So that's it. All of the excitement of the holidays is nearly over and life is gradually resuming it's normal schedule. Or what passes for normal anyway.
It's always a little weird when I think about it. For several months now, the pace has been ramping up gradually. Since, well, Halloween really. We just kind of dip our toes into the excitement of the the holiday season at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters, costumes, decorations are everywhere, a few parties and even the TV schedule starts showing the changes with a lean toward Scary. I had renditions of "The Monster Mash" running through my head for a few weeks.
Then we segue into Thanksgiving which is less music but more food centered with feast planning and a slight change in decor and a lot of family which is really the very best part! There are always a few Thanksgiving related Hallmark special movies and then with one single showing of A Miracle on 34th Street we dive directly into Christmas. The Santa season does officially begin with the day after Thanksgiving being 'Black Friday' or every retailers worst nightmare and salvation at the same time. And in my case, the Cookie Baking Marathon" and everything involved with that.
The Christmas Season is really only one month long but it is packed top to bottom and side to side with stuff. From the moment it starts until Christmas Day, there is barely time to breath. It's exciting, it's fun, and busybusybusy!
Decorating the outside, decorating the inside, putting up a tree. Shopping and shipping and wrapping and packing and finding hiding places. Secrets and baking and eating and greeting and writing Christmas Cards. Christmas music fills the air, the Christmas movies are everywhere, on TV and in the theatre to say nothing of all of the old favourites on DVD's. Even the commercials and ads are different
Christmas is a perfect storm of nostalgia and new together in the same time and space. It's a physics anomaly. Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" in black and white on a giant flat HD flatscreen because it's just not Christmas without that very old film makes me giggle a little bit, but in a marvelous way.
There are so many parties and dinners and luncheons and gift exchanges and events of all sorts! Yes, it can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes, but it's also exciting and fun and completely out of our ordinary routine which is, of course, part of the joy of it all.
In our case, with our anniversary one week before Christmas (what were we thinking?) we have even less prep time for Christmas because we almost always take a little trip to celebrate. And what's more, I wouldn't give it up for anything. We look forward to it every year and every year it just makes those few weeks before we leave even more crazybusy than usual, but it's totally worth the extra bit of hustlebustle.
And then everything peaks with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Years, bam, bam bam, one right after the other. It's like the end of a fireworks show. And then....and then...and then....it's done. The marbles all fall back into their proper holes and life goes back to what it was before it all started. The decorations return to their 11-month naps and the tree either goes out to a landfill, to be planted or back into it's box. Eventually all of the Holiday goodies are eaten, given away or thrown away. New books find room on book shelves and new clothes into closets. Once the finally vacuuming up of glitter and pine tree sprills is done and the New Years Celebrations have come and gone, the holiday is really and truly over.
And it's a little bit sad. But a little bit of a relief too. I went to my normal Pilates class today for the first time in two weeks! It was the first Friday that felt like a Friday in a little while. Getting back into our usual routine actually feels pretty good.
I believe that "routine" gets a bad rap. The connotations of routine are "dull", "boring" and "ordinary" all negative words. And really routine is none of those things. Oh I enjoy the fun and excitement of shaking things up a bit too, don't get me wrong. But I wouldn't want an entire life of that. I like the..... I don't know what to call it, security maybe? ...... of knowing that if it's Wednesday, I'm working at the museum. I know which days I'm probably ironing, which days I'm probably grocery shopping, which days I'm free to go hiking with my sister. And while all of our holidays were jam packed with fun, I am actually very happy to return to our regularly scheduled program, oh wait, I meant life :)
Enjoy your weekend and your New Years Eve, however you choose to spend it. And embrace returning to your usual routine afterwards. It's nearly time now. I probably won't be posting here during the New Years' Celebration, but I guess you probably will too busy having fun to be here either. I will be back to My old routine beginning next Wednesday. Hope to see you then!
And then, finally, there it was. The the actual, for real, honest to goodness Christmas Day. December 25th. A much quieter kind of celebration that started with sleeping late, relaxing and eating coffee cake and pecan rolls (both store bought but hey...).
Eventually the day moved on to such things as bouquets of Christmas flowers:
And sitting under the tree to open presents:
Eventually we stirred ourselves enough to clean up a bit and send some Christmas messages. Thank goodness for techology! Phone calls, emails, text messages flew in all directions.
We spent most of the rest of the day relaxing on the sofa, playing with our new toys, watching alternately old Christmas movies (my choice) and the Mythbusters Merrython (Tim's choice) and, in my case, occasionally napping until it was time for dinner.
It was as if all the hubbub of our Anniversary and then Christmas and everything that led up to both, while fun in the extreme, wore me out and by the time Christmas Day finally arrived, I allowed myself to relax and enjoy it all. It was a peaceful day. I'm thinking "Silent Night" might be the right song to underscore our Christmas with and there ain't Nothin' wrong with that!
We finished the day, once night fell, by walking around our local arboretum which was fully decorated with Christmas lights. Each tree, some benches, some fences, the gazebo and even the walkways were lit up and every single one was unique. We marvelled and oogled and sometimes walked quietly side by side through the spectacle, eyes tired but shining with child-like delight. And then Tim spied this:
A tiny live owl sitting in one of the decorated trees! He is reflected green from the Christmas lights that are surrounding him. He didn't appear to be bothered by the lights or the people walking by, but rather curious about it all. As good as all the decorations were, this little owl was absolutely the best one.
On the way home, we passed this and laughed out loud. In case we weren't certain before, we now knew that we were having Christmas in Florida for sure.
And so the Christmas season is officially done. Soon the tree will be packed away, the lights will come down and I will undecorate the house. Life will resume it's normal pace. Or what passes for normal anyway ;)
I hope your Christmas was exactly what you hoped it would be and what you hoped for had at least a little bit of magic in it. Ours certainly did.
Merry Christmas yesterday! I hope your celebration was very fun and filled with love and laughter ;) I look forward to hearing all about each and every one of your Christmas's.
Ours was awesome. Actually we kind of have two Christmases every year now. Lucky us! We share a Christmas Eve Celebration on the day and/or night before Christmas with Joy and Bob first and then on the actual official December 25th, we have our own quiet celebration together on Christmas Day.
Our Christmas Eve celebration began with a cookie disaster. I was assigned to bring dessert. No worries. Bringing dessert it kind of my thing. I decided to make these lovely walnut/caramel cookie bars. Whipped them up and tucked them into the oven. While they were cooking I thought it might be a good idea to knock out a batch of cinnamon rolls as well for our Christmas Morning special breakfast. As soon as the cookies came out of the oven looking absolutely perfect, golden brown on top and puffed up tall. I turned off the oven, left the door open and left the cinnamon roll dough to rise. Meanwhile allowing the cookie bars to cool, I piddled around the house doing other little things for a bit. Finally, they were cooled off enough to cut them into squares. The instant the knife broke through that lovely golden crust I knew something was wrong. The outside was perfect. Absolutely gorgeous. The inside wasn't baked. It's as if my oven said, 'Ok looks good to me' and shut itself off. There is something seriously wrong with my oven! So off we went to the grocery store bakery to BUY a dessert. Which doesn't sit well with me. But having no dessert at all sits even less well so whatcha gonna do? On the way home, we did a few other little things ending with us being gone, probably an hour. Walked in and immediately checked the dough. Did Not Rise At All! ARGH! Bad baking day.
BUT life goes on. Bought the above cake which is kind of cute really. We arrived at Joy & Bob's at the designated time, cake and fat jolly stockings in hand! We ate and played with kittens and chatted until it was time to get on a trolley and view Christmas Lights! Tim appears to be sporting a halo in the photo below. Don't you love Bob's Santa tie? And Joy's light up shirt (under her furry poncho)? And of course my Santa hat! We were in the spirit of the event for sure. Woohoo!
