mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (retro-style holiday lights)
I'll get around to doing the last Music Advent post sometime this week, but one of the videos was "Careless Whisper" and that just makes me sad all over again about all these people dying this week. Then I looked at the phone earlier and there was a breaking news e-mail about Debbie Reynolds being rushed to the hospital, and so it was like, aaand here we go again.

It occurred to me that I didn't mention much about gifts in my last post. As I've said before, Rob and I are terribly pragmatic about gifts. We usually give each other some small surprises but we pretty much pick out the larger gifts so as not to waste money on stuff we don't want. (He gave me some nail things, for the surprise, and I bought him an Ohio State shirt that I had found on Amazon.) We got a couple of nice gifts from my cousins - a pair of those large stainless steel travel mugs (my cousin actually apologized because they were Sam's Club brand and not the name brand, and I said, "Honestly, I don't care at all about that, I like them") and a very pretty wreath that I can put out on my balcony. And my aunt gave us gift cards, as she nearly always does. I gave all the females who are old enough to wear makeup little gift bags full of sample stuff - everybody really seems to like those. I also gave some Star Wars stuff, which of course also goes over well. As for me, my big gifts were my planner - I like Erin Condren's and they are not exactly cheap - and I got a Kindle Fire when they were on sale on Cyber Monday. (I had a regular Kindle - in fact I' on my 3rd one, I think, but I'd never had the Fire.) (Rob wanted - and went and picked out for himself - a weight vest. To each his own.)

We went to see the Pixar movie Moana this afternoon - I knew it was supposed to be good, and it was - and on the way home we went down this street with a lot of big houses to look at the lights. In particular this one house has a gigantic oak tree in their yard that is completely covered in blue lights. Something about it is just mesmerizing, I love it. Also it always makes me happy when people still have the lights up the week after Christmas. There's something depressing about it when all of the decorations disappear on the 26th. (I do think it's fair game to take stuff down closer to New Year's because I know a lot of people have to go back to work right after the 1st. I don't insist they stay up until Epiphany or anything.)

We are watching one episode of Stranger Things a day. I figured out that this will get us finished on Sunday, just in time for Rob to go back to work on Monday. Some of the episodes have big cliffhangers, though, and sometimes it's really tempting to just keep going. But so far we haven't. (Episode... I mean "Chapter" 4 - they don't call them episodes - is called "The Body" so I think you've gotta say that's a direct Stephen King callout there. I also still think it's very reminiscent at times of early Spielberg - the thing where the lights kept going off and on reminded me a lot of Close Encounters - with a big heaping dose of X-Files and maybe even Twin Peaks. All of those are good things as far as I'm concerned.)

Holidays

Dec. 27th, 2016 12:16 am
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (retro-style holiday lights)
I'm off all week - it's not actually holidays for me, technically, because I'm part-time and I don't get paid if I don't work. But we'll manage, financially, and I can't say I'm unhappy about the break.

We went to see my aunt and my cousins yesterday, Christmas Day, and came back today - which is Boxing Day, other places, but nobody calls it that here. It really should be called Returns and Gift Cards Day - although I admit it's not terribly catchy - because that's what an awful lot of people do on the day after Christmas, right? You return what doesn't fit, etc, you maybe buy some Christmas junk that's marked down (I used to do that a lot but I don't as much as I used to), and you spend the gift cards that people gave you, often on newly marked-down merchandise. However, we didn't do any of those things today. We got up (terribly, terribly early, by my standards), we went to my aunt's and had breakfast, and then we came home. Rob went to the gym after we got home; I played Marvel Heroes for a while and then went and took a nap, because I only got maybe 5 hours of sleep last night. And then when I got up we watched another episode of Stranger Things and then the Doctor Who Christmas special, which luckily taped because I set it in some past year and it always remembers. I do love U-verse for that (although we are plotting to get rid of the TV portion of U-verse if we can figure out how to make that work - I'm not really sure it's doable at this point but I'll report back if we make any progress on that).

I guess I should back up and talk about yesterday. Oh, no, actually I'll back up to Saturday night (or very early on Christmas morning, really) right after I posted the previous entry. I did paint my nails - the color is Twinkle Lights, if you want to know. I do really like it but it was a bit difficult to get opaque. Between coats of nail polish, I was messing around on the internet like I always do, and at some point I went back into Marvel Heroes and my inventory panel was suddenly chock-full of stuff. Presumably this was a Christmas gift of sorts from Gazillion (who runs the game), although there were two of everything and Col said today that the rumor yesterday was that the doubling-up was a mistake which they just decided not to try to rectify. It was all these different kinds of gift boxes, and I was determined to sort it out before I went to bed, and I felt like it took for-freaking-ever. There was lots of good stuff in there, so I'm not exactly complaining but it did stress me out for a while there. I did still get to sleep at what for me is a decent hour, because I knew I had to get up by 10 or 10:30, so we could get to my aunt's house in time for a late Christmas lunch.

I had talked to my aunt on Friday and I told her that we were leaving about 11, and she said "but it'll take you three hours!" and I'm not sure where she came up with that number, but we made sure to time ourselves because we were sure she was wrong. We started out the door at 11, actually pulled out at 11:15, and got there at 1:30 even with a brief stop at Buc-ees for a bathroom-and-cold-drinks break. so it takes, what, actually about two hours flat, driving time. (Of course there wasn't all that much traffic, on Christmas Day.) I had told her if they got ready to eat and we weren't there, not to wait, and they didn't. We got there right when they were finishing up. I was trying to decide if it was rude not to get there on time, but since they won't actually ever set a fixed time it's hard to work up much guilt there. There were actually still a couple of people lingering at the table and we just fixed plates and joined them, so it was like Christmas dinner, act 2, more or less.

