Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not Quite Christmas

It's not the Christmas of storybooks and the more northern climates.

Christmas in Hawaii is warm -- high 70's, and this year it is very rainy.  I am reminded of the last major flood in northern California, right at this time of year in 1996, when warm rains at high elevations melted most of a significant snow pack in the space of just a few days.    Pineapple Express, they called it.  But that's a story for another day.

It's not the Christmas Eve of bean soup and bread fresh from the breadmaker, shared with good friends, then bundling into coat and hat and gloves (for warmth, not fashion!) and of heading off to church.

It's not the Christmas morning of celebratory breakfast, basking in the warmth of shared family.  Neither my mother or my brother and sister-in-law celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas.  It's just another one of those obligatory family days with gift exchange.

It's not the very Scottish Christmas dinner we shared with Mark and Andrea in the years they lived in Groveland.  Nor is it the Christmas of leftovers and football on the TV, and leisurely visits with friends and family.  

Instead, I shared a breakfast of out-of-season strawberries with my mother at a table stacked with the special china and silver waiting to be returned to cupboards and drawers after making an appearance for Christmas Eve dinner.  Then slipped off to church.  Even there, it was clear that the main service of Christmas had happened the evening before.  Very small attendance.  No music.  But Christmas, never-the-less.

How, I wonder, did I drift so far from the rest of my family in our ways of celebrating this particular holiday?  Why is it so important this year?

Give thanks for memories, for friends and family.  Give thanks for Christmas.   Don't forget to pray.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Spending on a Rainy Day

The Honolulu Academy of Arts is just wrapping up their annual buying spree -- just in time for Christmas. If I didn't go now, I'd miss it altogether.  So off I trudged, alone, since it was cold and rainy out and Mother didn't feel like fighting the weather.  My intention was Christmas shopping.  For other people.  Turned out to be self-gifting.  Found what is becoming an annual treat -- a lovely Celtic cross in delicate silver.  Quite different from the James Avery Celtic cross found so many years ago at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.  Found a fascinating bead necklace.  It looks like wood, feels like pearls.  It is neither.  The beads are Indonesian, cut from tree resin, each about 8 mm.  

Found at least one gift for someone else, but not at the Academy.  Also found a second needlepoint shop in Honolulu while looking for a yarn shop.  No wonder I can't find the yarn shop; it has closed.

Robert Who Listens still doesn't have enough magic in his bag of tricks.  He was able to confirm that whatever this computer is doing, it's the computer -- not me.  The fix-or-replace will have to wait until January.  It's gone on this long; it can wait a bit longer.

It is cool and rainy and dark outside, with no hint of the dawn.  Sunday is the Honolulu Marathon.  Weather reports say it will rain tomorrow, too.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply motto says When the heavens weep, the earth rejoices.  Give thanks for the rain that nourishes the earth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Machine's at Fault

When something mechanical in my life doesn't function perfectly, I tend to assume it is my fault.  Something I did is causing the problem.

Remember that new computer I waited half the summer to arrive?  When it finally did, I was immediately frustrated.  I've been complaining since that first week.  Sluggish.  Unresponsive.  Slower than its predecessor with less guts and gusto.

I complained to the vendor, who happens to also be my tech support.  Hey, Daniel, why did I pay a premium price for something that doesn't do what was promised?  I thought you were going to add extra memory to this beast.  It's not there.  Hey, Daniel, I could go to Costco or Best Buy, get the same machine for less money, load it myself (and know where all the files get put), and have at least as good a product for less money.  Just wouldn't have the on-call tech support.   Hey, Daniel, we've got to fix this.  I'm really, really not happy.

Daniel is a good civil servant.  He takes all Federal and State holidays.  He takes a spring break and a winter break.  My computer disasters always seem to happen on the Friday of a long weekend.  Or at 5:30 p.m. on Friday just after he has shut down for one of his 2-week vacations.  His Christmas break starts at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

We started looking for a mutually convenient time to do a remote support session.  First we had to scatter my dad's ashes.  Then we had to get Kimo back on the road.  Then there's my mom's nearly daily list of errands to run.  Then there are my own pressing errands.  Daniel has his own set of problems with an ailing, aged mother and an equally aging father with not-quite-sufficient financial resources.  We finally settled on yesterday afternoon.  At  2:00.  No, changed that to 4:00.  With Robert.

2:00 came and went without a call.  4:00 came and went.  Still no call.  At 4:30 I figured I'd been by-passed one more time and started the download of a library book.  Robert called at 4:31.  No, we couldn't ask the computer to multi-task.  We would still be here 12 hours later, still trying to solve the same problem.

Robert called again today.  Late again.  He tried all the tricks in his magic bag.  Couldn't solve the problem.  Guess what?  It's NOT ME!  He will try again tomorrow.  With a new set of tricks.  It might be a graphics issue.  It might be something else.  Daniel is making "we'll replace it in January" noises.  We'll see.

The important piece:  I didn't do it!  It's NOT ME!  For once, the machine appears to be at fault.

Give thanks for all those machines in your life that work tirelessly, uncomplainingly, day after day, as they are intended to work.   Pray for the tempers of those of us dealing with the recalcitrant, trouble-making machines in the world.