A Favorite Christmas Story

I just like this one. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to each and all!

 

The Christmas Cactus

 

Shivering, she pulled herself up from the hearth using her cane and put the poker back on its hook. “I shouldn’t ought to have let that burn so low.” She eyed the four logs left, judging whether they’d be enough to get her through the night or not. Nope. Susie wobbled to her overcoat and went out to woodpile on the front porch in the blowing snow and retrieved four more fair-sized ones. She fretted about forgetting to do it in the daylight; she forgot so much anymore.

The fresh logs she’d just loaded in the fireplace still laid there, not wanting to burn. Working the bellows until she got a flame made her sweaty. She thought about taking the darned overcoat off because with two sweaters on it would cut off her circulation but good. Coming down with pneumonia wouldn’t be very smart, though.

Next she knew, she stood at the coatrack with her coat hung. Chilled to the bone, her hand fondled the other coat there, and she wiped the tears from her face. “Stanley, help me out here, will you please?” His camouflaged hunting coat felt so blessedly warm as she buttoned it up. “Yes, Stan, I’ll make us some tea.”

Instead of making the tea, she plopped heavily into the padded kitchen chair by the fire. Staring at the flames, she remembered how Stan would have brought in plenty of wood, and he would have banked it better. He more than once told her she didn’t have a lick of sense and she believed it. That Christmas cactus she’d insisted on getting so many years ago bloomed right on time anyhow, up until he went onward to the pearly gates. Since then, it hadn’t done its duty at all. She angrily remembered the tea and heaved up to put the kettle on the stove. The propane he’d put in heated it up quick and she fixed a little pot of chamomile.

On the way back to her warm seat, she glanced over to the miserable cactus. She stopped, her tensed body falling slack. “Oh Stan, would you look at that!” She gently cradled the bright red blossom and smiled in that contained Mona Lisa way he liked. “Thank you, lover, I’m warm nose to toes now.” She sat and sipped her tea, hugging his coat tightly, feeling his embrace as they watched the fire dance. Merry Christmas.

christmas-cactus-in-hand

The Christmas Cactus

Shivering, she pulled herself up from the hearth using her cane and put the poker back on its hook. “I shouldn’t ought to have let that burn so low.” She eyed the four logs left, judging whether they’d be enough to get her through the night or not. Nope. Susie wobbled to her overcoat and went out to woodpile on the front porch in the blowing snow and retrieved four more fair-sized ones. She fretted about forgetting to do it in the daylight; she forgot so much anymore.

The fresh logs she’d just loaded in the fireplace still laid there, not wanting to burn. Working the bellows until she got a flame made her sweaty. She thought about taking the darned overcoat off because with two sweaters on it would cut off her circulation but good. Coming down with pneumonia wouldn’t be very smart, though.

Next she knew, she stood at the coatrack with her coat hung. Chilled to the bone, her hand fondled the other coat there, and she wiped the tears from her face. “Stanley, help me out here, will you please?” His camouflaged hunting coat felt so blessedly warm as she buttoned it up. “Yes, Stan, I’ll make us some tea.”

Instead of making the tea, she plopped heavily into the padded kitchen chair by the fire. Staring at the flames, she remembered how Stan would have brought in plenty of wood, and he would have banked it better. He more than once told her she didn’t have a lick of sense and she believed it. That Christmas cactus she’d insisted on getting so many years ago bloomed right on time anyhow, up until he went onward to the pearly gates. Since then, it hadn’t done its duty at all. She angrily remembered the tea and heaved up to put the kettle on the stove. The propane he’d put in heated it up quick and she fixed christmas-cactus-in-handa little pot of chamomile.

On the way back to her warm seat, she glanced over to the miserable cactus. She stopped, her tensed body falling slack. “Oh Stan, would you look at that!” She gently cradled the bright red blossom and smiled in that contained Mona Lisa way he liked. “Thank you, lover, I’m warm nose to toes now.” She sat and sipped her tea, hugging his coat tightly, feeling his embrace as they watched the fire dance. Merry Christmas.

