Sitting in the backyard drinking cider and thinking about all the shit I have to do to get ready for the holidays. It’s unusually warm here — 70s and 80s clean through New Year’s. What are you up to?
by Betty Cracker| 103 Comments
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A bunny. Wrong holiday.
Merry Christmas, Betty! I hope you and the family have a great holiday. And isn’t that Bunny about four months early? ;-)
I’m all set for tomorrow and Christmas Day, which is a first for me. I’m usually running up til the last moment. It feels good to be ready and I’m looking forward to sharing time and gifts with my hubby and sons.
Best wishes for all! A safe and happy holiday!
I’m trying to figure out what to get myself for Christmas.
ETA: Or more precisely, during the post-Christmas sales.
Finished my shopping today. Tomorrow, all I have to do is wrap stuff and remember to pick up the tenderloin I ordered (from a proper butcher shop, TYVM; none of your supermarket “meat departments”) for Christmas dinner (beef fondue — I provide the meat, my hosts provide the sides and half a dozen yummy dipping sauces). I rarely eat red meat, but this is a meal I always enjoy and always look forward to.
Every year I give thanks for gift bags. I stock up on them at vast discounts during the year before’s post-Xmas sales and (assuming I can remember where I put them) the whole thing takes well under an hour. If I time it right, I’ll do my wrapping while my NPR station broadcasts the “Ceremony of Nine Lessons and Carols” from the BBC, and maybe all that will finally get me in a cheerful holiday mood.
I have been really thoroughly sidetracked from reading Windup Girl to reading AncillarySword. Certainly enough that I wish my bag had been big enough for me to bring my copy of the latter to read while I stopped off for dinner. The former isn’t bad, but I haven’t transferred the library’s copy to my e-ink reader which makes it problematic to read late at night. (And yes, this qualifies as a first world problem).
Plotting a holiday in South Florida/Gulf Coast, muhuhuhahahaha. Sent you an email about it, BC.
Everything is on autopilot since MrsFromOhio is in charge, oh, look, it’s time to break out the bourbon.
ETA, @SiubhanDuinne, nicely done!
Visiting my parents in Boston, and today/tomorrow are very arty. Today, we went to an Alexander Calder exhibit up in Salem, and tomorrow it’s off to the MFA to see their Goya special exhibit.
Then the cooking begins. For the last umpteen years, we’ve visited some dear family friends for Christmas dinner. I have a cake to bake and my mom is building some hilariously complex salad.
We have a long holiday tradition that someone in the family is always sick on Christmas, and this year the short straw was drawn by my nephew, who has strep throat. It sounds like he’ll be well enough for Christmas Day at my aunt’s, though hugging and sharing cups will be out.
@dmsilev: FYI on the Goya exhibit, give yourself plenty of time to see the whole show. The paintings are fantastic, but juxtaposed with the engravings and it’s really a revelation.
Was the Calder worth the drive? I still haven’t made it, but is it a “don’t miss it” show?
@beltane: Speaking of holiday bunnies, I could have sworn one of my neighbors’ lawn decoration was a bunny taking a crap, but my niece pointed out that it is a polar bear on skis.
Anyway, I’m doing the holiday baking (I do all the desserts) that I should have started yesterday. But the last batch of pecans to be toasted is in the oven, and the citrus that needed to be zested (a task I loathe) are done as well. Still need to put the lemon- and orange-peel bits in the oven for a short time at low temperature to dry it out, but then I can whip up the quadruple batch of rolled cookie dough and get it in the freezer so it can set, while I’m making a couple of batches of brownies. Probably do the chocolate pecan pie and the fudge tonight, but the triple-layer devil’s food cake may have to wait until tomorrow. And I’ve wrapped the presents for the spousal unit that have arrived so far; she can do the rest of them. Which she prefers because I do a lousy job.
Drinking one of my favorite beers (Long Trail Limbo IPA – it’s from Vermont and is phenomenal). I’m also a bit in disbelief that an asshole like Jimbo Fisher gets paid $5.5mm a year, over 8 years, to coach fucking football and turn the other cheek when his star player rapes someone (okay, it’s not only his fault, but he basically seems to have the entire FSU administration in his pocket).
