Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Scene In Which We Wish You A Merry Christmas....

....and hope that wherever you are or whoever you are with this holiday season, you are surrounded by love.

....that when those same people surrounding you in love start surrounding you in burnt appetizers, dogs pooping in the corner and snotty-nosed kids screaming in your face, you'll remember where you stashed the vodka after last year.

....that you will remember those who aren't so lucky to be surrounded by love, and spend some of your time/money/energy to helping them have a better holiday. (You've still got 6 days to make a 2009 financial contribution to your favorite nonprofits!)

....and that, like Ebenezer Scrooge, you'll find the joy in the spirit of the holidays and pledge "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year long!

.....and a Haaaaaappy New Yeeeeeeeear!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Scene In Which.... It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

For those of you who don't know me well, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas ranks right up there as one of my favorite times of year. (My other favorites involving anytime I'm not wearing 19 articles of clothing to stay moderately warm, but I digress).

This year in particular, Christmas has entered our house in full-force, possibly because for the first time I have a job that allows me to make pretty Christmas arrangements! So while Younger Brother might describe it as "If Christmas were a person, it just threw up glitter in our living room," I prefer to think of myself as one of Santa's little florist elves.

An elf who really, really, really needs a housecleaner right now.

Because in order to make all these....

and these......

........and a whole bunch more like these........

my house started to look like this:

Things really started to get fun around here this holiday season when one of the elements on the furnace went out. Luckily, we were able to get it replaced. I have no idea what it was, but it is smaller than my hand and costs $59.

Which they very kindly credited back to me when the entire furnace went south a week later and had to be replaced. To the tune of $I-can't-even-say-it dollars.

At this point the only thing keeping me moderately sane are these babies:

which are the perfect holiday treat. If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you already know that I kind of *heart* me some Oreos, and these babies are some of the tastiest. Not to mention that ringing in at $3.50 for the pack of 12, you don't want to, don't need to, can't won't eat more than one at a time.

Back to the story.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is getting to spend time with friends and family, like my good friend A. Last Saturday, we decided to venture out into the holiday spirit and wound up having a fantastic day. We started with yummy warm soups and sandwiches at Panera, then window-shopped in Broad Ripple and even crashed the Broad Ripple Village Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, which may become one of my favorite adorable holiday things to do. Seriously? Hanging out on the Ave with furry puppies wearing antlers and cute children all bundled up, watching Santa come down the street while you sip Starbucks hot chocolate? It. Does. Not. Get. Better.

After our holiday window shopping-and-parading, we headed to Butler University for their annual Rejoice! concert and enjoyed two hours of gorgeous music, then headed over to a local bar/restaurant for some post-concert cocktails and snacks.

At first the restaurant seemed promising. The host staff was attentive and found us a nice corner table in the bar area. The wait staff poured waters and brought menus. Our waiter greeted us and offered suggestions on drinks. As we were celebrating the end of a lovely holiday day, we decided on champagne and- because we are responsible adults- ordered some food to munch on while we sipped and chatted.

We ordered the Potato Gnocci, which promised we'd have our gnocci topped with oyster mushrooms, roasted tomato, sage, and balsamic with greens and a pumpkin puree.

This sounded like the perfect yummy food.

But somewhere along the line, we missed something.

Because when the sweet waiter brought us our plate, it had FIVE. LITTLE. GNOCCI. BITES.

Topped with two or three mushrooms.

Something that I think was our single roasted tomato.

On a bed of lettuce roughly the diameter of a water glass.

Adorned with a tablespoon of pumpkin puree.


I am not making this up.

We finished our gnocci rather quickly (imagine that!) and pondered our next move. Should we order something else? Would it be bite-sized as well? What about a dessert? Should we just pay and leave?

Our poor waiter got to advise us.

Waiter: "Take your plates?"

A: "Sure, thanks."

Waiter: "Another drink?"

Becky: "Well, actually, we need some advice."

Waiter: "......OK....."

Becky: "See, we've just had a lovely holiday day and been to a concert and we were really hoping to cap the night off with some cocktails and food and sit and munch and sip for awhile."

Waiter: "Um, I don't really understand that."

Becky: "What? Seriously?"

A: "Nevermind, that part's not important."

Becky: "Right. The point is - and I'm not being an asshole here, I promise- while we really, really, really liked all five of the gnocci we just ate, that little thing's just not going to cut it for us."

