Every holiday season starts with flipping the house. I even said out loud sometime around September: Let's not do a major project before Christmas this year. Then by mid October we realized the kids were coming home and the Lane Bryant Lumberjack was bringing "THE BOYFRIEND" aka "#thisonesakeeper" and they would be sleeping in a tent if a few things didn't get done.
This year we thought we would get a handle on things and ordered carpet for the upstairs bedrooms (3) and hall, the old carpet was 30 years old and had too many tales to tell. Like who ironed her hair on the berber carpet and left the iron on... who puked in the closet in 1999 and oh so many dogs. Anyway order submitted on November 2nd. Note to self; carpet that has a pattern and comes from Canada during a Trump presidency is a bad decision. Nothing gets across across the border without papers and a pat down. I found it ironic that when the carpet finally got here on Dec. 14th, a lovely man; Jose' and his able bodied assistant Juan matched patterns and laid carpet like super heros! They rocked and ya know what? They loved what they do, they laughed, talked about their families, upcoming jobs, petted Kirby and did a super fantastic job laying a carpet with a pattern that had to be matched on 180 year old crooked floors. Unlike the idiot in the White House who seems to have trouble connecting brain cells and doesn't seem to be having a very good time.
Soooo on December 3rd I unpacked the show stuff from the van into the studio, wrote the last blog and started tearing up carpet and painting the upstairs. Butch had started thankfully but he doesn't do trim or cut in. And then he said out loud; I'm really bad at this and I hate it. So I banished him from the room as I really do like painting and the whole transformation of what happens when the first plaster patch goes up. I had made attempts to clean out the upstairs last year but it was just a drop in the bucket. Every closet, every shelf, every drawer was taken apart, moved, donated or dragged to the curb. It was great! I would pull up to Goodwill and a lovely man would come out and call Kirby by name then stand and pet him while I shuttled furniture and bags of stuff into the holding room. Everyday for a week I would pull in, he would see the van coming and he would just smile.... Kirby too! We might need a trip just to say high and drop off a few cookies. Everything else was moved downstairs and in a small house that means every room looks Michael Cohen's apartment after the fall from grace.
And poor Kirby needed a helmet!
Old linoleum faux pine flooring...... so attractive!
The van with Jose' and Juan arrived at 10 am the next morning. Kirby and I retreated to the studio to work on a kiln and put the remains of Winterfair away. Relays and new wires. A break from painting but just another day in hell for this dyslexic potter. check, double check, check again. Put it back together, flip the power switch, put the cone packs in and everything looked great! (argh the bottom cone pack still will not drop 5 or 6 so back to the multimeter) High five Kirby and walk in the house to see how Jose' and Juan were doing. Butch was in his office working from home.
Wow! What a difference new paint and carpet can make! It was so bright I couldn't go to sleep that night! The old room had forest green and red walls...... not anymore!
There were still pictures and curtains to hang and beds to dress but there were beds to sleep on and carpet to walk on. And holy crap we have to buy a mattress! We took a night and jumped on so many mattresses I couldn't get up at the last stop. Just turn the lights out and leave me here I begged. We finally found one and it was delivered at 7 am the morning before the kids arrived. Cutting it close for sure!
And we cannot forget it's caulking season! I am getting better although not faster, it still takes me an entire day to caulk a tub and napalm a bathroom and I hate it. I do it twice a year and if I could find someone to do it I would but alas I have never once seen anyone listed under skilled trades as a tub caulker.
While waiting for coats of paint to dry and caulk to set; I baked!
Nutrolls, Nisua and cookies..... lots of cookies!
Cookie list this year: Russian tea cakes, pecan carmel bars, molasses crinkles, pecan tassies and shortbreads.
and pay off for tub caulking and kiln wiring.....
and I gifted myself a new coffee pot........ because the old one..... well it was an antique Mr Coffee with no bells or whistles and I do love a good cup of coffee in the morning.
Rachael and Travis arrived from earthquake ridden Anchorage just in time for Sunday dinner on the 16th! I can't even remember what I made for dinner but it was great and let the festivities begin! They both had to work from cyberspace for three days so I got other stuff done....... not decorating!
We had a great weather window hit so I took to the yard and built a cold frame and flipped the compost pile.
also planted 80 bulbs of garlic finally, transplanted the gooseberries to the inside garden due to deer pruning! And moved two hydrangeas.
put the hoop house up for red russian kale, chard, toscano kale and beets.
so happy this got built! Seeds were planted on the solstice but now realize I need a heating mat for next year.
and put the bay laurel in bondage due to antler sharpening.
and it was really really good to be dirty in December :)
Rachael had asked me to demo pressure canning soup or something while she was home so she could return to the frozen tundra with skills. We made a batch of white bean, kale, chicken and sausage soup and a batch of chickpeas.