That’s just one of many grievances I’d like to air on this most holy day of Festivus, but I’m going to settle for finishing my beer and then finishing my Christmas dinner shopping – need a cake pan (for a sponge cake), cake flour, and fresh bay leaves. Not looking forward to the long lines.
@beltane: Thanks for cute bunny pic. All you bunny haters out there complaining it is not a reindeer, put some antlers on it, and everything is fine.
In CA, some dry weather after a long welcome spell of rain. Drought metrics below, for those interested.
Heard a long news report on the drought. Them two commie satellites, that wobble around each other measuring water content near earths surface, have measured California’s water deficit due to the drought. It is 11 trillion gallons, or a little under 34 million acre feet. That would be a pile o’ water 6,400 (edit) MILES (let me check my spreadsheet on that) high piled on top of one acre.
(Edit: those two satellites are commie because they find out info that could cause trouble. I took the GOP perspective for a moment because I am fair and balanced.)
Heavier than usual rains in December have made up about 20% of the deficit. Will have to get a winter with about 30% more rain than average to get most of state out of drought. Probably won;t happen. Weather service says CA should get more than average rainfall through March, but that is rain not snow. I haven’t seen or heard a snow forecast, but snowpack is about 75% of normal in northern watersheds, a little over half in central Sierra, and just barely better than last year in Southern Sierra.
One of warmest Autumns in CA recorded history is the reason for lower than average snowfall. I saw some pix of ski resorts that look weird. Snow on the higher slopes, but just down slope everything is bare and looking like mid-autumn. Damn, I may live to see the day where most of the Sierra is snowless many years.
Anyway, not enough snow, drought will go on, at least in terms of water supply for agriculture. Already talk about rapidly increasing minimum temps moving a lot of crops north, since chill factore (degree days of temps between freezing and 45 degrees F) is disappearing. Almonds have quite a chill factor requirement, and will be good to get those things planted less.
So, there you are, your cheerful CA drought/global warming report just in time for a Merry Christmas.
I know it’s not strictly a gender issue but, judging from home and Facebook, women seem to LOVE “I’ll never get everything done”!! The energizer bunny has been going full blast all week and appears to be determined to keep it up until we get in the van in the morning and I take over to try to get us to Virginia in the storm. She did stop when our ex-pat friend showed up for an hour-long visit and Mexican lunch. The girl spent two hours making homemade DOG cookies to take with us and now is on something else. I was able to sneak in and make the traveling gumbo but now I’m just staying out of the way. I guess this is just the way it is.
@BruceFromOhio: Welcome to the warm, Bruce. Wave if you get over to the left side of the state.
@jl: My brother an family are at Mammoth and it looks pretty dry behind them in the pictures.
All my presents are wrapped. All the shopping for food is done except for the heavy cream I forgot that my daughter needs for some reason which I hope is not eggnog. She’s making that, and I regard it as a waste of bourbon.
We’re having crab cakes on Christmas Eve as a tribute to my Chesapeake Bay boyhood with caesar salad and garlic bread. Rack of lamb on Christmas Day. Daughter also works for a wine importer so we’re waiting to see what that brings.
Day after Christmas the four of us, me, wife, son and daughter fly to Florida to visit my Mom in Ponte Vedra. More big meals, plus golf!
@SiubhanDuinne: we do beef fondue every Christmas eve and have for at least 40 years. It’s such a festive meal.What sauces do you do? I make Bernaise, chimichurra, horseradish and BBQ sauce. I’m also making a pomegranate, pear, hazelnut and roquefort salad on greens with a champagne and honey dressing.
Roast Beast and Yorkshire pudding on Christmas Day
According to the TV machine, the only acceptable Christmas gifts are jewelry, candy, and automobiles. Well, damn, I’m a total flop at capitalism.
Howard Beale IV
@efgoldman: It’s rain in the Twin Cities-snow’s all gone, too. And the Saudi’s are willing to drag oil prices down to $20 a barrel if need be.
I am up to the infinite suckage of my profession and stressing out over everything else that I have to put off until the last minute tomorrow because I have to fucking work tonight.
But I did see this today that I wanted to share re “the real threat to Hillary Clinton.”
