Monday, February 28, 2022

Rage against the machine.........


Does it feel like the wheels are coming off?  Mine came off a couple weeks ago and I have no spare in the trunk.   Burning brighter then the beat of Putin's war drums is the collective light of the world coming together to fight this megalomanic.   As I have watched spineless politicians in this country bow and kiss the ring of a defeated president golfing at his dacha in Florida; there is a shining light in Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine.   The US sent a message asking him to evacuate Kyiv, his response is one we want to hear, the world needed to hear: "I need ammunition, a not a ride!"  We have seen him in combat fatigues having coffee in a bunker with his troops.  The Russian Federation has a GDP of $1.7 million, about the same size as Texas ($1.6 million).  And now knowing that little tidbit, how do you feel about Texas?  So why are the bullets still flying after 5 days?  And the asshole in Belarus needs to go to a time out in his bunker too!  This blogger stands with the people of Ukraine and the hope for peace!

So in the midst of waring worlds, escalating prices from war and inflation, chip shortages, masks vs no masks; a few more observations have to come light as I tried valiantly to fill a final order in the studio.  One of those orders you think is going to be a cake walk, done in a couple weeks and delivered.  You would already be spending the money on that automatic chicken coop door so you don't need to drag yourself to backyard each morning at 0-dark-thirty to let the girls out.  

Reality?  BaHaaaaa! 

We met mid December, they ordered 6 lights and explained I would not start the order until January with a delivery date of March 1st or the end of Feb.  No problem.  The order was for 6 carved porcelain lights for an awards program by a Woman's Center at a community college.  (things for me never go well at this particular community college)  Then on January 7th they emailed and wanted to double the order; 12 carved, wired and labeled lights, argh.   Plenty of time...... until I threw myself down a flight of steps January 21st and became a disabled potter doing 2 hours of PT each and everyday except Sunday.

I had made lamps back in the day and paid a guy to wire them.  He died.  Started looking for parts and a new guy who might be able to wire these and I lost days.  Went to my local electrical supply store to see if they had any insights.  The guy behind the counter was great.  Pulled all the parts, showed me how to wire them and then I asked how much is this going to cost per lamp?  Around $15 without the bulb. Again queue the BaHaaaa! NO!  Called another place: National Artcraft an hour down the road.  
They had a Christmas Tree Kit!  Remember those?  My Mom had one or two or three and I am a hater but I only need the wiring!  Kits are $8 and included the bulb and they didn't know anybody who could wire them.  What happened to old retired guys who putter in the garage and basement?  Oh ya, that would be us now! 

So I ordered a dozen, drove an hour down and an hour back and picked them up.  Followed the diagram, easy peasy, easier than wiring my kiln or the kitchen.  The kit came with a tubular edison bulb, 40 watts and heated the porcelain hot enough to fry an egg or burn your hand and start a fire.  First word my brain bubble shouted: LIABILITY; you just took the top layer of skin off your hand. Crap!  Then some of the lights needed a 1 1/2" pipe nipple and the kit came with a 1" pipe nipple.  Key the crying in the studio and my knee hurts.  

Off to the electrical place, nothing.  Off to all the big box stores, nothing.  I had the illusion I would just drive to a store and pick up parts. Drove home and looked on Amazon, everything.  Needed a few rubber washers, nobody has those in stock!  I remember, before Covid and Amazon, walking into a hardware store and pulling out drawers of washers, nuts, bolts etc and an old guy who knew where every single washer was in the store and handed it to you and it was a couple cents.  C'mon I am not that old!  Brick and mortar stores have nothing!  I needed a blade cutter for my Fiskars paper cutter.  I alway got it at the local art supply store, nope Amazon!  I am now very suspect that Jeff Bezos introduced Covid and supply chain issues.  He needed a bigger yacht. So much rage against the machine!  So back to National Artcraft, turned in the light bulbs and picked up felt bottoms for the lamp bases. 
Now the plaques that need to go on the front of the lamps.  Back to my local hardware store, which I love.  They have strips of brass in a corner of their basement, the basement!  My knee doesn't bend to get down the steps so I did them on my butt and the old guy waited at the bottom.  It's thin, flexible and can be cut easily.  Decided to pick up clear sticky backed labels (Staples still has those) to go over the brass.  Stood back and looked hard, well don't those just look like crap.  They looked great on paper and in my head.  Execution, awful!  Laid in bed going over and over all the possibilities while I iced my knee after physical therapy or tried to fall asleep.  I live in the same town as the label giant, Avery Dennison.  They make gold sticky backed paper.  Perfect.  Out of stock!  Everywhere except some little hobby store in Dearborn Michigan.  They could ship (7-10 days) for $10 plus the cost of the labels ....... $30.  NO!  for 3 sheets of gold paper.  
Found an upscale paper store an hour away that had one pack of gold backed sticky paper for $8, not Avery but would work with a laser printer.  I'll be right there.  It worked.  Back to the big box store to figure out which light bulbs would work best.  The first bulbs I bought looked awful so back to the returns and try CF tubular bulbs, $40.  I bought them as I just didn't care anymore.  