 

Disingenuous Gift Ideas – Things I Like!

Last minute gift ideas for the reader, the writer, the baker, the brewer, and the sewist!

The easiest is the Reader. I sent my littlest sister’s family boxes of books so each could Science Booksperuse and pick. I know they are ecologically minded (as am I), so had no qualms about getting them at Thrift Books. I also get quite a few at Abe Books and Better World Books, but Thrift had a good sale at the time. Not sure of personal tastes, I got a wide variety – painless as they were inexpensive.

Now the Writer: How about a Lonely Planet Guide to a far-off place? Or a Russian-American dictionary? These are good idea-generators and might come in handy for details. Along a similarIndian Books line, try a picture book of the Pantanal or the Congo. Pictures open the mind and writers need the aeration. The Audubon Society made a dozen different nature identification books a few years ago; I have birds east, birds west, amphibians, insects, clouds, reptiles and more. I have the Cornell University plush birdies that sing authentic songs. A writer might need a reference, or could be inspired by an oriole call.

The Baker. For the bread baker, try a pound of yeast or Kentucky sorghum molasses. Does Cookie Cuttersthe baker load the bread? How about a pound or two of dried cherries or almonds? For the sweets baker, try Mexican vanilla or several bags of different chips, like chocolate chunks, toffee bits, cinnamon chips, the odd stuff. Gee, they might like the cherries and almonds too. Try one of those cookbooks made by a church, the kind with the plastic binding and tons of homey recipes. For a baker who has everything, give a Bulgarian Yule Pastries cookbook or one on home canning in Dutch. Odd cookie cutters are always good!

Any brewer or wine maker can use cool, sealable Cabin June 2015 085bottles. Get ’em out of their comfort zone and give a mead kit or a book and six pounds of clover honey. A specialty ale or stout kit or set of ingredients would probable cause a thrill. Could he use a five pound can of boysenberry puree? You could fill a box with a thousand (new) bottle caps – they will be used eventually with fond remembrance of you.

Oh the sewist! A few yards of a beautiful cloth Skirt maybewould spark imagination. How about a pickle jar (cleaned) filled with different colors of thread spools? Does she need a better or more cushioned chair? One cannot have too many scissors, and there are many different kinds of pinking shears now – they make scallops, waves, like that. For the budget-minded, fill a cloth sack or wooden box with all of the buttons you could find at the second hand store (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Tina’s Treasures). Perhaps the best gift would be raving about the wonderful thing she made you, and being honest about the fit so she can take care of it for you. That way she will see you wear it!

Christmas Card

 

 

 

 

 

They Took Pictures!

Vision to Share from the New Orleans Trip

Some folks may know I wrote and essay on vision care a while back and won a trip to New Orleans with Ma, the subject of the essay. I got this VSP Production (click the link above) in my mailbox Wednesday morning, wow! I knew they had guys with cameras roaming about but thought it was all over by now. By the way, I made the clothes Ma and I are wearing.

On another note, I made a big mistake…I looked at the special offer from Midwest Brew Supplies. They have fully set-up tandem Cornelius kegs with independent dispensing! I bottle all mine, I do not need this, repeat, I DO NOT NEED THIS! If they were Pony kegs instead of Cornies I would not be able to resist as I have an 80’s vintage cabinet-style small keg cooler. We used it for Bass Ale and Felonfoel (sp) Welsh Ale. Would not having my own ales in it be snazzy!

Ornament Clip

Christmas decorations!
Cabin spider 2Oops, this is a Black Phase Rabid Wolf Spider in my Kitchen sink. These are great guys, good pest predators. This was a big fella, and he stayed a few days  before disappearing to who knows where. I love the black tarantula look. They jump fast, too. We always wear shoes in the house.

Now, where the Dickens did the Christmas decorations go? Here we are! That multicolored thing draped across is a scarf Ma crocheted for me decades ago. I have worn it every

Christmas Lights

Christmas, but the last couple years it has done double duty as décor.