Thursday, December 30, 2010
*Not that I don't like the restaurant, by the way--I do! It's just that she loves it kind of as much as Miri loves Carlos.
Thursday morning, Christmas Adam, we hit the road, fueled by Starbucks, and drove to upstate New York. On the way, we noticed this odd, peeling sort of tree at a rest stop in MA. Anyone know what it is?
The weather wasn't great, and thus neither were the roads, but as we all knew, It Could Have Been Worse (ICHBW). We made it safely to Grandma's well in time for the wine hour, which is really what counts. Nice evening with the family, then off to the motel to settle in for the night (kind of early, but I was beat).
Christmas Eve was mostly a day in (at Grandma's, not at the motel). We had lunch, then hung around the afternoon chatting and watching TV and knitting (well, that was just me). In fact, I finished the socks I was working on (which I started there in October)(photos to come, of course), and had to run back to the motel for more yarn (I was farseeing enough to bring it on the trip, but not enough to bring it with me to the house as I neared the end of the raspberry socks). Once I had the Socks That Rock Lightweight to hand, I started the next pair:
And by Sunday evening, got to here:
And went on to the heel flap and started to turn the heel. Lots of knitting time, yes, but still, good progress! I'm pleased, at any rate. I did have to rip out a tiny bit tonight: not only had I started the heel and lost track of where I was, but I could see a mistake in the heel flap a few rows back, so I frogged and redid part of the heel flap, and am ready to start the heel when I have time to do it all through without stopping. (I have time tonight, but not the energy, I think.)
After dinner (yum), the adults went to church and left the kids to do the dishes (yes, the kids are 42 and 46; so?). This task is much less onerous with a dishwasher in the house, and we had time to relax, too. Very peaceful.
Oh, and we opened presents! Which was great fun, in both the giving and receiving. More deets to come, when my brain returns.
On Christmas, we had a lazy morning at the motel, then arrived at Grandma's before lunchtime. Around 1, we* left for the house of the cousin who "hosts" Christmas every year. The family makes a point of mostly all coming every other year; then whoever can and wants to come, comes the "off" year, which this was.
*except Grandma, who finds it too much for her, and prefers a peaceful afternoon at home
What that means is that there were about 15-20 people this year, roughly half what it is the other every other year. (Follow that?) I would have liked to see some of the people who didn't make it, but it is a little more low-key and laid back on the off years, and I appreciate not having to make complicated plans in order to move from room to room.
The company was good, the food awesome, the sense of belonging where you are priceless. I knit while watching the swap, which really is just about as fun as taking part, and looked through their Christmases-past photo album for the requisite trip down memory lane.
Really, the only unfortunate part of the day was that coming home, I started to get a headache. I lay on the couch at Grandma's for a while, then Mum packed me into the car and took me back to the motel. An early night (together with Alka-Seltzer, and a heating pad on the back of my neck) cleared things up nicely by morning. We took it easy getting ready, and arrived back at Grandma's on Sunday just as the carful of cousins pulled up, ushering in a long, fun, crazy day of food and family and presents and cards and probably more things I'm forgetting (that holiday blur effect, aka holidaze).
And that was it for the visit, as the next morning we left from the motel for the trip back. The traveling conditions again weren't perfect, but ICHBW. We drove back to an area that had had hardly any snow when we left, but got 18 inches while we were away. Since we were surrounded by snow on the trip, it didn't seem that startling to return to it, and fortunately we missed the actual snowfall driving delays, plus the driveway had been plowed and the steps shoveled out in our absence. Yes, it sure CHBW. We unloaded the car and relaxed for a while before heading out to dinner, visit number 4 to Mum's favorite restaurant. After that, I managed to stay awake just long enough to watch the Bruins win in a shootout, then crashed hard.
Tuesday, I again didn't have to work, which was wonderful. We had a pretty relaxed day, with Mum meeting an old friend for lunch while my brother and I ran some errands (first stop the car wash, to rediscover the dark-blue car under the layers of gray muck). (Also, how nice to go to Target and be able to get into the parking lot: good-bye, Christmas.) We had a really good dinner at Bertucci's, and a quiet night with the travelers getting all their packing completed.
