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Monday, December 31, 2012
I finally got B.A. to watch Harold and Maude.

B.A. did not like Harold and Maude. Harold and Maude does not make it to the Anglo-Catholic Conversion to Roman Catholicism (via Usus Antiqiuor) Top Film List.

"That was a hippy film," pronounced B.A., whose eyebrows were still in a tent shape. "That had hippy, hippy, hippy values!"

Later he said, "I still love you even though you like that film."

So now we are going to watch Two Fat Ladies.

Update: "It was bad hippy! It was evil hippy! It was at least irresponsible hippy!"

Update 2: Edinburgh Castle fireworks beautifully visible from warmth of sitting-room. No need to clamber about on nasty wet roof!

Happy 2013

Cheers! Wishing you and your New Years Eve full of glitter, upside down champagne bottles, opened & empty ring boxes and so much fun that you clean up tomorrow. With all the pretty, dainty New Years Eve shoots out there, I wanted to create a beautiful, fun, hot mess...the true look of an after party! R&R's vintage film photography's take on the photos gives it that fuzzy..wake up in the morning and see the mess...look that we wanted! Love!

[Photos: R&R Vintage Film Photography. Style & Sparkle: elleDesigns]

Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year!

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our past and future clients and our suppliers a very Happy New Year!
We are off to sparkle :)!

Annabel Lily

Very excited to welcome to the world the newest elleDesigns' 20-30 years that is. Jill and her hubby's new beautiful baby girl, Annabel Lily! Annabel is also my husband and my new God Daughter!!

We had some fun taking newborn pictures of her back in October and had to share this beauty!! 
Beautiful model made by Jill Jenkins. Photos by Elle Ellinghaus.



Love, Really

I hope you have something nice planned for New Year's Eve, for you will not be living any parties vicariously through me. B.A.'s idea was that we should sit on the roof and watch the fireworks exploding over Edinburgh Castle five miles away, but the idea fills me with vertiginous horror. The only other option is switching back between BBC Scotland and BBC Alba to watch the music, oh how exciting.

BBC Alba is the Gaelic channel, and therefore features what is probably more authentically Scottish music, at least in the minds of us boring Lowlanders otherwise stuck with The Proclaimers and Rod Stewart. There is fun to be had from guessing what the BBC Alba presenters are saying, e.g. "Och, Sean, it will be a surprise for Edinburgh when we launch our Highland independence movement, will it not, now?" "Och, aye, Angus, so it will, now." "I was thinking we ought to throw in our lot with Norway, so." "Och, aye, Sean. Better Oslo than those Sassenachs in Edinburgh. And now here's Rhodri MacTomais to sing 'A Cholla Ma Run'." Not much fun, but some.

I shall end the year's blogging by complaining about society's obsession with pair-bonding, especially at New Year's, when it is considered bad luck by some not to be kissed by somebody. At least the superstition is kind in that it doesn't say it has to be a boyfriend, husband or admirer who kisses you. It could be your mother. It could be your best friend. It could be the Jesuit scholastic in the car park outside the Newman Centre, and I will be forever grateful. Yay!

We have all kinds of relationships with all kinds of people, and if I were Queen of the World, I would pay pop singers to come up with songs to celebrate those relationships, too. For example, I think someone famous should compose and sing a song to celebrate that school principal and those teachers who died trying to protect their little students in Connecticut. At the gym I heard a song called something like "Let Me Love You Until You Learn to Love Yourself" which was the stupidest, most manipulative thing I have heard since I joined the gym and therefore started listening to Top 40 again. Why is there no song to celebrate the sacrificial love of teachers for their students?

Once upon a time there were lots of songs about Mother. Does no-one love Mother anymore? The only contemporary songs about Mother I can recall are Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares to You" and Sting's "Mother", and neither is particularly heartwarming. Are there any heartwarming (not sad and regretful) songs about Dad? Besides "Boy Called Sue", I mean.

Amazingly enough, there is one great song that suggests the relationship between Seraphic Singles readers and beautiful me, which is "How Will I Know?" So thank you, Whitney Houston, and thank you for the cameo of your godmother Aretha Franklin, which underscores this argument.