I thought I would order boxes, plain cardboard boxes.  We have three cardboard box manufacturers in Cleveland.  I called all three.  Nope we don't make them anymore, you have to order them and you can't pick them up, we can ship them to you in a couple weeks.  I have now ordered from Amazon so much and expect things to show up on my doorstep the same day or the next day this was completely unacceptable.  However three years ago this would have been completely acceptable.  So I am origami wrapping these and they are going in a brown kraft bag.  They are being delivered on Tuesday morning as I have an MRI scheduled today.  Stay tuned for that update; being drop kicked into the medical profession one more time.  

I lieu of all this madness and current physical challenges I have decided to close the studio.  This has been a true wallop upside the head as I really cannot walk or stand and it has been over 30 days of rigorous PT, laser treatments and Dr visits, I am sucked dry and frustrated.  My family is off for birthday festivities in AZ. mid March and it has become very apparent I cannot make the trip, physically.  Decided its best to heal up and we will get together in May for a graduation.  I go out to the studio and just wander around.  I listen to audio books and don't even know what I listened too.  I'm not quite ready to sell off all my equipment but it's gonna be awhile.  Can one re-invent a 40 year old business?  And honestly does the world need pottery as it falls apart?  Planting stuff makes a lot more sense than making stuff.  

For now I go forth to PT because.......... 

and tomorrow I will post my rage against the medical machine ........ 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Things are stirring, even the mice!

    Slogging through February but there are signs we are moving beyond dark winter.  
The days are growing longer, not warmer but longer.  
Guess who figured it out?
Three girls remain and started producing 2 eggs a day!  👏
Go chickens!! 

There have been blue skies and frosty winter eye candy everywhere.  

During these cold frosty days I decided to do something with those frozen tomatoes from last summer.  
Soup!  I may never can tomatoes on hot August day again!  Boiling pots of tomatoes and water are welcome on a 4 degree day in February!  If there is freezer room available in August, use it!

Dehydrated pepper powder from last years peppers are a new twist that adds a big punch of taste! 
Headed to the vault! 

I have ventured into the world of micro-greens; after reading about their nutritional value I decided to go for it.  Yes, I suppose I could buy them but I have potting mix and a wee bit of space so why not?  After watching countless youtube videos on grow lights, I searched for shop lights with a pull chain and T8 fluorescent bulbs.  Fluorescent bulbs are going the way of the dinosaurs.  They are around but I see these being phased out.  I looked online (expensive), and ended up in the hallowed halls of Home Depot. Finding a lovely older woman sporting an orange apron.  She had just started two days ago and admitted she didn't know anything about electrical or gardening but might be able to help locate items.  Whipped out my list of needed supplies.  She said: Have you tried Menard's?  I almost feel on the Home Depot floor, clean up on aisle 6!  "Well I think they have a bigger electrical dept. and they are right across the street."  I thanked her and went to the other place I hate, Menard's.  It was empty and I started hunting.  I found grow lights, 4K (would have rather had 5K) but they were $27 and if I sent in my receipt I would get 11% back;  or a third of a pound of micro seeds.  They were super easy to put together and plug in.  I love the disco feel of a dark studio corner! 