Our Trolley driver was very nice and the trolley itself was fully decked, Christmas-Wise and he played Christmas music they entire time we were out. Most of us, sang along ;) The trolley cruised through various Sarasota neighborhoods that had particularly outstanding light displays. At first, I found myself uttering a lot of "Oh my's!" when one came into view. Then we moved on to, "My word!' and ended up with "Mercy!". I think part of my brain was admiring the spectacle and fully enjoying it and the other part of my brain was toting up the cost of the the lights, the energy involved with both setting up and taking down the display, wondering where they store it the other 11 months of the year and considering the light bill. But that's just the way my demented mind works.
Mind still reeling from the wonderful light displays, we headed back to Joy and Bob's to have cake and, the best part always, open gifts! With some kitten assistance, we, each one in turn, one gift at a time, one person at a time, opened our stocking gifts. As per usual, they were perfect stockings. Some gifts silly, some useful, some funny, some edible, some sentimental and all wonderful. The funniest part, to me anyway, was the similarity in gifts that Tim and Bob bought each other! It was too funny. Winston the cat was particularly interested in an old fashioned top that was in Bob's stocking. Charlie the cat didn't care about in stocking innards, he wanted the ribbons and bows.
The Santa slippers, by the way, were one of my gifts, as were the snazzy red reading glasses. I think I wear both exceedingly well ;)
It was quite late by the time we finally headed back home but it was a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration again this year. We alternate hosting, so next year, it's our turn again. I am already considering ideas for how to make it even more special than the year before.
So that was our Christmas Eve. It has become a new tradition. That's the thing about traditions. They all have to start somewhere. When we first moved to Florida, as we anticipated the holidays we were kind of at a loss. The kids are all up in New England and Christmas is such a terrible time of year to travel that it's never a good idea. When we first arrived here, of course, we didn't really know anybody. It was just Tim and I. We actually considered being away on Christmas and making that our new tradition rather than just having it be kind of a sad and empty day. Then Joy and I talked about sharing Christmas Eve and before you know it, a new tradition was born. Now the holidays just wouldn't feel the same without the old (new) tradition.
Hope your Christmas Eve celebration was Even Better than ours was. Although, frankly, it would be hard to top.
Remember these two goobers? Yeah, well their 25th anniversary adventure continued. YAY!! So much fun.
When we left St. Augustine it was a gorgeous day, sunny and breezy and just a little crispness in the air. So instead of just jumping on the highway, we drove along the coast admiring the water and the beaches and the homes on stilts. Yup. All along the Atlantic coast, the houses with direct water views were mostly built up, at least one story before you arrived at any actual house. Through a whimsical lens (that would be mine) the homes appeared to be ladies wearing very short skirts over tall skinny legs. teehee. Eventually though, the coastline fell away as we moved inland.
We cruised right along with no issues until we approached Orlando. The closer we got, the heavier the traffic became. And not just lots of traffic but lots of aggressive and rude traffic. And roadwork. Can't forget that added bonus attraction of lots and lots of roadwork. Sigh. It's a good thing Tim was driving because I would have just lost my mind entirely. Still, eventually we arrived at the second part of our destination. Universal!
Now as you may (or may not recall) the last time we visited Universal was when our friends the Minocks asked us to meet them there when they were visiting Florida earlier this year. And Tim and I realized, at that time, that it had been at least 15 years since we had been to Universal. Probably longer. And we had a wonderful time. But we only visited one of universal's parks. Still had one park to check out so why not this trip. We were driving right by it anyway.
We didn't even bother to check in to our hotel. Straight to the park. At my request our first stop was the Harry Potter part. There was this train ride y'see. I had heard that the train ride takes you from one park to the other and it was utterly Potter. Had to do it! It was great fun. The "train station" looked exactly like the one in the films, complete with luggage and carts and owls in cages. There was loading platform 9 and 3/4 just as it ought to be and train compartments that at least appeared to be actual train compartments! Then when we arrived at our stop, we stepped off the train into the snow capped village of Hogsmeade and saw Hogswart School ahead in the distance. The village itself was quite crowded when we arrived so we moved on intending to return later.
We ambled along til the crowds thinned a bit and found ourselves in Jurrasic Park. Well that was unexpected. We neglected to do any advance research at all about this park so everything was a surprise to us. So we were sort of flying by the seats of our britches. We had no idea what any ride was or how the different areas were themed. Didn't matter. Once we arrived in the dinosaur rich area of Jurrasic Park, I decided that we needed to find an actual ride that we could both enjoy.
I carefully read the warning signs as we passed. Anything that said anything about possible dizziness or rough lurching about I declined politely. I assured Tim that he could go right ahead and enjoy any ride he wished and I would be happy to poke around the shops while I waited for him but he wanted me to come with him on at least a few rides...so ladies choice. Great :) Finally I saw a ride thats biggest warning was that we might get wet. Well I've been wet before and survived to tell the tale so I chose that ride. As the short line moved forward I saw more and more people wearing those plastic ponchos and I realized that it wasn't so much that we MIGHT get wet but more that we WOULD get wet. " Ok" I said to myself, "I can deal with this". I correctly guessed that it was a sort of flume ride. I have been on flume rides before. A little up and a little down and a little splash and it's all good.
Some how we were directed to the front row. Oh dear. At first it was fine. The ride moved sluggishly through water dodging animatronic dinos of various sorts and there were indeed a few tiny ups, downs and splashes. No big deal. Until ..........
The up was very up. It felt like we were going to continue our slow vertical climb forever. And my brain kept saying cruelly to me, "What goes up must come down!". We hovered on the brink of down for a few precious seconds. Just long enough for me to gulp and squeeze my eyes as shut as they could possibly be before we hurtled earthward at an alarming speed for another eternity. Well it felt like a very long time. I'm sure it was a matter of seconds but they were some of the longest seconds of my life. The splash when it came was epic. I was wet to the very marrow of my bones.
I am rather proud of myself for going on this ride. I do not regret it for a moment. I am dripdry so a little water didn't hurt me a bit. And I am not a complainer so I said nothing negative and merely wrung the water out of my hair and shivered a little bit trying to warm up. But it did confirm a few things I already suspected about myself. First and foremost, I am NOT a thrill seeker. It's just not a part of who I am. I never need to do this again. And second, I'm not too old to try new things. Hurrah for that knowledge.
We continued on through Skull Island and Toon Lagoon all the way to Marvel Super Hero Island where Tim went on the Spiderman ride which he said was a lot of fun. While he got to play super hero I did exactly as I said I would and wandered through the area shops admiring this'n'that and having a different kind of good time.
Somehow we found ourselves in a Dr. Seuss themed area. Seuss Landing I think it was called? We actually did a few rides in there even though they were technically "kiddie" rides. Hey, we are just big kids! But there was zero wait time and I do love that in a ride. It was very Christmassy and quirky in it's holiday decorations and it was fun to revisit all the childhood memories of The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who to say nothing of Sam I Am and his Green Eggs and Ham.
The temperature continued to drop during our visit that day and as we moved along to The Lost Continent, it was beginning to rain on and off. So after our last ride, Poseidon's Fury, which was our longest wait of the day, we decided to call it done. After all, we planned to return the next day and enjoy everything we missed this time 'round.
Of course the next day dawned dark and gloomy and very windy and pouring rain. Just absolute torrential rain. We sat in the lobby of our hotel eating our complimentary breakfast and checking out the window and the weather apps on our phones debating what we should do. Finally, the TV in the lobby had "breaking weather news" with reports of flooding and tornado activity. Decision made. We would just mosey on homeward.
So we packed up our stuff, checked out, loaded the car and headed off into the storm. I suspect that our initial thought was that since we were heading both south and west, we would be driving out of the storm. And perhaps we did drive out of that particular storm. But we only drove directly into others. Lots of others. One after the other after the other.
