Archive for December, 2005

The Harvest of 2005


Holiday Greetings for 2005!!!  Well, another year, another Christmas letter.  I’m trying to think of the pivotal events of the year to write about and I guess I would say that this year has been filled with laughter, travel, and learning.  This year I hit the milestone year of 40;I  always thought that at 40 I would have some sort of epiphinany and by now I would have learned all there is to learn.  Ha!  I know less know than I ever did so maybe in Zen sort of a way that actually means that I am on the road to enlightenment.  Oh!  I am so confused!

This year Mike has been to India, Mexico, California, Seattle, New Mexico; as a family we visited Philadelphia, Washington D.C.,  and Baltimore and we also took a brief trip with my parents to see the Abraham Lincoln sites in Springfield, Illinois.  We continue to drag the kids here and there and they better love it or else!!! (Read on!)

Mike surprised me this fall with a birthday trip for two to San Francisco and the California wine country.  Mike and I are interested in wines; we often enjoy a good bottle with family and friends and so he thought it a good idea for a get away to wine country for the two of us.  We’ve never actually had a vacation where we just hang out and relax, that not at all how either of us are wired!  But we learned that we can survive multiple days without the TV, cell phones and computers and that whomever came up with those pieces of “technology” didn’t fully appreciate quiet when they had it.  I learned that I love northern California and our early marriage years in southern California

You know, I have this idea about California, and certainly it could be misguided, but folks there represent things differently than they really are.  Restaurants think they if they call something a fancy name that they can charge more money for it, so they do!   They delight in serving food that sounds great, but what happened to plain meat and potatoes?   For an appetizer I was offered, “Oxtails on a bed of arugula.”  And how does the ever popular avocado puree sound???  Back here in Ioway we call that guacamole and it costs less than half the amount that avocado puree does.  How does free-range, organically grown, hormone and antibiotic-free squid sound?  Also know by me when I was a child as 10,000 Legs Under the Sea.   Just how many times this year have you had fennel encrusted free-range chicken with a truffle butter demi-glaze served with pureed parsnips, caramelized beets, tarragon foam all in a ginger and rice wine reduction,  33?  I assume they meant $33 dollars, but they didn’t include the dollar sign and my math teacher always taught us to label the units or the problem was going to be counted incorrect.  It’s great to travel, but there sure is no place like home.

As much as I love to travel, I prefer to hang out at home where the price is right and the entertainment is free.  One night early this year we were at home with friends and we were laughing about all kinds of crazy things.  I was doing the ugly laugh; you know that laugh where you are actually laughing, crying and nearly half-sick by not being able to breathe?  I laughed so hard that I actually rocked myself backwards and over in a dining room chair.  Strange sensation that one, I actually saw the ceiling move by in slow motion, but my darling husband and fellow wine drinkers did nothing to save my life.  Losers, all of them!   Their only comment later was, “Well!  We wondered what the heck you were up to now!”  What I learned from this was that my fifth grade teacher was correct about not rocking back in your chair and that club soda takes wine out of the carpet.

Laughter was so integral to what happened with us this year, it truly is the best medicine.  A great laugh is what comes when your seven year old confides in you that she has learned it is best not to drink bubble juice.  A great laugh is when she also asks you while you are taking her temperature about how her Grandma used to take temperature when Mom was a kid in the “olden days” (we have an ear thermometer- remember the days when your mom had to shake down the old fashioned under-your-tongue kind?)  I was telling her about the glass thermometers and the rectal kind that we had back when I was a kid.  When I explained what a rectal thermometer was she said, “Did they call it a rectal thermometer because it “wrecked” you to use it?”   A great laugh is the laugh you have with your girlfriends on the last day of the school year when your freedom is running out and you laugh so hard that one of actually you pops a rib out of joint and the other nearly loses her taco chips and avocado puree.  And a great laugh is what you have with your husband after your son leaves for his very first high school dance with large deodorant stains under the arms of his new burgundy dress shirt.

I also learned that food plays a huge role in the life of this family.  Remember last year and our quest for the perfect sandwich?  Well, we attempted it again this time in Philadelphia with a Philly cheese steak sandwich.  Apparently the two hot spots in South Philly are Geno’s and Pat’s, which sit diagonally across the street from each other in a neighborhood that most normal people wouldn’t dare to walk through, but one in which we found ourselves dragging our three kids in sweltering August weather.  You can’t just order the sandwich any which way either.  It is either “Wit” or “Wit out” (onions) and only someone from the outback of Iowa (me!) would be so backwards as to order hers with provolone cheese; a connoisseur of cheese steaks would know to order them like this, “Gimme Wit, Whiz” which in Philly-speak is a sandwich slathered with a layer of Cheese Whiz.  These sandwiches are eaten outside on picnic tables, where in 103 degree heat the sweat drips off the end of your nose and onto the sandwich for the total Philly experience.  I heard  Mike yell at the kids that he brought them 1000 miles to eat this sandwich and they dang well better eat their wit Whiz and shut up about the heat.  See what I mean about they better love it or else?  And you thought I was kidding!!!

I learned several things about wine in California:  location is important; amount of production depends on the soil; that sight, boquet and taste are important to wines and I have made in my mind a bigger picture.  Friends are like the various new bottles of wine in our cellar, their flavor may be sweet or dry, tart or astringent.  They may be very different in their variety (varietals) and the vintages vary on when the seeds of friendship were sown.  They all seem to mellow and deepen in flavor as the years go on and surely we are richer for the friendships that mature as the seasons pass.  I am very grateful for my friends and family.  Your contribution to my laughter, happiness, and wisdom brings me to the point at which I am today.  Mike, the kids and I wish you all a wonderful and joyous holiday season.