There are so many relationships that just do not get enough attention and credit, and I blame this for the tendency of my readers to write in saying that they "aren't in a relationship." Readers might not be in love with anyone, but you certainly are in relationships. Some of these relationships are intense, and some of them are not, but even the non-intense ones may be crucially important. I have non-intense relationships with the tea ladies at after-Mass tea, and frankly I think they are important to my life. After-Mass tea is a crucial part of Trid social life in Edinburgh, and the tea ladies are crucial to After-Mass tea. After Mass, I must have my tea, and there the tea ladies are, pouring it out.

Just off the top of my head, I have relationships with my mum, my dad, my oldest brother, my youngest brother, my oldest sister, my youngest sister, my oldest nephew, my youngest nephew, my niece, my sister-in-law, my sister-in-law's family, and my youngest nephew and niece's nanny Alisha. Just because all these people are across the ocean from me does not lessen the importance of the relationships.

I have a number of relationships with family members who have died. These are quiet, but still important. I pray for my dead, and presumably they are praying for me. I hope so.

Then I have relationships with my mentors and top editor, also across the ocean, and with a number of publishing people in Poland, across the Channel and a whole lot of fields.

I have relationships with the former professors I keep up with, and who keep up with me.

I have relationships with my girl-friends back in Canada, although all but one of them is terrible at correspondence. TERRIBLE. But that is okay, though, because when I visit, we just pick up where we left off, which is how friendship often works.

I even have relationships with a few men friends back in Canada, which are very non-intense, and mostly involve the occasional text message and maybe running into each other when I am back in town.

And I have relationships with friends in Edinburgh. I have older friends, whom I ask for advice, and I have younger friends, to whom I give advice. I have friends I made myself, and I have friends I inherited from B.A. I have teeny, tiny friends, whom I occasionally babysit. I have fellow parishioners to say hello to, visitors to the parish to welcome, a priest to support, and a cardinal archbishop to pray for. I have readers to pray for, too, and to write for before the majority (Americans) wake up in the morning.

And of course I have fleeting relationships with whoever else comes into my life, which means people on the bus, in the street, in shops and in the Historical House when they come to fix the shower or look for bats.

And then there is B.A., who is my husband, and for the record, if B.A. were the only person I had a relationship with, I would go crazy, and so would he. A husband is not a one-stop-shopping department store of the heart. Falling in love is not the tremendous fix-all that the pop songs make it sound like. If you do not have good relationships with at least some family members, some friends, some colleagues, some neighbours, you are probably not going to have a good relationship with a romantic interest, even (especially?) if you are married to him.

Germaine Greer writes in "the whole woman" (1999) of women's overwhelming need to love, and if I remember correctly (my copy is still overseas), she uses as an example of this the older woman who knits endless jumpers and scarves for younger relations who don't want them. (Knitting is how she gets out the painful burden of love.) Greer also marvels at women who long to follow men around and be around them all the time. She notes that the role of mother has been eclipsed by the role of wife, but I note that women's relationships in which they are neither mother, wife or mistress are almost totally ignored by pop culture. The sexualization of teachers, for example, is no longer a tendency to be discouraged but a theme of chart-topping boy band songs.

And this is really too bad because it is terrible for women, particularly the ones who have affectionate dispositions, to have our longing for connection and affectionate exchange, to have our feelings of benevolence and care, mistaken for emotional (at very least) promiscuity.

It is natural for women to care for older people--it is not evidence of a mother or father complex. It is natural for women to like babies and children, particularly our charges--it is not because we have frustrated maternal instincts. It is natural for women to care for younger adults, particularly our students or proteges--it is not because we are Stiffler's mom or secretly conniving Madame de Meurteuils--at least, very few of us are. It is natural for women to talk to the neighbours. It is natural for women to seek new friends.

What is not natural is to wrap oneself up in one romantic relationship--real or imaginary--and expect that or any romantic relationship to be the answer to all of life's ills. And therefore this New Year's Eve, I invite you all to think about the warm and life-affirming real-life relationships you have RIGHT NOW. Let's not think about the relationships we don't have (for me that would be physical motherhood) but about the relationships we do have. And then let's say a short Te Deum of thanks for them.

Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli;
tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestatis gloriae tuae.

Happy New Year, my little Singles!

A Bit of a Storm

Sunday, December 30, 2012
After another stellar day.  Some clouds moved in late afternoon.  The forecasts are a bit mixed on this one, but we ought to get a few inches by Tuesday morning.  Another big day for ski patrol out on the hill.  Lots of foot packing from Scudder to Lower International.  I just observed many people enjoying their last run in The 6th Alley.

