All the Lights Are on the Tree

Right now there is a moth the size of a toddler’s pinkie nail in the office with me. Every time it lands on my screen I am legitimately startled, and I physically jump. One itty bitty moth and suddenly I’m sobbing in the corner, waving a back scratcher wildly in the air.

Muggabee hasn’t been around for at least two months. I just heard you say, “Shut up about your cats!” Rude.

Oh my goodness, it almost touched me.

Christmas is right around the corner, as it often is this time of year. We were late buying gifts. We’re usually finished by Thanksgiving, but luckily they’re all finally here. Fortunately, I still have about a week of wrapping procrastination left before I absolutely have to cut the paper just an inch too short and find every possible way to rip the fragile corners. I used to admire my Aunt’s wrapping abilities. She worked for a local candy store, and they’d gift wrap chocolates around the holidays. She’d crease the edges and line up the pattern, twist a ribbon around it all and use scissors to curl the ends. I cut my purlicue once while snipping bacon with kitchen shears, so I’ll call any present wrapping a success if I’ve at least covered the picture on the box and haven’t made myself bleed.

Our tree is up. We bought it the Saturday after Thanksgiving from the Knights of Columbus, who had them chopped down a week before they even started selling them. The last year we bought a tree they were all dry, and the needles started falling off in the first week. This one isn’t quite as bad, but they really should stop cutting them so early. We had to buy it when we did because last year we waited a week after Thanksgiving, and everyone was sold out. Everyone. Every. One. So, for fun, we bought a sparkly tinsel tree with pastel lights that couldn’t hold any of our ornaments. I don’t know yet how the ornaments will fare on this one since we’ve only gotten as far as the lights and the topper.

I think I just saw fluttering out of the corner of my eye.

My poinsettia, Phyllis, was struggling for a while. Brian suggested I just throw her away and get a new plant, but I couldn’t. I’ve named this plant. I’ve talked to this plant. However, because she was doing so poorly, I didn’t hesitate to close the blinds on her window for a few days for extra privacy. I knew you could put poinsettias in darkness to develop their red color, so I wasn’t concerned about her being denied sunlight. Unexpectedly, there was a huge improvement in all her leaves in a very short time. She isn’t back to her previously gorgeous state, but she’s not nearly as twiggy and dead. I have hope.

If we’re being honest with each other, the likelihood of me posting again before 2018 is roughly the same as me befriending this baby-sized moth of terror. So, have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a joyous Kwanzaa, a beautiful December, and a safe New Year.

Title From:
Why I Love Christmas
by The Robertsons

Into the Calm and the Quiet

I love October; it’s the start of the holiday season for me. Cool days and frozen evenings mean the smell of woodstoves and fireplaces start to fill the air. You’d think after a summer of toxic air quality and wildfires raging through the state, we’d be sick of smoke, but there’s something different and comforting about the smell of a cozy hearth. Trees that can begin the slide toward yellow, orange, and red. Many trees around here are cottonwood, which turn a beautiful gold. Some of the leaves have already started to fall. The first day of autumn brought a light dusting of snow, and more is in the forecast for tonight.

Inevitably, pumpkin spice everything will be arriving if it hasn’t already. I can’t get behind that craze. I love pumpkin pie, but when that flavor is put into another form, I find it slightly disturbing, like if I were to give you a meatloaf lollipop or a chicken noodle soup ice cream. Not long ago we decided to buy a Vitamix, and one of the first smoothies I made was a pumpkin, graham cracker, plus some other things smoothie with pumpkin pie spice. It was…no. But if you like pumpkin spice lattes, smoothies, coffees, or soda, that’s great. (By the way, there is such a thing as pumpkin spice soda as well as butter, chips, gum, and hummus, to name a few others.)

Of course, the best part of October is Halloween. I’ve been counting down the days since May or June. We have our Halloween decorations ready to be put up next weekend. This year we decided to hang a few things outside, but they’re all very light, and we have tremendous winds here, so I hope they don’t fly away. Tommy will be making an appearance this year, after being forgotten in the closet last Halloween. It’ll be interesting to see how Wicket reacts to him; she’s quite a nervous dog.

Now, I’m off to paint my nails in another Halloween theme, tie some flies, and partake in a very non-autumnal 8:30 pm coffee.

Title From:
Come Little Children
Movie: Hocus Pocus

One Light Goes Out, They All Go Out!

This weekend we have so much to accomplish!

We have to hang our lights, which is going to be a feat itself with the amount we usually put up. On top of what we already have, we’ve been talking about buying more boxes. Then there’s the issue of measuring to make sure things are balanced so I don’t feel fidgety and uncomfortable every time I catch a glimpse of an extra three feet of lights hanging off the edge of something. I can tolerate there being an extra amount of lighting but it really has to be balanced or it’ll drive me nuts.

Then, we have to order our snowman ornament and our year’s representation ornament. Every year since we moved in together we’ve purchased a snowman ornament and one additional ornament to represent our latest year. It’s our way of phasing out the usual ball ornaments and personalizing our tree with tradition and things that mean something special to us. We didn’t get to order any last year because our cabin didn’t have an address for mail/deliveries, so we’re going to have to pick out four this year, which doesn’t seem like a very big deal, but if you were the one picking them out with me, you’d know better.

A couple years ago we also started the tradition of each painting a decoration. It’s cheaper than buying pre-made decorations and we can have fun personalizing them. The first year we did tiny cabins that the wild mice in our farmhouse used for scavenged food storage. So, we have this year’s pieces to pick out and fancy up before the weekend is over.

We also have to pull out all the appliances and drawers to find where the mice are getting in here. We’ve already blocked a few access points but after seeing one (quite large) mouse running back and forth to one of the dog’s bowls yesterday afternoon, it’s clear we’ve obviously missed a sizable entry hole.

Our Christmas tree is going to have to wait until next weekend, I’m afraid, since I haven’t located a Christmas tree farm around here yet and with everything we have to do it would just sit unadorned for another week anyway.

Title From:
The 12 Pains of Christmas
by Bob Rivers

How ‘Bout We Sing Some Holiday Songs?

I love the holiday season. I start listening to Christmas music weeks before Thanksgiving. The first snowfall (when it’s not in September) brings with it the excitement over picking and chopping our tree, hanging lights, wrapping presents, baking cookies, and getting snockered on eggnog.

I have so many heartwarming Christmas memories but, by far, my favorite memories revolve around my sister. Even when we didn’t share a room, we would sleep in the same bed for days before Christmas, counting down in eves (Tonight is Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve!) and whispering about the presents we knew the other was getting. Finally, on Christmas Eve, we would wake up all through the night to check if Santa had been to the house. Then we would wait anxiously for the clock to read 4:30am, a perfectly acceptable time to begin the day when you’re 10 and it’s Christmas, and wake our parents.

It’s been many years since we shared a bed at Christmas, but I still catch myself counting down in eves.

Title From:
Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday
by Brad Paisley

All That Meat and No Potatoes

Two days before Thanksgiving we usually start all the prep work for The Big Day. We wash and chop every vegetable and prepare everything that can be prepared because, if we did everything on Thanksgiving day, we’d be eating in December. Unfortunately, this year our water decided to drop to a dribble and we were unable to begin as usual. Despite the setback, we’ll be celebrating this evening.

In addition to all our normal dishes, this year we decided to attempt our own brine. I both hope it’s fantastic and hope it’s not that impressive since I failed to write down what exactly went into the pot and how much of everything was used. I definitely know two lemons went into the mix, along with what appears to be a plethora of tiny seed pods, and some yard clippings.

Title From:
All That Meat and No Potatoes
by Louis Armstrong