Monday, January 3, 2011

Off to a New Year

We had a wonderful holiday, which did not include emergency visits to doctors for either Len or me this year.  No broken bones, no organ failure.  We plan to keep that the case for the rest of the year, despite the nasty cold Len caught.

I had 12 days off from work, which did not include riding Ace or caroling with the horses or getting much work done on the old house, all due to rain.  Yesterday, we starting having trouble with our driveway gate. When I finally got the thing to close, I kept my car in the driveway so we'd be able to let the dogs out back  It would be most annoying to chase them down the street.
This year, I decorated what I called the Chanukah bush, a white, artificial stick tree, with blue ornaments.  It went up a couple of weeks before we went off and bought our real Christmas tree, aka "Geek Tree" (above.)  That's the tree that's got ornaments related to true fan-boy geekdom: Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, and various science fiction and fantasy works.  We have the added delight of ornaments of characters created by my husband (Wolverine and Storm) and this year the Hallmark comic book ornament of Hulk #181 even has his name in it. (If you double-click the photo, it should enlarge to give you a better idea of the decorations.) I miss having high ceilings so I could have a 9 or 10 foot tree, but I love having more space. 

In the after-Christmas sales, I purchased several more artificial trees, so now there is a tree with horses in my office (I'm desperately seeking a Zenyatta ornament, but would prefer to not pay a fortune) and a tree with some of our sentimental favorites is decorating our bedroom.  It has many Disney ornaments, particularly from Beauty and the Beast, and things which we received for our wedding and anniversary, which is December 25.  I found a lovely "First Year in Our New Home" ornament to hang on it.  It made Len a little weepy.
That's the horse tree, above. Finding a way to secure the tree-topper was challenging. I like it, but it doesn't really work well.  I picked up a number of the Breyer Thoroughbred ornament series over the past few years, and they survived the fire. I've picked up a few other Breyers, including the porcelain Arabian that looks like Ace, and some of the "Painted Ponies" ornaments.  The stuffie on the bottom with the song book sings "We Three Kings" as "Neigh, neigh, neighayay...." You get the idea. 

On Christmas Day, we celebrated the holiday and our anniversary with our friends Karen Bodner and Michael Olecki, as we have for most of the past 15 years.  Karen and Michael O. (to distinguish him from my son Michael B-V) come over, we make brunch, we eat, and then we open presents.  For the first time ever, we weren't frantically cleaning up to make space for everyone.  And everyone could hang out in the kitchen for excellent conversation while bacon and eggs were made to go with the goodies Karen brought along.
Here's Michael O. making mimosas to go along with the sticky-buns Karen baked.  She also brought the shrimp, lox, and poached salmon on the table.   
Len's favorite part of brunch is bacon, which he probably should not be eating.

Looking at the back yard reminds me of getting letters from my pen-pal in Australia and being amazed at the idea that Christmas could include swimming and a green landscape.  It was too cold for anyone except Ginger to consider getting wet (she did, causing Michael O. to dub her our "mermaid"), but it was shirt-sleeve weather.  The rest of my family was getting snowed in back east.  I think I've grown to like the idea of Santa arriving via surf board.  I certainly do not miss driving in snow.

After our first anniversary, I declared I would never work that hard on my anniversary again and we would be going out for dinner the next year.  For most of the years we've done this, we've had dinner out, usually with a movie before we eat.  Often it has been "Jewish Christmas" which means going out for Chinese food.  As opening presents crept later into the day (this year, brunch wasn't over until almost 2), finding a restaurant operating late got harder.

Last year, I decided if we didn't do a turkey, cooking Christmas dinner wouldn't be that complicated or take that much effort.  Besides, Karen enjoys cooking as much as I do (she's a recovering lawyer who went to baking school in the past couple of years.)  Last year, I did mussels followed by baked salmon.  This year, I suggested lobster, which takes almost no time at all.  It was fabulous, although keep lobster alive for 24 hours--Gelson's was closed on December 25--was interesting.  Especially since the refrigerator in the kitchen died for the FIFTH time since we moved to the new house.

Unfortunately, Len won't let us do lobster again next year.  He doesn't like food that looks like itself, even if he isn't the one wrestling with it.  He thought he could deal with it, but he couldn't.  Sigh.

Since the house was our big present to ourselves this year, we tended to give each other books and DVDs.
Here's my son Michael opening one of his gifts.  The dogs got us a new video game system, replacing the blu-ray player that's not worked well.  I don't know how the dogs got hold of a credit card, but they used it wisely. I'm not sure why they didn't let Ace in on the gift.
Riley, who turned 11 months on Christmas, kept trying to eat the tree. Except for chewing up the Hallmark Yoda, which fell on the floor, he didn't take down any ornaments.  Ginger and Dexter just left things alone.  Good dogs.  (Ginger's on the chair and Riley's sleeping on the floor, probably because he couldn't find a human to curl up with.)

We're a few days away from our big holiday party and we are just ecstatic to have enough room for the folks who've accepted.  One year in the old house, it rained and folks were squeezed in like sardines.  Not this year.  I've got a room for folks who want to play board games and one for those who'd like to play video games.  Plus there will be lots of room for food on the kitchen table and counters and plenty of room for drinks on the patio (covered, in case there is rain.)  The timing has worked out so several friends from other parts of the country will be able to attend, making things extra special.

Since I'm planning on a year that will be better than last year was, I wish the same to you as well.  Have a happy and prosperous new year.

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