Double Down Pass Reminder

Just a reminder, tomorrow, December 31 is the last day to purchase the 2-year Double Down Pass for $499.  If you already own an A-Basin pass, you can upgrade to the Double Down pass for the difference from $499 to whatever you paid already.

Great Sunset

Saturday, December 29, 2012
The weather today was just as forecast.  Cold in the morning, then warming into the 20's for a spectacular crisp mid-winter day.   The Ski Patrol footpacked Pali from East Avenue to the left side of The Face.  It seemed like everyone skiing or riding today was having a good time.  And we finished it off with a bright and colorful sunset over the The Ten Mile Range.

Our Best Ever Dressed Groom´s Tips!


We are currently working on our favourite weddings in 2012 to post, but in the meantime we are heading back to a gorgeous wedding we created in 2011 for Chris and Faye at the Finca de la Concepcion in Marbella.
 It seems that Chris is still taking the coveted title of best dressed groom and told me today he will hang onto this well earned title for his twilight years!
So many of our clients that read my blog are still asking me where Chris got his super stylish suit from :) 
I am sure I am now beginning to annoy Chris by constantly emailing him to ask him, so this time I have decided to publish his style file on our blog in order I never have to bother him again!
Chris and Faye have remained friends since their wedding here and we have been delighted to have met them for coffee whilst Faye was pregnant with little Harrison and now joyfully watch updates on Facebook and Instagram of their gorgeous little boy growing up!  We are hoping to meet the latest addition to this wonderful family, in the flesh, very soon :)
In the meantime let´s share with you Chris´s Coolest Groom Award Attire!
Chris´s lightweight blue/grey suit was off the peg from Reiss
Chris´s waistcoat, tie and pocket square were custom made. 
I think the dark sunglasses also did the trick to win our coolest groom award!
We hope this helps share some of our previous bride and groom tips with you.
Our gorgeous images are courtesy of Jeremy Standley Photography.
We will be back shortly with a gorgeous New Year´s Eve inspiration and our highlights of 2012 weddings.

The Narcotics Post

Once upon a time, a young relative left for university. I forget if they asked for advice, or if I just gave it. I may have begun the discussion with "Listen, about clubs..."

I believe the young relation smirked and said something like, "Don't get drunk?"

And I said something distinctly unPauline like, "I don't care if you get drunk, as long as you're with your friends, and you are always with your friends until you get home, and as long as you always keep an eye on your glass. No, I want to say, Don't take club drugs. They're horrible and you never know what's really in them."

So the young relative took that advice with him or her to university, and is still alive and sane today.

I was brought up in an ordinary (if rather old-fashioned and divorce-free) middle-class family, and although I have had economic ups and downs and various social crises and professional disappointments, I have always been okay, and I am sure this has something to do with the fact that I have never touched cocaine, heroin or the various club drugs on offer in the fair streets of Toronto and Boston and presumably in Edinburgh, one-time AIDS capital of the UK (not Europe, that was Barcelona).

This is not to say that I have not drunk too much on occasion, for I certainly have, most memorably at one party when I was 21, although my best friend Trish remembers that incident better than I do. Oh dear, dear, dear. Nor have I left the room in horror when the grass has come out although I must say seeing a 6'2" guy felled by the stuff like a tree was rather scary.

This is merely to say that there seems to be some fearful alchemy in narcotics that removes whatever magical protection lifelong middle-class-ness seems to provide and can send you to an earthly hell, so I have not messed with them.

I also have not messed with them because I always wanted to keep the moral high ground for conversations about drugs with my children, if I had any. The Baby Boom generation looked a bit foolish when it tried to have serious conversations about drugs with its children because of all the stuff it did at college. My mother, however, told us at least five times that she had once been invited to a party where there had been marijuana, but she hadn't gone because she had just washed her hair and it was in curlers.

Hello, whatever, when I was seventeen, I was hearing about coke parties from my fellow barista down at the cafe. And although I had a keen desire to have wonderful adventures, I didn't want to go anywhere near coke parties, thanks all the same. It wasn't just that Regina in the Sweet Valley High books died right after her first wee snort. It was the nasty criminality around it all, plus the fact that coked-up men often get violent. And a priest called "The Junkie Priest" came to my high school to warn us in advance about crack, which (believe it or not) hadn't reached the streets of Toronto yet.