Waiter: *Befuddled Stare.*

Becky: "So what we're saying is- we either need to get your reccomendation on something a little more carb-laden so that we can continue to sit here in your lovely restaurant and sip champagne and celebrate, or we need to cut our losses, pay our bill and hit the McDonald's drive through."

Waiter: "Um....I'll go get you a menu. I'd reccomend some protein."

A: *calling after him* "Will we get more than two bites of it?!?!"

-A Few Minutes Later With Menus-

Waiter: "So, did you guys find something that looks good to you?"

A: "Well, we are thinking maybe the Mini-Donuts and Coffee Dessert."

Becky: "But we have some disclaimer questions. When you say mini donuts, what does that mean?"

Waiter: "Uh....about like this?" *makes circle with thumb and forefinger.* "Kind of like a donut hole."

Becky: "Right. And when it says there are donutssssss plural, how many is that?"

Waiter: "Five."

Becky: "Excellent. We'll do that. And she'll have the coffee since I don't drink caffiene."

Waiter: "Well, actually, it's like a coffee sauce."

A: "Oh, like you can dip your donuts in them?"

Waiter: "Right. Or you can, you know, like drizzle it over the donut holes."

I seriously do not know why we didn't get kicked out for laughing at this as hard as we did, or for the numerous times we cracked up after our donuts arrived.

But I know two things to be true now: first, friends that can laugh for hours with you about gnocci and donut balls are friends that you need to hold onto forever; and second, beware of gnocci appetizers!

Oh the holidays- the most wonderful time of the year!!

The Scene In Which The Birth of Baby Jesus Gets A Reality Check

One of the funniest things about being freinds with a pastor is that you get to have these really interesting conversations about how religion (specifically the Bible) can be (and is often) wildly misinterpreted.

And often times you get to have these conversations in public, which is even funnier. Take Wednesday, for example.

Pastor Jill had come to Indy for a luncheon she had to attend, and afterwards we planned an afternoon of Christmas shopping and baking. Pastor Jill, for all her many good qualities, isn't especially trustworthy in the kitchen, so baking together was a good way to ensure her friends at the church would get edible holiday treats- and let's face it, shopping is just fun.

We were talking about Christmas cards on our way into the mall when Pastor Jill hit me with her latest religious hilarity.

"Did you know," she asked, "that when you get a traditional Christmas card featuring Mary in a stable with the animals and the baby Jesus and the wise men and shepards all looking on, that's actually not biblically correct?"

"Um...what?" I said.

She then proceeded to explain how only two stories from the Bible actually describe the birth of Christ, and their explanations tend to differ.


It's very interesting and of course not being a pastor I immediately started confusing the details in my head (a likely reason that we've ended up on the happy-go-lucky manger birth story in the first place) so before you proceed with my tale, read Pastor Jill's info on the topic here at her blog.

"So, wait a sec," I asked after she had finished telling me this (in Von Maur). "Do you mean to tell me that the real story is that after Mary was knocked up by the Holy Spirit, either she or Joseph was informed of this by an angel appearing to one or possibly both of them, after which they discussed it with the other? And after the angel appeared to one or the other of them, during a time in which they may or may not have already been living in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a room that may or may not have been in a house, group dwelling of some sort, or former stable that may or may not have housed animals at some point, and laid him in something lined with straw that may or may not have been used to feed said animals at some point?"

"Pretty much," said Pastor Jill.

"And following said birth in said place," I continued, "The Baby Jesus was visited fairly soon thereafter by shepards who may or may not have been there because of the animals or because of the miraculous birth? But who, regardless, certainly did not overlap in visiting hours with an indeterminate amount of wise pagan astronomer priests who visited him in his house up to, but not later than, two years after his birth and who possibly bore gifts? And then left, but did not speak of it, because pretty soon after King Herod started offing all the male infants in the land?"

"Yep." said Pastor Jill.

"Wow," I said. "I'll never look at a manger scene the same way again!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Scene In Which Puff the Kitty Gets A Home

He showed up sometime in the late part of summer/early fall, when the days were still nice and long and sunny. He liked to skulk around the backyard of our condo and hide in the tall landscaping (where, I might add, he scared the CRAP out of me the first time I ever saw him!).
By day you could find him lounging around the backyard, occasionally napping on one of the lawn chairs and using our wooden deck as a scratching post.

And then the inevitable happened.

