Riffed by Dr. Geek
from an idea by Vitriol


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notes from a yuletide visit

I write today from my parents home in the land of my birth. Fiancee S. and I are here for the week to enjoy Christmas with my family. It is December 22 already. Where has the month gone? It seems like only last week that I got sick on our trip following Thanksgiving. Work is the likely culprit. I had a programming deadline last Friday, and that coupled with the lingering effects of the virus I contracted on the aforementioned trip, kept me wandering from work to home like a zombie. The good news about all that is that much of the work I need to complete is finished and tested. The bad news is that not all of it is complete, and it awaits me on my return. That, however, is a worry for another day. The present is more concerned with catching up on much needed sleep and enjoying time spent with family.

Our visit so far has been largely uneventful. The trip here was relatively routine, except for the fact that United Airlines lost our luggage for about 24 hours. That didn't worry me too much, as I am staying with family, except for the brief period on Sunday when a call to United about the status of our bags only revealed that our "bags cannot currently be located, but, a priority trace has been started to find them." Thankfully, they were delivered about four hours later.

The rest of Sunday was devoted to more mundane activities. We visited a Christmas tree farm, where we found and cut down an 8.5' spruce tree that currently sits in my parents' living room. We also got to meet my future Goddaughter for the first time -- she is cute, quiet, unfussy child... at least so far. We also had a belated birthday celebration for me with my family. Dinner was at The Olive Garden, a chain restaurant that does not serve the most monumentally innovative Italian cuisine, but, does provide servicable Italian fare. After that, we adjourned to my parents home where the evening concluded with a family game of pinochle while my cousin Jim, my Dad, and I sampled whiskies from a sampler from United Distilleries.

Monday was spent winding down from the nervous energy that has been keeping me on my feet through the last few weeks. The day concluded serenely with a visit to a local Catholic hospital (where I was born) to hear my Mom and my Aunt sing Christmas carols with a local choir group. Being part of this group myself in the distant past, it was good to see some old familar faces, and hear a capella four part harmony. A party followed. The host being an old acquaintance and an excellent friend to my parents, gave me the keys to his home and invited me and Fiancee S. to go there and make myself at home, while the group sang carols in the halls throughout the hospital to bring good cheer. (I would have gone with them, except for the fact that my throat is still occasionally irritable following a bout of laryngitis brought on by the virus of three weeks past.)

The party was excellent. My cousin Jim brought a bottle of Cask Strength Macallan, which we enthusiastically shared with our hosts. There was also excellent food: a lovely beef stew, an Italian style antipasto tray full of marinated vegitables and cured meats, a most excellent quiche, a fine Caesar salad, and much more edibles that I can probably remember at this moment. We got to talk to our host and his wife as well as several of my parents' choral friends, and Fiancee S. charmed them all. I also got to chat with an attorney in training with interest in intellectual property law. A highlight of the evening was hearing her say that the patent and copyright system in this country is about to experience a sea change, and that it is very well messed up.

There has also been news regarding our wedding while we are here, more specifically our guest list. It seems that at least six people who we felt sure would not show are enthusiastic about coming, and will attend if schedule allows. This includes my Aunt R. and Uncle B. who did attend my parents' wedding or my sister's. Aunt R. is a very devout and ethusiastic Catholic and I half joked with my parents that she is attending this time because there will actually be a wedding Mass (my parents were married in an Orthodox Church, and my sister in a Unitarian church). I wasn't entirely serious about this, but, my Mom later told me that it made more sense the more she thought about it.

Today was largely consumed with the making of pieroghis. One of the few lasting traditions of my Eastern European heritage that my family celebrates is a Christmas Eve meal. It consists of pieroghis, several soups made with primarily dried mushrooms, beans, and fruits, homemade bread with buckwheat honey, and several other dishes that generally involve lots of dough and butterfat. Today involved food prep. I've been making pieroghis with friends off and on for the last few years where I currently reside (my Mom said that my Grandmother was smiling in her grave when I called home for the recipe). We've been able to make an innovation or two in the pieroghi making process. This primarily includes using a crank-type pasta maker to roll out the dough instead of the old way of using a rolling pin. My Dad liked this innovation when he first heard it a couple years ago, but, it hadn't been able to get a "fair hearing" from others here until today. He purchased an appropriate Kitchen Aid attachment some time back, and it was put to its first successful use in pieroghi making today. Fiancee S. said I was grinning like a fool at my contribution all afternoon. I don't know about that... maybe it was that or the 16 year old Lagavulin that my cousin Jim poured as we made the pieroghis.

All this whisky drinking has reminded me of an old joke I heard once as a mock news announcement: "The Scottish distilleries and the British soap makers today announced plans to collaborate on a new type of disinfectectant that will kill 99% of all germs and leave the other one so drunk that it won't be a bother to anyone." I hope that all this whisky has a similar effect on whatever it is that inhabits my throat. Three weeks is long enough. I am reliably told that warm Irish whiskey is an old traditional remedy on that lovely isle. Perhaps it's time for some Bushmills next.

said drgeek on 2003-12-24 at 12:35 a.m.


The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond

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