowed the (obviously very cool and knowledgeable) HMV guy with our stack of “I didn’t get this for Christmas but I really wanted it, so here I am and it’s on sale hooray! and you haven’t had the Fleet Foxes on your shelf for weeks, can it be that you really don’t stock it??”s yesterday. His accolades at our impressive taste in music wavered at Dido, but he obviously didn’t hold it against us too much because he produced a Fleet Foxes cd for us, out of thin air it must have been, I’d looked everywhere, multiple times. [I thought we were going to have to leave without Bon Iver too (yes I know, where HAVE I been?) when the one cd located in the 'Bon Iver' section was actually Michael Bolton's "Greatest Hits" (good god. Imagine my surprise. I should have been staring at the visual depiction of the emotions of a man who holed himself up in a cabin with only his laptop, grief, and his liquid voice through a cold Wisconsin winter to tend to a broken heart and got, well, Michael Bolton's mullet staring up at me, proclaiming he has greatest hits. The cd almost flew across the store), but I found For Emma, Forever Ago elsewhere. It took some, uh bending but I got it.]

We spent the night working on a puzzle and listening to our new cds, so stayed tuned for an updated version. I have a feeling there might very well be chiggers involved.

Our Picks from 2008, Part I, Let’s Clap and Dance and Stuff:

1. Amerykahn Promise- Erykah Badu
2. Strange Overtones- David Byrne and Brian Eno
3. One (Blake’s Got a New Face)- Vampire Weekend
4. Breaking It Up- Lykke Li
5. Surprise- Gnarls Barkley
6. Exit Through You- Joseph Arthur, Peter Gabriel/Big Blue Ball
7. Dishwasher- Fujiya & Miyagi
8. Integratron- Dengue Fever
9. Radio Retaliation- Thievery Corporation
10. Tazeb Kush- Dub Colossus
11. Shadow- Papa Wemba/Big Blue Ball
12. Sing for You- Tracy Chapman
13. Sleep Through the Static- Jack Johnson
14. Mykonos- Fleet Foxes
15. 6am Corner- Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl
16. I Keep Faith- Billy Bragg
17. More News from Nowhere- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
18. Mr E’s Beautiful Blues (Live from Town Hall)- Eels

Kent Christmas Cracker 5

Sunday, 14th December 2008. Filed in Race reports5 Comments »

Yesterday was the Kent Christmas Cracker 5 out at Fowlmead Country Park. The night before, I watched the weather forecast and then went upstairs and pulled out every layer I own that keeps me warm on a run, determined not to let any numbness spoil my fun.

I woke up to the wind howling and the rain hitting the window panes and I added some cold weather wear from Crunchy husband’s drawers to the pile as well.

See me in this picture.

Kent Christmas Cracker 5 - Brrr

You may not be able to tell, but there are four layers there, two layers on my hands. There was supposed to be another ‘layer’ on my head, but the wind kept blowing the antlers off so they just didn’t happen.  (In the end, I did have two layers on my head when I pulled my hood over my hat.)

And you know what? The rain wasn’t as hard as it had been all night, and only started shooting icy drops the last couple miles of my race. I ended up being nice and toasty. Except for my face. The wind was blowing from the south-ish and it left half of my face frozen. But, you know, I could feel my hands and feet, so it was all good. I did feel kind of wussy – people out there in short sleeves-GAH! – but I don’t care. I am what I am!

So the race went well. It was fun and I ran about 3-5 minutes faster than I planned to. I didn’t really check my paces until mile 3 (after I had stripped off the top layer of woolly gloves) and saw that I was running way too fast, so slowed down a bit for the last two miles. Almost to mile 4, I heard this lady with jingle bells approach from behind, but she never quite passed me. I have to say, I really wouldn’t have minded if she did, but since she didn’t, I wasn’t really up for being passed on the sprint into the finish, so I got my game on for the last bit and was thankful for the bells because it was an easy way to tell how close or far she was to me.

In the end, I was really pleased with my race.