Crack made cocaine affordable and even more addictive than usual. Whereas cocaine was trashy in a decadent evil rich people way, crack was trashy in a one-way-ticket to gutter and brothel way. And, no word of a lie, the only crack users I have ever to my knowledge met, were the extremely jittery shells of human beings who queued up before me at one of my government jobs for their support cheques. Their fingers were dyed black from burnt tinfoil or whatever it was. The cop standing by, apparently to protect me, made wisecracks about them and pointed out the prostitute among them. Have a nice day.

(I contrast in my mind this young Canadian cop with a young Slovak nun who worked with recovering heroin addicts in Europe, and his voyeuristic contempt with her compassionate love.)

Being involved in the Spoken Word scene in the 1990s, it was only a matter of time before Ecstasy (MDMA) came my way, although amusingly, when a poet turned up outside a club with a handful of the pills, he said somewhat apologetically that he hadn't brought me any, for he assumed a devout Catholic wouldn't take Ecstasy.

I don't think Ecstasy is mentioned in the Catechism, but as a matter of fact I had read up on the side effects of Ecstasy, and at the time everyone thought it could make you permanently depressed. ("And it was illegal," points out B.A., to whom I have read this post aloud.) Also, the poet looked so embarrassed, I patted him on the shoulder and said, No, no, that was quite all right, I had no interest in E. What I soon had interest in was ear plugs as, dear me, that rave was LOUD.

As for Edinburgh, I am about to shock local eavesdroppers by linking to the Guardian, but all you really have to do is recall Trainspotting to get an idea of how nasty life in Edinburgh can be if you are dumb or bored or depressed enough to get involved with heroin. Very occasionally I have seen a seriously strung out junkie staggering along Leith Walk or even--heaven help us--early Sunday morning on Heriot Row.

It's interesting how even drug-use has class implications. Alcohol is the most democratic. Cocaine is associated with successful (if louche) professionals like lawyers, film directors and poor Father Corapi. Crack is associated with the homeless, possibly because it generally makes you homeless. Heroin is associated with the formerly-working classes, thieves and prostitutes, possibly because it can make you a thief or prostitute. Marijuana is associated with slackers and students. E is associated with middle-class kids with money for clubs, particularly the ones who die after taking it. Gasoline fumes are associated with the poor, rural Innu.

As an urban Canadian who was in university for a very long time, I don't blink at booze or the occasional use of grass although I would go mental if my niece or nephews touched the first before they were 18 (except wine at home) and the second before they were 25. (And even then I might moan at them about the dangers of chronic use. "And it's illegal," says B.A.) I also think chronic users make lousy boyfriends--at very least for ambitious girls with places to go and people to see and babies to have.

I am not at all blase about the other stuff and, in fact, would not associate with anyone who used them, except in a professional capacity, as indeed I did when I was handing out the welfare cheques or reading funny stories at Spoken Word events. They are just too darned dangerous, they make people dangerous, and they funnel money to dangerous people.

As someone who drinks coffee and wine almost every day, and enjoys the occasional cocktail or glass of vodka, it would be hypocritical to condemn the human fascination with altering consciousness. However, anyone who thinks honestly has to admit that when short-term pleasures inspire long-term damage and human misery, not only to oneself but to society--of which the heroin-fuelled AIDs crisis in Edinburgh is but one example--it is best to give them a miss.

Nota Bene: B.A. keeps pointing out that it is illegal to consume illegal substances, and as Catholics we are obliged to follow just laws. I point out, however, that there are all kinds of substances that the law doesn't in fact cover, and we should avoid them anyway.

Update: Children in Britain are allowed by law to drink alcoholic beverages at home with their parents' consent once they are five. Five?

Basin Images

Friday, December 28, 2012
Another beautiful day of skiing.  While it might not have been the warmest day of the winter, the snow was just perfect.  The cat drivers and patrollers continue to widen the trails on the Upper Mountain.  We   have shifted from those early season strips of trails to having more of that wide open A-Basin feel.  Norway is now open and was skiing really well about 2 PM.  Upper Wrangler (The Landing Strip) is also open now.  Saturday is forecast to be a clear sunny day with highs in the upper 20's.  Sounds like a good day to manage the ski area by wandering around.  Enjoy the photo of Humbug by Scott Carlson.

Long-Term Readers Who Retired from Singledom

This is a second post for the day, posted merely to satisfy my curiosity about something. How many of my long-term readers (i.e. started reading between 2006 and 2011) started reading my Singles blogs as a Single but have since married or taken permanent religious vows?

