Tuesday, January 31, 2017

wine tasting

Up up up and down down down over the Rimutaka Hills to end up in the Wairarapa, wine growing country the other side of the hills from Wellington. The clouds were kissing the hood of the car as we passed over the highest part of the ‘hills’ and the wind threatened to blow us off the hill, but Kirsten kept her head straight and got us safely to the other side.

We stopped at the Poppies winery, just outside of Martinborough as it had the highest rating for lunch. The decor was simple, with white plaster walls and long dark wood tables. Kirsten, Shenna, Shawn and myself stood up at the bar for our 6 wine tasting (don’t worry, they were little tastes that left the driver in fine shape for the yet undisclosed adventure we were about to have.) There were 6 wines to taste: rose, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot noir, riesling, and an aged riesling sweet wine. I especially liked the white riesling with citrus overtones, and the pinot noir. Nissa enjoyed a bottle of lemon lime bitters with her  lunch while the rest of us (except Kirsten) each had a glass of vino. I had a glass of the pinot noir. After the tasting we sat down to share a platter of food that included bits of roast pork, roast beef marinated in some wine, olives, Spanish quiche, tapenade, hummus, artichoke hearts, dolmades, and other things that I can’t remember.

After taking photos of the vineyard we piled into the car and took a wrong turn. What they say about seeing things that we wouldn’t have seen is so true. The scenery was spectacular as the road wound and narrowed and wound and narrowed some more until we felt we might be in hillbilly land and were certainly far from where we were meant to be. Kirsten did a U-ewey and we were heading back from whence we came. Ah, there’s the road. We did a quick stop in Greytown to walk the main street and get an icecream and then it was back over the hill and home.

We were all quiet as Kirsten drove us back over the hill. The wind was gusting and it seemed that we might be tossed into the abyss and lost forever. Thankfully, especially since there is so much ‘exciting’ driving, Kirsten is a good driver and does her best not to freak me out.

We started the day with a lovely breakfast of waffles and sausages made by Shenna with Nissa giving a hand. Fortifying, and no wonder my t-shirts are starting to look like sausage casings…

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jumping around

Ponies, ponies everywhere as is often the case but Saturday was exceptional. We girls got up at the crack of dawn, downed an eggy breakfast (eggs donated by Kirsten's free-range flock), then loaded Nissa's two ponies onto the float (the NZ word for horse trailer). Kirsten expertly drove us down the narrow roads until we reached the "highway" north towards our destination.

Driving from her place to Karori is a feat without a float. Once we got into the city we had to traverse some narrow streets with cars conveniently parked on both sides of the road, necessitating cars from both directions to drive outside their lane. I didn't gasp out loud, but… under my breath I might have.

After just over an hour we reached our destination, a few grassy fields with jumps set up and lined with floats and ponies everywhere: tied to floats, walking around, cantering around practice fields. The excitement was palpable. The girls unloaded Babe and Navaho and got them tacked up and ready for the first practice round. It didn't initially go well, with lookie loos over each jump, but the second time around Nissa was like a pro.

The class started and it was a go. Nissa rode each pony to a fifth place ribbon, which was an accomplishment as the 'circuit' ponies were also competing. (a circuit pony is one that is ridden in almost every competition around, trying to get points for some prize - Nissa only competes a few times a year, so being in the standing with the experienced riders is something.)

We had to wait around for the next class and enjoyed watching horses and ponies jump their rounds. Finally it was Nissa's turn to careen over a set of high jumps. I watched with my heart in my throat but she got through the jumper round with no faults.

With all the jumping over we packed up and drove home. Kirsten and I had a little rest while the girls did more horsey things. When Shenna was ready for her ride Kirsten and I put on our walking shoes and walked down the road with her. Once back at the house we got busy getting supper ready. Kirsten made some dumplings - our late nod to Chinese New Year. It was late by the time we ate, but it was worth the wait.

My eye started twitching partway through the evening, a sure sign that I was over tired. Time for bed.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Thursday we puttered around the house and did pony time in the morning and were ready to head out to Zealandia by mid afternoon. Zealandia is a chunk of land that has been surrounded by a specially designed fence that is impenetrable, even to mice. They are slowly reinstating a New Zealand as it was before introduced species wreaked havoc. It is a beautiful sanctuary for birds and reptiles.

