Sunday, December 30, 2007

Live Long and Prosper

Saturday, Dec. 22
Drive to Appleton. Some rain spatters down, and the phone tag with Mom in the middle of Chicago traffic stoppages is diverting, but the big story is the dense fog in the Wisconsin night. It feels as though dementors are breeding out there, though I don't feel sad.
Get reacquainted with Ruthie. She won't let me hold her yet, but she smiles at me and bounces on her Mama's lap. Parents finally arrive from the hotel, and when Ruth is in bed we eat Mom's gumbo. It is delicious, and she does not get kicked off the island. I begin reading The Golden Compass.

Sunday, Dec. 23
It snows. A lot.
I spend some time with Ruth in the morning and get her acceptance, so get to hold her. We play on the floor quite a bit, and I try to teach her to crawl.
Later, Mom and I go get groceries for my guest chef night. I plan a pork roast, with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and (gulp) boxed scalloped potatoes decided on in the store (my own scalloped potatoes have never worked, and, as my Mom points out, there is absolutely nothing wrong with boxed potatoes).
When it is time for me to cook, the directions go like clockwork, although a minor hitch with the food processor sets me behind by about half an hour, and I need my mother's assistance to monitor the squash.
When dinner is ready, we sit down. The roast, crusted with basil-caraway-mustard-parmesan, is good and moist; the mustard sauce is hardly necessary, but also tastes interesting, if strong. The potatoes rock. I find I don't care if anyone else enjoys the squash or not, because I need that sort of palate-cleansing normal taste with the flavor of everything else. I do not get kicked off the island.

Monday, Dec. 24
At this point, life is falling into a pattern; we get up one by one, I come down to find Sarah with Ruth, I take over and play with Ruth for a bit, our parents arrive, they play with Ruth, she goes to bed and we eat lunch (today it is sandwiches made by Dave; I hear they have mustard smileys in them), we take naps and read and so on, we get up after Ruth's nap and play with her some more....etc.
Tonight, though, we go to church. We all get glammed up, and go to the local First United Methodist Church, where we enjoy a pleasant service. Ruth likes the handbells, but grandma takes her out for the sermon when she gets restless. At one point, though, I swear she makes a kiss face close to grandma's cheek. The sermon is funny, and I manage to keep my church giggles to a low ebb.
For dinner, we have Dave's stroganoff, which is creamy and hot and makes me very sleepy indeed. Dave does not get kicked off the island. It is Christmas Eve, though, so we also put out the presents and close the stockings away where the cats can't get them. My sister and I also decorate the tree and make the cranberry sauce for tomorrow's big event.

Tuesday, Dec. 25
Christmas. Eventually, we are all gathered together, safe and warm. I think this is the day when Dave makes a great breakfast, with eggs, sausage, bread, cinnamon rolls, and so on. Actually, it's brunch, and we all leave the table stuffed. So, we unstuff our stockings. This is Ruth's first stocking, and she has a great time chewing on everything that comes out of hers, including her special baby food desserts (in their packages...though she is learning how to work the spoon, and will take it out of the hand of whomever is feeding her. She is particularly fond of orange squash, which I cannot relate to.).

Once she's in bed for her nap, we begin the presents in earnest, setting Ruth's giant pile aside for later. This process takes forever, and by the time Ruth is up we all still have a pile to open, but we do some of hers, so I finally get to hand over Paddington Bear, all the way from London.

Eventually, Christmas dinner must be cooked, so presents go on hiatus until tomorrow. Mom and I pitch in where we can in the kitchen and entertaining the baby. The end result is a beautiful and delicious capon dinner, with all the trimmings. My sister's prayer makes me cry. She is not kicked off the island.

Due to various elements, new or simply out of the ordinary, my sister pronounces it a weird Christmas. That might be true, but we were all together, surrounded by love and introducing the baby to this strange, new world of holidays, and all told I think we did a pretty good job.

Wednesday, Dec. 26
Boxing Day. We finish opening presents, particularly the giant stack that is Ruth's. She receives a lot of clothes and some pretty neat toys, but finds particularly interesting her new bib overalls, which offer an enticing set of buttons. Her I'm a Little Teapot book, which sings, is also riveting.
The rest of the day leads up to the current tradition of Chinese takeout and a movie, this year HP 5, which we don't finish because we are all tired. I work on the little white knit pixie hat I have for Ruth. When finished, it will frame her face with white fuzzies.
The weather for Friday is iffy...there is a snow watch out, and I may need to leave a day early. I agonize about this.

