Carols for the Maiden Aunt's Christmas

1. Police Navidad: It was an action-packed Saturday at the library, and it included a visit from the local police.  I had to report that items were stolen from the woman who had been changing the display case--she left some things in the vestibule while loading her car--and apparently someone walked out with the stuff.  She's changed the display case a few times in the past month without incident, so why this happened now, I have to wonder.  Maybe it was the time of year and someone "went Christmas shopping."

LibraryElf had just finished her party with the young 'uns (stories, jingle bells, songs, mayhem) so she was very helpful with the situation (as much as anyone could be, considering the patron who said he witnessed the theft gave his contact info and left).

Me: That officer was pretty cute.

LibraryElf: Yes. [Agreeing from an observation standpoint as she is a newlywed!] I wonder if he's married.

Me: I di'n't see no ring on that finger. . .   

Maybe he'll need to contact me for more information sometime. Or for a date.  

2. Homemade for the Holidays: Meringues are in the oven right now--I just turn off the oven after 1-1/4 hours and let them sit overnight--and I'll be roasting potatoes tomorrow to take to my parents' for Christmas dinner.

3. I've Got My Chunky Calico to Keep Me Warm: Not looking forward to being one of the rare singles at Christmas Eve dinner, but I'll just try to stay in the present and enjoy the get-together. And my delightful half-a-crabcake

4. I Heard the Drunks on Christmas Day The other thing I'm not looking forward to.  (I'm looking at you, neighbors who were disorderly on Thanksgiving.)

5. Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas:  The gloominess and un-festive-ness of that song aside, that is my wish for all my readers.  See you later in the week!




World Doesn't End, I Eat Lunch and Shop

It's the time of year when a lot of people spend more time in the kitchen, and might have forgotten some safety rules.


The above message was (unknowingly) brought to you by Younger Sister.  I can't wait to see how big the bandage is on her finger.  I'm glad she still has her finger.

In other news, after a harrowing vet visit in which The (10+ lb.) Cat gave everyone a piece of her mind and took several pieces out of the vet tech's hand during tests, it was determined that everything's status quo.  So we're reducing the dose of her steroids to see if she stops acting super-starving 24/7. 

Also, today was the kickoff of Christmas vacation from school.  We sent the students on their way to a greatly anticipated vacation after a half day, and then we had a staff lunch including a voluntary pollyanna which is always hilarious and somewhat insightful into the personalities of my co-workers.

I had some beef tenderloin and after waiting my turn for my pollyanna number to be called (which coincidentally was my AGE so you can imagine how long I was waiting) I wound up with a gift set I jokingly called "The Single Girl's Holiday Survival Kit."  It contained a certain movie involving men who, um, dance for a living, and two Seen-on-TV items.   (No, not the Ove Glove. And thank the Lord not Stompeez which I'm pretty sure would scare the living daylights out of The Cat. If they worked.)  Well, really I was sparing a teacher who is happily married and a grandparent.

After that, as is my tradition, I head up to the clothing shops at a nearby shopping center and see if I can score a bargain sweater or something to wear for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner (or both).  This time, I kicked serious retail butt and got a couple of v-neck merino wool cardigans and a cute skirt (looks like this).  I might wear the skirt to Christmas Mass. . . wherever I decide to go.  I'd better figure that out soon

The Christmas tree's still not up, but I think I can get it done tomorrow night after work.  Yeah, I have to work at my other job this weekend--the newbie gets the least desirable weekends, y'know.  And it's supposed to be bitterly cold all weekend, so maybe between holiday shopping/traveling/partying and the cold weather, maybe I'll just be writing Christmas cards at the Ref Desk.  Or convincing my co-workers we need to have some cart races down the long hallway off the Children's section.

I'll let you know how all that goes.



Prayer and the Search for Peace and Joy

In light of yesterday's horror, now more than ever it's important to find and practice the small things that bring us joy and peace.

I went to the vigil Mass tonight, at a church that's not my usual one but one that I know from being a cantor there years ago and my dad's friendship with the music director.  It was a little weird tonight, and not just because the music director played and sang in the absence of a cantor.  I felt really aware of all the children and their parents who were there.