Kent Christmas Cracker 5 - I've got to stop being so serious about these things

Race stats:

Distance: 5 miles
Time: 44:20
Pace: 8:52 min/mile

Christmas trees make me happy

Thursday, 4th December 2008. Filed in Family and friends7 Comments »

We got our Christmas tree last night. I abstained from insisting on the tallest available. It probably helped that I had just spent £32 on international postage for Christmas cards. But, I was a bit proud of myself none the less. So I “compromised” with a 6 footer. (I know, not much of a compromise, but it saved us £10, so that’s good.) It is short, but what it lacks in height it makes up in girth. It’s a bit wonky, but I love it!

Besides having beautiful greenery in the house, the Christmas tree brought a much needed surprise. We were unpacking the Christmas ornaments and we came across a cookie tin. Crunchy husband asked what was inside, and I said “ornaments, I guess” and continued with the box I was working on. When I got to the tin, I was a little confused as I had pretty much brought out all the ornaments – we don’t have very many. I opened it and was greeted with all the ornaments from my Grandma Alice. I forgot I brought them back to England after last Christmas at my parents’ house. I almost cried, but didn’t. (The season’s been a little touch and go already. 1 point for holding it together when Last Christmas came on the radio, but no points for falling apart while writing cards to my family.)

I looked at Crunchy husband and said, “these are very special, we have to be very careful.” He looked at me like “duh!” My Grandma died when I was 11, so he never got to meet her, but he knows our relationship was close.

We are remembering special people, as today would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday. This month was always going to be hard: first birthday, first Christmas and the anniversary of her death closely following, along with not being with my family and friends this Christmas. I didn’t realize it would, but having the tree has helped. I know it’s just a tree, but it makes me think of family. It makes me feel warmth and love. It’s beautiful. In its own short, wonky way.

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree with the glow

Billy Bragg’s for life, not just for Christmas

Tuesday, 2nd December 2008. Filed in Crunchy grooves3 Comments »

Amidst a crazy, busy weekend, on Saturday night we headed down to Hastings to see Billy Bragg. I tried to get some pictures for Jeanne, but they all came out really crappy. (But, what do I do when photos come out crappy? I post them on Flickr anyway.  Hooray!)

The show was good. I don’t really know much of his music, except for songs Crunchy husband has popped on mixtapes for me over the years, but man, does that guy have good things to say. He is really inspiring, both in song and chit-chat between songs. I cannot get enough of “I Keep Faith” at the moment. It just reminds me of everything good that has happened lately, and how we have a more promising future ahead of us, both in what Obama can himself achieve, and in what he inspires in all of us to achieve.

In ways, Billy Bragg helped me hit on something that I’ve been having a hard time conceptualizing these past months. There is one part of my being (the very largest part) that is so optimistic and hopeful and so damn excited to see how things might play out over the next four years, at least. And then there is that voice that whispers, don’t be foolish, don’t be hasty, don’t get your hopes up. That second voice usually doesn’t win out, but it does add caution to my excitement.

But, something Billy Bragg said really resolves this conflict for me: cynicism is our greatest enemy. I know Barack Obama won’t be able to do everything everyone would like him to do.  He is only one man, working within a system, to clean up a mess that poses deep challenges. I was flipping through the group the Guardian set up on Flickr for people to post messages to Obama, and I started to feel nervous for the guy, so many hopes and dreams, so many problems to solve. It’s not realistic. But, I have faith that he will make a darn good start. It feels like in many ways, he has already done so much, inspired so many people to be involved, to care again, to take action toward a better world.

And so yeah, “and if your plans come to nothing, washed out in the rain/let me rekindle all your hopes and help you start again/I keep faith in you…”

Billy Bragg @ White Rock Theatre, Hastings 29/11/08

Billy Bragg @ White Rock Theatre, Hastings 29/11/08

“If you have a web site, I want to be on it…” Well, there ya go!

Billy Bragg and Otis Gibbs @ White Rock Theatre, Hastings 29/11/08

With Otis Gibbs