I'm not going to try to distinguish too much between my various relatives, because there's too many of them, but basically, this group of people is composed of my aunt, who is actually my aunt-by-marriage (my uncle died about 15 years ago), my two first cousins who are in their 40s, their four children (between them), and the family of the oldest of those four children (husband & three little girls). (I always just say "my aunt and my cousins" - obviously some of them are actually first cousins at a remove or two,)  Plus there was my aunt's father, who is 103 and not in particularly good health (although he's hanging in there very stubbornly) and his caregiver. He is still living at home but he broke his hip and now has round-the-clock care as of this past year. (I can't imagine what costs them, but he's pretty well-to-do so I assume he can afford it.) The caregiver just joined right in with everything like she was part of the family. This is all a pretty extended family, I imagine you're getting that from this description if you've read this far, and so it has expanded and contracted to include a variety of people over the years. We usually only see them this one time of the year, but they always seem happy to see us, and it's sort of the last remnant of Christmas that we much participate in.

We normally go on Christmas Eve, stay one night, my aunt ritually complains that we don't stay longer, and we normally go on home late in the afternoon on Christmas Day just the same. This year, since we had to work on the 23rd, we begged off coming until Christmas Day. I enjoyed being home on Christmas Eve, as I said in the last entry, but I'm not sure if the logistics will work out to be able to do that every year. (We'll worry about that starting 11 months or so from now.) Anyway, people came and went, we opened gifts, we watched movies at my aunt's house ("Elf" and "Enchanted") and then Rob & I & a couple of the younger ones went down the street to my cousins' house to spend the night, and we watched more movies ("A New Hope" - which I hadn't actually seen in years, I decided - and part of "Avatar" before we finally collapsed. (To connect around to what I said earlier, I got about 5 hours of sleep, woke up at 6am and never did go back to sleep again. I finally gave up and started setting up my new paper planner that I got as one of my gifts.)

It was a pretty good Christmas, overall.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (HP - Phoenix)
I was going to write something about "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" - which we saw twice, once the weekend before Thanksgiving and again on Thanksgiving Day - but I can't figure out what to say past "I liked it a lot and so did Rob." This may have more to do with my state of body/mind right now - I feel kinda like crap, honestly - than with anything having to do with the movie. Obviously I'm going to have to come back to that topic later.

Man, I hope I'm not getting sick.

Well, here, I'll throw you a couple of random holiday-related pictures. I found a paper-chain kit at Target last week, in the $1 section, so I bought three of them. They came color-themed so I bought one of each in red, green, and gold, and I alternated them when I put them together. It's not something it ever occurred to me that I needed a kit for before, but now that I have paper-chains draped all across the living room, I think they're pretty brilliant. It was just pre-cut strips of paper and some stickers to hold them together with.
paperchainkit.jpg
It doesn't say how long of a chain you're meant to get, but with three kits' worth, it wraps most of the way around two sides of the living room. I estimated I have something like 18 feet of chain, altogether. Here's part of it:
paperchains.jpg
I just taped it up and so far it's holding fine. I think it's kind of awesome, really.

(I'm all into creative use of tape, lately. Late one night I used most of a roll of flashy purple mylar tape decorating the edge of my computer monitor, and you can also part of see the results of that in this picture.)

Thus far the only outside decoration I've put up is my big silver wreath on the balcony door. I'm sure I'll get around to doing some more of that later.

Holidailies - blue
Holidailies
mellicious: blinky lights (holiday lights gif)
I forgot to say that this came from a Holidailies participant named Pearl (who I don't think is anybody I was acquainted with previously, unless she's disguised herself well). I always feel like I have to do at least one of those during Holidailies. So here you are. I'm sure I've answered most of these questions before, but the answers tend to change from year to year, anyway.

1. Do you know what you want for Christmas already?
Hmm, yes and no. I know what I'm getting, for the most part, and I'm happy with that. I couldn't think of much that I really wanted. I think it's maybe part of getting older, that THINGS don't matter so much to you? I dunno.
2. Have you done any Christmas shopping yet?
Yeah, I'm done, basically. I started buying stuff early. (Lots of Star Wars merchandise passing through this house; I figured that was a proven winner, especially this year.)
3. Do you like Christmas?
I'm somewhat iffy about it these days because it feels now like it belongs to a religion that's not mine. But I was brought up celebrating it so I still have a tie to it. And I adored it for most of my life.
4. At whose house will you celebrate this year?
Probably my aunt's, although it's still up in the air. (I told this tale a week or so ago, so scroll backwards in my journal if you really want to know!)
5. Is there someone in your family you are not looking forward to seeing this Christmas? If so who, and why?
Eh. I have so little family left that I treasure them all, even the ones I didn't always care much for!
6. Do you decorate the tree early, or late?
We don't have anything up yet except a wreath on the balcony, so I guess we're on the late side.
7. Do you use tinsel?
I'm kind of nutty about tinsel. I don't use the old tinsel icicles, though, if that's what this is referring to - can you even buy that any more? (I'm probably dating myself by even asking.) Tinsel garland feels kind of old-school tacky now, too (it's the fat kind I'm thinking of, if you know what I mean), and I don't really use that any more, either, if I ever did. But I have a whole tinsel tree, now, actually. We quit putting up a green tree (fake or real) because it was too much trouble.
8. Do you own any antique Christmas bulbs?
Real ones? No. I'm fascinated with them, though; I have jewelry in that shape, and Christmas cards decorated with them, and stuff. (If I remember I'll put my icon up for this!)
9. Do you put a star or an angel on the top of your Christmas tree?
I've had both at various times. As I said, I don't really do the kind of tree that you have to decorate these days, so it's not an issue any more.
10. Do you hang stockings?
We have them (with our names embroidered on them and everything) but we live in an apartment so we don't have a mantel or anything to hang them on.
11. Do you drink eggnog?
Ugh, no.
12. Have you eaten a candy cane this year yet?
Actually yes, because one came in a box in the mail (with some nail polish, I think it was) and I ate it. I'm not that much of a fan of candy canes that I go out and buy them especially to eat, though.