A critic once suggested that "Auntie Seraphic's poppets" never get married. Since I have received many notices of weddings--and even a wedding invitation (Thank you, Tess!)--this is clearly untrue. But how untrue is it, I wonder. Off the top of my head, Cleo, Shiraz, Aussie Girl, Kim P and Sheila have all gotten married. Boeciana has become a cloistered nun.

Anyway, if you're no-longer-single, but still reading, drop a line in the combox.

By the way I am putting up a new poll about my 18-27 demographic.

Four Parties in a Row...

Goodness me. I found myself crawling into bed after 2:30 AM yet again. It's a Christmas Party Marathon. Christmas Eve. Christmas. Feast of St. Stephen. Feast of St. John. Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, but I don't think B.A. and I are going to any parties. I'm going instead to my favourite cocktail bar for a Girl Drink.

Squinting back into the past, I am absolutely sure my parents did not go to many parties (or any cocktail bars), so I think all this partying--at least at my age--is an offshoot of being childless. (I'm mentioning childlessness again as it is something most of my Single readers and I still share and, indeed, something that you do risk if you wait past the age of 35 for The One--although how much worse if you marry The Zero at 25 and still don't have kids?)

Christmas is apparently a time of great gloom for many, so I think the best things anyone can do are to (A) plan ahead to ensure oneself and those under one's influence a happy, emotionally supported Christmas and (B) concentrate on what you have instead of on what you lack.

I have a lot of parties.

Not to be a Smug Scot, but parties are more fun here than they were in North America. I think this is because they have structure. The usual, North American stuff-everyone-in-the-same-room-and-pour-drink-into-them model just didn't work for me. What really work are dinner parties. Dinner parties involve a clear plan, easy rituals, procession, recession, a three part structure.

For example, dinner parties at the Historical House involve aperatifs in the sitting-room, then a procession to the dining-room for supper, and finally a recession back to the sitting-room, sometimes in two parts: if dinner conversation has been terrifically male-dominated, the ladies leave first, to be joined by the gentlemen when they have finally grown tired of what it was they were talking about and are curious to know what the ladies are talking about. Otherwise, we all leave for the sitting-room together.

Personally, I like to end a dinner party with a film, which breaks up the very long after-dinner drink fest, and adds something to think about.

Another wonderful after-dinner activity is to sing around the piano. There was singing around the piano after a dinner party I went to yesterday, and as we sang Christmas carols, this was particularly enjoyable, for us, if not for the neighbours.

I hasten to mention that life in North America and, indeed, Single Life, is perfectly suited to dinner parties. I had occasional dinner parties when I was in my early and mid-twenties, living with Mum and Dad: all I had to do to secure permission was say, "May I have a dinner party, Mum and Dad?" and make sure dining-room and kitchen were left cleaner than I found them. These dinner parties started at a later hour (say 8), which gave my family a chance to eat their own dinner.

As I had a large family, family dinners were arguably dinner parties in themselves. And this in itself is an incentive to those, like me, who grew up with a lot of people and now find themselves living with only one or two. It's a return to the normal life of childhood, with a lot more drink.

Update: The research on gender differences in conversation is incredibly interesting. The more women there are in a group, the more comfortable women feel speaking, apparently, and one Harvard study revealed that women students at Harvard were more likely to speak up in class if their lecturer was a woman.

What this suggests to me is that at work and school, women should do our best to assert ourselves in conversations and classroom discussions, but in private life to take more of a conversational back seat and become famous good listeners. It strikes me that the centuries-old libel that women talk too much is bandied about by some of the men who want to talk even more than they do and feel frustrated and hurt when they don't feel sufficiently listened to. Bless their little hearts.

Incidentally, we already know how useless it is to talk to 90% of the men of the world about their feelings, right? Just remember this is not because they don't have any; it's just that male feelings are not that connected to male knowledge and male speech, especially when the males are young.

Non-Reader: But how do you FEEL?

Honest Young Male: I don't know.

Non-Reader: What do you mean you don't know? How can you not know?

Honest Young Male: I don't know.

Non-Reader: But that's crazy! Meanwhile I NEED to KNOW how you FEEL!!!

Honest Young Male (extremely uncomfortable): I'm leaving.

Very often, the least helpful way to figure out how young men feel is to ask them.* It's a better idea to pay attention to both their body language and then what they do. I remember one young man getting dead drunk at a wedding while punching his male pals boisterously and glaring at the pretty girls and yelling "I'll never put my head in a noose!" Dear, dear, dear. What a lonely soul.

