1) Did everyone have a wonderful holiday season? I did! It was very busy, but I enjoyed it a great deal. I did have to work a bit the week of Christmas, but that was OK. There are things I do for church services that have to be done before the next Sunday, so I was very busy on the Monday before! Bulletins aren't going to print themselves, am I right? :) It was actually Steve's birthday, but he'd made plans to have dinner with a buddy of his. Boo. Oh well, what could I do? I had stuff to do anyways. That was the night I baked Steve's birthday cake and made cookies*! My mother had asked me to decorate some cookies to bring to her house on Christmas day, and I was determined to do it right. I bought a recipe and some tutorial videos online from a professional cookie lady (seriously, she's amazing) and got to work. I will say this: making cookies her way was a pain in my ass. You had to make the dough, then chill it for an hour. Then you roll it out, and then chill it for a half hour. Then you cut the cookies out, freeze them for 15 minutes, bake them, then you have to leave them alone until they were completely cooled. I know that all of that was so that the shapes you cut out didn't spread out all over the cookie sheet when they baked, but dang. Also, the cookies smelled really weird to me. The recipe was for Vanilla Orange Spice cookies, and they had coriander in them, which I'd never used before, so they kind of smelled the way I think sausage smells. They tasted OK, but they just smelled weird. Oh well. That was all I could do for the cookies that night.
I worked for a couple of hours, and then I went home to get ready for
our Christmas Eve dinner. I also worked on the cookies again, which
made a huge mess. I've decorated cookies before, of course, but this
was a whole new ballgame. I got sugar, icing, and food dye all over me,
in my hair, ugh...just everywhere! However, for my first try, the
cookies turned out pretty well, I think! Mr. Lee was supposed to come
over that night, so Steve and I finished cleaning the house and got
everything ready. Well, we almost had everything ready. It had
apparently been so long since we'd had anyone over for dinner that I'd
forgotten how to set the table and completely forgot to get drinks! Steve and I don't drink soda or tea much anymore, but Mr. Lee does, and so I ended up making tea (one K cup at a time) to fill up a gallon pitcher. That was really tedious! Anyways, we ate, talked, and exchanged gifts. Butler was very glad to see Mr. Lee, and he fell asleep with his head on Mr. Lee's shoes. It was cute. :) Since he (Mr. Lee, not Butler) was going to be joining us at my mom's the next day, he went home fairly early, and I cleaned up because for the first time ever, after years of being invited, I was going Waffling! Waffling is kind of like wassailing, but with more butter and bacon. Hee! Actually, what it really means is that I met Kenny and Lauren at a local Waffle House to usher in Christmas Day! They were going to be going to church late that evening, luckily near my neighborhood, and so we got to meet and hang out for a while! I literally hadn't seen either of them in years, so I was thrilled to get to spend some time with them! Not as much time as I would have liked, but they did have a long drive back and it was late. I thought it would be rude to shackle them to the car. I can't speak for them, but I had a great time! :)
Wednesday was a lovely day altogether. As usual, we spent Christmas day at my mom's house. We ate and opened gifts, but the best part was just sitting around, talking and laughing. I love my family! My nephews, Logan and Seth, took me outside to show me how to shoot! I realized that although I'd been around hunters and guns all of my life, I've never shot a real gun. BB guns and pellet guns, yes, but bullet guns, no. It was fun, but I don't think I'd ever want to kill anything. I'm a terrible shot, though. I also need to remember not to swing the gun around while I'm talking. I think I need a course in gun safety! I did manage to hit the edge of the paper that the target was drawn on, though, so it wasn't a complete fail. I also walked through the woods a ways with them while they shot at stuff. I liked it. We stayed over at mom's for a long time, and then we left (taking a great deal of food with us, of course) and went over to Mr. Lee's house to open stockings and watch a movie with him. Of course, I promptly fell asleep. I'm such a party animal. We finally went home and ended the day watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Friday we actually got to spend time with Josh and Anthony! I was so glad to see them! Josh, of course, lives in Denver and Anthony has been working so much that we hadn't even talked to him in a long time - much less seen him. While Josh was in town, we all got together and had dinner and hung out for a while! It was like old times! Well, almost. A lot of our friends have scattered to the winds and I wish they could have been there, too. I also wish Geoff, Josh's husband, could have been there, but he had to work. Boo. But, having those two guys there was still great!
It was a really very wonderful, few days and I'm blessed beyond what I deserve to have these people in my life!
