Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009: the holiday, the knits, & the mini-meltdown

Hi everyone. I hope that Christmas 2009 was as happy and memorable for you as you had hoped. It was memorable for me in that it was the first time I cooked a holiday ham and the first in many years that I stuck around in White Cloud long enough to attend the family Christmas party with my aunt and cousins. The ham was a full sized, bone-in 16 pounder from Merindorf's. Even though it was pre-cooked, the challenge for me was to heat up a tasty ham without the use of a reliable oven and to not end up with jerky. When in White Cloud, Sylvain and I stay at my brother's house; my biggest complaint about his home is that his oven has a mind of its own -- the temperature is completely off and the door does not close completely. This doesn't bother them too much since most of their cooking is done on the stovetop and food that needs to be baked usually can fit within their large toaster oven. Armed with my roaster and a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, I was ready. I skipped the brining directions for the "Coca-cola Ham" recipe and used the instructions for the sage, parsley, and garlic rub and apple cider glaze. The ham turned out wonderfully, with everyone claiming it was the best they've ever had. I also cooked double batch of green bean casserole (using another Cook's Illlustrated recipe). For this, I needed to use the Oven From Hell, and ended up scorching the breading and French onion topping. Burnt bits aside, the casserole was fine, though the sauce did not thicken up as much as it did the last time I made this dish.

I credit Sylvain with the decision to attend my aunt's Christmas party. If I had my way, we would've high-tailed it home Saturday afternoon. Sylvain was very insistent on attending, claiming that he wanted to hang-out with my cousins and their kids. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I remember these get togethers being, with me managing to avoid conversation with the cousins that I cannot stand (there are 7 of us, afterall). Also, I was able to unload an untouched batch of scorched green bean casserole.

Okay, so now the knits: the felted slippers were well liked by everyone that received them. I decided to go ahead and felt the clogs in advance of giving them out rather than gifting them unfelted with felting directions. Only my brother's pair looked a little large and in need of additional shrinking, but I can easily accomplish that while at his house. Photos of all of these slippers can be found on my Ravelry project page. I was sure to take before and after felting measurments, and will update the project notes with those details this weekend....Anyways, I fell a little short on completing the two pairs of Prairie Boots, with Jaime's pair in need of buttons and slipper bottoms and Payton's pair needing a whole second boot. I was able to knit 3/4 of the remaining boot on Christmas Eve, but still fell short of the finishing for either. Jaime's pair was finished today (New Year's Eve), but Payton's are on the top of my list of projects for this weekend.

So for the mini-meltdown part -- after packing up the car on Sunday, I couldn't get the trunk closed. I had been hoping to stop by my friend Rachel's farm while on our way out of town and was running late. Trying to rearrange items in the back so that everything would fit, I was getting angrier by the minute each time I tried to close the trunk that I started slamming it harder with the hopes of it magically latching. Realizing that the locking mechanism wasn't even engaging, I was thoroughly pissed off, so stomped back inside to have my brother (who can fix anything and everything, except his oven) come out and make it all better. After a few tries, it became apparent that even he couldn't seem to immediately figure out what was wrong. Still pretty steamed and convinced that the trunk was way too full, I started grabbing stuff out of the trunk to place in the back seat. Filling one armload, I stomped over to the passenger-side rear door.....tried to fling open the door, but ended up flinging my arm in the air with the door handle in hand!?! Standing there stunned, the noise I heard come from my throat can best be described as that noise that Snoopy makes when annoyed.

Since it was a clean break, Sam has convinced me that we should be able to glue it back on, so I'm going to give that a shot before shelling out the several hundred dollars I'm sure the repair shop will be happy to charge me. We next decided to try going through the back seat so that we could get a good look at what is going on with the locking mechanism, causing the trunk to not latch properly. Still upset about the door handle, Sam and Sylvain stayed outside to fix the trunk. Only Sam will truly know what the problem really was, but whatever it was, he was able to get the trunk latch back into working order.

