changing of the garlands

We’re starting in the Christmas decorations a bit early (for us) this year, trying to get the most of the Thanksgiving visit from my mom and having the kids home from school. Lest you think we are totally on top of things, we only just finished taking down the Halloween decorations. Today Theo swapped out the black garland for the tinselly ones in time to welcome in the tree.

It’s a start. A few decorations in the background, and at least I put some water in the tree stand. Maybe we’ll get around to putting on the lights tomorrow.
While this photo was from October, most of the seasonal decorations stayed in place until this morning.
Brodie was very helpful protecting us from any trees trying to invade our home.

We got the tree in, but that’s as far as we got. I’ve been trying to get some work done today, as I haven’t found as much time to do work as I’d hoped. And tomorrow is a big day, driving up to Vermont and back.

Seeing the forest for the trees

I’m not totally sure where today went, but I guess a lot of today involved trees. We had a couple of excursions, plus I wrote a bunch more postcards for Georgia. (I got a lot of help from my mom, plus Phoebe and her friend helped with some, too. Which is good, because today was the mailing deadline for the big project I signed on for.)

This tree was very orange.
I liked the way the top and the little branches curved.
This tree isn’t totally dead. I thought the peachy orange tips of the branches looked kinda neat.

In the evening, we headed back out to go the Winterlights at the Bradley estate in Canton, MA. Again, there were colorful trees that caught my eye. This was an event we hadn’t been to before, but it sounded like it would be a fun thing to do with the kids and other guests. It was quite pretty, and happily the weather was pretty mild.

Light-wrapped tree trunks lining the path at the Bradley Estate.
I enjoyed the colorful pseudo-trees at the Bradley Estate.

On the topic of trees, I use an app called Forest to help me track my time on projects, as well as to keep me focused in my tomatoes. I like that it plants little virtual trees in my virtual forest for each chunk of time that I dedicate to a task. But that’s neither here nor there, though it is in the screenshot that is here (or there). What amused me and inspired me to take the screenshot was that my phone’s predictive text clearly knows what I’ve been up to. (I guess I’ve been logging a lot of time writing postcards for Geogia.)

Ah, phone, you know me well…

Of course, my phone also made a pretty unexpected suggestion in the predictive text in a message I was sending. Note that the tree farm starts with the letters “vand.” For the record, I don’t remember every making plans to vandalize in the past. So maybe my phone doesn’t know me so well after all.

Interesting suggestion, phone. Not quite the family activity I had planned…

table manners

Very long full day. Dinner was a bounteous feast with family and friends. My belly is still full, and my feet are tired. I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my life, as well as my life’s many comforts and joys. Much work still to do tomorrow, so I need to get to bed.

I didn’t take too many photos today, but here is one of the highlights. (See the slideshow for a more complete sequence. Note that Brodie did not get to have any of the pumpkin custard. He did get some treats, though.)

Brodie wonders when he will get a seat at the table.

A plethora of preparations

Very long day again, largely filled with home and family things.

We are fortunate enough to have a cleaning service come to clean our house every other week, which helps us fight back the chaos. We typically spend quite a bit of time before they come decluttering and organizing, basically trying to expose surfaces that potentially could be cleaned. To make things less stressful on both the people who come into the house and on the dog (who is very anxious), we get ourselves out of the way when they come. For the last couple years, at least since the pandemic, the tradition when the kids have been home has been to bundle us all into the car, and then go to the Starbucks drive-through in a nearby town. (Before the pandemic, Brodie would go to doggie daycare and John and I would typically go to work. But this stopped when quarantine shut everything down. The doggy daycare presumably reopened after not too much time, but we didn’t get back into that pattern. And now Brodie hasn’t been socializing enough with other dogs to manage that kind of thing. He didn’t really like it that much in the first place, but it was good to get him to socialize with other dogs. But I digress.)

Brodie in the morning, biting a poofy platypus.

