Archive for December, 2010
The project at work that has been consuming much of my time is done, the report written, and the presentation presented. All of the final meetings, small projects, and end-of-year wrap-up at work has been wrapped up. I am on vacation, and will not be darkening my office door nor cracking open my work laptop until next year.
I am more then ready for the end of year holidays.
If I lived in New York, I could be watching the Yule log (now available in 3D and HD) channel right now. (According to the NY Times, New Yorkers have been watching the Yule Log channel since 1966!)
Tree: obtained and decorated? Check. We did that one a little while ago. Though the poor tree did have to endure several days of a bone-dry tree stand before I remembered that it needed to be watered. Sorry, tree! Still, the initial drought doesn’t seem to have done any lasting damage… no more needles then would normally be expected have fallen off. We even decorated the potted Clementine tree in the kitchen with tiny little ornaments and hung icicle lights in the library windows.
Merlin ignores the tree. Thank god.
I kind of wish that Percival would ignore the tree, as I have found lights askew and ornaments on the ground on several occasions. Though at least he is not actually trying to climb the tree. (That I can tell.) He seems to limit his play to the low-hanging stuff and to burrowing around in the bedsheets that we pressed into service as tree-skirts. He is also drinking the water out of the tree stand.
All in the mail. Packages too. Hopefully everything will arrive in time. The Post Office is a special ring of hell this time of the year.
The sweetbreads (actual bread, and not pancreas) are done, though I think that I might want to make another loaf of date nut bread at some point. I also made a batch of pizzelles using the special, gourmet, vanilla extract that Ted and Sabrina gave us. Sadly, my tongue is not gourmet enough to tell the difference between special, gourmet, vanilla extract and run-of-the-mill grocery-store vanilla extract. Still. Tasty pizzelles.
I even have a small fruitcake in the freezer for New Years Eve. Though I have to admit that I got it at the bakery, rather then making it myself.
Gifts all wrapped? Check.
All wrapped and under the tree. Percival is fascinated by the bows on some of the packages that came in the mail from John’s Dad. Obviously they are cat toys and are there for him to bat at and chew on. He managed to pick up the smallest package by its bow and was carrying it around the first floor with him when we caught him and confiscated it. Now the boxes with bows are turned upside-down and kind of wedged in with the rest of the boxes to try to discourage that kind of play. Why didn’t we just take off the bows? I am not sure… I think that we felt bad at completely depriving Percival of a source of fun, so we just decided to make it hard for him to play with them.
Cleaning done? Check.
Everything is done. All errands have been run. Everything is cleaned. Everything is ready. I have nothing left on my pre-holiday countdown checklist to check off.
All I have to do today and tomorrow is to relax and enjoy myself. Books will be read. Games will be played. There will be much lounging around to be done.
We still have some of the snow left on the ground from last week’s mini-storm, though the temperatures have been slowly creeping up since then to the low 30′s.
However, according to weather.com, we are supposed to have snow this afternoon, this evening and all day tomorrow. Oh, please let that be true. I so badly want this to be a true white Christmas. I am tired of having Christmases in Dayton where it is gloomy and raining, or, worse, sunny and in the 50′s. I miss the snow- and ice-locked Christmases when I was a kid in Cleveland.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
Our friend “wintry mix” is back, and is the reason why we cut short a visit to family in Ann Arbor and made the drive home last night instead of staying over until this morning. Given the choice between driving home after dark in the rain and driving home in the daytime in freezing rain, sleet, and “wintry mix”, we opted for night and rain.
Hey, we got a Christmas tree! It is a 6 foot tall (maybe a little shorter once the trunk was trimmed to fit in our stand) Frazier Fir. Already the library and most of the downstairs smells like pine. We had to thaw it for a little while in the laundry room, since Home Depot stores its trees in the outside garden area, and it was covered in snow when we bought it.
We ended up first-world consumerist Americans and throwing away all of our old multi-colored tree-lights. Most of the strands wouldn’t light up at all, and it was just not worth the time investment to sit there and painstakingly test one tiny bulb after another to find out which one (or ones) was the culprit. And we would have had to repeat that process for 5 strands of lights. No thanks. And since the replacement lights cost about $8 a strand at Target, we could almost afford to just throw them away with the tree instead of taking them down and winding them up when the time comes. (We will probably save them… we may be first-world consumerists, but we aren’t that wasteful.)
