Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lead-up to Christmas in North Pole.....

So, right off I've got to say something for Whim: My favorite "scrooge"! I heard a new music-montage on the radio a minute ago that I thought you could appreciate, Whim. First they played the Alvin & The Chipmunks christmas song, followed by one by this guy, Bob Rivers, titled "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire". And it sounded VERY much like "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire", with some distinct differences. Talk about doubled over, busting a gut. That was about the funniest thing I've heard yet this Christmas. It's not that I hate Christmas, but it just gets so sickly-sweet sometimes that we need a good touch of humor like that to break things up a bit. Anyway, I thought maybe you could look up Bob Rivers & "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire" and get a good "Christmas" chuckle. *grin*


Let's see, other than that it's -35 deg. F here at my house this morning and the house just isn't really warming up beyond about 65 deg. F., even though the thermostat is set (while we're home) at 70 degrees, currently. I'm going to turn it down to 65 deg. when I leave for work, and I'm just glad the dogs have fur coats.

To make matters even worse, the latches on our front & back doors the last couple of days are sticking. As in, when I open the door to let the dogs out, or to see the kid off to the bus, the latch doesn't pop back out, ready to hold the door shut. Ooooooh no!!!! No, that would be TOO EASY!!! Instead, it sticks & refuses to emerge from it's little hiding place inside the door, and so the door won't stay shut when it's supposed to latch. I've currently got the washer in laundry room un-plugged and have my "never used" hair drier plugged in at that outlet, a pair of pliers and a bottle of "household oil" sitting on the drier, all at the ready to be used to coax the door-latch-bolt from it's hiding spot. *shaking head* Of course, that means standing there for 5 to 10 minutes with the door not completely shut, blowing hot air on the latch, trying to warm it up, while the house cools down rapidly. *sigh*

The back door performed this trick last night after I climbed out of the shower and was letting the dogs out one more time before tucking Jenny in her kennel, and climbing into bed myself. It was 1 am this morning before I finally got to bed. Then of course I was woken at 7:45 am to be up & ready to move when DD finally gets up at 8. That, of course, allows me to let the dogs out before getting DD's breakfast ready. Guess what decided to stick again when I opened the door???? Yep, that darned back-door latch!!!! *shaking head* And of course, the furnace is running as I'm standing there with the door open just a bit so I can face the blow-drier at the latch. *sigh* And in fact, the furnace is just kicking on again. Lovely.

As far as the general weather, the cold temp has been causing ice-fog the past couple of days. This morning it's evidently thick enough to result in traffic accidents. I hate to see what it's going to be like if it gets even colder. If these drivers having the accidents think that the ice-fog is bad at -35, wait till the temp drops another 1o to 15 degrees. The ice-fog we've got today is NOTHING compared to ice-fog at -50. THAT is like the proverbial pea-soup. You're lucky if you can see the road lines immediately in front of your vehical. (That is, where road lines aren't covered by snow.) You slow down to about 45 mph and purposefully get almost right on the tail of the vehical in front of you so that you can use their tail-lights as indicators of what's going on ahead and just PRAY you've got the time & reflexes to avoid any accidents they (the vehicals in front of you) find themselves in.

This kind of weather, we make sure kids are fully geared (and they don't argue much, a token protest if anything, about getting geared up completely) before sending them out to the bus-stop. At -50, we parents wait until we see the flashing light at the top of the bus before we allow them out the door. -35 is nasty enough for breathing. At -50, the air will literally freeze as you inhale it, causing breathing problems, esp. in those who've already got breathing problems. It's NEVER smart to go out without a scarf at anything colder than -20, at -50 it can be deadly, or at least cause serious impairment.

Of course, temps from -30 to -50 (and even -60, and at the absolute coldest the interior has seen in recorded past, -82) are one good reason MORE people around here don't walk to their destinations or even take the scanty public-transportation that we have. NOBODY wants to be waiting in a 2-sided open shed for the public buses at -40 or -50. Not that some people don't do it, but you understand why it's not a desirable position to be in, why so many Alaskans drive personal vehicals.


After work last night, we went to Great Grandma's house to make Popcorn balls. The first batch just didn't quite turn out, and instead of the usual 12 balls that we can make out of one batch, we only got 8. Weird. I could have SWORN that my recipe (which, I inconveniently forgot at home) indicated a half-stick of margarine with each bag's worth of marshmallows, and stir in the color AFTER it's heated. So, the second batch we used a full stick of butter with the bag of marshmallows & poured the coloring (red) in with the marshmallows & such BEFORE heating them. That turned out MUCH better, and we got enough popcorn balls out of the second batch to be sufficent for all family members in the area.

