Christmas 2009 Roundup

This what I’ve got. I’m really tired, and it’s kind of superficial, but it’s all you get.

We had a good drive down; thanks to the mild farewell snowstorm that hit the evening before and was still happening when we left, there were messy roads till Kingston, but after that it was fine. There was less and less snow as we went southwest; as close as Cornwall we were noticing significantly lower snow-to-square footage on the side of the road. The only other thing of note regarding the drive down was that thanks to multiple rest stops being closed for renovation (read: levelled to the ground) and one stop’s fuel pumps being cordoned off for some reason, there was only ONE fuel stop open between the QC/ON border and Toronto. Crazy. Of course, we are brilliant, and do not rely on the rest stops; we pull off the highway and fuel up/eat in non-rest-stop type places. Usually Kingston, actually.

The boy did cookie baking with Nana the morning of the 24th while HRH and I went out shopping. The stores were remarkably quiet, the streets sane, and we were mystified. I picked up Dragon Age for the Xbox for HRH and told him to forget I’d done so; we found a copy of TMBG album in Toys R Us, of all places, after months of being foiled at finding it in local record and bookstores. We looked for Star Wars action figures there, too, but couldn’t find any decent ones. We hit a dollar store, where we could not find any Xmas socks, alas (the boy adores Xmas socks with a passion, and getting him a new pair every year is a Thing) but they did have a snowman cup that matched the Santa cup the boy had in his stocking last year, and found some stickers and a remarkably decent pair of binoculars there, too. As the action figures were a bust, we picked up a copy of the Clone Wars movie for him, too.

We got home and I wrapped our gifts for everyone with the boy, which was kind of an exercise in patience. After putting him down for a nap, we went out to local yarn store to look at the wheels I was going to rent, only to discover that they were closed. I’d asked via email if they were open on the 24th and they’d said yes; not there or on their website did they say anything about closing early. They closed at 2; we got there at 2:15. I was a tad annoyed. It was a good thing HRH had managed to fit my wheel in the car, so I wasn’t left without one all week.

On Xmas morning, the boy got up to find his stocking and a basket in front of his bedroom door. He came into our bed to open it all, ate both snowmen chocolates, thought the binoculars and cup very cool indeed, and was thrilled with his books and the Transformer.

We dressed and had breakfast, then opened our gifts. I was so tired that I just kind of sat there with gifts on my lap and watched everyone else open things. The boy kept passing gifts out before we’d finished opening the last round. He got lots of books and clothes. I received lots of kitchen stuff that I’d put on my wish list a while back (an adjustable sink strainer, not one but two offset spatulas, a digital oven thermometer) and things I hadn’t asked for like a new Silpat rolling pin, and linen dishcloths, potholders, herbs, and sea salt from Provence. HRH and the boy got me the padded iTouch skin I’d asked for (sorry, Meallanmouse; it is no longer the Little Pirate Computer, as the boy used to call it; it is now the Little Flowered Computer).

My cousin and his family came over after the boy’s nap for the last round of gifting and a truly wonderful roast beef Christmas dinner. They almost didn’t because most of them had colds, but we all shrugged and figured that unless someone was deathly ill, there was no point in cancelling our plans. And it turned out they weren’t really very ill at all, so I’m glad they came. On the other hand, HRH and my father were on the edge of nasty colds themselves, which got worse at various rates over the week.

On Saturday the 26th we ventured out to the local bookstore to spend happy gift certificates, and I got three books from my wish list, one I found, a new calendar, adorable owl holiday cards for next year (because yes, our holiday cards were also thrown out along with the tags and bows and ribbons), and renewed my discount card. (No, the gift card did not cover all this; only half. And the store did not have three of the books that had been higher on my wish list, nor were they anywhere within commutable distance.) We were again really rather surprised at the lack of insanity on the roads and in the shops. Very civilized.

On the morning of Sunday the 27th HRH and I left the boy making Rice Krispie squares with Nana and icing the rest of the batch of cookies they’d made on the 24th, and hit the local Michaels for yarn and sketchbooks on sale. The boy insisted that he wanted his handknit scarf in black, so I got two skeins of black Wool-Ease Thick & Chunky and cast on to knit a double-thickness scarf in the round, nice easy straightforward knitting that I could do in the car without having to count. I also got a basket to keep my yarn and wheel accessories in. Then we headed out to the LYS that had been closed on the 24th, and I ended up buying some light brown Coopworth and my very first Malabrigo ever, the worsted weight merino in the Stonechat colourway. It’s so wonderfully soft and squooshy that I may never knit it; I might just cuddle it for the rest of my life.

