1-6-2016 Cuddle Up Day

OK, now we’ve had snow, and it’s cold. The holidays are over and we can get on with everything else. I’ve taken the ornaments off the lighted tree- still haven’t gotten to the home-made ornament tree, or the cookie tree. I’ve only just finished baking up all the cookie dough. This year I pretty much made it a batch at a time as guests came in, so I never got around to getting a picture of the ones I’d made this year. Here’s a list of what I made- Wishing Stars, Russian Balls, Candy Cane cookies, Finnish Butter Cookies, Gingerbread men, Krumkakes, Cinnamon Horns, Ganesha’s treats, Lokis, Mint Trees, Fattigman, Peppermint brownies, Apricot spirals, & Coconut Macaroons.  So that’s 14 kinds. I made an effort to make fewer, so that’s not too bad. I also did make Lucia Buns, mince pies, apple pie, some sweet breads, the Plum pudding(s) and Rice Pudding. And made candied fruit peel. So that’s not too bad.
Having had our first snowfall, we considered the possibility of starting to teach the kittens to stay off the tables (our technique is tossing them in the snowbank), but the snow simply subsided into a one inch deep sheet of ice, so that option is off the table. Mostly now we are trying to break it up and melt it before the real snow comes and there’s a sheet of us underneath.
The kittens are settling in. Zoloft and Peri have occasionally touched noses with them, and don’t hiss at them so much. Names continue to be in flux. They may become Ambian and Xanex (anti-anxiety, as opposed to anti-depression medications), or Amber and Snowflake Obsidian (although that latter designation is falling by the wayside), or Crukshanks and Pyewacket.  We will have to eventually settle, but so far, it doesn’t seem important. Right now they are playing “pawball” with a puffball made of yarn (I don’t recognize), and are being absolutely adorable! Sadly, my camera has run out of battery and I can’t find the charger, so I can’t share how cute they are.

For New Years Eve we had our usual “FeastDSC02328 of Small Foods”. Basically, it’s hors d’ouvres- nothing but: bacon puffs, mini dogs in “blankets”, chicken wings, chips and seven layer dip, egg rolls, pizza bites, popcorn chicken, some cheese and crudites, cookies, (fortune cookies) cheesecake,  We made only one or two of each per person, so we still have lots of that stuff ready for the “anti-Superbowl party”.  We were so “low key” we didn’t bother with fireworks and went to bed around 10. (or retired to our computers).

Joyful plans  For New Years Day I made ribs. I thought the package I bought was a single layer, but it was apparently a double layer, which I would have probably realized if I were more familiar with the food. When putting them in, however, I discovered that it was twice as many as expected, so we had a LOT of leftovers, which we’ve been eating ever since. The pantry is quite as good as a walk-in refrigerator, and we are gradually getting through all our holiday leftovers. (oh, I finished a box of freezer bags, and there was a coupon at the bottom. Sadly for me, it expired… in 1992.
New Years is a traditional time for divination, so we brought out the toys and played with them a bit. I recorded the readings for a 12 card for the upcoming year spread- but those usually make more sense after the month has passed.
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Saturday was Science Fiction Day. I think it was the day when Avi needed someone to watch her kids, and they came over. Kittens were a treat that took up at least an hour, then Willow brought down the bin of Harry Potter themed legos, and that kept them interested for the rest of the day! DSC02330I had forgotten what incredible sets those legos were- winding staircases, trap doors, all the characters from Hagrid to Dobby (of course, having several sets, we have a huge number of Harrys, Rons, and Hermiones). So when I went into the kitchen I put the movie on, and have watched a couple or three of them. Good movies.

Sunday, (Professor J.R.R.Tolkien Day) Steve came up and he, Willow and I went over and watched the new Star Wars Movie. I really liked it. I do wonder if part of the reason that I like it is because it reminded me so much of the first ones. We all noticed that not only were the old characters back- same actors in the same roles, and physical bits (like the board from the “let the wookie win” scene) but many of the tropes were the same. I don’t know how they’d play to the younger viewers, but I freaking loved them! For some reason neither Kat nor John cared to come, so when we got back, Kat had dinner ready for us, and that’s lovely.
The internet has been buzzing with people complaining because the actors got old. Well, DUH! It’s been 39 years! (“When you 800 years have seen, look this good you will not!”) I blogged about what idiots they are. Not one of my best, but oh well. Mostly I’ve been zoning out by the computer- I need to get back to getting things done. (I have a pile of mending to get to!)

DSC02332  I finally got around to making Mince Pies- sadly, after everyone stopped visiting, so I’ve mostly eaten them myself. Luckily, it turns out that I like them.

I’d planned on making them as simple tarts, but googled “mince pie” images. That’s where I got the idea of putting a star on top. Most of the pictures were more regular, but I was doing it really quickly. (To be honest, I then looked over at Pinterest and lost several hours looking at pictures of gorgeous food. And medieval stuff. It’s a dangerous site. I also put up pictures of all my wafer irons. It’s easy to just keep looking at the gorgeous images on Pinterest.)
When I posted the picture of the mince pies on fb, I was asked to post the recipe. I used one where they added orange juice and zest, and a dab of a cheesecake type filling. It sounded good, but the ones without were just as good. I also added a picture of using the “tart tamper”, a $4 wooden stick that turns the job of making the tarts into a really easy one. I was amused that using thDSC02333e serrated biscuit cutter to cut the circles, resulted in the serrations pointing up after tamping the circles of dough in.   Neat! I love having the right tool for the job!

