Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Pictures: January and February

it's all in how you look at it i guess but still i'd like some coffee

This morning, Mr F managed to dump my coffee.  He does that most days -- every morning is a battle between me and him: I try to make my coffee, he tries to get into the kitchen when I'm not paying attention and dump the coffee out.

Today I'd brewed a pot of coffee and poured one cup, and was sitting on the couch reading the news and drinking it.  Mr F wandered away from where he was playing the piano and into the kitchen and by the time I realized it he was at the coffee pot, pouring the rest of it out.

I wiped up the bit of mess and said "Well I guess you won today," as he wandered out of the kitchen.

I came out and sat back down on the couch and said to Mr Bunches "I get only the one cup of coffee today," and he said:

"You are a lucky man, Dad."

He's right.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

10 Minutes About The Books I ALMOST Read in 2015

I'm going to do a ranking of all the books I read or tried to in 2015, with a bit of discussion of them. The list is incomplete, because my audiobooks have a history that only goes back a month or two -- so I may not remember all those. Although, that probably means they weren't very good. While my memory isn't very great -- and seems to be getting worse almost minute-by-minute -- if a book is really good it probably sticks in my mind.

I'll begin with the first set of

The Ones I Didn't Bother Finishing: 

One of the things I realized as I made this list was how awesome most of the books on the list were.  The fact that some are near the bottom of the list doesn't mean they were bad, it just means that in comparison to the other books they didn't finish as high. "Someone's gotta be last, right?" -- every gym teacher I ever had, by way of... encouragement? Sure let's go with that.

The reason the books are almost uniformly good is that I mostly get my books from the library on my Kindle, so they're free -- and hence I can start reading almost anything, but because I didn't pay for it, I can stop if it's not interesting to me without feeling I wasted my money. Which means the books I did finish were a higher grade of book overall.

Here are the bottom-ranked ones I stopped reading:

36. The Islanders, Christopher Priest. This guy wrote The Prestige, which I liked, and his books sound amazing. Then, the first one of them I got was this, and I started reading it Thanksgiving weekend. I was a chapter into it when I found out it's written like an almanac or something and that slowly the story is revealed. I was so disappointed I stopped reading, then I thought I should challenge myself but I stopped again, and then I deleted it. I later downloaded The Adjacent by him but couldn't bring myself to start it.

35. Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem: Lethem appears on here three times and he has written a book I am dying (almost literally) to read: As She Climbed Across The Table, which is about a woman in love with a black hole. This wasn't the FIRST book I read by him; it was actually the third and it was the first I gave up on. The story starts off so slowly, with so much blather. It's something about communists or something. Pleh. There's better books by him, two on this list.

34. Food: A Love Story, Jim Gaffigan. I am a big fan of Gaffigan's, and I can rewatch his comedy specials over and over. But I was disappointed in his first book, Dad Is Fat, not because it wasn't funny but because so much of it was simply his actual jokes, just in book form. I get it: comedians want to make money, but if you're going to write a book, at least warn people not to buy it if they've seen your specials.  Then this one started out feeling like the version of his jokes that didn't make the cut for the stage show, and about 10 pages in I gave it up.

33. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers Homes In New England, Brock Clarke: Stephen King said that readers look for voice, that the actual first line or chapter of a story, even the story, isn't as important as the voice, the way the story is told. I don't think that's 100% true, but this book suffered from the voice problem, among others. I picked it up because of the title, but the book goes downhill from there. It's like the author had this great title and then had to pack a story into it. The first chapter or two whip through the guy burning down Emily Dickinson's house, going to prison, getting out, going to college, getting married, having the son of the people who died in the fire show up, and him getting kicked out of his house. I had no idea where the rest of the story would go, but the book felt like a summary of 10 other books. And the main character was just sort of drifting through. You know how in third-person narrator stories, the narrator is kind of there with the characters but not really there? That's how this book felt -- only the story was told in the first person. So it had the feeling of the narrator watching a short film that summarized his life, and explaining it. I gave up on it about where he goes home to find his dad had a stroke.

