Letter from the North Pole

A little late, but I’m posting a precious memory for the second time.

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Lacking a fireplace, I mailed my letters to Santa Claus at the post office in downtown Fentress. My list of preferred gifts was always extensive. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I wanted, but there was no harm in asking.

One year Santa wrote back. As proof, I’m posting not only the letter he wrote, but the envelope as well. Judging from the postmark and the reference to Sputnik, I’d just turned six.

It takes a lot of stamps to get a letter from the North Pole to Texas.

It also helps when your Uncle Joe is the postmaster.

 

 

Santa, Dihydrogen Monoxide, and Showering at Annie and Dan’s

Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season to all.

First, let’s get the temperature out of the way. It’s 77 (F) degrees in Austin, Texas.

Big fat hairy deal.

I’ve been through Christmases so hot we had to run the air conditioner and Christmases so cold that water froze, in Houston, at the main, and we had to wait half a day for it to thaw. In Fentress, which we’d abandoned for the holiday, water froze in the toilet, necessitating the replacement of the whole thing and several days of showers at Annie and Dan’s, down the street. Plumbers were busy replacing a lot of toilets.

Today I’d planned to wear my red sweater with the cowl neck and three-quarter sleeves, not overly warm, but chose instead a long-sleeved silk blouse and khaki slacks. Later I switched to khaki shorts to do my knee exercises. I’m sitting here with a throw over my lap but may soon ditch it. I may also ditch the blouse for a tee-shirt. At some point, I might put on shoes and socks, but I might not.

As to the cats, William went slightly nuts over his new catnip fish, then lay beside it, then fell asleep on it. At the first sound of wrapping paper tearing, Ernest ran under the bed. That’s a change. We have pictures of him wandering through Christmas paper, but he’s taking a new direction.

I received some lovely gifts–David is a good gift-picker–among them an ultra-soft throw decorated and round like a tortilla. I’m not using the tortilla today because I refuse to spill something on it the first day it’s in the house.

I also got a tote bag based on old Simplicity patterns, some of which I remember. My mother said Simplicity instructions were easier to follow than McCalls’. I made a couple of Simplicity skirts myself, but none with pleats or gathers. I did, however make plaids match, one of the major accomplishments of my life. Note: I was not born with it, but it’s a nice sentiment.

And there’s a carrying case for my laptop with a quotation from Wordsworth.

 

And I received a thermos bottle for Dihydrogen Monoxide with many WARNINGS on the side, such as, “Take any precautions to avoid
mixing with combustibles. Potassium and other alkali metals can be fatal if ingested in large quantities.” The last warning reads, “If SWALLOWED: Swallow. DO NOT  induce vomiting.”

It took me only forty-five minutes to get it.

I was too busy remembering the day I’d been asked to keep an eye on the chemistry students from my biology classroom next door. On one eying mission I found two girls in the storage room pouring little bits of potassium into little pools of water and watching the potassium buzz across the counter top. I went bananas. As far as I was concerned, mixing potassium and water was an effective way to blow up the building, no matter how little was used. I got so wound up about the potassium that it didn’t occur to me the rest of the students might be in the lab pouring water into acid.

My gifts to David weren’t nearly so imaginative. One required reading instructions. A dirty trick. But on the theory that we have reached a certain age, and that the cats have reached a certain weight, and that we might need to evacuate the apartment quickly–I’m the type who sleeps in her clothes during tornado watches–I gave him two rolling cat carriers. They arrived in pieces. The manufacturer says if you leave them open, the cats will use them as beds and so will be happy to be stuffed inside and wheeled down the sidewalk. Yeah, right.

I also gave him an old print, restored, of a total solar eclipse. It commemorates our trip to Blue Springs, Missouri, to see the latest eclipse. On the edge of the path, it was supposed be at least a partial eclipse, but was more of a brief dimming. Nonetheless, I got to see my family, which was really the point.

The print required work: finding a stud to hang it. In all my years, I’ve never known anyone to care about studs–and my family hung a lot of heavy paintings–but better safe than sorry. The Sheetrock doesn’t belong to us.

In April 2024, there’ll be a total solar eclipse over Waco, Texas, and I am going to that. No matter how many of my knees are working, I’m going.

