I really had a pretty nice day yesterday. The only 'work' I got done was finalizing the Herotica 7 Afterword, which I'm pleased to have off my plate. I'll send it in today, and then aside from copyediting the final manuscript, I'm done with that book. Well, until it comes out, when I scramble around trying to get promotional stuff done. Not as intensely as for AE, since it's not primarily my book, but every little bit helps. What I did do was clean the apartment, put up Christmas decorations, get together with Elissa, buy a tree, put it up and put the lights on, and go to a nice potluck dinner. Then we came home and crashed. Good day.
Decorating for Christmas has been so satisfying. On the one hand -- I could have skipped all that and gotten another six hours of work done yesterday (I didn't really *need* to clean for Liss -- she was my college roommate, so she knows just how messy I can get). But putting out the decorations and lighting the tree just made the place look magical, y'know? The first thing I did was change the candles -- all the Thanksgiving candles that didn't quite burn down are put away, and the Christmas candles (in deep red and ivory) are out. That made a big and noticeable difference right away.
Then I put out the statues. I have two Lennox figurines that my mother got me when I fell in love with them (actually, she got me one then, and another the following Christmas). They're old-world St. Nicholases (I'm not sure how to pluralize that word), tall and thin, smiling but still with a rather grave air about them. One is wearing a long red coat, another a long green one. There are four in the set, so I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get a third this year. I love them beyond all reason. They're in the dining room. I also have a small St. Nick that I found while visiting Kirsten in Seattle last month. It's clearly more pagan than Christian; he has a circle of candles in a wreath on his head, and an owl sitting on his arm. The Year-King, perhaps. He's in the living room.
And in the bedroom, keeping Bear (my sister's teddy bear, that she gave me when I went off to college because she said I'd need it more (she was eight at the time)) and Theodore (a little bear Kev gave me a few Christmases ago) company, are two tall, thin bear santas. I generally don't buy cutesy animal stuff, but these are also rather old-world looking, in muted colors, and they are just so charming -- they defeated me.
I hung up the Christmas card hanger that I made last year (a dowel spray-painted gold, a thin gold cord to hang it, ribbons hanging down to pin cards to) in the stairwell. I wrapped ribbon around the handrail coming up my staircase. I put the deep green tablecloth on the dining table, and matching runner over the baker's rack shelf. They're subtly printed with holly. (I don't know what to call that technique -- it's not really printing -- where the fabric has been somehow almost etched with a pattern...) And I hung a blue and gold teardrop ornament (made by a local artist) in the central sunroom window. I put up icicle lights (strings hanging down of different lengths) in the sunroom; remembered that I only had enough for a quarter of the windows in the room; bought more while we were out. I'll finish putting those up today.
I bought a tree, six feet tall. We lighted it last night, and it looked gorgeous, but now it's doing something odd -- the top two strings of lights are out. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to deal with this. The plugs seem to be fine, so I guess it's a burned out bulb? Can one bulb burning out knock out the whole string? My dad always dealt with this stuff -- help?
I'm going to prep a little now, then Liss and I are going out to the Borders where I will put headphones on and try to finish revising "The Emigrant" (and possibly "Challah", which I'm handing in as part of my final portfolio since I've been working on it off and on this fall -- I'm also giving her "Savariian and the Aliens", and I'm curious what she'll think of it). I'd like to finish off this course today, so I can hand her the portfolio Monday. Liss is going to do her Christmas shopping while I work. Around 4 or so, we'll head back, and I plan to spend a few hours cooking. The menu for dinner is:
- pear apple chutney with goat cheese and crackers
- winter squash soup with gruyere croutons
- brussels sprouts, endive and radicchio salad
- roast turkey with port wine gravy
- green onion casserole
- sweet-and-sour red cabbage and fennel
- maple-glazed yams with pecan topping
- raspberry trifle and raspberry sorbet
- hot wassail on the stove
- chilled eggnog in the punchbowl
I suppose the point of all this nonsense is that even though I'm frantically busy, it's really important to me that I not let being a grad student take over my life. It would be very easy to do -- I see the grad students around me doing that. I'll work hard too, but I'll also spend a little time this December relaxing with my friends, providing good food and drink, trimming the tree with them, singing carols and enjoying the season. It's more civilized that way, and civilization is important to me. Besides -- this sort of thing is how I avoid giving myself a heart attack or an ulcer.
I sent out Christmas cards yesterday. If you'd like to exchange cards, please mail me and let me know. I won't promise to get to them, but I'll try. And if you'd like to just send me something -- a card, a postcard, a present (my Amazon wishlist is still up from last year, and I add items to it now and then when it strikes my fancy :-), please send it to my new P.O. Box:
Mary Anne Mohanraj
P.O. Box 11453
Salt Lake City, UT 84147