More pictures from our trip to Evansville.....
I was sorely disappointed that we didn't get the snow that had been forecast on Christmas Day. SORELY disappointed I tell you. The next evening as I sat blowing my nose and cursing my cold Ernie said that the news had reported that Evansville Indiana had gotten something like six inches. "EVANSVILLE" I shouted..."EVANSVILLE got snow? Well, hell we should just GO there." I immediately started googling hotels in Evansville and Ernie shrugged his shoulders and said o.k. I asked Owen if he wanted to go explore Evansville and he said yes so I sent him off to Leo's command post to check with him. By the next morning it was decided and I gotten a cheap rate at a Drury Inn (not just free breakfast, but free dinner and drinks!). Our friend Gail agreed to check in on the cats so we were set. There's no particularly direct highway from here to Evansville which suited me just fine. We headed East to Danville and then straight south on little roads until we cut over to Vincennes and then on down to Evansville.
Pictures from the drive down:
We dumped the boys at the hotel. Leo was somewhat less than enamored with my back roads approach so they were glad to get out of the car for awhile. We installed them with their electronics and we set off to explore. I gotta say....I love river towns! Evansville's historic district by the river is absolutely freaking stunning. GORGEOUS buildings...Second Empires to the left and Second Empires to the right....just incredible....we drove around in awe. I consulted Yelp for Evansville bars and let the iPhone guide us to a top pick. It ended up in a strip mall but was o.k. Then we scurried back to the guys and partook of the Drury Inn's free dinner. We talked about swimming but we all felt delightfully lazy and just read and played and watched tv. At one point we looked out the window and the air was thick with snow. Owen and I hooted and hollered and finally went down and wondered through the parking lot in the snow. We were so happy. We went back in to the two stick-in-the-muds, shook the flakes off our hair and went to sleep.
The next morning we headed out. Ernie and I had spotted a transportation museum on our drive the night before so we headed over there. In the past few months Leo has once again acknowledged that he will always be a train guy. It does my heart good.
After that our next stop was the LST museum. When I had started googling things to do in Evansville I was reminded that the LST Museum is there on the river. I must admit that hit me in the heart a little. My father was on a LST in WWII and I know he would have loved to have gone and seen this. He belonged to an LST society and had followed the story of the group purchasing this LST in Greece where it had ended up and bringing it back to the US to be restored. By the time it was restored my father was too far gone for a trip to Evansville. At least that's what I tell myself but it bothers me a bit. Hindsight always leaves one seeing the things that you wish you had done. Anyway....I thought it VERY important for us to go in honor of my father.
Now I must say a cold snowy day is probably NOT the best time to tour a WWII LST. Much of the tour was on the lower decks but there was enough time outside on cold snowy metal that by the time we were through Owen's shoes were soaked through and we were all a bit shivery. As we piled into the car to blast the heat I said, "WHO would decide to go on this tour on a day like this?" and the whole gang of them shouted "YOU!" Ah...oh well....it was well worth it. Our guide was great and managed to answer even every one of Owen's questions. The pictures I took don't begin to do it justice. The scale of the thing was immense and the thought of my 17 year old father....and all those other young men....living on one of these for so long....and what they experienced there....it's just hard to express. Truly hard to express. Standing in the lower deck where tanks would have been lined up to be sent on shore was one thing....but what got me more was the mess hall where they ate, complete with a little window to pick up mail and paychecks. For some reason that hit me the hardest in thinking of my father. Afterwards I would have given anything to be able to call my parents and tell tham about it. As we got into the car however Leo said, "that was cool" and I almost fell right back out of the car. I was so, so glad that they boys enjoyed it---and associated it with their grandfather. It meant a lot to me.
The next thing planned was a tour of a Victorian house and we took pity on the boys and let them stay at the hotel and warm up. We then proceeded to go on one of the oddest tours I've ever been on. It was given by a high school student who has to do a certain number of hours of volunteerism. He was charming in a geeky way but didn't really give us a whole lot of information on the house. When was the house built? "ahhhhh...let me think...." It was still fascinating. I could never live in such a high Victorian environment but it was wonderful to see. My favorite part was the third floor which was the servents' area and is yet to be restored. Why IS it I like things best before they are restored? Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside. sigh.
At that point my feel were cold and killing me. I did a more thorough search on Yelp and came up with a delightful bar. The Peephole in downtown Evansville is highly recommended. It was warm and friendly (the bartender was kind of cute....reminded me of Grant Badger) and someone bought us a drink. Very nice.