Tim had the car radio set for a Christmas Music Station. 'Tis the season eh? That way we could sing along. I had the lovely heated car seats on my side up as high as it would go to keep me warm. I got drenched again getting in the car so my long term goal was to dry off. My short term goal was to stay as warm as possible while waiting to dry off. I LOVED those heated seats. Mostly because it wasn't just the actual seat that warmed up. It was also the back of the seat. Yummmmmy!
We found out how far reaching the storm was when either the radio station or one of our cell phones went off with emergency alerts and red alerts roughly every 15 minutes. ALL THE WAY HOME! It was an exciting ride. Felt like I was still in the park on another wild'n'crazy thrill ride. And a water ride at that. Each time that we had to stop for me to dash through to a potty stop (I had eaten something the night before that didn't agree with me. For awhile, it was a very slow drive home. Literally exit to exit. All I can say is that Tim has the patience of a saint!) I was once again head to toe wet through from wind driven rain.
But we sang along with the music between alerts and with cautious confidence and really good driving techniques, Tim managed to get us all the way home. We ran through the rain again from car to house and got soaked all over again but at least this time we were safely cozy in our own house once more. We do love to travel but Dorothy was right. There's no place like home.
It was a GRAND adventure! We had a wonderful time the likes of which we will never forget. Some of it was planned. Some of it not so much. Which is kind of what helps to create a perfect and memorable vacation.
And now here it is, Christmas Eve Day. The Jolly Old Fellow in the red suit will park his reindeer on our roof and since we don't have a fireplace, I suppose he will have to come in through a window. But I fully anticipate his visit tonight.
I hope you find everything you hoped for under your tree this year and a few nice surprises that you didn't expect. Enjoy your Christmas Day however you choose to spend it. I'll be back the 26th. Hope to see you here and to learn all about how you spent your holiday!
"And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"
We are BACK from our Anniversary Trip! I hope everyone had a great week and is all excited and ready for Christmas. It's nearly here!
As to our trip, well our destination this time around was St. Augustine Florida. St. Augustine is ALLLLLL the way over on the other coast so it was about a 4 1/2 hour trip. That's okay. We know how to do a road trip. We were prepared. Rental car (this time a silver caddy with lovely separate temperature control seats hot or cold - this will come into play sometime later) loaded with our stuff, Tim had our destination in the nav system and a fresh cup of coffee at hand. I had my tablet, my phone, a book annnnnnnnd a game! Do you remember playing Auto-Bingo as a kid on road trips? I do. And as my memory recalls, it was loads of fun too so when I happened across one at The Dollar Store (where else?) I snapped it up. It ended up keeping us engaged nearly the entire trip.
The first "Bingo" happened almost immediately. So we decided to go for Black-Out Bingo which never happened. There was one square that never got checked off. DANG! Care to guess which thing we never found? The best part is that I can wipe off the x's (dry erase marker) and we can play again another time on another trip. Awesome!
We arrived in St. Augustine by afternoon, checked in to our lovely hotel and immediately crossed the street to see what the East Coast beach looks like. It was surprisingly different. Not only would we be admiring sun rises instead of sunsets over the water, but we were surprised to see that first there was a lot of green followed by quite a number of sand dunes before ever getting to the beach. It was lovely, but definitely different.
Next on the agenda was food. By this time we were both really hungry! Knowing absolutely nothing about any restaurants in the area but abiding by the Humphreys family vacation restaurant rule "never eat at a familiar restaurant on vacation" we went for convenience. Directly across the street from our hotel was a place called, "Obi's Fillin' Station". What the heck, we were up for adventure. We checked it out. It. Was. Awesome. It was funky, it was fun, the service and the food were both excellent! Tim had a burger and fries, I had a piece of amazing peanut butter pie. I'm so sorry we don't have an Obi's here at home.
We spent the next three days wandering around St. Augustine, learning it's history, immersing ourselves in the past, and having a great time. St. Augustine, as it turns out, is the oldest continually populated city in the US. Seriously. Pedro Menendez settled St. Augustine in 1565. The Mayflower pilgrims stepped onto Plymouth Rock in 1620. So regardless of what we've all been led to believe by our school history books, Florida wins this round.
There actually were Spanish explorers here before Senior Menendez. The oldest known explorer was Ponce de Leon in 1513. He was unable to create a settlement despite his best intentions, due to the vociferous objections of the native residents. Other's tried to settle in the intervening years between 1513 and 1565 but unsuccessfully. Ponce de Leon of course, was seeking the Fountain of Youth. Didn't find it. It's good to have a goal though.
The residents of St. Augustine have done well preserving their history. The fort, "Castillo de San Marcos" for example was a lot of fun. We spent a great deal of time there, poking around, reading the signs, enjoying learning, and imagining life 450 years ago. We prowled the bastions, peeked into powder magazines, wandered the plaza and crossed the moat. Yes, I said and moat. An actual honest to goodness moat. Awesome.
Then of course we just wandered around the town admiring the old architecture, beautiful old cathedrals and schools and basically seeing what there was to see, which was a LOT!
There were museums aplenty too: The Spanish Hospital Museum, the Pirate & Treasure Museum, a Medieval Torture Museum (really!), and a Living History Museum. The one we chose to visit was the Lightner Museum.
Originally the Hotel Alcazar, which had the largest indoor swimming pool in the country when it was built, it was purchase in 1948 by Otto Lightner, a man who collected collections. Yes, that's what I said. He collected collections. And it didn't seem to matter what it was a collection of. We saw an entire room of Music boxes. Some small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. Other's big enough to dwarf a regular sized human. (that's a docent Margo in the red jacket standing by the Hurdy Gurdy music box in the photo below. She was so much fun). There were collections of salt and pepper shakers, collections of cut glass, collections of furniture and embroidery and so very much more! The statue is Pedro Menedez himself looking pretty proud of what he did. We spent a LONG time in the Lightner Musuem.
Let's see. We also toured both the St. Augustine Whiskey Distillery and the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Both of them gave out very liberal samples. Tim and I are huge fans of factory tours. We will tour nearly any kind of factory. I'm not sure why we enjoy it so much, but we actively seek them out. The Chocolate Factory required that we wear hair nets and in Tim's case also a beard net. We looked smashing! Interesting fact, Whetstone Chocoaltiers used to make some of the chocolates for Hershey, M&M Mars and other "bigs". It was Excellent chocolate. I"m still kind of mentally drooling.
On our actual anniversary date, the 18th, Tim surprised me with a gift. We never do anniversary gifts. Cards yes. We always do cards. We always either eat out or I make an especially nice dinner in. We always do something to commemorate the specialness of the occasion. But this time, because it was our 25th anniversary, the Silver Anniversary, Tim did something extra special and surprising. He gave me a rose. Not just any rose but a silver one. It is stunning! It's an actual rose that through some magical (and lengthy process) the jeweler coats in silver. Tim is such a romantic soul :) We also went out to very nice dinner at a lovely and historic place in St. Augustine. O.C. White's. The building is circa 1790 and while maintained and lovingly cared for, still holds all of the old charm.
We capped that final night with a trolley ride around admiring all of the Christmas Lights. The gave us some 3-D glasses to wear that made all of the lights look like Reindeer faces. heeheehee. ALL lights, including car lights, traffic lights and moon light. Very Fun! We sat in the second row at the front of the trolley while the driver played Christmas music and we all (including the driver) sang along. It was a wonderful finish to a perfect day!
So that takes us all the way through Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning we jumped in the car and headed back on the road. But we didn't go home yet. Nope. The adventure continued. Which will have to wait for Monday's blog post.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
With all the fun and excitement, busy-ness and craziness of the Christmas season, sometimes it's hard to find time to get some regular maintenance underway. In my case, my hair. I was starting to look more like a sheepdog than a human being and I honestly didn't realize it.