I expect you will have a few choice words about that. : )
@raven: Don’t have link now, but saw a report on ski reports with pictures. After three years of nothing, the resorts are delighted to have anything, but no resort mentioned in the article has all their runs or chairlifts open. And the pics look just weird, since it looks like the snow just stops a few hundred feet below the runs. Look like pics taken in April, not December. (edit: actually, not even that since in April it would be way more green. Maybe that is why it looks weird. December on upper runs of the resorts, but then looks October just below, And really warm up there too. Good thing is that the snow is extremely dense wet snow that will not sublimate before the melt, as much of it has last three years.)
Resorts are looking ahead and developing for year round outdoor sports. The resort owners all seem to be deluded fools who have swallowed the global warming hoax hook line and sinker.
Same here; doing it at a friend’s place with a guest list of 14. I’m bringing the wine, which is ironic seeing as how I’m 22 years sober. But that makes me objective, right?
It’s because all of your friends and family expect her to keep the holiday going (or at least she feels they expect it). Guys get kind of a pass on stuff like that, even in these modern times. I know that once I got together with G, I ended up taking over sending gifts to my in-laws. Not necessarily because they expected it, but because I expected them to expect it. If that makes sense. ?
Trying to get my health care insurance set up for next year, and it’s not going well. I’ve received correspondence from my state exchange that wasn’t very clear, then I went through a navigator and the correspondence I’ve received from the state exchange since then has confused me again. I don’t know if I get a tax credit or not – I would think I would, since my income is comparable or even less than last year (I don’t have a predictable monthly income), but the information I’ve gotten seems to suggest that I don’t, and if I don’t, it’s going to be very, very hard for me to afford health insurance this time around.
I’ve half a mind to say “fuck it” and go without.
ETA: And, of course, I’ve been on hold for nearly an hour trying to get someone at the state exchange to talk to about this.
@Mustang Bobby: Here’s what I got the girl
The Tangible Past in Athens, Georgia
Well, that and a macbook air.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
Strep is no longer contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I take care of the kids in my family and we just have a drawing for one gift exchange with the adults. I have no frickin idea how her family figures any of it out. We have always gone to Virginia save the couple of years when my folks were still alive and we split those. We have rented a cabin at Smith Mountain Lake, gotten hotel rooms in Lynchburg and Blacksburg. We can’t stay with her brother because his fucking dogs are totally untrained and will attack mine. Her sister always makes her feel like shit but she busts her ass to try to please all of them. She knows how I feel and she also knows I’ll go and be the regular fucking charmer I always am. I know how much it means to her so I do it.
@raven: Oh, wow, that is amazing. You are a diamond among rubies.
@Mustang Bobby: McCommon’s is the owner/editor of the Flagpole, the paper that our long lost dg came from.
@GHayduke (formerly lojasmo):
If you can convince my elderly aunts of that, it would be great. Science doesn’t quite overcome their memories of the pre-antibiotics days of strep. He started antibiotics last night and should be good to go the day of.
Like I said, it’s the expectations of others plus her expectations of herself that make her a little crazy. It sounds like you know how to ride it out, so keep on keeping on.
@eemom: Webb? Pshaw, yeah, right. They just have to find some white man to drool over don’t they?
I’m not in charge of the sauces, but we usually have Béarnaise, curry, some kind of hot chili sauce, something mustard-based, creamy KILLER horseradish, and something else I can’t remember but will eat with great relish.*
RB and Yorkshire pudding sounds like a wonderful Christmas Day meal! Enjoy every bite!
* (I assume you saw what I did there)
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Guys get kind of a pass on stuff like that, even in these modern times. After xx years, I’ve been told, “please let me do the shopping for gifts”, and “please stay the fuck out of the way” during holiday preparations, both of which are entirely acceptable to me. My two responsibilities are moving things, and transporting people, both of which I am good at and happy to do.
@eemom: I sent him $ for his Senate run in 2006, he was a favorite of Kos. Happy to vote for Hil if she gets the nod, and expect Webb to keep it real during the primaries. If she’s wise, she gives him a slot in the cabinet afterwards, he’s got the chops.
