Friday, December 17, 2010

Having Myself an Odd Little Christmastime

In my 41 years of life, I have spent a whopping two Christmases away from home. This year marks my third.

The first time was for the millennium, when we went to Sydney and spent Christmas Day on Bondi Beach. Talk about surreal! Girls in Santa bikinis and guys surfing while wearing Santa hats. Ho ho ho!

The second time was only a few years ago. Mr. J and I didn't really decorate the house, as it is not part of his upbringing. So just a few ornaments in my office. But, we spent Christmas eve with friends, laughing, eating, drinking, and being merry. So all was good.

And now my third year. Mr. J is on call all next week, and the tickets back east are ridiculously expensive from our little town of Boise. But I was determined to at least decorate the house and get a little of my Christmas on.

So, tonight, while Mr. J was working, I decided to decorate.

Of course, I didn't start until 9 p.m. Which really isn't a big deal, except for the fact that part of my thrifty Christmas plan was to cut down the little pine in the front yard.

So I trekked out to the "back 40" (of our 0.25-acre plot of land) to find the saw in the shed. Then I trekked across the semifrozen turf to the front yard and proceeded to saw away ... on my hands and knees ... in the pitch black cold night ... alone.

I was huffing and puffing and swearing at the fact that our saw was ridiculously dull (I'll probably find out tomorrow that I used a metal saw rather than the proper wood saw ... oopsie), when I looked up to see someone walking by. I can't even imagine what he related to his friends when he arrived wherever he was going. It probably looked like I was attempting to bury Rosemary's baby or some such sordid thing.

It's not really a Christmas pine. Definitely more Charlie Brown Christmas tree, with falling dead needles every time it shakes and all. But with a little tinsel (leftover from Mr. J's Santa Rampage costume) and several of the ornaments my mom collected for me throughout my upbringing, plus the kinda cool LED lights from Grocery Outlet (I love that store), it brings a touch of festiveness into our home.

I attempted to find some Christmas music to get me in the mood, but to no avail (the station that has been playing carols since BEFORE HALLOWEEN!! had some really crap crap music when I tuned in, and I just couldn't handle it). So instead I put on Pandora and listened to whatever came up. As I was putting on the finishing touches, I realized that the song was Tom Waits "The Road to Peace." What a happy festive little ditty.

There's nothing like putting on the finishing touches to your Christmas Tree while listening to a song about the dismal state of Israel and Palestine.


Merry Christmas?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Date Night

Technically, Mr. J does not believe in Date Night, which is really neither here nor there for this tale. But Sunday night, whether or not he cares to admit it, we went on a date.

After a 5-hour whirlwind of cleaning, during which I completed only 1.5 rooms (though the baseboards and fridge are now spotless), I was D-O-N-E with this house. And there was no way I was going to cook anything in my oven, mainly because it was sprayed top to bottom with stinky, fume-y oven cleaner. What had gotten me through much of my cleaning frenzy (which really only happens once a year, so I know to go with it when it hits) was the one sentence Mr. J had mentioned in passing while I was down on my knees, breathing in bleach, trying to get the high-velocity mud splatter off the walls (dang dogs): "We should go to Red Feather tonight."

In thanks for watching their pooch Roxie, our good friends gave us a super-generous gift certificate to one of the nicer restaurants in town. Thoughts of the Feather's tasty, unique cocktails and even tastier lamb ribs were what kept me going through three mops of the disgustingly dirty living room floor (where I was able to create an entire new life form from the piles of dog hair discovered under the furniture and behind the speakers).

So, by 5:30, even though I wasn't quite done with the kitchen, I declared that I had had enough. I was also starting to hallucinate, thanks to the lovely mixture of bleach, vinegar, goo-be-gone, and oven cleaner. I joked that maybe we should just stay in, as cooking a meal might help dissipate some of the fumes. Mr. J replied, "OK, if that's what you want."

Um ... Major Fail on his part.

He then came to his senses, after hearing me mutter and swear over the fact that I had mopped the kitchen floor four times and was still pulling up mud and dog hair, and said, "I think we should probably get you out of this house."


So off we went, arm in arm through the cool, fresh, bleach-free air, to the sanctuary that is Red Feather.

Sadly they were out of the lamb riblets (NOOO!). So instead we ordered the spicy sticky wings. No buffalo wings, these. They were full chicken wings covered in the most amazingly sticky, delicious garlicky sauce. Literally finger-lickin' good. Then onto their infamous spicy lamb burger for Mr. J and the mushroom-stuffed chicken for me. I chose poorly, but that's because it had been so long since I'd been out for a nice dinner, I had forgotten my cardinal rule: "Never order a chicken dish, unless you are in an Asian or Mexican restaurant." So that was my fault.

But then came dessert. We were both completely satisfied with our meal, but the folks at the table behind us and the waitress both recommended the beignets with hot butterscotch sauce. And let me tell you ... if you are ever in Boise, even just passing through, go to Red Feather and order yourself a plate of these little powdered-sugar-coated pieces of nirvana. And the sauce? To die for!! After polishing off the hot-from-the-frying-oil beignets, we still had half a cup of sauce. Mr. J was sopping it up with his finger, while I was trying to eat it with a fork (we are so "couth"). Our lovely waitress, noticing our dilemma, dropped off two soup spoons and mentioned, "These will help." Apparently she is an expert on how best to eat butterscotch sauce. I threatened to lick the crumbs off the table, but Mr. J gave me a look that said it might be a bit over the top, though I could tell he was seriously considering it as well. Mmmm-mmmm.

When it came time for the bill, our lovely waitress wished us a happy birthday (I'm still not sure if she thought it was our birthday. Perhaps it was so obvious that we are the type of folks who never go out for a nice dinner except for on super special occasions. Who knows.) and thanked us for being such pleasant guests on what I guess was a really crappy night for her. And in thanks, we got our beignets free! Who could be rude to this beautiful waitress of ours? Silly them! And in return, we gave her a whopping big tip (and still have $30 left on our gift certificate ... BONUS!).

On the way home, we by the capitol building, only to find a security guard stomping in the snow. We could tell he was writing something with his feet. I was sure it was something along the lines of "F-U, Mr. Governor." I mean, that's what disgruntled security guards do when they are bored and alone in the freezing cold, right? I didn't want to stop and stare. But Mr. J yelled out to the guy, "So, are you Robinson?" Because that, in fact, is what the guy was writing. Mr. Security Guard laughed with glee and asked, "You can read this? That's great!!" Apparently, his boss, named Robinson, was sitting in the security room, monitoring the cameras, and this guy was writing a little "hello." It just cracked me up and made me happy that he actually seemed to be a nice (albeit utterly bored) guy without any angry hangups, at least not that night.

Then again, maybe this was just an absolutely normal thing to see and I was just high on sugar and butterscotch.