2015holibadge-blue.gif
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (xmas - merry & bright)
We sang that song in high school - I don't know if everybody knows it nowadays (or for that matter if most people did back then, either) - "...Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown / Our bowl it is made of the green maple tree" etc. Anyway, that's still the first thing that pops in my head when I see the word wassail.

But the second thing is the drink. I used to make up big batches at the holidays but it's an awful lot of trouble since it's really too much for two of us, and it's not real easy to transport. But Rob found a gallon of apple cider at Aldi for quite cheap, and I wanted something that approximates the cider drink I used to make by the gallon that can be made one cup at a time. After soem experimentation, I've come up with a version that is close enough to feel like wassail rather than just cider, to me, anyway. So I thought I would pass it along.

The main things I used to put in my large-batch wassail was cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges, and sugar. I looked at a bunch of different recipes to come up with mine, and I never really wrote it down, but it mostly involved dumping most of a small bottle of cloves, a small bunch of cinnamon sticks, rather a lot of sugar, and several oranges, quartered, into a big pan along with a gallon of cider, bringing it to a boil, and then turning it down and letting it simmer for an hour or so. I might have used some additional ingredients in other years (lemon juice comes to mind) but that's the gist of it. Then you can add liquor afterwards - I usually use brandy, but for the big-batch type I just let people add whatever they want, or drink it with no liquor at all.

So for the cup-by-cup version, I've dispensed with the cloves, and instead of cinnamon sticks (which are expensive) I just have been using ground cinnamon. Cinnamon and sugar also works. But I think the thing that makes it actually taste like wassail is the orange flavor along with the cinnamon and apple flavors. What I've been doing for that is just quartering an orange and throwing one piece of it in the cup, and then microwaving the whole shebang.

So here's the "recipe" such as it is.

Mel's wassail by the cup

Put the following in a microwavable mug:

  • apple cider (preferably the "fresh" kind that's available in the fall in gallon jugs in the produce section) (fill your mug about 3/4 full, to leave room for the orange)

  • cinnamon to taste

  • sugar or sweetener to taste

  • a quarter of a fresh orange, peel and all

  • brandy or other liquor if desired

Microwave until hot. (In my microwave it takes about a minute and a half.)

As far as the liquor, we bought a 750ml bottle of brandy at Spec's last year and we're still working through that. It was a domestic, not-too-expensive brand (Taylor, I think? I checked, it's Korbel) and it was fine as far as I'm concerned. If you're a connoisseur of brandies you might want something better than that. Or I'm sure vodka or wine might work fine, too. But brandy tastes good in the winter, to me.

And I drink it with the orange still in the mug, but you could of course fish it out if you wanted. If you do that, you probably should squeeze some of the contents back into the mug before you discard the rest of the orange. (The meat of the orange also tastes really good after it's marinated in the cider-and-liquor mixture for a while.)


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mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
I believe I used the phrase "up in the air" regarding our holiday plans before, and well, now they're really up in the air, because barring weather problems, Rob is going to be in Ohio on Christmas morning, and is coming back home later that day. Rob's mom is apparently sliding downhill fast (she has Alzheimer's) and Rob's brother is worried about it enough that he thinks Rob should make another trip up. So he's going on the 20th and coming back on the 25th. We made the reservations tonight and the plane fares really weren't as outrageous as I was afraid they might be. I'm not sure how much of an emergency it really is but if it was my mom, I wouldn't want to take chances with that. It works out pretty well because he only has to take a couple of days off work, and then he's still got the whole week off after that to be on holiday. I can still do... whatever it is we end up doing with my side of the family, and I don't kid myself that Rob is going to care that much about missing that. And then I can go pick him up on Christmas night.

(We had a string of years starting in 1999 when my uncle was in the hospital over Christmas, and ending, I guess, in 2006 before my mother died, where just about every holiday season got disrupted by somebody's serious illness. That's why I wrote that in the title. But, y'know, there's not much to be done about that.)

So Rob was off today and I had a doctor's appointment, and I started to offer to change the appointment, and then I realized that the doctor's office is right by our favorite little Chinese restaurant, and so instead I kept my appointment and Rob met me at the restaurant afterwards. And then we actually went to the mall, which we hardly ever do, especially in December when it's so crowded. We figured a Monday would be the least-crowded you could get this time of year, and I think that was true, in that we actually were able to find a decent parking space, but it was still pretty crowded. We picked the end away from the brand-new wing, but there were still lots of people around. (The new two-level parking garage was already open, which probably helped with the parking. I had had some vague idea that it wasn't finished yet.) We wandered through H&M and into Sephora, and a friendly Sephora employee saw us looking at Nest perfumes and showed me the last remaining Black Friday Nest gift set, which was three small rollerballs of three different Nest fragrances for $10. I snapped it up without even worrying about which fragrances were in it, because if I don't want them for myself, I can always use them for stocking stuffers.

But that was the only thing we bought other than coffee. We browsed Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works and I heroically refrained from buying any more candles, which are always one of my weaknesses. I do want to see the new expansion eventually, but I can stand to wait til the holiday rush is over for that, and we didn't venture down that far today. It was a big mall already, even before this last expansion. (They were building this mall when I was in high school. I could pretty much name you the expansions and the changes in the major tenants over the years. It started with Joske's, Montgomery Ward, and Sears - Sears is the only one still there. Joske's got bought up by Dillard's, and M.Ward went bankrupt, what, years ago now.)