I have started taking down the Christmas decorations- I have disrobed the first tree, which was different since this year I did it “on time” and it’s still fragrant and soft. Now it is waiting to be clipped apart and stuffed into bags to be turned into fire starters. Since it’s not dry, I expect it will have to sit in the bags until March or so. Sadly, I broke two ornaments- there was a strange ceramic kitten in a blown glass stocking that I don’t remember getting. When the kittens became interested in the ornaments dangling from the bottom of the tree, I didn’t move that one up because it seemed sturdy, but the heel broke off it, and we don’t think we can fix it- although we may be able to save the ceramic kitten part. Then while putting the ornaments back in the boxes, I dropped the matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) ornament and it shattered. Most of our ornaments are because they remind us of something we did, or the kids liked. Kat was very fond of the nesting dolls when she was little. I am afraid that now that it’s gone we’ll forget that. And I didn’t even have a picture of that one. A year or so ago I took pictures of “most” of my ornaments. Why I think I’m more likely to have the pictures last than the glass ornaments, I don’t know. But it’s worth a shot, eh?

Yesterday, Willow and I went over to the Verizon store  got new phones. ooh! I could take pictures of the kittens with my new phone! OK- I figured out how to work the camera, but not how to get the pictures out. Sigh. When we got home, I plugged the camera in, since it wasn’t charged, and got up this morning and thought I’d check the charge. It was still at 2% or something like that. So I got on the computer and tried to reach Apple Support to ask them what to do. Sadly all they do is run you through options and finally say “we’ll call you”. They called. Their automatic system said press one for help and two for something else. But our old land-line, while it has buttons, when you press them, what you hear is the click click click of a dial phone. Not tone. Apple support says “We must have missed you. We’ll call back in 10 minutes.” There was no option for reaching a human. At all. I got call backs every 10 minutes until about 3 pm. I tried again, this time going through the chat room. This time I got a helpful person and she suggested plugging the phone into the computer. If you have ever charged your phone by plugging it into the computer, this may seem obvious to you. Not having had one before, it was not to me. If you connect a computer with the phone by a usb cable, I could expect them to talk to each other, but charge? Never would have occurred to me. As with any other symbol set, when you know it, it makes sense. Until you do, not so much. OK, so I have a smart phone now. I have used it to take a picture of kittens. I have gotten the fb app so I can put said pictures on my facebook page. This only took me about FOUR HOURS. And to use it I have to sign in- and I haven’t got the trick of touching the tiny spaces with my fingers so I have to back up and do over again and again. Sigh. I try to remind myself that this technology is a wonderful thing and I will be happy with it once I get used to it. I suppose our grandmothers felt the same way about electric stoves. (Personally, I’m still not happy with electric stoves.) I suppose it might have taken less time if I could have just asked the girls instead of trying to do it myself like an adult. But today the girls went up to Vermont to get acupuncture, so I was on my own.
I worked on the letter some and made stew as a more satisfying alternative to the Pizza we’ve been having on the nights when I have a podcast. (On the other hand, I did sign up a guest for next week!)  John and I put away the holly pattern dishes, and brought out the snowflake patterned dishes. (Sadly, we’re down to three of each of the glasses and cups. I suppose I should take them to the recycling center and let people who only need two take them. We put away scads of Christmas dishes, tablecloths and napkins, wreaths, ornaments, and I am appalled at how much we have.Tonight, lacking a guest, I talked about the underlying principles of divination on the New Normal.

This week I’ve mostly finished the Christmas books I’ve been reading. Christmas in Mexico was fun, Christmas in Belgium and Greece were far better than I’d expected. The last in the series is Christmas in the Phillipines, and I’m having a hard time getting into it. There’s something that seems so wrong about it. I didn’t mind the tropical ways of celebrating the holidays in the south, but the cover picture has a picture of a little Phillipino girl with a large caucasian doll. This just screams out to me colonialism, and forcing “our ways” on the “little brown people”. Damnit, you don’t need to be one of the oppressed to know that that’s so wrong! We had no right to make them adopt our language, our architecture, our clothing styles, our religion, etc., etc.. I know that the people who did it thought that they were helping, but that only calls into question everything that people do that they think is helping! Facebook is full of stories of people beating and shooting people because they don’t believe in God (correctly). No, it’s wrong. People can believe whatever they believe, as long as they don’t harm others because of those beliefs. Admittedly, there will always be discussions about what constitutes greater harm, but we can aim at our best attempt. I realize the missionaries were trying to save “damned souls”, and offering them the chance at literacy and what they hoped was a better life. But since it went hand-in-hand with so much exploitation, and the degradation they used as “motivation” was sickening, I find it hard to believe that they never had any second thoughts.  But then, I could be wrong. Since the DAESH are sure that they are right in trying to glorify their god with acts of violence, clearly people can believe some pretty harsh stuff.

In the News- I don’t know about elsewhere, but facebook is full of memes making fun of the idiots who are taking over the wildlife refuge and asked people to bring them snacks (and guns). That’s pretty funny. I watched a TED talk about Boyan Slat who’s cleaning up the oceans by placing collectors in the various gurges and letting them bring the plastic and other crap to the collectors, then selling it off to be recycled. Not just cleaning, but making money at it! Pretty cool! And less than a month left until the politicians start ignoring New Hampshire. I’m psyched!

Tchipakkanwinter haiku