Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cookies for Dinner

I suppose I could do something constructive with my day, like pick up my gold sandals that have been sitting by the kitchen table for the past week, or pay bills, or do a load of laundry. Can you tell that it is my day off?

Instead, I am waxing nostalgic and making Christmas cookies. The holidays, like I mentioned in an earlier post, can bring out the best and worst in people. Many people look forward to the comfort that tradition brings, others dread the anticipation and anxiety that comes with "if we don't do this it is not (insert random holiday here.)" Stress, hand wringing, and hair twisting ensue and you might as well say, "Baby Jesus cannot come if we don't make pistachio jell-o salad with the little marshmallows for Christmas dinner." Hello, He's already arrived and is standing right next to you in his omnisicient, omnipresent glory. What part of "Lo, I am with you always, until the very end of the age." don't you understand? I admit, I still struggle with it, especially when I am making Christmas cookies by myself.

I could probably survive Christmas with a box of cookies from the Keebler elves, but it just wouldn't be the same. I will readily admit I survived Thanksgiving without the requisite Turkey Day appetizers of vegetable dill dip and a shrimp mold made with tomato soup and cream cheese; however, I did loudly complain about it to two people: my mother and The Rev. I normally don't label my family traditions with a value, but Christmas cookies were such a part of my childhood that it would not feel the same if I didn't make a batch of Animal Cookies or press Springerle. I have the dough for the Animal Cookies chilling in the fridge right now, and this afternoon I will cut them out with cookie cutters that are just like my mom's. I found them on ebay, and I hope she knows that I think of her every time I use the one shaped like a Christmas tree. Later tonight, they will get frosted and sprinkled with colored sugar. They will sit in a holiday tin and I will probably eat no more than two this entire holiday season, but they will make me recall frosting cookies at the kitchen table when I was little, my mother's hands covered in flour, the little kid anticipation of wrapped presents under a tree, the security of home.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back to Carpoolin'

"I love driving you to work. It gives me a chance to talk to you."

"Why did you go this way?"

"Oh, right, I forgot school started again today."

"You should have gone the other way."

"Right, anyway, tonight I need you to help me get the Christmas decorations down from the attic."

"I can do that. Why are you getting on the interstate? I'll never get to work on time."

"I was got lost in our conversation and thinking about all the stuff I have to do."

"You need to turn right when we get to Felicita."

"I will, honey, now, back to Christmas decorations..."

"I'm going to try to start baking tomorrow night when I get home from work and finish them on Wednesday morning...Felicita is right there, you are getting back onto the Interstate."

"What is wrong with my brain?"

"Are you sure you actually like driving me to work, or are you just using it as an excuse to hold me hostage in the car all day?"

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How to get under my skin #1

Puke up a hairball the size of Iowa for the second time this week.

And you pick the exact same spot as last time--on a chair.

Friday, November 24, 2006


We had fried turkey yesterday. I may live in California, but I don't have to eat like I do. Today, I ate a pita stuffed with turkey, bean sprouts, and an avocado. The influence is creeping in and I don't mind, because I slathered the pita with mayonnaise before I ate it.

It was good.

Now that I think about it, I should have put bacon on it.

Thank goodness there are still leftovers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Be thankful, and not just for turkey

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and the one thing I will never get used to about living in California is not having a house full of people on Turkey Day. My job prevents my usual three day preparation for such an event, coupled with the fact that our relatives are so far flung that any visit would require a trip on an airplane or a really long car drive. Given that we all know what airports are like during holidays, I would not wish that on anyone, especially my mother. I really miss cramming twenty-two people into the little parsonage on I-65, and if I ever have the opportunity to cram twenty-two people into the half house off the I-15, you will be hearing from me.

This year we will be going to someone's house for Thanksgiving, and we are bringing pies, cornbread dressing, and a fried turkey. We purchased four turkeys today, in a salute to our American gluttony and our thankfulness, and so The Rev. can be kept in turkey through the winter. I am not sure what events will present themselves this year that will require the cooking of a twenty-six pound turkey, but I am sure you will be reading about it in the very near future.