2015holibadge-blue.gif
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Torchwood - 1899)
When I got to work yesterday, they had put up a Christmas tree in the middle of the counter where we work, right next to the computer monitor and completely displacing the cash register, which was relegated to a little low table. I'm not exactly sure whose idea this was, but I don't guess it matters since I assume the boss okayed it. The tree is right next to my face when I'm at the monitor, and I hate that, but I guess I'm stuck with it for the next three weeks. I'll live. I also got stressed at work because nobody had done any data entry while I was off and so I was catching up on an entire week of paperwork. I got most of it entered and left some only-mildly-bitchy notes about the part I couldn't figure out. I am definitely not full of holiday spirit at the moment. But then it's only December 3, in my opinion that's too early to be expected to have holiday spirit anyway. (I also think it's ridiculously early to put a tree up in a non-retail environment, but obviously everybody doesn't share that opinion.)

I actually have all my gifts bought, I think. I started collecting stuff early. Our normal Christmas routine may be shot to hell, though. Normally either one of my cousins or my aunt does Christmas, and we spent a night or two up the country at their house. But the cousin is in temporary quarters - they're in the middle of a two-step move out of town - and my aunt is in Houston taking care of her 102-year old father, who broke his hip. (My aunt is actually my aunt by marriage, if you're wondering, which is why her father is not my grandfather. But I've known both of them since I was five years old so they're just family in my book.) We may end up having Christmas in Houston, which would be more convenient for us anyway - and we wouldn't have to spend the night at all. It seems like it would be sort of hard on my aunt hosting it, but she volunteered (or rather sort of semi-volunteered, which is why I'm saying it's still up in the air). I certainly don't have room for all those people. George, the 102-year-old, has a good-sized house - although of course he's been in rehab after the hip incident - and if my aunt has been staying there for months it's clean as a whistle, if I know her. So anyway, we are just winging it on all that. (If I don't end up seeing my cousins I'll have to ship their gifts to them in the mail or something - but I bet I'll end up seeing them.)

2015holibadge-blue.gif
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas light gif)
This may end up being about a holiday pet peeve that I seem to have gotten over, to some extent: my annoyance at the holidays starting too early. Everybody gripes about this, god knows, so it's hardly original, anyway, and I've complained about it for years. I used to say that nobody should be allowed to play Christmas music before December 1st - actually I still stand by that one - and nobody ought to be allowed to advertise Christmas merchandise or put any decorations up before Thanksgiving, at the very earliest. And that's the part I'm backing off of, a bit. (However, I still think that it's an abomination to advertise Christmas merchandise before Halloween, at the very earliest. There's still got to be limits.)

I think the reason I am loosening up about Christmas in November is because I am getting older, and apparently what happens when you get older is that time just goes by faster and faster. I remember how long the days seemed when I was a kid - just endless. I think everybody feels that way, right? The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is just EONS. And as you age, it just goes faster and faster until it's just zooming by. So now it's blink! Christmas is over. So hey, if it starts a little earlier maybe I'll have time to appreciate it a little more, because jesus, does time go by fast.

holi13badge-snowflake
holidailies.org
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I was thinking on the way home tonight about where we spend Christmas. Rob was reminiscing about a Christmas long ago when one of my cousins was a teenager and it was at "my dad's house" - so he said. This had to mean my mom AND dad's house, before they got divorced, since the cousin is on my mom's side of the family and anyway, we never had Christmas at my dad's after they were divorced. Honestly we never had Christmas terribly often there before that, either. But that was mostly because most years, we went to my grandparents' house, on my mom's side. I know we had Christmas at our house at least a few times - there was a year that I remember laying in bed (then as now, I was pretty much an insomniac) and watching my parents put out the "Santa" gifts - there was a clear line of sight between the front bedroom, where we slept, and the living room, and apparently nobody stopped to think that either of us might be awake. I don't think my parents understood how bad a sleeper I was. (For one thing, I think I thought that I was doing something wrong by staying awake, or at least they would think so, so I didn't say much about it.)

That was at the house we lived in when I was a kid, though. The house that Rob was talking about was the house on the bayou that my parents moved to after I was in college. They lived there for about 10 years, until they got divorced, and then my dad lived there for quite a few years more, although I can't remember exactly what year he finally sold the house - but we never had Christmas there in those years, I know that. In fact I hardly ever saw him on Christmas Day after the divorce. Mostly he spent Christmas with whatever wife or girlfriend he had at the time, after the divorce, and we went on going to our grandparents' house on the other side, like always, until my grandparents both died. We rarely ever spent Christmas with my dad's mother, even when we were young - as you may have already figured out - but usually we would go there at some point, on the way home from the other grandparents'. It felt a bit like an afterthought, quite frankly. (Even my dad liked it better at the other grandparents' house, we all knew that. His mom was not really a fun person, to say the least. She was a good cook, though. We didn't spend the night but we always stayed for a meal.)

We did have at least one Christmas at the bayou house, though, and one Christmas at my sister's house, a few years later, and a few times we went to my uncle's house at least for Christmas dinner, too. I'm sure there were a variety of factors that figured into this that I don't really remember any more. I remember some discussion about keeping my grandmother (probably both of them, really) from having to do too much work. But the outcome of that was that we kept celebrating Christmas just like we always did, we just made sure everybody else did most of the work.

I'll never be able to remember all 50 years of Christmasses, and nobody would want to hear about all of them if I could! But I can't come close. It's interesting to try to sort it all out in my head, just the same.

Ugh.