Also, too, Betty, if you needed to have an Xmas Day thread to vent about missing your mom, I don’t think you’d be the only one on it. For some reason, I feel like I’m missing my dad more this year than I did last year (which was our first Xmas without him, but there was some family drama distracting us from that a little bit).
Not literally, not yet, but subject to change as the torrents continue.
On Edisto Island in South Carolina, renting a house with family near the beach.
Making local scallops (lemon and brown butter). Made shrimp and grits last night.
I have also eaten a po boy every day.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Yea, we’re cool.
DH and I have decided to ignore Christmas and buy our presents to each other in the January sales in Myrtle Beach. Makes sense to me. We are having Pot Roast for Christmas dinner.
I’m going to re-post Finding My Father’s Grave written by my friend Katherine who is here from Australia with her wife/partner for the holidays. She was just in Tanzania teaching and I think her writing is really good.
To get to my father’s grave, you will need his wife or daughters as a guide. We’ve made a hand-drawn map of the property for visitors, and you might be able to find your own way using that
Since this blog is talking Christmas, Best damn fruitcakes you can find anyplace coming into my folk’s house from the Alaska people. I know most of you are soooo jealous. If people are nice, I may email some.
Watching “Shrek the Halls”, half hour special on ABC right now, and it’s pretty good. (Left TV on after Jeopardy…)
Wonder if it aired earlier this year. They just aired a commercial promising two Xmas specials Monday night.
ETA: The blind mice and Puss in Boots have just arrived.
@jl: There ain’t much space between the best and the worst fruitcakes.
@Tenar Darell: The Calder was nice and worth the visit; we took the train up (the Peabody Essex is maybe five or ten minute walk from the station) so no worries about traffic or anything.
@Elizabelle: You’re not watching Northern Illinois and Marshall??? :)
@raven: Don’t look for no fruitcake in your email. I’ve just declared you naughty.
Edit: anyway, the way the AK branch the family makes fruitcake, you get tipsy enough not to care much after a couple of slices, even if you don’t like fruitcake much.
Tomorrow I absolutely have to get to the mall or Macy’s to get this year’s Swarovski crystal snowflake. I didn’t get one last year. I want this year’s. Christmas day I’m probably doing a movie and a restaurant dinner. I haven’t decided on which movie, though.
Howard Beale IV
@raven: I always though fruitcakes made excellent hammers.
Rabbits at Christmastime mean only one thing — Hasenpfeffer!
In other news, Bah – Humbug. (‘Cause it’s been raining steadily all day and it’s cold.)
@jl: Dang. You know, of course, the BEST are Claxton Fruit Cake from right cheer in Georgia!
Do they got a donkey involved?
@Elizabelle: In the Boca Raton Bowl????
Stand your gridiron.
” You know, of course, the BEST are Claxton Fruit Cake from right cheer in Georgia! ”
Ahh.. I remember those from when I was a kid. Some of the Southern kith and kin sent a box every year. Throw a few of those in a vat of brandy, pretty soon you have some passable fruitcake.
@Tenar Darell: Is it the “same” show that the Metropolitan had a few years ago. I caught it at the end of the show and wish I had seen it earlier and more often.
@jl: My grandfather sent me one once years before I moved here. No likey.
@raven: It is doughy and very sweet. I loved it when I was, I dunno…. nine years old. Haven’t had any in years.
For the record, I do not hate bunnies.
” For the record, I do not hate bunnies. ”
What is that about? You can save your defense for a few months. Or are we starting the trials for the War on Easter early this year?
Well, the easy day’s cooking just ended. two more to go.
Mike in NC
TV news says 90 million Real Americans will be on the roads, and another 40 million in the air between now and New Year’s. We ain’t going anywhere. It’ll be 71 here at the beach tomorrow but heavy rain all day.
@Mike in NC: I said it a 5am and I say it now. I keep looking for a break on the weather map from here to Balcksburg and it ain’t happenin. I think 85-77-81 is out best bet but it will still suck.
@raven: The book looks interesting. The book along with the bike planter and the Macbook Air are nice gifts.
@PurpleGirl: Yea, I only looked at it briefly but it has been long anticipated here. Thing is huge!
