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This Day in My History

TODAY's LESSON

The kazoo, a simple musical instrument (membranophone) that adds tonal qualities when the player hums into it, was invented in the 19th century in Macon, Georgia by an African American named Alabama Vest, who based it on an African device called the mirliton which was used to disguise the priest's voice in ceremonies. The first kazoo was manufactured to Vest's specifications by Thaddeus von Clegg, a German clockmaker in Macon. The kazoo was first publicized at the Georgia State Fair in 1852. The first metal kazoos were manufactured and patented in Eden, New York, where they are still made in the original factory. A temporary kazoo can be made by combining comb and tissue paper or wax paper. The kazoo is played professionally in jug bands and comedy music, and by amateurs everywhere. It is one of the few acoustic instruments to be developed in the United States and one of the easiest melodic instruments to play well, requiring only the ability to hum in tune.


Yesterday's Entries

2000:  A Day with "Grandma"
2001:  Happy PC Holiday to You, Too
2002:  Faded Photographs


TODAY's FOOD

Breakfast:  Cheerios and English Muffin

Lunch:  Leftover Chinese food

Dinner:  Bean Burritos


TODAY's DVD

A f'ing Sopranos marathon!


TODAY's WEATHER

Cold, wet.

 


IT'S THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

24 December 2003

I don’t know about you, but it’s just not Christmas for me until I’ve heard the entire musical canon, from Jingle Bells to Silent Night played on kazoo.

Tonight, as we have done for the past four years, we joined Marta’s family for a Christmas Eve dinner. Marta’s stepmother always fixes bean burritos and has a big crowd in to share the feast. Last year she had picked up some plastic kazoos and we started fooling around with them and things got very silly very fast, but we all had a great time.

This year she decided to get serious about it and went out and bought better quality kazoos, along with some plastic recorders, slide whistles and other noisemakers. We were in for some serious kazooing.

Everyone from the 2+ year old Isabella to 84 year old Grandma got into the act, with only critic being 10 month old Sasha who finally reached her tolerance point and shook her head in a violent "NO!" manner whenever anybody played the kazoo next to her.

Everybody’s a critic.

But it was great, silly fun.

kazoos.jpg (111288 bytes)

The day had been amazingly calm. With the house so clean, all I had to do, really, was to change the sheets on the bed so my mother would have a clean bed to sleep in and then I was free to get a last minute gift project finished and then actually sit down and watch television all afternoon (Season 2 of The Sopranos arrived from NetFlix and since I was already going into withdrawal after doing Season 1 in about 2 days, I was eager to get back to the story. I swear, if they removed the F-word from the script each hour episode would run about 20 minutes!)

My mother arrived with Jeri sometime mid-afternoon.  She had flown in from Boston the day before, and it was good to see our #1 child again, even though we had just seen her at Tom’s wedding a couple of months ago. It’s always nice to have her home again, however briefly.  She was sufficiently amazed at the look of the house, which was nice.

The big surprise for the day was when Ned and Marta arrived for the dinner and Ned showed off his new tattoo. The first of my children to get a tattoo. With his tattoo, his long hair, and his pierced ears, I think he’s going for a new image. At least I like the tattoo, which is of the Muppet Animal (the drummer), which seems quite appropriate for Ned, the drummer.

tattoo.jpg (35818 bytes)

After dinner we went out to the cemetery to take a little decorated Christmas tree, stand around the graves and drink hot apple cider, which some of the group of six laced with Jim Beam (the rest of the Jim Beam was poured over the grave, as usual). As we stood around shivering in the cold, we decided that we’ve kept this somewhat bizarre tradition now for seven years and maybe we could alter it slightly so that we go earlier in the evening and not quite so late, when it gets colder and colder.

The idea formed the year David died in a year when I finally gave up all pretense of being a Catholic and was boycotting midnight Mass.  Paul and I decided to go to the cemetery while Walt went to midnight mass (ultimately he went with us, as did about 10 or more of David’s friends).

It used to be that we went at midnight each year, but we’ve been going earlier and earlier and tonight we were there at 9:30. That’s when we decided that we certainly could come before dinner and not wait till after–and at 5:30 it’s already dark, so it’s not like we’d be changing this "tradition" anyway...just doing it at a slightly less freezing hour. We’re all getting older and less willing to put up with the discomfort...and since Paul and David don’t do much to actually be hospitable.....

So now I’m off to sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day, what with pies to bake and turkeys to stuff and people to entertain.

And there probably won’t be a single kazoo in sight.

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST

nitebefxmas.jpg (39301 bytes)

1982
Walt used to read "The Night Before Christmas" each Christmas Eve,
even when the kids got too old.  Here we have an additional 4 foreign
guests--Pujol and Marcio from Brasil, Felix from Croatia, and
Ndangi from Zaire along with David, Tom, Jeri and Paul (Ned was
in Brasil this year)

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog


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Weight Lost to date:  48.6 lbs

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Created 12/21/03