I even hung up the singing ornament. (It’s Tradition!) John hates it. (As does my Dad, which is how I ended up with it. It can be annoying, but I love it, and it has been on the family tree since I was little.) I did promise not to plug it in. Much.
So far the cats do not appear to be freaked out by the changes to their environment. Merlin ignored the proceedings. Percival was fascinated by the lights.
Word to the wise: mulled hard cider (we made the hard cider ourselves earlier in the fall) is not as good as mulled regular cider. It smelled great, but tasted… off. Next time we want to have mulled cider with a tiny bit of a kick to it, we will simply mull regular cider and add a shot of rum.
We have gotten more snow (it is coming down in big, fat flakes which I am watching through my home office window as I type) and the grass is now almost completely obscured, though the roads remain mostly dry. There is some ice, but not much. Pretty tame according to the standards of someone who grew up in the Cleveland snowbelt, and then went on to live in upstate New York and Michigan. Still, I have lived down here in SW Ohio long enough to be pleasantly surprised by seasonally appropriate weather.
Snow is nature’s way of rewarding you for the winter cold.
I don’t think that many people down here would agree with me, though. Certainly not the people I encountered on the way to yoga yesterday morning, who were so freaked out by the white stuff falling out of the sky that they could barely manage to do 30 mph on a 4 lane, 45 mph road. Certainly not the road crews, who were already out spewing salt into the roads. (Seriously guys? The snow is not even sticking to the roads yet. But go ahead and waste the salt now, so that when February hits us with a real blizzard, you are all out of salt and money to clear the roads. Really, go ahead. That strategy ensures Level 1 Snow Emergencies and Snow Days.) Certainly not my snowbird neighbors, who seem to have packed up and flown south for the winter.
“Weather experts” have been saying for the past several months that because the area had a hotter and dryer then usual summer, we were certain to have a colder and snowier (not really sure how that one works, but okay) winter. It looks like they might be right. I hope that they are right. I badly want to have a true white Christmas. (Two years ago it was gorgeous, and sunny, and in the 50s on Christmas, which is not the type of Christmas weather that I appreciate.)
In today’s edition of “its a small world”, not only does my yoga instructor go to the same cardiologist that I do, but we share a diagnosis. And two of the other women who are regulars in my class are the wives of co-workers.
Yesterday, on the first day of December, we got the first real snow of the year here. Now, we have had some really heavy frosts over the past month, but this was real snow, really falling out of the sky in pretty flurries, and really laying a thin layer of white down over the lawn and flowerbeds.
It made me gleeful. For one thing, it raises the hope that we might actually have a white Christmas this year. (Because it was so hot and dry this summer, we have had a lot of “weather experts” saying that that means that we will have an extra cold and snowy winter, and I would love for them to be right.) For another thing, this area is incredibly wimpy about snowy weather and how to deal with snow. Every year since I moved down here we have had a couple of “snow days” due to “extreme winter weather”. I haven’t gotten this many days off due to snow since I was in grade school – it always makes me feel like a kid again. It is not even that Dayton gets an unusual amount of snow… they don’t. But I don’t think that the city allocated very much money to snow removal, and they usually blow through it all early on in the winter, wasting the road salt on flurries like the one we got yesterday, and then when the real winter hits in January and February, there is nothing left.
Oh, and the flurries yesterday were pretty, but the didn’t do much more then lightly cover the grass and make the roads a little wet. Yet the news on the radio during my short drive home at the end of the day was full of reports of accidents due to the weather.
Speaking of the news on the radio, one of the hot stories on NPR recently has been the US Post Office and the fact that it is slowly going broke, and how because of that they are having to close locations and ponder cutting down on the number of deliveries per week. You know what I have to say about that? I went to my local post office on November 16 and mailed (first class) a small package that contained a birthday present for my nephew. You know when that package arrived at its destination? Today. Two and a half weeks after I dropped it off. What I have to say is this – let the post office go broke. Make them reorganize. Make them become more efficient. And next time I have to mail a package, I am going to bypass the USPS and go with UPS or FedEx.