Every morning I would get up and showered and dressed and bangzoom on to my list of gotta do's. I don't think I even bothered to look in the mirror at all. "I don't need to look in a mirror! I know what I look like". And that's a shame because Wednesday I posted a photo of me taken at the museum in the little office where I work when I need to do office-ish stuff there and I was surprised. And appalled. Yikes!
So yesterday I was OFF to my hairdresser ASAP. This was an emergency. This woman needs some serious work done ....STAT! They were sympathetic to the cause and now I look like a real girl once again. She cut it a little bit shorter than usual, but I kinda like it. And now I feel as if I am fit to be seen in public again.
I look half way decent once more. Hurrah! And not only for Christmas in how many days now..12? Yikes! The 12 days of Christmas apparently begin with a really darned good haircut.
But I also wanted to take a crack at looking my very best for our anniversary next week.
Yup, as of the 18th of December, Tim and I have been married for, ready? 25 years! Wow! A quarter of a century! And in some ways, yes it feels as if we have been married forever and in other ways, it feels like it was just last week.
The forever part isn't in a bad way. Not that groaned and moaned, "forever" that kids say each class they do not care for at school lasts. Nope it's the fairy tale forever. As in Forever and Ever! Amen, amen. The eternity kind of forever. The, I don't even want to ever even think about the other person not being in the world with me because just thinking about it makes me cry, kind of forever
The just last week part is because there are so many memories that are just so vivid! Our wedding, crystal clear in my mind. Our first vacation as a family. Buying our first house together. So many vacations that we took. So many holidays, some with the kids, some by ourselves. I have lately been experiencing these rapid fire mental photos of the two of us with loved ones who are no longer with us. With the kids who live far away. With just each other at special events and just ordinary moments. And each memory is so strong, it honestly seems as if it all just happened yesterday.
And this from the woman who can never remember her phone number!
And it's twenty-five really awesome years too. Not just enduring them, not suffering through them, or managing to get through another dang day. No. It's not that kind of marriage. It's the kind where after 25 years, we still not only love each other, we also still really like each other. Tim still makes me laugh, every single day. And although I'm not as funny as he is, I can at least make him smile...every day.
We look forward to spending time together, not just out to dinner or off on another adventure, but ordinary things like running errands or sitting together on the sofa in the evening, him watching TV and me reading or playing a game on my tablet and occasionally peeking at the screen.
What's the secret of being together happily this long? I'm not sure there is a secret. Although it doesn't hurt that I think he is adorable and he seems to think I'm pretty cute too. We communicate well. We are considerate of one another. We know how to compromise and how to let the little stuff go. And probably the most important part, we both know how incredibly lucky we are to have found one another and never lose sight of that.
Sooooo with that in mind, in honour of our anniversary, I'm taking a short break - just a few days - from the blog next week. I should be back on top of things and blogging once again by the 21st if not before.
Happy 12 days of Christmas to all of you! Hmmm Maybe I can come up with some Sam-centric lyrics to that song.... something to work on in the interim.
However you spend your time between now and when we "meet" again, remember to have fun and be safe!
Hugs all 'round
(PS Happy 25th Anniversary to us!)
I used to keep my necklaces in a jewlery box. It caused no end of aggravation. While the name, "jewelry box" implies that it was created specifically for the boxing or keeping of jewelry by and large they are NOT designed with necklaces in mind.
First of all, some of them do not fit well. A few of mine are rather rigid in design. They are great pieces, unique and lovely but they not fit in an ordinary box. Then there is the hard to find issue. If all of my jewelry were placed in one box, I would have to comb through the box, in detail, every single time I tried to find something. Earrings would forever be wandering to separate corners and hiding within the confines of multi-strand bracelets. Matching necklace and bracelets sets would be so confused that it would be difficult to tell where the bracelet left off and the necklace began. And then there is the tangling issue. Each delicate chain would be, eventually, wound around other necklaces, other bracelets until the entire thing looked like a serpents nest. OR perhaps Christmas lights. What a mess!
No thank you Very Much Please!
The above was Tim's solution for the necklace issue for me. It's brilliant! I can see everything. Each piece is separate from it's fellow piece and it's the simpliest thing in the world to select the one piece I want to wear, lift it off the hook, close the clasp around my neck and go on my merry way. In fact, the fastening of the necklace 'round my neck is actually the hardest part of the entire process. (uncooperative fingers) I absolutely love this solution. In all the many years that I have used necklace hooks instead of a jewelery box (so both Colorado and now Florida so Many years) I have never ever had a single solitary problem.
So will someone please explain to me how the Hell this happened:
,I went to put on this necklace this morning, lifted it off the hook, unfastened the clasp annnnnnd the process stopped there. What the actual heck! The last time I wore this piece, I took it off, just like always, reclasped it, just like always and replaced it on the hook, just like always. Nothing different.
I did not wad it into a ball and throw it in the corner first. I didn't play loop de loop with it and forty other pieces first. I didn't shove it into my trouser pocket and then put it through the laundry first. NO. Directly from my neck to the hook. And now THIS? ARGH!
I cannot say that this is my favourite necklace because they are all my favourites. Within the last year I went through all my jewelry and gave anything I wasn't wearing away. So logically speaking, everything that I kept, I like. A lot.
Most of my jewelry came to me as gifts. There are VERY few pieces that I purchased for myself. So each piece is important for several reasons: 1. It was a gift and every gift is important. 2. It came from someone I love. 3. And they are unique and beautiful pieces.
This particular one was a gift from the late wife of one of my patients. A dear, sweet man, he was devastated when his wife passed away. Eventually he got to the point where he was ready to go through her things. When he got to her jewelry, he sorted through and gave specific important pieces to his daughters, daughter's in law, nieces, granddaughters and then brought the rest in to our office for us. His wife was as dear to us as he was and that he thought so highly of us was very touching. We each looked at the jewelry he brought in and selected a few pieces which pleased him to no end. He loved coming into our office and seeing us wearing pieces of his late wife's jewelry. He always noticed and it always brought a smile to his face.
I chose two pieces. A tiny jade and pearl pin and this necklace. It's a very short chain. The pendant sits right in the hollow of my throat which is unusual. I have such a skinny chicken neck that usually short necklaces or "chokers" are actually too long. This one fits perfectly. And the chain is delicate and the pendant is petite, sparkly and lovely. And now I have a @#$%&^**@$ knot in the chain! ARGH!
Tim spent some time working on it. I keep trying to be patient and work on it but as we all already know, patience is not one of my virtues. Neither of us had any success. So Far. I. Am. Determined!
But how on earth did this happen? Did my jewelry had some wild party the night before? Are there mischievous elves in our house that play tricks on us while we sleep? Do we have a poltergeist who thought this would be a laugh riot?
I suppose it doesn't matter all that much how it happened, just that it happened. So frustrating. Has this ever happened to you? Were you able to solve it? Do you have an brilliant suggestions to share?
The last time it happened to me was in Colorado and I had returned from a trip. Two of my necklaces tangled themselves together while packed, apparently not very well, for travel. (I have since amended my jewelry packing travel protocol). I was working in an Audiology office at that time and the Audiology technician and my friend, Aaron, who has the patience of a saint (no joke, he worked in an office of all women for how many years? And lived to tell the tale) was able to use the same tools that he repaired hearing aides with (hearing aids are also very tiny things) and a mounted and lighted monster sized magnifier to untangle them. Hurrah!
Well I'm not there anymore. So I'm going to have to figure this out at home with what I have on hand. Right now I'm thinking, paperclips and straight pins maybe? And if that doesn't work, dynamite maybe?
It will come as a surprise to nobody who has ever met me, that this is just a sampling of my collection of Christmas books. And the scariest part is that before we moved, I got rid of most of the collection. These are just the ones I couldn't bear to part with.
