Monday, December 31, 2018

The New Year Is Upon Us

Shall I cue the return of blogging organization with the new year? Perhaps, perhaps not. We shall see. I was doing so well for a while there. Mayhap I will discover again the thing that is called an organized schedule of tasks for different days.

This past year passed so quickly in one sense and yet also seemed to fill in the space of more than just a year. Without going into detail, there has been so much ground I've covered in this year. And also so little.

I came home today delighted by my Victorian Christmas tree and my Victorian etagere and my books and my coffee table and my new record player. And I just . . . am glad of where I have come to be. Even while there is so much more to settle, there is also so much that has been settled.

When you're at that point that you look around and you like the progress that your life has been through. Maybe there is plenty more to go, but you're glad for what has progressed. In the last year or so, I have learned the practice of continual thanks and that has enhanced my ability to enjoy everything.

I see everything on a different plane now. Places, people, moments. Beauty has such a strong and different meaning from the general one.

I feel like I have so much more to give to my second book than I did to my first one--and yet I never seem to take the time to work on it for more than brief moments here and there. In a way, though, I think that this might be okay because maybe I will be better capable of working through it later than at the current moment. Maybe stewing is good.

I know everything and nothing.

I am alive and you are alive and it is good that we are alive. Let's live.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Theo: Root Beer Barrel Dark Chocolate

Theo's Root Beer Barrel bar is the second of their no-longer-new chocolates that I've been wanting to try for quite a while now. My head skipped over the "barrel" part and was just thinking of root beer the soda, but it turns out that Theo was going for root beer barrel candy rather than the soda. Being of the younger generation, that candy wasn't the first thing to come to mind, though I definitely do remember them. Hmm. Even though they're more of a nostalgia candy and I do tend to love the nostalgia candy, I don't think I usually see them for sale with other such candy. I can't think of seeing them for sale anywhere in particular; I just know that I do remember eating them. The idea of root beer barrel chocolate, in any case, is definitely what I would call a unique concept.

By the time this chocolate bar came to be unwrapped by me, it wasn't looking too pretty anymore, so I would almost rather skip photographing it at all. However, I did desire to capture this little gem peeking out; it's the candy element that I hadn't been expecting when I at first thought of simply root beer soda. But if you're going for root beer barrel candy, then a crunchy candy element makes sense.

Along with the Theo dark chocolate aroma (this is their 55% cocoa), this bar does have a distinct root beer scent to it. Though I'm not at all a soda person (surprise, surprise, eh?), root beer is the one I have more affection for (along with cream soda). It has that old-fashioned flavor and feel that takes you back to the young days of soda, the days in which you went out to the soda fountain to get a drink instead of buying it by the liter at the grocery store.

You'll want to crunch slightly into this chocolate to get into the flavor. Then you'll start getting that root beer taste along with the sugared candy flavor, all kind of enveloped in the chocolate. It's unique without feeling weird. That spritzy root beer taste springing around rather amazes me: it tastes just right. And the sugary bit is in the perfect balance, just enough to give that reminder of candy. The chocolate, as well, comes in with the correct proportion. It's dark enough to hold its own and keep the piece from being candy while also not so dark as to lose that sense of whimsy.

I definitely recommend this one. It's what nostalgia chocolate or novelty chocolate should be. It's what casual chocolate should be. It's what flavor experiments should be. It's a lot of fun and it tastes good and it's good quality. It's exactly the type of product that Theo continues to deliver so well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Oz on the Big Screen

While it is an experience to watch a movie for the first time on the big screen, it is equally so to see a movie that you've seen many times before on the home screen on the big screen for the first time. The movie in question right now is The Wizard of Oz.

What a grand and great spectacle is The Wizard of Oz. The visuals and the acting and the music and the effects. I used to watch this movie so often, along with the making of material that would play along with the VHS rental. And yet still there were, on the big screen, things that I had never quite noticed before. Small things in a corner of the frame or just details that needed more space to come across. So much detail.

It's like watching a movie for the first time; it really is. Imagining that this audience is the audience that sat to watch this movie when it first came out back in the thirties. The excitement as the tornado gets stronger and closer. The awe when the film turns all at once to color when you reach Oz. The merriment of meeting the Scarecrow, the first of Dorothy's new friends and travel companions. 

When I was younger, probably it was all of the visuals that drew me in to this movie. Now I greatly appreciate its theme. The theme is appreciating what you have. Dorothy realizes that she has friends and family that she cares about and who care about her and that she wouldn't trade those relationships for anything. The Wizard of Oz may not be a holiday film, but reflecting on it during the Thanksgiving to Christmas time has felt entirely fitting. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Holidays Commence

Each holiday season keeps developing anew. This year there was much more to go along with Halloween . . . and also a little less. I have a few Halloween decorations but I didn't even put them out because I simply didn't feel like it. Thanksgiving I went for in full force with my usual flocks of turkeys and Thanksgiving day itself, while nice, slipped by so quickly in favor of a very busy Black Friday weekend.

My head emerged to find that, in and out of it all, I managed to put up my tree and various other dressings. It looks festive . . . and yet it took me a moment to be able to look over and be pleased that it was festive. My eyes were at first still a little tuned out to Christmas lights and all.

I also stumbled into Southwest Shakespeare's Holiday Show. Once more, I'd been certain that I wouldn't be able to go, so I'd been in the mindset that I didn't need to see it. Suddenly, though, there I was, making my way over to Taliesin West. Taliesin. Taliesin is always worth a little trip with the way that it's nestled among the saguaros a step out away from the city. The show itself was a sort of mix of music and sketches, Christmas mainly with a touch of Hanukkah. A casual and merry concoction to usher in holiday time.

While I don't involve Santa in any of my Christmas decorations or traditions, I've realized that The Samta Clause is one of my favorite Christmas movies (along with Mickey's Christmas Carol). So some eggnog and the movie and some of the last of the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie one night also started to set the tone.

Maybe it was the Christmas shopping that set me off, too. Usually I have most of my Christmas shopping done by November; this year I had barely started. So digging in to that and getting started on, ahem, stocking things (I have always loved the idea of candy; home videos of me on Christmas morning at two years old will verify this) started to settle me in.

Not that I think Christmas is all about gifting and decorations (which is part of the reason why I like to shop early: so that by the time the season actually starts, I'm done thinking about gifts). Christmas is also about light and about new beginnings and about joy and about accepting the light and sharing the light and enjoying the light together.

This year I finally bought a star for my tree. I have a Victorian-esque tree with just "candles" and pinecones and a few berries. I'd been holding out on buying a star until I found one that I really liked. This one is from Balsam Hill. It's covered in beads and the beads catch the light from the tree.

Let's catch and spread the light this Christmastime.