Later, we meandered back to the boys and found Owen sound asleep and Leo enjoying the solitude. I suggested branching out beyond the Drury Inn' free fare and they agreed. Ernie found a dryer in the hotel to finish off Owen's jeans and shoes and once he was back in dry clothing we headed off to traditional Italian-American place. It might have been one of my favorite moments of the trip. The waiter started out pretty unfriendly but we warmed him up. We nibbled on toasted ravioli while we decided what to have and giggled back and forth. Leo chatted, Owen goofed and Ernie smiled. It was lovely. Just lovely. We rarely go out to dinner beyond our Fries and Peanuts excursions and even that is usually lunch. This was a nice treat. I ordered my favorite Eggplant Parmesan. Ernie asked me if it was as good as Dom's and I assured him that it wasn't. For a moment Owen was crushed, thinking I didn't like my food but then we explained Dom's....the place in Champaign where Ernie took me to dinner when we were first dating....I always ordered Eggplant Parmesan and the waitress would show up with a carafe of wine tucked under her arm. Ahhhhh. Of course Owen the romantic understood that kind of memory and relaxed happily.
We trudged back to the car...I suggested going to the park where they had holiday lights and was roundly voted down. I didn't mind. We bought dessert out of the vending machine and happily snuggled into our room. This morning we headed back...more back roads for much of the way. I had planned to go through Olney, Illinois. I thought a picture would be in order and had even read up on their population of white squirrels. Owen was in the front seat though (I'm a pushover) so I missed our turn off. Olney must wait for another trip. The snow covered trees in the south were beyond beautiful. It was stunning. Leo, Owen and I all eventually dozed off in the warm car, only to wake up to bare fields...no snow. Sniff.
I had my snow though....and Evansville was kind enough to even snow MORE for me while we were there. I am happy. There is nothing better than hanging out with my guys. This was a good way to end the year.
Happy New Year!
Poor Owen almost didn't make it through Christmas Eve....and I'm not sure whether it would have been death from extreme anxiety/excitement or me killing him. Either one was a possibility. He did his best to plan everything out....gave me strict instructions on where to place my clothes for the morning...so it wouldn't take me long to come downstairs. He had Ernie prepare the coffee for the next morning ahead of time and for some reason left his glasses placed under the Christmas tree.
I heard him get up about 2:30....he came and stood in our doorway. Our floors creak tremendously so if he just shifts his weight back and forth the creaks usually wake us up. We knew better and kept our eyes shut and didn't move. He went back to bed but showed up again around 3:00 asking if I could teach him how to fall asleep. I grunted and told him to crawl in with us for a little while. He eventually drifted off but I found myself rather claustrophobic and with no pillows for my head so around 4:00 I told him he had to go back to bed AND that he couldn't get up until AFTER 5:00.
Ernie and I have come down with rotten colds....so Christmas Day was quiet. I didn't even do the formal dinner we had planned....made a much simpler version and we ate as we curled up on the couch and watched Atomic Train. Nothing says Christmas like runaway trains with nuclear weapons on them. Actually, nothing says Christmas like being with my boys, spats and irritations and hugs and kisses and gifts all combined....
Merry Christmas to all.
It's Christmas Eve morning. Sinatra's Christmas album is playing, Ernie and Owen just took off for the grocery store to buy the ingredients for home made gummies, Leo is still sleeping and I just finished an outstanding plate of scrambled eggs made by Owen. He's already campaigning for he and Leo to exchange their presents (traditionally done on Christmas Eve) earlier in the day. It will be a LONG day....
I spent yesterday filled to the brim with happiness from our Christmas party with Fats and Kristi Rose. When Ernie told Kristi Rose it was the best one yet she bit her lip and then said, "well thank you very much Ernie but you know you said that last year too." We giggled but I think he's right....they just are better every time they are here. They have become true friends, so dear to us and to those that come every year....and so much a part of our Christmas. I sat here last night by myself in the light of the Christmas tree trying to articulate it all and damn I just couldn't pull the words out. Ernie and Owen were closed in the media room watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (I can't abide watching Chevy Chase....I don't even know why....it's like some kind of deep seated genetic response to him), Leo was happily Skyping/Minecrafting and I sat and listened to Christmas songs and tried to put words together about the Christmas party. But I didn't have them last night and I don't today. Suffice to say it did my heart good....old friends and new friends and good friends that hadn't been to our house yet....it was imperfectly perfect with wonderful food and gifts and SO much laughter. Nobody cared about my store bought pie crusts and I loved sharing my tourtiere Christmas tradition with everyone. I think my children even forgave me for yelling at them. Owen took coats for people and Leo put his ear buds in and stoicly and rather magnificently ignored the whole damn thing.....and the sounds of Kristi Rose's voice, and Fats' music in our house was......sublime.
