Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 9

Amy Gail is HERE!
Let the party begin!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 7 and 8 (and some of 6)

Forgive me for getting behind on my adventures at home. I've been working on a craft project that has to get finished for Friday and reading a good book in between trips to the coffee shop and bookstore and quiet time.

As I mentioned, Dad and I spent the majority of Day 6 on the boat. We started our Daddy-Daughter day with the intention of letting Ellie and her dad, Jake, join us on the lake. This was a huge mistake because they are Labs. Labs + Water + Casting (which is a lot like throwing something to fetch) = CHAOS. Labs + Water + Casting + Ashley Driving the Boat While Dad Tries to Catch Bait Fish = Catastrophic Universal Implosion.

Don't let these cuties deceive you.
I was struggling against their collective 175 pounds with this hand. And driving with the other.
It was so bad, I could only get this one timer shot.
We let them get in the water, which calmed them down a little bit...but we ended up having Mom come down to the dock to get them so we could fish for fish, rather than dogs. It paid off since we caught 4 catfish, 5 stripers, and 3 large mouth bass.

Sister and Brother-in-law showed up for a late Christmas dinner and gift giving. It was wonderful to see them...
and I got some new shoes! These are practical ones (mostly) and have already come in handy!

Santa Claus (aka Ellie) got me some socks to go with them. Yay!
Unbeknownst to all of us, we created a little monster by allowing this to happen....
Ellie has been helping herself to gifts under the tree, even the ones for other dogs and some of us. Like these we found on the floor after dinner out this evening.
It doesn't help much that the packages she was allowed to open were full of things she loved, like this stuffie panda thing that she really really likes to squeak, gnaw, and fetch.
Day 7 was dreary, kind of grumpy....and may have something to do with the fact that I have basically moved in to my old room.
I spent a good portion of last night and today (Day 8) working on a little something special.

Oh, and look what we had this morning on Crossman Peak behind our house!
Other than a small adventure this morning to locate one of my favorite earrings I lost yesterday (it was in the Starbucks parking lot), it has been fairly quiet around the homeplace. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Miss Amy Gail and her mama, Lizzie, for New Year's Eve.

So be prepared. The next few blogs are going to be nothing but pictures of Amy Gail who I love so much it is kind of ridiculous, even if I only met her one time when I got to hear her heartbeat while she was still "on the inside."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 6

Dad and I did this:

And then this happened:

Despite what it looks like, Sister is not choking my dog to death. Though Ellie does look uncomfortable and Sister's arm is flexed....

Details later.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 5

It was too windy to go fishing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 4

It is possible that my computer is mended and my tonsils are almost healed up. Okay, it may be wishful thinking on both accounts but I am really really really really tired of being sick and having a sick computer.

After another day of resting (with the help of some Tylenol PM)...and shopping (Yay! New pants! Yay! New Shirt! Yay! New Dress-Tunic-Thingy!), I might actually get to do some fishing tomorrow. Dad says he will not let me on the boat with my tonsils still touching each other. I was not anticipating the being sick thing, but I came prepared for subzero weather, and I think if I wear everything in my suitcase plus the warmies from my stash of field clothes in my car, I won't catch a chill or pneumonia or anything like that. I swear I will not get sicker by catching a mess of fish. In fact, I think it will make me feel much better.

Does this sound like a desperate enough plea? Are you reading this, Dad?

I. Want.To.Go.Fishing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 3

And a Merry Christmas to you...

The holiday has been a little low-key at the B Family Homeplace, mostly because we have only partly celebrated. Sister and her husband will be here on Tuesday and we will be having a big dinner and opening our gifts to each other then. The dogs got a head start this morning.

Here is Ellie enjoying her new bed....
And her Dad, Jake, momentarily ignoring his candy cane shaped bone to lick my camera.
I tried to get pictures of Ellie's brother, Yeller, and Mom, Joy, also playing with their new toys, but have you ever tried to take a picture of a Labrador playing? How about three of them? Four?

Anyway...Mom and Dad are doing a great job of feeding me mushy foods that are easy to swallow, like cheese FUNdue for Christmas Eve dinner. (Note the strategic placement of Sister's senior portrait in the upper left corner of this shot.)
Dad was in charge of Christmas Day breakfast, which was, at my request, maple flavored Malt-o-Meal. He is about 20 years out of practice making the staple cereal of my childhood, so he may or may not have exploded it in the microwave. Here is mine, complete with a smile...

and here is Mom's, which is really more of an abstract piece.
After the second explosion, Dad decided just to fix himself cake and milk for breakfast.
After spending most of my day like this:
I was able to muster the energy for steak. I just chewed it a LOT. Plus, I cannot remember the last time I had a steak...where there is a will, there is a way.
We ended our meal with Chocolate Really FUNdue...but it was all eaten up before I got any photos.

All of this coddling and reversion to easily eaten foods (and perhaps some frantic sewing I have been doing in between naps) has been a bit of a trip down memory lane for Mom, who was reminded of a Christmas Eve 24 or 25 years ago when Sister and I decided we could do better than just mere cookies for Santa Claus.

