But I'm home now, thankfully. I've been on the road since Saturday, and before that, I think I was only home for a day and a half before heading out again. So in case you're wondering why I haven't updated in so long, well, there's your answer--I haven't had much time at the keyboard. Another reason, now that I think about it, is that I'm rarely alone anymore. Living out in Vegas, obviously I lived alone, but unless I was working or out goofing off (or playing cards), then I was pretty much by myself. Here, however, it seems like somebody is always around, so I'm rarely bored. Consequently, I don't post as much as I used to. (Boredom? Really? That's what kept this site going for so long???)
I don't know if it was boredom that motivated me, but all I'm saying is that now since it seems that I've always got something going on, it's tough to find time to sit at the computer and write. Also, I don't have a designated space to work, either. Usually, my laptop is sitting on the dining room table, or sometimes I'll haul it upstairs and use it in bed, but that's not comfy at all. I'm thinking of setting up my utility table up in my room and creating a dedicated workspace (and a place to do puzzles and such, too!), but that would require me to move some heavy furniture around, and that ain't likely to happen anytime soon. But I've got a pot of hot coffee going, and there's really nothing on TV worth watching right now, so here I am!
Anyhow, last week I was up at Mamasan's place for a couple of days, and our plan was to make a couple of batches of peanut butter balls (and yeah, I will definitely post the recipe and pictures in about a week since so many have asked), but we got distracted and it never happened. We just hung out and prepared for the holidays in other ways--shopping lists, online shopping, and a bit of lounging around sipping on spiked eggnog and listening to Christmas music. It was a nice and relaxing visit, though.
On Thursday morning, I left her place and headed back down to Vanderbilt for my weekly stabbin', and clueless me finally realized that one of the gals who takes my blood every week has been hittin' on me! Don't know how I missed it, but I think that since I first got sick, I've just tuned out the interactions with womenfolk, because seriously, who wants to hook up with a chubby invalid who oh by the way has no job and lives at his sister's house? Oh yeah, I'm quite the catch right now! Even so, I realized last week that one of the gals in the lab seemed to be flirting with me. So this week, I decided to pay closer attention, and yeah, she was definitely sending the Open for Bidness signal. I guess my only move is take the George Costanza approach from 'The Opposite' episode. My name is Mikey--I'm unemployed and live with my sister! How you doin'?
Anyhow, once I got out of there, I headed back down towards Cool Springs for lunch with Amy and Alli. We had a great time at Cool Springs Brewery, which, in addition to making some damn fine microbrew, offers a pizza buffet for lunch. I know what I was thinking--GAG!--but I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually pretty good. But I really enjoyed their salad bar, which is something I don't think I would've uttered just a few months ago. After lunch, we lingered for about an hour, nursing our drinks and just catching up on stuff.
Alli and I decided to spend the afternoon Christmas shopping, so when Amy headed back to her office, we cruised over to Academy Sports and browsed for about an hour. We got a few little things, and of course I drooled over all the camping and outdoor equipment. We also spent a bit of time at the gun counter--Alli wants a Glock .40, and I want a new .45, 1911-style. And I came thisclose to buying a Buckmark .22 pistol, but thought it might be a tad bit unwise. Besides, I don't have a Tennessee ID yet, so I couldn't have gotten it anyways.
Once I ran out of gas for the day, I dropped Alli back off at her car and I made the trek back down here to Spring Hill, and then promptly went to bed and had a nice nap. I woke up to the dogs barking and going apeshiat when Cyndi got home, so I got up and went downstairs. Alli came back over with the kids, and we had a fun family night at the house. We ordered some dinner in, then all of us piled onto the couch to watch Christmas Vacation together--Tim, Cyndi, me, Alli, Jackson, Brynn, and Major the cat. And the dogs were lying on the floor in front of the fire. Good times--I really missed this kind of stuff while living out in Vegas--little things like this are what make the holidays special, I think.
Alli and the kids spent the night here, and the next morning we got up early and had a nice breakfast together. Cyndi made our traditional Christmas ebelskivers, just because. No real reason, but Alli & Mike haven't picked up the tradition--they do Belgian waffles on Christmas morning, and I think Cyndi is trying to get the grandkids back into the ebelskiver camp. So we had a wonderful breakfast, and since it was a cold day and we had nothing on the agenda, we all piled back onto the couch and watched Home Alone. I remember seeing it back in 1990 and thinking it was a cute movie, but this time, man, it's pretty dumb. And the invention and proliferation of cellphones have made so many movies seem so dated. Think about it--if Kevin and his parents would've had cellphones, this movie would've never happened.
Early in the afternoon, Alli and kids headed out, and Tim, Cyndi, and I spent a good portion of the day wrapping presents and such. That is, until the football games came on. I watched those for a bit, then I headed up to the Amy & Scottie's place for the night.