Dec. 19th, 2012 01:49 am
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - purple star)
Well, I have given in and I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. If nothing else, I figure they can give me a referral to an allergist, and I think it's time to try that. I last went to an ENT doc nearly 10 years ago, and she wasn't even an allergy specialist - somebody may have some ideas they didn't then. Plus, I've had sore throats off and on for weeks now, and while I do think it's likely that it's just allergies, it's time (probably past time) to rule out the other stuff, too. Obviously I've been avoiding it, but man, I'm tired of being sick.

I have not gotten far on my little to-do list from yesterday, except that I did make progress on the making and sending of cards. Some I've done are actually mostly handmade and others less so, but so far I haven't resorted to my leftover bought cards from past years at all. I've been taking scans of the more original ones and I'll post those later, after the recipients have had time to see them. But I'm a little bit happier with myself on that score. Just getting off my butt and doing anything is a triumph these days. I even have a war-wound - I sliced my finger open a little bit with the paper-trimmer - nothing too bad, though.

The fact is, I am not feeling much holiday spirit this year. It comes and it goes so fast now that it doesn't seem like there's time to enjoy it. I guess that's just a part of getting older. (And I think maybe you adjust to the whoosh of time as it goes by. At least, sometimes I think I'm starting to.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas light gif)
I seem to be somewhat in denial about the onset of Christmas. I have done some things - for example, I dragged out the wreaths a couple of weeks ago, and put them on both the front door and the balcony door. (I like both my wreaths - the balcony one is battery-operated and twinkles merrily every night. I like to watch it, and this is its fifth December on our balcony, so I think you have to say we got our $30 worth out of that purchase.) And I put the big long string of LED lights across the balcony railing, as well. My apartment complex is way into the holiday decorating, and since our balcony is the ONLY one visible from the street, I feel compelled to do my bit there. And I have done part of my cards and have been gradually working on the rest. And I bought Rob some gifts.

But... there are a number of things I haven't done, either. We discussed putting up the tree and sort of abandoned the idea, because it's a pain and we don't have a really good spot for it. I did put out a couple of decor things, so I made a token effort there. I haven't called my aunt and asked about what I should bring - or (hell!) even told her that we're definitely coming, now that I think about it. (I really, really need to do that one, now that I think about it.) I haven't done anything about a gift for Rob's parents. They're at the point where it's really difficult to get them anything they actually want, but I do try to at least make an effort. I'm going to have to think up some last-minute something, there. Although, man, with mailing issues I'm cutting that one close, aren't I? I haven't wrapped presents or gotten any kind of token presents for my aunt and my cousins or any of that, although all of that is stuff I usually do at the last minute, too. But I'm working this weekend so even getting out the door on Monday is going to be a bit problematic. I really do have to do some of this stuff, and some of it had best be TODAY or at least tomorrow, while I still have a week to go.

Hell, now I've worked myself into a bit of a panic. I'm not sure that's helpful. But knowing me, I'll have pushed all this to the back of my mind again in 15 minutes, anyway.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I'm not saying you're actually going to get 7 kinds of random here, but I'm pretty sure that the only way I'm going to get an entry out tonight is to loose the random.

Well, ok, let's start with some updates on things I've talked about previously: first of all, the Texans lost rather ignominiously on Monday Night Football. But hell, they had those injury problems that we had talked about, and it was New England in Foxboro in December and if you read between the lines when I was talking about it before, I wasn't really holding my breath for a victory there. But hey, we're still 11-2. Most teams would give their eyeteeth to be in the Texans' size 14 shoes. We'll see what happens with Indianapolis this weekend.

Also, regarding the cruise ships, this was big news in Galveston this past week: Disney has decided to leave earlier than anticipated. (It looks like the rest of that article is behind a pay wall now, darnit.) Anyway, they're still staying through 2013, they're just not going into 2014 as they had previously hinted they might. And apparently the other suitor for those berths was going to be Princess Cruises, but they have decided to go further inshore and go out of LaPorte. (It's always possible that that will not work out, anyway; LaPorte has had a couple of flings in the past at being a cruise ship departure city and it never seems to work out too well. We'll see.)

I stayed home from work today because I had a sore throat. (I say I stayed home; I didn't drive to Galveston, is what I mean, but I ended up doing several hours of work anyway.) What I really was leading to here, though, was that I have been sick for pretty much the last month now. I'm pretty sure I caught a cold on top of my normal fall allergies, and I was sick for the 10 days or so immediately before Thanksgiving, and since then I've had trouble shaking it. I've been through bags and bags of cough drops. I am getting better, but really slowly. And every few days I get these sore throats, which are usually bad in the morning but then go away again. It's very annoying. I'm pretty sure it's just allergies, but with the way it keeps dragging on, you gotta wonder. (But then what is it? Strep throat? I dunno. I suppose I might should go to the doctor and see what they say. But I hate to.)

I started sending out Christmas cards, finally - I had 5 people on the TUS list who were out of the country, so I did them first, and they're all mailed, and today I started working on the rest of the list. TUS people (until I run out, anyway) are getting some of my precious hoarded cards that I made myself. I've been footling around with more homemade cards this year but haven't gotten far. Anyway, I'm going to use up last year's stash first, some of which are very cute. (I also have Grinch cards and... something else that was on the morbid side... that I'm really tempted to give to my elderly neighbors just to wake them up a bit. But I probably won't.)
mellicious: blinky lights (holiday lights gif)
Well, I was sort of saving this until closer to Christmas, but I don't seem to feel like writing anything else right now, so here you go! Some variation of this seems to float around every year, but I ganked this one from azurekitty, I think. (My way of doing this kind of thing is to copy it, delete the other person's answers and then let it sit for a day or two so I'm not just regurgitating their answers, hopefully! Which is why I also sometimes forget where I got them...)

