Saturday, December 26, 2009


Dealing with L.‘s medical problems had made us want to get into the Christmas spirit early, so we decided to buy our tree pretty early in December. It was snowing pretty hard while getting the tree so by the time we got home it turned to sound of rain when putting the tree into the stand. Luckily all the melted snow ran down the tree and filled up the bowl so it was not a big mess. We decided to wait for tree to dry out before decorating it but instead ran out of steam. The tree sat for more than a week undecorated, but it was putting out the smell so it was doing its job.
This Christmas we had decided to not go anywhere, just have the two of us stay home together, no guests, no stress, no traveling. I think it worked out pretty well as a break every few years to do it this way. We also decided on the idea of gifts of acts rather than buying or making homemade gifts. With us moving to London we didn’t want any more stuff that would just get thrown away or put in storage. Funnily enough we both just kind of decided independently without talking about it that doing three things was the right number. The other problem was the idea of unwrapping gifts, since it was just us, and we were giving each other acts instead of physical things our tree looked kind of bare. So we both got fancy with a software program to make flyers and created basically an advertisement explaining what we would be doing for them.
My gifts to her:
Picnic every month for 6 months: I planned locations and menus for picnics to give us something to look forward to. I went through the house and put together all the things we needed for into a picnic kit and wrapped that up. Of course winter picnics are tricky so I had to be creative with locations (indoor picnic at the Winter Garden, and having a picnic at home.)
Book of the month: I chose some books that we were both interested in learning about and set up a book of the month club for us to read, learn something new and then talk about it.
Planning software for goals: It had seemed like we had always just had a pretty easy plan set out for us: everything planned once we were done with the years of school. Now that we were out of school we needed internal motivation. This way we could sit down together and plan it out.
Her gifts to me:
Trash for the year: I had been the de facto person to have taken out the trash since we had been living in New York so she said that she would take over until we moved to London.
Cooking english food: As a way of preparing for the culture shock she put together a cookbook of recipes she found online of British foods. Once a month we would try something new.
Massage coupons: hmm, pretty self explanatory.
Gag gifts: Of course Santa still had to bring gifts and as always Santa is the one with a sense of humor so he brings gag gifts. To L. Santa brought some whiskey flavored barbecue sauce with side story about drunk reindeer. Santa brought me a ceramic sandal with various beach related stuff all over it that was made as a candle holder. Why would a sandal make a good candle holder? Only Santa knows.
One of the other things I tried was to download a video of a fire crackling and played it on the TV. Surprisingly it did its job. I cranked up the heater to add to the illusion but the crackling of the fire made Christmas feel all the more homey.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hansel & Gretel

One of the things we wanted to do was to see an Opera while in New York City. But, I admit, I am an uncultured swine that would want to see the opera in English. So when my friend offered to buy tickets for an English performance of Hansel & Gretel we couldn’t turn them down. We thought that we were going to get to knock two things off our list and get to see Carnegie Hall too but it was at the Lincoln Center. (Had we not been uncultured swine then we would have known that all operas where at the Lincoln Center because they built the translators into the seats.) As it turned out even with the opera in English we still needed the translator box to understand what they were singing. I really don’t know how people could follow operas before these were invented. In the back of the seat in front of you is a little box that would spell out the text of the line they were currently singing in any number of languages. Once I got the translator set up and was able to follow along, I realized just how twisted of a tale the story really is when they act it out. This was also purposely an over the top presentation that really added to it too.
It had been threatening to snow all day and when we came out the snow had made good on the promise. It was a total blizzard. We of course decided to show how uncultured we were and got into a snow fight between us and some kids that had also seen the show, the problem was that the snow was to dry and would not stick together. They had used snow blowers and cleared the front pavilion into a giant pile of snow, so instead we switched to a game of king of the mountain. The thing was that since the snow was so dry you could fall into the pile and not know when you hit it. Between the layers of coats and how soft the snow was you could dive in head first and feel suspended in air on a cloud of snow.
Of course the best part about a huge snow storm like this is that it does not affect travel in New York City. All the subways were underground (which did cause the problem of everyone’s glasses fogging up) and we took the train home from there which just plowed the snow out of it’s way off the tracks.