Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Christmas & Surrounding Days Part 2

We were awoken by a loud knocking on the bedroom door at 9:00 Christmas morning. The boys had already been downstairs to check out the packages under the tree and had moved the stockings into the living room. They were so good with waiting until 9. They have always been very good about not waking us up at the crack of dawn...a good thing, since we are usually up until just before dawn cracks!

We opened stockings (Baci chocolates, a gift certificate for a facial, a Barbie dress, and various & sundry other girly items), then got down to gifts. J gave me a bounty of absolutely wonderful gifts. Fairy prints & figures, silver-colored chargers, a kitchen torch, a vintage-style quilt from the Shabby Chic collection, a talking drum, a whole box of altered book supplies...just so many things I love. Missing were a set of sheets & 2 Christmas CDs (Harry Connick Jr & Rat Pack) she bought me. She swears the bag is somewhere in the house. I hope we find it soon because I happened to get her the exact same set & I want to exchange mine for a different print. Pie was so happy with his computer that he hugged it, later in the day. But, when we were opening gifts, he had a really bad headache, so we just let him go back to bed & saved his gifts for him to open later. He gave me a tiny glass angel from Hallmark. Jeannene got a purple dragon from the same case. Boot was thrilled with his jerseys, his framed Green Bay ephemera, and his MP3 player (if we could only figure out how the hell to use it! I hate techno stuff!). He got us both things from Yankee candle, a cranberry peppermint candle with a glass shade for J & a really cute reindeer tart warmer for me.

After gifts, Boot joined his brother in the bedroom to play while we cleaned up & had some breakfast casserole. J started cooking & I kept her company, working on Christmas cards. Yep, I was late this year...got them sent on Epiphany! They were done on Christmas, but I had a hard time finding stamps. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's always something...LOL! We had such a nice, quiet, mellow Christmas Day. J made a great turkey dinner with all the fixings...I did the mashed potatoes, but she made everything else. Green bean casserole, sweet potatoes baked & topped with cinnamon-brown sugar butter, a big green salad, stuffing, gravy. I had planned to make a chocolate nemesis cake, but with the big dinner, we decided stocking candy was a good enough dessert!

Monday, we took the kids to see "King Kong" and since they are big enough now, we got to go see a movie we wanted to see! We escorted them to their theater before going to see "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" ourselves. We enjoyed it & ran into Rachel & her family while there. She was just sparkling this visit & I was to find out why on Tuesday. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

When we got home, we had just a little time before the boys' father came to pick them up for a week-long visit. So, we opened Hanukkah gifts. I wanted to play dreidel, but there just wasn't time. We did have some jelly doughnuts & light the menorah. J had forgotten to get me a gift, but since she bought me some adorable Tinkerbell underwear that day, I told her it counted. I gave her a Thich Nhat Hanh book & a B&N gift certificate. Boot got the Clue 50 Mysteries game he'd been wanting & Pie got Life.

After the boys left, we went over to Brendan & Laura's for dinner. We have been trying to get together for months, but scheduling for 2 pastors (one of whom is also a professor), a salad plant operations manager, and a seminary student is HARD! They have a sweet new dog (named Tosh, after Peter Tosh), a rescued 1 year old part Basenji. After getting the grand tour of the new condo, we sat & had baked brie & drinks. Then, Papa Murphy's pizza. They were incredibly apologetic about not being foodies that night, but the pizza was great! There was a very spinachy, garlicky veggie pizza & a "Cowboy Pizza", with sausage, olives, & lots of onions. Laura made a delicious salad, too, with blue cheese, nuts, & dried cranberries in it. We had a great visit, then stopped at the bookstore on the way home. J picked up another Thich Nhat Hanh book & we got some calendars. I chose the porches one for the bedroom & a Lonely Planet one for the study. J got a frog-a-day calendar for her office. I had gotten her a Mucha one for the main family calendar. I'd better find her one for the office wall, too! And soon, before they're all sent back!

Tuesday, I spent time wrapping for the West Virginia folks & watching Food Network & working on my sermon. I met Rachel for lunch at The Winds, too. She had on the most gorgeous green sweater & was still sparkling. Turns out she's met this guy who is single & smart & sweet & fun. He likes to buy her jewelry & cashmere sweaters, he wants to go out & do fun things, he thinks she's beautiful, & he plans to take her to Montreal. He is kind & interesting to talk to. He sounds like what she's been looking for all these years. He sounds great to me, too. I got word from her today that they are now officially dating & I am so happy for her! Lunch was, as always, splendid. Rachel had the Tuscan bread salad (which I adore) & a cup of black bean chili. I had an incredible Boursin omelet & a cup of Alsatian potato soup, which was out of this world, with cabbage & caraway. Mmm. We both had the Rike's meringue for dessert, mine with strawberry sauce & hers with Scharffen Berger chocolate sauce. I was envious of hers. LOL! They would have been better with fruit instead of ice cream, but I always love a good meringue even bare naked, so I was happy. I just rolled the ice cream off & left it behind.

I was sorry I didn't have time to poke around the shops with Rachel. Our visits are always too short & this one felt even shorter. But, I had to go home & get packed. When J got home at 5:30 or 6, I was ready, with the car almost completely loaded. I just had to have her choose which nibby things she wanted for her snack basket, then we hit 35, headed east. Our trip down was great, with a stop for dinner at Red Lobster. J had the king crab & sighed happily all through it. I adored my tilapia & baked potato. There is just something about a good piece of grilled fish & a perfectly baked potato. Of course, those crazy-good biscuits were my favorite part of the meal.

