Seasons Greetings, everyone!

I’m posting from my folks’ home in the Chicago suburbs, here for a few short days with the extended family.  Jaci stayed home to be with her family and mind the children – besides, they’re all exhausted from our extensive Christmas card shoot (late, but coming soon).

I really wanted to get home to see my parents (my mom had a not insignificant health scare a few weeks ago, but now doing great).

Having a nostalgic winter wonderland week as snow has remained on the lawns.

The first morning I walked down to the little town square to visit my sister Kris and niece Sarah working at the specialty jewelry store there.  Passed homes of many childhood friends, my old grade school, principal Mr. Shirk’s house (motto: discipline by hair pulling; to this day I swear he had Mike Milazzo airborne that one time).  I also ran into a woman out shoveling snow who I haven’t seen in 40+ years – my very first guitar teacher (older sister of Dean Brown, my best grade school friend).  She couldn’t believe it (nor could I…we reminisced about me learning to read via the Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass songbook, a current craze at the time…).

My last-minute impromptu trip was also a chance to be here for the wedding of my nephew Charlie (my brother Mark’s son) to Mika, a lovely young Japanese woman he met many years ago in Chicago, where they both still work (Charlie lived in and taught English in Japan and is completely fluent in the language).

They’re framed by her parents and nieces (from Okinawa, first visit to America), my folks, Mark & Barb opposite, Kris top right, with husband Don and daughters Lauren and Sarah.  There was a lot of smiling and bowing and bad pantomime, as her family speaks virtually no English (as the Miners similarly speak zero Japanese!).  Had I been able to understood her father, I’m sure I would have heard “Charlie-san, why is your uncle dancing like that?” (yes, another embarrassing spectacle).

That was yesterday – a great time, hampered only by some dreary rain/sleet as the evening drew to a close.

But this morning I woke up to fresh snow!  I haven’t seen the stuff for years, and felt like the kid in The Christmas Story on Christmas morning (in fact my sister said I looked like him in my cap).  Especially so, as I was upstairs in the house I grew up in (my sister’s room across the hall, Mark’s and mine a current storage area).   It was the quintessential, magical “dusting of snow,” and got me up and outside in a flash, before it could melt.  I had Don take some photos for me (they live 2 doors up):

Squirrel tracks in my parents’ driveway
(which I soon had to shovel, immediately remembering why I moved to California…)

Delicate details in the backyard.

But the real reason to for the emergency photo shoot was that I had discovered in a cedar chest in the folks’ newly renovated basement a special Miner heirloom – a spectacular vintage raccoon coat that we inherited from a great uncle I never met.

Knowing that costume archivist Jaci hadn’t ever seen it, I decided to model it.

And did so.

Happy Holidays, Harp Guitar Fans!