Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hometown joys...

My hometown is kind of "Hometown America". It's quaint. It's picturesque. It's full of old time locals (and more than I'd prefer "people from away"...). It's connected. 

I had to come to CT to help my dad with some business but decided that I wanted to get into town for the Parade of Lights which is a relatively recent annual tradition with a parade of fire trucks, tractors with trailers etc all covered in Christmas lights and playing Christmas music with people waving from makeshift floats (hay wagons) and fire truck beds. It's a fun way to kick off the season (it was postponed this year due to weather - lucky me to have it fall on a day when I'm in town!) and bring out the locals!

Also happening in my hometown is a gingerbread house display. Local people and groups made 42 gingerbread houses and dioramas which are on display at various businesses around town. The fun thing is that many of them are replicas (or slightly rough renditions) of local buildings, churches and landmarks. I haven't seen them all but the ones I've seen are fabulous! One local woman made the episcopal church complete with Cheerio trees, dried lentil grass, dyed Rice Krispie hedges and fruit roll up stained glass. It's pretty amazing! I'm looking forward to seeing the gingerbread  grand piano made to honor the restaurateur who is well known for playing his piano in the dining room of his local restaurant. His daughter made it as I believe he just celebrated his 94th birthday (or so). 

Below is the one some local students made for my step-dad's book shop. The trolls around the cottages are from my mom's collection. 

My dad and I wandered town and enjoyed some visits, seeing the houses, going to the historical society party (double bonus - got to see my mom and step-dad and some other family there) and after the parade and more visiting at the fire house, we picked up my 18 year old nephew and had a lovely dinner out with him.

The evening ended up being just what I needed as a way to blow off a little steam after working on Dad's stuff all day. Feeling that connected is what I miss living on the Cape. Occasionally I run into people I know but not often! Maybe some day I'll feel more like that but it is good to know that I can always come home to get a taste of it.... Even if I hear "Which one are you?" (People can't tell me apart from my three sisters most of the time...) more than a dozen times at events like these. Oh well. At least they know I'm not "from away"!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Water Water... Take 2.

The theme continues. Ugh. 

Yesterday in the late afternoon after a lovely day out with a friend, I had big plans to catch up on some work since A was working a double until midnight. "First", I thought, "I'll run down and put in some laundry and spend 10 minutes tidying up the stuff that has been hastily tossed down to the basement over the past few weeks." (My inner dialogue probably wasn't actually that formal and really might have had some expletives included about how embarrassed I was when I had to let the appraiser in the basement the other day and noticed, as I led him down the stairs, that it looked like a bomb went off down there!)

Upon arriving at the bottom of the stairs last evening, I heard the distinct sound of running water... Like someone was running a sink upstairs... But I was home alone. I followed my ears to the inline filter system we installed a few years ago (I won't even go into WHY we had to do that as I'll just get fired up again) and found that the first filter in the overhead system had water running in a steady stream down it. Most of it the water had been caught in the trash can A had left underneath it but it was so full, it was now splashing over and the floor was wet along with much of my raw materials for my art pieces. Yippee. Did I mention that A was working a double and that it was now Sunday evening?

So... A VERY cranky and unhappy non-plumbing-specialist called A at work who tried to calmly talk the non-plumber through some fixes... only to be snapped at by said non-plumber because nothing worked. After several sprays to the face and failed attempts to stop the flow, we determined it was time to shut the water off to the house at the main line. 

Did I mention he was working until midnight? I don't think I mentioned that he had training the next day so calling out wasn't an option. And I probably failed to mention that I hadn't showered yet that day. The prospect of 24 hours of no bathroom, no hand-washing and no shower really rankled me!

So, knowing from experience that Home Depot doesn't close until 8pm on Sundays, I hop in the car and drive 15 minutes to find out that their hours changed... And today only, they close at 6pm. It was now 7:30. It was my only hope for a quick late night fix when A got home. 

So a VERY unhappy person with no parts to repair the filter decided to go to Whole  Foods and get the tags off of the giving tree (they send the gifts to children in local homeless shelters) so it at least wouldn't be a wasted trip. After selecting the tags of a 7yo girl and a 5yo boy, I purchased a few items and just about got strip searched at the door by a young manager who tried to convince me that I simply could NOT leave the store with the tags. A SUPER CRANKY but determined not to take it out on him wanna-be do-gooder escorted him to the giving tree and read aloud to him "take a tag from the tree, purchase a gift for that child either at Whole Foods or elsewhere and return the gift and tag to the store by Dec 14". He was still freaking out a little so I decided to just go to Kohls across the parking lot (because WF only had toddler gifts) and bring it all back right away. Sigh. It was done. I usually LOVE doing our "Christmas angel" shopping but the stress around it PLUS how difficult it is to find age appropriate non-plastic-crap gifts for children I don't know at Kohls made it not the most enjoyable time. At least I know there are two kids who will have a gift (two each actually) to open on Christmas morning so that softens the rough edges of the experience.

Annnnnyway... I returned home empty-handed due to Home Depot's hours change and broke the news to A. 

My ever-positive husband thought he could do some sort of workaround when he got home around 1am so that I could at least use the bathroom while working from home the next day. 

He arrived home at almost 2am because, as luck would have it, the highway was closed for median work and he had to take side roads halfway home from 35 miles away. Ugh. 

After some brief wrestling, he managed to determine that the filter was too broken to patch up temporarily and therefore, we were BOTH out of luck with regard to morning showers and I would have to spend the day hitting up various neighbors for use of their bathrooms. Ugh!

I did take my sweet time going BACK to Home Depot today to get the new filter and used every public restroom I could find. 

At last around 4pm, A arrived home and with the new filter was able to fix it. After about 24 hours, we finally had water again!

But... As I posted on Facebook last evening, despite such a crappy day, it wasn't nearly as crappy as that day that will live in infamy 73 years ago in Pearl Harbor... It's all about perspective!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Treats for Troops - Year II

Thursday I made 41 dozen cookies with the help of A and another friend - 25 dozen rolled and cut sugar cookies, 8 dozen Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies, and 8 dozen dark chocolate peppermint chip cookies. Whew! It was a loooooong day!

It was made challenging by the fact that my first helper had just had minor surgery on her foot that morning and couldn't stay long. The additional issue was that I was using the kitchen at the Mason's Lodge (which isn't entirely well-equipped) and hadn't been able to find crushed peppermint chips, I decided to crush hard candies by hand. It was a LOT harder than I thought! After several failed attempts at crushing them in a variety of ways including bashing them with my rolling pin, A arrived with a cheapo "slap chop"... and succeeded in crushing about 1/4 of what we needed before the cheapo machine disintegrated in his hands. He proceeded to revert to a hammer and played "Candy Crush Live" with shards of candy shooting every where. Sigh. But we got it done!

Today we had about 20 volunteers help decorate the sugar cookies, write cards, and load 25 boxes with cookies, candy, toiletries, and holiday decorations to be shipped out on Monday to deployed troops. 

I was a little overwhelmed by making the 41 dozen cookies and was pretty certain that I wouldn't do this again next year... But the group that came today had such a great time and I know that the service members who receive the packages will be so happy that it made it all totally worth it!