An Abnormal Normal Christmas

Back to Normal Christmas Letter
For many years I wrote an Annual Christmas Letter for family and friends. There wasn’t much to report on a personal level in 2020 and 2021 because of Canadian pandemic social restrictions. Everything I wanted to say about everything else was on my blog – so I didn’t do letters for those two years.

January 2022 was the end of the pandemic for The Car Guy and I. We promptly got Covid when we left the restrictions in Alberta and moved to the open social life of Arizona – sure made writing the Annual Letter more interesting and easier to write!

An Abnormal Christmas
The Car Guy and I moved up our migration to Arizona to early December 2022. That meant we celebrated Christmas with real family in Alberta in November, while December Christmas was a series of virtual visits with family who were also in small pods in far flung places. Our Christmas Day meal was a simple gourmet BBQ hamburger dinner for two – if that isn’t a stress free holiday recipe, I don’t know what is!

One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.
– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone –

I always know what I’m getting for Christmas…
fat… I’ll get fat.

I bought my brother some gift wrap for Christmas. I took it to the gift wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.
– Steven Wright –

As for this post – “It’s A Wrap” too!

Christmas Tangle 2022 – A No Snow Holiday This Year

We  are in sunny AZ this holiday season. We arrived here just in time to miss the snow and bitter cold that is making travel so hazardous in western Canada and the USA right now! I’d like to say it was good planning on our part, but weather is too unpredictable for us to take any credit for our choice!

To all of you who have been a part of our lives in a great or small way – The Car Guy and I wish you all

Safe Travels,
A Very Merry Christmas
and
All the Best in the New Year!

All my favourite holiday Quotations: Christmas Quotations

My very first Christmas Post: The Annual Christmas Letter.

Perhaps my best Christmas Story: Home – The LEGO Businessman and the Oranges

A Gallery of my Christmas Tangles:

This is the Week That Was – In the Christmas ‘Spirit’

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?
– Clement Stone –

Easy Peasy Cork Wreath: first, drink hundreds of bottles of wine…



Update on the Paper Bag Snowflakes

I thought I ordered lunch size brown bags and smaller white bags. I guess not.
Three snowflakes done – finished size is 16 inches (40 cm).

When you are into Paint Pouring, Everything Looks like a Canvas…

I’m painting some scuffed old ornaments with acrylic pour paints.
We don’t have a cat any more, but the memory of it climbing the Christmas tree is still vivid. I remember the event each year when I am putting up the ceramic angel ornament that was bifurcated when the tree (with cat clinging to the apex) assumed a lateral aspect.


Song of the Snowbird

Oh, the weather outside was frightful,
The snow was not delightful.
And since we’ve got a place to go
We drove, to a home, without snow.

Glad to be in Arizona again!

Meanwhile, Back in the Land of Ice and Snow

Paper Lunch Bags – Some Quotes and Giant Snowflakes!

Paper Bag Quotations are at the end of this post.

These Giant Paper Bag Snowflakes seem to be very popular with crafters this year. They appealed to me because they are so ‘over the top’ big!

I had all the supplies on hand – brown paper lunch bags (you could use any color of bags); hot glue or white glue; scissors and or X-Acto knife;  cord or ribbon (for hanging).


Each snowflake uses 9 to 10 paper bags (depends on the size of the bag) that are glued and stacked one on top of the other. With the bags still folded,  run a bead of glue along the base of the bag and another bead down the center of the bag. Lay another bag on top of the glued bag,  making sure they line up. Press (with your hands) along the glue lines. Repeat with next bag.
Once a stack is glued together (I made two stacks, cut them, then glued the stacks together), cut shapes with scissors or an X-Acto knife. Do not cut into the glued areas.

Next, carefully unfold the snowflake (see the video at the end of this post  to see how.) Run two beads of glue in the same manner as before to stick the first and last bags together.

Glue a loop of string as shown in the video below. I glued the loop about a third way down one arm of the snowflake so that the snowflake would be  suspended from a thicker section. Hang the snowflake. I used long T-pins for snowflakes that I mounted on the wall.

I hung some of mine in front of windows. I hung other ones on the wall.

Paper Bag Quotations:

I caused my husband’s heart attack. In the middle of lovemaking I took the paper bag off my head. He dropped the Polaroid and keeled over and so did the hooker. It would have taken me half an hour to untie myself and call the paramedics, but fortunately the Great Dane could dial.
– Joan Rivers –

I’d learned some things. I knew you weren’t supposed to hold a good wine at the top – the paper bag falls off.
– Pat Paulsen –

I scoop a clattering cascade of green apple Jelly Bellys into the white paper bag and remember when we were seven. I got stung by a jellyfish. Tim cried because his mother, and mine, wouldn’t let him pee on my leg, which he’d heard was an antidote to the sting.
– Huntley Fitzpatrick –

It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in “Wuthering Heights” with one’s head in a Food Fair bag.
– Joan Didion –