There are of course multiple copies of some of the best known and most universally loved ones like" A Christmas Carol", including a wonderful 1946 version and "The Night Before Christmas" which I read so faithfully to my own children every year on Christmas Eve that to this day, I can still recite it from memory. Which is also how I absolutely know the names of all of the reindeer.
Then there are the probably slightly less well known but equally wonderful stories like O'Henry's, "The Gift of the Magi" and Truman Capote's, "One Christmas". Both of which are the most beautiful copies I've ever seen and come in their own protective little cases.
I have two different Christmas Books by Kate Douglas Wiggins, (perhaps better known to some people as the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm). : "Colonel Carter's Christmas" from 1903 is illustrated with lovely tissue covered colour plates and "The Bird's Christmas Carol" which is even older, 1891, has just a few black & white rough sketches. But the stories are the reason I purchased them. The artwork is just a bonus.
And those aren't even my oldest Christmas Books. Another wonderful favourite of mine, "Frank Leslie's Chrsitmas Book" is from 1890 has only a few colour plates. The rest are very detailed and beautiful black & white illustrations and in truth, it only has a few actual Christmas stories in it. But it's a wonderful book nonetheless and quirky with advertisements for things such as: Pear's Soap, Barbour's Flax Threads and Scott's Emulsions.
I have one Christmas book that has no words at all. Just wonderful illustrations that tell the entire story. It's John Goodall's "An Edwardian Christmas". Published in 1978, it's a much newer book than some of the others. It was another fabulous choice to "read" with the boys when they were small. I would have them "read" it to me. They would tell the story that they saw from the pictures and it was at least a little bit different with each "reading' and with each boy. It's one of my favourites.
But then so is "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't" by Ogen Nash. Published in 1957, it's from my childhood. And my signed (by both author and illustrator) copy of "A Cup of Christmas Tea". "The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Beverly Cleary from 1972 is the one makes me laugh out loud every single time and then get a little bit teary at the end. When I worked at Hospice, years ago now, I once gave a copy of that one to everyone in my office. That's how much I love that particular book.
I seem to have quite a few Christmas books from the 1920 through 1940's. Not sure why. But I do seem drawn to that time period. Old black & white movies, the men wearing snappy hats, the ladies wearing gloves. (sigh) I seem to gravitate to that time period without realizing it. I even chose the colour of my kitchen backsplash without knowing until afterwards that it was considered a "retro" colour. Funny thing eh? But the stack of Christmas books of that era is an especially tall one.
I even have a small stack of wonderfully sappy, happy-ending, contemporary Christmas romances by authors like, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and Johanna Lindsey. Oh it's not fine literature, but charming lightweight wonderful stories, that are perfect for a chilly rainy (or snowy) day.
So many Christmas books! Some of funny, some are sweet, a few slightly weird, at least one that is sad. Some of definitely children's stories some more for adults. A couple that are downright quirky and a few from other countries and I love each and every one of them.
Every year, I swear that I am going to re-read every single one and ever year I don't. I couldn't possibly. The most favoured get re-read first, of course. The I try to choose the ones I don't read quite as often. I recently re-read an especially good one, "Christmas Days" by Joseph Lincoln from 1938. It's a charming story of a family last name of Day who lived on Cape Cod in the 1800's. A family of sea-farer's. But it's uniquely written because it's in three parts. Each part tells the story of that family on Christmas Day in the years 1850, 1860 and 1870. Just the story of one family on one day of three different years. So the reader learns about what life was like back then, what this family was like and how Christmas was celebrated in that part of the world then.
So I have less than two weeks left and far more books than two weeks worth. I don't' think I'm going to get them all read once again this year. So I suppose not achieving the goal once again has in itself become part of the tradition.
I suppose I should be clear on something, this is not a family tradition, this is a Sam tradition. This one is all me. It is something I do every year during the Christmas season that is all about me. I suppose it's my Christmas gift to myself. I lose myself in the magic in Christmas stories one more time.
Do you have any favourite Christmas books??
"I'm sorry" should be my middle name. They are the words most often spoken by me. It's my go-to. And the thing is, I an actually sincere about it. When I say, "I'm sorry", I really am sorry. Even if it isn't something that I did wrong, if something unfortunate or ill-timed or just plain awful happened, I truly am sorry. I guess I am very empathetic, sympathetic by nature. Still anything can be over done.
Hello my name is Sam and I'm an apology-aholic.
It can get to the point of ridiculous. I have apologized to posts I have clipped with my shoulder walking by, the mail when I dropped it on the ground, the lizard I tried to catch and put OUTSIDE the house, and the lady who crashed into the back of me with her little scooter thingie in the grocery store aisle. What's that now? She ran into me and I apologized to her. WHAT? Yup that is exactly what happened. I was slowly walking down the aisle looking for my favourite soup and I was banged from behind by this lady's electric people mover thingie, I said 'Ouch" and turned toward her in surprise. "Then get out of my way" she said very angrily. "I'm sorry" I said and moved to the side. I clearly have a problem. Maybe what I meant was "I'm sorry you are such a miserable human being!"
I have always had a kind heart. It's one of the few things about myself that I can honestly say without being disengenuous. It is a true thing. And I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. Oh I've had to tough up a bit over the years and not give away every penny I have to every pan handler I pass on the street...things like that. But for the most part, I actually think it's a good quality to have kind heart.
And I honestly am sorry when someone is sad, even if I'm not the one who made them sad. And when they are angry, even when I'm not the one who made them angry. And usually people can tell that I am being genuine when I say, "I am so very sorry" to them. They understand that what I'm actually saying is that I sincerely care that they are having a bad moment, a bad experience, a bad day. Most people appreciate the gesture.
But some people get mad when I apologize. 'Why are you apologizing" they shout at me, "this has nothing to do with you!" And then I am forced into the bizarre situation where I am apologizing for having apologized. And that doesn't improve the situation at all.
I have learned over the years that sometimes a hug is better than saying I'm sorry. A gentle squeeze of the hand, a pat on the shoulder can often say that I care without having actually said a word.
But it's hard, very hard, for a person like me to stop saying "I'm sorry". Especially when we mean it. Especially when it is, apparently, typed right on our DNA to feel apologetic for everything. Well not everything. I used to say that I only take responsibility for things that happened from 1953 forward. Anything before '53 is someone else's issue. That's coz I was born in 1953 and apparently I came into this word carrying an unusually heavy load of responsibility. The angels didn't hand me grace or artistic ability or a beautiful singing voice when I stood in that line. Nope, instead I was given compassion by the bucketful. I used to say that I was given guilt, but I don't think that is actually it. I don't feel responsible for anything I didn't do, but I do care. I care a lot.
Yesterday in the bank, I deposited a check. The person who wrote the check to me got a little carried away writing on that little memo line and wrote over the code numbers that normally the bank machine scans. In this case, the machine was unable to scan it. The bank teller sighed and said, "It's going to be a few more minutes because I have to hand-enter all of the numbers (which were hard to read) because of the writing." Predictably, I said, "I'm sorry". The bank teller looked up at me surprised, then she smiled, relaxed and said, 'Hey you didn't do it". I laughed and said, "No, but I'm sorry that your job was made more difficult today". She smiled even bigger and said, "Thank you". See! That's how it works.
I think most people know when a person is sincere with what sounds like an apology. I know that with some folks it's automatic. It's just the correct words to say when someone else is upset and there is absolutely zero emotion behind it. Like saying, "Bless you" when someone sneezes. But when people like me say "I'm sorry", we actually mean it.
I guess of all of the so-called bad "habits" a person can have, being an apology-aholic is not the absolute worst one in the world. And quite honestly, I can't change that about myself anyway. It's just who I am. And you know what? I'm actually NOT sorry about that.