Then, at the homily, Fr. Priest-I-Don't-Know spoke to us all.  He didn't talk long, but he didn't need a lot of words.  He talked about the feelings we all had following the tragic news that so many, particularly children, had been slain at a school--and that feeling that we needed to do something, but we didn't know what.  He encouraged us to pray, that it was the best thing we could do for the people affected.  There's so much tied into this season of Advent--Christ's coming as a child, out of His great love for us; one of our titles for Him is "Prince of Peace."  And so we pray for peace, and we pray to act as peaceful people.

That's what I took away from it, anyway.  I noticed one older woman a few pews ahead of me wiping her eyes.

I'd already been carrying around with me the memories of lockdown trainings--and even a couple of lockdowns that had happened during my few years of teaching that thankfully were more on the side of caution than immediately urgent situations--then it hit me that families had been preparing to celebrate Christmas (or were celebrating Hanukkah possibly?) with those victims--that now they have to face these times without their loved ones.  That there would be presents hidden in the closet for them, maybe even already wrapped packages with their names on them.  What were their families supposed to do now?

I needed to wipe away some tears, too.  

And then I spent almost two hours working on a stupid application and nearly burst into tears again when I hit a wall.  All I wanted to do was spend today cleaning the apartment and I lost all this time.  I know it's really dumb in the greater scheme of things to get so frustrated, but this is my life and for once I'd like to get some real results.

But in the meantime, I'll keep praying. 



Various Happy-Making Stuff

O.K., so it's not the stuff of super-happy proportions, but at least it's making it a little easier to tolerate Catzilla until I can take her to the vet Tuesday to get her checked out.

"It could be the steroids, but whatever it is, it makes me lie across the kitchen floor,
desperate for food, in spite of the fact that dinner was 20 minutes ago."

One happy-making thing: Mystic Monk Coffee is now available in K-cup format.

Another happy-making thing: Fitz & the Tantrums, a way awesome band, made an announcement that they have a new album coming out, and they are offering a free download of a Christmas song--"Santa Stole My Lady."  Watch out for that mistletoe.

Maybe this stuff isn't up your alley, but little things make me happy and right now I'll take what happiness I can get.



Yummy Improvised Soup

I was really in the mood for black bean soup, and there was a recipe I was going to follow. . . only by the time I had all the ingredients together, I'd lost the recipe.  Seriously, I can't remember where I saw it.

So, I went to the website for the can of black beans and found a pretty simple black bean soup recipeI had all the ingredients except salsa, and I was planning to half the recipe, anyway, so I improvised with what I already had in the fridge.

I have one of those mini-food-processors, but I think a blender would work well, too.  I threw together a handful of grape tomatoes, a clove of garlic, two pappadews (seriously, the jar has been sitting in the door of my fridge) for heat, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  That was the salsa part.  Then I also put in as close to half of the 15-oz. can of beans as I could fit in the bowl.

It all whirred together nicely, and I threw it into the saucepan with the remainder of the can of beans, and 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder.

Initially, I forgot to add the 1/2 cup of chicken broth, so the small cup I had with dinner tonight was a bit thicker.  The broth does add more flavor, but it does thin out the soup, so if I make this again I'll add less broth.  And I topped my cup with a little bit of Tofutti "Sour Supreme" fake sour cream.  Not bad.

A comforting soup to build up my reserves for one more full week of school!




Moving on to the Bonus Round

I guess I should add to my previous post that while I earned no "Singles Survival" points at the Thanksgiving table, after my great-aunt's funeral last Friday--which was lovely, a sort of bittersweet family reunion--we gathered for lunch and chatted with all the relatives who were able to make it from Maine or North Carolina or wherever. . . it was like going to the Bonus Round.

Not too badly, mind you.  It's just that, well, I don't know if my uncles just like to fuss over me, or they remember what an unfortunate-looking kid I was most of my life, or they realize that I'm getting older and that means they're getting older--but there I am, dressed up in my church clothes (black velvet blazer, black jersey skirt that's not too short/long, ivory camisole trimmed in lace) and wearing makeup--and they're all saying how good I look, what a "beautiful young woman" I've become, etc.