Sunday afternoon we headed out to my cousin’s home for dinner with them, and we had some lovely beer: Hockley’s Dark. He had it in a litre bottle with a swing cap. (I’m noting it here for future reference. There’s not much else to say other than it’s delicious and we will be haunting the closer LCBOs for it.) He also gave me a g&t made with Hendrick’s gin, which was the most flavourful gins I’ve ever tried. I find a lot of gin sharp, but this was mellow and smooth.

Monday we saw The Princess and the Frog, which was fun because I can’t remember the last time my mother and I saw a new Disney film in the theatre together. It was fine, but it will never be among my favourite Disney films because it just didn’t grab me, despite loving the palette, the designs, and the message. I think a lot of it was the music. While I appreciate a lot of Randy Newman’s stuff, he’s not among the composers whose music I really enjoy. Part of it was also my inability to feel close to any of the characters, and the vague sense that the story was rushing, somehow. At the end, when the couple was transformed back into humans, the boy sighed and said, “Oh, I wanted them to stay frogs,” which may have been my favourite moment of the entire experience. (Hey, if you were a four year old boy, don’t you think staying a frog would be more magical?) I may enjoy it more after watching it when it comes out on DVD.

My mother’s silk scarf (not previously mentioned here because it was a gift, but this was the yarn… I’ll post a picture when it’s done) was not ready in time for Christmas. I wrapped it unfinished and let her open it so I could knit for the rest of the trip in front of her, but even then, although I increased its length four- or fivefold, I didn’t finish. I admitted to myself on the Monday that even if I did heroically polish off the knitting part, I couldn’t block it, so I gave myself permission to slow down because I’d need to do the after-knitting finishing at home anyhow. The silk just doesn’t move the way the Koigu did. And I lost a lot of time moving lifelines, because the silk was splitty and my lifeline yarn slowly shredded. I ended up switching to unwaxed dental floss for the lifeline.

We left the morning of Wednesday the 30st and made very good time to Maxville, where we spent the afternoon and night with t! and Jan and Rowan Tree Farm. This was absolutely wonderful, as when we visit we usually need to leave a couple of hours after we get there in order to be home for the boy’s bedtime, which also means (ahem) that both of us cannot indulge in alcohol. No such restrictions this time! We also got a surprise visit from Fearsclave and Mousme late the day we got there, which was delightful as we don’t see either of them often enough. We slept over, and it worked beautifully. Upon rising the next morning the boy and I visited the chicken house with Jan (the boy just can’t seem to remember to call it a hen house or a chicken coop, and really, ‘chicken house’ is so cute I’m not pushing it very hard) and the boy got to help find the eggs and tried to pet any chicken that got too close to him. We were rewarded with two crows from the rooster as we walked back to the house for breakfast (t!’s justly famed French toast). HRH and t! had a most excellent time playing bass together on the Wednesday night and the Thursday morning, and the boy had a marvelous time romping with Carter (spending a lot of the non-playing time walking around with his arm slung over the dog’s shoulders), and I got to chat and knit with Jan. It was all sorts of good crammed into about twenty hours, and we left with much regret at noon on Thursday the 31st.

We got home around one o’clock and did a quick stop at the grocery store so that we could gather supplies for the scallop dish I was to take to the New Year’s Eve dinner at Ceri and Scott’s house, as well as supplies for the New Year’s Day chili I was making for a couple of other friends. Dinner was lovely, although we were very tired and left not long after midnight. The boy woke us up on the first of January by wishing each of us (and all three cats on the bed, individually) a happy new year’s day. The huge pot of chili turned out very well, despite my ongoing anxiety about it not tasting chili-like enough and its refusal to thicken until I tossed some cornstarch into it. I made the accompanying cornmeal muffins with gluten-free potato flour, so my gluten-intolerant guest could eat them, and while they didn’t rise as much as the cornmeal muffins I make with regular flour (as expected) they tasted delicious. And not being able to decide what jelly to put atop the brie as it baked resulted in taking all three little jelly jars out to the table, where people got to put a dab of Jan’s jalapeno jelly, Ceri’s red pepper-garlic jelly, or my mum’s port wine jelly on crackers of baguette spread with just brie. A brilliant solution, if I do say so myself, and one that proved yet again how damn good baked brie is. Things were so relaxed that I completely forgot to bring out a platter of cookies and baked treats afterwards.

It’s been a lovely holiday, but we really need to get back on schedule; we’ve all been sleeping later in the mornings and staying up later at night, and staying in our jammies later than we ought to. The long car trips have thrown the boy’s nap schedule into disarray, as have the various different locations he’s been staying in. A return to schedule will be good for us all.

One thought on “Christmas 2009 Roundup

  1. lu

    This morning’s “first day back at school … and did I mention the emergency 7am meeting” alarm was brutal. Thank god it’s only a three day week.


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