Archive for the ‘Happy Holiday’ Category

December 15, 2006

Christmas Eve 2006 Word Pictures

A tiger striped kitten sleeps under the tree,
one paw resting on a tissue-wrapped catnip mouse.

A grandmother peers into the night,
watching for a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
exactly as she’s done every Christmas Eve
for the past sixty-three years.

A tiny premature newborn lies in a neonatal crib,
surrounded with wires and tubes invented by man,
but wrapped in the arms of God.

A frail white haired man in a VA hospital bed
dreams of the night he danced with a beautiful movie star
at the Stage Door Canteen, on this night a half-century ago,
and he smiles in his sleep.

A father sits in the basement at two a.m. and shakes his head
as he prepares to put the last part on his son’s new bicycle
and discovers one crucial bolt is missing.

A distraught mother in a war-torn Mid-Eastern country
holds her small daughter close,
wondering if her husband, who went out to buy food,
will ever come back again.

A jack-in-the-box, wrapped and hidden under the tree,
hunkers restlessly,
waiting for a small child to spring him in the morning.

A GI in Afghanistan leans against his jeep,
opens a package from home and finds a pillowcase.
He pulls it out, inhales the scent of her perfume,
closes his eyes, and smiles.
He’ll sleep with his wife beside him tonight.

A tiny girl in her pink and white Barbie bedroom
lies in bed wide awake,
one bare foot peeking out from under her blanket
as she waits, hoping to hear Santa discover
the milk and cookies she left out for him.

A mother in America snuggles under her comforter,
almost asleep, but still awake enough
to take one more satisfied sniff at the air,
rich with the aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar.

A sixteen-year-old runaway sits under an L.A. bridge,
head bowed on his crossed arms,
thinking about the Christmas when he was four
and his only problem was Lincoln Logs.

One perfect cardinal perches outside
on the rim of her empty snow-filled nest,
wondering where her children are tonight.

A single mom ever since one unspeakable day in Iraq
sits alone in her darkened living room
with only an American flag to keep her warm.

A young man, shivering with anticipation,
reaches into his jacket pocket,
reassures himself the diamond ring is still there,
clears his throat and says
to the most beautiful girl in the world,
“I have something to ask you.”

A six-year-old black toy dog,
lying crumpled under the bed,
checks his war wounds and wonders
if his tenure is about to expire.

An American politician’s wife in a sequined red gown
pauses with her hand on the banister,
takes one last look at the massive Christmas tree in the hallway
before she heads upstairs to the White House living quarters,
and wonders if there will ever really be Peace On Earth.

And in Chicago, the wife of a wildly popular young politician
ponders her family’s fate,
wondering whether she really wants to walk, every day,
up those same White House stairs.

© Beth Anderson 2006

Happy Holidays to all of you, wherever you are and however you celebrate. Even with all the problems we have in the world today, remember the beautiful words from The Polar Express:

Always believe. Don’t let the magic slip away.

Some days, the magic is all we have.

Thank you so much for visiting our little blog. We love you all, you KNOW we do. Please come back again soon. We’ll leave the light on for you.

Beth Anderson

Happy Holiday | 12 Comments  

December 11, 2006

Oh, Yeah, Baby! Hotclue Cooks! (NOT)

So here’s the deal. I thought I’d make some chocolate chip cookies and fudge for Count Babbalallapaloozo to thank him for the trip to Barbados last week, where I had my first wind-surfing lesson and sailed through them with not too many mishaps. Oh, I’m sure the snack bar on the beach will be just fine once they get the roof repairs finished, and truthfully, they needed a new dock anyhow. That’s a good thing, right? A new dock? AND a new roof?

Anyhow, it’s the Holiday Season, so as usual, I get this wild hair up my…well, I do like to at least TRY to bake something during this lovely season, so first I headed for Sam’s, where they have the most delectable chocolate chip cookie mix in the world, figuring why mess with success. All you have to do is scoop it out and plop it on a cookie sheet, right? The directions say so anyhow.

So I scooped and plopped and shoved the whole thing into the oven, never dreaming that the cookie mix would…well…put it this way. This morning I learned how to make chocolate chip bars. That is, I would if you could cut it after it was baked, which took way more than any fifteen minutes like the directions said. I guess they meant for those little cookies, which I thought I was making.

