On the Ninth Day of Christmas

I did not have to drive the van today.  I thought I might need to, since Hallmark decided the Monday after New Year’s Day would NOT be a holiday (day off from work) for it’s employees.  But I spoke to my newest rider (a second Hallmark person) and she said she had already planned to drive herself to work today, so I got to sleep in (by about ten minutes, since I forgot to silence my alarm before falling asleep last night).  I brewed some tea and finished composing the previous blog post (the one I forgot to finish last night and publish before falling asleep).

I woke Rachelle up just before nine o’clock since she had an eye doctor’s appointment after ten o’clock.  On the way to Leavenworth, we detoured to Dillons so I could fill up the Bonneville, taking advantage of the eleven hundred points I earned in December.  I opted to use five hundred points to save fifty cents per gallon.  It still cost over $45 to fill it up (because I had waited too long and only fumes remained in the sixteen gallon tank).  While at Dillons, we picked up a half dozen items we needed to make brunch after the doctor’s appointment.

I read about half of the January 2012 edition of Astronomy magazine on my Nook Color while waiting for Rachelle to finish her eye doctor’s examination.  The prescription for her contact lenses wasn’t ready yet, so I told them to just mail it to me.  We stopped at Walgreen’s so I could get a second ‘backup’ arch bandage to help my left foot heel and arch pain, especially since I’m attempting to increase my physical activity.  We also stopped at K-mart to price other Wii game titles, but decided not to purchase anything at this time.

Back at home, Rachelle and I sifted through all of her jewelry boxes and separated out the jewelry she does not want.  Some of that may end up as donations to our local Good Will store.  We also stripped the pantry bare, wiped down the shelves and re-organized the contents.  We did this prior to our ‘real’ trip back to Dillons to stock up for the coming week.  Rachelle’s Christmas gift to her father included cooking meals for him over the next week or so.  Tonight she cooked Garlic Honey Chicken with Sauteed Asparagus.  My contribution included Parmesan Garlic Bread (made with the Italian bread I made last week).

I learned a couple of Yoga positions today, did a couple of strength training exercises and got better at the step aerobics programs via Wii Fit today.  Both Terry and Rachelle are also using it – Terry to help maintain his current weight and strengthen his muscles and balance.  Rachelle makes us all feel old, of course, since she’s twenty-two and in great shape.

Our after-dinner relaxation includes watching Ironclad, a movie about the aftermath following the signing of the Magna Carter.  Not sure how historically accurate it is, but it’s gritty enough.  I’ll review it in a separate post later this week.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

I wished everyone I met a very Happy New Year!  2012 has arrived, whether I was ready or not.  I even forgot to photograph the first sunrise, but at least according to my dad (who arrived at my house just minutes before said sunrise), the photogenicity of the dawn was suspect (i.e. no clouds).

Dad had dropped by so early on New Year’s Day to say goodby to Derek and Royna, who planned to return to North Texas.  I was the only one awake in the house (normal even on non-holiday days).  I woke Derek up so he could say goodbye to his grandfather and soon after Dad returned north to his home in Leavenworth.

Very much later in the morning, everyone finally woke and began packing.  At ten ’til noon, they boarded their rental and left Lansing.  They had lunch with their friends and eventually headed south towards their home.  I received Royna’s final Tweet a bit after ten o’clock while I was drifting off to sleep when they finally made it safely home.

I treated Terry to Planet Sub at a ‘new’ location I was previously unaware of on Johnson Drive.  He often complains about my easy access to Planet Sub (only a block from where I work).  After enjoying our Super Heroes, we drove back to the Legends (we passed it on the way to lunch) and enriched Nebraska Furniture Mart by purchasing a Wii (with Super Mario Kart for Terry) and the Wii Fit Plus bundle (and an extra controller) for me.  We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the Wii and fighting my Denon AV receiver (which doesn’t automatically convert Composite video to HDMI so I had to find an RCA cable in the black hole we call a basement storage room).  I spent some time trying out the balance board only to discover, once Rachelle got home, that I had the board facing backwards (so no wonder all the balance activities kept failing for me).

We finally took a break from Wii Fit and sat down to relax and watch the latest episode of Leverage on TNT.  I wondered off to bed soon after, forgetting to finish typing up this blog entry that I started at the crack of dawn on New Year’s Day.  I will publish it before the crack of dawn today, no doubt.

My New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Increase my book reading goal.  Last year I read 75 books.  This year I have challenged myself to read 80 books.
  • Increase my activity level.
  • Healthier eating habits:  While I eat a good portion of vegetables routinely, I have a hard time consuming fresh fruit.  So I am making a concerted effort to eat fruit daily.