At one point, though, DH got rather peeved. Evidently his Aunt C. and Uncle F. both complained about the number of "old maids" in the popcorn balls last year (we were using Grandma's 5 or 6 year old popcorn, what do you expect?!?!?) and made a demand that we make sure there are less hulls in this years. Bear in mind that Aunt C. and Uncle F. NEVER come over to make popcorn balls. And even when their kids lived in the area, C & M (Dh's cousins) couldn't be bothered to come over & help out with the popcorn ball making (one year, right after M. got married, he & his new wife E. did come, but that was the ONLY time). BUT, they all expect to RECEIVE popcorn balls every year. So, DH told Grandma & Aunt M. to tell Aunt C. and Uncle F. that if they don't like the hulls in their popcorn balls, maybe THEY should come over next year and help out! If they don't like the way we do it (and given the fact that we're the only ones bothering and for THEIR benefit!) then maybe they should contribute! As it is, there's the proverb "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" to abide by. Without DH and I coming over every year to make popcorn balls, this tradition would have ended a few years ago when Grandma's hands started getting too bad to allow her to press the popcorn into balls.

I DID tell DH, though, that maybe he could pack the balls less tightly, as even I found them rather hard last year. *grin* And I reminded him that once the marshmallow cooled, it'd hold the popcorn in shape without being overly tough, if not packed so tight. So, he was much better this year and didn't pack them so tightly together. I swear, in past years a person could get hurt by having one of his popcorn balls thrown at them. He makes his as big as soft-balls, and they were even harder after a day's hardening. *grin*


Work has been going well. The new pages seem to be fitting in rather well. And it's allowed us to catch up on the workload, once again.

Unfortunately (and, we go back to the weather), the library has been incredibly cold this week. I've had to wear a sweatshirt or pull-over over my t-shirt each day this week. It's just too cold to NOT dress warmly, even in the building. I know some of my coworkers even come in with long-johns under their clothes, in these temps, and leave them on all day even in the building. I don't find it QUITE that bad, but it's certainly not WARM, even inside the building.

I was the unlucky one to get book-drop duty yesterday, and found when I went to get geared up, that I'd left my long-john pants at home. *sigh* So, I went out and haphazardly threw the books into the emptying-cart, instead of placing them in neat stacks inside my cart. Oh freaking well. At least I had only 1 full cart-full of books. It would have sucked to have to make 2 trips.


I still haven't found the time to make cookies. But, I think I'll go ahead & get a batch of short-bread thrown in the oven now. I can crank out a couple of batches of short-bread with little effort. And maybe some sugar cookies or spritz cookies this weekend. It looks like we've got Saturday free, after all. I thought we had practice that day, but I'm not seeing a time on the schedual here by the computer.

Friday night we're going to go to the Christmas party at my work. After the library closes for the evening at 6 pm, all us employees and our families can come in & we'll have pizza & whatever other goodies we each bring. Either G -the Library Director, or S -one of the computer guys, will be dressing up as Santa again, and will be handing out pre-purchased (by mom or dad) gifts to the kiddos & candy-canes. I need to figure out what one small gifty of DD's to take in for the little visit with Santa. It's probably going to depend on what pressie DOESN'T fit in her stocking. But, anyway, this will fill our Friday, of course. Along with my time at the elem. school, and grocery shopping. *wry smile* And I'm going to make "Ambrosia Salad" to take in on Friday night to share with the folks at work. And maybe a tin of Shortbread, if I get enough of it made.

I think that's it for now.

Have a Blessed Day!


barefoot gardener said...

I'm sorry, but this has been bugging me for a long time and I just gotta say it. Here in MN, our library drop boxes empty INTO THE LIBRARY through a slot in the wall. It has a pretty well insulated door on the outside, and empties into the entryway between the two sets of doors. There isn't too much heat loss from this little door, at least not from the main part of the library.

You live in ALASKA. What IDIOT decided that it would be a good idea to have the drop boxes COMPLETELY OUTSIDE?! I would think that if some head-scratching Scandahoovian from MN could figure out a better alternative, the hardy Alaskan folks would have done the same.

I just can't believe you get the guts up to go outside and get those books when it is that cold. MN may be chilly, but you all make us look like total pansies. If my door latch stuck because of the cold, I would hunker down inside and not leave until it was WARM out.

Kudos to you for being way braver than I.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I am so going to check out that song! Thanks for telling me about it. :-)

Suddenly it doesn't feel quite so cold here anymore. Here is s Southern winter moment for you: The other night they were showing the forecasted low for the evening. It was 18 degrees. Above it was a graphic that said "Bone Chilling Cold."

Ok now I want a popcorn ball.

Have fun at your party on Friday!

Stay warm.

Tori_Z said...

Man that's cold! It hardly ever gets below -10 C here, let alone down to -35 F!

I've never made pop-corn balls. Sounds fun though. Will have to get a recipe and try it out one time.

Mmm.. Shortbread! *drools* LOL!

Hope you do get a chance to get the baking done. My Mam is coming down to my place to bake some cookies and mince pies with me on Friday.

Celticspirit said...

Hi Kati! I honestly don't know how you can tolerate -35 degree weather. I know I couldn't handle it. When I lived in MA I'd get horrible sinus headaches from the cold and after we moved to NM I never got one again. I don't get them here in SC either.

The Popcorn balls sound neat, I don't think I've ever made any. I have however made caramel popcorn and that was yummy. Don't feel too bad if you don't get a chance to make all the cookies you want to make. You can only do so much after and you need to take some time to relax too.
I hope you have a good time at your work Christmas party. What do you put in your ambrosia salad? Maybe you can email me. I had someone bring some of that for Thanksgiving but it was storebought and it tasted nasty like chemicals.