Monday, December 28, 2009

Ornamental Tour

As I said previously, we did finally find our ornaments. The tree wasn't as naked as we had first feared. It's still not crazy-full, but I like it that way. None of that overbearing tinsel here.

I chose a few special ornaments to show you, and I hope you'll excuse the at times extremely inadequate photography. I yam who I yam.

This is one of the very first ornaments I ever received. Her only value to me is her age and her association with my parents and my innocent, blissful childhood. As you can see, she is herself. Her paintbrush is long gone, she needs a good comb, and she hasn't quite figured out the whole rouge thing.

These are the two manliest ornaments on the tree. The Klingon Bird of Prey I purchased last year when one of those fancy-schmancy little Hallmark type gift stores went out of business. It plugs into one of the little light sockets and threatens the arborial cosmos with little blinking lasers. I love it!

The second ornament is a star that Art made for me when we were engaged lo, these many years ago. He fashioned it from stainless steel, and sharpened the points so much that it could easily be a home defense weapon if we were burglarized at Christmas time. I'm not kidding; you could do some real damage with that thing!

This ornament almost always makes me cry. It was given to me by my father's mother, Grandma C when I was very young. (My cousins and I called her Nonnie) It used to have the most wonderful gingerbread smell, and I associated that smell with Christmas for many, many years. It's made of wax, and is actually very soft. Apparently I carved my initials in it at some point in the past. The reason it makes me sad is that my Grandma C died suddenly when I was only four years old. My mother was expecting my sister at the time, so Nonnie never even got to meet Claye, or my brother Elijah, let alone Art and my own children. This gingerbread man always makes me think of how the world can change forever, and quickly.

On a lighter note, this ornament, which I bought at the same little shop as the Klingon ship above, is my dream house. Well, OK, one of them. I would love a little country farmhouse with a wraparound porch. This one is even metal with a metal roof. We would love for my father-in-law to build us a metal barn house someday, and I'm still trying to talk him into making it two story, which he thinks is just crazy-womantalk. When I bought this ornament I took it straight to him as an example of how cute it could be. He wasn't convinced.

Here is the first ornament Art and I received as a young married couple. It's a little sappy, but that's alright, because I'm female and sappiness is permitted every now and then. I like it because the little couple are young and poor but happy together, which was pretty much our situation at the time. Life wasn't hard, don't get me wrong, but we are constantly amazed when we look back at how easy and carefree it seemed at the time. I hope I never have to live in a trailer that size again, but if I do, at least I'll have Art with me. (And a boat-load of junk. Hmmm. I'm not sure we could fit into that trailer, now that I think about it.)

Well, that's it. The Christmas tree tour is officially over. I promised myself I wouldn't write a ton about each one, but oh well.

Someday soon I'll be introducing you to a few of the things that made up our super-geeky Christmas this year. We had a blast with gifts this year, and my kids loved it!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

There's joy in abundance. Fill up on it!

From our family to yours

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Go Get it Yourself

Monday night was the Annual Ladies' Christmas party for Grandma Lilibeth's church. Even though we don't attend this church, my father is the pastor, so we are involved and loved anyway. It's very nice. My mother and sister and I have attended the Christmas festivities for years now, but this was the first year I brought Mim with me. She took the following picture.

Grandma fared well at Mim's hand, but mommy looks a little cockeyed. Not her fault, I suppose.

Aunt Claye did a little better. Mim and I are decked out in our party duds.

The ladies tried a new place this year, as they are in a constant search for the perfect Christmas party location. This year they reserved a room and catered meal at "Ms G's Girly Store"*. We completely filled the lovely room set aside for us, but there were a few...unpleasant surprises.

The first was that there appeared to be a staff of two. One man was cooking in the kitchen, and one rather harassed woman was trying to wait all the tables, which were filled with the 30+ women from the church as well as the customers in the tables at the front that were left over. She was...cranky. I mean cranky enough that I was scared to ask for extra napkins, or other things she had promised she would bring. And we were very nice. Really. The youth director even helped clear tables and serve drinks. (In response to our having been told, "Go get it yourself," when we asked if we could have a drink.)

I don't understand why someone who doesn't enjoy serving would choose the food industry. Just because you know how to cook and decorate does not mean that you should start yourself a little restaurant. (And yes, I've worked in a restaurant before. I know what it's like.)

Also, making a good, or recognizable, cup of coffee appears to be much more difficult than I had previously thought. Below is a picture of my mother's cups of coffee and cider. Can you guess which is which?

The fuller cup is coffee. Yes, you heard that right. Does that look like coffee to you, or maybe a very weak herbal tea?

Yeah. That's what we thought too.