I smile (probably a little shyly, probably blushing) and say, "Thank you." 

My mom (love you, Mom!) pipes up, "And why aren't you doing anything to introduce her to some nice young men!?"

She's allowed to boss her younger brothers around.



Thanksgiving, Points and All

Finally catching my breath after working Saturday through Thursday (pretty much hit the ground running after last Friday) and attending my great-aunt's funeral today (this Friday).

Thanksgiving, overall, was way more fun than I expected.  I also didn't expect the fallout that came in the days following, but more about that later.

I actually scored no points in Seraphic's Thanksgiving game by its standard rules; however, I still felt painfully aware that I was the only single (over 18 and under 50) at dinner.  

Also, if the day before counts, I technically got a point because while shopping last Wednesday a 70-something gentleman who asked to look at the store sale flyer I was carrying proceeded to embark on a lengthy conversation that (a) I didn't have time for and (b) I did not want--and after knowing me all of five minutes, told me that I in fact HAD "met the right person" but "ran away from it."

Uh, who says that to a complete stranger?

Ooh! And if this one counts, I had to call the police at 1 a.m. to come break up a fight between a couple who were violently arguing in the vestibule for well over 20 minutes!  (She left and apparently he would not let her back in, so he came downstairs to scream at her while she screamed at him.)  Plus her car was running out front the whole time, and if I had to guess she was wayyyy too drunk to drive

Anyway, getting back to the actual fairly pleasant dinner, the Broccoli and Mushroom Salad was a hit aand for some reason the turkey actually tasted good enough for me to have seconds.  Most of the time the only way I eat turkey is at Subway with black olives and honey-mustard dressing.  The kids had a good time and I spent some good Auntie-Niece time doing our Polaroid project.  Niece really ran with it and also created a sign with the leftover posterboard.

The Two Youngest Nephews got artsy, too!

Oh, and we also had an impromptu sing-along at the piano when my uncle's girlfriend (who has her own band and everything--cool chick!) played and we all sang "Don't Stop Believin'."

I remember thinking it was odd that My Maiden Aunt didn't join in.  I was on the verge of not caring though, because already she'd been short with me after I'd declined her invitation to join her carol-singing group, because I said I was unable to commit to practicing.  (Or, you know, spending time in her special form of Hell on Earth.)  Not to mention I'd had enough of her rapid-fire lectures at the dinner table.  It's just that I don't like being told how to listen to her stories.  I mean, we love her stories, but if we're not allowed to utter a single word or make any noise of reaction until she deems herself finished, then you've lost me.  It's like a performance to her.  She's in her 50s but still behaves like a child in need of attention.

Including the hissy fit I received via email when I innocently made up an album of our photos and shared it with those who attended dinner.  Apparently she did not any of the photos of herself (all three--and I already had taken out an additional one) and told me to delete them.  They were individual shots we'd used for our project--Niece had taken them, and now I wonder if she even remembers she was joking around with Niece, that she had blinked during the first photo, and that one of them had her with her hands propping open her eyes jokingly.  I also wonder if she understood that this was not a public album and that only people with the invite link could view it.  Her world is her beloved facebook.  (No way we're friends when I set up my page.  She'd be trying to control it left and right.) 

I replied asking her to reconsider, because I thought they were nice and it was a memento that she was there.

Instead of a reply to that email, I got a second reply to the original email--so I'm assuming she checked up on me--and it was very pointed, ignored my response, and talked down to me.

It made me sad, both reading her message and having to change my album.  (Keeping the originals on my hard drive as is my right.)  We used to have fun doing aunt/niece things and getting together with my sibs and cousins to help her pick out and decorate her Christmas tree.   Those are distant memories and I hate feeling as if I can't even mention them to her in a fond "Remember when?" kind of way.  She'd take a dump all over them just like she did my album and my feelings.

So I removed the photos from my album and emailed back saying it was done. No other words.  Why open myself up to anything further?

About three minutes ago, she emailed a thank-you, from her iPhone.

With an affectionate epithet.

Gonna delete that, too, and move forward with the good memories.