This week also marks the beginning of the Christmas rush for retailers. My full time, bill paying job is in the wonderful world of retail. Given that this week is the beginning of what I can only describe as a free fall descent into consumerist spending, fueled by buckets of coffee, sugar, and adrenaline, I am using the next few days to mentally prepare myself for a four week onslaught that will show me both the best and worst of humanity. Keep me in your prayers. The day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas are the worst, but I am going to do my best to make sure that those two days, along with all of the days sandwiched in between are happy and positive, not only for myself, but for all of my employees. Again, keep me in your prayers. I know the season is not about the latest toy, a great pair of jeans, or a sweater, but some people do. Keep them in your prayers.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

31 Years

I turned 31 yesterday. I asked my father for an outstanding memory of me from the past 31 years, and he told me he would have to get back to me. I will probably get a response sometime next year, closer to my 32nd birthday. My nieces and nephews all called to wish me a happy birthday, as did the parents and a few other far flung relatives.

The Rev. bought me an IPod for my birthday, a request I had made in passing a few months ago, and it was a nice surprise, considering I thought I might receive a puppy, or replacement for Minnie Pearl (may she rest in peace). It is the size of a stick of gum on steroids, and The Rev. and I have had to practice our sharing skills. I downloaded a few pieces of Bach for him, and a few other downloads that have surprised him to thinking that my taste in music is not so bad after all. I had to remind him that I grew up in the eighties. If it doesn't have a synthesizer in it, I just can't appreciate it.

Owning an IPod means that you have to download music. I wanted the very first piece of music to be significant. And all I could do was stare at it and wonder what I should pick. A hymn? Something from A-ha? That was the first tape I ever received as a birthday present. I think that was for my 11th or 12th birthday, which was the same year I received a Swatch watch from my parents and a turquoise purse from my grandparents in Michigan. I thought about a classical piece, or a Dave Matthews song, in a nod to my early twenties when I thought I was a grown up because I had a full time job, an apartment, and a car. The Lord could have come any day, because in my eyes, I had already arrived.

I chose "Over the Rainbow." No, not the one sung by Judy Garland. I chose a contemporary version by Israel Kamakawiw'ole. I chose it for two reasons. One, it has an upbeat tempo and whimsical, Hawaiian flair to it. It makes me happy. Two, I sang the Judy Garland arrangement with my class on kindergarten graduation day. I wore a light green and white dress with butterfly sleeves and white socks and sandals. I can still see the cafeteria at St. Rose Primary school on the River Road near Destrehan whenever I hear the song. I graduated kindergarten 25 years ago, and there are days that I still want to be able to color in the lines, take a nap, and have a snack. Tying my shoes came way later for me. Ask my mother.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Calling it like he sees it

Scene: The Rev. and I are getting ready to make a run to the grocery store. The Rev. steps back inside to retrieve his wallet and I make preparations to lock the door. Once we are outside, I realize I am still wearing my bright pink slippers:

PC: "Oh, good night, I am still wearing my houseshoes. Didn't even realize it."

Rev: "That is so white trash, wearing your slippers in public.

PC: "Here, let me grab my gold and sequin flip flops."

Rev: "That is maybe half a step better."

PC: "Don't be jealous."


Yes, I know, Advent does not officially start until after Thanksgiving, but here at the coop we are trying to turn over a new leaf and shrug off dull sloth. We tried to shrug off dull sloth a few years ago when we didn't send out Christmas cards and then made it a New Year's Resolution to send them at the end of that new year. We got them sent out that year, and even bragged about shrugging off aforementioned dull sloth.

We promptly forgot that resolution as soon as we pasted the last stamp to the last envelope, and the following year we didn't send out Christmas cards.

You can only backslide so many years, and if I recall, last year many of you received Christmas cards. We usually like to send out homemade cards, complete with a hymn verse from the venerable, red, Lutheran hymnal, and that probably contributed to our delinquency in sending out Christmas cards. Last year I swallowed my pride, bought cards, and felt guilty the entire time. Many of you know the feelings I have toward boxed brownie mix. You can only imagine my distress at the thought of sending out a card that somebody else made. Tragic.

