Saturday, December 25, 2010

I am Ridiculous Because . . .

  • The battery on my old toothbrush conked out two days ago. I had already bought a new toothbrush to put in my Christmas stocking (hey, someone has to do it!) and I wouldn't let myself open the new toothbrush, because I had to wait till Christmas, duh!
  • I had Logan take the turkey out of the freezer and set it in the downstairs refrigerator Tuesday morning so that it would have the required four days to thaw. I never once checked on it. Logan is very reliable. However, the refrigerator is not. Apparently it is set way too cold. At seven this morning when I went to put the turkey in the oven, it was still frozen. Fortunately, for the first time ever, I had decided not to stuff the turkey, but to make a separate dressing instead. The rock-hard turkey is now in the oven, complete with its paper-wrapped giblets, which I could not pry out of the neck cavity. I'm not sure when we will eat.
  • I've been up since 4:30, too excited to sleep, last minute cleaning, wrapping one more gift, finishing stuffing stockings, folding one more load of laundry. I'm excited and happy, humming Christmas carols under my breath as I flutter through the house in my nightgown.
  • I think seventeen people will show up today -- maybe a couple more or less. And yet, I feel it is a small gathering because of all those who won't be here. I'll miss Casey, John, and Sadie, my sister Valery, Colleen and her boys Robby, Billy, and Danny, Grandson Tom, his wife Nichole, and Mallaika, Rick and Kathy, and Hollis and Jason and his family, and Lynnette and Scott and family, and most of all, Ken and Robin.
  • It's snowing and I'm thrilled -- I guess we do have a white Christmas after all.
  • Some absent family members will be represented through tradition: Robin is here through the chocolate coins in the stockings, my dad lives through his crab salad, and my mother's legacy is clam dip. I'll serve Aunt Helen's cranberry sauce in my grandmother's cut glass bowl. Colleen's tradition is cookies, but we already ate all of them.
  • People came, we ate, we exchanged gifts, and I came down with a rotten cold right in the middle of the celebration. I was fine this morning and now, ugh! And the turkey didn't get done. But, there was enough that was done, and everyone brought food and it was all good.
  • And now I'm going to bed -- I hope I didn't infect anyone, I had no idea I was sick!
Ben and Logan, Kevin and Rachel share clam dip before dinner.
Logan poses with poster and letter from Alfonso Salazar, a high school friend of Robin's (Berryessa Art and Wine Festival with Red-headed flute player, inspired by Robin)Ben with his poster

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Shopping at out-of the-way places and avoiding the mall are perpetual goals of mine -- especially at Christmas time.
Jim Blansit's distillery in Taney County certainly meets those criteria. Here he is leaning on his copper kettle -- a piece of equipment that qualifies as art no matter what it's function.
Oak kegs imported from Europe age some of his rum and corn whiskey.
But this bottle of Everclear, Moonshine, or White Lightning has never spent a moment in a cask -- clear, distilled corn squeezings ready for drinking the minute it comes out of the pipe. Who do you think will be the recipient of this special gift?

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Love Winter Because . . .

  • The possibility of a SNOW DAY hangs in the air. Yes, of course we know you have to make it up at the end of the school year, but it's worth it! Up early with a long full day ahead and no school! The kids are out to the local sledding hill at first light and back within an hour with red cheeks, hands, and snow crusted feet which shed all over the entry hall. And for Grandma, no obligation to go anywhere, everything is canceled because it's TOO DANGEROUS to drive. Crank up the gas fireplace, gather up the warm throws, stack the books on the end table, and settle in, no obligation to go out, so I have a hot toddy with the evening news. We haven't had a snow day yet this year, but the season is young.
  • The bare trees reveal secrets they've shrouded all summer. The true shapes of the trees are revealed making it much easier to distinguish hickory from sycamore, ash from oak. Empty birds' nests safely hidden while holding eggs and cradling chicks, are now in plain sight. I wonder how some very large nests high in the slender branches that must belong to either raptors or small mammals survive the 50 - 60 mile per hour gusts we often experience. The bald eagles return for their winter visit and can be seen high in trees near the water, scouting for their next meal.

  • ICE! The very word strikes fear. One slip and you could end up in the hospital! Cars spin out all over the place, into ditches and into each other. But it fascinates me. Ice storms bring down trees, power and telephone lines, but they also gild every surface with silvery beauty that glistens in the bright sun that follows a storm and turns the whole world into a magically beautiful place. I love watching to see if the river has frozen and to watch the confused ducks walk on the surface they expected to swim and fish in. At the beginning of the season, I set a pan of water on the deck at night to see how thick the ice forms. I keep a steady eye on the thermometer, watching for lowest readings of the season.