“My God”, I said. “You move so silently. So you have had ninja training.”
“I have two older brothers,” Vince said. “It’s the same thing.”
I held up the white paper bag and bowed. “Master, I bring a gift.”
He looked at the bag curiously. “My Buddha bless you, grasshopper. What is it?”
I tossed him the bag. It hit him in the chest and slid to the floor. “So much for ninja training,” I said.
– Jeff Lindsay –

Pray note that my chest does not appear to be a toast rack in a wet paper bag.
Mort glanced sideways at the top of Ysabell’s dress, which contained enough puppy fat for two litters of Rotweilers, and forbore to comment.
– Terry Pratchett –

Secrets are like honey in a paper bag. Eventually, they leak out.
– Drew Bankston –

The brown paper bag is the only thing civilized man has produced that does not seem out of place in nature.
– Tom Robbins –

Literary Origami – Book Fold Trees

Some people won’t dog-ear the pages… Favorite books should be naked, faded, torn, their pages spilling out. Love them like a friend, or at least a favorite toy. Let them wrinkle and age along with you.
– Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin –

Book Folding – ‘dog-earing’ taken to the extreme…

This folded book tree is a full circle. To prepare this book for folding, the two covers and spine cover are torn off.  Break the spine (ouch!) in numerous places to make it easier to form the folded book into a circle. Use a glue gun to join the spine edges together when the folding is complete. Glue on a ‘trunk’ – or not. It will stand by itself either way.
This book tree is a half circle. Leave the covers on. Break the spine in lots of places to make folding easier. If you want this book to stand on its own, then don’t glue on a ‘trunk’. I glued on a trunk and some buttons – I’ve hung it on a wall using a plate hanger.

Step by Step Instructions: (these show a book without a cover.)

Step 1 – Fold 1: Top right corner of the page folded to the middle of the book. Use a bone folder or back of a spoon to make the folds crisp.
Step 2 – Fold 2: Right side of the page folded to the middle.
Step 3 – Crease 1: this is a crease at the bottom of the page to mark where the folded page hangs down below the bottom edge of the book.
Step 4 – Fold 3: Unfold Fold 2 and fold the crease up that you made in Step 3
Step 5 – Refold Fold 2 with Fold 3 tucked under. Use clothes pegs or some other large clip to hold the folded pages out of the way.
This is what your tree looks like after the first few pages are folded. As you fold more pages, keep pressing the book open along the spine so that all folds align the same with the spine.

Decorating

Go Wild! The Full Circle Tree: I glued a bow onto the top and a ‘trunk’ cut from a small branch of a tree to the bottom. The Half Circle Tree – I glued a heavy Christmas paper to the inside of the covers. I added a bow to the top and a trunk to the bottom. I tied some crochet cotton onto buttons to make the bows, then glued them onto the tree.

All my other Literary Origami Posts are at Book Fold.

My other Book Fold Projects

The Halloween Tree

‘Twas a night after Halloween, and what did we see?
Snow in abundance covering all trees
(heavy, wet snow, brisk wind, drifting…)

The pumpkins were lit and though shining so bright,
They couldn’t dispel the gloom of that night.

And then in a twinkling a thought came to me,
What was needed were lights from a Christmas tree!

I spoke not a word, but went straight to the task
And soon in the light of the tree we did bask.
(Well, the pumpkins basked – we admired while curled up in our comfy chairs.)

And that, dear readers, is why and how I violated the social admonishment (as expressed in social and mass media) that I not decorate for Christmas until after American Thanksgiving! Yes, I know, I’m walking on the wild side!

(Sometimes social media can be a preachy, self-righteous, sanctimonious kind of place…)

Just remember, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way.
– M*A*S*H –

This is the Week That Was: January 8, 2021 – Trees and a Virus

Holding on to Christmas


I put all the Christmas decorations away last week – everything but the Christmas tree. The tree takes up quite a bit of space in the living room – so I scooted it out to an adjoining area. Now it is out of the way, but still clearly visible when I sit in my favourite chair!

I think it will stay there for quite a while. The lights make me happier and I need all the happy I can get to dispel the gloom of Alberta winter nights and mandated Covid social limitations.

We’ve turned the corner on sunlight, of course. The shortest day was December 21, and we are gaining almost a minute a day of daylight right now. We’ve also had a few weeks of mild weather. That is to say, temperatures have been such that I’ve traded heavy winter mitts for light ones when I go for a walk.

We’ve spotted the moose, a few times, though not in our yard. They have been favouring the lands west of us. We’ve been seeing more non-local vehicles drive up and down our road lately. I suspect they are hoping they will see the moose too.

Loopholes

As you can see, we’re still in Alberta. We haven’t made the annual snowbird trek to Arizona yet. Travel outside of Canada is not advised and we aren’t allowed to enter the USA by car.  In one of those strangely odd ‘rule loopholes’, we are allowed to fly there, though. That makes Arizona happy because they need the tourist dollars.

The Car Guy is ready to pack his bags and board a plane. I’m not so enthusiastic. For whatever reason, I’m just not keen to get into a metal tube full of people wearing masks to fly to a State where a different group of politicians is making rules that also ignore the concept of good ‘risk management.’

