All the shopping is done. I know this because, my credit card lays at my feet, panting, like a hound that accompanied me on a 5K run. But I promise no ranting, at least, until the new year’s bills are all read. I sit here, in front of this computer, as quiet as a mouse, because Anne and the boys are still nestled in bed. The furnace kicks-off and whirls like a jet, but other than that there are no other sounds, save the creaks of this old house. It is an hour of peace that is mine to enjoy. Ahead lies Christmas Day, a day full of hustle and bustle, family and friends, a day full of presents, cooking and cleaning and lots of good eating. At the end of the day, once all the packages are unwrapped and all the good food eaten, peace should return to this home, in the form of new fallen snow. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good day!
The Weather Channel this winter got the cutesy idea of naming winter storms. This is in imitation of the National Weather Service’s habit of naming tropical storms. Hence, the name Draco, for today’s bad weather. Last night, we had thunderstorms. Today, we have high winds, falling temperatures, sleet and blowing snow, as the center of this massive storm passed over Saint Louis. So far, the ground is too warm for any of this oobleck* to stick.
Dan and Annie flew in from the left coast and were surprised by Draco’s less than warm welcome. Dave is driving down from Purdue tonight; I pray that he is careful driving. Tomorrow, Rey arrives; he is just passing through town on his way out to Colorado, but will spend the night. He should remain below Draco’s freeze line.
This is the last week of school, before Christmas break. Anne and here kids are anxiously awaiting Santa. I arranged for Santa to send a video message to Anne under the guise that she was one of her fourth grade students. Here is the link to the Portable North Pole video that I made for her. Unfortunately, Anne didn’t think sharing this with her students was such a good idea. Anyway, watch it, I hope that you enjoy it! I knew I should had marked her down as naughty and not just naughty and nice.
A orthopantomogram or dental panoramic radiograph is a panoramic scanning dental X-ray of the upper and lower jaw. The one pictured above shows a two-dimensional view of my mouth. It uses tomography to flatten the half-circle it circumscribed from one of my ears to the other. This particular device consisted of a horizontal rotating arm which held the X-ray source and another moving arm that held the digital X-ray sensor. They were arranged opposite each other. The patient’s skull, my head, sat between the generator and the sensor. I bit on a plastic spatula so that all my teeth, especially the crowns, can be viewed individually. The whole orthopantomogram process takes about one minute. My actual radiation exposure time ran about six seconds as the machine took its excursion around my skull.
Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I had to take a picture of the resultant photo. Other than this brief moment of technological gee-whiz-i-ness, the rest of my checkup was the usual fare. Trying to converse with someone who was holding sharp metal instruments in your mouth and who also thought that you should really devote more of your life experience to flossing. The white spots on my upper outside teeth are old fillings.
* Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a book by Dr. Seuss. It follows the adventures of a young boy named Bartholomew, who must rescue his kingdom from a sticky substance called ‘oobleck’.
UPDATE: Dave made it as far as Springfield and decided to lay over for the night. Anne couldn’t get into her car after school, because ice had frozen the door shut. A ‘nice’ man offered to help her and succeeded in breaking the door handle off instead. His excuse was, “That was always a possibility. Is there anything more that I can do to help?”
At times, maybe even most of the time, I must admit that I am pretty clueless. I wrote yesterday about our gift basket largess. It did seem a wee bit strange for my brother Frank to send us seven identical food gift baskets. I wasn’t really thinking about the why. I was more concerned with how I was going to shoehorn all of these baskets into our not particularly large refrigerator. My second thought was wondering where I would find room for the Christmas dinner fixings to come. If I did think about it, I thought that maybe he got a good deal. Anne thought that Frank was just trying to fatten me up.
When I came home tonight, I knew that something was wrong. There were another three new gift boxes waiting on the front porch. Plus, a different kind of food gift box from Harry had arrived too. I called Frank, afraid that his vendor had mistakenly sent his order for ten different recipients all to my address. This fear was amplified because I had already taken one basket to work and Anne had taken another one to school. My co-workers devoured the first one and I see no sign of the second one, even though Anne has come and gone from after school. It turns out that upon reviewing his invoice, Frank did in deed order ten gift boxes, instead of the one intended. He suggested that I re-gift the excess boxes and that is what I plan on doing.
This actually works out quite well. To date, I’ve done almost none of my Christmas shopping. Jury duty took a week out of my life and the wind out of this holiday season’s sails. That is my first excuse. Last weekend my credit card company called me to say that my card had been compromised. Someone had tried to purchase $4,000+ worth of radio controlled toys using my account. The operator promptly canceled my plate and then asked if the normal seven to ten-day delivery schedule would be an inconvenience. Yes! I have Christmas shopping yet to do. She thought so too and then offered to FedEx the new plate. I got that yesterday too. That is my second excuse. Let me say this. If I had planned to purchase you a gift, I still will. There just might be an extra food gift box also included under the tree this year.
“”Package Alert, Package Alert”, I would call-out at this time of year, when we got home. Many years ago, when the boys were still small, I would pick them up at the end of the workday from Martha Rounds Academy. On the way home, I would detour by some of the local Christmas light hotspots, calling out “Christmas Light Alert, Christmas Light Alert”. Through the rearview mirror, I saw the reflected awe upon their little faces, colored by the passing lights. Arriving home, I always managed to spy the package on the front porch first. As soon as I had cut the engine I would cry out, “Package Alert, Package Alert”.
Initially this would aid in the disembarking process, the boys would explode out of the car in their excitement. This gave me time to gather all of the flotsam and jetsam that traipsed into the house during those years. The problem was negotiating the front door. Arms full, I had to step around two boys who were busy pawing at the latest cardboard monolith erected upon our front door step. I don’t know what they were trying to do. Their tiny hands could have never penetrated the reams of packing tape that encase these artifacts. Maybe through some now long forgotten sense, they could feel the goodness within.