Taking cue from Mom, who was making handmade stockings for each of her 2nd Graders, we decided to "borrow" some fabric scraps and supplies, shut ourselves in our room, and create our own stockings for Santa Claus. I am not sure how it happened, but our projects ended up in Mom's cedar chest rather than at the North Pole where they clearly belong.

So here they are...a first attempt at sewing by the B twins...
Note that the one on the left is probably a discarded stocking from Mom's pile. The Christmas tree and ribbon have been glued on. The one on the right has been completely hand-stitched...see the attention to detail and attempt at straight lines?

If I had to guess who made which of the stockings, I would say that Sister made the white one. She is still a fan of glue and glitter (seen here)
and it just seems fitting that she would forgo the stitching for the glue even when she was 4 or 5. I, on the other hand, cannot cut straight lines or follow patterns to this day, which would mean the red one with the crooked stitches and more "free form" approach to the body of the stocking is probably mine.

Mom says her favorite part of that year is that we didn't stop at! Because everyone knows that the really hard work is done back at the North Pole by Mrs. Claus who gets the shaft where credit for Christmas cheer is concerned, we decided to make her aprons.

And here they are...
You have to use your imagination a little bit because for all intents and purposes, there are no actual strings or methods of attaching these aprons to your body, but I am certain there was a letter of explanation along with them. The one on the right is completely glued, while the one on the left has had the pockets sewn on by machine. Mom and Dad wondered who would have helped with the sewing - was it a Grandmother? Or did one of us have a go at the machine? Could this craft project have been the cause of Mom's sewing machine malfunction immediately (and permanently) afterward? Again, I am going to guess that the one that has been glued (on the right) was made by Sister. But I am also making that speculation because the one that sort of looks like a hostess apron seen here...
reminds me of one or two craft projects I have produced in the last few years...

The mystery remains which twin made which apron or which stocking when we were so little. Mom never saw who did what, and I really would not have remembered making these gems if Mom didn't have a cedar chest full of treasures from my childhood (and hers). Perhaps parental encouragement for little projects like these instilled in us the streak of creativity Sister and I sometimes channel. So thanks, Mom and Dad.

And perhaps, now I know who to blame for my embarrassing amount of fabric and crafting supplies stashed in every possible space that I occupy... in my house, in my car, and and even in my purse!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 2

The Second Gift of Christmas has just laptop also has a virus! I'll add some antibiotics to it tomorrow...or Sunday.

It's just a thing really. A bit of a lifeline type of thing, but a thing nonetheless.

Yes, I am crying just a little bit about the idea of losing years of pictures, but my thesis is safely backed up on a thumb drive...and well...published and bound. I might lose some really interesting archaeology articles and one or two knitting patterns, but I know some knitters and have a filing cabinet worth of journal articles I will probably never look at again (but will continue to move to every house I ever live in until my currently non-existent children have to clean out my attic 50 to 60 years from now)...

I heard someone say the other day - "In all things, a blessing." I take that to mean that everything in life, even the hard, uncomfortable events, the huge curveballs we didn't expect are really just blessings in disguise. I am trying to apply that to this current situation, but I haven't quite figured out what the blessing might be where computers are concerned.

I also heard the phrase "En vino veritas" and since I am drinking a big o' glass of the stuff, I have to say...sometimes things just suck.

But seriously. "In all things, a blessing" is a good thought to have this Christmas Eve. Especially right now while so many of us are nursing the wounds from a Year Unexpected. Divorce, jobs changing, jobs ending, homes changing by choice or not, money problems, health problems, relationship problems...sometimes it is hard to see the blessings in the hardships.

But they are there.

Just think about it.

Step back and look at the bigger picture.

If A had not happened, would you have had time to do B and been happy for the first time in a long time? If C had happened differently, you might never have had the courage to try D. You might have missed an adventure. You might have never learned that new thing about yourself. You might have been stuck, trapped, mired in something or some place you were never meant to be. You might have been miserable one way, but now you have a chance to be full of joy and Life.

On Christmas Eve, it is important to remember that unexpected Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Under Christmas trees. In Mangers.

And maybe from Spyware.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Day 1

My first gift of Christmas arrived Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning in the form of a fever, spotty throat, and swollen left tonsil. I spent all of Wednesday curled up in bed, alternating between sleeping, sleeping through movies and NPR stories, and generally feeling crappy. I broke one of my rules of going to the doctor immediately (since it is the holidays and it is best to nip these things in the bud), where a doctor still in diapers told me I had tonsillitis. Or maybe strep throat. So he gave me a prescription for Amoxicillin for the infection and Prednisone for the swelling. This is all well and good, but I felt too crappy to wait in line for the prescriptions to be filled. So really, it was kind of a waste of time. I packed for my 11 day trip Home with a fever...there is a good chance I have 12 pairs of underwear and no pants, only high heels, and one t-shirt. We'll see when I try to get dressed tomorrow.

