In previous editions of A Shared Life: The Holidays, I've started with drive to Warren for Thanksgiving. In light of going to the ChristkrindlMarket the week before, I decided that will be the start of the video project documenting The Holidays.
On Saturday, November 23rd Elphie and Kathleen planned to go to ChristkindlMarket in Wrigleyville. We've usually gone later in the season at the downtown location but not this year. That evening I also has the idea of being in Wrigleyville to see Mike Mains and the Branches play at The Cubby Bear so going to the ChristkindlMarket before made sense. I got some poutine from the D-Men Tap booth. It was pretty cold out and Kathleen didn't dress for the weather so we ended up hanging out in the nearby McDonald's for a while. Elphie had another friend, Alex, coming to meet us who made her a piece of art. He arrived with the art and we all hung out for a bit then I decided to head over to the show. I had missed a few of the bands already and didn't want to miss Mike Mains and The Branches. I got to see the band before them as well. Mike Mains wore his shiny jacket as he did at Audiofeed. They played a good amount of new songs with their older hits and I captured "Renegades" from their set.
Filmed LIVE at The Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville Chicago, Illinois on Saturday November 23rd, 2019 using an iPhone 8. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.
On Sunday, November 24th, Elphie and I attended DisgraceGiving once again with Disgraceland Wasteland Suspensions at Wasted Youth. I got a few clips of the suspensions we saw. It was good hangs and good food.
On Tuesday, November 26th, we went to Denny's in Oakbrook Terrace for a special "FriendsGiving" Winchester with the crew. It was another evening of good hangs, food and conversation.
On Tuesday, November 26th, we went to Denny's in Oakbrook Terrace for a special "FriendsGiving" Winchester with the crew. It was another evening of good hangs, food and conversation.
On Wednesday, November 27th, we loaded up and drove from Chicago to Warren, PA for Thanksgiving. We hit a lot of rain, wind, and then snow during the drive but we made it to Warren. We brought Stein along and he handled this trip fairly well.
On Thursday, November 28th, we had a low key Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brother due to the rest of the Sorensen's being involved with a high school championship football game. Congratulations, Gerritt!
On Friday, November 29th, my father and I went to get out hunting licenses and drove to the place our family has hunted for many years. We found a locked gate and sign stating it was no longer permitted for public use. After my father spoke to a worker in the nearby building, we foolishly drove around the gate to park and use the car to rest our guns on and shoot at a target to make sure the guns were shooting straight. While checking in on where we were going to set up for hunting the next day, a couple of guys came up to scold us for driving in and indicated that the area may be posted in the coming year. We took note and did not drive in the rest of the time I was in town to hunt. The Christmas tree was put up that evening and Elphie did the honors of decorating it.
On Saturday November 30th, deer hunting season opened in Pennsylvania. I set up where I had shot a buck years ago hoping for good luck again. I saw one deer and it was not a buck, which is all I had a license for. That evening, we went to Erie, PA for an Erie Otters hockey game against Petersborough Petes. It was a "Teddy Bear Toss" night and on the first and only goal that Erie scored late in the first period, the Teddy Bears and other stuffed animals began to fly and rain down on us. The rest of the first period was delayed and played at the beginning of the second period. It was fun. We went to this game because Pittsburgh Penguins were playing on the road.
On Sunday December 1st, Elphie and I visited with Grandpa in the nursing home before celebrating Northern Family Christmas. We spent about an hour visiting with him during his lunch time. We got back to my parents house, ate lunch, watched the Steelers game, then opened gifts with the family.
