07 December 2010

Things I Absolutely Must Do Tonight

-clean off the table
-finish wrapping presents
-clean the toilet
-address and stamp thank you notes
-put together box for Kasey and Matt
-write notes for the Bible study I'm teaching on the basic historical-cultural exegesis of Matthew in two days
-compile medical bills that must be paid before we leave for Texas on Thursday
-straighten up the living room for Ainslie's physical therapist appointment tomorrow
-take out the trash

And guess who has no interest in sleeping and only wants to be held by Mommy while Papa's at work?  I'll give you a hint, it starts with "Ai" and ends with "nslie".  La vida.  Loca.

(Also, notice how "waste time blogging" isn't on the list.)

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was a joy, a symphony of smells in my tiny, steamy kitchen.  "It's a matriarch's holiday," I thought to myself with probably a little too much smugness as I puttered from one kitchen surface to the next, the sole cook for my hungry little family.  I had woken up that morning at four to feed Ainslie and found myself actually disappointed (for once) that the local(-ish, Juneau doesn't have a local news station) channel actually paid attention to the four-hour time difference between here and the East coast and scheduled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at 9am Pacific Time instead of Eastern.  I would have to wait a few more hours for my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  And wait (impatiently) I did, but soon enough Kip, Ainslie and I were sitting on the couch in our pajamas eating cinnamon rolls and critiquing (and I use that term loosely...it was more like Kip criticizing and me defending) the pre-parade entertainment.  And the world was right.

For the first time ever, I made cranberry sauce from scratch.  Why I thought it was going to be difficult, I have no idea.  Turns out it was actually easier than opening the can of jellied sauce I'd bought just in case mine didn't work (and I'm not making that up, do you know how hard it is to be left handed and try to use a right handed can opener?).  I had a few pears lying around that were about to go bad and conveniently found a recipe variation for cranberry sauce with pears and ginger, so I gave it a try.  The result?  Delish!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Pears and Ginger
1 bag fresh cranberries, picked through
2 ripe pears, cored peeled and diced
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Combine the sugar, ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to ensure the sugar and ginger dissolve.  Add the cranberries and pears, stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Lean over the pot and take a good, deep sniff.  Allow the mixture to simmer until the cranberries begin to pop (or until you begin to salivate, it happens around the same time), cook until slightly thickened then turn off heat.  Cool and serve at room temperature if you can resist eating it until then.

It. smelled. divine.

Per the deal that Kip and I made on Thanksgiving Eve, as soon as the parade was over, he got to watch football.  He took the opportunity to tutor Ainslie on the finer points of the game while I set to work in the kitchen.
Eventually, after six hours of cooking, one mid-afternoon phone call to Mom ("Well, when this morning did you put the turkey in the oven?"  "I haven't yet" ::long pause:: "And when were you planning on eating?"), and three guests (including one on-duty officer who refused my appetizers but wanted to see the score of the Cowboys game) later, Kip and John (one of the aforementioned guests) stood over our turkey scratching their heads.  They eventually figured out how to carve it about seven minutes before I dropped the crescent roll I'd been transferring to a basket and cried, "Oh no!  We forgot to take a picture of Ainslie next to the turkey!"  They decided that there had been greater tragedies in the world and set back to their task while I swore up and down that we couldn't forget to do it at Christmas.  

Then came the inevitable silence for ten minutes as we all ate, followed by a group staring contest with all the dirty dishes.  The dishes won big time, and they sat in dirty splendor on the counter all evening while Kip, Ainslie and I collapsed on the couch in a family tryptophan coma and the neighbors down the street lit a wood fire that made the entire neighborhood smell like home.  

The End.

03 December 2010

On Advent

"If we are tempted to grumble about a culture that has forgotten Christ, then perhaps we are beginning to sense the longing of the prophets [for Christ before He came in the first Christmas]."
-Scott Hahn, from the chapter on Advent in "Signs of Life"

01 December 2010

Oxford Folders

I attempted to clean our room today and stumbled upon an old friend: Oxford University.  In going through a box of old-ish clothes, I also found my folders of notes and photos and info sheets from the summer program I attended at Christ Church, Oxford in 2008, waaaaaaay back in the beginning of this blog, when it was called "Bolaskoxfordia" and I was globetrotting for the summer catching parasites in Bolivia, knowledge in Oxford, and falling deeper in love in Alaska.  It was interesting, like seeing the remnants of an old relationship.

The Oxford folders were worn on the sides from being stuffed in my frame pack while I was traveling, and then taking up residence with me at school and moving with me to Alaska...they were too important to me to pack up with the rest of the books I knew I wouldn't need in between college and grad school, and so I took them with me to Juneau knowing full well that I'd never use them.  When I picked them up this afternoon, feeling their smooth surfaces, I instantly missed it.  The feeling I had while I was there that I was part of something important, the optimism I had that I'd be back for grad school, the adventure of traveling internationally by myself (and the subsequent shock when I realized how lonely that was).  Gosh, those folders even smelled like nearly a millennium of academic excellence.  I could've guessed at the time that I'd be married a year after that, but I never thought that two years later I'd be staying at home, still in Juneau, hanging out with my cat and waiting on the birth of my first child.  At the time, I was discontentedly happy to be sitting through an afternoon class on the connections between postmodern philosophy, Trinitarian theology and wisdom literature, Skyping with Kip at night, and lugging my frame pack across High Street to catch a bus to London, cussing out the wet cobblestones as my flip-flopped feet slipped on every other one.  I was sad to be so far away from Kip and completely overwhelmed at the subject matter of what I was learning, but I loved every minute of it.  And I miss it.  It's not that I don't love my life now, but I do miss having something more complex to think about than diapers and dishes.  Just a thought.