Well, here come the holidays. The entire month of December, especially the latter half, is a mess. In our household it means two birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s eve, and all the collateral folderol that comes with those events.
This year we at least decided to cut back on the excess nonsense. Primarily Christmas at the homestead means a full house-plus of dogs . Some people don’t want to share the holiday with their dog, traveling or some other excuse, so they board them with us. We don’t mind really, it’s our business. If I recall correctly we will have about six thousand extra dogs over Christmas weekend. Okay, maybe not that many, but be it six or six-thousand it means constant work, dawn till dusk.
This Christmas since it’s just the three of us adults, we decided to not overspend, not over think, and just get one gift for the household, then little stuff, stocking fodder for each other. I was able to comply with only two hours total of shopping, barely leaving Walmart. We didn’t even put up the normal tree. We did get out the foot-tall ceramic tree that we plug little red plastic bulbs into. It takes about two minutes to erect, another five to plug in the bulbs, voila, done. And of course my 73 nutcrackers have been standing up on the hutch since Thanksgiving. There are three stockings on the mantel, stuffed probably with candy, chapstick, ink pens, pocket puzzles and the like, mostly stuff that can be found at a checkout line. It’s all the fun of unwrapping gifts without the expense and dismal sense of failure you get from mis-guessing the other person’s wishes.
Then there’s the birthdays, mine on the 21st, Adam’s on the 22nd.
All I ever really want for my birthday is a decent meal. This caused enough problems. Angel would simply not allow the place I actually wanted to go, Burger King. After a week or two of “I’ll think on it” the time had come to actually make a decision, I opted for shrimp and a baked potato, at home. This describes perhaps, one of my favorite dining experiences, ever. Adam wants pizza, so on his night we’ll do that. He will be getting gifts, he spent much of the year out of work so we got him a thing or two. I offered to replace the speakers in his car, but with his work/school schedule being almost the exact opposite as mine, I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
On Christmas day Angel and maybe Adam will head down to Springfield to celebrate with her family, leaving me to tend to the six thousand dogs, and everything else. No time for a traditional meal, we’ve decided to repeat last year’s tradition and pick up a couple of family buckets at KFC. Enough to cover several ad hoc meals. Mmmm, KFC.
Needless to say with all the dogs starting to come and go, and with our relentless work/shopping schedules, we did not exactly eat out this past weekend.
Saturday morning I was up early (around 8:00) Angel had already been up with the dogs for an hour. I had things to do so I showered and dressed immediately. First things first, I poured more antifreeze into the mighty Alero, it’s the only way to make that stupid red light on the dashboard go out. I asked Angel if she wanted some breakfast since I felt like a good cup of coffee and such things are just not available from the swill pot Angel brews up at home. She said sure, as long as it had meat in it. I suggested Hardees since I knew they made decent coffee. She replied that yes, that would be fine, and that she wanted a breakfast burrito. I’d never heard of such a silly thing but acceded. It only took a few minutes to get there, sure enough that pesky little light stayed off, and I knew what I wanted.
#3 Combo medium-ized, with coffee for me, a breakfast burrito and tots for Angel. Total cost five dollars and change. A #3 is an egg/cheese/sausage biscuit with tots. I like tots. I like tots a lot. I took it all home and while still warm we had breakfast together. By together I mean there were no walls between us and we ate at the same time. I was at the dining room table, my faced buried in a book (‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’, the second in the ‘Millennium’ series by the late Stieg Larsson ). Angel sat in the living room watching Sponge-Bob on TV, and balancing her netbook in her lap. It was downright romantic, we hardly ever get to eat together at home.
She had a class scheduled for 10:00, I had things to do, haircut and shopping, which is twice the amount of things I am usually comfortable doing in one day. The haircut fell through, the clip joint had a full house and anticipated a thirty minute wait. That blew the deal for me so I went shopping. I picked up my usual HBA’s (Health and Beauty Aids, in our house we buy our own so as not to rile up the other with faulty choices, flawed substitutions, or bad assumptions.) and a few stocking stuffers.
After about an hour I returned home, class was out but Angel had left to show a couple of dogs at PetSmart. These two female dogs had been with us for a week or two, a small mini-pinscher 'Star' (I call her Peggy, Angel doesn’t) and ‘Sunshine’ a brown, medium sized and overweight boxer or ridgeback mix we also refer to as ‘Fat Deedee’ since she has the same color and facial features as our Deedee, but about fifteen extra pounds.
While at the store I’d also strategically picked up some sugar, oatmeal, butter and cocoa powder. I had never made no-bake cookies before but I was determined. It took less time than I’d thought and there was plenty. They cooled while I checked email and Facebook.
I goofed around long enough to cycle the dogs, something that has to be done every couple of hours, then I took a nap. Naps are required activities on the weekend, it’s not debatable. By the time I got up Angel was home, and we were hungry. I looked in the refrigerator and found exactly one half package of lunch meat and some leftover chili. I made Angel a ham, egg and cheese sandwich, I had the chili. I offered Angel another cookie, it was obvious she’d had a few already, she growled at me. She accuses me of trying to make her fat. I just like making her things she likes and wants but refuses to make for herself. She’s perfectly welcome to NOT eat any.