*I suspect this is much more true in dating relationships than in friendships. Although men are usually reluctant to tell you exactly how they feel about you, they often have no problem telling you how they feel about other girls, at least if they have no reason to believe you will get mad at them for it.

Zuma Bowl Tour

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Skied Montezuma Bowl for the first time today.  While not ready to open yet, the snow back there was impressive.  Over the summer we built several more permanent snowfences.  Last week the Ski Patrol erected about 30 portable fences.  All the fences have done well catching snow.  There are some snow drifts at the top that the cat drivers are going to start pushing around.  I will keep you posted on the progress back there.

The skiing was great on the front side.  The Pali Lift opening was a big hit.  It snowed lightly all day and continuously kept the snow surface soft and fresh.  Very cool day.  Days like this seem to just fly by.

Elle's family photos

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday! It was a wonderful few days to have off, travel and spend with family, friends and my handsome husband, Mike. Christmas eve my husband and I joined his parents at Mass. We watched the snow fall outside the church’s windows as we listened to his Father 's amazing voice singing with the piano. After, we joined my parent’s family at my Aunt’s house where a hilarious game of white elephant gift exchange left everyone in tears laughing.
Christmas morning, my husband and our 3 furry children, Coconut, Chandler and Sophie, opened all of our gifts and made cinnamon sugar strudels. (What did I get? Well, I will give you a hint on one of the things.... at my studio, Starbucks coffee and lattees will be offered to you soon!!) I also got the cutest book called, "Unlikely Friendships," which is a fantastic read and adorable!
We spent the day with my husband’s family, three beautiful nieces and too-cute-for-words nephew opening tons of presents and relaxing by the tree. Mike's sister's family got a new pup, Maggie, and she so much fun and runs around like Bambi!

Mike and I ended the day at my parents where our pup, Sophie, spent the day (we heard) playing with my Mom and Dad and the laser pointer. My sister, her husband, their dog and their new baby girl came over and we enjoyed Annabel’s first Christmas! We ate a delicious (elle-friendly, thanks mom) dinner and opened presents until the floor was covered in wrapping paper (literally).
 Hope everyone had a special holiday!!

Worse Than Drowning?

This post involves "It's a Wonderful Life" plot spoilers.

Last night a party from the Historical House went across the fields to the nearest Fellow Historical House (14th c, mostly rebuilt early 17th c) and watched most of "It's a Wonderful Life" before sitting down to St. Stephen's/Boxing Day supper.

B.A. had never seen "It's a Wonderful Life," and I hadn't seen it for well over a decade. B.A., who admittedly was well-primed with wine, thought it absolutely fantastic. I was struck by how very often Providence frustrates the hero's plans and how Mary actively worked against them by countering George's wishes with her own wishes. By the way, I know it looked like it worked for Mary, but playing "Buffalo Gals" on the stereo four years after singing it with your crush object is kind of pathetic. Also pathetic is embroidering a cushion with the drunken rantings of your crush object and leaving it where he can see it.

What is not pathetic is being a middle-aged Single librarian in glasses. The most--perhaps the only--annoying part of "It's a Wonderful Life" is the lead up to the awful revelation of what George Bailey's non-existence would have meant. (PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!)

We go from random acquaintances of George, to the moral health of the town of Bedford Falls, to his brother, to his wife and kids. There seems to be a progression: Nick is nasty, not nice; George's old boss did 20 years in the joint for murder; Bedford Falls is not a nice family town but Las Vegas, New York; Violet has gone professional; Harry drowned at nine, which meant a whole lot of American sailors died (although, as no-one ever mentions, this also meant a bunch of German pilots survived--Jawohl!); Ma Bailey is a lonely, crabbed old landlady, and as for Mary--!

Ah, Mary. Not only did Harry Bailey drown at the age of nine, but Mary became an Old Maid and a Librarian and Near-Sighted. How Mary would have become near-sighted in the absence of George is one consequence left unexplained.

Possibly I am being unfair. The real horror is not that Mary is an Old Maid--and, incidentally, she could have married Sam Wainwright, although I admit it would have taken all his gold to gild the pill of having to listen to him shout "Hee-haw" for the next 50 years--but that she doesn't recognize George. Even Mary does not know George. And if Mary doesn't know George, Mary doesn't love George, which is terrifically sad for George, who loves Mary to distraction. Let us focus on that, especially if we are Single, and very especially if we are Single Librarians.