Somehow, I, the boys, the package and all of the rest would make it inside. Then came their question, “Can we open it?” They already knew the answer even before I gave it, “Let’s wait until Mom gets home and then we’ll see.” This usually broke the spell and off they ran to their usual pursuits. Occasionally, depending on the package and only after the Mom-a-sarus came home, we would bust open the cardboard box. If the sender was a notorious wrapper (not rapper) then we ‘rents knew that the secrecy of the gift would be preserved until Christmas. This faux concession only served to reignite the frenzy that was acted out on the door step. Still, it was fun to watch.
Monday night, two packages arrived. Jay and Carl’s present was waiting on the front porch just as in days of yore. Alas, there were no small children in the car to tease, only me. Read that last phrase as you will. It is just not the same. Even though these two are notorius wrappers, we’ll likely leave it boxed until we get our tree and the once little boys return home again.
The other package arrived after we were both home. There was a knock at the door, but no one was there. It could have been Santa, except that his sleigh sounded more like a UPS truck than eight tiny reindeer. The package was marked perishable, refrigerate. This is the other exception to the do not open until Christmas rule. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a shrink wrapped pallet, and seven giant food baskets. As you can see from the picture above, they fill our refrigerator. Thank you, Kathy and Frank!
On Saturday, I became a practitioner of the domestic arts, I baked cookies. Joe, one of my co-workers has his Christmas party on Saturday night, a cookie making party. At the party we’ll made and decorated cookies, but as is tradition, we also will bring a batch to share. Anne, the baker in the family, is still unable to shoulder her confectionary duties, so I had to man-up and do the baking. I’ve made cookies before, but always from one of those logs of dough. This was the first time that I’ve ever attempted scratch baking.
Step one was to scour the Internet for a recipe that seemed to have that certain panache, but was still easy to make. No eighteen layer thingy-ma-jigs, thank you very much. I selected Mint Chocolate cookies. Next, I pawed through the pantry, determining which ingredients we already had and which ones I needed to go to the store to get. Finally, I was ready to begin baking, or at least I thought that I was.
Somewhere, I had heard that the most important thing about baking is following the recipe as closely as possible. I carefully measured out all of the ingredients. I had the flour, sugar and stuff in the brown Copco bowl and the Cocoa and butter in the red Copco bowl. I knew that I had run off the rails though, when it came to mixing the ingredients. The butter ended up becoming a cocoa covered mess. I called for help and Anne came a limping. She helpfully pointed out that I was supposed to have melted the butter first.
I seriously considered pitching what I had created so-far and starting all over again. Anne attempted to search for some mythical tool that we never did find that would have made everything all better again. Then she suggested throwing it all into the Cuisinart. How did women bake before the Cuisinart? Thirty years ago, when my Mom gave us this Cuisinart she said, “Mock, you’re living in the stone age.” I think that she was referring to the fact that we didn’t have a dishwasher. We still don’t. I think that women simply followed the recipe. Pass me that mastodon bone, woman.
Miracle that the Cuisinart is, it still wasn’t doing the trick. My dough wasn’t doughy, it was still too powdery. At this point, desperate and out of control, I added a third egg, a third more butter and twice the amount of chocolate chips that was called for. It’s a mystery, but everything came together. I and the dough chilled for an hour and then I was ready to start playing with fire.
I started baking and the first batch came out looking just like the photo on the Internet. Things were going well, until I started running out of dough. I called out to Anne again, “I think that I’m only going to get 24 cookies.” Her response was, “Look at the recipe.” I did, “Oh yeah, two dozen.” After our taste testing and Joanie’s independent taste testing the project was judged a delicious success.
What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?
Beer nuts are $4.29, but deer nuts are always under a buck.
I was in Starbuck last morning. I was in line to place my order, when I saw a uniformed police women waiting for her beverage to be made. I looked at her, but I didn’t want to eyeball her, but she looked like the police detective from last week’s trial. Someone, who I definitely don’t want to meet again. She had the same height, weight, hair and face as that detective, but she was in a Clayton police officer’s uniform and the detective was a county cop. I related this episode to my friend, whose nom de guerre is the Perma-Bear and he had a scary thought, “Maybe she is her sister?”
Two lawyers were out hunting,
When they came upon a pair of tracks.
They stopped and examined the tracks closely.
The first lawyer announced,
“Those are deer tracks.
It’s deer season,
So we should follow the tracks
And find our prey.”
The second lawyer responded,
“Those are clearly elk tracks,
And elk are out of season.
If we follow your advice,
We’ll waste the day.”
Each attorney believed himself,
The Superior woodsman,
And they both bitterly stuck to their guns.
They were still arguing when the train hit them.
I don’t understand why people tend to get their undies all in a bunch at this time of year. I understand that it is the end of the calendar year, but their will be a 2013. Maybe, everyone is holding with the Mayan calendar’s end of the world prediction. If so, then there will be a lot of people doing some emergency Christmas shopping on December 22nd. No, this end of the year angst is perennial.
Some of it is business driven, books must be balanced. Some of it is driven by the frenetic activity burgeoned upon us, by the ever flourishing holiday season. Note, I did not attack Christmas here. I think that the end of a calendar year psychologically causes us to hold ourselves to account, both real and unreal. I’m not saying that taking stock is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, but I am arguing against taking ourselves to the stocks. I hope my humor has helped, but ultimately, I have no idea, my dear.
When I breezed into the office last morning, I overheard my boss posing the following joke. I got there too late to hear the send up, but I thought that it was still worth relating. I’m sure that it was his response to some question that he could not answer. I thought that it was funny.
What do you call a deer with no eyes?