1. Eggnog - Yay or Nay?
Nay - can't stand it. It's gross. (Don't worry, you're allowed to disagree with me. Just because I think it's gross doesn't mean you have to!)

2. Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
Really, I didn't used to think twice about it one way or the other. But nowadays, well, this is what the "War on Christmas" has done for us - every time somebody says "Merry Christmas" I wonder whether it's a greeting or a political statement. (This is especially true if it's a business we're talking about.) It's funny, though, "Merry Christmas" still pops out of my mouth sometimes - it's what I was brought up with, I guess. In writing I'm much more likely to say "Happy holidays" without even thinking about it. Kind of strange, but there you are.

3. Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions? Share them, if you'd like.
We say "Christmas Eve Gift!" to one another, along with a hug and/or kiss. I guess that's the gift, see. Also my grandmother (who is gone now) used to always try to open a gift on Christmas Eve, even though we don't do that in my family. That was a tradition, too - everybody waited for her to do it (and I suspect she knew that perfectly well).

Other than that, the tradition is that the grown-ups sit around and drink and the kids play games and squabble. (That's just what everybody does, right?) And we have some sort of casserole or something for supper that isn't too much trouble to prepare - we save the big meal for the next day. But you're allowed to dip into the desserts so everybody still gets utterly stuffed anyway. Some years we have gone to the carol service in the past, but the last time we went it turned out to be contemporary and not real carols at all, which infurated me. So I am on strike there unless somebody guarantees me the real thing.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I think maybe I'd have to go with some of those real old-time Christmas carols on this - "Angels We Have Heard on High" maybe.

5. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My mother pretending she heard the reindeer bells, when we were little. We got so excited.

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, I guess, even though I am not especially a Bing Crosby fan. (My sister and I particularly like to make jokes about the "Sisters" number.)

7. What's the best gift you've ever gotten? What about the worst?
We had a discussion on Twitter the other day about toothbrushes as a bad gift. (It began with talking about giving toothbrushes at Halloween, which is a whole different matter.) I think it was when I was 17 that we were on a trip and my mother wrapped up toothbrushes and gave them to my sister and me as gifts. We both thought that was very silly, although I suppose we should have been more gracious about it. (We were 17 and 16, it's not an age where one tends to be gracious about things like that.) I know we got some other gifts that year but that's the one I still remember. On the other hand, we were in TELLURIDE. SKIING. That was a damn good gift, right there. So maybe that year was the best and worst all wrapped up in one.

8. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Only if there are kids around, which in recent years there haven't been. The kids presumably go through this ritual at their own houses.

9. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real?
I'm a natural skeptic, I stopped believing when I was 7 or 8. I pretended I did for a couple more years, though - I was afraid if I admitted it I wouldn't get presents any more!

10. Do you go caroling?
Not in years. In high school I was in choir and we did actually go around and carol at people's doors in the old-fashioned kind of way. Even in the 70s this seemed pretty retro and a lot of people didn't seem to know how to respond.

11. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Yes, but mostly not anybody terribly interesting. Seems like back in high school, a million years ago, some boy that I thought I liked did kiss me, but I don't even remember who it was any more. That's sort of sad, I wish I remembered!

12. Who would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I dunno, Karl Urban, maybe. Sadly, I can't even think of a particular celebrity crush to mention right now.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (winter snowflake)
I am definitely in denial about it being the 21st of December. I wish the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas went as slowly as it did when you were a kid - I could use that time. Now it just flies by. I guess that's how it works, huh - when you want it to go fast it goes slow, and vice versa.

I've got plenty of stuff for Rob - every bit of it ordered online - and then I got (smallish) gift cards for all the kids - the little ones get so many gifts they go into overload, anyway, and the bigger ones are to that stage where they don't like anything picked out by a grownup. Actually, I just sent my nephew Parker some cash stuck inside a card, because I never see him at Christmas any more. And he's barely even a kid any more, anyway - he's 20, amazingly. He'll be 21 in February. In any case, I figured I'd give the gift cards for the little kids to their parents and tell them to get something later. I got the gift cards at Target, cause I figured that's a good all-purpose option. Better than Wal-Mart, at least. I thought about doing Old Navy or something for the bigger pair but that was too many stops, and I think they'll be just as happy, or maybe happier, with the Target ones.

I need to do a token something for the adults, which I guess will be jewelry, if I can get myself together enough to whip something up. I never did the watches I meant to do last Christmas, so if I can find the watch faces I had last year, I can do that. Or bracelets, which are almost as good. (People are always more impressed with watches, though - like you made the watch-face yourself or something.)

I did finish with the cards, more or less, although I still have some here that I need to go and mail. TODAY. If I don't do it today, they may not get there before Christmas. Not that that's really a tragedy, as far as I'm concerned - I think the holidays go until at least January 1st and maybe longer, but everybody doesn't seem to think that way. Many people who are extremely Christmas-centric seem to think things are over the minute the presents are opened. (I am tempted to segue into a rant about the Christmas-centric but I will refrain.)

And solstice is, what, tomorrow? I read something online that led me to think it was yesterday, but I know that wasn't right. I still haven't figured it out exactly, not that it really matters. The shortest day of the year is definitely either today or tomorrow, whatever. It's not like I'm going to go out and make a sacrifice to the spirit of Yule or anything.

(LJ says this is Bah Humbug! Day. I can see why.)


Q & A

Dec. 19th, 2011 07:05 pm
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)
This little questionnaire was an optional part of Weetabix's card exchange, and since I sent all my cards for that exchange out a couple of weeks ago, and everybody has theoretically had time to read it by now, I can post it here, right? It's a good thing to do on a day like today (i.e., not really a good one).