Anyway, it is no longer 1946, and none of us live in Bedford Falls, a place from which, we must remember, George Bailey was always longing to escape. So watch "It's a Wonderful Life" without a pang, and don't forget to giggle at Mary's mysteriously unexplained glasses.

Pali Lift Opens Thursday

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
OK, two bits of good news.

First, today, Wednesday, Grizzly Road, Upper Slalom Slope, and Powderkeg will be open from noon to 3 PM.  Skiers and riders can access that terrain with a 5 minute hike from the West Wall saddle.  I did ski both Grizzly Road and Upper Middle Chute this morning.  Grizzly was the perfect groomer and Middle Chute was powder.  High marks for both.

Second, tomorrow, Thursday, Pallavicini Lift will open for the season.  The lift will initially access Grizzly Road and the West Wall.  As snowfall conditions allow, there will be periodic openings on Slalom Slope, Radical, and eventually Standard and 13 Cornices.  The lift opens at 9 AM weekdays and 8:30 AM weekends and holidays.  The current holiday lift times are applicable now through New Year's Day.

It is always good to have Pali Lift open.

Super-Trad (if Childless) Christmas

My electronic spy tells me that someone in the South of England who ought to be in the Central Belt of Scotland keeps checking my blog, so I suspect at least one person wants to know how Christmas is going for the Trids of Edinburgh, particularly the ones who drink gin and think about socks. So I shall write an account of a Super-Trad Young Fogey Trid Edinburgh Christmas.

Super-Trid Young Fogey Edinburgh Christmas at the Historical House began shortly after five on Christmas Eve when the first guest arrived for Wigilia supper. Wiglia is the Polish word for Vigil, and the Poles eat their big Christmas supper during this Vigil, before going to Midnight Mass. But as Advent used to be a fasting time, this is traditionally a meatless meal, featuring a lot of fish and pierogi.

The reason for this Historical House Wigilia supper was two-fold. First, most of our Single friends had somewhere else to eat on Christmas Day, so we tried to tempt them over for Christmas Eve instead. Second, I had a version of my usual conversation with the Lord of History, which went metaphorically like this:

Seraphic: Dear me, Christmas just around the corner. How nice it would be if You sent me a baby, Lord, hint hint.

Lord of History: Now that you mention it, I have a Polish student in his mid-twenties who needs somewhere to eat Christmas Eve Dinner, as his family is abroad and he won't be able to get a visa in time to join them.

Seraphic: That's sort of so not what I meant.

Lord of History: How sad to be Polish and alone in a foreign land on Christmas Eve. It's going to rain, too.

Seraphic: Okay, okay. What do Poles eat for Christmas?

Lord of History: A twelve course meatless meal.

Seraphic: What!?

Lord of History: Involving a lot of herring.

Seraphic: What!?

Lord of History: Plan ahead.

So I made a twelve course meatless mostly-Polish meal* for Christmas Eve, and great fun it was, too. As our table wasn't big enough to accommodate the diners, the traditional place setting for the potential stranger who arrives out of the night, and twelve dishes, I put the dishes out on a side table, and it all looked very impressive, and I was quite pleased with my uber-feminine cooking self.

(B.A., I should mention, made the salmon and rolled some of the pierogi dough. I discovered, at 4:45 PM, that I no longer had enough energy to roll pierogi dough. Thanks to the reader who suggested that at such times men ought to be allowed in the kitchen. Good call!)

So let me see. We had the reading from the Gospel of Luke instead of grace, and we ate an astonishing variety of things, including (of course) herring in two guises, and at ten an invited guest who had had too bad a cold to come to supper came with a hired van to whisk us away to Midnight Mass. First, however, I made her eat a little salmon and some barszcz, which is the correct spelling of borscht from a Polish point of view.

So off we went to Midnight Mass, where 44 Trids gathered to celebrate Baby Jesus and, amusingly, indulge for once in the Three Hymn Sandwich: a`British hymn I didn't know for the Procession to the Crib, "Adestes Fideles" during the Offertory, and "Hark the Herald" after the Recession. The servers were the Grizzled MC and the Marooned Polish Student as Thurifer (and Cross-bearer), as a reader in the South of England will be keenly interested to know. The candles were many and the vestments were gold.

