Wednesday, December 31, 2014


New Year resolutions might be made for breaking. They break themselves, or we break them - I'm never quite sure which.  So for several years, we've had a different tradition.  We make effigies  - versions of ourselves, which we want to let go of.

We make them a few days before New Years Eve, and we think about them.  It's fun.  We laugh at our creations. We may even feel some tenderness towards these versions of ourselves. But we don't want these versions to take root and define our behavior. So there's a bit of humor and humility but also sincerity.

Elliot making his effigy

At some point on New Years Eve we share them. If we are gathered together we might briefly speak about them. If not, we might send photographs to each other.  Then we burn them. The significance of your effigy can also be personal and remain private.

Here is mine for 2014.

a me I will no longer be!

Having identified and constructed this iteration of myself, I am consciously letting her go. Goodbye you overly involved and invested person who worries too much about other people's problems! Settle down.  Center yourself.  Observe and let things go (and thank you, Bikram yoga)!  Thus I will move calmly forward, with poise and renewed dignity!!

Happy New Year, Dear Friends.

Friday, December 26, 2014


He was home for Christmas....

If only in 2 dimensions

 And we brought him some figgy pudding....

Merry Christmas Alex - from Falls Church to Australia!


Thursday, December 25, 2014


This year, Alex spent Christmas in Sydney with Katie.

So he sent home the next best thing: FLAT ALEX.

And nothing, no nothing could stop us from capturing precious family moments.




Sunday, December 14, 2014


Last year I posted here about purchasing a Christmas tree in Berryville, Virginia on the way to a wedding.  Ben thought it was a good idea to stop at a farm, where you selected and chopped down your own tree. We were in the countryside. Who cared that I was wearing a cocktail dress, and he was dressed in a suit?

Well, yesterday afternoon we once again found ourselves on the way to a wedding - this time in Stevenson, Virginia - not far from Berryville on the West Virginia border - and once again Ben suggested we stop and buy a tree.

"This is where trees come from," he reasoned, as we detoured down the winding road we had taken the year before, wending our way to Jacobson's Christmas Tree Farm.  "I get the feeling you aren't on board with this project, Amanda," he said. "Why is that?"


"No, no," I said. " It's lovely to buy a tree. It's only that I'm wearing very high heels and a long dress."

"That's all right," he soothed.  "You won't have to get out of the car."

the shoe that refused to walk the farm

But when we pulled up in front of Jacobson's Farm, we found a sign. They had exhausted their supply, it said, and were closed for the season.

Part of me was sad. I would have liked to see the look on the farmers' faces when we showed up in evening dress the second year in a row.

We drove further, turned left at the fork and continued in silence, looking out for Christmas tree farms.  We passed a field of buffalo.  Or were they just black cows with enormous heads?  We passed another field of animals, which were definitely cows.  We passed a silo and a farm where a bearded man in a checkered shirt was loading up his truck. We turned back to the main road.

There was a nursery on the right - selling wreaths and garlands. They sold live trees - starting at $85.00.  "We could plant it afterwards," I reasoned.

But across the street they were also selling trees... "At Lowes," Ben said.

We crossed the intersection.  "Lowes?" I cried. "That's like buying a tree at Home Depot! Why don't we just go to Merrifield Garden Center when we get back home."

"Is that your idea of getting a tree?" he asked.  "Merrifield?"

"Sure," I said. "Why not?"

"But this is where trees come from," he replied.

He got out of the car, put on his anorak for good measure, and strode across the parking lot. I sat in the car contemplating my high heels. Then I chatted with our daughter Rosalind, who was Face-timing from Paris. She'll be here next week and we were planning a holiday drinks party.

Soon enough Ben returned with a man walking behind him. He was carrying an enormous tree.

in the wilds of the Lowes parking lot

"Don't you like it?" Ben asked, as they opened up the hatchback. "It's taller than me."

"I love it,"  I said. The man shoved the tree through the back of the car.  Ben and I drove to the wedding, with the tree snugly wedged between us.

a tree and me going to the wedding

It wouldn't be a wedding in West Virginia if we didn't buy a Christmas tree.

The wedding was lovely.  The hall was festooned with bare tree branches painted white, white doves and lights falling over them, simulating snowfall.

We danced the night away. A wonderful time was had by all. The bride and groom danced with each other, danced with us and danced with their dog Snoopy.

groom, dog, bride

Afterwards, heading home to Falls Church, the sky was big over Virginia - with its dark hills stretching ahead on either side of the road  - and the Allman Brothers blasting on the radio.  The sky was full of stars and the car smelled of pine. Our  feet were tired of dancing and our hearts were full of love.

a couple of kooks