Well, I made bars. Or rather, one great big huge bar that rose and spread and coughed and carried on and dripped in the oven, a conglomeration that only a sledgehammer could get through. Another Hotclue cooking experiment gone awry.

So I set that aside to deal with later and thought, well, okay, I’ll make the fudge now. The No-Fail Fudge they promised in the recipe. ANYBODY can make fudge. The recipe said so.

Well, not anybody. I’ve tried to make fudge before and have always wound up with something only your mother (or someone sleeping with you) could love, usually either something you need an industrial size jackhammer to plow through, or something you have to sip with a very large straw. But THIS recipe said NO Fail!

I did everything the recipe said. Every. Thing. I even did the soft ball in the cold water thing. Stirred and cooked and cooked and stirred and tested and stirred and wiped off the walls (the kitchen will only take a month or so to clean). I poured it out into a buttered pan and set it to harden just like they said, after I sprinkled festive tiny little red and green candy Christmas trees on top.

See, here’s the deal. The reason I decided on fudge in the first place was, I went into a baking supply shop a few weeks ago and they had these adorable little white and red and green paper candy cups so I bought some, mainly because they were so cute. And fudge, properly cut, would fit nicely into them. My signature dish for Holiday festivities, right?

I knew in my heart of hearts as I poured it into the pan that it was not going to harden. No matter what the recipe said, this fudge poured exactly like the last batch that I made. Or tried to make. It poured fast. Way too fast. Fast like I was going the time I tried to run a marathon and wondered why everybody else was going the wrong way.

I have a question. Why is they tell you to butter the pan when you have to beg and plead and finally scoop it out anyhow?

So here I am, trying to make fudge for The Count, and it’s the right color because he likes milk chocolate fudge, which ticked me off royally because I like dark fudge, dammit! But it is never, ever going to cut into neat little squares which I can slide neatly out and put, decorated side up, into those cute little paper cups.

I’m doomed.

Or–wait! I wonder if The Count likes Hot Fudge Sundaes?

I hope you’re having better luck than I’m having right about now. Here’s wishing you all successful fudge making and cookie making and whatever else you’re making. God love ya.

And hey, By the way, I have a very nice little Christmas Eve 2006 Word Picture thingie I’m going to put up here for y’all on the 15th, so come back, ya hear me? You have to, because I can’t make fudge but I do love y’all, you KNOW I do!

Hotclue the Hapless

Happy Holiday | 6 Comments  

July 2, 2006

Fourth of July, USA

Come on, sing along with me, I know you know this tune if you live in the USA:

“You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
Under Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag;
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.”

Love that song. Love the Fourth of July. And I love this United States of America. I often think how lucky I am to have been born here.

Not that I don’t love other countries. Most all countries have their beautiful spots and their wonderful regional food and their lovely people. But I’m always glad to come back home.

It’s the little things I love here in the USA. Listening to Sinatra when he sang “The House I Live In” has always, all through my life whenever I’ve heard it, touched me. I rarely hear that song without feeling tears well up, because it described life in the USA so well. But guess what. It still describes life in the USA.

Small-town USA Fourth of July parades, where everyone salutes when our American flag passes by, and everyone winds up in a park or a field on the outer edges of town where American families, no matter what their original nationality or race or religion, sit at long wooden tables for their Fourth of July picnic. We still do that, you know. We do. You don’t see it very often in the bigger cities, but they’re still here, and we’re still laughing at hilariously sloppy watermelon eating contests, scarfing down grilled hot dogs and corn on the cob and lemonade, kids still run around with their sparklers after it gets dark. It’s all still here. For you guys and women overseas, wherever you are, it’s all still here, waiting for you.

I love driving through my town on holiday weekends like this one and seeing American flags hanging from their poles in front yards everywhere. We still do that. We’ll always do it.

I love watching the fireworks on Fourth of July night. They’re so beautiful. SO beautiful! And even listening to the Boston Pops with fireworks in the background on television is beautiful if I’m not able to get out that night. My emotions are just as stirred.

