08 December 2010

17 Days Before Christmas

It was a fairly busy day while I made certain some things were caught up, and finished an order.

Nevertheless, there was lunch and after work to get things done.

I managed to get about thirteen gifts wrapped. It's a mixed bag, one gift for one person in one family, two in another family, and all of James' as well, until I ran out of time.

I also took the little "peppermint tree," which is a small tree in a Santa boot that is about eight inches high and decorated with candy canes and red-and-white striped balls, and put it on one of the shelves in the kitchen. I then quickly cleaned the accumulated dust off the refrigerator. We have a bunch of what could be useful stuff on top of the fridge—plastic drinks jugs, mugs, and water bottles—that we're just not using right now. James or I could put them in those useless half-cupboards that are over the refrigerator, but neither of us can reach into them. Instead, I used the "Gopher," one of those "grabby things" with the long handle, to transfer them into the cupboard. Now the only thing up there are the two extra tea pitchers, the small food processor, and the food scale.

This gave me enough room to put a little Christmas decoration at the top, a Santa mug with Christmas picks and candy canes in it. I've always wanted to do that, and never had the room.

While I was working I listened to an episode of "Travels With Rick Steves" which was half about Christmas in Wales and half about sheep raising and sheepdogs in Wales. Rick's guest sang "Deck the Halls" in Welsh (at least the music from "Deck the Halls"—the Welsh words were different) and talked about Welsh customs like the Mari Llwd. Later the shepherd was demonstrating the whistles he used to control the sheepdogs. Schuyler was going crazy at the whistles, hopping from perch to perch and chirping back.

This evening, since I did not have a chance to do it last night, I watched The Waltons episode "Day of Infamy," which I always do on Pearl Harbor day. It's funny; I wasn't even there, I just heard my mom's stories, but when they announce the attack and then play all the news bulletins, the hair on my arms rises up and I get goosepimples.

Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas, John Baxterjavascript:void(0)
John Baxter was born in Australia into a era when that country was known for its unimaginative, blah food. Australian vineyards had barely been heard from, and all they were known for foodwise was the "Pavlova," a sugary fruit dessert, and Peach Melba. As he began to travel he also learned the rudiments of better cooking, but it wasn't until he fell in love with a French woman and moved to France that he learned to appreciate fine dining and drinking.

This is the story of Baxter's acceptance of a challenge: to feed his wife's family at their annual Christmas dinner. Baxter's preparations begin months before, as he conceives a menu and then slowly begins gathering the items for the feast: oysters, bought months ahead of time and kept in a tank; the order of a suckling pig that he plans to cook in Cajun fashion, and more. This is a delightful, often humorous book, not just talking of French cooking, but of the French attitude to life, holidays, and, of course, food.

I bought this on a whim off the bargain table and am glad I did. Highly recommended if you love international travel or are a "foodie."

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