Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A White Christmas!

It hardly ever happens here in Ory-gun. In fact, the last time was 17 years ago. But yesterday, on Dec. 25, we had about four hours of a white Christmas! Big fluffy flakes began falling around noon and did so for a couple of hours. It wasn't much, but it was glorious, and Erin and I bundled up and joined the neighbors and kids and dogs that spilled out into the cul-de-sac. What a wonderful gift it was!

Oh! The snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below,
Over the housetops, over the street,
Over the heads of people you meet.
Skimming along,
Beautiful snow! It can do no wrong;

Flying to kiss a fair lady's cheek,
Clinging to lips in frolicksome freak;
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gentle as love!

Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in maddening fun:
Hurrying by.

It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye;

And the dogs with a bark and a bound
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive, and its heart is aglow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow.

--Joseph Warren Watson

"Cause it's Christmas, All Over, Again....

This year, we decided to celebrate our family's version of ChristmaYuleStice on Sunday, Dec. 23. This ended up being the optimal time in terms of work, travel, etc. Our celebrants included Bill, Erin, Scott, Rebecca, and Yours Truly. Katie and John flew to Barrow, AK, to spend the holiday at the North Pole with John's parents. (We planned to travel over to see Gammie and Joe on the 26th; this plan was foiled when Gammie's residence complex fell into the grips of a Norovirus epidemic. Stay tuned....)

Yulestice morning....

Opening a myriad of present-- Santa was generous this year.

Scott sniffs my new wooden ladle (carved by Bill). Most likely Scott is trying to see if there is any food sticking to it.

More presents....

Bill brandishes gun-shaped hand warmers. He's packing heat!

Rebecca indulged Scott's aspirations to Rocky-dom:

Some music in the aftermath....

On the 25th, we called Katie in Barrow. Here is Erin, talking to Katie while pretending they're sitting on the couch together.

Scott and Rebecca headed home on Dec. 25. Here's Scott stretching Rebecca, while the Pookie Moose waits patiently by the door.

Happy Yule to all!

Preparing for Yule!

Erin came to visit on the weekend of Dec. 14, and helped me decorate the house for Yule.

Here's the "before" shot-- all boxes ready for unloading. I think the living room looks scared.

Erin hooked this rug a few years ago, while recovering from knee surgery.

On the 15th, Erin joined Valerie and I for Hoska Day. Hoska, for my newer readers, is a traditional Czech holiday bread. It has a rich eggy dough-- much like Challah-- but is flavored with almonds, mace, and lemon peel, studded with almonds and raisins, and decorate with candied fruits and poppy seed. The women on my mom's side of the family have made Hoska for generations, and it was time for me to teach the ropes to one of my kids. Valerie and I used to make Hoska with Mom, and for the last few years have gotten together here to make it. It was great to have Erin join us. (Katie and Scott? Next year, maybe?)

It begins with the miracle of the yeast....

Stirring it all together....

Valerie gives approval to Erin's first batch of dough....

Forming the loaves....


The pride of accomplishment-- and a new Hoska maker is born!

Fuel for the bakers: eggnog! (Pizza would follow....)

The gorgeous end result. We made sixteen loaves!)

Happy bakers!

The next day, we headed to our favorite nearby tree lot to pick out a tree. Erin is wearing dark glasses because she thinks she might have had too much wine last night.

We ended up with a lovely little Noble fir, which we stuffed into Xena (Warrior Car). And yes, those are Christmas lights inside my car-- that's one of my most fun traditions. This year I used multi-colored LED lights.

One the way home, how could it be Yule without a stop to see the Milwaukie Pig?

The finished tree-- with our Raven tree-topper!

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, my friend Amanda came over for more baking. She made Anadama bread and cinnamon rolls-- I did just cinnamon rolls. YUM!


On the 21st, a few Grey School friends came by to help celebrate the Winter Solstice. We shared food, did a candle project, and had a firelighting ceremony. It was a good time.

And then there was the Solstice 10:08 pm (Pacific) on Dec. 21. Rejoice in the return on the unconquered Sun-- sol invictus-- and the symbolic return of light and life to the earth!


Your Christmas is Most Like: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Each year, you really get into the spirit of Christmas.
Which is much more important to you than nifty presents.