I once drove back up to Chicago on Fourth of July night and every town we passed was having their fireworks display, almost as if they’d timed them so we could see almost all of them. Magic nights like that don’t happen very often, but they happen.

They’re still here.

I even love the constant political arguments in Washington, D.C. because it says, to me, that at least we can still argue like one big dysfunctional family, because that’s what we are, you know. And dysfunctional though we may be at the moment, we’re still family, and while we all get riled up at times, at least we can say we’re riled up without being afraid of getting arrested or shot for it.

One of the most touching Fourth of July events I ever attended, which kept me in tears the entire time, was in a very small town further down in Illinois where the parade couldn’t have been more than three blocks long, if that. It wound up in the middle of town at a statue, where all the older men who belonged to the VFW took part in a ceremony that ended with them all standing, even the ones in wheelchairs, and saluting our flag while the small band played America the Beautiful. That song always makes me cry. They played it at my stepfather’s funeral, so eloquently appropriate, because he deeply loved this country and wasn’t ashamed to say so.

We have our cherished traditions, and like Tevya, who describes it so well in Fiddler on the Roof, we know what they are and we continue them. We always will. No matter who objects to our American Flag, we’re still going to fly it whenever we want, wherever we want. As long as it still flies, that’s all that matters.

It’s still our Grand Old Flag.

Well, y’all, I’m going to hop into my itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini and go lie out in the sun a while, sipping lemonade, occasionally rolling into the shade under my red, white and blue beach umbrella.

Goofy as I am most of the time, I’m still one of the most patriotic people you’ll ever meet in your life and I love this country with a passion. So ta ta for now, thank you so much for stopping by, and don’t forget to keep humming the song at the top of this blog post.

I know you will. You won’t be able not to. That’s why I put it there. 😉

Love y’all, come back soon,

Happy Holiday | 1 Comment  

May 29, 2006


This is Beth Anderson, substituting for Hotclue today, since she’s off on vacation in Florida.

I want to take this day to honor all of our service men and women, both past and present, who have given so much of themselves over the years so that the rest of us are free to do all the things Americans love to do on Memorial Day.

The cookouts. The family visits. Steak or hot dogs on the grill, it doesn’t matter what the menu, it’s the human connection that matters. Swimming, if you’re anywhere around water. Watching the Indianapolis 500 every Memorial Day weekend–an American pastime if I ever saw one. There’s nothing else like it anywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever missed Indy since I became aware of it.

I love the Indy 500. The crowds, the balloons, the Air Force flying over. The National Anthem, whether we can sing it or not–it’s still our Anthem and we still sing it. Jim Nabors singing Back Home Again in Indiana. The only thing that comes even close to that is during the Kentucky Derby, when we all sing My Old Kentucky Home whether we’ve ever had a home in Kentucky or not. In both cases, it’s easy to pretend, even if only for as long as it takes to sing it, that we are Back Home Again in those places where life is simpler and neighbors still trade cups of sugar and babysitting and share good times grilling out back.

Even though the vast majority of us right now are very much against having our young men and women in such a far-away, dangerous place as the Mideast, still, they’re there, and we cherish every one of them. They deserve their day.

No war is ever popular. Most of them, in my opinion, should never have happened. But they do happen whether the reasons are valid or not, and we have courageous men and women who go far from home to fight them, giving up all of the things themselves that they’re fighting for.

Some come home okay, although forever changed. Some come home with devastating external and internal damage. And some come home in boxes.

Whether we’re supposed to realize this or not, there’s still the unmistakeable fact that over 2,500 of those boxes have come home with the bodies of our sons and daughters who will never laugh again, or barbecue again, or hold their loved ones again, or see an Indy 500 again. The thought of 2,500 flag-covered caskets all at one time boggles my mind, but we must think of it, because every one of them did what they did for us.

In addition to that, what about countless family members who are left behind to grieve. Our war dead aren’t the only collateral damage, as those who sign us into war like to describe it.

Think about it. For every one of those names on the Vietnem Wall, there are many more people left behind whose lives have also been changed forever, and not for the better.

God bless every one of our Armed Forces, both dead and alive, and all of those in all previous wars who have gone before them.

And God Bless America. We need all the help we can get.