I have a heat mat under the tray to get them started but after a couple days turned it off.  
My first batch is kale, broccoli and lettuces; crops that like it cool.  Once germinated and just beyond the cotyledon stage, the heating mat was turned off. 

but in 7 - 10 days we would be harvesting! 
(these are 3 days old)

We have been to orchid shows and the orchids at home are blooming too.  We had a weekend stay-cation with a day at the Cleveland Botanical gardens.  It was heaven.  

I am still mired down in Physical Therapy daily and twice a week at the PT Center.   They decided against dry needling and instead went with laser treatment.  After 8 treatments, it was decided the laser treatments were not really doing much so stopped and just went with PT.  My co-pay is $60 a visit and twice a week for 4 weeks is expensive.  Once I heard the laser treatments were no longer necessary I backed off, going once a week.  Do I really need somebody to watch me do PT?  And because they are backed up I am rushed through so instead of the prescribed 30 reps they would say just do 20.  NO!  I need 30!  I have set up resistance band stations here at the house and do them religiously.  Am I better, not yet.  But I have dropped down the knee recovery rabbit hole!  Especially as I have never ever had pain like this for such an extended period of time.  By evening it brings tears to my eyes.  I have started moving my PT to evenings to keep some swelling down.  The only time I don't have any pain is on my bike, go figure.  Laying in bed, pain.  Sitting in a chair, pain.  Standing in the kitchen, pain. Walking, pain.  Bike, no pain.  Throwing at the wheel, hunched over, no pain.  Some of the PT brings tears to my eyes but I love the bike and I can watch the Olympics........ going for gold!  It's been almost a month and it is depressing when your body doesn't respond the way you think it should.  I cannot wrap my brain around not walking.  It has stopped me from doing so many things.  I miss the winter hikes and just going to the basement to get garlic or jars of food.  My knee doesn't bend enough to make it down the first step.  I have learned to sit on my butt and ease my way down but it just pisses me off!  I cannot work in the studio like I used to and work is languishing.  I have an order that has got to be out in another two weeks and it's killing me. 

Eating a very clean diet!  Have added a few things like turmeric, lots of last summers berries, comfrey salve topically.  Taken away; wheat, eggs, dairy and anything that causes inflammation including tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  Living on green beans, broccoli, salad and fish.  God I miss bread..... 
All my wheat berries are now sprouted for the chickens and they couldn't be happier! 

It's hard not to walk too much when there are so many things going on!  Temperatures hit the 50's for a couple days and the river started the Spring thaw.  It was amazing and I couldn't stop myself from running down to see it.  Took Kirby too, he can hear it.   I guess we were a sight as I stood with Kirby on the dock watching the ice flow go by and old geezer observed.  "Your dog blind?"  "yup"  "and your not looking too nibble; so if ya fall in I'm not saving you"  Not if I push you in first sir!
God, I love the midwest....... you are on your own!  We know what we have to work with, nothing! 

And just when we thought we were out of the woods and we saw green grass and new buds on the trees an Arctic Clipper delivered an ice storm and we woke up in a crystal palace this morning.  Breathtakingly beautiful.

but this is home and it's a grand place to be.......... 

and there might be a fresh batch of barley cookies! 


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Where are we going and how do we get there?


On a snowy, cold, icy Friday morning, I made it down to see Dr. Mike.  The parking lot was covered in ice and snow and thought wow here is some job security for all the orthopedic guys in this building.  Every single handicapped space was taken and I watched seriously hobbled folks trying to maneuver across the parking lot, which is also on an incline.  Go with God tottering people of the impaired.  I quickly realized it was busy season due to skiing accidents, icy sidewalks and general mayhem.  People Yak Trax are your savior, delivering you from the crash and burn of this treacherous parking lot.  Unless you're a skier and then all bets are off!

Filled out obligatory paperwork, filed insurance card, and waited.


10 points because I was seen 10 minutes early and once in the room, very short wait, did an in depth interview with his assistant. She is on my plus list as she has chickens.  It's not a very high bar to get on my plus list but chickens will take you to the top of the list pretty quick.  

