Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Madness: Burn Him, Burn Him, and More Fabulous Fun

Here's my annual holiday tree card, in case you haven't seen it.

I made it with photoshop-generated snow,
but here is some of the real thing, 
happening while we watched "It's a Wonderful Life"
with Jimmy Stewart, a movie my sister watches every Christmas
whether she needs to or not.

More holiday sights:  while in Madison, Aaron and I took a walk in the winter wonderland.
I have no idea whose houses these are, but they have that Christmas look down.

Snow in the night!

We leave Mad City for more northern climes.
On the way is this strange hill sitting in the middle of flat fields - glacial remains?

Snow on cliffs, near Wisconsin Dells.

Snow on trees, highway 94.

THis landscape puts me in mind of Courtney Collin's cover of "Marshmallow World"
that I made a video for a while back.
Give a listen here for a treat!

On our way north, I win my hundredth iPad Scorpion game!
Yay for me!

Aaron drives while I play, and he is glazed from the many miles we have traveled.

But after Derek does his magic...

...Aaron perks up...

...enough to get out into the snowy yard and play a rousing game of badminton!

Chris enjoys a bit of badminton, also.  The Chardonnay version.

The universal BBB (booze/birdie/badminton) symbol:

Brett manages a miracle and lands a birdie all the way on top of the yard light!

What are the chances?  It will be there until the next big wind.  Or thaw.

Brett also works miracles with prime rib, making it according to Frank's careful instructions...

Frank last October, with his own prime rib:

Wow!  That's a lot of meat!



Shannon piles up plates for Kellen and Arya...

...who have to be torn away from the computer screen where they are watching
my brother Dan in his star turn on the Duluth/Superior TV stations 
for his work with prisoners at WITC (Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College),
teaching them to weld so they will potentially have jobs when their time is served.

Dan rocks!
Now, let the wild rumpus begin!

(photo by Alison Cook)

Sherry has knitted an awesomely gorgeous round quilt for Ali!

Shirley contemplates a gift from a small Santa.

(photo by Derek and/or Alicia Campbell)

Look!  It's a fabulous picture from Aaron and Courtney!

Arya is enchanted by the magic wand.

Chris and Megan are enchanted with each other. are Shannon and Michael, recently engaged!

(photo by Derek Campbell)

Kellen is taking time out from Santa duties to watch the classic TV fire
while Alicia watches the gift action.

(photo by Derek Campbell)

Angie gives us all delicious gifts:
homemade chili from her garden tomatoes,
local syrups and jellies,
a corn-filled "miracle pad" that can be heated or cooled
and placed around the neck or other needy places,
and here, a bunny puppet for the new babe, Elliott,
who is spending Christmas in Dallas with his other grandparents!

(photo from Facebook)

Later, Dan and Angie go to St. Cloud to spend time with her cool family -
here they're all wrapped up in bows with granddaughter Brooklyn.

A Christmas bag-o-kids, Arya and Kellen!

(photo by Alison Cook)

Gift-giving descends into madness.

(photo by Alison Cook)

Everybody was kung fu fighting... fact, it was a little big frightening,
but Derek fought with expert timing.

(photo by Alicia Campbell)

Earlier, group portraits were all the rage.  Above, cousins;
below, the Campbell/Cook clan...

...and the new, improved, inclusive version.

We miss Andrew and Jennifer and Elliott, but they're having a great time in Dallas
with Jennifer's fabulous peeps!

(photo from Facebook)

(photo from Facebook)

My favorite present was a box filled with Orange Guy from Angie and Dan.
Angie's daughter was the last lucky person to receive him, and
she has passed him on, once again, to me!
I'm so happy to see him.
He's been in the family now for nigh on ten years,
being passed on to unsuspecting receivers in surprising places.

But he's getting a little the worse for wear.

Here he is in better days, when his skin wasn't old and crumbling,
and he was still young and plump and firm.

Now he's vulnerable and old, and people are turning on him!

Stay back!  Someone must save the Orange Guy from the frothing mob!

(photo by Derek and/or Alicia Campbell)

I step up, but can't keep the poor thing from losing his arm!

Time to cool down on the back porch...

...and time to be cool.

And speaking of cool, here's a little doll...

...who has been dressed for winter via Sherry's amazing knitting needles.
This was at the request of Shannon who is having it made for a bachelorette party.
What else?

Another quilt, this one made by Jeanne and Sherry...

...which is missing two pieces at the finale!


And speaking of annoying, I go for a CC-ski on Lake Minnetonka, which is wonderful,
but pass by numerous McMansions that line the lake,
these as big as British Embassies,
but meant as single family homes, of course.