Love on this beautiful day, and thank you for stopping by. Please come back, I know Hotclue would love to see you.

Happy Holiday | Comments  

May 14, 2006


Ha! I bet you thought I was going to say something like, “Hotclue Does Houston”, right? Who knows, I might yet.

Right now, it’s 2:00 A.M. on Mother’s Day, I can’t sleep and in fact, I’m wired and my Hotclueieness is rolling over me like an eighteen-wheeler hurtling down Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway, so now’s a good time to snitch–I mean, tell you about Beth Anderson, the mother, who doubles as Beth Anderson, the author. A triple threat when you add me to the mix.

Sounds derogarory, doesn’t it. Calling her a mother, I mean.

Well, sometimes it is.

Beth’s the kind of mother who (or is that whom? EDITOR, OH EDITOR!) her children don’t really think of as a mother, but more like an addled woman-child playing hopscotch and tra-la-la skipping through life while she forms tremendous, award-winning bubbles with THEIR bubblegum. I have to tell you, that’s a pretty accurate description, and I take full credit for most of her goofiness throughout her years of somehow coping with motherhood.

I’ve been around a long time, although she didn’t know I was here until recently–well after she started writing, in fact, which probably says something profound about the stressfulness of Writing Novels and Getting Them Published. As soon as I figure out which part is profound, I’ll let you know.

Anyhow, as absolute proof of her innate but unmistakeable outrageousness, she received a Mother’s Day card yesterday from her middle child (which should tell you that the child is hopelessly warped anyhow, even if she wasn’t Beth’s daughter). On the front of the card it says, “When we were growing up, a lot of times running away seemed like a good idea.” On the inside it says, “But you never did.”

Both Beth and I are still laughing about that because it’s so perfect. It says it all. She might even keep that one. Well, it’s possible. (This should give them something to look for when she’s gone, just trying to find it.)

When all four of her children get together, they love to torment her about the time she took one of her grandbambinos down a huge rolling sliding board and got stuck halfway and had to do her inchworm act to get the rest of the way down. They all laughed so hard they peed (somehow tinkled sounds so prissy so I won’t use it) their pants. She never told them this, but I’m telling you now: So did she.

There was the time when she was babysitting two of the grandbambinas and got bored, so she (although I instigated this) said to the girls, “Let’s blow up some balloons and put them in the trash compactor and see how loud they blow up.” Naturally, being the adventurous kids they are, and I’m speaking of all three of them now, they loved the idea. The noise was tremendous, and thus her reputation was established with the little girls when they were at a very tender age. They’ve never fully recovered, although the fact that their other grandmother is perfectly normal should help them out somewhat.

Her son once told her, in a moment of deep reflection, “Ah…you were okay as a mom, you just never grew up.” She’s still trying to figure that out, although she has to acknowledge the wisdom of it. Or maybe she’s just trying to figure out how come he GOT so much wisdom, having sprung, unsuspecting, from her loins.

Her daughters love to say she’s not the normal mom everyone else had, the cookies and milk kind of mom, don’tchaknow, which has resulted in her, every Christmas SINCE they grew up, making tons of cookies, which nobody ever eats, probably because the sight of homemade cookies is so unfamiliar.

Or maybe it’s because once when she made some really gorgeous ones, she wouldn’t let anybody eat them because they were too beautiful to eat. The grandbambinas are still traumatized over that and no amount of cookies now will tempt them. Oreos are just fine, thankyouverymuch. Their parents were raised on Oreos, and as often happens in severely dysfunctional families, the Oreo dysfunction has filtered down to the next generation.

At the risk of becoming maudlin (Oh, God, NO, Beth has something sentimental she wants to say! Please, NO! SCREEEEM!) she wants to say thank you to all four of her children, Debbie, Rick, Barb, and Beth Lyn, for letting her be their mom, such as she is.

It’s been fun, guys. Well, most of the time. And don’t worry. I’m never going to change. In fact, now that you know there are two of me, Hotclue and I will continue conspiring to fill your lives with adventure and oddballness, as well as love.

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!
The Hotclue
(aided and abetted by Beth every once in a while, when they let her out of The Home.)

Happy Holiday | 6 Comments  







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