And Wednesday morning, away they all went again, and the cats and I are finding our way back to normal. I had a really good holiday, and I'm not as overwhelmed as I remember feeling after last year's, but still it's time for the routine to reassert itself. This weekend is going to be largely devoted to mental health: I'm meeting friends tomorrow for dinner and a movie, but we're not making it a late night, and the rest of my weekend will be devoted to getting myself back on track, mentally as well as logistically. Basically, instead of "places to go, people to see, things to do," it's going to be things to do, no places to go, no people to see. Sounds just about perfect.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So tonight is going to be very quiet Chez Cat Hair. The family left this morning, and I suspect the cats and I will make an early night of it. I may update on the rest of the holidays tomorrow, or it might be Friday (no work! yay! whew!). No promises.
I will tell you now, though, that I woke at one point last night with kitty cuddled up to me in bed, paw resting on my hand, as Carlos is wont to do. I leaned over and kissed the kitty head, and wondered what felt different ... and then there was a "Mrrp" from the floor, and Carlos jumped up on the bed. Yes, Miri was cuddled up to me in bed, without the love of her life nearby. I suppose stranger things have happened, but I can't think what.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
- Mum arrived safely on Friday, and we went directly to her favorite restaurant (visit number one).
- Saturday we ran some errands, not so exciting but nice to be together for. And a rare-for-either-of-us breakfast out!
- Saturday late afternoon we went into Boston, had a lovely dinner at Legal Sea Foods, our traditional choice of meal before attending ...
- The Nutcracker! Which was amazing! We had great seats (I got off two photos before being asked to put the camera away[I don't know why the Opera House is shy: it's beautiful!]):
- The music was lovely, the dancing, the costumes ... happy sigh. Plus, unlike last year, we didn't have lots of snow and bitter winds to deal with. It was cold, sure, but not miserable. Sadly, that's an improvement. A lovely evening.
- Sunday we had a relaxed morning, with a Dunkin Donuts run and the Sunday paper. In the afternoon, we went to an open house that friends of mine were having, which was a really nice time, involving good friends, good food, kids running around being cute, caroling, the whole nine yards.
- From there we went to dinner with family friends, at the wonderful Angela's Coal Fired Pizza in Saugus. And we saw excellently over-the-top Christmas lights on the way there and back (Saugus is good like that).
- Monday morning I went to work, as I had told my boss I would do this week if there was work for me to do. After a few hours of no work, I found my boss, she agreed that the work she thought would be ready and needing me this week seemed to be stalled, and after she checked with the other proofreader to confirm that she was okay with flying solo this week, I was sprung. Home in time for lunch!
- After which we went to the movies. The show-times for Harry Potter didn't work with the timing, so we saw Tangled, which was good silly fun.
- After which we went to drop in to my stitch and bitch group, but no one else was there, presumably because of the snow.
- Oh yes, the snow! Our first of the season! Not too much in terms of accumulation, but messy and all. I could have done without it, but it's par for the course, really. More is on the way--it's flurrying now. Oh joy.
- So we moved on to dinner, at Mum's favorite restaurant (visit number two).
- Following which, we came home to watch the rest of the Bruins game. Let us draw a veil over that game, and not speak of it again. Thank you.
- Tuesday we went to lunch with a former neighbor, then sat around her house catching up, and admiring the Christmas decorations and the animals, including multiple cats and a bunny:
- We had another lovely dinner out, then drove around for a while looking at Christmas lights. We saw a Santa in a convertible on the roof, one on a motorcycle (the inflatable kind), and one in an inflatable airplane complete with moving propellers. It was great.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
- A long and totally jerk-filled commute, including the guy who veered around me as I was getting into a turn lane, seriously, WTH?
- Coming home to find a notice for jury duty. Did I ever mention that I served on a jury in a murder trial? When I was 18?
My mom will be here, tomorrow... There, I feel better already! In 24 hours, we should be sitting down to dinner at her favorite restaurant.
Now, I actually didn't forget to mention the chocolate yesterday, I just let the music be its own post. Yesterday was Sand Dollars, mmm.
And today was Friendship Sweets.
Also, I finished up the last of my Christmas cards last night, and mailed them this morning, which felt like a milestone. I don't send out a lot compared to some people, less than three dozen, though I suppose that's more than others. Last year I got less than half of them done (I think; I don't seem to have kept track) before the project fell by the wayside of a tough holiday. I was happy that this year, I felt the pleasure, rather than the obligation, again.
Everyone has their own take on cards, which is fine by me. I like sending them (most years), like receiving them, don't mind not getting them from everyone I send them to ... it's all good.* I even put up the one from the newspaper carrier, and he's hardly a favored friend (he was late this morning, argh).
*Well, except for that one passive-aggressive card sender. But let's not talk about that, it spoils the mood I'm trying to improve.