A Kiwi skeleton

The KaKa, a native New Zealand parrot.

It was a great visit with lots of birds seen and heard.

Today (Friday) we putzed around the house for the morning as Nissa got ready for tomorrow’s horse show. In the afternoon Kirsten and I went to Moore Wilson’s, a sort of grocery store. There was an accident on the Macara Hill - a truck driver smashed into a small car as it cut a blind corner. Very scary. There were a few gasps of expletives by me as we made our way downtown as there were more than a few cars on our side of the line.

Tomorrow: horse show.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ponies and War Museum

Two more days have gone by. Yesterday (Tuesday?) was quiet with walks down to the jumping ring with ponies and putzing around the property. It was a lovely, low key day. It did not, however, prepare me for the gale force winds that buffeted the caravan around as if it were a matchbox toy. It blew and blew, keeping me awake well into the night. I thought about the big tree that is just outside the door and had visions of me scquired on a fallen branch. Not good visuals to fall asleep with. I did survive (as did the tree) to see another day.

This morning the wind died down, leaving in its place a quiet rain. Nissa knocked on my door, easing me out of my slumber, to say breakfast was ready. I popped out of bed (well, not really popped, more like dragged) and the day was underway.

We had a lovely breakfast (wraps with chorizo, scrambled eggs, hot sauce and cheese), and laughed at all manner of things. Our visit lasted until we decided to take advantage of the poor weather and get a few things done in Wellington. Nissa got her school supplies then Kirsten drove us over to the War Museum.

One would think that one batch of war stuff would be enough, but the girls thought I should see this museum as Peter Jackson (a ‘la Lord of the Rings), had a hand in its design. As promised it was an educational display. I was careful this time to not get emotionally invested and managed to leave without crying. At the end, we settled ourselves in the charming coffee shop with coffees and some cakes that I can’t remember the name of.

Time to go home, with a quick stop into the grocery store. The skies cleared as we got close to home.

I am about knackered and couldn’t go on without a long nap and some quiet wind down time after to write my blog. I believe it will still be an early night to bed.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Te Papa, Dim Sum and a walk up the hill

I’m running behind a day again. Our days are busy and don’t end until late in the evening so I don’t get to writing. It isn’t unusual to have supper at 8 or 9, at which point I have a twitch in my eye from exhaustion. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

The weather here changes from moment to moment. Yesterday morning early I woke up to the sound of pouring rain on the caravan’s roof. I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later it was cloudy and windy.In the afternoon it was cloudy and looked like it could shower. By 5pm I had changed into a t-shirt for our walk up the hill. Crazy, and I didn’t bring the right clothes.

So, what did we do yesterday with the mixed bag of weather? We putzed around in the morning, the girls doing horse chores, Kirsten running around doing a million things, and Shawn working. At 11:30 we all piled into cars and drove into town, heading downtown along the Aro road. I madly chewed on my gum as getting downtown is not a ‘straight’ forward thing. We made it, with Kirsten doing a perfect parallel park in front of the Dim Sum restaurant. Yum.

After a tasty lunch Shawn headed back home,  while we went to the waterfront. We took a nice walk along the boardwalk then headed into Te Papa, a world class museum. We went straight for the section on the battle of Gallipoli. It was a moving exhibit that brought tears to my eyes by the end.

We went home after that, at which point we all got ready for a walk up the hill. The girls walking their ponies, and Shawn walking the dogs, went ahead and further. Kirsten held back with me, patiently waiting as I caught my breath at every belvedere. We were out for more than an hour and by the time we got back my legs barely worked and were like rubber. I didn’t make it to the top, not even close, but felt I added to my fitness. The thing about hills is that going up is hard - heavy breathing and racing heartbeat - but coming down is equally hard, just in a different way. There are parts of the path that require that we do down sideways, and others where keeping on the brake to keep from hurtling down is equally hard. Good exercise!

So there was the day, topped with supper and to bed.

Hummm…. my eyes are closing again now and it is already 8:30 am.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

a couple more photos from the rainy day

The girls and I at the restaurant:

The next two are of Atlas, their huge Great Dane. He’s quite the dog!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

nature rages

Yesterday the sun didn’t even peek out from the racing clouds for even a minute but I had a fantastic time. We puttered around the house, visited with one of Kirsten’s friends, and did a short walk partway up the hill.