Today, Ellie and I got up and got ourselves loaded into the vehicle, sans food for Ellie, and drove the four hours home. Ellie was pretty stoked, even if she will starve to death for lack of kibble.Don't worry, Dad got me to the pharmacy at our local supermarket so I have started my regime of antibiotics. Mom got me ensconced on the couch with a blanket in view of the tree so I can get a little Christmas cheer.
And she made me two pots of soup!
Chicken with stars....
And vegetable beef!
I am feeling a little better, especially after I made myself a hot toddy. Which, apparently should have hot water in it too, rather than just straight up whiskey. I am suddenly able to swallow after my first drink of this, so maybe I'll forgo the hot water and see what happens. Modern medicine? Or a good ol' fashioned home remedy? I'll let you know in the morning.
So here I am, ready for a break, a little bit of coddling, and hopefully a lot of fishing. I really hope I have everything I needed from RC to make this holiday special and to complete the projects I have not quite completed for Miss Amy Gail. Actually, there is a good chance I have only wrapping paper and no gifts...except, of course, for the gift of illness. You are welcome, Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My trip to Death Valley this last weekend did not go quite as I had planned, hoped, or wanted it to. So I had to improvise.

C'est la vie.

Thursday night was a wonderful holiday party full of sugar. My sister is the hostess with the mostest...a veritable Martha Stewart with a side arm and flak jacket. She'll charm your socks off with one of her delicious appetizers at the same time she is divesting you with force of the dessert fork when you should be using the salad fork. She is pretty much the sweetest bad-ass I know. I recognize my biases, having shared a womb with her, but I think you would probably say the same thing depending on which side of her asp you are standing.

For the party, each person was instructed to bring four dozen cookies to exchange with the other guests. Being the procrastinating fool that I am (and perhaps the anti-hostess), my cinnamon oatmeal cookies were made at 4:30 AM on Thursday morning before I went to work for eight hours and then drove the two hours to her house. Anyway, the point of the exchange is that you end up taking home the same amount of cookies that you brought with you, but a variety of flavors made by a whole variety of people. It is a great idea, actually, especially for those of us who love sugar. However, while I am currently without last winter's additional 20 pounds thanks to the Big D (and I don't mean Dallas), four dozen cookies is a lot for one person to consume. A lot.

I didn't mind eating as many cookies as I could on Thursday night since my Big Plan for Friday was to go out into the wilderness and walk around. You know, work off the extra calories from the cookies (and hot buttered rum, and artichoke dip, and cheese ball, and hamburgers, and candied walnuts, and peppermint bark...).

But then I got out of bed on Friday to this scene...
That is not blue sky. That is not dry weather. That is not even warm weather. While I am not merely a fair weather hiker, and am usually willing to go out in some really crappy conditions to see amazing archaeology, as it is my sister's park...the decision was made that I must be "smarter than the average visitor" and not get stuck somewhere because I was too devoted to the goal of touring to pay attention to the weather. Honestly, it is not an adventure until you are uncomfortable, but it is not fair for the taxpayer to cover the cost of a search and rescue because I was too engrossed in the rock art panel to notice the wall of water coming down canyon.

So I stayed on her couch. And read The Stranger by Albert Camus. Spiked my coffee. Slept every few hours. And watched Waitress with Keri Russell just because I love this line:

"Dear Baby, I hope someday somebody wants to hold you for 20 minutes straight and that's all they do. They don't pull away. They don't look at your face. They don't try to kiss you. All they do is wrap you up in their arms and hold on tight, without an ounce of selfishness in it..."

It makes me cry every time I hear it. Like right now. (You probably ought to watch the movie if you have not already seen it).

And. I. Ate. Cookies.

On Saturday, Sister and I had Big Plans to go out to the Racetrack, where the rocks move freakishly across the mud and no one knows why...but the rain on Friday made it hard to get out there. So we went up to Wildrose instead.

We visited the Charcoal Kilns...
Took advantage of breaks in the clouds to take pictures of the pretty mountains.
Got above the clouds at Augerberry Point to see what the Valley looks like after a winter storm.
And were chased by villains in ore carts at the Eureka Mine.
It was really a close call for both of us. Luckily we had cookies to fend them off.

Sister had to keep working on Saturday after our outing, so Ellie and I went for a nice long walk with a new friend and her two dogs. Ellie was thrilled to chase other dogs, and I was thrilled to have someone to talk to!

And then I ate cookies.

The rain started again on Saturday night, and was in full force by the time I left Sunday morning. I probably should have been terrified driving over Towne Pass in fog, but I think I have been desensitized to scary driving conditions since that time I lived in Eastern Montana...

Plus, I had some cookies to eat so I felt alright about the whole situation.

I managed to make it home with only one dozen cookies. I would like to tell you that I only took one dozen cookies from the party, but that would be a blatant lie. I ate four dozen cookies over the course of the three days I was in Death Valley. This box of cookies is just a bonus.

And I am NOT going to apologize for it.

Because really...Thank God for Cookies.