32. I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley: This is a book of semiautobiographical essays along the lines of David Sedaris, and while the one or two I listened to were well-enough done, here is the problem with everyone having a blog/writing a semiautobiographical book: so often the stories feel like they exist just to justify the book. I call this "The Chicken Problem," after an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

"The Chicken Problem" stems from an episode of the Kardashians where they decided that they would raise chickens in the house, for some reason they gave on the show but the real reason being that it was presumably fun to watch rich vapid people chase chickens around their house. Chickens have showed up on lots of other reality shows since then, or their equivalent. Reality shows tend to encourage people to do dumb/interesting stuff because honestly most of our lives are interesting only to ourselves. I have no doubt this blog would get better hits if I bought a chicken and chased it around.

So this book began with a fairly interesting essay about why the author had a  bunch of toy ponies (it has to do with a line she says on dates), and then sort of drifted off. I think I listened to the second essay but I gave up pretty quickly thereafter. It was both uninteresting and trying too hard.

31. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kaling: This one, too. I like The Mindy Project, although that series has gone downhill in the last two seasons as Mindy and Danny just lie to each other and fight. If I wanted to see that I'd play my old home movies from growing up.  (Frowny face with tear.) So I thought this might be a funny book. It wasn't, really. Much of it was sort of uninspired would-be funny stuff. The story of how she got famous doing a two-person play in which she played Ben Affleck was interesting but I stopped listening after that.

That's it for this time. more to come.

Monday, December 28, 2015

I was going to post some pictures of snow but thought this was more important.

There is a post on Gawker that spells out a very simple end to poverty without raising the minimum wage. I like the idea it spells out. It begins this way:
"These are the solutions you're looking for."
The working poor need more money. “But retail stores can’t raise wages very much—their profit margins are too small,” say conservatives. Aha—but there is a solution!
GO READ THE REST it's like four paragraphs and won't kill you.

Here are all the medications I take every day to breathe.

Longtime readers may remember my fitful efforts over the past few years to try to get back into shape, as well as some trips to the hospital.  Turns out I have exercise-induced asthma, which sounds like a thing that's made up specifically for Americans like me, but is an actual thing in that I can get out of breath just walking up our three stairs to the next level. Jogging, swimming, even yoga have set off asthma attacks in me.

So to help control it, here's everything I take each day:

That's morning and night. The antacid is to help with the heartburn all those steroids cause.  With this stuff, I can even take the boys sledding, provided I have my rescue inhaler with me to use before each walk up the hill.

Each of those things costs about $70-$300 per month; I have insurance that helps pay for it, of course, but the out-of-pocket cost -- to breathe-- is $4,000 a year.  OBAMACARE FIXED EVERYTHING. Thank god we never need to do anything about health care again for the remainder of time, except repeal that law, of course, to replace it with the old system where insurance was even more expensive.

I bring this up because after we pay the $4,000 per year -- our 'high deductible' that means that health care is FIXED FOREVER EVERYONE OKAY -- we don't have to pay anything else for health insurance for the rest of the calendar year (other than the roughly $2000 per month premium I also pay because I am essentially self-insured). So we are in the free period right now where all my medicines can be picked up even if I have no cash. But on January 1, I have to start writing (even more) checks until I burn through the deductible again.

So it costs me about $28,000 per year to breathe enough to walk across Capitol Square in Madison (slowly, and with one break).

Things Americans are okay with providing free to people no matter what:

1. Education (so long as they don't teach dangerous things like science)

2. Houses to middle class people (the mortgage interest deduction is a dollar-for-dollar deduction from income. It primarily benefits people making $200,000 or more a year because those people save about $5,000 a year on taxes, while low-income earners save only about $51 a month.)

3. Money. (Remember George W. "Worst President Ever" Bush's tax rebates where the government just sent you money?)

Things Americans don't want other Americans to have unless they can afford it:

1. Breath.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

28 Xmas Stories: "it began to fade, little by little, until it was gone."

Bug God’s First Gift To Her People, 3:

Up… up… up…
Bug God
Someone said.

The vizier felt the world turning below him, felt the onward rush of time towards midnight – towards the new day.


Who is that? Bug God wondered, but she could spare no energy for asking.
Up… up… up…

“We will do nothing,” Tiger God said.

But he did not take his eyes off the sky.


Bug God faltered, struggled, flapped her tiny wings in the cold cold dark thin air still so far away from the stars.

Bug God…

Someone said again.

This time, Bug God answered, sparing the tiniest amount of her energy from the continued, slow climb up to the stars.