Anyone else using mobile getting dumped to balloonjuice.com/eyeblaster.addineye/html? It’s a blank BJ page with the dropdown for ‘home’ and ‘lexicon’. Home will work once or twice then start dumping me back to eyeblaster until I delete the bookmark and re-input. Then wash, rinse, repeat.
I loved both Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Justice … Almost, but not quite, on par with Iain Banks The Culture series …
Just finished work. Waiting at the train station to go home. Will take the roast out of the freezer tonight. Might fix pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
The bunny is too cute for words.
At the airport waiting for a red eye to Newark.
The talking heads at CNN on the TV are babbling about The Interview and how a movie with shitty reviews is now going to have off the hook demand given the limited release and all the attention.
Their Breaking News crawler is “Interview to be released”. Free media galore and whomever greenlighted that shitty movie just had North Korea save their job.
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@Mustang Bobby: Thanks, MB! The crew is very much excited to be going, this holiday has somewhat turned into “waiting for the trip to FL”.
And it certainly looks like it is going to be nice there…
Any Memphites around? Which bridge was the target of the plot? News here showed the one everybody I know refers to as the “old bridge”. (the “new bridge” opened ~1970.)
@raven: Good luck to you with your drive. Stay safe.
Anyone lining up to see “The Interview” on Christmas Day?
@Elizabelle: Not even if the Norks held a gun to my head to make me go.
Although I will admit I liked the movie Paul even if it did have Rogen in it. He didn’t write though.
@raven: Thank you for sharing this.
@BruceFromOhio: She, her sister and mom are such wonderful folks. He was one of a kind, the piece doesn’t mention that he was also a Navy pilot in Vietnam. You would have never guessed but he was.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Mike J: News reports are saying the I-55 bridge, which would be the Old Bridge.
Me neither. Let the Freedumb! theatre chair commandos have their day.
ETA: Their ONE day.
@Goblue72: A United flyer, eh? Otherwise, I feel like there’s no good justification for flying into that armpit of an airport (not that LGA or JFK are markedly better) unless you / your family is in Jersey.
So I was just on hold on the phone for help with getting my health care for 2015 for nearly 2 and a half hours, and then the call just disconnected.
Just got back from a nice dinner for Festivus which will be good for the next few days as it’s nibbles for Christmas. Just the two of us and we both want it low key.
Betty: love the Christmas bunny. Very sweet rabbit; like the blue background too. Another excellent photo.
@PsiFighter37: Two reason to fly into Newark: easy amtrak transfer, and Virgin made me go through there when the IAD->LHR was canceled. The one time my luggage didn’t make it on Virgin was when I had to go through NJ. It was nice to get the hundred quid they gave me for going four hours without my bags.
@PurpleGirl: I don’t believe they are part of the same exhibition.
The MFA is a thematically organized large retrospective. The only recent MET exhibit I found was from from this summer, and was what I would call a mini-exhibit, a few pictures deeply researched and highlighted by displaying them in one gallery. (Of course I think some of the Altamira family portraits were at the MFA; I think the little boy with the pet cat is on loan).
If anybody can help a writer out, I need assistance pimping my latest estory on Kindle / Nook… primarily, best way to market it without spending $2000 on ads… sigh…
@Tenar Darell: I tracked it down — It was Calder Jewelry, Dec. 2008 to March 2009. While I find his sculptures interesting, I’ve always loved his jewelry.It’s contemporary, arresting in the metals he used and its own sculpturalness. I didn’t think it was that far back.
@dmsilev: Thanks! The train sounds like a good idea if I can’t talk anyone into driving with me. (One way or another I always get caught in rush hour when I go to PEM).
@raven: Many years ago a lady known for good parties said, “I just give them nuts and whiskey.”. Words to live buy. (With sufficient whiskey they probably would not notice the absence of nuts.)
I must admit we live in a small apt., about 1000 square feet, so on the very rare occasions I throw a big party it’s at a restaurant or party house. Therefore I am not subject to the normal female panic that my house will be judged and found wanting. And it is a female thing. If a man throws a party he doesn’t care if the guest towels are hung just right, and figures you won’t either. (And if you want, ladies, just leave the guest towels hanging there forever, from party to party–it’s not as I’d anyone will ever touch them.)