She said wait right here, returned with the dreaded paper shorts.  Struggled to get off the boots, the jeans, long johns, coat, over coat, and other layers and the lovely Tiffany Blue paper shorts on.  I marveled at the mound of insulation as I leaned against the table.  A knock at the door and a jovial guy in a mask entered and said; We are off to X-ray.  They do everything in house. Yay! But honestly, walking around the halls waving at people in blue paper shorts is not on my bucket list!  Pictures of both knees and walked back to the "room" smiling and waving and wanting to die.  Thought oh this is gonna be awhile because they need to develop the x-rays.  That is how long it's been since I had an x-ray!   Dr Mike was in the door in under 5 minutes and the x-rays were already loaded on his computer.  Awesome, because my mind tends to go down a very dark tunnel if there is much waiting involved.  
No breaks but torn meniscus.  Then he showed me the other knee.  Pain?  Sometimes.  Really?  Your right knee is bone on bone where there should be a the lateral meniscus.  Oh well that is the one they worked on in 2014 and I'm not thrilled with how that turned out so I would like to avoid surgery at all cost on this leg.  Back to the injured knee. Poking, prodding, no pain, to scrap me off the ceiling pain and do not touch that again! 
So torn meniscus and a hyper extended hamstring on the back of the knee that sends me to the moon if you touch it!  We agree to no surgery and instead physical therapy and something called dry needling.  And doesn't that sound like ball of fun?  
Turns out the bike is the best thing I could do for this injury and I can still keep spinning.  Although instead of all at once; 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.  I will be touring English gardens for an hour a day on YouTube.  Gave me a bunch of exercises to do twice a day and after two days this now feels like a full time job.  

And for a person who hates leaving this compound I will now be traveling to physical therapy twice a week for a month and then we will re-access and see where we go.  
I'll wave be waving....... 


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Gift that just keeps giving.......January


After coming off the colonoscopy fun I thought I was home free.  Dragged out the garden plot, seed catalogs, seed inventory list, also big plans in the studio, garden plants on the hit list and on and on.  Amazing what a clean bill of health will do for future plans.  All in all things were looking up!

 The day after the "procedure" I was pretty wiped out.  On Wednesday I sat down to take notes on starting microgreens in the studio via YouTube and promptly fell asleep.  Woke up with my hip and knee at weird angle, tried to get up and limped to the kitchen for coffee.  Dammit, now what?!  Hobbled around for a day and called the chiropractor because I have stuff to do!  She had a cancellation, could I be there in 45 minutes?  Vroom...... adjusted, leg and hip were better and went to work in the studio.  
Thursday, back too limping and decided to hop on the bike.  My bike fixes just about everything, it's my "go to" when my body is flailing around.  Friday morning back on the bike, watched BBC gardening shows and back out to the studio to finish up an order.  3pm ran in the house to shower and change for an opening in Cleveland.  Van was loaded with boxes and wrapping paper for people to pick up their purchases.  Hit the steps and see old Kirby tossed his kibble on the landing.  Ack! 

Had a cup of hot coffee with me so when I hit the landing I pivoted to run back down and pick up a bucket and towels to clean up the mess.  
The last thing thing I saw before I heard the crack....

My knee and leg buckled after the crack, hot coffee doused the wall and I slid through the semi-digested kibble as I careened down the a flight of stairs.  I laid at the bottom, scalded, slimed and doing a body check.  Ahhhhh my annual bone density test.  Didn't feel like anything was broken but my knee was screaming and what was that crack before I feel?  It woke the dog up because now he was standing over me, CPR? Wanna play, got anything to eat?  For the first time in my life I had my phone in my pocket!  Called Mr Potter and no answer, left a message.  5 minutes went by and I called again, left another message.  OK it's you and me Kirbs.... but Kirby had already returned to the second floor and was napping, not Lassie and Timmy really is in the well! 

Got to my butt on the first step and onto to my feet.  Holy ouch!  Called the gallery, not coming, apologies.  Finally Mr Potter called, he just got the message and he was heading home or should he call emergency.  Nope I am OK!  Besides who has time to wait 4-8 hours just to be seen by a Dr at ER.  
this could be me.....