“What?” Bug God asked


The bugs of the world were growing restless, concerned.  There was no God in the tree, there was no word from Bug God, the vizier was merely sitting there, and it was getting on towards midnight. Nobody knew what would happen. Never before had Bug God left the tree, never before had Bug God’s carapace not simply faded away into dust on the branch of the throne.

The vizier could feel the sussurance of concern before he heard it or saw it: the rustling of wings, the clicking of jaws, the scraping of carapaces, the tapping of lets, all stirred the air and made it spin and dance and swoop around him, and in those breezes the vizier read the fear growing in the people.

Bug God, what have you done? the vizier wondered. But he walked to the edge of the branch, slowly, taking one small step at a time. He knew that his motion would be seen by those near him, that it would run the risk of converting fear into panic: what was needed was reassurance, now, and merely moving would not provide that – but moving too quickly would be certain to crest the wave of concern into a full onslaught of rioting, and he did not want to do that.

Nor did he know what he would say, yet. The flower from which Bug God had emerged last night was noticeably wilting. Each time before, each day at midnight, he had been there to see the old Bug God crumble into dust just as the new one emerged from the flower, her wings damp with night-dew, her eyes opening onto the world she would rule for the next 24 hours. Never before had the flower changed, other than the shifting of the pedals as the new Bug God emerged.

The vizier trembled a little.


Tiger God, without taking his own eyes of the sky, murmured to Bird God: “Where is she now?

Bird God, too, stared straight up, keen eyes peering into the vast sky. “She is still climbing up, even more slowly now. I am amazed that she can still be going. I don’t know how she is doing it.”

Tiger God kept staring up as Monkey God said: “Something is not right.”

“I feel it too,” Bird God said. “Something wrong.”

Tiger God let their words die out, let the night again be taken over by the crackles and hisses and taps and shuffles of the billions of bugs gathered around the tree, bugs worried for their god and their home and their lives and their world. Tiger God could hear the vizier’s slow steps out to the end of the branch, so good was his hearing. His fur bristled with the air’s rapture as the bugs spun it around.

“It is fine,” Tiger God said.

The other two then took their eyes off the sky to look at him, startled.

“How can you say that?” Monkey God asked.

“Can you not feel what is in the air?” Bird God demanded.

“Yes,” Tiger God said. “A new day is almost here.”


Bug God, you have flown higher and farther than any living being ever has before, the voice told her.

Bug God could hardly keep her wings moving. She felt each tiny increment of height throughout her rapidly weakening body, felt it wrack her with the absence of anything around her. The stars! They were still so far away.

“I cannot reach them,” she said, meaning it as a question.

You can, the voice told her. But not the way you are going.


The vizier stopped to stroke the pedals of the flower. Two of them fell off and began to waft down gently below the branch. The pedals, as flower pedals will, drifted here and there and back again, sometimes lifting on an air current, sometimes pirouetting in place. The vizier, horrified at what he had done, stepped back, only two see more pedals flutter off: three four five ten, the flower was falling apart and then it did fall apart, seeming almost to explode into a white brilliance, the tiny iridescent shards ballooning out and then starting to fall down.

The vizier stood still as stone, trying to decipher this event.

The petals formed a slowly widening, lightly dancing cloud just below the branch, descending with tiny steps, hesitantly, as though afraid of where they might land and what might be waiting for them.

Monkey God held himself tightly with his long furry arms, alternating between watching the flower on the branch suddenly puff up into a cloud of pedals, watching the sky where he could see nothing but stars and darkness, and watching Tiger God, who calmly stared up into the sky as though he had said and felt nothing.

Bird God plucked several feathers from the edge of his chest in annoyance, lifted his left claw, lifted his right, then settled back in.  He flapped his wings and shook his head. Having done all that, he finally said: “She has no right.”

“We are gods. We each of us do what we want,” Tiger God said, softly.

“We should have done something,” Bird God said.

“Perhaps it is not too late,” Monkey God said hopefully.

“We need to act!” Bird God said. He tried to make it sound commanding but it came off as a plea. Both Monkey God and Bird God were aware that they were not actually talking to each other, but to Tiger God.

“She can’t do this,” Monkey God said.

Tiger God looked away from the sky then and at them.

“We are gods,” he said. “What can’t we do?”


Bug God it is time to turn away the voice said.