If you could rewrite any holiday movie or song, what would you change?   I am not fond of It’s a Wonderful Life, because I think it’s utterly depressing throughout except for the cheery 10 minutes at the end. But I have no idea how I would rewrite it. (I suspect it would end up a much shorter movie.)

What is the one thing that absolutely makes or breaks the holidays for you?   I guess I would have to say the presence of my husband, sappy as that sounds! I could imagine getting through the holidays ok without seeing the family, although I would miss them. But getting through them without Rob would be hard.

What was the holiday gift that you always wanted but never received as a child?  A chemistry set. In Texas circa 1970, this was just not something a girl was allowed to get, apparently.

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2011?  The fun (although only part-time) and reasonably well-paying job that fell into my lap out of the blue – and the other part-time job that enabled me to afford to do the fun one!

Describe the ugliest Christmas sweater that you've ever seen.   Really, I think they’re all pretty ugly. I guess badly-knitted reindeer would be the worst, maybe. (Living in a warm climate happily keeps seasonal sweaters from being terribly common around here, anyway.)

If you could give any holiday gift to any person in the world, who would you give something to and what would it be?  Oh, you know, peace and good-will and all that. Seriously. Or maybe just the good will, for the people who are lacking in it. I think that might fix a lot of things. Short of that, just something wonderful for somebody who’s not expecting it.

What's your favorite holiday movie or television that must be watched every year? Bonus points if you have a tradition that also must accompany the watching of said show/movie.  I’d have to go with “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” as the must-watch one. Nowadays I have it on iTunes, which means we don’t have to worry about figuring out when it’s on! (No particular traditions, darnit – I miss out on the bonus points.)

mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - purple star)
Hey, cool, look, glitchmas trees!
Glitchmas trees

Hmm, I hope that's not a ridiculously huge screenshot. But anyway, I thought it was fun. (Didn't make it, just stumbled across it.)

In other Glitch news, I am up to 8 of 11 of my pieces of DNA. (See yesterday if you want to know what the heck I'm talking about.) So yay me! (For what it's worth, I found three in Tamila and I'm not quite done yet. For me, anyway, Tamila was a hotbed of DNA.)

I haven't talked about the holidays much yet. We don't have a tree up - we don't really have a good place to put it at the moment - or much else in the way of decorations inside, but we have lights on the balcony and wreaths and such, and I have been sending out cards. Rather a lot of cards, as a matter of fact, and I'm not done yet. I may post pictures of some of them later, but I have been making cards as well as sending out some bought ones. I might yet make some more - I have new stamps (the rubbery kind, that is, not the ones that you buy from the Postal Service) and I kind of got on a roll with them again last night. I have been collecting bits and pieces of stamping stuff for a while now but I really just this year have really started doing much with them. I called myself a craft hoarder a while back, but I really do think that's for a reason: you kind of hit a critical mass of stuff where you have enough to assemble things. At least, that's how I work. It was true of quilting and I'm finding that it applies here too. I had snowflake stamps that I bought in previous years and I had some snowflake felt things that I bought on clearance last year, and I had blue cardstock that I acquired at some point and various colors (and brands) of blue ink... You pull all this stuff out and contemplate it and voila! Festive snowflake-themed cards start practically making themselves! My cardmaking skillz are not all I would like them to be yet, but that's something that takes practice, and hey, I'm practicing. (And I may still be sending cards out into the new year at this rate, but oh well.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas lights pink)
You would just not believe how much Christmas-related stuff I have. Even though we lost some ornaments in Ike - some from water damage, and some because the boxes they were in got knocked over and things broke - I still had plenty of ornaments for our (very skinny) six-foot tall tree. And I'm not sure but what there are still some more ornaments in some box somewhere that we haven't found. And I have lots of other stuff besides ornaments - I filled a whole good-size box with just Christmas CDs, and there are various candles and decorations and I don't even know what all kinds of crap. I like Christmas, can you tell? (Even though I'm not at all religious and occasionally get all weirded out by the religious aspects, I still kind of love it. It's what I was brought up with.)

So at some point while I was digging through all these boxes last week, I found a box with a bunch of old leftover cards from various years. This is the oldest one:

Christmas cards past

The scan sort of makes it look like it's a hand-made kind of a card - it's not. It's, like, a photo of a hand-made card, or something. It's not a card that has aged all that well, in my opinion.

Then there's this one:

Christmas cards past

I have several like this left, because I've spent the last few years thinking I didn't really like it very much. On the other hand, it's not all that bad, I really overthink this sometimes!

One year I found this postcard, which I really liked:

Christmas cards past

The one below is one of my favorites in recent years, but the scan really doesn't do it justice at all:

Christmas cards past

I've been trying to get away from cards that say "Merry Christmas" - not being of a religious persuasion, as I said above - but somehow I end up buying some practically every year that say it just the same. Part of me would like just to send New Year cards and get away from "the holidays" bit completely, but those are hard to find unless you make them yourself. (Which I keep saying I'm going to do, but it never quite happens, so far. And I bought another 40 cards for next year, today, so it's probably not happening so much next year, either.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas excess)

Dammit, I'm going to be behind on Holidailies when I get back. And I don't know my passwords - to practically anything except Livejournal, and, apparently, the one to my aunt's computer because she never changes it. We brought the laptop but I haven't even touched it. I don't know why I always think I'm going to have time at Christmas, and it's always kind of crazy and I never have time. For much of anything. (At least we didn't have to rush off to go to Las Vegas, although I admit that was pretty fun when we did it. But right now the thought of it just exhausts me!)