By then the rain had stopped, and it was a clear, fine, mild moonlit night, such as Edinburgh had not known the last three Christmas Eves, believe me. The Trids therefore stood about cheerfully in the car park afterwards, exchanging Christmas greetings and mostly turning down pulls from the Marooned Polish Student's whisky flask. And then the Men's Schola and its Ladies' Auxiliary climbed into the van and were whisked away.

The McAmbroses arrived back at the Historical House at 2 AM, which gave me enough time to take the dough rising in the fridge out of the fridge and transform it into embryonic Traditional Christmas Chelsea Bun, leaving it in its baking tin to rise overnight. For such is the way of the Women of My Family. I went to bed at 3:30 AM, and got up at 9 AM to bake the precious thing. It turned out perfectly, i.e. exactly like my mother's. I had passed my own standard of Women of My Family Femininity, and therefore my superego acknowledged that I had the right to a happy Christmas.

The van returned on Christmas Morning for B.A., but I had no time for such pleasures as Christmas III Mass (Christmas II having been said at 9:30 to a congregation of one). No, no. For now it was time to wash the remaining dishes from Christmas I Supper and Christmas II Breakfast (the Bun), and to make Christmas III Supper. Perhaps if women understood that making three traditional Christmas meals in a row is in itself a kind of priesthood, we would not have so many unhappy Catholic women with bad haircuts rushing off to the Anglicans or excommunicated weirdos for a curious ritual they call ordination.

B.A. skipped the after Mass festivities to come home and labour over the turkey, the gravy and the potatoes. B.A. is a master roaster. No matter what else I do, I leave the cooking of meat and the roasting potatoes to him, for lo, he always gets them right. Instead I made the Traditional Christmas Trifle, the Traditional Christmas Vegetable Soup, the Traditional Christmas Curried Carrots and the Traditional Christmas Green Beans with Red Pepper and Toasted Almonds. Then I got dressed for dinner while B.A. entertained the Guests (Clerical and Polish) in the sitting-room with champagne and the sacred Bun.

Then there was great feasting and drinking and offering of the seven different kinds of desserts I seem to have made for my family of two (literally seven**) and a great deal of after-dinner conversation, into which I popped in and out, on account of having many dishes to wash.

Seraphic: St. Monica used to have trouble with that. As a child, she would steal sips of wine.

Cleric: Really?

Seraphic: Oh yes. St. Augustine wrote about her childhood sins as well as his own. You know, though, St. Monica was not just the weeping mother of the Confessions. In a lesser known work St. Augustine presented her as a great Christian Intellectual.

Assembled Trid Men: Oh? Ah. Mm.

Benedict Ambrose: Apparently it was her prayers that led to St. Augustine's conversion.

Seraphic: Yes, but that's the weeping mother in the Confessions, so that's not my point. My point is. My point. My point is that St. Monica was also a GREAT CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUAL!

Marooned Pole: Have more wine.

Seraphic: No, I'm going to wash more dishes.

And more dishes were washed, and more wine was drunk, and the clerical guest went home at a very prudent hour--about 9:30, gracious--and then the vodka came out. So there was vodka, and Belgian chocolates, and--oddly--the watching of a Polish film called Rejs (1970), and so ended the First Day of Christmas.

*Kutia, kompot, barszcz cierwony, uszka, śledzie w oleju, śledzie w śmietanie, pierogi ruskie, pierogi z grzybami i kapusta, łosoś, carrot-orange salad, kompot owece, makowiec. Wesołych Świąt!

**Christmas fruitcake, florentines, makowiec (poppy seed roll), kutia (wheat berry pudding), kompot (cooked dried fruit with honey), trifle, and Chelsea bun. There were also mince pies, brought by a guest.

Christmas Morning

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Today is a beautiful Christmas morning.  New snow.  Great skiing and riding.  Spectacular lighting. Dramatic views.  Very special people.  Happy Holidays.

Santa at The Basin

Monday, December 24, 2012
I always knew Santa was a skier, but this was the first time I saw the Elf out there ripping it up.

Shhhhhhh, it is snowing today and it looks like we are in for a white Christmas.  From all of us at The Basin, Happy Holidays.

Avy Dog Trading Cards

Sunday, December 23, 2012
The Ski Patrol made these groovy Avalanche Dog Trading Cards. The front side has a photo of the dog and pertinent facts.  The back side has some ski safety tips.  I think we will be handing them out to kids in the Snowsports School, during Ski Safety Week, and other special occasions.  I think they are pretty cool and  I bet I end up sneaking a few of them to adults also.