Today I mentioned to The Rev. that we should get a jumpstart on Christmas cards, especially since we both have the day off and can devote some time to it. Forget laundry, cleaning, and running errands. I can always postpone housework for craft time. We thought of an idea, and I would consider it semi-homemade. The Rev. will be doing a simple calligraphy on each one, but we will be cheating and using a rubber stamp to get the effect we want for the message. We figure if we do a couple a day, we should be all set when Christmas card exchange time is at its peak.

Now I have a request. Many of my addresses have been lost/misplaced/forgotten in our move. If you would like to receive one of our special, semi-homemade Christmas cards, email me your address. I would love to send you a Christmas greeting. Mom and Dad, I do know your address, so don't worry. Joel, brother, don't say a word.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Birth Month

I turn 31 next week. In keeping that I have forgotten several holidays and birthdays these past months, I think it quite fitting that I forgot my own birthday. I also realized this morning that Thanksgiving is in a few weeks, and given that Christmas decorations are already up and lit at several stores around town, I think most of the world has forgotten that holiday, too.

The joke in our house is that November is my birth month, and The Rev. has opportunities all month to buy me presents. We are six days in and I have not received one, and given that we are both working on my birthday, it might as well be celebrated in January, when we both have a little more breathing room. We made a quasi-big deal about my 30th birthday last year, but this year just brings me one more year close to 40. And we still don't have any children. And we still need to work on the house. And my student loan is a little closer to being paid in full.

I have liked being thirty, with all the neuroses and developments and traumas and issues of my teens and twenties behind me and the road to maturity well paved before me, but I still secretly think that all adults are grown up children, but cheating on your taxes (or your spouse, for that matter) has a far worse consequence than cheating on an algebra test.

I needn't wring my hands and bewail my state, but a little respite from the hustle and bustle would be nice. I am learning the importance of patience. I am learning that differences are good, but having the same goal is even better. I am learning the wisdom that comes with age, but I am still immature when it comes to putting it into practice.

Call it being a work in progress, I guess.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In keeping with forgetting anniversaries, birthdays, and other special events...

The Rev. and I are notorious for forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone events. We are godparents to many, and we neglect all of them. We are children and siblings, and we forget which set of parents or which brother or sister had a birthday or an anniversary. I do say my prayers for my godchildren, that they will remain steadfast in their faith and that guardian angels will watch over them, but they will probably never get a birthday card. Terrible, I know. Call it a weakness of the flesh: laziness, dull sloth, apathy. Our intentions are always good, but if I dig in my planner deep enough, I will probably find a few thank you notes that have never been mailed, along with a belated birthday card for a nephew's third birthday. I think he will be eight in April. Maybe it is May. See what I mean?

I forgot it was Halloween yesterday, until a trick or treater walked into my store and chirped, "Twick or Tweat, peas." Fortunately, we had some candy in the backroom, and that tided us until I could run to the grocery store and buy 22 bags of chocolate to pass out to the horde of goblins, devils, ballerinas, spacemen, and witches that traipsed through our door. The Rev. had meetings last night, so he wasn't home to pass out candy, which is probably a good thing because he would have been forced to pass out the stale candycanes that had been sitting in a candydish since last Christmas. If it had gotten really bad, he could have resorted to the colored sprinkles I use to decorate cakes and cookies. Sugar is sugar. People ask how I stay thin and I think I have discovered why. I buy candy and junk, but I am never home to eat it.

God is good, however, and because I am redeemed and always working on my sanctification, I will celebrate All Saint's Day today. On time as the calendar shows it to be. And because today is All Saint's Day, and since we were not able to celebrate Reformation on Sunday as we would have preferred, I am cooking pork and red cabbage for dinner tonight. I have never cooked pork and red cabbage, but I will figure it out. I am not so comfortable in my Christian freedom to say that I am celebrating a belated Halloween, but two festivals in one day will do.

Happy All Saint's, everybody. Don't go looking for a card in the mail.