Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Post of 2009

Christmas Day was very pleasant here. We had a sleep-in, then opened presents over cups of coffee. My son came by in the afternoon for a Christmas brunch. We had a Swedish pancake, baked eggs, bacon and ham, oven fried potatoes, and pumpkin-cranberry bread. Quiet.

I called my daughter--where it was not so quiet. They had just finished with their presents and the kids were very happy and excited to play with new toys.

Now...The tree is down and all the decorations are put away. The furniture is all back into normal position. There are still way too many cookies and candies about, but the freezer and fridge are down to just enough for today and tomorrow. Most of the packing is done, a lot of stuff already in the car. We will be leaving for North Augusta, South Carolina on Monday and then on to Venice, Florida for New Year's Day.

So it's time to wish everyone a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snowy Day


Snow has been falling gently all day. It hasn't amounted to much on the ground, but it has kept us inside and concentrating on the packing that needs to get done before we leave for warmer, sunnier climes.
Winter weather was actually late in arriving this year and we got none of the big storm that went up the coast last weekend. We probably won't be so winter weary when we leave.
Tomorrow may warm up a bit--get all the way into the 20's--so it might be a good chance to get out for a quick ski. Fresh air and exercise would be a good antidote for the Christmas cookie and candy bloat that has taken hold. It would be nice to sit in the car for the long ride coming up and actually be able to keep my pants buttoned up. Let's just say this has not been a good week for that diet I never started anyway.
"Good thing New Year's Resolutions are coming up," (she said once again demonstrating her inner dieter's incredible talent for self-delusional fantasy).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Forever Blowing Bubbles


Okay, after my family Christmas gathering a few years ago, I was loading up the dish washer. It was quite late. I was quite tired. I had been planning, and shopping, and cooking for a few days. The party was pleasant. I enjoyed a glass of wine (or two, or maybe even three) throughout the evening. Mike was going to bed, but I wanted to get the dish washer started. He watched me squirt the Dawn dish washing liquid into the dish washing machine and apparently had the thought that something was not right but only managed to say, "see you in the morning."
I went downstairs (we live in a raised range style house) to sit by the dwindling fire in our den, sip that last glass of wine, and reflect on the satisfaction of a family that can get together, share a meal , and have a nice time enjoying each others' company. I remember that the 11 o'clock news was coming on when I started to hear "drip, drip, drip." I went to investigate and saw water dripping from the ceiling just behind the television.
"Well this is strange," I thought, and I went upstairs to see if the toilet was overflowing. Of course that was not the problem. The kitchen was filling up with soap suds and water covered the floor. I turned off the dish washer and ran down to the garage to get the wet vac, which took up residence in the kitchen for the next three days while I would run the empty dishwasher and suck up suds as they oozed out.
It's just when you think you have life under control that you really have to watch out. Oh, and here's a household tip from a Martha wannabe: Don't put liquid dish detergent meant for the dish pan into the dish washer...unless you want a really, really clean kitchen floor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where's The Remote?


This morning we could not find the remote controls for either one of our two television sets. Since we had my family Christmas gathering yesterday and the three kids in attendance were fleetingly watching Sponge Bob Squarepants at some point during the evening, we started looking in the places that a two or three year old might have dropped something like a remote. We looked under cushions and under furniture. We looked behind furniture and in cupboards, drawers, bags, boxes, shoes, laundry baskets, wastepaper baskets, coat pockets. Honestly, I looked in the toilet tank. We found them after about six hours of sporadic searching--one behind the lamp on the table next to the den couch and one on the bedroom bureau behind the swivel mirror--obviously not places a toddler would carelessly drop them! They must have been hidden by an adult concerned about unsupervised TV watching.
I love my family Christmas get together. That's the real holiday for me. Too bad there is always an associated minor disaster. One year my daughter was in a car accident and Mike and one of my nephews had to drive to a hospital fifty miles away to pick her up. Fortunately her injury was not severe. This year it was the lost remotes. Four years ago it was the dishwasher fiasco, but that's another story.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gift Wrapping


There was an article in the Burlington Free Press this morning about making the wrapping part of the gift. So that thing I tried to get away with a little while ago--about my simple wrapping being eco-friendly, trendy green--just not going to hold up. Apparently furoshiki is where it's at, and I just missed that boat completely. And me with a tubs of scrap fabric besides!


The blog, Skip to My Lou (http://www.skiptomylou.org/) will show you all about it.


Friday, December 18, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Yesterday I read Arkansas Patti's post about eating to empty the refrigerator (http://thenewsixty.blogspot.com/2009/12/eat-refrigerator-empty.htm). We are also in the the process of emptying the refrigerator, freezer, and any open pantry items. We will be leaving for Florida on December 28th. This chore is complicated by the fact that we are hosting my family Christmas party this Sunday. That means lots of food and I can't very well serve a big bowl of cornmeal mush just because I have an opened container with about a cup and a half of cornmeal in it that I need to use up.

Last night we had cornmeal mush (let's call it polenta) with a scampi made from the remains of a bag of frozen shrimp, a bit of garlic, the last couple of splashes of juice from a week old lemon, and the last of a jar of capers. Hey, it was pretty good. We're sure to have much stranger meals before we leave.