I also scanned my card for posting here on the 25th, by which time the mailed cards should all have arrived (or that's the hope, anyway). I got the cards in early November, and have been waiting to show them to you ever since.
I also wrapped the first presents of the year last night, having decided that it was easier to wrap my mother's gifts before she arrives (call me crazy). It was fun in that seasonal way, wrestling with the roll of paper and the tape.
I have a small follow-up note to the music post of yesterday: I discovered that my MP3 player, in addition to playing stored music and FM radio stations, will record from the radio too. Now I have Bruce's Santa Claus to listen to whenever I want. (I have it on tape somewhere ... and I may have the 45 in a box, to be honest.) Neat!
There hasn't been a lot of job-search-related news to pass on lately, December being what it is for job hunters. I did hear about a proofing position this week, but unfortunately it's in New Hampshire, roughly double my already-not-short commute, and I thought it over and decided I am not willing to spend 3+ hours a day, 5 days a week, on the commute. That's not my road to happiness. I just keep holding on to the hope that January will be better.
There are some amusing notes in the search, though. For instance, the e-mails I get related to the job search, which range from obvious-autobot (sales? really? franchise opportunities? me? you think? based on what exactly?) through agency recruiters and into some odd-ball territory. For instance, this rings some warning bells:
We are looking for Proof Readers for our office in Burlington, MA. 1+ year of experience, we can also consider freshers with Bachleors in English.
Freshers? Bachleors? They need more than just a proofreader, I think. I also think I have to trust my instincts, and for this one, they're telling me No.
Or this one. All spelling and punctuation is as sent; only names are redacted. I've highlighted the "best" parts in red.
Dear, firstname lastname
Our establishment is deslighted to put forward you the position of Secret Shopper in Oh-Really Group Inc. after coming across on your CV at CareerBuilder online. Our HR department did its best to study your autobiography and remained to be pleased. We hope that your experience will be among our most valuable assets.
Necessary Criteria for being employed:
- Age: older than 27
- Internet access
- 3-5 hours of free time every day for taking your professional assignments
- Clean record
As it goes, Secret Shopper is an perfect way for employees to derive revenue in the process of providing feedback, making comments, making of, commenting out to establishment. This is a real challenge for you to get to the top of the career enjoying things you like above all. For instance, one may eat in café or buy things in online stores reveling in life and helping business at the same time.
Your every month wages may come to $1,500-2,000.
Time Limitation of the Position:
On account of the great amount of candidates for this position, this office is time-bound. So, it is strongly recommended for you to provide us the necessary information about yourself ASAP.
To become the contributor of our organization:
- Please go to our site: Oh-Really Group Inc.
- Register yoursel
- Download, read take a close look at thoroughly a contract and underwrite it on a compulsory basis.
- Tell us the closest Walmart shop to you. Specify the exact address. Five shop are max. In Accepting this employment offer, you confirm that your work will be on at-will basis and resign any claims against Duh Inc.and its team.
About Oh-Really Group Inc.:
Our establishment is involved in work with other entities to improve grade on an international scale by applying anonymous resources. We cooperate in a team with over 300 entities world-wide. Our main work includes marketing and cooperation with merchandising firms, private investigation companies, training organizations and other entities that are drawn in Ghost Shopping services. Our member organizations deal with their consumers in order to establish the system of enhancing level of attendance.
Yeah. So, anyway, for those who made it this far: any other suggestions for cheering myself up? Other than watching these over and over, I mean?
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
There are songs I like, songs I love, songs I hate.
There are the songs I want to hear at least once every year, songs that I crank the volume on every time I hear them on the radio*, songs that I shrug at but will listen to, and songs I could happily never hear again in my life.
*Five minutes apart of different stations? Singing every word each time.
There are whole albums I love (Muppets, Charlie Brown, Nutcracker), songs from the cartoon specials that earn their favor through sheer sentiment, and artists who charm me with almost anything (Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole ... who am I forgetting?). The lists so far:
- The Bruce Springsteen version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Not only do I love the singer (I'm a big Bruce fan, especially Early Bruce [Born to Run!]), but when he's singing the refrain and Clarence starts ho-ho-ho-ing behind him and Bruce is cracking up as he sings, I laugh Every Single Time. (This isn't the same recording, but it's the right era.)
- Christmas Canon, Trans Siberian Orchestra
- Do They Know It's Christmas, by Band Aid. Child of the 80s alert!
- Father Christmas, by the Kinks. Haven't heard it yet this year! Danger, Will Robinson! (Whew.)
- The Twelve Pains of Christmas
- Little Saint Nick, by the Beach Boys. Of course, the Muppet version of this is priceless, with Animal "encouraging" the reindeer to run.