It was Wednesday the 20th and the Winter Solstice grew closer. We went to the Cleveland Museum of Art and caught the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. Ok two paintings and a lot of clothes and one picture of the clay studio at Ghost Ranch. My review of the Georgia O'Keefe show; Meeh. But dinner at the museum was great and I got to see the the Asian Ceramics exhibit, winning!
Abby was flying in at midnight on the 21st too, bring on the light! The Solstice has been celebrated in this house for more than 30 years. It has always been a time to close out the Christmas crazy, light a fire, put on a pot of soup and take a breath to reflect. Write the things we wanted to leave behind on piece of paper and send it up in the smoke allowing new hopes and dreams to enter on the light of a new cycle. I love this time of the year, this grounding, this quiet entry into the new cycle of light. But this year I was alerted to a party in the house and friends would be filling the house and there were foods to prepare and a trip to the Westside Market was in order where cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables were bought and carted home. The pots and pans were brought out and there was much kitchen frenzy afoot. So much for a pot of soup and a crust of bread. The consuming began and in Miller fashion the food and libations flowed and by midnight someone was blowing chunks. Even when I used to fire walk every Solstice I never once blew chunks. But alas I have these things called children who have their own traditions and it's a small house and next year it might be my turn to blow chunks, it's a tradition.
As promised Abby arrived by midnight and I crashed somewhere upstairs in a bed. The next morning we had tickets to see the Moscow Ballet perform at the Civic Theater. We dressed as well as could be expected, we really do clean up pretty well but it was a tight fit in the backseat!
We extracted ourselves from the car and had excellent roomy seats for the Ballet! After the show we walked Cleveland Public Square to see the lights and then dinner on the East bank of the Flats. A very nice night to be sure! Thanks for dinner Rachael ❣️
On Sunday the family made it down to Muny lot for tail-gating and Browns mania! I value self preservation and choose not to attend!
Forget that self preservation remark as I had a bit more Christmas shopping to do and went to......... THE MALL. Just kill me! It was December 23rd and this is when the world started spinning and the blackhole comes into view and it just isn't going to get any better. I catch it and I cannot stop it.
And then the Browns won and we wrapped presents and ate again and went to see Aquaman for 2 hours and 26 minutes....... nobody needs to see Aquaman for 2 hours and 26 minutes but it was Monday and tickets were $5 and we got the stadium seats and popcorn with free refills and we were happy!
And then it was Christmas ...... and we ate and my kitchen was too small for three hungarian girls and one stove. So I grilled a salmon on the Barby, Abby cooked a duck and Rachael made pork shoulder..... yup we covered it all; Earth, Sky and Water! Even Aquaman could have found something to eat at this table!
The day after Christmas, things were picked up, packed up and the rental car with Rachael and Travis headed out the driveway and back to Anchorage. Abby was here until the 29th and we did ALL the Cleveland things because Abby lives in a tiny little town with almost no museums or stores so off we went to the Cleveland Aquarium, the Cleveland Natural History Museum, the Cleveland Science museum, the IMax theater. Then we thrift shopped for a day, then we clothes shopped for day and then on the 30th Abby flew back to the little town of Gunnison with an extra bag and wearing the tiara and award for the Queen of Markdowns!
We returned to the house and I whipped into cleaning mode yet again as we have a neighborhood progressive New Years tottle every year. This year we had 5 houses and each house serves 2-3 appetizers and a drink.
As I scraped duck fat off the stove and Kirby licked the dish towel I felt the cracks in my veneer starting to grow. The morning of the 31st Butch got up and went to work as he had everyday except Christmas and said; I'll be home early. I think I looked at him and said; Look at this place (Kirby looked up with the dish towel in his mouth) and don't forget I need to get a few things slammed on a plate for tonight. I had cleaned the studio twice as it had become the dumping ground for the holiday massacre. I was ready to slit my wrists with a twinkle light and bleed out in red and green on the kitchen floor as the elf on the shelf glowered down from his perch.
I was fried.
Stuffed mushrooms and baby reubens managed to make it onto a platter along with dilly beans and relishes from the shelves in the basement. New Years day I rolled out of bed and announced I was sick and boy was I.
It is now Jan. 8th and my first full day of not going through a box of Kleenex and eating Sudafeds. It will be my first night of sleeping in a bed and not a chair.
Tomorrow I will go shovel out the last of the Christmas wrap in the studio, wedge clay, load a really good audio book on my iPad, take my ever faithful dog for a walk and make a few mugs.
Another holiday........ maybe next year I can go stand in a river somewhere and not tell anyone where I went........
While cleaning out the closet I embraced my tent and sleeping bag a little too hard..... I have nothing on the books until March so I could sneak away for a couple days with Kirby.... stay tuned. I will not be attending any museums or gallery openings or exhibits for quite awhile. I have no need to shop for anything ever but I do need to make a few more trips to the Goodwill and one more trip with a pile of books to the donation box at the library. Happy New Year!
Oh and my taxes are done!