One of my favorite moments of the evening was when Kristi Rose sang acapella Count Your Blessings from the movie White Christmas. When she finished Fats leaned over and kissed the top of her head. Then, of course, being Kristi Rose she went into Johnny Guitar.... Life is good.
I'm short on pictures....I just snapped a few and my master photographer Richard is having computer problems so we only have his one group shot (thank you Richard!). So if you have any pictures or video please send along or post if you don't mind!
oh....and remember....the twelve days of Christmas are just about to begin....it's never too late to get their magical Christmas album....we always play it long past Christmas day....
OH YES....and I think everyone who won a prize in the drawing needs to send a picture to me of them with (or wearing) their prize!!!
Merry Christmas all....Merry Christmas!
It's 11:01 and I'm having a glass of wine.
Here's the trash can that was just emptied of all the pie crust disasters.
Why these pie crusts were disasters when the practice one was so divine....I do not know. That's why I don't bake.
Ernie finally swept them into the trash can and said, "I'm making a call....we're using store bought crust."
Owen told me to stop crying. He said if I kept crying we'd have to cancel the party. "WE'RE NOT CANCELING THE PARTY!" I said uh...calmly. He looked at me and sighed...."I was JOKING Mom."
I'm going to sit here and compose myself. Then I'm going unroll those fucking pie crusts and slap some tourtiere filling in them.
All will be well.
Last night Owen wanted to gather everyone in the living room for an 'improvement day.' Not an improvement day for the house he explained, but one for all of us. We would go around the room and say how we'd like the others to improve. Honestly this smelled like a trainwreck but I was intrigued so I said o.k....as long as everyone said something they like about the person as well.
Leo of course GROANED (understandably) but we finally dragged him off Minecraft. Then Leo sat in a chair that had these great jingle bells sitting behind it. He promptly got his hair stuck in the jingle bells and I MUST say that Ernie and I deserve HIGH PRAISE for not giggling hysterically. I mean really....Leo getting his hair stuck in some jingle bells...how perfect is that. I extricated him and tried to spare his dignity as much possible (giggle).
Owen started and his complaints about Leo were that he should wash his hands more often, that I should be a little quicker to get up and answer the phone and do things and Ernie? Well Owen's fault with him was that he works SO HARD that he doesn't take enough breaks.
I kid you not.
I did not vomit though....I just nodded my head.
I can't remember what Owen said was nice about me. Leo refused to say anything bad (uh...I mean constructive) about anybody but said he liked how I cared for all of them and he liked how Ernie played with him and Owen. I forget what he said nice about Owen.
EVERYBODY'S comment about Ernie (even Owen chimed in) was that he swears too much. When asked what I needed improvement on Ernie just commented that he sometimes wondered why the boys were always dropping their clothes on the floor and then he said, "oh but look....there's a bra there...and over there...."
Yeah, yeah, yeah....
I gotta say I was sure this was headed for disaster but it ended up being pretty sweet. Ernie even cried when he tried to say what he liked about the boys. Man I love my boys.
Today Ernie and I went and bought supplies for tourtiere, and then bought oranges and pecans from a truck in Farm N Fleet's parking lot in the freezing rain and wind. Now Ernie and Owen are shopping for Leo's present and God know's what else that Owen can come up with. Then they're off to borrow pie plates (thanks Sasha and Dick!). I'm braising some pork country ribs in orange juice and soy sauce and I just made cranberry sauce for Saturday's party.
The wind is blustering and it's snowing a little.
It's been a revoltingly nice day.....
I had the loveliest of evenings last night. Got home to my boys and Leo wasn't coughing quite as much. Owen was in an alarmingly good mood which means he was louder than ever and kept collapsing to the ground and rolling around like a puppy.
We had warned Leo that we would be kicking him off the computer at 7:00 so we could watch Eric Brace and Peter Cooper on Stage It (don't worry---we're still working on a Spring house concert date for the guys). He acquiesced without too much grumbling so we settled in happily. Owen came and sat with us and the three of us giggled and sang along to the gorgeous Home For Christmas song by Last Train Home and I commented too many times as I am wont to do. Beautiful guys, beautiful voices, beautiful songs....