I have a dread fear of leaving flours and grains in the cupboards even though I transfer everything into airtight containers. (Pantry moths)*. And anyone who has ever worked where there is a communal fridge for employees knows what happens to items left too long--never by anyone who actually works there, or so they all claim--enough fuzz to knit a sweater and a matching scarf. Double yuk. Don't even get my started about the spills in the break room microwave.

On time when I got to work early, I went to put my lunch bag in the mini fridge on our office counter. There was a pink substance--could have been yogurt, could have been Pepto Bismal--oozing from the door down onto the counter and thence onto the floor. Now, here's the killer part...someone else had already seen this disaster because there was a self-righteously scrawled note taped on the door: "Is this YOUR mess????" Yeah, I'm sure that was going to get the culprit to mend his/her ways.

*Some people have told me they couldn't bear to spend time in Florida because of all the bugs, but let me tell ya Vermont has no shortage of buggy things!
photoxpress

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hurry, Scurry

Cold, cold, cold today! And busy, busy--traffic every where. Don't people have JOBS they should be doing in the middle of the day in the middle of the week?? Really, those holiday shoppers so interfere with my stress-free shopping on a weekday. Have they no respect for the retired? I mean I rarely venture into the shops on the weekends, holding up lines while I begin to count out my change, rummaging my wallet out of my bag just after the entire order is totalled up. If that's going to annoy you on a weekday, stay home!
Wrapping is mostly done. Martha Stewart would blanch and faint, or at least pucker her lips in a righteous moue, I'm sure. I put gifts in white boxes, tied a ribbon around the box and pasted on the cut out fronts of old Christmas cards with "to" and "from" written on. It's not that I was too cheap to buy wrapping paper and gift tags; I was going for environmentally friendly. Yeah, that's it--environmentally friendly, cutting back on my carbon footprint.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's Your Sense of Humor?

There was a wire service piece in the local paper about North Face, purveyor of active wear, suing a college student who started a line of leisure wear he chose to call, "South Butt." The North Face people apparently took exception to the parody. C'mon.

Stray thoughts...


Yesterday I wore boots to walk to the library because of the slush. Now I have a painful blister on my right heel. Good walking shoes are one of life's necessities.

Today the weather is particularly dreary--grey, half rain, half snow. We have not had one of those snowfalls that changes the world into some kind of magical fairy castle, glistening and clean, as yet this season. What snow we have had has been wet and has not even fully covered the ground--the kind that is black and dingy within an hour. WAAH, WAAH. Turning on the Christmas lights made me happy, though--lights and the chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven.

I wrapped presents today and prepared some pie crust dough to stash in the fridge. My family get-together is this coming Sunday so I have a menu to plan and grocery shopping and cooking to do later this week. Sometimes I get into a mood of slavish dedication to everything made from scratch. This year, except for pies, a trip to Costco will do it, I think.

I have a hair cut appointment on Friday--a simple trim. I look forward to this like it was a day at a coastal California spa. I'm planning a sushi lunch and a bottle of semi-expensive wine. Sometimes it really doesn't take much to boost me right out of a funk.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Do Dreams Mean?

Lately I have been having the most intricately detailed dreams. It has moved me to look up dream symbols. It appears from a preliminary stab at understanding what might go on in my head that I either have some childhood memory to deal with or I am in search of a more spiritual dimension to my life. Either could be entirely true, but I lean toward the spiritual dimension. Doorways, stairs, boxes, and family members figure prominently in these dreams. Sometimes I just wish the universe would stop being so coy and just come out with it. I'm sure I could take it.
Any thoughts? Suggestions?
from photoxpress

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Planning a Work Party**

I received this e-mail from a friend who also happens to be a veteran of work related party planning. Thanks, Ginnie, for some fun times. Your efforts are never appreciated enough, but I get it. You are the spirit of generosity.
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November11, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to singalong. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for every one's pockets.This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Patty ________________________________ ________________________________ Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 12, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year.However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Happy now? Happy Holidays to you and your family, Patty ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 13, 2009
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name.I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy. REMEMBER: NO GIFTS EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED. ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: November 14, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work? Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table. To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry. We will have booster seats for short people. Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first. There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics,but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!? Patty ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: November 15, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW! The rest of you f*%^ing weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday! Drive drunk and die,
TheB*tchfromH*ll!!! ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: November 16, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Happy Holidays! Joan

**Just not worth it. It's a rare bunch who work together that also like to play together, I guess. On the other hand, you can't go wrong with time off with pay.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have a thesaurus handy?


Writing can be such hard work sometimes.

We wish you a ...


I read a letter to the editor yesterday by a guy who was outraged when he hears store clerks and bank tellers wish shoppers, "Happy Holidays." I witnessed a man returning a box of cards his wife had purchased at the stationery shop because they referred to "Holidays." Apparently, there is some movement to boycott Old Navy and Gap stores because their TV ads mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and solstice. Christmas is being squeezed out.