- All I Want for Christmas is You. Probably because I associate the song with the scene from Love, Actually, which is a good movie to watch this time of year, incidentally. Though much as I love the version from the movie, I laughed until I cried at the latest hockey phenomenon, which is a video of the Belfast Giants team lip-syncing to Mariah's version. Hysterical! Props to the whole team for a sense of humor as well as quite well-executed choreography, and extra props to the guy who was willing to do it while dressed as an elf. Now I wish I could go to one of their games.
- Mary's Boy Child
- Baby, It's Cold Outside. This is on the list due to another one of those good rendition/association instances. Are you a fan of the TV show Glee? I've never seen it, but when I saw some clips on a blog I read recently, I watched them and really enjoyed them (which, hello 20th Century Fox, why do you revoke the clips? Don't you want me to be enticed into watching your show? Fine, here's another listing of Hey Soul Sister). I'm borrowing season one from a friend after the holidays, but in the meantime, I have a soft spot for the song because of this.
- 12 Days, by the a cappella group Straight No Chaser. I heard this for the the first time this morning, and it was on my list before the song was over. Fantastic! It's not new, so how have I never heard it before? (This is why it's worth listening to the Christmas-music-playing-stations, despite the many-times-a-day repeating of those songs on the next list.) Awesome mash-up of multiple Christmas carols, plus Toto's Africa. I don't have time now to listen to every other song they've done, but it's something to look forward to after the holidays.
Hate (at least after the first hearing of the season)
- Feliz Navidad
- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
- A Wonderful Christmas Time
- Step into Christmas
- So This is Christmas (sorry, John, but it's depressing)(and overplayed)
- Santa Baby
- Last Christmas
- anything by the Jackson 5
- Mr Santa, to the tune of Mr Sandman
- Give the Jew Girl Toys (that Sarah Silverman, eh?)
- Dominic the Donkey
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
And now, as quasi-promised, the decorated tree:
I have holiday decor in other rooms, too. The weekend before last, in fact, I put the tablecloth that my mother cross-stitched years ago on the table. I don't usually use it, but it's so pretty!
The following morning, I brought in the newspaper, and stood looking at the (white) tablecloth. It seemed kind of a shame to use it if I was just going to get it newsprint-y. Almost seems deliberate, if you know what I mean. I guess it's more of an event piece than every day.
I took it off, and this weekend I put the vinyl one on instead. It's festive, if not nearly as lovely or personal. You can't have everything, at least most days.
Finally, this has nothing to do with Christmas, but how can I resist?
Monday, December 13, 2010
Well, all right, I haven't done Saturday and Sunday yet. You can't say I "missed" today's report, but still. Sheesh, ccr. Get with the program.
Sooo, Saturday was Sweet Shells:
Sunday was mmm-mmm Marblehead Mints:
And today was pretty Periwinkles:
Now, where am I? I decorated my tree yesterday, so it's all pretty and Christmassy here Chez Cat Hair. I really wished for camera in hand as I got into bed last night and both cats came along, and simultaneously sniffed branches. It was very cute; you'll just have to imagine it. (Carlos on the left, Miri on the right.) I do have pictures of the tree itself, maybe they'll show up here tomorrow.
So, I reached a new point in The Knitting Thing recently--I haven't crossed the line, but I'm standing looking over it, trying to decide if this is a good idea or not.
My mother sent me a sweater, just-because, a Christmas-y sweater in the better sense of the description; it's white with a red "bow" around it. Kind of cute, right:
I like it, and more to the point, I tried it on and liked the way it looks on me, which does not always follow. Except. The neckline.
My first response was, "It gives me a double chin!" Then, more rationally, I admitted, "It accentuates my tendency toward a double chin." However you spin it, the fact is that the neckline does not suit me. It doesn't feel great, but it looks worse. "Too bad," I said, and headed toward the bag of clothes-to-donate to put it in.
But then. I paused, hearing a voice wondering, "Hey, knitter, could you take the cowl-neck off? And then do something knitterly? In red, even? Maybe?"
And I just can't tell, does this voice speak of madness, or possibility? Let me hasten to add that I am NOT thinking of trying to get this done for this holiday season. I am all about getting things OFF the to-do list right now, not putting anything ON it. But. Maybe?
I brought the idea up at stitch and bitch tonight, and they suggested I bring it in for a consult, so I'll do that in the new year. We shall see!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Last night was time again, and it was even better than last year. The music was so beautiful; I got goosebumps during the madrigal Carol of the Bells, and the full chorus doing O Holy Night was gorgeous.