Bug God could not speak; even if she had had the energy to spare, the air was gone and she could force none of it through her tracheae. But in her mind she said I will not turn away from the stars.

The stars do not lie that way, for you, Bug God.

I can see them Bug God thought desperately.  Her wings buzzed in a frantic motion as she sought any purchase in this emptiness.

You have gone as far as you needed to, she was told.

Bug God folded her wings.

You have done what you needed to do, she was told.

Bug God let her legs go limp, stopped clawing for purchase.

See what you have wrought, Bug God.

Bug God let herself turn downward at the world, saw in a billion facets the curve of the earth below her, the oceans spreading out endlessly to either side, glowing silver with moonlight, saw the dark continents anchored to the core of the earth by pillars of rock, the trees and flowers and mountaintops each shimmering here and there with tiny flecks of light reflected back into the sky.

She saw the tree she had lived on her whole life, saw the massive gathering of bugs there, saw the vizier cowering, saw the flower gone, its pedals spreading out in a canopy over her people.

You have reached the stars, Bug God, she was told.

how, Bug God wondered. how is that true when I am not yet at their level?

You are at their level, the voice said. For you have become one. 

The words echoed in her mind as Bug God began to fall.


“See, there,” Tiger God said.

He was pointing towards the tree, where the first of the flower petals were starting to land on the bugs below. The immediate reaction was alarm, and the fear spread through the bugs almost visibly. The flower the flower the flower he flower the flower he flower the flower he flower the flower he flower the flower he flower the flower he flower the flower was repeated by a billion tiny voices as more and more petals landed.

Monkey God and Bird God could not speak: they were enraged and fearful, far more so than the bugs. Their minds boiled with thoughts of what could be done even now to stop what was happening. Bug God… Bug God… she had given up her post and left the world, and once one god falls, they knew… neither Monkey God nor Bird God wanted to admit they were aware of what this meant.

“It is a new day,” Tiger God said. He looked up.


The vizier looked down at the ground, saw the bugs begin to race in circles and rise up in clouds and trample each other. He did not know what to do. The flower was gone! Bug God was gone! He could not look at the apocalyptic vision below, did not know what to do, and cast his eyes upward, the last place he had seen his salvation.


They will not need you anymore, the voice said, and it was like a blanket was wrapped around Bug God. She felt warm and safe and secure even as her body fell faster and faster and faster. She saw with surprise and pleasure that her legs, her body, her wings were beginning to glow.

You have reached the stars, Bug God the voice said and wished her farewell.


“They will not need us anymore,” Tiger God said, and because he was looking up he saw it before the other two gods, before anyone except


The vizier’s eyes locked on it at once: A brightly glowing speck that grew in intensity rapidly even as it began to trace a line across the sky, a trail of glimmer behind it stretching off into the night sky.

“Look…” the vizier said, and something in his voice carried enough power to reach the bugs nearest him, who – dazed and distressed already by the disintegration of the flower and the events of the night – paused a moment and looked where the vizier was indicating with his antennae.

They stilled and pointed, too, and one by one by one through a billion bugs, each bug stopped worrying about the flower, about its neighbors, about its life, and stared up into a night sky speckled with a thousand different tiny glows, and one bright arc of a golden light stretching from directly above the tree out across the immensity above them.

As the bugs watched, the line grew and grew and grew, and they slowly understood what was happening, knew that Bug God was up there, was the one making the glow, was slowly burning away and leaving herself behind in this thrilling flare. 

The trail, they realized, was coming almost directly at the tree, making its way more directly tan it seemed – the shimmer seeming to be a curve only because of its height and the immense length of it, and the bugs were frozen in that moment, every eye watching Bug God’s final flight, watching as the last of the Bug Gods slowly pierced the night sky, glowing with the intensity of a new star even as she faded from the world.

The bugs felt, as their god scintillated from the heavens, a sense of freedom blow over them. The flower petals were stirred up and drifted away. Had someone asked them – but who would, ever? – each bug would have said that it felt suddenly like it was the master of its own fate, that it was able to determine what course it might take. Around the world, every other living thing felt a slight stirring of this same feeling: that perhaps it was their own destiny to make for themselves, and they could decide how their lives would unfold, rather than having each moment dictated to them by some unfathomable force. The bugs stared up at the sky and saw their god giving herself back to them and everything else in the world began to ask their own god to give itself up to them, too – to let them be the gods of their own selves.

