December 18th, 2006

charlie 2012 beige

Thanks, United States Postal Service. Not.

Late Saturday -- after my mail had already been delivered earlier in the day -- I head out the front door. There I find one of those plastic mail bins. Inside is carton that's completely wrapped up in plastic.

Interesting that it was brought by separately, isn't it? It's like my postal delivery person was ashamed to have me see this when the other mail was delivered!

So I head to the neighbors (as planned) -- but when I get back I bring the bin inside and lift out the package.

It's the most crushed box I've ever held in my hands -- and even with the plastic wrapped around it, it's soaking wet. On the outside is a big white sticker from the USPS that reads 'We Care.'

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I feel bad for my friend who spent a lot of time to select and carefully wrap all the gifts inside the box. Then she spent a lot to mail this, as well.

I need to phone her (long distance) and thank her for the gifts. But I couldn't get myself to do it today. I can't decide whether or not to tell her about this. But if I try not to, I'm a terrible liar -- so I'd have a hard time omitting this news. (sigh)

Shouldn't the USPS have to at least compensate her for the expense of the postage?

Do they seriously expect the 'We Care' apology to make up for the incompetence displayed here? I mean, come on now!

By the way, I had to take the photos of the box in my bathtub, because of the wet mess. (And the whole house reeked of the scent of bubble gum...)

Anyway, I'm cross-posting this to bad_service (a community I just joined)...

charlie 2012 beige

A Very Scat Christmas to You! The Caganer and Caga Tio of Catalonia

My friend Harini asnpersuasion83 mentioned an interesting and unusual traditon in this entry that has to do with a tradition in Catalonia that has taken place since at least the 16th century -- the inclusion of the caganer (quite literally translated as 'a shitter') as part of their nativity scene. In the home this little man is placed discreetly in the background of the manger (and I have a nice little YouTube clip I'll share that explains why). Children have fun hunting for and discovering him each year.

caganer 3

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By the way, I have a few 'scat friends' who should find this whole thing really fascinating! (grin) Personally, I see no reason to find it too odd. To me there's something special about the humor and reality involved here. (And I have a hunch my dad would have loved hearing about this...)

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And another aspect of the Catalan scatalogical tradition is Caga Tio, who is a log-man that resides in the home from December 8 until Christmas Eve (or sometimes Christmas Day). For the record, it appears that this tradition varies somewhat from city to city and home to home -- but basically it has to do with a Yule log that's been made to resemble a man:

Caga Tio 1

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I read here:

"The Christmas tree is not really Spanish," says Montse Vilarrubla, the Spanish teacher who took us on a tour round the Feria. "We've only really had them since the 60s. What's traditional is the crib and, here in Catalonia, the cagatio."

The cagatio is a log, with a face painted on it, wearing a barretina, the red hat of traditional peasant costume. On Christmas Day, it's hidden under a blanket and the kids beat it with a stick, singing a rather rude little song that asks it to -- if you'll excuse the expression -- "shit" presents. Pilar Diaz, the second Spanish teacher who came with us, explained that the scatological thing is in fact a serious symbol of fertility for the next year.

Some of the places I investigated seemed upset that this tradition of the cagatio shitting out small gifts was being replaced with really large presents (like PlayStations) in recent years -- and it is a bit more difficult to imagine the log pooping out something that big, isn't it?

I forgot to mention that there are numerous Caga Tio songs that are sung by the children during the beating with sticks. (I discovered one list of more than 20 songs!) Apparently each area and/or family has a song that's traditional...

So... is this at all like Santa, where little kids believe him to be real? Do Catalan children ever believe the log is actually alive, for example? Do they ever believe it really does shit out the gifts? I smile to think of it...

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I also went to YouTube and found a few videos that focus on both the caganer and Caga Tio, which I'll share under the cut. Some are documentary-style, with actual factual information -- while others are humorous in nature.

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You learn something new (and interesting!) every day -- if you're lucky!
charlie 2012 beige

Merry Christmas Neighbors, 2006!

I had to be a bit more inventive (creative?) this year, with our limited Christmas budget. So I kind of gathered some small things and combined them into a Christmas plate to give to our various neighbors.

This was the final result:
Neighbor gift - final (small)

I found cute plates to use. Then I added a small box of Mrs. Fields chocolate. Next was a bag of Jack Daniels Coffee. Finally I tossed in a few candy canes and other candy.

I wrapped all this before adding some Simmering Wax (in tree shapes and Evergreen fragrance). Then I added another layer of plastic wrap (in a darling design this year), plus a tree ornament, bow, label and gold embossed label. They're not all that much, but I think they turned out pretty nice, really!

Marilyn mistressmarilyn and I give to several neighbors, plus to our mailman (person), yard man and his family, Donn and Denise (he's our computer guy) -- as well as to the garbage men and recycling crew.

It's too late to start taking them out today, I think (almost 5:00 p.m.). I haven't really decided about that yet! Anyway, they're all ready now when I decide to go. (whew)

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Another Christmas task out of the way, anyway... (smile)

IDIOT! Um... I just tried to put my tags in the 'music' line. I guess that the tags used to be there before, huh? So I'm still struggling with the changes to the Update page, lucky me. (sigh)