Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fun Monday - Christmas Just Past

Our Fun Monday hostess this week is Sayre, and she wants to know:

What was the most touching, wonderful part of Christmas for you this year?
AND what was the craziest, stupidest, funniest part this year?

The most touching, wonderful part of Christmas... that's a tough one. This is the first year that we have had family members join us for Christmas. Typically it is just my family of three, or in some years a few friends who, like us, have far flung family, will stop by for brunch. But this year my mother and brother were able to join us for a few days. Diva was delighted to have them here to share Christmas with, and her delight was contagious.

The craziest, stupidest, funniest part - that's a lot easier. Kitchen errors tend to abound in our household. Typically they are mine (which is one of the reasons why Kilowatt cooks) but this year he got in on the act by confusing a Tablespoon with a Teaspoon. Not a big deal in some recipes; unfortunately, a big deal when you are making bread. Let's just say the first batch of bread was a bit flat and salty. Then there was my accidental overdoing the butter in the sweet potato recipe. Who knew that the stick of butter was supposed to go in the topping, not the potatoes themselves? Oops. Very heavy, greasy potatoes. And who besides me would try a new recipe out on company on Christmas Day? The dressing recipe left a bit to be desired -- like moisture. But no worries, we had plenty to eat anyway!

And here's that promised photo of our snow - better late than never! Yes, we had a White (and cold) Christmas. Although today it was in the mid-50's so the white stuff is going away fast.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Okay, who am I kidding? I'm not dreaming - we are 99.99999999% sure we'll have a White Christmas this year!

Just a quick update:
~ our generator made the rounds of our friends who weren't so lucky. It has returned home since out last power deprived friend found a place to buy a generator and figured he's going to need it. Today, one week post storm, they still don't have power.

~ In fact, as of this morning, NH still had 32,000 households without power.

~ we had a nuisance storm Wednesday - got a whole 2" of snow

~ kids had school Tuesday, Thursday, and 1/2 day today.

~ a Nor'easter is blowing in today. Depending on how it tracks, we'll get 5" - 10" of snow. I'll post pictures tomorrow if it stops snowing long enough to do so. Because fast on the heels of this storm is another, bigger storm that should dump at least an additional 8" on us.

~ that lawn tractor/snow blower we bought last January is looking like a real good purchase right now.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fun Monday -Random Acts of Kindness

Mommy Wizdom came up with what turned out to be a very timely topic this week for Fun Monday.  Her challenge to us:
Your job this week is to go out and perform a random act of kindness. Now, before you freak out, please read on. This is actually really easy!! This act may be for someone you know or for a perfect stranger. It can be big or small, it'll all up to you. Obviously, it should be something within your means. For instance, don't go out and buy your next door neighbor a car and then complain to me that you can't make your mortgage payment, ok?

So let me start by explaining that I live in Southern NH.  Yes, the place where a federal state of emergency has been declared.  In case you haven't heard, we were hit with a major ice storm in the early hours of Friday morning, which left 300,000+ homes and businesses without power.  To put that in  perspective, the total population of NH is only 1.3M.  The RECORD number of power failures in NH in past storms was a measly 94,000.  In our town of 17,000 people, there were still 4,500 houses without power as of Saturday night.  

The local chapter of the American Red Cross  has had a tough couple of years, between back to back floods in 2006-07, record snowfall last winter, and in 2008 a couple of large apartment complex fires that displaced a number of families, the most recent just a week ago destroying 28 apartments.  Now the Red Cross is operating a number of shelters throughout the state, as there are no hotel rooms to be found even for those who can afford a hotel.  

On Friday morning, the extent of the damage from the ice storm became clear as the only reliable source of information was the internet - our local TV and radio were off the air/operating on emergency generators with very low signals.  We were very lucky, we never lost power and by mid-afternoon what little ice had accumulated on our trees had melted.  The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at the school next door to my house.  A local nursing home was forced to evacuate their residents to this shelter, a school bus was found to transport them.  Diva and I spent the morning baking cookies and took them up to the shelter.  The volunteers there were so happy, as the NH Food Bank was furnishing meals, but sweets were in short supply.  

On Saturday, Diva's BFF revealed they were calling as far south as CT looking for a generator, and even if they could find one, would be lucky to find an electrician to come install it for them.  With temps heading down into single digits for the second night, they were afraid their pipes would freeze.  Kilowatt loaded our generator (which we thankfully did not need) and his tools into the car and was off again.   An hour later their house was slowly heating back up.  The local utility warns it could be a week or more before all power is restored, and we have another storm forecast for Wednesday into Thursday this week.  

We finished out the week with a run across town -- a couple of posts ago I lamented the loss of my 16 year old waterbed mattress, obviously Christmas wasn't a real convenient time to buy a new mattress. Well, we are fortunate enough that we could afford that mattress, and picked up a new one for my daughter also so we could move hers to the guest room. That left us with a spare bed - the Red Cross was able to put us in touch with a local organization called Beauty 4 Ashes who takes gently used furniture and distributes it to those in need. When I called the woman was very apologetic that they didn't have a truck available to come pick the bed up - no problem, with two SUV's we deliver! Since their storage unit is near Goodwill, let's see what we can find to take there on the way.  Double benefit - my house gets cleaned too!

Want to see what things look like up here?  The best source is local news station WMUR.  Today as I was driving across town what was most notable was that there were large areas with no visible impact from the storm, where just a few hundred yards away were large areas of devastation.  One road had no ice or visible damage on the left, but on the right all the trees still had a thick coating of ice.  I'll leave you with this photo, taken about a mile from my house.  Notice that you can see a line on the mountain where the ice begins....

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Christmas is a tough time of year in higher education, as class projects and final exams hit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it necessary to either start Christmas planning in October, or delay it until after exams. Since procrastination is my middle name, I tend to delay it until after exams.

So here we are on December 12, and I still have to complete a Philosophy paper for my studies and grade 15 class projects and 15 final exams for my students.

I haven't even considered what photo to use for our cards this year (thank you Snapfish for allowing me to order online and pick the next day at a local store.)

We were planning to go get our Christmas tree this weekend, but the ice storm has made so many roads impassable that may have to wait. Thankfully, we still have electricity (and internet access:)

Remember as a kid how it seemed like Christmas would never come? The tree went up shortly after Thanksgiving in our house, and the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas dragged on and on. We eagerly marked up the TV Guide for Rudolph, Frosty, and the Little Drummer Boy. If only I knew then what I know now - that having that time - to savor the anticipation of Christmas - was a gift in itself.

Oh well, that paper isn't going to write itself, and I have DVD's of Rudolph, Frosty and the Little Drummer Boy to watch after finals are over. I may not get to savor the anticipation of Christmas as I'm too doggoned stressed about getting shopping done, gifts wrapped and shipped (thank you Amazon for wrapping and shipping for me) (omg, when is Hanukkah this year?), decorations up, and mailing those Christmas/Hanukkah -- oh lets just make them New Years cards.....