With the car packed, Sylvain and I were finally on our way. We hung out with Rachel for a couple of hours, then decided to head home. The roads were quite slippery, so our normal 1 1/2 hour drive took an extra hour. Sunday night was a busy one for us since we needed to unpack our gifts, do laundry, and repack our bags for our family holiday ski trip to Shanty Creek.

We had great ski weather during our trip; Chuck and Sylvain took every chance they could to be on the slopes, so were out til 10 pm Monday and Tuesday nights and right up until we left on Wednesday. The ski equipment that I was using was from Sylvain when he was 12 years old. The first day, the boots seemed to fit okay, but the second day, I couldn't bear to put them on, and ended up renting a pair. I hated doing that because I'm such a cheap-skate, but there was no way around it.

We're home now and are getting ready to ring in the New Year. Chuck's in the kitchen, whipping up some snacks; Sylvain's on the PS3, playing a video game with his friends (who are at their respective homes -- isn't the Internet great sometimes?); and as soon as I'm finished with this, I'll join Chuck to "supervise". Happy New Year everyone and I hope that 2010 is a great year for you all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

And, tell me, exactly how does that happen?!?

The tale I have for you today is Sylvain's personal FML story. Let me say first and up-front that I love my son dearly. I am very proud of him and couldn't have a better son. But, honestly, this kid does not have the best luck when it comes to performing in concerts.

2004-05: (Fifth Grade Strings) This first year of his musical adventure included one catastrophe and one close call. Every February, the Okemos Music Patrons host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser during which the school district's different orchestras perform in the school hallways and cafeteria as diners browse artwork displayed in the halls or enjoy the dinner. While on his way into the school, Sylvain tripped and fell on top of his bass, breaking its bridge. Since this event is hosted at the high school, there was not a 1/8 size bass for him to play, so he missed this performance.

During the spring concert that year, his orchestra performed the "Pink Panther" theme song while his teacher wandered onto the stage dressed in a Pink Panther costume. Yes, it's weird, and I don't really know why that particular song was chosen. But, there I was, sitting helplessly in the audience as said teacher sashayed onto the stage tail in hand. While swinging the costume's tail, she quickly turned and knocked Sylvain's bass out of his hands. Gasping, I clutched my chest in wide-eyed terror as I waited for the bass to clatter onto the stage floor. Sylvain managed to grab it with lightening-quick speed; and as I let out my the air blocked in my chest, I heard others around me do the same. I looked over to my friend Sue who was sitting next to me and we both couldn't believe what we had just seen. And, no, his teacher did not even notice.

2009: (Freshman Orchestra) So, flash-forward to Wednesday evening. We arrived at the school early for Sylvain's winter concert. The kids were asked to be there in advance so that yearbook pictures could be taken. While that was occurring in the auditorium, I hung out in the hallway with the other parents and talked. It seemed like it had been a long time since I had seen some of the other parents, since I am no longer as active of a volunteer as I had been. We were finally allowed to come into the auditorium 15 minutes before the concert was to begin. I took my seat and saved one for Chuck. Thinking that it was odd that he wasn't at the school yet, I checked my phone to see if he called (since my phone had long-since been turned to "silent") and saw that there were 3 missed calls.

All were from Sylvain. Phoning him back, he quickly answered and said frantically, "Mom, where are you? " I explained that we were just let into the aud, he replied, "I need you out in the hallway. Hurry."

I found him nonchalantly leaning agains the wall with both hands firmly in his pockets. While his body-language attempted to say "Mr. Cool Cucumber here", his face told a completely different story.

Walking up to him, "What's wrong?" I asked confused as to what the problem could possibly be. "Look," he urgently mumbled and gestured downwards. As he did so, he slighly relaxed his hands and showed me that his pants had come completely apart. "I went to the bathroom and as I was walking out, I hear a rip. PLEASE get me out of here!" he continued.