Anyhow, the morning was spent cleaning and organizing, then we had the brief excursion, and then back to the house for more preparations. I’m still trying to find the dining room table, which I believe to be the surface under the months worth of accumulation of papers and other work and project-related items.

A freshly cleaned sink with an appealingly-arrayed assortment of glassware.

Phoebe then had a couple of friends coming over, so we all took Covid tests to make sure we were safe. (Of the friends has a medically vulnerable family member.) Then I walked Brodie again around 3:30. (Afternoon walks have to get earlier and earlier, as the sun sets a little after 4 now.)

Brodie looking majestic in the golden glow of the setting sun.

More cleaning and organizing followed. Then dinner (take-out, happily), and then food prep for tomorrow. Various vegetables were washed and cut, and I made my traditional pumpkin custard. (Effectively a crustless dairy-free pumpkin pie.) My mom and the kids helped with lots of the vegetable tasks. Tomorrow will involve more cooking and food preparation, and the final push to make the dining room presentable for guests. (Happily, the friends who are coming know us and our home well enough that they won’t be too alarmed the by a bit of clutter. Or more than a bit of clutter, as the case may be.)

Pumpkin custard, fresh from the oven.

The other big task that needs to happen this week (by the time the post office closes on Friday) is the writing of another 80 or so postcards to Georgia. As is my way, I committed to the sending of a lot of handwritten postcards. After the Georgia runoff was announced, a couple of my friends contacted me expressing interested in writing cards for the runoff. When I was in DC (actually, having a rest on a bench in the National Gallery), I got an email with details on a project with a mailing deadline of 11/25. I optimistically signed up for 500 addresses. I contacted the 2 friends who’d first expressed interest, and then reached out to more people. I got permission from the group organizing the postcards to get mailing addresses printed, and very quickly the 500 addresses were claimed. So I requested more addresses. And then I reached out to more people, and requested more addresses. I spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of weeks printing labels, assembling packets, contacting people, and doing a few deliveries. In the end, I requested a total of 1150 addresses, and distributed 1040 of them to friends and acquaintances. Which is a lot, and fantastic. But, if you do the math, that leaves a not insignificant number for me to get written. Happily, my mom is lending a hand with the hand-writing, and I plan to recruit others in the household as well. Maybe even after the feast tomorrow.

A postcard penned with an intermediate level of care. The writing isn’t my neatest, but I drew a peach. Not all 110 will get peaches. But I do enjoy drawing the peaches!

Off to bed for me now, as tomorrow will be a full day.

one one two two

Today’s date, 11/22/22, sure has a lot of ones and twos. It reminded me of that little poem/riddle/tonguetwister that I was taken with as a kid1:

11 was a racehorse
22 was 12
1111 race 1 day
22112

In case you aren’t familiar, you read each digit by it’s name. (So 11 is “one one”) I don’t have much to say beyond this. Once again, it’s late and I’m tired. (Some day I should graph how many posts included those words. But not tonight2.)

I didn’t particularly even take any photos today. So here are some photos from a couple of days ago. I liked the play of light and shadow in the vines along my driveway. There aren’t too many leaves left on the trees, so the holdouts sometimes stand out. Little splashes of bright color in the largely gray and brown landscape.

1 And that I mentioned more than a few years ago when I made a list of 11 11 things. (And here that’s “eleven eleven” things.)

