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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, December 29, 2005



Not an almond or filbert or walnut, but still the kind of nut that gets a little cracked around holidays. I do love holiday times. I don’t have quite as much fun working up to Christmas as I used to (before the time, not too long ago, when I was hanging decorations on the window valences, and, forgetting I was on a ladder, stepped back to look at them from a distance. I have mostly healed but still take naproxen every day so that I can use my right shoulder.) my dear wife gets really fussy when I climb the ladder to hang lights around the house, or rake the pine straw off the roof, or for anything else. That takes some of the oomph out of holiday decorations. I still love holidays.

This holiday has been one of “those” holidays. You know, the kind where you gradually sense a little black cloud hanging over your head at all times. It started off very well. My daughter, the wildlife biologist, called from South Carolina, to say that the army wouldn’t let her come for the whole holiday week, but she would be here two or three days before Christmas, and she wouldn’t have to be back at work till Tuesday morning after Christmas. My son, the college librarian had written that he would be here for the whole holiday. (It is the first time in awhile that he could drive home, since he just relocated to Oxford, Mississippi). The daughter in Florida couldn’t come since her daughter was just being released from a hospital stay with a serious episode with diabetes. (She has come to the conclusion that when she takes her insulin it makes her fat.) and my daughter was still taking care of her grandson (I am a great grandpa, that really makes me old.). The computer geek son and his four children were staying in
Washington,(but I can’t really complain about that since I had given him and family a timeshare week in a Washington resort, for the week before Christmas.).

Things began to look a little dark when I started to come down with a cold. In my case this is a big deal. I really almost never get colds (I think it has something to do with a crazy fixation on antioxidants, if there is an antioxidant that I don’t take, in large doses, every day, it is an oversight, or the pharmacists and health food stores have been struck by lighting). But this cold hit, and hit in the worst place. It made my voice useless. My family (actually the daughter and I, and some sons), were scheduled to sing in church. I had been looking forward to it for a long time. The kids sing a lot, and have been in some great choirs, and I do a lot of singing in public, but we rarely get the opportunity to perform together in public. We were scheduled to sing a great Gaither quartet piece, It’s Still the Greatest Story Ever Told, and I was to sing lead, and when we tried to rehearse it together, I just squeaked a lot. I “probably” could have sung bass, but that was not in the cards. I DID want to sing, but I satisfied myself by listening to son and daughter sing a duet.

We had decided to have the “big” Christmas dinner on Saturday, to avoid needless confusion on the Sunday/Sabbath/Christmas. (We’re church goers, what can you say? )
I just had no enthusiasm for cooking a turkey, and all the other fun Christmas stuff with a church service in the middle. I am the official turkey cooker in my house. I have my own dressing recipe, my own spices, I make superb giblet gravy and even hide the giblets where those guests who find the thought of giblets revolting can’t find any visible trace of them in the gravy. With my cold, this involved a lot of hand washing and fiddling to keep everything sanitary. (I used to use a “turkey bag” to speed things up, but was not fond of some of the results so I have reverted to “non-bag” turkey cooking.) Many hours later, the darn plastic gismo that is supposed to pop-up didn’t pop. I got out my trusty meat thermometer and the temp of the dressing read OK, as did the meat test in the thigh, so I said “fie on the plastic gismo” and took out the bird. As I was slicing, I began to find signs that the lovely, juicy, bird was undercooked, to I took that which was sliced, put it in plastic bag and shoved it in the microwave until it was “safe”, took the rest of the bird, shoved it in a turkey bag, and put it back in the oven for an hour or so. I then served, what to me was now a kind of crumby” dinner, ate about half of mine, excused myself for my cold (which was trying to drown me) and went to bed for a few hours. I presume dinner came out all right, because most of it got eaten. The turkey that was “bagged” was boned out and was nice and juicy for sandwiches, and the family was well into the destruction of a wonderful chocolate cake which the librarian son makes with Guinness Stout, melted with bittersweet chocolate and a bunch of other stuff and it makes on of the biggest, chocolatest, cakes ever made.