I started up the hill with Kirsten but my legs were like rubber and I knew I’d have trouble going back down the mountain, so I let Kirsten go on ahead and I side stepped my way down the steep part.

Somehow the day whizzed away and it was past 5pm when we got back in the house.         

Today (Sunday), I woke up to the sound of the wind shaking the trailer. At times it felt like a hand was giving it a bit of a shove as well. I was warm and cozy under the thick down comforter. It took a great deal of effort but I eventually made it into the house, grateful for the cup of coffee Kirsten had ready for me.

Mid/late morning we drove down the Takaraw Gorge road to take Shenna for a job interview. I chewed gum which helped me cope with the wildly windy narrow road that we careened on. Arriving in one piece, Shenna ran off to her interview while Kirsten, Nissa and I waited in the attached cafe, nursing some soy lattes, holding onto our appetites until Shenna was finished. The cafe served a fantastic breakfast (I had eggs benedict) that we dawdled over.

We took a route through town to get back home, straighter (so my stomach held out). A stop at the grocery store(s) left us fully provisioned for another meal, as well as a few bottles of cider as a treat.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The rain poured sideways for much of the day so we spent the remainder of the afternoon watching programs on TV, drinking tea, and eating popcorn. Cosy and warm with family while Nature rages.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Photos from second day

I was too tired last night to do up the photos from yesterday, but this morning I’m slightly more alert. Here are a few to give you a taste.

Kirsten and the girls at the beach near some of the tack shops we stopped at. The tide was high so we couldn’t get down to the actual sand. Well, Shenna took off her shoes and scampered in the waves.

Here we are at another pull-off. We could see the South Island from here. Very pretty.

This was along the road to Kirsten’s house. The entire length is like this as the road snakes along the hills like a slippery serpent bent on confounding the brain and stomach.

This is partway up the hill. There are points where the views are spectacular and the perfect point to catch my breath and let my pounding heart calm down a bit.

Kirsten along one of the tracks we traversed. They had a digger come out a few years ago to cut some more paths into the hillside. On each side of the path is a thick covering of prickly gorse which was introduced sometime in the past. It is impenetrable, except by the wild pigs.

My second full day was full of adventure!

Second day - lots of tack shops and a big walk

My second day in New Zealand was a busy one. There was a tack sale on at a store a distance from here so we bundled into the car and took a scenic tour. I had forgotten how curvy the roads can be and my stomach had too… I came pretty close to getting Kirsten to pull over so that I could puke. Luckily at the very sickest spot we came into the city to some straight bits so my stomach was able to recover. Also, I wasn’t sure I’d actually be able to get my request out without heaving so I kept my mouth firmly shut.

The rest of the day was fine so maybe I’m getting used to the curves. Carm: remember in St. Thomas that I said the roads were like NZ, well, they don’t hold a candle to Kirsten’s road.

Once home I changed into some walking gear and got ready for a short walk up the hill a ways. Huffing and puffing and at times wondering if I was going to die, Kirsten and I made it almost all the way up. I was pretty proud of myself for getting so far up. I had forgotten though that getting down was just as hard, only in a different way. It didn’t wind me like the trek up did, but my legs were like rubber, especially in the spots where we had to go sideways.

Kirsten (I don’t know how she did it after such a long day) made us a late supper which we all enjoyed.

Now it is time for bed. Too sleepy to include photos - I’ll do a photo essay tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm here!

It was with a hope and a prayer that we made a safe touchdown into Wellington last night. The winds were gusting and the pilot warned us that we might have to abort and go somewhere else. It is a tricky runway at the best of times, but with the winds coming over the hills it is even more so.

But we made it, and I made it through customs, and my suitcase made it. Kirsten and Shawn were here to pick me up - it was such a relief to see familiar faces after such a long journey. On the way home I recognized some of the buildings, but some of it was in the disjointed blur of not enough sleep and roads that wound every which way. Once home we unloaded my bags into my lovely home and went inside for a snack. I didn't realize it but it was past 2:30 before we finally went to bed.

Now to my room :-)  Last visit I stayed in the 'garage', a converted family room of sorts. Shawn works from home now and it is his new office so other accommodations had to be found. Kirsten borrowed a little caravan from a friend and parked it up next to the house. So I have my own cute space, with a comfortable bed, a sofa area, and cupboards  & drawers to unpack my stuff into. Very sweet. Of course it was decorated with flowers, a basket of treats, bottles of water, and the most comfortable bed linens around. I feel very spoiled.

