Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Ah!  Time to kick back for just a couple of minutes.  Perhaps Patrice will have some virtual goodies:  cyber cinnamon rolls?  Virtual fudge?  It has been a busy time for me.  My daughter is starting Indoor Track practice; my son's room was so messy he actually needed adult assistance to figure out how to conquer it.  I haven't blogged as much as I want to, but BOY, have I been getting some things done!

I finally gave in and ordered an eclectic roaster on-line (my antique oven isn't big enough hold things like a turkey), which of course meant that I spotted one at my local grocery store later that day.  I started baking Christmas cookies; I made the masa for tamales (I figure if I make all the components in advance, I won't feel so oppressed by making them on Christmas Eve); I organized my recipes, which were a disaster; I made suet cakes for my bird feeder.  We cut a 12 foot tree and decorated it last night.  The kids love these huge, spectacular trees.  Their dad doesn't like celebrating Christmas and won't get one at all, so I go a little crazy and they love it.  Sara turned it on this morning so she could look at it while she was eating breakfast.  OH!  And I finished my quilt!  I have been piecing a queen-size Irish Chain for....16 years!!!  it's not really finished:  still needs backing, batting, tying, binding.  But the pretty part is done.  This deserves its own blog entry.  I'll take a photo tonight, after I iron it.  

Work has also been a little nuts.  I have a huge grant proposal due day after tomorrow, which I hope will infuse my program with some much-needed funding; and I have been hammering away at that since Thanksgiving.  We are going to do a couple of big holiday events for the students in my adult English as a Second Language program; and we are working on a contribution drive for our new building.  Our students (low-income immigrants and refugees) and volunteers have dug deep and raised over $2,000 to contribute.  Everywhere I turn, there is a job that needs doing.  But I am very happy.  Whew.  Blah, blah, blah, Patrice.  Sorry.  I have been dominating the conversation.

1.  Have you baked any Christmas cookies yet?

I have started, but I am planning to cut back a lot this year.  I used to eight different kinds, but we eat fewer cookies in my new life than we did in my previous one.  So this year, I will just do special requests:  Mint Sticks for Sara; Rum Balls for Nate; Raspberry Strippers and Almond Biscotti for Chuck.  And a Plum Pudding for me.  I have finished the brownie layer of the mint sticks, which broke again as I was removing it from the pan (a holiday tradition).  I will glue it back together with bright green peppermint icing tomorrow.

2.  Have you finished your holiday shopping, yet?

No.  But I have a carefully laid-out schedule of places to shop for different gifts, have already done most of my on-line shopping,. etc...  Plus, we don't do a lot of gift exchanging:  second hand and homemade are major components, so I'm about where I should be.

3.  If you had a team of reindeer, what would you name them?  

They would all have the same name:  the name I call everyone in my family:  "Na-Sar-Si-Chuck", followed by, "Uh...", then "YOU"!

4.  What was the most memorable Christmas gift you ever gave or received?

When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin, our family friends, the Wilsons, often brought us kind of crazy gifts.  The best year was when I was about 7 or 8.  Mr. Wilson brought two packages, each one bigger than our entire tree, wrapped in rolls and rolls of paper.  When opened, they revealed huge bails of empty plastic milk jugs and instructions on how to use them in the construction of a swimming raft.  My dad built it and it floated in Little Hills Lake, where we have our cottage, for many years of swimming and diving pleasure.  It was still afloat when I was a college student.

5.  Patrice has asked for something new.  Well, the latest news from our barn in the canyon is that our sewer line froze.  In the place where we live, we have a septic leach field for gray water, and a holding tank for the toilets.  The showers drain fine, but the toilet line froze.  Poor Chuck has been working madly to try to get it thawed out, and called me a few minutes ago to say that he thinks that the heat he applied to it over night has worked.  I would not recommend one of his other remedies, though.  Pouring boiling water down the line may or may not work; but it will certainly melt the wax ring that seats the toilet to the bathroom floor.  The kids were strangely thrilled at the opportunity to pee off the back porch, despite the near-zero temperatures and quantities of snow.  Nathan did this with pleasure and style, of course.  Sara... less style.  "Sara, I said to piss OFF the porch, not ON the porch."  "I thought I had it nailed, Mom, but my aim needs work."  They will be disappointed to find, when they return in a few days, that we are back to living like ordinary people.

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