We arrived at the hotel after midnight & tucked into bed right away. I'd had the foresight to pack our suitcases in the back seat & the gifts in the trunk, so there was no lugging back & forth of gifts. In the morning, we had breakfast in the lobby & then soaked in the hot tub for awhile. Very relaxing.

Then, we went to the Home Place for our Christmas celebration. Lenore was in the tub & my mom was stirring an aromatic pot of potato soup. We hugged & chattered as we brought in gifts & piled them under the tree. We had veggies & dill dip, cheese & crackers, & potato soup for lunch. Graham arrived just as we were starting to eat. For dessert, we had my mom's homemade stollen & Lenore's cookie factory treats: fudge, wreath cookies, brownies, & such. We opened stockings (I got a set of Maurice Sendak holiday cards!), then gifts. Most of the gifts were from us to them & I liked it that way. I had fun being the elf. J got a wonderful red sweater from the North Polars & I got a beautifully painted (by my fairy godmama) sign for our home, Fernwood, commissioned by the North Polars. Graham had found us some wonderful old black & white photos of lesbians (& some other ephemera). There were beads for J & hot pink glass balls for my silver & pink Christmas tree, in lovely antique tins. Lenore was pleased with her snow scene sheets, towels, & such. I think my mom's favorite gift was the lush Moroccan-influenced throw. And Graham just kept grinning & taking photos. In the evening, we had my ma's superb veggie lasagna, a big salad, and hot bread for our Christmas dinner. Lenore, my mom, & I tried tangerintinis (wow! Terrific mix from Jungle Jim's) while J & Graham stuck to beers.

We went back to the hotel & collapsed into bed, preparing for our trip the next day. In the morning, I went to breakfast while J dozed a bit more. I chit-chatted with a fellow guest about religion & was informed by the Provider of All Things Breakfast that J & I had "some admirers" the day before. I thought maybe she meant that some folks were yapping about the lesbians after we left breakfast. Turns out that when we went out to the hot tub, some guys were watching us with great appreciation! What the heck? I never expected to be drooled over in my swimsuit. I present okay when fully dressed, but half-nekked? Apparently, they liked the "junk" in our "trunks" and were highly complimentary about our thighs, of all things...hilarious!

After breakfast, I worked some more on my sermon & J hung out in the hot tub. I joined her for a bit, then we got dressed. My mom & Graham met us to go to the Huntington Museum of Art. We had a grand time exploring that...and I loved getting to see a little of Huntington, too. We'll have to go down for the Huntington Hilltop one of these years. Of course, with the way J has been talking, we're going to end up WV residents after she retires. Sounds good to me! In the museum, we first went to the conservatory & enjoyed the warm air & unusual plants. We got to see a chocolate tree & a coffee tree. We found out that a LOT of plants are related to the poinsettia. And we saw orchids that looked like little elves. Next, we hit a folk art exhibit & a photo show of old Opry pictures. We walked through a hall of winter scenes & into the glass gallery, which Pie would have loved. Then, we saw an exhibit of photographic works by Maggie Taylor (www.maggietaylor.com) and Jerry Uelsmann (www.uelsmann.com), both of whom do incredible work. His is all black & white & is hand-manipulated. Hers is colorful & done with computer programs. It reminds me a little bit of some of the collage work Teesha Moore has done. We finished the day with a tour through the Middle Eastern gallery, the household items gallery (I call it...samovars & such...really nice stuff!), and the gift shop. Oh, and J & I played with the kids' texture exhibit, too. She wanted to turn the train on, but didn't want to get in trouble. J sneaked & bought a calendar for my mom as a memento.

After the museum, we went to an Indian restaurant & had a delicious anniversary dinner. The food isn't as great as Ajanta, but very, very good. I would definitely go back...except this time, I wouldn't let the waiter boss me into ordering plain tea & mild spicing. LOL! On the way home, we went with my mom & Graham to Lowe's to pick out a new dryer for Lenore, whose dryer finally conked out. We drooled over bath & kitchen ideas while they made the final decision. Then, we went back to the holler to help them get it from the truck to the porch before going back to the hotel.

We had breakfast in the morning at Cracker Barrel. They were having an off morning & if I hadn't found some cool things in the gift shop, I would have much preferred a bagel in the lobby of the hotel. Oh, well, no big deal. We headed for the Home Place, then, to help get the old dryer out & the new one in. It went more smoothly than I'd expected, which is not to say that it went at all smoothly. But, everyone remained patient & calm & I don't think there was even any cussing, although Lenore had to take her wine & cheese & vanish for awhile.

I finished my sermon while J & my mom played dice games & cooked, Graham did research for his book, & Lenore napped. Then, we had latkes, my mom's honey applesauce, my deviled eggs and salad for dinner. We sat around visiting until it was quite late, then went to the hotel. In the morning, we packed up & headed home after breakfast in the lobby. We stopped again at Red Lobster, looking for J's glasses. We didn't find them, but we did have a good lunch. Shrimp for me, this time, & snow crab & tilapia for my sweetie.

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