Today has been laid back with lots of visiting and a good walk. The sun is out and I'm in a t-shirt. I have sunscreen on but I feel a little burn on my cheeks. The wind has somewhat died down. Last night and this morning I was certain my little caravan  would be blown into oblivion. It wasn't.

I'm tired though and my eyes are drooping.

Bedtime on Thursday I think. It is the end of my first marvelous day and I’m ready for bed. There was another walk before supper with the girls on their ponies, then a lovely supper. I’m snuggled under the covers in my cosy bed, listening to the rain come down - better than the wind last night.

Kirsten’s internet is down and will probably be down for another day or maybe even more. It is weird to be so disconnected!

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It was the longest day, or in this case night, but finally we landed in Brisbane. I don’t remember my first trip to NZ being so grueling, but I think part of it has to do with the “Dreamliner” airplane, and I say that disparagingly as there was nothing dreamy about it. The seats were hard and narrow, my elbows barely fit in the seat - we were really jammed in. Luckily my seat neighbor was pleasant: a young dancer excited to be moving with her boyfriend to Brisbane. Ah, young love. Her stuff was pretty disorganized though and often fell into my area, sometimes leaving no room for my feet.

I managed to get some sleep over the 14.5 hours, but it seemed anytime I shut my eyes a baby a few rows back started crying. I was grateful not to be in that row!

Once I was free from my seatbelt I made my way to the international departure area, passing through a totally empty security checkpoint before getting into the enormous area with shops etc. I noticed on the departures board that Virgin had a flight leaving almost right way so beetled down to the gate, but i was too late (and they might not have switched me anyway).

So I got myself a giant coffee, had a shower, talked to Carm on the phone (Fonego app) and here I am. Thinking about those giant bags of M&Ms that I saw in one of the shops… it’s 10:45am now and I don’t leave until 5:55, so that’s a long time to hold out. I suppose at some point I’ll have to have something real to eat.

Oh, one point to remember is that Air Canada does serve food on its long haul flights. Not sure if this is standard, but we had a hot supper (airline food has taken a far tumble since the days I traveled with my parents), a sandwich part way through the night, and a hot breakfast before we landed. So we were well fed. Plus I nibbled on some beef jerky to pass some time.

It is nicer traveling with people. Things like running to the bathroom or going for some supper are just easier when there is more than one person. Bags can be taken care of and don’t have to be schlepped at every move.

wild blue yonder

9pm Ottawa time: I’m airborne, somewhere north of Thunder Bay. A fraction of my journey is done. We left the house this afternoon at 4pm and I count that as the start of my trip. Carm was a sweetie and came into the airport with me till I got my boarding passes - all the way to Wellington, and my bag is checked all the way as well. We mentioned to the Air Canada person that I didn’t have much time in Vancouver coming home and she reassured me that if I didn’t make the transfer they’d still get me home eventually. I’ve been trying not to think of the 1 ½ hour flight connection coming home and stressing already about it, so it was nice to have someone calm me down!

The flight to Vancouver isn’t full at all, in fact the middle seat is empty, a nice spacer between me and the guy in the asile seat. We have had some turbulence, which is no darn fun at all. I brought some of my own snacks with me so didn’t buy the airline ‘food’, but a nice meal from days of yore would have passed the time nicely.

I’ve watched one movie so far: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’. Cute.

I never did find the pink headphones, and the ones that I brought in their place (bad turbulence) don’t work in one ear. I might have to shop in Vancouver if I have a few minutes.

1am Ottawa time: The flight arrived into Vancouver on schedule. I’ve talked to Carm, eaten a very expensive, crappy sandwich, walked around, and now I’m sitting at the gate. The next flight (to Brisbane) boards in less than an hour.

Fingers crossed for good seat-mates. The guy in front of me was a royal PITA with putting the seat back all the way back and forth, nearly braining me a few times and making the tv hard to watch. So here’s hoping.

Soon to be on the other side of the world, Laura

Saturday, January 14, 2017

only 2 sleeps left

Blood everywhere. One of the dogs got nicked when I clipped their nails (Bella and/or Spike) and in their joy of the task being done pranced all around the great room, leaving a track of bloody spots as they went. I whisked them into crates and got my mop out. Geesk, no wonder none of us like this task.

