Geez. It’s been a while since I checked in. Sorry about that. Honestly, it’s been super busy ever since the Halloween storm and lots of things have been neglected.
I recall that I mentioned Yule, and put up pictures of the most recent pork pie sculpture. After that I went fairly silent. What’s happened since then?
Well, Christmas happened. There was mild drama in my house for Christmas this year, but all in a good way. I’m going to take you back to last April or so. It occurred to me that my mom was going to turn 80, and if I wanted to be the good kid, I’d better do something about it. So I ran my brother over with a HUGE guilt trip, made arrangements, changed the arrangements, and then eventually cancelled the arrangements when mom was just in too much pain to get out of bed. Then we were all going to get together for Thanksgiving, I gave Erica her command performance marching orders… and had to cancel when mom came down with bronchitis. For Christmas – screw it. I decided not to make ANY plans. I told mom and dad that we’d do Christmas at my place this year – weather and everyone’s health permitting, and mentioned to Bruce “oh, by the way mom and dad will be at my house for Christmas Eve. Just so you know.” I then thought nothing more of it, and moved forward with plans for a rib roast and Yorkshire pudding for four (maybe five) and a half.
Christmas Eve is the big thing in my family. It used to be that Christmas Eve was nibbles and presents, and Christmas day was the big sit-down dinner. Over the years it compressed because of travel distances, and now it’s presents and dinner on Christmas eve, and sitting around in your pajamas on Christmas day.
On Sunday, December 18, I get an email from my brother. “What time are you starting on Christmas Eve? The weather report looks good, and if it holds we’ll come down to surprise mom. Not sure exactly when we’ll get there. Don’t tell her.”
Five days’ notice that there are four more people coming for dinner. Maybe. Unless they don’t.
I think I’ll switch the menu to ham.
See, the thing about a nice standing rib roast is that it’s God-awful expensive. Also, it’s the sort of thing that you want to sit down to dinner when it comes out of the oven. Neither of those things are conducive to dinner for five… or nine. At some time. We’re not sure when. Ham, on the other hand, just needs to be Made Hot. You eat when you feel like it. You pick for the rest of the day. There’s a LOT of different things to made with leftover ham. Ham it is!
I don’t have a table that seats ten. Nor do I have ten folding chairs. So the week before Christmas I’m running to BJ’s for folding tables, running to Costco for more of my folding chairs, running all over creation trying to find a shank half ham that wasn’t spiral sliced. While cleaning like a madwoman. Oh – and I needed tablecloths too. I spent a lot more money on furniture than I did on dinner, let me tell you.
So Saturday morning comes, my parents arrive, and before she even has her coat off mom is telling me that she’s worried about Bruce. “I talked to him on the phone; he seemed so down; he didn’t even bake any pies this year; he said they didn’t have any plans for Christmas…” Uh-huh. Yeah mom. Great. I’ve been running my ass off for five days before Christmas to indulge this visit and you’re worried about HIM!” Actually, I smiled, nodded, and changed the subject. Of course, it came up once or twice more. I couldn’t even move the dining room furniture, because I would have had to explain why we needed that much table for four or five people. Dad got the ham going on the grill, and mom and I started working on the scalloped potatoes. First time I’ve used a mandolin. We peeled and filled up a casserole, and I started to sweat wondering how I’m going to explain wanting to make a second casserole for five people… and my nephew walked in the side door. Timing is everything.
I will steal a phrase from the British, for they are the only ones who can properly describe mom’s reaction. She was utterly gobsmacked. Just absolutely flabbergasted. Despite the fact that I’m fairly certain that Bruce wanted it to be a surprise so that he could bail at the last minute and only piss *me* off, it was worth it for the look on her face.
My sister-in-law and I finished up the potatoes, Bob and I got the furniture swapped out, Erica arrived, and everyone had a nice time. Dinner came out well, everyone had fun, Charlotte got to meet her Uncle Bruce and her cousins, and they actually stayed for slightly over five hours. I still think that day-tripping down from Syracuse was insane, but that’s how Bruce is and I’ve stopped arguing with him about it. After they headed out we opened gifts. Charlotte received about three more gifts than she had attention span for, which isn’t doing too badly. Sadly, she received a “Rock and Roll Elmo” from my loving brother. I think he’s getting even for all the loud gifts my parents gave his kids. Except it wasn’t MY fault! Happily, she much prefers her Legos. That’s my girl!
It's blurry, but that's Charlotte and her Uncle Bruce. Uncle Bruce brings neat toys!
Mom *insisted* that I take a picture of the table.
Christmas day we built a fire in the fireplace, and I put my feet up and played with my new Kindle. Ahhh – vacation time.
The Monday after Christmas we packed up Charlotte, and dropped her off at my parents’ house. She was going to spend a couple of nights with Grandma and Grandpa, while mommy and daddy went to NYC. Bright and early Tuesday morning we headed out, met Vynehorn at Union Station, and headed down to the Met. There was an exhibit of Italian renaissance portraits that we wanted to see. I toyed with the idea of going to Times Square NY to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, but couldn’t quite work up the energy for a two-stop trip. Then when Vynehorn mentioned going through the refurbished Islamic art galleries, I was sold on staying in the Met. We got to the museum just as the doors opened for the day (which turned out to be a good move), actually even breezed through coat check fairly quickly, which was odd, and headed up to the exhibit. It was a great exhibit. As always seems to happen when Vynehorn suggests something outside of my mainstream interest, I ended up being very glad that I got to see it. It was a really lovely exhibit, with some pieces on loan from HRM Elizabeth II – which led to a conversation wondering if Her Majesty actually has to individually approve the loan of her art. Obviously an admin type would review requests and make up a short list, but to what extent is the Queen actually involved personally? We think of things like this.
After the portraits we hit the cafeteria just in advance of the lunch crowd, then went to the new Islamic galleries. They’re now called something more politically correct, much more accurate, and so long I can’t recall it. Regardless of what they’re called, they’re lovely. I haven’t seen those galleries since high school, and I’d forgotten how many beautiful things are there. The glass alone…
I have a thing for architectural elements.
By the time we were through, the crowd had gotten annoyingly thick, and we headed for the bookstore. Bought nothing, shockingly enough. We fought our way through the great hall, got through the coat check in reasonable time, and headed out. That’s when we saw… The Line.
This was no ordinary line, boys and girls. This was the line to *get into the museum.* The line stretched from the entry doors, down that grand stair, and then ran almost the length of half of the museum. The museum is apparently a quarter of a mile long. That is a LINE. Clearly our timing had all been impeccable.
As usual, it was a quiet ride home. I’m seldom a sparkling conversationalist post-museum. It’s like my brain is taken up with processing so much visual stimuli that it precludes conversation. Or to put it another way, it’s one of the few times I ever shut up. We got home early enough to stop at Ikea in New Haven. I wanted two blister packs of light bulbs, and a particular book case. They had neither. In one day I walked out of both the Met bookstore and Ikea without purchasing anything. Profoundly unnatural. It was early enough that we could have gone and collected Charlotte, but we didn’t. See, I had plans for Wednesday morning that required me to NOT have her with me…