So the weekend was a figuring out of what I could and couldn't do.  I made it back to the studio as my upper body was still intact; trimmed a bunch of pots and carved a bunch of pots.  Thankful I didn't have kick wheel..... although I might have yelled Klopfenstein when I was in free fall.

an original  Klopfenstein kick wheel made in Mansfield Ohio long ago......

By Monday I had enough limping around and pretty sick and tired of the whole incident.  Also by Monday I realized my other knee was a mess, my back wasn't the best and I had more blooming bruises than I could count.  So I hopped on the bike.  If it hurt I could bail and wait to see the Orthopedic Dr, who wasn't available until Friday, seven days away.   I have bike shoes, you are clamped onto the pedal so you and the bike are "ONE".  I grew up on a bike and really can't ride a bike without them, my feet fly off the pedals.  So off I pedaled while touring English gardens with Carol Klein on youtube.  After 40 minutes it felt pretty good; until I had to twist my foot off the pedal to release the damn shoe.  Stuck again.  I sat there for minutes and just started laughing because stick a fork me I am so done.  Finally bent down unvelcro-ed the shoe, eased my foot out and got off the bike.  Ok, no twisting, pivoting or jumping up and down.  
Back to youtube to see if anybody posted any videos on knee pain.  To my absolute amazement the amount of content on knee pain was mind numbing!  Some are from crazy people but then I found the "Sports Injury Physio" channel, an online group of sports physiotherapists providing researched based advice for injury.  While I rode my bike I got an anatomy lesson on the knee joint and all the things that can happen, how and why.  Really great information and explained why I could ride the bike but not kick my shoes off.  Also perfect to get me to Fridays appointment with the orthopedist.  Sounds like I tore a meniscus but that is just my uneducated youtube guess.  During the pandemic so many sports therapy groups turned to YouTube because offices were shut down and facilities.  They have come up with some pretty inventive ways to keep you in physiotherapy while on lock down! 

Kind of over January and hoping February will be a bit kinder and gentler.  Just heard we can now get N95 masks free, myself I will looking for the pedestrian airbag! 
Living large for Valentine's Day and my fingers are crossed for Friday as they are one of the body parts still working. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Hit the ground running....... hello January!

I love January!  The desolation is wonderful; the wildlife move back and the humans are holed up in holiday food coma.  I try to get to the beach as often as possible, Kirby is grateful for January too. 


So much has transpired since last posting!   January is a month I try to get my ever growing "to-do" list wrangled back into something I can live with.  Clean the studio, order clay and go pick it up, annual taxes, sales tax, colonoscopy....... ya finally did that little trip.  Tried to get in right before covid hit two years ago and well we all know that story.  Then garden season hit and then show season hit and knowing my family history and my age that little voice became louder and louder about 1 AM.  So I called ....... kill me.   I have a chiropractor who has kept me vertical for 40 years.  I almost never get sick and then it's just sniffles and a day in bed takes me back to GO.  We are very lucky, I think.  

My Dad was hypochondriac and my Mom was the opposite. "you know they start poking around, they're just gonna find something."  And my Dad who drank Metamucil like Koolaid would just shake his head while she muttered under her breath:  Jesus Christ, his gonna shit himself to death.  I am a happy blend of both. 
As two years passed and that nagging voice kept yelling at me in the middle of night I was pretty sure I would be told I had terminal colon cancer, go home and put your affairs in order and we will see you on the flip side.  Yup, that is exactly where I was, so when I had my video consultation with the butt scope guy I had pretty much resigned myself to death.  The consult lasted 10 minutes, on a Friday afternoon, he was matter of fact, prescribed a "new and much better PREP", and see you on Tuesday at the clinic.  OH, Ms Miller, would you be interested in our research study?  Will it help to eliminate colonoscopies?  Perhaps.  OK I'm in.  During the call I explained I didn't eat the traditional 'merican diet of cheese, meat, fat and white bread and ate pretty clean......... except at the holidays.  So he prescribed some stuff called Su-Tabs.   Never heard of it but it was supposed to be so much better that drinking gallons of the other stuff. 

