Christmas and Other Gifts

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December 18, 1999: It was 32 degrees F. when I drove in to town early yesterday morning to work out, and 19 degrees the day before. I have made the wonderful suet recipe I got from “WildBird” magazine and the birds have already discovered it. Mostly Chickadees and Titmice have visited it so far. More goldfinches are appearing at the thistle feeders, though not in the numbers we have had them in previous years. I saw a Road Runner yesterday. I’m doing Farris' chores for a few days while he recovers from a cold and when I drove out in the Gator to feed the deer, quite a number of does and fawns were waiting for me. They watch me approach and when I walk across some invisible line of nearness they silently bound off into the trees. Then they return as soon as I have cast the food onto the ground and turn my back to walk away. Soon, like a king entering his throne room, the beautiful buck with the huge antlers walks onto the scene. He scatters the does and youngsters to his satisfaction, and then majestically lowers his head to partake of the “candy” of corn and deer pellets while the others begin to eat nearby. I take it back. Feeding the deer is not a chore; it is pure pleasure.

I have been in my baking and candy-making mode. I have made the cut out Christmas cookies that Mitch and Camilla and I would decorate together when they were children. This year I used a recipe for almond flavored sugar cookies that I got from my cyber-friend Lara. Here is a picture of the cookies:

Christmas Cookies

They are delicious and I plan to use the recipe again, but probably will not be making the decorated cut outs again, for they are so much work. The recipe made more than four dozen cookies, and it takes a lot of work to decorate that many. Lara uses the good old counseling technique of "partializing the problem," dividing the cookie baking and decorating stages into two separate jobs on different days. Lara is a wonderful writer and I hope she will someday put up her website again. 

I made Divinity candy yesterday, and just in the nick of time, for today has dawned cloudy. The humidity has been so low here the last few days, anywhere from 11 to 13%. While that is great for making Divinity, it is dangerous in terms of grass fires, since our land is so parched from the drought. There have been a number of large grass fires, and residents of this rural area are quick to report the slightest plume of smoke. We continue to be under a burn ban, of course.

I also made my mother’s recipe for Ice Box Vanilla Nut Cookies, yummy treats that you roll into logs and chill and slice and bake at will. I made a couple of cheese logs and will make my "Killer Fudge" today. I made out menus and grocery lists for the week of Christmas, too. And I felt again the connection with my female ancestors of the past who went through this same pre-Christmas ritual time and again. This is such a special Christmas, with our son and his wife and our daughter and Jene planning to be here, and the Great Mystery year two thousand experience looming for New Years, I am taking great pleasure in planning and preparing for the holiday.

We had a terrific dust storm last week. I happened to walk into the living room just in time to see the dust cloud approaching from the west. By the time I got my camera it had already obliterated the hills of that view:


You can see that the hills have disappeared and the dust is fast enveloping the trees. We are lucky it wasn’t raining at the time, or we would have had a muddy mess. As it was, I could smell the dust even while in the house. The winds were high and gusty and the storm blew through in little over two hours. I am glad we don’t have those very often, and feel for people living out in west Texas where they are more common.

I am trying something new. I found an interesting web site, Kamala Perfumes, Inc. The owner, Dana Merrill Gass, a Cum Laude graduate from Harvard with an AB degree in Asian Studies researched aromatherapy and herbal medicine her senior year in college. She has taught English in China and traveled in India, where she added to her knowledge of essential oils, and she creates custom perfumes and scents. Her nickname of Kamala was given her in college (from the novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse), and she was known by that name in India. I have been in correspondence with Kamala, and she is going to create some special incense sticks for The Lair that will hopefully capture the scent of the grasses. She has camped in Texas and remembers the incense smell of the grasses early in the morning. She is also going to create a personal perfume scent for me. In order for her to do this, I had to write a personal profile of myself, including my likes and dislikes, background, birth date and time, and various detailed information about what I perceive myself to be like. That was an interesting exercise, for it required some self-searching and honesty. Kamala required this because until now, she has always interviewed the customer in person, but she is willing to try this experiment with me. I am looking forward to what she develops for my personal scent. This will be my Christmas gift to me, although we will not attempt this until after her Christmas business rush is past, so she will have time to concentrate on the task properly. Visit her site; there are lots of goodies there.

And now, for all of you who are kind enough to visit The Lair website, here is the picture from our Christmas cards this year. Farris and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Year 2000!

”Christmas Angel”
Fractal Design by Kramer Mitchell

And behold, an angel of the Lord
stood before them, and the Glory of the Lord
shone around them, and they were
greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them,
”Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings
of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day
in the city of David
a Savior
who is Christ the Lord.”

And suddenly
there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying:
”Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace,
good will toward all.”

(Luke 2:9-11; 13 and 14)

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

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