December 30, 2018

THE Holiday. You Know The One.

[a belated Christmas report that I forgot to post!]
All told, THE holiday was great. And a lot of work. ALL of us helped. Bigsis guy brought 99% of the food. The bro helped by being able to be here, as he drives the farthest and is down to just one kind of cancer. He also brought delicious homemade beef jerky that made one of the cats try to break into the kitchen cabinets to get to it. Bro and french bro cooked breakfast on Christmas. Mrguy manned the eggs. He also cleaned the entire house, bought the liquor, wrangled the cats and their complicated schedules / medications while also troubleshooting the many things that come up on the fly during the day. And he cleaned constantly while the rest of us trashed the place.

When it comes to prep, the mama wants to help and that complicates matters. Middlesis guy did the hard work of shepherding the mama during the day, which as host was something I couldn't do. And she made these amazing stuffed potatoes while the mama slept.


I took the night shifts. When mom's asleep we use a motion sensor that helps us know when she's on the move and needs an escort to the restroom. The "ding dong-er", as we call it, is a godsend. However it sits at cat height and the cats loooove her, so when she's here there are many false alarms when the cats are restless and wander into her bedroom to see how she's doing. Eventually I realized that mrguy was not getting any sleep, so I took the speaker with me and slept on the sofa for a few nights, rising to help the mama. I love how she never questions that we're up when she needs to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

I insisted on not getting worked up about the holiday in advance. When Christmas was at the mama's house bigsis and I would go home one day in December before Christmas and do the tree and set the table for her. Now that Christmas is at our house we set the table on Christmas Eve, because three of the cats love to walk on the dining table. Nobody wants to eat at your house if they suspect the cats have sat on their napkins ahead of time.

I was happy to find that I'd segregated the previous year's linen so I knew what had been used, and even made a diagram of our table arrangement, which we then ignored.

We are still pretending it's 1945 on Christmas. You got your crystal champagne glasses of granny's, the wedding silver of mom's, augmented by some of ours, silver epergnes (we used to have bigger ones but they were absurd and we sold them to make room during the mama's move), we use linen napkins (but none of it matches with a group our size) and a must have is the wax angels that everybody but me likes. I put them on display, and stuck cans of pinto beans under the two large ones to weight them down, but I couldn't find something that was as stable for the little gold ones. I used ortega chile cans as their angel support, which only slightly worked. One angel did a stage dive and now I have to do plastic surgery with a hot knife to repair some fingers and a cheekbone. My brother-in-law appreciated the naked can of chiles I left on the credenza.

I was hoping someone would notice. I like to leave a little something to laugh about.

Now Christmas is over, I'm sneezing and pretending it's an allergy (hope springs eternal) and mrguy has the same allergy. This is the time of the year where the mama's schedule confuses her, so she called to complain that she's at her house and not with us. Tomorrow she gets her wish and I pick her up for a New Year's visit to our house.

December 29, 2018

Christmas Cactus Report

Readers of mrsguy know that I am hot for Christmas cactus. I'm still on the hunt for a red one.

This year I decided that life was too short to only allow myself to buy half-dead cactus from estate sales. I was going to buy a red Christmas cactus this year, dadgummit! Well I never found one, but I bought these two beauties that are giving me so much joy on the front porch. 

The dark one has huge triple flowers and the lighter one has buds that are a peachy tan color that then turn into fat pink flowers. 

This third example is one from my collection downstairs. It's a little slow to bud, but it's white. And to complete the story, the gator aloe and the aeonium are from the ancestral garden of the mama. 

Down in the breezeway under the house our other cacti, Max and Bernice, Grandpa and the one from my mom's house all bloomed this year. I'm making some pots from cuttings for friends who want to try a Christmas cactus, so if you're reading this and want one, please let me know.

Merry Holiday 2018

Tree N Sunset 2018

It is a tradition.


Can we talk about "learnings"? I have a visceral reaction to this icky, non-standard word, like the feeling I get when I inadvertently touch a slug when I'm gardening...what's that thing??? Learnings!! No!! Also the word "optics".

Apropos of slimy things, I learninged the other day that if you wait long enough, Hachiya persimmons do turn into real food. My review of a Hachiya persimmon is that they may not be worth the wait. They are, however, super cool to feel in your hand when they're very ripe, somewhat like handling an egg yolk. Looking at this photo I realized that the persimmon and my hand are equally wrinkly.

The persimmon and I are also soft to the touch.

