Dear Santa


Scott Curry Glass Vase Illuminated from Within by LED Lights

Scott Curry Glass Vase Illuminated from Within by LED Lights

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good boy this year and I only want to ask you for just one thing. My wife thinks that I’m being unreasonable and that this is too much to ask for at Christmas, but I really, really want this and it is only just one present. So Santa, you are my only hope, if you could get me this for Christmas, I promise not to ask for so much next year and I would be eternally grateful if you brought it on Christmas Day. Please, please, please!

Here is a link to the present that I want. It is a Samsung 85” 3D Smart LED TV. Normally $44,999.99, but is currently marked down to $39,997.99 and it comes with special delivery, so you don’t have to haul it down our chimney yourself. I know what you are thinking, “Who in their right mind would want to spend forty grand on a TV set?” I’ve anticipated this question and I offer up the following testimonials. They like many similar ones can be found in the comments section of the linked to web page:

  • My wife and I bought this after selling our daughter Amanda into white slavery. We actually got a refurbished. It’s missing the remote, but oh well– for $10K off, I can afford a universal, right? The picture is amazing. I’ve never seen the world with such clarity. 
  • I was going to fund my daughter’s wedding in Hawaii, but I figured this Samsung TV would last much longer.
  • I am coming back from the future to write this review, and to let everyone know you can buy this TV for $699 in 2015. It still looks great though.

If these comments don’t convince you then I don’t know what will. I know that times haven’t been so good. We’ve had to deal with the Great Recession, but I know that you have your problems too. What with global warming, your North Pole retreat is likely to soon become a waterfront property or worse. To add insult to injury, a few years back the Russians claimed sovereignty over the North Pole. You can’t really expect much more from them, but this year the Canadians did the same. If you can’t trust the Canadians who can you trust? Santa it may be that your days are numbered, if the polar ice cap melts then you will have to relocate to Antarctica. From there the best you’ll manage to North America and Europe is two-day delivery, like the day after Christmas. Then Amazon really will eat your lunch. So, why not go out with a bang? I can think of no better way to finish up your long and successful career than with a new forty-thousand dollar TV for me.

Yours truly,
le Marquis

PS – The photo with this post shows a Scott Curry glass vase that my Dad gave us. Mr. Curry was a student of Dale Chihuly. In this picture, I’ve attempted to get all artsy and photographed the vase with some LED Christmas lights in it. Lots of nice colors, but it is kind of hard to see the vase. I’m sure though that this picture would look a lot better on my new TV.

Christmas Morning


Yosemite Chapel

Yosemite Chapel

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!

Staring Into the Maw of Draco


My Orthopantomogram

My Orthopantomogram

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?”

On the First Day of Christmas …


Frosted Fields by Katherine McPheeters - The wintry beauty of a frosted field is depicted by a twig wreath and a collection of frosted stems in shades of champagne and chocolate

Frosted Fields by Katherine McPheeters – The wintry beauty of a frosted field is depicted by a twig wreath and a collection of frosted stems in shades of champagne and chocolate

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.

Seven Red Baskets


What Are We Having For Christmas Dinner?

What Are We Having For Christmas Dinner?

“”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!

Santa-Land Diaries


Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show

Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show

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.