2 Because it’s late and I’m tired.

Rutabaga for days

rutabaga (n.)“Swedish turnip,” 1799, from Swedish dialectal (West Götland) rotabagge, from rot “root” (from PIE root *wrād- “branch, root”) + bagge “bag” (see bag (n.)). (from Etymology Online)

There was a time in my life when I had never, to my knowledge, eaten rutabaga. That day has long since passed. At some point, maybe 20 years ago or so, rutabaga became a key component of the roasted root vegetables that I make as part of our fall and winter holiday feasts. But it turns out that I can’t always find rutabaga at the grocery store. So it was that when I was in Vermont on Saturday, I brought home not only my firstborn child, but also a rather substantial rutabaga. We had stopped in to the local co-op/grocery store for snacks for the road, and I poked my head into the rather small produce section. Having not scored a rutabaga at my local store, I was happy to see rutabagas in stock. There were only a few, and all of them looked pretty big. I picked out the smallest one. Which, it turns out, was still quite large. I didn’t think too much of it until checking out, at which point the cashier said, “wow, that’s a big rutabaga.” It turned out to be over 3 pounds, and to cost over $10. I considered putting it back (because this seemed a rather hefty commitment for one root vegetable), but in the end, decided to pay the hefty sum and heft the hefty root home.

But I also decided that I would get my money’s worth out of it. Not only in the roast pan, but also here. Having once declared November 21 to be the International Day of the Odd Vegetable (or alternately the Day of Peculiar Produce), I decided that I would share my bounty pictorially. Joining the annals of noteworthy produce, such as the extraordinary eggplant of 2011, the dashing squash of 2012, and the sorrowful potato of 2015, I bring to you the humble but hulking rutabaga of 2022.

Below are some of the photos that I took of this venerable vegetable. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate light would be for its portrait session, so I tried several options and backdrops.

Brodie was uncertain of the threat-level of this rutabaga.

One thing that struck me about this rutabaga was its resemblance to an old-fashioned ice bag or cold compress. (And one thing that strikes me in writing this is that the hefty rutabaga is one thing that I would not want to be struck with. Especially about the head. Because I would certainly need an ice pack to recover.)

I was also amused to note that the etymology of rutabaga contains roots meaning “root” and “bag.” So aptly named. I think my rutabaga should be the poster child for rutabaga etymology.

Watching the world cup

I admit to never before having watched the World Cup. But since Theo has been playing soccer this year with much enthusiasm, I thought it would be fun to watch some together with him. Plus, having watched and enjoyed Ted Lasso, I have found a greater understanding of the appeal of the game. We looked up the schedule and how to watch the games, and John signed us up for a Peacock streaming account. (Funnily enough, it turned out to only have commentary and most commercials in Spanish. Which was actually good for Theo, who has been taking Spanish since kindergarten, and not terrible for me. I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, but caught some of it. Terms like “la pelota” and “el offside.” It also added to the novelty of the experience for me.)

To mark the occasion, I got out a world cup from the cabinet¹. (For the record: I did indeed watch some of the actual first game, which was between Ecuador and Qatar. We were rooting for Ecuador, having both visited there, albeit on separate trips².)

Off to bed early now, as I am picking up my mom at the airport in the morning. She arrives around 6:00 a.m. The kids want to join me on the trip to the airport, and Theo is hoping to be home in time to watch the next game (at 8:00 a.m in our time zone).

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¹ It seemed fitting given my past praise of a super bowl, as well as my enthusiasm for the red socks.

² Plus Qatar has the whole poor track record of human rights violations thing.

doggo in sunlight

Today was a long day, in the sense that I was up early and did a lot. (But given that we are approaching the winter solstice here in the northern hemisphere, the day in terms of actual daylight is getting short.) This morning I drove up to Vermont to collect my daughter and her friend to bring them home for the Thanksgiving break. And then we drove back down in the afternoon. It was about 3:30 by the time we got home. Just in time to take Brodie on his afternoon walk before it got dark. You can see the sun setting at a little after 4 in the bottom set of photos. The top photo, take around 9 this morning, amused me with the cartoonish shape of Brodie’s long shadow. (Those ears!)

I was in a ridiculously good mood today. Very excited to have both children home, and then my mom coming on Monday. I’m really looking forward to have a full house for Thanksgiving, with family and friends. I’ve started to stock up on produce for the big day, but still have to acquire more potatoes. (I don’t want to relive the great potato panic of 2019.)