Friday, December 26, 2008

For the love of god people! Shovel your sidewalks!

So now we have that fun combination of slushy, icy, dirty snow. It is a pain to walk through and hard to drive in, as these ruts attest.
You know what else makes it hard to walk? The fact that people have walked on unshoveled sidewalks which have now frozen, melted a bit and refrozen and are a slippery mess. What would their sidewalks look like right now if they had shoveled soon after the snow had fallen? Glad you asked.
They would be a wet, but not icy or snowy, easily traveled surface.
Please Portlanders with sidewalks, I know snow doesn't happen often. But when it does, please, please, please shovel your walks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Last year Squeak and Atlas were the animals of Christmas. This year Sentinel joined them.

And this was pretty typical of the Squeak/Sentinel encounters. Squeak was of the "Oh yippee! Another cat! I will follow him around! It will be fun!" mind while Sentinel was of the "Why must this other cat constantly be near me?" mind. They did okay together, though. There wasn't any hissing between them.
Sentinel spent most of the day in the bedroom on the bed, with a few visits to the kitchen. Squeak eventually got bored of that, and came out to explore. He's a very busy kitty.

Here he attempts to sit on the non-ledge where the two windows meet. He failed and fell back on the couch. Unhurt, he sprang up to find another place to watch what was going on outside.
Chris shoveled off the deck so his dog Atlas wouldn't have to sit in the snow. What did Atlas do? He sat in the snow, ignoring the nicely shoveled patch in front of him.
There are a lot of black animals in our family now.


Our food strategy this year was: big breakfast, mid afternoon chips, veggies and dip.

A lovely fruit plate

The Meat Pie returns for the second year in a row

The table is set. We also had latkes and the traditional mimosas.

Our afternoon spread:

A lovely vegetable and cracker tray

Feta Cheese

And the traditional Christmas Cookies.
It was a merry food year!


This year, my family decided to try something different for Christmas. We each put the money we would have spent on presents in an envelope, totaled that number, divided it by five and then each of us chose one big present. For Christmas morning, we each brought one present for each person that was either handmade or bought for less than five dollars. Ideally, our big presents would have all been under the tree too, but the weather got in the way.

Our tree with presents.
My Aunt Pat gave me the best gift. At Thanksgiving, I remarked that her pie crust was so good she could just make a pie crust and fill it with whipped cream and I would be happy. So I got an empty pie crust for Christmas! And those yummy pie crust cookies, and nuts and homemade quince and blackberry jelly.
Other great gifts. A free window washing from my brother, an Oak Sandwich Board from my Aunt Carol. She couldn't get them finished because of our weather. My mom gave us each a bucket with a few of Cindy McCain's Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies and Michelle Obama's Shortbread cookies. After we taste tested, not knowing which cookie belonged to which candidate, we voted. I found that I really liked the Oatmeal Butterscotch despite my usual mediocre feelings about butterscotch and my Democratic Constitution. Also Santa came! He left cold, hard cash. I baked two kinds of muffins: Bran and Vegetable Medley and everyone also go a jar of sauerkraut (surprise!) except my mother who got sour beets, due to her dislike of cabbage.
Sentinel got presents too.
Here my Aunt Carol examines her big gift: A Kitchen Aid Food processor with three different sized bowls and other accouterments.
Mom pauses while cleaning up.
And then shows off her big gift: a new floor for her bedroom.
I got a new bicycle, but because of the weather it spent Christmas (and several days following Christmas) at the bike shop. My mother cleverly substituted these Bicycle Playing Cards.
Chris got a saw. We discussed how handy it would be to have had it while doing various projects.
Aunt Pat bought a battery for some yard device and also will get other yard tools.
After opening presents we did paint-by-number paintings, sat around, napped and eventually played bingo. It was a lovely Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


And after the snow came the ice. That's our next door neighbor Leo's house.
Here is our backyard transformed into a winter wonderland.
It was a white and drifting snow as you can see by the snow on the back porch and even above the shed door.
Our porch light was not immune.
I set out for the grocery store and found that the coffee shop not only was closed, they had posted a notice on their door.
They know their limits. At least they shoveled.
Despite a coating of ice, this truck made it to Fred Meyer.
Trees were covered.
The Max line wasn't running due to a problem with the switches.