On Monday, December 2nd, I went out hunting again. It was freezing rain then turned to snow throughout the day and there did not appear to be anyone else in the woods hunting so I tried still hunting and moving somewhat slowly and as quietly as conditions would allow through the woods hoping that I might sneak up on some deer. In the mid-afternoon I succeeded in seeing some deer that I most likely spooked. At first I saw two without antlers but as I continued to watch them run (with the snow I had a bit better visibility than otherwise) I noticed a third deer and it did appear to have antlers. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a shot at it. When I could take a shot, the head of the deer was behind branches of an evergreen tree so I opted not to shoot in case it was not the possible buck. That evening, after coming home, Elphie and I moved things from the attic of my parents old house to try to help them out. We also went to Wal*Mart to purchase my Christmas gift...a car charging box that also has an air compressor, outlets, and other things to help if having car trouble, stranded, or out camping.
On Tuesday December 3rd, I took my final day of hunting. It was a very loud day in the woods due to the ice and snow so moving around much wasn't a good idea. I settled in an area near where I saw the deer the day before. I saw two deer running without antlers that had been spooked by another hunter who walked by me. He may have spooked others that I didn't see as the evidence suggested when I did begin walking later in the day. I got too cold standing and I wasn't seeing anything else. Hunting this year proved unsuccessful but I am glad I went out. I returned to my parents house and started getting things ready to head back to Chicago the next day.
On Wednesday, December 4th, we drove back to Chicago after quite the stressful morning. I don't feel like getting into all the details on that here. We had been promised that we could trade our vehicle for one of my parents cars since they had recently purchased a newer one but when it comes to vehicles and my father, things are never what they seem and always much more complicated than necessary. This went to an extreme this time. We ended up leaving two hours later than planned with a lot of heightened emotions. We made it back to Chicago alright and we did get to drive back in a car that I feel is better suited for us and should last a bit longer than what we had been driving. I just wish it had been under different circumstances.
I returned to work on Thursday, December 5th and on my commute home, I unexpectedly arrived at Roosevelt Station in time to ride the CTA Holiday Train home! I looked at the arrival times, I saw the candy cane indicator then looked down the tracks to see the train pulling into the station. I got my phone ready to film this experience. As I waited for passengers to get off the train, a mom nearly corralled me with her children away from the train as I attempted to get on. I then rode this train home. It was a pleasant surprise after the stress of the previous day.
Again, with the stress on our last day in Pennsylvania, I had forgotten that Leper was having an album release party on Friday, December 6th. Elphie and I decided to go to it. I also stopped by Everybody's Coffee to see The Crossing and Glenn Kaiser play as part of the Wilson Winter Walk. I got some clips outside of the walk as well. I had a clip of the interview with Skot from the Leper album release party but it seems that I lost it so I only have a couple short clips of the party decor and some of the hang out.
Filmed LIVE at Everybody’s Coffee in Uptown Chicago, Illinois on Friday December 6th, 2019 using an iPhone 8. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.
On Saturday, December 7th, Elphie and Kathleen were going to go to the Laugh Factory for some comedy. Elphie asked if I wanted to go and I said "Sure, I'll go if there is a ticket available" and so I went too. We stopped at Cheesie's for dinner and I played some Ms. PacMan. I put a quarter in only to find out it was free play. It also is set up in a way that one can continue to accumulate score after a "Game Over" so I got no where near the high score but it was fun to play for a bit. We walked to the Laugh Factory and caught some decent stand-up for their early show. As we went to board the train to head home, was saw a guy get assaulted by some teenagers. We don't know what caused it but we did try to help and let CTA workers know what we saw but it didn't seem they were particularly interested in helping and the guy who was assaulted didn't seem interested in going on the platform to identify the group. We ended up going up on the platform and riding toward home when I asked Elphie if she was interested in catching It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood at the Showcase ICON Theatre in Roosevelt Collection. We had about an hour until it started so we decided to go to watch it. I enjoyed the movie and got some clips of the holiday decorations around the area as well as earlier on our walk to the Laugh Factory.
On Sunday, December 8th, we did our usual grocery trip to Indiana. I decided after the weather we drove through returning from Pennsylvania, and to try to get more "Speedy Rewards" points, I would get gas and a car wash at Speedway. I don't think I picked the right level of car wash to get the bonus points or the discounted gas price or whatever I hoped to get but I did get a cleaner car and decided to do a split screen timelapse clip of this endeavor.