The research lab called me right away and seemed surprised I would volunteer.  You need to give blood.  Fine.  I do home renovation and garden, I give blood regularly.  Well since this is your first colonoscopy your are eligible for 3 studies.  Can you come in Monday at 8:30 am.  Sure!  Monday morning I ran up, gave 11 vials of blood, brought home a cologuard test and picked up the prescription for Su-Tabs.  When I got there she said; We found 4 other studies you qualify for.  Cool!  I would participate no matter what because I have kids and we have a family history of polyps and cancer.  Told the tech.  I want my kids to go to a drive thru;  Here sit on this and download the app.  we'll be in touch in 5 minutes.  My hope for the future and anybody who has family history.  Both arms punched, blood drawn, poop in a can and she gave me something called a clinic card with $750.  WHAAAAT?    WHAT IS THIS FOR?  My van has bumperstickers (more than one) that state loud and clear: "I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE"  The more data you have the quicker we can move this forward.  The tech said they need 125,000 people to participate and they have a hard time finding people to participate!  They thought money would be a good a motivator.  Are you kidding me?  How about your kids might be able to get a blood test to find out if they had the DNA linked to certain cancers?  I asked the tech; so science is taking a hit, even here?  She confirmed.  
 I just don't get it.  However I took the money and bought a new phone.  I had been using a hot spot and a crappy old phone that really didn't work; gonna be a game changer.  

Anyone contemplating a first time colonoscopy I don't think I'd take Su-Tabs.  First off, as I don't do Dr's and medical stuff and I don't have a GP Dr.  this was mind numbingly terrifying.  I had a midwife to deliver my babies and my labor was 10 minutes on the first and 20 minutes on the second ( and I wanted to know what was taking so long!).  Kids were born at dawn and I was home for lunch.  I hate all this stuff! 
Monday night with bruised arms, I downed 12 large pills and drank 16 oz of water.  Waited 20 minutes drank another 16 oz. Waited another 30 minutes and drank another 16 oz of water and waited and waited and waited and googled.

while drinking I decided to read the pamphlet that came with the new and improved PREP.


and so here is how it went.......

I am here now......... nothing to eat since Sunday night and scheduled for colonoscopy at 2:30 pm on Tuesday.  I am so sick I can't even talk right now.  This is the new and improved stuff, Bullshit.  Took 12 pills at 5 pm.  was supposed to kick in by 7 or 8 pm.  Well it sort of kicked in at 1:15 am... I have been up all night, bloated, chills, nausea, headache.  Took a hot shower, got on my bike at 2 am and rode like the wind for 30 minutes.  Drank hot tea, drank hot water 5 glasses.  Collapsed on the bathroom floor at 5:15 am.  Crawled downstairs at 7 am to take another 12 pills and mandatory 16 oz. of water while Kirby danced at the back door.  Suited up in hat, boots, gloves, goose down parka and rain slicker because it was -1 at 7 am.  On the way back to let the chickens out and give Kirby his morning toot I promptly threw up in the fire pit.  Hmmm no white pills just water and an awful acid taste.  Let the chickens out, Kirby face skied all over the backyard while I puked again and even better shit my pants.  I just stood there, looked up at the moon and said; Take me.  Wrangled the dog back in the house, fed the dog and ran up to burn my clothes and shower.   So on a -1 day in January I was sitting on the crapper and puking into a trash can while my clothes laid in a pile staring back at me.  Honestly I have no words but death was looking real good!  

Butch came home and drove me up to the clinic I prepared for I don't know what but wished I had eaten a handful of glitter before this butt scope!  If you're gonna die go out with sprinkles.  The one saving grace of all this......... they let me keep my alpaca socks on.  Rolled me in, I passed out and woke up 20 minutes later with a clean bill of health.  

Two years of stress just disappeared.  There were projects I had put off that are now viable.  And I have a new phone to record everything! 

Back on my bike 40 minutes everyday, filling a couple orders and I'm sitting here in our first winter storm with the wood stove burping and the coffee is hot.  The taxes are done (as I was sure I was dying).  
 Best news, I don't need to go back for 10 years and I hope it's a drive thru with an app! 

January just sort of sucks sometimes....... 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....... ding dong.......


