Morning all:

Some brand new coffee this morning. It’s not that there is an ongoing search mind you, it’s just that we’re inquisitive and keep looking—for the neatest in packaging. This new can is from Trader Joe’s and as I discovered after it was bought, highly rated by Consumers Reports. It is quite good as I have started mug two. Here the weather cannot quite get into a proper winter theme. It’s been 45 to 50 and overcast most of the week. This morning it’s a colder rainy day, with what the Dutch call “mot-regen”, but not yet the ubiquitous “wintry mix”.

Last Tuesday we were supposed to have wind gusts of 50mph; this never happened. Truth be told, I was hoping that the wind would kick in so as to ascertain the differing outcome between the major light stringing techniques. I have concluded that there are two types, the “fixers” and then the “drapers”. Example, the perfect little family across the street and yours truly are “fixers”. Our lights are held in place by little clips, wiring with ties, you get the picture. Across the street is the “absent minded professor”. Now, he is a “draper”. His lights get tossed artistically over anything that is vertical in the yard in a sort of natural fashion. Some blink, some don’t, some flash, some race, some are snowflakes, some are colored, and others are white. I was hoping to see whether or not there would be a substantive difference with strong-wind results. Oh well, let me know when the next wind storm comes along.

Two weeks to go before Christmas and three before the New Year and its that annual blend of wonderful and wacky. First the wonderful, Wednesday we were able to enjoy the beginning of Hanukkah with a performance of a piece called Hallal Psalms (from text found in the Psalms of thanksgiving 113– 118). Composed and directed by our neighbor Bonia Shur, director of Liturgical Arts for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. HUC is the primary seminary for the training of Reform Rabbis in the US. The piece has been performed around the world and was written by him 29 years ago. What I have since learned is that Bonia is considered as the foremost living Jewish composer in the US. Amazing how sometimes these diamonds lie right at your feet.

Marcia also wanted to attend the performance. Since she was sitting for 18 month old Marin she felt that she’d sneak into the back fully prepared for a quick escape should the need arise. Bonia’s wife spotted us and when told why we were hanging back proclaimed “No, you must sit right up front”. Her feeling was that being right equal with the musicians, the cantor, and the choir his attention would be focused. She was spot-on correct, the little guy stayed rapt with attention throughout. We were blown away, and the congregation chanted; “Hodu Ladonai Ki Tov” (translation: Give thanks to God).

Now for the wacky. Actually there is too much wackiness going around these days, from pitiful through funny. Let me just relate wackiness from the work place. Last week the accounting department was scurrying about preparing for an audit by the State of Illinois over sales taxes. This week the fine citizens of Illinois paid a state employee to park himself for a full week at our offices. Each day he was in the door at exactly 8:30 and out the door at 5:00 on the minute. And the final result? Drum roll please, Illinois owes us $100. Thank you Illinois! This makes three out of four of these where we were owed. What a program, what great use of tax monies. Of course our new “windfall” costs us several times more in time and effort.

Our shopping crescendo is peaking as the various package delivery trucks squeal to a stop in front of the house. Are we with the times or what? We talked with Adrianne last night. She is in the capital, Nuku’alofa, enjoying her meetings and getting a break from small village life; and is doing just fine. It would appear that her island hopping kayak trip over Christmas is on. Marcia and I finally got it together and have purchased tickets to visit with Vince, Kirstin, and Derek in January. Now I just hope that the airline doesn’t fold in the meantime, these days you just never know.

Have a great week.

Cheers,

Dirk

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