Scottie had spent the day smoking a turkey, and oh hell yeah, it was nothing short of amazing. He'd injected it with butter, spices, and herbs, and then smoked it over hickory for almost eight hours. It was not the least bit dry--it was absolutely delicious. So right then I made a proclamation: Next year for Thanksgiving, the entire family is getting together for the meal, and Scottie will smoke a turkey while Tim deep fries one. No roasting one in the oven--we'll save that space for casseroles, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pies. Seriously--those two methods have proven to be far superior to the traditional method of roasting a turkey in the oven, which I'm still a big fan of, but the smoked and deep-fried varieties were just plain incredible.
It was so good that we didn't even have a sit-down meal. We just stood around the counter carving pieces of meat off and eating until we were stuffed. Yeah, it was that good. And it drove the puglets completely bonkers--the aroma was mouth-watering, so it's easy to see why the pugs flip out every time Scottie uses the smoker. And the term 'Bar-B-Que' is now one of those buzzwords that sets them off in a tizzie like 'Walk', 'Treat', or 'Park'. Good eating and good entertainment from the dogs--can't beat that!
After that, we set about decorating their tree. Before I got there, they had it mounted and set up in the corner, and had gotten most of the lights strung up on it, too. So once we finished dinner, all we had to do was hang the glass balls and such on it. It didn't take too long, and it turned out pretty nice. And I love the fact that they always get a real tree, too.
After we finished the tree, we stayed up late watching about four or five episodes each of the funniest two shows on TV: Community and Modern Family. Both of them are very well-written and pretty clever--at least once or twice in every episode I end up laughing so hard that I have to wipe the tears from my eyes and clutch my chest pillow that they gave me in the hospital--it's so funny that it hurts.
Once we called it a night, I shuffled off to that ultra-comfy bed that I loved so much while I was doing my initial recovery. It's so comfy that I always want to just spend the night in the guest room every time I go up there (it helps that Spring Hill is almost 40 miles away and we're usually half-crocked on red wine, too). But even so, one day I went over there for lunch and just took a nap while Amy worked in her office.
We slept in the next morning and didn't do much at all for awhile. We didn't even go down to the Loveless for breakfast, which I halfway expected to be propositioned with first thing once I got up. It was one of those cold, gray, and blustery mornings where you lingered in your PJs and wool socks, sipping a cup of coffee and appreciating the throw blankets on the couch. Eventually, we got moving, and while Amy wrapped Christmas presents and finished decorating the house, I did a little home improvement project and finally got the metal TV mounting bracket off the wall in their living room. It was a hideous eyesore that seemed impossible to remove, but I finally tackled it and won the battle of wills, and we also got the halfway-up-the-wall hanging extension cord mess disconnected and tucked away, so that they could hang up a nice mirror over their piano.
By then I was ready to head back home and spend the afternoon and evening watching football, but just as I was gathering all of my stuff, my phone was ringing--it was Mamasan calling, asking if I'd come up and help her again. Since I was only about forty miles away, instead of the usual seventy, I agreed, and headed back up north.
We spent the afternoon unloading groceries and such--she'd done all of the holiday shopping while I made the drive--and then we got to work on the peanut butter balls. I believe we made and rolled two double batches that day, so nobody is gonna go without this year. And we still haven't done mine for all the folks I'm giving them to. So yeah, I'm going back up there again this next weekend to knock them out. When doing those, I'll take pictures of the process and post the recipe and such.
Once the chores were done, we spiked a little eggnog, lit up the gas 'fireplace' wall heater down in the den, and turned on the Christmas music for a bit. I had to put the Scrooge to that after awhile though--couldn't miss the Steelers/Ravens game!
Monday was more of the same--we cooked a nice breakfast, finished up the last of the peanut butter balls, and then Mamasan took off for a doctor's appointment while I puttered around the house, mostly reading. There was quite a snowstorm that morning, and for a minute or two, it looked like a full-on blizzard. When I saw it from the window, I snapped a picture of my truck out in the driveway just as it started coming down heavily:
If you click on it, you can really see the size of the snowflakes coming down. We thought we were in for a huge storm, but a half-hour later, the sun came out and all the snow disappeared. It's not like it warmed up, but still--no blizzard to speak of. The rest of the day was fairly mellow and relaxing. Mamasan tried to talk me into staying a couple more days, but I was ready to get back home. So the next morning (Tuesday), I packed up all my gear and made the long trek back down the hill. I still had to run a bunch of errands though--gas station, bank, post office, etc.--so I was good and cold. In fact, I've been home for about ten hours now, and I'm still wearing my hoodie.
But I'll sleep pretty well tonight, I'm sure. I don't have much on the agenda for Wednesday, but I may do some more Christmas shopping with Alli. I hope to be completely done by Thursday (except for maybe a few stocking stuffers). For now, however, I'm going to finish off this pot of coffee and maybe do some reading before calling it a night.
And I promise I won't go another five days without posting. Especially if it stays this damn cold!