World Chess Hall of Fame

World Chess Hall of Fame

Yesterday, we got a text from David, “We got a verbal acceptance on a house!” That was fast. We knew that thy were looking to buy a house, but I figured that it would be a longer-term project. Details to follow. Today, we drove over to the Central West End, to visit Left Bank Books. Anne had placed an order for a couple of books and they were ready to be picked up. We parked around the corner from the bookstore on McPherson and just after I pulled in a car sporting a Delaware license plate pulled in in front of us. Anne has been sitting at forty-nine states for a while now, needing only Delaware to win the game. Starting the next game immediately, the CWE turned out to be a target rich environment, where she racked up over twenty states in less than an hour, including Delaware again. Yep, that’s right we counted that car twice. I guess that it has been a while since we walked around the CWE neighborhood, because a lot has changed. There were many new restaurants that we have not dined at yet, but missing were many old stalwarts. Most notable of the missing in action was Llywelyn’s Pub. Three other locals are still around town, but the original one on McPherson is gone. Further south on Euclid, at Maryland Plaza, the World Chess Hall of Fame has installed a pop-up called Jingle. In conjunction with Kingside Diner it has set up a tent on the plaza, but it has also taken over at least the windows of the old Culpepper’s corner too.

Star Santa

These day, every year when Jane helps Harry decorate his Chez for Christmas, the first thing that goes up on the bough as decoration is Star Santa. This is a construction paper ornament that Jane made in kindergarten and has survived ever since. Such is Jane’s pride in this creation that Anne was inspired to create a pillow cover dedicated to Star Santa. The front of the pillowcase shows Star Santa hanging his first ornament on the tree. It is an ornament done in the style of Doris, the mother-in-law of Anne’s other sister, Jay. Doris was a prolific Christmas ornament maker. In Doris fashion, it is a puffy ornament, with lots of sequins and a photo of Jane in the center. Fittingly, Star Santa is seen placing on the tree as his first ornament, a Doris ornament picturing Jane. The back of the pillowcase shows a quad folio of wintertime activities that Star Santa likes to participate in after his Christmas duties are complete. He is seen sledding, skiing, skating and making snow-angels. As you can see, it was a big hit.

Sugar Plum Fairy

Sugar Plums

“…while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” The famous sugar plums spoken about in Clement Clark Moore’s beloved poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas were actually sugar-coated coriander. Later the recipe changed and came to include other spices and dried fruit. Chris of Alice & Chris fame sent us a quartet of these sugar plums, along with the recipe. I followed this recipe and made my own batch of sugar plums. They were really easy to make. We’ll bring these confections to share at Smokin’ Joe’s annual Christmas cookie party, where guests bring a plate to share. Everyone also decorates cookies and then at the end of the night, we will all load up our plates with the party’s bounty. I am also looking forward with seeing many of my friends and former colleagues again. This year will be the 30th rendition of this party.

Challenging All Drummer Boys

Purdue Big Bass Drum

Last night, while I was minding my own business, I heard those tale-tell notes, Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, lofting in from the living room, where Anne had the TV on. Hearing this tune meant that for yet another year, I had lost the Little Drummer Boy Challenge (LDBC). The rules of which are simple, if you hear this song between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, you lose. The challenge is always a one and done affair and there is never any fuzz on that.

The hipster origins of the LDBC lies in a general revulsion to the sappiness of all too many Christmas carols and has become focused on this one particular carol that attempts to stand astride the Christmas carol religious-secular divide. The song tells a nativity story, but introduces as its focus a character that never appears in the bible. It attempts to tell a religious tale featuring the likes of Rudolf the Reindeer. You can consider the LDBC as a just war on Christmas. 

I knew that with this year’s earlier than normal Thanksgiving that the challenge would be tougher than normal. So, I should be glad that I made it as far as I did, but the suddenness of my loss and the fact that it occurred in the safety of my own home, has made this defeat all the more incomprehensible. I rushed into the living room to confront Anne for her hand in my downfall, but while I found a Christmas special on the television, I also found Anne fast asleep. She had a tiring day that featured a field trip to the Magic House. So, I’ll just let it go… 

2016 Christmas Lights

2016 Christmas Lights

2016 Christmas Lights

EB, as promised here is a picture of our Christmas lights this year. Please note the Christmas pyramid on the left. Do you recognize it? It is still working just fine, even after all of these years. Note that its fan blades on top look blurry. That’s because they were twirling so fast that in this long exposure, they were motion blurred. The strings of lights around the windows and hearth are all new LED lights. Each blub has a little lens on its tip that projects their light and forms those circular patterns on the walls and ceiling. They are not really as garish as they appear here. EB, I hope that you like this picture.