On Thursday, December 12th, Elphie received her first Christmas gift in the mail, a Levi-Wand! She tried it out and it looked pretty cool.
On Friday, December 13th, I went to Reggie's for a hardcore and oi show. It felt good to see that kind of show again. It featured Madball, The Old Firm Casuals, Fighting For Scraps, and Absent Mind but I missed Absent Mind. I captured "Pride" from Madball and "Hell's A Lot Better" by The Old Firm Casuals.
Filmed LIVE at Reggie's in Southside Chicago, Illinois on Friday December 13th, 2019 using an iPhone 8. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.
On Saturday, December 14th, there was a birthday party Metal Monkey in Romeoville, IL for Amber, someone who Elphie had met earlier in the year. The birthday was themed as a funeral for her youth. There was good food. She had a eulogy while she laid in a casket. There was a metal cover band as well. We left a bit early and went to Scary Lady Sarah's Krampus Party at D-Men Tap. It was fun as well with a couple Krampuses showing up and a Krampus statue as well.
On Tuesday, December 17th, there was a holiday party at Cornerstone Community Outreach for those of us who work there. Good food and fun as usual. I wore the "Go Jesus! It's Your Birthday" sweater this time while Elphie wore it most of the rest of the season.
On Wednesday, December 18th, I decided to get a clip of the crazy dog barking and running in circles on my way home from work. Figured it made a nice bookend so to speak. I wrapped and gave Elphie a couple more of her gifts...some Tool on vinyl!
After work on Thursday, December 19th, I went to Lincoln Park Zoo to see the Zoolights. There were some folks running through the zoo while this was going on and other folks dressed in classic carolers outfits singing carols at different spots. I captured just a short bit of one carol as I didn't quite cross them again the rest of the evening. I also captured a guy playing Christmas tunes on his saxophone and a lady playing guitar and singing carols as well all within the first half hour that I was there. I made my way through the zoo faster than usual I think getting a look at basically all the lights and whatever animals were on display. I captured one of the songs synced to the light display as well before I left. I decided while riding the bus that I would go downtown to Millennium Park and get a shot of the Christmas Tree and The Bean as well before going home. I saw a homeless man and his cat that was wearing reindeer antlers as I made my way to the CTA to go home.
On Friday, December 20th, the Men's Program at Cornerstone Community Outreach had its holiday celebration so I got a couple clips while that was going on as well as the morning commute to work. As I made my way to the bank later, the CTA Holiday Train rolled through the area so I was able to see it a second time and get some clips of it.
When I returned home from work, Elphie had the car mostly loaded up so I gathered what I needed and we started our drive to Cincinnati. I captured some Christmas lights as we left the neighborhood with the car camera as well as a quick skyline shot. As we drove I captured the state signs, the red lights of the windmills, downtown Cincinnati, and a deer as we approached the Sheehy's house all using the car camera. I also had tried to get a Christmas light smiley face but the camera did not get a good focus on it so I cut that. The deer at the Sheehy's, I wish I could have captured it with a good camera. It had quite the rack on it and stood near the car for a bit before running off but I am glad that the car camera captured it. We gave Mike and Donna some reindeer sausage we picked up in Alaska and they seemed excited to get it. We found out later that they used it on a pizza. We talked late into the night since we didn't have to get up and drive the next day.