A young neighbor obviously received a dirt bike from Santa. David said there’s a trail through the wooded area behind our complex. The trail must begin on the sidewalk that runs by our patio. I didn’t know dirt bikes have motors, but I was thinking about mountain bikes. Seems to me a mountain bike would need a motor more than would a dirt bike.

Since I have no children, I can make a pronouncement: Santa would not bring a child of mine any means of transport until said child was at least twenty-three. Santa would bring things they would have to pedal and build muscle and cardiovascular health. I wouldn’t mind his bringing a reindeer, if we had a place to house it. Just getting into a saddle builds muscle all over the place.

We’re now waiting for David to start cooking steaks. When I cooked steak in the old apartment, the fire alarm always went off. So David became the steak cooker. In this apartment, even he makes the fire alarm go off, and he cooks them rare. Extremely rare. If it were human, the alarm would sleep in its clothes, too.

There’s a shrieking in the air, so I shall stop writing. I think I asked for Brussels sprouts, too, but I hope David forgets them.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

***

Bear Feet and Lava Lamps

Christmas Night, and all through the house, one person and two cats are sleeping all snug in their beds, while I’m sitting here watching Apollo 13 and a lava lamp.

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2016 lava lamp

This is my first lava lamp. I skipped the ’70s. David said it’s his first lava lamp, too. He was present for the ’70s but skipped some of the trappings.

The lamp is fascinating: like a kaleidoscope but with fewer colors and curved edges.

We had a quiet day, one of our traditional nonstandard Christmases. We opened gifts, ate a light breakfast, and sat around.

Then we repaired to Saffron Restaurant, which serves an eclectic mixture of traditional Indian Cuisine punctuated by the flavors of the Himalayas. Goat curry, chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, steamed basmati rice, naan… and several things I can’t name because instead of wearing my glasses to the buffet, I left them on the table.

After lunch we came back home, plugged in the lava lamp, and waited for it to erupt. It did not disappoint.

Of course, we took the obligatory photos of the children with gifts under the traditional nonstandard Christmas tree. Changes in living room geography kept us from giving our real artificial tree center stage, so this morning we moved our ceramic artificial tree to a snow-covered chair and accorded it official status.

Facebook reminded me that four years ago, I found these bear foot slippers under the tree. They were the warmest slippers ever. A week later, William sat down and started making biscuits on them. Now they’re called William’s shoes.

It’s now past midnight. Christmas Day is over. Time to turn off the lava lamp and sleep snug in my bed and dream of goat curry and naan. Which, come to think of it, would make a fine traditional nonstandard New Year’s Day lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

Belated Christmas and Midnight Romps

IMG_2093At Christmas play and make good cheer
For Christmas comes but once a year.

                            ~ Thomas Tusse

David and I met friends Geoff and Emme at the Root Cellar yesterday morning for a belated Christmas breakfast. Our plan for a Christmas-David’s Birthday-New Year’s dinner in December fell through when both Emme and I came down with whatever people get at this time of year and we had to cancel.

The breakfast worked out better, however, because we dressed less formally (if such a thing be possible) and because I didn’t have to make a salad.

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The gift exchange comprised books, homemade granola, a kazoo, cute little plastic thingeys to bind cords and cables, and a Christmas ornament.

The best, however, were the gifts exchanged by the cats and Geoff and Emme’s dogs, Tuck and Abbey. Tuck and Abbey received toys best described as big blue squeaking Scrubbing Bubbles covered with jiggly cilia. I would describe Tuck and Abbey, but I can’t do them justice, except to say that if you turn your back and walk away from Abbey, you’ll never do it again. More info in the form of photos will be provided at a later date.

Ernest and William hit the jackpot. They received fancy sequined mice and a variety of balls, most with noisemakers–jingle, rattle, clack–inside. In little more than twenty-four hours, half the balls have disappeared.

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William and Ernest have always found it convenient to store toys under the bed for spontaneous midnight romps. By morning, I may know where they’ve hidden these.

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*****

ROW80 Report:

1. I wrote for an hour a day for five days and took two days off.

2. I tried to stay awake all week. Slight exaggeration, but not much.

Next weeks goals:

1. Write for an hour a day on the novel. The blog doesn’t count.

2. Go do bed before midnight. Before 10:30 p.m. Before 10:00 p.m.

To see what other ROW80 writers are up to, click here.