Soooo another year, another Christmas Boat Parade, eh? Yup. BUT the difference is that this time, we didn't go to the Venice Boat Parade. Nope, this year we went to Joy and Bob's. They have a condo in Sarasota, a mere 30 minutes drive from us, that's right on Sarasota Bay. This is the view from their balcony. Nice eh? Here is another part of the view:
Go ahead and say it, we did. OOOOOO! Ahhhhh! It is a stunning view. Hence the name of the building, The Vue. Clever.
And the bonus here is that they don't have to walk anywhere to attend. Just a mere stroll out their sliders onto the balcony and there it is. Bigger bonus, there are bathrooms nearby that are not porta-a-potty's. I will use the portajohns if there is no other option, but I'm never happy about it.
This was Joy & Bob's first boat parade viewing from their new place and our first time of seeing the Sarasota one so very exciting all the way around.
Our hosts provided quite a lovely array of food: shrimp, fruit salad, cheese & crackers, guacamole, various cream cheese spreads, cupcakes and these adorable mini apple pies bites. Naturally, I brought cookies. We were well fed.
While we waited for the parade to begin, we talked, admired the new changes to the condo (they are still settling in), their Christmas tree that did about everything but dance it was so cool and one of my favourite parts, met their new kittens, Winston and Charlie!
Winston is the orange kitty and Charlie is the grey one. They are adorable and very entertaining. Now to be fair, Tim and I are both big fans of animals so we knew walking in the door that the kittens would be one of ourfavourite parts of the evening, but even knowing that you have to admit that these guys are just too cute.
So there we were all of us, waiting for the parade to begin, as I said. Very slowly the sky grew darker and while we waited we ate and talked and laughed and played with kittens and admired their lovely tree and then we ate some more. Waiting for the parade to begin was not a hardship by any stretch of the imagination.
Finally the parade began. YAY! Joy provided a few sets of binoculars (Yes, waterfront, but from the 15th floor, down is still a LONG way down) and we all tore ourselves away from baby kitties and good food long enough to pay attention to the boats. It was spectacular! My personal favourites were a boat that looked like a sleigh and another they looked like a firetruck!
The firetruck one was kind of ironic because shortly after the parade finally was in sight, a disembodied but very serious voice came over a speaker in their great room. We couldn't quite make out what they were saying from the balcony (I thought someone had the TV on at first. I didn't realize what was going on. As usual, I was oblivious) so Joy and I stepped back inside. The voice repeated over and over that we should evacuate the building and we couldn't use the elevator and would need to use the stairs. WHAT?
Joy and I looked at each other with these giant question marks dancing above our heads. I was just about to ask her what the heck was going on when the alarm started to sound. Oh my Gawd, so loud! So obnoxious! Definitely got our attention. Joy tried calling the lobby to see what on earth it was all about but nobody answered. I ran to the balcony and looked over the edge. Nobody was filing out of the building. Nobody. We heard no sirens of firetrucks or police cars. Saw no panic, no nothing that would explain it. In fact, as we glanced around at other balconies, we saw nobody doing anything except eating, drinking and enjoying the parade. Hmmmmm.
Alarm malfunction? We debated. Before missing the parade and hauling ourselves and baby kitties down 15 flights of stairs to the street, we wanted to be sure there was a damned good reason. The alarm was so painfully loud that we stood on the balcony with the doors shut and the kittens in their carrier ready to go as we talked to each other about our thoughts on this matter. If only we saw or smelled smoke, or flames or firetrucks or streams of evacuees this would have been a no brainer. We would have grabbed the kittens and each other and been out the door in a flash. But....nothin' and nobody. And still the alarm continued to sound.
Then somebody from another balcony one floor below and to the side shouted up that somebody on the fifth floor burned something cooking which set off the alarm but there was no fire. No fire! Yay! We kept the kittens on the balcony with us in their carrier and finished watching the parade with the sliders firmly closed so that we didn't have to listen to the alarm.
Eventually, it was all over. The parade was finished, the alarm stopped blasting, the kittens were sound asleep and we began bringing all of the food back inside, cleaning up and putting things away.
It was a GREAT evening with a bit of unexpected excitement! Joy and Bob certainly know how to entertain with an exceptional flare. It will absolutely be a Boat Parade Year that none of us will ever forget :)
Psst! Come here. Sshhhhh, it's a secret. Do you see this? Do you know what it is? It's stocking innards. Yup this is the stuff that's going in a couple of stockings that are happening this Christmas. You can't tell a soul about what you saw here!
Looks tantalizing doesn't it? Every single wrapped parcel is a mystery. What's inside could be almost anything! That's why every item is wrapped. Drags out the surprise a little bit longer. Y'see in our family, that's part of the fun. It's not enough to open your gifts. First you have to torture yourself a little bit. We shake and poke and rattle and sniff every wrapped package. We try to read through the wrapping and hold it up to the light. Is it chocolate? (that's probably me guessing) Is it fragrance? (also probably me guessing) It feels like a book (that could literally be any of us guessing) It's soft! It makes noise! It's bendy! Is it socks? Is it a pencil? And anyone except the person who actually already knows what's in the package is allowed to speculate too. That's part of the fun.
Then to drag things out even more, we open our gifts one at a time. Round and round the circle we go, each person slowly opening ONE thing, remarking, commenting, admiring, laughing and then the next person opens ONE thing. With a really good stocking year, we can spend quite some time on this project.
I know that not every family does it this way. Some families don't do Christmas stockings at all. Some families do stockings but it's a melee, everyone opening at once, paper and ribbon flying, and it's over in minutes. some folks do stockings but nothing is wrapped, so that when the recipient opens the stocking, once again, it's over in minutes. You can peek in the top and see what most of the items are straight away. I'm not saying that is the wrong way to do it. Nope, not at all. I'm just saying that's not our way of doing it.
There is almost always a little stocking spillover. Either too many things to fit in the stocking, or a few things that simply do not conform to the size or shape of a stocking. That is not only allowed, it's encouraged. We like generously plump stockings.
And some of it is silly. Some of it is serious. Some of it is useful. Some of it is useless. Some of it is edible. Some of it is readable. Some of it is none of these things. All of it is awesome. All of it is part of our family tradition. The Christmas Stocking Tradition looms large in our Family Culture.
I love family traditions. Both ours and other people's
I've heard of families that, every year, open one gift on Christmas Eve and that gift is always new pajamas. I love that! We don't do it, but I love that somebody does. Some families do a formal family portrait every year at Christmas. I think that is adorable. We don't do that either, but what a charming idea. Vive la difference, I say!
And our traditions are important to us. That's why when two individuals decide to share their lives together, it's important for both of them to have a say in what constitutes the new traditions (some from each side) that they share to become a new families' worth of tradition. Occasionally a little trial and error is involved. For other's it's hardcore. It's the thing that Christmas just wouldn't feel like Christmas without. For some folks it might be the family going to Christmas Eve services that is the deal breaker, no compromise item. For other's it's singing carols or watching The Grinch on TV all together while eating popcorn or like our family the Christmas stockings.....well this list is both endless and endlessly appealing.
Probably the biggest commonality every family has is the tradition of The Keeping of the Secrets! And Christmas secrets are the very best secrets.
I remember my own kids coming close to imploding in their effort to not accidentally slip and tell a Christmas Secret. I can remember my mom keeping a Christmas secret so well that she completely forgot about the gift until months later. She was embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious. I was not even remotely offended. I'll take a Christmas gift in March absolutely!
All secrets can be hard to keep secret. But Christmas secrets are usually the hardest. Which is why it's such a big deal that I'm trusting you to keep your lip zipped about what you saw here today. Ssshhhh. Christmas secret stocking stuff!! Remember, I'm trusting you!
The reason for the boo-boo face here is not a sore throat which I now realize looks like what I meant. It's not. My issue is a sore neck.