@PurpleGirl: Heh, I thought you meant the Goya!
I’ve always liked Calder’s work, big and small. He made some amazing earrings that look like his mobiles. I did an image search after finding the NY Times review of that exhibit. Wow.
@Pogonip: We have a friend who is going to stay here while she visits her family. We are doing them all a favor by giving her the place for a few days but, of course, my bride has to add to her anxiety and get the place “just right”.
@efgoldman: If I were to get any kind of car for the spousal unit as a Christmas present, she’d be so mad she’d probably run me over with it. That’s kind of a large consumer purchase; it would seem both spouses might want to discuss such a large outlay beforehand. Not to mention letting the person who’s going to be driving the damn thing decided which options to get.
Steve in the ATL
What’s going on in Memphis???
Everything’s ready except for the travelling. Thanks to the supposedly non-existent climate change, I’m stuck at home due to freezing fog…we never get fog because it’s never 26 degrees above zero when there’s snow on the ground. To travel it either has to get warmer or colder. I consider it to be Christmas whenever I manage to arrive, whatever date that might be!
MMmm, wooffley nose bunneh. Oh, how I miss cuddly animals. I called to ask the ex to please send me pictures of the cats. I last saw pics last Christmas. It’s no fun without cats
So my beautiful Breville Compact Oven, the big one, went SPROONNNNG! and died in the middle of roasting vegetables this evening. I bought it in May; it’s not old. However, I purchased it from Bed Bath & Beyond, which has a lifetime warranty on anything you buy from them, so I will return it and buy the same damn machine again, since I do love it and it does everything I want it to do. If the new one goes SPRONG I will repeat the routine. I got it because Cole kept kvelling about his.
I spent 3 days last week in CCU getting my heart checked. One angiogram later, my heart appears okay, but there are some symptoms that still need to be explained. I am resting, and trying to do stuff slowly. Luckily I don’t have to do anything for the holiday. I don’t have to cook. My family is out of state. (Yeah, I miss them.) I’m staying home on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day I’m going to help serve a meal to anyone who wants it at my church.
I hope you all have a safe and joyful Christmas.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Thank you for bringing that up, Mnemosyne…I am headed back to Canada to visit my Father, sister and brother and their families just 7 weeks after the much too soon passing of my beloved step-Mom who was much more a mother to us than our actual mother has ever been. The fam asked me to visit as planned for the holidays (v. attending the funeral), so we could spend some time together in our little group sharing fond memories. It will be sad and sweet.
What we see in that picture, that adorable big-eyed face, is why a Malaysian agriculture minister’s effort to promote rabbits, as a meat animal, some 30 years ago was a complete and utter failure.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): It really sucks, and I’m sorry the loss of your dad is hitting you hard. Hubby and I are trying not to get sucked into a sorrow spiral for the sake of others, but for us, anyway, the loss of my mom and his dad is really kicking us in the gut anew. They were always such a presence at Christmas. Nothing to be done but carry on, I suppose.
J R in WV
Mrs J and i will be baking today. There is a Sicilian Cake in my future, a yellow pound cake all layered with ricotta cheese mixed with dried fruit/nuts/chocolate drops, and then the whole thing covered with bitter chocolate icing.
That’s for my birthday which is right soon. Then I’m gonna make a pecan pie for immediate use tonight (Xmas eve) and tomorrow, with whipped cream. My Dad loved pecan pie, and invented the use of vanilla ice cream to make it less rich, which seems strange but really works well.
I have a little pork loin I’m going to roast tonight, and Saturday we’re having friends over for dinner, Pot Roast with all the veges and gravy. Just the wife and I for Xmas eve and tomorrow, maybe walk next door for brief bourbon visits.
Just don’t want to talk politics. Cops should get their shit together, the end.
One of my coworkers was showing us pictures of his family’s holiday setup and they light a row of votive candles to represent the family members who have passed on (though I hate that phrase). If we were doing the holiday at our apartment, I might want to do something like that.
I enjoyed Ancillary Justice too. Took me a good third of the book to realize who the main character was.
Raven. I love your post about how to find my fathers burial place. Thanks so much.
Raven. I love your post about how to find my fathers burial place. Thanks so much.