I still needed a haircut. Angel gets to nap on Sundays, I tended the dogs for an hour or so, made some mashed potato waffles* (yes it can be done!) and headed out. I also needed to finish shopping. The Great-Clips in Festus was not too crowded, a ten minute wait at best, so I was in and out pretty quickly, especially since the lady that cut my hair was not overly-meticulous or detail oriented. She asked me how I wanted it cut, I replied my usual “Just start trimming and only stop when I’m pretty.” This has backfired on me on more than one occasion. Like this time. She didn’t recognize my natural beauty as quickly as others have. It’s not too bad, but it certainly accentuates the cowlick more than anything else. But that’s okay, I’m a middle aged man with a full, thick head of hair. . . things could be much worse.
I had to drive to Fenton after Festus, no small jog. I was after a specific gift and knew only one place to get it. In the meantime I stopped in Target and found a couple of books. I needed to gift myself to appease the in-laws. I picked up the third in the Larsson series ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest’ as well as Steve Martin’s new novel ‘An Object of Beauty: A Novel’. Both hardback, I actually paid full price, something I rarely do. Merry Christmas.
I made it home in time to find Angel out with the dogs, our plans to take the boy out for a late lunch somewhere (a place that would have been critiqued here) were dashed by the now-taggered doggy-pickup schedule that Angel had to stick around for. She did offer to go get something to eat since there was even less lunchmeat and no chili left.
We couldn’t decide on what or where so Angel just chose Hardees. I declared that I wanted one of those burgers with the bacon and sourdough bread, Adam wanted a chicken sandwich. She was gone for only about twenty minutes.Angel just got some sort of Chicken Club, because she lacks imagination.
1/3 pound Frisco Thickburger, Fries, (home made) Ice tea.
The Frisco is probably my favorite fast-food burger anywhere. The meat is good, char-broiled, with Swiss cheese and bacon on sourdough bread. The fries are merely so-so, but the burger was delightful.
We ate together, by that I once again mean at the same time without walls between us, my face was buried in my book, Angel with her Sponge-Bob and Netbook, Adam in the recliner with his laptop.
It’s not unusual for the three of us to be together watching TV with all of our laptops opened up. We can actually talk with each other through Facebook’s chat feature that way. It’s important for families to dine together, spend time together and chat. Technology just makes it much easier for us devout introverts. I didn’t have my computer on so I don’t know if there were any actual conversations taking place, the book was getting really good.
I finished quickly, started my laundry (we each do our own, yet another tip from a happily married man) walked a couple of dogs, watched a few minutes of TV, Facebook, Email, then went down for a nap. I only really need one nap per weekend, but I must get that one, so the second one goes into the bank in case the subsequent weekend doesn’t allow for one. I’m currently ahead by about three years.
I got up and was not especially hungry, so normal dinner time came and went. About 7:00 though Angel made herself a sandwich so I figured I must be hungry too, just not for much. So I made my special soup.
Sautee to desired level of doneness 1 chopped slice of onion. Pour in tomato soup, ½ can of water, ¼ can of milk. Simmer until patience wears thin, serve.
That and a handful of chips and I was good to go. Then we each had a cookie or two.
None of this was typical or atypical, really, just a busy weekend at home, doing normal stuff, whiling away yet another weekend. Did I mention it was also normally grocery day? The hectic dog schedule prevented us from re-stocking the fridge, so we were really just utilizing the dregs that were left over from the last trip. Hardees happens to be the closest chain to our house, so it is convenient and fast. It doesn’t hurt that they make their sandwiches pretty darn tasty.
Tuesday will be shrimp, Wednesday pizza, then on Friday we pick up the Holiday feast, buckets of KFC with all the trimmings. Christmas day afternoon and most of the day afterward I will be by myself, with six thousand dogs, a boatload of chicken and a few good books. Not exactly traditional Christmas card stuff, but I will indeed be filled with the warmth of a loving, if not highly communicative family, a cozy home filled with happy, furry critters, some good food, and enough pleasant memories to keep me quite content.
Happy Holidays to all!
My personal gift to you, my fans:
Mashed potato waffles:
Mashed potatoes 2 cups or so.
Shredded Cheese, whatever your cholesterol level can take.
2 TB chopped/diced onions
¼ cup (approximate) crushed crumbs, Corn flakes or Ritz-type crackers.
2 eggs, separate the shells from the insides, discard the shells.
1 tsp Baking powder
Warm up the waffle iron, set it to ‘Dark’.
If you have leftover mashed potatoes, fine, if not, make some with flakes, the smallest listed serving size. While the water boils and the butter melts, sauté some chopped onion, a couple of tablespoons is all you really need.
Once the potatoes have set up add in a handful or twelve of the shredded cheese, the onions, and mix it all about. Toss in the crumbs, add the eggs and the baking powder, stir till smooth. The glop should be batter-like but not too wet. Let set for a couple of minutes. (Add more crumbs or milk to correct the texture.)
Toss the batter onto the waffle iron and step away. These will take some time due to the high moisture content, your patience will be rewarded.
No need for syrup, that stuff is just nasty, but if you must, at least try a bite or two without. The taste is better than mother’s milk… not that I remember or would know.. I just mean they taste great all by themselves.