The trace burnt so brightly over the world!

And then it was over. The coruscating line stopped growing longer. After a moment, then, it began to fade, little by little, until it was gone. 

Only the stars remained, as they had been before: beautiful, cold, and somehow both impossibly far away, and closer than you could imagine. 

28 Xmas Stories 27: And now our thrilling conclusion!

Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer Falls In Love On Xmas Eve, 5:

Above him, the woman who’d brought him here was being carried aloft by two of the elves—they had to be elves Rudolph thought what else could 3-foot-tall guys with pointy ears be? – through some mechanism Rudolph couldn’t discern.

Acquisitions, meanwhile, was charging at him with several of the other elves that had stood by the magician, and Rudolph saw other elves spreading out around the lobby of the hotel. He darted quickly to his right, to a bank of elevators, round ones made of glass in transparent shafts, and made it inside one.  He hit the highest floor he could – 17 – and saw the doors close just as Acquisitions was about to reach him.  The elevator started up.

Below him, Acquisitions paused only briefly before he and the elves piled into the other two elevators, which then began rising, a floor or two below Rudolph. He was gaining on the woman, who, he saw now, was being lofted by the elves without any apparent means of support.
Across the atrium, other elevators started rising.  Down below, the magician was waving her hands around in a spiral and Rudolph saw a waterspout begin to rise up towards him.  He couldn’t make the elevator go any faster. It was 13…14… well ahead of the other elevators but the waterspout was coming up quickly… 15.  The elves carrying the woman were struggling as she kicked her legs and twisted around… 16… the waterspout widened up.  17… the doors opened and Rudolph threw himself out in the hallway. Turning to his right he reached the railing from where he could look out onto the atrium.  The waterspout was only a floor below, the other elevators already reaching the 17th floor.  The elves had barely risen. The woman saw him, reached a hand towards him.  “Help!” she yelled.

Rudolph stood up on the railing, and teetered precariously for only a moment as Acquisitions and the elves came charging towards him.

He leaped.

It was a preposterous thing to do, he realized.  The woman was at least 15 feet away, if not more, and what could he leap like this, maybe four or five? He stretched his arms out and began to fall just as the waterspout crashed into him, lifting him up with its force and pulling him towards the center. The woman and the elves were caught, too, and the woman, flailing frantically, kicked a leg towards Rudolph, who grabbed it. The waterspout whipped them around wildly and then flung them hard against a wall on the other side of the atrium.

Rudolph rolled over, chest heaving, body aching. The woman was struggling to her knees.  From around them came yells and the howling of the water spout.  Rudolph looked up with bleary eyes. The door next to him said ROOF ACCESS.

He grabbed the woman’s hand, helped her to her feet. The door, miraculously, was unlocked. He pushed it open and they began up the stairs, still unsteady.

Outside, it was still dark, and the cold was biting. The wind up here was swift and tore at him – both of them were soaked. They heard yells below. 

All around them the city skyline was dark. Not a single light could be seen, no car horns honking or busses grumbling.  The entire world seemed empty. Rudolph slammed the door shut behind them, and seeing nothing to block it with, pulled the woman after him.  They made it to the edge of the roof, and looked over. Nothing – below them was the street. No window-cleaning rig, no fire escape, nothing. Rudolph realized that the likeliest place for some stairs or emergency exit route would be on the back of the building, and he turned around.

Acquisitions, the magician, and the elves were standing there.

“Oh, no…” he breathed.

The woman turned and saw what he saw.

“I have to tell you what the gypsy actually told me,” she said.  “Why I was going to Chad’s party anyway.”

Rudolph looked at her. “What?” he asked.

When he looked back, the magician and Acquisitions were advancing, the elves spreading out.

“The envelope,” Acquisitions said.

“Look, I…” Rudolph began.

Next to him, the woman said: “She told me that if I went to the party, if Chad was able to get me – those were the words she used – that …”

“Bad things would happen, I know,” Rudolph said.

“No.  She said specifically…” The magician and Acquisitions were only five feet away now. Rudolph and the woman were backed up against the small wall that lined the roof, reaching up to their waists.

“The ENVELOPE,” the magician said again. Rudolph was certain she had been at the Xmas party.

“She said specifically that if Chad got me I would die…” the woman said.

