Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Penguin Hall-day Classic

The week before Christmas was just a blur around the Hall. Mr. and Mrs. Hall spent most of their time at the airport, ferrying in the kids as they arrived, amidst warnings of more snow and storms. The weather gods, in a uncharacteristically merciful act of benevolence, spared upstate New York from its fury and planes flying to and from Syracuse Hancock International proceeded unimpeded.

Some of the younger set had spent most of their day in transport, so that upon arrival at the Hall, they were so exhausted that even relaxing in front of a video game was too taxing for their little systems and they succumbed to Morpheus in sito. Mistress Colleen hit the social ground running, and between catching an Eastern Star meeting or two with Mrs. Hall, and sledding down the Westvale reservoir with her friends, she managed to make good use of the holiday time.

Mr. and Mrs. Hall continued the usual string of Christmas parties at this time; work had prevented them from attending the Batesville Casket Company's shindig at the old IBM country club down in Endwell this year, but they managed to find time for the holiday blowout at John's Auto Care in Solvay. Once again nestled cozily under the car parts and the hoists, John along with his lovely wife Betty, invited family and friends to raise a glass and toast the new year. Brake fluid and barbecue sauce shared workbench space together and the bar held court under the ceramirub and the WD-40; good times and fellowship flourished everywhere and the Halls were only too happy to be included in their feast.

Because they had come in so late, there was a lot of last minute scrabbling for presents. Colleen displayed a remarkable talent for wrapping, wowing the crowds with her show-stopping bow made entirely of duct tape, for one of Ian's friends. Finally, after all the hurry and scurry was done, the clan sat down for a peaceful Christmas eve dinner. With the carols playing in the background and the video fireplace on the large flat screen TV, the Halls were able to bask in the joy of family fun and camaraderie. They descended on the presents under the tree, pausing only make notes for future thank yous and to take turns shooting each other with nerf guns.
The snow had stopped blowing and the night was bright and clear. Masters Chris and Ian dutifully pressed their uniforms and dressed for midnight mass. The sight of the two young men holding the huge doors of the Basilica open for their sister was more than Mrs. Hall could bear, and she wiped a tear. Choir and carols, trumpets and the Hallelujah Chorus; the Knights of Columbus ushered in the monseigneur and the nativity and for a few hours in December it seemed like it was heaven on earth.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Random Thoughts and Tangential Connections

Separated at Birth?
The artists at Universal apparently grew up (like so many of us) watching Saturday morning cartoons; the crew of Minions working for Gru in the movie “Despicable Me” seem to be directly related to the Binomes that used to populate the computer graphic world of Bob the Guardian and Dot Matrix, in Reboot.

Not so True (Ma)Gritte
Apologies to M. Rene aside, the Monitor ran across this interesting website the other day. It may not be us, but it does look rather intriguing….

Remarks in passing, on the passing of greatness
Overheard on Facebook (of all things!) – but too good to let go without repeating:
Tracy Mohr "In my perfect fantasy world, Santo will be elected [to the Baseball Hall of Fame] by the Veterans Committee in a shameless act of contrition, and Santo's family will tell them to go to hell in a hurry. "
December 3 at 12:14pm

Merry Tweetmas from @Bluphoenix
If the Monitor tweets alone in the forest, does anyone RT? Yes, Virginia, they do, and with consistently interesting and sometime touching responses. Here's a hearty Happy Holidays from Penguin Hall to all the diligent posters in the Twittersphere out there and a thank you as well, for all the delightful hours spent following your lively exploits and explanations. Merry Christmas to all and may whatever celebration brings you and yours together, be a happy one.

Zero to Christmas in 36 hours

December 1st had seen 62 degree temperatures and even though the high winds and heavy rains were enough to prompt the locals to jokingly remark that the “monsoon season” was upon them, the weather was still so mild, it made getting into the spirit of Christmas shopping seem like a bit of a stretch. Inevitably, though, the weather gods roused themselves, checked the calendar and realized that whomever was supposed to be in charge of snow in the region had been seriously slacking. In his haste to make up the difference, the new guy apparently (isn’t always him?) simply pushed the “heavy precip” button a couple of extra times and went back to partying with Thor. The winter weather mechanisms thus set in place, it began to storm and blow like there was no tomorrow. It was precisely during this time that Mr. Hall had brilliantly scheduled the upstairs windows to be replaced.
As Mrs. Hall worked on cookies downstairs in the warm kitchen, she could hear a series of hard poundings on the east wall, and a string of several unprintable expressions. Looking out, a frigid workman could be seen, poking his head through the hole in the wall beneath a disturbingly menacing cage of icicles. In an effort to soothe, Mrs. Hall had brought him up a plate of fresh baked and a hot cup o’ joe, and casually remarked on how brave she thought he was. The only reply this managed to elicit was a gruff “I hope yer happy; there’s a snow drift in yer room now.”
Two days and forty three inches of snow later, the inhabitants of Penguin Hall looked out of their new sparkling, double hung windows, at a sea of white. Perusing the canyons that were now their streets, Mr. Hall wondered if it was worth it at all to hazard the city thoroughfares. “But we have to-” gasped Mrs. H. “Jimmie from the Mazda dealership just called!” She was already pulling on her heavy coat and boots. “He finally found me one!”
Regular readers of the Monitor might recall that Mrs. Hall had frequently and ardently professed in the past, a certain weakness for small shiny overpowered sports cars. Mr. Hall always told her that when the children had moved on and the need for that ever popular Conestoga Of The Suburbs, the Dodge Caravan, had passed, he would indulge her passion. That time had finally come. The gentleman from the dealership admitted he had been unable to track down her first choice of a Galaxy Grey convertible; but if she was agreeable, perhaps Mrs. H. would be interested in checking out what he had been able to procure. Agreeable was hardly the word for it; when Mrs. Hall laid eyes on the rich bottle-green color of the power retractable hardtop and the tan English saddle leather seats inside, she emitted a such a sigh of complete and succulent rapture, she could have been mistaken for Mr. Toad. The salesman fairly purred at Mr. Hall and asked him to his office to work out the details of the sale. How Mr. H. managed to finagle a bargain out of him after that, remains a mystery, but the Gentle Reader can rest assured, that both Mr. and Mrs. Hall left the dealership that afternoon, pleased with their purchase. They drove it gingerly home, placed it in the garage, covered it with a soft cloth and Mrs. Hall was last seen telling it a bedtime story lovingly before shutting off the lights.

The jazz music played softly in the background. Mr. and Mrs. Hall sidled up to the bar at Daniels Friday as Stefanie brought over his usual Manhattan. “Something light today, Stef,” remarked Mrs. H. “We just came from the cocktail party over at the Crematory and with all the festivities going on this week, I don’t want to fill up.” Stefanie understood and brought her an inoffensive little red wine. Dan’s wife, the lovely Deana, came over and wished them both a happy holidays. “Is that all you’re going to do to decorate the bar?” she turned and admonished Stefanie. (They had had words before.) “A few silver snowflakes? I can hardly see them.” Stefanie was adamant. “It’s supposed to be elegant and subtle- you don’t want Christmas to throw up all over you.” The holiday season having truly begun, Mrs. Hall turned to Mr. Hall and, clinking her glass against his, said she believed she was ready to order now.

Tell your friends!