Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

I haven't posted in a few days. I've been working on a picture in colored pencil and I was having some trouble with it. It's kind of slow going because you are working with the small pencil point and you can't just color something. You have to build layers of color, then blend, to smooth it out, with white. I had a little trouble picking out the colors in my containers. I have them all sorted so they are easy to find. (I thought!) However, at night, I couldn't find the white, light blue, cream, or the flesh colors. So, I switched colors. Hopefully, with more layering and blending, I am going to be more satisfied with it. Maybe it is just me! I envisioned my main figure in a light blue outfit with a white scarf. But, I ended up with turquoise, green, peacock blue, and turquoise and white in her scarf. Maybe I will be more satisfied with it when it is finished.
Note that I have added a new link to an artist in my More Artists section on the sidebar. William Hessian has a blog on bearded bunnies that he creates, which reminded me of the flower pot bunnies that my students made. (See the post below with instructions and pictures).
Scroll all the way down to the bottom of my page to see my guest book, if you haven't already.
Night Lights
Acrylic on Paper
Confetti In The Dark
Acrylic on Paper

I have posted the above paintings before in my Vison postings. These are some of the things I saw last January when I got my injection of Lucentis in my eye for wet Macular Degeneration. I thought that it looked like a parade at night, or a celebration. The fireworks are actually the way that I see various outdoor lights. Appropriate for New Years Eve.

We don't usually have a big celebration. We just watch tv, maybe a movie on tv, until midnight. Then we have champagne or egg nog, and maybe a little snack and the kids throw confetti. They go out on the porch and throw "poppers" down, which make a noise like firecrackers. Safe and no fire that way! (We've had to be careful about fire due to drought conditions in recent years, although this year we are okay. )

Then, we go to bed. Well, the family does, and I watch tv, do some art work, or work on the computer.

When I was growing up in Calvert, we didn't really celebrate New Years Eve. We watched tv, drank Coca Cola, or, if it was cold, Daddy told my mother to make some hot chocolate. One year, we discovered hot Dr. Pepper with a little lemon in it and tried that when it was cold. We might have crackers with peanut butter or cheese or a marshmallow on top, which Mama put in the oven to toast. Daddy also liked to roast peanuts on a pan in the oven, or have pecans, and spend the evening cracking and eating them while we watched tv.

Daddy always wanted us in bed early so he could sleep. He would stay up to watch the news, and that was the celebration.

Night owl that I was, I would lay in the bed and wait to see the magical changes that would occur with the arrival of a new year. Would the New Year Baby come floating in from the skies and the Old Year float up to the sky, never to be seen again? Would the world come to an end? Would we all feel a difference? Above all, would I be different after midnight?

I waited, sometimes with my heart pounding, anxious to see what midnight might bring, and a little afraid that it would be something really bad and scarey.

At midnight, the deep knoll of a bell rang out across the neigborhood. Charlie, on the corner, had an old bell from a school out in their yard, and, at midnight, that bell would welcome in the new year. Somewhere in town, we could hear firecrackers popping, and, sometimes, a few left- over- from- Christmas Roman Candles would burst above the trees. Dogs in the distance began barking and howling, sending communication across town, and our own dog would join in until the fireworks were silent again.

My sister slept, my parents slept, but I was wide awake, thinking that we should be doing something.

"Daddy! Did you hear that?" I demanded. Charlie rang the bell. It's midnight! The new year!" I went into my parents' room and tried to wake them. Other people were up. We should be, too.

"Okay," my mother said sleepily, and turned over.

"Get back in bed!" Daddy said and began his earth shattering snoring again.

I couldn't sleep with all that snoring, anyway, and I had to look outside to make sure that our neighborhood was still okay. I sat up in bed, looking out the window.

The neighborhood was still there, but would it be in the morning? I looked toward the park, where there were street lights throwing a soft glow at each corner. And at the street light on the corner by Edie's house. Sometimes I could see cats stalking their prey of bugs around the street light. An occasional dog would pass by, or even a fox that wandered in from the country.

I could imagine older men and ladies out dancing, going places in cars, eating fabulous food in magnificent settings. People on trains and buses going through town, bound for somewhere. Couples were probably snuggling together somewhere. People would be going to movies or wandering along window shopping. Some would be wearing beautiful clothes to parties in beautiful homes. Champagne would flow and fireworks would explode in the air. Some people would take their children out to set off fireworks to welcome in the new year, others might be in church. There were even people who had pretty mixed drinks or egg nog with actual nog in it. So much was going on in the world, and here we were, in our beds, in the dark.