Thursday, Dec. 27
The snow watch is canceled, but snow is still in the forecast, so I decide to leave for Madison after lunch, and book my hotel for an extra day. I am going for the Badger Showcase hockey, which BG is playing in and which I am doing as a Christmas present to myself before heading back to Ohio.

Our parents come to say goodbye and depart for Michigan. Ruthie goes to bed for her nap, and my sister and I settle in with soup and salads, and Poirot's Christmas, then some Christmasy desserts--pudding for her, ice cream pie for me. After, I clean the snow off my car and sadly leave.
The drive to Madison is fine. The sun is going down, and I listen to Feist while zipping past snowy fields and houses. I do get lost for quite a way when I get stuck in a lane that has to turn off, and then there is no way to get back on. This is frustrating, especially because it is dark, but I eventually work it out and check in to the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, which is right downtown and walking distance to the arena. There is practically no one around.

I am cranky, so I go to sit in the hot tub, and there is no one there, in the entire pool room. The hotel does have some guest rooms that open right onto the pool, which is weird, but the family is in the arcade and I have the place to myself, even though it is about 7 pm. I soak out some of my anxiety, and then get showered and changed to seek out dinner. The Bar, one of the hotel's restaurants, is also empty, but I order some wine and a burger anyway, and chat with Kate, the barkeep. Then some guys come in, then some more guys, and a few more scattered people. I eavesdrop on the guys behind me, and it turns out they are official-type people from Colgate, one of the schools in the Badger Showdown that I will be attending on Friday. Also, one of the hotel's manager-type people is evidently bored, because he comes into The Bar to chat with Kate, and ends up getting my takeaway box for me. I mention this only because he looked a little like Judd Nelson, in a good way. He says no one ever told him that before, which makes me feel old.
I sleep badly.

Friday, Dec. 28
Snow Snow Snow. I go shopping on State Street in the snow. It is really coming down, and I am glad I drove in before it hit. I buy some bath stuff, some ski vests, some arm warmers, and a really cute and sparkly jacket and black dress. I sit down for some chai and journaling, and then set off to loop past the Kohl Center on my way back to the hotel, so I can see where it is. About an hour later, I head back there, pick up my ticket, and walk into the arena. It is huge...three tiers of seats. There is hardly anyone there, but the very first people I see I know, which was fun.

Sadly, BG loses their game to the Northeastern Huskies, a game they could win, but in keeping with their unfortunate trend, they play awesome for a half hour, and then the second half of the 2nd period it's like they get distracted and then never get back on focus until the last half of the 3rd. Every team has a period or stretch in which they struggle; MSU's used to be the 2nd period. But BG just seems to slide too far during their bad stretch. Some of the opposing fans are jerks, too, which doesn't help. I do manage to catch up with the rest of my guys after the game, just to say hey. I watch part of the Colgate vs. Wisconsin game out of curiosity, but want to get home before it gets too dark and revelers get drunk. It turns out this is wise, because the game went into overtime and then an 8-man per side shootout! I later catch this part of the game when they replay it on TV...after I've already seen the Colgate team come back to the hotel looking tired but cheerful.

I spend some more time in the hottub and pool, too, which had a few people there this time. Later I realize my swim might have been a bad move, because my shoulder is killing me. I cannot sleep in this room very well, for some reason, and the problem is made worse by the bed springs of my neighbors. They are enjoying their hotel time. I eventually drop off, but keep waking up.
Funniest moment of the day: I had the closed captioning on while watching the end of the Colgate vs. Wisconsin game. At the end, the announcer says the Badgers will be playing the Falcons tomorrow, only he says Falcons like "Fulcons," and the closed captioning reads: Badgers vs. Vulcans.

Saturday, Dec. 29
I check out of my hotel, not without a little sadness. I begin my drive home and aside from brief stops for tolls, I only really stop once to get gas and lunch. This is really pretty amazing, if you know me. Also, I realize that I look sort of like the Unabomber with my hood up.
I arrive home around 6, get situated, and then begin my new London jigsaw puzzle while eating a cheeseburger and listening to the Falcons lose to the Badgers, though all my guys played, which I enjoy, and the game sounded like it went better than the night before, with, as the announcers point out, better teamwork and aggressive play. While I had a wonderful time on my vacation, I am glad to be back in my space. I'm not glad to return to the cares I'd temporarily left behind, and I have some new cares shoving the old ones around in my brain. But soon I will have a fridge full of food and some places to wear my new T-shirts, and that ain't half bad, is it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is Judd Nelson and I guess I do kind of look like him in his clean cut days. If you have not guest it is the manager guy from the Madison Concourse Hotel.