  • Warm weather food. Cozy smells, cinnamon and crock pots full of all the veggies left in the refrigerator. (Favorite recipe: half pound of small-cubed chicken or pork, half pound of sliced any kind of sausage, a box of chicken broth, a big can of diced tomatoes, a can of cannellini beans, leafy veggies [bok choy, spinach, tat soi, chard] and root veggies [turnips, carrots, potatoes, beets] and maybe some acorn or butternut squash. I just clean out the refrigerator until the crock pot is full.) The kids used to grumble a bit, but if I serve some fresh hot biscuits, rolls, or garlic bread, they love it! And I can't believe they eat turnips without a murmur. I have learned to tolerate them and even like the milder Japanese variety. Molasses/ginger snaps, snickerdoodles, apple pie, home made apple sauce fill the air with cinnamon goodness.

  • Christmas. All of it. The excess, the gifts (giving and receiving) the home decorations, the food, the music, the company, the parties, the traditions -- both religious and secular. Advent calendars (couldn't find any this year!) Next year I will make quilted "permanent" ones with pockets to be filled with goodies for each December day. Advent candles -- this Sunday will be the last candle -- symbol of Joy. The Christmas programs at school. Ben's madrigal last night was magnificent. Could only have been better if I had been able to see him well enough to get a decent picture. But with a couple hundred kids on the stage, it's hard to pick out one special boy who looked great and sung his heart out. I'm always struck by the thought that singing is so good for one. I'm convinced it promotes good health and clear thinking. And brings Joy to the World!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh My Stars!

Football pictures were taken after the end of the season, so the uniform isn't quite complete -- no cleats or long socks, just legs covered with lots of long blond hair! I really like this picture, it's very typical of how he looks these days. I already miss football season and going to his games. I love watching him -- he seems so confident and comfortable with himself.

Here's the other star in the family. This picture was taken today (12-15-2010) just minutes after I finished sewing this costume for the Christmas madrigal Ben is singing in tomorrow and Friday. It was finished just an hour and a half before the dress rehearsal. I had worked on it nearly every waking moment for a week and a half and spent close to $200 on it. I kept thinking something was wrong, I wasn't getting the whole story. How could everyone in the choir come up with a costume given the cost and effort I was spending? Well, in fact, they didn't. I guess I'm guilty of overkill. When I dropped Ben off tonight, I noticed most of the kids were just wearing black pants, a muslin peasant shirt and perhaps a bright scarf around their waists. Ben may well be the best-dressed of them all. I hope he isn't uncomfortable because of it -- I'm sure I'll get a full report tonight when I pick him up. Oh, well. It's a great costume and I had a lot of fun making it.

By the way, I now have a new phone number due to a snafu when I transferred service from one carrier to another. If you need my number, drop me an email or comment on the blog.

My Favorite Centenarian

I haven't had time to post -- I've been shackled to my sewing machine working on Ben's costume for the Christmas Madrigal. Tonight is the dress rehearsal and if I don't spend too much time at my computer, I'll probably finish the outfit in time. With good luck, I'll also have time to get some pictures before he heads out. If he gets out -- there is a possibility of an ice storm today and I don't go anywhere on icy roads.
I could not let the day go by without acknowledging what would have been Aunt Helen's 100th birthday. Here she is enjoying her favorite hobby with her favorite person. She lives forever in my heart!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Run-up

  1. A little bit of shopping - mostly online with a severely curtailed gift list.
  2. Sewing like crazy - items for church bazaar.
  3. Frantically making a renaissance costume for Ben's Christmas Madrigal choir concert -- it should be done this weekend -- must be done this weekend the concert is the 16th!
  4. Parties - after several years of no parties, suddenly four are on my calendar -- two down, two to go.
  5. Ben's Christmas band concert (tonight) it was wonderful. Ben played the plastic bag and a sheet of red poster board. (Here wearing "A. Eagle" hoodie and playing plastic bag percussion.)
  6. Ben's Christmas Choir concert.
  7. Community service - packing food baskets -- they were willing and fast workers -- and then they got to eat some of the leftovers!-
  8. "Adopting" a family through "Least of These" and shopping for gifts.
  9. Planning Christmas menu.
  10. And ta-da! getting our family Christmas present early -- Ben set it up and it works!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Must Have Something in My Eye

Sure, it was a school assignment, they were supposed to write a thank you note to someone important in their lives. But man, oh man, he really got to me. A kid shouldn't have to be thankful for this stuff -- doesn't the universe owe it to him? I am so thankful he is such a wonderful, sweet, caring, aware soul.

And this -- I put this year's school picture in the frame and realized there are only two empty slots. Wow! That really gets to me. I am so grateful for these young men and cannot imagine my life without them. Yet, they will be launched before too long.