Rudolph never took his eyes off the magician or Acquisitions, who had paused, just out of arm’s reach.  “Then why would you go?

He began pulling himself up onto the wall, and the woman did too. Before their opponents could move, both were standing on the wall.

“The envelope,” Acquisitions said, again.

“I went…” the woman said, and paused only briefly before continuing “… because she said that if I didn’t go then the man I was supposed to meet would die, instead.”

Now Rudolph looked at her again. “Wha…” he began, but as he did Acquisitions lunged at them.

And the woman tried to step off the edge of the wall.

Rudolph threw himself sideways while grabbing at her, got his arms around her and pulled.

It almost worked.

He was left lying precariously on the wall, one arm wrapped around her back and holding her up by her armpits, the other clinging desperately to the inner bricks.  She was slowly weighing him down.

“Why would you come to the party?” he asked.

“Because I couldn’t let some man die just because I was too afraid…” she said. “I didn’t want that on my conscience.”

Rudolph looked into her eyes, and wished, suddenly, that tonight could have gone differently.

“It is OVER!” the magician yelled. Acquisitions grabbed Rudolph’s shoulders and began pulling.

“The envelope!” he was yelling.  “Give us the envelope and we’ll save you both! Where is it?” Acquisitions yelled.

The envelope was pinned beneath Rudolph in his coat’s inside pocket.

“Don’t believe them!” the woman yelled. “One of us is going to die tonight! The gypsy said it! You need to live and hold onto that envelope!”

“WHY?” Rudolph yelled as the wind picked up and Acquisitions began trying to locate the envelope by patting him down and reaching into coat pockets. Rudolph could feel the woman pull up against his arms, braced himself. She put her face right next to his and said softly:

“You’ll need it…” and then she kissed him, softly on the lips.

“The envelope!” Acquisitions yelled in his ear as the kiss ended.

“Don’t give it to them,” the woman said. She began to squirm.

“NO!” Rudolph yelled. She was almost out of his arm. He clutched at her frantically.

“You know,” she said. “You never did tell me your name.”

And with that she pushed hard against him. He was unable to hold on, and the last thing he saw was 
her body falling, as if in slow motion, towards the empty dark street below.

It was 12:14 a.m. on Xmas Eve.


There was a bright light against his eyelids. It was completely silent all around him. Rudolph’s entire body ached. He lay perfectly still for a  few moments, trying to remember… it all came back to him. The party, the woman, the strange tunnel, the magician…

The woman.


Rudolph sat up with a gasping sob, eyes suddenly filling with tears.
He was in his own bed, in his tidy bedroom in the small house he had on the outskirts of the city. 

He was wearing a t-shirt and some boxer shorts.

He stared around, the room brightly lit by the sun that was high up in the blue cloudless sky he could see from the window.

On the floor was his business suit, crumpled into a pile. He went over to it, nudged it with his toe. It was slightly damp and looked a mess.

He stared around the room again, bewildered.

He saw, balanced on his nightstand, an envelope. It was dirty and crumpled and appeared to have gone through the wash – if clothes were washed with dirty rocks and moss.  He walked over to it.

On the front, barely legible through the dirt and smudges, he saw block letters that said:

For: Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer.

He flipped it over, and in green felt-tipped marker it said:

Do not open until Xmas Eve

Rudolph looked around until he found his watch. It said it was 1:15, on December 24th.  He looked back at the envelope and after a moment, began to carefully tear it open.

Inside was a small piece of stationary, letterhead from the business where he and Chad worked. 

Written on that was simply:

Answer the doorbell.

Rudolph flipped it over to see if anything was on the back, and as he did so the doorbell rang, making him jump in surprise.  He turned the paper back over. It now said:

Well go ahead answer it.

He dropped the paper and ran downstairs, fumbled with the deadbolt and opened the door wide. A blast of cold air hit him and made his eyes water for a moment. When they cleared up, the woman, the running woman, the falling woman, the woman from the night before, was standing there.

She smiled.

“Merry Xmas,” she said. Rudolph didn't know what to say. 

"I guess we should introduce ourselves," she said. "I'm Mary..." 

Rudolph hesitated only a second before saying: "I'm Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer," and then before she could react he stepped out onto the porch, took her in his arms, and began kissing her.

After a moment she pulled back, looked into his eyes, and said:

"I love you, too, Rudolph."