Mouth agape, it took me a half-second to realize what had happened and to register the pleading look in his eyes. I quickly put my arm around him and ushered him out of the door. Thankfully, I had put my keys in my pants pocket, so we rushed to the car to head home to quickly change his pants. While on the way, he kept repeating, "I don't think that anyone saw me. I don't think that anyone saw me." He then phoned a friend who was in orchestra and asked him to place his bass on stage for him. "Don't worry about where I'm at. Please just do it."

We were back at the school in 20 minutes flat. I dropped him off by the door and left to park the car because by then I had lost my primo parking spot. When I returned to the auditorium, I stood in the back with the late-arriving parents and was able to catch the end of the Freshman Orchestra's last song. Once it was over, I quickly returned to my seat and waved the inquiring look of my friend Karthy with whom I was originally sitting with. Looking on stage for Sylvain, I saw him walking off stage with his bass and along with the other bass players. During the set change, I leaned over to Karthy and told her what had happened. Having two sons, she fully understood and just looked over at me as we both started to laugh at the whole ridiculous situation. I asked her how bad Sylvain looked as he scrambled onto the stage and she said she didn't even notice. And that's with us being seated in the 3rd row on stage right (where the basses usually are placed).

When we finally returned home after the concert, I inspected the pants to see what had happened. The seam came apart from the zipper all the way to the waistband in back. Lucky for Sylvain, his tuxedo jacket covered his rear enough so that he could focus his concern with keeping the front of his pants together. No amount of safety pins were going to help him. Sure, I could have taken the time to search out his teacher, but was afraid of potentially exposing his situation to a crowd of people.

Sylvain also clued me in that he managed to sneak on stage as the Concert Orchestra (sophomores) were bringing out their instruments, so he ended up not even being able to play a single note!

Yes, folks, Sylvain was literally standing in his high school hallway, minutes away from performing in front of a room full of classmates and parents in pants that fully exposed his boxers. For all intents and purposes, his pants had disintegrated into a pair of polyester chaps within a matter of seconds. Isn't this at some point every person's nightmare? And what would you have done?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh, holy Hell!

So, to continue with last night's rant: I received a bill today for the replacement of the public library magazines. Seeing how they are only $5 a piece, I'm going to give myself until the end of this weekend to find them; and, if that fails, will put my tail between my legs and pay the replacement fees.

I renewed my search after work this afternoon, and just to give y'all a taste of what I'm up against, check this out: I was looking in a bedroom and a little voice in the back of my head said, "check under the bed, check under the bed." Thinking at best, I'd find one of the missing items, dust-covered, but safe; and at worst, I'd find nothing. Well, here's what I found and, needless to say, none where the books and magazines I've been looking for!

I'm sure that it made total sense to Chuck to do this and I will need to have a discussion with him about why this was necessary when he gets home. But for now, the search continues......

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm losing it, folks

I'm writing this out of pure and total frustration. I've been losing things left and right lately. And, no particular offense to my library friends and other bibliophiles, but the hot items for me to lose right now are books and magazines.

I'm on my second notice for an overdue book and stack of magazines from the public library.

I'm throwing in the towel in searching both the home office and the office office for two other books from the campus library and am going to pay for the replacement of these items. (To the tune of at least $75 each, mind you.)

Now, I've spent the past hour tearing the house apart looking for the aforementioned library materials, but also for the next two book club books that I bought early in November. Yep, I can't find those either.

Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly neat person. Sure, if you're looking for dust, you'll likely find it in a few spots; and I have my favorite spot for clutter. But, I'm a far cry from those poor folks on Hoarders!

During this search, just when I got to the absolute peak of frustration, I found the one public library book. But the rest? I truly hope I don't need to reach that same level of anxiety for each item. I will surely be in rough shape by weekend's end, if that's the case.

So, wish me luck and keep a good eye on where you set down your book.

[Oh, yeah, in case you're keeping a count on the clogs: pair #6 are now done; and I'm going to take a few days hiatus to knit-up my coworker's Christmas stockings.....]