Sunday, December 26, 2010
Benson Christmas Meanderings
Did you have a splendid Christmas? We certainly did. Suzy and I prepared versions of our traditional Christmas foods: tortiere (originally a pie made with pork sausage, potatoes and onions; now made with turkey sausage and this year for the first time, served in pita halves instead of pie crust); pastry (originally Swedish pastry rings, now a pecan loaf made with store bought crescent rolls); date nut loaf (the real made-from-scratch kind); fudge (this time topped with crushed peppermint candy canes).
As usual, we attended Midnight Mass at our parish church. Returning home we snacked on the fudge and date nut bread topped with cream cheese, and washed it down with some eggnog. During the day, a box had arrived, which we found to be stuffed with wrapped packages. Nothing would serve but to open those packages, so we refreshed the eggnog and dove in.
Many of the gifts were novelty items, but what fun! This froggy pencil holder was but one of the delights. Cousin Carol knows how we like to decorate with frogs.
Carol also send this froggy bird feeder to help attract our little feathered friends.
This Kokopelli wine stake was another appropriate gift, this one from daughter Deb.
As things were winding down around 2:20am, Suzy heard a clanking noise and called out, “Jerry, the pigs are back.” I jumped from my chair, bolted across the room, unlocked and slid open the glass door and, yelling and flailing my arms, chased at least five javelinas away from our standing bird feeder. Javelinas are a variety of wild pig, ugly, smelly and, when they want to be, mean. They have plagued us since last August, while we were on our California / Nevada family visit.
Seems that javelinas like bird seed! They also like certain plants. While we were away on that trip, they had torn up our planters, devouring some beautiful sweet potato vines. They also knocked over a container holding about 40 pounds of bird seed. Since that incursion they have returned a number of times, knocking over the upright bird feeder.
To try to deter the filthy creatures, we have found a container of granulated coyote urine, which is supposed to tell the pigs that this is coyote country, don’t come here. Please don’t ask me how coyote urine is harvested; I really don’t want to think about it. What I do know is that it hasn’t helped yet, but the instructions state that it may take a couple of weeks to take effect. I hope it isn’t much longer!
BULLETIN: Not having any decent pictures of our javelinas, I went to the Internet and found these.
I also learned that javelinas are pig-like, but they are not pigs at all: the really are Collared Peccaries (Peccary angulatus). They got the name javelina from their razor sharp tusks. Javelinas love to eat prickly pear cactus and agave, due to the high water content. So why are they after our birdseed? They are a big game animal in Arizona during January and February. Any hunters out there? C’mon down! You can get ‘em with bow and arrow, handgun, rifle or muzzleloader, in the proper weeks.
Getting back to Christmas – we got to bed by 3:00am, were asleep by 3:30 and up at 7:45 to greet the day with our usual morning routine: pills, emails, on-line cartoons, and blogs. Then we cleaned up the wrappings from the presents, straightened the house and welcomed our Christmas breakfast guest, our friend Ron. Ron and we enjoyed the tortiere-stuffed pitas, the pastry, the orange slices, and some cranberry juice, as well delightful conversation.
While Ron is a fulltime RVer like we are, his life is totally different in many ways. Ron is single, having tried marriage too many times. Undeterred, he is open to new adventures into companionship. Our lives do connect, however: Ron is President of our SKP Chapter, Suzy is Treasurer and I’m to be Vice-President. Suzy is a member of the park’s Rules Committee; Ron is Chairman of that Committee. It was Ron that clued us into our current, and so far quite satisfactory, eating program. He has lost 60 pounds, and we are both right around a 25 pound loss and holding. We start the protocol again in Mid-January.
Was Christmas splendid for the Benson Bunch? How about a standing rib roast for dinner, with mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, a nice red wine, cranberry sauce and horseradish sauce for dinner. Followed, of course, by spumoni ice cream and decorated sugar cookies?
(Don't tell anybody, but this is a picture of LAST YEAR'S standing rib roast! This year's roast was bought at the same time, and waited in our freezer for a whole year. It was just as delicious and as pretty as last year's!)
In decorating for Christmas we like to hang on to the old and add some new. For old, this is what you see as you approach the door of our casita:
And this is what is new this year:
For the past two weeks at least, our iPod has been playing nearly constantly, bathing us with excellent Christmas music. The player tells me we have 263 Christmas songs, with vocalists such as Barbra Streisand, Amy Grant, Harry Belafonte and Neil Diamond, not to mention the Crystal Cathedral Choir and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We have the Canadian Brass, some philharmonic groups, some operatic voices, and some guitar plunkers, but all delivering the Christmas music we love. Yes, Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman are there, but mostly the more classical music celebrating Christ’s birth. And now we’ll keep the music playing off and on until the Epiphany, January 6.
So that's the story of Christmas 2010 in Benson, as we live ... Our Life on Wheels.