Happy New Year!

I pray 2012 brings all of us peace and prosperity.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

I slept in, until six o’clock.  That’s an hour longer than I usually laze around in bed.  I knew I had two things to get done before long after waking up.  The first involved the annual dissemination of sticky buns to friends.  I started two batches of dough going, one in the bread machine and one via the mixer, with about fifteen minutes to spare before the sun rose at twenty of eight.

Since I had over an hour to wait for the dough to rise, I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and ran for the van.  I drove a block to my south and setup on the grounds of the Lansing City Hall cul-de-sac.  I experimented with the aperture priority setting so I can attempt to get a star like effect when the sun rose.  I succeeded (see below) but also forgot I had accidentally smudged my lens with my fingers a couple of days ago and forgot to clean it.  So some of the later photos with more star-five effect had to be trashed thanks to smudgy fingerprints obscuring the sunlight.

Last Sunrise of 2011

Click here for the slideshow of the rest of the photos.

I packed up the camera and gear as soon as the sun cleared the horizon.  I still had plenty of time before the dough needed to be rolled out and sweetened with brown sugar and cinnamon.  I made a quick run to the grocery store to buy the disposable aluminum lidded cake pans I needed to place the sticky buns in for delivery to our friends.  Once I returned home, I woke up Rachelle, who helped make the caramel glaze to pour into the pans and evenly distribute the individual rolls among the six pans.  This year we only made about sixty rolls, instead of the usual hundred or hundred and twenty.  We covered them with the clear plastic lids and attached the storage and baking directions to them.  Rachelle and I then left to deliver the rolls.

Once we returned home, Derek and Royna had also arrived back from their overnight visit with their friends.  I suggested that Rachelle, Royna and I drive to downtown Leavenworth to sample some of the loose tea available from the Queen’s Pantry.   Royna found three she liked and Rachelle found one.  We walked across the street to the antique mall where Rachelle found some jewelry and I found a paperweight for a coworker.  Our last stop downtown was the Kansas Country Store where I tried to find some rawhide treats for the Rotts, but found a half-price Rottweiler 2012 calendar instead. I dropped Rachelle off at her friend’s house and Royna and I returned home to while away the afternoon watching movies.

We decided on Mexican for a family dinner out and traveled to Zona Rosa to revisit Aubelos.  Terry and I had tried that restaurant back in October for my birthday.  Derek and Royna had also tried and liked it previously.  I called ahead and reserved a table for the five of us.  I missed the sunset at five o’clock because I was busy getting ready to leave for dinner.  I did step outside briefly, but the sky was so clear and devoid of haze or clouds that the sunset would have been ‘boring’ for me to photograph.  The drive to Zona Rosa via K-5 and MO-152 was uneventful and our dinner was delicious (and fast).  We were back home before half past seven.  Rachelle donned her excessively ugly Christmas sweater and left to spend New Year’s Eve with her friends.  Derek and Royna will start packing and get some rest before hitting the road southbound for North Texas tomorrow morning.

And so I come to my final paragraph of my final blog post for 2011.  I believe we’ve had a good year.  We had a couple of milestones (25th wedding anniversary and 15th year at my employer).  We started renovating our house, replacing the roof and the driveway and repairing the chimney.  I’m keeping the miles down on both our cars by participating in a vanpool, which also helps reduce my carbon footprint by taking at least four other vehicles off the roadways five days a week.  We spent the holidays with our kids, always the highlight of our year.  I hope and pray 2012 will bring all of us peace and prosperity, harmony and grace.

Have a very Happy New Year!

To Eleventy and Beyond

Two weeks and last year since I sat down to compose an entry.  Half my offspring have come and gone (north then south)  mysteriously in the night.  Said goodbye to one of the best years of my life with some trepidation, concerned that 2011 can’t possibly exceed it.

After trimming the tree on Thursday the 23rd, I spent nearly all of Friday the 24th (Christmas Eve) preparing a family tradition — giving the gift of sticky buns to various friends.   I, of course, modify the recipe a bit (see previous link) and don’t bake them.  Rather, Rachelle and I deliver them with instructions on how to refrigerate, thaw, rise and bake them so our friends can enjoy hot out of the oven buns in all their sticky sweet goodness.

I asked, but did not insist, if anyone wanted to attend Christmas Eve services.  My inquiry met with less enthusiasm than I’d hope, so we spent the evening watching DVDs from Netflix (the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Price of Persia).  Oddly, we did not and have not yet watched the Muppet Christmas Carol, a Moss Family tradition going back a decade or more.  Perhaps Rachelle, Terry and I will watch it this evening.