We just watched Julie and Julia - at least, my aunt and I did; the men were plainly bored by it. It was better than I had expected. At least, all the opinions that I remember reading said that the Julia parts were lovely and the Julie parts were boring, and I really wasn't bored at all. Maybe it's because I wasn't a reader of The Julie/Julia Project, or something. I didn't really have any preconceptions about it. (I do think I read it once or twice, but not enough to form any particular opinion about it.) I don't know if that's why, I'm just guessing - or maybe it's because Julie is self-centered and so am I. I dunno.

Rob is in bed reading The Kolchak Papers, which I bought him, although I'd completely forgotten it until I went to wrap things up the other night. He is fascinated. I think that's sort of weird, but I have my own little obsessions, god knows, so who am I to talk? I made a necklace at the last minute last night, which was a big success and the receiver wore all day, and *I* kept staring at the silly necklace. Luckily I have another strand of those beads and I guess I'm going to make another one when I get home, since I love it so much. It's one of those things where being constrained by circumstances works in your favor - I had to work with what I had, and I ended up doing it a completely different way than I would have otherwise. All of the gifts of jewelry went over pretty well, actually. And heck, my cousin even loved the bottle of ale I bought him at Central Market the other day. He acted like it was a bottle of fine wine, I was amazed.

Hope everybody had a good day. Mine was pretty good. And we head home in the morning, which will be good too.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (winter berries)
I have said before that I usually get asked to bring the rolls (store-bought) to Christmas dinner, or fruit for a fruit salad. My aunt has told me before that this is because we live out of town, but my mom lived out of town too, and that didn't get her out of being asked to bring her famous gumbo to everything. (Which meant if you rode with her, you got to smell it for two or three hours, and half the time some of it would end up on the floorboard of the car. Ew.) So clearly, the real reason is not that I live out of town, but that I am famously not much of a cook. Somebody on some blog I was reading said lately that everybody bakes something at Christmas. Um, no. Maybe every five years I will get on a roll and bake cookies or something - and there was that time my mother guilted me into making fudge. (Actually I think she guilted me into making fudge twice. But it's no-bake fudge, anyway - the recipe is in that entry, if you're interested - so that's still not baking, technically.)

All that said, I am sort of baking something - or rather taking something that will be baked - to the family Christmas. But it's lasagna, of all things, rather than anything sweet. It's not actually for the big Christmas dinner; it will be eaten either Thursday night or Friday night. And I'm taking it assembled but unbaked, and we will bake it later. I've done that before, a number of years ago, and it worked out well. It's not actually that I can't cook, but that I don't usually bother. Rob and I don't really eat the same food (he lives on spaghetti and fish, generally) and we each cook our own, but for me that usually ends up being something frozen. I just don't care much about cooking, but when I bother to cook, I do pretty well at it. (As long as I set timers. I can burn anything.)



Linkage:
Possibly the funniest LJ thread I've ever read. I can't say I ever thought a whole lot about the lyrics to "Do You Hear What I Hear?" but I will now.

I thought everybody knew about the GOP military-funding filibuster, but TPM is treating it as news and TPM knows everything (politically speaking), so I guess not. Politically speaking, here's the question I want answered: what made Lieberman change his mind on the healthcare bill? It's very clear what made Ben Nelson change his mind, but I haven't heard a word about Lieberman. If I find out the answer to this, I'll report back.

I did find out the answer to why Al Franken has been presiding so much - he's the low man on the totem pole, so he gets the duty at fun times like the all-night sessions. (I knew he was the low man, of course, I just hadn't made the connection.)

Wow. I'm suddenly much happier that I've never been much of a Prairie Home Companion fan.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (winter berries)
It's 5:30am and I ought to be in bed, but I'm not so let's see if I can bang out an entry real quick. I bet I can.  :) I was on the way to bed, but I was stopped by the lure of popcorn. Sometimes being under the influence of sleeping pills is a lot like being stoned - especially in the sense that junk food becomes really hard to resist. I have 100-calorie bags of Homestyle popcorn (I forget which brand it is but it says Homestyle on the package, and it's my favorite) though so how much damage can you do with a 100-calorie bag. Unless you slather it in butter and then eat about 10 bags of it, it can't be all that bad.

Let's see, I went to Weight Watchers yesterday but we won't discuss that. I will say that my WW schedule is getting sadly cut up by the holidays, since I go on Thursdays, and that means we got pre-empted by Thanksgiving and are gonna get pre-empted again by Christmas Eve and NYEve. (There are actually Thursday morning meetings, but not our regular Thursday afternoon ones. I may try to go next Thursday morning anyway, though, it might help keep me on the straight and narrow a bit.)

We have tickets to see Avatar on Sunday early - 11:50am or something like that. I figured if we wanted to see it in 3D we had better get the tickets ahead. Although actually they have more screens showing it in 3D than not, which is a first.

My dear sister e-mailed me and said "So what are you doing for Christmas?" This is the sister, as some of you may recall, who has boycotted Christmas completely since she got divorced five years ago. I e-mailed her back and said we were going to Bryan like we always do, and we would love it if they would come over for the day. (They can come longer than a day but they'll probably have to stay in a hotel. We have one spare bedroom reserved already and Linda's dad of course gets the other one.) I am NOT volunteering to go to Austin again. In fact I would have a rebellion on my hands if I tried; Rob didn't really want to go at Thanksgiving and he doesn't intend to go at Christmas. So there.

I haven't even heard from my father lately except for getting a card in the mail. We usually have dinner with him and his wife at some point but I'll wait til closer to Christmas to worry about that. (Although, yeah, it's getting awfully close.) I worked on cards for a while tonight; I may actually get all the cards out that I intended to send after all. I'm getting there, anyway.



(LJ keeps screwing up the formatting lately; what's up with that?)

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