Carm went to visit his mom this afternoon leaving me to my last ‘by myself quiet afternoon’ for over a month. I puttered around the house, playing with my suitcase (can I fit another bottle of tums?), and doing other small tasks to keep my mind a tiny bit busy. I should have done a full-on house cleaning, but to be honest it didn’t really cross my mind until it was too late (oh sure).

Unfortunately the weather forecast didn’t exactly pan out - the call for a sunny day was a lie, instead there were low, grey clouds pressing down.

Friday, January 13, 2017

everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead

Pace pace pace pace. A track through the dust on the floor shows my route between the spare bedroom where my suitcase is and the kitchen counter where my coffee is quickly cooling. Packing is done, mostly. Just have to get a few more bottles of tums to squeeze into the empty spots and I’m good to go. Yesterday I found a sweater at liquidation that does the job of two, so one black  hoodie left my bag. Should I put it back in just in case it is a cold summer? Maybe it will be a good excuse to buy something new over there :-)  I do have to remind myself that there are stores.

3 days left.

My panic started last night when I realized that I only have 1 ½ hours in Vancouver on the way back. Will that be enough time to clear customs, re check my bag, and get to the loading gate? I remind myself that there is nothing that can be done about it now so relax. It is falling on deaf ears…

The dogs are oblivious and have even stopped lifting their heads from slumber when I get near the front door. The sunspot has slipped off the futon and onto the floor, but the dogs haven’t followed it, instead they are curled up on the soft bed, maybe dreaming about summer when it isn’t so cold to go outside.

Grace is at the bottom of her cage ripping up a shareholder's statement, a magazine sized bundle of papers. She likes reading and is well versed in financial matters.

It’s sunny but cold, and the wind is whipping the snow around in big gusts.

I finally settled into a fitful ‘rest’ on the sofa when Carm stood up from his desk and said ‘I want to go somewhere’. A drive in the car was perfect for my antsyness. We went to liquidation again today and I picked up another sweater that I liked and we got some garbage bags and a huge bag of sunflower seed for the outside birds. Really important stuff. Now I have the dilemma of what sweater to wear for travelling and if I should pack a second one in my suitcase.... (suitcase sighs and burps loudly with its ever increasing load).

I have 3 days to decide.

Everything I was I carry with me, everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.”
~Ma Jian

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

more of a nuisance

The snow is just starting to fall, small flakes that are more of a nuisance than a wonder. I may have thought differently at the beginning of winter, but boy, now I’m sick of it. Everytime I think I might want to go into the city the roads turn to a slippery mess. To make matters worse, the forecast is for freezing rain or rain overnight. Luckily we are safely in for the day/night..

The snow coming down has triggered a ‘go south’ response in Carm - he’s on the internet now looking at Caribbean cruises for next December. I’m playing around with my suitcase and dreaming of the hills of NZ.

I got my hair butchered yesterday. She took off way more than I wanted, so now I look like a rosy cheeked, fat little boy. I’m not sure why I keep going back to the same place - I should make the 45 min drive all the way down to Morrisburg - but convenience always wins out. And price. A cut, with tip, is $18. I guess you get what you pay for…

It is hovering around 0C today so we took the opportunity to change the oil in the snowblower. A thick, black ooze dripped out of a tube and into the empty can of Medaglia dOro that I held in my hand. We haven’t drunk that coffee since we bought the Keurig,  but since I rarely throw anything away we still have some of the lidded cans.

Everyday Facebook shows me a few posts from ‘this day’ in previous years. I read the blog posts and wonder why I can’t seem to recreate what I think was not too bad writing. For the past year I have struggled and toiled trying to make my creativity return. At times it is immensely depressing. I used to love writing, but now it feels like more of a chore.

I just checked my records and the decline in writing corresponds almost exactly with when my doctor increased one of my medications. Coincidence? The lack of energy that I usually experience tracks to the same time. It also corresponds with a more stable mood and outlook. Gosh, it can be hard to balance everything.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I will permit it to pass over me and through me

Poodles clipped - check. One thing off the to-do list for my upcoming adventure. Oh my aching back… I'm glad I did it well in advance of sitting in a cramped seat for 24 flying hours, total trip time 34 1/2 hours including layovers. Ugh. I keep reminding myself that it is only 1 day, make that almost 2 days, but it will be worth it.