Ernie and I ate late because I can't get it together early enough some nights (read MANY nights). I wasn't sure what to make. I had a package of three huge chicken breasts so I took them out and perused the refrigerator. I found a jar of kosher dill pickles and peppers and wondered how it would taste with chicken.
I poured the pickles and all the brine over the chicken breasts, let it sit awhile and then added salt and pepper. I roasted them skin side up at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes. You know what? It was DAMNED good. Just a bit spicy and tangy...and the slightly browned chickeny pickles were great! I think next time I'd use a mixture of chicken pieces and let it marinate overnight but it really was quite delightful. I microwaved a couple of baby potatoes and sauteed some Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil and we were done. Granted we ate after 9:00 but what the hell....a delightful evening....
Today is my last day of work until after New Year's Day. My sympathies to all of you in retail and other jobs that don't give you time off this time of year. I have worked enough retail and Ernie did for years so we savor this break I get now.
I'm not going to hold my breath, the breath you used to take away from me....
From the Red Beet Records site:
Eric stole that line, "life is short and talk is cheap, don't make promises you can't keep," from Mose Allison. Other than that, just a melancholy country shuffle, whose vocal ending is a tribute to the original lineup of the great D.C. area bluegrass band The Seldom Scene.
The winter wind is blowing
Where your hand should be
Running through my hair and
Holding on to me
I wish I hadn't called
It hurt to hear your voice
I got the time zones backwards
The line was full of noise
And you promised to be
Home for Christmas
Life is short and talk is cheap
So don't make promises you can't keep
You promised to be home for Christmas
I'm not going to hold my breath
The breath you used to take away from me
I read between the lines
Each and every one you fit
On the back of postcards
I could see were quickly written
Move from place to place
In the name of change
You say you're growing up
But look whose life got rearranged
And you promised to be
Home for Christmas
Life is short and talk is cheap
So don't make promises you can't keep
You promised to be home for Christmas
I'm not going to hold my breathe
The breath you used to take away from me
I love Christmas.....even in the hard times...whether they are MY hard times or those of the world... So why is it that so many of the songs I love about Christmas are sad? Not all of them mind you....God knows the Slade song isn't sad. Is it just because I know it's a hard time for many people? Is it because I just need the sadness to balance out the...well....the sometimes FORCED cheer? Or is just that the ones with some sadness tug at my heart and that's what Christmas does too?
I don't know....but I do like like the ones that tug at my heart for one reason or another....
Are your favorite Christmas songs sad or happy?
1. We're not merry, no.....
2. It's CHRIIIIISSSTTMMMASSSS...
3. Kenmore Square's deserted...the college kids have all left town...
4. I wept a bit....and fed the cat....
5. and the bells are ringing for Christmas Day...
6. got laid off at the factory and their timing's not the greatest in the world...
7. It's your uncle calling Angel can you put your mama on the phone?
One of those up and down weekends.....low points ranged from a family wide meltdown midday on Sunday to listening to Obama read the names of the children in the Newtown CT shooting....to having to work on Saturday afternoon...which really pales in comparison to the first one, much less the second one. We sucked it up and survived and the bright points were running into my beloved Jim Dennison at Fries and Peanuts, watching the Polar Express with the boys and going to a party on Saturday night. Have you ever met someone, and liked them and then visited their house and reazlied they are batshit crazy in all the very best ways? It was great...thanks to Jeff, Sarah and Ellen....it was a lovely evening! I think we also finished our Christmas shopping. Don't hate me though it's the first time in my life that I have finished this early. We don't have that many people to buy for though...it's mostly just the boys and that's just fun.
The music from the Polar Express is now stuck in my head. I love that movie. I don't think it got the greatest reviews but we absolutely adore it. It is otherworldly and perfect to us. Ernie has a habit of quoting from it all year round but then again...that's just Ernie....
Don't forget....this coming Saturday, the 22nd, is our 4th Annual Fats Kaplin and Kristi Rose Holiday House Concert! Do NOT miss this. As always, it's BYOB (although I'll have lemonade for any one who wants it). The potluck (bring something that says the holidays to you if you like) will be at 6:00 and then music to follow. As much as I love all our house concerts...the Christmas one is special. We'd love to have you. Don't forget to pay up ahead of time (link at the top right). $20 ahead, $25 cash that day. Just let me know if you have questions. More info at the Sandwich Life House Concerts page on facebook.