On Saturday, December 21st, we hung around in Cincinnati. We hoped to connect with some friends but most were unavailable. We were too slow in getting ourselves moving to hang with one who was available, unfortunately and she canceled. We drove out to Eastgate to the Jungle Jim's store to see Sam for a bit at the bakery. She ended up being very busy so we didn't hang around too long. I took us on a "scenic drive" back into Cincinnati through Anderson Township and eventually we ended up in Uptown and Northside at my old home on Witler. We drove back to Uptown so I could get a couple of Jerk Chicken sandwiches from Island Frydays. I walked by the old 86 turned into a new Top Cats. We drove by the new 86 then went back to the Sheehy's, making a quick stop at Skyline so Elphie could get a baked potato. Elphie was fighting a cold or something so we just rested for a while watching Netflix christmas movies. When the Sheehy's got home, we hung out for a while into the night chatting about life some more.
On Sunday, December 22nd, we drove to North Carolina. We didn't get leaving very early but it didn't much matter. We had breakfast then left the Sheehy's. We would be returning the following weekend to stay another night on our return to Chicago. We made it through Kentucky before encountering rain in Tennessee. We ended up stopping at a Sonic to get some dinner. After we crossed into North Carolina and had been driving for a while, we passed a fairly significant light show so we turned around to see it. It ended up being like a tourist trap! We saw that it cost money and I decided to go ahead and pay it. We drove through, tuning the radio to the station and it was pretty cool. It was a labyrinth of lighting. When we got to what seemed like the end, we found ourselves stuck going into another section that wasn't synced to the music and much more spaced out. It probably took us and half hour or more to get through this thing which stressed Elphie out a bit. the light show was at Tryon Equestrian Park and I hope that the money went to a good cause. We finally arrived at her family's house and she made a ball pit for the kids out of a kiddie pool. It was some goofy fun. It was good to be done driving too.
On Monday, December 23rd, Elphie and I took her nephews to get R.O.'s Bar-B-Cue. I got a couple sandwiches to go as well as some sauce to bring back. If there is a food I have come to really like in North Carolina, it is R.O.'s Bar-B-Cue. We also stopped at the Krispy Kreme in town.
On Tuesday, December 24th, Elphie and I visited with her friend Amanda for a bit before the family gathered for Christmas Eve. On the television fittingly was Die Hard. There was a White Elephant gift exchange and I got an arcade style Basketball game. Elphie originally got some candles but swapped out for some Poo-Pourri. Before going to bed, we found "evidence" of Santa's visit.
On Wednesday, December 25th, Elphie got up early to watch Christmas presents get opened. We drove over to her brother's house for more present opening. Later in the evening, we went to Elphie's mom's house. We received some skeletal decorations and hung around for a while with them. We visited with the neighbors next door and got some dinner as well.
On Thursday, December 26th, we had some more Christmas left to celebrate. We had a taco bar dinner for lunch before the opening of gifts. Elphie gave her nieces and nephews all their gifts. She also opened the rest of the gifts I had for her which was the newest Tool album and Reese's Cups. She gave me three pounds of Skittles. We also received a gift card, a poop calendar, a hat with bluetooth speakers, and chocolate covered cherries. There was a silly string battle as usual as well. We visited with Elphie's cousin as well and had another good meal.
On Friday, December 27th, we drove to South Carolina to take advantage of cheaper gas prices. We pretty much took it easy this day. Debbie was in town from Seattle to do Christmas with her North Carolina as well so we hung out with her for a little bit but didn't do much else. I was beginning to come down with a cold so relaxing was what I would need with long drives the next couple of days.
On Saturday, December 28th, we drove from North Carolina back to Cincinnati. We stopped at Blackwoods Drive-In to get Cherry Lemon Sundrop which is packed full of cherries and lemon with the soda. It's pretty good. We also stopped at a Bojangles along the way in Tennessee. When we got near the Sheehy's house, I stopped by Skyline to get a Southwestern Chicken Wrap. It seemed though that these folks working on this particular night in this particular Skyline did not know how to make a Southwestern Chicken Wrap. It was missing the Skyline chili. When we arrived at the Sheehy's, Josiah was leaving for the evening. We hung out with Mike, Donna, Christian, and for the evening chatting late once again. Rachel Sheehy came by as well. We were bummed to have missed out on seeing quite a few of our friends but glad we did get to see some and had some downtime on this trip in Cincinnati.