My stuff is laid out all over the spare bed, and looking at it I'm not sure that it will all fit in my mid-size suitcase. I'll have to pare down, although I don't know what I'll drop. It is summer there, but I can't count on it being like a summer here as the weather range is far more variable - too close to the South Pole for long hot summers.

Freaking out a little bit about the shooting in Ft. Lauderdale - exactly where we picked up our suitcases, and waited for almost 3 hours for our flight coming home a month ago.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More freezing rain and snow

The freezing rain continued throughout the day yesterday, gradually changing to snow early in the evening. The trees had a thick glaze of ice, far more than the Boxing Day storm. Unfortunately this ice served as glue to the snow coming down so today the trees are bowing down with their heavy load, their branches dragged to the ground. I expect some breakage, and already at 10 am one tree has lost a huge branch. We sit inside helpless over the potential carnage - most of the trees are far too big to knock the ice away. It is 0C, and scheduled to drop to -12 by tonight. Fingers crossed that there is enough time to free the trees. A little bit (very little bit) of wind might help to shake the ice's grip.

(just checked the weather - possibly bad news for the trees: ' Wind becoming west 30 km/h gusting to 50 early this afternoon.')

I really do have to get cracking and moving a bit. The sofa has a big indent from where I've curled up these last several days (or is it weeks). I watched a few mindless, black and white fluff movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) in the afternoon and finished off with 'Dial M for Murder' which was an excellent Hitchcock flic. In between the fluff I did manage a few minutes on the treadmill - I had to get my blood flowing just a bit :-0

The dogs went crazy this morning, crying and barking at the back door. I couldn't see what all the fuss was about until a fox emerged from the trees and trotted across the hayfield. It was a big one - bigger than Spike - and looked healthy.

later in the day…

The wind picked up slowly and the temperature rose to 4C so the ice has mostly fallen from the tree branches. We had a few more branches broken, but no where near as many as I expected. Whew. No power outage either which is a huge relief. (I should say yet as the wind is howling and the snow is coming down so hard that I can't see the farm across the way.

This winter has been a rough one so far.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, but a little belated. Our 'New Year's Eve' was postponed by one day: the forecast for Saturday night was calling for 10 cm of blowing snow - not the weather that I wanted my guests braving. A few phone calls and it was arranged: we'd celebrate on Sunday, January 1st.

Carm and I had a quiet New Years. We ate leftover onion soup, watched 'That's Entertainment' and reminisced about years past. Near midnight we brought out some cheese & crackers and opened a  bottle of nice champagne. As the ball dropped in Times Square, we stood in front of the tv, holding hands and counting down. Then, hurrah! 2017 was here.

Sunday we steadily worked at getting ready for supper. Carm snowblowed the nights snow away, I made the batter for yorkshire pudding and started the mushroom gravy. Roast came out of the oven to rest, potatoes got peeled, green bean casserole got made… table got set… I got into the bath… dried and dressed and putting my lipstick on… the doorbell rang: it was our first guests, one hour early :-0  All I can say is thank goodness I got cleaned up when I did! Carm was still feeding the pets and in his grubbies. No worries though, everything was in control and Carm was able to dash away for his shower. I did forget to put out some of the nibbles though.

Cathey, Jim, Jo Ellen, Don, Dave and Pat were all soon gathered around the kitchen island as I put the finishing touches on supper. Oh - I wrecked the roast beef by over cooking. Very disappointed. Normally I set the thermometer for 144 which is a lovely pink roast. Since not everyone likes pink I thought I'd cook it a bit more. Well I did and it was too much. I think we'll go back to cooking something less exact next year.

Carm broke one of our nice $20 gold rimmed glasses. No big deal, except I don't know how to replace it.

I meant to do a 'grateful' around the table while we were seated, but forgot. I really need a piece of paper stuck to my hand…

It was a late night, with Pat leaving first (before the stroke of midnight), Jo Ellen and Don next, Dave stayed over, leaving Cathey & Jim taking their leave at 2:30. Ohhhh… I slept in yesterday (and today).

We got all the dishes done and put away the next morning - thank goodness that Carm is an equal participant in all of the festivities (actually, he does more of the cleanup than I do). After that was all done, I sat down to watch the Rose Bowl parade, and then some other mindless tv.

It's freezing rain again today.