Personally, I don't react to greetings of "Happy Holidays" in a negative way. It seems to me that people were wishing each other "Happy Holidays" long before any concept of political correctness. When I was growing up I had never heard of solstice or Kwanzaa and had only the vaguest awareness of Hanukkah. "Happy Holidays!" was meant to cover Christmas through New Year's Day. If anything, I guess it was more efficient than saying (or writing), "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." You save four whole syllables and sixteen letters.

I enjoy hearing a hearty "Merry Christmas!" but it's not such a bad thing to at least be aware that some might feel excluded. What is really sad, though, as referring to this time of year as the "Holiday Shopping Season." That's beyond secular and on into crassly commercial.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lunch and Shopping


I ventured out today to pick up the wreaths and swags that had been blown over the yard yesterday. About a third of our neighbor's willow tree is scattered over our yard as well. It's kind of a mess, but at least we had power yesterday.

Then I took off to finish up some Christmas shopping. I'm pretty much done shopping and now need to get wrapping. I didn't have much money to spend this year so fancy wrapping is out--not very green, anyway.

In the midst of my shopping, I stopped and had lunch with my son after picking him up at his work. We went to a favorite place of ours--The Four Corners of the Earth Cafe. They have delicious sandwiches with a worldly cachet and the decor is captivating. I had the Russian salmon and Kevin, who is working his way through the entire menu so tries something different each time, had Danish egg.

I had a couple of things to pick up at Macy's. When I went into the mall from the parking garage, there was a young guy standing in front of a kiosk flying a little remote control helicopter. That seems like a pretty good gig for a seasonal job, but I guess it could be a lot of standing on your feet. The helicopter was cute, but not on my list.

It was good to get out of the house even though we were really only shut in for one day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome Back, Winter

Winter hasn't forgotten us after all. We have had dustings of snow for the past two days, and for tonight the prediction is for a snow, ice, rain, high winds, and other general weather related mayhem. All it took, apparently, was for me to start planning the Christmas get-together for my family. Now I can worry that the weather will ruin the day.
Just like with Mike's family Thanksgiving get-together, there is reason for a certain amount of sadness this season. My sister's husband will be starting chemo for the return of his cancer. Nieces and nephews have scattered across the country and one brother is is North Carolina from November through May now, so we won't be seeing him and his wife for the holidays. One nephew has just left for Indiana with the Vermont National Guard, possibly on the way to Afghanistan. I don't think I am the kind of person who resists any kind of change, but not all changes are easy to accept. My own grandmother used to say, quite forcefully, "Don't get old!"
With all due respect, though, I guess it is better than the alternative.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Little Decorating










I have not pulled out all the Christmas decorations and have decided that some are just not making the cut this year. Simple is my theme--a basket on the table,

some touches of green and red,









my Santa collection and lights at the window.








That's enough!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friends are Moving Away

Our friends Bob and Sarah have sold their house and have been packing up for the past six weeks or so. The moving van will be at their house on Tuesday to take all their things to Colorado. Mike is so sad to see them go and I think Bob is secretly sad to be leaving a house he built and grounds he perfected over the years. (It is a beautiful home.) Sarah's daughters and young grand children are in Colorado, so I understand her desire to be close to them.

Twenty-six years in one house can mean a lot of stuff accumulated. We thought about moving a few years ago and started "downsizing." We sold and gave away LOADS of stuff. At least twice a year, I get rid of some small pile of stuff. Just yesterday it was a box of Christmas dishes--taking up too much space for something that is only used for a very limited time each year so off to Goodwill they went. Mike has been periodically selling some of his collectibles on e-bay. Still, there are no discernible holes or empty storage spaces any where in the house. Stuff must be like mice in the reproduction department.
photoxpress

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December So Soon

PhotoXpress The unseasonably warm weather has continued right into the beginning of December. Today was actually record-breaking warm with temperatures into the 50's. Yesterday we drove down to deliver the Advent banners to the grand children. I got a bit of grand children fix and Mike went to visit a couple of his friends from the motorcycle world so it was pleasant all the way around.
Today, I dragged out some Christmas decorations. I have cut way back--no longer decking out every room in the house--but it is nice to have the candle lights in the front windows and some wreaths hanging at the door. Since we head out for Florida right after Christmas, I now thing about the "putting away"as much as the preparations. In fact, I would be happy with just a table top tree, one that I could plant in the back, but Mike still likes the big tree in the living room. We live near a huge tree farm (or two), so it is kind of an easy purchase. We'll probably go cut a fresh tree some time late next week.
Also today I baked the Scottish shortbread...and put it all in the freezer as soon as it was cool so as not to be tempted to gobble it up for dessert after tonight's supper. Tomorrow, I'll take a trip to Costco and get supplies for the Ukrainian nut bread, English toffee, and Rugelach cookies. I used up all my butter today. The one thing from my childhood Christmas table that I do not do is my grandmother's suet pudding. It was really good with raisins and a brandy sauce, but one has to draw the line somewhere!
Oh, and temperatures in the 50's here in Vermont means people are out and about in shorts and tee shirts. Typically, we would have had a major snow storm by now. When we are in Florida (Venice, a subtropical climate), temperatures in the 50's mean coats, hats, and mittens and news bulletins warning you to keep your pets inside. It's all relative.