On Sunday, December 29th, we got up to drive back to Chicago. We hung with Josiah for a bit as we ate breakfast. As we drove back, we captured the state signs again as well as the windmills. We stopped by Albanese for some more gummies then went to Meijer to get groceries and of course got Taco Bell for dinner. We arrived at home and it wasn't too particularly late. We survived yet another holiday season with all its driving and I felt how we went about it this year with extending Thanksgiving trip in Pennsylvania and do our Christmas during that visit then just do the southern trip at Christmas made it more relaxing for the most part (of course some situations weren't so great with this year but that could have been avoided). I think we will probably do our trips like that going forward.
On Monday, December 30th we found a funny little meme going around the internet about it being Ramones time when midnight would hit. It would be 24 hours until 2020 or "2020 24 hours to go." I played a "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones at midnight and Elphie posted the meme.
On Tuesday December 31st, I walked through the snow to go to work. I got a clip of my commute on the train as well. As I returned home I noticed a car that had caught fire apparently. I also got a couple clips of Christmas lights and the moon before coming inside. Elphie watched the New Year's programming and flipped between networks until the New Year hit New York. Elphie blew her horn and make a racket. Stein ran away. We flipped through some local Chicago programming that wasn't really very good. It's interesting to me how bad the quality of the programming is in Chicago when Chicago is a major city and major market. When the New Year hit for us, Elphie rang it in with her noise maker inside and out of our apartment. Stein ran away again. I went outside and could hear the sound of explosions all around...most likely the sounds of the downtown fireworks as well. Perhaps I even heard some gunshots but who knows. It took a while for anything visible for me at ground level to begin to be shot off but we saw some decent fireworks in the neighborhood as well...just slow starters I guess.
For the soundtrack I picked songs relevant to the season but also songs that I felt had specific relevance to things going on in the video clips or where the video clips were filmed. In some cases the selection might be obvious and other cases might only make sense to me. "We Will Feast In The House Of Zion" by Sandra McCracken was chosen because I felt it had a decent tie into Thanksgiving. I liked how "The Virgin Mary Had One Son" by Josh Garrels sounded so I wanted to include it. The placement didn't have any significance. "The Holly And The Ivy" by Wayfarer (know known as Pacific Gold) was placed here due to being in the woods hunting. It actually ran through my mind while I was out there on several occasions. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by Kevin Max and Michael Tait is a new tune put out this year. The lines "from now on your troubles be out of sight/miles away" felt appropriate with how the Thanksgiving trip ended. I certainly hope that there will never be a repeat of that. The placement of "Jolly Ole St. Nick" by The Uh-Ohs had no real significance but I did hope to fit one of their songs into the project. "Scary Christmas To You" by Grave Robber felt appropriate with the Krampus party and other goth/metal themed things going on in that part of the project. The placement of "Christmas Don't Be Late" by Rosie Thomas and "Hearts On Fire" by Lauryn Peacock did not hold significance necessarily. Both were songs I hoped to use but "Hearts on Fire" tied in well with the lights of the Dragon blowing fire. "O Come O Come Emmanuel" by In Darkest Dreams was a song I wanted to use and though its placement wasn't necessarily significant, I decided to place it around the drive to Cincinnati and visit with the Sheehy's. "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by Seabird was included and placed in the Cincinnati part of the video due to that being their hometown. I used "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" by Nick Lowe on the southern part of the trip due to the nature of how the song sounds. I had wanted to use it and felt it was the time and place to do it. "Thank God The Year Is Finally Over" by Paper Route kind of summed up how it felt to be done with 2019. The year wasn't necessarily bad but there were enough stresses that it was good to get it behind us. I added "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones to fill the time to end the drive back to Chicago and prior to the celebrations on New Year's Eve. The other portion is from their video on youtube that we played as "Ramones Time" hit.