*After I wrote that, I remembered I did the cookie baking on Sunday and started decorating them on Monday. Not an important detail, but one I wanted to mention. I also didn't want to go back and rewrite all of that. Anyone who thinks I should have can suck it.
2) Unfortunately, the happy times couldn't last for long. Sunday afternoon, after lunch, I started feeling icky. I thought it was just whatever I had eaten not settling well, but I drank some soda water and took a pill and soldiered on. I was fine until that night after dinner, when I realized that whatever was wrong with me was not what I had for lunch. I'll spare you the details (you're welcome) but suffice it to say that at one point, I actually thought I might die. I'm saying that with no hyperbole at all, I literally didn't think I could feel the way I felt and still live to see morning. When the best I felt was when I was lying on the bathroom floor, shivering and praying, it wasn't a stretch. I couldn't even get up enough strength to entertain the idea of going to the emergency room. It was miserable. By morning, I was feeling, not so much better exactly, but the idea that death was fast approaching had faded. I was exhausted, sore, nauseous, and dehydrated. All I could do was lie still, like a slug surrounded by salt. Steve brought me some Gatorade, which I managed to sip about a tablespoon at a time without getting sick again. Pretty much other than that, I slept.
A friend of mind had been similarly sick a few weeks before, and because he didn't take the time to slowly reintroduce regular food into his diet, he ended up in the hospital. I didn't want that to happen to me, so for three days, all I ate was broth, rice, lentils, and bread. It was all I could stand to think about eating. I was an accidental vegetarian for almost a week because thinking about eating meat made me sick to my stomach. In fact, even though I feel a thousand percent better now, I still can't stand the thought of eating chicken or pork, and the only meat I've been able to eat without feeling ill is ground beef. I mean, I do like hamburgers and all, but it's a little ridiculous. As with all other things, it will pass. At least I hope so.
I wound up having to go into work for an hour that Tuesday because I forgot that everyone needed to get paid. Since I'm the only one of our office staff that can sign checks, I had Steve drive me to work (I was too weak to do it myself) and I took care of that. I know I was still feeling bad because I went without makeup. I don't do that. Ever. Also, one of my coworkers said (and I paraphrase because I can't remember his exact words) "This was really bad. We need to do something about this. I mean, what would have happened if you'd wound up in the hospital or something? How would we get paid?" He wasn't trying to be funny. If I'd had the energy, I would have given him the finger. :)
3) Also, it got cold. SO FREAKING COLD, you guys! Actually, it wasn't the cold that bothered me. I mean, I am lucky that I live in a technologically advanced enough society that I both work and live in climate controlled environments. No, it bothered me that the cold did stuff to my environments! It froze the pipes at our church. It froze them so solidly that we had no bathrooms that we could use consistently. You could only use each stall once, and then there was no water in the tanks. I'd forgotten how uncomfortable it was not to have reliable bathrooms. You can't drink anything for fear that the urge would arise, and if you did give in and use one of the swiftly dwindling supply of toilets, you couldn't wash your hands. I know Purell is supposed to kill 99% of germs on contact, but it doesn't sterilize your state of mind about not being able to wash your hands!
I came home from work to see water running down my driveway. When I opened the garage, I saw a pipe in the wall squirting all over the place. On the bright side, it wasn't ruptured, but ice had forced a connecter-thing off of a pipe, and it was just spraying merry hell all over the place. Steve was on travel, and I have no idea how to do anything plumbing related, so I called Mr. Lee to come and fix it. I didn't even know how to turn off the water, so I Googled that (Thank God for the Internet) and had to dig through wet leaves and tangled grass to open the meter thing in the front yard. I hadn't been able to find the T-shaped thing that turns off the water, but my neighbor came running with hers and turned it off for me! (Thank God for neighbors!) Poor Mr. Lee had to haul his cookies across town and then to two different hardware stores to find the right parts to cap the pipe. It had stripped when the ice forced it off, so we couldn't just reconnect it. (Thank God for Mr. Lee!) I felt so bad that he had to come over and fix it. I should know more about how to fix things. :(
Also, Butler was being weird. I had to keep him indoors during the day, which he hates, so every night before bed I'd let him out one last time to do whatever business he needed to do. The dang dog would run off and then just sit there and stare at me. He wouldn't come back inside unless I ran out and chased him in! He's 12! He sleeps all the time and has arthritic hips, but I still had to chase him. I guess he was determined that he was only going to go inside on HIS terms. He's lucky I didn't shave him as a punishment!