Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week 52 - Odd Timing Abounds

It was a busy week – DUH! Everything revolved around getting ready to fly to Carolyn’s on Tuesday evening for Christmas, hopefully before the forecast storm made it impossible to fly. I was slamming through a project at work so worked until the last second, got in my car and drove directly to Eppley, arriving in good time so I was at the gate an hour and a half before the flight. Having forgotten my sandwich in the fridge at work (can we say prepared boys and girls?), I had just tucked into an enormous airport hotdog when I noticed a line forming at my gate. Apparently my flight was going to be delayed and no one would make their connections so they were rebooking everyone. Luckily since the weather the next day was going to be icy, they were getting us to Detroit and putting us up there (because it was technical difficulties and not the weather, they had to foot the bill.) I waited in line and got my new booking for Detroit > Providence the next morning but was hoping I could still make it for my flight that night. It would be tight but if they made up a few minutes and my gates were close, there was a chance. Yeah, right!

They did make up some time and we got in 15 minutes before my flight to Providence was due to leave. But I was 16 rows back and when we got to Detroit, we had to wait at the gate for them to bring the jetway to the plane. The hold up was staffing. And what were the staff being held up by? Removing the jetway from my flight to Providence AT THE VERY NEXT GATE! Oh well, at least I’d get there by noon the next day, still leaving me a full day before the official start of the holiday. The next hurdle was spending the night in a hotel without any luggage. Luckily I had a toothbrush and change of undies in my carry on (a complete fluke) so I just slept naked (!), put on the same clothes without showering (I was wearing a hot sweater and figured the deodorant residue from Tuesday would be better than clean but chemical free armpits) and headed back to the airport. They’d given us a food voucher so I went wild at Starbucks and even bought a coffee for the TSA guy in line with me (Merry Christmas!) From there things went well and I arrived just after noon, happy that I’d made it out of Omaha before the storm.

Carolyn and I got busy baking on Wednesday morning – my Christmas pudding (the mold in my carry on caused slightly less problems at the airport than the pudding from last year), macaroons, pumpkin cheesecake… I was just happy, happy, happy to be in Carolyn’s kitchen, which is one of my very favorite places, chatting and cooking. I left just before 3:00 to head to Deanne’s to see her nephew and niece (OK, her mom and brothers too.) When they left for mass, I headed to Marianne and Brian’s to hang with John for a bit before leaving for Bette’s. I had a cup of Earl Grey and chatted about England (what’s not to love?) I arrived at Bette’s at 6:00, right behind Dottie, Mike and fam only to find that everyone had already eaten. We grabbed plates and sat down. In what seemed like minutes later, everyone started leaving! By 7:00-ish it was down to just us Fenton girls, Aunt Margaret, Bette, Kelsey and Ronnie. And within the hour, Ronnie left too. It was strange! We sat around the table and chatted, looking at the old pics in the calendar I make every year for Dottie and Ginny and having seconds of Christmas pudding. The lack of hubbub was decidedly non-festive. I guess the days of young kids and rowdy present opening are over. The end of an era! I was back at Carolyn’s before 10:00. We waited for Aaron to fall asleep, loaded up the stockings and went to bed late.

Christmas morning was all that and a bag of nuts! I had 3 lots of stocking stuffers because Dottie did some too and it took a long time to get through them all. I got lots of fun stuff but the highlight was the pair of Avenue undies that Carolyn had bought. It was so unexpected to open them (I thought the days of underwear for Christmas had died with Kay) and I laughed so hard that I had to wipe my eyes. Aaron got an X Box 360 so was in hog heaven. When we were done with presents, Carolyn and I headed to the kitchen again. Our Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants had over risen and then fallen but we baked them anyway for breakfast and then started on the prime rib, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts for lunch. After we’d gorged on beef, we retired to the living room for the annual tradition of watching whatever movie Aaron had gotten. This year it was Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen, which I’d gotten him, and it felt like more of the same because Aaron had been playing a car chase game all day, giving us a backdrop of revving and crashing for our festivities. Remind me next year to get Aaron a kinder, gentler movie.

Saturday was our annual holiday open house so we got up and headed to the market. We didn’t have tons of prep work to do because we had done most of the baking on Wednesday so only had to make up some dips and things. In the second bout of odd timing, 2:00 came and went and no one had arrived. Normally someone comes early – Bob or John usually – but we sat at the table until almost 2:30 before anyone showed up. From then it was constant door answering though. The usual gang came and it was a fun time – eating good food and chatting with friends. What’s not to love? But in another anomaly, no one stayed past 5:30 or so. We’d advertised it as 2:00 to whenever and usually we end up ordering pizza for the people still left. This time we’d planned on making chicken marsalla but no one stayed! Deanne did show up ~7:00 after we’d already cleaned up and put all the food away but we talked for a bit anyway. Despite its delayed start, it was another successful holiday party.

Sunday was our big road trip day. Carolyn and I got up early and headed north – destination Leominster, Mass. for the only CJ Banks in the drivable vicinity, followed by a trip to Northampton to Webbs, the home of yarn.com’s huge yarn store. Of course I couldn’t drive through Worcester without a stop at the only remaining section of the doomed Kirkbride at Worcester State Hospital. After a driving tour of the seedier sections of Worcester where we watched meth deals on just about every corner, we gave up on the bogus google maps directions and just winged it. The drive in front of the clock tower was closed so I had to trek across a soggy field in the rain to get some pics of the building but it was worth getting wet to see the last bit of the Kirkbride before it falls down from all the construction nearby that must be reeking havoc with the unstable building.

CJ Banks was a total bust, which I’d thought was a good possibility because of our post-holiday timing. It was a small one and the inventory was pretty skimpy. Neither of us bought anything so we headed to Northampton, stopping for Wendy’s along the way. Webb’s was wonderful! The yarn shop itself was a mystery. There appeared to be no organization what so ever to how the yarn was arranged – not by weight, company, color, nothing! The fun part was the warehouse, which was arranged by weight. I headed right to the sock yarn aisle and found 4 skeins I couldn’t live without. There was tons of yarn back there at super cheap prices. It was in boxes filled with bags of yarn. I should have bought some to make the sweater in Big Girls Knits that I like but we were unprepared and so I left with my socks yarn - 4 skeins for <$30! We promptly decided we’d go back next Christmas with a list of patterns and yarns so we could make a big haul. We drove home for the chicken marsalla dinner we hadn’t made Saturday and an evening of pay per view of Julie and Julia, which I’d seen in the theatre (a rarity for me) but loved just as much the 2nd time. What a nice end to a busy week filled with family and friends. Wait for it…..Life is Good!

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