Not my favorite brand but will do in a pinch! It is the holiday season and if you have read this blog for any length of time you know how feel about the holidays....... wake me when they are over or self medicate.  

This year is a bit different as the weather is warm, scary warm, but we are taking full advantage. 

Christmas Eve was outstanding!

We did miss the annual snowbanks to chill our drinks AND what has happened to the tradition of using the porch as a second "fridge" when storing leftovers from Christmas dinner?  This year it's no longer possible or safe with temps reaching 50' and 60's routinely.  Why is the sweet potato casserole fizzy and bubbling?  

Had the last call for mugs on Christmas Eve morning, referred her to a gallery, the studio is on break, I'm baking cookies!  I made the mistake of asking the head elf what kind of cookies he wanted this year.  He said; CUT OUT COOKIES, DECORATED!  Before I could say, NO; he walked out the door to work and waved as he backed out the driveway.  

Are you kidding, nobody has time for cut out cookies this time of the year and decorated? BaHahahahaha!  I grabbed my car keys at 7:30 am and ran to 4, yes 4 local bakeries!  Not a cut out cookie was to be found.  I returned home around noon empty handed.  Sitting down to dig thorough a dusty recipe box.  A hand printed card in blue ink was tucked in the cookie file (dated 11/79 over 40 years ago!)  a note at the end of the recipe had three red letters PIA!  (code for Pain in the Ass)  Had the royal icing recipe too.  I hate royal icing, but then these cookies could sit on the counter for months.  These cookies took me two days!  Told the head elf to keep one for posterity because I am never making these cookies again and next year, call a girl scout!  Wait, they don't even have cut out cookies!  And they taste like sawdust, IMHO but every night he cheerfully opens the the cookie jar and rations out one cookie for after dinner coffee.  Bless him but never ever again!  I used to make 12 - 20 different types of cookies in my hey day of baking frenzy, I have all my lists and can't believe I used to do this.  Those days are gone and over, pass the carrots and broccoli!   

Making cookies reminded me of the other "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" 

I love the logo!
  "Outsmarting rodents since 1898"

That's a lot of finger snapped since 1898 and how many swear words uttered on a not so silent night! 
But alas the basement has been swept clean and the feral cats must be getting old as it was a massacre the first round.  Happy to report, this mornings check yielded no lives lost and my fingers are safe today! 

Christmas is just a hurdle endured until we can resume indoor sports.  
Here we go again, insert maniacal laughing.

When I put the kitchen together I failed to put an outlet between the stove and the fridge.  Thought it would be a grand time to move the stove, check for random living things and crusts of bread.  Happy to report only cobwebs this year!  Winning!  I have an unused outlet back in the dark nether regions.  Dug out a few tools; drill, bits, hole saw to drill through the cabinet, screws, screw driver, should be pretty easy, 45 minutes tops.  
Three hours later......... the leg fell off the stove due to pushing it in and out one too many times.  Forgot a flashlight, got the wrong screws to fit the power strip and then hunting for the vise grips and several blocks of wood to prop up the stove while I adjusted the broken leg.  Never did find the proper blocks of wood and decided not to haul out the chop saw because that would lead to other projects, many projects.  And that my friends is the true Christmas miracle! That sanity took hold before I dug out all the big guns and a cloud of sawdust settled over the decorations and those damn cookies.  

Thankfully, years ago my Dad welded a stainless steel roasting pan for the Christmas beast, it weighs 10 pounds and an elephant could sit on.  

Flipping it upside down, I picked up the edge of the stove and slide the pan under with one foot.  I will be joining the circus if I can stand erect after this home project. 

 And let's discuss my assistant who is very good and standing on the toe of my shoe while I am on my knees searching for the screw that fell to the floor and rolled under the refrigerator, taking us both down.  Yup, there we were gatoring on the kitchen floor. 

The power strip also had 3 USB ports so now I have a hidden charging station.  I will build a drawer for that stuff later but this cleared a very cluttered counter! 

I don't know if he's looking for screws or cookies for doing such a great job as my assistant. 

Three hours later the stove was level, the power strip and charging station were installed and I was calling the chiropractor. 

But all in all it is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!  
There is time for hiking, reading, garden plans and just plain old sitting.......