My well-intentioned neighbor began to put food out for him. As you can imagine, this was met with great gusto, appreciation, meowing, and..... hissing.

Yep. Our little backyard-crasher loved long as we kept our distance.

Time wore on. Well-intentioned neighbor christened the cat Creampuff (at the time, we kind of thought he was a she). The weather got chillier. The feeding schedule got more and more regular. The hissing continued.

And then the inevitable happened. Again.

I got attached.

Because though he still hissed at us, as Creampuff grew more and more used to seeing us around, he grew bolder, and after three weeks of coaxing and making sweet baby voices at him, he finally rewarded me with a rub against my legs.

Followed, quickly, by a swat.


As the days got even shorter and colder the third inevitable thing happened. My well-intentioned neighbor, who travels often for work, was planning to be gone...and I volunteered to take over the Creampuff-care.

(Ahem. You know where this was going to wind up.)

The next thing I knew, I was as close to a cat owner as my ridiculously allergic sinuses were ever going to let me be. I fretted over whether he was warm enough and procured an outdoor igloo from a friend for him to live in. I fed him twice a day and switched him from wet food to dry for better health. I grew sad when he'd show up on my porch and I'd have to close the door on him. We nicknamed him Puff, Puffy, the Puffster, Fluff, and so on.

In return, Creampuff adopted me. He faithfully came to my porch two, three, four times a day- napping on the rug in front of the door until well into the evening. If I came around the back of the house and found him there, he'd leap from his perch and follow me to the front of the house. And even though he still hissed occasionally, he meowed his appreciation every chance he got and rubbed my legs with reckless abandon.

And then he disappeared.

One Wednesday morning, I woke up and he never came by for his breakfast. His little brown bowl of food went untouched that day, that night, and straight on through Thanksgiving the next day. By Friday, when we left for Chicago for the weekend, I was despairing whether Creampuff had decided to move on, and realizing that I'd gotten waaaay too attached to the little guy over the past months. Despite abundant food and water, Creampuff stayed away Friday....Saturday.....Sunday.....

......and then, late on Sunday night, Creampuff came hobbling back shortly after we returned. His cute little face was a little matted up, and he was limping with a front paw held in the air pathetically.

I kind of cry just remembering it.

Cute Boy, who is even more ridiculously allergic than I am, pleaded on my behalf with his roommate to let us use their mudroom area to house the Puffster. Once we opened that door for him he rushed right in and never looked back- he wanted to be in the house with us so badly!

Puff stayed in the mudroom for two nights, showing his appreciation for the hospitality by coming down with a bout of ickykittypoopies and stinking up the place when he wasn't meowing to be let ALL THE WAY in to the house so that he could, presumeably, cuddle with us or hiss at us til his heart's content.

On Tuesday morning I loaded him into the kitty carrier (through the strategic use of yummy canned food placed inside, heavy boots and a swift knee!) and took him to our vet, where the Week O'Fun for Creampuff began.

Since all our housing options had been exhausted, Creampuff stayed with the vet for a week. He received antibiotics for his injured leg, a bath, flea treatment, neuter surgery, vaccines, and another bath.

And then, thanks to the kindness and generosity of two great people (ok they are Cute Boy's parents but I am totally not sucking up at all by calling them great because really? they are, and furthermore, they are probably not reading my blog!) CREAMPUFF FOUND A HOME!!

On Monday I went to the vet's office to take him to his new digs, and let me tell you, if this heartwarming little story has got you thinking that you want to go out and adopt like five cats, I will give you a whole bunch of reasons why you should think about it really hard.

Like several hundred reasons.

Like six hundred reasons.


In the end, though, it was all worth it. Because, as it turns out, Puff was just waiting for someone to take him in and love him. During his week at the vet's office, he mellowed to the point where the staff members were able to pick him up without being swatted or hissed at, and he even was able to be petted. When I arrived to pick him up, I went to see him in his kennel before they loaded him into the carrier and he LET ME PET HIM!! At that moment, I knew that every penny I'd spent on this little sweetie was all worth it, and I wanted to cry and take him home with me and spend all night cuddling with him and Finn.

But Puff, despite his new goodnaturedness, is still a fan of keeping it real.

So in thanks for all we had done for him over the past months, he allowed me to stroke his little head and back for exactly 30 seconds while he purred cutely, then turned his head around and bit me on the hand.

That's how I know he appreciated it.