My mom claims that the only reason she knows what's going on with me is because of my blog, so she's (A.) peeved that I haven't blogged in a month and (B.) not going to be particularly thrilled by this post since all I'm going to write about is all the stuff she was there to see happen.
Here's what's gone down: I went back to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving to see my grandparents with the parents and my sister. I ate crustaceans and baby cow. I shared a small fold-out sofa bed with Julie, who by the way kicks. With her toenails. It's been an issue since childhood. Don't get me started. Otherwise, it was as fun as a four-day holiday in West Bridgewater, Mass (population: 6,664), during which Dad got sick and Julie kicked me a lot with her toenails and we spent most of our time in assisted living facilities visiting my grandparents could possibly be.
Two weeks later, my grandfather passed away, so we all converged on West Bridgewater again for his funeral. It was much colder than the previous trip. They played taps at the cemetery. The man who played stood at some distance from the casket and facing away from us so that the sound was far away and tinny in the freezing air, and when they handed my grandmother the folded flag, she dropped it, but the man who had given it to her picked it up quickly and held it out to her again. During the viewing, Jack had spent a lot of time filling up plastic cups with colorful hard candies from the bowls on the tables and then presenting the filled cups to bystanders, so that everyone stood around for awhile holding cups full of candies like they were at some strange cocktail party. After that, Julie took him into the other room where they watched Thomas the Train during the service.
Four days after returning to Tucson, we flew back east again to Ohio for Christmas. We spent a couple days in Columbus with Julie. She served us duck cassoulet and pomegranate arancini and salad with goat cheese and chocolate peppermint meringue cake and pomegranate sparklers one night, and we made cheesy sausage balls and potted salmon with capers and baked shrimp in chipotle sauce and cranberry daiquiris another night. Jack showed us his pirate face and his ninja dance moves and sang "Jingle Bells" and the ABC song to us (only he used the word "panda" instead of "jingle", and the ABC song went more or less like this: "A B C Panda! B F Murgh M Panda!") and we watched about as much "Veggie Tales" (which as far as I can tell is a kids' show about Christian vegetables and evil French peas) as I need for a lifetime. Also there are penguins in it who are the henchmen to the Pickle who Tried to Destroy Christmas which makes all kinds of sense when you're actually watching it.
Christmas night, the parents flew in from West Bridgewater where they were visiting Nana for Christmas. We loaded presents, food, Jack, Sophie the Beaglemix, and a giant stuffed panda named Panda (yes, that Panda) into two vehicles and drove down to Beavercreek for some more Veggie Tales and, oh, also, to celebrate Christmas. We listened to Bon Jovi during the drive.
Over the next few days, we went to a clock shop for a wine tasting, Raphael discovered that snowflakes actually look like snowflakes, Jack tried on shoes in the ladies' shoe department at Macy's, and we went to Clifton Mill to see the Christmas lights and the adorable toy village set up there and lit up for the holidays. It was utterly frigid, and Jack loved the tiny train that chugged its tiny way between the tiny buildings. There was also a creepy Santa Claus museum.
For Christmas Dinner, we had Good Wine, apricot and cranberry glazed pork, fluffy thyme popovers, roasted brussels sprouts, gingerbread with pears poached in Frangelico and coffee whipped cream, and Good Port. Jack had apple slices and crackers or something and then went off to play his new Super Saxoflute that his favorite aunt (me) gave him and make disco ninja dance moves.
As a side note, Jack calls Raphael "Af-a-well" and sometimes "Af-a-ya-yeh-weuwll." And sometimes "Mommy". But that's only when he's joking around.
We spent one more night in Columbus during which we went out on the town and had tapas and wine flights, and after Julie agreed to share this amazingly tall Long Island Iced Tea with me, she changed her mind and stopped drinking altogether which meant that I inadvertently renegged on my promise to myself to not be hungover on the airplane the next day. During breakfast the next morning, we practiced innocent cursing while eating thick-cut bacon and mushroom omelets. Cheese and crackers. Holy mackeral. Jiminy Cricket. Feathers.
We got home yesterday and sprung Lila from the dog-boarding place (actually someone's house) (where she apparently taught the other boarding dogs how to steal freshly-folded socks and play with them in the yard). We gave Lila her crunchy, swirly-looking dog treats that Julie made for her and now we're shunning society and I'm contemplating beginning to pack for my work-related trip to Hawaii. On Monday. Feathers.