I lined up my baby dolls, covered them, and cuddled one in my arms. One of the cats would wander by and curl up beside me or walk leisurely across the window sill as I watched.

"One of these days, I'm going to grow up and I am not going to bed early! I'm going to be out there where life is happening!" I vowed in a whisper to my doll and my cat. I didn't want to wake Daddy and have him yell at me to go to sleep again.

The cooing of Mourning Doves that made their home in the park and the cemetery, began about the time the sky lightened and turned pink in the east. About time for me to go to sleep.

Yes, the world was still all there, I was still the same person as was everyone else. I hadn't seen a baby floating in the air down to earth, or an old man floating up to the sky. We had not experienced a fiery end to the earth as they had talked about in Sunday School.

The street lights on the corner turned off. Cars started to be heard around town. Mama got up and went into the kitchen to make coffee and start breakfast for Daddy. Soon Daddy would be at the table, in his underwear, ready for a big plate of food.

I remember one memorable New Years Eve, after I was grown and had returned home. My cousin, Doris, loved to go dancing, and so did I. She was a young widow and I was divorced. We decided that we were going to go out and celebrate, for a change, and dance. So, we dressed up.

I left my children with my mother, and she left her's with a neighbor. I had a big Oldsmobile 98 (great car!) and we took that. I depended on her to navigate and tell me where the dance halls were. She usually went dancing with a group of ladies. But they all had plans this New Years Eve.

We drove west to a big dance hall in an area that I was not familiar with. As the evening progressed, there were too many people there. You couldn't dance for all the people crowded together and there were no places to sit. Some were already tipsy and loud.

"Do you want to try somewhere else?" she asked.

"Sure. This is terrible!" I said. And we left.

By now, it was dark, but still a warm evening.

As I drove, mist started to form and it seemed hazy. I turned on the defroster. It wasn't inside, but outside on the windshield. Fog was rolling in, rapidly. We aren't on the coast, so I thought that was odd. I could understand rain, or cold, or even snow, but not fog this time of year.

Soon, I couldn't see the road and we were trying to remember strategies for driving in fog! I tried to guide the car by looking at the stripe beside the car, or the side of the road. Doris couldn't see either and I was depending on her to navigate.

Finally, we saw a sign that said "Bryan", or we could take another turn and go home, by way of a country road that we weren't familiar with and where we knew there would be no lights or businesses along the way.

"If we go to Bryan, we can go dancing there. Or, we can just get on Highway 6 and go home." Doris told me. She couldn't think of another good place to dance that we would be able to find.

We headed for Bryan. At least there would be lights in town and more cars on the highway. If worst came to worse, we could get a room and spend the night at a motel there.

We went creeping along, looking at the edge of the highway. We got to Bryan about midnight, which we heard about on the radio.

"I can't afford a room," I told her.

"I can't either, " she said.

"Should we try to make it home?" I asked. My hands were sweating from nervousness as I tried to drive. I was holding my breath a lot!

"If you want to try it, we might as well go home. It's past midnight, anyway. These places are more expensive and some require reservations. I just hoped that we could find a good place to dance," she advised.

We turned north to go home, driving past several dancing places, where people were leaving. We were disappointed. I thought of the few dollars I had with me, enough to buy one or two drinks, if I could find something really cheap, and a small cover charge, if there was one. I could use that money, but we had missed out on the evening that we had hoped for.

As we left the city and drove into the dark stretch of highway, the fog cleared, and we could see stars. We could also see the highway clearly and sped home.

"Well, at least we got out of the house tonight, "Doris said as she got out of the car. "See you later."

" Yep, we sure did. See you. " I said as she closed the door.

There were other times, of course, when there were dates and dancing, parties, or even sadness and lonliness.

Another year, when I was grown, and back at home, a family moved to town from another state. They invited lots of people from town to come to their house for a party. We had lots of older people in town and not many young people, so the crowd was definitely mature and sort of settled. Some had traveled around, and had lived other places, so they were not so set on gong to bed when there was a party. There was much merriment and food, along with talk about the town and its ways, during the evening.