More Memes and Jokes

2021 – A new year, a new crop of memes and jokes – and names to remember. Covid-19 is now more commonly called SARS-CoV-2. You might remember that it became politically incorrect to refer to it as Wuhan flu or China virus, but you might be forgiven if you call the new variants UK variant and South Africa variant. Remembering their real names,  20B/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01 and 20C/501Y.V2 is just a bit much.

There doesn’t seem to be a run on toilet paper so far.
We got a message from our nephew a while back. He wanted to thank the person who responded to his desperate search for yeast – and he thought it was funny that the yeast came wrapped like a nickel bag of dope.

 

This was funny when I saw it a few months ago. I’m not aware of anyone in our family who would bring weed to a family gathering (thought it is legal) – but family gatherings were illegal this Christmas.

At Home Dining – We Up our Game

The Eating Bar in the Kitchen: every day dishes; cutlery we got as a wedding present (51 years ago); mismatched drinking glasses. In the background on the right – the box with the new kitchen taps act as a reminder that The Car Guy has to either install them or call the plumber…

For most of the last 270 days, our evening meal has been consumed, in our home, at the kitchen island Eating Bar,  by a Party of Two.

What with Lockdowns; Mandates of how big our social bubble can be; living in a rural setting (a bad mosquito season this summer); general caution by others for (and by) people in our age group; the threat of  Fines for non-compliance; and Snitch call lines – well lets just say our social life has been very ‘quiet’.

Christmas Day Dinner was no different and when I asked The Car Guy if he wanted to ‘up our game’ for dinner for two, maybe use the ‘good dishes’ and newer cutlery, he gave me that look that said “We’re having left over ham from Christmas Eve’s Dinner…”

So I imagined left-over ham on the good dishes on place mats and newer cutlery and Canadian Festive napkins – and said “Yeah, it doesn’t make much difference does it…”

The next holiday dinner is today – Boxing Day. At this point in time,  we have eaten left-over ham at two dinners, two breakfasts and two lunches (because a ham of any size is the definition of eternity). Boxing Day we are serving what we affectionately call New Food.

To celebrate, we invited a guest and I set the table in the Dining Room. (How many of you have Dining Rooms? How many times a year do you use that room? We travel through ours many times every day because it is the only way to get to the kitchen from the rest of the house.)

Boxing Day Table set; guest is already here.

The good plates, the good cutlery, the good crystal glasses, a centre piece and Bruce the Moose as our guest. We are all set to ‘Up’ our Dining Game!

(To be honest, this post was inspired by some truly awesome photos of Christmas Dinner posted by friends and family. By virtue of extremely good taste in decorating and/or more people in their family bubble, they had what looked to be a festive and fun Christmas Day.

The reality for many seniors (like us in Alberta and maybe elsewhere) Christmas was somewhat more subdued. Maybe this is because as Covid time passes, it is getting harder and harder to emotionally ‘kick it up a notch’. We are surrounded by a society where government is ruling by keeping people in a blind, perpetual fear.

We are asked to put ‘safety first’ but ignore the inner voice that asks, “what about the collateral damage?” So, we do things as safe as we can, we keep the people near us as safe as we can, but it is a task beyond our ability to make sure everyone else and everything we do is absolutely safe.

Many of us seniors have lived through two pandemics already. Some served in a war or two. We learned to drive before seat belts and air bags. We rode our bikes without helmets. We got chicken pox, measles and mumps. Between 95 to 99.9% of us seniors will chalk up another win in the pandemic column!

So, this year is different, and we can live with that in good humour and good grace. But next year I hope we’ll see a full complement of people at our ‘turkey or ham’ table!

 

 

 

Christmas Tangle 2020 – Carrot Noses and Glitter

My Annual Drawing: Christmas Tangle 2020. Inspiration for this years tangle came from the Golda Rader blog.

This:

What the Snowmen know to be true:
A person is snown by the company they keep.
Boldly go where snowman has gone before.
Dance like snowbody’s watching.
Keep your ice on the prize.
Mother nose best.
Snowman is an island.

That:

I don’t want Christmas season to end, because it’s the only time I can legitimately indulge in my particular addiction: glitter.
– Eloisa James –

The Car Guy is a man of many talents – one of them is wood-working. Recently he has branched out into projects using pieces of wood inlaid with epoxy resin.

In order to keep down the costs of epoxy trial and error, he bought a few small molds to make snowflakes. Then he discovered glitter… We not only have enough glitter snowflakes now for a small avalanche, snowflakes have been slipped into every Christmas card we have sent out. Glitter has been added to epoxy drink coasters too.

I have fond memories of the Glitter phase that our children and grand children went through. They all grew out of it. I expect The Car Guy will too – until next Christmas.

The Other:

I’d like to end this post by wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If, like us, your government has decreed that you cancel any  ‘gathering of the clan’, I hope you find a way to make this Christmas a good one anyway.  You might want to consider purchasing some glue and some glitter.