Plus the building is beautiful. We were in the balcony this year, which was a fun different perspective.
I had fun taking pictures of the carved railing in front of us. I mean, really:
And peeping at the scene below, including lovely tree.
They always end with the Hallelujah Chorus. One of my favorites!
Nice job, people!
Now, when I saw "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in the program, I was a bit puzzled. It's not like there are lyrics! (Listen here if you need a refresher on which part of the Nutcracker it is.) So when they started, I grabbed my camera to share. The visual isn't much, but listen!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
First, I'm not sure I've blogged before about the simple "Christmas" candies that I like to make every year. There's nothing objectively Christmassy about them, but if you only make something at Christmas, it becomes a Christmas thing by default.
Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, cashews, and chow mein noodles. (For twelve ounces each of chips, you want about 2 cups of the dry ingredients, but it's flexible.)
And they become these:
Which are not much to look at, but are delicious, I tell you. Crispy and sweet and salty and delicious. And seriously, so easy!
- Chop up the nuts a bit (and trust me, I'm not a cashew fan, but they belong in these), and break up the chow mein noodles into smaller bits.
- Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the microwave, stirring frequently, until smooth. (This part is best handled as a don't-leave-the-kitchen task. It only takes a few minutes.)
- Mix in the nuts and noodles and stir until coated.
- Drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper, or into cupcake liners if your aim is better than mine.
Next! You may recall some whining from me about the recent non-workage of my VCR, including the realization that my Christmas specials are all on video, not DVD. My mother, kind soul that she is, was touched by my plight, and to alleviate the potential horror of a season without Snow Miser, she sent this:
It's a craptastic picture, but you get the idea: a VCR! She found it at the local charity store, and mailed it up to me. I was thrilled!
So, you say, why are you only mentioning it now, when it arrived a week ago? Well. I've mentioned before how I have this old TV, and of course the setup includes not just the VCR, but also a DVD player and the cable box. So it looks like this:
We're going to pretend that you don't see the reflection of my pajama'ed legs and messy living room here, right?
See all the cords? Very scary. And this is only a workable, not an optimal setup: I can't record on the DVD player, and I have to manually switch a cord to the VCR to watch videos. My plan is to buy the new TV after I am permanently-full-time employed again, and have someone with the abilities make everything perfect again.
In the meantime, this was the best I could do, and it was doing all right until the VCR stopped wanting to fulfill its prime directive (i.e., play tapes). So I switched out the old one and put in the new-to-me one, and ... it didn't work. That is, I could hear that it was clearly playing, but the TV was not getting the signal, and the screen was blank.
So, I stopped. I didn't want to get all fussed about it, so I took a step back. I tried again another day, and same deal (with me, doing the same thing does not always have the same result, so no matter what Einstein said, it's worth trying).
Today, I wanted to watch a Christmas special while I was doing something, so I decided I would make another stab at it, and if it didn't work, I would back away again. In looking over the connections again, I noticed a previously overlooked switch on the back of the new VCR for the "channel 3 or 4" setting, and when I changed that, it works!
I just watched The Year Without a Santa Claus and it was wonderful. It's the little things, man. Happy little things to you, too.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Forgive me. We are into reruns now, which is not a bad thing, as you know I love Sweet Sloops:
And the Barque Sarahs are a nice simple pick-me-up when I need one:
Now, for a little light-hearted Friday night video. This is for the cat-lovers, another reminder that the big cats are a lot like our own little furries.
I loved when the mom-cat's tongue almost knocked the baby over, and also this part at the end:
Because Carlos likes to sleep with his head on my hand, too.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
It's still really freaking cold.
If the Bruins lose to the Islanders tonight, I will want to hide my face in embarrassment for them. The Islanders have won one game in their last 18. Please, guys.
How much do I love this face?
Miri continues to use Carlos as a pillow.
I admit, he doesn't seem to mind.
Now they're making heart shapes. Is it just me, or is this impossibly cute?
It's cat movie time!
What a good girl.
Here's a hint to this next piece of news:
And the news is: I bought a little Christmas tree! (I know, you couldn't guess, could you?)
The top of the tallest branch is exactly at my eye level.
You may wish to listen to this music while you're looking at the tree pictures.
I have to go stick it in the stand now. Please excuse me.
I also have to start the dishwasher. But I'd rather you imagined me admiring the tree, if you don't mind.
Actually, could you imagine me watching the Bruins win? With the tree in the background, if you like. Thanks.