Christmas morning, I took my time waking, since I knew my main courses for Christmas dinner (scheduled for one o’clock) wouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to bake).  Rachelle was next to awaken and by eleven o’clock couldn’t contain herself and insisted that grandpa arrive early (since I refused to let her distribute gifts until he arrived).  Once grandpa arrived, with his delicious pasta cucumber salad, Royna played Santa with Rachelle as her elf-like assistant.

The Christmas dinner menu consisted of a fresh green salad with my home made dressing (an off shoot of the dressing grandpa uses for his pasta salad), said pasta salad, a boneless turkey breast, a spiral cut ham, mashed potatoes (because Terry and I forgot to bake the potatoes), green bean casserole and fresh hot sticky buns for pseudo-dessert.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, conversing and even played a game of Catchphrase.  Grandpa returned home, everyone took a nap and I read a book (no surprise there).

The strangest and saddest event was Derek and Royna’s sudden departure around 9:00 p.m. that evening.  They had carpooled with friends from Texas the previous Sunday and now they wanted to hit the road back south – overnight!  The catch was Derek and Royna needed a ride to the UMKC campus (just a couple of blocks southeast of where I work five days a week in the Plaza Library building near the Country Club Plaza).  I agreed to transport them and they quickly packed.  Being a mother, I was concerned about an overnight return trip to Dallas and insisted that Derek text message me at 6:00 a.m. so I wouldn’t worry.  Their return trip was uneventful, he rememered to text me and Derek and Royna were safely home by 7:00 a.m.

Sunday the 26th, I filled up both Pontiacs and saved a dollar per gallon because I had earned over one thousand points at Dillons during the month of December.  I knew I’d be driving to work four days this week since my vanpool was on hiatus between Christmas and New Year’s Day (Hallmark closes during that week).  I don’t miss having to drive in traffic or fight for a parking space (at least the one I want to get) even though I arrive at work very early.

Monday and Tuesday swept by boringly but Wednesday brought a visit from Terry’s sister Bonnie.  She came to visit after dropping her daughter Katie off to visit friends.  We enjoyed her visit, and dinner at Famous Dave’s at the Legends.  Terry and Rachelle also met her the next day for lunch at Azul Tequila in Lansing.  Bonnie retrieved her daughter Thursday afternoon for the return trip home to the Cheney area.

Thursday evening, Terry, Rachelle and I caught a showing of the True Grit remake starring Jeff Bridges at Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon as Texas Ranger Leboeuf and Barry Pepper and Lucky Ned Pepper.  Hailee Stanfeld gave an outstanding performance as Mattie Ross.   I highly recommend this movie, even though I’m not entirely sure it’s better than the original.  Watch either or both … you can’t keep a good story down.

Friday, New Year’s Eve, arrived.  The final day of twenty ten.  The only day that last week of the year I didn’t have to drive to Misery (er, Missouri) to work.  Rachelle intended to spend the evening with friends.  Terry and I thought about finding something at a local bar to participate in, but nothing appealed.  So, Terry invited Sean over and I took the dogs upstairs to relax, read and perhaps play a few hours with friends on Aardwolf, an old-fashioned text-based MUD.  Not surprisingly, I fell asleep shortly after ten o’clock, only to be startled awake by the boom of fireworks, dogs barking and my daughter text messaging.  I eventually returned to my dreams.

Early morning, New Year’s Day, twenty eleven, I’m startled awake, again, by the sound of hail stones dancing on my roof.  Did I just sleep through three months of winter and arrive to a Kansas spring thunderstorm?

Spent most of the morning reading a book, playing more Aardwolf and waiting for Rachelle to return home.  Later in the afternoon, Terry, Rachelle and I travelled to the Legends (twice in as many days) to watch the latest Narnia flick: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  We had to watch it in 3D (and pay a premium matinee ticket price for the privilege) but the movie was excellently rendered.  Again, you can’t keep a good story down.

Today, the second of January, two thousand and eleven, dawns crisply cold and clear.  I’m castigating myself for not dragging out the telescope to view Mercury and Venus this morning.  I’ve taken too long to write this blog post and missed the opportunity.  I spy a gleam of dawn to the east.

Have I resolved to change or achieve anything new as the year starts fresh?  Perhaps.  I have a few ideas that I’m still brewing and stewing about; just not ready to codify them publicly via this blog.

I’ll leave you with this thought for the day: various translations of Psalm 90:12

Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. (NLT)

Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise. (NCV)

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! (MSG)

Peace and may all your years, new and old, be happy!