When something is really annoying, we often say instead that it is a pain in the neck (or other parts of the anatomy but for today's purposes, we will stick to neck) For example, "there is a mosquito in this house dive bombing me and I cannot seem to get rid of it! What a pain in the neck!" While yes, I do mean that mosquito is very annoying, I do not literally mean that the mosquito is, in some way, causing my neck to hurt.
This time I actually do mean that my neck hurts and dang it is so annoying!
I guess I slept wrong. Isn't that usually the culprit? Although that does beg the questions, how does a person sleep wrong exactly? For someone as sleep deprived as I am on a regular basis, any sleep is good sleep. Even if I were able to find a way to sleep incorrectly, (still no idea what that means), it would still suggest that I slept at all, and sleep is a good thing.
Perhaps it means that during sleep I was positioned incorrectly. Ok. I suppose I can see that happening. Finally keeling over into dreamland after too many nights in a row of not and just collapsing into an untidy heap.....sure. I could have been positioned incorrectly as I slept.
Regardless, earlier this week I woke up with a sore neck. If something happens to my right or left that requires my attention, I must turn my entire body to the right or left to observe whatever it is. It's not difficult to turn my entire body, just annoying.
In my normal day to day routine, it's not THAT big a deal. Oh there are a few things that are irritating. For example, I find it impossible, at the moment, to cradle a phone between my ear and shoulder to have a phone conversation while ironing (multi-tasking y'see) and at the end of Pilates class when we are "rolling our neck gently side to side" to release them after all the other torture we put our bodies through during class, I had to fake it because my neck wasn't doing anything side to side for love nor money.
The only time it is really an issue is driving. I don't drive much, as we all know. But the situation does occasionally arise that I am required to drive. Grocery shopping is a driving trip. Not because of distance...it's less than two miles away. But because I do not want to carry that many bags of food for two miles. And if I bought ice cream, it would be soup by the time I got it home. And while I am waiting for my ankle to heal, I am finding myself opting to drive other places, like to the museum, which is also roughly two measly miles away. Under normal circumstances, a perfectly lovely walk.
Driving requires the ability to turn the head left and right for safety sake. I am forced to turn my entire body which is not easy within the constraints of the safety belt and while sitting down, to see to if someone is barreling down the road toward me with the intent of running the red light and smashing into my car. If it's going to happen, I want to see it coming. I'm weird that way.
Drivers in Florida, which doesn't necessarily mean Florida drivers as we have a LOT of tourists here, are notorious for being sketchy drivers. Being a defensive driver has never been more important to me than here. Fortunately, it's a pokey sleepy little town, even during tourist season, and not a high traffic arena. And yes I meant arena. Sometimes driving here is so crazy I hear circus music playing in my head while observing something crazy doing on and I deduce that it MUST be a circus show because it would make No sense in real life.
Ok I'm over that. Moving on. I have tried heat. I have tried cold. I have tried stretching. I have tried Alleve. Nothing is fixing it. I can only assume that eventually it will go away on it's own. But meanwhile, it's VERY annoying, this pain in the neck of mine. I find myself moving in the strangest ways trying to unkink whatever is kinked to fix it and if anyone was watching me they would think I was crazy.
Somebody cue the circus music.
Yesterday was National Cookie Day! If ever there was a day created especially for me, This would be IT!
Don't get me wrong, National Ice Cream Day is another one I vote yes on. And National Donut Day is a darned good one too. I understand that this coming Saturday is National Brownie Day and that sounds like a good idea too. But Cookies and Sam go together like, well Chocolate and Sam I suppose. Do you notice how the days of note that I relate to are all about food? And not healthy good for you food, like, oh, I don't know, kale maybe? National Kale Day does not equal Sam. I do not like kale. I do however like broccoli and National Broccoli Day is not really me either. Hmm. Interesting.
And yes, that photo is me scarfing down the last of the gingerbread men cookies. The very last of any cookie is always the best. Specifically because it is the last and I know that I won't be making them again until next Christmas. Gotta savour that last one.
My gingerbread people or bears or snowmen or whatever I end up making are not actually gingerbread. (Gasp!) Nope, they are made from a very old molasses cookie recipe that I got from my Nana which she got from her grandmother and I have no idea where it started before that. So let me see, that's at least 5 generations back. It's a damn fine cookie and perfect for making gingerbread whatevers because they aren't as hard as a rock which I find most other official "gingerbread" people cookies to be. It's a soft but substantial bite with plenty of gingery snap and chewy with molasses. It rolls out mighty fine and stands up to shipping. Got nothin' to argue about there. I suppose I could call them molasses cookie people for accuracy sake, but I don't.
Cookies are created in individual portions. There is no question about the size of it. When a cake or a pie is set before me, I always wonder how big or small to cut a slice. Cookies are the size they are. Period. Each one is a single serving.
Cookies are wonderfully portable. They fit in a pocket, in a purse, in a lunchbox or sack, a briefcase, a suitcase, a carryall, a backpack or any other thing in which you might place something small. And honestly, even if one is broken, it still tastes good.
Cookies require no utensils. None. No fork, no spoon, no knife. Cookies do not require plates either. Not china, not plastic, not paper, not tin. And in fact, if you don't mind wiping crumbs onto your trouser leg (or your friend's trouser leg) even a napkin is optional.
Then too there is the seemingly infinite variety of cookies available. There is something for everyone. While I have known people who disliked pizza (???) or ice cream (?????) I have never known anyone who didn't like some sort of cookie at least once in awhile.
There are cookies for every occasion as well. Every Holiday is cookie worthy naturally and any gathering deserves them of course. I have even seen cookies at weddings, bar mitzvahs and graduations. Our neighborhood has a monthly gathering they call, Drinks on the Drive. A different person hosts each time and every attendee brings a little something to share. Most people bring appetizer type things which are lovely. I always bring cookies. A different one each time. And I always bring home an empty container ;) Makes me happy.
So, here's to cookies! Hope Everyone Got to Celebrate National Cookie Day! If you missed it this year, no worries, circle the day on the calendar so that next year you don't forget.
I've been decking halls like a mad woman here ;) Christmas Crazy! A little earlier than I usually decorate but what the heck. The spirit was upon me and now it is done. Maybe by New Year's we will be throughly sick and tired of it but I don't care. Right now, I'm loving it.
I actually put the tree up last. It's the hardest part and normally I would do that first while I had lots of energy and creative spark. But for some reason, this year it waited until the end of the day.
First up were the outside lights. While it isn't difficult to put up the outside lights there is a lot of upping an downing with the ladder. I was smart enough to wind each string of lights from last year around a large piece of cardboard so that nothing was tangled! Yay! AND likewise had the brains to leave the outdoor command hooks up so it was simply a matter of literally feeding the line into those hooks along the eaves and winding them around posts in the front. DONE! AND I only smacked my head on the underside of the outside light fixture once this year. An improvement over previous years. Turned out pretty good I think. They always look best at night. During the day, meh.
This venture went so well that I was feeling encouraged and confident. Consequently, most of the inside decor went up very quickly with relatively little fussing. Just boom, there you go, pink reindeer, train, snowmen. Done and off the list!
"What?" I hear you say, "Pink reindeer". Yes. Hot Pink sparkly Reindeer with fur collars. I absolutely adore them. If you don't care for them, I suggest that you do not buy any. Mine were actually a gift from my sister which makes them even more dear (deer!) to me. Non-traditional perhaps, but still an important part of my Christmas decor. The sleigh I found on a clearance rack somewhere. The porportions felt right to go with the reindeer and then of course, I had to fill the sleigh will colour. LOTS of colour.
The two snowmen standing by the lantern filled with a Christmas tree were also gifts. Two different people thought highly enough of me to send me those adorable snowmen. I sold most of my enormous snowman collection at our yard sale before we moved here but I just couldn't bear to part with those two. They greet visitors on the table in the front hall. Tim bought me the Tree filled lantern this year, for absolutely no reason at all. And I think it is the perfect trio.