By midnight, people were full of good food, and talked of getting their coats and going home.

"Oh, no! You're not going yet, "our host exclaimed. "We have to see the New Year in!"

So, everyone stayed.

At midnight, Charlie's bell rang from his yard, firecrackers began to pop around town, and dogs began barking.

"Y'all come out on the porch. We've got to do something to see the New Year in!' Our host and hostess ushered us all out to the wide front porch.

Suddenly, the host pulled out a pistol and aimed it into the trees. He was smiling.

"Oh my God! These strangers are going to kill us all, right here at the Methodist Parsonage!" I thought.

"What are you going to do with that gun?" one of the elderly women asked.

"You can't shoot that in town," a man announced.

"Sure. We do it all the time back home," the host said. "How else would you make noise at midnight!"

"I've never heard of such a thing, " one Sunday School teacher said in her school teacher voice.

Everyone but the host and hostess agreed with her. You didn't shoot guns in town unless you were the law. Or if there was a mad dog, a snake, or some critter that you had to protect yourself from. Men had 22s or rifles that they took out to the country when they worked cattle and their land, in case they had to shoot a wolf or coyote or a wild dog that might attack the livestock. The city policemen had pistols, the Texas Ranger had a pistol, Highway Patrolmen had pistols and other guns, but most ordinarly people kept their guns put away at home, if they had a gun. Daddy had a 22 in the closet, but he had cattle and went out into the country. Grandpa and my great-uncle had a shotgun at the store. Grandpa had used it in the days when he went hunting. One time, the store was broken into and the shotgun was stolen. The police recovered the gun but it had been sawed off. They still kept it in case they ever needed it for protection. They never used it, though.

"Someone could get hurt," her neighbor said.

"Nah," the host said as he aimed the pistol at different places above the trees that lined the sidewalk.

I just smiled, ready to run inside if bullets started flying, not wanting to appear like I was afraid. I didn't really know these people. No one did. Who knows but what they might be murderers or some kind of nuts, or even just plain careless. I was sure that fleeting thought was wrong and just a wild imagination, there in the dark. I just hoped that the policeman would not come up there and fuss at us, or give us tickets, for shooting a gun in town.

Our host aimed the pistol once again and pulled the trigger this time. There was a bang and the bullet just disappeard. It didn't appear to hit anything. We were all under cover of the porch, so, if the bullet fell back down, it didn't fall in our direction.

Okay, he had that out of his system and we could all go home now. We went back in the house, with no one hurt, except our nerves a bit. We gathered our things from the bedroom and left.

"Nice party. Thanks." People left, politely, going back to their usual quiet lives without guns.

"I hope they don't ever do that again!" I told my mother when I got back home. The party was okay, but I never heard of shooting off a gun instead of fireworks. I thought I heard that was dangerous. Those bullets can fall back down and hit someone."

I wondered if that was really a custom back in their home, which happened to be where my mother's mother was from. My mother didn't know.

Daddy was celebrating again with much snoring in the bed and she would soon join him .

I would go to bed, look at my sleeping child, and watch out the window for the new year coming in, the old year floating up to the sky, and hope that this would not be the night that they talked about in Sunday School. The lights still shone from the corner by the park, the cats still sought bugs under the light, dogs barked, spreading their message around town. Lights from trains still could be seen coming over the hill from Hearne, and there would be sounds of distant cars, trucks, and buses on the highway going through town. When the sky turned light and pink in the east, and the Mourning Doves began to coo in the park, the new day and the new year would be there, and it would be time to sleep. Just like in other years.

This would be a good night to enjoy the end of 2007, but also to reflect and look forward. A time to start a new journal, make out New Years Resolutions, after going to a good party or dance.

We always have taken down our Christmas decorations and made sure the tree was out of the house before midnight on New Year's Eve to avoid bad luck in the coming year. This year, the decorations are down. But, I put the little tree back in the window, added a string of lights to the window sill, and turned them on this afternoon. I'll be sure that they are put away before midnight, but I like to enjoy all the color of Christmas as long as possible. It's so drab and sad when all those colorful things are gone after Christmas. I can see why some people leave their things up all year, and why those little white lights have become so popular in decorating.


(Throwing a little confetti your way. Since it is e-mail confetti, it won't be so hard to clean up! And my "fireworks" are exploding above, silently.)

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