Early on after our guest’s arrival, but before the cooking, the hot water stopped in the back bathroom. “No problem” says I, and, opening up the front of the water heater for that section of the house, I pressed the reset button and quickly hot water returned. About half an our later my daughter called me to the family room (which is on a slab, on a lower level than the rest of the house). “Look”, says she. Then she walked across the carpet, making little splashes all the way. We had about an inch of hot water all across the room. I checked the water heater and, sure enough, this was the source of the water. After turning off the water inlet, we got out the shop-vacs and the carpet shampooer and vacuumed up a lot of water. With this added to my cold, I got a little surly (I was a mess). After emptying the closet wherein the water heater sat primly, I dried the floor and looked for the source of the leak. All the parts that usually put water on the floor seemed fine. I turned the heat back on, and, almost instantly had a floor full of water again. Without a single curse word (out loud, anyway) I got the kids to vacuum the water back up, turned off the heat , and we made it through the holiday with one shower. The last two days have been filled with the very efficient folks from serve-pro tearing up the carpets, removing the villainess water heater, boxing up the possessions from the family room, and taking decongestions for my cold. I am currently waiting for another appearance from the insurance adjustor and muttering inanities to myself. Somehow, I am not optimistic. It has been that kind of a weekend. At least my cold is going away.


At 5:26 PM, Blogger t_cole said...

hope you are MUCH better soon.
Thanks for stopping by my space.
any chance you can arrange to get me a copy of your son's chocolate guinness beer creation??? Oh My Goodness does that sound wonderful!
my best to you and yours!

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Thanks for dropping by t cole. I will ask him about the recipe for the cake, but he was pretty possessive about it. To anyone else, the insurance adjustor came by (as did serve-pro) and it looks like things are in an upswing. More when we're sure and we aren't watching TV between boxes.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

To those who really want a Christmas fix, click on the thotman link on my blogroll.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger t_cole said...

tell your son I will trade - TO DIE FOR chocolate carmel brownie recipe (that made my Mom famous in Small Town Mississippi) for secret chocolate cake recipe...

good luck with the adjuster. since katrina, i am a bit cynical in that dept. forgive my mistrust.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Bstermyster said...

Sounds kind of crazy. I hope you are over your cold very soon. I have not had one yet this year. I think it is because I have been drinking GOBS and GOBS of Green Tea Lately.

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Thotman said...

Richard, you may be a christmas nut but I think the floor and new water heater will make life sooo much better...its always nice to hear from you...hope your christmas was excellent, and that the next year will be the best ever!

At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

Woo hoo! I can post. I have been a devoted reader, but could never post. I just didn't want to sign up for one more thing.

Good writing, great thoughts, a nice place to visit.

I'll be back.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Norma said...

When you get a cold, you really get it! Happy to find another senior blogger. I'm keeping track.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Sorry you got a cold. I did too - right on Christmas day. They're calling it California Flu here but it's just a nasty cold. Get well soon.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Wow, you were given a challenging holiday!

I'm so sorry you haven't been well, and I'm praying for you. ;o)

What a shame about the diabetic grand-daughter. Isn't it funny how us women, when we're young (or sometimes when we're older) will get into danger trying to keep the myth of the skinny female alive in ourselves? Been there/ done that. I try to be more balanced, now.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

Absolutely grandly written... and funny too, although I'm certain it was anything but funny at the time! I'm sure the "grinch" was hiding out in that little black cloud that you sensed, doing his level best to steal your Christmas!

I think having the "big" Christmas dinner on Saturday is an absolutely wonderful idea. I don't know why I haven't thought of it. I absolutely practically kill myself every Christmas day trying to attend church and cook a complete Christmas dinner. I was so worn out after dinner I was simply glad the whole thing was over, and I didn't even have a cold!

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

Happy to hear your cold is finally fading. My daughter Thurs came down w/strep throat...oh my w/my heart condition sure hope I don't get it. Like you, I rarely ever get a cold..not sure why but it has always been that way.

I love huge families and it sounds like everyone enjoyed singing, cooking and clean-up. (smiling) Perhaps your wife is right (smiling) you may need to watch the ladders and the roof. (smiling) Me too, don't feel bad...I get dizzy.

Take care...and Happy New Year to you and your family.

P.S. Being from the South myself..from LA to AL...I know the southern traditions...w/cooking, etc. Yummy!!


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