Every year there's a gift exchange. All of the ladies from the church have had "secret sisters" throughout the year, and the Christmas party is when they give the last gift and the official revelation of last year's secret sister. It's always a lot of fun to watch everyone get their gifts, and those of us who are just visiting exchange grab bag gifts. I knew Mim would be unlikely to enjoy the typical adult woman's grab bag gift, so I brought her one of her Christmas gifts from home.

I think she liked it.

Altogether the evening was fun. Even the frustrating moments were fun, because they were shared by all, and will give us a lot of good "you remember that lady who..." memories at next year's party. I'm looking forward to it, even if I have to get my drink myself.

*Name changed to protect the guilty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where, oh Where?

I seem to have mislaid my ornaments. I am missing at least one, and maybe two, boxes of ornaments. I know exactly what they look like, but they don't seem to be in any of my storage spaces.

The current theory is that Art packed them away inside of a large plastic tub somewhere. That's my theory, of course. Art's is that I put them somewhere "safe" and we will find them someday. Regardless, they are not on the tree. That much I do know.

Mim keeps telling me, "Mommy, our tree isn't really very pretty, is it?" And, well, no it's not, unless you're into the minimalist style of decorating. (Which Art is, actually, so he may have misplaced the ornaments on purpose. Hmmm.)

I bought a few candy canes, and used some big white ribbons from the kids' Christmas pajamas. At least we found the lights.

In an effort to cheer the little ones up, I bought some plaster ornaments from the Wal-mart craft section, and they've been painting this afternoon. At least we'll have a little color on the tree this year.

Update: We found the ornaments tonight! Art was sorting through his tool room and found the missing plastic tub. Yea!!

Yes, Deer

Art shot a deer this year, so we had a little meat-processing party last weekend. The result was two large bags of jerky, several pounds of ground, and a few steaks.

Art was the official touch-the-bloody-meat guy, and I just shuffled around and prepared the jerky flavorings. I did end up touching the meat when I put it into the marinade containers and when I hung it all. Yes, that right, I am just that tough.

As usual, we had an efficient assembly line approach to our tiny little slaughter house.

When it was over, I scrubbed and scrubbed anywhere they may have contacted deer blood. Blech.

And here we have what looks like a diorama of a fantastical butcher's shop, but is really the paper clip method of jerky drying that Art learned from the ever-wise "some guy at work". I don't know what we'd do without the combined manly knowledge of Art's coworkers. It makes me wonder what they learn from him and take home to their wives as Gospel-fact.

Anyway, I finally finished hanging and drying and smelling all the jerky, so we are officially done. I have encouraged Art to call that good for the year. I think we've got enough venison to get through the winter anyway, despite his misgivings. (It's not like we eat much meat anyway, but maybe he's just hoping.)

It's in the Genes

Here's a little conversation I overheard yesterday after school.

Mim: Zaya, we are going to have a new bathroom plan. OK?

Zaya: OK

Mim: Here's the plan. When you come in here and go pee-pee, then you put down this lid when you're done. That's the plan. Alright? Did you get it?

Zaya: Yeah. OK.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Avante on your Garde

Today has been art day. Every now and then the kids talk me into pulling down the art junk. Today's inspiration came when I bought a few National Geographic magazines this morning at the local thrift store where I volunteer to sort books. (I am my grandmother-in-law's apprentice.)

Someone brought in two paper bags full of them and quite a few had separate maps.(Those are usually long gone by the time I see them.) I love maps! I now have about twenty (that counts as "a few" right?) that feature such varied locations as the former Soviet Union, ancient Mayan civilization sites, the Holy Land, Columbus's trip to the West Indies and Mount Everest. What to do with all those magazines, though? They are becoming/will become collages. (Art and I have these fun little games where I buy junk for the kids, it sits around the house for a while, and then he throws it out. Hysterical! I'm currently up by a point. Or 20.)

But anyway, back to the art. Zaya made this collage, which turned into a very strange sea world of sorts. There are Praya Dubia, Giganto Cypruses (Cypri?) and Jellyfish galore. Oh, and a huge man made of a chopped up submarine.

Mim's collage is...well...lets just say interesting. She cut out this large picture of a woman - some sort of model, I think - and it takes up most of the page. She's wearing something between a dress and a swimsuit. I'm not positive which. There's also picture of a woman serving Mickey and Minnie mouse dinner (from a Disneyworld ad?) and a small brilliantly lit building. I'm not going to show you that one. Just because.

However, I will show you a picture she drew of Baby Jesus in a rocket ship surrounded by swirling blue and red planets...and one star. Don't ask; I have no answers.

Then we have the hurricanes. There was some dispute about the proper way to paint a hurricane, but I gave them a lecture about artistic freedom and interpretation, and the battle abated. Temporarily.

In the midst of this we have also pretended to be snails (three different types), hermit crabs, and I don't remember what else. And that's just since lunch.