December 21, 2018

Your Salami Awaits You

A few weeks back I spent some quality time in my mom's storage cupboards in the garage of her apartment building. One thing I found was middlesis guy's hidey hole. It's the place where she stashes things that people give her on Christmas that she doesn't want to take home on the plane.

And that's where I found the salami. I brought it back upstairs and showed it to her. We both wondered whether you could still eat it. It had been there at least two years, and I can only imagine that it is now either a rare delicacy or could kill you. I imagine that it went in the trash. I'll have to ask when I see her.

UPDATE: middlesis says that fear of death or illness outweighed the possible anecdotal value, so she threw out the salami. There's our answer.

December 17, 2018


I was late to the Systems department bakeoff, but found the last of their savory entries and their bacon. I squeezed the oil out of the bacon before eating it. All flavors made more delicious by their being eaten off of the Pearl Harbor plate.

Yesterday was our neighborhood party, held by our nextdoor neighbors, the ones who nearly burned their house down recently. Despite this, I am particularly fond of them I love their holiday party. This is the third year, and this party has helped me know all of my neighbors better. It's super fun and they're from all over: Nigeria, India, Otherlandia (can't remember!), and then others are super local and have lived here all their lives (like our hosts).

Speaking of our hosts, they love deviled eggs, so I made some yesterday. That helped leaven my mood. Plus anything that takes me into my spice drawer makes me happy.

Hooray for a splash of smoked paprika and a scattering of parsley.

December 16, 2018


It took me a lot of time to get around to decorating the tree. Last weekend Ears was sick (and he still is). That was super distressing and I couldn't finish the tree. Procrastination ensued in other forms.

Yesterday I finally got around to finishing the tree. I had really picked out a weird one, whose branches pointed in all kinds of directions. This made doing the lights super chore-ish. And then my usual Christmas music failed me.

As I've mentioned in previous years I have some downright lugubrious music I like to listen to while decorating my tree. This is all well and good, but I have observed that it's been a rather cruddy year and recreational ennui isn't as fun when you feel an abundance of the real thing. Another observation: whoever sequenced The Raspberries' Greatest Hits is a genius. But even that made me feel blue. This called for soaring violins, over-the-top arrangements, twangy guitar and occasionally inappropriate application of zither. It was Judy Time. And time for the Blue Comets' greatest hits and I'm sorry, Ava, the band from Samoa, you are going back to Hawaii to resell at the record store.

December 10, 2018


They must have hit something beautiful:

December 9, 2018

Adventures In Cat Husbandry

Ears is his papa's special boy. And after the struggle we had at first getting him and his little friend strong and bug-free he's been the strongest fellow ever. Strong like a horse, faithful like a dog. He got sick the other day, then sicker. The vet thinks it's bronchitis or asthma. It's hard to see him sick.

Here he is in stony lonesome, at the vet.

Not shown: I looked through the window from our exam room into the surgery. I noticed that it took four people to draw blood. Three to hold him down and one to do the deed. He never scratches or bites, but he's SO STRONG.

Today he's back on the couch. I'm about to make him a Christmas tree, and then get him some antibiotics.
Good times.

December 2, 2018

Mugo Pine, 2018

Yesterday I began the Christmas season by getting my mom what may have been the most beautiful Christmas tree ever. I delivered it to her, and then middlesis and I put it in the stand. Mission accomplished! The two of them decorated it today.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, I went back to Home Depot today to get our own tree. As I suspected, Mom's tree was, in fact, the most beautiful tree ever. But I found a funky one I liked, and tried my luck at finding a red Christmas cactus in the garden shop. Nope! But my search took me past the garden ornaments and the whim took me. My initial plan was to hang them in our maple trees, but when I looked at ornaments and trees together I realized that my vision wasn't going to work. The mugo pine, however, would be the perfect candidate for decoration.

It's a topiary tree, and before we owned this house someone had spent years lovingly crafting it into three puffballs on chubby branches. It's kinda weird, kinda adorable. When we redid the front yard last month I couldn't say goodbye to it. I wanted to work around it, because when the previous owners redid the front yard they left it in place. This I know from Google Street View. So we've committed to the mugo pine and I am going to celebrate him.

I festooned him with the Home Depot ornaments, as well as plastic vegetables, my plastic woodpecker from the 1980s, a plastic lobster and the action figure of librarian Nancy Pearl. This is still a work in progress, but I'm loving it. Business in the front, party in the back.

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