The train and the silver tree are on the coffee table in the living room. There is also now a pretty little glass dish filled with peppermints on that table. The train used to have a track so that it could actually chug it's way around whatever thing it was set up for but somewhere along the line, the tracks disappeared. The train however remains and we can imagine tracks. Back in Colorado I set the train AND tracks up under the living room tree (that was the house of many christmas trees). And it was a rare occasion when the train could run because usually there was a cat laying across the tracks. And even if you went ahead and turned the train on, it could only go as far as the cat because he wasn't moving for anything. Even a train.
The sweet embroidered 'Christmas is Love' sign was also a gift from friends way way way back in Connecticut. I have kept it and displayed it every single year since then. It's a hand made gift for one thing and those are always the very best gifts. It's a beautiful Christmas reminder I think, of what Christmas is really all about. And of course it always makes me think of those friends when I set it out.
The two little snowmen in front of the basket of pinecones, well Tim put those in my stocking our first year here to help me start to rebuild my snowman collection. He knew how hard it was for me to get rid of them before. Isn't that sweet? And speaking of stocking, ours are not hanging by the chimney with care, because we don't have a chimney. Instead, they are hanging from the drawer handles of a very large display cabinet. It's called creative problem solving. It may not make a pretty rhyme but it works.
So then I moved on to the biggest job. The tree. Putting it together isn't difficult. It's only three pieces and the stand. Largest on the bottom, middlest and then smalleset on top. Easy peasy. The tricky part is connecting all the various plugs and electric lines properly. It isn't as simple as, well certainly it wasn't as simple as I anticipated. Last year it took two of us and quite some time and experimenting to figure it out. So, when I undecorated last year, I was clever enough to tied different coloured ribbons on all of the pieces that go together. So orange to orange, pink to pink, blue to blue, etc. This year putting it together was a BREEZE!
The ornaments take awhile. I really take the time to think about the colour balance and ornament placement. Sometimes I have to re-arrange and re-re-arrange a few pieces before I'm satisfied. My favourite addition this year was an accident. When I bought the decorations for the museum, I bought two different sizes of snowflakes. I didn't realize that the larger of them was LOADED with glitter until I started actually decorating. Since I had a strict No Glitter constraint to work within, I subtracted that price from the receipt I presented and brought them home wondering what on earth I would do with them. Well they ended up going on my tree and I think they look great there!
The .....okay lets call it garland.....is strips of netting. Like what a bridal veil is made of. The past two years I did this twist and poke thing over and over,round and round the tree so that it filled all of the empty spots. However, by the time I got to putting the garland on, it was dark out, it was late, it was after dinner and I had been decorating all day and I was tired. I ended up just winding the netting around the tree. When I stepped back looked at it and said to myself, "it's a little weird, but then so am I" and decided that if I didn't like it the next day, I would change it. Turns out, I do like it. It reminds me of cotton candy. Although someone else told me it looked like a spider web. I don't care. I like it and it's staying this way, at least this year.
So there is is folks, one more thing off the Christmas Gotta-Do list. I think I'm keeping up pretty well. You know, every year, just before the season starts, I panic a little bit thinkinng about everything that has to be done in a very short period of time. And yet, somehow, it always gets done. Why on earth do I fret about it every single time? You'd think I would learn.
On to the next thing on the list!
How are your Christmas preparations coming along?
Sooooo this happened over the weekend. Don't panic. It's nothing really bad. Just my usual graceful self. Which is why, in this house, we have such things as ankle wrap, ice packs and elastic braces on hand, At All Times.
Backing up a bit. Poor Tim was sick all last week. Some viral germie got him. After a few days of fever and feeling terrible and coughcoughcoughing and being exhausted all of the time he called the doc who gave him sound advice and called a prescription in to our pharmacy for him. He did slowly improve but the entire week he was rather homebound. So by Saturday, feeling some better and a little stir crazy we made it a point to get him out of the house for a little bit.
Off we drove (still not up to a long walk) to the jetty to admire one of our favourite views:
Tim stayed in the car while I ran around taking photos of everything within view (no, that's not when I injured myself) but I think he felt better even just relaxing in the car with the windows open, breathing in that lovely salt air and feeling the wind on his face. The sea has restorative powers y'see.
On the way TO the jetty we passed a small marina which had all these signs about a boat show. We enjoy boat shows and since this was a very small one (small marina - small boat show) Tim decided that he was up to the task. So on our way back from the jetty we stopped, hopped out of the car (nope that's not when I injured myself either) and meandered down the dock to the Boat Guy. He asked a few questions about what Tim was interested in and then pointed to two different boats moored nearby. As we approached the crafts, I noticed, with a little concern, how much lower than the dock the decks both were.
We have been to loads of boat shows. I have NEVER had a problem getting on the boats before. But usually, either the deck is level with the dock or there is a little step added for the ease of boat show goers like me. This time there was no little step.
Boat Guy jumped on board, Tim hopped down easily, I took Tim's proffered hand and very cautiously stepped over the yawning gap between dock and deck and that is not when I injured myself either. I made it on board with no worries, we admired everything pointed out and then returned to the dock...safely. No problem even though I clambered out far less gracefully than I would care to admit.
Next boat, we get on board in the same order, Boat Guy, Tim and then Me. Foolishly feeling more confident, I too hopped down onto the deck. The INSTANT my right foot hit the deck, I knew that I had made a poor landing. I said nothing and we walked around looking at everything we were supposed to look at and then we left. Boat Guy kindly made sure I got back off the boat by taking my hand and tugging me, which I was not expecting and I landed badly one more time. I have no natural grace. None. When the angels were handing out attributes, I must have been distracted by a butterfly or something because I received ZERO grace. So much so in fact, that my family often called me "Grace" in the same way that often a very tall person is called Tiny. Oh well. It is what it is.
Boat Guy offered to take us out on that second boat (which was Tim's preferred boat) on Sunday and signed us up for a noon ride the next day. Tim was really spent just by that short amount of time out so we returned home. He relaxed and rested and napped a bit while I piddled around getting a few things done but slowly and carefully because it hurt to put weight on that right foot. I surreptitiously checked my ankle and foot but there was no swelling at all despite how it felt so I told myself I was being a Big Baby and just kept going. After dinner, I gave up and put an ice pack on it. Can't hurt and might help.
Tim was concerned of course when I told him what happened. He found the elastic ankle brace for me and once the ice pack was removed I obediently put the brace on. It felt a little better with the extra support.
Sunday, it felt much better. Until I started to walk on it. Nope. Still hurts. Also still not swollen which is weird so I'm still not sure what I did. But I knew that I didn't want to aggravate whatever was wrong by jumping on or off that boat again. So I suggested to Tim that he go by himself. He brushed that suggestion away. "It won't be as much fun without you" he said, "I'll just tell the guy that I'm not feeling up to it today". I felt awful that because of me, Tim wasn't getting out on the water and I know he was really looking forward to it. "No big deal" Tim says to me. "Another time"
He contacted Boat Guy and Boat Guy understood and said that he would be in the area again next month and would contact Tim then. OK. That actually made me feel better. I didn't prevent him from having a boating opportunity, I just delayed it a little bit.
Meanwhile, I'm still being extra cautious and wearing the ankle support and icing it at night when I'm sitting on my arse on the sofa to read/watch TV/play games on my tablet. The ankle and foot are still a little tender today and I want whatever the heck it is that I did to it, to be healed so I can get back to my normal Zooooooming pace. This is slowing me down and I don't do slow. I usually have only two speeds, full out and stop. This slower business is aggravating as all get out.
Still I understand that patience is a virtue and I suppose it wouldn't hurt me to at least try to be a bit more virtuous.
Hope all of you had a wonderful weekend with no injuries!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.