I'm always concerned about the huge yards that surround these lake homes.  They look lovely and white right now, and will look lovely and green in the summer.
But green yards mean green lakes because of yard fertilizers washing into the lake.
But the worst problems are probably caused by boats that enter
through public boat landings, and spread weeds, diseases and other aquatic invasive species
from lake to lake.

Above is a new house going up where an old one used to stand.
It used to be a nunnery - we explored it in 2011 before its demise:

This house and its stained glass window are gone forever.
It was surrounded by plants, shrubs, trees, rocks
and very little yard, but all that will probably be destroyed to make way for a 
smooth green expanse to feed the lake with green-making nutrients,
an environment all the more hospitable to aquatic invasive species.

The Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council has identified these AIS that are in Minnesota or are expected to be in Minnesota that represent a serious threat:
Plants – Brazilian waterweed, Brittle naiad, European frog-bit, Giant salvinia, Hardy hybrid water lily, Hydrilla, Phragmites, Salt-cedar, Water chestnut, Water hyacinth, Water lettuce, Yellow iris. Animals -Asian carp (bighead, black, grass, silver), Faucet snail, Mute swan, Mystery snails (Chinese, Japanese, banded), New Zealand mud snail, Northern snakehead, Quagga mussel, Round goby, Ruffe, Rusty crayfish, Sea lamprey, Spiny waterflea. Pathogens – viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).
Lake Minnetonka is already home to these unwanted invaders: Common carp, curlyleaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, Flowering rush, zebra mussel and largemouth bass virus. Of these, only two species – milfoil and curlyleaf pondweed – are even attempted to be controlled or managed.
But right now, all I see is pristine white, marred only by snowmobile tracks.
At least snowmobiles don't spread invasive species.
As far as I know.

I catch a picture of my mother, Shirley, in the late afternoon sun:

And I catch Pi in the early morning sun, just before we leave Orono for a visit to New Richmond.

Izzy has kept a low profile during everyone's visit, but he emerges to say so long!

More adorable kitty pics:
Pi checks out the dryer...

...and I am kind enough not to shut the door and turn it on.

Aaron is so sad to leave all the fun that he holds his breath until he turns into Green Man!

On the way to Shirley's place, we stop at HOM where she want to look for a new Santa
for her collection.
This one carries a fabulous bottle of Chardonnay.

You know, the pink kind.

Speaking of wine, we also saw Derek moonlighting at HOM.
He reports that his motto has long been "Try on a pair, Look at the lights!"

And here's some art!  Very textural, using numbers and letters to evoke
 the random nature of our cultural dependence on these signifiers.

I actually like this piece.  Reminds me of things I see in Chelsea now and then.
And it's on sale for $199!

And you can get a palette for $12.99.
I could collect a few at Kingsborough for even less.

Speaking of art,
Sherry and I have been putting this jigsaw puzzle together for years,
but it continues to elude us.
We average a piece every hour.  Or half hour on a good day.
So it's getting kicked out of its place under Shirley's sofa and is going
back in the box.  Sorry, Van Gogh.

Speaking of Shirley's couch, 
we rearrange her living room a bit so she
can use her chairs to sit in front of her new
electric fireplace,
a Christmas present chosen by Angie and Dan
and assembled by Brett.

On top of it is her new Santa from HOM, 
and also the salt-rock lamp from Andrew, Jennifer, me and Frank.

I snap a few pics in the bedroom I sleep in.

Shadows on the wall...

...view from the window.
Night over the parking lot...

...morning over the parking lot.

And here Dan and I enjoy the New Year's dinner at Shirley's place.
Dan loves rings so I give him a big one!

Alas, it is time to go.
I say goodbye to Shirley
until my next trip into the bosom of my fabulous family!

And now I'm sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting for my glass of Chardonnay
that I just ordered on the iPad...

...while waiting for my two hour delayed flight to LaGuardia which will get there
now at 12:15 AM.
There was a mechanical failure in Cancun, it appears,
and they had to scrape up a new plane.

Fun!  Raise a glass to a happy 2014!

But 2014 is off to a slow start, as our replacement plane is beset by problems.
First a stuck fuel valve, then a faulty starter coil.
We sit on the tarmac for a long while, then
back to the gate for a long while...

...but finally we are up and away, and the usual suspects
show up underneath our wing at about 2AM

Happy New Year, indeed!


  1. Loved this blog! Made me feel so sad to have missed it, but I also kind of felt like I was there. Thanks!