Matt and I walked to Pizza Fino to have dessert and found fun examples of ice.
Covering the Kenton neighborhood rose garden.
And these impressive icicles on Leo's house.
Deep snow with a layer of ice over it isn't the easiest thing to walk on, but it was doable. I may buy some crampons though, so I am ready for the next storm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tree Decoration and Snow

Hey, so it is snowing, but that doesn't keep me from the tree decoration. I took the Max to downtown and the #12 to the Burlingame Fred Meyer where my mom came to get me in her car with chains. She also picked up my Aunt Carol. We drove to my Aunt Pat's house where tree decoration ensued.

There was a bit of trouble getting the tree into place. It scraped the ceiling so there was some emergency pruning before the angel would fit on top. This year, I had everyone pick out an favorite ornament for their picture. Here I am with the Angel.
I also like these little pipe cleaner ornaments that are wrapped around the branches, rather than being hung from them.
Aunt Carol chooses one of the antique ornaments.
Mom holds up a glass raindrop.
Aunt Pat has both an antique glass bird and a glass candy cane.
It was still snowing when we were done. We ate soup and then Mom and Aunt Carol drove me to a bus stop where the bus transported me downtown.
I decided to see if the library was open so I could pick up my things on hold. It wasn't but in the meantime, I saw a portable snowman.
And walked through the sculpture garden outside the Art Museum.
It was still snowing as I took the Max home.
And it snowed all day and into the night.

New Christmas Decoration

I pity those of you who haven't had the joy of receiving the Oriental Trading Company catalog. Full of crap, that catalog is. But crap that somehow transcends the crappiness of crap and ascends to a new level, a level that motivates a person to buy their multitudes of holiday themed craft kits and items.

So it was for Allegra. Allegra is a teacher at my school and also happens to be Jewish. She was raised in Brooklyn, and didn't really understand the true extent of Christian culture in the US until she moved away from her Jewish neighborhood to Oregon. Allegra also has a good sense of humor and when she came upon the marshmallow-themed nativity scene in the Oriental Trading Company Catalog, she first died laughing, then pulled herself together and ordered one for every staff member. When I joined the staff in May of 2006, she gave me my very own kit as a welcoming gift. I was thrilled. Two more Christmas seasons have passed since then, and this was the year of assembly, thanks to the many snow days I enjoyed this week.
And so I give to you, the glory that is the marshmallow-themed nativity scene as assembled by me on a snowy night:
Aside from hilarity the concept of fake-edible-themed-sacred-objects brings me, I love that when I glued Joseph's beard on, it intercepted his smiley mouth in a weird way making him look entirely horrified to be standing before you on, yes, a foam chocolate bar and graham cracker.

What must the average Chinese person think of us?

Friday, December 19, 2008

An heirloom from my childhood.

It wasn't yet an heirloom when I was a child, but now that I am closer to antique than child it is more of an heirloom.
My mom made this advent calendar from a kit in 1978, she thinks. She's guessing 1978 because by that time we were attending Southminster Presbyterian Church and she thinks the whole "going to church" thing would have inspired her to make an advent calendar.
Each day on the calendar has an ornament. The first was always either the angel or the star, depending on who was picking first that year, and their preference.
The 24th was always the Santa Claus, and a very exciting ornament it was. It was considered an honor to draw the ornament on the 24th.
In between those monumental ornaments were other ornaments, each one with a different shape. Chris and I traded days choosing the ornament and, due to the sibling rivalry that was present the majority of our childhood, each year we traded off who got to go first. That way, it was fair. "Fair" and "Not Fair" were the two main arguments of my childhood. Now that we are grown and my brother has lost interest, I get to draw an ornament every day and put it wherever I want. It's not quite as fun.
Looking at the advent calendar from an adult perspective, it is an impressive specimen. Each ornament is different and each one has varying levels of beading. I'm happy that it is hanging in my home now.